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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Skeeters add Two More Former Farmstros

Two more players with experience in the Astros' organization have been added to the 2012 roster of the Sugar Land Skeeters. Colton Pitkin, LHP was drafted by Houston in the 2007 draft out of Baytown Sterling High School in the Houston vicinity. Pitkin topped out in High A of the Astros' system before being released after the 2011 season. Tyler Lumsden, LHP was acquired from Kansas City for Jordan Parraz prior to the 2009 season. He split his time in the Houston organization between AA and AAA.

The Skeeters also announced the signing of another former Farmstro, Ryan McKeller, who they had previously acquired the rights to in the Atlantic League expansion draft. With the addition of these three players, the Skeeters currently have signed or hold the rights to six players who have played in the Astros' system.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Astros Might Disappear on April 26

It will be business as usual for the Astros' top four affiliates on April 26. The RedHawks, Hooks, JetHawks, and Legends are at home on the last Thursday of April.

However, at the top of the ladder, even with the great efforts of Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, Brad Mills and the entire Astros' organization over the next 58 days, there is a distinct possibility that the franchise could completely disappear from the Houston sports scene on April 26, which is shaping up to be the perfect storm of sports days.

On April 25, the Astros complete a series in Milwaukee. From Wisconsin, they will travel to Cincinnati, where they will begin a weekend series with the Reds on April 27. Back in Houston, given the events on the April 26 sports calendar, it seems likely that the 7 & 12 Astros(this record is mere speculation) could well be completely forgotten.

NFL Draft- The Texans will be taking part in the first round of the 2012 Draft. The club will be looking to add a few pieces in hopes of moving even deeper into the play-offs.

NBA Play-offs- The Rockets will wrap up their regular season with a game at Toyota Center against New Orleans. Based on the current standings, Houston's basketball entry will be gearing up for their first play-off appearance since 2009. NOTE: Since I originally posted this, the Rockets have done their own disappearing act and will miss the play-offs for a third straight season.

Atlantic League Baseball Begins- The Sugar Land Skeeters are scheduled to play their first game ever at Constellation Field against the York Revolution.

BBVA Compass Stadium- By April 26, the stadium around the corner from Minute Maid Park will be receiving its final touches. The new home of the 2011 MLS Eastern Conference Champions is slated to open on May 12.

Farmstros' Spring Training Photo Album

What if somebody tracked down pictures of Astros' prospects from Kissimmee and provided links to them in one convenient spot? You'd have the Farmstros' Spring Training Photo Album. Please note, the pictures will likely be in the middle of someone's blog, requiring a little searching. If you find any pictures not included in this album, please let me know the link, and I'll try to add them.

Adam Bailey

Brandon Barnes

Brandon Barnes and Jacob Goebbert

Tyler Burnett

'Cats Corner- Day 1 in Kissimmee

'Cats Corner- Day 2 in Kissimmee

'Cats Corner- Day 3 in Kissimmee

'Cats Corner- Day 4 in Kissimmee

Paul Clemens pitches a bullpen session(Video)

Paul Clemens and DeShields(Video)

Clemens, Leon, and Weiland

Cosart vs. Singleton

Cosart, Foltynewicz, Oberholtzer, and Seaton

Jamaine Cotton

Crawfish Boxes backfields You Tube page

Crawfish Boxes photo album

Chase Davidson

Delino DeShields

DeShields and Springer

DeShields, Singleton and Springer

Rene Garcia

Miles Hamblin

John Hinson

Kody Hinze

Jimmy Howick

Dallas Keuchel

Michael Kvasnicka

Chia-jen Lo

Chan Moon

Telvin Nash

Brett Oberholtzer

Video of Rodney Quintero pitching

Domingo Santana

Tommy Shirley

Singleton Video

Jonathan Singleton

Jonathan Singleton

Jonathan Singleton

Springer Video

Alex Todd

Jimmy Van Ostrand

Brandt Walker

Chris Wallace gets a bear hug from Livan Hernandez

Chris Wallace pinch-hitting

Garen Wright

Monday, February 27, 2012

The (Chris) Wallace Report, Part 1

Catcher/Non-Roster Invite Chris Wallace has agreed to report from Kissimmee for Farmstros this Spring Training. The above audio is Chris' first report recorded on February 26, 2012. Among other things, he talked about the ease of catching bullpens for big league pitchers.

I Wonder if THESE Guys had a Gun on Their Shirt?

Many thanks to a golfer at the Literacy Advance Houston golf tournament who introduced me to a team that I would have been following if I had created Farmstros 50 years ago.

One participant at the charity event(I believe his name was Scott Moore) was wearing a hat similar to the one pictured above. Further inquiry revealed the fact that the Moultrie(Georgia) Colt 22s were an affiliate of the Houston Colt 45s in 1962 and 1963. The Colt 22s competed in the Georgia/Florida League during that time. In case you are looking for some unique headgear for the Astros' throwback nights this season, the vintage cap is available at this link.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chat (w/Jeff Luhnow) Coming on Sunday Night

By Sunday night, one week of Spring Training will be in the books, which makes that an ideal time to crank up the old Vitrola(i.e. Chat software), so the Farmstros Village can talk about propsects. I've scheduled the event to start at 9:15 p.m.(Minute Maid Park time). Please mark your calendar and invite your friends.

