USA Today is reporting the Astros will hold team-building exercises, including ropes courses and trust falls, in Houston this week.
Assistant GM / Scouting Director Bobby Heck will welcome all 21 scouts (11 of whom are new to the Astros, and six of whom were staff additions) for meetings starting Monday afternoon, and full meetings Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Tasked with rebuilding the farm system, the Astros got off to a nice start to doing just that by signing 16 of their top 17 picks (32 of 52 overall). Only 3rd rounder Chase Davidson decided to go to the University of Georgia instead of signing with the Astros.
Other interesting notes:
C Jason Castro has been given a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.
It's been well-documented, but still worth noting: in his first 44 ABs in Winter Ball, Michael Bourn was hitting .409 with 8 walks and 7 strikeouts.
J.R. Towles was "trying to find his swing" in Winter Ball. Ricky Bennett said he's "swinging the bat OK." That's not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Depending on what happens with Castro in Spring Training, you could see him at AA this year. Remember the Astros took C Lou Palmisano in the Rule 5 Draft, which means they have to keep him on the 25-man roster all season or give him back. Towles will probably start at AAA, Castro sent to AA after playing well in the NY-P League, and the backup job is Palmisano's to lose. This is pure speculation, but given the Astros' demonstrated financial need (do they have FAFSA for major league teams?) I doubt they would have taken Palmisano just to see about wasting $50,000.