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Monday, April 30, 2012

An Arm and a Voice Make AAA Debut for RedHawks Tonight

Brett Oberholtzer will take the mound as a AAA pitcher for the first time tonight, so it is fitting that the announcer calling Oberholtzer's RedHawk deubt will be doing AAA play-by-play for the first time as well.

Oberholtzer was promoted from AA in the wake of Jordan Lyles' promotion to Houston.  Oberholtzer had one good start for Corpus Christi so far in 2012, pitching seven scoreless innings.  Unfortunately, he has been the starter in FOUR games.  His ERA was 6.86 in 21 AA innings pitched, with 31 hits allowed.

The RedHawks' new play-by-play announcer Alex Freedman will be calling the game when Oberholtzer takes the mound this evening in Albuquerque. Freedman, who has experience as the play-by-play voice of the High Desert Mavericks takes over mic duties for J.P. Shadrick.  Shadrick, who had been with the RedHawks since the start of the 2011 season, has taken a position with the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL.  The contest begins at 7:35 pm(Minute Maid Park time).

A Farmstros Dream- Each Inning Counts

I usually don't remember my dreams.  On the rare occasion that I do, I have no clue what they mean.  However, I can't get a dream I remember from last night out of my head, so I share it with the Farmstros Village:

As the dream begins I am walking into Union Station.  Strangely, the receptionist in the old train station says, "There expecting you, Mike.  Go right up."  I head toward the elevator and the next thing I know I am in a conference room, I assume in the Union Station offices. 

On a white board is the message "HOW CAN WE SEEM MORE COMPETITIVE NOW?"  Several people are standing around a table looking down at a piece of paper.  The men don't look familiar, but in this dream, I know they are the Astros' decision making team.  They seem quite excited about the piece of paper. 

The leader of the group notices that I am there.  "Oh, Mike," he says, "Glad you made it, we just finished this letter, and we are getting ready to send it to Commisioner Selig, can you make sure you let the Farmstros Village know about it?"  I assure the leader that I will get his letter out, after which my alarm woke me from my slumber.

So at the request of the request of the mysterious leader in my dream, here is the text of the letter:

Dear Commisioner Selig,

Now that the 2012 season is underway and things have settled into a routine at Minute Maid Park, we wanted to congratulate you on your recent addition of two extra teams to Major League baseball's play-off picture.  This move further enhances your legacy of increasing the popularity and vitality of America's past time.

Speaking of your achievements for baseball, we propose another slight alteration in baseball's play-off system.  We are confident that if you implement this improvement, fans will be talking about your effect on the game for years to come.

OUR PROPOSAL: Select the 10 teams eligible for the play-offs based on over-all run differential rather than simple win-loss record.

We feel this change would benefit the game in two ways:


This is a time where more information about the game than ever is available to teams AND fans alike. It would be wise to tap into that information to provide a more worthy field of teams in the play-offs and as a result, a more appealing product for a fan base that is increasingly statistics-savvy.


If the play-off places are determined by run differential, fans of a team trailing(or leading) a game 9-0 in the 8th inning of a game in July will be more likely to stay at the ballpark or keep watching the game on  A solo home run that cuts that lead to 9-1 in July could make all the difference in October.

Commisioner Selig, once again, thank you for all you have done to improve America's past time during your tenure.  We appreciate your consideration of our proposal.

The Astros' Management Team

P.S.: Our team moms have informed us that our players are getting tired of the Capri Sun and Goldfish Crackers that we are currently able to provide as a post-game snack.  Would MLB be willing to provide a small subsidy so that we can provide a more big league appropriate snack for our young players?

Farmstros Call of the Week #4

Drew Muren sent the fans home happy from Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington Saturday night. Muren's walk-off home run(his first round-tripper of 2012) in the bottom of the 11th inning gave the Legends a 5-4 win over Savannah.

Thanks to Keith Elkins for letting me use the audio of his call of Muren's blast.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hooks' Manager Bodie Two Wins Away from 1000

Corpus Christi's 10-1 victory over Frisco Saturday night was the 998th for Keith Bodie in his 16-year managerial career.  Bodie's 998th win came on the strength of Ross Seaton's arm(6 IP, 6 H, and 1 R) and Austin Wates's bat(4 H, 1 HR, 5 RBI).  Bodie and the Hooks play today and tomorrow in Frisco before beginning a series in Midland on Tuesday.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Astros' Low A Starters put Opponents' Bats to Sleep

Lancaster starter R.J. Alaniz and Lexington starter Luis Cruz had equally impressive starts for their Class A teams on Friday night.  Both hurlers pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits, as their teams shut out Stockton and Charleston respectively. 
Alaniz walked two and struck out seven as Lancaster topped the Ports 10-0 at Clear Channel Stadium.  Cruz walked one and struck out six in the Legends 7-0 victory over the RiverDogs at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lyles Back to the Big Leagues on Sunday

Jordan Lyles will be joining the Astros and making a spot start in Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon.  Lyles has made four starts at AAA in 2012, posting a 3.46 ERA in 26 innings.  Sunday was his scheduled turn in the Oklahoma City rotation.  He will fill the empty spot left by Kyle Weiland's injury.  Bud Norris who was scheduled to pitch on Sunday, will now pitch Monday at Minute Maid Park against the Mets.
Lyles' call-up was confirmed by Brad Mills to Zachary Levine, according to Levine's Twitter feed(@zacharylevine).

@TNASH100 Takes on Twitter

If you are on Twitter between 3 and 4 pm(Minute Maid Park Time) Friday afternoon, you may want to back away from the screen just a bit or least grab your glove.  Lancaster JetHawk Telvin Nash(@TNASH100) who leads the California League with nine home runs, is scheduled to interact with fans via Twitter for an hour this afternoon.  In 77 at bats for the JetHawks, Nash is batting .247 with 15 RBI.  He has 11 walks and has struck out 28 times.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012 Farmstros Five Week #3

Here is the Farmstros Five for the week of April 19-25, 2012

The Top Performers:

Brandon Barnes, 25, OF and Jonathan Singleton, 20, 1B, Corpus Christi. Barnes and Singleton were the key ingredients as the Hooks won the first six games of the week at Whataburger Field. Barnes ended the week 9 for 22 with four doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI. Singleton finished up 12 for 26 with two doubles, one triple, three home runs and eight RBI.

