Well friends and neighbors and the 100 remaining Astros fans left on the planet,
first, news and rumors – gotta get the good stuff first, right?
I hear tell that Drayton has ordered Fast Eddie to pare the payroll to under 70 million (what a surprise, right) and since Keppinger just had foot surgery (to Fast Eddie’s consternation, as he had a few teams interested) he won’t be tradable until after he comes off the DL and looks as if Drayton is gonna be stuck with Kepp’s salary – it’s really why they want him off the team, you know.
Naturally, Clank is untradeable, like, what a surprise, so Drayton is stuck with the 19 mill and Fast Eddie would rather get his teeth all pulled than trade his 12 mill a year darling petsy-poo, so the most tradeable Astro is Wandy Rodriguez and naturally, teams are VERY interested, seeing as how he is easily the best ML pitcher available and the only ML team which doesn’t need starting pitching is Gerry Hunsicker’s Rays.
Gerry Hunsicker. Where have I heard that name before?
But I digress.
Anyway, Baseball America (evaluation by John Manuel) thinks that the Astros now have the 26th best farm in the majors (as opposed to last in the majors for like the past 4 years) and all I can say is that I would hate to see the teams whose farms are worse than the Astros (how is it POSSIBLE?)
Last year’s top 10 were
1 – Jason Castro, C: 1st round 08, AA
2 – Jiovanni Mier, SS: 1st round 09, rookie
3 – Jordan Lyles, RHP: 1st round 08, A
4 – Sammy Gervacio, RHP: DR 05, MLB
5 – Chia-Jen Lo, RHP: Taiwan 09, AA
6 – Ross Seaton, RHP: 3rd round 08, A
7 – Tanner Bushue, RHP: 2nd round 09, Rookie
8 – Jay Austin, CF: 2nd round 08, A
9 – Jon Gaston, OF: 7th round 08, A+ (Lancaster)
10- TJ Steele, OF: 4th round 08, A+ (Lancaster)
(You notice the absence of one Christopher Johnson, who was also not on the 09 or 08 list. But I digress. You also note that the last 2 guys spent the year at Lancaster, which makes Coors Field look like an extreme pitchers’ park. You also note that most of the guys on the list are just the top draft picks from the preceeding 2 years. Their actual performance was mostly irrelevant. And the only really good player on the list was Sammy Gervacio, who unfortunately got hurt early in 2010 and missed the whole season…)
Missing from this year’s list are, besides Sammy,
5 – Chia-Jen Lo, who was promoted to AA and pitched a couple of innings before getting hurt and missing most of the year
6 – Ross Seaton, who posted a 6.64 ERA at Lancaster (not sure why he got thrown to the wolves there, unlike Jordan Lyles) and, per John Manuel:
“Q: Your thoughts on Ross Seaton’s season in High-A? What does he need to improve upon?
John Manuel: Everything! The good parts: Seaton stayed healthy, took every turn and regained his prep velocity. We have a good number of reports of him sitting 90-91 with his sinker and hitting 94 with his four-seamer. But his pitchability is pretty poor right now, and that won’t fly in Lancaster because everything else does. His delivery falls apart out of the stretch, according to one scout I talked to, but his numbers were actually better with runners on base. I think the big reason for that is that he was just so bad from the windup. Seaton ranks higher than he probably should considering the numbers, and that’s a sign of the system still lacking depth. He’s in the top 20.
8 – Jay Austin – who posted only a .719 OPS at Lancaster (although it was up from .680 at A ball in 09) age 19, so he does have SOME hope
9 – Johnny Gaston – who posted a .965 OPS at Lancaster, then fell to a .719 OPS at AA (age 23)
10 – TJ Steele – who posted a .947 OPS at Lancaster, then a .574 OPS at AA (age 24)
So now let’s see the list for this year:
1 – Jordan Lyles, RH SP: just finished age 19 season. Pitched 121 very good innings at AA after being skipped over the Lancaster pitchers’ hell: 3.12 ERA/1.32 WHIP; 9.4 H/9, 2.5 BB/9, 8.5 K/9. Then he went to AAA, pitched 31 not so good innings (he just might could have been tired) 5.40 ERA/1.86 WHIP: 13.6 H/9, 6.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9.
