California prep left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken, the No. 1 overall pick by the Astros in the First-Year Player Draft, arrived from San Diego on Monday with his parents in preparation for signing a contract with the Astros in the next few days.
Aiken, 17, was taken by the Astros out of Central Catholic High School in San Diego, making him only the third left-handed high school pitcher to be selected with the first overall pick, joining Brien Taylor (Yankees, 1991) and Houston’s David Clyde (Rangers, 1973).
The Astros could announce a deal with Aiken as early as Tuesday.
“It feels great,” Aiken said. “I’m excited. I’m really excited to take this next step in my life.”
MLBPipeline.com’s Jim Callis reported earlier this month the Astros and Aiken had agreed to a $6.5-million signing bonus, which would tie the record for the largest given to a high school pitcher. The Pirates gave Jameson Taillon a $6.5-million signing bonus after taking him with the second pick in 2010.
The slot value for the No. 1 overall pick is $7,922,100.
“It means a lot,” Aiken said. “It means the Astros really invested in me and they’re really looking forward to having me do what I can do for them.”
Aiken arrived with his parents, Linda and Jim Aiken, and his sister, Halle, who plays volleyball at San Diego State.
“We’re very, very excited to be here,” Jim Aiken said. “(Tuesday) is a big day for us. We’re really looking forward to it.”
Aiken posted a 7-0 record and a 1.06 ERA in 11 starts in his senior season. He was a 2014 Perfect Game first team All-American and an All-Region first team in California. He led Team USA to the gold medal at the 18-and-under World Cup in Taiwan last September by winning both of his starts — including a championship-game performance against Japan in which he struck out 10 and allowed one run over seven innings.
Once he officially signs, Aiken will likely be sent to the team’s Spring Training complex in Kissimmee, Fla. He will likely be held to a strict innings limit this summer once his season starts.
“I know all the fans and everyone are looking forward to this and I’m looking forward to it this just as much as they are,” he said. “I’m more excited than they are probably to be honest with you. I’m really excited to see what the future holds.”
Shortstop Carlos Correa, the Astros’ top prospect, will be sent to Houston in the coming days to be examined by a foot and ankle specialist after he injured his right ankle sliding into third base while playing for Class A Lancaster on Saturday.
“I’m not worried at all. I’ll be back,” Correa told MLB.com “I don’t know when yet. I know it’s nothing really bad. Hopefully I’ll be back and be able to play again. I have to go to Houston and they will check it out.”
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow released this statement:
“Carlos was examined last night at a local hospital in California,” Luhnow said. “He will travel to Houston early this week to be evaluated further by the Astros medical staff before determining next steps. He will be placed on the disabled list and is expected to miss some time.”
Speaking on the Astros’ pregame show on KBME (790 AM) on Sunday, Luhnow called it an “unfortunate injury.”
“Carlos is one of our, obviously, best players in the Minor Leagues, and he just plays the game so hard,” he said. “He slid into third base. He did sustain an ankle injury. We had him evaluated last night, and the next step there is we’re bringing him to Houston and he’s going to be looked at by our specialist here. We have an excellent ankle and foot specialist that works with us. We’ll know more in a couple of days.
“He is going to miss some time. I don’t know how long. We have to be very careful with any sort of ankle injury. It’s unfortunate. He’s had a tremendous season. He’s going to miss some time, but the good news is whatever time he misses, he’s going to make up for it in the fall. He’s probably going to be one of the guys we send to the Arizona Fall League.”
Correa, the top pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, was carried off the field after injuring his ankle following an RBI triple in the sixth inning.
Correa, 19, was expected to be promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi soon after hitting .325 with six homers and 56 RBIs in 61 games at Lancaster. He had an on-base percentage of .417 and an OPS of .921, putting him in line to be moved up later this year.
Correa played the entire 2013 season at Class A Quad Cities at 18 years old and was impressive. He hit .320 with 33 doubles, nine homers, 86 RBIs and a .405 on-base percentage. Despite being the second-youngest player in the league, he led the Midwest League in OPS (.872), while ranking second in on-base percentage and third in batting average.
The Astros signed 14 of their 2014 draft selections today, and they have been assigned to Greeneville and the Gulf Coast League. The players assigned to Greeneville are RHP Dean Deetz (11th round), IF Connor Goedert (15th round), OF Ramon Laureano (16th round), IF Antonio Nunez (18th round), C Trent Woodward (20th round), IF Bryan Muniz (22nd round), OF Sean McMullen (30th round), RHP Joshua James (34th round) and RHP Eric Peterson (37th round). The players assigned to the GCL are C Ruben Castro (19th round), C Richard Gonzalez (29th round), IF Dexture McCall (31st round), OF Edwin Medina (33rd round) and RHP Justin Ferrell (36th round).
