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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's Time to Put on My Jeff Luhnow Mask

As Halloween approached, my desire was to spend the evening costumed as the Astros' new mascot.  However, the mascot's secret lair at Minute Maid Park has proven to be much more leak-proof than the rest of the offices on Crawford Avenue, and as a result my 2012 trick-or-treating dreams have been thwarted.

While this wardrobe setback is disappointing, I do have a Plan B for the holiday, which I hope the Farmstros Village finds to be a treat.   Thanks to Ye Olde Costume Store of the Farmstros Village, I have procured and am now wearing an authentic Jeff Luhnow mask.  Now that the mask is on, all that is left to do is share with you the 40-man roster that I predict the Astros will set by November 20. (Ages listed are as of Opening Day, 2013. Players in bold would be on the 40-man roster for the first time.)

Abad, 27
Ambriz, 28
Cedeno, 26
Cisnero, 23
Cosart, 22
Cruz, 26
Escalona, 28
Fick, 27
Harrell, 25
Keuchel, 25
Lopez, 29
Lyles, 22
Norris, 28
Oberholtzer, 23
Owens, 25
Stoffel, 24
Storey, 27
Weiland, 26
Wright, 28

Castro, 25

Altuve, 22
Dominguez, 23
Gonzalez, M., 24
Greene, 29
Laird, 25
Lowrie, 28
Villar, 21
Wallace, 26

Barnes, 26
Bogusevic, 29
Grossman, 23
Krauss, 25
Lin, 24
Martinez, F., 24
Martinez, J., 25
Maxwell, 29
Paredes, 24
Schafer, 26

Who is Gone? 

This projection has 10 players being removed from the 40-man roster.  Most of them would be eligible to become minor league free agents, assuming they clear waivers.  However, my understanding is that the Astros would still retain control over J.B. Shuck and Paul Clemens.  Those two would be vulnerable in the Rule 5 draft, however.  I think Edgar Gonzalez will be non-tendered because he is arbitration eligible this off-season.  I would expect Gonzalez and Carlos Corporan and maybe Scott Moore to return with a minor league contract.

Who Are the Next to Go?

This projection leaves room for two Rule 5 acquistions or one Rule 5 pick-up and one free agent signing.  If more than two players are added to the 40-man roster, additional players will need to be removed from the 40-man roster to clear space.  The top four additional candidates for removal alphabetically: Fernando Abad, Brian Bogusevic, and Xavier Cedeno, and Rhiner Cruz.

Which Ones Am I the Most Unsure About?

Of the pitchers, I am on the fence about Jose Cisnero.  I'm not sure if another team would take the risk of drafting him in the Rule 5, but I think it is possible.  I think he gets protected because of his potential.

I don't think that Robbie Grossman and Marc Krauss are at a point where a team would be willing to keep them on the 25-man roster for a season.  At the same time, I don't think the Astros are ready to risk losing two of the guys they just acquired in trades over the summer. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Get Your Holiday Pictures Taken and Help People Learn to Read

If you are in Houston between November 8-10, you can get your holiday pictures taken and help support an organization that helps people learn to read. 

Image Resource Group is offering a special opportunity on behalf of Literacy Advance Houston next weekend. During the three day event, Image Resource Group is waiving its regular $75 sitting fee and asking participants to make a donation to Literacy Advance Houston instead.  You can read more about the offer at this link. 

Literacy Advance Houston is a Houston-based organization that transforms lives and communities through the doorway of literacy.  Larry Dierker is an active supporter of the work of Literacy Advance of Houston.

Monday, October 29, 2012

This World Series-Winning Manager Used to be a Farmstro

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy now has two World Series championships in his pocket; however, there was a time when his primary goal in professional baseball was to get to the Astrodome.  Bochy's road to the Major Leagues began in the Astros' farm system.

The Astros drafted the 20-year old Bochy in June 1975 out of Brevard Community College.  He spent parts or all of four seasons(343 games) in the system before reaching Harris County's Domed Stadium in 1978.  His path through the Astros' organization included stops in Covington, Virginia(Appalachian), Dubuque, Iowa(Midwest), Columbus, Georgia(Southern) and Cocoa, Florida(Florida State). Bochy stayed with the Astros through the 1980 season, and was a member of the franchise's first play-off entry.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Will the Astros be Rule 5 "Losers" soon? I Hope so

When I look at the players in the Astros' organization who will become vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft this off-season and next off-season, it is apparent that the talent stockpiled in the system is approaching a level where it can't all be adequately protected on the 40-man roster.  As Jeff Luhnow and company continue building the farm system, the club may soon be in a position where losing players in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft is a realistic possibility. 

The last time the Astros were regular "losers" in the Rule 5 draft, they were equally successful on the field at the big league level.  From 1998-2001, when play-off appearances were common,  Houston lost at least one player a year to the Rule 5(a total of five players over four drafts).

Who is the last player the Astros lost in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 draft?

In researching the Astros' Rule 5 history, I ran across the following tidbit, which I pass on especially for @KevinBassStache.

The last player the Astros lost in the Rule 5 draft has a chance to win his second straight Japan Series championship within the next two weeks.

In 2004, the Dodgers claimed D.J. Houlton, RHP(25 at that time) from the Astros.  The Astros had drafted Houlton in 2001.  He topped out at AAA with Houston. In 2004, Houlton made 28 starts and posted a 2.94 ERA for AA Round Rock.  

After three years in the Dodgers organization(including six major league wins), Houlton migrated to Japanese baseball.  In his fourth season with the Fukuoka Soft Bank Hawks in 2011, he picked up 19 wins(tying the record for a foreigner in Japan) and posted a 2.19 ERA in 172 1/3 innings.  The Hawks won the Japan Series in 2011 with Houlton in their starting rotation.

