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Friday, May 30, 2008

Astros Drafts in Review- 2005

The draft is within a week(June 5 and 6). With six picks in the first 122 this year, the crew at Union Station is working at a fever pitch. Now continuing a look back:

2005 Draftees

at Corpus Christi
Eli Iorg, OF
Brian Bogusevic, P
Tommy Manzella, SS
Josh Flores, OF(Disabled for season)
Billy Hart, OF
Tip Fairchild, P
Chris Blazek, P
Sean Walker, P

at Salem
Koby Clemens, C
Mark Ori, 1B

at Lexington
Reid Kelley, P

Also, Ralph Henriquez, C was traded for Josh Appell, P who is currently in Salem.

An interesting note, the Astros also drafted a high school pitcher named Wes Musick in 2005. Musick is now a draft eligible starter out of the University of Houston.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Trinidad and Severino move up

Two lefties are moving up the Astros ladder. Polin Trinidad has been promoted to Corpus from Salem after ten starts. Trinidad made ten starts for Salem recording a 2.32 ERA. He is slated to start for the Hooks Friday night. Taking Trinidad's place in the Avalanche rotation is Sergio Severino. In nine starts(ten total appearances) for Lexington, Severino posted a 2.66 ERA. His most recent start was May 25, so he could be on the mound for Salem sometime over the weekend.
Space for the moves became available when Sergio Perez was put on the disabled list by Corpus Christi. Perez injured his fingers trying to bunt in his fourth start after starting the season injured. His ERA in 18 1/3 innings is 2.45.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One Snuck out under the Radar

A few weeks ago, several players were released from Extended Spring Training. It has now come to my attention that catcher Reece Creswell was released then too. Creswell was signed during the past off-season. He had spent time in the Phillies and Rangers farm systems.

Farmstros Five-Week Eight

Another week goes by and this week(May 21 to 27) Salem was the only club over .500. The Avalanche went 5 and 3 improving to 22-27 for the season. Round Rock was 2 and 5(20-31); Corpus was 1-5(25-25); Lexington went 2 and 5(15-36).

The Farmstros Five:

Brian Bogusevic, LHP.,Corpus Christi. Bogusevic didn't get a decision, but he did pitch eight innings of two-hit, shutout baseball in his only start.
Polin Trinidad, LHP, Salem. Trinidad pitched six scoreless innings allowing two hits. He improved to 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA in ten starts.
Jimmy Van Ostrand, 1B, Salem. Van Ostrand drove in nine runs for the week. He also went 9 for 26(.346) with three doubles and one home run.
J.R. House, C, Round Rock. House was 10 for 25(.400) with one double, one home run, and three RBI.
Chad Wagler, RHP, Salem. Wagler picked up two relief wins in his first week off the disabled list. He pitched five and 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out three.

Astros Drafts in Review- 2004

Eight days until the draft(June 4-5)

Continuing to look at what's become at draftees. Here's a look at 2004

With the Astros:
Hunter Pence
J.R. Towles

Round Rock:
Jonny Ash, IF
Chad Reineke, P(on 40 man roster)

Corpus Christi:
Lou Santangelo, C
Mitch Einertson, OF
Evan Englebrook, P
Ole Sheldon, 1B
Drew Sutton, IF
Brad James, P(4o man roster)

Jordan Parraz
Corey Bass(Bass didn't sign until Spring of 2005)

Additionally, the Astros drafted Troy Patton in 2004. He, of course, was part of the trade that brought in Miguel Tejada.

Venezuelan League underway

The Astros team in Venezuela started its summer season about two weeks ago. A glance at the team's stats, shows several players from last year's team are not playing, which leads me to speculate that they may show up in Greeneville or Tri-City for the short season in mid-June

I mentioned this in a previous post

Here's a few names to watch for:

Jose Altuve, 18, 2B
Herman Armas, 21, OF
Ricardo Bonfante, 19, SS
Federico Hernandez, 20, C
Renzo Tello, 20, OF
Danilo Berti, 19, LHP starter
Jeiler Castillo, 20, RHP starter
Wilfrido Palma, 21, LHP reliever
German Perez, 18, LHP starter

The Dominican summer league starts next week, after I see the roster I'll pass on some names.

