farmstros can be reached at farmstros@yahoo.com

Friday, September 30, 2011

Minor League MVP Night- A Valley Cats' Perspective

Chris Chenes and Chris Dawson of the Valley Cats' front office made the trip to Houston last weekend. They took in a few days of Astros' baseball, including Minor League MVP night with former Valley Cats, Jake Buchanan and Jose Altuve. Chenes posted a story on the trip(chock full of pictures) to the 'Cats Corner blog Friday.

40-Man Roster Sleeper- Dayan Diaz

In the name of giving credit where credit is due, What the Heck, Bobby beat me to the punch in pointing out that the Astros should consider adding Dayan Diaz to their 40-man roster this off-season.

True, Diaz was only in short season Tri-City in 2011, and his time on the mound marked his first solid season pitching in the United States. However, to find precedent for adding a pitcher in Diaz's situation to the 40-man roster, one needs only look back to last season and Jorge DeLeon.

2010 was DeLeon's first season as a pitcher (he is a converted shortstop). In 2010, with Tri-City, DeLeon, who turned 23 while he was a Valley Cat, posted an 0.64 ERA in 28 innings. He allowed only 26 hits and struck out 29. In 2011, as part of the 40-man roster, DeLeon led Lexington with 16 saves, posting a 3.42 ERA in 55 1/3 innings.

By comparison, Dayan Diaz was a Valley Cat in 2011. He missed almost all of 2009 and 2010 with injury, so 2011 was in some sense his first year as a pitcher(a healthy one at least). Diaz, who turned 22 prior to the season, posted a 1.98 for Tri-City in 50 innings pitched. He allowed only 27 hits and struck out 70 batters.

Granted there is additional talent in the Astros' system compared to last off-season, so it may be difficult to find space on the 40-man roster for a long-term project like Diaz. However, history indicates that such a move is a possibility.

Levine Posits Six Possible #1 Picks

In today's print edition of the Houston Chronicle, Zach Levine lists six possible #1 picks for the Astros in the 2012 draft. I haven't seen the list in the online edition of the paper, but here are the six that Levine mentions:

Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

Byron Buxton, OF, HS (Georgia)

Kenny Dierkroeger, SS, Stanford

Lucas Giolito, RHP, HS (California)

Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona St.

Mike Zunino, C, Florida

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Buchanan up to California Challenge in 2011


2011 Farmstros Pitcher of the Year Jake Buchanan was playing golf this week in his home state of North Carolina. If he rises to the challenges the 2012 baseball season in the same way he did in the 2011 season, he may not be available for much golf this time next year, at least not in North Carolina. He may be taking the mound in places like Milwaukee's Miller Park and Chicago's Wrigley Field for the Astros as they close out their 50th Anniversary season next fall.

When Buchanan started Spring Training in March, he only had half a season as a professional under his belt, and he assumed Lexington was on his itinerary for 2011. A stint with the Legends would have given Buchanan several opportunities to play in front of his friends and family as the Astros' Low A affiliate makes numerous stops in North Carolina.

However, when camp broke and the season started, Buchanan was in California wearing a Lancaster JetHawks uniform and pitching his home games in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball. Buchanan was fully aware of the challenges of pitching in Clear Channel Stadium. Yet, the North Carolina St. product, was up to the task. He focused on keeping his pitches low in the strike zone and in on left-handers.

By the end of the season, Buchanan's efforts had paid off as he had posted the best full season for a starter in the three years that the Astros have had their High A affiliate in Lancaster. The 22-year old right-hander made 25 starts in the California League posting a 3.91 ERA in 158 2/3 innings pitched. He threw Lancaster's only complete game shutout of the season-and the franchise's first such performance since May 2006- on May 1 at Inland Empire.

Buchanan's performance in California merited him a one-game call-up to Corpus Christi at the end of the season. He gave the fans at Whataburger Field(and Minute Maid Park) something to look forward to in 2012, as he allowed one run only six hits in seven innings pitched beneath the shadow of the USS Lexington.

