Mills eager for full squad to hit the field

The Astros will hold their first full-squad workout on Sunday, when all 63 players in Major League camp are scheduled to hit the field for the first time this spring. Manager Brad Mills expects everyone to report by Sunday morning.

“We’re very happy with the six days we’ve had [with pitchers and catchers] and now we’re ready to move forward,” he said.

In fact, the Astros have had a huge number of position players participating in drills for the last few days, a number that’s growing daily. Non-roster outfielder Brandon Barnes, who showed up Friday, was on the field for the first time Saturday.

The only players who hadn’t worked out at Osceola County Stadium by Saturday were outfielders Carlos Lee and Jonathan Singleton and infielder Jonathan Villar. Position players aren’t required to report until Sunday morning, when they will be given physicals prior to take the field.

Here’s the day in photos:

His back feeling better, Wandy Rodriguez took the mound Saturday.

David Carpenter throws in the bullpen wiht Jon Matlack watching.

Jason Castro and David Carpenter talk after their bullpen.

Doug Brocail gives some pointers to Lucas Harrell.

Conditioning drills capped the day for the pitchers.

Brett Wallace swings in the cage.

Right-handers Jarred Cosart and Mike Foltynewicz and left-hander Brett Oberholtzer – three young pitchers ranked among the Astros’ top seven prospects by MLB.com – were among seven hurlers who participated Saturday in the first day a Minor League mini camp.

The other participants are right-handers Jake Buchanan, Ross Seaton, Josh Zeid and Jason Stoffel and catchers Miles Hamblin, Ryan McCurdy, Roberto Pena and Mike Kvasnicka. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who watched the pitchers throw, said the young arms will get some innings in Grapefruit League games.

Here’s a quick Q and A with Foltynewicz:

Q: What are you hoping to get out of the Minor League mini camp?

A: “Trying to work on the things we left off on in instructional ball, trying to get the command of the strike zone down. I’m really just trying to get a head start along with these seven guys to get ready for a good season.”

Q: How excited are you about a chance to pitch in a big-league Spring Training game?

A: “Heard about that probably a month ago, and it made me want to work even harder. That’s my ultimate goal, and it’s that little bit more motivation.”

Q: How big of a year is this for you?

A: “It’s a pretty big year. Last year, I had good games and had bad games, and this year I just have to put it all together and find that happy medium. I think it’s a big year to prove myself to a lot of the doubters out there, so it’s a pretty big year.”

Q: What’s it like to be a part of this group of talented young arms coming up?

A: “It’s pretty exciting. Later on down the road, this is going to be a great Houston Astros team. we’ve got a lot of good arms and I’m really excited for the future.”

Here’s a quick Q and A with Jarred Cosart:

Q: What are you hoping to get out of the Minor League mini camp?

A: “It’s great. I was bummed at first about not coming to big league camp, but it happens and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t control it. That’s what Fred and all the guys told me today, to come out here and pitch and getting down here early just helps me get a little jump on everybody else coming to Minor League camp. It’s a good group of guys and I had Brocail and a lot of the big league guys watching today, so it’s really not much different than over there.”

Q: Are you excited about the chance of pitching in a Grapefruit League game?

A: “This would be my first chance. They said be ready to throw in multiple big league games. They’re getting us ready as if we’re in big league camp and I’ve heard they’re having a lot of split squad games to get a lot of the younger guys over there who are fighting for that fifth spot. They’re going to have openings. They said to be ready for a couple of games.”

Q: You’re getting instruction from Doug Brocail and Jon Matlack. How beneficial is that?

“I got open ears to anything. Matlack pitched in the big leagues for 15 years a while back and Brocail just recently came out of the game and he’s been a big league pitching coach for two or three years now. They know what they’re talking about, as do all these coaches. I’m always open to any advice, mechanical, mental, whatever. They just said I’ll make a lot of money if I pitch down. That’s pretty much the basics of pitching. Right now it’s staying consistent and doing the little things. They said the stuff is there and the name of the game is mix pitches and staying down in the zone, and I have a chance to be pretty good if I can do that.”

Here are some photos from the first day of Minor League mini camp:

Brett Oberholtzer plays pepper.

Mike Foltynewicz plays pepper.

Jarred Cosart has some fun.

Ross Seaton has fielding drills.

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