This Week's transactions

There were a few moves up and down the Astros system:

Two players in extnded spring training were released.
Right Handed pitcher Brian Esperson was drafted in the 18th round last June out of Mercyhurst college in Pennsylvania. He pitched 22 innings with a 9.00 ERA for Tri-City last summer.
Infielder Drew Anderson was drafted in the 22nd round last summer out of New Orleans. He had 108 at bats, 3 home runs and 15 RBIs, batting .222 for Greeneville in 2007.

Lexington pitcher Anthony Bello was placed on the disabled list.

To replace Bello, Thomas Vessella was called up from Extended Spring Training. Vessella was drafted in 2006 out of Whittier College. He spent last year at Tri-City, pitching 72 innings in 15 starts, posting a 4.63 ERA.

Salem outfielder Orlando Rosales was called up to Corpus Christi. He takes the roster spot of Bud Norris, who is disabled with elbow problems.

Jack Cassel came up to Houston while Fernando Nieve went back to Round Rock.

Finally, Dave Borkowski was designated for assignment to make room for Wandy Rodriguez.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Astros Drafts in Review- 2001-2003

Less than two weeks until the draft(June 5-6)

Continue to look at who still remains of who the Astros took:

No draftees from 2001 are still in the system, however,
Chris Burke was traded as part of the Juan Valverde deal
Matt Albers was given up as part of the deal to get Miguel Tejada

Raymar Diaz, P. Diaz was a sign and follow, who started professionally in 2003. He is currently at Salem.
Ryan McKeller, P. McKeller was another sign and follow. He is currently at Corpus Christi.
Mark McClemore, P. McClemore spent most of 2007 in Houston. He is currently disabled.
Jared Gothreaux, P. Gothreaux is with Round Rock.

One interesting draft pick from 2002 is Adam Seuss. He was traded for Dan Wheeler, who in turn was traded for current Astro Ty Wigginton. Seuss was suspended for a while and also returned to the Houston system for a few seasons.

Josh Muecke, P. Muecke has been impressive at Round Rock this year as a starter.
Edwin Maysonet, IF. He starts regularly at Round Rock.
Mark Saccomanno, IF. He is in his second Round Rock season.

Josh Anderson was drafted in 2003 and traded for Oscar Villarreal.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Farichild to Start

Tip Fairchild is scheduled to make his first start of the season tonight for Corpus Christi at Whataburger Field. Fairchild is returning from Tommy John surgery.

Astros Drafts in Review- 2000 and Prior

With the MLB draft 15 days away(June 5-6), Farmstros will be looking at what has become of Astros draftees of the past. Today is a look at players drafted in 2000 and prior.

5/23- 2001-2003
5/28- 2004
5/30- 2005
6/2- 2006
6/4- 2007

2000 and before
Not many players remain in the organization from this time period:
Roy Oswalt was drafted in 1996
Lance Berkman was drafted in 1997
Chris Sampson as an infielder in 2000

Two players were drafted in 2000 who have since been traded for players who are currently in the organization:
Chad Qualls(part of the trade for Jose Valverde)
Eric Bruntlett(part of the trade for Michael Bourn and Geoff Geary). The second piece of that trade, Brad Lidge was drafted in 1998.

Ironically, the Astros also drafted Michael Bourn out of high school during the 2000 draft. He went on to University of Houston before becoming a part of the Phillie organization.

Farmstros Five- Week Seven

The best week in the Astros minor league system came at the top from May 14-20. Round Rock went 5 and 1 improving to 18-26 for the season. They are still in last in their division of the PCL. Corpus went 3 and 3(24-20); Salem was 1 and 4(17-24); Lexington 1 and 6(13-21).