Buchanan visited Minute Maid Park for the first time Saturday. He was honored as the Astros' Minor League Pitcher of the Year prior to that evening's game. If he builds on his performance of 2011 and meets the challenges of 2012, he may not be just a visitor the next time his name is announced in downtown Houston.

Not Yet for Oberholtzer

Upon further review, the Astros don't need to protect Brett Oberholtzer just yet.

I included Oberholtzer on the initial list of Astros prospects eligible for this December's Rule 5 draft. However, closer scrutiny by the official birthday experts of the Farmstros Village (aka What the Heck, Bobby) revealed that Oberholtzer was still 18 when he signed with the Braves after the 2008 draft. This fact means that the Braves (and after the trade the Astros) have five years to evaluate Oberholtzer before he becomes vulnerable to the perils of the 2012 Rule 5 Draft.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Andy Van Hekken...Nine Years and Counting

Today marks the nine year anniversary of the last time Andy Hekken pitched in the big leagues, for Detroit. Van Hekken, a left-hander who has been in the Astros' organization for three and a half seasons, spent 2011 with Oklahoma City. He posted the second-best ERA in the Pacific Coast League for the RedHawks.

Van Hekken, from Holland, Michigan, will be spending October representing the United States on the baseball field. He is slated to pitch in the Baseball World Cup in Panama from October 2-15. He will also don the red, white and blue in Mexico in the Pan Am Games from October 20-25.

Rule 5 Eligible Players

Following is a tentative list of players in the Astros organization who are vulnerable to this December's Rule 5 Draft. Players in bold are vulnerable for the first time.

Erick Abreu, RHP
Luis Alavarez, C
Wander Alvino, RHP
Alberto Arias, RHP
Jonnathan Aristil, RHP
Brandon Barnes, OF
Travis Buck, OF
Xavier Cedeno, LHP
Carlos Corporan, C
Collin DeLome, OF
Dayan Diaz, RHP
David Duncan, LHP

Adalberto Flores, OF
David Flores, IF
Emerson Frostad, C
Gabriel Garcia, LHP
Jon Gaston, OF
Ernesto Genoves, C
Murilo Gouvea, RHP
Kyle Greenwalt, RHP
Diory Hernandez, IF
Federico Hernandez, C
Chris Hicks, RHP
Kody Hinze, 1B

Blake King, RHP
Emilio King, OF
Daniel Meszaros, RHP
Scott Moore, IF
Lance Pendleton, RHP
Juri Perez, RHP

Sergio Perez, RHP
Nate Pettus, RHP
Colton Pitkin, LHP

Carlos Quevedo, RHP
Ebert Rosario, RHP
Andrew Simunic, IF
Brad Snyder, OF
Nick Stavinoha, OF
T.J. Steele, OF
Mickey Storey, RHP
Joe Thurston, IF
Jose Trinidad, RHP
Pat Urckfitz, LHP
Jose Valdez, RHP
James Van Ostrand, 1B
Shane Wolf, LHP

NOTE: This list is based on the resources I have at my disposal. It is as accurate as I can get it, but it is not 100% confirmed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Astros' Prospects Take on China Tuesday

If you are a fan of the Astros of the Future and Chinese baseball (talk about your niche audience), Kissimmee is the place for you to be tomorrow.

I just received the Fall Instructional League schedule in time to find out that the Astros' Fall Instructional squad is scheduled to take on the Chinese team in Osceola County tomorrow at noon(Minute Maid Park time).

Fall Instructional League Schedule

September 27- vs. China(noon-all times Minute Maid Park Time)
September 28- at Atlanta(6 pm)
September 29- vs. Atlanta(6 pm)
September 30- at Detroit(noon)
October 1- vs. Detroit(9 am)
October 3- vs.Atlanta(6 pm)
October 4- at Atlanta(6 pm)
October 5- vs. Washington(noon)
October 6- at China, Vero Beach(noon)
October 7- vs. Washington(noon)
October 8- vs. Detroit(9 am)
October 10- vs. China(noon)
October 11- at Washington(noon)
October 12- at Detroit(noon)
October 14- at Detroit(noon)
October 15- vs. Atlanta(9 am)
October 17- at Atlanta(noon)
October 18- vs. Detroit(9 am)

Home games at Osceola County Stadium

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Minor League MVPs?...Uh, let us Look into That.

