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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chris Wallace Goes Viral

It may be about time for Houston catching prospect Chris Wallace to meet the Astros Social Media Director Alyson Footer. He is a social media phenomena after all. Last weekend, I posted a poll asking Farmstros readers who they would like to see at this weekend's Minor League MVP event. I included Chris Wallace in the poll who was drafted this summer in part because of his performance at Greeneville and Tri-City, but also because he is a product of the University of Houston and I thought the local tie-in might create some interest.

On Monday morning, I called out Cougar fans via Twitter to vote for Wallace, and did they ever. By the time the poll wrapped up Wednesday night, Wallace had run away (to Florida?) from all the other candidates. A total of 456 people cast votes and Wallace was selected 405 times. Unfortunately, Wallace is in Florida for the club's Fall Instructional League, so he won't be able to make it to the event Saturday. However, the next two vote getters in the poll, J.D. Martinez (27) and Jordan Lyles (26) are scheduled to be at Minute Maid Park Saturday.

Remember if you buy tickets to the Minor League MVP event and tell Richard Tapia in the Astros ticket office (713-259-8303) that Farmstros sent you, I will give you a home made customized Farmstros magnet at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

The Man Behind Martinez

J.D. Martinez has been named the #17 Prospect in the South Atlantic League for the 2010 season by Baseball America.

Back in August, Astros County posted an interview with Greg Brown. Brown was Martinez's college coach.

You can see J.D. Martinez Saturday at Minute Maid Park as part of the Astros' Minor League MVP Event. Remember if you buy tickets to this event and tell Richard Tapia in the Astros' ticket office (713-259-8303) that Farmstros sent you, I will give you a home made customized Farmstros magnet at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Farmstros Readers Thought about Jordan Lyles in 2010

The Astros have named Jordan Lyles their minor league pitcher of the year for 2010. Farmstros readers selected Lyles for numerous awards this season as well. He was the pre-season and post-season pitcher of the year according to Farmstros readers. In addition, he was selected the Farmstros player of the month for April and June.

You can see Jordan Lyles this Saturday at Minute Maid Park as part of the Astros Minor League MVP event. If you buy tickets to this event and tell Richard Tapia in the Astros ticket office (713-259-8303) that Farmstros sent you, I will give you a home made, customized Farmstros magnet at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

What Farmstros Readers Had to Say about J.D. Martinez

Now, that J.D. Martinez has been named the Astros' minor league player of the year, let's take a look at what Farmstros readers had to say about him throughout the year. Martinez was selected by readers of this blog as the organizational player of the month twice, in May when he was in Lexington and again for his performance in AA Corpus Christi in August/September. Further, Martinez was picked as the Farmstros Player of the Year by a landslide vote. He was third in the pre-season player of the year voting behind Jio Mier and Jason Castro.

See video of J.D. Martinez on West Virginia television.

You can see J.D. Martinez this Saturday at Minute Maid Park as part of the Astros Minor League MVP event. If you buy a ticket for this event and tell Richard Tapia at 713-259-8303 that Farmstros sent you, I will give you a home made customized Farmstros magnet at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lyles, Martinez to be at Minute Maid Park Saturday

Jordan Lyles and J.D. Martinez have been named the Astros' minor league pithcer and player of the year respectively. (Lyles and Martinez were also voted to these same honors by readers of Farmstros earlier this month.) The duo will be honored at a special ceremony prior to Saturday's game against the Cubs at 6:05 p.m. This event is part of the Astros Minor League MVP event which has been mentioned here previously. Remember if you buy a ticket to this event and tell Richard Tapia at 713-259-8303 that Farmstros sent you, I will give you a homemade Farmstros magnet Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

Omar Lopez who managed the GCL Astros this season will also be honored as Houston's Player Development Man of the Year.

Jordan Lyles Ball

Many thanks to AppyAstros for forwarding this picture. Back in August, AppyAstros won a trivia contest through Farmstros. This ball signed by Jordan Lyles was the prize. Big thanks to Jordan for being willing to help out Farmstros.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Meet Some Farmstros at Minute Maid Park on October 2

As I have mentioned here previously, the Astros are hosting a Minor League MVP Night on October 2 in conjunction with the Astros/Cubs game, which is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

The team is making a special offer to "Round Rock and Corpus Christi fans". You can read this offer at the above link. A special offer to Farmstros readers: if you buy a ticket and tell the Astros' Richard Tapia (713-259-8303) that Farmstros sent you, I will give you a home-made Farmstros magnet commemorating the event.

For $30 fans of the Astros of the Future will receive a Field Box seat (regularly $39), a $10 food/beverage voucher, and a chance to win a trip to 2011 Spring Training. In addition, fans will be able to attend a free autograph session with Minor League MVPs.

