Wonder if they plan on fast-tracking him to possibly get some ABs in the bigs toward the end of the year. If he rakes at CC in the 1st half, let him play the 2nd half at OKC then get a cup of coffee in the show in September.
It'll be interesting to see if Luhnow calls our better prospects up in September, whereas Wade seemed to be against it.
Did you miss the amount of rookies that played significant roles last season? They couldn't be called up in September because they were there already.
"I'm just not a believer in using September as a reward," Wade said. "The other thing that factors into the decision-making process this year is that we have a lot of young players we're trying to evaluate. Their September started in July."
Granted, this was from 2010. The rookies that were called up last year came up well before September.
Baseball America's Prospect Handbook is now available.... through their site for now. It hits bookstores next month. They take a look at the top 30 prospects in all 30 organizations. But they also came out with a look at the guys who didn't quite make the cut. The Astros had 3 named to their "32nd Team" feature, and they are..... http://ht.ly/8Hj3q
Goebbert grew up on an Illinois farm before becoming a three-year starter as an outfielder and first baseman at Northwestern. His college career ended in April 2009 when he crashed into a wall during a game against Minnesota in the Metrodome, lacerating a kidney. Astros area scout Troy Hoerner liked Goebbert long before the injury and adamantly pushed for the club to draft him. He was able to play that summer after signing for $100,000 as a 13th-rounder, and he has grinded his way to Triple-A and an Arizona Fall League assignment. Goebbert's strength is his ability to identify pitches, put together quality at-bats and lash line drives to the gaps with a consistent, low-maintenance swing. He has fringy power and may never hit more than 12-15 homers annually, but he has enough juice to keep pitchers honest and hit for a high average. He works counts well and draws some walks. Goebbert is also a fringy runner and thrower—he pitched briefly in college—but gets the most out of his tools. He wouldn't be a factor if he didn't hit lefthanded, but the platoon advantage gives him a chance to become a second-division regular on an outfield corner if he keeps hitting. He might even get that opportunity in Houston as early as midseason.
David Martinez, rhp, Astros
Born: Aug. 4, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2005. Signed by: Andres Reiner/Jesus Aristimuno.
For much of the 2011 season, Martinez was the definition of an organizational player. He needed four years to get out of the Rookie-year Venezuelan Summer League, and he made his full-season debut last year as a 23-year-old in low Class A. His focus waxed and waned as pitched in long relief, relying on an 88-92 mph sinker. As attrition hit the Lexington pitching staff, Martinez got more high-leverage outings. He converted a pair of saves in July, and his velocity spiked in late-inning situations, with his fastball sitting at 93-96 mph at times while retaining its solid sink. He kept pitching well and finished the season by making four starts. Martinez's secondary pitches are a slider and changeup. His slider has inconsistent break but he usually throws it for strikes. His changeup has the potential to become an average pitch, as he controls it well and it has sink similar to his fastball. Martinez's jump in velocity got the Astros' attention, and they plan on using him in high Class A Lancaster's rotation to start the 2012 season in order to give him some innings. His ability to sink the ball should allow him to survive in one of the minors' toughest pitching environments. He still projects as a reliever in the long term.
Josh Zeid, rhp, Astros
Born: March 24, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Tulane, 2009 (10th round). Signed by: Mike Stauffer (Phillies).
Zeid was a highly recruited prep player who started his college career at Vanderbilt, where he pitched just 27 innings in two seasons before transferring to Tulane. He had a relatively fresh arm when he signed with the Phillies for $10,000 as a senior in 2009. Philadelphia alternated using him as a starter and reliever before trading him to the Astros last July. In exchange for Hunter Pence, Houston got first baseman/outfielder Jonathan Singleton, righthander Jarred Cosart, outfielder Domingo Santana—three of its top six-rated prospects—and Zeid. He pitched almost exclusively as a reliever after the deal. Zeid's stuff dials back a grade when he starts, but when he comes out of the bullpen, he features a 90-94 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider. He also has a low-80s curveball. Zeid was hit hard after the trade and again in the Arizona Fall League. He needs to locate his fastball because it tends to be straight. When he's going right, he stays tall and operates on a solid downhill plane. With a durable body and arm, he could be a solid middle reliever in the Todd Coffey mold. He likely will begin 2012 at Triple-A Oklahoma City but could win a job in the Houston bullpen during spring training.
