WILL ANYTHING GOOD COME FROM LAST SEASON'S CLASS A TEAMS?
The weakness of the Astros farm system was most noticeable in Class A last year. Salem(High A) was 8th best of eight teams in the Carolina League, Lexington(Low A) had the worst record in the 16 team South Atlantic League, and short-season A Tri-City was 13th out of 14 teams in the New York-Penn League. Despite the lack of team success in 2008, there are some prospects from those levels who merit keeping an eye on in 2009. Following is a quick look at 10 of those players. Please note that several 2008 draft picks made an impression during 2008 at Class A(especially at Tri-City), these 2008 draft picks will be addressed in tommorow's question #8.
Most Likely starting out at Corpus Christi:
Doug Arguello, LHP, 24. Arguello had a break out season at Salem last year. He pitched 142 innings with a 3.30 ERA. It was his most successful pro season. If it wasn't a fluke, Corpus should have a strong left arm this year.
Jimmy Van Ostrand, OF, 24. Van Ostrand struggled in a brief call-up to AA last season. However, the Canadian Olympian hit .292 with 64 RBI at Salem in 97 games.
Mark Ori, 1B, 25. Ori was the top hitter for Salem in 2008. He batted .304 with 89 RBI. He led the Carolina League with 151 hits.
Jhon Florentino, IF, 25. Florentino received mention for his glove and arm at third base last season. He also batted .290 with 48 RBI and 14 SB.
Bryan Hallberg, P, 23. Hallberg missed a few days early last season, when his wife gave birth to their first child. After that, Papa Hallberg pitched 81 innings out of the Salem bullpen with a 2.68 ERA.
Most Likely starting the season in Lancaster:
Collin DeLome, OF, 23. DeLome, the highest signed pick of the 2007 draft, split 2008 between Lexington and Salem. He hit .261 with with 12 home runs in 61 games at Lexington before moving up to Salem, where he struggled at the plate(.232 in 68 games).
Fernando Abad, P, 23. Abad posted a 3.30 Era in 45 relief appearances(76 IP) for Lexington. He also struck out 94 while walking only 13.
Leandro Cespedes, P, 21. Cespedes was Lexington's opening day starter. He went on to make 27 starts and pitch 130 innings. He had 137 strikeouts and a 4.02 ERA.
J. J. Pacella, P, 25. Pacella was signed out of Independent baseball prior to last season. He ended the season as Lexington's closer. He had 12 saves and, 73 strikeouts and a 3.02 ERA in 60 innings.
Most Likely Starting at Lexington:
Kyle Greenwalt, P, 20. Greenwalt, a 2008 draft pick spent most of the season at Greeneville. made 13 starts there, posting a 3.14 ERA in 72 innings. He made two appearances at Tri-City at the end of the season.