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Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Barmes' Departure could bring an Extra 2012 Draft Pick

Astros Shortstop Clint Barmes has been classified as a Type B Free Agent heading into the off-season. This designation means that if Barmes signs elsewhere before November 23, Houston will receive a compensatory pick for him in the 2012 draft. Further, if he doesn't sign before then, the Astros offer him arbitration and he consequently signs elsewhere, the Astros will also receive an extra pick on June 4, 2012.

Take Farmstros Boy with you this Off-Season

As I follow the Astros of the Future, I often wonder how far flung the Farmstros Village has become. With your cooperation this off-season, I'd like to try and find out the answer to this question. If you are willing, please print out Farmstros Boy(pictured above). Card stock paper is recommended. Then take a picture of him wherever you are and/or wherever you go this off-season. Email a jpeg of your Farmstros Boy picture to or Tweet it @farmstros.

I will make every effort to post the pictures documenting the travels of Farmstros Boy. Thanks for reading and thanks for your assistance.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Van Ostrand to Add a Moustache to his Gold Medal

Some athletes grow beards until they lose in the play-offs. Canadian Gold Medalist and Farmstro Jimmy Van Ostrand is going a different way with his facial hair next month.

According to his Twitter feed Van Ostrand (Dr_VanOstrand), who helped lead the Canadian national team to Gold in the Pan Am Games earlier this week, will spend the month of November growing a moustache as part of a project called Movember. This initiative is an attempt to change the face of men's health. To promote awareness of men's health issues such as prostrate cancer, participants start the month with a clean face and proceed growing a beard and/or moustache with the support of the women(and men) in their lives.

Here's a link to the official Movember website.

Yes, There was another baseball game last night, and Kody Hinze homered in it.

Apparently, Kody Hinze wasn't distracted by the fact that he was playing a baseball game while Game 7 of the World Series was going on in St. Louis. The Astros first base prospect went 2 for 4 with a home run and two RBI in an Arizona Fall League contest that started Friday night about the time St. Louis and Texas were finishing the fifth inning of that other game. For the Arizona Fall League season, Hinze is batting .283 with three home runs and 11 RBI in 12 games(46 at bats).

Off-season database color code

Here's a link to the Farmstros Database


Red- 40-man roster
Blue- Major League Arbitration Eligible

Friday, October 28, 2011

Astros Add Tatum, Re-Sign Barnes

Stephen Goff brings us up to date on two new faces who will apparently have their pictures in the Astros' 2012 Media Guide: Craig Tatum and Brandon Barnes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Van Hekken's International Experience far from Over

Picture by the Oklahoma City RedHawks. Used with Permission.

Andy Van Hekken, you just helped lead Team USA to a Bronze Medal in the Baseball World Cup and a Silver Medal in the Pan Am Games, what are you going to do next?

Although Andy Van Hekken's time representing the United States on the baseball field has ended, there are no amusement park trips in his near future. Van Hekken traveled to Houston with Team USA Wednesday. However, after a brief layover in the Bush Airport area, he was back on a plane late Wednesday night to Venezuela, where he will be pitching in the winter season.

While spending October with Team USA was "one of the highlights of (his) career," Van Hekken quickly shifts from a red, white and blue uniform into job seeker attire in Venezuela. He has spent three plus seasons in the Astros' organization and has not ruled out a return to the Houston system. Yet, eligible for minor league free agency, Van Hekken is also looking at other options for 2012.

For Van Hekken, the job seeker, Venezuela provides a final chance to add to his resume as he continues his attempt to return to the big leagues after a nine year hiatus. He split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation for Oklahoma City during the 2011 regular season. He was effective in both roles finishing the campaign with a 3.40 ERA in 129 2/3 innings, second best in the Pacific Coast League.

He continued his effective work in October making four quality starts for the United States in the Baseball World Cup and the Pan Am Games. He had an ERA of 0.96 and picked up three wins in the two competitions. He pitched eight scoreless innings his second start of the World Cup in a game that assured Team USA a spot in the Medal Round of that tournament. His final start of October (in the Pan Am Games) saw him allow two runs in seven innings of a Gold Medal game loss to Canada.

These Videos are So Arizona! has filed some video interviews of Astros prospects participating in the Arizona Fall League. For your convenience, here are links to those interviews:

Kody Hinze

Dallas Keuchel

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gold Medal win at Top of Van Ostrand's List

Jimmy Van Ostrand has had many highlights as a representative of his native Canada; however, last night's two-run double to win the Pan Am Games Gold Medal quickly moved to the top of the list. The hit came with two outs in the sixth inning and gave Canada a 2-1 lead over Team USA and Andy Van Hekken, who had shutout the Canadians to that point in the contest. "Andy was throwing a great game. We needed a hit," Van Ostrand said of the situation when he stepped into the box.

The 2-1 lead held up through the end of the game and the Gold Medal belonged to Canada. Van Ostrand said that winning the gold medal was "pretty special." "Pretty special" may be an understatement considering this was the first gold medal ever won by Canada in a major international baseball competition.

Video of Van Hekken vs. Van Ostrand

Here's a link to ESPN's highlights from Tuesday's night Pan Am Games Gold Medal match. In case you missed it, you can see Jimmy Van Ostrand's game-winning double off of Andy Van Hekken.

2011-12 Off-season Transactions

February 2012

Delino DeShields, Jr., 2B, invited to Major League Spring Training.

Jair Fernandez, C, signed to a minor league contract.

Rene Garcia, C, invited to Major League camp as a non-roster player.

Jacob Goebbert, OF, invited to Major League Spring Training.

Mike Hessman, IF, signed to a minor league contract.

Jose Martinez, 2B, signed to a minor league contract.

Justin Ruggiano, OF, signed to a minor league contract. Invited to Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invite.

Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF, invited to Major League Spring Training.

George Springer, OF, invited to Major League Spring Training.

Henry Villar, RHP, invited to Major League Spring Training.

Jonathan Villar, SS, invited to Major League Spring Training.

January 2012

Travis Blankenship, LHP, released.

Jordan Brown, OF, signed to a minor league contract.

Hector Corpas, RHP signed as a minor league free agent.

Jack Cust, OF/DH, signed to a non-guaranteed, Major League contract.

Zach Duke, LHP, signed to a minor league contract. Invited to spring training as a non-roster player.

