farmstros can be reached at farmstros@yahoo.com

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Few D-II Players to Keep an Eye on at MMP This Weekend

Thanks to Gary K Wallace, who shared the names of a few players who he thinks are worth keeping an eye on at Minute Maid Park between February 1-4.  Wallace is a big fan of Texas A&M-Kingsville baseball and intends to be at most of the D-II Tournament that starts in Houston Friday.

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Matt Perez, SS
James Black, IF
Clint Wallace, C
Dallas Ponder, RHP
Zachary Pettiford, RHP

Incarnate Word

Jason Stone, OF
Dylan Boss, LHP
Derrick Walls, OF

Tarleton State

Pete Perez, RHP
Matt Buckmaster, LHP
Noah Ringenberger, OF/LHP

Abilene Christian

Rodge Macy, C
Tyler Eager, 1B/OF
Chuck Duarte, IF


Listen to These 4 Starting on 4/4

The Astros' four full season affiliates start play nine weeks from today on April 4.  If the games can't come fast enough for you, you can at least check out the four men who will be calling the games once play begins.


Oklahoma City- Alex Freedman

Corpus Christi- Michael Coffin

Lancaseter- Jason Schwartz

Quad Cities- Marco LaNave

The Voice of the Hooks- Michael Coffin

Michael Coffin took over the Corpus Christi microphone in the middle of the 2012 season, when Matt Hicks got "called up" to the Rangers' radio booth. Hicks' is continuing the gig in Arlington, so Coffin will be the voice of the Hooks throughout 2013.

Until he starts calling Hooks' games on April 4, you can check out Coffin's style by listening to his call of Drew Locke's inside-the-park home run  during the 2012 season.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

With the Draft "around the corner", May we recommend a Follow

The 2013 draft is 18 weeks from tomorrow.  With Jared Webb @webberoo11 fully focused on who the Astros might be selecting 1.1 in June, here is a shameless attempt to get Jared a few more followers on Twitter. 

My 2013 Baseball America Prospect Handbook arrived today.  Thank You, Farmstros Village.  Included with the book was a pack of five prospect cards from Topps.  When Jared gets to 150 followers, one of his followers will be randomly selected to receive the pack of cards.  You don't need to be a new follower so invite a friend to follow Jared, the Bureau Chief of the Farmstros Village Scouting Bureau.


Dreaming of Draft Stars- Mark Appel



by Jared Webb @webberoo11

I think we all have a conspiracy theory that involves Bud Selig sitting in a cave plotting Houston's demise.  I'm even convinced he had something to do with the Astros having the worst record during two seasons prior to extremely weak drafts.   

A big reason for the weakness of the 2012 and 2013 drafts is aggressive HS signings in previous years which have left the college crop very very weak.  The 2011 draft is a good draft to think of in terms of strong draft pools.  2013 does have some good college arms, and also contains depth in the LHP and C departments.   

I've become a bit of a draft fanatic because, unlike the speculative world of trades and free agency, you know your team is going to get SOMETHING in the draft.  When I talk to people about the draft, I tend to lean towards taking the best available player.  In 2012 I wanted Byron Buxton, while most wanted Mark Appel.  With this fanaticism as a motivation, I've decided to do some draft prospect write ups.  I will go ahead and start off with the guy who didn't sign last year.


Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics



Mark Appel 6'5"/215 RHP
Stanford University
DOB-07-15-1991

A few hours before the 2012 draft, sources confirmed that the Astros had decided Mark Appel was their man.  However, a verbal deal couldn't be achieved so the Astros got creative and took Carlos Correa.  

Realistically, Appel could have gone 1-1 and no one could have questioned the pick. Mark has a FB that sits in the mid 90's, but it lacks movement and deception.  Appel tends to show the ball early and hitters tend to hit the pitch more than they should.  He also has a solid slider that has a chance to develop into an out pitch as he progresses.  If the pitch stays tight and he stays on top of it, then it can be a plus pitch.  

In 2011, Appel developed a change up which has progressed into a plus pitch that has good fade with deceptive arm speed.  Appel throws strikes, but needs to tighten his command.  With his slow delivery and lack of deception, he will need to be very precise with his pitches.   

Some speculation is that Stanford has a tendency to misuse their pitchers, and evidence from last year seemed to prove it.  For example, Stanford left Appel on the mound for 149 pitches in a game against Oregon.  It's also said that Appel would have better strike out numbers if Stanford was better at calling pitches for him.   

Personally, I'm not in love with Mark Appel due to the lack of dominance.  Even with that, Appel has the goods needed to go 1-1.  Mark could develop into a front-line starter, and with some luck maybe even an ace.  Once again people are speculating that Mark Appel will be an Astro.  It would make for a very interesting story considering how last year's draft played out and the fact that Appel is a Houston native.


c2013 Jared Webb.  Used with permission





Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A New Beginning Tomorrow

Dear Farmstros Village,

I am happy to announce that Wednesday morning I will be beginning an internship in social media here in the Houston media. Hopefully, this role will be big step towards making a career out what began as just a hobby. I appreciate your readership of this blog, which will continue.  Having people reading has helped me hone my skills.  I also appreciate the Refuge Group which is giving me a chance to grow professionally over the next four months.

Thanks,
Mike Tauser
Follow the Astros of the Future with us

Talking to Larry Dierker about Baseball Books and Literacy Advance

It's a long baseball season and unless you are in MLB's Fan Cave, you can't watch/listen to games 24/7 from April through October. In light of this fact, I spent some time Tuesday morning talking to Larry Dierker about baseball books in hopes of finding a few options to fill the gaps between games.

You can hear Dierker talk about some of his favorite baseball books and authors in the above interview. His first choice was The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter.  The conversation made me eager to run down to my local library with my library card ready for action.

Personally, I was pretty excited when Dierker mentioned If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock. I read that book several years ago, so it was neat to know that Larry Dierker and I like the same book. 

Please listen to end of the conversation when Dierker talks about his golf tournament on February 25 which benefits Literacy Advance Houston.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lincoln/Douglas Had Nothing on These Guys

If the Monday night television offerings aren't doing it for you, I suggest you mosey on over to Twitter and "listen" to the debate going on between Sir Andrew Deshaies and Jared Webb, the newly appointed Bureau Chief of the Farmstros Village Scouting Bureau.  Both tweeters are quite passionate about the future success of the Astros, but as their Twitter interchange points out, they have very different opinions about how that success is best reached. 

For those of you who might be concerned about such things, the interchange is mostly tame but not be suited for school age children.

2013 Pre-Season Player of the Year Candidates

Andrew Aplin- After being drafted last summer, Aplin finished the season with the California League champion Lancster JetHawks.  Between Lancaster and Tri-City, he had 27 extra-base hits in 68 games.  Aplin batted .348 with a .978 OPS in 164 at bats for Tri-City before being promoted to the JetHawks.