The Next Two:

Jimmy Paredes, 23, 2B, Oklahoma City. Paredes had 13 hits in 27 at bats this week. He had five doubles, one home run and five RBI.

Henry Sosa, 25, RHP, Oklahoma City. Sosa pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out six.

The Farmstros Five #5:

Once again this week, the surplus of good performances compel me to put the selection of the fifth spot in the hands of the Farmstros Village. Please vote below.

Mike Foltynewicz, 20, RHP, Lexington. Foltynewicz gave up one run and four hits in his six inning start. He struck out five.

Wes Musick, 25, LHP, Lancaster. Musick made two solid starts in the California League. He pitched 14 1/3 innings and allowed four runs. He had one complete game and allowed 13 hits over the week.

Andrew Simunic, 26, IF, Corpus Christi. Simunic didn't get a lot of at bats in the Hooks' seven games this week. However, when he did get to the plate, he hit the ball. He finished 10 for 17 with two doubles, one home run and seven RBI.

Alex Todd, 22, SS, Lexington. Todd went 12 for 25 on the week. He only had one extra-base hit, a double, but he drove in seven.

Who is the Farmstros Five #5 for Week 3?

Five Things to Keep an Eye/Ear on Tonight

Can Folty Keep it Going? Mike Foltynewicz takes his 1.66 ERA to the mound for Lexington tonight at 6:05(Minute Maid Park Time).  Foltynewicz, who is in his second full pro season, is in the runnning for the Farmstros Five #5 for Week #3.
Which Ryan will Sosa Pitch Like? Henry Sosa(1.69 ERA) is pitching for Oklahoma City tonight against Round Rock at 7:05.  Given the RedHawks' opponent tonight, it will be interesting to see if Sosa pitches more like Nolan or Reid tonight in Oklahoma.
How much did Singleton miss Brandon Barnes?  For the first six games of the current Hooks' homestand, Jonathan Singleton batted before Brandon Barnes, both players hit the cover off of the ball, and the Hooks won six in a row.  Barnes sat out Wednesday's game, Singleton had only one single in three at bats, and the Hooks lost.  Will Barnes be batting after Singleton tonight? You can find out when Corpus Christi takes the field at 7:05 p.m.
Will a Farmstro Make some history in suburban Houston?  Six players who have spent time in the Astros' system will be in uniform tonight when the Sugar Land Skeeters take the field against York at Constellation Field(7:05 pm).  Jimmy Van Ostrand or Drew Locke has a good chance to add first home run in Skeeters' history to his resume.
How Many Home Runs will Telvin Nash hit? Lancaster JetHawk Telvin Nash leads minor league baseball with nine home runs.  He can add to that total tonight at 9:05 at Clear Channel Stadium.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Five With Their Eyes on the 40

Here's more proof that the Astros' organization is becoming more healthy:  as the first month of the season nears its end, at least five players are already making a solid case that they should be added to the 40-man roster after this season.  These five players will be vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft for the first time this off-season.  This is a definite sign of the increased depth in the system.
Jose Cisnero, 23, RHP, Corpus Christi.  Cisnero has made four starts thus far for the Hooks.  He has a 1.83 ERA and has struck out 28 in 19 2/3 IP.
Jacob Goebbert, 24, OF, Corpus Christi. Goebbert is batting .309 with seven extra-base hits and 13 RBI in 16 AA contests.
Dallas Keuchel, 24, LHP, Oklahoma City. The way Keuchel is pitching at AAA, he may be added to the 40-man roster DURING the 2012 season.  In four starts, he has pitched 27 innings and posted a 1.67 ERA.
Brett Oberholtzer, 22, LHP, Corpus Christi. Oberholtzer's first two starts for Corpus were rocky, but in his third outing he pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out eight.
Jason Stoffel, 23, RHP, Corpus Christi. Stoffel has made six appearances out of the Hooks' bullpen.  In 7 1/3 innings, he has struck out seven while posting a 1.23 ERA.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tal Smith to Help with Building of Skeeters, Atlantic League

Apparently building one baseball franchise in the Houston area isn't enough for Tal Smith.  Smith, who was one of the original employees of the Houston Colt .45s, has been named as Special Advisor to Opening Day Partners.  Opening Day Partners is the parent company of the Sugar Land Skeeters, which is preparing to bring indepedent league baseball to the Houston suburbs starting this Thursday. 
Smith has spent 35 years with the Colt .45s/Astros over his 54-year career in baseball.  Most recently, Smith was Houston's President of Baseball Operations from 1994-2011.  He will be advising the Opening Day Partners on many aspects of their business including the Skeeters and new locations for Atlantic League expansion.

A Letter From Junction Jack on a PC

I did not know that Junction Jack (on a PC) was a member of the Farmstros Village.  However, it makes sense.  The big rabbit has been a central figure in cultivating Astros' Fans of the Future for more than a decade.  I am glad to allow him to share his concerns about one aspect of the Astros' future that is close to his quickly-beating rabbit heart.

Dear Farmstros Village,

I am writing you because I hope that my message will strike a chord with you and your unique passion for the Astros’ organization.

First, it is a great honor to be the main mascot of the Houston Astros baseball team. My family’s life was changed forever when Enron Field opened in the spring of 2000, and I got the call to the big leagues. We have been hopping in the lettuce since then.

