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Minor League Roundup

Been meaning to do this for a week, but last weekend's internet connectivity failures, and this week's day game have made it difficult to find the time to compose the thing.

The biggest news is also the oldest:  Four of Lexington's best players have been promoted en masse to High A Salem.   Shortstop Ben Zobrist, second baseman Jonathan Ash, and reliever Jeff Wigdahl all played in the Avs' 6 - 3 victory over Winston-Salem last night, while the most celebrated of the bunch, starting pitcher Troy Patton, still awaits his initial Carolina League starting assignment.  

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Two months ago, before The Crawfish Boxes even existed, and when the steroid stories were much more prevalent, it was revealed that a player for Salem by the name of Adam Seuss had tested positive for steroids.  The Chronicle had predicted at the time that Seuss would not play for the Astros again, and over at Astroland, I had echoed the paper's sentiments.

It turns out Seuss did play for the Astros again, but now, in the midst of some roster shuffling at the minor league midterms, the organization has decided to release him.  Seuss had not played well, hitting .148 in 128 at bats in 39 games, and was certainly not on anybody's fast track, but you wonder whether a more limited set of opportunities ended up being available to him because of the positive test.  

Seuss' is a tough story to deal with, because you're never sure what the right thing to do is.  Most enlightened baseball fans (I think) are anti-steroid, and agree that you need to do what you can to eliminate its taints from the game.  But at the same time, a public organization like a ballclub wants to be perceived as "fair," whatever that might mean.  When Seuss' name first popped up, another minor league player, this one a pitcher in the Marlins's system, was also in the news.  His name was Jeff Allison, and without getting into the story too much, he was basically a highly regarded prospect who missed time last year because he overdosed on heroin.  The stories in April were all about how the Marlins were giving Allison the opportunity to come back, to give him that second chance.  When I read those stories, and when I read the Seuss story, I couldn't help but think that if Allison had been working for McLane, he would've been an ex-employee by that point.

I couldn't decide whether that was the right thing, or the wrong thing, but I knew it was the truth. And now as I see Seuss without a job, I'm really not sure whether I wish him luck in his quest (should he embark upon it) to find a roster spot again somewhere within baseball.  I usually have a great deal of empathy for minor leaguers, but I'm just not sure what to think about this one.

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In addition to releasing Seuss, the Avalanche also promoted Carolina League All Star Aaron Williams to Double A Corpus Christi and demoted infielder Drew Sutton to Lexington.

Since I wrote this morning's conjectural piece, I've found out that Express pitcher Jared Gothreaux has indeed been placed on the disabled list, and that the reason Taylor Buchholz left his start after the first inning against the Zephyrs was because of arm stiffness, according to the  Austin American-Statesman.

Tim McClaskey has also been sent back to AA Corpus Christi after two starts for Round Rock, and Tom Martin, the lefty I had thought should replace John Franco, has been released "after opting out of his contract," according to the Statesman.

TJ Mathews, who appeared in 12 games for the 2002 Astros with no record, and Will Cunnane, who most recently pitched for Atlanta in 2004, have ben signed as free agents by the Express.  It is conceivable that either of the two might be able to help the Houston ballclub should it run into middle or long relief problems later this summer.

Tri-City's Pat Sellers, a 32nd round pick in the 2004 draft, was named the New York-Penn League Hitter of the Week for the week of June 20 -26. Sellers hit .565 for the week, with four doubles and a homer, and was the offensive star for the ValleyCats in both their best and their worst games, their 17 - 4 Opening Night loss, and their 16 - 11 victory over Vermont several nights later.