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Friday, November 30, 2012

Hooks fans can Still Move to the Front of the Line for Baseball in the Alamodome

Corpus Christi Hooks fans still have a few hours to move to the front of the line if they want to buy tickets to the Big League Weekend scheduled for March 2013 in San Antonio.  Tickets for the first baseball games ever to be played in the Alamodome, between the Texas Rangers and the San Diego Padres, go on sale Friday at noon.  However, the Hooks organization has offered their fans an early chance to buy tickets for the event through their website.

Many of the players on the field for the Rangers and Padres will be familiar to regular patrons at Whataburger Field.  The San Antonio Missions, the Padres' AA affiliate since 2007, have played several series a year in Corpus.  Texas' AA affiliate Frisco has been a regular visitor at Whataburger Field since it opened in 2005.

The Rangers and Padres are scheduled to play exhibition games Friday, March 29 at 7:05 pm and Saturday, March 30 at 1:05 pm. Ticket prices for the games range from $10-$55.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2013 Farmstros Hall of Fame Ballot

With the BBWAA voting for the 2013 Hall of Fame class underway, here is a chance for readers of this blog to cast their own ballot.  For the sake of the integrity of this poll, please follow the same rule instituted by the BBWAA.  You may vote for 0-10 players.  Only one vote per reader, please.

Votes will be accepted until 9:59 PM (Minute Maid Park time) on Friday, December 14, 2012.  I will post the results the next week.

Put on your Baseball Writer hat and...go!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sebastian Valle Would be a Familiar Face to Jarred Cosart

When or if Wilton Lopez is officially dealt to the Phillies, the player(or one of the players) Houston receives in return may be very familiar to starting pitcher Jarred Cosart.  During Cosart's time with the Philadelphia organization, his primary catcher was Sebastian Valle, who has been speculatively mentioned as the prospect the Astros will pick-up for Lopez.

Valle caught 25 of Cosart's 38 professional starts in the Philadelphia organization. Cosart and Valle were battery-mates in Lakewood in 2010 and in Clearwater in 2011.  The 2010 Lakewood team also included Jonathan Villar, Jon Singleton, Domingo Santana, and Josh Zeid.

Rule 5 Comparison: Jason Stoffel and Rhiner Cruz

It has been a while since the Astros faced the real possibility of losing a player in the Rule 5 draft.  The last time they actually lost a player in the major league phase of the draft was before Farmstros made its appearance online.  Given these facts, I hope you will bear with me as I attempt a foray into this new area of covering the Astros of the Future.

One player the Astros left unprotected heading into December is Jason Stoffel.  Stoffel is a right-handed relief pitcher who spent the 2012 season with the Astros' AA affiliate.  Interestingly, in last December's draft, Houston picked a right-handed reliever who spent most of his 2011 season with the Mets' AA affiliate, Rhiner Cruz. Cruz, who stayed on the Astros' 25-man roster throughout the 2012 season, was the first over-all selection in 2011.

A comparison of Cruz in 2011 and Stoffel in 2012:

Rhiner Cruz, 25(on day of 2011 Rule 5 draft).
2011 Stats.:
w/High A, St. Lucie
8 Games, 13 IP, 9 H, 6 BB, 18 K, 2.77 ERA, (2-1, 0 Saves)
w/AA, Binghamton
36 Games, 59 IP, 43 H, 39 BB, 51 K, 4.14 ERA, (3-2, 7 Saves)

Jason Stoffel, 24(on day of 2012 Rule 5 draft).
2012 Stats:
w/AA, Corpus Christi
56 Games, 58 IP, 41 H, 16 BB, 57 K, 2.33 ERA, (2-1, 27 Saves)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Catchers and the Rule 5 Draft

Shortly after the Astros set their 40-man roster last week, I read some speculation that catcher Carlos Perez could be lost in the Rule 5 Draft.  Perez, who was acquired from Toronto during the summer, was left off of the 40-man roster, and is vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft next Thursday.

My first reaction to the speculation was that Perez, who finished the season playing 26 games with High A Lancaster, was too low in the Astros' system to be coveted by another organization at this point in time.  Would a big league team be willing to have an undeveloped player man the catcher position one or two times a week for the entire season?  I doubted it.

My second reaction to the speculation was to do some research about catchers and the Rule 5 Draft. Thanks to Wikipedia, here is what I uncovered:

In the last 10 Rule 5 Drafts(2002-2011), just seven catchers have been selected in the major league phase(178 players have been selected over-all).  No catchers have been selected in the last three editions of the Rule 5 draft.  Of the seven catchers selected, two of them stuck with the team that drafted them throughout the next season.