This week's Farmstros Five:

Anthony Bello, LHP, Lexington. Bello got the Legends only win of the week with seven innings of one-hit pitching and five strikeouts.
Casey Hudspeth, RHP, Salem. Hudspeth picked up the only win of the week for the Avalanche. He pitched eight innings allowing two hits and no runs.
Sergio Perez, RHP, Corpus Christi. Perez continued his solid return from the Disabled List. He pitched six innings, allowing an unearned run in his third start of the season. He allowed two hits and struck out six while lowering his ERA to 0.59.
Billy Hart, OF, Corpus Christi. Hart ended the week with a ten-game hitting streak. For the week, he was 9 for 22 with two doubles, two home runs and 8 RBI; .409 BA; .773 Slugg.
Reggie Abercrombie, OF, Round Rock. Abercrombie went 10 for 17 with one triple, one home run and three RBI. He also stole three bases and had two outfield assists.

Chronicle Minor League Notebook

Brian McTaggart has posted his minor league notebook for the first time this season. In the past it has been a weekly thing and includes some interesting information. I've included a link in the RECENT ARTICLES Section. A few highlights:
Look at Corpus' bevy of prospects
Lexington's Matt Cusick may move to third base
Corpus' Bud Norris shut down with torn ulnar collateral ligament. The team doesn't think surgery will be required.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wagler Back and Residual Moves

Chad Wagler, pitcher, joined Salem from the disabled list. The right-handed pitched out of Lexington's bullpen in 2007 going 90 1/3 innings, saving five games and posting a 5.08 ERA in 45 appearances. Wagler injured his toe during spring training.

To make room for Wagler, David Qualben has been demoted to Lexington. Qualben had a 6.81 ERA for Salem in eight starts. He pitched 35 2/3 innings and allowed 48 hits.

Reid Kelly has been placed on Lexington's disabled list to make room for Qualben. Kelly has made 12 relief appearances for the Legends. In 23 2/3 innings he has allowed 23 hits, walked 10 and struck out 27. His ERA is 3.80.

Another note, according to a note in Baseball America from Brian McTaggart outfielder Josh Flores will not play at all this season. He had ACL surgery in February.

Berkman, Bourn, who's next?

The Astros have four players on their big league roster from Rice and University of Houston at the moment. Lance Berkman, Jose Cruz, Jr., and Tim Byrdak-Rice, along with Michael Bourn, who played for U of H.(For the record, they are paying another U of H guy, Woody Williams this season) As the Cougars and Owls wrap up their regular season and prepare for the C-USA tournament this weekend and the NCAA tournament after that, here's a quick glance at players from the two prominent college baseball programs closest to Minute Maid Park, who may draw interest in next month's draft:

From Rice:
Jared Gayhart, OF, Jr. .330 BA, six HRs, three triples, 15 doubles, 42 RBI, and eight steals
Chris Kelley, RHP, Sr. 5 and 1 with 10 starts. 3.23 ERA with 57 Ks in 64 innings.
Matt Langwell, RHP, Jr. 5-0 with 12 starts. 4.21 ERA with 58 Ks in 68 1/3 innings.
Aaron Luna, IF, Jr. Luna homered at Minute Maid Park in his first college game in 2006 and he has kept swinging. This season .333 with nine home runs, 52 RBI and 11 steals
J.P. Padron, IF, Sr. .365, four HRs, 35 RBI, and six steals
Bryan Price, RHP, Jr. 42 2/3 innings, 3.38 ERA and 48 Ks
Cole St. Clair, LHP, Sr. 2.98 ERA, 8-2 with five saves in 19 games, 48 1/3 IP and 55 Ks. St. Clair struggled early as a starter but has regained his form in the Rice bullpen
Adam Zornes, C, Sr. .305, 10 Home Runs, 47 RBI and 20 extra-base hits.