If you have more questions about this event, please contact Richard Tapia in the Astros ticket office (713-259-8303). Remember to tell him that Farmstros sent you so you can get your free magnet.

2011 Draft Positioning Update

Heading into the final week of the season, Houston has the 10th worst record in baseball. Depending on how the last six games of the season go, the club could draft anywhere from ninth to 13th in next summer's draft.

The standings:

#9- Brewers- 73-82- ----
#10- Astros- 74-82- 1/2
#11- Dodgers-75-81- 1 1/2
#12- Angels- 75-80- 2
#13- Mets- 76-79- 3

NOTE: Thanks to Lee Street (see his comment) for pointing out that the tenth worst record will only gain the #12 pick in 2011.

Velasquez has Tommy John surgery

Vincent Velasquez, who was the #11 rated prospect in the Appalachian League, had Tommy John surgery last week and will miss a large portion of 2011. I first read about this at AppyAstros.


THE QUEST FOR 3000 SYLLABLES, a haiku chronicle of Houston's minor league season is now available for purchase. THE QUEST includes all 177 haiku tweeted over the regular season. In addition, I have included one haiku for each of Tri-City's play-off games and an index so you can find specific players or events quickly. There is a special #5 and #7 poem about two former Astro greats and some additional baseball poetry. Topping it off is a foreword from Zachary Levine, which includes an original haiku from The Scorer, himself.

The book, published through lulu, costs $9.50 (not including shipping costs) as an 8 x 11 paperback. An immediate digital download is available for $3.50.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Red Hawks to Open 2011 in Tennessee

The Astros new AAA affiliate will open the 2011 season with eight games in Tennessee. According to Ryan Aber's Power Allie Blog, the Oklahoma City Red Hawks will open with four games in Memphis (April 7-10) followed by four games in Nashville (April 11-14) before returning to Bricktown Ballpark.

As mentioned previously here, the Red Hawks will visit Dell Diamond twice in 2011. (April 23-26 and June 25-28).

A speical note to Lee Street: The closest the Red Hawks will be to Portland next season is North County, California where they will take on the Padres AAA club August 7-10.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

August/September Farm Report

In case you missed it, here is the final farm report I wrote for Astros Daily.

Jordan Lyles is the Farmstros Pitcher of the Year

In a vote that went down to the wire Monday night, Jordan Lyles was selected the Farmstros Pitcher of the Year by readers of this blog. Lyles received 17 of 42 votes in the poll. The 19 year-old right-hander started the season in Corpus Christi and posted a 3.12 ERA in 127 IP for the Hooks. He struck out 115 batters in AA. He was called up to Round Rock late in the season and posted a 5.40 ERA in six AAA starts.

Left-handed reliever Garrett Bullock was the runner-up in the poll with 14 votes. Bullock spent most of the season with Greeneville where he struck out 40 batters in 43 IP. He had a 1.26 ERA in 21 appearances. Bullock was promoted to Tri-City for the final week of the season and the play-offs, however, he did not get into a game for the Valley Cats.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello, Oklahoma City

Zach Levine reports that Houston and Oklahoma City have signed a 2-year Player Development Agreement. The above song was written to welcome the Red Hawks to the Farmstros neighborhood.

For those of you who follow the Astros of the Future from Central Texas, Oklahoma City will be visiting Round Rock from April 23-26 and June 25-28 in 2011.

Welcome Oklahoma City, Red Hawks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oklahoma May be Okay for Astros

Now that Round Rock has officially become a Rangers affiliate, Brian McTaggart reports that the Astros are seriously considering Oklahoma City as their new AAA home. Zach Levine reported on this too. As for Farmstros, we've got a song to welcome the Red Hawks all ready to roll out when it is appropriate.

J.D. Martinez Runs Away with Farmstros Player of the Year Award

Outfielder J.D. Martinez received 23 of 36 votes from readers of Farmstros to win the Farmstros Player of the Year Award. Martinez, who was the Farmstros Player of the Month twice this season, started the year in Lexington. In 88 games for Lexington, he won the South Atlantic League batting title with a .362 average. He also had 31 doubles, 15 home runs and 64 RBI. Although being promoted to Corpus Christi after 88 games, he was still named the South Atlantic League MVP for his perfrormance as a Legend. Martinez wasn't quite as dominant in 50 games for the Hooks, but he batted .302 with nine doubles and 25 RBI as he continued his rapid ascent through the Astros' organization.

Outfielder J.B. Shuck who split the season between Corpus Christi was the runner-up in the voting with seven votes.

Voting for the Farmstros Pitcher of the Year will begin Friday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lyles Won't be a Sound

Nashville and Milwaukee extended their Player Development Contract today, meaning the Astros have one less option for their AAA home in 2011. Oklahoma City, Pawtucket, Las Vegas, North California (formerly Portland), and Sacramento are still available.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Valley Cats are NYPL Champions!