The Seven Selected:

2008- Lou Palmisano- drafted by Baltimore.  Highest Level in 2008- High A- 19 games.

Palmisano, who was traded by Baltimore to Houston before the 2008 season, never played in the major leagues.

2008- James Skelton- drafted by Arizona.  Highest Level in 2008- AA- 24 games.

Skelton never played in the major leagues.

2006- Jesus Flores- drafted by Washington.  Highest Level in 2006- High A- 120 games.

Flores stuck with Washington through 2007.  He is still with the Nationals and has played a total of 311 games with them through 2012.  Thanks to @andrewtyler on Twitter for pointing out my errant information in the original post.(I had posted that Flores never made it to the majors.)

2006- Adam Donachie- drafted by Philadelphia.  Highest Level in 2006- AA- 29 games.

Donachie never played in the major leagues.

2006- Ryan Budde- drafted by Philadelphia.  Highest Level in 2006- AAA- 72 games.

Budde did not stick with the Phillies, but he has played 29 games in the big leagues with the Angels.

2003- Chris Shelton- drafted by Detroit.  Highest Level in 2003- AA- 35 games.

Shelton stuck with a rebuilding Tigers team through the 2004 season.  However, he spent more time as a first baseman or outfielder than he did as a catcher.  Shelton went on to play 299 games in the major leagues.

2002- Ronny Paulino- drafted by Kansas City.  Highest Level in 2002- High A- 119 games.

Paulino was sent back to Pittsburgh and eventually became the Pirates' starting catcher for two seasons.  Through 2012, he has played 725 big league games. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

This Hall of Fame Candidate Used to be a Farmstro

The photo above is from the cover of the Astros' August 1989 game program.  This was Biggio's first full season in the big leagues.  The photo was credited to F. Carter Smith.

As of Wednesday, Craig Biggio's name will be on the ballot for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time.  If he is elected, Craig Biggio, who spent his entire 20-year career with the Astros, will become the first player inducted into the hall in an Astros' cap.

Biggio, selected by the Astros in the 1987 draft, did not spend much time in the minor leagues.  He played for Asheville(Class A) in 1987.   He spent part of the 1988 season with AAA Tucson before getting called up to the Astrodome in June 1988. Needless to say, he stuck.

Biggio's long-time teammate Jeff Bagwell is on the ballot for the third time.  He received 56 percent of the votes cast by qualified members of the Baseball Writers Association of America last year.  75 percent of all ballots cast are needed for induction.

The results of this year's balloting are scheduled to be announced January 9, 2013.  Next summer's induction ceremony is slated for July 28, 2013 in Cooperstown, New York.

A poem about #5 and #7

Six Possibilities for the Rule 5 Draft

by Jared Webb 
You can follow Jared on Twitter @webberoo11 where  Jared dedicates "more brain bytes to the Astros re-construction effort than (he) does to breathing."

With the holiday season right around the corner, I find myself doing a lot of window shopping.  What free agent am I getting this year?  Maybe Jeff will get me a DH/1B in Mike Napoli, or maybe a 6'7" command/control pitcher like Brandon McCarthy.   

Okay, so maybe our relationship isn't to that point yet, but maybe Mr. Lunhow will try to find me a great discount gift in the Rule 5 draft.  I'm sure we all hope he will find the next Dan Uggla,Johan Santana, or maybe even Roberto Clemente.   

Last year the Astros took Marwin Gonzalez (slick fielding, slap hitting utility infielder) and Rhiner Cruz (big armed reliever).  The strategy for the Rule 5 Draft seems to be finding a stop gap for a position where the organization lacks depth.   

This year there are a few names that stand out as more legitimate prospects who might not be quite ready for the show. Others are ready for the big leagues but may not be polished enough to be everyday players.  The question that Jeff Lunhow will have to answer is do we stash a prospect with possible impact tools, or do we go for the spot filler.  I'm going to list a few players who are worth considering for this years Rule 5 selection.

Aguilar is probably the most intriguing name available in this year's Rule 5 Draft.  He was one of Cleveland's representatives for the 2102 Futures Game.  He is a big, strong player standing at 6'3", weighing 257 pounds, and he boasts raw power to go with his size.  He played at two levels this year and raked at both HiA and AA (.280/.372/.461).  He also managed to hit 15 HR between the two levels while posting 115/58 strike out to walk numbers.  Baseball America has Aguilar rated as the Indians #9 prospect (Cleveland isn't known for prospect depth), while Jonathan Mayo has him as #11.   