From Houston:
Ryan Lormand, IF, Sr. .330, 15 doubles, four homeruns, and 51 RBI
Wes Musick, LHP, Red-shirt soph. 8-4 with 4.15 in 13 starts, 82 1/3 IP and 72 Ks. Musick was drafted out of high school by the Astros
Jake Stewart, OF, Sr. .362, 13 HR, and 45 RBI
Jimmy Cesario, OF, Jr. .297, seven HR and 31 RBI
Bryan Pounds, IF, Sr. .366, eight HR with 58 RBI
Bryan Tully, OF, Sr. .302, three HR and 25 RBI

Douglass Up, Fairchild Back

Chance Douglass has been called up to Round Rock from Corpus Christi, replacing Fernando Nieve on the Express roster. Douglass, a 2002 draft pick of the Astros, had eight starts for the Hooks this season pitching 44 1/3 innings with a 4.26 ERA. He spent part of the 2007 season at Round Rock.
My guess is that Douglass will join Muecke, Cassel, Hernandez, and Reineke in the Round Rock rotation.
To replace Douglass on the AA roster, Tip Fairchild has been recalled from Extended Spring Training. Fairchild is about a year removed from Tommy John surgery. The 2005 draft pick pitched a few games last spring with Corpus before injuring his arm.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nieve Back in Houston; New Outfielder in Salem

Fernando Nieve and his deviated septum are in the Houston bullpen now. Geoff Geary was placed on the Disabled List, and Nieve who recently moved to the Round Rock bullpen was called up to Houston to replace him.
A little further down the chain, Nick Moresi an outfielder for Salem was placed on the disable list. Outfielder Travis Sweet was called in from Extended Spring Training to replace him. Sweet was drafted in 29th Round last summer out of Iowa. He split last summer between Greeneville and Tri-City hitting .247(40 for 162).

Five Players on the Move, one Injured

Ray Sadler makes his first stop on the Round Rock roster today. The 27 year old outfielder has been called up after batting .290(31 for 107) with four home runs and 19 RBI for Corpus Christi. Sadler was the Hooks' MVP last season.

To make room for Sadler, Richie Paz was sent back down to Corpus. Paz batted .386 in 70 at bats to start the season in AA earning the call-up. However, he is only 7 for 33(.212) since arriving at AAA.

Two players have been called up from extended spring training to Lexington.

Outfielder Brian Pellegrini was drafted in the 12th round last summer out of St. Bonaventure. He only had 14 at bats for Tri-City in 2007. He started his first game Thursday night for Lexington and had two hits including a home run.

Infielder Cat Everett was the last player the Astros drafted in last summer's draft(44th Round). He hit .229(39 for 170) for Tri--City after completing his college career at Tulane.

To make room for Pellegrini and Everett one Legend was disabled and one was sent back to Florida for Extended Spring Training.

Pitcher Colt Adams has been placed on the DL with a groin injury. Adams has made seven starts this season, pitching 25 2/3 innings and posting an 8.77 ERA.

Outfielder Brandon Barnes is heading back to Florida. The 2005 draft pick has 13 hits in 95 at bats this season for Lexington(.137).

Clapp Going to Olympics

After a week and half of discussions, the Astros have reversed their decision and will grant Lexington batting coach Stubby Clapp permission to play in the 2008 Summer Olympics for Canada. Clapp, who missed three weeks of spring training for a qualifying tournament in Taiwan, will be away from July 28-August 24.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Farmstros Five-Week Six

Salem had three wins for the week of May 7-13 and three Farmstros Five for the week as well.
The Avalanche improved to 16-20 for the season going 3 and 2. Corpus was 3-3(21-17); Lexington wass 2-3(12-25); Round Rock was 1-6(13-25).

The Farmstros Five:

Douglass Arguello, P, Salem. Arguello pitched six innings of one-hit ball striking out seven in a suspended game.
Polin Trinidad, P, Salem. Trinidad strikes again. This week the three-time Farmstros Five honoree pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits.
Koby Clemens, C, Salem. Clemens went 9 for 20 with three doubles, one triple, two home runs, and six RBI. His slugging percentage was 1.000 for the week.
Drew Sutton, IF, Corpus Christi. Sutton went 10 for 22(.455) with six doubles, one triple, one home run, and three RBI.
Edwin Maysonet, IF, Round Rock. Maysonet snapped out of a slump in a big way. He went 11 for 18 on the week(.611) withtwo doubles, one home run and two RBI.