Brian Blasik- Blasik didn't let the fact that he was not drafted last summer hamper his first season as a professional.  He was named the MVP of the Greeneville Astros after batting .318 with 43 RBI in the Appalachian League.

Erik Castro- Castro lead the JetHawks with 108 RBI in 2012.  He aslo led the team with 27 doubles and 27 home runs.

Carlos Correa- The over-all pick in last summer's draft, Correa spent his first pro season with the GCL Astros and Greeneville.  He has 190 professional at bats under his belt heading into his first full season.

Delino DeShields, Jr.- DeShields grabbed attention by stealing 101 bases in 2012.  He spent a majority of the season repeating Low A with Lexington.  He batted .298 with 22 doubles, 10 home runs and 96 runs scored in 111 games for the Legends.

Matt Duffy- A 2011 draft pick, Duffy had 16 home runs and 70 RBI for Lexington in 2012.  Duffy also had 32 doubles.

Tyler Heineman- Heineman batted .358 for the ValleyCats after being drafted last summer.  The catcher from UCLA had 14 doubles and 26 RBI in 55 games as a professional.

Jiovanni Mier-  Mier missed much of 2012 with injury.  However, he hit .292 for Lancaster in the 46 games that he did play.  He had 13 extra-base hits in 171 at bats.

Carlos Perez- Perez swung a hot bat for Lancaster after being acquired from Toronto.  The catcher posted a .318 batting average with seven extra-base hits in 88 at bats.

Domingo Santana- Santana lit up the scoreboard for Lancaster in 2012.  He had 26 doubles, six triples, 23 home runs and 97 RBI to go with a .302 batting average and a .921 OPS.

George Springer- Springer opened the season with a grand slam and just kept going.  Between Lancaster and Corpus Christi, the 2011 first round pick had a .302 batting average.  Springer accumulated 109 runs, 21 doubles, 10 triples, 24 home runs, 87 RBI and 32 stolen bases in 2012.

Austin Wates- Wates kept hitting in 2012, and he added falling over the fence catches to his skill set.  He hit .304 with 17 steals and 27 extra-base hits in 95 games for Corpus Christi.

A note about Jon Singleton:  After much internal debate, I left Singleton off of this ballot.  He will be missing more than 1/3 of the season due to his indiscretion.  In my opinion, this disqualifies him from consideration for this award.  Once he returns to action, he will receive full consideration for awards such as Player of the Month, Farmstros Five, and Post-Season Player of the Year.

Previous Pre-Season Players of the Year:
2012- Austin Wates
2011- J.D. Martinez
2010- Jiovanni Mier

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thanks to the Village from the Houston Food Bank

5% of the funds donated by readers of this blog in a recent fundraiser were donated to the Houston Food Bank.  I received a thank you letter in the mail for this $12.20 donation.  Since the Farmstros Village made it possible, I wanted to share the contents of the letter with you.

"Dear Farmstros Village(The letter was actually addressed to my wife and I, but I told the HFB that the
 donation was from the Farmstros Village),

I want to thank you for your recent gift to the Houston Food Bank,  you are bettering lives here in our community.  In fact, Tiarsa's family has already benefitted from your generosity.  Her husband just lost his job, and is struggling to regain employment despite his diligent search.  Tiarsa has been working hard to make a difference, but her minimal income is sometimes not enough to feed their teenage son, Santos.

Thanks to your gifts, Tiarsa can pick up nutritious staple groceries from the Food Bank's Emergency Pantry when her family needs them, like now.  The pantry is client choice, so Tiarsa can pick up exactly what she knows her family both needs and will eat, so nothing goes to waste.

Tiarsa is so thankful for the generous friends who make this resource available to her family in their time of need.  She's not sure what she'd do without it.

'Thank you!' Tiarsa says, smiling. 'We appreciate it.' Tiarsa's family is just one of many that your generosity is benefitting.  On behalf of the hungry men, women and children in southeast Texas who have enough food because of you, thank you.

Gratefully,
Brian Greene
President and CEO, The Houston Food Bank"

Click here for more information about The Houston Food Bank


Friday, January 25, 2013

The Voice of the River Bandits- Marco LaNave

Marco LaNave will be the newest voice in 2013 to fans of the Astros of the future. Marco did play-by-play for Quad Cities' 70 home games in 2012, when they were a St. Louis affiliate. The River Bandits' home schedule begins April 11. Until then, you can get a taste of LaNave's style by listening to the audio highlight clip posted above.

NOTE: According to LaNave, the River Bandits are planning to broadcast 30 "commuter" road games in 2013.

Coming Soon: The Farmstros Village Scouting Bureau

As of Thursday, the 2013 MLB Rule 4 draft was 19 weeks away. 

If I was able to clone myself like Jeff Luhnow allegedly did, I would send my copies from coast to coast to watch draft eligible collegiate and high school players. Following their travels, I would have my clones write about what they saw for the readers of this blog.  Unfortunately, the Astros are a bit tight-lipped about their cloning technology, so I turn to my readers in hopes that we can create a Farmstros Village Scouting Bureau, cover the country and share information about as many draft prospects as possible between now and June 6.

Here's what I'm thinking:

I know that as readers of this blog you are obviously followers of baseball.  My request to you: if you attend or watch a college or high school game in the next four months and see a draft "prospect", please write down your impressions of that player and share them with the Village.  You can email your "scouting report" to me at  farmstros@yahoo.com.
If you have pictures or video of the player in action, that is an added bonus, and will certainly enhance the resource that the Farmstros Village Scouting Bureau becomes. 

If you are interested in watching some prospects, but don't know where any are playing, please let me know.  I will do my best to figure out who is playing in your "backyard", wherever your backyard might be.  If you are unable to see players firsthand, the Farmstros Village Scouting Bureau also has room for reports gleaned from scouring internet scouting reports.

I intend to file my first scouting report after watching Rice and Stanford play the weekend of February 15-17.  Those games will include several draft prospects.

I am looking forward to hearing about what/who you see at the ball field.  Thanks for following the Astros of the Future with us

Mike Tauser

CR Perry13 is Okay with the Astros' Rebuilding

CRPerry13 announces on The Crawfish Boxes that he is Okay with the Astros' Rebuilding Plan.

The author gives his analysis of the Astros' 2012 off-season activity(or lack thereof), including a look at the long-term benefits of the disciplined strategy that the club is executing. Given the precarious state that the club was in when the new ownership group took over, the strategy of focusing on long-term rebuilding from the ground up to the exclusion of any substantial short-term big league results makes sense to me also. 

