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Everystros Countdown: Chapter 4

Today’s dispatch covers players ranking from 930th up through 916th.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Today we’ll be looking at 15 more players who at some point suited up for the Astros.

Each of these players reside in the second tier of the countdown. The second tier is comprised of players who totaled between six and 20 plate appearances and/or batters faced while part of the team.

930. Ron Washington was a shortstop by trade, but also specialized at second and third base as well. A native of New Orleans, Washington made his major league debut in 1977 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit well in a 10-game look, going seven-for-19 in a cup of coffee in September. Despite his success, it would be four years until he got back to the majors.

In 1981, Washington got back up with the Minnesota Twins, and later also played for the Baltimore Orioles and the Cleveland Indians. Prior to joining the Astros for a few games in 1989, he had collected a .262/.292/.368 slashline with 20 home runs and 146 RBI in 557 games. Washington signed with the Astros through free agency prior to Spring Training in 1989.

In a seven-game look for Houston between mid-June and the early part of July, Washington was 1-for-7 with a double and four strikeouts, all as a pinch hitter. That was his final time in the majors, but of course he went on to manage the Texas Rangers for eight seasons, going 664-611.

929. Madison, IN native Larry Ray is a right fielder that Houston drafted in the fourth round of the 1979 draft. After working his way up through Houston’s minor league system, Ray got to the top level with Houston after the rosters expanded back in 1982. He got into five games for his troubles, totaling one RBI while going one-for-six at the plate with four strikeouts. In six innings in right field, he handled one chance without an error. That was Ray’s first and last look at the majors. Ray died suddenly while on a vacation with some friends in Alabama, just three months ago.

928. Roger Mason is a Bellaire, MI native and a veteran of nine major league seasons. Between 1984 and 1987, he pitched in 26 games for the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants. Between 1991 and 1994 he pitched another 204 contests between the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Diego Padres, the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets.

Those three years in between, Mason spent almost 100 percent of in the minors, first of San Francisco, then Houston, then Pittsburgh. For two games in 1989, he came in for Houston in relief. His usage was very low leverage, pitching the final inning of a 9-0 loss to the Padres and the seventh inning of a 10-2 loss to San Francisco. Mason struck out three over 1 13 innings, but also allowed three earned runs on two walks and two hits.

927. Billy Sadler hails from Pensacola and was a 37th-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2000. He was later drafted by Seattle in the 30th round the next year, and in the sixth round of the 2003 draft by the San Francisco Giants. It was with San Francisco for whom Sadler made his initial impression on the majors. After a five-game cup of coffee in 2006, Sadler spent 33 games with them in 2008. Sadler was released from San Francisco’s minor league system on August 10, 2009, and Houston signed him eight days later.

Sadler got into a single game with Houston, on September 10. He relieved Roy Oswalt for the beginning of the third inning, trailing 6-1 to the Atlanta Braves. After one perfect inning, Sadler opened the fourth giving up a walk to Chipper Jones and singles to Brian McCann and Garret Anderson before striking out Adam LaRoche. He was then lifted for Wesley Wright. Sadler didn’t pitch at the major league level again.

926. RHP Manuel Barrios is a native of Cabecera, Panama, and was signed to play in the Astros system in 1994. Near the end of the 1997 campaign, Barrios was called up for his first look at the majors.

On September 16, Barrios got his feet wet in a very low leverage situation, a 15-3 loss to the San Diego Padres. He allowed two runs on two hits and two walks over one inning. On September 28, he was put in a much higher leverage situation and was credited with a hold despite less-than-stellar results. He pitched the fourth and fifth innings of an eventual 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, athough he did allow a pair of runs on four hits and a walk. Barrios struck out three during his short stay with the Astros. I wrote about Barrios a couple years ago for Fish Stripes, in their All-time Countdown (The Astros one is harder).

Barrios pitched in two games for the Marlins and one for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998, bringing his major league career to a close.

925. Backstop César Salazar was a seventh-round selection of Houston back in the 2018 draft. A native of Hermosillo, MX, Salazar has spent time at each level of Houston’s system all the way down to Low-A. In 2023, he began the season as Houston’s top minor league catcher behind Martín Maldonado and Yainer Díaz. He was part of the Astros roster for just over a month, getting into five games.

Salazar went two-for-18 with six strikeouts at the plate for the Astros. As a catcher, he took 39 23 innings behind the plate, handling 44 chances with two errors. He also caught two-of-eight basestealers, a small percentage above the American League average. Salazar remains on Houston’s 40-man roster.

924. Gary Cooper was Houston’s seventh-round choice in 1986 out of BYU. A third baseman by trade, Cooper hit every step on his way to the majors. In 1991, he hit .305/.402/.500 at the Triple-A level in 120 games for the Tuscon Toros. After the conclusion of the minor league season, he was called up to get his feet wet with the Astros.

Cooper appeared in nine games for the Astros, going four-for-16 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. He walked three times versus six strikeouts. His best appearance was in Houston’s final game of the season, on October 6 in an 8-3 win against the Atlanta Braves. Cooper collected a single and a double, drawing a walk, scoring a run, and collecting an RBI. In 1992, he repeated his success at the Triple-A level, but didn’t get back to the major leagues. He spent each of the following three seasons in the minors, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Detroit Tigers, respectively.

923. RHP Austin Pruitt was born in Plano and drafted out of the University of Houston in the ninth round in 2013 by the Tampa Bay Rays. Beginning in 2017, he was a semi-regular contributor to their success, pitching in 67 games over the next three seasons. He was 12-8 with five saves and a 4.87 ERA. Before we knew the 2020 season would start late as heck, the Rays traded Pruitt to Houston for Peyton Battenfield and Cal Stevenson.

