August 2013

Photo gallery from Chicago

Here are a few pictures taken pre-game Monday and Tuesday:

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Philip Humber catches up with old friends.

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Kevin Chapman and Brad Peacock talk pregame.

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Here’s a crew: Mark Parent, Josh Zeid, Adam Dunn and Jarred Cosart.

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Kevin Chapman.

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David Martinez talks to Dennis Martinez.

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Bo Porter, Enos Cabell and Doug Brocail.

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Bo Porter talks to the media.

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Batting gloves lined up neatly.

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Brett Wallace signs autographs.

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L.J. Hoes talks to a teammate in dugout.

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Coaches Dan Radison, Dave Clark, John Mallee and Dave Trembley pose for a picture.

DeShields moving back to outfield

Delino DeShields Jr., the Astros’ first-round pick in 2010, will make the transition back to the outfield when he plays in the Arizona Fall League this year.

DeShields was a center fielder when he was drafted out of Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga., and made the move to second base early in his career with the Astros, but with second baseman Jose Altuve signed on a multi-year deal, DeShields is headed back to the outfield.

“I’m fine with it,” he told MLB.com. “It’s tough because I worked so hard playing second base for the last three years, but to go back out there is an easy transition. I’m really comfortable out there and I could go out there today and play the outfield.

“For them to try to move me and see what I can do out there, hopefully I’m in their future plans and hopefully I can go out there and show them I can play the outfield and continue to do what I’m doing offensively. It’s going to be a little weird at first, but it won’t take me long to get accustomed to it.”

DeShields, 21, stole a combined 101 bases last year in the Minor Leagues. He’s spent all of this season at Class A Lancaster and is hitting .316 with 25 doubles, 12 triples, four homers, 51 RBIs and 47 stolen bases in 105 games for the JetHawks.

“Ultimately, the goal is to get to the big leagues and help the team win,” he said. “It’s not about where you start; it’s where you finish. At some point, I want to finish in the big leagues and have a good career up there.”

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said: “It increases Delino’s value to be able to play multiple positions, especially having a Major Leaguer locked up for several years at the position he’s been playing,” he said. “He’s done a terrific job and his ability to play the middle infield is always going to be there and something of value. He may make it to the big leagues at a second baseman, but it helps his versatility and value have the opportunity to play the outfield.”

The Astros’ AFL contingent will play for the Peoria Javelinas along with prospects from the Mariners, Padres, Phillies and Royals. The team, which will play at Surprise Stadium, will be managed by former Astros infielder Jim Pankovits.

Joining DeShields in the desert this fall will be infielders Japhet Amador, Nolan Fontana and Jonathan Meyer, who’s on the taxi squad and will be active on Wednesdays and Saturday’s. Pitchers Jonas Dufek, Mark Heidenreich, Andrew Robinson and Alex Sogard, a lefty, will also play in the AFL.

Fontana, a second-round pick last year who’s playing shortstop alongside DeShields in Lancaster, is hitting .254 with eight homers and 59 RBIs, but he has 96 walks in 101 games, giving him a .406 on-base percentage.

Amador, acquired last week from the Mexican League, is 5-for-13 with an RBI in his first three games at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit .368 with 22 doubles, 36 home runs, 121 RBIs and a .419 OBP in 104 games for the Diablos Rojos this season.

Meyer, a third-round pick in 2009, is hitting .263 with 15 homers and 68 RBIs as the third baseman at Double-A Corpus Christi.

Dufek is 8-2 with a 3.34 ERA combined in 47 games at Lancaster and Corpus Christi, where he’s gone 6-0 with a 0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings for the Hooks. Heidenreich, acquired last year from the White Sox in the Brett Myers trade, is 4-4 with a 7.61 ERA in 23 games (six starts) for Corpus Christi.

Robinson is 5-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 36 relief appearances for Corpus Christi. Sogard has split this season between two levels, going 2-1 with a 9.39 ERA at Oklahoma City and 0-0 with a 3.22 ERA in 15 appearances at Corpus Christi.

