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Astros set Minor League rosters

The Astros have set their preliminary 2014 Minor League rosters for four of their affiliates, Triple-A Oklahoma City, Double-A Corpus Christi, Class A advanced Lancaster and Class A Quad Cities. The announcement was made by Astros director of player development Quinton McCracken.

These rosters are subject to change and will not be officially finalized until the Minor League Opening Day. Rosters do not include Disabled List players.

Triple-A Oklahoma City:

After going 82-62 and capturing an American Southern Division title, the RedHawks are primed for another successful season. Six players on the roster are ranked among the Astros top 30 prospects ranked by MLB.com: Outfielder George Springer (No. 3), pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (6), first baseman Jon Singleton (4), outfielder Domingo Santana (8), catcher Max Stassi (12) and pitcher Nick Tropeano (17).

Overall, 15 players on the preliminary roster spent time with the RedHawks in 2013. Six logged time with the Astros last season, and three others suited up for different Major League teams.

The RedHawks open the season Thursday in Round Rock at 7:05 p.m.

PITCHERS

Jake Buchanan

Jose Cisnero

Paul Clemens

Bobby Doran

Darin Downs*

Mike Foltynewicz

Chia-Jen Lo

David Martinez

Collin McHugh

Rudy Owens*

Jason Stoffel

Nick Tropeano

Pat Urckfitz*

Josh Zeid

CATCHERS

Ryan McCurdy

Carlos Perez

Max Stassi

INFIELDERS

Japhet Amador

Erik Castro*

Jonathan Meyer

Gregorio Petit

Jon Singleton*

Ruben Sosa#

Ronald Torreyes

OUTFIELDERS

Adron Chambers

Domingo Santana

George Springer

Austin Wates

* – denotes left-hander

# – denotes switch-hitter

Double-A Corpus Christi:

PITCHERS

Travis Ballew

Colton Cain*

Luis Cruz*

Jorge De Leon

T.J. Geith*

Matt Heidenreich

Jordan Jankowski

Andrew Robinson

Brady Rodgers

David Rollins*

Ross Seaton

Tommy Shirley*

Alex Sogard*

Aaron West

CATCHERS

Rene Garcia

Tyler Heineman#

INFIELDERS

M.P. Cokinos

Matt Duffy

Nolan Fontana*

Enrique Hernandez

Jio Mier

Joe Sclafani#

OUTFIELDERS

Andrew Aplin*

Delino DeShields Jr.

Chris Epps*

Leo Heras*

Preston Tucker*

Class A Lancaster:

PITCHERS

Mark Appel

Jamaine Cotton

Chris Devenski

Michael Dimock

Josh Hader*

Mike Hauschild

Mitchell Lambson*

Lance McCullers

Juan Minaya

Daniel Minor

J.D. Osborne*

Tyson Perez

Kyle Smith

Vincent Velasquez

Kyle Westwood

CATCHERS

Roberto Pena

Jake Rodriguez

INFIELDERS

Carlos Correa

Tony Kemp*

Brandon Meredith

Carlos Perdomo

Rio Ruiz*

OUTFIELDERS

Justin Gominsky

Dan Gulbransen*

Teoscar Hernandez

Jordan Scott*

Danry Vasquez*

Class A Quad Cities:

PITCHERS

Tyler Brunnemann

Patrick Christensen

Chris Cotton*

Kent Emanuel*

Michael Feliz

Evan Grills*

Jandel Gustave

Adrian Houser

Chris Lee*

Albert Minnis*

Zach Morton

Gonzalo Sanudo

Andrew Thurman

Andrew Walter

CATCHERS

Brett Booth

Brian Holberton*

Jobduan Morales#

INFIELDERS

Austin Elkins#

Conrad Gregor*

Jack Mayfield

Chase McDonald

Chan Moon*

Tyler White

OUTFIELDERS

Jon Kemmer*

Tanner Mathis*

Brett Phillips*

James Ramsay*

Game 1: Everyting goes well against Yanks

The result: The Astros won on Opening Day for the second year in a row, riding early homers by Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes and a strong performance from starting pitcher Scott Feldman to beat the Yankees, 6-2, on Tuesday (story and boxscore).