The Astros have signed infielder Jordan Kreke to a minor-league contract.
Kreke, who will be 25 in May, was a 13th-Round draft pick of the Braves in 2009 out of Eastern Illinois University (the same round that the Astros drafted Jake Goebbert). In part of three seasons (1139 PAs), Kreke has hit .239/.311/.311, and hit .218/.262/.288 for Double-A Mississippi in 2011. He has played 3B (125 games), 2B (123 games), SS (47 games), LF (2 games), and even threw 1.1IP in two games in 2011.
Signing with the Astros, according to Kreke, was a strategic move because, you know, the Braves' system is all good and stuff, and the Astros...
"Signing with the Astros takes some pressure off of me to perform. The Atlanta Braves have one of the top-5 farm systems in the league whereas the Astros are building theirs up. Hopefully, I can take off from the Astros' system, and who knows, make the big leagues."
The Astros signed left-hander Zach Duke to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training, the team announced. Duke, a native of Clifton, Texas, spent the 2011 season with the Diamondbacks.
Duke, 28, posted a 4.93 ERA with 3.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 49.6% ground ball rate in 76 2/3 innings last year. The 2009 All-Star owns a 4.56 ERA with 4.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 49.0% ground ball rate in seven seasons with Arizona and Pittsburgh.
Not earth shattering, but could be a decent pickup.
With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!
Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
The Astros system improved at midseason with the drafting of George Springer and a number of solid trades, but it also took a hit from the graduation of Jordan Lyles, J.D. Martinez, and Jose Altuve. Therefore, it ended the season roughly in the same “tier” it was in prior to 2011.
The system has nice balance overall, but there’s no prospect here that ranked in my top 50. Springer is completely untested, Jonathan Singleton may not end up as more than an average first baseman, and the pitchers seem to fall into two groups: overperformers with back-of-the-rotation stuff and underperformers with higher upside. There’s a major hole at third base, and the hitting depth beyond the top half-dozen position players is quite suspect.
Position Player Upside: C+
Position Player Depth: C
Pitching Upside: C+
Pitching Depth: B
System Grade: C+
Catcher: [Chris Wallace. Since being drafted in the 16th round in 2010, Wallace has hit .280/.355/.495 while nabbing 34% of basestealers. However, he was drafted at age 22, so he’ll be 24 in April already. In a late-season look in Double-A in 2011, he showed off some pop (.179 ISO), but hit just .244 with 41 strikeouts in 36 games while catching just 3 of 30 base thieves. He could be a solid starter, but he could end up relegated to an offense-first backup role–not to mention that plenty of better offensive catching prospects have flamed out. Grade: C+
First base: Jonathan Singleton. An utterly confusing player. Singleton has a career .393 OBP and 210/150 K/BB in 263 games despite being very young for his levels–he spent all of 2011 as a 19-year-old in High-A. Still, though, you have to hit a lot at first base, and Singleton’s performances aside from the first half of 2010 have not overwhelmed. He hit .284/.387/.413 for the Phillies’ High-A affiliate, and while his line swelled to .333/.405/.512 after his trade to the Astros, that comes with both a big Cal League (and Lancaster, at that!) asterisk and a decline in his one strong suit: plate discipline. His K/BB eroded from 83/56 in 93 games to 40/14 in 35 games after the deal. Scouts do like his power potential, but he’s not especially projectable. Singleton could be anything from Ben Broussard to Derrek Lee. Grade: B+
