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Astros baseball: we've got uniforms and everything.



Updated: 2017-12-08T11:50:13-06:00

 



Yes, Virginia, there is payroll room for Stanton, Correa, and Altuve.

2017-12-08T11:50:13-06:00

Holy guacamole...could the Astros build the best offense of all time with one big trade? Last night, Sirius radio’s Craig Mish, who has covered the Giancarlo Stanton trade saga with gusto and believability, dropped a bomb on Twitter by reporting that Stanton has stated he would only accept a trade to the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers,.....or Astros. [added 12:30pm, for context] Stanton, who just turned 28, batted .281/.376/.631 with 59 home runs, 123 runs, and 132 RBIs last season for a woeful Marlins team that is looking to shed payroll under its new ownership team. It goes without saying that adding Stanton to MLB’s already-top offense in Houston would be...amusing. Predictably, #AstrosTwitter went nuts, but the general consensus seems to be, “Won’t never happen...the Astros can’t afford it.” Far be it from me to question the conclusions of The Mob. But...is that statement true? Can’t they? Jim Crane has made some interesting noises about the Astros being able to afford Stanton’s contract, and separately has doubled down on his years-old pledge to move into the top five or ten teams in payroll when the time was right. Fans have been skeptical, since the Astros have only recently reached the middle echelons of MLB payroll during Crane’s tenure. Are they under-estimating his willingness to spend big? What if....Crane means what he says? The big doubt about the Astros acquiring Stanton has been that fans on social media have presented it as an either/or scenario. “Either the Astros can have Stanton, or they can have Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, but not both.” This author is guilty of Tweeting the same, when Mr. Mish’s report broke. How possible would it be for Stanton, Altuve, and Correa to all be long-term Astros? Can fans really rule it out, if they take Crane’s statements at face value? Finances only really become a question around the year 2020 and 2021, when superstars Correa and Altuve would be at the front end of presumably massive contract extensions. Let’s take a look at the year 2021, eliminate some variables, and just take the temperature of the Astros’ 25-man roster payroll. Stanton $26M guaranteed Correa $30M (estim. average value of contract extension) Altuve $24M = $80 million. That's a lot. But if we believe Crane when he says the Astros can be a top "five or ten" payroll, that would be (in 2017 dollars) between $180 to $200M. With ~10% inflation of the market between now and then (and it could be more...), $200 to $220M for the entire 25-man roster. On the low side, meaning the Astros would have the 10thish-highest MLB payroll, those whopper Stanton/Correa/Altuve contracts would leave $120M for the rest of the roster. And what would the money go towards? First, let’s eliminate some variables. We’ll assume that the Astros don’t sign any Free Agents (which they will do) We’ll assume that no blockbuster trades severely change the core lineup construction We’ll assume that a couple-three of the current AA/AAA top prospects become at LEAST ML-average players, with one becoming a star (this guy’s money is on Tucker or Whitley, for the record) We’ll assume that the Astros let Dallas Keuchel walk after 2019 due to a lengthy injury history We’ll assume no contract extensions to Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, Josh Reddick, Collin McHugh, or Yuli Gurriel, who will all be gone by 2021. The Astros call up at least one B-grade prospect from the 2018-2020 drafts that make an average to above-average impact. We’ll hold George Springer in our left hand as an extension candidate, only if there is enough leftover cash at the end of our experiment. Let’s ignore contract dynamics, like Correa or Altuve having a $10M contract in 2021, and having, say $40M in 2030 or whatever. This would be a conservative way of looking at things. I’m ignoring that there will be some substantial prospect cost in acquiring Stanton. That’s okay, because it doesn’t really change the overall point, as you’ll see below. Bregman, McCullers, Martes, and Fisher would be in variou[...]