Nieve to the Bullpen

The tale of Fernando Nieve's nose keeps growing. Nieve who had troubled pitching in Colorado Springs due to asthma and high altitude is being moved to the bullpen for the remainder of the season because of a deviated septum. Apparently, the deviated septum has been causing Nieve to have trouble sleeping. The lack of sleep has cut down on his stamina to go deep into games as a starter. Hence the bullpen move for this season, surgery in the off-season and then reassess in 2009.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Three Gone

Sal Iacono retired from the Astros organization to pursue a law degree. Iacono, who was drafted last June out of Princeton, was the third string catcher at Salem when he decided to hang them up and go to law school.
Two other players who were at Houston's extended spring training in Florida were released.
Andrew Launier, 1B. Drafted out of Sierra College in 2006. He spent 2007 at Greeneville.
Chris Frye, OF. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of LSU-Shreveport in 2007. He played for Tri-City and Greeneville last year.

Sapp Back, Who Else is Injured?

Lexington catcher Max Sapp played for the first time in almost four weeks over the weekend. The 2006 first round pick, was the DH for Friday and Saturdays contests. He hadn't played since April 12. I have not heard what his injury was.

As the season continues, here's a recap of the other players in the Astros system dealing with injuries...
Tip Fairchild, RHP, he had Tommy John surgery about a year ago, and is supposedly to start competing any day now most likely at Corpus.
Josh Flores, OF, Flores had ACL surgery in February. I'll be surprised if he plays at all this season.
Danny Klassen, IF, I'm not sure what his injury is.
Mark McClemore, LHP, He's in Florida rehabbing
Felipe Paulino, RHP, I'm guessing we won't see him until after the all-star break, if then
Chad Wagler, RHP, Hurt his toe in spring training. He should be ready by late May if I remember the reports correctly.

Nieve Breathes Easier in Utah

Last Thursday, Express starter Fernando Nieve was pinch-hit for after one inning in Colorado Springs. Giving his recent injury troubles, this was definitely a red flag at first glance. However, I read in a post by someone on another site, who was listening to the game, that Nieve was having trouble breathing due to the altitude and his asthma. Following up, Nieve pitched last night in relief at Salt Lake City. Apparently he found his inhaler as he went two scoreless innings allowing two hits and striking out three.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Welcome to Affiliated Baseball, Joe Melton

Joe Melton made his first game in affiliated baseball a memorable one Friday night. Melton, a catcher who joined Lexington recently, went 3 for 3 with a run and an RBI in his first game of the season. Melton finished his college career last spring and spent the 2007 summer season with Reno of the independent Golden League.

Happy Mother's Day

A few months ago, Jose de Jesus Ortiz, who covers the Astros for the Chronicle, had a contest to see who could tell the best story about a mother passing on the love of baseball to a child. With Mother's Day coming up this weekend, I am posting my entry to that contest. Happy Mother's Day.

My mother started passing on the baseball bug to me at an early age, when she covertly entered me in the Astros Buddies’ club at the age of two (five was the minimum at that time). She spent a good part of my childhood planting seeds of baseball fandom: Taking me to meet Bob Feller(she grew up an Indians’ fan) at a traveling Hall of Fame exhibit; Baking cookies to give Astros players after games when we tried to get their autographs, Toting me to stores and card shops around town to buy just the card I needed(I was able to complete my 1980 Topps baseball card set just by buying packs thanks to her chauffeuring- I think I ended up with about 10 duplicates of Paul Dade). This doesn’t even take into account all the games and practices she took me to so I could play the game as well as watch it.