The analysis: Talk about your smashing debuts. Things couldn’t have gone much better for the Astros, who got clutch hitting early in the game, ran the bases with aggression, played airtight defense and got strong performances on the mound from Feldman and the bullpen. In short, everything went right.

Whether the Astros can play with this kind if aggression and intensity every night remains to be seen, but this was the tone manager Bo Porter wanted to set in Spring Training. Before we get too excited, let’s the remember the Astros beat the Rangers on Opening Day a year ago and were nearly the victim of a perfect game the following night en route to 111 losses.

Defensively, SS Jonathan Villar made a great diving play to rob Carlos Beltran in the first, 2B Jose Altuve made an over-the-shoulder catch of a Brett Gardner ball in the second and 3B Matt Dominguez started a 5-4-3 double play in the eighth to squash a Yankees rally.

“I felt like we were really on our toes. Even the double play there that [Chad] Qualls was able to get in that inning when they started to mount a little bit of a comeback, it was good to see a ground-ball pitcher in Qualls in that situation get the ground ball and turn that 5-4-3 double play,” Porter said. “It was outstanding defense all the way around the board. I felt our staff did a tremendous job of positioning and I felt we were in the right place all night, which allowed our players to make those plays.”

Player of the game: How can you not go with Feldman, who worked 6 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed two hits and two walks in his Astros debut?

“He does what he does every time he goes out there,” Porter said. “He’s a strike-thrower, pitches to both side sof the plate, can throw three pitches in any count. He’s a veteran and a guy that understands exactly what he’s trying to do with each and every hitter that steps in the box. When you pitch at that kind of pace, it keeps the defense on their toes and they know the ball is going to be put in play and they make plays.”

Stat of the game: Dexter Fowler doubled and scored in each of his first two plate appearances, joining Vinny Castilla (May 15, 2001) and Jack Hiatt (April 8, 1971) as the only players in team history with two doubles and two runs scored in their Astros debut.

Quote of the day: “It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my career,” Guzman on his first-inning homer.

Other stuff: Feldman’s last four starts against the Yankees have been quality starts (2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings). … Guzman became the first Astros player to homer in his first plate appearance with the team since Rick Ankiel’s pinch-hit homer last Opening Day against Texas. … Astros have sold out 11 consecutive Opening Day games.

Links:

Richard Justice column: High-energy Astros offer glimpse to future

Ryan-Biggio first pitch a proud moment for Houston

First opener a thrill for least experienced Astros

Grossman fulfills goal by starting in two-hole

Fowler undaunted by challenges of Tal’s Hill

Astros brass appreciates club’s hard work

Astros plan to be wise when weighing extensions

Getting off to a good start is key for Astros

Reunion with Pettitte on tap for Jeter

Cosart ready to take the ball in Game 2

Tweets of the day:

Astros roster by the numbers

Astros’ Opening Day Roster by the numbers:

9 – Astros players who were also on last year’s Opening Day roster: Castro, Altuve, Dominguez, Harrell, Fields, Corporan, Gonzalez, Peacock and Carter.

4 – Astros players who were on the 2012 Opening Day roster: Harrell, Castro, Altuve, Gonzalez.

8 – Astros players making their first Opening Day roster: Chapman, Cosart, Grossman, Hoes, Krauss, Keuchel, Oberholtzer and Villar.

14 – Astros acquired via trade: Bass, Chapman, Cosart, Fowler, Oberholtzer, Peacock, Carter, Dominguez, Gonzalez, Guzman, Villar, Grossman, Hoes and Krauss.

2 – Astros drafted by club and have played entire career in organization: Keuchel and Castro.

6 – Free agent acquisitions: Altuve (non-drafted), Corporan (Minor League contract), Feldman, Albers, Qualls and Williams.