This chat will be brought to you by ALUMINUM CAN MUSIC MAN, who invites you to SPEND EARTH DAY AT THE BALLPARK.

UPDATE: Just got a DM from Jeff Luhnow on Twitter.(Wednesday afternoon): He is going to try to participate for about 30 minutes.

A few thoughts about Sunday's Live Chat

Wanted to share a few things with the Village before Sunday night's Live Chat.

This is my first time moderating a chat like this, so my main focus will be on making sure it flows smoothly and staying out of the way. (I'm assuming you are coming to the chat to hear from the GM instead of me anyway.) I am confident that you will bring a surplus of good questions for Mr. Luhnow during the time he participates.

If you can't participate during the live chat, I am willing to entertain your questions via Twitter or email. I will do my best to get them into the conversation. However, I will lean towards including the questions from live chatters.

This is Farmstros, so, of course, I will be giving priority to questions about the farm system.

Please note that I did ask the GM to let me know if there are any topics he wishes not to discuss. I have not heard back on that issue, but I plan to respect any such requests from him in moderating the chat.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spring Training Transactions

Juan Abreu, RHP, optioned to Oklahoma City.

Wander Alvino, RHP, released.

Alberto Arias, RHP, released.

Brandon Barnes, OF, reassigned to minor league camp.

Brian Bixler, IF, reassigned to minor league camp.

Jason Bourgeois, OF, traded with Humberto Quintero to Kansas City for Kevin Chapman and a PTBNL.

Jordan Brown, OF, released.

Xavier Cedeno, LHP, reassigned to minor league camp.

Adam Champion, LHP, released.

Kevin Chapman, LHP, acquired from Kansas City along with a PTBNL for Humberto Quintero and Jason Bourgeois.

Paul Clemens, RHP, optioned to Oklahoma City.

Ryan Cole, RHP, voluntarily retired from organization.

Jordan Comadena, C, released.

Carlos Corporan, C, reassigned to minor league camp.

Jack Cust, OF, released.

Jorge DeLeon, RHP, optioned to Corpus Christi.

Enerio Del Rosario, RHP, optioned to Oklahoma City.

Delino DeShields, Jr., IF, reassigned to minor league camp.

Robert Donovan, RHP, released.

Zach Duke, LHP, released.

David Duncan, LHP, released.

David Flores, 3B, released.

Emerson Frostad, C, released.

Rene Garcia, C, reassigned to minor league camp.

Jon Gaston, OF, released.

Justin Gill, RHP, released.

Jacob Goebbert, OF, reassigned to minor league camp.

Kevin Gonzalez, C, retired.

Kyle Greenwalt, RHP, released.

Angel Heredia, IF, suspended 50 games for PED violation.

Diory Hernandez, IF, reassigned to minor league camp.

Livan Hernandez, RHP, released.

Blake King, RHP, released.

Bryce Lane, OF, released.

Arcenio Leon, RHP, optioned to Corpus Christi.

Jordan Lyles, RHP, optioned to Round Rock.

Steve Martin, RHP, retired.

Fernando Martinez, OF, optioned to Oklahoma City.

Jacob Meskin, C, released.

Scott Moore, IF, reassigned to minor league camp.

Mike Ness, RHP, released.

Jimmy Paredes, IF, optioned to Oklahoma City.

Lance Pendleton, RHP, reassigned to minor league camp. Released.

Landon Powell, C, signed as a minor league free agent. Invited to Major League Camp. Reassigned to minor league camp.

Humberto Quintero, C, traded with Jason Bourgeois to Kansas City for Kevin Chapman and a PTBNL.

Aneury Rodriguez, RHP, optioned to Oklahoma City.

Ebert Rosario, RHP, released.

Angel Sanchez, SS, reassigned to minor league camp.

J.B. Shuck, OF, optioned to Oklahoma City.

Justin Shults, 1B, retired.

Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF, reassigned to minor league camp.

Matison Smith, RHP, released.

Brad Snyder, OF, reassigned to minor league camp.

George Springer, OF, reassigned to minor league camp.

Devon Torrence, OF, released.

Joe Thurston, IF, released.

Jose Valdez, RHP, reassigned to minor league camp.

Jimmy Van Ostrand, 1B, released.

Jose Vargas, OF, released.

Henry Villar, RHP, reassigned to minor league camp.

Jonathan Villar, SS, reassigned to minor league camp.

Brandt Walker, RHP, released.

Brett Wallace, IF, optioned to Oklahoma City.

Chris Wallace, C, reassigned to minor league camp.

Bubby Williams, C, released.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Coming Soon- THE (Chris) WALLACE REPORT

I am scheduled to record the first installment of THE (Chris) WALLACE REPORT Friday afternoon. Chris Wallace, who finished last year with Corpus Christi, has agreed to give the Farmstros Village an occasional look inside his 2012 Spring Training experience.

NOTE: Due to a communication breakdown the first interview has been moved back to Sunday evening.

These Guys Have the DH Already

Major League baseball with a designated hitter will become a part of Houston's everyday life in April 2013. If you feel the need to give the whole DH thing a test run before it debuts at Minute Maid Park next year, the team down in Sugar Land is available for your convenience. In case you need more information, here is a link to a TEST blog that I put together related to the DH-loving Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League. The Skeeters open their first season on April 26 at Constellation Field.

The Farm- A Video about the JetHawks

Sparrow Songs - Episode 10 - The Farm from Sparrow Songs on Vimeo.

