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Astros Spring Training Notebook

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It's been a while since we've had a notebook on Spring Training because I don't know that there is enough news to do it every day. First off, the most important news of the day is a Twitter account set up by Alyson Footer. She'll be taking the best anecdotes and non-cliche stories from the team. Follow @PumaOneLiners for hilarious stories like how Craig Biggio once chewed Roy Oswalt's ABC gum. For more non-gross news, let's get to it:

Lyon throwing off mound: Bernardo Fallas tweeted today that Brandon Lyon had a light throwing session off the mound today. He'll do the same Tuesday as he makes up for lost time because of surgery to drain a cyst in his shoulder.

Lyon has made steady progress but is probably two weeks away from pitching in a game.


Farmstros going camping: We've got a list of all the Astros prospects participating in a minor league mini-camp this week. Per Brian McTaggart, the list of names includes:

LHPs (6) - Douglas Arguello, Brad Dydalewicz, Dallas Keuchel, Ross Seaton, Jon Switzer, Patrick Urckfitz.

RHPs (10) - Tanner Bushue, Matt Ginter, Kyle Godfrey, Kyle Greenwalt, Chris Hicks, Jordan Lyles, Dan Meszaros, Juan Minaya, Sergio Perez, Brandt Walker.

Catchers (4) - Luis Alvarez, Rene Garcia, Frederico Hernandez, David Williams.

IFs (8) - Jose Altuve, Erik Castro, Koby Clemens, Phil Disher, Enrique Hernandez, Jonathan Meyer, Jiovanni Mier, Brandon Wikoff.

OFs (9) - Jay Austin, David Cook, Collin Delome, Jonathan Gaston, Andrew Locke, J.D. Martinez, Telvin Nash, J.B. Shuck, T.J. Steele.

Farmstros points out that 28 of Baseball America's Top 30 Astros prospects are here. The only two not in camp are RHP Arcenio Leon and RHP Ashton Mowdy. I mentioned Mowdy earlier as a possible late-inning replacement this season. The chances of that are slim and none, but I did find it interesting that BA listed Mowdy as having the best curveball in the system.


Intrasquad lineups set: Ha. My favorite part of this is the names of the two teams. Clark's Crushers and Meachem's Mashers. That Chris Shelton/Koby Clemens matchup at first base is going to be epic. Footer tweeted two more pics of the completed lineups.

Not many regulars in this group. My second favorite matchup will be Jon Gaston v. T.J. Steele, The Battle of Over/Under Hype. Any favorite additions to the lineups?


Michaels to HOF?: McTaggart also wrote Saturday that Jason Michaels was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame with Bubba Franks and a handful of other Hurricane alumni on Feb. 19th.

Aside from the easy joke (Is that the only time he gets a call from the Hall?), is it surprising that he played with Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell and Bobby Hill? I know Miami's had a good baseball program for a while, but I forgot it ran back all the way to 1997. Follow-up question: who's had the best big-league career out of those four?


And then there were three: Tommy Manzella signed his contract this week for 405,000 dollars, leaving Wesley Wright, Edwin Maysonet and Bud Norris as the lone Astros without contracts for 2010. Of course, none of them have any real leverage in negotiations, as the team can set their salary at whatever they want.

Still, for a guy like Norris, Astros executives don't want to upset him by lowballing him on contracts going into arbitration. Guys like Maysonet, however, probably won't play much in the majors, so their 'split' contract will pay him a minor league salary when he's there and a major league minimum when he's with the Astros.

Wesley Wright is a very interesting case. As a Rule V selection, he's spent some time in the majors already with varying levels of success. At the same time, he's going to transition into the starting rotation and figures to spend quite a bit of time at Round Rock. This won't affect his value now, but it's going to be quite the arbitration hearing in a couple years, won't it? Are there any comparable players making this kind of transition? The only one that comes close is Johan Santana, and he didn't spend the time in the minors like Wright has. Can any of you think of a better comparable?


Spring rotation congealing: The first three starters have been set for this spring. Brett Myers will start the first game this spring, followed by Wandy Rodriguez and Roy Oswalt. Felipe Paulino will start the 'B' squad game on Thursday while Mills hasn't said when Brian Moehler and Bud Norris will go.

It's hard to tell anything at this point in the spring, but my biggest surprise was probably Myers getting the first start. I wonder if he's further ahead in his training program or Wade wants to put his best offseason addition on display. I'd also speculate that Norris will start on Sunday in Atlanta while Moehler goes Monday. That sets Moehler and Paulino in a battle for the fifth starter, with Paulino starting again Tuesday and Myers going Wednesday.


Luke Scott's a good Texan: I guess you can take the prospect out of Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of a prospect. I gotta admit, outside of a Bill of Rights argument, I just don't see why this is a big deal.

Is it really all that outrageous to say, 'You know what? Don't bring your guns to the ballpark. Just leave 'em in the car.' Unless I'm off on most major league clubhouse layouts, there are no shooting or skeet ranges there. So, why exactl do we need guns in the locker room?


An international story: Baseball America has a new article, which breaks down which teams have been the most successful at signing and developing prospects. This touches on the research I did two months ago on player debuts with the Astros. Houston ranks in the middle of the pack on this list, with about half the Top 30 prospects from outside the US of the New York Yankees.

Richard Justice also has a blog post about the new Dominican Republic academy. My favorite part is the picture of the academy. I'm also interested in the 'social' aspect of the setup. Will it be more like the english lessons show in the movie Sugar? Or will players be able to get a good grounding in the language? Add this to my list of questions for the Astros front office.


Retro Wandy: Last but not least, the fine folks over at Minor League Ball have a nice prospect retrospective on Wandy Rodriguez. The points Sickels makes is that not all Grade C prospects will be duds. Wandy is a good example of how a player may not show up on prospect lists but still make an impact. It also makes covering the minor leagues pretty exciting, if you ask me.