Some things to talk about while Mark Appel and the Astros aren't really close to a deal...maybe...
1) Crowe over Paredes
One of the things we didn't talk about last night when news broke that Justin Maxwell had been activated and that Jimmy Paredes was going back to OKC is that Houston could have kept Paredes up and sent Trevor Crowe down.
Turns out, that wasn't really an option, because Crowe has made such a favorable impression on Bo Porter. From Brian T. Smith's latest notebook:
2) Trade candidate: Jose Veras
MLB Trade Rumors profiles Astros closer Jose Veras as one of their Trade Candidates series. Here's what they had to say about the Astros right-hander:
The Astros have made no effort to hide the fact that they're willing to move just about any player on their roster as they completely re-tool the franchise, and Veras should be no exception. He won't fetch an elite prospect in return, but a contending team looking to shore up the eighth or even ninth inning could view Veras as an upgrade, particularly if he has a strong few weeks leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. The Royals were able to nab Cincinnati's No. 12 and No. 27 prospects (per Baseball America) in exchange for a few months of Jonathan Broxton last season. Broxton had better superficial stats at the time, but a prospect in the middle of a team's Top 30 doesn't seem out of the question for Veras.
That's exactly the kind of return I'd anticipate for Veras. I'm not sure Houston necessarily gets a guy in the middle and a guy at the back end of a Baseball America list, just because I have a hunch that Houston's scouting lists don't look exactly the same as BA.
Still, that'd be a pretty nice haul for a player who's only been on the team for a few months and is already in his 30's.
3) First look at Class of 2014
Over at ESPN Insider, Christopher Crawford looks at the top prospects in next year's draft. IT's behind the paywall, so I won't take any excerpts, but I will point out that the top of the draft isn't surprising yet. It's Carlos Rodon, NC State left-hander all the way.
The article also discusses his teammate Trea Turner, a shortstop who profiles as an elite leadoff guy. It then breaks down a bunch more names, in both the college and high school ranks.
One name to file away and bring up again in the winter is Rancho Bernardo high school catcher Alex Jackson, who may be the best hitter in the entire draft, according to early scouts takes. If you're having any withdrawal symptoms now that the draft is over, that article should whet your appetite for a while.