However, in light of the long-term irrelevance of THIS year's big league on-field performance, I wonder if the ticket selling department of the Astros has considered rewarding fans who buy tickets to games during the 2013 campaign with a future incentive.  For example, for every six tickets bought to games during the 2013 season at Minute Maid Park(excluding games against Texas, Boston, and New York), a customer gets a voucher which can be redeemed for two tickets(in the same section) during the 2014, 2015 or 2016 season. 

I understand that the club is implementing a strategy that they feel is in the best interest of their future financial success. At the same time, it seems to me that Jim Crane's customers would be well-served if they were given a tangible incentive for sticking with the product when it is well below the satisfactory level.

2010 Lakewood Blue Claw Reunion Continues

The Astros have added another member of the 2010 Lakewood Blue Claws to their organization.  According to Baseball America, Houston has signed minor league infielder Carlos Perdomo, who was recently released by the Phillies.  With the addition of Perdomo, six members of the 2010 Blue Claws will be in Kissimmee this spring.  Perdomo will rejoin old teammates Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Voice of the JetHawks- Jason Schwartz

2013 will be Jason Schwartz's second season broadcasting the Lancaster JetHawks.  Schwartz had the distinction of being at the mic when the JetHawks won the California League championship in 2012.  That title was the first by an Astros full season affiliate since the 2006 Corpus Christi Hooks.

Schwartz will start calling JetHawks games on April 4.  You can get a taste of Schwartz's play-by-play style by listening to the highlight clip above.  Schwartz tweets @jasondschwartz.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Used to Enjoy Grocery Shopping

I used to enjoy shopping for groceries at my neighborhood market.  Until a few years ago, the store consistently put a good product on the shelf for its patrons.  I recommended it often to new people who moved into the area.  Granted, the store had a few down periods when produce was sketchy or the customer service was a bit lacking; however, those problems were taken care of in a timely manner.  I can't imagine that the store would have survived for close to half a century any other way.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, the quality at the store began to decline.  Apparently, the ownership was losing interest in the business and letting some details slide.  I remained loyal, but it was difficult to stomach the increase in bad apples, dented cans and slow, surly checkers that became more and more common place as the market fell into disrepair.

About a year ago, the owner of the store sold it, and a new management team was brought in.  As a consumer, it was very encouraging when the new store manager acknowledged the store's problems and indicated that he had a plan to once again provide quality products for consumers.  Yet, despite this openness, store representatives were reluctant to announce an estimated time when shoppers could expect the return of quality products to the shelf.

The manager is well-spoken, but sometimes his comments leave me scratching my head.  For example, I overheard him talking to a frustrated customer a few months ago. "Yes, I understand that you are upset about bringing home spoiled milk three times in a row, Mr. Jones.  I assure you that we are currently perfecting a milk inventory system at our sister store in Corpus Christi.  That technology will be at this store as soon as we are sure it is ready, and it will help us get good milk to you all the time." 

I even experienced the new management style firsthand a few weeks ago.  I approached the manager after it took me 39 minutes to check out with three items in the express lane.  "Well, Mr. Tauser, I could see how you might be disappointed with the 39 minutes that it took for you to finish checking out. However, we would prefer that our customers pay closer attention to a new statistic which that we created, CCIQ.  Customer Company Interaction Quotient is a multi-pronged metric which takes into account a broader sample of the factors which mold the customer's experience at our store.  I'm happy to tell you that our CCIQ has increased every month since I took over at this location."

I thanked the manager for his explanation and made a note to go to HEB the next time my pantry needed filling.  For what it's worth, I still go to my neighborhood store when I am low on orange juice.  For some odd reason, they still have plenty of that item fresh and on the shelf.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Voice of the RedHawks- Alex Freedman

If you listen to the Astros' AAA affiliate Oklahoma City during the 2013 season, the voice you will hear is Alex Freedman.  The above clip is of Freedman in action during a 2012 RedHawk game against Albuquerque on August 28. 

Freedman took over the play-by-play duties for Oklahoma City during the 2012 season.  His Twitter handle is @azfreedman. Freedman starts calling RedHawks games on April 4.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Many, many thanks for your Support

I am sincerely grateful for the support that was shown to this blog over the last two weeks.  Last night marked the conclusion of Farmstros' first annual fundraiser.  A total of $244 was generously donated by members of the Village.  Thank you very much for your support.

I will maintain a "tip jar" on the front page of the blog'; however, I will not actively request donations.  Two weeks is long enough.

Below is a summary of what is being done with the donations.  This will be maintained throughout the year.


Donations to Farmstros- $247.21

Pay Pal Fees- $8.31
Donation to Houston Food Bank- $12.20
Donation to Literacy Advance Houston- $12.20
Partial Payment for BA Prospect Handbook- $15.00(The remainder was received as a birthday present)
Contribution to The Baseball Cube- $7.00
Renewal of Farmstros.net domain with GoDaddy- $15.17
Postage- $2.07
JetHawks' Championship Ring Raffle Ticket-$5.00
Donation to America Red Cross for Oklahoma Tornado Relief-$15.00
Whataburger Snack- $2.37
Book Purchase for Castro's Kids Book Drive- $37.39
Parking- $1.00
Tickets for Farmstros Day at Minute Maid Park- $111.40
Lunch- $3.10



Remaining Balance- $0.00

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We Interrupt this Program for the Following Message

Current Total Donated- $244.00- Thanks!

I am trying something new in 2013.

For several seasons, Google Ads have been interspersed between posts on Farmstros. The ads were included mainly as a response to my curiosity about the "lucrativeness" potential of a blog such at this. The answer? This addition led to about $200 in revenue over the span of three seasons.

With that curiosity sufficiently sated, I am trying another experiment in 2013. I enjoy doing this blog immensely and will continue it no matter the results of this experiment.

If you appreciate the resource that Farmstros provides, please consider making a one-time donation to help it be a better source of information for followers of the Astros of the Future.

My plan is to spend any donated money in the following manner:

5% donated to the Houston Food Bank
5% donated to Literacy Advance Houston

Depending on how much is donated over the next two weeks, the remaining funds will be spent for resource materials such as Baseball America books, Baseball Prospectus subscription, Houston Chronicle.com subscription and supplies such as notebooks, Skype time, a digital audio recorder, and parking fees.

For the sake of full disclosure, I will present a full accounting of how the money is spent on this blog as expenditures are made.  You can make a donation through PayPal using the link below.

Thanks for Reading,
Mike Tauser
Follow the Astros of the Future with us

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Birds are Not Singing Today

The birds are not singing today
A Cardinal and Oriole both passed away

The Man, the sweet-swinger, from Donora, PA
And Baltimore's Earl have ended their stay

It's sad news on baseball new transactions page
As two hall of famers have just left the stage

The song of the birds will return by and by
For now silence echoes amidst tear-filled eyes

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sayonara, Jose Valdez?