The JetHawks shared the above video on their Facebook page to help their fans get ready for baseball season. THE FARM is a short documentary(about ten minutes) about life in minor league baseball. Among the "characters" in the show, which came out in August 2010, are Jeff Lasky, Federico Hernandez, and Brian Pellegrini. I'm not sure if this means anything, but I started humming TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME while I watched it.

Video by Sparrow Songs. Embedded with permission.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Astros Could Use a few Warren Brusstars, Too

Unlike a friend told me back in 1978, Warren Brusstar probably wasn't the "fastest-throwing pitcher in the National League", but, as I just posted at, the 2012 Astros could use a few pitchers like him.

Express Fans Can Take a Trip Down Memory Lane Friday

Round Rock Express fans who miss following the ASTROS of the future at Dell Diamond can take a nostalgia trip Friday evening. Baseball fans in the Austin area can listen to a possible Astro of the Future on KVET in Austin. The station will carry University of Texas' Friday night game at Stanford, when the Longhorns take on Mark Appel and the Stanford Cardinal. Appel is one candidate to be the Astros first selection in the 2012 draft. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.(Minute Maid Park Time)

Appel, a right-handed pitcher who is scheduled to start the Friday game, did an inteview with Astros County Wednesday. You can read it here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Winning Tasted Good to Austin Wates

Farmstros Pre-Season Player of the Year Austin Wates got a taste of winning in the minor leagues near the end of the 2011 season, and it made a good impression on him. While Lancaster finished the season with the worst record in the California League, the JetHawks went on a roll and won 12 of their last 18 games. That stretch was one of the highlights of Wates' first full pro season. "We were on a roll, and we were having a blast in the clubhouse. What's more fun than winning and having a blast doing it?!"

Wates was the JetHawks' most consistent hitter over the course of the season, batting .300 with 23 doubles, 75 RBI and 26 stolen bases. However, he hit a rough patch when the team as a whole was on its best stretch of the season. "I wasn't playing particularly well at the time, but personal achievements only go so far, and winning brings along its own set of rewards."

After the grind of his first professional season, Wates let himself rest a little bit longer this off-season. He took five weeks off before going back to the weight room to prepare for 2012. About the adjustment Wates said, "I trust my body of work, and I have learned to understand where my body is at."

Wates indicated that he heads into every season with similar goals, and 2012 is no exception. I aim to "control what I can control, play to the best of my ability, and outplay my opponents. I figure if I can do those things more consistently I will be right where I want to be."

Monday, February 20, 2012


Following Jonathon Fixler in 2010 and Drew Locke in 2011, Chris Wallace is the third player to document his Spring Training experience for the Farmstros Village. While, Fixler and Locke did their reports in writing, the plan is to have Wallace, who is a non-roster invite for the Astros, share his spring training via audio.

Part 1, February 26, 2012

Part 2, March 13, 2012

Part 3, April 3, 2012

Perhaps this Red Head is a Wizard

Regular readers of this blog know that I rarely subject you to my opinions and/or frustrations about the Astros. However, reading James Yasko's recent rant about the team removing guns from the Colt 45s uniforms has compelled me to rely on my readers to grant a little leeway while I have a brief rant.

Several times in the past few years, I have approached the Astros media department about the possibility of covering an event at Minute Maid Park that is relevant to this blog. A recent example is the upcoming college series involving teams like Rice and Texas. With the Astros ever-increasing focus on building through the draft, an opportunity to cover this event would be of great benefit to my blog(so I proposed to the Astros).

Not surprisingly, my request was denied as usual, since I am an independent blogger. This reply didn't surprise me as the Astros, as is their right, are reluctant to give too much access to people like us. I say this in spite of the recent show of tolerance towards bloggers displayed at Fan Fest. That day as well as any other social media events organized by Alyson Footer, will be shrewd business moves given current public opinion about the state of the Astros. The club can use all the public positive coverage it can get.

I fully understand when the Astros reject my requests to get access to cover events that are relevant to my blog. I'll admit that if I was in their shoes, I would be reluctant to give any access to some of the bloggers out there, so it is probably easier to restrict them all. However, every time I get rejected, without fail, I see a story about an Astros on the internet or attend an event at Minute Maid Park and come face to face with a certain red-headed BLOGGER who IS granted a press pass to these events. Most recently, I saw pictures of him at the Milo Hamilton retirement press conference and I saw him at The Urban Invitational with a press lanyard draped around his neck.

In case you don't who I am talking about, it is the ever-present Stephen Goff who covers the Astros for If being irritated about his ability to garner press credentials from the Astros makes me petty and small, well, then, I am petty and small. I'd rather be honest about my shortcomings. However, having been turned down by the Astros numerous times based on my status as a "blogger", and never having seen proof that Mr. Goff is more than the same, I continue to be baffled by his ability to find himself adorned with a press credential.

Luhnow Will Have $11.1777 Million to Spend

According to a post by Jim Callis with Baseball America, Jeff Luhnow will be able to spend up to $11.1777 million to sign the first 11 players the Astros draft in the June draft. $7.2 million of this amount is the recommended signing bonus for the #1 pick. Callis explains in more detail the penalties incurred by teams who go over their allotted amount when they are signing draft picks. His post also includes the draft budgets for all 30 teams.

