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Everystros Countdown: Chapter XIX

Another 13 players on our run to touch on everyone to ever appear on-field for the Houston ballclub.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Houston Astros
Will Smith
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s your Sunday Everystros Countdown article!

In today’s article, we remain in the third bracket, with players between 21 and 100 BF/PA with the Astros. Each player in this chapter landed between 0.0010 and 0.0022 bWAR per BF/PA.

715. Ray Montgomery is a six-foot-three right-handed outfielder from Bronxville, NY. Born on August 8, 1969, he was the Astros 13th round selection in the 1990 draft out of Fordham University.

Montgomery reached the majors in July, 1996 for Houston, and reached first on a single in his first plate appearance, later coming around to score in an eventual 5-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on July 4. He played in 12 games for Houston in that first season, with six each in July and September. His best moment of the season was without a doubt on July 24, when he hit a walk-off pinch-two-run homer in a 6-4 win against the San Diego Padres. Overall he was three-for-14 with four runs and four RBI.

The lion’s share of Montgomery’s big-league experience was attained in 1997, when he appeared in 29 games. On May 29 he had his first multiple-hit outing with a single and a double with a run scored and an RBI in a 10-6 victory over San Diego. In total he was 16-for-68 with four doubles, a triple and four RBI.

In 1998, Montgomery appeared in six games for Houston between May 30 and June 16, going two-for-five with two runs scored. Overall he was 21-for-87 with five doubles, a triple and a homer with eight RBI. He walked six times and struck out on 23 occasions. In 149 23 innings of defensive work in the outfield, he handled 32 flies without an error, adding two assists. After the 1998 season he was granted free agency and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but didn’t again reach the major league level.

Later, Montgomery joined the Milwaukee Brewers as an area scout in 2002, and has gradually moved up through baseball’s non-player hierarchy to his current position, as the bench coach with the Anaheim Angels.

714. Will Smith is a six-foot-five left-handed pitcher from Newnan, GA. Born on July 10, 1989, he was initially a 40th-round choice of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2007 out of Northgate HS. The next year, the Los Angeles Angels chose him in the seventh round, out of Gulf Coast State College.

Smith started his major league career as a starter with the Kansas City Royals in 2012. He was 6-9 in 16 turns through the rotation, with a 5.32 ERA, a 1.606 WHIP, and 5.9 K/9. His worst K/9 after that first season is 8.6. The next season, the Royals tried Smith out of the pen, and watched as he was 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA, a 0.930 WHIP, and 11.6 K/9. I think it’s safe to say that Smith had found his niche.

Smith later went on to play for the Milwaukee Brewers for parts of three seasons (9-8, 3.28, 151 IP, led the NL with 78 appearances in 2014), the San Francisco Giants (9-4, 2.70, 136 23 IP, 48 saves, All Star appearance in 2019), and the Atlanta Braves (5-10, 3.87, 42 saves, led the majors with 60 games finished in 2021). On August 2, 2022, the Braves traded Smith to the Astros for Jake Odorizzi (Jake 2.0? 3.0?, I can’t keep track).

In 22 innings over 24 games with Houston, Smith was 0-2 with a 3.27 ERA. He struck out 24 and walked four, with a 1.227 WHIP. On September 25, he pitched a perfect seventh inning, striking one batter out in a 6-3 win against the Baltimore Orioles. It was one of nine times that Smith pitched a perfect inning and struck at least one batter out with the Astros. When Houston went through the playoffs, Smith was not active, although he did earn himself a ring.

Houston gave Smith up after the season to free agency, and Smith signed on with the Texas Rangers. He’s gone 2-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 60 games, with a 1.064 WHIP and 8.6 K/9. Including his 2021 season spent with the Braves, Smith has won three consecutive World Series.

713. Travis Buck is a six-foot-two left-handed hitting outfielder from Richland, WA. Born on November 18, 1983, he was a 23rd-round choice of the Seattle Mariners in 2002 out of Richland HS. He didn’t sign, instead deciding to attend Arizona State Unversity. In 2005, the Oakland Athletics took him in the first round, 36th overall.

Buck reached the majors with the A’s in 2007, and played in parts of the next four seasons with them. In 170 games he hit .250/.330/.424 with 18 round-trippers and 71 RBI. Buck then spent the 2011 season with the Cleveland Indians (50 games, .228/.275/.342).