While my time with the organization has been good, one part of the club’s strategy in 2012 is making it difficult for me to be a completely loyal mascot of the organization. This season, even though I live in Minute Maid Park, I will only be able to watch three games on television with my family. We do see all the team’s home games in person, but we are working during those games, and there is something special about gathering around the TV and just watching the team play without having to worry about entertaining fans.
To clear up any confusion, due to species loyalty and personal financial decisions, the Junction Jack family is a rabbit ears only clan. This is a trait that we share with somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of the people in the Houston area.(200,000-400,000 people). In recent years, we have seen the number of Astros games we can watch on rabbit ears television dwindle; however, we still looked forward to the eight to 12 years a season we would be able to watch.
The 2012 broadcast season is undoubtedly rock bottom for us in this regard. We will only be able to see three Astros games on our TV. Further, two of those games are home games when we are working, so we will be required to record them and watch them later.

Needless to say, the fact that I can see so few Astros games causes great amusement for the Rangers’ mascot- Rangers Captain. He was quick to point out that I can see three Astros games on rabbit ears TV(the same number that I can see in Houston) if I visit Dallas when the Astros and Rangers play. Rangers Captain also mentioned that if I became his side kick(and a Ranger mascot), I could see more than 30 Rangers games, not including the World Series, on Rabbit Ears TV in the Dallas area. I rudely rejected that idea, but I must admit it was tempting.

As if Rangers Captain isn’t annoying enough, Houston’s mascots are giving me the business about this issue as well. The Dynamo’s Diesel is the latest of my tormenters. I have no reply for that orange haired fox when he starts talking about the team’s games being on Channel 2 and having their own monthly show there as well. I’m not proud to admit that I dread the day Swatson and Moe call to tell me that the Sugar Land Skeeters have just signed a deal with Channel 39 to broadcast five games from Constellation Field this season, beginning with the season opener on April 26. There are some days I have to call Sammy Owl over at Rice University just to make it through.

Admittedly, I am just a simple rabbit trying to make a living in the world of baseball. I don’t understand all the financial complexities of sports broadcasting. However, I see the club address the concerns of pockets of fans in communities as far away as San Antonio and Austin, and I can’t help but wonder what they are doing for the “Rabbit Ears” fans like myself right in their backyard.

Thank you for your time,
Junction Jack on a PC

Monday, April 23, 2012

Farmstros Call of the Week- #3

The Oklahoma City RedHawks woke up Monday morning one half game out of first place in their division with a 12-6 record.  A key event in the RedHawks' strong start to the 2012 season to this point was a four-game sweep of the Nashville Sounds in Nashville Wednesday through Friday.  You can listen to J.P. Shadrick's call of the last out of the fourth game of that series as the RedHawks completed their first road sweep since 2009, when they were a Rangers' affiliate.
Unfortunately, bloggers James of Astros County and Brooks of The Crawfish Boxes weren't at the park when the sweep was completed.  The duo were at Herschel Greer Stadium Thursday when the RedHawks took both ends of a doubleheader from Nashville.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tropeano Gets Third Week off to a Good Start

With the help of the Farmstros Village, Lexington starting pitcher Nick Tropeano still has a shot at the fifth spot in the Farmstros Five for Week #2. However, the right-hander was clearly focused on starting off week three of the season tonight in Kannapolis.

Tropeano pitched eight scoreless innings for Lexington allowing four hits and striking out nine, while lowering his ERA in his first full professional season to 0.47. Tropeano(1-0) also picked up his first win of the young season when the Legends broke a scoreless tie with two runs in the top of the ninth. Jason Chowning picked up the save by pitching a scoreless ninth against the Intimidators.

2012 Farmstros Five- Week 2

Here is the Farmstros Five for the week of April 12-18, 2012:

The Top Performer:

Luis Cruz, 21, LHP, Lexington. The Legends called on Cruz two times this week to pitch in long relief of a struggling starter, and Cruz came through twice. In the two outings, he allowed four hits and one run, striking out nine in eight innings pitched.

The Next Three:

Erik Castro, 24, IF, Lancaster. Castro went 9 for 20 for the week. He had two doubles, three home runs and eight RBI.

Jose Cisnero, 23, RHP, Corpus Christi. Cisnero pitched six scoreless innings for the Hooks. He allowed three hits and struck out seven.

Bobby Doran, 23, RHP, Lancaster. Doran was all about the sevens in the California League this week. The JetHawk threw seven scoreless innings, allowing seven hits and striking out seven.

The Farmstros Five #5:

Usually, the top five performers in the system are pretty clear. However, this week three players made the decision difficult, so I turn the final selection over to the real experts- The Farmstros Village. Please vote for the Farmstros Five #5 below.

Jacob Goebbert, 24, OF, Corpus Christi. Goebbert was 9 for 25 with three doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBI.

Dallas Keuchel, 24, LHP, Oklahoma City. Keuchel continued a solid start to his first full AAA season. He made two starts, pitched 14 innings and allowed nine hits and two runs, while striking out eight.

Nick Tropeano, 21, RHP, Lexington. Tropeano pitched six scoreless innnigs, allowing four hits and striking out eight for the Legends.

Who is the Farmstros Five #5 for Week 2?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chris Wallace Breaks up Edwar Cabrera's Perfect Game Bid in the Ninth

Entering Tuesday night's game in Tulsa, the Corpus Christi offense was leading the Texas League in runs, doubles, slugging percentage and batting average. However, their offensive prowess didn't bother Tulsa's starting pitcher left-hander Edwar Cabrera. At least not until Hooks catcher Chris Wallace led off the ninth inning.

Cabrera a 24-year old from the Dominican Republic retired the first 24 Hooks batters on the night, and Tulsa held a 4-0 lead heading into the top of the ninth inning. However, Wallace hit Cabrera's first offering into very shallow left-field and reached first base safely before the second baseman's throw. Wallace's hit broke up Cabrera's bid to become the fourth pitcher in Texas League history to throw a 9-inning perfect game, according to @GregRajan on Twitter.