The Astros have signed 28 of their 41 selections from the 2014 MLB Draft.
Astros’ fifth-round draft pick Jacob Nix, who was considered to be a tough signing based on his commitment to UCLA, told MLB.com on Tuesday he had agreed to a deal to join the Astros. He said he’ll be in Houston next week to sign his contract, take a physical and have a press conference.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis reported Nix agreed to a $1.5 million signing bonus, which is well above the assigned slot value of $370,500 for the 136th pick.
“It’s a dream come true,” he told MLB.com. “It’s pretty crazy we were able to come to an agreement in the fifth round.”
Nix is a 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher from Los Alamitos High School in California. He pitched on Team USA’s under-18 team gold medal winning team in 2013. Also on the team was Houston’s Brady Aiken, whom the Astros selected with the No 1. overall pick, and the two are friends.
“After not being drafted on the first day, I was expecting to go to school and we ended up sorting out a better deal in the fifth round,” Nix said. “I had my dollar figure and if I got my dollar figure I’d turn pro and if it were a dollar less I was going to college. It was a fairly easy decision.”
Nix said he will report to Kissimmee, Fla., next week to begin his pro career.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who led the Major Leagues with 90 hits entering Tuesday, was back in the starting lineup against the Nationals for the first time since Thursday. He was hit on the hand by a pitch in that game and didn’t start over the weekend against the Rays in Houston.
Altuve was back in the No. 2 spot in the batting order behind Dexter Fowler, who led off the game with a single and was erased on Altuve’s double play.
“I feel really good,” said Altuve, who had a pinch-hit at-bat in the ninth inning Sunday. “I feel 100 percent. I’m going to be ready to go and get on base and play defense to keep winning some games.”
The Astros’ lineup is clearly much more effective with Altuve in it. He has hit safely in 30 of his last 34 games and leads the American League with 24 stolen bases. Defensively, he ranks third among Major League second baseman in total chances (320), but has made just two errors.
“It’s always exciting when you pencil the big guy in the lineup,” manager Bo Porter said. “We’re happy to have him back. That was a scare, but the news was good right away with it not being a fracture and the soreness and the swelling is behind him, so he’s ready to go.”
The Astros welcomed a familiar face back to the organization on Sunday, announcing they had reached a Minor League deal with right-handed pitcher Jose Veras, who spent the first half of last season with the club.
Veras will first report to the Astros complex in Kissimmee, Fla., on Monday and then to Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was released by the Cubs last week after signing a one-year, $4-million deal in December. The Astros had made offer in the winter to try to re-sign him.
Veras was projected to be the Cubs closer, but he lost the closer’s job to Hector Rondon after compiling an 8.10 ERA in 12 games. After Veras, 33, was designated for assignment earlier this month, the Cubs had 10 days to trade him or release him.
Veras, 33, traded last midseason to Detroit after appearing in 42 games for the Astros and posted a 2.94 ERA with 19 saves in 43 innings. He was a strong presence in the Astros’ young clubhouse, and the team struggled to close out games after he was dealt. <p>
With prospect Preston Tucker on his way to Triple-A Oklahoma City after being promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi on Thursday, the Astros opened a spot on the RedHawks roster by trading outfielder Adron Chambers to the Blue Jays for left-handed pitcher Alejandro Solarte and infielder Will Dupont.
“We felt we’d give Chambers a chance to get with the big league club somewhere else,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said.
The Astros signed Chambers as a left-handed bat who could play all three positions in a reserve role, but Alex Presley has filled that role in Houston. Chambers, 27, was hitting .281 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 25 games for the RedHawks.
Solarte and Dupont are both 19 and will report to Kissimmee, Fla.
“They’re guys we like,” Luhnow said. “We’re trying to fill out our short-season rosters, and we figured if we could find some guys that were already playing that we liked a little bit, that would a good way to get some value back. Our outfield picture [at Oklahoma City] is getting pretty crowded.”
Tucker, who was named to the Texas League All-Star squad, currently leads the league in homers (17) and RBIs (43) while hitting .276 in his 65 games with 17 doubles and a .536 slugging percentage. He will start in the outfield at Oklahoma City along with Domingo Santana and Austin Wates, and Marc Krauss is splitting time between the outfield, designed hitter and first base.
“We have four guys that can play out there,” Luhnow said. “I think Tucker, Santana and Wates need to get regular time, and Krauss needs to work in and get some time first and DH and outfield so he can be that versatile guy for us. It’s a pretty good mix there.”