On November 5, 2011, Buck signed with the Astros through free agency. He opened the season on Houston’s major league club, and appeared in 33 of the first 49 games. He started 17 times, eight in left field and nine in right, coming off the bench in the other 16 instances, 14 of those times as a pinch hitter. On April 28, he had a two-hit day, his only one with the Astros, in a 6-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. He didn’t appear in the majors again after an 0-for-4 day in a 7-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies on May 28. He was sent down to the minors.

In 29 minor league games in Houston’s system, between the Oklahoma City RedHawks and the Corpus Christi Hooks, Buck batted .306/.379/.412. Although he never got back to the major leagues, he did spend the next two years playing for the San Diego Padres at their Triple-A level. He’s currently part of the coaching staff at Arizona State University.

712. Aaron Sanchez is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Barstow, CA. Born on July 1, 1992, he was a first-round selection in 2010 by the Toronto Blue Jays, 34th overall out of Barstow HS. He reached the majors with Toronto four years later.

Sanchez played the first five-and-a-half seasons of his major league career with Houston, making the All-Star Team and leading the AL with a 3.00 ERA in 2016. Overall he was 32-33 with a 3.96 ERA, a 1.368 WHIP, and 7.2 K/9.

On July 31, 2019, Sanchez, along with Joe Biagini and Cal Stevenson, were traded by Toronto to Houston for Derek Fisher. Sanchez was inserted into the Astros rotation, and made his first start on August 3. In that game, an eventual 9-0 victory, he started by limiting the Seattle Mariners to a pair of walks over six innings, striking out six and getting 55-of-92 pitches over the plate. Will Harris, Biagini, and Chris Devenski followed with a hitless inning each to finish off a combined no-hitter. Sanchez made three more starts before going on the 10-day injured list with “pitching wear and tear,” and wouldn’t appear in another major league game for 21 months. The Astros granted his free agency before Spring Training in 2021.

Sanchez played in 2021 with the San Francisco Giants (1-1, 3.06, 35 13 IP), then split 2022 between the Washington Nationals (3-3, 8.33, 31 13 IP) and the Minnesota Twins (0-1, 4.71, 28 23 IP). In 2023 he split the year in the minor leagues between the Minnesota Twins and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

711. Howie Reed was a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from Dallas, TX. Born on December 21, 1936, he started his professional baseball career in 1958 in the Kansas City Athletics’ system. He also reached the majors with the A’s that same season.

Reed pitched in parts of three seasons for the A’s (10 games, 4.96, 32 23 IP). From 1961 through 1964, he played four seasons with the Spokane Indians, the Triple-A affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He finally resurfaced in the majors with the Dodgers in 1964, pitching in parts of three seasons for them as well (10-9, 3.13, 169 23 IP). He started 1966 with the Dodgers, then got traded to the California Angels (0-1, 2.93, 43 IP) midway through.

After the 1966 season, the Angels traded Reed to Houston for Tony Curry. Reed then turned in a 19-8 record with a 2.73 ERA as a starter for the Oklahoma City 89ers for Houston at Triple-A. Called up to the Astros in September, he got into four games, two as a starting pitcher.

On September 20, Reed earned no-decision after limiting the Pirates to one earned run over seven innings in a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh. On September 25, he earned the win over the Bucs by making the final nine outs without allowing a run. In 18 13 innings in total, he allowed 19 hits and two walks for eight runs (seven earned). He struck out nine and posted a 1.88 FIP, a 1.145 WHIP and a 3.44 ERA.

After 1968 back with the 89ers, Reed, along with Leo Marentette and Steve Shea, had their contracts purchased by the Montreal Expos. Reed pitched in 131 games for Montreal over the next three seasons, going 14-15 with a 4.11 ERA, a 1.510 WHIP, and a 4.08 FIP. After two years involved in television and radio broadcasts focusing on the Expos, he moved to Mathis, TX, where he died of heart failure in 1984.

710. Rogelio Armenteros is a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from La Habana, Cuba. Born on June 30, 1994, he started his professional career with Houston’s Single-A affiliate in 2015, splitting the year between the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Tri-City ValleyCats. That’s seven cities for those of you counting. Armenteros struck out 61 in as many innings that first season, with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.262 WHIP. In 2017, he posted a 2.04 ERA and a 1.043 WHIP between the Fresno Grizzlies and the Corpus Christi Hooks.

Armenteros got to the majors with the Astros in 2019, making his major league debut on June 14. His best game with the team, going by WPA, was on July 21, when he struck out six and allowed one run in five innings, starting and winning against the Texas Rangers, 5-3.

In five games in total, Armenteros pitched 18 innings for Houston, striking out 18 and allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 17 hits and five walks. It was his first and last time in the major leagues.

