July 6, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie (4) throws a runner out at first against the Milwaukee Brewers in the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
Ugh, thanks to Tim for catching what I didn't in the logo post this morning. I'm ashamed...
In one respect, this is great news, because it means Lowrie's knee injury, while severe, isn't going to linger much. At least, that's the hope, as we still have to see him actually play. Lowrie was the best player on this team when he was healthy, so it will be nice to see him back in games soon.
The other reason this is good news is from an offseason decision standpoint. Whichever way Houston decides, whether they try and trade Lowrie or give him a raise through arbitration or a new deal, it would make everyone involved feel much better if Lowrie can get back to the majors, even for a couple of weeks, and show he can still play.
Oh, and this also might swing the balance in Corpus' playoff series, which I'm not exactly sad about. Houston needs some minor league championships, too, right?
2) Berkman's career plans - I had a conversation the other day about Houston's coaching staff plans, and someone brought up Lance Berkman's name. Seems they thought he'd make an excellent hitting coach on this team, if the Astros wanted to get the gang back together under someone like Brad Ausmus. Maybe have Craig Biggio as hitting coach, Clemens as pitching coach, etc.
It becomes a little more likely (though still a long, long reach), with the story that broke yesterday about Lance Berkman possibly retiring and joining the coaching staff at Rice. This is the quote from Mark Berman yesterday:
"If I do decide to retire my next move is going to be to enroll at Rice and to be a student assistant for the baseball team," Berkman said.
At this point, reading all the things that he's said this year, it really looks like Berkman will retire. It's a shame, because I'd like to see him in Houston again. I guess we'll have to settle for him being on Wayne Graham's staff.
3) OBP in the draft - In reading about Tyler Heineman winning the batting title in the New York Penn League, I was struck with how great his on-base percentage was. That got me thinking about how great a lot of Houston's draftees' on-base percentages were. We talked about it just after the draft, how most of the guys coming in had a reputation for taking pitches and getting on base.
No one emphasized that better than Nolan Fontana, who had a walk rate of 29 percent this season at Lexington. Really? He walked almost 30 percent of the time? That's almost unfair. And so totally awesome.
But, it wasn't just Fontana who possessed this grand ability. Of the position players taken in the first 10 rounds, only one of them was more than a rounding error away from having a walk rate of 10 percent or better. Who was the lone holdout? Carlos Correa, who still had an OBP 50 points higher than his batting average.
Some guys surprised me, like Rio Ruiz and especially Brett Phillips being excellent at drawing walks. But, six of the seven guys that I looked at drew walks well. That's a pretty big change in philosophy for Houston minor leaguers, and a welcome sight.