Houlton, 33,  is back in the Japan Series this autumn. However, this year, he is wearing a Yomiuri Giants uniform.  He made 24 starts in the regular season and posted a 2.50 ERA.  He was the winning pitcher in the Giants' Central League Championship Series clinching ame. 

The Giants and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters(former home of Yu Darvish) start their best of seven series Saturday in Tokyo.

10/27- at Tokyo Dome(4:10 am, Minute Maid Park time)
10/28- at Tokyo Dome(4:10 am)
10/30- at Sapporo Dome(4:30 am)
10/31- at Sapporo Dome(4:30 am)
11/1- at Sapporo Dome(4:30 am)
11/3- at Sapporo Dome(4:10 am)
11/4- at Sapporo Dome(3:10 am)

A Little 40-man Roster Math

Shortly after the completion of the World Series, I plan to post a prediction of who the Astros will have on the 40-man roster when the November 20 deadline arrives.

For those who enjoy speculating about such things, here is an equation that could help you with your speculation.

42+ x - y = 38

42= The number of players currently on the "40"-man roster.  This includes 60-day DL inhabitants Kyle Weiland and Sergio Escalona.

x= the number of players not currently on the 40-man roster who will be added, most likely for Rule 5 protection reasons.

y= the number of players to be removed from the 40-man roster via outright, release or other transaction.

38= 38 players on the 40-man roster would leave the Astros with space for a few Rule 5 picks.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

2013 Rule 5 Decisions Might be Even Tougher than this Year

By November 20, the Astros will decide which prospects vulnerable to the Rule 5 draft they want to protect and which current members of the 42-man* roster they are willing to un-protect or part ways with as they prepare for the 2013 season. The increase in talent in the Astros' farm system will make these decisions more difficult than they have been in recent seasons, and there is the possibility that Houston may need to leave some desirable players unprotected. 

Fortunately for fans of the Astros of the Future, this process promises to be even more difficult after the 2013 season.  A quick look through the Farmstros database shows that as many as 20 players of interest will be vulnerable to the Rule 5 draft for the first time in December 2013 and as a result could merit consideration for addition to the 2014 40-man roster.

First time eligibles for 2013 Rule 5 Draft
R.J. Alaniz, RHP
Adam Bailey, OF
Bobby Borchering, OF/3B
Jake Buchanan, RHP
Colton Cain, LHP
Kevin Chapman, LHP
Bobby Doran, RHP
Matt Heidenreich, RHP
Enrique Hernandez, 2B
Michael Kvasnicka, 3B/C/?
Jonathan Meyer, 3B
Jiovanni Mier, SS
Telvin Nash, OF/1B/DH
Rob Rasmussen, LHP
Domingo Santana, OF
Jon Singleton, 1B/OF
Alex Sogard, LHP
Chris Wallace, C
Austin Wates, OF
Asher Wojciechowski, RHP

NOTE: A player is eligible for the fourth Rule 5 draft held after he signs, if he signs at age 19 or older.  A player is eligible for the fifth Rule 5 draft held after he signs, if he signs at an age of less than 19.  If a player signs after the end of the season, for example, October, his Rule 5 clock doesn't start until the following season.

*I realize that the Astros have a 40-man roster(not a 42-man roster).  However, Sergio Escalona and Kyle Weiland, who are currently on the 60-day DL and not counted against the 40-man roster, will need to removed from the 60-day DL when the Astros set their 40-man roster.  Given these circumstances, the Astros essentially have a 42-man roster at the moment.

So You Want to Watch Jon Singleton in 2013?

Oklahoma City is still finalizing their official 2013 Pacific Coast League schedule.  However, for those of you who are thinking ahead about when you might be able to see Astros of the Future such as Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and maybe even George Springer next season#, I have been able to piece together most of the club's itinerary.

The schedule at the above link is tentatively based on the schedules posted on the websites of the RedHawks' PCL competition.  A few team's schedules have not been posted yet, most notably Albuquerque, who the RedHawks will play 16 times.  I am confident of the dates when OKC will play Albuquerque, but the location of those contests is not clear at this time.

#The players who are on the Oklahoma City roster at any given time are subject to change.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ten on BA's top Prospects Lists

Ten Astros' prospects are on Baseball America's lists of the top prospects in the various minor leagues. 

Texas League
Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF, #5
Jarred Cosart, RHP, #19

California League
George Springer, OF, #2
Domingo Santana, OF, #19

South Atlantic League
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, #11
Delino DeShields, Jr., 2B, #12

New York Penn League
Vincent Velasquez, RHP, #`14

Appalachian League
Adrian Houser, RHP, #17

Gulf Coast League
Carlos Correa, SS, #2
Rio Ruiz, 3B, #4

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Off-Season Letter to the Village

Dear Farmstros Village,

I hope that your off-season is going well. 

This off-season promises to be an intriguing one for the Astros of the Future.  Is the organization on the road from the ashes to success like the Nationals?  Is a Pirates-like existence going to evolve on the field and elsewhere at Minute Maid Park? As the new front office begins its first full off-season and as they head into the 2013 regular season, the answers to these questions will gradually become more evident. 

Despite the intrigue which the off-season holds, personal circumstances are compelling me to scale back my work on this blog over the winter months.   I hope to provide timely information on the club's 40-man roster construction, to update the database, and to preview the Rule 5 draft. In addition, I intend to pass on links to pertinent information about the Astros of the Future.  However, I am reluctant to promise too much at the moment as the details of the Astros' rebuilding will not be a high priority to me for  several months.

Mike Tauser
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