Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jed Lowrie... Outfielder?

(First of all - hi. The County Clerk did me the honor of inviting me to be a contributor here, and this is my first post; I go by Cockroach. I'll mostly be filling in occasionally when one of the regular guys needs a hand, but I'll also chime in from time to time on my own. I'm not why you're reading this, however, so enough about that...)

This was a big week for Astros fans. Two ugly losses notwithstanding, the national buzz surrounding this club was the most positive it's been in quite some time, following a draft that has received almost universal rave reviews. Everyone's favorite second baseman/unit of measurement is starting to receive a good deal of national attention, as well, but he's arguably not even the team's MVP to this point. That would be the fellow who homered for the third straight game today - a man named Jed.

Jed Lowrie is doing things at shortstop that Houston has not seen in nearly three decades. Following today's game, Jed is sporting a .297/.373/.547 line with 28 RBIs and a team-leading 12 homers through 51 games. That factors out to about 36 homers and 86 RBIs with a .920 OPS on the whole season; that would be the highest OPS for any Astros player since Lance Berkman's shiny .986 in 2008. has Jed leading all Astros with a 2.0 WAR so far this season; FanGraphs has him at an even more impressive 2.6. He's doing it on the defensive side of the ball, too, with a UZR/150 of 10.4 this season, nearly matching the 10.8 of acknowledged defensive wizard Clint Barmes last season, and higher than any other full-time Houston shortstop not named Adam Everett since 2002.

The biggest prize in Jeff Luhnow's 2012 draft class is, of course, Carlos Correa - a shortstop, but even if he manages to reach the majors by age 20, we likely won't see him in Houston until 2015 at soonest. Luhnow led off the second round with another shortstop, however, in Nolan Fontana from the University of Florida. As a college draftee, we're actually more likely to see Fontana in Houston before Correa, and given that many had projected Fontana as a potential first-rounder, he's got the pedigree to bear that out. There's talk that Fontana may get moved to second base, but Jose Altuve figures to be entrenched there for years to come, and Jimmy Paredes sits there in AAA behind him. Already on the Astros' farm, Jiovanni Mier finally looks to be putting it all together this year down in Lancaster, three years after getting drafted. Jonathan Villar still has potential down in Corpus. Even if Correa eventually gets moved to third base, that's three or four additional candidates already in the shortstop pipeline, to say nothing of the other four shortstops Houston just drafted, including prep star and UT-commit C.J. Hinojosa.

So where does that leave Lowrie in Houston's long-term plans? Right where he is for this season and next, I'd assume, but 2014 will be Jed's final season before free agency, and one or more of the names above may be ready for the majors by then, too. Do we automatically assume then that Lowrie becomes trade bait, or that he's allowed to walk after his 2014 contract is up? Perhaps - if not Jed, then I'd expect at least one of these guys to be dealt to fill other holes by then. If Jed does indeed stay healthy and become a perennial .290ish hitter with 20-30 homers and a solid glove, however, maybe that's an asset worth getting creative to hold onto a little longer.

One assumes that Jonathan Singleton is Houston's first baseman of the future. Second base is Altuve's job to lose, with Paredes waiting in the wings. Third base is more uncertain, but could be Correa's, could be Paredes', could be new draftee Rio Ruiz, or even a wildcard guy like Matt Duffy. Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace are both under club control through 2016, and either could be a good DH candidate if they're not playing the infield. That's a pretty full infield. But what if Jed should follow in Craig Biggio's footsteps, should Jeff Luhnow decide to keep him around?

Biggio, of course, was asked to move to the outfield in 2003 to make room for the free agent signing of Jeff Kent. Granted, Craig did have some previous outfield experience in the majors, but 64 games over 15 seasons isn't very much. He was also 37 years old when he was asked to make the move, and Jed will only be 31 in 2015. I couldn't find any evidence that Lowrie has played the outfield before, even in college, but it's still not a move entirely without precedent - another Houston farmhand, Ben Zobrist, was almost exclusively a shortstop throughout his minor league career and his first two seasons in Tampa, before he began his conversion into utility man extraordinare in 2008 at the major league level. Is it unconventional? Certainly. But it also strikes me as just the kind of outside-the-box thinking that Houston's new leadership is likely to try.

Of course this is all purely speculation at this point, and admittedly at least two years premature. A lot can and will undoubtably happen between now and 2015, and I don't want to spoil the enjoyment of Jed's historically good season now by worrying too much about the future. But it's a fun "what if?" to think about, in any event. The Astros' two best players to this point in the season have clearly been Lowrie and Altuve, and I'd like to see both of them continue this for as long as they can. Based on this year and 2010, Jed has got the offense to be at home filling an outfield spot. So should we eventually see him crashing into outfield walls... remember, you read it here first.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G59: Astros @ White Sox

Jordan Lyles (1-1, 4.97) vs Chris Sale (7-2, 2.30)

The Astros and White Sox were actually in a pitchers duel with a scoreless game heading into the bottom of the 5th, but you would never know it from the final score. The White Sox scored 5 in the 5th, 1 in the 6th and tacked on 4 for good measure in the 8th to beat the Astros in a laugher by a 10-1 score. The Astros now drop to 25-34.

*Jordan Lyles was a bit of a mixed case again. He made some great pitchers, forcing hitters to chase bad pitches and ground out weakly, and he left some balls up allowing guys to hit them hard. In the end he finished with a line of 4.1 IP / 7 H / 5 R (4 ER) / 3 BB / 0 K. He took the loss and drops to 1-2. Cedeno and Carpenter threw scoreless innings. Cruz got hit hard and gave up 4 runs. Lyon collected the last out of the evening.


*Jed Lowrie stayed red hot with his 3rd homerun in 3 straight games, his 12th of the year. It came when the game was already well out of reach in the top of the 9th.

*The Astros as a unit struck out 9 times and didn't walk once. They only collected 6 hits. All of that discipline the Astros had at the plate to start the season is now gone, and it's showing up on the score sheet as a lack of baserunners and a lack of runs.

*The Astros only had one runner in scoring position the entire evening. They went 0 for 1 with RISP.

*Brian Bixler got a start in LF and collected a single just past a diving Alexei Ramirez.

*Not much to write home about tonight. Chris Sale is very good. His delivery is deceptive and he is very efficient. He reminds me of a young, not quite as hard throwing Randy Johnson. A very good young pitcher who deserved the win today.

Turning Point:

The 5 run 5th in what had been a 0-0 tie until that point was more than enough to bury the Astros today.

Man of the Match:

Jed Lowrie went 2 for 4 and drove in the Astros only run with his 12th homerun of the year.

Goat of the Game:

The pitching was, by all accounts, a complete disaster yet again. Lyles takes the blame here for his 5 runs (4 earned) allowed.

I'm starting to grow tired of Jordan Schafer's strikeouts

Baseball-Reference can tell you what you need to know about Jordan Schafer's statistics this season through 50 games:

206 PAs, 45 hits, 10 extra-base hits, 14-for-18 in stolen base attempts, .246/.315/.328 line for a .643 OPS. Incidentally, in 30 games last season for Houston, he was hitting .245/.314/.311 for a .625 OPS.

That's not good, particularly when the average NL center-fielder is hitting .266/.333/.403 (.737 OPS).

But despite the "not-hitting" thing, Schafer's strikeouts are starting to get more irritating. In 206 PAs in 2012, Schafer has 62 strikeouts - 30.1% of his plate appearances. Now, Schafer does not lead the NL in strikeouts - he's tied with Kirk Nieuwenhuis for 5th, three Ks behind Corey Hart and Dan Uggla. ESPN doesn't show PAs on their leaderboard, but by looking at ABs, Rickie Weeks (who is leading the NL in strikeouts, leads the NL in strikeout rate with a 36% K-rate. Your top ten (Ks/ABs):

36.3% (61K, 168AB) - Pedro Alvarez
36% (71K, 197AB) - Rickie Weeks
35.9% (70K, 195AB) - Danny Espinosa
33.9% (62K, 183AB) - Jordan Schafer
32.7% (55K, 168AB) - Bryan LaHair
32.2% (59K, 183AB) - Ike Davis
32.3% (62K, 192AB) - Kirk Nieuwenhuis
30.1% (65K, 216AB) - Corey Hart
31.4% (65K, 207AB) - Dan Uggla
28.9% (59K, 204AB) - Drew Stubbs

Here's the thing, of those ten, only Rickie Weeks and Ike Davis have a lower OPS than Schafer.