Cabrera, who is the Rockies' 18th rated prospect according to Baseball America, was removed from the game following Wallace's single. Cabrera had thrown over 100 pitches in the game. Coty Woods relieved Cabrera and retired the final three Hooks batters in order, securing the win for the Drillers.

Farmstros First-Round Five (1965-2011)

With the Astros' 1st pick in the 2012 draft less than seven weeks away, here's a quick looks at the top five players the Astros have selected in the first rounds of the first 47 years of drafts.


Craig Biggio- drafted 22nd over-all in 1987. Biggio made his Astros debut in 1988 and was with Houston until retiring in 2007. Among the highlights of his career, 3060 hits, 668 doubles, 414 stolen bases, 1844 runs, 1175 RBI.

The Other Four:

J.R. Richard- drafted 2nd over-all in 1969. Richard made his Astros debut in 1971 and was with Houston until 1980. He recorded 107 wins and posted a career 3.15 ERA. He had 19 shutouts, 76 complete games and 1493 career strikeouts.

Lance Berkman- drafted 6th over-all in 1997. Berkman made his Astros debut in 1999 and stayed with Houston until 2010. Through the 2011 season, Berkman's big league totals were 1828 hits, 407 doubles, 358 home runs, 1194 RBI and a .296 batting average.

Billy Wagner- drafted 12th over-all in 1993. Wagner made his Astros debut in 1995 and was with Houston until 2003. In his big league career, Wagner recorded 422 saves and had 1196 strikeouts in a little over 900 innings.

Todd Jones- drafted 27th over-all in 1989. Jones made his Astros debut in 1993 and was with Houston until 1996. Over his 16-year big league career he posted 319 saves in almost 1000 appearances.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Farmstros' Village Mom Reports on Legends' Game

As mentioned earlier, my parents were at Monday night's Legends' game against Greenville. My mom even filed a report on the game(which you can hear above)from the Whitaker Bank Ballpark parking lot. She included her thoughts on Mike Foltyneweicz, Scott Zuloaga, and Zach Johnson.

Thanks to Keith Elkins, the Legends' play by play announcer who clarified the confusing play mentioned in the report. Zach Johnson's hit did go past the left fielder. However, Johnson missed first base and was ruled out. This was the third out of the inning, and the run that had scored was disallowed.

Coming Tonight to Whitaker Bank Ballpark

Fans at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington may want to be on the lookout for the couple pictured above at the Legends' game tonight. This is the Mom and Dad of the Farmstros Village. For better or worse, they planted the seeds that grew into the baseball fan that I am today.

People think I am obsessed with baseball when they hear I went to a New Orleans Zephyr game on my honeymoon back in 1998. Well, these two went to a double header at Forbes Field on their honeymoon in September 1962. They watched the Pirates sweep the expansion Mets on September 3, the day after they got married.

Although, they both grew up in Ohio, they have lived in Houston more than 40 years. They are now Astros' fans and have decided to celebrate their 50th anniversary in the same year as Houston's team.

They are currently traveling to Ohio from Houston and have stopped for the night in the Lexington area. They are looking forward to following the Astros of the Future tonight in Kentucky.

May 2012 Transactions

Jonnathan Aristil, RHP, promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.

Adam Bailey, OF, promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.

Brandon Barnes, OF, promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.

Brian Bass, RHP signed as a minor league free agent.  Assigned to Oklahoma City.

Tanner Bushue, RHP, demoted from Lexington to Extended Spring Training.

David Carpenter, RHP, optioned to Oklahoma City.  Promoted to Houston.

Xavier Cedeno, LHP, contract purchased by Houston. Added to 25-man roster.

Hector Corpas, RHP, released.

Jarred Cosart, RHP, promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City. Demoted to Corpus Christi.

Enerio Del Rosario, RHP, promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston. Optioned to Oklahoma City. Promoted to Houston. Optioned to Oklahoma City.

Armando Galarraga, RHP, signed to a minor league contract.

Kyle Hallock, LHP, demoted from Lexington to Extended Spring Training.

Diory Hernandez, IF, released.

Chris Hicks, RHP, promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.

Grant Hogue, OF, activated from disabled list and assigned to Lancaster.

Emilio King, OF, demoted from Lexington to Extended Spring Training.

Jordan Lyles, RHP, promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston. Optioned to Oklahoma City. Promoted to Houston. Optioned to Oklahoma City.

Ryan McCurdy, C, promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.

Brandon Meredith, OF, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington.

Chan Moon, IF, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington.

Jobduan Morales, C acquired from Miami Justin Ruggiano, OF.

Wes Musick, LHP, promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi. Promoted to Oklahoma City.

Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, demoted from Oklahoma City to Corpus Christi.

Luis Ordosgoitti, RHP, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington.

Tyson Perez, RHP, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lancaster.

Euris Quezada, RHP, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington.

Aneury Rodriguez, RHP, promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston. Optoned to Oklahoma City.

Justin Ruggiano, OF, traded to Miami for Jobduan Morales, C.

Henry Sosa, RHP, rights sold to Kia Tigers of Korea.

T.J. Steele, OF, released.

Jose Thompson, IF, released.

Alex Todd, IF, promoted from Lexington to Lancaster.

Jesse Wierzbicki, IF, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington.

Brandon Wikoff, IF, activated from Corpus Christi's disabled list.

Farmstros Call of the Week- #2

On Monday night, Corpus Christi's Jacob Goebbert hit a three-run walk-off home run against Tulsas to send the fans at Whataburger Field home happy. The Hooks won the game 7-4.

As an added bonus, Alex Todd of the Lexington Legends provided a second call of week #2 with a walk-off home run on Friday night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Todd's blast came in the bottom of the 11th inning and gave the Legends a 6-5 win over Kannapolis. You can see Todd's home run about one minute into the video above.