Carlos Quevedo allowed one run over seven innings to lead the Tri-City Valley Cats to a 5-1 victory over Brooklyn Tuesday night. The win gives Tri-City the New York-Penn League Championship. They swept Brooklyn 2-0 in the championship series.

Send Farmstros to the Minor League MVP Ceremony

Note: My hat is in my hand as I type this

The Astros have announced that they will be honoring the MVPs of their minor league affiliates prior to the October 2 game at Minute Maid Park. I have been making every effort to get to that event, since I live about 10 miles from Minute Maid Park and I follow the Astros of the Future. However, Farmstros is a low-budget venture and I have spent all my funds on magnets and bribes to get Lee Street a press pass in Portland. All my attempts to get free access to this event through the Astros offices have been thwarted. I even wrote directly to Mr. McClane to request a POET's PASS to the event, but have not received a reply as of today.

So now, I turn to you my readers...

Here's is what I would like to do at the event:

I would like to go, take pictures, and attend the pre-game autograph party the Astros are holding in conjunction with the event. My hope is that doing this will inspire me to write a poem to wrap up the 2010 season. In addition, I'd love the chance to meet Jordan Lyles. Of course, I will share the entire adventure with you my readers.

Here is what I need:

I need to take my family to this event:

I will soak in the atmosphere, take notes and maybe even sernade a few players.

My wife is much better with a camera than I, so she would serve as photographer.

My son will serve as the interpreter so I can talk to Francisco Baso and Jose Perdomo.

My daughter will get insights from the Express and Hooks mascots who are slated to be at the event.

I have enough left in my budget to cover parking. This means I need $120 to cover this event. The Astros are offering tickets to the game and access to the autograph party for $30 a person.

Please contact me via email if you are willing to help out with this project

Thank You for your consideration

Astros' AAA homeless Twice Over?

While the Round Rock Express prepare to officially sever ties with Houston on Thursday, word out of Nashville (one of the more likely landing spots for Houston's AAA affiliate) is that the Sounds are trying to get a new stadium. The Sounds current stadium Greer Stadium was built in 1978. With Omaha getting a new stadium and Portland moving in 2011, Nashville will have the second oldest facility in the Pacific Coast League.

"Historic" Announcement at Dell Diamond Thursday

The Round Rock Express will be making a "historic" announcement on Thursday at noon at Dell Diamond. According to an email the team is sending out, Nolan Ryan, the new owner of the Texas Rangers and Reid Ryan will be at the event. Not surprisingly after this announcement, the Astros' AAA players will be officially homeless.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

J.D. Martinez Farmstros' August/September Player of the Month

Corpus Christi outfielder J.D. Martinez was voted the Farmstros' Player of the Month for the final month plus of the 2010 season. Martinez received seven out of a total 18 votes. Ben Heath received four votes, Jake Goebbert was selected three times.

Voting for the Farmstros Player of the Year will begin Monday.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Valley Cats One Win away from NYPL Championship

Tri-City scored four runs in the third inning, and three pitchers combined to allow one hit and no runs over the games final 8 2/3 innings as the Valley Cats knocked off Brooklyn 5-2 in Game 1 of the New York Penn League Championship Saturday night. Tri-City and Brooklyn head to Brooklyn for games 2 and 3 (if necessary) on Sunday and Monday. The Saturday night victory was the final game of the season at Tri-City's Joe Bruno Stadium.

Winning Five Games in a Row

Friday, September 10, 2010

Astros County interviews Brandon Barnes

In case you missed it, Astros County has posted an interview with Brandon Barnes, who spent most the 2010 season in Lancaster.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Valley Cats Advance to NYPL Championship Series

Jake Buchanan allowed only three hits over seven scoreless innings and Adam Bailey doubled home Tyler Burnett with the game's only run in the 4th inning as Tri-City knocked off Batavia to advance to the New York-Penn League Championship Series. The Valley Cats defeated the Muckdogs 2 games to 1 and will now face Brooklyn in the best of the three finale. That series begins Saturday night at Troy, New York. Games 2 and 3 are scheduled for Brooklyn Sunday and Monday.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Valley Cats' 9th Inning Rally Falls Short; Rubber Game tomorrow

Tri-City Pinch-runner Jacke Healey, carrying the game-tying run, was thrown out at the plate to end Game 2 of the Valley Cats Best of Three Series with Batavia. By staving off defeat and scoring a 5-4 victory, the Muckdogs force a third and deciding game in the series tomorrow night at Batavia.