Callis' numbers are based on the assumption that Derek Lee does not sign a Major League contract.

Baseball Starts in Corpus Christi today, too. Would you Like Fries with That?

When it comes to kicking off the baseball season today, it looks like the Corpus Christi Hooks have out-Whataburgered the Astros. On the day that pitchers and catchers start working out in Kissimmee, two of the top 10 high school teams in the state of Texas(Corpus Christi Carroll and Corpus Christi Moody) will take the field tonight to launch the baseball season at Whataburger Field. This evening's game is the first of a series of high school contests schedueled to take place at the home of the Astros' AA affiliate.

Carroll is rated #1 in the state. The Tigers roster includes OF/P Courtney Hawkins who is one of top ranked high school seniors in the country. Moody is ranked #9 in Texas for the 2012 season. Tonight's game is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wallace and Garcia are non-roster invites

Good news for the four catchers who are heading to Astros' Spring Training: two more have been added to their number. Brian McTaggart tweeted that Chris Wallace(pictured above) and Rene Garcia have been invited to Major League camp as non-roster players. Garcia was a non-roster invite last spring.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Anteaters are in Town

With all due respect to the other five teams playing in this weekend's Urban Invitational, the University of California-Irvine is the most interesting team to watch when it comes to players the Astros may be drafting this summer and in summers to come. The Anteaters have been to the NCAA Super Regionals in two of the last three seasons, and Mike Gillespie's squad is favored to win the Big West Conference this season.

Kyle Hooper, a right-handed pitcher and shortstop D.J. Crumlich are listed by Baseball America as two of the top five draft-eligible players in the Big West Conference this season. Crumlich was on the field for UC-I this morning at Minute Maid Park against Alabama St. UC-I's starting lineup also includes 2B Dillon Moyer(pictured above). Moyer, a sophomore, is the son of Major League pitcher, Jamie Moyer.

The tournament continues in Houston through the weekend. Saturday's games will be held at Minute Maid Park, while Sunday's games are scheduled to be played at the Astros' Urban Youth Academy in Sylvester Turner Park. Friday's games were moved from the UYA to Minute Maid Park due to weather concerns. Two games on Saturday, including UC-Irvine's game at 3 p.m. will be aired on the MLB Network and

A few other non-Anteaters to keep an eye on this weekend at Minute Maid Park:

Jose DeLeon, RHP, Southern
Ryan Epperson, OF, Alabama St.
Waldyvan Estrada, OF, Alabama St.
Pervis Mann, LHP, Grambling
Emmanuel Marrero, SS, Alabama St.
Lionel Morrill, OF, Grambling

I included a few more pictures from Friday's Alabama St./Cal-Irvine game on Facebook.

Is Anyone Going to OCCUPY Greer Stadium?

Seeing the early planning for an event for Astros' bloggers in Atlanta in August at Turner Field makes me wonder if anybody is planning to Occupy Herschel Greer Stadium this season. Greer Stadium(with its gigantic guitar scoreboard) is the home of the Nashville Sounds, Milwaukee's AAA affiliate. The stadium is also in the backyard of James with Astros County and Brooks(aka Subber10). Come to think of it, Steve of Appy Astros is in Tennessee as well.

The Oklahoma City RedHawks, Houston's AAA club, visits Greer Stadium twice this season. The first visit is from April 17-20. The second stop is scheduled for June 19-22.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Amazing Racers Report on Sunday

I still haven't heard back from the leadership of the new Astros/Rockets TV network about a proposed Farmstros Edition of The Amazing Race. However, that won't stop me from listening in when the host of The Amazing Race, Phil Keoghan appears on Sports Radio 610 Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.(Minute Maid Park time). I presume Keoghan is appearing to promote the latest edition of the Race, which begins on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another Chat Test

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Try this out if you Have a Moment, Please


If this does what it is supposed to, it should take you to the Farmstros Facebook page. If it works, please LIKE Farmstros on Facebook. Thanks for indulging my technology experimentation.

Rough End to 2011 Spurs Kyle Hallock toward the 2012 Season

Picture from the Tri-City ValleyCats. Used with permission.

Kyle Hallock, who was voted the 2012 Farmstros Pre-Season Pitcher of the Year, had a solid season with Tri-City in 2011, posting a 2.63 ERA in 13 starts for the ValleyCats. However, a rough outing on the final day of the season is providing Hallock's motivation as he prepares for his first full season as a professional.

Hallock entered the final day of the New York-Penn League season with a 1.82 ERA. Yet, his Labor Day outing at Vermont lasted only 2 1/3 innings and he allowed 6 earned runs. Hallock summed up the way he concluded his 2011 season, "I did not pitch well and do not enjoy that feeling." That bad feeling has been in Hallock's mind pushing him through an off-season of lifts, conditioning and the other aspects of his preparation for the 2012 season.

Hallock speaks highly of his time with Tri-City. He was impressed with the fans, the coaches, and the ValleyCats' front office and interns. A few highlights of the 2011 season for Hallock were making his first professional start against Connecticut and playing against the league's top prospects in the NYPL all-star game.

Wherever he ends up in 2012, Hallock will be a pitcher who takes "pride in fielding (his) position, controlling the running game and making in game adjustments to limit big innings." He throws four pitches, relying on his fastball. "Every out is important," Hallock said, "I attack each hitter one pitch at a time."