Aguilar doesn't offer much defensively, but he could fit a future DH role nicely.  The question the Astros have to ask is do we take Aguilar (an unfinished product) and stash him for future potential?

When you are able to claim the title "Best" anything in the Rangers' organization, then you should be proud.  McGuiness was cited as having the best strike zone discipline in the Rangers' system in 2011.  He was dethroned by Jurickson Profar in 2012.   McGuiness spent this year in the AA Texas League (arguably the deepest prospect league) and put up good numbers for Frisco .268/.366/.474 while hitting 23 HR.  He followed up that solid regular season by winning the AFL MVP (.283/.370/.467/4HR) in a fall league that was touted for a great batch of offensive prospects.  McGuiness isn't a big guy at 6-1, 210 pounds, but he does pack some pop.   

With the Rangers looking at other first base options, he could be the diamond-in-the-rough the Astros are looking for as this was his first season with 500 at bats. He could take over at 1B until Singleton is ready, or he could fill a DH role.  McGuiness is also known to provide good defense  at 1b.  Another factor in play in the evaluation of McGuiness is what the Astros think of Brett Wallace.

To be honest if we grabbed this guy and he turned into something big. it would be a great get to rub in the Rangers face for years to come.

Editor's Note:  McGuiness was a teammate of Asher Wojciechowski at the Citadel during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Nick could fit the Jeff Lunhow mold, as he is a command guy with a low 90's FB and a Sinker/Slider combo. I noticed during the trade season that Lunhow favored command, sinker/slider guys.  Struck led his AA team(Tennessee) in strikeouts with 123 while walking only 44, and boasting a low 3.18 ERA.  He took on a heavy workload, throwing 155 regular season innings, and continued refining his secondary stuff in the Arizona Fall League.  His body size says he will be a back-end rotation pitcher or a reliever, but with his pitch combo he could do well at Minute Maid.  He has put up good numbers in every season in the minors, and could have been overlooked due to his size.   

This is a situation where we could take Struck from the Cubs as compensation for interviewing Jim Deshaies.  I'm heavily in favor of punishing teams who have been our rivals.

Chaffe profiles as a reliever, and his stuff took a nice jump this year.  His FB increase from a low 90's offering to a 94-96 pitch which is complemented by a power curve.  He only threw 66 innings this year, but has AA and AAA experience.  In 08/09, Chaffe was ranked the 21st best prospect in the Angels farm system.   

One unique thing about Chaffe is that he boasts three different arm actions depending on which pitch he is throwing. This is another reason to see him as a reliever.

If the Astros are looking for pure stuff, Lara might be their guy.  He has a 92-95 FB that jumps on hitters.  He also has a two-seamer that jams up lefties.  His curve and change flash plus, but he lacks consistency.  Lara could be considered a Rhiner Cruz type pick.  A guy who has a big arm and big stuff but needs to learn that good hitters can hit good pitches.   

Lara hasn't pitched higher than HiA, but could be a player to stash.  In 2011, he was ranked #21 in the rays prospect list.

James is a guy who definitely fits the Rule-5 mold.  He is an incredibly toolsy OF who is still learning how to put it together.  James could easily be picked up and used as a 4th OF and pinch-runner type.  Jiwan has been able to pull in a few different honors in his time with the Phillies, such as Best Athlete, Best OF Defender, Fastest Base Runner, and Best OF Arm.  He has been in the Phillies top 15 from 2009-2011, peaking at #7 in 2010 ahead of Domingo Santana.  His bat normally wouldn't stick on a 25-man roster at this stage of his career. However, he could be stashed and used as a defender over a guy like Brandon Barnes who also might have trouble hitting major league pitching.   

Additionally, James was a YouTube star for an amazing catch he made in 2012.
One thing the Astros do have an advantage on is the space to stash a guy and let him ride out the season.  They might be in danger of  losing a few prospects that fans have had their eyes on  (Stoffel/Krauss/Zeid),  but this is a risk reward game.  It's hard to say who is the best choice, but I do think the Astros will take someone in the Rule 5 Draft this year.  Hopefully, Jeff will put a lot of thought into what he gets me this year so that our relationship continues to blossom into something beautiful.   

I'm not sure the Rule 5 Draft will have near the impact for fans as the Rule 4(June) Draft, but as fans of a rebuilding system we need to grab onto whatever we can.  I, for one, will watch in anticipation hoping the name called will be someone who will make an impact for years to come.