When I arrived at Minute Maid Park Saturday for Minor League MVP Night, the existing autograph line led to J.R. Richard and Jimmy Wynn. Obviously, these were not the Astros of the future.

When I inquired with some helpful Astros' staff members as to where I should line up to get autographs from Jose Altuve and Jake Buchanan, I got the feeling that the Minor League MVP autograph event was not at the top of the Astros' gameday itinerary. Eventually, a spot was found for Altuve and Buchanan (Bar tables and stools were brought over from Larry's Big Bamboo), and fans of the Astros of the Future got their chance to meet the players they came to see.

It was fun to meet Buchanan and Altuve face to face and wish Buchanan a happy birthday. I also actually got to meet Chris Chenes from the Tri-City Valley Cats' front office who was in town with Chris Dawson(also of Tri-City) to see a few games. In addition to a pre-game ceremony honoring the organization's top players and coaches, the Astros also honored the 2011 MVPs at each minor league level on the ribbon board prior to the game:

Oklahoma City- Anderson Hernandez
Corpus Christi- Jimmy Paredes
Lancaster- Austin Wates
Lexington- Emilio King
Tri-City- Matthew Duffy
Greeneville- Jordan Scott
GCL Astros- Yonathan Mejia
DSL Astros- Teoscar Hernandez

Friday, September 23, 2011

Farmstros Now Appearing on Sports Radio 610's Website

I'm not sure if this counts as a September call-up, but Farmstros has joined the online lineup of Sports Radio 610 in Houston. The management at 610 is still deciding whether they will let me start against left-handers or not. I suppose they will have to decide before the media softball game, when Zachary Levine takes the hill.

Thanks to the folks at Sports Radio 610 for the opportunity.

Farmstros Fifth Anniversary to Kick Off Saturday

Farmstros will be unveiling its 5th Anniversary logo during the Astros' Minor League MVP Night Saturday at Minute Maid Park. Farmstros has been following the Astros of the Future online since September 7, 2007 , and 2012 will be our fifth season providing a source for others to do the same.

If you find Mike at Minute Maid on Saturday, he will have limited copies of the new logo for you. He'll be in line waiting for Jake Buchanan and Jose Altuve's autographs prior to the game.

Buchanan is the Farmstros Pitcher of the Year

Jake Buchanan got an early birthday present from the Farmstros Village. Buchanan, who turns 22 Saturday was voted the Farmstros Pitcher of the Year by readers of this blog. Buchanan, who spent 2011 in the Lancaster rotation(he made one start for Corpus Christi at the end of the season), received 23 out of 66 total votes.

Dallas Keuchel finished second in the voting with 14 tallies. Andy Van Hekken (8), Nick Tropeano (7) and Kyle Hallock (7) were notables in the final count as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

256 Days Until June 4, 2012

The Minnesota Twins' victory this afternoon assured the Astros the #1 pick in the June 2012 draft. What the Heck, Bobby included some links to more information about the Astros preparations for the day.

Altuve, Buchanan, and Blankets, Oh My!

What could be better than meeting the Astros 2011 Minor League MVPs Jake Buchanan and Jose Altuve before Saturday's game against the Rockies? Getting this 50th Anniversary Blanket to take home after the contest.

From 4:45 to 5:15 on Saturday, Buchanan and Altuve will be available for autographs. (Be sure to wish Buchanan a happy 22nd birthday.) The first 10,000 fans to enter the stadium will receive the fleece blanket pictured at the link above.

The Astros are offering a special ticket offer to fans of the minor league system when they buy their tickets through this link. Please contact Jeff Troncoso at 713-29-8318 for more information.

For the sake of full disclosure, Farmstros has received two tickets to Saturday's game as compensation for promoting the event.

Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 Farmstros Pitcher of the Year Candidates

Who will join Jordan Scott, the 2011 Farmstros Player of the Year, on the Farmstros' Village awards podium this week? It's time to decide. Voting runs through Thursday, September 22.

