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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cusick to Yankees(an all-star?)

A little clarification is in order concerning Matt Cusick, the Lexington infielder who was sent to the Yankees in the LaTroy Hawkins trade. Yes, Cusick WAS an all-star in the South Atlantic League, and he did finish his stay at Lexington with a .285 average, 23 doubles, nine home runs and 38 RBI in 351 at bats. However, since the end of May, the 2007 10th round draft pick had a .237 average with only nine doubles, four home runs, and 16 RBI in 186 at bats.

Farmstros Five- Week 17

Last week the Astros six farm teams broke even at 19 and 19. This week they did even better going a combined 21 and 17. The six teams still have the worst combined record in baseball, but the last two weeks have been an improvement. The week of July 23-39, Lexington went 5 and 1 improvingg to 14 and 23 during the second half. Round Rock was 5 and 2(52-59); Corpus Christi was 1 and 5(13-24); Salem was 5 and 2(15-21); Tri-City was 3 and 3(16-24); Greeneville was 2 and 4(19-21).

The Farmstros Five:
Josh Miller, RHP, Round Rock. Miller made two impressive starts for the Express. He was 2-0 with 11 hits and only one run allowed in 17 innings pitched.
David Duncan, LHP, Tri-City. Duncan pitched five perfect innings in his only start of the week, striking out four.
Kyle Greenwalt, RHP, Greeneville. Greenwalt extended his scoreless streak to 18 innings before giving up a run in the final inning of his second start during the week. For the week, he was 1-0 with 1 run allowed and 11 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Leandro Cespedes, RHP, Lexington. Cespedes made two starts giving up no earned runs and striking out 10 in 11 innings.
Ray Sadler, OF, Round Rock. Sadler was 13 for 24 with five doubles, four home runs and nine RBI.

Transactions 7/23-29

Down to Round Rock from Houston
Jack Cassel, RHP
Dave Borkowski, RHP
Runelvys Hernandez, RHP

Up to Round Rock from Corpus Christi
Chris Johnson, 3B(I am assuming that Johnson will get most of the starts the next five weeks)

Down to Corpus Christi from Round Rock
Lou Santangelo, C
Jose Oyervidez, RHP
Jonathon Ash, IF

Gone from Round Rock
Jim Brower, RHP(left the organization to join the Hiroshima Carp of Japan's Central League)

Signed with Corpus Christi
Bo Hall, RHP

Down to Salem from Corpus Christi
Sean Walker, RHP
Jimmy Goethals, C

Inactive in Salem
James Van Ostrand, 1B/OF to Olympics with Team Canada

Released from Salem
Joel Santo, RHP

Van Ostrand now with Team Canada

Salem Avalanche first baseman is schedule to be introduced as part of Canada's Olympic baseball team Wednesday afternoon's Toronto/Tampa Bay game at Rogers Centre in Toronto. Van Ostrand wrapped up his pre-Olympic time with Salem Sunday with a .306 average, 26 doubles, 7 home runs, and 60 RBI in 333 at bats.

Team Canada's schedule for the next four weeks(all times are Central Daylight Time).

August 1...vs. USA in Cary, North Carolina(Exhibition)-6 pm
August 2... vs. USA in Durham, North Carolina(Exhibition)- 6 pm
August 3... vs. USA in Durham, North Carolina(Exhibition)- 4 pm
August 4... vs. USA in Durham, North Carolina(Exhibition)- 6 pm

August 9...vs. Netherlands in Beijing, China(Exhibition)- 7:15 am
August 10...vs. Netherlands in Beijing, China(Exhibition)- 12:30 am

August 12...vs. China in Bejing- 10:30 pm
August 14...vs. Cuba in Beijing- 5 am
August 15...vs. Korea in Beijing- 5 am
August 15... vs. USA in Beijing- 9:30 pm
August 17... vs. Japan in Beijing- 9:30 pm
August 18...vs. Netherlands in Beijing- 9:30 pm
August 20...vs. Chinese Taipei in Beijing- 5 am

