Our humble leader is out of pocket for the day with an emergency, so I'm getting a late season promotion to fill in. Here goes my first option season.
1. Felix Francisco won't be returning next season
The Houston Astros used to be one of the leaders in signing Latin American talent and used their presence in the area to provide lots of value to the major league club. Then, the area was ignored to an extent for quite some time, and the presence diminished a great deal. Then Ed Wade was brought it and he tried to re-instate their presence with a brand new and shiny Dominican Academy and a very well known Director of International Scouting, Felix Francisco.
There is no doubt that Francisco has made an impact on this farm system with signings like Jose Cisnero, Jean Carlos Batista, Michael Feliz, and most notably, Ariel Ovando. However, this year's international free agent period (which is not closed) has unfortunately been a dud. There are some interesting signings so far, like Hector Roa, but nothing that really jumps out.
Presence is a big factor in signing IFA and the organizations progress is just not coming along. It's improved, but it is still lacking in a big way. With the Astros approximate five million dollar budget for IFA's next year, that has to change and change now.
Could Francisco get it done, very likely. But, the structure of the scouting and player development is changing and Jeff Luhnow wants his guy in place. This could be a similar situation as with Bobby Heck, where with the potential changes in the way that the scouting department is structured, that his position could be merging with another, and Francisco was unwilling to take a lesser title.
I think this just continues to allude to that there will be a merger of both professional and amateur scouting into one office and potentially even merged with the player development department like Luhnow was in charge of for a period of time in St. Louis.
2. AFL Rosters Announced
Zachary Levine has informed us of who will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this off-season with this tweet:
Astros in Arizona Fall League: J. Cosart, C.J. Lo, A. Sogard, J. Mier, J. Singleton, B. Borchering, G. Springer.
Just as a refresher, the AFL is a fall league for higher end prospects in the upper minor leagues. Most of the rosters are filled with players at the AA level with a few from AAA and each team is allowed one from lower than AA level. This creates the most prolific off-season league and the destination of future star position players. It's difficult to get top pitching talent there because they are typically already at their inning limits for the season though. Alex Sogard is an example, as he's no where near his inning limit but has potential as a LOOGY as early as next year.
Jarred Cosart has missed a lot of time due to blister issues this season, so he is an exception to that rule. Chia-Jen Lo got off to a late start, so he's fine innings wise, and this will actually be his second stint in the AFL. Jiovanni Mier has also been out for most of the season, so this provides a great opportunity to get some more at-bats. He is also on the taxi roster, meaning he only plays Wednesday and Saturday. Although, if there is an injury, he can get promoted to full-time roster.
Bobby Borchering is likely to continue his transition back to 3B as well. As we all know, George Springer is awesome, but is also still raw. He needs all of the at-bats he can get to continue to refine his approach and this is great opportunity since we know he has the talent to be there. As for Singleton, this allows for him to continue to work on hitting for power against some potentially higher level pitching in an offensive environment.
You can see the full Mesa Solar Sox roster here you'll notice that Lancaster manager Rodney Linares is the team manager.
3. Jimmy Paredes makes his season debut.
Last night was the debut for Jimmy P. and he did a lot of little things to like. He reached on an error and stole a base in the first inning as well as scored the team's second run on a wild pitch late in the game. One of the things that I had reported over the past several weeks was that he had been displaying a lot of frustration, even to the point where effort was lacking. You didn't see that last night. He seems motivated with this promotion and is hustling.
He wasn't terrible defensively in his first start in RF (played CF and LF in AAA this year). He's obviously a tools guy and has the arm for RF but will need time to adjust to playing in the OF more. I know it's a small sample size and we don't really know how he'll be out there long term, but he has the tools to play out there. So, if he makes a few mistakes, mark it up to the frustrations of the season and it's something he very likely will improve on.
He even drew a walk!