The Candidates:

Jake Buchanan, 22, RHP, Lancaster/Corpus Christi. Buchanan was the top pitcher for Lancaster in 2011. He made 25 starts, posting a 3.91 ERA in 158 2/3 IP. He made one start for Corpus Christi at the end of the season, allowing just one run in seven innings.

Ryan Cole, 23, RHP, Tri-City. Cole, a 2010 draft pick, led the short season Valley Cats with 10 saves. He had a 2.33 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.

Jorge DeLeon, 24, RHP, Lexington. 2011 was the converted infielder's first full season as a pitcher. He was second in the Astros' minor league system with 16 saves. In 43 appearances, DeLeon struck out 51 in 55 1/3 IP and posted a 3.42 ERA.

Dayan Diaz, 22, RHP, Tri-City. Diaz missed almost all of 2009 and 2010 with injury so his strong return was a pleasant surprise. For the Valley Cats in 2011, he pitched 50 innings and struck out 70. He posted a 1.98 ERA in 19 outings.

Blake Ford, 23, RHP, GCL Astros. The Astros picked up Ford out of Lamar University in the 2011 Draft. He led the Gulf Coast League entry in wins(four) and saves (eight). Ford posted a 1.90 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 23 2/3 IP.

Reymin Guduan, 19, LHP, DSL Astros. Guduan made 13 starts in the Dominican. He ended the 2011 season with a 2.17 ERA and 61 strikeouts 45 2/3 innings.

Kyle Hallock, 23, LHP, Tri-City. After being drafted in June 2011, Hallock made 13 starts for the Valley Cats. He had a 2.63 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.

Dallas Keuchel, 23, LHP, Corpus Christi/Oklahoma City. Keuchel was the anchor of the Corpus Christi staff before being called up to Oklahoma City. In 20 AA starts, he pitched 127 2/3 innings and had a 3.17 ERA. He struggled in his seven starts for the AAA RedHawks, but he was impressive in his home starts for Oklahoma City.

Nick Tropeano, 21, RHP, Tri-City. Tropeano made 12 starts in the New York-Penn League after being a 2011 draft pick. He posted a 2.36 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings. He was voted the Farmstros Player of the Month for August/September when he made four starts and didn't allow a run in 17 innings pitched.

Andy Van Hekken, 32, LHP, Oklahoma City. Van Hekken had the second-best ERA in the Pacific Coast League in 2011. He made 19 starts and 16 relief appearances, pitching a total of 129 2/3 innings and posting an ERA of 3.40.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Bad News Astros Go to Japan?

With all the discussion about the benefits and negatives of the Astros moving to the American League, it seems to me another option is being completely ignored. Given the talent and experience of the team that it appears the Astros will be fielding in 2012 and 2013, it would be prudent for Jim Crane/Drayton McClane/et. al. to have discussions with the Japanese Pacific League about a two year foreign exchange program.

Admittedly, there would be special travel logisitics involved if the Astros joined the likes of the Orix Buffaloes and the Soft Bank Hawks for a few seasons. However, if the Sugarland Skeeters can be in the ATLANTIC League, then anything is possible.

A few highlights of THE BAD NEWS ASTROS GO TO JAPAN (2012-13):

The Yu Darvish Factor- Picture this: Opening Night 2012 in the Sapporo Dome. The Astros take on the Ham Fighters in the first game of an historic four game series. I'd be up at 4:30 a.m. (Minute Maid Park Time) just to watch Yu Darvish's first pitch to Jose Altuve(who wouldn't seem all that short in Japan) for the Ham Fighters. If you don't know who Yu Darvish is check out this scouting report from ntn at Crawfish Boxes. Please note Darvish may actually be headed to the Major Leagues after 2011.

Breathing Orange Fire!-Nothing against "We are Your Astros", but Japanese baseball slogans are usually awesome or hilarious or both, especially by comparison. The Astros marketing department will fit right in with their Japanese counterparts if they pull out this oldie but goodie for the 2012 campaign.

Can Ichiro come along?- For scheduling ease, it would be best for another team to join the Astros on their Far East Adventure. With Ichiro Suzuki nearing 38 years of age, it would be ideal for the Mariners to give him a chance to play a few seasons in his homeland before he retires.