August 21 and 22...Semi-Finals in Beijing- 9:30 pm and 5 am
August 22 and 23... Medal Games in Beijing- 9:30 pm and 5 am

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Van Ostrand leaves for China after this Weekend

Salem first baseman/outfielder James Van Ostrand is returning to Salem with his Avalanche teammates for the last time(at least a month) tonight. Salem completed a series in Winston-Salem this evening and starts a three-game set at home against Lychburg Friday night. After the weekend, Van Ostrand will be leaving the Avalanche to join the Canadian Olympic baseball team with a final destination of Beijing. The Olympics run through August 24, after which Salem has a little more than a week of season remaining. Among Van Ostrand's Olympic teammates is Stubby Clapp, who is the hitting coach at Lexington. The team is managed by former Astros outfielder, Terry Puhl.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Farmstros Five- Week 16

The Astros organization had one of their best week's of the season. Two teams were over .500 and two more were right at .500 for the week of July 16-22.

Corpus went 4 and 3(12-19 for the second half); Lexington was 4 and 3 also(9-22); Round Rock was 3 and 3(47-57); Greeneville was 3 and 3(17-17); Salem was 2 and 3(10-19); Tri-City was 3 and 4(13-21)

Now the Farmstros Five for the week:

Ebert Rosario, IF, Greeneville. Rosario was 9 for 20 with three doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBI.
Kyle Greenwalt, RHP, Greeneville. Greenwalt pitched six scoreless innings allowing only two hits.
Jonathon Fixler, C, Lexington. The Legends' back up catcher hit three home runs in one game. He finished the week 8 for 15 with three home runs and seven RBI.
Kyle Miller, IF, Lexington. Miller's first week at Lexington after a promotion from Greeneville was a productive. He was 7 for 17 with two doubles, one home run and six RBI.
Andy Van Hekken, LHP, Corpus Christi. Van Hekken made two starts, pitching 14 1/3 innings with a 1.88 ERA, while picking up two wins. In his second start, he pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts.

Transactions 7/16-22

Called Up to Houston from Round Rock
Runelvys Hernandez, RHP
Jack Cassel, RHP

Down to Round Rock from Houston
J.R. Towles, C

Designated for assignment by Houston
Dave Borkowski, RHP

Added to Round Rock
Jim Brower

Up to Round Rock from Corpus Christi
Jose Oyervidez, RHP
Chance Douglass, RHP

Traded from Round Rock
Chad Reineke, RHP(one note on the Randy Wolf trade... The Dodgers lost Randy Wolf as a free agent after the 2007 season. Wolf did not qualify as a type B free agent so the Dodgers got no draft picks as compensation. It should be noted that Wolf was injured for part of the season, which affected his rating. However, there is not guarantee of compensatory picks fo Wolf if he leaves after 2008)

Released from Round Rock
Jorge Sosa, RHP

Onto Disabled List for Round Rock
Kyle Middleton, RHP

Up to Corpus Christi from Salem
Brian Bogusevic, OF

Off of Corpus Christi Disabled List
Mitch Einertson, OF

Down to Salem from Corpus Christi
Orland Rosales, OF

Up to Lexington from Greeneville
Kyle Miller, IF

Onto Lexington Disabled List
Thomas Vessella, LHP

From Greeneville's 7 day to 60 day disabled list
Agustin Pinales, RHP

Draft Pick Signing
Daniel Meszaros, RHP(48th Round), College of Charleston assigned to Tri-City

Reineke Headed to Portland

In less than two weeks, Chad Reineke may be shutting down his former Round Rock Express opponents when they come to Oregon. Reineke, who pitched eight scoreless innings in his final start for Round Rock was sent to the San Diego in the Randy Wolf trade. Assuming Reineke goes to AAA Portland, he may well take the hill against Round Rock between August 3-6.