Thanks to the Hooks and Legends for permission to share these videos with the Farmstros Village.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Farmstros Reunion at Constellation Field

Seven former members of the Astros' organization are getting ready to play baseball just down the road from Minute Maid Park for the Sugar Land Skeeters. Canadian Olympian and member of the 2012 class of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Jimmy Van Ostrand(pictured above) spent six years in the Astros' system before being released at the end of this year's spring training. The Skeeters are an expansion team in the Atlantic League, which is the highest level independent league in baseball. Van Ostrand pointed out that playing for the Skeeters gives him a chance to play for all 30 teams, rather than just one. Players in the Atlantic League are eligible to sign with affiliated teams throughout the season.

Drew Locke(pictured above) spent the last three seasons in the Astros' organization in Corpus Christi, Round Rock, and Oklahoma City. He became a minor league free agent for the first time after the 2011 season. Playing for the Skeeters gives Locke a chance to play games close to his hometown of Boston for the first time since he left Boston College. The Skeeters play all their road games on the east coast.

Lance Pendleton(pictured above) is the newest member of the Skeeters. He is joined in the Farmstros reunion by Colton Pitkin, LHP, Gary Majewski, RHP, Ryan Houston, RHP, and Ryan McKeller, RHP. The reunion will continue as seven other former Astros' organization members are on the rosters of other Atlantic League teams. These seven are Kody Kirkland(Lancaster), Gustavo Chacin(Long Island), Santo Luis(York), Raymar Diaz(Bridgeport), Gilbert de La Vara*(Bridgeport), Lou Santangelo(Somerset), and Douglas Arguello(Somerset). *de La Vara never played in the regular season for the Astros or any of their affiliates, but he was a Rule 5 Draft pick who went to Spring Training with the team in 2009.

The Skeeters will head to York, Pennsylvania Monday for Spring Training. They return to Sugar Land for Opening Day on April 26.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Farmstros Five- Week #1

Telvin Nash photo courtesy of @TheLongballFan. Used with permission.

Here are the Farmstros Five for the week of April 5-11, 2012

The Top Performer:

Telvin Nash, 21, 1B/OF, Lancaster. Nash loudly introduced himself to the California League. Nash, who missed much of 2011 with injury, is healthy, and he has the five home runs in the first week of the season to prove it. The JetHawk went 10 for 25 with a double and 10 RBI in addition to the five round-trippers.

The Other Four:

Zachary Johnson, 23, IF, Lexington. Johnson drove in 11 runs for the Legends in the first week of his first full season as a professional. He went 10 for 25 with two doubles and two home runs.

Dallas Keuchel, 24, LHP, Oklahoma City. Keuchel returned to the mound for the RedHawks with a flourish. Keuchel, who ended 2011 with seven up and down AAA starts, pitched six scoreless innings and allowed only two hits in his first start of the 2012 season.

Fernando Martinez, 23, OF, Oklahoma City. The former Met prospect put a good first week on the board for the RedHawks. Martinez was 10 for 28 with three doubles, one home run and seven RBI.

Austin Wates, 23, OF, Corpus Christi. Wates had three 3-hit games in his first week of AA. He was 13 for 26 with four doubles, one triple and five RBI.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dave Raymond on Broadcasting and the Bally Llama

Astros' play by play announcer Dave Raymond took a little time to give a few tips to any potential baseball announcers of the future in the Farmstros Village. He was also willing to squeeze in a few stories from his minor league announcing days including the tale of the Bally Llama of Bend, Oregon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Follow the Astros of the Future...Everyday...Here:

Now that the season is rolling, I wanted to share with you two sources you can go to if you are looking for daily recaps of every game in the Astros' farm system. I intend to keep following the Astros of the Future with such features as THE CALL OF THE WEEK, Farmstros Five, Player of the Month and Pitcher of the Month. However, two bloggers, who have provided some information below about their plans for the season, are more than happy to fulfill your need for a daily rundown.

Brooks Suber- The Crawfish Boxes (Minor League Recaps) I highlight the standout performances (both good and bad) for each level and the score to the game. With some of the players, I'll add a sentence next to their stat. line if something stands out in it. I also include an introduction to the previous night's stat. lines that will highlight what is going on the minor leagues, whether it is player movement, a big play that received a lot of attention, or a specific prospect who is playing really well. I will at times break down a player a little bit by adding in some scouting information or dig deep into their statistics.

Bryan Trostel- Astros County (Prestros) As far as my plans for the season, my intentions are to recap every game and post it by 10 eastern every morning. My recaps will primarily consist of the outcome and final score, a one or two sentence description of the primary storyline of the game, statistical highlights from a handful of players, and the Man of the Match. I will also try to have an Off-day Spotlight, where I give a quick scouting report of a player whose team was off the night before. As those are a little more involved, they may not happen for every off day.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Bottom Line is 200 Fewer At Bats for Kody Hinze

Greg Rajan of the Corpus Christi Caller Times reported that the Texas League has denied the Astros' request that the Corpus Christi Hooks be allowed to use the DH in all of its games this season. Following the ruling, the Hooks will use the DH in their 88 games against American League affiliates(Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Frisco and Midland). However, Hooks' pitchers will still be required to bat, a skill which will become virtually obsolete for them in 2013, in their 52 games against NL affiliates.(Tulsa, Springfield and San Antonio)

The Astros' AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City will send pitchers to the plate in their games against National League affiliates as well. Only 44 of the RedHawks' 140 games are against American League-affiliated teams.

At the moment, Kody Hinze is slated to get a majority of the DH time for Corpus Christi. However, the Texas League decision means 200 fewer at bats for the Astros' to use towards developing an extra hitter, Kody Hinze or others.

Farmstros Call of the Week- #1

My plan is to have the CALL OF THE WEEK be a new feature on Farmstros throughout the 2012 season. With the cooperation of the affiliates' broadcasters, I hope to bring you audio of a top play from the previous week of action in the Astros' farm system.