Second base: Delino DeShields. The son of the former big leaguer of the same name, DeShields was considered an overdraft at 8th overall in 2010 by many. He did little to sway his doubters by hitting .222/.307/.324 in Low-A in his first full season. All hope isn’t lost, though–he turned 19 in August, so he was very young, he swiped 30 bases, and he showed an ability to work walks (9.6%). His biggest need is to hit the ball with more authority, as his .102 ISO and .274 BABIP attest. A converted outfielder, he focused more on improving his defense than offense during the season, and projects to play well there with continued refinement. He could go down as one of the biggest busts in Astros history, or he could end up as a very fine second baseman someday–much of the book has yet to be written on him. Grade: C+
Third base. Mike Kvasnicka. Kvasnicka also was an overdraft in 2010, going 33rd overall. The thinking was that he’d be an offensive catcher, but he’s neither a catcher nor a good hitter. He played catcher, third base, and right field in 2010, but moved to third full-time in 2011 and fielded just .902 there. He’s also hit just .251/.320/.357 in his pro career, is already 23, and hasn’t even played in High-A yet. He wouldn’t be on this list, or even particularly close, if it weren’t for the lack of other options at the position in this system. And even then, I strongly considered Brandon Wikoff. Grade: C
Shortstop: Jonathan Villar. Like Singleton and DeShields, Villar’s been moved so quickly that it’s difficult to discern whether his poor performance is due to his youth or lack of skill. At 20, he hit well enough in Lancaster (.289/.353/.411), but who doesn’t? He managed a .155 ISO in Double-A, but his problems with the strike zone (100/29 K/BB in 83 games) and errors (.923 fielding percentage) persisted. There’s a lot to like here in terms of tools, but Villar needs a lot of refinement. Grade: B-
Outfielder #1: George Springer. The 11th pick in the 2011 draft, Springer had a great three-year career at the University of Connecticut and had the talent to go even higher than he did in most drafts. He’s got five-tool potential in center field, but he’s already 22 and unproven in pro ball, so he will need to catch on to pro ball quickly. He struck out and walked considerably less as a junior than a sophomore, and it will be interesting to see how well he controls the zone in pro ball. A year from now, he could be the best outfield prospect in the game. Grade: B
Outfielder #2: Domingo Santana. Like Singleton, Santana’s numbers went way up after being traded to Houston. Hitting a solid .269/.345/.434 for the Phillies’ Low-A affiliate, he went 26-for-68 with a much-improved 15/6 K/BB (120/26 before the deal). Overall, as an 18-year-old in the SAL, the massive outfielder hit .287/.362/.471 with 49 extra-base hits, and more power will come as he fills out his skinny frame. The rare prospect with approach issues that I’m higher on than most, there’s a very real chance he ends up being the best of the four players Houston received for Hunter Pence. Grade: B
Outfielder #3: Ariel Ovando. A major international signing in 2010 ($2.6 million), Ovando struggled in the Appalachian League in his pro debut, but he didn’t even turn 18 until after the season. Like Santana, he’s a big guy with plenty of room to fill out, and he hasn’t quite figured out his large strike zone yet. Don’t assume he’ll live up to his bonus, though–he’s not going to be better than average defensively in an outfield corner, so wait for the power to show up before jumping on the bandwagon. Grade: C+
Starting Pitcher #1: Jarred Cosart. Cosart throws very hard and has a nice breaking ball, but a number of flaws push him far, far away from the elite tier of pitching prospects. His mechanics come and go, leading to wavering command and a high injury risk. Furthermore, for all his “stuff,” he has a lot of trouble striking guys out, with just 101 in 144 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A in 2011. It’s tough enough to maintain one’s strikeout rate from Double-A to Triple-A and the majors, but for Cosart to become an impact starter, he’d have to see a pronounced uptick in his K rates. Given his faults, he’s probably better served in the bullpen, where he could become an impact closer. Grade: B