In the Farmstros Pre-Season Pitcher of the Year voting, which wrapped up Monday, Hallock received 363 of 609 votes, eclipsing Kirk Clark(171 votes), Jarred Cosart(27) and Dallas Keuchel(10). Hallock thanked the Farmstros Village for their support. In addition, he thanked his family and friends and the people of Sandusky and Perkins Township, Ohio "for their backing."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jeff Luhnow Brings the Dominican to You

Astros GM Jeff Luhnow took some of his crew to the Dominican Republic shortly after Fan Fest on Saturday. If his Twitter Feed (@JLuhnow) is any indication, we are going to see some of the highlights of the trip. He has tweeted three pictures from the D.R. already this afternoon.

I Sincerely Hope Jeff Luhnow Knows What He is Doing

It struck me during the Houston Baseball Dinner that I'm not really that much of an Astros fan at the moment. The dinner was a neat event and it was fun to reminisce about the first 46 years of Houston's Major League baseball history. Yes, I know that the Colt 45s/Astros have played 50 seasons; however, for some strange reason, the anniversary video played at the event wrapped up with Craig Biggio's 3000th hit in 2007.

I attended the dinner with my Farmstros hat on. Over the past four seasons, being able to follow the Astros of the Future with you has provided me(and hopefully some of you) a diversion from the debacle which has been unfolding at Minute Maid Park. I get a kick out of keeping track of all the players trying to get to the big leagues with the Astros. I especially get a thrill when guys like Jordan Lyles, J.D. Martinez and JB Shuck do make it to the show.

However, attending the baseball dinner made me step out of my Farmstros hat and put on my "Astros Buddy since age 2 cap." From that perspective, I must admit that the state of the team currently playing in Minute Maid Park is such that for emotional and financial reasons, I would rather go to a Rice Owls game most of the time than make the trip to Crawford and Texas. Further, as a fan who grew up listening to ball games on the radio, it has gotten increasingly difficult to follow the club through that special medium as Mr. Hamilton's broadcasts become less and less focused on the action on the field.

Having said that, I am encouraged by the new direction that Jim Crane is heading with the organization. My thoughts about the new water and food policy have been well-documented as, to me, it is a tangible example of change and, as such, a source of hope for this fan of the club. I am also, encouraged about the possibility of Jeff Luhnow having the wherewithal to bring winning baseball back to Minute Maid Park. Indeed, there is a glimmer of hope accompanying the 2012 Astros.

Yet, at this point, it is just a glimmer. Over time, if it turns out that Jeff Luhnow knows what he is doing,(which I sincerely hope does), I may pull out my "Astros' Buddy since age 2 cap" more often. However, I'll be heading into this spring with the Farmstros cap firmly in place.

So You Want to Go to Minor League Spring Training

Minor league Spring Training is just around the corner. A mini-camp attended by a handful of pitchers and catchers begins February 24. Pitchers and catchers report March 3 and Position Players are scheduled to arrive March 7.

For readers heading to Kissimmee with hopes of checking out the back fields, here is a link to a Minor League Spring Training Guide that Larry McCoy wrote for Farmstros last spring. With the new leadership of the organization, the spring training format could be changed; however, Larry's guide should serve as a good starting point for fans of the Astros of the Future.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Water has Returned to Minute Maid Park

Many thanks to Marco the Astros' tour guide who helped me document the return of outside water to Minute Maid Park, and to Jim Crane for making it possible. For the record, these pictures were taken at 10:17 a.m., Saturday, February 11, 2012 during Fan Fest. Here's hoping 2012 is the start of something cool and refreshing for baseball in Houston.

Houston Baseball Dinner

Many thanks to the Farmstros Village(especially Brandon and the Valley Cats) for giving me the opportunity to go the Houston Baseball Dinner Friday night. My seat was in the back row of tables and a good distance from most of the action. However, I was able to bring home a few images for your enjoyment.

#50 J.R. Richard

Bill Brown received the Fred Hartman award for long and meritorious service to baseball. write Zach Levine introduced Wandy Rodriguez as the Astros Pitcher of the Year. Levine even showed his bilingual skills, doing part of the introduction in Spanish.

Brian McTaggart let me take his picture before he ran off to break another story.

I posted a few more pictures of the event on Facebook.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Van Ostrand is a Hall of Famer

Jimmy Van Ostrand will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the Canadian national team that won a Gold Medal in the 2011 Pan Am Games. Van Ostrand drove in the game-winning run in that competition's Gold Medal Game in Mexico. Among the players going into the Canadian Hall this summer is former Astro Rusty Staub. The induction ceremony is scheduled for June 23 in St. Mary's, Ontario.

A Pitching Prospect and the H1N1 virus.

R.J. Alaniz's road to the top of the Astros' prospect list included a trip through the 2009 H1N1 epidemic. I provide more detail in my latest post.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Will this Reader be a Leader?

Six representatives of the Astros' organization presented a bi-lingual storytime for children and their parents at the Cy-Fair College Branch of the Harris County Public Library. Jeff Luhnow(pictured above) and Alex Trevino shared a baseball-themed book with the audience in Spanish. Jed Lowrie, J.D. Martinez and Brad Mills completed the slate by reading a book in English. Bill Brown kept the appearance rolling.

Since they were surrounded by books, the presenters shared their favorite books:

Bill Brown- The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.

