A look at the Astros at the Arizona Fall League
The Arizona Fall League gets underway today, giving the Astros and other Major League teams the opportunity see some of their top prospects play in what is considered a graduate school for prospects.
The Astros have eight players in Arizona playing for the Peoria Javelinas: pitchers David Carpenter, Kyle Greenwalt, Matt Nevarez and Patrick Urckfitz; infielder Koby Clemens; and outfielders Jay Austin, Brandon Barnes and Jack Shuck.
In fact, Nevarez will be blogging about his exprerience and you can follow it by clicking here.
Outfielder T.J. Steele and pitcher Sergio Perez were originally scheduled to play, but Steele is still recovering from an injury and Perez had a personal commitment. Carpenter and Barnes are on the taxi squad, meaning they’ll only play on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Each of the six Arizona Fall League teams plays a 32-game schedule through Nov. 18. All Triple-A and Double-A player are eligible to play provided they are on those rosters no later than Aug. 16. Two players below the Double-A level are also allowed to play.
Nearly 60 percent of the players to have played in league’s first 18 years of existence have made the Major Leagues, including more than 70 percent of players from a year ago. Astros catcher Jason Castro played in Arizona last fall.
“It’s a great environment because the competition level is always very high in Arizona,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “It’s a different environment than what exists in Latin America in the winter leagues. We’ve got big crowds and the competition amongst the clubs is significant.
“The Arizona Fall League provides an opportunity for top prospects to face top prospects, and all you have to do is look at the history of the Arizona Fall League to see how many outstanding Major League players have come through the program to recognize it’s importance. We’re excited about what we saw in the instructional league, anxious to see kids playing in the Fall League. We’re certainly monitoring what’s coming out of the other Latin programs as well.”
The Astros will scout the entire league with their pro scouts on assignment, with assistant general managers David Gottfried and Bobby Heck among those also going out to check out the league. Wade plans to head to Arizona to see four games later this month.
Here’s a look at the players the Astros sent to Arizona:
- RHP David Carpenter, 25 years old: Acquired from the Cardinals in the Pedro Feliz trade, he went a combined 6-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 55 games in relief between Class A Palm Beach and Lancaster. He pitched in six games after being acquired from the Astros, going 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA.
- RHP Kyle Greenwalt, 22 years old: A 20th-round draft pick in 2007, he went 8-7 with a 5.93 ERA in 27 starts in Class A Lancaster. He allowed 191 hits and struck out 90 batters 136 2/3 innings.
- RHP Matt Nevarez, 23 years old: Injuries slowed him down this year, but he went 2-1 with a 3.76 ERA in 36 relief appearances after appearing in Major League Spring Training with the Astros, who acquired him from the Texas Rangers in the Ivan Rodriguez trade.
- LHP Pat Urckfitz 22 years old: Spent most of last season at Class A Lancaster, going 5-9 with a 4.13 ERA in 35 games, including 12 starts. He appeared in one game at Double-A Corpus Christi at the end of the season.
- IF Koby Clemens, 23 years old: Has hit 48 homers and driven in 208 runs in the past two years between Class A Lexington and Double-A Corpus Christi. Last season at Corpus, he hit .241 with 22 doubles, three triples, 26 homers and 85 RBIs.
- OF Jay Austin, 20 years old: The speedy Austin was the youngest player in the California League to begin last season and wound up hitting .261 with 25 doubles, 13 triples, 10 homers, 59 RBIs and 54 stolen bases in 74 attempts for Class A Lancaster.
- OF Brandon Barnes, 24 years old: Taken in the sixth round of the 2005 Draft, Barnes hit .269 with 31 doubles, five triples, 27 homers and 80 RBIs last season at Class A Lancaster. He played six games at Triple-A Round Rock at the end of the year and hit .286 in 21 at-bats.
- OF Jack Shuck, 23 years old: Spent most of last season at Double-A Corpus Christi and batted .298 with two homers and 28 RBIs. He played in 36 games at Triple-A Round Rock at the end of the year and hit .273 in 139 at-bats. Shuck was taken in sixth round of 2008 Draft.