Starting Pitcher #2: Brett Oberholtzer. I like this sort of pitcher. Oberholtzer is a big lefthander with three solid pitches and a simple delivery. He turned 22 midseason, and posted a 121/52 K/BB in 155 innings in Double-A, including a 28/10 mark in 27 1/3 innings following his trade from Atlanta. He had previously dominated both A-ball levels in previous seasons, and owns a pretty 3.68 K/BB ratio for his career. He’s basically Joe Saunders with a much better breaking ball, and thus more ability to miss bats. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #3: Kyle Weiland. Weiland caught a lot of flak for his poor performance down the stretch as the Red Sox collapsed, but he showed a nice four-pitch mix that could allow him to be a mid-rotation starter, possibly even a #2/#3 if his command improves some. He struck out nearly a batter per inning in Triple-A, so it’s not like his stuff doesn’t play. Getting 175 innings on a low-pressure, rebuilding team is a great situation for Weiland, who could be a really interesting late bloomer. At the same time, he’s already 25, so he’s got to quickly improve upon his poor MLB showing in 2011. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #4: Paul Clemens. Clemens had a solid year in the upper minors, with a 125/62 K/BB in 144 innings. He’s a hard thrower with usable secondary stuff who never has quite mastered his command, as he doesn’t repeat his delivery well and can lose his release point. At 24, he’s got to have a big year if he wants to remain a starter. He’s sort of a lesser version of Cosart in some ways, as he could end up a functional starter or high-leverage reliever. Grade: C+
Starting Pitcher #5: Mike Foltynewicz. The 19th overall pick in 2010, Foltynewicz, like DeShields and Kvasnicka, underperformed his draft slot in his first year. He struck out just 88 batters in 134 innings, failing to put batters away, and didn’t excel in avoiding walks or generating grounders either. He has a good pitcher’s frame, a solid fastball and curveball, and is just 20, but he needs more of a third pitch and more consistency if he’s going to have a significant career. Grade: C+
Relief Pitcher #1: Juan Abreu. Armed with a 93-99 mph fastball and good hard curveball, Abreu punched out 12 of the 34 MLB batters he faced in his brief major league stint last year. Another midseason acquisition, he’ll be 27 in April and has some command problems, but if Fernando Rodney can close for MLB teams, so can Abreu. Grade: C+
Relief Pitcher #2: Daniel Meszaros. A nice relief sleeper with a low-90′s fastball and put-away curveball, Meszaros could also make an impact in the Astros’ bullpen as soon as this season. A former 48th-round pick, he’s punched out over ten batters per nine innings in his career, including 11.2 in Double-A and 9.5 in Triple-A last season. He’s undersized and will give up some fly balls, but should be a very effective middle reliever. Grade: C+
Best of the Rest
#1.) Jake Buchanan, RHP. Buchanan managed to successfully navigate Lancaster thanks to a 58% groundball rate. He doesn’t have knockout stuff, but isn’t exactly Graham Taylor either, and should have a solid career as a back-of-the-rotation starter or double-play relief specialist. Grade: C+
#2.) Luis Ordosgoitti, RHP. A really intriguing sleeper arm. In 76 1/3 career innings, all in the short-season leagues, Ordosgoitti has struck out 67, walked just 15, and allowed only three home runs. He’ll be 19 for the entire 2012 season, and has plenty of time to grow into his 6’4″ frame. A player to watch in 2012 as he will likely make his full-season debut; I wouldn’t be shocked if he makes some Top 100 lists next year. Grade: C+
#3.) Adrian Houser, RHP. A second-round pick in 2011, Houser struggled with his command in his pro debut, walking 25 in 48 innings. He does have a solid curveball and hard moving fastball; there’s some resemblance to A.J. Cole in his scouting profile, actually. Still, his delivery has some effort to it, and he doesn’t repeat his landing very well. He’s another player whose stock could change dramatically (up or down) in 2012, especially if the Astros send him to Low-A. He’s only just about to turn 19, though, so he has plenty of time to regroup from any setbacks. Grade: C+