When asked about any upcoming promotions in the Minor Leagues, Luhnow said nothing is on the front-burner. Several Astros Minor League players have earned All-Star selections in their respective leagues, and Luhnow wants them to enjoy that experience.
The Astros on Wednesday finalized a contract with University of Kentucky first baseman A.J. Reed, who was taken as the top pick in the second round of last week’s First-Year Player Draft. Reed received a signing bonus of $1.35 million, which is the assigned value of the pick.
The 21-year-old Reed (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) led the NCAA in home runs (23), slugging (.735) and OPS (1.211) as a junior. He also hit .336 (75-for-223) this season with 18 doubles, 73 RBIs and a .476 on-base percentage. Reed walked 49 times in 2014 and struck out just 48 times.
A two-way player in college, Reed was also Kentucky’s Friday night starter and led the SEC with 12 wins. He was the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, the SEC Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which goes to the best collegiate baseball player in the country.
“A.J. Reed was one of the best college bats in the draft this year, and his accomplishments speak for themselves,” Astros scouting director Mike Elias said. “What impresses us most with A.J. is his ability to use his power to both fields, his defensive prowess at first base, and the enthusiasm with which he plays the game. He’s going to be a fun player to watch and should immediately establish himself as one of our top power prospects in the minors.”
Reed is the first Top 10 pick by the Astros to officially sign, though MLB.com has reported the club has reached deals with third-round pick J.D. Davis, a third baseman from Cal State Fullerton; sixth-round pick Brock Dykxhoorn, a right-handed pitcher from Central Arizona College; eighth-round pick Bobby Boyd, a center fielder from West Virginia University; ninth-round pick Bryan Radziewski, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Miami; and 10th-round pick Jay Gause, a right-handed pitcher from Faulkner University in Alabama.
No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken, a left-handed pitcher from the San Diego agree, has agreed to a $6.5 million signing bonus and could have a contract done soon.
The Astros also announced the signing of right-hander Ryan Thompson (23rd round), right-hander Vince Wheeland (24th round), left-hander Zach Davis (25th round), infielder Mott Hyde (26th round), right-hander Brandon McNitt (27th round) and right-hander Keegan Yuhl (35th round). Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
After saying this spring his goal was to play in 162 games this year, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was unhappy with being out of the lineup Wednesday against the D-backs. Altuve felt discomfort in his left oblique swinging at a 61-mph curveball Tuesday and was out of the lineup for the first time this season as a result.
“They asked me if I could play and I said, ‘Yes,’” said Altuve, who leads the Major Leagues with 88 hits and the AL with 24 steals and 279 at-bats. “I don’t think it’s something to take a day off, but if they want to keep me on the bench, I’m going to be ready to come in the game whenever they want.”
Astros manager Bo Porter always likes to play it safe with any kind of injury, and that is certainly the case with his best hitter.
“Altuve obviously wants to play, but at the same time you have to protect them from themselves,” Porter said. “We feel like if he gets treatment today and tomorrow, he should be fine and ready to go. This is not something we want to linger and become a problem where he could miss two or three weeks trying to recover from.”
Altuve said that he was going to try to get Porter to change the lineup.
“Whenever his baseball career is over, he’s got a chance to be an attorney because he tried to plead his beset cast to get himself in the lineup,” Porter said. “Jose Altuve is arguably one of the best players in our game. He’s not someone you can replace, but at the same time it’s the next guy up. Marwin [Gonzalez] is going to play second base today, and the guys we run out there we believe they’re going to give us an opportunity to win the game.”
Porter wasn’t asked if he would even stay away from Altuve in a pinch-hit situation.
“I wouldn’t go that far, because if the big guy is standing on deck over there it makes the other team think twice,” he said.
Astros rookie George Springer, who leads the club in RBIs and OPS, returned to the lineup Wednesday against the D-backs after missing the two previous games in Arizona with a sore right knee. He was hitting second behind Dexter Fowler and ahead of Jon Singleton.
“Two days [out] is better than 15,” Astros manager Bo Porter said of playing it safe with Springer. “He took two days, his knee calmed down, everything is fine and the trainers gave him the OK. He’s back in the lineup today.”
Springer hates missing games and told Porter on Monday and Tuesday in Arizona he could have played.
“I always try to snake my way in there no matter what,” Springer said. “Obviously, I have the utmost respect for [Porter] and the decisions he makes. He’s obviously doing it my best interest. He told me [to sit] and I said, ‘OK, I’ll get it checked out’ and now I’m good to go.”
Since making his Major League debut on April 16, Springer is tied for seven the American League in RBIs and ranks among the top 10 among AL rookies in homers (second), RBIs (second), slugging percentage (second), runs (third), on-base percentage (third), walks (third), extra-base hits (tied for third) and total bases (fourth).