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[Chron] J.R. Towles!

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by Phil, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. Phil

    Phil Contributing Member

    Oct 12, 2005
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    In a season with little to be excited about, here's a nice article that gives a lot of hope for the Astros' future! We may not have much left in the minors, but we've got this kid and Patton to look forward to for sure.
    Towles could be on fast track to catch for Astros


    SAN FRANCISCO — J.R. Towles doesn't disguise his hunger to play for the Astros. He also doesn't hide his knowledge of the organization's depth — or lack thereof — at the catcher's position.

    Towles, a catcher with the Class AA Corpus Christi Hooks, is aware three-time Gold Glove winner Brad Ausmus is in the last year of his Astros contract and might opt, at age 38, to retire after this season. Astros backup Eric Munson, 29, is a career .213 hitter who would be rated among the worst defensive catchers in baseball.

    If he continues to develop and matures in terms of dealing with umpires, Towles, 23, may ultimately be catching in Houston. Perhaps as early as next season.

    "Definitely," Towles said when asked if he had kept up with the Astros' catching situation. "I don't know how many years Ausmus has left, so there is definitely a lot to look forward to and continue to work on. And just hope."

    Towles was on display Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park for the U.S. team at the All-Star Futures Game. He was one of two catchers selected for the Americans, who lost 7-2 to the World team. James Van Ostrand,
    an outfielder for the Astros' low Class A team in Lexington, played left field for the World squad.

    The 6-2, 195-pound Towles struck out in his only plate appearance. Van Ostrand, a 6-4, 210-pounder from Richmond, British Columbia, homered in his lone at-bat.

    "It was unbelievable," said Van Ostrand, who is hitting .300 at Lexington. "I really enjoyed it. I liked meeting all the guys. It was a lot of fun representing the Astros and representing Canada. It was just a great experience for me."

    Hello, Niemann
    Former Rice star Jeff Niemann, a Class AAA pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, started on the mound for the U.S. The righthander took the loss, giving up two runs in his one inning.

    "It was good to get the start," Niemann said. "They stole bases. That's why they got the runs. It was an exhibition game.

    "I'm not worried about people stealing. So it was a great time."

    A part of Niemann wishes he were in the same organization as Towles and Van Ostrand.

    "It would be exciting for me if I were with them, because I grew up in Houston following the Astros," Niemann said.

    Towles appears on pace to accomplish Niemann's childhood dream. After hitting .200 (18-for-90) in 26 games with Class A Salem this season, Towles picked it up at Class AA Corpus Christi, where he's hitting .328 (41-for-128) with seven home runs and 24 RBIs in 38 games. Last season, he hit .317 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs at Lexington.

    "To tell you the truth, I haven't done anything different in Corpus than I did in Salem," Towles said. "I started to get some good breaks. That's about it. Things are starting to fall for me."

    In the sixth inning, Towles formed what could be an Astros battery of the future when he caught righthander Clay Buchholz, the Boston Red Sox prospect who could be used as trade bait for the likes of closer Brad Lidge, whom the AL East leaders covet.

    Cincinnati Reds prospect Joey Votto welcomed Buchholz, 22, with a leadoff home run to left field, giving the World team a 5-2 lead. In the bottom of the sixth, Towles struck out with runners at the corners to end the inning.

    A credit to the World
    Van Ostrand led off the seventh with a home run to left, giving the World a 6-2 lead.

    "Yeah, I got a quick little, 'What's up?' into (Towles) at the plate," Van Ostrand said. "We got to hang out at the breakfast today a little bit and chat. It was nice to have someone in the same organization (to) just sort of check up on everybody.

    "We're all together in spring training hanging out, and then we all sort of go our separate ways."

    Towles should at least be in big league camp with the Astros in 2008. Under the right set of circumstances, his defense and offense may very well push him to the majors by next season.
  2. A-Train

    A-Train Contributing Member

    Jan 1, 2000
    Likes Received:
    For a second, I thought that you had just misspelled the word "towels". I wouldn't mind a towel with J.R. Richard on it...
  3. ak47

    ak47 Member

    Jun 28, 2006
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    Great, does anyone know about James Van Ostrand, he's the Canadian kid in the astros minor league system. He was on the world team. He hit a HR yesterday. He plays OF.

    I saw this on BaseballAmerica.com,
    PROJECTED 2010
    Catcher J.R. Towles
    First Base Lance Berkman
    Second Base Chris Burke
    Third Base Morgan Ensberg :eek: :confused:
    Shortstop Adam Everett :eek: :confused:
    Left Field Carlos Lee
    Center Field Hunter Pence
    Right Field Luke Scott
    No. 1 Starter Roy Oswalt
    No. 2 Starter Troy Patton
    No. 3 Starter Jason Jennings
    No. 4 Starter Fernando Nieve
    No. 5 Starter Matt Albers
    Closer Brad Lidge :eek: :confused:
  4. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

    Feb 15, 1999
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    The only one you should be :eek:ing is Morgan. Unless this past weekend woke something up.
  5. The Cat

    The Cat Contributing Member

    Jan 24, 2000
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    Why would the Astros not keep the best defensive shortstop of our generation? Likewise, why would they ditch a reliever out of this terrible bullpen with electric stuff and a 2.3 ERA? Not sure why either is surprising, particularly the latter.
  6. htownbball

    htownbball Member

    Jun 19, 2006
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    ensberg and everett are there because we lack depth at those positions in the minors.

    hopefully derek dietrich, our 1st pick in 2007, can change that.

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