1 – Rule 5 acquisitions: Fields.

2 – Waiver claims: Harrell and Presley.

1 — Players acquired by former GM Tim Purpura: Altuve.

7 – Players acquired by former GM Ed Wade: Cosart, Harrell, Keuchel, Oberholtzer, Castro, Corporan, Villar.

17 – Players acquired by GM Jeff Luhnow: Everybody else.

20 – Players born in the U.S.

2 – Players born in Texas: Albers and Cosart.

2 – Players born in Hawaii: Williams and Feldman.

1 – Players born in Puerto Rico: Corporan.

1 – Players born in Dominican Republic: Villar.

3 – Players born in Venezuela: Altuve, Gonzalez, Guzman.

35 – Age of oldest player on roster: Qualls.

22 – Age of youngest player on roster: Villar.

26.8 – Average age of the Opening Day roster.

2 – Players with playoff experience: Qualls, Williams.

1 – Players with World Series experience: Qualls.

0 – Players with a World Series championship ring.

11 – Letters in longest last name: Oberholtzer

4 – Letters in shortest last name: Bass and Hoes

Astros set Opening Day roster

PITCHERS (12+3)
37 Albers, Matt……………………..RHP
45 Bass, Anthony…………………..RHP
66 Chapman, Kevin………………. LHP
48 Cosart, Jarred…………………..RHP
26 Crain, Jesse*…………………….RHP
46 Feldman, Scott………………….RHP
35 Fields, Josh………………………RHP
64 Harrell, Lucas…………………..RHP
60 Keuchel, Dallas…………………LHP
39 Oberholtzer, Brett……………..LHP
41 Peacock, Brad…………………..RHP
50 Qualls, Chad…………………….RHP
43 White, Alex*…………………….RHP
36 Williams, Jerome………………RHP
59 Wojciechowski, Asher*………RHP
CATCHERS (2)
15 Castro, Jason………………………..C
22 Corporan, Carlos………………….C
INFIELDERS (6)
27 Altuve, Jose………………………… IF
23 Carter, Chris………………… IF/OF
30 Dominguez, Matt………………… IF
9 Gonzalez, Marwin……………….. IF
14 Guzman, Jesus………………. IF/OF
6 Villar, Jonathan…………………… IF
OUTFIELDERS (5)
21 Fowler, Dexter……………………OF
19 Grossman, Robbie………………OF
28 Hoes, L.J…………………………….OF
18 Krauss, Marc…………………. IF/OF
8 Presley, Alex………………………OF
*- on disabled list

Astros set pitching rotation

Just moments after the Astros wrapped up Grapefruit League play with a win over the Mets, manager Bo Porter announced right-hander Lucas Harrell and left-hander Dallas Keuchel would handle the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.

Scott Feldman will start Opening Day on Tuesday against the Yankees, followed by Jarred Cosart and Brett Oberholtzer. Harrell will start April 4 against the Angels and Keuchel on April 5.

Harrell and Keuchel were battling with Jerome Williams and Brad Peacock, but they were informed they will begin the season in the bullpen. Porter thought both Harrell and Keuchel were more effective as starters than relievers last year.

“When you look at the complete body of work, Jerome has done both and when you look at Lucas and Keuchel, we had Lucas in the bullpen last year and we felt he was much better suited as a starting pitcher,” Porter said. “A guy who’s a sinkerballer, he needs to wear down a little bit.

“You look at Dallas, we just felt the time he spent in the rotation was much better than the time he spent in the bullpen. I felt Peacock has that power stuff that could play as a long reliever or in a situation where the starter gives us extended innings, he’s another option in short relief as well.”

Harrell posted a 5.98 ERA in 22 starts last year and had a 5.49 ERA in 39 1/3 innings in relief. Keuchel had a 4.90 ERA in 22 starts and a 6.75 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. Williams went 8-10 with a 5.06 ERA in 25 starts for the Angels last year and posted a 2.35 ERA in 30 2/3 innings in relief.