2010 Farmstros Five, Week 22

Now that all the voting is done, here is the Farmstros Five for Week 22:

Day 1- Austin Wates, OF, Tri-City; Ben Heath, C, Corpus Christi (Tie)
Day 2- Jose Altuve, IF, Lancaster
Day 3- Ben Heath, C, Corpus Christi
Day 4- Jake Goebbert, OF, Lexington
Day 5- J.D. Martinez, OF, Corpus Christi

Thanks to everyone who participated in the season's final Farmstros Five!


September 8-11, Voting for August/September Player of the Month(polls close at midnight)
September 13- 15, Farmstros Player of the Year Voting (polls close at midnight)
September 17- 20, Farmstros Pitcher of the Year Voting (polls close at midnight)
September 22, THE QUEST FOR 3000 SYLLABLES (book version) available

October 2, Astros Minor League MVP Ceremony at Minute Maid Park

Crawfish Boxes thinks these 30 have a Future

The Crawfish Boxes has posted their list of the top 30 prospects in the organization.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Adamson's Walk-off Homer Gives Valley Cats Game 1 Win

Tri-City's Daniel Adamson hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Valley Cats a 10-9 walk-off victory over Batavia in Game 1 of their best of three New York-Penn League semi-final series. The series continues tomorrow in Batavia.

THE QUEST is complete

Lancaster JetHawks
Lose the season's final game
THE QUEST is complete

I tweeted the above at the conclusion of last night's Lancaster game. This haiku completed THE QUEST FOR 3000 SYLLABLES. Many thanks to those of you who followed this attempt to chronicle the minor league season in the haiku format.

Over the next few weeks, I will be converting THE QUEST into book form. The finished product will be availble for purchase. Details coming soon.

2010 Farmstros Five- Week 22, Day 5

Here are the top performers in the organization for games of September 6 (please vote above):

Luis Cruz, 19, LHP, Lexington. Cruz pitched six scoreless innings allowing only hit before running out of steam in the 7th. He faced four batters without recording an out in that frame. He ended the night with eight strikeouts, two hits and three runs allowed. He also picked up the final win of the season for the organization.

J.D. Martinez, 23, OF, Corpus Christi. Martinez went 2 for 3 with a double to end his time at AA with a batting average over .300. He also won the South Atlantic League batting title for his time with Lexington.

Renzo Tello, 23, OF, Lexington. Tello went 3 for 3 with two doubles and three runs scored.

Farmstros Five- Week 22
Day 1- Austin Wates, OF, Tri-City; Ben Heath, C, Corpus Christi
Day 2- Jose Altuve, IF, Lancaster
Day 3- Ben Heath, C, Corpus Christi
Day 4- Jake Goebbert, OF, Lexington

Valley Cats vs. Muckdogs, The Play-offs Begin Today

For the first time since 2007, an Astros' affiliate will play a post-season game tonight. Tri-City hosts Batavia in Game 1 of the New York-Penn League play-offs at 6 p.m. Houston time. The best of three first round series continues Wednesday and Thursday (if necessary) at 6:05 in Batavia.

Lyles, Shuck, Martinez to Play at Herschel Greer Stadium in 2011?

Thanks to Astros County who found and posted this article from the Austin American-Statesman. The article is mostly about the end of the Round Rock connection with Houston. However, the final paragraph from Avery Holton indicates that the Astros are expected to sign a Player Development Contract with Nashville. I have no doubt that Astros County and Subber10 (both are based in Nashville) are excited about this development. I am based in Houston, but taking a family trip to Nashville would be an easier sell than Oklahoma City, so I am all for the Music City as well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

2010 Farmstros Five- Week 22, Day 4

Here are the top performers in the organization for September 5 (Please vote above):

Adam Bailey, 22, OF, Tri-City. Bailey went 2 for 2 with one run, one triple, one walk and two RBI on the day the Valley Cats clinched a play-off spot.

Lee Cruz, 27, OF, Lancaster. Cruz was 4 for 6 with two runs scored, one double, one home run and one RBI.

Jake Goebbert, 22, OF, Lexington. Goebbert went 3 for 4 with two doubles, two RBI, one walk and one stolen base. He enters today's final game with a Legends' franchise-record 97 RBI on the season.

Kody Hinze, 23, IF, Lexington. Hinze went 2 for 4 with two RBI and a base on balls. With one game left in the season, Hinze's 96 RBI are tied for the second-most in Lexington's 10-year franchise history.

Brian Pellegrini, 25, OF, Lancaster. Pellegrini went 3 for 6 with two runs, one home run and three RBI.

Farmstros Five, Week 22:
Day 1- Austin Wates, OF, Tri-City; Ben Heath, C, Corpus Christi (Tie)
Day 2- Jose Altuve, IF, Lancaster
Day 3- Ben Heath, C, Corpus Christi

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Valley Cats Win the Pennant!