Corporate tie-ins galore- With all the travel that will be involved in this venture, it doesn't take much imagination to hear the Minute Maid Park announcer saying "The starting lineup for your Continental/United Airlines Houston Astros.

New angles for the Houston media- I'd read about Zach Levine's adventures getting lost in Shinjuku train station, or Brian McTaggart's exclusive interviews with the sumo grand champion. Of course, who wouldn't read Alyson Footer's blog about the varities of sushi, nato, and soba noodles at Chiba Stadium.

Inter-league Play- Fear not lovers of inter-league play, Japan has it too. If the schedule falls right,Minute Maid Park could host the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, who brought the world Sadaharu Oh and Hideki Matsui. Better yet, the club could play a series at Osaka's historic Koshien Stadium against the Central League's Hanshin Tigers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Three Farmstros are All-Stars

Baseball America named three members of the Astros' organization to their post season all-star teams. Jose Altuve, who started the year in Lancaster and is currently on the big league roster, was the top second baseman in all of minor league baseball according to Baseball America.

Jonathan Singleton, who joined Lancaster after being acquired in the Hunter Pence trade, was named the top 1st baseman in the High A class. Dayan Diaz, RHP was named the top reliever in the short season class for his work with Tri-City in 2011.

Hey Galion, Ohio Get on the Bus. For Real this time!

Back in May, when Carlos Lee got hurt, I did a post about the possibility of JB Shuck joining the big club for a series in Cincinnati, near his hometown in Ohio. Unfortunately,Shuck didn't make it to The Show at that time. However, with Shuck preparing to play his first big league game in his home state of Ohio Monday, it is time to call on the residents of Galion, Ohio to get on the bus. This time for real.

Andy Van Hekken, Mr. October

Steve Vedder of the Grand Rapids Press has the story about Andy Van Hekken pitching for the USA in the World Cup and the Pan Am Games this October. Van Hekken, who posted the second-best ERA in the Pacific Coast League for Oklahoma City this season, will also be pitching in Venezuela this winter after partaking in these two international competitions.

The World Cup will be held in Panama from October 2-15, while the Pan Am games are slated for October 20-25 in Mexico.

The Village Has Spoken- Jordan Scott is the Player of the Year

Outfielder Jordan Scott received 2122 votes to edge out catcher Chris Wallace for the title of Farmstros 2011 Player of the Year. By the time voting ended early Friday morning, a total of 4832 votes had been cast by readers of this blog. Wallace was on Scott's tail with 2046 votes. 2011 draft pick Chase Davidson finished in third with 429 votes. Voting for the 2011 Farmstros Pitcher of the Year is scheduled to begin Monday afternoon.

By mere coincidence, Astros County posted an interview with Jordan Scott Thursday. Please give a read what the Farmstros Player of the Year had to say to Astros County.

Since we are discussing minor league players of the year a reminder that the Astros will be honoring their Minor League MVPs prior to the September 24 game against Colorado.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Altuve, Buchanan to Be at Minor League MVP Night

The Astros have announced that infielder Jose Altuve and right-handed pitcher Jake Buchanan will be honored as the organization's minor league player and pitcher of the year prior to the club's September 24 game against Colorado. The players will be available for an autograph session at Minute Maid Park prior to the game from 4:45-5:15 (Minute Maid Park time). The first 10,000 fans at the game will also receive a 50th anniversary fleece blanket.

The club is offering a special ticket offer to minor league fans when they buy their tickets through this link. Contact Jeff Troncoso in the Astros' ticket office (713-259-8318) for more information.

Altuve,21,began this season in Lancaster before making the jump to Minute Maid Park with a brief stop-over in Corpus Christi along the way. The Farmstros Village voted Altuve the player of the month in April, May and June of this season.

Buchanan,21, spent almost the entire year with Lancaster (he made one AA start at the end of the season). In 25 High A starts, he posted a 3.91 ERA in 158 2/3 innings pitched. He pitched seven innings allowing six hits and one earned run for AA Corpus Christi in one September start. Buchanan was nominated for the Farmstros Player of the Month in April 2011 and finished sixth in the voting.