Federico Hernandez, C, released.

Livan Hernandez, RHP, signed to a minor league contract. Invited to spring training as non-roster player.

Kellen Kiilsgaard, OF, released.

Jordan Kreke, IF, signed to a minor league contract.

Tomas Lopez, RHP, signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic.

Fernando Martinez, OF, claimed off of waivers from New York Mets. Added to 40-man roster.

Colton Pitkin, LHP, released.

Hector Rodriguez, IF, released.

Angel Sanchez, SS, Designated for assignment and removed from the 40-man roster. Cleared waivers, invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invite.

Edward Santana, OF, signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic.

Chris Snyder, C, signed as a free agent.

Craig Tatum, C, Designated for assignment and removed for the 40-man roster. Claimed off of waivers by Arizona.

Carlos Vasquez, RHP, signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic.

Henry Villar, RHP, designated for assignment. Removed from 40-man roster. Outrighted to AAA Oklahoma City.

Chris Wallace, C, invited to Major League camp as a non-roster player.

Shane Wolf, LHP, released.

December 2011

Brian Bixler, IF Designated for Assignment, removed from 40-man roster. Bixler accepted minor league assignment. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invite.

Rhiner Cruz, RHP, drafted from Mets in Major League Phase of Rule 5 Draft.

Marco Duarte, RHP, drafted from Colorado in minor league phase of Rule 5 Draft. Traded to Boston with cash for Marwin Gonzalez, IF.

Marwin Gonzalez, IF, acquired from Boston as a Rule 5 Draft Pick for Marco Duarte and cash. Boston had selected Gonzalez from the Cubs' organization.

Diory Hernandez, IF, signed with Houston. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Jed Lowrie, IF, acquired from Boston with Kyle Weiland, RHP for Mark Melancon, RHP.

Mark Melancon, RHP, traded to Boston for Jed Lowrie, IF and Kyle Weiland, RHP.

Humberto Quintero, C, avoided arbitration by signing a one-year contract.

Nick Stavinoha, OF, released from minor league contract. Signed with Hiroshima Carp of Japanese Central League.

Kyle Weiland, RHP, acquired from Boston with Jed Lowrie, IF, for Mark Melancon, RHP.

November 2011

Erick Abreu, RHP, granted free agency. Re-Signed with the Astros.

Miguel Arrendell, IF, released.

Joan Belliard, RHP, released.

Brian Bixler, IF/OF, claimed on waivers from Washington. Added to 40-man roster.

Travis Buck, OF, Signed with Astros. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Kristian Bueno, LHP, granted free agency.

Garrett Bullock, LHP, released.

Jason Castro, C, activated from 60-day Disabled List. Placed on 15-day Disabled List.

Koby Clemens, 1B, granted free agency.

Paul Clemens, RHP, contract purchased by Houston. Added to 40-man roster.

Carlos Corporan, C, outrighted off of the 40-man roster to Oklahoma City. Corporan has the right to elect minor league free agency. Signed with Houston. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Danilo Del Rio, RHP, released.

Luis Durango, OF, granted free agency.

Sergio Escalona, LHP, activated from 60-day Disabled List. Placed on 15-day Disabled List.

Adalberto Flores, RHP, Signed with Houston.

Emerson Frostad, C, Re-Signed with Houston.

Sammy Gervacio, RHP, granted free agency.

Pedro Gomez, RHP, released.

Jacke Healey, IF, released.

Anderson Hernandez, IF, granted free agency.

Brad James, RHP, granted free agency.

Mark Jones, RHP, released.

Drew Locke, OF, granted free agency.

Brandon Lyon, RHP, activated from 60-day Disabled List. Placed on 15-Disabled List.

Jhonny Medrano, IF, granted free agency.

Scott Moore, IF, signed with Astros. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Ozzie Navarro, IF, granted free agency.

Lance Pendleton, RHP, signed with Astros. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Ryan Rowland-Smith, LHP, granted free agency.

Ronald Sanchez, 1B, released.

Travis Smink, LHP, released.

Brad Snyder, OF, signed with Astros. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Nick Stavinoha, OF, signed with Astros. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Wladimir Sutil, IF, granted free agency.

Joe Thurston, IF, signed with Astros. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

J.R. Towles, C, granted free agency.

Jose Vallejo, IF, granted free agency.

Andy Van Hekken, LHP, granted free agency.

Ross Wolf, RHP, granted free agency.

October 2011

Alberto Arias, RHP, outrighted off of 40-man roster. Re-signs with Astros.

Jonnathan Aristil, RHP, Re-signs with Astros.

Clint Barmes, IF, Filed for Major League free agency.

Brandon Barnes, OF, Re-signs with Astros. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Xavier Cedeno, LHP, outrighted off of 40-man roster. Elects Minor League Free Agency. Re-signs with Astros. Invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player.

Brian Esposito, C, Elects Minor League Free Agency.

Blake King, RHP, outrighted off of 40-man roster. Assigned to Corpus Christi

Jason Michaels, OF, filed for Major League free agency.

Lance Pendleton, RHP, outrighted off of 40-man roster. Elects Minor League Free Agency

Kelvin Santana, RHP, suspended 50 games for performance enhancing drug use violation

J.R. Towles, C, outrighted off of 40-man roster

Craig Tatum, C, claimed off of waivers from Baltimore. Added to 40-man roster

Jose Valdez, RHP, outrighted off of 40-man roster. Elects Minor League Free Agency. Re-signs with Astros. Invited to spring training as a non-roster player

September 2011

Robinson Cancel, C, Elects Minor League Free Agency

David Martinez, RHP, Re-signed with Astros

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Van Swingin' beats Van Dealin'

The Gold Medal Match of the Pan Am Games revolved around the Farmstros Village Tuesday night. Jimmy Van Ostrand's two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning off of Andy Van Hekken gave Baseball Canada a 2-1 victory and the gold medal in the tournament. It was the first ever Gold Medal in a major international baseball competition for Canada.

Van Hekken, who has been Team USA's top pitcher this month, allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings. He suffered his first loss in four games as part of Team USA. Van Ostrand finished the Pan Am Games 9 for 19 with two doubles and four RBI.

Where you can Watch the Pan Am Games Gold Medal Match

For those of you interested in watching the Gold Medal Game of the Pan Am Games, I just received some links from USA Baseball, which should be helpful.