The Aberdeen Iron Birds scored three runs in the bottom of the 13th inning Sunday knocking off Connecticut and securing the Stedler Division title for the Tri-City Valley Cats. The Valley Cats become the first Astros' affiliate in the play-offs since 2007. Tri-City begins their play-off run with a home game against Batavia Tuesday night.

2010 Farmstros Five- Week 22, Day 3

Here are the top performers in the organization for games of September 4 (Please vote above):

Jose Altuve, 20, IF, Lancaster. The Day two winner, Altuve is in again with a 3 for 5 game. He had one home run, four RBI and two runs scored.

Adam Bailey, 22, OF, Tri-City. Bailey went 3 for 5 with one double, two RBI and one run scored. He batted in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth as the Valley Cats won and now need one more victory to clinch the Stedler Division.

Jose Cisnero, 21, RHP, Lexington. Cisnero threw six scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and struck out three.

Ben Heath, 21, C, Corpus Christi. Heath was a co-winner on Day 1 of this week. He went 3 for 4 again with one double and two RBI. He is 6 for 8 with 4 RBI in two AA starts.

Bryce Lane, 21, OF, Lancaster. Lane was 3 for 4 with two doubles, one RBI and two runs scored.

Andy Van Hekken, 31, LHP, Round Rock. Van Hekken gave up one run in eight innings. He allowed six hits and struck out six.

Farmstros Five- Week 22

Day 1- Austin Wates, OF, Tri-City/ Ben Heath, C, Corpus Christi (Tie)
Day 2- Jose Altuve, IF, Lancaster

Lyles and Shuck's Dreams

Video of Jordan Lyles and J.B. Shuck discussing their dreams is available on the Round Rock website.

Minor League MVPs to Be at Minute Maid Park

The Astros will be honoring the MVPs of their minor league affiliates prior to a game at Minute Maid Park on October 2 at 6:05 p.m. The team has announced a special ticket offer for "fans of the Round Rock Express and the Corpus Christi Hooks." for the event.

For $30, Followers of the Astros of the Future will receive a field box ticket for the game against the Cubs as well as a $10 food voucher. In addition, the promotion includes an autograph party with the MVPs and a chance to win a trip to the Astros' 2011 Spring Training in Florida.

Only nine games to Go

With less than 48 hours remaining in the 2010 minor league regular season, Followers of the Astros of the Future have much to keep an eye on:

The Tri-City Valley Cats need a win or a Connecticut loss Sunday to make the New York-Penn League Play-offs. They would become the first Astros farm team to make the play-offs since 2007.

Jordan Lyles makes his final start of the season in AAA Sunday. It will also be his final start in a Round Rock uniform. As Round Rock ends its stint as the Astros' AAA affiliate Monday afternoon.

Farmstros readers will have a chance to vote on the final three honorees of Farmstros Five- Week 22, You Make the Call

Ben Heath will continue his attempt to terrorize Texas League pitchers. Heath is 6 for 8 with four RBI since being called up from Lexington.

THE QUEST FOR 3000 SYLLABLES will reach its destination Monday night. THE Twitter-based QUEST will conclude at or near the end of Lancaster's game Monday night (the final game of the regular season). The game starts at 7 p.m. Houston time. Please join Farmstros at as we wrap up the 2010 season.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Farmstros Five Week 22- Day 2

Here are the top performers in the organization for games of September 3 (alphabetical order):

Jose Altuve, 20, IF, Lancaster. Altuve was 2 for 5 with a solo home run.

Dallas Keuchel, 22, LHP, Corpus Christi. Keuchel allowed five hits and two runs in eight innings pitched. He also struck out six in his last start of the season.

Shane Loux, 30, RHP, Round Rock. Loux pitched a nine-inning complete game shutout. He allowed five hits and struck out six.

Juan Minaya, 19, RHP, Lexington. Minaya allowed four hits and one run while striking out seven over eight IP.

Farmstros Five- Week 22

Day 1- Austin Wates, Tri-City and Ben Heath, Corpus Christi (Tie)

Valley Cats 1/2 game out with Two to Play

Tri-City is 1/2 game behind Connecticut in the Stedler Division with two games remaining in the New York-Penn League season. The two clubs are battling for a spot in the play-offs and a chance to face Batavia in the first round. Connecticut (38-35) plays at Aberdeen Saturday and Sunday, while Tri-City (37-35) is scheduled to be in Brooklyn for a pair of games. Due to rain outs, Tri-City will end the season with one less game than Connecticut.