#4.) Jose Cisnero, RHP. Unlike Buchanan, Cisnero was torched to the tune of a 6.06 ERA in Lancaster, as his 35.2% groundball rate didn’t mesh well with the pinball-machine environment. Still, he posted a 4.12 FIP, mainly thanks to a ridiculous 11.09 K/9. His walk rates need to come down, but anyone with this type of ability to miss bats could have a nice career. Another guy to watch in 2012 as he moves to a less crazy environment but will have to adjust to upper-minors hitters. Grade: C+
#5.) Nick Tropeano, RHP. Tropeano was the Astros’ 5th-round pick in 2011, and he immediately dominated the NYPL, with a 2.36 ERA and 2.32 FIP. He turned 21 before the end of the season, so he should’ve dominated the level, but that’s encouraging. Tropeano is a big guy, but he doesn’t throw hard, working off a changeup that is already plus and a solid breaking ball. He could be a righthanded Dallas Braden if things go well. Grade: C+
#6.) Jiovanni Mier, SS. Another high pick that hasn’t worked out as well as hoped. Mier’s a career .244/.341/.355 hitter in three seasons since being picked 21st overall in 2009. He brings a plus glove to shortstop and a discerning eye to the plate, but he only managed a .233/.335/.306 line in Lancaster, of all places. If you squint, you can see some Jamey Carroll here, but Mier looks destined for a utility career path. Still just 21, he does have some time to escape that fate, however. Grade: C
#7.) Kody Hinze, 1B. Hinze hit an absurd .323/.458/.625 in Lancaster, which says more about Lancaster than it does about Hinze. He’s not a punchless player by any means, but his lines before (.277/.377/.465 in Low-A in 2010) and after (.281/.358/.422 in Double-A after a midseason promotion) paint a much better picture of his ability. He has good power and discipline and isn’t completely undone by strikeouts, but he turns 25 in July, and it takes more than a merely good hitter to make an impact at first base. Grade: C
#8.) Carlos Quevedo, RHP. Quevedo owns a career BB/9 rate of 1.3, including 1.1 in 2011 (19 walks in 151 innings). A 22-year-old wide-bodied righthander, his finesse repertoire didn’t miss a whole lot of bats (16.8% K%) and got him in trouble with homers (37.3% GB%, 22 HRA). If he can continue to refine his offspeed stuff and keep the ball down more, he could be a nice back-of-the-rotation pitcher, or a poor man’s Ed Mujica in relief. Grade: C
#9.) Ernesto Genoves, C. A deep sleeper who doesn’t show up on many prospect lists, Genoves hit .280/.375/.464 in the Appalachian League as a 20-year-old. He makes solid contact, has a decent approach and some gap power, and is a decent defensive catcher for his age. A total lottery ticket, but he’s shown a nice base of skills for someone so young. Grade: C
#10.) Juan Minaya, RHP. A wild but projectable power arm, Minaya has walked 5.2 batters per nine innings in his career, including an ugly 57 in 77 frames last year. He does have a good moving fastball in the low 90′s and a nice hard breaking ball, and he struck out nearly a batter per inning at age 20 in Low-A. He was moved to relief in the middle of the season and could become an impact two-pitch arm out of the bullpen, not all that dissimilar from Abreu. Grade: C
__________________ I got a native tongue from way down south
It sits in the cheek of my gulf coastal mouth -- Jimmy Buffett
Last edited by No Worries; 01-27-2012 at 02:05 PM.
According to the latest transaction update from Baseball America, the Astros signed another outfielder with big league experience. Jordan Brown has been in the major leagues with Cleveland. He spent 2011 with Nashville and Columbus.
The Astros have also released six players:
Travis Blankenship, LHP
Federico Hernandez, C
Kellen Kiilsgaard, OF
Colton Pitkin, LHP
Hector Rodriguez, IF
Shane Wolf, LHP
__________________ I got a native tongue from way down south
It sits in the cheek of my gulf coastal mouth -- Jimmy Buffett
Brown, a 28-year old former 2005 4th Round pick of the Indians, got 26 games with Cleveland in 2010, hitting .230/.310/.582 in 92 PAs. But he has raked in the minors, hitting .307/.365/.470 in seven minor-league seasons. In 2011, between Columbus (Cleveland) and Nashville (Milwaukee), he hit .311/.346/.466, with 47K:23BB in 460PAs.