Perhaps I've been hanging out with Jared Webb too much. That would explain why I am making this post that is almost completely speculation.  The Astros announced the remainder of their non-roster invites Thursday afternoon.  As of now, 58 players are scheduled to go to big league camp in Kissimmee in February.

However, after the dust settled, it struck me that Jose Valdez was no longer on the NRI list.  The right-handed pitcher had received his invite when he was signed back in November.  Brian McTaggart's article about the Valdez signing indicates that he had the option(within certain parameters) to sign with a team in Japan.  I haven't been able to find a report on Valdez signing in Japan, yet, but I won't be surprised if he shows up on an NPB roster before the season begins.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gouvea Won't be Reporting to Spring Training on Time

Assuming the reports that March 2 is the date for Astros minor league pitchers and catchers to report to Kissimmee are accurate, right-handed reliever Murilo Gouvea will not be reporting on time.  Gouvea, who pitched for Lexington in 2012 will be in Japan on March 2 with the Brazilian National team. 

Brazil is scheduled to open the 2013 World Baseball Classic against Japan at 4:00 am(Minute Maid Park Tme) that morning.  Brazil will complete the first round of competition on the morning of March 6.  The finals of the tournament are scheduled for March 19 in San Francisco.

Gouvea was an essential part of Brazil's advance from the qualifying round of the WBC held in November 2012 in Panama.   In Brazil's two victories over the host Panamanians, he pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.

Go ahead and circle March 2 on Your Calendar

According to a tweet from reliever Kenny Long(@Booogggie), minor league pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Spring Training on March 2.  According to The Grand Old Game, 65 pitchers and catchers have been invited.  In addition, the club has a minor league mini-camp in the works which will begin in late February.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What Could Luhnow Get for...Jeff Luhnow?

The Astros' new Social Media Director Kelley George is quite diligent about passing on information about the team to bloggers.  I can't speak for other bloggers, but I consistently receive press releases prepared by the Astros' media relations department courtesy of a Kelley George forward.

George indicated in a previous email that her goal was to give bloggers the same information that mainstream media sources receive.  While a majority of the Astros-related information that I get from Ms. George is not relevant to the minor league focus of Farmstros, I appreciate the efforts of the organization on this front.


Having said that, reading Jared Webb's speculation of who Jeff Luhnow might be able to acquire in various trades in the next several months caused me to wonder what Luhnow would be able to acquire if he stopped fooling around with trading players.

I can only imagine the press release I will receive from Kelley George when Jeff Luhnow trades Jeff Luhnow.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 16, 2013

Contact: Astros Media Relation Department- 713-259-xxxx

CUTTING EDGE LUHNOW BRINGS IN MASSIVE HAUL WITH UNPRECEDENTED TRANSACTIONS

 Houston, TX-  Making use of experimental technology recommended by his decision scientists, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow has leveraged the club's greatest asset into several pieces that will enhance the organization's legacy and its future.

After several attempts, Luhnow, Sig Megdal and Mike Fast successfully created an exact clone of Luhnow, which they were quickly able to find a taker for on the open market.  "Once we realized that it could be done, I figured 'why not?'", said Luhnow about the revolutionary procedure.  "I mean, if I can get Matt Dominguez and that left-handed pitcher for Carlos Lee, I can only imagine what I should be able to get for ME, or in this case, a clone of ME."

With the success of the first cloning, the trio completed several more Luhnow clones, which were used dealt for the betterment of the franchise.  "I was skeptical at first, and it sounded a bit risky," said owner Jim Crane.  "However, Jeff showed me the results of the tests they had done with Junction Jack, and it seemed up to code.  Also, Jeff assured me that he was only trading his clones.  The original Luhnow would remain right here to run the club, which is my ultimate concern."

A total of five new Luhnows were created and traded.  Following is a summary of the transactions:

Luhnow Clone #1 to the BBWAA

The Luhnow clone will help the BBWAA institute his 22-page Sabremetrics-based plan for reforming the Hall of Fame selection procedure.  In return, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Roger Clemens will be elected to the hall via a special election in April 2013.

Luhnow Clone #2 to the Houston Texans

The Luhnow clone will be responsible for tutoring Arian Foster on proper Twitter etiquette.   In return, Texans cheerleaders will perform at 36, 24 or 36 Astros' home games during the 2013 season.

Luhnow Clone #3 to a McDonald's in the Oak Forest area

Anyone who has seen Multiplicity is aware that cloning is an inexact science.  At times, a clone is no where near level of the original.  This is the case with clone #3.  Fortunately, the original Luhnow was even able to find a taker for this less than perfect version of himself.  Clone #3 will be working the drive thru window under the golden arches 40 hours a week.  In return, Luhnow, Megdal and Fast will receive all the Big Mac meals they can eat during baseball season.

Luhnow Clone #4 to U.S. Men's National Soccer Team

Drawing on the original's background growing up in Mexico, clone #4 will help the U.S. team devise a plan to roundly defeat the Tri-Colores in this year's World Cup qualifying and next year's World Cup competition.  In return, the USMNT's friendly against Canada on January 29  will be moved from BBVA Compass Stadium to Minute Maid Park.

NOTE:  This clone was originally slated to be traded to the Houston Astrodome.  He was going to share his 32-page fail-safe plan to renovate the stadium in a fiscally responsible, aesthetically pleasing manner.  However, the deal fell through when it was determined that the 'dome had nothing of value left to offer in return.

Luhnow Clone #5 to the Sugar Land Skeeters

The clone will assist the Skeeters in the completion of a blockbuster trade with the Camden RiverSharks.  In return, the Skeeters promise not to outdraw the Astros in attendance for the next two seasons, even if Roger Clemens pitches for them.


At the moment, there are no plans for further cloning.  For more information, visit www.astros.com.



65 Reportedly Invited to ST

Clint Riddle at The Grand Old Game posted a list of 65 pitchers and catchers who have received an invite to Astros Spring Training.  Looking at the list, it appears to be the pitchers and catchers who will be attending minor league camp.  There are 10 catchers included on the list.

Assuming this list is accurate and exhaustive, there are few notable pitchers and catchers missing.  My speculation would be that those missing will either be invited to big league spring training or to the pitcher/catcher mini-camp that will take place prior to minor league spring training.

Notable pitchers not listed
R.J. Alaniz
Kevin Chapman- Non-roster invite
Mike Foltynewicz
Matt Heideinreich
Brian Holmes
David Martinez
Lance McCullers
Luis Ordosgoitti
Euris Quezada
Brady Rodgers
Nick Tropeano
Vincent Velasquez
Blair Walters
Kyle Weiland
Aaron West
Asher Wojciechowski
Josh Zeid- Non-roster invite

Notable catchers not listed
Rene Garcia- Non-roster invite
Tyler Heineman
Jason Jaramillo- Non-roster invite
Mike Kvasnicka(?)
Jobduan Morales
Christian Moronta
Roberto Pena
Carlos Perez- Non-roster invite
Chris Wallace- Non-roster invite





Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What Could Luhnow Get for... Wright, Pena and Veras?



