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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brad James back in familiar Bullpen

After a brief rehab stint with Tri-City to begin his 2011 season, Brad James returns to the team with which he has made almost half of his professional starts. Prior to missing all of 2010, James made 48 starts for the AA Corpus Christi Hooks (2007-2009). James spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons on the Astros' 40-man roster; however struggles on the mound and arm problems have prevented any advance above the AA level.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lo and Behold, Chia-jen is Back

Chia-jen Lo is back on the mound after more than a year away. Read about it in my latest post.

One More Farmstros Magnet out in the World

Many thanks to Jayne (Twitter- @AliceAnna57) who stopped by Section 419 at Minute Maid Park Saturday night and picked up the latest homemade Farmstros magnet.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Red Hawks to See a lot of Nolan Ryan Saturday

When Oklahoma City opens a series at Round Rock's Dell Diamond Saturday night, they will have a difficult time getting former Astros/Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan out of their minds. The first 2500 fans to arrive for the Saturday contest between the Astros' AAA affiliate and the Rangers' AAA affiliate will receive a bobblehead of the flamethrower who now owns the Rangers.

2011 Farmstros Five- Week 11

By Chris Buck

Farmstros Five Week 11- June 16-22, 2011

Lots of Hooks. With not much going on at AAA and both A-ball teams on their All-Star Breaks, AA, the DSL, and Rookie ball is where the action has been.

Dallas Keuchel, 23, LHP, Corpus Christi
Why? – 1.29 era, 1 GS, 7 IP, 5H, R, 3BB, 5 SO

Back-to-back weeks on the Farmstros Five for Dallas. With Lyles being promoted to the big club, the honor of being the club’s best pitching prospect is now up for grabs. It appears that Keuchel has really started to step up. He has performed well since being drafted, but, in his last ten starts Dallas has a 2.43 era with a 1.13 WHIP. For the season, Dallas now has his era down to 2.84. It is looking more and more as if Dallas will be in Houston this season.

Jose Altuve, 21, 2B, Corpus Christi
Why? – 10-for-29, 4 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, SB.

For the third week in a row, Altuve makes the Farmstros Five. The little guy just continues to play well. For the week, Altuve ONLY had a .345/.345/.483 line for a .850 ops. This week actually dropped his season averages at AA to .382/.404/.629.

J.D. Martinez, 23, of, Corpus Christi
Why? – 13-for-30, 6 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB.

I am actually surprised it took J.D. this long to make the list. To be fair, he was coming off of an injury and it took a week or two for him to get back to his normal self. For those that don’t know, J.D. was drafted in the 20th round of the 2009 draft out of Nova Southeastern University (its in Florida!). He profiles as a high average hitter with some gap-to-gap doubles power. But the knock on J.D. is that he isn’t the best athlete and is pretty much limited to left field, and won’t help you much on the base-paths. But, J.D. can hit! There is no doubt about that, as he has done it since he first got to the organization. For this season, he has a .320/.391/.451 line; all at AA Corpus. Martinez seems almost destined to take over left field duties in Houston once Carlos Lee’s contract is paid off.

Jimmy Paredes, 22, if, Corpus Christi
Why? – 10-for-33, 5 R, 2B, 3B, 5 RBI, BB, SB.

Paredes had been playing second base in Corpus, until Mr. Altuve got there. He has now been playing third. It appears that he is capable of playing the middle infield, but the development of Altuve has forced the organization to try him at other positions. Paredes was acquired from the Yankees in the Lance Berkman trade last July. He is viewed as an athletically gifted middle infielder that needs his bat to come around. Lately, the bat has done just that. With a .303/.324/.394 line for week 11, Paredes needs to work on his plate discipline. His best asset right now is his speed. He currently has 23 stolen bases in 29 attempts. Last season, he stole 50 bases between the Yankees and Astros systems. If he puts it all together, the Astros may have a switch hitting middle infield prospect with plus speed and the ability to be an above average defender at multiple positions.

Matthew Duffy, 22, IF, Tri-City
Why? – 10-for-21, 3 R, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 1 BB.

Rookie ball has started and Mr. Duffy has gotten off to a loud start for Tri-City. He was drafted just a couple of weeks ago in the 20th round out of the University of Tennessee. Now, we aren’t making any J.D. Martinez comps just yet, but this seems to be a really nice start to the professional career. For the season he has a .417/.464/.542 line in just 6 games.