After all the seed planting, she cemented the seams in my head for life by taking me on cross-country baseball-watching trips the summers after my freshmen and sophomore years in high school (1984 & 1985). As soon as the school year ended both those years, we set out in our family’s 1978 Blue Econoline Van and filled our minds and our scrapbooks with some great baseball memories… To name a few: I almost broke my leg running to win a Bar B Q pit playing baseball Bingo at Ray Winder Field in Little Rock; We saw a game at old Comiskey before it closed down; We heard the P.A. system blare THE GAMBLER when Kenny Rogers came into pitch for the Burlington Rangers in Waterloo, Iowa; My mom talked our way into Wrigley Field to take a picture, since there were no games going on the day we were there; We saw the Astros play the Southern League All-Stars at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala.(Don August started for the Astros, Jose Canseco was in the SL All-Star line-up); We even saw part of a game at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, while my Grandma waited in the car reading WAR AND PEACE.

As Spring Training approaches, I can’t help but think about my development as a baseball/Astros’ fan. Gene Elston and his calm demeanor got me hooked on baseball on the radio. My dad taught me how to keep score and love the numbers. The Sporting News helped me love the box score. Roy O. in Game 7 in St. Louis!!! There was nothing better than that. Yet, my mom and her willingness to just go watch baseball with me all across the country those two summers was what made me fall in love with the game.

Twelve Possibles from the Caribbean

As the short season schedule draws near, here are a few players who until now have only played in the Astros Dominican and Venezuelan summer league teams. However, based on experience, age, and performance, they may be due to get a look at Greeneville or Tri-City in June.

Dominican Astros
Wilton Infante, 20, OF. .309 BA, 16 steals in 36 games in 2007
Henry Villar, 21, RHP. 2.45 ERA, 73 innings and 69 strikeouts in 13 starts
Martin Espinal, 21, RHP. 3.76 ERA, 69 innings and 63 strikeouts in 14 starts
Jose Trinidad, 20, RHP. 2.63 ERA, eight saves, 55 innings and 52 strikeouts

Venezuelan Astros
Jose Altuve, 18, IF. .343 BA, 36 RBI, 15 steals in 64 games
Ricardo Bonfante, 19, IF. .314 BA, 15 steals in 58 games
Herman Armas, 21, OF. .273 BA, nine home runs, 48 RBI in 70 games
Federico Hernandez, 20, C. .299 BA, 17 RBI in 64 games
Jhonny Medrano, 20, IF. .289 BA, 36 RBI and 19 steals in 64 games
German Perez, 18, LHP. 2.07 ERA, 70 innings and 13 starts, 7-1 record
Jeiler Castillo, 20, RHP. 2.69 ERA, 67 innings and 11 starts
Ricardo Mendoza, 18, RHP. 3.68 ERA, 51 innings and 10 starts

Team Canada to go to Olympics without Clapp

After much consideration, the Astros have turned down Lexington hitting coach, Stubby Clapp's request to play for Canada in this summer in China. Clapp, 34, in his second season as an Astros minor league coach, missed three weeks of Spring Training to play for his homeland in an Olympic qualifying tournament. Preparing for and playing in the Olympics would take Clapp away from his Lexington duties for about four weeks in July and August. The Astros have given permission to Salem outfielder James Van Ostrand to play in the Games. Also, Team Canada has interest in Danny Klassen of Round Rock's participation.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Randolph Headed to Pennsylvania

The next team Stephen Randolph pitches for will be from Pennsylvania. The Astros traded the 34 year-old left-hander to the Phillies for a player to be named later. Randolph has dominated the Pacific Coast League for a year and a month, posting sub 2.00 ERAs both last season and so far this season. He was named Round Rock's pitcher of the month for April. However, his brief stints in Houston last year were a different story featuring a lack of control and an E.RA over 10. I haven't seen any mention of his assignment, but it will most likely be Reading(AA) or Lehigh Valley(AAA), both in the Keystone State.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Perez Makes First AA Start

After a stint on the disabled list, Sergio Perez made his double A debut Wednesday night going five innings and picking up a win against Frisco. Perez, who spent last year at Salem, and has been sidelined with a groin injury allowed eight hits and struck out four while surrendering one unearned run.
According to the Hooks' game notes pitcher German Melendez was released to make room for Perez on the roster. Melendez had a 3.63 ERA in 10 games for the Hooks, pitching 17 1/3 innings.
He had been in the Astros organization since 1999.