The Organization is talking about him competing for a spot in the starting rotation this spring and this is also the Organization which is talking about Fernando Abad, who has never started, competing for a starting position. However, I personally think that he just might could need to show he can get AAA hitters out before facing Albert Pujols and gang…
2 – Delino DeShields, Jr. – age 18, 1st round 2010. He was moved from 2B to CF and posted a .789 OPS in the Sally league over 67 AB. How the heck anyone can rate someone as the second best prospect in an Organization based on 67 AB I do not know. He’s supposed to be “athletic” and he gets this high rating because he was a first rounder, I guess. I bet most high rated prospects wouldn’t be high rated if they were all 30+ round picks…
3 – Jonathan Villar, SS, age 19 from the DR, obtained in the Roy Oswalt trade. He’s supposed to be All That, but let’s put it like this – his hitting makes Adam Everett look like Nomar 2002. He posted a .666 OPS at Lancaster over 129 AB. And the organization is unhappy with Tommy Manzella, who out hit this guy by FAR, yet they can’t wait to have Villar in the ML club? If all they want is a glove man, might as well just keep Manzella instead of paying 5+ mill for Clint Barmes. Where was I? Oh yeah. He’s stolen 62 bases with 17 CS over 174 games, but like, Carlos Lee stole lots of bases in the minors too. Don’t ask me why the prospect people are so high on this guy – oh yeah – he made 56 errors – that is FIFTY SIX errors over 130 games last year.
4 – Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, age 19, 1st round 2010 draft: threw 44 innings at rookie ball with meh stats – 4.03 ERA/1.37 WHIP. 9.3 H/9, 3 BB/9, 7.9 K/9. What’s the big deal? If he was the 35th round pick, would he be the 4th guy on this list?
A prospect evaluation guy once told me that seeing as how scouts thought these high round picks were good, they focus on them. All I can say is – Matt Bush/Max Sapp etcetcetc…
5 – Jiovanni Mier, SS, age 19,1st round 2009 .637 OPS in A ball – 34 errors over 129 games. So he is the #5 prospect exactly WHY? besides for some reason Ed Wade picking him in the first round instead of somebody good?
6 – JD (Julio Daniel) Martinez, RF: age 22, picked by the Astros 20th round 09 draft. Wellwellwell whaddaya know, someone who can, you know, like HIT. He posted a 1.031 OPS at Lexington, skipped Lancaster and went straight to AA where over 189 AB, he continued to hit for average, .306, but his power numbers dropped significantly and he posted only a .745 OPS. No idea what his range is, but at least he made only 6 errors. People Who Know don’t think he’d be any better than a 5th OF – but then again, they thought that Chris Johnson had absolutely no chance to hit ML pitching neither.
7 – Jimmy Paredes, 2B, age 21 – from the DR, obtained from the Yankees in the Berkman trade. The Organization thinks he’s the 2B of the future – over 541 AB at A-ball last year, between the Yankees and Astros, he posted a .731 OPS. Of course he doesn’t walk at all, but the Astros LIKE that, apparently. He made 31 errors over 105 games playing 2B. Whatever.
8 – Tanner Bushue, RHP, age 19, picked by the Astros in the 2nd round of the 09 draft. Threw 133 innings over 25 games with a 4.11 ERA/1.32 WHIP with a 8.69 H/9, 7.9 K/9 and 3.23 BB/9. sigh
9 – Austin Wates, CF, age 21, 3rd round pick in the 2010 draft. has 38 AB at low A, an 894 OPS and somehow, he’s being judged on that? OK, whatever.
10 – Ariel Ovando, OF. Purchased for 2 mill from the DR by the Astros last year. Hasn’t played even part of any inning in the minors. Guess he’s rated by the bonus paid – can’t tell you one thing except that he’s now a very rich kid.