Live scoring is available here.

This link is to live coverage of the game.

The game will also be streamed live online at ESPN3 and on television on ESPN Deportes (check your local listings).

I was sent some other links, which I will update once the game starts and I can figure out where exactly to send you.

Finally, the start of the game may be delayed a few minutes depending on the length of the Bronze Medal Game.

Van Dealin' vs. Van Swingin' for Gold in Pan Am Games tonight

The Pan Am Games baseball competition concludes tonight with a showdown that could take place in downtown of the Farmstros' Village as Andy Van Hekken and Team USA take on Jimmy Van Ostrand and Baseball Canada for the Gold Medal.

Van Hekken looks to continue his October International dominance as Team USA's starting pitcher. The left-hander, who had the second-best ERA in the Pacific Coast League for Oklahoma City in 2011, has three starts under his belt for Team USA this fall. He has posted a 0.43 ERA and won three games, pitching 21 innings between the Baseball World Cup and the Pan Am Games.

Van Ostrand, who has spent the last four seasons with Corpus Christi has started all four of Canada's contests in the Pan Am Games. He is 8 for 15 with one double, two runs scored, two RBI and four walks in the tournament.

Tonight's Gold Medal Showdown in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico is scheduled for 7 pm(Minute Maid Park time). Follow the game: The Team USA website; Baseball Canada website; Pan Am Games baseball page

NOTE: I am still pursuing 100% confirmation that Van Hekken is throwing tonight. However, all indications are that it's his turn in the Team USA rotation. Oklahoma City announcer J.P. Shadrick has tweeted that Canadian sources have confirmed that Andy Van Hekken IS starting.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Van Dealin' for the Gold Tuesday in Mexico

Picture by Oklahoma City RedHawks. Used with permission.

Andy Van Hekken will be throwing for the Gold in Mexico Tuesday night. Team USA held off a furious charge by Cuba in today's semi-final game to move on to tomorrow's Gold Medal Game of the Pan Am Games. Based on Team USA's rotation to date, Andy "Mr. October" Van Hekken appears to be in line to be on the mound Tuesday against the winner of Monday night's Canada/Mexico showdown. In three international starts(two in the Baseball World Cup and one last Thursday in the Pan Am Games), Van Hekken has allowed one earned run and picked up three victories while pitching 21 innings.

Tomorrow's contest is scheduled to begin at 7 pm(Minute Maid Park time).

This Mark Twain Prize Winner Used to be a Farmstro

Talk about getting called up to the big leagues! Less than two years after pitching for the Round Rock Express, Will Farrell was honored Sunday night in Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center with the 14th Annual Mark Twain Award for American Humor. The award was presented to Farrell at a ceremony which will be aired Monday, October 31 on PBS.(Please check local listings)

Farrell's comedic resume includes seven years on Saturday Night Live, where he played numerous memorable characters including President George W. Bush, Alex Trebek and Harry Caray. He received two Emmy nominations during his time on SNL. Farrell has also starred in a variety of feature films such as Talladega Nights: The Ballad or Ricky Bobby, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, and Stranger than Fiction.

He made his biggest splash in the Farmstros Village in May 2010 when he appeared at Round Rock's Dell Diamond as Billy Ray "ROJO" Johnson.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Van Hekken, Van Ostrand on to the Medal Round

Team Canada with Jimmy Van Ostrand and Team USA with Andy Van Hekken move on to the Medal Round of the 2011 Pan Am Games Monday in Mexico.

Van Ostrand and his Canadian teammates will take on host Mexico at 7 p.m. in one semi-final game. In the first three games of the tournament, Van Ostrand is 7 for 13 with two RBI.

Van Hekken and his American teammates face Cuba Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. Van Hekken allowed 0 earned runs in his first start of the Pan Am Games Thursday, pitching seven innings. I have not seen a confirmation of this fact, but my guess is that Van Hekken would be in line to start for Team USA in the Gold Medal or Bronze Medal, both of which are scheduled for Tuesday.

Live results of the event are available here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Welcome to the AL, Astros. Love, Allan Huber

My reaction to the news about the Astros move to the American League has been personally puzzling. I have been uneasy about the move, but it has taken me awhile to pinpoint the source of my displeasure. I considered seeking out professional assistance to work through my ambiguity; however, economic issues forced me to rely on the solitude of the graveyard shift Thursday night/Friday morning at my neighborhood Kroger to sort out my confusion.

Fortunately, the fluorescent lighting of Store 356 worked its magic and helped me sift through my issues, as you can read:

As a follower of the Astros of the Future, my first reaction to the news that the club is being manuevered to the American League was one of relative disinterest. I doubt that such a move will affect the club's drafting and player development strategies in any noticeable way. (I am currently doing some research into this aspect of the story, and will hopefully get back to you on it later.)

Oddly enough, as a lifelong Astros' fan, I don't feel any angst about the club moving to the American League either. I grew up with the Astros/Dodgers rivalry of the 80s and now enjoy Houston's showdowns with the Cardinals and Cubs. However, even as a fan of the Astros of the past, the move to a new league doesn't bother me. I am confident that if the team begins playing well again, we will find a new Jim Edmonds or Ron Cey to shake our fists at collectively.

As the morning sun approached, I thought my reflections on the topic would ultimately prove fruitless until the thought hit me, while I was adding some Kit Kat bars to the display rack near register 10. The primary reason that the move to the American League is striking a nerve with this fan is that a much more logical option for baseball's realignemnt is blatantly obvious. The fact that this option hasn't even been considered screams out the fact that once again, it's Allan Huber Selig's world and we, the Astros and their fans, are just living in it.

The sole unique benefit of an Astros' move to the AL West is that it would lead to more Rangers/Astros games. I think this would be great, but other than this upside, I see no benefits to such a move.

By contrast, consider the benefits of this option: Milwaukee to the AL Central, Kansas City to the AL West. (NOTE: As franchises Milwaukee's Brewers and Kansas City's Royals are both younger than Houston's Astros.)

Milwaukee spent 28 years in the American League, before it moved to the NL Central. A move to the AL Central would reunite them with old AL East rivals Detroit and Cleveland. Further, there is no love lost between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Those inter-state flames would be re-ignited if the Brewers and Twins were in the same division. As a final carrot, the Brewers would maintain a division foe from nearby Chicago as the White Sox would replace the Cubs.

