McLane checks out instructional league
Astros owner Drayton McLane swooped into Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday, joining general manager Ed Wade, assistant general manager David Gottfried and manager Brad Mills to watch a workout day during the fall instructional league at Osceola County Stadium.
Wade, Gottfried and Mills had been in Florida since Tuesday, but McLane decided to pay them a visit to get an eyewitness account of some of the club’s best young Minor League talent. McLane even took time to address the 47 players following the workout.
“It was an excellent opportunity to talk with them and I wanted to get to know them and communicate with them and get a chance to talk to them,” said McLane, who landed in the morning and was gone a few hours later.
McLane was thoroughly impressed with outfielder Ariel Ovando, a 17-year-old Dominican prospect the Astros paid record signing bonus of more than $2.5 million earlier this year.
“He’s really impressive in person and his ability is going to be very good,” McLane said. “He’s barely 17. As you watch him run and field, you can just tell he’s going to be an exceptionally good player.”
Wade said overall the talent level is the highest he’s seen in three years in Houston, but he has been extremely impressed with Ovando as well.
“He’s gotten some big base hits in every one of the games,” Wade said. “He’s still just a kid and a lot of things to learn, as you would suspect with a 17-year-old. But certainly, from the standpoint of athleticism and the way he swings the bat, he has a chance to be a real good player.”
The Astros won all three games they had played during the week Wade and Mills were in Florida, including a game against a Chinese traveling team preparing for the Asian Games in Vero Beach, Fla.
“What a great group of kids we have down here,” Mills said. “They’re very athletic and they can run and steal bases. [Infielders Jonathan] Villar and [Jimmy] Paredes are good kids, Telvin Nash in left field is something special, and we got a real good look at Jordan Scott in center field. We’re awfully young and have some talent, that’s for sure.”