Previously on The Tricks of the Trade, Jared speculated on what Houston could get in a trade for Bud Norris and Jed Lowrie.   Today, he offers a look at what Luhnow could get for Wesley Wright, Carlos "OPS" Pena and Jose Veras.  All player rankings listed are taken from MLB.com.

by Jared Webb @webberoo11
 
Wesley Wright

Washington-Tyler Moore, LF 25 yrs old

Tyler Moore offers the power that Houston is looking for.  Moore hit 30 HR twice in the minors. He stepped into the Nationals lineup this year and hit 10 long balls while batting .263 and offering a pretty good OBP and a good slugging percentage.  Moore is now blocked at 1B/LF in Washington by Adam Laroche and Bryce Harper, so he could be a good trade target.  I honestly don't know the true value for a LOOGY like Wesley Wright, but I would immediately ask the Nationals for Tyler Moore.

Speculation-I've only heard of one team looking for left handed relief help.  Wright is a cheap option who was incredibly dependable through 2012, and he is cheap.  I honestly don't know if he will be dealt, but it could happen if a team offers the right piece.

Carlos Pena 
 
(This speculation assumes that Pena returns to his pre-2012 form and hits in the .220/.350/.450 25HR region)

Cleveland- T.J. House, LHP 22 yrs old/Cody Allen, RHP 23 yrs old

T.J. House ranked in the 10-20 prospect region according to BA, and had a decent year at AA Akron.  He features a low 90's FB with a very solid change up.  He won't be a star, but he could be a solid back of the rotation guy.  House could offer lefty depth considering how slim the Astros are on good lefties.

Cody Allen was one of the fastest moving 2011 draftees, reaching the majors a mere 22 days after Trevor Bauer.  The difference was, Allen stuck in the show.  Allen has a mid 90's FB and a very good curve ball that ranked best in the Cleveland system in 2012.  Allen could walk into the back of Houston's bullpen, or the Astros could attempt to develop him as a starter.

Speculation- A lot of things will need to come together for Pena to have real trade value, but he does offer power and a very good glove at 1B.  I don't see him netting Houston any front line prospects, but Luhnow could get some average value for Pena if he hits.

Jose Veras

(This speculation assumes that Veras has a productive season as a closer and keeps his walk numbers in check)

Colorado- Tim Wheeler, OF 24 yrs old/Joe Gardner, RHP 23 yrs old(Ranked #14)

Tim Wheeler could play CF or RF for the Astros in 2013.  He has the speed to swipe bags and some power that could propel him to the 20 HR level.  He suffered a hamate bone injury that sapped his power in 2012, and some see him as a RF instead of a CF.  This could be the perfect time to buy low on a guy who is blocked by Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez.  Wheeler might strike out too much to hit for high average, but he has posted good numbers in the minors

Joe Gardner fits the sinker/slider mold that Jeff Lunhow seems to like.  Gardner looks like he will become a reliever, but is still being developed as a starter.  He mainly works with a low 90's sinker and a fringe slider.  Of the two Rockies' prospects mentioned, Wheeler has more value.  Gardner is much lower on other ranking lists, but even with that he might be to valuable to package with Tim Wheeler.

Speculation- Veras' contract could make him valuable if he puts up a good season.  His walks would need to decrease for him to have value in the trade arena.  Closers tend to have good trade value, especially when other closers start getting injured.  I based Veras' value off of the value of other closers.

All of these trades are purely speculation and assuming the Astros players involved have productive years.  Other teams could pop up as trade partners, but I used teams who have either asked about the player mentioned, or who have a current need for the type of player mentioned.  I tried not to overvalue the Houston players, so some could say that I undersold.  I also went more after young MLB ready talent, which would lessen the amount the Astros would receive in a deal. 

I also favored LHP because I love the lefties.  In addition, Houston is very weak in the LHP department.   

I favored outfielders because we lack OF prospects with true impact potential other than George Springer.  The MLB club is also very weak at the OF position with most of the players not even profiling as 4th outfielders.   

Please realize that I picked players that are somewhat recognizable in attempt to give readers an idea of the type of value that I think the Astros could ask for.  This is all speculation because I am still trying to figure out how Jeff Lunhow thinks.  I'm currently trying to learn how to read minds so I can obtain the best understanding of what goes through a general managers head during a trade.  If this were Ed Wade I would have just picked a few random names that sounded neat and just tossed them in.

Next Time: What Could Luhnow Get For...Jeff Luhnow?

c2013 by Jared Webb. Used with permission.

The Off-Season Life of a Prospect

While surfing the Padres' website for information on which pitching prospects Burt Hooton might be coaching in Ft. Wayne, I came across an interesting article about the off-season life of minor league prospects.   The linked article focuses on players in the San Diego system; however, it was interesting to read specifics about the pay that these prospects receive and how some of them supplement their income between the end of one season and the beginning of the next.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hooton Will Still be Handling Young Arms, Just not for the Astros

In 2013, Burt Hooton won't be preparing pitchers who are trying to make it to Minute Maid Park anymore.  However, it is likely he will be coaching three young pitchers with a good chance to make it Petco Park. 

Hooton, who will be 63 years old on Opening Day, is slated to be the pitching coach for the Ft. Wayne TinCaps, San Diego's Low A affiliate.  The TinCaps are likely to have three of the Padres Top four draft picks from the 2012 draft on Hooton's pitching staff.  Max Fried, 19, was drafted seventh over-all.  The Padres selected Zach Elfin, 18, 33rd over-all.  Walker Weickel, 19, was picked 55th over-all.  All three pitchers played for the Arizona League Padres after being signing with San Diego last summer.

Hooton had been a part of the Houston organization since 2000. Last season he was the pitching coach for Oklahoma City.  2012 was Hooton's eighth straight season as the pitching coach of the Astros' AAA affiliate. 

Hooton went to high school in Corpus Christi and played in college for the University of Texas.  He currently resides in San Antonio, the home of San Diego's AA affiliate. 

Three Going in the Hall

There’s only three going In the hall this July
The whole trio lacking A gleam in their eye

Some folks saw this coming for six months or more
While some were off-guard when they unveiled the score

“I blame the damn writers!” Some writers did write
“How dare they presume to know what’s wrong and right.”

“They get a cool ballot, is that not enough?
Do they have to add their opinions and stuff?”

 The hall claimed great hopes still for induction day
But merchants in town stashed a few bucks away.

There’s only three going In the hall this July
The whole trio lacking A gleam in their eye

What Could Luhnow Get For... Jed Lowrie?


