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Friday Astros Minor Thoughts

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There's not a lot going on in the minors this week. Or, more aptly, my week was spent wrapped up in spring training and the start of the college baseball season. Didn't get as much time to surf the draft game as I'd like. I did post some video of my trip to the Aggie's ballpark last week and have a small scouting report over at Minor Musings, if you're interested.

But, we have business to get to. The big topic here is a pair of articles on minor league run environments and game recaps. Both are from The Hardball Times and both illustrate some great points about why it can be tough to follow minor league baseball sometimes.

This first article is a study done to look at whether there is a bias on the part of stringers covering games for MLBAM. The most disturbing part of this article is the fact that Huntsville stopped reporting line drives in 2009. That's pretty ridiculous, if you think about it. It's not hard to tell the difference between a ball hit up in the air and one hit on a line. But, I do think about this very thing every time I dig into those game recaps for the minor leagues. I've gotten some great information from these, but I'm really relying on whoever is keeping score in the game to get things right. I'm assuming this IS getting better, but it makes me want to qualify all the research I do on the minor leagues.

The other article goes a long way to solving the problem about which leagues are really 'hitter's leagues' and which are not. While the Texas League gets a bad rep as a hitter's it's dead center in the middle. In fact, the only two leagues the Astros play in that lean towards higher run totals are the California and Pacific Coast Leagues. Nothing groundbreaking there, but I was pleased to see the New York-Penn league listed as a low run environment. There were too many hitters to struggle there in 2009 for my liking. On the other hand, JD Martinez' success there makes me even more excited to follow his progress.

It was a sad day earlier this week when I learned that former Round Rock infielder Mark Saccomanno had signed with the Marlins organization. My dad and I are both huge Seinfeld fans. When Saccomanno was playing at Baylor, there were quite a few "You know my friend, Bob Saccomanno?" jokes flying around. After he got drafted by the Astros, I've kept an eye out on his progress mainly for that reason. I hope he can find success in Florida. If I could offer him some parting advice: Don't ever take astronaut pens from people and never sleep on the pull-out couch. It can only lead to trouble.

In other player signing news: former Astros prospect and University of Miami alum Charlton Jimerson signed with the Minnesota Twins. Jimerson had played in the independent Atlantic League in 2009. Though he had plenty of talent, Jimerson could never get over his strikeouts and a crowded Astros outfield. ... Another former Astro signed a minor league deal this week, as Eric Munson will play for San Diego's Triple-A affiliate in Portland. Munson was a part of that Astros team a while back which had all those former USC players on it.

Brian McTaggart 'breaks' a story (only light sarcasm implied, Mr. McTaggart) that Chris Johnson will open the season in Round Rock this season. This, of course, is because the Astros will be paying Pedro Feliz 4.5 million to man the hot corner in the pros. As I mentioned yesterday, Johnson's home run into Hunter Pence's windshield is a good sign, but I'm still not convinced he will ever have the power to be more than a useful bench guy in the majors.

And just a little draft note here: Is Jamison Taillon getting too much hype right now? Lots of high school pitchers throw in the upper 90s. How many keep throwing like that in the pros? Remember that kid from Marshall, Colt Griffin? The Kansas City Royals drafted him ninth overall in 2001 because he could hit 100 MPH in high school. He lasted five seasons in the minors and never got a taste of Triple-A. In fact, he only threw 87 total innings in Double-A. Why don't we just slow our roll a little with this kid, okay?