added 6/15/2010 by Bob Hulsey
While the minds of most Astros fans have been focused on the parent club's poor play, the trade rumors about Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, the just-completed draft or even debate as to when the Astros may call up Jason Castro, Chris Johnson or possibly Jordan Lyles, there are a number of storylines from this spring that seem to have fallen off the radar.
Here, then, is a quick update on some of those players and what has happened to them since March:
Reliever Alberto Arias had elbow surgery and is out for the season. Injuries have also limited the contributions of teammates Sammy Gervacio and Chia-Jen Lo, two names considered future members of the Astros' bullpen.
Yorman Bazardo came off the Disabled List and has been used in the bullpen by Round Rock. He's done alright with a 1-1 record and 2.74 ERA in 15 games. Shane Loux (2-2, 6.75), who had an excellent spring, has struggled in five starts.
While some have clamored for outfielder Brian Bogusevic, the former first-rounder, to get a call up to the Astros, teammate Jason Bourgeois is banging the door loudly to get called up instead. The 28-year-old Houston native is batting .350 with an .887 OPS at AAA Round Rock. Batting leadoff, he has hit five homers and stolen 16 bases while striking out 24 times to 15 walks (all stats provided through MiLB.com as posted on Monday, June 14th).
Bogusevic is not doing so bad himself, batting .285 with a .776 OPS and six homers. While veteran Cory Sullivan sits on the Houston bench with a .196 average, it would seem the lefthanded backup outfield spot is under assault from two players.
Many wondered if Koby Clemens, son of ex-Astro Roger Clemens, could sustain his hot bat at AA Corpus Christi after a fabulous season last summer at A-ball Lancaster. So far, he's hit .275 with a team-leading 16 homers and 44 RBIs so his hitting prowess hasn't just been a Cali-league phenomena. He's made five errors while learning to play first base and still appears to have value, either as a future Astro or as trade bait to a team that needs a DH. At 23, he still has some time to climb the organization ladder.
The Hooks have three starting pitchers with ERAs under three. Besides Lyles (5-4, 2.70), lefties Doug Arguello (6-3, 2.73) and Tyler Lumsden (4-2, 2.56) have been solid. While Arguello is 25, Lumsden is 27 so their window as prospects will run out quickly. Lyles is just 19 - so time is on his side in getting to Houston.
Remember last year's "Lexington Five", the hot young pitchers we had at A-ball? Robert Bono was sent to the Marlins in the trade for Matt Lindstrom and you already know what's become of Lyles. The other three - Robert Seaton, Kyle Greenwalt and Brad Dydalewicz - hit a wall at High-A Lancaster. Dydalewicz (1-6, 11.39) was recently sent back to Lexington while Seaton (2-8, 6.03) and Greenwalt (1-5, 4.68) are gutting it out with the last-place Jethawks.
Keep in mind that the Cali league is a notorious hitter's paradise and pitcher's nightmare. There was talk last year of having several of the five skip Lancaster and go straight to Corpus Christi for fear of what Lancaster could do for their confidence. Now you know why.
Don't give up on these three. As they mature and adjust, the organization will give them more opportunities to determine if they have the stuff to be big leaguers someday.
Two hitters in Lexington continue to seize attention. First baseman Kody Hinze is batting .300 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs to lead the team in both power categories. Outfielder J.D. Martinez is still scorching the ball, hitting .375 with a 1.023 OPS. The 20th-round pick in last summer's draft could be a future Astro star.
Remember Max Sapp, the catcher and former first-round pick who fought a life-threatening case of viral meningitis? He was released from AA in May when J.R. Towles was demoted from the parent club. Towles' return to AA has not gone well either. He's batted .143 in five games before landing on the Disabled List. It remains to be seen whether he can get his career back on track.
As the organization clears room for new talent to make their mark, some recent picks are making progress of their own while others struggle. Some will regroup and keep climbing while others fall away. It's that way with every farm system. The better systems operate from a surplus so there are capable replacements always ready to step in.