Previously on The Tricks of the Trade, Jared speculated on what Houston could get for Bud Norris.  Today the speculation moves on to the club's current shortstop.  All rankings are those presented by MLB.com.

by Jared Webb @webberoo11



Jed Lowrie-

Jeff Lunhow continues to say that Lowrie won't be dealt unless the FO is overwhelmed.  The truth of the matter is that Ol' Jed is the Astros' most valuable trade piece.  The biggest key to him being dealt is his health.  Assuming Lowrie stays healthy and continues his performance of last season, he could hit in the .250-.265 area and power 20 HR.  He also offers the ability to play anywhere in the IF.  All of these factors combined together with a healthy season could get Houston a trade haul only a little less than the Hunter Pence deal brought to the organization.

Detroit- Drew Smyly, LHP 23 yrs old/ Brennan Boesch, OF 27 yrs old

Drew Smyly is the type of LHP that the Astros need.  He has average stuff that plays up due to plus command.  His FB runs in the 90-92 range, and he controls it well.  Detroit really doesn't have a ton of young talent to deal, but they have been rumored to listen on Smyly.  Even though he was injured last year, Smyly is a guy that could step into the back of the Astros' rotation and stay there. Editor's Note: Smyly and Dallas Keuchel were teammates at the University of Arkansas.

Brennan Boesch offers the Astros a RF/LF option due to a playable arm and the fact that he runs well for a big guy.  He still has good power that could translate to 20 HR a year in Houston.  Last year was a somewhat down year for Boesch, but I still feel he could hit in the .250-.260 range and provide 12-20 HR yearly with a decent .320 OBP and low .400 SLG.

(Only 2 players involved in the speculated Detroit trade due to the value of young MLB-ready players being dealt)

Los Angeles Dodgers-Zach Lee, RHP 21 yrs old (Ranked #1)/Alex Castellanos, OF 26 yrs old (Ranked #11)/Tim Federowicz, C 25 yrs old (Ranked #12)

Zach Lee is a young athletic pitcher who can ramp his FB up to 98 mph.  His numbers haven't been overwhelming, but he is still a really good bet based on his stuff and control.  In 2010/2011 he was ranked with the Best Control in the Dodgers' system by BA.  He is also a very good athlete who still has a lot of projection.

Alex Castellanos is blocked in L.A. and could compete for a spot in RF for Houston.  He has good contact skills and even shows that he could have some power.  He improved his strikeout numbers in 2012, and seems to have benefited from the hitters environment in Albuquerque.

Tim Federowicz is a good defensive catcher who has shown a little upside as a hitter.  He profiles more as a glove-first, backup catcher.  I could easily see him and Castro being a really good duo behind the plate for the foreseeable future.  I really hate his mustache, though.

Pittsburgh-Jeff Locke, LHP 24 yrs old/Andrew Oliver, LHP 25 yrs old(Ranked #11)/Tony Sanchez, C 24 yrs old(Ranked #15)

Jeff Locke has a similar profile to Smyly with less upside. He works from 88-92 and commands his FB around the strike zone.  He isn't going to wow fans, but he will get the job done.  When the Astros dealt Wandy I was hoping Locke's name would be involved.  Jeff still has the upside of #3 or #4 starter.  Locke has already made his MLB debut for the Pirates.

Andrew Oliver is a power lefty who sits in the mid 90's.  His command isn't all the way there, but he could walk into the Houston bullpen today.  He still has the ability to be a starter, but control will be the key.

Tony Sanchez is another defense first catcher.  He won't hit for power, but he has a chance to  hit for average.  I still think Castro would be the starter, but Sanchez could eventually offer a good secondary catcher.  Tony will start the season in AAA for the Pirates.

Speculation-Staying healthy will dictate whether Lowrie will get dealt.  If he makes it to the deadline healthy and hitting, I think he will be traded.  I focused more on MLB ready players for Lowrie, but he could get bigger hauls if the Astros are willing to take players further away from the big leagues.

Next time: What Could Luhnow Get For... Wright, Pena, and Veras?

c2013 Jared Webb. Used with permission.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I Agree with Blank Ballot Guy

Of everything I have read leading up to and following the revelation(?) of the 2013 baseball Hall of Fame class, the perspective that has resonated with me most was presented by Howard Bryant at ESPN.com.  His take on the ravages that the steroid era inflicted on major league baseball hits very close to my personal experience in response to that time period.  He aptly describes commemorating that diseased era with a Hall of Fame vote as feeling as disingenuous as celebrating Barry Bonds' 756th home run.

If the only consequence that major league baseball incurs for their institutional failure is one Hall of Fame induction ceremony that isn't quite as lively as usual, then the legacy of Alan Huber Selig is getting off pretty light for his misdeeds. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Andy Van Hekken is a Hall of Famer



Photo Courtesy of the Oklahoma City RedHawks.

Thanks to @5runrally for the heads up on this story.

Andy Van Hekken, who spent 2008-2011 in the Astros' farm system, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the West Michigan Whitecaps on January 23.   Van Hekken, 33, grew up in Holland, Michigan and played for West Michigan in 2000 going 16-6 with a 2.45 ERA. 


Since making his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers in September 2002, Van Hekken has played for various affiliated and independent minor league teams.  He spent 2012 with the Nexen Heroes of Seoul, Korea and is preparing to pitch for them again in 2013.

Friday, January 11, 2013

What Could Luhnow Get For...Bud Norris?



by Jared Webb @webberoo11

When I was little I was always curious about where trades came from. I remember originally thinking they came from eggs.   

When a rumor pops up about an Astros trade, I always find myself speculating about who will be involved.  I think the accuracy of my guesses is in the negative numbers at this point.  With the Astros still looking to build, I'm still guessing what deal happens next.   

I once was accused of trying to mentally trade everyone. In reality, I just feel that everyone's prospects belong to the Astros.  That isn't unreasonable, right?   

With all that being said, let's look at Houston's most likely trade candidates.  We will assume that all players mentioned stay healthy and have good, contributing years.

(All trade ideas are simply to give you an idea on the value of the players. When listed, prospect rankings are taken from the MLB.com rankings.)

Bud Norris

Bud is probably viewed as a #4 or #5 by most teams.  His biggest values are that he is cheap and under cteam control until after the 2016 season.  If I had to compare him to someone, value-wise, it would be Edwin Jackson.  His numbers are slightly higher than Jackson's, plus he is much much less expensive.  Norris' ERA went up by almost an entire point in 2012, but in reality his numbers were quite similar to 2011.  With the market for starting pitching being so slim, Norris' trade value is at its all time highest.  Here are some trade possibilities

San Diego-Robbie Erlin LHP 22 yrs old Ranked #8/ James Darnell 3B/LF 25 yrs old

 Robbie Erlin is a command/control specialist who is a simple step away from the show.  Erlin is a fly ball pitcher, but with his pitch ability I'm sure he could adapt and be a really good left handed arm in the Astros' rotation.  His stuff plays up due to his amazing command/control.  He uses an 88-91 mph FB and just recently dominated the AFL.

