Longing for a Longball

Bases loaded, 1 out in the inning. Carlos Lee pops up. 2 outs. Keppinger swings at first pitch for a flyball out to the right fielder. Inning over. Is this the kind of scenario we've been seeing the last couple of weeks? Bases loaded but no runs scoring? And this is pretty much happening every game. The only clutch player on this team seems to be Matt Downs, a guy we picked off waivers last year who is currently tied for 2nd on the team with 6 homers, one more than the guy who is getting paid over $19 million to do the same thing. I guess throwing money at somebody won't fix the problem. I remember towards the end of last year I was suggesting the Astros get Dan Uggla, and Adam Dunn. Thank god they didn't follow my advice. The two of them are getting paid $21 million this year combined. Uggla is hitting only .177 on the year with 11 homers, and Dunn is hitting .173 with 7 homers. And even worse than Bill Hall, Dunn has struck out 100 times in 279 plate appearances this year. Proves that money doesn't solve the problem. And I have changed my philosophy about that.

If we are going to look for power, we are going to have to look to our farm system.

The power candidates:

For Elite Power: 30+ homers a year

Telvin Nash, 1B
- Starting his first full season in the minors this year at Lexington, he was sidelined with a broken wrist after playing just 15 games. He was rated as having the best power in the system by somebody... He's a big athletic beast at 6'1", weighing 230 pounds and only 20 years old. He hit a moonshot homer in big league spring training that impressed me. I'm high on this guy.

- Not much is known about his defense. He was moved to first base from left field before the start of spring training due to terrible defense there. His future is probably determined by his bat unless his defense is worse than expected at 1st. ETA is probably around late 2013, but he might get a September call-up in 2012 if he's tearing the cover off the ball from now until next year. When this year ends, we'll see where his progress is at.

- ETA: Late 2013

Ariel Ovando, RF
Big international free agent signed out of the Dominican last year for a whopping $2.6 million dollars. Didn't we give Bill Hall $3.25 million? Not much is known, and has only played 1 minor league game this year, going 1-4. Has a nice line-drive swing. Some scouts believe he could hit 40+ homers a year easily. Review of him when we signed him:

- ETA: ~2014

For Moderate Power: ~20 homers a year.

Chris Wallace, C
- Catcher with an offensive upside, he won the South Atlantic League home-run derby with a total of 20 longballs. There's your raw power. If he continues his offense after skipping Lancaster, he could easily be in Houston sometime next year. Since he is a catcher, his defense may need to be worked on (I don't know much about his defense). He has caught 43% of base runners stealing in the lower minors. With Jason Castro catching as well, a platoon situation could be likely since Castro bats left and Wallace bats right or they can be paired up with certain pitchers which would make more sense.

- ETA: Late 2012

J.D. Martinez, LF
- Plenty of doubles power in the minors and decent walk totals, but home run power might be in question if he is expected to man a corner outfield spot. He also has bad knees and can't run well. He is most likely to replace Carlos Lee in left field. But I wouldn't be too worried if he can't hit many homers now. He has a high batting average with a swing that can generate lift and will still be a valuable player.

- ETA: Mid to late 2012, depends on where Carlos Lee is by then.

Kody Hinze, 1B
He's having a career year this year at age 23 after a couple of seasons in the minors. He has the highest OBP in the minors at .465. It's nice to have a guy who can take a walk. He should be getting a promotion to Corpus Christi soon. If he has finally put it all together, he could be a solid 1st baseman in years to come with average power at the major league level. If not, he could be an AAAA player, reminiscent of Mark Saccomanno, an aging player who only got 10 at bats with the Astros in '08. He likely gets a September call-up next year.

- ETA: Mid to late 2012

Wild Card:

Chase Davidson, 1B
Originally a 3rd round pick in '08 who did not sign, had a rough first 2 years of college with batting averages under .200. He had a decent junior year with a .278 batting average and 7 homers. Supposedly has tons of raw power. He raised my eyebrows by hitting a homer in each of the first two games this season at Greenville. Only bad thing that stands out to me is that he is a guy that can't take a walk and strikes out way too much. Not much seems to be known about him other than that so we'll have to see how he finishes the year off to make more judgments.

Delino Deshields Jr., 2B
A first round draft pick last year, he is showing promise in the power department in his first full season. He has hit 6 homers this year as an 18 year old and the youngest player on the Lexington roster. He can also steal bases and is fast, with good range as a second baseman. He is slumping though, batting below the Mendoza line at .193. But I think there is a lot of time for him to rebound and show us what he's made of. He just needs to get in his groove.

Possibly someone we sign as an international free agent during the July 2nd signing period. There are a lot of top Dominican outfielders this year. But 3rd Base & Pitching are weaknesses in our system. This website highlights on some of the top players eligible this year:

There is video of Miguel Andujar, 3B who is eligible for this year's draft. I'm not sure if I like his swing or not, or maybe it's the camera angle. See for yourself.

Well, that's all I have to say. Thoughts, opinions, criticism? Fire away. I wanna hear it.