For the sake of full disclosure, Farmstros is receiving two tickets to the September 24 game from the Astros in return for these promotional efforts.

Tarnations to Second Place(?)

Ireceived word from Houston's Sports Radio 610 yesterday that Farmstros did not win that station's Most Valuable Blogger competition. I have not received any information about final vote percentages. So, as far as I can tell, Farmstros finished in second place, one vote behind the winner.

Thanks to everyone who voted for Farmstros.

First Pitch in 29 Weeks

Minor League Opening Day is just 29 weeks away. Here's the schedule for Thursday, April 5, 2012.

Oklahoma City vs. Memphis
Corpus Christi vs. Northwest Arkansas
Lancaster at High Desert
Lexington at Greensboro (Lexington's full 2012 schedule)

While you're marking your 2012 calendars, Zachary Levine noted that the 2012 draft is slated for June 4.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Farmstros Player of the Year Candidates

The minor league season has been over for a week now, and Fall Instructional League begins in less than seven days. As the minor league off-season gets rolling in earnest, it's time to vote for the Farmstros Player of the Year.

Please note: This award is based only on performances in the Astros' minor league system. All players who were on a minor league roster on August 31 are eligible (September call-ups are included). Voting will run through 11:59 p.m. (Minute Maid Park time) on Thursday, September 15.

Remember that the Astros are hosting a night for the Minor League MVPs at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, September 24.

THE CANDIDATES:

Adam Bailey, 23, OF, Lexington/Lancaster/Corpus Christi. Bailey was solid in all three of his stops in 2011- Lexington, 79 games; Lancaster, 30 games; Corpus Christi, 23 games. Combined for the season, Bailey was 155 for 533 (.291) with 24 home runs and 95 RBI.

Chase Davidson, 21, 1B, Greeneville/Tri-City. Davidson went to Greeneville after being drafted in June. In the Appalachian League, he batted .335 in 43 games with 26 extra-base hits, 11 home runs and 44 RBI. The July Farmstros Player of the Month also had 33 runs scored and eight stolen bases for Greeneville before being called up to Tri-City for one game at the end of the season.

Jacob Goebbert, 23, OF, Lancaster/Corpus Christi/Oklahoma City. Goebbert started the season in Lancaster but ended it one level below Houston. Wearing three different uniforms (Lancaster-31 games, Corpus-75 games, Oklahoma City-26 games), Goebbert was 140 for 482 (.290) with 12 home runs and 67 RBI.

Anderson Hernandez, 28, IF, Oklahoma City. The veteran infielder ended the season with the Pacific Coast League's longest hitting streak (30 games). For 2011, Hernandez batted .300 in 136 games. He had 35 extra-base hits, scored 74 runs, batted in 52 and stole 21 bases.

Teoscar Hernandez, 18, OF, DSL Astros. 2011 was Teoscar's first in the Astros' system. For the Dominican Astros, T. Hernandez batted .274 in 65 games. He had 13 doubles, seven triples, seven home runs, 41 runs scored, 35 RBI and 16 stolen bases.

Kody Hinze, 24, IF, Lancaster/Corpus Christi. Between Lancaster and Corpus Christi, Hinze led the organization in home runs (29) and RBI (98). He spent 80 games with Lancaster and 55 with Corpus.

Yonathan Mejia, 18, IF, GCL Astros. Mejia had the top batting average for the Astros' Gulf Coast League entry. He batted .329 with eight doubles and 25 RBI in 40 games.

Jordan Scott, 19, OF, Greeneville/Tri-City/Lexington. After starting the season at Lexington, Scott dropped back to Greeneville where he had his most success. In 60 games as the Greeneville MVP, Scott has twelve doubles, three triples, one home run and 31 RBI. He also stole 11 bases and scored 41 runs.

Chris Wallace, 23, C, Lexington/Corpus Christi. Wallace split his time between Low A and Double AA in 2011. In a total of 102 games, Wallace had 20 home runs and 78 RBI.