Kansas City spent 25 years in the AL West before the Royals moved to the AL Central. They won AL West title six times between 1976-1985. A move back to the division would allow the Royals to get reacquainted with old rivals Texas, the Los Angeles Angels, and Seattle. Also, they would be back in a division with the Oakland Athletics, who lived in Kansas City from 1955-67.

I continued my shift with a spring in my step. Visions of George Brett facing Frank Tannana filled my head. Memories of a Brewers/Twins doubleheader I attended at County Stadium when I was in college refreshed my mind. I remembered the Astros 1997 NL Central Division Championship like it was yesterday.

Then as my shift wound to a close this morning the Houston Chronicle arrived. I am still convinced that the Astros moving to the American League is no where near the best option for baseball and for Houston; however, as I looked at Steve Campbell's article Astros Move to AL could be imminent, I became even more convinced that it is what will happen in Allan Huber's world.

Van Swingin' in Mexico As Well

While Andy Van Hekken continued his international pitching show Thursday in the Pan Am Games, Jimmy Van Ostrand is putting on his own hitting show for Team Canada. In two games in Mexico, Dr. Van Ostrand is 5 for 8 with one double and 2 RBI. The Canadians have an off day before finishing the first round of the tournament Saturday. Team Canada needs to knock off Venezuela to advance to the Medal Round of the competition.

Castro Drives in First Run in Over a Year

Photo from the Corpus Christi Hooks. Used with permission.

After watching baseball for more than a year, Jason Castro drove in his first run of 2011 Thursday afternoon in Arizona.

A torn ACL suffered early in Spring Training gave Castro the unique experience of being a student of the game throughout the 2011 season. Castro embraced this unplanned opportunity, gathering much information about the mental side of the game, which he will carry with him into the 2012 season as the Astros' starting catcher. However, he is glad to be back on the field in Arizona, playing the game he has been forced to watch from afar for several months.

After completing the two plus weeks remaining in the Arizona Fall League schedule, Castro plans to head back to California, where he can immediately begin training for his first full season in the big leagues. "I want to get back to where I was before the injury."

Castro tore his ACL in a base-running mishap during the first week of Spring Training games. The injury occurred in his sixth at bat of the Spring slate. He had no RBI in those six at bats. In fact, his most recent RBI, prior to Thursday afternoon, came on September 28, 2010 in Cincinnati, the night the Reds clinched the NL Central title.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Van Dealin' in Mexico

After today's outing in Mexico, Andy Van Hekken a 3-0 record with an microscopic ERA of 0.43 this October as a representative of Team USA. Van Hekken did not allow a hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning against the Dominican Republic. He finished his outing with six hits and two unearned runs allowed in seven innings as the United States romped 20-2 in their first game of the Pan Am Games. Van Hekken should next be in line to pitch Tuesday in the Gold or Bronze Medal Game of the competition. He picked up two wins during the United States run to a Bronze Medal of the Baseball World Cup in Panama earlier this month.

NOTE: Thanks to the author of Team USA's Twitter feed(USABaseball) who coined the phrase, "Van Dealin'".

Andy Van Hekken...3310 Days and Counting in Mexico

Picture by Oklahoma City RedHawks. Used with permission.

As I keyboard, Andy Van Hekken is taking the hill for Team USA in the Pan Am Games in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico. Today's contest against the Dominican Republic is Team USA's first of three first round games in the competition.

Grab the Bull by the Horns

c2011 words and music by Mike Tauser. Used with permission.

THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG: I'll admit it. I'm a Neil Diamond fan, and I got my inspirational juices flowing for this Texans-themed song while listening to his song I Am, I Said.

This song includes the line "Did you ever hear the story about a frog who became a prince and then became one", which was notably quoted by Wade Phillips a few years back when he was named the coach of the Cowboys. Given the fact that Phillips is now the Texans' defensive coordinator, I decided to listen to the song he quoted to see if it would get my synapses firing and the lyrics flowing for a Texan song. Most of the lyrics of this effort were written while driving and listening to Diamond.

I'm admitedly too much of a camp guitarist to ever have a song sound like a Neil Diamond piece, but in this case, he and, indirectly Wade Phillips, served as a muse for me.

Farmstros' Off-Season Poetry Corner

The Quest for 3000 Syllables- Relive the 2010 season, 17 syllables at a time.

A Grand Slam of Farmstros Songs

#5 and #7

A Glimmer is Glowing in the Dark

The Golden Sombrero Wearer

A Five Days' Journey From Worst to First

The Second Baseman Rides into the Sunset

Ballpark Time Machine

The Sword Bellied Dukes' Fans' Shirts Held Scimitars


Juni Gatsu Basho- I lived in Japan from 1992-95. This poem which attempts to combine Christmas with the world of sumo was one product of my time there.

All works are the property of Mike Tauser.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Van Ostrand Hits the Ground Swinging in Pan Am Games

Jimmy Van Ostrand had a single, a double and one RBI Wednesday morning as Team Canada knocked off Puerto Rico 4-3 in their first game of the Pan Am Games. Van Ostrand and his Canadian teammates play again against Cuba Thursday night. Andy Van Hekken and Team USA start their Pan Am Games schedule Thursday afternoon against the Dominican Republic.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lyles Turns 21 Tomorrow

Picture by April Sandefer with the Oklahoma University Medical Center. Used with permission.

Jordan Lyles' Off-season Checklist
October- Celebrate 21st birthday, October 19
November- Keep working out four or five times a week in Columbia, South Carolina
December- Pick up a baseball again, sometime after Christmas. Work on improving consistency of all pitches. Especially curveball
January- Do some more painting with kids in Oklahoma City(see picture above) on Astros' winter caravan(?)
February- Tweet to everyone when I get on the plane to Florida(jordanlyles41)

Jordan Lyles' full off-season calendar has a highlight tomorrow with his 21st birthday. After spending most of 2011 in the major leagues, the right-hander is in Columbia, South Carolina preparing for 2012. While making his debut at Wrigley Field was a special moment for Lyles, he feels that the entire year was memorable. "Spending most of the season in the big leagues as a 20-year old is an accomplishment in itself," Lyles said in a recent phone interview.