__________________ I got a native tongue from way down south
It sits in the cheek of my gulf coastal mouth -- Jimmy Buffett
(40-Man Roster in Bold)
UT Brian Bixler - Waiver claim
OF Jordan Brown - FA
OF Travis Buck - FA
RHP Hector Corpas - FA
RHP Rhiner Cruz - Rule 5
OF Jack Cust - FA
LHP Zach Duke - FA
RHP Adalberto Flores - FA
SS Marwin Gonzalez - Rule 5
3B Diory Hernandez - FA
2B Jordan Kreke - FA
RHP Tomas Lopez - Dominican FA
SS Jed Lowrie - Acquired via trade
OF Fernando Martinez - Waiver claim
IF Scott Moore - FA
OF Edward Santana - Dominican FA
OF Brad Snyder - FA
C Chris Snyder - FA
OF/1B Nick Stavinhoa - Granted release to play in Japan
C Craig Tatum - Waiver claim; Claimed by Diamondbacks
IF Joe Thurston - FA
RHP Carlos Vasquez - Dominican FA
RHP Kyle Weiland - Acquired via trade
RHP Erick Abreu
RHP Alberto Arias
RHP Jonnathan Aristil
OF Brandon Barnes
LHP Xavier Cedeno
C Carlos Corporan
LHP Lance Pendleton
RHP Jose Valdez
SS Angel Sanchez
SS Miguel Arrendell
RHP Joan Belliard
LHP Travis Blankenship
LHP Garrett Bullock
RHP Danilo del Rio
RHP Pedro Gomez
SS Jacke Healey
C Federico Hernandez
RHP Mark Jones
OF Kellen Kiilsgaard
LHP Colton Pitkin
IF Hector Rodriguez
1B Ronald Sanchez
RHP Kelvin Santana
LHP Travis Smink
LHP Shane Wolf
RHP Mark Melancon
FREE AGENTS WHO SIGNED ELSEWHERE
SS Clint Barmes - Pittsburgh
OF Luis Durango - Braves
C Brian Esposito - Reds
IF Anderson Hernandez - Pirates
OF Jason Michaels - Nationals
SS Wladimir Sutil - Diamondbacks
C J. R. Towles - Twins
LHP Andy Van Hekken - Korea
RHP Ross Wolf - Orioles
UNSIGNED FREE AGENTS
LHP Kristian Bueno
C Robinson Cancel
1B Koby Clemens
RHP Sammy Gervacio
RHP Brad James
OF Drew Locke
IF Jhonny Medrano
IF Oswaldo Navarro
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith
2B Jose Vallejo
TL;DR version: Another tough break for a former top prospect. Another journeyman signed. Good news concerning Vincent Velasquez, although the Astros will be easing him back into shape. Oh, and minicamp details have been revealed.
Astros minicamp to feature seven top pitching prospects, plus minor league injury notes
Posted on February 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm by Zachary Levine in General
Seven of the Astros’ top pitching prospects will take part in a scaled-down version of minicamp this year.
The seven are mostly older prospects and intentionally include none of the arms selected in the 2011 draft. The Astros will also bring in four extra catchers from their minor league side to work with these pitchers.
Previously, minicamp had been pitchers and position players, but the Astros chose to scale back this year. Director of player development Fred Nelson said that with the club’s large instructional league and increased winter ball push, an extensive minicamp was not necessary.
The minicamp pitchers and catchers will first work out on Feb. 25 with all minor league pitchers and catchers working out March 4 and the first full-squad minor league workouts March 8 and games starting March 15.
A couple other minor league notes:
• The Astros signed Mike Hessman to a minor league deal, bringing the 33-year-old slugger only to minor league camp.