James Darnell is completely blocked at 3B by Chase Headley and Jedd Gyorko, but his athleticism could make him a valuable asset in LF.  He has some power and has shown an ability to get on base.  Darnell turns 26 next week and has past the "prospect" window of his career.  However, he was regularly rated in the top 15 and still has a lot to offer..

St. Louis- Trevor Rosenthal RHP 22 yrs old Ranked #5/ CJ McElroy OF 19 yrs old Ranked #20

Trevor Rosenthal is probably a stretch here, but St. Louis is stacked with ML ready pitchers.  The Astros would be crazy not to ask for him.  He fits the mold of a sinker ball pitcher that Jeff Lunhow likes, and could slot into Houston's rotation now.  He is a strike thrower who doesn't hurt himself with walks.  A more realistic pitcher in the trade would be John Gast #9 LHP.  He is a solid LHP who has reached AAA and could make the Astros rotation by August/September.

CJ McElroy would add a legit CF prospect to the system.  He would fit the Bourn mold of a speedy CF who doesn't offer up much power.  CJ is a top notch athlete who offers good at bats and has shown good pitch recognition.  Instead of McElroy, Luhnow could also ask for Matt Carpenter.  Carpenter could offer competition in LF and an advanced plate approach.  He doesn't have a ton of power, but he could offer 10-15 HR annually.  The biggest perk for Carpenter would be his advanced eye and good bat to ball ability.

Texas-Leonys Martin CF 24 yrs old/ Robbie Ross LHP 23 yrs old

Leonys Martin is behind Craig Gentry in the depth chart and doesn't have much MLB experience.  He could offer the Astros a good defensive CF who could be a top of the order threat.  He has good speed and even some power that could be just what the Astros would love to have.  He could be available based on injuries he suffered in 2012.

Robbie Ross can rack up strikeouts, but lacks the refined command/control that a team would like.  He received a call up in 2012 and didn't disappoint.  He sits in the low 90's with a very sharp slider.  Most think Ross will slot into the bullpen, but I'm sure the Astros would try to continue his development as a starter.

Speculation- My guess is that Norris will be dealt before the season begins, while the market is still thin.  I worry about what will happen to Norris' value when he starts pitching in the AL West. He is probably more valuable to an NL team.


Coming Next: What Could Luhnow Get For... Jed Lowrie?

c2013 Jared Web.  Used with permission.

Valentine's Plans? How about Dinner on the Mississippi

There won't be any baseball at Modern Woodmen Park over Valentine's weekend, but couples can celebrate the holiday with dinner at the home of the Quad Cities River Bandits.

For the first time, the Astros' Low A affiliate, in Davenport, Iowa,  is serving Valentine's Day Dinner.  The event will be open for business the evenings of February 14, 15, and 16.  Prices for the meal range from $65 per couple to $298 for four couples in a private suite.

More information on the event can be obtained from Andrea Nolan or Shauna Learn with the River Bandits at 563-324-3000. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

History Will Strike at Whataburger Field on April 3

There is quite a bit of history to see if you visit Corpus Christi.  The USS Lexington sits in the bay.  Replicas of Christopher Columbus' ships are boardable at the Museum of Science and History.  A statue of deceased pop star Selena overlooks the road that runs along the bay.

History buffs who are also baseball fans can add an additional historical pit stop to their trip itinerary if they are in Corpus on April 3.  On that day for the first time, the Hooks will play an exhibition game against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders.  The Islanders have played numerous collegiate contests at Whataburger Field since the Hooks came to town in 2005.  However, this will be their first meeting with the Hooks.

RedHawks to Open in Memphis

Thursday, the Oklahoma City RedHawks became the last of 16 Pacific League clubs to announce their schedule for the upcoming season. 

The RedHawks will open their season on the road in Memphis on April 4.  The club's home opener is slated for Friday, April 12 also against Memphis.  The first for which Jon Singleton would be available, assuming he starts his 2013 season with the RedHawks, would be May 26 at Iowa.  Singleton will serve a 50-game suspension at the beginning of the season.

Schedules for other affiliates:

Corpus Christi

Lancaster

Quad Cities

Tri-City

Greeneville(link to schedule not provided due to restrictions in the Farmstros Village Charter)

GCL and DSL Astros schedules are unavailable at this time.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So Much for Breaking Camp with the Big League Club

There had been some speculation that Jon Singleton had a chance to make the big league roster out of Spring Training in a few months.  Based on this report from Jerry Crasnick, that isn't going to happen as Singleton has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse. 

Thanks to @dbran5.  His tweet was the first one I saw about this story.

Hall of Famers or not, This Videotape is Worth Keeping

As I keyboard this post, I am running a videotape of the game in which Craig Biggio got his 3000th hit on my television.  The game is currently in the bottom of the 4th.   Yes, @nickthecoon, I  am aware that I could watch the historical moment "online at the stroke of a button.".  However, it seems fitting on this day to go old school and pull out the old VHS tape(Fortunately, my VCR is still operational).

No matter what happens this afternoon at 1 p.m., I am sure that I will stop the tape and rewind a few times when Biggio drags Bagwell onto the field to share the moment with him.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Turnover Continues

The announcement of the Astros' full minor league staff Friday further revealed the changing face of the Astros' organization.  Of the 51 members of the minor league staff heading into the 2012 season, 17 are no longer with the Astros as Spring Training 2013 approaches.

With the caveat that one or two of these individuals may have snuck through and found a position elsewhere within the Houston system here is a list of those who are gone:

Ty Van Burkleo, Van Burkleo began 2012 as the Minor League hitting coordinator.   He ended the season as the Astros' interim hitting instructor.  He has been hired as the Indians' hitting instructor for the 2013 season.

Stubby Clapp, Tri-City manager in 2012
Ivan DeJesus, Lexington manager
Edwin Garcia, DSL Astros assistant athletic trainer
Jaime Garcia, GCL Astros pitching coach
Ramon Garcia, DSL Astros assistant coach
Burt Hooton, Oklahoma City pitching coach
Jose Martinez, DSL Astros pitching coach
Luis Martinez, DSL Astros manager
Jon Matlack, Minor League pitching coordinator
Gary McCoy, Oklahoma City strength trainer
Eric Montague, Corpus Christi athletic trainer
Frank Renner, Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator
Joel Santo, DSL Astros bullpen coach
Danny Sheaffer, Minor League roving catching instructor
Charley Taylor, GCL Astros pitching coach
Milt Thompson, Minor League roving outfield/baserunning instructor

Friday, January 4, 2013

We Survived the End of the World! Now to Face the AL West


by Jared Webb @webberoo11


We did it, we survived the Mayans.  I personally felt a great sense of pride when I beat the end of the world.  Now that Astros Fans have overcome this great obstacle (Well done, everyone), we have to figure out how the Astros are going to deal with this whole AL West problem.  I'm going to be honest with you guys: I don't think it will be a pretty season for the Astros.  So now that I've babbled a little bit, let me lay out some of my expectations.