The end of the 2011 season saw Lyles in the Houston bullpen in order to save his arm for the future. This was a new experience and a challenge for Lyles, as he had to be ready to pitch every day. After the brief time as a reliever, the rotation will be Lyles' home again in April 2012. "I am satisfied being a starter."

Kissimmee Population Decreases by 50 Today

The Astros wrapped up their Fall Instructional League schedule this morning. Per their Twitter streams, Adrian Houser(AdrainHouser12), DeLino Deshields, Jr.(LinoDeShields), and Bobby Doran(B_Doran43) are already heading home for the off-season.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Farmstros on to Mexico for Pan Am Games

Baseball World Cup Bronze Medal Tweeted by Jimmy Van Ostrand. Used with permission.

Several members of the Astros organization are continuing their October international experience with a stop in Mexico. Jimmy Van Ostrand, Emerson Frostad and Stubby Clapp(Coach) will be representing Canada in the Pan Am Games. The baseball portion of the competition begins Wednesday morning. Andy Van Hekken will be representing the United States in the same tournament.

All games will take place in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico.

October 19
Canada vs. Puerto Rico (10 a.m.- Minute Maid Park Time)

October 20
USA vs. Dominican Rebublic (2 p.m.)
Canada vs. Cuba (7 p.m.)

October 21
USA vs. Panama (10 a.m.)

October 22
Canada vs. Venezuela (10 a.m.)
USA vs. Mexico (7 p.m.)

The semi-finals take place on Monday, October 24.
The Gold Medal and Bronze medal games are scheduled for October 25.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bronze Medals for Everybody

Due to a rainout Saturday, Canada and the United States were both awarded Bronze medals in the 2011 Baseball World Cup. Before bringing their medals back to the Farmstros Village, Andy Van Hekken(USA), Jimmy Van Ostrand(Canada), Emerson Frostad(Canada), and Stubby Clapp(Canada) will carry them to Mexico today where they will be competing in the Pan Am Games. That international competition begins Wednesday.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Farmstros Predicts November 18

The Astros have one month from today to finalize their 40-man roster, clarifying who will be protected in December's Rule 5 Draft. The club has already made steps towards that end by outrighting six players off of the 40-man roster in the last several days. Following is my predicition of who will be on once Ed Wade turns in his final paperwork on November 15.

Well, don't I feel unprofessional? I just did some searching only to find out that the deadline to set the 40-man roster is November 18 NOT November 15.

Fernando Abad, 26(age as of April 6, 2012)
Juan Abreu, 26
David Carpenter, 26
Paul Clemens, 24
Jorge DeLeon, 24
Enerio Del Rosario, 26
Dayan Diaz, 23
Sergio Escalona, 27
J.A. Happ, 29
Lucas Harrell, 26
Wilton Lopez, 28
Jordan Lyles, 21
Brandon Lyon, 32
Mark Melancon, 27
Brett Myers, 31
Bud Norris, 27
Aneury Rodriguez, 24
Fernando Rodriguez, Jr., 27
Wandy Rodriguez, 33
Henry Sosa, 26
Henry Villar, 24
Wesley Wright, 27

Jason Castro, 24
Humberton Quintero, 32
Craig Tatum, 29

Jose Altuve, 21
Clint Barmes, 33
Matt Downs, 28
Kody Hinze, 24
Chris Johnson, 27
Carlos Lee, 36
Jimmy Paredes, 23
Angel Sanchez, 28
Brett Wallace, 25

Brian Bogusevic, 28
Jason Bourgeois, 30
J.D. Martinez, 24
Jordan Schafer, 25
J.B. Shuck, 24

NOTE: This roster assumes a few things: Castro, Escalona and Lyon return from the 60-day disabled list. Clint Barmes is re-signed. To make room for the additions of Clemens, Diaz, and Hinze, Jason Michaels leaves as a free agent, and Carlos Corporan and Arcenio Leon are outrighted. My predicted roster has 38 players on it. This leaves two spots for the Astros to make Rule 5 picks.

10/29/2011 NOTE: Houston claimed Craig Tatum on waivers yesterday. He is on the 40-man roster. His addition would still leave one extra spot on roster for a Rule 5 pick based on my previous predictions. Bubble guys who may be cleared out: Angel Sanchez and Henry Villar.

11/8/2011 NOTE: With just one week to go, Bixler has been added and Barmes is gone as a free agent. I haven't altered my original prediction. I am curious to see what happens with Hinze and Paul Clemens.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Farmstros Showdown for the Bronze Saturday

Photo by Oklahoma City RedHawks. Used with permission.

There will be a Farmstro flavor in Saturday's World Cup Bronze Medal Game in Panama. Canada will take on the United States at 11 a.m.(Minute Maid Park time) in the competition's third place game. Canada's roster includes Jimmy Van Ostrand and Emerson Frostad, both of whom are currently part of the Astros' organization. Tri-City manager Stubby Clapp is a coach for Team Canada.

I have not gotten confirmation on this, but the Team USA rotation indicates that Saturday is Andy Van Hekken's turn to pitch. Van Hekken, who spent 2011 with Oklahoma City, last pitched Monday when he threw eight scoreless innings to lead Team USA to the final spot in the second round of the tournament.

The Netherlands will face Cuba in the Gold Medal game Saturday night.

Complete coverage of the Baseball World Cup is available here.

What the Heck Bobby is Following Winter Ball

What the Heck Bobby? is keeping a close eye on the Farmstros in Arizona and the Caribbean this winter. Seeing that it takes a village to follow the Astros of the Future, here are a few links to WTHB's coverage. Winter League and Arizona Fall League.

Canadians Playing for Spot in Gold Medal Game

Team Canada, whose roster includes Jimmy Van Ostrand and Emerson Frostad, takes on Cuba this afternoon with a spot in the Baseball World Cup's Gold Medal Game on the line. The winner of the Canada/Cuba showdown which begins at 3:30(Minute Maid Park time) will take on The Netherlands in Saturday's Championship Game.

Elsewhere in Panama today, Team USA needs to knock off Venezuela in a 3:30 contest to qualify for Saturday's Bronze Medal Game against the Canada/Cuba loser. Based on Team USA's rotation to this point, Andy Van Hekken is in line to pitch in Saturday's game.