Jed Lowrie- The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. Lowrie is a fan of all of Dan Brown's work. However, he is searching for a good novel to read at the moment if any one has any good ideas.

Jeff Luhnow- Luhnow couldn't pick out a specific favorite book, but he said he has read The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss to his children countless times.

J.D. Martinez- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

Brad Mills- The Bible and As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.

Alex Trevino- Ball Four by Jim Bouton.

Pictures from the event are posted here.

One of the librarians at the event, Paula Gonzales, was wearing a vintage rainbow uniform she borrowed from her husband's closet.

Welcome Back to Texas, Drew Locke

Drew Locke enjoyed playing in Texas so much that he is coming back to the Lone Star state for the 2012 baseball season. Locke, who will turn 29 on February 28, has signed on to play for Sugar Land’s new independent league team, the Skeeters. Although he grew up in Boston, the outfielder is familiar with baseball in Texas. He played for Houston’s affiliates in Round Rock in 2010 and Corpus Christi in 2009.

Locke met Josh Pressley- who was the first player signed by the Skeeters’ franchise earlier this off-season- during the Astros’ Spring Training in 2009. After signing with the Skeeters, Pressley started recruiting Locke to join him on the Atlantic League franchise’s roster. Locke said, “I wasn’t getting offers for affiliated ball, so I started thinking about what I was going to do. I contacted the team, and they were interested in signing me.”

Despite the lack of offers to play in affiliated baseball, Locke believes he still has what it takes to play in the majors. “If I have to start the year in Sugar Land to prove it, that's what I have to do,” said Locke. A roster spot in the Atlantic League, generally regarded as the top league in indepdent baseball, will provide Locke an ideal opportunity to display his abilities to big league scouts.

As for what Skeeters fans will see from Locke in 2012, he is “going to hit and knock in runs,” which he has “done his whole career”. In three seasons as part of the Houston organization (he spent 2011 in Oklahoma City), Locke played 389 games and batted .297 with a .485 slugging percentage. He totaled 93 doubles, 48 home runs and 241 RBI in those three seasons. In 2009, he was the Hooks MVP, batting a league-leading .338 with 20 home runs and 109 RBI. Locke said, “I come to the park ready to play everyday, and I have a lot of fun on the field. And I definitely have something to prove!”

Ironically, signing with a team in Texas gives Locke a chance to play close to his New England home for the first time since he wrapped up his collegiate career at Boston College in 2005. On the Skeeters’ trips to Connecticut and New Jersey, Locke will be playing within driving distance of numerous family members in Massachusetts. He indicated that he had a chance to sign closer to home; however, he believes “this is the team to be on this year. I feel comfortable playing in the state of Texas, and the weather is definitely nicer in the beginning of the season.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Farmstros Pre-Season Pitcher of the Year

Now that the Farmstros Village has elected Austin Wates its pre-season Player of the Year, it is time to select the pre-season Pitcher of the Year. Voting will run through 11:59 a.m.(Minute Maid Park time), Monday, February 13.

The Candidates:

Jake Buchanan, 22, RHP(ages as of April 5, 2012). Buchanan was voted the Farmstros Pitcher of the Year in 2011. The #13 prospect in the organization according to Baseball America, he had a 3.91 ERA over 25 starts for Lancaster. He made one solid start at the end of the season for Corpus Christi.

Kirk Clark, 23, RHP. Clark has led the Astros' minor league system in saves each of the last two seasons. He had some rough outings for Lancaster in 2011, but ended the season with 19 saves. Clark was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Creighton.

Paul Clemens, 24, RHP. The Astros picked up Clemens from Atlanta in the Michael Bourn trade. He made five starts for Corpus Christi, posting a 2.35 ERA before getting promoted to Oklahoma City for one start at the end of the season. He was added to the 40-man roster in the off-season.

Jarred Cosart, 21, RHP. Cosart, who was acquired from Philadelphia in the Hunter Pence trade, made seven starts for Corpus Christi after joining the organization last summer. His ERA in those starts was 4.71; however, Baseball America ranks Cosart, who went to high school at Clear Creek in the Houston area, as the Astros' top pitching prospect.

Jorge DeLeon, 24, RHP. In 2011, the converted shortstop continued his climb up the Astros' pitching ladder. He made 43 appearances out of the Lexington bullpen. In 55 IP, he struck out 51 batters, posted a 3.42 ERA and recorded 16 saves.

Dayan Diaz, 23, RHP. After missing almost two whole seasons with injury, Diaz burst onto the scene with Tri-City in 2011. He had 70 strikeouts in 50 innings for the Valley Cats. His ERA was a tiny 1.98.

Kyle Hallock, 23, LHP. The Astros selected Hallock in the 10th Round of the 2011 Draft out of Kent St. He made 13 starts for Tri-City posting a 2.63 ERA in 62 innings.

Adrian Houser, 19, RHP. Houser was the Astros highest-selected pitcher in the 2011 draft. After signing last summer, he spent time with the GCL Astros and Greeneville. The #11 prospect in the system, Houser made a total 12 appearances and struck out 44 in 48 innings.

Dallas Keuchel, 24, LHP. Keuchel was Corpus Christi's top starter in 2011. He posted a 3.17 ERA in 20 starts for the Hooks. He made seven starts at the end of the season, for AAA Oklahoma City.

