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Monday's Three Astros Things

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Talking about Jacob Nix, baserunning and a rookie symposium...

Some things to talk about while we await the arrival of baseball...

1) Jacob Nix playing for IMG

Well, we got the first answer to the eligibility questions that haunt both Jacob Nix and Brady Aiken. After Houston negotiated with both in a very public way, including an "advisor" speaking for Aiken in a way reminscent of an agent, the pair failed to sign last summer and are able to go play in college.

Except, the NCAA usually has thoughts on amateur players who have agents. Those thoughts are not kind to said amateurs.

Jacob Nix settled his grievance with the Astros, getting an undisclosed sum of money from the team while the Astros avoided being penalized with a possible loss of draft picks for going over the amateur draft pool allotted. Nix and the Astros had previously agreed to a deal and Nix had passed his physical, but when Aiken's deal fell through thanks to a medical issue, so did the Nix deal.

That's a quick and dirty summary of the situation. If you want a more in-depth read, here's a link to our coverage from last summer.

Well, fast-forward to this winter. Nix and Aiken still would like to play college baseball, thank you, and maybe play professionally (just not for the Astros). Those eligibility concerns still hold, especially for Nix, who may have technically been paid by a professional baseball team.

That's the framework for this announcement that Nix will be playing baseball this spring for IMG's post-graduate team.

IMG is a sports agency that must have ties to Nix. This way, he skirts the whole eligibility question entirely, can still work out against competition and show off for scouts, while entering the 2015 draft.

It will be fascinating to see how teams evaluate Nix, who did nothing in this whole ordeal to lower his draft stock. Now that he's not going to college, will Nix get drafted higher than the fifth round? Will he fall because of the lack of competition he'll face this season?

2) Runnin' Astros

Relatively short article by John Dewan on Bill James Online's free site talks about the best baserunning teams of 2015. Surprisingly, the Astros finish at the top of the lists.

Here's a brief explanation of the metric used to compile the list.

Net Gain is a Bill James-created statistic that comprehensively measures baserunning by including advancements on hits and outs in addition to stolen bases. By that measure-as well as some other comprehensive baserunning statistics such as BsR, explained here-the Nationals were the best baserunning team in 2014 and actually more than twice as successful as the Royals.

The Astros finished ninth on the list, just ahead of those runnin' Royals. What should we take from that?

Well, first, I wonder how much of that number was directly influenced by Jose Altuve's brilliance. He had a great season on the basepaths, but also a very efficient one. How much of that total was on him alone?

Second, we might be seeing one of the reasons Bo Porter was let go. I know, I know, the last thing we need is another Porter debate.

But, think about this. When he was hired, Porter wanted the Astros to be super aggressive on the bases. That led to some really dumb decisions and bad baserunning numbers for Houston in 2013. Last year, the Astros got away from Porter's aggressive approach and turned in a top 10 season in baseball.

What if Porter wanted to be more aggressive but got curtailed by data from the front office? Couldn't that lead to some of the friction between them? The Astros obviously don't have a Billy Beane "no steals" policy, but there's a difference between taking good chances and being reckless.

Just something to ponder.

3) Trio of Astros prospects get career advice

No, not the kind from Rick Ankiel. The kind from MLB's rookie symposium.

There's so much that players need to focus on just to make the major leagues, sometimes the life skills portion of their development can fall behind. Heck, even if they're terribly well-adjusted humans, being thrust into the world of MLB can be disorienting.

These kinds of rookie symposiums are great ideas. They can help players adjust and learn what to look for in the next year. Sure, there are still plenty of cautionary tales in the NFL after football started a mandatory one of these for all its draft picks. But, if it helps at all, it's worth it.

Here's hoping Folty, Domingo and Wojo got some use out of their weekend in the symposium.