Worth Mentioning! Kody Hinze, in a shortened week due to the California-Carolina League All-Star Game, went 5-for-8 with 2b, HR, 7R, 3RBI, 4BB. (Editor's Note: Hinze, who plays for Lancaster, also won the Home Run derby held in conjunction with the California-Carolina League All-Star Game.)

In Case you're heading to Lancaster...

Here's a link to a profile of the JetHawk's home stadium, Clear Channel Stadium. It comes courtesy of Stadium

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Three Magnets Available Saturday

To make it official: I will have three homemade Farmstros magnets for distribution at Minute Maid Park during Saturday's (June 25) game. First come, first serve. I will only be there through about the 4th or 5th innings. Section 419, Row 3.

Welcome to the Village, Chip

The Farmstros Village welcomes a new visitor, Chip Bailey. Read about it in my lastest post.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Van Hekken is Aiming for Houston too

Add Andy Van Hekken to the list of left-handed starters aiming to take the mound at Minute Maid Park. Van Hekken, who just moved back into the Oklahoma City rotation, made a second straight solid start Monday night for the RedHawks. In his last two starts, Van Hekken, who was a September call-up for Detroit in 2002, has allowed two earned runs and nine hits in his last 14 innings pitched. He has also struck out 13 while lowering his ERA to 3.06 for the season.

Meanwhile down the road in Corpus Christi, left-hander Dallas Keuchel had a third straight solid start. Keuchel allowed only one run in seven innings for the Hooks. He lowered his season ERA to 2.84 in 13 starts.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Greeneville Astros all Access

In case you can't get to Greeneville, Tennessee to see the Astros' Appalachian League affiliate, Steve Duer and Appy Astros have you covered. Read about it in my lastest post.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

GCL Astros Start Season Monday

The Astros Gulf Coast League entry begins their 2011 season Monday. The club is made up of recent draft picks and players from Latin America who are making their stateside debuts as professionals. The team's roster can be found here.

Monday's contest will take place at 11 a.m. (Minute Maid Park time) in Jupiter, Florida the home of the GCL Marlins. Game results and statistics for the GCL Astros should be accessible at the team's site during the 2011 season.

Three GCL Astros of Note in 2011:

Francisco Baso, RHP. Baso was a Dominincan Summer League All-star in 2010 for the DSL Astros.

Jean Batista, SS. Batista was the second most-hyped international signing for the Astros in 2010 behind Greeneville's Ariel Ovando.

Adrian Houser, RHP. Houser, a right-hander from Oklahoma, was the Astros 2nd pick in this month's draft.

Take A Left at Victoria

If you're looking for the Astros of the Future, you can find a nice collection of them at Whataburger Field. Read about it in my lastest post.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 Farmstros Five- Week 10

By Chris Buck

Farmstros Five Week 10- June 9-15, 2011

Dallas Keuchel, 23, LHP, Corpus Christi
Why? -- 0.64 era, 2 GS, 14 IP, 6H, 1 R, 2BB, 9 SO

Dallas, who was born in Oklahoma, went to college at Arkansas, and pitches for Corpus Christi, was drafted by the Astros in the seventh round of the 2009 draft. He has been described as a polished lefty that can command both sides of the plate.

In the Astros organization, lefties have a tendency to get compared to Wandy Rodriguez. Like Wandy, Dallas does not have overpowering stuff. Also like Wandy, he is able to repeat his mechanics and command his stuff so well that his stuff plays up as batters seem to have trouble squaring his pitches up. UNLIKE Wandy, he does not have a top scale curve. His best secondary offering is a solid change up that produces a high number of ground balls. Following a week with two excellent starts his season numbers have dipped to a 2.99 era and a 1.23 WHIP. Maybe we’ll see Dallas in Houston in September? Maybe?

Brian Bogusevic, 27, OF, Oklahoma City
Why? -- 12-for-32, 5 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB

Brian did not perform well after being sent down to AAA. But, he has picked up his play over the last week with a .375/.412/.438 line. Selected out of Tulane University as a pitcher in the first round of the 2005 draft, Bogusevic has since taken up playing every day. He has just two full professional seasons as an everyday player, and has had a couple of opportunities with the big league club. The jury may still be out on whether he can become a solid everyday regular at the major league level. However, at worst, he appears ready to be an excellent fourth outfielder. For now, he continues to get at-bats at AAA while waiting for his turn to come in Houston.