Nick Tropeano, 21, RHP. Tropeano was a fifth round pick in the 2011 Draft. He made 12 starts for the Valley Cats. In 53 innings pitched, he struck out 63 and posted a 2.36 ERA.

*Jason Chowning, 24, RHP. This award traditionally has 10 candidates; however, Chowning(@Jason_Chowning) indicated via Twitter that he is poised to win the title. After reviewing the numbers, I have decide to give him a shot. In 2011, Chowning made 35 relief appearances for Lexington. He struck out 60 in 59 innings with a 2.45 ERA.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Come Toast Jim Crane with Farmstros on Saturday

This Saturday marks Farmstros first opportunity to bring the bottle of water pictured above into Minute Maid Park. As I posted here before, the lifting of the ban on bringing water into Minute Maid Park is my favorite of Jim Crane's fan friendly initiatives. In fact, I liked the move so much that I bought a brand new bottle of water to take the next time I go to Minute Maid Park.

This Saturday's Fan Fest is that opportunity. Due to other committments, I can't stay much past 10:20 a.m., but I plan to be at Minute Maid Park when the doors open at 10. I will be heading to the Crawford Boxes where I will drink a toast to the new owner of the Astros("Here's hoping 2012 is the beginning of something cool and refreshing for baseball in Houston".)

If you are at Fan Fest early come join me, and we can drink a toast together. If you show up later, feel free to do your own toast, and send me a picture.

This Skeeter used to be a Farmstro

According to a release from the SugarLand Skeeters, Drew Locke has signed to play with the Atlantic League team in 2012. Locke has spent the last three seasons in the Astros' organization. He was in Oklahoma City in 2011. The Astros acquired Locke in the minor league phase of the 2008 Rule 5 Draft. Drew served as a correspondent from Spring Training for Farsmstros last year.

Welcome to the Farmstros Village

Welcome to the Farmstros Village, Reader,

Since September 2007, Farmstros has served as a resource to fans who want to FOLLOW THE ASTROS OF THE FUTURE. If this is your first visit, please acquaint yourself with some of the highlights of the blog:

The Database- This is a spreadsheet that includes information about every player in the Astros' organization.

Fifth Anniversary Guide- 2012 will be Farmstros fifth season of existence. This document highlights the history of the blog.

Twitter Feed- Farmstros regularly updates information via Twitter. In addition, you can follow the Tweets of the Astros' prospects and some of the media who covers the organization on the main page of the blog.

Facebook- Like Farmstros on Facebook, please.

Through the year, Farmstros supports the Houston Food Bank and ALUMINUM CAN MUSIC MAN.

Thanks for visiting, come back soon.

Mike Tauser
Farmstros Village Poet Laureate

Pre-Season Pitcher of the Year Voting Begins Wednesday

Voting for the Farmstros Pre-Season Pitcher of the Year will begin Wednesday morning. The candidates for this year:

Jake Buchanana(2011 Farmstros Pitcher of the Year)
Kirk Clark
Paul Clemens
Jarred Cosart
Jorge DeLeon
Dayan Diaz
Kyle Hallock
Adrian Houser
Dallas Keuchel
Nick Tropeano

Austin Wates- Farmstros Pre-Season Player of the Year

The Farmstros Village has voted outfielder Austin Wates its Pre-Season Player of the Year. Wates, a 2010 draft pick received 146 out of a total of 279 votes. Jonathan Singleton, who was acquired in the Hunter Pence trade garnered 47 votes. George Springer had 22 votes, and Chris Wallace had 20.

Voting for the Farmstros Pitcher of the Year begins Wednesday.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rohrshach at the Bat-A Healthy Dose of Spring

Jeff Luhnow tweeted this link today. The page at the link is full of so many dots and graphs that to me it looks more like a Rhorshcah Test then a report on Bud Norris, which is what it actually is. If reading reports like this one helps Luhnow and his colleagues build the Astros into a winner than more power to them. As for me, I'll stick to following the Astros of the Future and writing an occasional poem, like the following.

The shortened days of winter
Got me down more than a bit
I often slid into a funk and stayed ensconced in it.
Until a friend who'd heard about my melancholic state
Referred me to his counselor, so I called and set a date.

Then Monday morning came and I was on the doctor's chair
I briefly told about my blues: the reason I was there.
The healer heard my story, nodded sympathetically
And then described the next step that she'd like to take with me.

"When I show you a picture, tell me what it is you see.
Don't hesitate, don't think just blurt it out, direct and free."

She held the first card up as soon as I said, "That sounds fine."
I blurted out, "That looks just like an old ball glove of mine."
She jotted down a note before she held up number two.
That picture was a "walk-off ground rule double", it is true.

The third blotch struck me quickly like a pitch too far inside
"I see a closer quickly striking out the other side."

She went through every card and made a note of each reply.
I didn't crush each offering, but you can bet that I tried.
"A grand slam by a rookie; A veteran's final game;
An error by a shortstop and the fans who curse his name."

Describing blotches was quite fun and I was in the zone
"It looks like Charlie Kerfeld. On his head, there is a cone."

We went through 56 cards, then the doctor said, "Well done,
I think I see a way to put your blues out on the run.
It's clear that you'll be cured if you do just one simple thing:
Get yourself to the ball park for a healthy dose of spring."

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Few Pictures from the Corpus Christi CAREavan luncheon

Many thanks to Ruben Toscano who shared a few pictures from the Hooks' luncheon on Friday.