Full coverage of the Baseball World Cup is available here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Three Years Later Hooks host the Astros

The Astros will be returning to Whataburger Field on April 2, 2012. The game will mark the third anniversary of the Astros first trip to Corpus Christi in 2009. Let's take a look back and a look forward at the lineups the Hooks put on the field against the Astros in 2009 and who they could possibly field in 2012. Thanks to the Hooks' Michael Coffin for providing the 2009 lineup.

April 2, 2009:
Josh Flores, CF
Drew Meyer, 2B
Jhon Florentino, 3B
Mark Ori, 1B
Jimmy Van Ostrand, DH
Colin DeLome, LF
Mitch Einertson, RF
Brian Esposito, C
Wladimir Sutil, SS

Felipe Paulino, P

April 2, 2012:
Austin Wates, CF
Andrew Simunic, 2B
Jonathan Singleton, 1B
Domingo Santana, LF
Adam Bailey, RF
Jonathan Meyer, 3B
Chris Wallace, C
Jonathan Villar, SS
Jordan Comadena, DH

Jarred Cosart, P

Three More Outrighted

Jose Valdez, J.R. Towles and Alberto Arias have been outrigthed off of the Astros' 40-man roster. Numerous tweets have passed on this information. The trio will eventually be eligible to be free agents. These moves bring the Astros 40-man roster count to 35.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Travel Like a Big Leaguer, be a Skeeter

With the focus on youth in the Astros' organization becoming more prominent, spots for veterans and minor league free agents in the system will diminish. As a result, being a Farmstro will no longer be an option for quite a few. For those players who find themselves outside the Farmstros Village looking for a way back to the big leagues (or at least a way to keep playing baseball at a high level), there will be a new option in 2012. This new option, the SugarLand Skeeters, will give players a chance to travel like a big leaguer, while playing half their games in close proximity to Minute Maid Park.

2012 will mark the Skeeters first season as part of the independent Atlantic League. Although the league has plans to add more teams from the South in the future, the Skeeters will be isolated in Texas in 2012. The club will make ten roadrips, playing a total of 70 games in locales such as Waldorf, Maryland; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Long Island, New York.

This unique geographical situation means that the Skeeters will be traveling more than 33,000 miles over the course of a 140-game schedule. While this is not quite a major league travel itinerary (the Astros are slated to travel more than 40,000 miles in 2012), the Skeeters will be on the move far more than the Astros' AAA affiliate Oklahoma City, who will log a little bit less than 20,000 miles in their 144-game season.

In addition to the frequent flyer miles, the Atlantic League also offers opportunity for advancement on the field. The most recent Atlantic League to Major League success story is Angels pitcher Jerome Williams. In June 2011, Williams was pitching for the Lancaster Barnstormers. By the end of the season, he was sporting a record of 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA for Los Angeles' American League entry.

NOTE: These mileages reflect road distances and were calculated using a combination of Google Maps and the Farmstros office Rand McNally Road Atlas.

Hinze has a Bat: Baseballs in Arizona Beware

Photo by George Tuley. Used with permission

During the 2011 regular season, Kody Hinze showed no mercy on baseballs in California and Texas. In the off-season, he has moved his attack on the rawhide to a state in between those places: Arizona.

In the first week of the Arizona Fall League season, the Astros first base prospect already has seven hits, one double, two home runs and six RBI in 15 at bats. Hinze, who led the Astros organization with 29 home runs and 98 RBI in a regular season split between Lancaster and Corpus Christi, is making his final case for a spot on Houston's 40-man roster prior to December's Rule 5 draft.

In another Arizona note, Hinze was joined in the Salt River lineup Monday evening by Jason Castro. It was the first appearance in Arizona for Castro, who has been recovering from a rib cage injury. He went 0 for 3 with a walk.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Five Newcomers on Mayo's List of the Astros' Top 10 Prospects

Five of the players picked up in the Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence in July are included in a new list of the Astros 10 top prospects recently released by Jonathan Mayo. The five newcomers, including Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton, replace three players who were promoted during the season(Jordan Lyles, Jimmy Paredes, and J.D. Martinez) as well as Ariel Ovando and Jiovanni Mier on the list. Ovando and Mier were #7 and #5 respectively on Mayo's pre-season top 10.

Second Round of World Cup Starts Today

Canada takes on Australia and the United States takes on Cuba today as the second round of the baseball World Cup in Panama. Canada with Jimmy Van Ostrand and Emerson Frostad has the inside track on the Gold Medal game as they carry a 2-1 record from the first round into this portion of the competition. The United States, who made the second round on the strength Andy Van Hekken's clutch start Monday, starts the second phase at 1-2.

In the second round, the four qualifying teams from each of Round 1's two groups play the four teams who advanced from the other group.

Second Round Standings:
Cuba- 3-0

South Korea-1-2
United States-1-2

The teams in bold are from Group 1 and are competing against each other for one spot in Saturday's Gold Medal game.

Complete coverage is available at the IBAF website.

Second Round Schedule:

October 11
Canada vs. Australia (2 pm-MMP time)
USA vs. Cuba (7:30 pm)

October 12
USA vs. Venezuela (2 pm)
Canada vs. South Korea (7:30 pm)

October 13
USA vs. Australia (2 pm)
Canada vs. Venezuela (3 pm)

October 14
Canada vs. Cuba (2 pm)
USA vs. South Korea (7:30 pm)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Van Hekken leads Team USA to 2nd Round

Photo by Oklahoma City RedHawks. Used with permission

Team USA needed a strong outing from Andy Van Hekken Monday afternoon in Panama, and they got it. Van Hekken allowed five singles and no runs in eight innings facing only three batters over the minimum as Team USA knocked off host Panama at Rod Carew Stadium 5-0. The victory allowed Team USA to advance to the second round of the Baseball World Cup. They will next face Cuba Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.(Minute Maid Park time)

Van Hekken picked up two of Team USA's four victories in the first round of the competition. In his two starts, he has allowed nine hits and only one run in 14 innings. Assuming four days' rest, he could pitch again in the final day of the tournament Saturday.

USA Hopes Riding on Andy Van Hekken in Panama today

Picture by Oklahoma City Red Hawks. Used with permission

Andy Van Hekken's left arm could carry Team USA to the second round of the 2011 Baseball World Cup today. Van Hekken is pitching right now against host Panama at Rod Carew Stadium. A victory would put the Americans past Puerto Rico into the Second Round of the competition. A loss sends the club packing early for next week's Pan Am Games in Mexico.