The Draft and Summer Follows

One thing I have enjoyed most about maintaining this website is learning new information about how baseball works. For example, Baseball America had a recent article about SUMMER FOLLOWS, which refers to players who are drafted in June and play in an amateur summer league to give a team more time to decide whether they are worth the investment before the August 15 signing deadline. I suppose this phenomena is more prevalent since the August deadline went into effect last summer. Prior to that, teams could follow a player all the way through the next spring if they chose to.

Having said that, as best I can tell, the Astros 2008 included four summer follows.

Nate Pettus, RHP(27th Round)...was listed on the Du Page roster in the Central Illinois Collegiate League before signing and reporting to Greeneville. The DuPage stats. sheet indicates that Pettus never played in the league.
Daniel Meszaros, RHP(48th Round)...Meszaros out of College of Charleston missed the entire 2008 college season with an injury after an impressive early college career. He spent a part of this summer with Cotuit of the Cape Cod League. He showed that he is recovered from the injury with 25 strikeouts and a 19 2/3 innings and a 1.37 ERA. He signed this week and made his first appearance for Tri-City Tuesday night.
Chris Hicks, RHP(14th Round)... Hicks is pitching for Wareham of the Cape Cod League.
Ryan Danbury,OF(42nd Round)... Danbury is playing for Waynesboro in the Valley League.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fixler Goes Yard Three Times

Lexington Legends back-up catcher Jonathon Fixler hit three home runs for the Astros Single A team on Sunday. Fixler had four hits in the team's 16-10 victory over Columbus(the fourth hit was a single). He also drove in five runs in the contest.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Self to Replace Clapp

When Lexington batting coach Stubby Clapp takes his leave later this month to play second base for the Canadian team in China, he will be replaced by Todd Self. Self, currently the bench coach in Corpus Chrisit will report to Lexington next week.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My All-Star Game Dream

I must have dozed off while Brad Lidge was warming up for the bottom of the 15th inning on Tuesday night, because I missed the end of the All-Star Game.
However, I do remember a very peculiar dream.
I dreamed that while Lidge was making his preparations, I turned off the television and found the contest on the radio(apparently, my subconscious had had enough of the Fox broadcast team). The game unfolded for my ears and my mind's eye much like it had as a child trying to pick up distant broadcasts from my Houston bedroom. Oddly enough in my dream, Lidge had a 1-2-3 15th and Terry Francona was faced with his great dilemma. However, seemingly out of no where, Bud Selig showed up in the American League dugout and briefly spoke to Francona before proceeding to the home plate area. There he conferred with Derryl Cousins and made his way to the mound. Those at THE STADIUM were as stunned as I when the owner of the Brewers, I mean, the commissioner of baseball, made it clear that he was personally going to keep this game from ending in a dreaded tie("NO SISTER KISSING ON MY WATCH!"). From out of his pockets, Selig pulled a mitt and a vintage Seattle Pilots hat. Then, Cousins tossed a ball to the commissioner, who commenced warming up with the assistance of the new catcher, Drayton McClane, Jr.. Apparently, Mr. McClane doesn't have much of a bat, but he is great at handling pitchers. After the obligatory eight pitches, McClane made the toss down to second and Corey Hart, ironically of the Brewers, stepped in the box to lead off the 16th inning against the commissioner.
As Selig started his wind up, I was awakened by the intro music for our local FOX newscast, so I turned off the television and headed to bed.

Castro Starts for Valley Cats

Jason Castro had two hits in four at bats including an RBI double in his first professional start Thursday night at State College. Castro started at catcher and drove in Tri-City's third run of the game with a double the top of the third inning.

Express Stars Contribute to PCL victory

Mark Saccomanno, of Round Rock, drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning of the Pacific Coast League's 6-5 win in Wednesday night's AAA All-Star Game. Saccomanno and pitcher Josh Muecke both did their part in the game held in Louisville. Muecke pitched a perfect second inning with one strikeout. Saccomanno started and played the entire game at first base. He had two singles, scored a run in addition to driving in the go-ahead run.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Farmstros Five- Week 15

The cream in the Astros organization rose to the bottom this week as the Greeneville Astros went 6 and 1 to improve to 14 and 14(.5000 for the season) The club also grabbed four of the five Farmstros Five slots for the week. Round Rock was 2 and 5(44-54); Corpus was 3 and 3(8-16); Salem was 2-4(8-16); Lexington was 0 and 5(5-19); Tri-City was 2 and 4(10-17).