Friday, September 3, 2010

StreetJL Interviews Jordan Lyles- Part II

To give you some context regarding my interview with Jordan Lyles, Lyles had completed his second Triple-A start three days earlier. The start was in Tacoma, and Lyles was roughed up by a Raniers’ lineup that included a number of notable hitters such as Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak. In this continuation of part one of my August 19, 2010 interview with Jordan Lyles we move from discussing general information about the Astros prospect into discussing pitching with him. I trust y’all will enjoy!

Q: [What are the primary] differences between pitching in Double-A and pitching in Triple-A?

Lyles: [At] each level your mistakes get hit a little more often than at the previous level. A lot of guys are older here [and some] have had time [in the majors]. They have a pretty good mindset of what they are trying to do at the plate, so I just have to be more consistent. For me, I think, it comes down to just fastball command. [My first Triple-A] start wasn’t too bad, but [in my Tacoma start] I didn’t really feel comfortable out there throwing strikes and throwing quality pitches with my fastball. But besides that, I feel like if I make my pitches I’ll be fine.

Q: …We talked a little about what went wrong for you in [the Tacoma] start, but what [do you feel] went right for you in the last couple [of starts]? Where are the progressions that you’re feeling good about?

Lyles: The first two starts I just wanted to come out here and not try to change anything about me myself. [I wanted to] continue to put up starts like I did in Double-A. Not try to go outside of myself and act like a different person. First start, I left a couple of balls over the plate and I gave up a couple of home runs. A fastball over the middle and then a first-pitch change-up that I left up over [the plate] to an experienced hitter, and he made me pay... But my last start I just … wasn’t comfortable out there, I didn’t throw good strikes. They made me pay for it. They made me attack them, which I wasn’t able to do that night.

Q: What changes are you going to need to make to step up to the next level? I mean, you’re at the penultimate level in professional baseball, Triple-A, and the goal is obviously to get to the majors. I know you want to, and you are focused currently working on Triple-A, but what are the things you really want to see yourself do differently to hopefully go to the next level?

Lyles: The first thing that comes to mind is just to make all of my pitches more consistent. I don’t need to go out and change anything, try put any more pitches into my repertoire or anything like that, just refine the pitches that I have and try to make them better, more consistent, attack the lower half of the zone and I think I’ll be fine.

Q: You throw a fastball, curveball, cutter, and change-up. What do you consider your strong and your weak [pitches]?

Lyles: It starts off with my fastball. With any pitcher, I believe that fastball command is the most important thing. You can pitch with a fastball and not have your other offspeed [pitches], but it is really hard to pitch with the offspeed [pitches] and not have your fastball. So I believe the fastball is first. That is my strong point most nights. Behind that, my change-up is usually there. Then I’d probably go to my cutter and then my curveball. The curveball has been inconsistent, but my last couple of starts I’ve decided to establish that more often. I’ve really made a couple of strides these last couple of starts with the curveball. Hopefully in the next couple of starts I can put all my pitches together and help our team try to get a win. [Hopefully] I can be more consistent and start getting off to another good start. Had a little bump right here, but I’ll put it back home.

Q: [U]nlike a lot of minor league pitchers, and even some major league pitchers, you work high-low, in-out, with your fastball and don’t seem to have any hesitancy to throw inside. Have you always been able to throw inside or is that just something you’d been working at in Lexington and [at the other minor league teams that you’ve played on].

Lyles: In high school and in my first year of rookie ball in Greeneville, Tennessee in the Appalachian League I mainly just stayed away. But maybe half way through the season last year in Low-A me and [pitching coach] Travis Driskill, we kind of sat down and talked about it and it made me realize that I need to go inside [to keep] hitters from diving over the plate and getting their arms extended. So I went inside last year, and this year I’ve done a pretty good job of establishing both parts of the plate. It just makes all of the other pitches better if you can establish both sides of the plate.

Again many thanks to Jordan Lyles for taking the opportunity to speak with me for this interview. I know Farmstros readers are excited about the prospect of Lyles taking the mound at Minute Maid Park (sooner, rather than later). –Lee Street

Farmstros Five Week 22- Day 1

Here are the top performers from the system for games of September 2 (In alphabetical order):

David Berner, 23, LHP, Lancaster. Berner pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief for the JetHawks. He allowed one hit and struck out four.

Ben Heath, 21, C, Corpus Christi. In his first AA start after being promoted from Lexington, Heath went 3 for 4 with two RBI. He delivered with a two-out hit in the bottom of the 11th inning; however, the potential game-winning run was thrown out at the plate. Heath also had a walk and a sacrifice hit.

Mark Ori, 26, IF, Lancaster. Ori was 2 for 3 with a three-run home run. He also had a base on balls.

Jimmy Paredes, 21, IF, Lexington. Paredes was 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBI. He also had two walks and a stolen base.