Juan Santana, 16, SS, DSL Astros
Why? – 11-fo-30, 4R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 6 BB, SB

I don’t know what you were doing during the summer at age 16, but I wasn’t playing professional baseball. Santana has gotten off to a loud start down in the Dominican. He has a .346/.433/.481 line through 13 games and 52 at-bats. Scouting reports indicate that he is a young man with some line-drive power and the athletic ability to stick at shortstop. At just sixteen years of age, and way down on the farm, it is anyone’s guess as to where Santana will end up. But, it is exciting to think about the Astros having a 16 year old, at a premium defensive position, having success; no matter what the level.

Jose Altuve, 21, 2B, Corpus Christi
Why? – 10-for-29, 4 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 2 3B, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB.

For the second week in a row, Altuve makes the Farmstros Five. The little guy continues to play well at Corpus, and he added six extra base hits this week. For the week, Altuve had a .345/.387/.690 line and continues to impress. With the recent promotion and the continued success, Altuve appears to be at the front of the line for the long-term second base job in Houston.

Mike Foltynewicz, 19, SP, Lexington
Why? – 2.25 era, 2 GS, 12 IP, 14H, 3R, 5BB, 2 SO

The walks and hits were a little bit higher than you would like to see, but posting back-to-back quality starts gets Folty the nod. Foltynewicz was the Astros' second selection in the first round of the 2010 draft. He is a tall projectable right-hander. He is one of the few high ceiling prospects in the Astros system, and he has the ceiling of front-line starter in the big leagues. Being just 19 from a cold weather part of the country (Illinois), Mike has a lot of baseball between him and that very high ceiling. For now, he throws a hard fastball with heavy sink to go with a good change-up with quality movement and a developing curve. He needs to continue to develop the breaking ball and work on command to both sides of the plate. On the season, Foltynewicz has a 4.61 ERA in 13 starts this season.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

2013 Draft Preview (Possible load of picks)

David Coleman recently made a post at SB Nation about the Astros' 2012 Draft. Reading Coleman's post got me thinking even further into the future.

While it is interesting to consider the Astros having a #1 or #2 pick in 2012, it is equally as interesting to me to look at the 2013 draft. There is again the possibility of a high draft pick that year. In addition, numerous supplemental picks (based on players coming up for free agency after the 2012 season) could be on the Astros' 2013 draft board.

Michael Bourn, 30 (Opening Day 2013), Jeff Keppinger, 32, Carlos Lee, 36, and Brandon Lyon, 33 are all slated to become free agents after the 2012 season. With Lyon's current arm problems, I doubt he will garner any compensation for the club in the form of draft picks. However, the other three could merit a draft pick or, in Bourn's case, maybe even two with which to build the organization if they sign elsewhere as free agents. Regardless of who the top prospects are in the 2013 class, more draft picks early is certainly a good thing for the Astros and for followers of the Astros of the Future.

NOTE: I think Brian McTaggart tweeted this a few weeks ago. Jordan Lyles was drafted with a supplemental pick that was received as compensation for the loss of Trever Miller.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dallas is Aiming for Houston

Dallas Keuchel continues putting up solid numbers for the Hooks of Corpus Christi. Please enjoy the above jingle while we wait for Dallas to get promoted to Oklahoma City.

Valley Cats interns just waiting for a team

When the Tri-City Valley Cats start their season Friday, a crew of 25 interns will be ready to make the game go smoothly at Joe Bruno Stadium. Read about the Valley Cats and their interns in my latest post.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I'm Going to See Jordan Lyles Pitch

I went to Minute Maid Park this afternoon and bought tickets for Saturday night's game against the Braves. I am very excited that in a little more than 24 hours, I will get to see Jordan Lyles pitch for the first time. For those of you who have seen him on the mound, any advice on things to look for from Lyles for this novice?

Short Season One Week Away

With the 2011 draft in the books, the Astros are preparing for three short seasons to begin next week. Read more in my latest post.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

2011 Farmstros Five- Week Nine

By the end of this month, the Astros will have all eight affiliates playing. Since more than 200 players are ready to spend their summer aiming for Minute Maid Park, Farmstros is glad to announce the return of the Farmstros Five. This feature is a look at the top five performers in the organization each week.

