HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 18: Right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers, who was selected in the compensation first round (41st overall) of the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft, is introduced during a press conference at Minute Maid Park on June 18, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Some things to talk about while we marvel at Justin Maxwell scoring from first on a failed pickoff throw...(I know what you're thinking... you should definitely click that link and see Tim's excellent gif of the moment. It's impressive.)
1) Thoughts on McCullers press conference - I'm sure we can all use a little more Lance McCullers talk to amp up the already high grades of this draft class. I only wanted to touch on one thing after hearing parts of the press conference.
Both Scott Boras and Jeff Luhnow talked quite a bit about how the Astros' development philosophy for young arms played as big a role as anything in getting him to sign. The money, both said, was not the biggest obstacle, but how the Astros would protect this investment and what they are doing in the minors.
We've hinted at Houston's burgeoning long toss program that is apparently getting started, but I really like the idea of the Astros becoming a place for young pitchers to feel comfortable developing. They've had success for the most part with their highly-touted young arms, but it's still only about a 50-50 proposition. Yes, Lyles, Ross Seaton and Mike Foltynewicz haven't gotten injured, but the same cannot be said for Brad Dydalewicz or Tanner Bushue, right?
With this front office, you kind of expect them to have some master plan for everything, but if they've developed a philosophy for keeping young pitchers healthy, they'll score even more points in my book....until we have some data to back up their claims.2) LEAVE CLEMENS ALONE! - Hey, the Clemens trial is over. Again. Hooray!
Do you know that I didn't even find out about it until strolling into work and talking about what should go on the front page? And I'm a happy person for it. This trial just did nothing for me.
But, I immediately hopped onto Astros County to see if John Royal had any excellent things to say, and, sure enough, he did. He brings up everything that I don't need to, and even steals the best point about fake outrage over steroids: it doesn't include football players.
Will Julius Peppers get static about his Hall of Fame case because he was suspended for PEDs? Will Houston Texans fans get upset if left tackle Duane Brown is given a long-term contract, after he was suspended for using PEDs?
The answer is probably not. But, baseball is different, so we have to see Clemens paraded out alongside former teammates and hear all the gory details about his life. Are we better for it? Absolutely not. Have we conclusively proven anything? As Royal points out, we haven't even done that.
So, thanks, trial for wasting time, money and ink/webspace. I'm glad you are done and we'll never have to think about this again...until Manny Ramirez somehow goes on trial.
3) Vincent Velasquez was dealing - I'm sure Brooks will cover this in his minor league recap later on, but I had to touch on V-Squared lighting things up Monday.
He struck out six in his 2012 debut, after missing the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Reports were that he had a sharp breaking ball and a fastball that touched 96 MPH. That stuff translated to six strikeouts (five swinging) and a 1:1 flyball-groundball ratio. He only gave up one line drive all night, and one of his five fly balls was an infield fly.
His game score of 69 was the third-highest of any Astros farmhand making his first start of the season. Only Nick Tropeano and Dallas Keuchel could boast better. Both are also significantly older than the 19-year old.
That's what makes Velasquez so exciting. If he can harness the promise he flashed before going down with the injury, Houston will have yet another great young arm to add to the system. If he can stick in a rotation? Even better.