Some more stats on Schafer, you say? Well, then (with NL avg in parentheses):
*In 82 games in 2011, Schafer struck out 70 times in 338 PAs (20.7%), and if you're used to reading the K/AB rate, that results in 23.2%. - 10.7% lower than 2011.
*Vs. RHPs: 45K in 169 PAs - 26.6% (19.3%)
*Vs. LHPs: 17K in 37 PAs - 45.9% (27.8%)
*April: 30K in 99 PAs - 30.3%
*May: 21K in 85 PAs - 24.7%
*June: 11K in 22 PAs - 50%
*After 0-1 count: 38K in 104 PAs - 36.5% (27.8%)
*After two strikes: 62K in 113 PAs - 59% (40.7%)
*After 1-0 count: 24K in 79 PAs - 30.4% (16.5%)
*2-2 count: 25K in 36 PAs - 69.4% (42.7%)
*Innings 1-3: 29K in 87 PAs - 33%
*Innings 4-6: 15K in 60 PAs - 25%
*Innings 7-9: 17K in 54 PAs - 31.5%

Schafer also has 16 multi-K games this season - with three 3K games in the last week.

How about the breakdown between swinging/looking strikeouts?
Swinging: 70.2%
Looking: 29.8%

We could do splits on splits all day (but I've already spent too long on this). Fact is, over 70% of Schafer's strikeouts are swinging strikeouts. And all you have to do is look at Schafer's K-rate vs. LHP, where he's striking out in 45.9% of his plate appearances (and NL average for LHBs striking out against LHPs in 27.8% of their PAs) to realize that, at best, Schafer's .373 OPS does not need to play against lefties. I'm normally against this type of thinking, but Schafer either needs to step it up, or step it out.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G58: Astros @ White Sox

Wandy Rodriguez (4-4, 3.14) vs Gavin Floyd (4-5, 5.32)

The Astros found a power surge, hitting 3 homeruns on their way to an 8-3 victory in the opener of their interleague series against the Chicago White Sox. The Astros improved to 25-33 with the win.

*Wandy Rodriguez got the nod and was solid again, as he has generally been this season. His line: 5.1 IP / 9 H / 3 ER / 1 BB / 2 K. Lopez, Wright and Rodriguez picked up Holds, while Myers pitched the 9th in a non-save situation after the Astros scored their 3 runs in the top half of the 9th.


*Altuve led off with Schafer batting 2nd. Altuve went 2 for 5 with a run, while Schafer went 0 for 4 with 3 K's, a walk and a run scored. Schafer did have a very nice at bat against a tough lefty in Matt Thornton in the 7th, but eventually struck out swinging.

*Jed Lowrie continued to stay hot, with his 11th homerun of the year. He's having a very nice year so far and looks like a very shrewd pickup by Luhnow.

*Brian Bogusevic hit a very nice 3 run bomb in the top of the 9th to increase the lead to 8-3 and really put the game out of reach. He has homered 3 times in the past 10 days now.

*Brett Wallace also homered, his first of the year. Maybe it's the hair?

Turning Point:

While the Bogusevic 3 run homerun was huge and put the game out of reach, i'm going to go with a smaller play here. In the top of the 7th, with Altuve on 1st and Maxwell on 3rd and one out, Altuve was caught leaning at 1st and got himself into a rundown. Justin Maxwell very wisely snuck home on the play to score and make it a 5-3 lead. That 2 run lead was a little more cushion - a very nice heads up play by Maxwell.

Man of the Match:

Jed Lowrie had a big night, going 2 for 4 with his 11th homerun of the year. He drove in 3 runs and scored once.

Goat of the Game:

Close between CJ and JD Martinez, but because CJ had a bit of an excuse (he was feeling nauseous and that is why he was removed from the game), the goat goes to JD. 0 for 4 from the cleanup spot with 2 K's. 

More draft picks sign

Two more "unofficial" picks signed yesterday (meaning, news didn't come from

From KZTV, we also find that 9th Round pick Daniel Minor has signed for $50,000. Recommended slot for the 279th overall pick is $131,500. We'll do the math for you and tell you that the Astros saved $81,500 on this pick.
And from the Greensboro Times-Record we find that 37th Round pick Michael Dimock has signed.

Bobby Heck did confirm that eight more draft picks signed with the Astros yesterday:

5th Round pick Andrew Aplin
12th Round pick Terrell Joyce
13th Round pick Brian Holmes
14th Round pick Joe Sclafani
15th Round pick Erick Gonzalez
18th Round pick Ricky Gingras
30th Round pick John Neely
31st Round pick M.P. Cokinos

*With these updates, the Astros are currently $2,481,500 under their bonus pool.

Corresponding Move: Brian Bixler

Brian Bixler has been called up with the news of Marwin Gonzalez heading to the DL with his bruised heel, which sounds quite bad:

"The doctors told us that he would definitely be out a minimum of 10 days. Hopefully, he's able to at least play catch to keep his arm stronger, but it's going to be tough to have him ready to play."


In other Meat Wagon news, Chris Johnson had to leave the game after getting a stomach bug in the 6th inning. Mills:
"He was tossing his cookies, you might say."

Friday, June 8, 2012

Brett Myers needs to finish 25 more games

According to Jon Paul Morosi, Brett Myers just needs to finish 25 more games in order for his 2013 $10m option to vest - though that isn't the only way for it to vest, as well. Ed Wade figured him a right nice way to get his cabbage for 2013.

That said, the $3m buyout for his contract might not scare anybody off:
“It’s not that scary of an option,” one rival executive said of Myers. “I wouldn’t imagine it’s going to be a huge hindrance (to his trade value).”

There may be an Oops with Jorge Soler's papers

Baseball America's Ben Badler has an update about the Continuing Story of Jorge Soler - namely, he's living in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Due to federal regulations governing American companies and Cuban citizens, Soler's agents must present either an unblocking license from the U.S. Office Of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) or two permanent residency documents from a new country before Soler can enter into agreement with a team.

Badler has a better explanation in the link above, so check it out - but stay tuned. Jorge Soler may actually be a 46-year old Colombian woman...

Interview with Southside Showdown

Hey, the Astros play the White Sox this weekend in a hate-fueled rematch of the 2005 World Series somewhat random inter-league matchup. So we asked Matt some questions:

AC: How have things gone for the White Sox since the 2005 World Series?

SS: Why do I feel like this is a loaded question? I could complain, but something tells me that the fine residents of Astros County won’t be sending too much sympathy my way. Things haven’t been great. In 2006 the Sox fielded a team that was actually better than the 2005 squad, which is to say that we had a more potent offense. The ’05 team was successful based on pitching and timely hitting. A good word to use for timely hitting is “luck”. In 2006 we tried to replace the luck with a better lineup, and then as luck would have it, Detroit and Cleveland were just better than they were before and we missed the playoffs entirely. Since then there’s been some pretty mediocre ball going on, though there is one playoff appearance in there. And 2012 is so far so good.

AC: Ozzie Guillen: Happy, or sad that he’s gone?

SS: Ozzie definitely worked himself into a situation where he wore out his welcome. When a guy is throwing opinions out left and right, perfectly willing to contradict his previous statement with his next, it’s easy to tire of the whole thing. Even when I’m sipping coffee to stay alert through Robin Ventura interviews and press conferences, it’s still a relief to know that our manager is focusing on baseball, and isn’t likely to just be done with it all when there are two games left in the season.

AC: Kenny Williams is one of the longest-tenured GMs in baseball – how do White Sox fans feel about him?

SS: White Sox fans…they don’t seem to like Kenny so much. Everything that goes wrong happens because Kenny is an “idiot”. Only that’s not right. He’s not an idiot. He’s a smug jerk. That makes him a convenient fall guy when things go wrong. You’re not exactly rooting for him but his success has a good deal of control over your day-to-day baseball enjoyment. Kenny’s done a decent enough job in his time here and he makes things interesting by never really sitting on his hands. Baseball fans everywhere tend to pretty reactionary and much of the time it’s patience that pays off. For example 3 KW moves that were slammed all last year for their injuries or complete uselessness (Peavy, Dunn, Rios) are helping to lead the charge this season.

AC: Paul Konerko: Underrated, or criminally underrated?

SS: I’m actually going to go with the former. Maybe I run in the wrong circles but I just don’t ever hear anybody say that Paul Konerko is anything but a great hitter. Though he’s certainly not given the credit he deserves, so he’s at least some level of underrated. I think the problem is he’s turned it up as he’s gotten older. People have a tendency to value talent based on what they project going forward and looking at Konerko each year you think, “oh that’s great but next year he’ll drop off a bit.” You don’t expect a guy of his age to actually get better each year, but that’s what he’s doing.

AC: When you heard that the Astros were moving to the American League, what were your thoughts? Pity? Lots of chops-licking?

SS: The AL West having 4 teams while the NL Central has 6 never made much sense. Somebody was going to have to make the move. What confused me was why it wouldn’t just be the Brewers, who were in the AL to begin with. It’s not like Bud Selig has any interests in keeping Milwaukee in the...what’s that? He what? Oh. Yeah, sucks a lot for Houston fans. Of course it’s not the first time you’ve been screwed by MLB when Milwaukee was peripherally involved. Carlos Zambrano, anyone?

And on that note, we like Matt. Follow him at @2012WhiteSox and at Southside Showdown.