1. Astros go 53-109

I know fans will probably feel a little betrayed by this prediction, but I'm not confident the Astros will win more, with less, in the AL West in 2013 than they did in the NL Central in 2012.  The AL West seems to get stronger daily, even the Mariners are doing what it takes to bolster their roster.  I like a few of the additions Houston made, but realistically I don't see the improving much over last year.  There is a chance that Carlos Pena could hit like he did in 2011, but he will also strike out like he did in 2011.  Jose Veras strikes out a lot of batters, but he also walks a ton.  John Ely and Alex White won't magically transform into superstars in the AL West.  Sad to say it, but I expect the Astros to clinch their third straight #1 pick in 2014.

2. Bud Norris doesn't make it to Spring Training

Before the Rangers acquired Ryan Dempster, they were in talks with Houston for Bud Norris.  Rumors have been popping about the 27 year-old righty ever since.  Recently trade talks have died down, and Jeff Lunhow has said that the roster is pretty set.  I take that to mean no more FA signings, but I expect Lunhow to deal Norris before the season starts.  Right now the value for starting pitching is heavily inflated due to draft compensation and the lack of available pitching on the market.  I also think the our good friend Jeff will want to deal Norris away before his value, possibly, takes a major hit when he faces AL West lineups.

3. Sean Manaea is the first name called in the 2013 draft.

This is a very early prediction, and things could majorly shift in a different direction.

 Last year the Astros shocked us all by taking Carlos Correa over Mark Appel with the first over-all pick and they could surprise again by selecting Manea.  Manaea is a 6'5 LHP from Indiana State who absolutely dominated the Cape Cod league with his mid 90's FB.  He doesn't have the polish of Appel or Ryne Stanek(Arkansas), but this organization is desperately lacking in the LHP department.  If no one establishes themselves as the consensus 1-1, and Manaea is still in the top five,  I expect him to be the Astros' guy.

4. Jordan Lyles/Alex White take progressive steps forward.

I think there are a lot Astros fans that are already considering Jordan Lyles a bust.  Let's pump the breaks a little before making that declaration.  Lyles was off and on throughout the entire 2012 season, sometimes showing flashes of brilliance and other times frustrating us all. Two factors to consider with Lyles are that he is still younger than most top prospect pitchers (22 yrs old), and that the Astros have rushed him pretty badly. 

Jordan showed that he was still developing when he went from 89-91 mph to 91-94 while hitting 95 quite often.  Alex White is somewhat in the same boat.  He was taken in the 1st round in 2009 and moved very quickly through the Indians' system.  Alex made his debut in 2011 and put up decent numbers before being dealt to the Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal.  He proceeded to get smashed all over the slaughtering grounds of Coors Field. 

I think that the talent is still there and that getting away from Colorado could help. Keep in mind also that prior to starting the 2012 season White was charged with a DUI, and this could have created off the field distractions for him. I also think the Lunhow is bringing in coaches who will teach ground ball pitchers, like White, to be more effective.  I think both Lyles and White could turn into middle of the rotation arms.

5. Cosart and Singleton don't start the year in the MLB

I know fans are screaming for Cosart and Singleton to get the call up to the show.  I highly doubt this will happen at the beginning of the 2013 season.  I think the Astros front office will do everything possible to make sure to delay starting their arbitration clocks in 2013.  I know that's not what fans want to hear, but I have to agree with it.  Barring an season like Oakland had in 2012, the Astros won't be close to competing for a playoff spot.  So why rush two of our best prospects when we don't have a massive depth of upper level prospects near to the show?  I expect both guys to come to spring training and compete, and ultimately start the season in AAA.

I realize that I'm not preaching the Astros glory in this article, but we are still years away from returning to the old days of winning.  The FO seems willing to let the big league team take a bashing, stack #1 picks and continue to build as much young talent in the system as possible.  It won't be popular with the fans, but the hardcore followers will understand.  

I'm sure the Astros fearless leaders are banking on the masses returning to Minute Maid Park when the wins start stacking up.  Until then, I recommend that everyone learn to love prospects, or  start reading more books because its going to be a long season.

c2013 by Jared Webb

You might See Some Astros of the Future in Houston in February

Major League Spring Training in Kissimmee will commence in earnest the weekend of February 15-17.  Houston's position players are scheduled to report that Friday and the first full squad workout will occur on Saturday.  However, fans in Houston who can't make it to Florida by mid-February will have the opportunity to look at few potential Astros of the future in their own backyard.

As mentioned here previously, Division I college baseball begins nationwide on February 15.  The Rice Owls are slated to host Stanford in a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon at 4:30 pm.  Rice and Stanford consistently have a handful(and sometimes two hands full) of players selected in the June draft.  This year, four Stanford players are listed in MLB.com's list of top 50 draft prospects.  Included in that quartet is Mark Appel, a senior right-handed starter who figures to be a first round pick for the second year in a row.

Tickets for the games range in price from $10-$16.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Keep your Feet on the Ground (and Keep Wearing a Star)

Extra! Extra! about it all, read
A rivalry's coming with stupendous speed.
The greatest in Texas is Geogie P.'s aim
A Lone Star Colossus of unsurpassed fame.

The goal at first sounds lofty, Rick Perry thinks it's so.
Inspectors on review may posit boldly, "I don't know."

If Aggies v. Longhorns is fading away,
What two teams will stand in Postolos' way?

The Mavericks and Spurs?
They ARE rivals it's clear.
Yet, they only meet about four times a year.
The Texans and Cowboys?
Might hamper the deal
Except that they've only played three games for real.

The Hooks and the Missions?
Mojo and Midland Lee?
The Owls and the Cougars?
Who's he trying to beat?

The Jackalopes and Ice Rays?
Maybe, that's who's in his sights
The Dallas Stars and nobody?
I think that can't be right.

The goal is not that stellar
I must conclude today
Unless they aim to topple
SHS and SFA.

Hey OKC students, Have you planned your Field Trip?

Students in the Oklahoma City area will have two special opportunities to watch the RedHawks play in May.  The AAA team has announced two field trip days on May 8 and 14.   School groups can attend those games(both of which begin at 11:05 am) for a special price, and they will receive a few extra items to enhance the experience. 

The May 8 game is against Tacoma(Seattle's affiliate).  May 14 the RedHawks are scheduled to face Salt Lake(Angels' AAA team), which could very well include 2011-12 RedHawk J.B. Shuck on its roster.