The highlight of week #1 came on opening night in Adelanto, California, where Lancaster was playing High Desert. The Astros' 2011 #1 draft pick George Springer came to the plate in the top of 6th inning with the JetHawks trailing 7-3. On a 3-2 pitch, Springer came through with a two-out grand slam to tie the game and get the season of following the Astros of the Future off to an excellent start.

The audio came from High Desert's announcer William Calvert and is used with permission.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Sword-bellied Dukes' fans' Shirts Held Scimitars

NOTE: the 2014 Dukes' poem will be posting on Friday, April 18.

Since Opening Day and Easter Sunday usually fall within a few weeks of each other, I began the tradition of commemorating the start of a new season of baseball and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by creating a new baseball poem about a team named the Dukes, which plays its games on the ball fields in my mind. As the weekend begins, here is the fifth installment. In addition, the Farmstros offices will be closed until Monday morning.

If you missed the first four poems you can read them at the following links:
2008- The Golden Sombrero Wearer
2009- Three Days' Journey From Worst to First
2010- The Second Baseman Rides into the Sunset
2011- Ballpark Time Machine

The Sword-bellied Dukes’ fans’ shirts held Scimitars
(The plain-bellied Dukes’ Fans had none upon thars’)

The Dukes began their season with a much-expected thud.
Throughout the town, consensus was that they would be a dud.
They had a lack of hitting and their arms were spotty too.
Their losses would amass, no doubt, before this year was through.

“What should I do?” the owner thought, “To not lose every fan?”
“Another awful year for us, requires a special plan.”

He studied focus groups and talked to ticket holders too.
He even tried the Google. Query? “What should my team do?”
And then one night, it hit him when he saw a falling star.
The answer to his question was an expert from afar.

If people focused on his team, and mishaps on the field,
There’s no doubt falling ticket sales were soon to be revealed.
A master obfuscator’s what he needed on the scene,
And so, he called his friend Sylvester, last name of McBean.

McBean had made a fortune fooling folks with belly stars.
His skill as a deceiver was renowned as above par
His resume? Impressive. He was slick from head to toes.
Most recently, he’d made an emperor some brand new clothes.

He took the job and didn’t wait to put his plan in place.
Diversion was his mission. He pursued it with great haste.

His first task, a new scoreboard that was twice the old one’s size
With all the bells and whistles not a single compromise,
Was only the beginning of the tricks up McBeans’ sleeve
For taking eyes off of the field, so Dukes’ fans wouldn’t leave.

He brought out throwback unis from the Dukes’ teams of the past.
He brought back the old-timers too and sold more tickets fast.
He let dogs come out to the park, let cats run bases too
He held a snake night. To the park, there slithered qui.te a few.

He moved the fences monthly, put a hill near second base.
He sent a long reliever on a trip to outer space.

Each day was orchestrated, calculated, analyzed
To maximize diversion for the Dukes’ fans and their eyes.
“The play is not the thing” could be the slogan for the year,
OR “Look the other way, now won’t you have another beer?”

Many folks DID come and gladly look the other way,
Especially at the three games that were also Nudist Days.

McBean’s reign was amazing. Buzz about the team was mute.
The starting line-up? ERA? These facts all became moot.
His strategy was vast, he left no single stone unturned.
He made sure everybody knew to keep the Dukes’ games spurned.

The play by play announcer was too glad to jump in line.
“Ignore the play that’s on the field?! I do that all the time.”

The media outlets in the town were coaxed aboard as well.
Indeed, McBean created quite a team, his tale to tell.
The local paper’s box scores disappeared on May 15.
Once summer came, the standings page was never to be seen.
(There is a rumor that a guy who kept doing game reports
Found out his beat was changed, and now he covers foreign sports

McBean caught bloggers also with his well-baited scheme,
As more and more they filled their posts with stuff outside the team

The season rolled on quickly and the squad kept losing games.
The wide-eyes fans came to the ball field blithely all the same.
The record was atrocious, but it seemed no one cared.
McBean, indeed a genius, had kept folks unaware.

He left the Dukes abruptly when the season reached its close.
“Elections are next month, there’s no way I am missing those.”

Thursday, April 5, 2012

GRAND Opening for the JetHawks' season, thanks to George Springer

NOTE: The above audio was received from the High Desert announcer, William Calvert, and used with permission. I tried to get the JetHawks' audio, but they had some technical difficulties that made their audio unavailable.

If George Springer was looking to make an impression in the first game of his first full season as a professional, HE DID! Springer, who the Astros' drafted out of the University of Connecticut, hit a Grand Slam with two outs in the top of the sixth inning of the JetHawks' season opener against High Desert.

To add to the suspense of the moment, Springer's blast came off of a full count pitch. The slam tied the contest at seven; however, the JetHawks went on to lose the game, 9-7.

Heading Over to The Crawfish Boxes Minor League Game Thread

I can't think of a better way to wrap up Minor League Opening Day than going over and visiting Subber10 on the Crawfish Boxes while I listen to the JetHawks game.

"Time for the Greatest Day Ever"

"Time for the greatest day ever! Minor league baseball opening day. The real grind."

Thanks to Lancaster reliever Kirk Clark for summing up today perfectly on Facebook this morning.

Clark and his JetHawk teammates will be the fourth of the Astros' four affiliates to start their season today. As the day progresses, I will be updating this page with starting lineups for the four games.