From the Office of the County Clerk - G57: Cardinals @ Astros

Lance Lynn (8-2, 2.63) vs JA Happ (4-5, 4.31)

The Astros trailed 3-2 heading into the 5th, and 5-2 heading into the 7th....but the Cardinals piled on late and destroyed the Astros by a 14-2 count. The Astros now fall to 24-33.

*JA Happ was not at his best tonight, and neither was the bullpen as Brandon Lyon was the only Astros pitcher who didn't give up a run. Even Brian Bogusevic gave up a couple of earned runs in an inning of work. Happ's line: 4.2 IP / 4 ER / 5 H / 5 BB / 6 K. Carpenter, Cruz & Wright gave up runs in their appearances as well.


*Despite giving up a 2 run homer, Bogey was the only Astros pitcher to not walk a batter.

*Jed Lowrie homered and now leads the team with 10 longballs.

*The top of the order had a rough night. Schafer went 0 for 3 with 3 K's. Altuve went 0 for 4 with 2 K's.

*The Astros sported a very unpleasant 13:2 K:BB ratio.

Turning Point:

Although it was starting to get out of hand for the Astros already, the 7 run 7th really finished them off.

Man of the Match:

Jed Lowrie went 2 for 4 and hit his team leading 10th homerun of the year.

Goat of the Game:

The pitching staff as a whole.

This Aaron West fella is quite interesting

17th Round pick Aaron West had a fallback plan if he didn't get drafted: the FBI. According to the Everett Herald (linked above), West is just short of a degree in Middle East history, and he knows how to speak Persian. Honestly, Aaron West sounds like a character in a Tom Clancy novel.

While he still has a year of eligibility left, he sounds like he'll sign today:
“I'm still thinking about it, because education is important. But you also can't play baseball when you're old. Not many people get this opportunity to play professional baseball, and I can always come back and finish school.”

Marwin Gonzalez to DL

Marwin Gonzalez has been placed on the DL with a bruised heel, which means we get a corresponding move sometime today.

13th Round pick Brian Holmes signs

Baseball America's Jim Callis reports 13th Round pick Brian Holmes, out of Wake Forest, has signed for $100,000.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Correa receives $4.8m bonus

Unbelievable. Not only did the Astros sign their #1 overall pick in the same week as he was drafted, but the reported signing bonus (so discovered by Baseball America) is $4.8m - or less than half of the bonus received by 2010 #1 overall pick, Bryce Harper - or, if you're still doing figures - $2.4m less than the recommended slot for the #1 overall pick of $7.2m.

Incredible news on would could be a historic draft for the Astros.

Astros still interested in Jorge Soler

Jeff Luhnow isn't giving out any secrets, but he did say this afternoon that the Astros are still interested in the recently-declared-a-free-agent Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler. He did not, however, say whether the Astros had submitted a bid.

Soler has to sign with a team before July 2, or risk losing millions. Scott Boras is already pissed, but he isn't quite sure why*.

(* - unconfirmed).

Carlos Correa officially signs

Everyone has been all over this already today, so there's really no point in providing a source other than "Houston media says..." but #1 overall pick Carlos Correa has officially signed with the Astros. There still isn't an official confirmation on how much he actually signed for - but I doubt there will be, unless it gets leaked. I don't think we're going to get any hard numbers on signing bonuses until after the deadline. Why? Since signing picks is basically now a subtraction issue: $11.2m - X - Y - Z = "My client wants $11.2m - (X+Y+Z)"

Kevin Goldstein addressed an interesting point, when he said that Correa's signing will have "Zero" impact on subsequent picks. That makes sense, because there's still a hard slot number with a penalty for going over the allotted sum.

Travis Ballew will sign

Looks like 23rd Round pick Travis Ballew will sign with the Astros:

Who knew it would be 5 days till I start my pro baseball career #Astros

Sounds like 12th Round pick will sign

It certainly sounds like 12th Round pick Terrell Joyce will sign with the Astros:

Ready to start this career! #timetoshine

27th round pick Tanner Mathis going back to Ole Miss

27th Round pick Tanner Mathis announced, in no uncertain terms, that he would be returning to Ole Miss for his senior season in 2013:

It's been an honor to be drafted by the Astros' but I'm coming back to lead the Rebels to OMAHA!! #RebsBSB #OMAHA2013startsNow #OMAHA2013

Jose Carlos Thompson released

We learn from Matt Eddy that the Astros have released Jose Carlos Thompson. (UPDATE: Our buddy Greg Rajan noted this two weeks ago).

He wasn't doing well, at all. The 25-year old played in 87 games in 2011, hitting .303/.340/.468 in 69 games at Lancaster, but hitting .115/.164/.135 in 18 games at Corpus. The Astros gave him 18 more games in 2012 at Corpus, but he hit .119/.159/.143, with 17K:0BB in 44 plate appearances.

He signed for $250,000 in January 2011.

PreStros Farm Report: June 6

PreStros: June 6

Oklahoma City (36-23) 


*Notes: OKC has won 13 straight at home. Mike Hessman was named the Astros AAA Offensive Player of the Month for May. During the month he hit .338 with eight home runs. Xavier Cedeno was Pitcher of the Month, with a 0.63 ERA and 14 strikeouts over 14.1 innings.

Corpus Christi (27-30) 

Midland (OAK) scored all their runs in one inning as the Hooks lost 6-3.

Jose Cisnero had held the RockHounds scoreless through 6 but couldn’t get an out in the seventh and finished with 6 innings while giving up 3 R on 5 H and 1 BB with 10 K. Josh Zeid couldn’t stop the bleeding as he pitched 1 inning and gave up 3 R on 1 H and 1 BB with 2 K. Arcenio Leon went 2 scoreless innings with 1 K.

LF-Jordan Kreke was 2x3. DH-Kody Hinze was 2x4. SS-Jonathan Villar went 0x2 with 2 BB, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match:  Jonathan Villar

*Notes: Ross Seaton was named the Astros AA Pitcher of the Month. He went 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA over six starts and 36.2 innings. Jon Singleton was Offensive Player of the Month. Jon hit .281 with a .931 OPS and seven home runs.

Lancaster (31-29) 

San Jose (SFG) jumped out to an early 6-0 lead and never looked back as the JetHawks lost 11-5.

Bobby Doran lasted just 2 innings and gave up 6 R on 7 H and 1 BB with 1 K. Brian Streilein threw the next 2.2 innings and allowed 4 R on 6 H with 4 K. Pat Urckfitz pitched 2.1 scoreless innings with 1 H and 2 K. Kirk Clark threw 1 inning and allowed 1 R on 1 H. Brad Dydalewicz pitched the final scoreless inning with 1 H.

DH-Telvin Nash was 1x4 with 1 HR. LF-Chris Epps was 2x4 with 2 R. C-Rene Garcia was 2x4 with 1 2B and 2 RBI. RF-Grant Hogue was 2x4 with 1 R.

Man of the Weekend: Rene Garcia

*Notes: Tyson Perez was named Astros Player of the Month for Lancaster. In May Perez was 3-1 with a 3.90 ERA. George Springer earned the Offensive Player of the Month award by hitting .324 with eight home runs and seven steals.

Lexington (32-26) 

A bases loaded triple by Delino DeShields led the way as the Legends beat Lakewood (PHI) 4-1.

Making his organizational debut, Armando Galarraga threw 4 innings and allowed 1 R on 4 H and 2 BB. Jonas Dufek finished out the game with 5 scoreless innings with 3 H and 7 K.

2B-Delino DeShields was 2x4 with 1 3B and 3 RBI. C-Roberto Pena was 2x4 with 1 R and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Delino DeShields

*Notes: Luis Cruz was named Lexington Pitcher of the Month. He was 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA in May. Matt Duffy was awarded Offensive Player of the Month after hitting .343 with 4 HR. Jason Chowning, Delino DeShields, Matt Duffy, Mike Foltynewicz, Zach Johnson, Carlos Quevedo, and Nick Tropeano were all named to the South Atlantic League All-Star game.

Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

DSL Astros (2-2) 

The Astros evened their record back up by beating the Cardinals 6-4.

Geronimo Franzua recorded just 1 out and allowed 2 R (1 earned) on 4 BB. Samil De Los Santos threw 5.2 scoreless innings with just 1 H and 7 K. Yonquelys Martinez threw .2 innings, giving up 2 R on 1 H and 3 BB with 2 K. Javier Saucedo went 2 innings with 3 BB and 3 K. Johan Arias got the final out with 1 K.

SS-Luis Reynoso was 1x3 with 1 BB, 1 SB, and 2 R. CF/1B-Mesac Laguna was 0x3 with 1 BB, 2 SB, and 2 R. RF-Tomas De La Cruz went 3x4 with 1 2B and 3 RBI.

Man of the Match: Samil De Los Santos

Rio Ruiz is still "50/50"

MiLB did a good before/after the draft piece on Rio Ruiz. And I think what we all want to know is whether or not he'll sign, which Ruiz was kind enough to (not) answer:

"I still feel it's 50-50," says Ruiz, who hopes to make his college-or-pro decision in early July. "We still have to talk about it as a family and see how everything is and how everything is going to go. Me being comfortable -- ultimately, that's the main thing it is going to come down to. What I want to do and what I am ready for."