The Farmstros Five for the week of July 9-15:

Jarred Holloway, LHP, Tri-City. Holloway pitched five scoreless innings, allowing only two hits while striking out six.
Luis Cruz, LHP, Greeneville. Cruz also pitched five scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and striking out four.
Frank Almonte, OF, Greeneville. Almonte went 11 for 29 with three doubles, one triple, two home runs and 11 RBI.
Jose Altuve, IF, Greeneville. Altuve went 11 for 21 with three doubles, two triples, one home run and seven RBI.
Nate Pettus, RHP, Greeneville. Pettus made three appearances , allowed one hit and no runs in 5 1/3 innings. He picked up one win and two saves.

One Month Left to Sign Draft Picks

With the signing of Castro, the Astros have signed nine of their top 12 picks(10 rounds).
The deadline for signing is August 15.

The following nine have signed:
Castro(1)- 2.05 million
Lyles(1s)- 930,000
Austin(2)- 715,000
Steele(4)- 267,000
Duncan(5)- 165,000
Shuck(6)- 150,000
Gaston(7)- 150,000
Holloway(10)- 150,000

Doing the math, the nine players have received $4.127 Million in signing bonuses.

The three unsigned are high schoolers:

Transactions 7/9-15

Down to Round Rock from Houston
Chad Reineke, P(Reineke's first trip to the big leagues lasted one day)
Reggie Abercrombie, OF(Abercrombie was dropped from the 40-man roster)

Released from Houston
Oscar Villarreal, P

On Round Rock's Disabled List
Ryan Houston, P

Up to Round Rock from Corpus Christi
Val Majewski, OF

Released from Round Rock
Jackson Melian, OF

Up to Corpus Christi from Salem
Casey Hudspeth, P

Off of Corpus Christi Disabled List
Billy Hart, OF

On Corpus Christi Disabled List
Brad James, P

Off of Salem Disabled List
Chad Wagler, P

Made Active in Greeneville
Andrea Lucati, P(Lucati was signed out of Italy last off-season)

Finally, in case you missed it, first round pick, Jason Castro signed with the Astros. The catcher has begun play with Tri-City.

Saccomanno and Muecke in the Spotlight

Round Rock pitcher Josh Muecke and infielder Mark Saccomanno will represent the Express in tonight's AAA All-Star Game in Louisville, Kentucky. The game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN2.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Castro Debuts with an Intentional Walk

Astros first-round pick Jason Castro made his professional debut on Monday night with an intentional walk. Castro pinch-hit for Tri-City in the bottom of the eighth inning against Staten Island. Tri-City had a runner on third base with two outs and a 3-2 lead when Castro was given the free pass.

Castro headed for Tri-City

Over the weekend, the Astros announced that first-round pick catcher Jason Castro has signed and is scheduled to report to the Tri-City Valley Cats on Monday. There was no indication of when Castro will play his first game, but Tri City's game tonight at Joe Bruno Stadium against Staten Island is being broadcast at 7 o'clock Eastern Time on

Trinidad in the Futures' game

Corpus Christi left-hander Polin Trinidad pitched a scoreless second inning for the World team in yesterday's Futures' Game at Yankee Stadium. Trinidad, who was the only Astros representative at the game faced the minimum three batters. He struck out the lead-off hitter before allowing a single by Indians prospect Matt LaPorta(C.C. Sabbathia trade) which was deflected into left-field by the third baseman. He closed out the inning by inducing a 5-4-3 double play. Trinidad is slated to rejoin the Hooks in Midland and start Tuesday night against the Rock Hounds.