709, Aurelio Monteagudo was a five-foot-11 right-handed pitcher from Caibarien, Cuba. Born on November 10, 1990, he started his stateside baseball career in 1961 with the Kansas City Athletics at their D-level with the Albuquerque Dukes, where he was 11-4 in 23 games, including 21 starts. In 1963, he reached the majors with the A’s.

Monteagudo pitched parts of four seasons with the A’s to start his career (0-4, 6.21, 58 IP). On May 27, 1966 Monteagudo’s contract was purchased by the Astros from the A’s. Going by WPA, his best outing was on May 31, when he pitched 2 13 scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing only a hit to the St. Louis Cardinals in an eventual 3-0 loss.

In 10 appearances wtih the Astros, Monteagudo was 0-0 with a 4.70 ERA and seven strikeouts in 15 13 IP. He allowed eight runs on 14 hits and 11 walks for a 1.630 WHIP. Near the end of the season, the Cincinnati Reds purchased his contract. Monteagudo later played with the Kansas City Royals (1-1, 2.96, 27 13 IP) and the California Angels (2-1, 4.20, 30 IP).

In addition to his time in stateside baseball, Monteagudo played 20 seasons in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League and the Mexican League. On November 9, 1990, Monteagudo was killed in a car accident in Saltillo, MX.

In a piece of macabre trivia, all three major league baseball players named Aurelio were killed in car accidents between the ages of 44 and 52. (according to Wikipedia).

708. Ernie Riles is a six-foot-one lefty-batting and righty-throwing left-side infielder from Cairo, GA. Born on October 2, 1960, Riles was a 21st-round choice of the Seattle Mariners in 1980 out of Middle Georgia State University. After not signing, the Milwaukee Brewers selected him in round number three in 1981.

RIles made it to the major leagues with Milwaukee in 1985 and played parts of four seasons with the team (385 games, .265/.326/.361). He later played with the San Francisco Giants (293 games, .264/.328/.398) and the Oakland Athletics (108 games, .214/.290/.324). Riles signed with the Astros in January 1992.

Riles started the 1992 season by playing just over a half-season with the Tucson Toros (60 games, .307/.390/.436). He joined the Astros on July 21. On August 18, he hit a game-tying pinch-RBI-single in the seventh inning, in an eventual 7-6 win against the St. Louis Cardinals. On September 19, Riles was the unquestioned hero of the game. He hit an RBI-game-tying single in the fourth, a single with the score tied in the ninth, and a lead-off solo home run in the 12th, in a 3-2 win against the Atlanta Braves.

Riles appeared in 39 games for the Astros in 1992, going 16-for-61 with a double, a homer, four RBI, five runs scored, and one stolen base. He drew two walks and struck out 11 times. Granted free agency following the season, Riles played the 1993 season with the Boston Red Sox (94 games, .189/.292/.350).

707. Humberto Castellanos is a five-foot-11 right-handed pitcher from Tepatitlan de Morelos, MX. Born on April 3, 1998, he started his pro career with the DSL Orangestros in 2016, where he pitched to a 4.29 ERA and a 1.331 WHIP in 50 13 innings. Over next next few seasons, he rose through Houston’s minor league ranks, splitting the 2019 season between three levels and going 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA, a 1.045 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9.

With nowhere to put anyone with the minors shuttered for the season, Castellanos reached the majors for Houston in 2020. By WPA, his best game was on August 7, when he pitched a hitless and scoreless 12th inning in an eventual 13-inning 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

In 10 23 innings over eight relief appearances, Castellanos allowed eight runs on 12 hits and five walks, striking out 12 and finishing with a 5.35 FIP. In January 2021, Castellanos was selected off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Castellanos pitched for two seasons in the majors with Arizona, racking up 90 innings with the Diamondbacks. He was 5-4 with a 5.30 ERA in 25 games, including 16 starts, and posted a 1.389 WHIP. He’s still in Arizona’s system.

706. Pete Ladd is a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Portland, ME. Born on July 17, 1956, he was chosen in the 25th round by the Boston Red Sox in 1977, out of the University of Mississippi. Two years and six days later, the Red Sox traded Ladd to the Astros with PTBNL Bobby Sprowl and cash for Bob Watson.

Ladd joined the Astros proper for his first major league exposure on August 17. On October 24, he pitched two near-perfect innings with one strikeout in a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. On September 2, he again pitched two near-perfect frames, allowing only a walk while striking out two in a 5-4 loss to the New York Mets.