Hessman has played in the big leagues for the Braves, Tigers and most recently, the Mets in 2010. He has a career .188 average, .272 on-base percentage and .422 slugging percentage in the majors. He also has 329 home runs in the minor leagues to go with a .231/.313/.458 line. He played last season in Japan.
Nelson called Hessman “a great big strong power guy, a blue-collar grinder.” He has generally played the corner infield and corner outfield positions.
• Vincent Velasquez is “good to go,” Nelson said as the former second-round pick prepares for his first season back from Tommy John surgery, which cost him the 2010 campaign.
Velasquez may not make a full season roster even if he has a good spring. Nelson said that the Astros may hold him in extended spring training to control his innings load and then send him to short-season Class A Tri-City for the June-Labor Day schedule.
• A perhaps forgotten name to some, Chia-Jen Lo’s sad story continues, as the Astros expect him to miss at least most of the season after Tommy John surgery toward the end of 2010. He was among the top prospects until elbow problems derailed his 2010 season and allowed him only two innings in 2011.
Nelson said that the club is now looking at a return at the end of the season as an optimistic projection.
Lo emerged as one of the organization’s top relief prospects with a 2.10 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings in 2009 between high Class A Lancaster and Class AA Corpus Christi.
Brian McTaggart has some camp notes for us (and here and here):
Invited to Major-League Spring Camp:
In that third link, we find the Astros have signed another outfielder, 29-year old Austin native Justin Ruggiano. Ruggiano has played in parts of three seasons (07, 08, 11) with Tampa Bay, hitting a combined .226/.262/.359, but posting a career-high .248/.273/.400 in 111 PAs with the Rays in 2011.
In five seasons at Triple-A, Ruggiano has hit .289/.362/.473 with 546K:188BB, and 68HR in 2064 PAs.
By Ben Nicholson-Smith [February 6, 2012 at 4:31pm CST]
The Astros signed free agent outfielder Justin Ruggiano to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training, the team announced. Ruggiano elected free agency one week ago today, after the Rays designated him for assignment.
Ruggiano appeared in 46 games for the Rays last year, playing all three outfield positions. The 29-year-old posted a .248/.273/.400 line in 111 plate appearances. Ruggiano, who also played for the Rays in 2007-08, is not yet arbitration eligible. The native of Austin, Texas has a .295/.376/.486 in eight minor league seasons.
Astros have signed a catcher by the name of Jair Fernandez. The 25-year-old Colombian started off in the Mariners system and has been in the Twins system since 2008, when he was traded for R.A. Dickey. Hit .222 with 2 homers and 19 RBI in 42 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season. Not noted for his offense (.236/.322/.338 in 354 career games). Good defender.
Hat tip to Jayne over at What the Heck, Bobby, who informed us that the Astros have signed minor league catcher Jair Fernandez. Jair has spent time with the Seattle and Minnesota organizations, where he's shown to be a light hitting catcher with an outstanding CS%.
In just over 1500 minor league plate appearances Fernandez has hit .236/.326/.335 and has caught 169 of 421 attempted base stealers, a 40% rate. He'll likely be minor league depth, either in Corpus or OKC.
20. Ariel Ovando
19. Mike Kvasnicka
18. Josh Zeid
17. Kyle Weiland
16. Juan Abreu
15. Nick Tropeano
14. Jake Buchanan
13. Austin Wates
12. Tanner Bushue
11. Jordan Scott
10. Telvin Nash
9. Domingo Santana
8. Delino DeShields Jr.
7. Brett Oberholtzer
6. Paul Clemens
5. Mike Foltynewicz
4. Jonathan Villar
3. George Springer
2. Jarred Cosart
1. Jonathan Singleton
Rank: 20 Height: 6' 4", Weight: 190 ETA: 2016 Position: OF Age: 18, DOB: 09/15/1993 Bats: L, Throws: L Signed: July 7, 2010
Ovando’s U.S. debut in the Appalachian League in 2011 was uneven at best, but he still has tremendous tools and a very high ceiling. There are some big holes in his swing that led to a very high strikeout total, but once he learns the strike zone better, he should be able to tap into his considerable raw power. He’s still very young, so the Astros need to be patient and let the 18-year-old develop into the run-producing right fielder he could be one day.