Correa signs for (reported) $5.135m

With a captip to Brian Hamilton for finding it and passing it on, Moisekapenda Bower is reporting (via sources) that Carlos Correa will sign today, for $5.135m - $2m and change under the recommended slot for the 1-1 pick.

This is huge, as the Astros can increase their offer to Lance McCullers from the recommended $1.2587m to about $3.2587m (if they commit all of that to McCullers). That $3.25m+ is the recommended slot value of the 1-6 pick.

Let's say the Astros split the savings from Correa between McCullers and #129 overall pick Rio Ruiz. McCullers would then receive around the equivalent of the #15 overall pick ($2.25m) and Ruiz would receive around the equivalent of the 38th overall pick ($1.36m) - which may not be enough because, if you recall, Ruiz told Inside SoCal he wanted Top-10 money. The slot recommendation for the 10th overall pick is $2.7m.

Scott Boras calls 2012 draft "a mockery"

Oh noes! Scott Boras is butthurt over how teams approached the 2012 MLB Draft:

"There was all forms of artificial behavior in the draft. The purpose of the draft is that it's supposed to create parity in the game. You want teams with the greatest needs to get the best available talent. That has not been achieved in this draft. It's created a mockery."

After another cup of coffee, this post will be updated with some reaction.

Thursday morning draft updates

*Jonathan Mayo praised the Astros' draft class:
It might be easy to give credit to the team with the No. 1 overall pick, but it's not just Carlos Correa that gives the Astros a good Draft grade. Getting Correa, though, made it possible for Houston to feel confident it could draft and sign Lance McCullers, a first-round talent, in the comp round. The Astros didn't stop there, however. After taking some solid college talent, they took high-end high schoolers like 3B Rio Ruiz and OF Brett Phillips.

*3rd Round pick Brady Rodgers signed last night, and while terms were not disclosed, Rodgers knew all along he would sign:
"I knew what I wanted to do. With the Astros drafting me, it was pretty easy. The hometown team, the team I grew up loving. It's pretty simple. It was either sign or sign."

*22nd Round pick Kenny Long will sign:
“It’s something I’ve been working at for pretty much my whole life. It really hasn’t sunk in yet that I’ll be playing professional baseball, but it’s something I’m so honored to do.”

*25th Round pick Ryan Dineen doesn't know what position he'll play, but it'll be with the Astros:
"They said we'll have you come down and play wherever we need you, short, second or third. They're thrilled I'm versatile, and I'll play any one of those spots in the game for them."

*26th Round pick C.J. Hinojosa wasn't picked where he would have preferred, but it was still nice to get drafted. Will he sign?:
“I honestly don’t know. I have to sit down with my family and talk with my adviser and see what will happen.”

*27th Round pick Tanner Mathis isn't sure if he'll return to Ole Miss for his senior season, or sign with the Astros:
"As far as what happens from here, I have no idea. We'll just play it by ear. I'll be in contact with them, talk to the coaches. We'll find out what will happen pretty soon."

*28th Round pick Angel Ibanez is going to sign, after talking with his parents:
“They think it’s time. I’m going to go ahead and do that, start new.”

*29th Round pick Christian Garcia almost missed his name being called due to a jacked up internet connection, but looks like he'll sign.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Signings starting to roll in

The Astros have a verbal agreement in place to sign 1-1 Carlos Correa, for what certainly seems like well under the $7.2m recommendation (which, again, would allow them to shift money to sign other picks - like Lance McCullers).

Jim Crane:
“We’ve approved the amount and we hope that he’ll sign this agreement and pass the physical tomorrow. We did it in a such a way that allowed us to pick up some other players that we really wanted and be able to stretch a little bit here or there.”

So not only did they sign the #1 overall pick with the entire short-season ahead of them, but they did it in a way that would allow them to make a run at their other players.

And on that note, the Astros have signed 3rd Round pick Brady Rodgers, out of Arizona State. Rodgers - the 96th pick of the draft - has a recommended slot of $495,200.

Looks like 16th Rounder Dan Gulbransen will sign

Though he was projected to go between Rounds 6-10, 16th Round pick Dan Gulbransen sounds like he's going to sign with the Astros:

"Yesterday it was a little disappointment not getting taken because both my parents were here and I had some friends here around the house. With everyone having to go to work (today), there wasn't a whole lot of people besides my dad and my brother. I have yet to see my mom since I was selected, but I think everyone is very happy and just ready to move forward and give this thing a shot."

Well, this isn't going to help negotiations

Lance McCullers will join Zack Greinke, Justin Upton, and Alex Rodriguez as 2012's Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year, and will be invited to the ESPYs (which, apparently, still happens) to be up for high school athlete of the year.

Methinks Derrick Goold is minimizing Luhnow's impact on the Cardinals

...At least that's what it looks like.

From 2005 to 2011, the years Jeff Luhnow oversaw the draft, the Cardinals have had more drafted players reach the majors than any other team in the majors. This is a stat that the Cardinals will trumpet. It is not a stat that tells the whole story of the Cardinals draft. Quantity should not be a mask for quality...In other words, they draft a players who will contribute at the major-league level. They draft few who will star.

Read the whole thing for more context, but make of it what you will.

40-1209: RHP Joe Shaw

With the 1st pick of the 40th (and final) Round (1209th overall), the Astros select 6'5" 215lb RHP Joe Shaw, out of Ennis High School.

Shaw has committed to Dallas Baptist University for the fall, where head coach Dan Heefner said:
He has received quite a bit of interest from professional teams. We feel with development over the next three years that he has the potential to be a very high draft pick. We expect him to have an immediate impact on our program."

39-1179: RHP Mitchell Traver

With the 1st pick of the 39th Round (1179th overall), the Astros select 6'7" 240lb RHP Mitchell Traver, out of Houston Christian HS.

Traver is committed to TCU, so it's highly unlikely he signs, but let's do this, anyway.

Perfect Game noted:
Big Strong RHP, mid 90s power arm. Outstanding at many PG events. PG All American Game

ESPNHS had this:
raver has hit 95 mph on the radar gun and pitches at 92-93 with a curveball and developing changeup. His size -- 6-foot-7, 250 pounds -- may concern some clubs, but he's far from soft and the velocity is easy. His arm action is another concern, and his control and command need significant improvement, but the upside outweighs those worries and Traver projects as a first-round pick. He's also considered a potential tough sign, however, as he's committed to TCU. Traver fanned 61 batters in 42.1 innings last season and posted an ERA of 2.31.

He's on the Texas All-State team, as well.

Oh, yes, he tweeted this (he ain't signing):
I'm thankful and ready to go to work. 3 years baby!

38-1149: 3B Zach Remillard

With the 1st pick of the 38th Round (1149th overall), the Astros select 6'1" 200lb 3B Zach Remillard, a high schooler out of the LaSalle Institute in Troy, New York.

Remillard signed a letter of intent with Coastal Carolina...where he'll play with his older brother, Will.

In this May 2011 story, head coach Jesse Braverman said:
"I've seen him do things well in several different positions in the lineup and from varying circumstances. That sort of experience and knowledge can't be duplicated. Being in those situations is invaluable, and it isn't just with us, but also his experience with the Dodgers. Zach has immersed himself in baseball."

37-1119: RHP Michael Dimock

With the 1st pick of the 37th Round (1119th overall), the Astros select 6'2" 194lb RHP Michael Dimock, a senior closer out of Wake Forest.

Wake's Head Coach:
"Michael emerged last year as a true closer. He has always featured a good hard fastball and a dominant slider, but now he commands them both and has added a solid changeup. Look for him to set the standard for end of the game guys in our league this year."

In 28 games in 2012, Dimock threw 42IP, with 38K:19BB, getting 12 saves to go along with a 3.43 ERA and a .248 BAA.

Coming out of high school, Dimock was ranked the 20th-best prospect in North Carolina, and was the All-State Player of the Year.

36-1089: 1B Mike Martinez

With the 1st pick of the 36th Round (1089th overall), the Astros select 6'0" 215lb 1B Mike Martinez, a senior out of Florida International University, who was #478 on Baseball America's Top 500 prospect list.

Martinez dominated at FIU, hitting .383/.488/.577 in 54 games, with 26K:36BB, and 24 extra-base hits in 2012.

He's a former walk-on who went on to break the career FIU records in hits, RBI, and total bases.
In an interview
, he said:
If pro ball doesn't work out I would definitely like to be a salesman. I have a way with words. A lot of people tell me I'm good with that or that I would be a good lawyer or recruiting coordinator at a college. I like to tell people what they like to hear.

While the Astros drafted him as a 1B, he said in the above interview that he prefers third base.