Carlos Quevedo, 20, RHP, Tri-City. Quevedo pitched six scoreless innings for the pennant-chasing Valley Cats. He allowed five hits and one walk while striking out four and picking up a win.

Austin Wates, 22, OF, Tri-City. Wates celebrated his birthday by going 3 for 3 with a triple and 1 RBI. He also walked, stole two bases and scored a run in the Valley Cats 3-1 victory.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

StreetJL Interviews Jordan Lyles- Part I

Farmstros Five honoree StreetJL has filed Part I of his interview with Jordan Lyles:

Jordan Lyles was drafted by the Astros with the 38th overall pick (first supplemental round) of the 2008 draft. He was the second pick made under Bobby Heck and Ed Wade as members of the Astros front office. Widely considered to be an overdraft at the time, Lyles has done nothing but make folks eat their words since.

Lyles began his pro career playing rookie ball with Greeneville in the Appalachian League and was promoted to Short Season-A ball with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the New York-Penn League at the end of the season. He played his first full season of professional ball in Low-A as a member of the Lexington Legends in the South Atlantic League. In his second full season of professional ball, Lyles skipped High-A ball and began the season in the Texas League with the Corpus Christi Hooks. He was 19, and one of the youngest players in the league. Despite his age and quick progression through the minor leagues, Lyles was dominant in Double-A (as he had been in Lexington the year prior). As a result, he earned a promotion to the Triple-A Round Rock Express of the Pacific Coast League. Think about this for a moment: less than a year ago, Lyles was an 18 year old pitching in Low-A ball now he is pitching in Triple-A. In a word: ‘amazing.’

I was impressed with Jordan Lyles in his interview. It reminded me a lot of the way he operates on the mound: composed and workmanlike. Lest you misunderstand, both are good things. I spent north of ten minutes speaking with Lyles, and have broken his interview up into two parts. Today post is includes general information about Lyles. Friday’s post will speak more to his pitching, and will include comments from pitching coach Burt Hooton. And with that, I bring you part one of my interview with Jordan Lyles from August 19, 2010.

Q: Not may people have had the chance to experience what you have so far at still a young age. Can you tell the people out there how you deal with success and failure as a minor league player?

Lyles: I grew up playing baseball [and other sports] year around…, so competing always came easy to me. It’s what I love to do. [I grew up with four brothers] and was always competing with them, so I had my success and failures... I’ve had a pretty good opportunity to come through the system with the Astros pretty quickly. I’m very grateful for the opportunities that Ricky Bennett and Ed Wade have given me so far and am going to try to make the best of it.

Q: You bring up a good point there. The Astros have been proactive about promoting young players like you and Shuck through the system… That has to be exciting for a minor league player knowing that you can get through the system as quickly as you have. Do you agree?

Lyles: Yeah, exactly. I think another good, positive thing that comes out of that is other guys getting into the organization a little bit after us they look and me and Shuck and see that these guys did it, so it kind of makes them prepare, try to work harder, and try to follow in our footsteps and move up as quickly as they can.

Q: [It] has been real exciting for Astros fans, especially those of us that follow the minors, to see that in an organization, and to see that from you. I mean, you are 19 years old, pitching in Triple-A, it has to be exciting.

Lyles: Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. The ballparks and the travel is a little bit different. The guys are older. It’s the next step to the big leagues. You find a lot of great talent here. A lot of guys have seen time in the big leagues. It’s a little bit tougher than Double-A, but we’re holding our own and hopefully we can continue to be a little bit better, more consistent, and try to get to the big leagues.

Q: A little over two years ago you were [graduating high school] and signing a contract on the same day. Did you ever in your wildest dreams envision being in Triple-A two years later?

Lyles: No, it’s pretty mind blowing to be [in Triple-A after being] drafted, out of high school…, two years ago. I remember talking to my agent the other day [and commenting that] I was in a Low-A clubhouse [last year] watching the Little League World Series, and I saw it on TV in Round Rock the other night. I thought that was pretty cool, going from Low-A to Triple-A in just the matter of a year.

Q: [S]peaking of ‘World Series,’ the College World series recently saw your old commit [the South Carolina Gamecocks win it all]. Did you have a chance to watch it at all?

Lyles: I was in Midland, Texas for the [Double-A] All-Star game, me and a guy that works for my agent, we were hanging in the hotel watching the game. We’re very proud of the guys. I know a couple of the guys - we work out and stuff like that together - I grew up playing against them, playing high school ball. Just a great point for our state, something we can be proud of [as they] continue to play some good ball there in South Carolina.

2010 Farmstros Five- Week 21

This is the final traditional Farmstros Five of the year. Remember that Farmstros Five Week 22- Five days, five players, you make the call starts Friday morning. I will be posting the top 3-6 performers in the system each of the remaining days of the season, and you will have a chance to vote to select the best player each day, thus creating the Farmstros Five for Week 22.