My Choice- Jesus Aguilar
Reasoning-I think we stand a good chance of losing Mark Krauss.  That being said I believe Aguilar has enough pop and plate discipline to be a valid replacement,

Smart Choice- Chris McGuiness
Reasoning-One thing we lack is guys who understand the strike zone.  McGuiness may not have the raw power of Aguilar, but if he puts up a .330 OBP and hits 10-15 HR I will be pleased.  Also McGuiness can offer a defensive upgrade at 1B if Wallace fails to hit.

c2012 Jared Webb.  Used with permission.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Astros No Longer Have the Smallest 40-Man Roster in the American League

After yesterday's deadline for setting 40-man rosters, the Astros have 36 players on their roster. This is the second smallest number in the American League. Below is a rundown of how many players each major league team has on their 40-man roster. Teams with a full complement of 40 players are disqualified from participation in next month's Rule 5 Draft.

American League
Kansas City-40
Los Angeles-34
New York-40
Tampa Bay-38

National League
Los Angeles-38
New York-39
St. Louis-39
San Diego-40
San Francisco-35

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

40-Man Roster

Here is the Astros' 40-man roster: (Ages are as of Opening Day 2013)

Ambriz, 28
Cedeno, 26
Cisnero, 23-optioned to Oklahoma City
Clemens, 25- optioned to Oklahoma City
Cosart, 22-optioned to Oklahoma City
Cruz, 26
Demel, 27-optioned to Oklahoma City; claimed off of waivers by the Yankees
Ely, 26- optioned to Oklahoma City
Fields, 27
Harrell, 27
Humber, 30
Keuchel, 25- optioned to Oklahoma City
Lo, 26- optioned to Corpus Christi
Lyles, 22- optioned to Oklahoma City
Norris, 28
Oberholtzer, 23-optioned to Oklahoma City
Owens, 25-optioned to Oklahoma City
Peacock, 25
Seaton, 23-optioned to Oklahoma City
Veras, 32
White, 24
Wright, 28

Castro, 25
Corporan, 29

Altuve, 22
Carter, 26
Cedeno, 30
Dominguez, 23
Elmore, 25- optioned to Oklahoma City
Freiman, 26- claimed off of waivers by Oakland
Gonzalez, M, 24
Greene, 29- released
Pena, 34
Villar, 21- optioned to Oklahoma City
Wallace, 26

Barnes, 26
Grossman, 23- optioned to Oklahoma City
Martinez, F., 24
Martinez, J., 25- optioned to Oklahoma City
Maxwell, 29
Paredes, 24- optioned to Oklahoma City

Non-Roster Invitees
Ankiel, OF-added to 25-man roster
Bedard, LH-added to 25-man roster
Chapman, LHP
Crowe, OF
DeShields, 2B-reassigned to minor league camp
Escalona, LHP, reassigned to minor league camp
Fick, RHP, reassigned to minor league camp
Garcia, C
Goebbert, OF-reassigned to minor league camp
Gonzalez, E., RHP-reassigned to minor league camp
Jaramillo, C-reassigned to minor league camp
Krauss, OF-reassigned to minor league camp
Laird, IF
Lin, OF, reassigned to minor league camp
Martinez, Jose, IF
Perez, C, reassigned to minor league camp
Springer, OF-reassigned to minor league camp
Stassi, C-reassigned to minor league camp
Valdez, RHP
Wallace, C., C-reassigned to minor league camp
Zeid, RHP, reassigned to minor league camp

Turning 50 into 40

The Astros need to set their 40-man roster by November 20.

Following are the 50 players that figure to be in consideration as the 40-man roster is constructed.
(Players in bold are not currently on the 40-man roster.  Ages are as of Opening Day 2013. Players in italics are no longer on the 40-man roster)

Current Count on the 40-man roster- 31

Abad, 27- Outrighted to Oklahoma City(Free Agent)
Ambriz, 28
Cedeno, 26
Cisnero, 23-Added to the 40-man roster
Clemens, P., 25
Cosart, 22
Cruz, 26
DeLeon, 25- Outrighted off of the 40-man roster(Free Agent)
Demel, 27- Claimed off of waivers from Arizona
Escalona, 28- Outrighted to Oklahoma City(Free Agent)
Fick, 27- Outrighted to Oklahoma City
Gonzalez, E., 29- Outrighted to Oklahoma City(Free Agent)
Harrell, 27
Keuchel, 25
Leon, 26- Claimed off of waivers by Milwaukee
Lo, 26- Was not included in my original 50- added to the 40-man roster
Lopez, 29
Lyles, 22
Norris, 28
Oberholtzer, 23- Added to the 40-man roster
Owens, 25
Rodriguez, 28
Seaton, 23-Added to the 40-man roster
Stoffel, 24-not added
Storey, 27- Claimed off of waivers by the Yankees
Valdez, 30- Outrighted to Oklahoma City; (Free Agent)
Weiland, 26- Outrighted to Oklahoma City
Wright, 28