Kvasnicka raced up Draft boards and snuck into the first round because he started catching for the University of Minnesota, and the potential of a switch-hitter who could handle the bat and play behind the plate was very intriguing. He had a so-so first full season in the Astros’ organization, but instead of catching, he played third base every day in Lexington. A move to the California League will undoubtedly help his numbers, but some would still love to see him as a catcher.
Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart get most of the attention, but Zeid came from Philadelphia in the Hunter Pence trade, too, and profiles as a hard-throwing short reliever. He’s been used as a starter as well, but the bullpen should be his home going forward. He has a plus fastball, which touches the upper 90s in shorter stints, as well as a nasty slider. If he can harness his command a bit more, he could be impacting Houston’s bullpen in the near future.
Weiland had been making his way steadily up the Red Sox ladder, pitching in Triple-A in 2011, finishing ninth in ERA there, and making seven appearances in the big leagues. Boston sent him to Houston with Jed Lowrie this offseason for reliever Mark Melancon. He doesn’t have wow stuff, but he does mix four pitches fairly well and could give the Astros a No. 4-type starter right from the get-go.
Rank: 16 Height: 6' 0", Weight: 180 ETA: 2012 Position: RHP Age: 26, DOB: 04/08/1985 Bats: R, Throws: R Signed: July 9, 2003
Abreu came over to Houston in the Michael Bourn trade and made his big league debut in late August. He’s a hard-throwing bullpen type who can touch triple digits, with a career 10.8 strikeout-per-nine rate. He’s also walked 5.4 per nine, pointing to the command issues he’s had. He’ll be 27 for nearly all of the 2012 season, so the prospect window is closing.
The Stony Brook product had a terrific college career, coming up big in pressure situations and showing a competitive streak to go along with his outstanding feel for pitching. His best pitch is his changeup, and it’s a plus offering. He has a fastball and slider to go along with it and it all worked well for him as he finished eighth in the New York-Penn League in strikeouts and would have finished fifth in ERA had he thrown enough innings. He could jump on a fast track in his first full season.
Buchanan called Lancaster, an extreme hitter’s park, home in 2011 and ended up finishing second in the system in ERA and eighth in the California League. The North Carolina State product may wear the “undersized right-hander” label and be more of a pitchability than a stuff guy, but he commands his pitches well, keeps them down in the zone and generates a ton of ground balls, the key to his success in the Lancaster launching pad.
Rank: 13 Height: 6' 1", Weight: 179 ETA: 2013 Position: OF Age: 23, DOB: 09/02/1988 Bats: R, Throws: R Drafted: 2010, 3rd (90)
As an advanced college hitter, Wates went right to the California League for his full-season debut and did more or less what was expected of him. He hit for average, got on base and stole some bases. He hasn’t shown much power and might be best suited for a top-of-the-order role. His value would be higher if he could stay in center field, but he may end up in left. Still, he should hit his way to Houston in short order.
Bushue still has the things scouts liked about him when he first entered pro ball: a projectable frame and good stuff, with an above-average fastball, a plus curve and a developing changeup. He generally throws strikes but needs to add consistency and strength to avoid the disabled list, which cost him time in 2011. He hasn’t progressed as hoped, but there’s time for him to get moving in the right direction.
Rank: 11 Height: 6' 2", Weight: 180 ETA: 2015 Position: OF Age: 20, DOB: 09/22/1991 Bats: L, Throws: R Drafted: 2010, 14th (423)
Scott spent most of the 2011 season in the Appalachian League and finished third in batting average in the rookie-level circuit. His best tool is his bat, with a solid left-handed swing and good approach that should enable him to hit for average. He hasn’t shown much power yet, but he could grow into some, though he’s more than likely a No. 2-type hitter who plays left field.