Lexington Legends at Greensboro (6:00 pm- Minute Maid Park time)

Starting Pitcher- Mike Foltynewicz

Delino DeShields, Jr., 2B
Jordan Scott, LF
Zach Johnson, 1B
Matt Duffy, 3B
Emilio King, RF
Michael Kvasnicka, DH
Drew Muren, CF
Roberto Pena, C
Jimmy Howick, SS

Listen to Keith Elkins

Oklahoma City RedHawks vs. Memphis- (7:05 pm- Minute Maid Park time)

Starting Pitcher- Paul Clemens

J.B. Shuck, CF
Angel Sanchez, SS
Fernando Martinez, RF
Mike Hessman, 1B
Brett Wallace, 3B
Brad Snyder, LF
Landon Powell, C
Jimmy Paredes, 2B
Paul Clemens-P

Listen to J.P. Shadrick

Corpus Christi Hooks vs. Northwest Arkansas- (7:05 pm- Minute Maid Park time)

Starting Pitcher- Jarred Cosart

Jonathan Villar, SS
Austin Wates, LF
Kody Hinze, DH
Jonathan Singleton, 1B
Brandon Barnes, CF
T.J. Steele, RF
Jose Martinez, 2B
Chris Wallace, C
Jordan Kreke, 3B

Listen to Matt Hicks

Lancaster JetHawks at High Desert Mavericks- (9:05 pm- Minute Maid Park time)

Starting Pitcher- David Martinez

Jiovanni Mier, SS
Enrique Hernandez, 2B
George Springer, CF
Telvin Nash, LF
Rafael Valenzuela, 1B
Domingo Santana, RF
Jonathan Meyer, 3B
Erik Castro, DH
Rene Garcia, C

Listen to Jason Schwartz

Bumper Crop of Talent to Take the Field in Corpus Christi

If Baseball America's evaluation means anything, there could be more wins for the home team at Whataburger Field this year. Baseball America ranked the Corpus Christi Hooks as the eighth most-talented minor league team in baseball for the 2012 season. The club boasts the Astros' two top prospects in 1B/OF Jonathan Singleton and opening day starter Jarred Cosart. According to the rankings, the 2012 Hooks may be the most talented Astros' affiliate in a decade.

In addition to Singleton and Cosart, the Hooks roster includes Jonathan Villar(#4), Brett Oberholtzer(#7), Jake Buchanan(#13), Ross Seaton(#16), Austin Wates(#18), Jose Cisnero(#26), Chris Wallace(#30), and Adam Bailey(#31), all of whom are ranked among the Astros' top 31 prospects. In addition, recent trade acquistion Kevin Chapman is in the Hooks' bullpen. Chapman was rated as the #18 prospect in the Royals' organization.

If the talented roster lives up to its potential, it would provide a change of scenery on the Corpus Christi scoreboard. Over the past four years, the Hooks have averaged a winning percentage of .409, bottoming out with a 50-90 record in 2011.

An added bonus for fans heading to Whataburger Field this season: The Hooks will face the #3 (Frisco-16 games) and #10 (Tulsa-6 games) teams a total of 22 times in Southeast Texas over the course of this season.

JetHawks' Bullpen Boasts Two top Save Guys

The two pitchers with the highest save totals in the Astros' farm system in 2011 will start out 2012 together in the Lancaster JetHawks' bullpen. Jorge DeLeon spent 2011 with Lexington and recorded 16 saves in 43 appearances. It was DeLeon's first full pro season as a pitcher. He is on the Astros' 40-man roster. Kirk Clark returns to Lancaster for a second season after recording 19 saves in 53 appearances last year. Clark also led Houston's minor league system in saves in 2010 with Lexington. Mark Melancon led the entire organization with 20 big league saves last season.

These Guys will be Pitching Every Five Days

Following are the Starting Rotations for the Astros four affiliates. I have listed them in alphabetical order.

Oklahoma City(AAA)
Paul Clemens- 26 starts in 2011
Dallas Keuchel- 27 starts
Jordan Lyles- 25 starts/32 appearances
Aneury Rodriguez- 8 starts/43 appearances
Henry Sosa- 14 starts/31 appearances

Corpus Christi(AAA)
Jake Buchanan- 26 starts
Jose Cisnero-27 starts
Jarred Cosart- 26 starts/27 appearances
Brett Oberholtzer- 27 starts
Ross Seaton- 28 starts

Lancaster(High A)
R.J. Alaniz- 21 starts/27 appearances
Bobby Doran-13 starts/22 appearances
Zachary Grimmett-18 starts/30 appearances
David Martinez-5 starts/37 appearances
Wes Musick- 5 starts/21 appearances

Lexington(Low A)
Tanner Bushue- 19 starts
Jonas Dufek- 11 starts
Mike Foltynewicz- 26 starts
Kyle Hallock- 13 starts
Nick Tropeano-12 starts

The Countdown to 98

Beginning March 29, Farmstros will be using its resources to fill in the 98 slots on the 2012 rosters of Houston's four minor league affiliates. The four clubs begin play on April 5. If you have any information about player assignments, please leave that information in the commments section below. Check who is playing where at the links below as the Farmstros Village counts down to 98.

Based on what's going on on Twitter to this point in time, it looks like @subber10 and @larryemccoy will be on the cutting edge of finding out who is going where in the next few days. NOTE: I will be updating rosters as I am able to get relatively good confirmation. However, these are subject to change up until opening day on April 5.

Oklahoma City RedHawks

Corpus Christi Hooks

Lancaster JetHawks

Lexington Legends

Extended Spring Training

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It Will be Weird to Not Hear Jeff Lasky on Opening Night

As much as I am looking forward to Opening Day tomorrow, with all four of the Astros' affiliates kicking off their seasons, I am not looking forward to not hearing Jeff Lasky calling the final game of the four from California.

My home is quietest late at night, and, as a result, I listen to more minor league games in the wee hours than any other time over the course of the baseball season. In the three seasons since the Astros moved their High A affiliate to Lancaster, I have had numerous opportunities to hear Jeff Lasky call JetHawks' games. However, after six seasons in Lancaster, Jeff Lasky has moved on. Jeff is "taking the summer off at the moment, unless something else comes up."