Shuck and Milo

Altuve and Milo

Bogusevic and Milo

Shane Reynolds and Milo

Jim Crane Sure knows how to Get Attention

It will be great news for fans of the Astros of the Future if the the team's new leadership is as good at building a winning team as they are at drawing attention to the franchise. I took the above picture Friday afternoon about eight miles from Minute Maid Park. It is amazing to me that after losing 106 games last season, the Astros have created enough buzz about themselves that they are the subject of a Baptist church's message board two days before the Super Bowl.

I Hope Jeff Luhnow Peeks Over the Back Fence at These Guys

I just posted a piece at about some of the collegiate baseball in the Houston area the Jeff Luhnow might be interested in watching while he prepares for the draft. Please click on over and give it a read.

I Know What I am Doing Next Friday Night

After a few bumps in the road, Farmstros has been able to secure a ticket to next Friday's Houston Baseball Dinner. Many thanks to Brandon and the Valley Cats for the support. Also, thanks to you for reading this blog, which led to the Google Ad Sense money, which paid for a part of the ticket as well. Thanks also to the folks running the dinner who accomodated my unique ticket buying situation.

I look forward to representing the Farmstros Village next Friday. I will report back what I see and hear.

Test Chat

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cosart Picture and Quite a Bit More

Picture from Corpus Christi Hooks. Used with permission.

Just in case, the above picture of Jarred Cosart doesn't provide enough information about the Astros' #1 pitching prospect, Brian McTaggart has just posted an article(w/video) about the young right-hander.

Mini-Camp Attendees

Zachary Levine has indepth coverage of the Astros new minor league mini-camp format. Several of the Astros' minor league pitchers and catchers are reporting to Florida on February 24 for a mini-camp. The following are reportedly on the guest list:

Jake Buchanan
Jarred Cosart
Mike Foltynewicz
Brett Oberholtzer
Ross Seaton
Jason Stoffel
Josh Zeid

Miles Hamblin
Mike Kvasnicka
Ryan McCurdy
Roberto Pena

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pre-Season Player of the Year Candidates

With February upon us, it is time to vote for the Farmstros Pre-Season Player of the Year. Below is a rundown of the 10 candidates. Voting runs through Monday afternoon.

THE CANDIDATES(Ages are as of April 4, 2012):

Delino DeShields, Jr., 19, 2B. The Astros 1st Round Pick of 2010, DeShields spent 2011 with Lexington. He batted .220 with the Legends in his firt full pro season. DeShields, who is rated as the #8 prospect in the system by Baseball America, will likley start 2012 back in Kentucky.

Kody Hinze, 24, 1B. Hinze split 2011 between Lancaster and Corpus Christi. His combined total of Home Runs(29) and RBI(98) both led the organization. In spite of being signed as an undrafted free agent, Hinze continues to move up the Astros' ladder.

Telvin Nash, 21, 1B/DH. A healthy Nash could spell trouble for the fences in the California League. Nash, rated #10 in the system by BA, hit 14 home runs in only 73 games for Lexington in 2011. He missed much of the season out with a broken hamate bone.

Domingo Santana, 19, OF. Santana caused a stir after joining the Astros as a part of the Hunter Pence trade. He had 10 mult-hit games in 17 starts for Lexington. He batted .382 for the Legends with five home runs and 21 RBI.

Jordan Scott, 20, OF. Scott is looking to build on his 2011 season, which earned him Farmstros Player of the Year honors. Scott was the Greeneville MVP, batting .337 with 12 doubles, 41 runs scored and 31 RBI in 60 games.

Jonathan Singleton, 20, 1B. Singleton is rated by BA as the top prospect in the system. He made a splash with Lancaster after coming over from the Philadelphia system. For the JetHawks, he batted .333 with a .512 slugging percentage in the last month of the season.

George Springer, 22, OF. Springer signed late and only played a few weeks with Tri-City in 2011. However, many eyes will be on Springer as he dives head first into professional baseball this spring.

Jonathan Villar, 20, SS. Villar split 2011 between Corpus and Lancaster. The fourth-rated prospect in the organization, Villar batted .259 in 47 games for the JetHawks before getting promoted to AA. He only batted .231 in 83 games for the Hooks, but he had 28 extra base hits.

Chris Wallace, 23, C. Wallace jumped from Lexington to Corpus in 2011. He totaled 20 homeruns and 78 RBI in 102 games as a Legend/Hook last season.

Austin Wates, 23, OF. Wates put up a solid season for Lancaster in his first full pro season. The 3rd Round Draft pick batted .300 while playing all three outfield positions. He had 23 doubles, nine triples and 75 RBI for the JetHawks.

Interview with Jim Callis

Baseball America Editor Jim Callis took some time to talk to the Farmstros Village today. As college and high school gets ready to start, the main topic of the conversation was a look at some of the players the Astros may be considering selecting with their #1 pick in June. Also, for those in the Houston area, Callis touched on some of the top talent playing in the shadow of Minute Maid Park.

Callis appeared via the ALUMINUM CAN MUSIC MAN hot line.

I Wasn't Looking for One, but I think I Found a Theme Song

Many thanks to Fleetwood Mac for providing an obvious theme song for Farmstros... "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow". Feel free to sing along, while you follow the Astros of the Future with us.