Luhnow excited to add more talent to system

More has been written about the players the Astros have dealt in the past few weeks, proven veterans like Brett Myers, Carlos Lee and Wandy Rodriguez, than the bushel of players the Astros have gotten in return.

That’s natural when you consider the prospects the team has acquired are unknown commodities, but general manager Jeff Luhnow likes what the Astros were able to do in Tuesday’s trade of Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates.

The Astros sent Rodriguez to the Pirates and acquired left-handed pitchers Rudy Owens and Colton Cain and outfielder Robbie Grossman. Owens is on the 40-man roster and headed to Triple-A Oklahoma City, Grossman is going to Double-A Corpus Christi and Cain is headed to Class A Lancaster.

In all, the Astros have acquired 11 Minor League players and two players to be named later in four July trades.

“We’ve accumulated quite a lot of talent in our system, and it’s everywhere – from rookie ball to Triple-A – and we feel good about that,” Luhnow said.

Owens, 24, has posted an 8-5 record and a 3.14 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He has 85 strikeouts and has walked only 25 in his 117 1/3 innings pitched. Owens, who will join the club’s 40-man roster, was Pittsburgh’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009 and 2010.

“To have a left-handed starting pitcher that’s that close to the big leagues is huge for us,” Luhnow said.

Grossman, 22, was hitting .262 with 20 doubles, seven home runs, 35 RBIs and a .374 on-base percentage in 94 games for Double-A Altoona this season. Primarily a center fielder, Grossman was named Pittsburgh’s Minor League Player of the Year last year after hitting .294 and leading the Florida State League with 124 runs scored and 104 walks in 134 games.  The switch-hitting Grossman is currently ranked by as Pittsburgh’s No. 7 prospect. He was originally a sixth-round selection in the 2008 Draft out of Cy-Fair High School in Houston.

“Grossman has a unique ability to get on base, and it’s something we’ve always liked,” Luhnow said. “He did it in high school when he was here in Houston and he’s done it his entire career. He really profiles as a good, plus center fielder who can lead off and get on base at a high clip.

“Something we’ve stressed all year with this club is pitch selection and not chasing and getting on base and doing the things that set up for big innings. We’ve done better, but we haven’t executed that as well as I would like to see. We’re doing a lot of reenforcing of that playing style in the Minor Leagues, and so we get someone who excels in that. He’s the first Minor League player to have 100 walks and 100 runs since Nick Swisher, who’s well-known for that kind of stuff. He has tremendous offensive upside for us and can play defense.”

Cain, 21, is 3-5 this season with a 4.20 ERA in 16 starts for Class A Bradenton in the Florida State League. He has allowed just a .242 opponent’s batting average, including a .226 mark against right-handed hitters. A graduate of Waxahachie High School in Texas, Cain was considered one of the top high school players in the state before being selected by Pittsburgh in the eighth round of the 2009 Draft.

1 Comment

Looking forward to the future of the Astros, but man the next few years (including the remainder of 2012) are going to be tough to watch.

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