Dr. Van Ostrand and Team Canada Through to Second Round

Jimmy Van Ostrand and his Canadian teammates have advanced to the second round of the Baseball World Cup in Panama. The Canadian squad, which also includes Emerson Frostad and Tri-City manager Stubby Clapp, begin the four game round-robin portion of the competition Tuesday.

Van Ostrand started six of Canada's first round games at first base. He was 7 for 23 with six runs scored, one home run, one double, four walks and four RBI.

Frostad, who spent time with Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City in 2011, was 5 for 13 with two runs scored and two RBI in the first round.

Nicaragua and catcher Marlon Avea have been eliminated from the tournament. Avea, who spent 2011 with the DSL Astros, went 3 for 14 with two walks. Nicaragua won one game in seven tries.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Is Jimmy Van Ostrand the Next Stubby Clapp?

Stop us if you've heard this one before. Jimmy Van Ostrand is helping lead the Canadian National Team to international success.

Through four games in this month's World Cup in Panama, Canada is 4 and 0 and their first baseman Jimmy Van Ostrand is 5 for 10 with one double, one home run, five runs scored and four RBI. Van Ostrand, 27 has been in the Astros organization since being drafted in 2006. He also represented Canada in the 2009 World Cup and the 2008 Olympics while part of the Astros' organization. One of Van Ostrand's coaches in the competition is Stubby Clapp. Clapp, who is one of the most decorated players in Canadian international baseball history spent 2011 as the manager of the Tri-City Valley Cats

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Farmstros is Officially Rule 5 Draft Eligible

There will be an interesting name on the list of potential draftees in this December's Rule 5 Draft: Farmstros.

Farmstros began following the Astros of the future after the 2007 minor league season was completed. Farmstros was 19 or older at that time, meaning Farmstros would be eligible for the fourth Rule 5 Draft beginning with the 2008 edition.

Thus, add another name to the 2011 Rule 5 Draft list.

Blake King Transaction Taught me Something

One of the things I enjoy about following the Astros of the Future is that I regularly learn something new about the inner-workings of the business of baseball. The outrighting of three players by the Astros yesterday was such an occasion.

One of the players the Astros dropped from their 40-man roster was right-handed pitcher Blake King. Houston had acquired King during the 2011 season when the Cardinals DFA'd him from their 40-man roster and placed him on waivers. I assumed that putting a player on waivers in this manner would terminate his original contract status, thus making said player a potential minor league free agent.

However, as Matt Eddy at Baseball America explained to me, King moved from the St. Louis to Houston without having his original contract status affected. The waivers protect that contract status. Since he only has 5.5 years of minor league service time, King is still the property of the Astros for the time being. He will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft; however, he is not eligible to be a free agent.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Three off of the 40-Man Roster

The Astros outrighted Xavier Cedeno, Blake King, and Lance Pendleton off of the 40-man roster Wednesday. All three should be eligible to be minor league free agents this off-seaon.

Reports are showing King will be placed on the Corpus Christi roster. The Astros picked him up on waivers from St. Louis during the 2011 season, so I think he will be eligible to be a free agent after the World Series. I am researching this at the moment.

NOTE: Further research has helped me learn that Blake King is not eligible to become a minor league free agent. However, he is vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft.

This move leaves the Astros' 40-man roster at 37.

Potential add-ons? Paul Clemens, Kody Hinze, Dayan Diaz would be my guess. If Jason Michaels becomes a free agent, this would leave one spot in the Astros' pocket for a Rule 5 selection.

Of course, the Astros will also eventually need to make room to bring back Jason Castro and presumably Brandon Lyon and Sergio Escalona, and maybe even Alberto Arias. All four of these players are currently on the 60-day disabled list and don't count against the 40-man roster.

Andy Van Hekken: 3295 Days and Counting in Panama

Picture by the Oklahoma City RedHawks used with permission

Apparently, Andy Van Hekken's ability to make quality starts isn't limited to North America.

Pitching in Panama, Van Hekken picked up Team USA's first victory in the Baseball World Cup Tuesday. He allowed four hits and one run in six innings as Team USA knocked off Chinese Taipei 15-1. Assuming Van Hekken pitches on the traditional four days' rest in this competition, his next start would be in Sunday's key game against Jimmy Van Ostrand and Team Canada.

One Clemens, Two Clemens, Paul Clemens, Koby Clemens

The status of the two Clemenses in the Astros organization is up in the air this off-season.

Paul Clemens, the right-handed pitcher acquired from Atlanta during the summer is vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft in December. Clemens made five starts for Corpus Christi before being promoted to Oklahoma City in the final week of the season. For the Hooks, he posted a 2.35 ERA in 30 2/3 IP. Seeing that the Astros gave up Michael Bourn for Paul Clemens(along with three other players), it is almost a given that they will protect him by adding him to the 40-man roster.

In 2011, Koby Clemens completed his sixth full season in the Astros' organization. This means he is eligible for minor league free agency this off-season. In his first season at AAA, Clemens batted .234 for Oklahoma City. He had 16 home runs and 55 RBI in 126 games. With Kody Hinze and Jonathan Singleton coming up the ladder at first base, it will be interesting to see if the Astros still have room for this Clemens in 2012.

Astros Prospect Kelvin Santana Suspended

Right-handed pitcher Kelvin Santana, who spent 2011 with the Dominican Astros has been suspended 50 games for using performance enhancing drugs. More information is available at Appy Astros.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dustin Kellogg: 1993-2011

The Farmstros Village flags are low
There's sadness in the air
One young man who had walked our streets
We'll no more see him there

He'd just moved in four months ago
We barely knew his name
But all signs pointed to young Dustin
Loved to play the game

An Astro of the Future, we won't see him pitch again
Condolences to those who love him,
Peace be with his friends

Astros' 2011 Draft Pick Kellogg Killed in Collision with 18-Wheeler

The Astros have confirmed that Dustin Kellogg was killed in a traffic accident early Tuesday morning in Montgomery County, Texas. Kellogg was drafted four months ago in the 34th Round of the draft by the Astros.

Brian McTaggart of posted a complete story about this sad news.

Preparation and Coaching Pay off for Jordan Scott

Picture by Ray Reynolds used with permission

Jordan Scott's stand-out 2011 season at Greeneville was the product of preparation prior to the season and good coaching once the games began.