After sitting for 2020, Pruitt spent the first three months of 2021 at Houston’s triple-A level. On July 17, he made his first major league appearance in quite some time when he pitched two innings of one-run ball in a 10-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Four days later, he surrendered another run in 23 of an inning against the Cleveland Indians. Pruitt was then flipped to the Miami Marlins, with Bryan De La Cruz for Yimi Garcia.

Pruitt only pitched 4 23 innings for Miami, and has pitched in 77 games for the Oakland Athletics in the two campaigns since.

922. Carlos Hernández is a second baseman from Caracas, VZ. He started playing in Houston’s system in 1994, and graduated to their top level in 1999. He was called up on three separate occasions to the parent club, getting into 16 games.

At the plate, Hernández went just two-for-14, but he scored four runs, stole three bases, and drove one run in. In 21 13 innings between 2B (18 frames) and SS (3 13 innings), he finished with a collective .945 fielding percentage.

921. Houston native Scott Strickland was a 10th-round pick of the Montreal Expos in 1997. In four seasons of major league work with Montreal, he was 6-10 with a 3.28 ERA over 148 13 innings. A week into the 2002 season he was traded to the New York Mets. In two seasons he had a 3.29 ERA and a 6-11 record. After the Mets released him on May 22, 2005, the Astros picked him up four days later.

The Astros sent Strickland to the triple-A level until roster expansion, when he joined Houston proper. Of course, you all remember 2005, right? The Astros used Strickland in five games, where he struck out two in four innings. He allowed three earned runs (including two home runs) on four hits and zero walks.

Strickland wasn’t included on Houston’s postseason roster, and didn’t get back to the majors until 2010, for two innings with the Florida Marlins.

920. LHP Wilfredo Rodríguez from Ciudad Bolivar, VZ started pitching in Houston’s system in 1997 at the rookie level, racking up a 9.01 K/9 over five seasons at each level of the minors short of Triple-A. At the tail end of the 2001 season, he got into a pair of games for the Astros, striking out three in three innings and allowing five earned runs on six hits and a walk.

Rodríguez didn’t appear at any level of affiliated ball for the next two years before pitching in the minors for the Montreal Expos in 2004 and the Texas Rangers in 2005.

919. Outfielder Cameron Drew was Houston’s first-round choice in 1985, with the 12th overall selection. In September 1988, he played his first major league games. After going 0-for-3 as a pinch hitter in his first three games, he started on September 17, going two-for-four with a triple and a run scored. He finished his first season in the bigs having gone three-for-16 with no walks and one strikeout.

Unfortunately, Drew’s knees, previously damaged by basketball, prevented him from continuing his baseball career. He did try a brief comeback in 1991, but only appeared in three games for the Cleveland Indians High-A affiliate.

918. Jim Obradovich is a first baseman from Fort Campbell, KY. In 1967, he was the 24th-round choice of the Minnesota Twins. After four seasons in Minnesota’s lower levels of minor league ball, he spent the 1971 and 1972 seasons in service of the US Military in Germany.

Back in the minors for the 1973 season, Obradovich spent another four seasons in Minnesota’s minors, at much higher levels. His last season, 1976, would see him hit .265 with 21 home runs and more walks (113) than strikeouts (104). Even considering that, the Twins released him just prior to the 1977 season.

Obradovich was immediately signed by the Houston Astros, and between the Columbus Astros at Double-A and the Charleston Charlies at Triple-A, put up an .858 OPS in 136 games. In 1978, it was more of the same, with Obradovich hitting .306 with a .950 OPS and 21 home runs in 129 games. In September, 11 years after being drafted, he made his major league debut with the Astros.

Between September 12 and September 29, Obradovich appeared in 10 games for Houston, and hit three-for-17 with a triple and a pair of RBI. He drew a walk and struck out three times. In the field, he took 25 23 innings at first base without an error, making 29 clean chances.

In 1979, Obradovich hit just .231 in 119 games for the Charlies, with just a .717 OPS. He followed that with three seasons of ball in the Mexican League, but didn’t appear in affiliated ball again.

917. LHP Hal Gilson was a six-foot-five native of Los Angeles. At the age of 19, he joined the Chicago Cubs minor leagues, and later signed on with the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1965, he racked up a 1.187 WHIP, going 11-4 with a 1.75 ERA for the Double-A Tulsa Oilers.

Gilson reached the majors with the Cardinals in 1968, pitching 21 23 innings and striking out 20 while earning a 4.57 ERA. On June 15, the Cards traded Gilson with Dick Simpson to the Astros for Ron Davis.

Gilson pitched in two games for Houston in July. He hit a batter, issued a walk, allowed seven hits and struck out one batter, allowing four runs (three earned) in 3 23 innings. He spent the rest of the year at the Triple-A level, performing better but not well enough to justify a return trip to the show.

916. Tyler Ivey was Houston’s third-round choice in 2017 out of Grayson College. He rose gradually through the Astros’ minor league feeder system until 2021, when he appeared in one major league game.

On May 21, Ivey got the start on the road against the Texas Rangers. Although Houston lost, 7-5 in extra innings, Ivey was saddle with no decision. He pitched 4 23 innings and gave up four earned runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out three and got 55-of-79 over the plate.

Ivey pitched to a 10.38 ERA in five appearances for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys in 2022, but did not pitch in 2023. He’s currently still assigned to Sugar Land.

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