DeShields Jr. leads Astros contingent in Arizona

2013 Peoria Javelinas
Organizational Affiliations: Astros, Mariners, Padres, Phillies, Royals
Home Games: Surprise Stadium
Manager: Jim Pankovits (SEA) As of August 27, 2013
Pitching Coach: Tim Worrell (SD)
Hitting Coach: Tommy Gregg (KC)
Coach: Dave Borkowski (HOU)
Trainers: Mickey Kozack (PHI), Bryan Baca (HOU)

Pitchers

RHP Jonas Dufek, 6-5, 215, 06/30/88, Double-A Corpus Christi
RHP Matt Heidenreich, 6-5, 185 01/17/91, Double-A Corpus Christi
RHP Andrew Robinson, 6-1, 185 02/13/88, Double-A Corpus Christi
LHP Alex Sogard, 6-3, 215, 07/25/87, Triple-A Oklahoma City

Infielders

Japhet Amador, 6-4, 215 01/19/87, Triple-A Oklahoma City
Nolan Fontana, 5-11, 192 06/06/91, Class A Lancaster
*Jonathan Meyer, 6-1 195 11/01/90, Double-A Corpus Christi
Delino DeShields Jr., 5-9 205 08/16/92, Class A Lancaster

* Denotes “taxi squad” member activated only on Wednesdays and Saturdays

Bedard unhappy with move to bullpen

Veteran left-hander Erik Bedard, who’s been one of the Astros’ most consistent starting pitchers, has been moved to the bullpen for the rest of the season. Manager Bo Porter said Saturday the club wants to use his spot in the rotation to get a look at a younger arm.

Bedard, 34, signed a Minor League deal with the Astros and won an Opening Day spot, though he briefly began the year in the bullpen before moving to the rotation. He’s 3-9 with a 4.48 ERA in 25 games this year, including 23 starts. He wasn’t happy with the decision.

“I’m very surprised,” he said. “I don’t even know what to say.”

Bedard was asked what the Astros told him.

“They said they looked at my last two years and my innings total was around where I’m at right now, and they said if I keep pitching I’ll be about 40 over, and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s the point,'” he said. “That’s it. I’d rather stay in the rotation.”

The Astros will continue to employ a six-man rotation and will announce which player is going into the rotation in the next few days (Lucas Harrell will remain in the bullpen). One of the candidates is rookie David Martinez, who won 14 games between Triple-A and Double-A before being called up Wednesday.

“We’re at the point in the year, we only have one lefty down there and we want to take a look at these young guys and give them some extended innings in a starting role to better evaluate them as we head into the offseason,” Porter said.

Brett Oberholtzer is scheduled to start Monday in Chicago against the White Sox, and Jarred Cosart will start Tuesday or Wednesday.

Astros preparing to call up catching prospect Stassi

The Astros are planning to call up catcher Max Stassi from Double-A Corpus Christi, MLB.com has learned.

The arrival of Stassi on Tuesday night in Arlington for his Major League debut likely means Carlos Corporan is headed to the disabled list after leaving Monday’s game against the Rangers with a possible concussion. He was hit on the head by a foul tip in the third inning.

Corporan could be placed on the seven-day disabled list, which was created for concussions.

Stassi, acquired along with Chris Carter and Brad Peacock from the A’s in exchange for Jed Lowrie in February, was hitting .277 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs for the Hooks. Stassi, 22, stands 5-foot-10 and hits right-handed.

He was a two-time Texas League Player of the Week this year and was the Hooks’ Player of the Month for July, hitting .333 with 11 homers and 24 RBIs in 24 games, including homers in five consecutive games.

Astros acquire two from Mexican League

The Astros have agreed to terms with the Diablos Rojos (Mexico City Red Devils) of the Mexican League to acquire first baseman Japhet Amador and outfielder Leo Heras. Amador will be assigned to Triple A-Oklahoma City, while Heras will report to Double-A Corpus Christi.

“Finding and acquiring the best Mexican talent is a priority for us,” Mexican-born general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “We have increased our scouting of the Mexican baseball leagues and believe there are many players that can help the Houston Astros in the future.”

Amador, 26, hit .368 with 22 doubles, 36 home runs, 121 RBIs and a .419 OBP in 104 games for the Diablos Rojos this season. The 6-foot-4 first baseman led the Mexican League in RBIs, while ranking second in homers and third in total bases (277). Amador has played in the Mexican League for seven seasons (2007-13) and owns a career .330 average with 112 home runs and 400 RBIs in 503 career games.

“Japhet’s numbers speak for themselves,” Luhnow said. “Power like his is not easy to find, and we are excited about seeing how his power numbers translate to Triple A and how he fares against top notch pitching.”

Heras, 23, hit .310 with 19 doubles, nine triples, 11 homers, 42 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and a .398 on-base percentage in 91 games for the Diablos Rojos in 2013. The left-handed hitting Heras, who batted primarily leadoff this season, ranked tied for second in the Mexican League in triples. Heras made his debut in the Mexican League in 2007 and has compiled a .318 career average with 109 doubles and 89 stolen bases in his seven professional seasons.