I'm not sure if I will be able to listen to some of the earlier games on Opening Day, but I do plan to check in on the JetHawks and their new voice, Jason Schwartz, when the club travels to High Desert tomorrow at 9 p.m.(Minute Maid Park) I am sure it will be fun to listen to the first game of the season, but it is going to take me some time getting used to not hearing Jeff Lasky.

Legends Have Their Five Starters

Sources indicate that Michael Foltynewicz, Kyle Hallock, Nick Tropeano, Jonas Dufek, and Tanner Bushue will the Lexington Legends' starting rotation when the 2012 season begins Thursday. A member of the Farmstros Village gathered this information from Keith Elkins, the voice of the Legends, at an event held by the club Tuesday. According to the Legends' website, Foltynewicz will be the starter when the club opens its season Thursday in Greensboro. Foltynewicz was the starting pitcher in Lexington's 2011 opener also.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, seven pitchers on the Legends' roster this season have experience starting as professionals. Based on the above news, it appears Carlos Quevedo and Luis Cruz will be making the move to the bullpen as the 2012 campaign commences.

Shuck is Heading to Oklahoma

It turns out that J.B. Shuck will be a Farmstros for a little while longer. Shuck has been optioned to AAA and will begin the season with Oklahoma City on Thursday.

NOTE: The audio above is THE BALLAD OF J.B. Shuck

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The (Chris) Wallace Report, Part 3

I had a chance to talk to Chris Wallace Tuesday in what should be the final Spring Training installment of The (Chris) Wallace Report. Chris looked back on his Spring Training and talked about hitting a dramatic grand slam off of Kevin Chapman in 2011.

The (Chris) Wallace Report is made possible by ALUMINUM CAN MUSIC MAN who reminds you to SPEND EARTH DAY AT THE BALLPARK.

Ten Who Apparently won't be on a Roster Thursday

I just finished adding player assignments to the database, and I noticed 10 players of note who won't be on the field Thursday. However, some of them may be on the Extended Spring Training fields of Kissimmee.

Who's missing?
Jack Armstrong, Jr., P
Jay Austin, OF
Chase Davidson, 1B
Brad Dydalewicz, P
Grant Hogue, OF
Adrian Houser, P
Dan Meszaros, P
Ariel Ovando, OF
Vincent Velasquez, P
Brandon Wikoff, IF

NOTE: As commented below, Austin, Dydalewicz, and Wikoff are injured. Jeff Luhnow indicated in a live chat at that Chase Davidson is injured.

Seven Starters in Lexington

Seven pitchers who have primarily been starters as professionals are listed on the preliminary roster for the Lexington Legends. Assuming all seven pitchers stay with the Legends until opening day on Thursday, it will be interesting to see who is moving to the bullpen.
You can check out the rosters of all four affiliates at this link.

The "Starters"
Tanner Bushue- 16 starts for Lexington in 2011
Luis Cruz- 18 starts in 22 appearances for Lexington/Lancaster
Jonas Dufek- 11 starts for Tri-City
Mike Foltynewicz- 26 starts for Lexington
Kyle Hallock- 13 starts for Tri-City
Carlos Quevedo- 26 starts in 27 appearances for Lexington
Nick Tropeano- 12 starts for Tri-City

JetHawks Take the Field Tonight in Lancaster

The 2012 Lancaster JetHawks take the field at Clear Channel Stadium for the first time Tuesday night at 7 p.m.(Minute Maid Park Time). The JetHawks new manager Rodney Linares will lead his team against the Universtiy of Antelope Valley in a seven-inning contest. The UAV baseball program is in its first season. The Pioneers play their home games at Clear Channel Stadium.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Shuck is Back in Texas

JB Shuck is back in Texas with his Astros organization-mates for a game tonight at Whataburger Field. Depending on how the next few days play out, Shuck may not be appearing on these pages after Friday. He has a good chance to make the Astros' Opening Day roster, meaning he would no longer be an Astro of the Future.

The above audio was from the last time Shuck came to Texas. He traveled from Ohio to Corpus Christi for Houston's CAREavan during the off-season.

If you came to this site looking for THE BALLAD OF J.B. SHUCK, you can find it at this link. Thanks.

If You Don't See Them in Corpus Tonight, You might want to Try OKC

A large portion of the players in the upper levels of the Astros' organization will be in Corpus Christi tonight when the Astros take on their AA affiliate Hooks at 6 p.m. However, some players in the system are already on their way to AAA Oklahoma City and will miss out on the festivities at Whataburger Field.

The 2012 RedHawks are scheduled to have closed practices on their home field Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The Astros' AAA affiliate begin their season at home Thursday night against Memphis.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 2012 Transactions

Fernando Abad, LHP, optioned to Oklahoma City. Promoted to Houston.

Daniel Adamson, OF, released.

Jonnathan Aristil, RHP, promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City. Demoted to Corpus Christi.  Promoted to Oklahoma City. Demoted to Corpus Christi.

Adam Bailey, OF, demoted from Corpus Christi to Lancaster.

Brian Bixler, IF, optioned to Oklahoma City. Promoted to Houston. Optioned to Oklahoma City.

Tyler Burnett, IF, released.

Collin Delome, OF, released.

Brad Dydalewicz, LHP, activated from Disabled List and assigned to Lancaster.

Chris Epps, OF, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington.

Adalberto Flores, RHP, demoted to Corpus Christi. promoted to Oklahoma City.

Jake Goebbert, OF, demoted from Oklahoma City to Corpus Christi.

Miles Hamblin, C, demoted from Lexington to Extended Spring Training.

John Hinson, IF, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington.

Jordan Lyles, RHP, promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston. Optioned to Oklahoma City.

Ryan McCurdy, C, demoted from Lancaster to Extended Spring Training. Promoted to Lancaster.

Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.

Nate Pettus, RHP, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington.

Ross Seaton, RHP, promoted to Oklahoma City. Demoted to Corpus Christi.

Alex Sogard, LHP, promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.