Six Latin Signings

July 2 marked the beginning of the period when teams can sign players from Latin America. A player who is 16 on July 2 can sign as long as he will be 17 when he begins playing. I read this to mean that the players sign will begin showing up on rosters next Spring. Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle that the Astros have signed six players so far this summer:

From the Dominican Republic
Darwin Rivera, 3B
Fredrick Piburcio, RHP
Fredwin Campusano, 2B

From Panama
Max Ayarsa, IF
Mario Gonzalez, 1B

From Colombia
Andru Sierra, IF

Friday, July 11, 2008

Saccomanno an All-Star

Round Rock infielder Mark Saccomanno has been named to the Pacific League All-Star Game as a replacement. He will join teammate Josh Muecke in Louisville on July 16 to face the International League in the AAA All-Star Game.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Big Switcheroo

When the Astros traded farmhand Ralph Henriquez(2nd Round Pick in 2005) to the Mets this past off-season, they probably had no idea how quickly he would be on the national baseball highlight shows. Yet here it is July and everybody's watching Henriquez as he... switches sides of the plate.

Henriquez, a switch-hitter, now plays for Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League. Early this season, Brooklyn was facing Staten Island whose bullpen includes Pat Venditte, a pitcher out of Creighton University, who happens to pitch with both hands. This is not some Veeckian promotion either. Venditte was a third-team All-American one year in college as a switch-pitcher. Anyway, with two outs in the ninth inning, Henriquez stepped into the right-handed box against a right-handed Venditte. The glove switched, so Henriquez moved, numerous times, before a lengthy conference ensued. After much discussion, a right-handed Venditte struck out a right-handed hitting Henriquez to seal the win for Staten Island.

I have included a video link to this ballgame in the video section under THE BIG SWITCHEROO.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Farmstros Five- Week 14

Another week has passed in the minor leagues. Once again only one team, Round Rock(4-2) was over .500 for the week of July 2-8. The Express improved to 42-49 for the season. Going down the ladder: Corpus was 1-5(5-13); Salem was 3-4(7-12); Lexington was 2-4(5-14); Tri-City was 2-4(8-13); Greeneville was 3-3(8-13). The Farmstros Five for the week includes one player each from five different teams(only Tri-City missed out):

Jacob Leonhardt, RHP, Lexington. Leonhardt pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed only four hits.
Henry Villar, RHP, Greeneville. Villar pitched six scoreless innings allowing only three hits.
Mark Saccomanno, IF, Round Rock. Saccomanno was 9 for 24 with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBI.
Jarred Ball, OF, Corpus Christi. Ball went 10 for 24 with one double, one triple and five RBI.
James Van Ostrand, 1B, Salem. Van Ostrand was 8 for 21 with three doubles, one triple, one home run and six RBI(Van Ostrand will be joining the Canadian Olympic team near the end of July).

July 2-8 Transactions

A quick recap of the moves this week in the Astros' system...

Up to Houston from Round Rock
Dave Borkowski, RHP
Chad Reineke, RHP(Reineke's first trip to the big leagues)
Chad Paronto, RHP

Down to Round Rock from Houston
Runelvys Hernandez, RHP
Reggie Abercrombie, OF

Designated by Astros(may end up in Round Rock)
Oscar Villarreal, RHP

Off of Round Rock's Disabled List
Jack Cassel, RHP

Signed by Round Rock
Micah Bowie, LHP

Off of Corpus Christi's Disabled List
Bud Norris, RHP

Down to Salem from Corpus(moved to Outfield from pitcher)
Brian Bogusevic, OF

Off of Salem's Disabled List
Nick Moresi, OF

Released by Salem
Travis Sweet, OF

Up to Lexington from Tri-City
Jacob Priday(Priday is the first 2008 selection to make it to Lexington)

One note: Kazuo Matsui is scheduled to return to the Astros today, meaning somebody has to move from the major league roster.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Book closes on Bogusevic as a pitcher

As Brian Bogusevic gets ready to start patrolling the outfields of the Carolina League, here's a quick look at his numbers as a pitcher since being drafted out of Tulane in 2005(my apologies for the awkward formatting:

Year Team IP H BB SO ERA W-L
2005 Tri-City 21 1/3 30 9 17 7.59 0-2
2006 Tri-City 11 10 5 6 4.09 0-0
Lexing. 70 1/3 76 24 60 4.73 2-5
2007 Salem 114 1/3 133 39 91 4.01 9-7
2008 Corpus 88 1/3 94 32 34 5.50 2-6

Curiously, Bogusevic's pitching records for this year at Corpus have already been deleted from the team's official website.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Norris Back, Bogusevic to Salem's Outfield

I usually try to limit transactions listings to once a week. However, in case you missed it, a few moves in Corpus Christi merit a mention early.