“Leo is one of the bright young Mexican stars,” Luhnow said. “He has already put together several outstanding seasons at a young age and is ready for the challenge of higher level pro ball in the United States.”

Both players are expected to report to their affiliates within the next week.

Astros photo gallery from Saturday

Here are some Astros photos as they hit the field for batting practice Saturday in Anaheim:

Brandon Barnes gets ready for BP.

Brandon Barnes gets ready for BP.

Jonathan Villar puts down a bunt.

Jonathan Villar puts down a bunt.

Jake Elmore, Chris Carter and Eduardo Perez chat.

Jake Elmore, Chris Carter and Eduardo Perez chat.

Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar watch Lucas Harrell juggle.

Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar watch Lucas Harrell juggle.

Lucas Harrell juggles.

Lucas Harrell juggles.

Jason Castro chatting with teammates.

Jason Castro chatting with teammates.

Time for an autograph.

Time for an autograph.

Chia-Jen Lo does an interview in his native language.

Chia-Jen Lo does an interview in his native language.

Springer finishing out season at Oklahoma City

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow for the first time Friday said the outfielder George Springer would stay at Triple-A Oklahoma City for the rest of its season, which could include a trip to the playoffs. Whether Springer gets called to Houston afterwards remains to be seen, but don’t expect him in an Astros uniform anytime soon.

Oklahoma City finishes its regular season Sept. 2, but appears headed for the playoffs.

“The most important thing I want everybody to focus on is he’s having a great year, he’s a guy that unless something changes is going to be in our outfield next year,” Luhnow said. “All this discussion about what day is he coming up is really not that relevant right now. What’s relevant is a he’s a guy we’re excited about, he’s having a tremendous year, we’re going to let him finish his year at Oklahoma City and make a determination after that as far as how much time’s left and whether or not is makes sense to bring him up.

“I see him as a guy who’s going to come to Spring Training next year competing for our every day center fielder job, and I see him as a big part of our team next year. That’s really the message I want our fans to focus on, not worry too much about the date he comes up. There’s a lot of factors that go into it, and we’ll make the best decision for the organization.”

Springer, 23, has split time between Double-A Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City, hitting a combined .303 with a Minor League-leading 33 homers and 98 RBIs with 38 stolen bases entering play Friday. He’s the first player in the Minors to hit 30 home runs and steal at least 30 bases since former Oakland Athletics farmhand Grant Desme in 2009.

“As a general manger, when the fans are asking when your players are coming up because they want to see them in the big leagues, that’s a testament to our scouts and player development people and Springer himself for doing what he’s done this year,” Luhnow said.

Astros photo gallery

Enjoy some photos from pregame Wednesday in Oakland:

Lucas Harrell awaits BP.

Lucas Harrell awaits BP.

Buddies Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez are reunited.

Buddies Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez are reunited.

Josh Zeid gets comfort from Brad Peacock.

Josh Zeid gets comfort from Brad Peacock.

Jake Elmore...not sure what he's doing.

Jake Elmore…not sure what he’s doing.

Astros players stretch.

Astros players stretch.

Dennis Martinez hits grounders

Dennis Martinez hits grounders

Appel’s season soon coming to end

Right-handed pitcher Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s First-Year Player Draft, will likely make two more starts at Class A Quad Cities and then be shut down for the reason of the season, including the playoffs, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Tuesday.

Appel, who was roughed up in his last outing, has thrown a combined 134 1/3 innings this year when you take into account his senior year at Stanford and his professional workload. He’s scheduled to throw again Monday for Quad Cities at home. The Astros had previously left open the idea of promoting Appel to Double-A Corpus Christi at some point.

“He didn’t say this, but he’s probably getting fatigued with the workload this year and all the intensity of being the first pick of the Draft and the expectations,” Luhnow said.

Appel is 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA in eight starts at Quad Cities after starting two games at short-season Tri-City shortly after being drafted by Houston. Luhnow plans to be in Davenport, Iowa, on Monday when Appel makes his next start as part of his August tour of the team’s Minor League affiliates.

Luhnow will watch two games at Class A Lancaster and also make stops at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Tri-City and rookie- league Greeneville. He plans to visit Double-A Corpus Christi at some point during the playoffs.

“It’s the time of year where the staff has been with the players for most of the year and they have a really good feel for where those players should play next year,” Luhnow said. “I can talk to them about whether they’ll play winter ball or which ones may or may not go to the Arizona Fall league. There’s a lot of fall planning that goes on around this time. We have as much information as we’re going to have about these players.”

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