Also, Kyle Middleton is reportedly heading to Round Rock from Corpus Christi. Middleton, a relief pitcher, has been on the Disabled List since April 6 after making only one appearance for Corpus this season. No mention was made of the transaction the Express will make to accomodate Middelton's arrival.

Farmstros Five-Week Five

The week of April 30- May 6 saw Round Rock post the only winning record of the four minor league teams. The Farmstros Five reflects that performance. Round Rock was 4-3(12-19 for the season). Corpus was 3-4(18-14); Salem was 2-5(13-18); Lexington was 2-5(10-22).


Reggie Abecrombie, OF, Round Rock. Abercrombie went 9 for 20(.450) with two doubles, one home run, four RBI and one stolen base.

Mark Saccomanno, IF, Round Rock. Saccomanno went 10 for 26(.385) for the week. He added one double, one home run and six RBI for the Express.

Josh Muecke, LHP, Round Rock. Muecke made two starts and picked up one victory. He pitched 14 innnings, allowed 3 earned run, and struck out eight.

Runelvys Hernandez, RHP, Round Rock. In his only start, Hernandez pitched six scoreless innings allowing only one hit.

Sammy Gervacio, RHP, Corpus Christi. Gervacio shows signs of getting in the groove. He made two appearances, in which he pitched four scoreless innings and picked up two of the Hooks' three wins for the week.

Fairchild Just about Ready to Go

According to two Maine newspaper articles, Astros pitcher Tip Fairchild is almost ready to start pitching in a game that counts. Fairchild, who has been rehabbing from last May's Tommy John surgery in Florida, is scheduled to throw 80 pitches on Saturday. If all goes well there, the next stop is the minor leagues. He was with Corpus last spring before he injured his arm.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More May Moves

Just when the big league club gets its starting lineup healthy, the farm system starts moving. Here's a look at the shifts:

Sal Iacono no longer appears on the Salem roster at I read at one source that he moved on due to lack of playing time. He had only 16 at bats this season as the team's third string backstop. Iacono was drafted in the 26th Round last June out of Princeton.

To replace Iacono, Kevin Carkeek was called up from Lexington. Carkeek, drafted in last year's 25th round out of the University of Oakland, was hitting .186(8 for 43) at Lexington.

Salem also added Roberto Mena to replace Wladamir Sutil as a back-up infielder. Mena, out of the University of Tampa was batting .190(12 for 63) at Lexington.

The call-ups of Mena and Carkeek led to Joe Melton and Bryan Brown being added to the Lexington roster from extended spring training in Florida.

Melton is a catcher that the team signed this off-season. He spent about six weeks of last season with Reno of the independent Golden League before suffering an injury. Melton played high school baseball for Roy Oswalt's brother in Tennessee.

Brown spent last summer with Greeneville. The infielder batted .237(31 for 131) with 16 RBI. Brown was an undrafted free agent out of Florida Southern.

Finally, a release from the Hooks indicates that Sergio Perez is scheduled to start tomorrow's game against Frisco. Perez, who spent last season in Salem, has been suffering from a groin injury since spring training.

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's a Girl!

Several weeks ago, I mentioned Bryan Hallberg, a pitcher for Salem was gone a few days while his wife gave birth. I heard back from Jason Benetti the Avalanche director of broadcasting that the Hallberg's had a girl their first, Isabella. Congratulations!

One Up, One Injured, One Back, One Out

Since Friday, the Astros made four moves in their farm system...

Outfielder Nick Moresi was moved up from Lexington to Salem. Moresi was hitting .224 (19/85) with two home runs and 11 RBI. Four of those RBI came on an opening day grand slam. The third-round pick in 2006 spent all of 2007 at Lexington, batting .235 with 10 home runs and 39 RBI in 387 at bats.