Austin Wates, 23, OF, Lancaster.` For the JetHawks in 2011, Wates batted an even .300 in 132 games. He had 23 doubles, nine triples, 75 RBI, 26 stolen bases and 85 runs scored.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cedeno Becomes #11

Xavier Cedeno will become the 11th player to make his big league debut with the Astros this season. The club will purchase his contract and put him on the big league roster. He should join the Astros in Washington. This move is made to compensate for the loss of another lefty, Sergio Escalona who is out for the remainder of the season with the Astros. Cedeno spent most of the season in Corpus Christi's rotation before being promoted to Oklahoma City, pitching out of the RedHawks' bullpen.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Coming Up on Farmstros

With the end of the minor league season, activity in the Farmstros' offices will slow down quite a bit. However, a few items of note are on the calendar for the next few weeks:

September 12-15- Player of the Year Voting
September 18- Fall Instructional League Opens in Florida
September 19-22- Pitcher of the Year Voting
September 24- Minor League MVP Night at Minute Maid Park
September 28- Major League Regular Season ends
October 4- Arizona Fall League Opens
October 18- Fall Instructional League Ends

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Follow the Zach Levine of the Future with us?



The Astros under Drayton McLane have been involved in the community in a variety of ways. The first several pages of the team's media guide highlight the activities of the Astros in Action foundation and the Astros Go Green program.

Having read about this involvement, it was great this season to experience their community involvement first hand.

In April 2011, Alyson Footer, the Astros Senior Director of Social Media generously donated an auction item to the PTA of the school which my children attend. Naturally, the package that Footer and the Astros donated included tickets to an Astros game. However, in addition, the high bidder also received pre-game access to batting practice, the manager's media session and a chance to interview a player.

The prize was redeemed at Saturday's game against Milwaukee. As you can see from the photo above (taken by Footer), the kindergarten-age student was going toe-to-toe with Zach Levine and the Houston media contingent.



After grilling Brad Mills, the young journalist moved on to tackle Brian Bogusevic. He found out that Bogusevic's favorite subject was math and his favorite superhero is Superman. I assume he ran out of time before being able to ask Bogusevic if he would like to start against left-handers more often.

Many thanks to Alyson Footer for going above and beyond what would be expected to help the Astros be involved in the community.

Just to clarify, Farmstros did coordinate this auction item with Alyson Footer, but the prize was actually purchased by another parent at the school. These are pictures of that child.

August/September Player of the Month Candidates

I just posted the candidates for the August/September Player of the Month. You can check them out and vote(through Saturday) at my latest Chron.com post.

Voting for Player and pitcher of the year honors will begin next week, here at Farmstros.

54 HOMERS FOR HOUSTON



Adam Bailey and David Flores hit round-trippers on the final day of the season Monday to bring the total number of HOMERS FOR HOUSTON to 54.

Click here to find out more about HOMERS FOR HOUSTON in support of The Houston Food Bank.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Van Hekken Ends with a Win

Andy Van Hekken ended the 2011 season with a win Saturday night. The left-hander went six innings in his final start of 2011 for Oklahoma City allowing six hits and two runs. Van Hekken raised his record to 9-6 for the year. He lowered his ERA to 3.40, still second best in the Pacific Coast League.

For the season, Van Hekken made 19 starts, posting a 3.64 ERA in 106 1/2 innings pitched. He started 2011 in the RedHawks bullpen, where he made 16 appearances and had a 2.31 ERA in 23 1/3 innings pitched.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Van Hekken's Last Start and Anderson's Hit Streak

Anderson Hernandez and Andy Van Hekken have added some new highlights to their minor league baggage as they head into the final weekend of the 2011 season.

Hernandez, 28, is carrrying a 30-game hitting streak into the campaign's final three games. His streak is the longest in Oklahoma City franchise history and the eighth-longest ever in the Pacific Coast League.

Van Hekken, 32, will make his final start of the season tonight against New Orleans. Van Hekken has spent time in the RedHawks' bullpen and rotation while posting the second-lowest ERA in the league.