35-1059: Jimmy Sinatro

With the 1st pick in the 35th Round (1059th overall), the Astros select 5'10" 185lb catcher Jimmy Sinatro, out of Skyline HS in Washington. His father, Matt Sinatro, was a catcher for the Braves (who drafted him in the 2nd Round of the 1978 draft), A's, Tigers, and Mariners. Oh yeah, Matt Sinatro is also the Astros' catching coordinator.

Sinatro hit .281/.468/.421 for Skyline in his senior season, and was #39 on Baseball Northwest's Super Sixty baseball prospects. He is a first-team All-league selection from the Seattle Times. Sinatro is committed to Gonzaga.

34-1029: J.J. Jankowski

With the 1st pick in the 34th Round (1029th overall), the Astros select 6'0" 195lb RHP J.J. Jankowski, a Senior out of Catawba College in North Carolina (transferring from Miami of Ohio).

In not-so-good news, it seems as though his teammates voted Jankowski off the team in mid-May, for apparently requesting that his next start be pushed back a day in order to attend a pre-draft workout. Head coach Jim Gantt:
“Jankowski’s not with us — he’s not with us any longer. It’s a team decision, and we’re gonna move on. You’re with us or you’re not with us. You’ve got to be all in...It’s a tough situation. It’s not like Jankowski hasn’t been really important to us, but this is what his teammates are going to remember him for, and that’s sad. I do know our guys have banded together. They’re gonna go out and compete.”

Prior to that, Jankowski was 9-2 with a 3.79 ERA for Catawba. He threw 90.1IP, and allowed 81H/38ER, 126K:24BB, and a .241 BAA.

Perfect Game:
90 mph FB, CB shows promise, can hit too. PG Predraft - 92 on mound, showed catching ability and serious power potential.

He was selected to the 2012 Daktronics Division II All-Southeast Region Team.

33-999: RHP Mike Hauschild

With the 1st pick in the 33rd Round (999th overall), the Astros select 6'3" 210lb RHP Mike Hauschild, a Senior out of the University of Dayton.

Hauschild was the New England Collegiate Baseball League Pitcher of the Year in 2010. And in 2012, he threw 120.1IP, allowing 132H/57ER, with 92K:30BB, a 4.26 ERA, and a .283 BAA - surrendering just three homers. The Flyers were 11-5 in sixteen of Hauschild's starts.

In the Cape Cod League in 2011, he went 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA (and a save), striking out 31 (with seven walks) in 37.1IP.

This guy tweeted:
Congrats to the man with one of the dirtiest right handed changeups I've seen. Mike Hauschild getting drafted today

32-969: Tyler Manez

With the 1st pick of the 32nd Round (969th overall), the Astros select 6'3" 180lb LHP Tyler Manez, out of Plainedge HS in New York.

Manez has verbally committed to Elon University:
Tyler is a tall, lean left handed pitcher with outstanding composure on the mound as well as an excellent fastball, which he throws consistantly for strikes. He has great command over his offspeed pitches and he throws an 87 mph fastball.

He threw a 13-strikeout no-hitter in the Class A baseball playoffs last month. Head Coach Keith Lessuk:
"He did a great job mixing it up. They didn't know what was coming at them. They had a hard time catching the fastball and were fooled by the curveball."

31-939: M.P. Cokinos

With the 1st pick in the 31st Round (939th overall), the Astros select 6'2" 215lb catcher M.P. Cokinos, a Junior out of St. Mary's University in Texas.

Cokinos, a Memorial HS grad, transferred to St. Mary's from the University of Houston, but started all 60 games for St. Mary's, hitting .333/.405/.527. He struck out just 17 times, with 30 walks, and 26 extra-base hits, and committed just one error all season.

30-909: RHP John Neely

With the 1st pick in the 30th Round (909th overall), the Astros select 6'2" 195lb RHP John Neely, out of Texas Tech. Neely graduated from Clements HS in Sugar Land.

In 2012, he threw 56.1IP, allowing 64H/30ER, 35K:14BB, and a .291 BAA.

At one point this season, Neely threw 49.2IP without allowing a homer - the longest stretch by a Texas Tech pitcher in over ten years.

29-879: RHP Christian Garcia

With the 1st pick of the 29th Round (879th overall), the Astros select 6'2" 175lb RHP Christian Garcia, out of Florence-Darlington Tech (JuCo) in South Carolina.

Garcia transferred to Florence-Darlington Tech from the University of Albany. If this page is updated, Garcia threw 57.1IP, allowing 46H/28ER, with 50K:26BB, going 5-3, in 12 games.

28-849: 3B Angel Ibanez

With the 1st pick in the 28th Round (849th overall), the Astros select 6'2" 220lb L/R 3B Angel Ibanez, a Junior out of UT-Pan American.

Ibanez hit .332/.368/.438 in 51 games, with 14K:11BB, and a 13x16 stolen base success rate. For his career, the Mission native hit .337/.384/.467, striking out 42 times in 530 ABs.

Ibanez won All-Tournament honors after starting all three games at CF (yet he was drafted as a 3B), going 7x11 with three walks, a homer, 6RBI, and 5 runs scored.

27-819: CF Tanner Mathis

With the 1st pick in the 27th Round (819th overall), the Astros select 5'11" 180lb LHB CF Tanner Mathis, a Junior out of Ole Miss, originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers tweeted:
Absolutely love that guy's game. Leaves it all on the field.

Mathis hit .359/.460/.416 with 18K:39BB and a perfect 8x8 on stolen bases as Ole Miss' leadoff hitter in 2012, making the All-Region team.

26-789: SS C.J. Hinojosa

With the 1st pick of the 26th Round (789th overall), the Astros select 5'11" 185lb 17-year old SS C.J. Hinojosa, out of Klein Collins HS.
Hinojosa was initially supposed to head to the University of Texas in January. When that didn't pan out, he went back to high school, but dislocated his shoulder, putting a bit of a cloud over his Draft status. Hinojosa's injury, as well as his continued plan to attend Texas, makes figuring out his Draft stock more difficult than usual.

Here's some background on Hinojosa's Texas/Not-Texas back-and-forth. His father asked him what it would take to get him out of his commitment to Texas, and he said:
“I asked him, ‘So what are you feeling?’ and his response to me was, ‘If I don’t get [2011 No. 8 overall pick] Francisco Lindor money [$2.9 million], then there’s no question I’m going to Texas,”

Perfect Game wrote:
Outstanding all around player. Good bat with power.

Hinojosa is currently recovering from shoulder surgery in April and may go without being picked in this draft. Regardless, he’s a legitimate middle of the diamond player with offensive potential and enough feel for the game to allow him to stick at shortstop long term.

May PreStros Employees of the Month

We've reached the point in the season where early trends start turning into something meaningful. Let's look at who made a name for themselves last month.

15-14 in May

Hitter of the Month: Mike Hessman

At 34 years old, Mike may be the old man in Oklahoma, but this RedHawks performed like a spring chicken in May. He hit .338/.460/.718 with eight home runs, 16 runs, and 17 rbi in 23 games while keeping first base warm for the Astros at AAA.

Pitcher of the Month: Jose Valdez

After earning an honorable mention last month, Jose grabbed the gold ring for May. In 13 appearances and 12 1/3 innings, Jose was 0-1 with seven saves while racking up 14 strikeouts to just five walks. He had a 2.92 ERA and 1.05 WHIP for the month and opponents hit just .174 against him.

Honorable Mention:

Justin Ruggiano hit .380/.426/.720 for OKC with four home runs and 18 rbi in just 15 games before being traded to Miami.

13-15 in May

Hitter of the Month: Jon Singleton

Jonathan strengthened his push to take over for Mike Hessman by hitting .281/.400/.531 for the month with seven home runs, 20 runs, and 24 rbi.

Pitcher of the Month: Jason Stoffel

For the second month in a row, Stoffel dominated the Texas League out of the bullpen. In May he was 0-1 with four saves. In 12 appearances and 14 innings he posted a 1.29 ERA with 10 strikeouts and five walks, two of which were intentional.

Honorable Mention:

Ross Seaton went 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in six starts for Corpus.

Jose Martinez hit .342/.383/.532 with eight doubles, two triples, and three home runs.

17-13 in May

Hitter of the Month: George Springer

Springer took a big bounce forward in May. On the month he hit .324/.382/.622 with three triples, eight home runs, and seven steals. He scored 26 times and batted in 21 runs.

Pitcher of the Month: Jose Trinidad

Jose took on the role of long man in May and thrived. He went 2-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. In 22  1/3 innings across 10 games he struck out 13 and walked four.

Honorable Mention:

Domingo Santana hit .304/.362/.609 with seven doubles, two triples, and eight home runs while knocking in 25.

17-11 in May

Hitter of the Month: Matt Duffy

Matt also made the jump from honorable mention to the big prize. In May Matt hit .343/.416/.556 with an amazing 11 doubles and four home runs. He also stole three bases while scoring 18 runs.