Max Sapp has been placed on the Lexington disabled list. Sapp has only 28 at bats and 5 hits. The first round pick in 2006 has not played since April 12. He also spent 2007 at Lexington batting .241.

Jeff Icenogle joined the Lexington pitching staff from the disabled list. The left-hander was an undrafted free agent last summer. He pitched for Tri-City, posting a 2.36 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 61 innings pitched.

Ryan Reed was released from Salem. The outfielder was a 21st Round pick in 2004. In his second season at High A, Reed was 10 for 51(.196) while striking out 19 times.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sutil to Corpus

Another domino from the recent transactions falls: Wladamir Sutil is on his way up to Corpus Christi. The versatile infielder hit .268 with six steals in 21 games for Salem. Sutil had started four games at second base, six games at third base, and eight games at shortstop. It will be interesting to see who replaces Sutil on the Salem roster. Sutil was not the full time second baseman; he shared the spot with Greg Buchanan and Tim Torres. In light of this, I'd be surprised if they bring up a prospect like Matthew Cusick, who is tearing up the South Atlantic League. My guess is they will leave Cusick in Lexington to play full time at least until the all-star break. I wonder if Osvaldo Fernando, who is currently a coach for Salem, is a possibility to be activated for a while. Fernando, 27, was an infielder in the Astros system for six seasons. He spent last season bouncing between Round Rock, Corpus Christi, and Salem. I read an article about his coaching position in the Roanoke paper, that indicated he is not hanging up his glove yet.

Twelve Extended Spring Training Possibles

The Astros broke camp and headed to Houston and their minor league cities over a month ago; however, a number of players stayed behind in Florida to recover from injuries or get ready for short season baseball to begin in June. Based on players who were in Greeneville and Tri-City at the conclusion of 2007, I present 12 players who are likely to be spending the summer in one of those two clubs. A caveat: I have no inside information on this. I sent my list to the Astros for some confirmation, but have not heard back. I welcome any information from readers on this.

Robert Bono, 19, 2007 Draftee, Greeneville in 2007
Luis Pardo, 21, 2007 Draftee, Tri-City
David Dinelli, 21, 2007 Draftee, Greeneville and Tri-City
Eduin Ciriaco, 21, Caribbean, Greeneville
Arcenio Leon, 20, Caribbean, Greeneville
Antonio Noguera, 20, Caribbean, Greeneville
Brian Wabick, 20, 2007 Draftee, Greeneville

Ebert Rosario, 20, Caribbean, Greeneville

Brian Pellegrini, 22, 2007 Draftee, Tri-City
Cody Phipps, 19, 2007 Draftee, Greeneville
Devon Torrence, 18, 2007 Draftee, Greeneville(Ohio St. football)
Chris Frye, 22, 2007 UDFA, Greeneville and Tri-City

Four more players of interest...

Depending on what kind of catchers the team draft's next month,
Joe Melton and Reece Creswell, who were signed during the off-season may find a spot.

Also, Jan Baldee, a shortstop from Holland, and Andrew Lucati, a pitcher from Italy, were scheduled to be in Florida.

I'll look at which players from last season's Dominican and Venezuelan summer teams may make it to the U.S. this season soon.

Paz up to Round Rock- Other Moves

At this time last year, Richie Paz was preparing to start his second season with Alexandria, Louisiana of the independent United League. Now, after racking up a .386 batting average and 17 RBI in 70 at bats for Corpus Christi, Paz, 31, is moving up to Round Rock. Houston is the infielder's fifth professional organization.

Paz is joined on the Express roster by pitcher Jack Cassel, while OF Victor Diaz and IF Lance Niekro have been released.

Cassel was demoted by the Astros after two starts. He pitched 9 2/3 with a 5.59 ERA, filling Wandy Rodriguez's spot in the major league rotation.

Diaz hit .296 in 71 at bats.
Niekro hit .212 in 52 at bats.

The transactions leave the Hooks one short of 24 players for the moment.