Ladd was 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA in 12 13 inning over 10 appearances, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits and eight walks, with six strikeouts. He remained in Houston’s system for another two seasons, going 5-4 with a 3.38 ERA for the Tucson Toros in 1981.

After the 1981 season was in the books, the Astros traded Ladd to the Milwaukee Brewers for Rickey Keeton. Ladd played four seasons with the Crew (8-16, 4.32, 204 IP), then joined the Seattle Mariners in 1986 (52 games, 3.82 ERA, 70 23 IP).

Ladd died of cancer on October 20, 2023. SABR Bio

705. Steve Henderson is a six-foot-two right-handed hitting and throwing left fielder from Houston, TX. Born on November 18, 1952, he was a fifth round choice in 1974 out of Prairie View A&M University by the Cincinnati Reds. Henderson joined the New York Mets in June, 1977 in the four-player Tom Seaver deal.

Henderson entered the majors with the New York Mets in 1977, and played four seasons in the Big Apple (497 games, .287/.360/.423). He then played for the Chicago Cubs (174 games, .265/.341/.375), the Seattle Mariners (230 games, .280/.349/.432) and the Oakland Athletics (142 games, .279/.337/.399). The A’s granted his free agency after the 1987 season.

Henderson signed with the Astros during 1988 Spring Training. During his year with the team, he appeared in 42 major league games. On June 11, he hit a two-out, game-tying RBI-double against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning, in a game the Astros actually walked off in the 12th on a Terry Puhl RBI-single. Overall, Henderson went 10-for-46 at the plate for Houston, with a pair of doubles, four runs and five RBI. He drew seven walks and struck out 14 times.

Henderson later got into coaching, actually returning to the Astros in 1995 and 1996 as their hitting coach. He found employment in a variety of coaching jobs until his dismissal from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016.

704. Rick Parker is a six-foot right-handed outfielder from Kansas City, MO. Born on March 20, 1963, Parker was a 16th-round choice of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1985 out of Missouri State University. Four years later, he was part of a five-player trade that made him a part of the San Francisco Giants.

Parker played two seasons at the major league level with the Giants starting in 1990, and hit .223/.293/.314 in 67 games. Prior to the 1992 season, Parker signed with the Astros through free agency. That year as part of the Tucson Toros, Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, he hit .323/.383/.461 with four home runs and 38 RBI.

In 1993, Parker played most of the season with Houston at their major league level. On September 7, trailing the Mets, 3-2, he hit a leadoff pinch-single in the bottom of the 10th, then came around to score on a Steve Finley groundout that also plated pinch-hitter Chris James on a throwing error for a 4-3 walkoff win.

In total, Parker appeared in 45 games for the Astros that season, going 15-for-45 wtih three doubles, 11 runs, four RBI and three walks versus eight strikeouts. Defensively, he handled 17 chances in 68 23 outfield innings without making an error. He was granted free agency after the season.

Parker played for the New York Mets in 1994 (eight games, .063/.063/.063), then played two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (43 games, .279/.326/.302).

703. Mark Grant is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Aurora, IL. Born on October 24, 1963, he was a first-round pick of the San Francisco Giants in 1981, 10th overall out of Joliet Catholic Academy.

Grant reached the majors with the Giants in 1984, and pitched in parts of three seasons for them (2-7, 4.76, 124 23 IP). He later pitched for the San Diego Padres (17-18, 3.98, 355 13 IP), the Atlanta Braves (1-2, 4.64, 52 13 IP), and the Seattle Mariners (2-4, 3.89, 81 IP).

Before the 1993 season, Grant signed with the Astros through free agency. In his first appearance, on April 25, he struck out one batter over two scoreless innings, allowing only a hit in a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. On May 17, he pitched two scoreless in a 8-7 loss to the Giants.

Despite Grant landing on the positive side of bWAR through his time with Houston, they somehow managed to go 0-6 in his appearances. Grant allowed 11 hits in 11 innings, allowing four runs (one earned) and walking five against six strikeouts.

On May 20, Houston traded Grant to the brand-new Colorado Rockies for Braulio Castillo. With Colorado, Grant pitched in another 14 games, racking up a 12.56 ERA with a 2.023 WHIP. That was his last time as a major league player, although he did go into broadcasting for the San Diego Padres for 15 seasons after his retirement.

Now, that’s 273 players down and 702 still to go. We’ve got another 102 chapters to go, so buckle up. Tomorrow we’re still talking about players between 21 and 100 BF/PA with the Astros, and we’re up to the guys who finished with between 0.0022 and 0.0040 bWAR per BF/PA with the team.

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