Without any delay here is the Farmstros Five for the week of June 2-8, 2011:

by Chris Buck

Kody Hinze, 23, 1B, Lancaster
Why? -- 8-for-17, 8 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB.

The first baseman is one of the few true power bats in the system. Originally drafted in the 46th round of the 2005 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Hinze never signed with the Bucs. Instead, he played at Angelina College before getting picked up by his hometown Astros after the 2007 season. Lately, Hinze has been hot. Putting up an impressive .563/.689/.813 line in his last ten games; raising his season numbers to .340/.477/.630 at Lancaster.

Chris Wallace, 23, C, Lexington
Why? – 7-for-20, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB.

The catcher has been a bit of a surprise since being drafted in the 16th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Houston. He was sent to Greenville after his selection and proved to be ahead of his peers in the Appalachian League, putting up a .310/.390/.520 line. This season he has continued to impress with a .302/.378/.564 line at Lexington.

Xavier Cedeno, 24, LHP, Corpus Christi
Why? -- 2.08 era, 1 GS, 8.2 IP, 5H, 2R, 3BB, 10 SO.

Originally drafted out of Miami Dade CC in the 31st round of the 2004 draft by the Colorado Rockies, Cedeno moved to the Houston organization as a minor-league free agent in 2010. In five minor league seasons with Colorado, Cedeno never posted better than a 4.04 era. His strikeout numbers were good, but the walks were a problem, and he was moved to the bullpen for the 2009 season. Still just 24 years old and having missed all of 2010, Cedeno now has an opportunity for a fresh start with the Astros organization. With his 3.53 era and 60 strikeouts in just 71 and 1/3 innings pitched, he has been more than solid. When combined with cutting down on the walks (28) somewhat. There remains some intrigue in this lefty with five previous minor league seasons already under his belt.

Jay Austin, 20, CF, Lancaster
Why? – 7-for-23, 3 R, 2 2B, HR (Grand Slam), 6 RBI, 3 BB.

The Astros clearly thought a great deal of Austin when they drafted him 56th overall in the 2008 draft. The two guys the club selected before him (Castro and Lyles) have already made their big-league debuts. However, Austin’s career started slowly. He hit just .198 with a .277 on-base % in 2008. Speed is Austin’s best tool, so getting on base and improving plate discipline have been the goal and have been a-work-in-progress. Lately, Austin seems to be putting it together with an impressive .333/.417/.533 line in his last 10 games. In addition to the elite speed, there is a little bit of pop in his bat, and he shows, at-least, doubles power. To date, Austin has put up a solid (think of it as a step in the right direction) line of .267/.344/.394 with a .738 OPS for the 2011 season. At just 20 years of age, he remains one to watch in an Astros system that is somewhat short on high-ceiling prospects.

Jose Altuve, 21, 2B, Corpus Christi
Why? – 9-for-24, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 SB.

Originally signed as a free-agent in 2006: he’s five-foot nothin’, a hundred and nothin’, but the other numbers are hard to ignore. We have all heard. He’s 5’7”, maybe? He’s 170lbs, maybe? He doesn’t project. And, he has limited upside. So they say! But, he is quickly becoming, for us Astros Prospect Junkies (APJs), one of our favorites to read about, watch, and follow. And, if/when he makes it to the big club; he is surely to be a fan favorite. Altuve has been repeatedly described as a ball-player. And, as much as prospects/scouting is about athleticism, tools, and projection; Altuve doesn’t quite measure up. If only he were three inches taller? But, he just keeps playing too well to ignore. He first showed up in the VSL in 2007 putting up a .343/.429/.441 line as a 17 year-old. Last year, he really showed up hitting .308/.364/.445 in Lexington before making the move to Lancaster late in the season. He started this season in Lancaster and proceeded to destroy the California League with a .408/.451/.606 line. Since making the move to Corpus on June 1, he has put up a .429/.448/.679 line in seven games.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

The 11th Pick in the 2011 Draft is George Springer

With the 11th Pick in the 2011 Draft the Astros have selected George Springer. Springer is an outfielder from the University of Connecticut. Here is what The Crawfish Boxes had to say about Springer.

Is This draft Deep on 5'5" Second Basemen?