2011 Fall Instructional League Roster

Pitchers
Alan Abreu
Ruben Alaniz
Jack Armstrong
Ricardo Batista
Tanner Bushue
Jarred Cosart
Jamaine Cotton
Brandon Culbreth
Dayan Diaz
Robert Doran
Michael Feliz
Evan Grills
Adrian Houser
Christopher Lee
Luis Ordosgoitti
Rodney Quintero
Francis Ramirez
Richard Rodriguez
Tommy Shirley
Nick Tropeano
Vincent Velasquez

Catchers
Ernesto Genoves
Alfredo Gonzalez
Miles Hamblin
Ben Heath
Roberto Pena
Chris Wallace

Infielders
Jean Carlos Batista
Tyler Burnett
Delino DeShields, Jr.
Jose Fernandez
Jonathan Meyer
Jiovanni Mier
Telvin Nash
Jonathan Singleton
Jose Carlos Thompson
Jonathan Villar

Outfielders
Wallace Gonzalez
Brandon Meredith
Ariel Ovando
Javaris Reynolds
Domingo Santana
Jordan Scott
Georger Springer
Austin Wates

Rehab
Enrique Hernandez
James Howick
Chia-jen Lo
Brandt Walker

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who's Coming Up?, Part 2

The Astros announced that five players will be joining Lucas Harrell as September call-ups. In addition, Enerio Del Rosario will return from the disabled list.

The seven September call-ups:

Lucas Harrell, RHP
Chris Johnson, IF
Jordan Lyles, RHP
J.B. Shuck, OF
J.R. Towles
Brett Wallace, 1B

The Amazing Race- Farmstros Edition (Season Finale)

The season finale of the Amazing Race-Farmstros Edition takes racers from coast to coast and, finally, to the big leagues.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hernandez Still Streaking

If Anderson Hernandez gets called up to Houston, he may need to check an extra bag to carry his hitting streak. Hernandez wrapped up the month of August by extending his hitting streak to 29 games. His is the longest hitting streak of the season in the Pacific Coast League. He is 49 for 127 (.386) over the 29 game span.

Seven Arizona Bound, Plus Castro (?)

Seven Astros' prospects will likely be joined by catcher Jason Castro in the Arizona Fall League in a little over a month. The Astros are saving their eighth spot in the Fall development season for Castro, to expedite his return from knee surgery.

The other Astros of the Future who will be playing for the Salt River Rafters between October 4 and November 19:

Jay Austin, OF*
Jake Goebbert, OF
Chris Hicks, RHP
Kody Hinze, 1B
Dallas Keuchel, LHP
Jason Stoffel, RHP
Josh Zeid, RHP

*Austin will be on the taxi squad, meaning he will only play on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Who's Coming Up?

Keep your eyes on the roads and airlines out of Corpus Christi and New Orleans today. You might just see a Hook of RedHawk player getting ready to turn into an Astro for the month of August. It has already been announced that right-handed starter Lucas Harrell will join the club in time to start Friday's game against Milwaukee. Ed Wade has indicated that the club intends to make all its promotions Friday, rather than waiting until the end of the minor league season on Labor Day.

Players on the 40-man roster not currently on the 25-man roster:

Pitchers
Fernando Abad
Jorge DeLeon
Enerio Del Rosario-Disabled
Sergio Escalona- Disabled
Jeff Fulchino
Blake King
Arcenio Leon
Jordan Lyles
Jose Valdez
Henry Villar

Catcher
J.R. Towles

Infielders
Chris Johnson
Brett Wallace

Outfielder
J.B. Shuck

NOTE: If a player not on the 40-man roster is promoted (Brian Esposito, Anderson Hernandez, Andy Van Hekken), another player must be removed from the 40-man roster.

Harrell's Promotion Creates Waves

Not surprisingly, the promotion Lucas Harrell to start for Houston Friday night has led to alterations in the Astros' minor league rotations.

Harrell was scheduled to start Thursday night for Oklahoma City. Harrell will be replaced in the RedHawk rotation by Paul Clemens, who is moving up from Corpus Christi. Jake Buchanan has moved up from Lancaster to Corpus, and is scheduled to start tonight at Whataburger Field.