Castro, 25
Corporan, 29
Snyder, 32- Free Agent

Altuve, 22
Dominguez, 23
Downs, 29- Outrighted to Oklahoma City, released
Elmore,25- Claimed  off of waivers from Arizona
Gonzalez, M., 24
Greene, 29
Laird, 25
Lowrie, 28
Moore, 29-Outrighted to Oklahoma City
Villar, 21- Added to the 40-man roster
Wallace, 26

Barnes, 26
Bogusevic, 29- Outrigthed off of the 40-man roster(Free Agent)
Grossman, 23- Added to the 40-man roster
Krauss, 25- not added

Lin, 24
Martinez, F., 24
Martinez, J., 25
Maxwell, 29
Paredes, 24
Schafer, 26-Claimed off of waivers by Atlanta
Shuck, 25- Outrighted off of the 40-man roster, released

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gouvea Turns out to be Panama's Worst Nightmare

Murilo Gouvea and his Brazilian teammates advanced from Panama to the Final 16 of the World Baseball Classic, which will take place in March 2013.  Team Brazil, managed by Barry Larkin, knocked off host Panama 1-0 Monday night.  It was Brazil's second victory over Panama in five days.

Gouvea, who spent 2012 and most of 2011 with Lexington, shut down Panama's batters in relief for the second straight time.(Gouvea played for Tri-City in 2010 and 2011.) He allowed just one walk and two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings Monday night.  In Thursday's victory over Panama, Gouvea retired the first 10 batters he faced and finished with 3 1/3 scoreless innings and three strikeouts.  The two outings against Panama were Gouvea's only appearances in the tournament.

Astro of the Future vs. Astro of the Past Again in Panama

Two players with close ties to the Houston Astros organization could play a central role Monday night in Panama City when the 16th spot in the final stage of the World Baseball Classic is decided tonight.  Panama, whose roster includes Carlos Lee, will host Brazil at 7 pm(Minute Maid Park time). Brazil's roster includes right-handed reliever Murilo Gouvea, who spent 2011 and 2012 pitching for the Lexington Legends and is still a part of the Astros' system.  Video of the game will be available at the WBC website.

Lee, who was with the Astros from 2007-2012, is 2 for 13 during three games of the qualifying tournament.  One of his hits was a two-run home run. 

Gouvea, 24, has been with the Astros' organization since the 2010 season.  He retired the first 10 Panamanian batters he faced in relief Thursday night, when Brazil defeated Panama.  Lee was 1 for 2 with a single against Gouvea during that game. 

The winner of tonight's game advances to the final stage of the World Baseball Classic, which will be held March 2-19, 2013.

'Tis the Season... To Rate Prospects

With Thanksgiving just three days away, this is a week for cooking turkey, watching football and putting those Christmas lights on the abode.  However, more importantly, late November is the time when various publications(online and otherwise) regularly unveil their updated rankings of minor league prospects.  In case you get your fill of mashed potatoes this week, feel free to give your food a chance to digest while you check out what a few sources think about the Astros' prospects.

The '13 Prospects of Christmas by Jared Webb

Astros County Top 25(five at a time) by Bryan Trostel Top 20 by Jonathan Mayo

The Crawfish Boxes- Top 30 (includes a podcast detailing the selections and more)

Fan Graphs- Top 15

Baseball Prospectus- Top 10 (subscription is required to read the scouting reports on the 10)

Baseball America- Top 10 (Top 30 is included in the Prospect Handbook.)

Minor League Ball- Top 20 by John Sickels

Friday, November 16, 2012

Astros Have Smallest 40-man Roster in AL

Major League teams have until November 20 to set their 40-man rosters. Based on the rosters on each team's official website, here are the player counts as of Friday afternoon:  

NOTE:  As best I can tell, the counts don't include the pending Miami/Toronto trade.

American League
Kansas City-40
Los Angeles-31
New York-33
Tampa Bay-35

National League
Los Angeles-36
New York-33
St. Louis-36
San Diego-38
San Francisco-30

The Curious Case of Chia-jen Lo

As the Astros approach the November 20 deadline to set their 40-man roster, the most intriguing decision they have to make involves right-handed pitcher Chia-jen Lo.