Pitcher of the Month: Carlos Quevedo

Carlos wins this month out of an entire pitching staff that excelled in May. Carlos posted a 4-0 record while holding a 1.40 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. Opponents hit just .209 and Carlos notched 19 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings while walking just two.

Honorable Mention:

Jason Chowning had six saves with a 1.42 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

Luis Cruz was 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA in six starts.

25-759: SS Ryan Dineen

With the 1st pick in the 25th Round (759th overall), the Astros select 6'2" 205lb 21-year old lefty SS Ryan Dineen, out of Eastern Illinois University.

Dineen hit .335/.429/.490 for EIU in 57 games (56 starts), with 17 XBH, 27Ks and a team-high 32 walks. He also stole 15 of 23 bases and posted a .935 Fld%.

2012 was a massive improvement over 2011, when he hit .198/.297/.261 in 41 games as a sophomore, with a .923 Fld%.

Dineen is a two-time EIU Athlete of the Week, hitting .643 for the week of May 14, and was named to the 2012 OVC All-Tournament Team.

24-729: SS Pat Blair

With the 1st pick in the 24th Round (729th overall), the Astros select 5'10" 180lb RHB SS Pat Blair, a Junior out of Wake Forest.

He was the 19th-ranked prospect in North Carolina by Baseball America.

Blair hit .292/.416/.394, with 31K:46BB in 57 games (56 starts) in 2012 for Wake, with 22 stolen bases in 27 attempts.

Perfect Game said:
Very good D both INF and OF, he's a real player that can hit, run, and flashes power, profiled best as an OF at WWBA

His uncle, Marty Blair, spent parts of three seasons in the Rangers organization.

23-699: RHP Travis Ballew

With the 1st pick in the 23rd Round (699th overall), the Astros select 6'0" 160lb RHP Travis Ballew, a Junior out of Texas State University.

In his first full season as a full-time starter, Ballew was the 3rd Texas State pitcher to be named an All-American (3rd Team):
“I knew I had pretty good stats, so I had a feeling I’d be on there and it’s nice to be recognized. It’s a tough thing to get, especially in Division I baseball.”.

In 2012, he went 11-4 with a 2.73 ERA, and 119Ks in 102.1IP, with four complete games, and two CGSHOs.

Ballew was named the Southland's Pitcher of the Year, leading the conference in wins and strikeouts.

“I know my stuff is good and people will chase it if I throw it around the strike zone. I’ve grown up more and haven’t been so stressed out about how I’d pitch or things like that.”

This tweet indicates that Ballew expected to go between 5th-8th Rounds of the 2012 draft.

22-669: LHP Kenny Long

With the 1st pick of the 22nd Round (669th overall), the Astros select 6'0" 165lb Kenny Long, a senior RHP out of Illinois State University, which is kind enough to add, is in Illinois.

Long set the Illinois State record with 15 saves in 2011, breaking the old record of 12 saves, held by Jeremy Accardo. In 2012, he threw 41IP (leading the bullpen), with 24H/9ER, 42K:9BB, and a .166 batting average against (team-best). His 1.98 ERA was second on the team.

Baseball America previewed Long for the 2012 Roth Stars - named for the lesser-known prospects.
Skinny fifth-year senior touches 82 mph, but throws breaking balls from multiple slots and was 4-1, 0.92 with six saves last year.

He was College Baseball Daily's #78 player on their Top 100 Countdown at the end of 2010, and prior to the 2012 season was put on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association pre-season Stopper of the Year watch list.

Long will likely be happy with this selection, as he tweeted last night:
Tomorrow is going to be the longest day ever. Hopefully somebody gives me a chance. I don't want to stop playing

Here's some video:

21-639: CF Marc Wik

With the 1st pick in the 21st Round (639th overall), the Astros select Marc Wik, a 5'11" 195lb lefty CF out of Chabot College (CA).

Wik was drafted by the Orioles in the 20th Round last year.

He likely fell due to injury, as he tweeted yesterday:
I wonder what round I would have went in if I was healthy? #dissapointed #unhappy

But it looks like in 30 games this season, he was hitting .358 with 22 stolen bases.

20-609: LHP Michael Clark

With the 1st pick in the 20th Round (609th overall), the Astros select 6'3" 175lb LHP reliever Michael Clark, a Junior out of Kent State University. He was the Red Sox' 32nd Round pick in 2009.

Clark transferred to Kent State from NC State, and he puts a dime in his back pocket before every game.

In 15 appearances for Kent State in 2012, Clark threw 32.1IP, allowing 32H/20ER, with 48K:25BB, and a .260 BAA, and didn't allow a homer all year.

A few days ago, Kent State and Kentucky played a 21-inning marathon to win the Regional Title that saw Clark get a 1-2-3 double play to get out of the 20th inning, and then got a strikeout with two outs and two on in the 21st inning to preserve the win. Of the three innings he threw in that game, Clark said:
"I only remember the last hitter."

19-579: 2B Austin Elkins

With the 1st pick of the 19th Round (579th overall), the Astros select 5'11" 185lb switch-hitting 2B Austin Elkins, 21-year old Junior out of Dallas Baptist University.

BPN's Mark Anderson scouted him:
Small guy, can hit from both sides, average runner, intelligent player, tools play up.

Elkins is a 2009 grad of Coppell HS, and his favorite player is Derek Jeter. He hit .344/.427/.602 in 56 games for DBU, with 28K:27BB, 9HR and 44RBI. He only committed six errors all season, for a .977 Fld%.

Perfect Game profiles him as a lead-off hitter. listed him as the 25th best position player in the Cape Cod League last year, and he was a Freshman All-American in 2010.

18-549: C Ricky Gingras

With the 1st pick in the 18th Round (549th overall), the Astros select 6'2" 205lb left-hitting right-throwing catcher Ricky Gingras, out of Point Loma Nazarene Univeristy (CA).

Gingras hit .357/.446/.529 in 42 games for Point Loma Nazarene, with seven homers in 157 ABs.

Gingras was recently named to the All-Golden State Athletic Conference team.

You can watch 60 Seconds With Ricky Gingras here:

17-519: RHP Aaron West

With the 1st pick of the 17th Round (519th overall), the Astros select 6'1" 205lb 22-year old RHP Aaron West, a Senior out of the University of Washington.

West was UW's SP1 in 2012, starting a team-high 16 games, and tying for a team-high 7 wins. He was 7-5 with a 2.53 ERA, where in 96IP he allowed 89H/27ER, with 65K:18BB and a .249 batting average against.

The Perfect Game forum has this scouting report:
I like the way West pitches, as he commands the strike zone really well and pitches to contact. That approach doesn't serve him as well at the college level, when a lot of pitchers are taught to pitch away from contact, and because of that I could see West enjoying more success at the next level.

West showed back up on teams' collective radar recently:
"Being healthy and just getting my confidence back. I'm starting to pitch like I can pitch again."

16-489: LF Dan Gulbransen

Opening Day 3 of the 2012 draft, with the 1st pick of the 16th Round (489th overall), the Astros select 5'11" 200lb lefty LF Dan Gulbransen, a 21 year old Junior out of Jacksonville University.

Perhaps you remember Gulbransen from ESPN's Top Plays on March 13, 2012:

Gulbransen hit .324/.414/.478 for Jacksonville this season, with 21K:29BB in 207 ABs (may not be complete).

In 2011, he was 37x122 in 41 games for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League. He was profiled by Baseball America to start the 2012 season.'s Gene Grenette called Gulbransen:
"a contact hitter with an off-the-charts work ethic, has the makeup to possibly get to the big leagues faster.

Head Coach Terry Alexander:
“We are very happy for Dan. Dan is the perfect example of what a student-athlete should be because he excels on and off the field. We are proud of what he has accomplished in his time at JU and know he will be very successful in the future.”

Report: Appel never turned down no $6m

Inside the Padres' Tom Krasovic says there never was a $6m negotiation with Mark Appel and the Astros. Not that it matters now...

6th Round pick "can't wait" to sign

Astros' 6th Round pick Brett Phillips told the Tampa Bay Times that he's ready to sign with the Astros:

"It’s such a relief. I can’t wait to sign and get my professional career started."

So he'll be declining his scholarship offer from NC State and "sign in the next few days." And here's an interesting note:
"We had some negotiations with some other teams but we had to turn them down. The Astros had the best offer. They told me to wait and they would pick me in the sixth round."

PreStros Farm Report: June 5

PreStros: June 5

Oklahoma City (36-23) 

The RedHawks won 4-3 over Iowa (CHC) in exciting fashion, as Brad Snyder launched a two-out three-run walk-off homer.

Wes Musick went 6 innings and allowed 3 R (2 earned) on just 3 H with 1 K. Sergio Perez, Chris Hicks, and Enerio Del Rosario each contributed 1 scoreless inning in relief.

2B-Jimmy Paredes was 2x4 with 1 R and 1 error. RF-Brad Snyder was 2x4 with 1 HR, 1 SB, 2 R, and 3 RBI. CF-Brandon Barnes was 2x3 with 1 RBI. SS-Angel Sanchez went 2x3.