“Jerome was here to do whatever it is that we need to do in order to win baseball game,” Porter said. “Like I said to him, look at the number of starting pitchers we went through last year. This is where we’re at today and that could change a week from now, I don’t know.”

The Astros used 10 different starters last year.

Grossman to bat second for Astros

The one certainty manager Bo Porter had entering Spring Training has changed, thanks to Robbie Grossman.

Porter, who proclaimed in the winter Dexter Fowler would hit leadoff, Jose Altuve would bat second and Jason Castro would hit third, said Wednesday that Grossman has played his way into the No. 2 spot in the order behind Fowler. Altuve and Castro could switch, depending on the opposing pitcher.

“That combination will be our top four,” Porter said.

Grossman, a switch-hitter, has been a high-on base player throughout his career (.381 in Minor League career) and last year posted a .332 on-base percentage in his Major League debut, including .351 after he was called up for his second stint.

“That thinking has changed a little bit just looking at Fowler and Grossman as two guys that get on base at a high percentage and again just trying to get as many guys on base in front of arguably our best two hitters, Jason and Altuve,” Porter said. “It’s about lineup construction and putting yourself in the best position to score runs given the opponent and the pitcher we’re facing that night.”

 

Astros payroll reportedly at $44.5 million

The Associated Press on Tuesday published payroll information gathered for all 30 teams. The Astros came in at $44.5 million, which was the lowest in baseball, but an increase over last season. Here are the salaries for the 2014 Astros:

Scott Feldman $12,000,000
Dexter Fowler 7,850,000
Jesse Crain 3,250,000
Chad Qualls 2,750,000
Jason Castro 2,450,000
Matt Albers 2,250,000
Jerome Williams 2,100,000
Jose Altuve 1,437,500
Jesus Guzman 1,300,000
Matt Dominguez 510,100
Chris Carter 510,000
Lucas Harrell 509,700
Dallas Keuchel 508,700
Josh Fields 506,500
Carlos Corporan 505,300
Anthony Bass 505,200
Marwin Gonzalez 504,500
Robbie Grossman 504,500
Brad Peacock 504,300
Raul Valdes 504,300
Jonathan Villar 503,800
Brett Oberholtzer 503,600
Kevin Chapman 503,400
L.J. Hoes 502,900
Marc Krauss 502,300
Alex White 502,000
Jarred Cosart 500,000
Asher Wojciechowski 500,000

Game 24: Astros break out bats to beat Braves

The fact: The Astros bashed out 13 hits — 11 singles — and rallied from an four-run first-inning deficit to beat the Braves, 7-5, on Monday night in Lake Buena Vista (boxscore).

What we learned: The Astros have some good options at the top of the lineup. Manager Bo Porter has said all along Dexter Fowler would hit first, Jose Altuve would hit second and Jason Castro would hit third, but on Monday he had Grossman hitting second, Castro hitting third and Altuve fourth with good results. Those four went a combined 8-for-19.

“When we look at our lineup, we know the guys that we feel like are going to get on base at a high percentage and want to try to get as many of those guys at the top of the lineup in front of Altuve, Castro — the guys who are the better hitters in the lineup,” Porter said.

What else: We’ve seen the Astros be aggressive on the bases this spring when they can, but they’ve had much of a chance lately considering they’ve had that many baserunners. On Monday, they were going first to third, taking the extra base when they could and pushing the tempo.

“We’ve run the bases outstanding the entire spring,” Porter said. “Tonight it was fun to see. When you start seeing those guys we have at the top of the lineup on base, I think we’re going to put pressure on other teams.”

Player of the game: Red-hot CF Dexter Fowler went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk to raise his spring average to .318 and on-base percentage to .412.

“I felt good,” Fowler said. “I came out and in the beginning [of Spring Training] I was trying to experiment with some things and just went back to basics and got locked back in.”