As of this morning, Houston has nine empty spots on their 40-man roster.  Several of these spots will be filled by Rule 5 vulnerable players who may have caught the attention of other organizations with solid AA and/or AAA seasons in 2012, thus meriting the protection that a 40-man roster spot provides.  Chia-jen Lo, however, is a different story.

Lo, 26, who missed almost all of the 2010 and 2011 seasons with injuries, didn't start pitching until mid-season of 2012.  Once he did retake the mound he showed some of the form that had made him the 5th-rated prospect in the system according to Baseball America before the 2010 season.  Between a rehab stint with the GCL Astros and a few months with Lancaster, Lo threw 30 innings, struck out 31 batters and posted an 0.90 ERA in 2012.

Lo augmented his regular season performance in the Arizona Fall League which ended its season Thursday.  He made 14 appearances for the Mesa Solar Sox, posting a 2.40 ERA and striking out 11.  Before the Arizona Fall League, I didn't think the protection of Lo would merit any consideration heading into the Rule 5 Draft.  However, with another healthy month of pitching under his belt, it seems that Lo may well have inserted his name onto the Rule 5 Conversation File on Jeff Luhnow's laptop.

Lo burst onto the scene in 2009.  The Astros signed him in November 2008 out of Taiwan, after he had represented his country in the 2008 Olympics.  In 2009, he had 36 strikeouts in 25 innings for Lancaster before being promoted to AA Corpus Christi.  As a Hook, he posted a 2.31 ERA in 39 IP.  Lo appeared in the 2009 Futures Game along with Jason Castro. He joined the Astros in spring training in 2010 as a non-roster invitee, and was touted as a possible closer of the future by Baseball America.

Does Lo's successful, albeit small sample size of 2012 foreshadow a return to the fast track he was on heading into the 2010 season?  Will Lo's injuries, which caused him to miss the large majority of two seasons, scare away other teams in spite his 2012 accomplishments?   If the Astros don't add Lo their 40-man roster, will another team be willing to take a risk on his small sample size?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Who is Left from the Purpura Era?

I wrote a post yesterday about the new players that Jeff Luhnow has brought into the system since he moved in the General Manager's office last December.  Needless to say, the face of the Houston organization is changing at a rapid pace.  Thinking about the changes caused me to wonder how many players remain affiliated with the Astros from before September 7, 2007, when this blog was launched.  

Here are the eight survivors from the Purpura era:

Jose Altuve, 2B, signed 9/27/2006
Luis Alvarez, C, signed 9/26/2006
Brandon Barnes, OF, drafted 2005
Ernesto Genoves, C, signed 7/2/2007
David Martinez, RHP, signed 3/3/2005
Bud Norris, RHP, drafted 2006
Juri Perez, RHP, signed 5/15/2007
Carlos Quevedo, RHP, signed 7/3/2006

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Origins of the Luhnow-stros

While referring to the Farmstros database yesterday, I tweeted that 84 of the 250 players currently in the Astros' organization had joined the system under Jeff Luhnow's watch(after December 7, 2011).  I had a chance a chance to do a more thorough analysis of the spreadsheet and found that the actual number of Luhnow-stros at the moment is 88.  (I missed the two Rule 5 additions and a few international signings.)

Here is a breakdown of the 88:

Rule 5 Draftees(2)
Rhiner Cruz
Marwin Gonzalez-Gonzalez was acquired in a trade directly after being selected by the Cubs

2012 Rule 4 Draftees(31)
Andrew Aplin
Travis Ballew
Joe Bircher
M.P. Cokinos
Carlos Correa
Michael Dimock
Ryan Dineen
Austin Elkins
Nolan Fontana
Christian Garcia
Ricky Gingras
Erick Gonzalez
Dan Gulbransen
Mike Hauschild
Tyler Heineman
Brian Holmes
Angel Ibanez
Jordan Jankowski
Terrell Joyce
Kenny Long
Michael Martinez
Lance McCullers
Daniel Minor
John Neely
Brett Phillips
Brady Rodgers
Rio Ruiz
Joe Sclafani
Preston Tucker
Aaron West
Marc Wik

Trade Acquistions(22)
Bobby Borchering
Colton Cain
Kevin Chapman
Kevin Comer
Chris Devenski
Matt Dominguez
Theron Geith
Tyler Greene
Robbie Grossman
Matt Heidenreich
Marc Krauss
Jed Lowrie
Jobduan Morales
Joseph Musgrove
Rudy Owens
Carlos Perez
Rob Rasmussen
David Rollins
D'Andre Toney
Blair Walters
Kyle Weiland
Asher Wojciechowski