With the draft beginning today, I can't help but wonder if the Astros are looking for more players like April and May Farmstros Player of the Month Jose Altuve. Read it in my latest post.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Down on the Cyber Farm: Following the Draft

In case you put off your draft preparations until the last minute, I just posted a few helpful resources to help you catch up in my latest post.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

2011 Draft Class

1st Round, George Springer, OF, University of Connecticut, Lancaster
2nd Round, Adrian Houser, RHP, HS (Oklahoma), Extended Spring
3rd Round, Jack Armstrong, RHP, Extended Spring-Disabled
4th Round, Chris Lee, LHP, Santa Fe CC (FL), Extended Spring
5th Round, Nick Tropeano, RHP, SUNY-Stony Brook, Lexington
6th Round, Brandon Meredith, LF, San Diego St., Lexington
7th Round, Javaris Reynolds, CF, HS (Florida), Extended Spring
8th Round, Brandon Culbreth, RHP, HS (North Carolina), Extended Spring
9th Round, Jonas Dufek, RHP, Creighton, Lexington
10th Round, Kyle Hallock, LHP, Kent State, Extended Spring-Disabled
11th Round, Justin Gominsky, CF, Minnesota, Lexington
12th Round, Miles Hamblin, C, Mississippi, Extended Spring
13th Round, John Hinson, 2B, Clemson, Lexington
14th Round, Horace Stubblefield, RHP, HS (Texas)
15th Round, Zach Johnson, 1B, Oklahoma St., Lexington
16th Round, Scott Zuloaga, LHP, Scottsdale CC (AZ), Lexington-Inactive

17th Round, Tyson Perez, RHP, Fresno CC (CA), Lancaster
18th Round, Kevin Miller, RHP, California
19th Round, Mitchell Lambson, LHP, Arizona St., Extended Spring
20th Round, Matt Duffy, 3B, Tennessee, Lexington
21st Round, Jimmy Howick, SS, Lexington
22nd Round, Drew Muren, CF, Cal St.-Northridge, Lexington
23rd Round, Ruben Sosa, 2B, Oklahoma City University, Extended Spring
24th Round, Jesse Wierzbicki, 1B, North Carolina, Extended Spring
25th Round, Billy Flamion, LF, HS (California)
26th Round, Jared Fisher, RHP, HS (Washington)
27th Round, Alex Todd, SS, Sonoma St. University, Lancaster
28th Round, Jordan John, LHP, Oklahoma
29th Round, Wallace Gonzalez, RF, HS (California), Extended Spring
30th Round, Jordan Steranka, 3B, Penn St.
31st Round, Jarrod McKinney, RF, Arkansas, Extended Spring
32nd Round, Zachary Dando, RHP, Central Arizona College, Extended Spring
33rd Round, Dominique Taylor, CF, Salt Lake CC (UT)
34th Round, Dustin Kellogg, RHP, HS (Texas), Deceased
35th Round, Christopher Morales, RHP, HS (Texas)
36th Round, Kevin Gonzalez, C, Texas A&M, Extended Spring
37th Round, Steven Martin, RHP, Texas A&M, Retired
38th Round, James Propst, RHP, Oklahoma St., Extended Spring
39th Round, David Haerle, RHP, College of the Canyons
40th Round, Buddy Lamothe, RHP, San Jacinto College North (Texas)
41st Round, Chase Davidson, 1B, Georgia, Extended Spring-Disabled
42nd Round, Hoke Granger, CF, HS (Alabama)
43rd Round, David Grimes, OF, HS (New York)
44th Round, Blake Ford, RHP, Lamar University, Extended Spring
45th Round, Christopher Epps, OF, Clemson, Lancaster
46th Round, Justin Shults, 1B, California-Riverside, Retired
47th Round, Zachary Hardoin, LHP, University of Missouri Columbia, Extended Spring
48th Round, Andrew Murray, C, HS (New Jersey)
49th Round, David Peterson, RHP, College of Charleston
50th Round, Colton Davis, CF, HS (Florida)

Draftees in Bold have signed

Undrafted Free Agent signings

Steve Dennison, LHP, Wheaton College, Extended Spring
Justin Gill, RHP, Kent St., Released
Neiko Johnson, IF, Kentucky, Extended Spring
Jacob Meskin, C, Arizona, Released
Paris Shewey, LHP, Washington St., Extended Spring
Andrew Walter, RHP, Yavapi CC, Extended Spring
Justin Witkowski, C, St. John's, Extended Spring

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Farmstros May Player of the Month Candidates

Read about the top performances in the organization and vote for the May Player of the Month in my latest post.