Bud Norris who was the sixth pick in 2006 and is arguably the top pitcher in the Astros system, returned from the disabled list. He pitched two scoreless innings in his return over the weekend.

To make room for Norris, Brian Bogusevic, the Astros first round pick in 2005, was demoted to Salem, and moved to the outfield. Bogusevic was an outfielder and pitcher at Tulane. Now, after four years pitching, it has been determined that he has more potential as a position player.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Muecke an All-Star

Round Rock left-hander Josh Muecke has been named to the Pacific League All-Star team for this month's AAA All-Star Game. Muecke was 6-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 99 2/3 innings entering his 18th start of the season tonight against Albuquerque. The Pacific League All-Stars will face the International Leaguers on July 16, the day after the Major League All-Star Game in Louisville.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Farmstros Five- Week 13

It was another rough week for the Astros' farm teams as only Round Rock at 4-2 was over .500. The Express improved to 38-47. Corpus Christi was 3-3(4-8); Salem was 2-4(4-8); Lexington was 2-5(3-10); Tri-City was 3-4(6-9); Greeneville was 2-5(5-10).

For the week of June 25-July 1 the Farmstros Five are:

Kyle Middleton, RHP, Round Rock. Middleton made two appearances, including one start. He pitched 7 and 2/3 scoreless innings allowing no runs and striking out nine.
Brian Bogusevic, LHP, Corpus Christi. Bogusevic pitched six scoreless innings in his start allowing only three hits.
Chris Johnson, 3B, Corpus Christi. Johnson was 8 for 20 with two doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI.
Brian Pellegrini, OF, Lexington. Pellegrini was 8 for 26 with five home runs and eight RBI.
Luis Cruz, LHP, Greeneville. The recent draftee had two starts, pitching seven scoreless innings allowing only four hits.

Transactions 6/25-7/1

The Astros system was full of movement this week:

Up to Houston
J. R. Towles, C to replace the injured Humberton Quintero
Runelvys Hernandez, RHP to replace Shawn Chacon

Up to Round Rock
Lou Santangelo, C to replace J.R. Towles

New to Round Rock
Jackson Melian, OF

Up to Corpus Christi
James Goethals, C to replace Santangelo(Goethals started the week as Round Rock's bullpen catcher. He was sent down to Salem to begin the week.)

New to Corpus Christi
Jarred Ball, OF
Andy Van Hekken, LHP

Disabled in Corpus Christi
Mitch Einertson, OF

Released from Salem
Justin Tellam, C

Disabled in Salem
Chad Wagler, RHP

Off Lexington's Disabled List
Reid Kelly, RHP

Down from Lexington
Roni Ramirez, IF to Tri-City

Down from Tri-City
Ebert Rosario to Greeneville

New to Greeneville
Pat Urckfitz, LHP non-drafted free agent from Monroe Community College(JUCO)

Disabled in Greeneville
Chris Turner, OF

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hooks BB/K numbers

Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice was raving on and on about the pitchers in Corpus today and their Walk to strikeout ratios. I was curious so I took another look. Four of the Hooks have ratios of more than 3 to 1.

Sammy Gervacio, 44 1/3 IP, 17 BB, 53 Ks
Christopher Blazek, 43 2/3 IP, 15 BB, 58 Ks
Bud Norris, 37 1/3 IP, 14 BB, 44 Ks(Currently Disabled)
Polin Trinidad, 33 2/3 IP, 6 BB, 18 Ks