Scott, who was voted the Farmstros Player of the Year, spent most of the summer with Greeneville, where he batted .337 with 41 runs scored and 16 extra-base hits in 60 games. He appreciates the fans that voted for him and says that, "It meant a lot to win that award."

Scott stayed healthy the entire season, a fact which he attributes to the four or five times a week he worked out in the off-season at Accleration Sports Institute in Greenville, South Carolina. Scott credited Greeneville hitting coach Josh Bonifay with helping him succeed in the Appalachian League. "If we needed anything, he was there," Scott said of Bonifay's role in helping the young hitters in Greeneville.

Scott, who is currently participating in the Astros' Fall Instructional League, plans to spend the off-season back in Greeneville following his workout regimen from last year. Whether 2012 finds him in Lexington or Lancaster, Scott plans to be ready.

Minor League Free Agents

Erick Abreu, RHP-Re-Signed with Houston
Alberto Arias, RHP- Re-Signed with Houston
Jonnathan Aristil, RHP-Re-Signed with Houston
Brandon Barnes, OF-Re-Signed with Houston
Kristian Bueno, LF
Robinson Cancel, C
Xavier Cedeno, LHP- Re-Signed with Houston
Koby Clemens, 1B
Carlos Corporan, C- Re-Signed with Houston
Luis Durango, OF- Signed with Atlanta
Brian Esposito, C- Signed with Cincinnati
Emerson Frostad, C- Re-Signed with Houston
Sammy Gervacio, RHP
Anderson Hernandez, IF- Signed with Pittsburgh
Brad James, RHP
Drew Locke, OF-signed with the SugarLand Skeeters
David Martinez, RHP-Re-Signed with Houston
Jhonny Medrano, IF
Ozzie Navarro, IF
Lance Pendleton, RHP-Re-Signed with Houston
Ryan Rowland-Smith, LHP-Signed with Cubs
Wladimir Sutil, IF-Signed with Arizona
J.R. Towles, C- Signed with Minnesota
Jose Valdez, RHP-Re-Signed with Houston
Jose Vallejo, IF
Andy Van Hekken, LHP- Signed with Nexen Heroes of Korean Baseball Organization
Ross Wolf, RHP- Signed with Baltimore

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Astros to take one Last Look at Hinze in Arizona

Photo by George Tuley used with permission

Kody Hinze put up a lot of numbers for Lancaster and Corpus Christi during the 2011 regular season: 27 doubles, 29 home runs and 98 RBI to name a few. However, the number he is aiming for when play begins in the Arizona Fall League Tuesday afternoon is 40.

Hinze is eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time this December. His time in the Arizona Fall League will be the final chance for the Astros to evaluate him before deciding whether to protect him with a 40-man roster spot in mid-Novmeber.

Hinze and seven other members of the Astros organization will be playing for the Salt River Rafters in Arizona. The River Rafters begin play at 1:35 (Minute Maid Park time) on Tuesday against Peoria.

Other Farmstros in Arizona:
Jay Austin
Jason Castro#
Jake Goebbert
Chris Hicks$
Dallas Keuchel
Roberto Pena%
Jason Stoffel
Josh Zeid

#Castro is scheduled to join the Arizona Fall League provided the health of his knee allows it.

$Like Hinze, Hicks is also Rule 5 eligible for the first time this December.

%Pena, a catcher, has been tabbed to replace Castro while he continues his recovery. Pena played 82 games for Lexington in 2011. He was drafted in 2010.

Arizona Fall League Website

Saturday, October 1, 2011

13 Reasons the Astros Should be in the American League in 2013

Where will the Astros of the Future be the future? National League? American League? Atantic League? I say it should be the American League, and here is why:

The Top 13 Reasons the Astros Should be in the American League in 2013:

#13: Ed Wade can trade with the Phillies even more since he doesn't have to worry about helping a team in his own league.

#12: With the DH in place, more chances for position players to bunt.

#11: Lee Greenwood didn't sing I'm Proud to Be a National did he?

#10: The American League is first among the leagues, alphabetically that is.

#9: "Hey Brad Ausmus, we're playing at least 18 games in California this season, want to come join the coaching staff?"

#8: Astros jump into race with Milwaukee to become the first team to represent both leagues in the World Series.

#7: Who wouldn't pay to see the expression on Zach Levine's face the first time a DH steps to the plate at Minute Maid Park?

#6: With the Blue Jays coming to town every year, Minute Maid Park will be filled with O Canada! at least three times a season.

#5: Increased chance that Milo Hamilton will get a chance to call a game at his 60th Major League stadium-Minnesota's Target Field.

#4: What's more classy than umpires in burgandy sport coats? Oh wait, they don't wear those anymore.

#3: Projections indicate that in 2013, 106 NL losses will be worth only 102.7 AL losses.

#2: Manager still has a chance to show off his "double switch" prowess during inter-league play

#1: Two Words: Bud. Selig.

Van Ostrand Going International as Well

James Van Ostrand is playing in Panama too. While Team USA has Andy Van Hekken, Team Canada will have some Astros' representatives in this month's World Cup as well. James Van Ostrand, 1B, Emerson Frostad,C, are on the roster for the Canadian squad. Stubby Clapp, who managed the Tri-City Valley Cats in 2011 is with Team Canada as a coach.

Also, Marlon Avea, a catcher who spent the 2011 season with the Dominican Astros, will be representing Nicaragua in the competition.

The International Baseball Federation website is offering coverage of the event as well as paid subscriptions to watch over 50 games of the tournament live.

Van Hekken in red, white and blue

Andy Van Hekken and his Team USA teammates begin play in the baseball World Cup Sunday in Panama. Van Hekken, who spent 2011 with Oklahoma City, will also be pitching for the United States in the Pan Am games later this month in Mexico.

Team USA's schedule in the Round Robin phase of the World Cup:

10/2- Japan (7:30 pm-Minute Maid Park time)-postponed
10/3- Puerto Rico (7:30 pm)
10/4- Chinese Taipei (7:30 pm)
10/5- Japan (5:00 pm)-Make-up of 10/2 game
10/6- Greece (2:00 pm)
10/7- The Netherlands (7:30 pm)
10/8- Panama (7:30 pm)
10/9- Canada (2:00 pm)

Team USA's website is providing coverage of the event.