Man of the Match: Brad Snyder

*Notes: OKC has won 13 straight at home. Mike Hessman was named the Astros AAA Offensive Player of the Month for May. During the month he hit .338 with eight home runs. Xavier Cedeno was Pitcher of the Month, with a 0.63 ERA and 14 strikeouts over 14.1 innings.

Corpus Christi (27-29) 


*Notes: Ross Seaton was named the Astros AA Pitcher of the Month. He went 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA over six starts and 36.2 innings. Jon Singleton was Offensive Player of the Month. Jon hit .281 with a .931 OPS and seven home runs.

Lancaster (31-28) 

The JetHawks won a wild, back-and-forth game against San Jose (SFG) 10-6.

David Martinez threw 4.1 innings and gave up 6 R (4 earned) on 10 H and 4 BB with 4 K. Jose Trinidad pitched 2.2 scoreless innings with 1 H, 1 BB, and 1 K. Andrew Robinson threw 1 scoreless inning with 2 BB and 1 K. Jason Chowning survived a rough inning to allow no runs but 1 H and 3 BB with 1 K.

SS-Ben Orloff was 2x5 with 2 RBI. LF-Telvin Nash was 1x3 with 1 BB, 1 HR, and 2 R. 3B-Jonathan Meyer was 2x5 with 1 2B and 2 R. 2B-Kike Hernandez was 2x5 with 1 R and 1 RBI with 2 errors. C-Rene Garcia went 3x5 with 3 R and 1 RBI. RF-Grant Hogue was 3x4 with 1 BB, 1 3B, and 2 RBI.

Man of the Weekend: Rene Garcia

*Notes: Tyson Perez was named Astros Player of the Month for Lancaster. In May Perez was 3-1 with a 3.90 ERA. George Springer earned the Offensive Player of the Month award by hitting .324 with eight home runs and seven steals.

Lexington (31-26) 

The Legends attempt to come back against Lakewood (PHI) fell just short as they lost 5-4.

Luis Cruz was rocked in 2 innings, giving up 5 R on 4 H and 5 BB with 2 K. Gabriel Garcia threw 4 scoreless innings with 3 H and 3 K. Euris Quezada went 1.2 scoreless with 1 H, 1 BB, and 3 K. Murilo Gouvea got the last batter to strikeout.

CF-Drew Muren was 1x3 with 1 HR. RF-Mike Kvasnicka was 2x2 with 2 BB and 2 R. DH-Brandon Meredith was 2x4 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 1 RBI.

Man of the Match: Mike Kvasnicka

*Notes: Luis Cruz was named Lexington Pitcher of the Month. He was 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA in May. Matt Duffy was awarded Offensive Player of the Month after hitting .343 with 4 HR. Jason Chowning, Delino DeShields, Matt Duffy, Mike Foltynewicz, Zach Johnson, Carlos Quevedo, and Nick Tropeano were all named to the South Atlantic League All-Star game.

Tri-City (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

Greeneville (0-0) 

Season begins June 19.

GCL Astros (0-0) 

Season begins June 18.

DSL Astros (1-2) 

The Astros got their first win of the season 5-2 against the Cardinals.

Harold Arauz threw the first 4 innings, allowing 1 unearned run on 3 H and 2 BB with 7 K. Victor Mesa finished out the game with 5 innings and gave up 1 unearned run on 2 H and 1 BB with 3 K.

2B-Luis Reynoso was 2x5 with 1 SB and 2 RBI. 3B-Randy Cesar was 3x4 with 1 2B. RF-Tomas De La Cruz went 1x4 with 1 HR.

Man of the Match: Luis Reynoso

1-1 Correa close to signing a deal

Well, this won't take long, apparently. The Astros will fly Carlos Correa into Houston for a physical and apparently get a deal done by Thursday.

Jon Heyman said that Correa would be signing for between $4.5-$5m (under the $7.2m recommendation) - which is good news for Lance McCullers, Rio Ruiz, and Hunter Virant.

McTaggart tweeted that Luhnow sounds confident about signing Correa quickly. Luhnow:
"We're going to bring him in here on Thursday, and you guys [the media] are going to get a chance to meet him and we're going to get a chance to sit down and talk with him and his family, and hopefully that will move quickly at that point." And while there are five weeks before the signing deadline, Luhnow expects "a flurry" of signings as early as Thursday.

Joseph Duarte has a profile on the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, outside of San Juan.

Wednesday morning draft update

On the three early-round HS picks, 1-41 Lance McCullers, 4-129 Rio Ruiz, and 11-339 Hunter Virant, Bobby Heck says:
"We'll be challenged, but we feel confident we'll be able to sign them. I think the biggest thing is we view them as first-round talent."

On Virant, specifically:
"We're not sure we're going to be able to sign (Virant), but it was too valuable of a talent to leave on the board. We figure we'll give ourselves to July 13 to explore something if need be."

Virant wants to see what the Astros have to offer:
"The Astros still need to put together some money, so you never know. Right now the only sure thing is UCLA."

Ruiz's father told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:
"We have a month to figure it all out and we'll see what happens. Teams knew all along that Rio was a very strong USC commit and with his arm (blood clot) issue, it obviously made some teams rethink their plans. We're going to listen to Houston and see what their plans are, but it would obviously take a pretty good offer to lure him away from USC."

14th Round pick (429th overall) Joe Sclafani celebrated his selection with champagne, and said he'd definitely sign with the Astros.

Wednesday Morning McCullers Update

Here are a collection of links relating to 1-41 pick Lance McCullers:

Pops McCullers said, in a small press conference in their home:
"I have a good feeling that it's going to go pretty smoothly. I just have that feeling with what they're trying to do in Houston. They're trying to make it a great organization again. They took kids they really wanted to sign and get in their organization."

McCullers said there are some conditions to his signing:
A team’s history of developing young arms, its willingness to pay for his college education in the future and, most importantly, the amount of money it offers.

24 hours later, there's some optimism:
“I honestly feel, taking a step back and looking at it today, that it’s probably going to work out the best for me personally. It could be a potentially great situation, and we’ll just have to wait and see with negotiations.”

McCullers told WTSP:
"If any team took the time to listen and show interest in me, they would know I wasn't an impossible sign. I was just asking teams to recognize that I'm one of the best pitchers in the country... That I have a strong commitment to Florida... And I'm not going to go out there and throw my education away for nothing."

What's the time frame, Tampa Bay Online?
"As much as baseball is a game you play, when you enter this stage, it's a business now. It comes down to crunching numbers. There has been no formal offer made, so I can't really tell you which way I'm leaning. I'm excited to see how this game plays out and I'm not going to get too emotionally attached to either side."

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

From the Office of the County Clerk - G55: Cardinals @ Astros

Jaime Garcia (3-3, 3.78) vs Lucas Harrell (4-4, 4.71)

The Astros offense caught fire early in the game, and the pitching survived a 9th inning scare to preserve a 9-8 Astros victory over the Cardinals at Minute Maid Park. The Astros scored 4 in the first, 2 in the second and one each in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, and it was just enough as the Cardinals scored 4 times in the 9th to make the game much closer than it needed to be. The Astros now improve to 24-31.

*Lucas Harrell had himself a pretty nice night in picking up his 5th win of the season. His line: 6.0 IP / 8 H / 4 R (3 ER) / 0 BB / 1 K. All 3 earned runs came off an Adams 3 run homerun in the 3rd inning. Wright and Lopez preserved the lead, Carpenter gave up 3 runs in only 0.1 IP to make it close, and Brett Myers was able to pickup his 14th save despite giving up a 2 run homerun to Furcal in the 9th (only one run was credited to Myers).


*The Astros scored their 9 runs on 13 hits and drew 3 walks.

*Every Astros hitter had at least one hit, except for Harrell who struck out 3 times in 3 at bats. All starters besides Lowrie, Snyder and Harrell scored at least one run.

*Despite the offensive outburst, the Astros did strikeout an alarmingly high 11 times.

*Jose Altuve batted leadoff and had a very nice 4 for 5 night at the dish with 3 runs scored. 2 of his hits were doubles.

*Altuve's night could have been even better if not for a caught stealing and an error.

*Justin Maxwell hit a 2 run homerun and Brian Bogusevic hit a solo homerun.

*Maxwell batted 3rd, and with yet another good night is now up to .250/.341/.487 on the year. Not bad for a waiver wire pickup.

*Speaking of which, how many waiver wire pickups end up batting 3rd with their new team in the same season? Very, very few I would guess. This is partially 'credit' to the Astros weak offense, but Maxwell has also capitalized on his opportunities and has earned the right to bat in a spot where he can drive in some runs.

Turning Point:

The bottom of the 1st. The Astros had been giving up first inning runs with scary consistency lately, digging themselves into holes before they even got started. Tonight it was their turn, as they counted 4 runs in their half of the 1st and never looked back.