Waiver Claims(8)
Sam Demel
Jake Elmore
Chuck Fick
Mark Hamburger
Brandon Laird
Che-Hsuan Lin
Fernando Martinez
Justin Maxwell

Free Agents(7)
Hector Ambriz
Brian Blasik
Jon Carnahan
Lance Day
Edwin Gomez
Jose Martinez
Gera Sanchez

International Signings(18)
Jesus Castillo
Rayderson Chevalier
Robert Corniel
Jean Estriel
Angel Heredia
Erick Hurtado
Tomas Lopez
Connor MacDonald
Brauly Mejia
Luis Payano
Brian Pena
Hector Roa
Rauldison Rodriguez
Chris Santamaria
Edward Santana
Victor Tavarez
Kristian Trompiz
Carlos Vasquez

Monday, November 12, 2012

One Can, Two Can, Red Can, Blue Can

Pictured above is Feed the Hungry Field, a project from Canstruction in 2010.

Many long-time residents of the Farmstros Village know that I am a fan of the Houston Food Bank.  If you are in Houston, I encourage you to check out an event this week which supports that organization and displays a unique form of art/architecture.

Canstruction Houston 2012 is taking place through November 17 at Houston's CityCentre.  Canstruction involves architects, engineers, construction firms and students from the Houston area building original sculptures using canned food as their primary building block.  After the event, all the canned food is donated to the Houston Food Bank.  Since 1992, this event has resulted in the donation of more than 400,000 pounds of food to the Houston Food Bank.

The projects are open for viewing at CityCentre during regular business hours this week.  A public viewing event is scheduled for 5-9 pm Saturday night, November 17.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Is Godzilla an Astro of the Future?

According to this post from Sports Hochi(Japanese Language), citizens on the streets around Minute Maid Park may be in for quite a scare during the 2013 season. The Astros are considering GODZILLA (Hideki Matsui) as a possible DH for their first season in the American League.

Using a combination of the Japanese language knowledge I have retained from my 2.5 years living in that country and my skills with Google translate, I can tell you that the linked article includes a few quotes from Jeff Luhnow. Luhnow basically says is that the Astros have considered the 38-year old Matsui as they look to fill the DH position as they move to the American League. Luhnow also indicatesdthat a veteran OF like Matsui would be a good fit on a young club like the Astros.

2012 was Matsui's 10th year in the Major Leagues(all in the American League). He also spent 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan. In 10 seasons in the USA, Matsui has 175 home runs and a .282 batting average. He has played for the Yankees, Angels, Oakland and Tampa Bay.

Matsui started in his pro career directly out of high school as an 18-year old with Yomiuri in 1993. The card pictured above was part of a series distributed in Japan to commemorate the beginning of the young "Godzilla's" baseball career with the Giants(This card memorialized his second home run as a pro). In 10 years(1993-2002) with the Tokyo-based club, Matsui had 332 home runs, 889 RBI and a .304 batting average in 1268 games. The Giants won the Japan Series three times over the ten year period.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Talk About Being in the Right Place at the Right Time!

I guess it IS true that timing is everything.  Today is the 339th day of Jeff Luhnow's tenure as the Astros' General Manager.  At this point in the Astros' rebuilding process, winning a play-off game may not be the farthest thing from Luhnow's mind, but it is likely no where near the top of his list of "things to do today".

By contrast, Tim "Right Place at the Right Time" Purpura's 339th day as the Astros' General Manager came on October 5, 2005.   On that day seven years ago, Purpura watched his team win the first play-off game under his leadership.  Two weeks later, the team was on their way to the first World Series appearance in Astros' history.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

If Steve Grande is Writing More than Usual, this Might be Why

The Astros front office is doing everything it can to keep the people who are putting together the player portion of the 2013 Media Guide on their toes.  A few days ago,  I mentioned that the members of the club's 2012 pre-season 40-man roster were dropping like flies.

Not surprisingly, the large turnover has been evident throughout the minor league system as well.   As of today, 85 minor league players who were in the organization in March 2012 have left the system.  This number is more than one-third of the 238 total who were listed as being under minor league contracts in last year's media guide. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This Former Farmstro is a Japan Series Champion, Again

Early Saturday morning(Minute Maid Park time), the Yomiuri Giants knocked off the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 4-3 in the Tokyo Dome.  The victory gave the Giants a four games to two Japan Series victory over the Ham Fighters, and it gave D.J. Houlton, who began his professional career in the Houston organization, his second straight Japan Series championship ring. 

The Astros drafted Houlton, RHP in 2001, and he spent four seasons in the system.  He played in Martinsville, Michigan, Round Rock, and New Orleans during those four seasons.  The Dodgers selected Houlton in the 2004 Rule 5 draft.  He is the most recent player that the Astros have lost in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 draft.