Greeneville and the GCL Astros wrapped up their seasons during the week as the end of minor league baseball for 2010 draws near.

The Farmstros Five for the week of August 26- September 1, 2010:

The Top Performer:

Jose Perdomo, 18, RHP, GCL Astros. Perdomo finished up a solid season in Florida with seven scoreless innings. He allowed three hits and struck out six.

The other four:

Jonathan Merritt, 22, IF, Greeneville. Merritt was 10 for 20 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs and five RBI.

Mike Foltynewicz, 18, RHP Greeneville. Foltynewicz made two starts to end his Greeneville campaign. He pitched 9 2/3 IP allowing nine hits and one earned run.

Jimmy Paredes, 21, IF, Lexington. Paredes, acquired in the Roy Oswalt trade, was 11 for 29 with two doubles, one triple and four RBI.

David Martinez, 23, RHP, Tri-City. Martinez pitched 13 innings and allowed two earned runs. In two starts, he allowed 15 hits and struck out 13.

Special Mention:

Lee Street, Portland. Also known as Street JL has been the most avid follower of the Astros of the Future during the past several weeks. He made the trek from Portland to Tacoma to see Jordan Lyles pitch. Further, he has caught up with Lyles, J.B. Shuck and Burt Hooton in Portland and has gone above the call to tell the readers of Farmstros what they said.

Fall Instructional League Roster

The following players will be participating in Houston's Fall Instructional League in Florida. They will be split into two squads and competing with prospects from other organizations for three weeks beginning September 24.

Ruben Alaniz
Jake Buchanan
Tanner Bushue
David Carpenter
Jose Cisnero
Jorge DeLeon
Bobby Doran
Brad Dydalewicz
Michael Feliz
Michael Foltynewicz
Evan Grills
Zach Grimmett
Dallas Keuchel
Arcenio Leon
Juan Minaya
Jose Montero
Luis Ordosgoiti
Jose Perdomo
Juri Perez
Euris Quezada
Rodney Quintero
Francis Ramirez
James Robinson
Ebert Rosario
Ross Seaton
Thomas Shirley

Catchers (4)
Rene Garcia
Ben Heath
Roberto Pena
Chris Wallace

Infielders (13)
Jose Altuve
Tyler Burnett
Delino DeShields
Jose Fernandez
Enrique Hernandez
Michael Kvasnicka
Joshua Magee
Jonathan Meyer
Jio Mier
Marcus Nidiffer
Jimmy Paredes
Kyle Redinger
Jonathan Villar

Outfielders (7)
Daniel Adamson
Jay Austin
Telvin Nash
Ariel Ovando
Jordan Scott
Austin Wates
Garen Wright

Rehab (3)
Luis Alvarez, C
Alfredo Gonzalez, C
Chia-jen Lo, RHP

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Express to Help Close Down Rosenblatt Stadium

The Round Rock Express will be playing in the final Omaha Royals' game at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium Thursday night. The home of the College World Series, Rosenblatt was built in 1948. It has hosted the Omaha Royals since 1969. The team, with a new name in the works, will move to a new park in Omaha in 2011.

Transactions Down the Line

In the wake of the five promotions to Minute Maid Park today and the end of the Greeneville season yesterday, there were a slew of moves on numerous levels. Astros County, as usual, is on top of the moves.

Farmstros Five Week 22- Five Days, Five Players, You make the Call starts Friday

After I post the Farmstros Five for week 21 tomorrow, there will only be five days of the season left. You will get to pick the top performer in the organization each of those days to create the Farmstros Five for week 22. The candidates for day 1 will be posted Friday morning.

Jordan Lyles interview Update

StreetJL's interview with Jordan Lyles was slated to go up today. However, due to the fact that Farmstros can only pay in magnets and haiku, StreetJL has to take care of some other priorities. The interview should be ready tomorrow.

Thanks to StreetJL for his dedication to this project.

The Call-ups and Arizona Fall League

The Astros called up five players yesterday in case you missed it:

Brian Bogusevic, OF
Matt Downs, IF
Brian Esposito, C
Henry Villar, RHP
Wesley Wright, LHP

Villar and Bogusevic are heading to the big leagues for the first time. Downs can't officially join the team until Saturday. Thanks to Brian McTaggart for pointing out that he must stay in the minors for 10 days after being claimed off of waivers.

In addition to releasing this news, the Astros announced yesterday that seven players will be playing in the Arizona Fall League, which begins in October:

Koby Clemens, 1B
Kyle Greenwalt, RHP
Matt Nevarez, RHP
Sergio Perez, RHP
J.B. Shuck, OF
T.J. Steele, OF
Pat Urckfitz, LHP