Man of the Match:

So many huge offense nights that it is hard to pick just one. Justin Maxwell's 2 run homer in the 2nd was huge, as it gave the Astros their 5th and 6th runs, right before the Cardinals picked up their 2nd, 3rd and 4th runs in the top of 3rd. It was the difference between what could have been a tie game, and what ended up being still a decent lead.

Goat of the Game:

David Carpenter was awful in relief, and Brett Myers nearly blew the lead. Give it to Carpenter for almost erasing what seemed like a very comfortable lead in the top of the 9th.

15-459: RHP Erick Gonzalez

With the 1st pick of the 15th Round (459th overall) - and the last Astros pick of Day 2 - the Astros select 6'1" 175lb RHP Erick Gonzalez, a 20-year old out of Gateway Community College in Arizona.

14-429: SS Joe Sclafani

With the 1st pick in the 14th Round (429th overall), the Astros select switch-hitting 5'9" 185lb SS Joe Sclafani, a 22-year old Senior out of Dartmouth, originally from Palm City, Florida.

Sclafani hit .288/.401/.442, starting all 42 of Dartmouth's games in 2012. He struck out just 15 times, and walked 27 times, committing eight errors for a .955 Fld%. He was one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.

He is also one of 50 finalists for the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List, honoring the top shortstop in Division I baseball, of which Sclafani was the only Ivy League representative. Sclafani was the lead-off hitter, and leaves Dartmouth - and the Ivy League - with the career lead in triples.

The Dartmouth:
As most of his underclassman teammates get ready to play summer ball in leagues across the country, Sclafani will focus on the next goal of his baseball career — getting drafted by an MLB organization. Being selected as one of the final candidates for the Brooks Wallace Award will help put him on the radar of more major league clubs, according to Sclafani.

“It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to play professional baseball. I have talked to a few teams, and if I’m fortunate enough, I’m just hoping that I can get drafted.”

13-399: LHP Brian Holmes

With the 1st pick of the 13th Round (399th overall), the Astros select 6'4" 205lb LHP Brian Holmes, a 21-year old Junior out of Wake Forest.

Holmes led all Wake starters with a 2.83 ERA, and a .212 BAA. In 82.2IP, he allowed 62H/26ER, 81K:49BB and threw a no-hitter against Marshall, striking out 10 and walking just one.

He was the #97 player in College Baseball Daily's Top 100 countdown.

Wake Forest coach Tom Walter was unsure whether Holmes would return to Wake Forest for his senior season.

12-369: LF Terrell Joyce

With the 1st pick in the 12th Round (369th overall), the Astros select 6'3" 230lb LF, a 20-year old out of Florida State College (JuCo).

*Joyce has committed to Virginia Tech. Joyce:
“It’s awesome to know I’ll be going to a Division I program. Not only that, I’m going to the place I wanted to go all along. I wanted to go to Virginia Tech out of high school and now, I have the chance to play there. Growing up (in Newport News), everybody loved VT. It’s a great university and it’s all coming together now.”

*Click the above link for the full piece, but Joyce indicated that if he didn't get selected by the 10th Round, he's likely to honor his commitment to Virginia Tech.

*Joyce was the FCSAA Player of the Year, FCSAA First-Team All-State, and the Top Rated Overall Mid-Florida Conference Player.

*Joyce might not be all that excited about going in the 12th Round, but his dad sure is:
"He's just a huge fan of all Houston teams. He was a big Oilers fan, and he really likes the Astros, too. I guess he has another reason to like the Astros now."

11-339: LHP Hunter Virant

With the 1st pick of the 11th Round (339th overall), the Astros select 6'3" 175lb LHP Hunter Virant, an 18-year old out of Adolfo Camarillo HS (CA). Questions about signability (one of the most ridiculous terms thrown around in the 2012 draft):
Virant has a commitment to UCLA, and the consensus seems to be that if he doesn't go by the end of the supplemental first round -- or get paid an amount consistent with that level of pick -- he will pitch at UCLA, where he potentially would join Lucas Giolito, another UCLA commit who is viewed as a tough sign.

Keith Law had Virant at #26 on his Top 100 list, while John Sickels ranked him #44th, and Frankie Piliere listed him at #39.
Virant hasn't been pitching for all that long, but he's shown the potential and projectability to get scouts very excited about his future.Virant has the chance to have four at least Major League average offerings. While his fastball sits in the 87-88 mph range, he'll touch 90 mph and with his projectable frame, there should be more in the tank.

ESPN Boston:
Virant is yet another tall, thin left-hander with a projectable frame. He throws his fastball in the 92-96 mph range, and also has an excellent curveball and a low-80s changeup. Committed to UCLA, he’s advanced enough to start 2013 in Low-A if he opts to go pro.

LA Times HS sports columnist Eric Sondheimer called Virant one of the best athletes he’s seen in any sport in the Los Angeles area and wondered why he wasn’t the starting quarterback on the Camarillo High School football team and the starting point guard on the basketball team.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram talked to Virant on Sunday, and he knows money's what's up:
"It's 50-50. If a team wants to take me early and give me a good amount of money, it'll be a tough choice if I go to school at all. Playing major-league baseball has always been the ultimate goal, so if I can get there out of high school, it would a be pretty cool accomplishment."

LoneStarBall thought about the Rangers taking Virant with their 1st and 2nd Round picks. There's a reason that the Astros took him with the #11 pick - it's doubtful he'll sign.

Baseball America, on the pick:
If they don't sign Virant and he heads to UCLA, the Astros have lost an 11th-round pick. If they find they have saved enough money on their first 10 picks to sign him, Virant would give them a supplemental first-round talent.

Virant is a Phillies fan who loves Cliff Lee.

10-309: LHP Joe Bircher

With the 1st pick in the 10th Round (309th overall), the Astros select 6'4" 220 LHP Joe Bircher, a 22-year old Senior out of Bradley University.

*Bircher is from Omaha, Nebraska, and was a 2012 All-Missouri Valley Conference selection, as well as a 2011 Cape Cod Baseball All-League choice, and a team co-captain in 2011 and 2012.

*In four years (58 appearances, 50 starts), Bircher threw 359.2IP, allowing 346H/143ER, with 302K:95BB, and nine complete games. In his senior season, he allowed 93H/33ER, in 110IP, with 113K:21BB in 110IP, going 7-3 with a .225 BAA. Bircher owns the Bradley career record in stikeouts and IP.

*Bircher was #56 on College Baseball Daily's pre-season Top 100.

*Here's a video from WEEK-TV with Bircher.

*Bircher throws a low-90s fastball, with a slider, curve, and changeup. Bradley coach Elvis Dominguez says:
“He has command of three of them most nights. When he has command of four, he’s really tough to hit. I’ve never been around a kid who throws as many strikes as he does with that many pitches. Plus, he’s such a great competitor....I’ve been getting a couple of calls a week from scouts, I think Joe would be a tremendous asset for any organization. Somebody will take him in the first 15 rounds. It just depends on which organization will take a chance on him.”

“Ever since I was a kid watching Roger Clemens pitch, I always wanted to be out there in front of all those fans. I’ve filled out a few informational stuff from teams, but nobody’s really told me anything (about whether they’re going to draft him). I’m not too concerned about it. Good players on good teams get noticed.”

9-279: RHP Daniel Minor

With the 1st pick in the 9th Round (279th overall) the Astros select 21-year old 5'11" 188lb RHP Daniel Minor, a Junior out of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi - the highest draft pick in school history. He's from Dripping Springs, TX, where he struck out 93 batters in 66 innings. At McLennan Community College, he struck out 64 batters in 65IP.

*Minor was the 2012 Southland Conference's Newcomer of the Year. And he was one of 25 pitchers on the National Pitcher of the Year Watch List.

*Minor's 10 wins this season tie a season-high for the Islanders.

*In 110.1IP in 2012, Minor allowed 100H/27ER, 110K:23BB, for a 2.20 ERA/1.11 WHIP, and four complete games.

8-249: Tyler Heineman

With the 1st pick in the 8th Round (249th overall), the Astros select 5'11" 205lb switch-hitting catcher Tyler Heineman, a Junior out of UCLA, with a hometown of Pacific Palisades, California.

*Heineman turned down a partial scholarship from Harvard to walk-on at nearby UCLA.

*Heineman started all 54 games he appeared in during the 2012 season (so far), hitting .351/.451/.412, with nine extra-base hits, 14K:20BB, with 17 HBPs, and 16 sacrifice hits.

“I know my game isn’t flashy. As much as I want to be that superstar power hitter, I know that’s not who I am. I understand who I am as a player.”

*His uncle played at Arizona State (of course), and he admires gritty infielder David Eckstein - which we'll try not to hold against him. Heineman threw out 41% of baserunners while making just two errors behind the plate.

*MLBDraftCountdown called him "one of the most underappreciated catchers in college baseball." And he's one of the 12 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award (best collegiate catcher).