Houlton first made the trip across the Pacific to Japan for the 2008 season.  He played for the Fukuoka Soft Bank Hawks from 2008-2011.  Houlton was with the Hawks when they won the Japan Series last autumn.

After switching to the Giants for the 2012 season, he was part of that club's starting rotation.  Houlton pitched 158 innings in the regular season, won 12 games and posted a 2.45 ERA.

The title is the 22nd Japan Series crown for the Giants.  They also won nine championships before Japanese baseball went to a two-league system.  Interestingly, however, this year is the first year in which both the Giants of Japanese baseball and the Giants of the USA(San Francisco/New York) claimed their country's ultimate baseball victory in the same year.  As an added bonus for Giant-o-philes, the New York football Giants won the Super Bowl in 2012 as well.

Friday, November 2, 2012

17 Players Won't be Wearing the New Uniforms

A series of tweets from @brianmctaggart around 5:30 pm Friday night announced that the Astros have released 17 members of their farm system.  The tweets are fairly easy to find in McTaggart's feed if you want to know the 17 the players who won't be wearing the new uniforms.

Make that 18.  According to McTaggart, Brad Propst, RHP, was released as well.

Make that 23.   Per an update from Baseball America, Matt Downs, IF, Rodney Quintero, RHP, Gabriel Garcia, LHP, Kilby Pena, LHP, and JB Shuck, OF were also released by Houston. (Note the first 18 releases are also included in the Baseball America post.)

2012 Media Guide Continues to Take a Beating

In July, I did a post about the changing face of the Astros.  At that point in time, ten of the players listed on the team's 40-man roster in the 2012 Media Guide had been deleted from that list for one reason or another.

After several transactions this week, only half of the players on the pre-season 40-man roster still remain.  The twenty players listed below are the survivors.

As noted below, several more players have been removed from the 40-man roster since I originally made this post.

Paul Clemens
Rhiner Cruz
Jorge DeLeon-outrighted off of the 40-man roster
Lucas Harrell
Arcenio Leon-claimed off of waivers by Milwaukee
Wilton Lopez- traded to Colorado
Jordan Lyles
Bud Norris
Fernando Rodriguez- traded to Oakland
Wesley Wright

Jason Castro

Jose Altuve
Marwin Gonzalez
Jed Lowrie- traded to Oakland
Jimmy Paredes
Brett Wallace

Brian Bogusevic-outrighted off of the 40-man roster
Fernando Martinez
J.D. Martinez
J.B. Shuck-outrighted off of the 40-man roster, released

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2012 Minor League Free Agents

Fernando Abad, LHP(2012 Team(s)-OKC/Houston, signed with Washington
Erick Abreu, RHP(Corpus Christi)
Brian Bixler, IF(OKC/Houston), signed with the New York Mets
Brian Bogusevic, OF(Houston), signed with the Chicago Cubs
Travis Buck, OF(CC/OKC/Houston), signed with San Diego
Enerio Del Rosario, RHP(OKC/Houston)
Jorge DeLeon, RHP(Lancaster, re-signed with Houston
Dayan Diaz, RHP(Lexington), signed with Cubs
Sergio Escalona, LHP(DNP), signed with Houston(Non-roster invitee)
Jair Fernandez, C(CC/OKC), signed with Chicago Cubs
Adalberto Flores, RHP(CC/OKC)
Edgar Gonzalez, RHP(Colorado Springs/Monterey/OKC/Houston), signed with Houston(Non-roster invitee)
Mike Hessman, 1B(OKC),signed with Cincinnati
Drew Locke, OF(Sugar Land/CC), retired
Garrett Mock, RHP(Pawtucket/OKC), signed with Arizona
Scott Moore, IF(OKC/Houston), signed with Oakland
Sergio Perez, RHP(OKC), signed with Oakland
Landon Powell, C(OKC), signed with the New York Mets
Aneury Rodriguez, RHP(OKC/Houston), signed with Samsung Lions(Korea)
Brian Sanches, RHP(Lehigh Valley/OKC/Philadelphia), signed with Kansas City
Angel Sanchez, SS(OKC), signed with the Los Angeles Angels
Brad Snyder, OF(OKC), signed with Arizona
Jose Trinidad, RHP(Lancaster), signed with Normal(Independent)
Jose Valdez, RHP(OKC/Houston), signed with Houston(Non-roster invitee)
Henry Villar, RHP(CC)

Players in bold are free agent eligible for the first time.