What went wrong: LHP Dallas Keuchel put the Astros in another early hole by allowing four runs in the first inning, but they were able to come back and win this time. … SS Marwin Gonzalez made a fielding error. … C Jason Castro was charged with a passed ball.

Notable: OF L.J. Hoes went 2-for-4. … The Astros only struck out four times in 38 at-bats.

Quotable: “That guy’s unbelievable. I said that ball almost flipped him. I couldn’t believe he had it, but he made a nice play on it,” — Fowler on Altuve’s remarkable defensive play in the fifth on a hard ball hit by Dan Uggla in which he fell down while moving backwards, stopped the ball and threw to first for an out.

Here’s the highlight:

Up next: The Astros are off Tuesday, and manager Bo Porter wants everyone to stay home from the facility and take the day. The close out Grapefruit League play at 5:05 p.m. CT Wednesday against the Mets at Osceola County Stadium. Scott Feldman, Houston’s Opening Day starter, will take the mound in his final game before facing the Yankees on April 1 at Minute Maid Park.

Injuries: RHP Peter Moylan (torn UCL), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery).

Links of the day:

Astros have all but set the 25-man roster

Gonzalez makes his third consecutive Opening Day roster spot

Izturis’ time with Astros was valuable

Tweets of the day:

Astros projected 25-man roster

The Astros haven’t officially announced their 25-man roster, but it certainly appears to be set. The team has 30 players in camp, four of which are injured pitchers — Alex White, Jesse Crain, Peter Moylan and Asher Wojciechowski. That leaves 26 healthy players, three of which are catchers — Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan and Carlos Perez, and Perez won’t make the club.

So here is the 25-man roster pending any injuries and trades and waiting official announcement:

PITCHERS (13)

Scott Feldman

Jarred Cosart

Brett Oberholtzer

Jerome Williams (bullpen or rotation)

Dallas Keuchel (bullpen or rotation)

Brad Peacock (bullpen or rotation)

Lucas Harrell (bullpen or rotation)

Matt Albers

Chad Qualls

Josh Fields

Anthony Bass

Kevin Chapman

Raul Valdes

CATCHERS (2)

Jason Castro

Carlos Corporan

INFIELDERS (6)

Jose Altuve

Jonathan Villar

Matt Dominguez

Marwin Gonzalez

Chris Carter (DH)

Jesus Guzman

OUTFIELDERS (4)

Robbie Grossman

Dexter Fowler

L.J. Hoes

Marc Krauss (can play 1B)

Gonzalez grabs roster spot as Astros cut four

The Astros trimmed their Spring Training roster to 30 on Monday, optioning right-hander Josh Zeid to Triple-A Oklahoma City, reassigning outfielder Adron Chambers and catcher Rene Garcia to Minor League camp and releasing veteran infielder Cesar Izturis.

The moves mean infielder Marwin Gonzalez has made the team as the backup middle infielder following a good spring at the plate.

“Marwin did a tremendous job this spring and earned himself a spot on this team,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “He was nervous when he came in the room.”

The Astros were facing a Tuesday deadline to pay Izturis $100,000 or place him on the 25-man roster, but he was released , meaning he’s a free agent. The Rangers, who have injuries on their infield, are among the teams that have expressed interest.

“It was a real opportunity and we were genuine bringing him in for that opportunity,” Luhnow said. “There were a lot of teams out there that have expressed interested in middle infielders, so I’m pretty sure he’ll land on his feet quickly. The mentor-ship he had this spring was valuable. [Carlos] Correa got to spend time withhim, [Jonathan] Villar got to spend time with him, [Jose] Altuve got to spend time with him and Marwin. All four of those guys benefited from behind around him.”

Zeid had a good spring and was a big part of the bullpen late last season, but he was a victim of the Astros’ added depth.

“Zeid pitched well, especially recently,” Luhnow said. “We believe Zeid is going to spend many days in the leagues this year, but the way we’re going to configure the team out of the gate.”

Luhnow said the wants the 25-man roster set prior to the team leaving for San Antonio on Thursday.

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