Astros MiLB Position Review: Right Field

2017-12-06T10:30:01-06:00

A review of the right field position in the Astros minor league system. We continue our position reviews in the Astros system this week, taking a look at the right field position. I will focus on guys who played primarily right field in 2017. Here are the previous position reviews: Catcher First Base Second Base Third Base Shortstop Left Field Center Field TOP PERFORMERS Carmen Benedetti Benedetti was the Astros 12th round selection in the 2016 draft. He had a solid college career which saw him hit .326 with 45 BB/29 SO in 54 games during his junior season. He had a solid showing last year hitting .309 with a 121 wRC+ for Tri-City. Benedetti started the season with Quad Cities and really put together a nice run. He played in 69 games for Quad Cities hitting .332 with .446 OBP, 51 BB/47 SO and a 163 wRC+. The walk and strikeout rates are what really stood out, 17.3 BB% and 15.9 K%. He was promoted to Buies Creek and hit .268 in the final 23 games. Overall he had 27 doubles and 5 homers. He doesn't have a lot of power, though he has good size (6'2, 225 lbs). Next year will be an interesting one for him to see if he can continue the stellar on base numbers. 2017 Stats: 92 G, .316 BA/.421 OBP/.452 SLG, 27 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 41 RBI, 2 SB, 60 BB/68 SO Preston Tucker Tucker seems to be the forgotten man after a decent MLB debut in 2015. This was his third year in AAA and while he had 24 HR and 96 RBI, he had the lowest wRC+ (102) of any of his stints. He did start to draw more walks though with a 11.4 BB%. Tucker is pretty much all bat at this point and will probably have to fit in as a DH somewhere. He makes solid left handed hitting depth for the Astros but I have a hard time seeing him getting time over the current outfield and DH options. 2017 Stats: 128 G, .250 BA/.333 OBP/.465 SLG, 20 2B, 7 3B, 24 HR, 96 RBI, 65 BB/102 SO THE REST OF THE PACK Stephen Wrenn Wrenn appeared to be a steal early on (6th round in 2016) but he had a down season in 2017. He is super talented and possesses plus speed, great defense, and solid pop. He started the year with Quad Cities and hit .288 in 42 games (127 wRC+). He was promoted to Buies Creek where he posted a 85 wRC+ in 83 games. He will be just 23 next year and will need a good season to keep up his prospect status. 2017 Stats: 125 G, .258 BA/.332 OBP/.365 SLG, 17 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 18 SB, 50 BB/112 SO Ramiro Rodriguez I don't know much about Rodriguez but his numbers were very good this year. The left hitter and thrower started the season in the Dominican Summer League and hit .341 with 968 OPS in 49 games, though he was a bit older than the league average at 19. He was promoted to GCL where he hit .300 in 9 games. 2017 Stats: 58 G, .335 BA/.440 OBP/.500 SLG, 11 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 8 SB, 30 BB/23 SO 2018 OUTLOOK/CONCLUSION Some of the guys listed in center field could end up in right field at the MLB level. Benedetti made a name for himself last year and showed great plate discipline and bat to ball skills. Other than that, the depth is a little weak but the plethora of outfielders in left field and center field more than makes up for it. [...]



On The Astros: Designating The Solution To The Designated Hitter Problem

2017-12-06T10:00:07-06:00

Two Crawfish Boxes Writers examine two distinct paths to address the Designated Hitter position for 2018 Hello again, Astros fans! This promises to be a fairly lengthy article, but we hope you hang in there to read to the end, and we hope you join in the comments section conversation. Thanks for reading! Jason Marbach (@TheArmoryBand): Hey, Brian! I thought the time might be right, given the status of the World Champion Houston Astros as a team with a recently-retired Designated Hitter, to examine two primary avenues the Astros might explore in order to supplement the best offensive team in baseball. There are some interesting internal options available, and there are a few intriguing free agents bouncing around out there. But which course should the Astros pursue? I'll defer to you to weigh in first. Brian Stevenson (@Ashitaka1110): I love the fact that we can actually say that there are interesting internal options, and more than merely interesting; multiple prospects that are MLB-ready and have the upside of legitimate, average-or-better MLB everyday hitters. That said, I'm of the mind that, while this team is intact, we should be doing all we can to maximize our chances of winning. You don't need to go crazy, like dealing for Giancarlo Stanton, but a free agent signing or trade acquisition (which is to say, someone with an MLB track record) might be the better option. Before even that, maybe we need to talk about the 1,000 pound bear in the room, Evan Gattis. After having seen him get significant time behind the plate, it's clear that he's really not up to snuff as a catcher. I think we need to assume at this point that Houston will be looking for a different option at catcher next year. He's certainly an option at Designated Hitter, though, so the question becomes cost versus production. Projections have him estimated around a 110 wRC+ with 28-30 home runs. Now, that's not anything to sneeze at. But MLBTR's arbitration estimates have him earning over six million dollars ($6.6 million, to be precise) in 2018. That's not terrible for a guy who could provide one win with his bat alone. But with the payroll ever increasing and Dallas Keuchel, Jose Altuve, Marwin Gonzalez and others fast approaching free agency, it might be time to make some tough choices about who we hang onto. Gattis isn't a key member of this club in terms of on-field production, and the six or more million might be better allocated elsewhere. So with that established, any free agent signing or trade is going to need to provide more value than Gattis might to be considered and upgrade worthy of the cost. One option might be local product Jay Bruce. While his overall numbers are similar to Gattis, the southpaw Bruce crushes right-handed pitchers (Gattis' career splits are pretty even) and would help even out a very right-handed-heavy lineup. He could sit against tough left-handed pitchers and open up the DH spot for a day of partial rest for Springer, Altuve, etc. He reportedly wants a pretty healthy deal, but has also expressed specific desire to play for either the Astros or the Rangers, and to play for a contender. A hometown discount is not out of the question. Another enticing option is Carlos Santana. He's a switch-hitter who is more than 20% better than average from both sides of the plate on his career. He doesn't have quite the raw power that Bruce or even Gattis do, but he's a walk machine who rarely strikes out, an approach that would fit quite well in this lineup over the next four years or so, especially if Marwin Gonzalez walks in free agency after 2018 (which seems highly likely). JM: I have to admit, Carlos Santana is a guy I've wanted for more than a year now, and I still like him a lot. I love that he's a switch hitter, and I love his really patient, low-K approach. I like that he can still play good defense. I like a lot of things about him, to be honest. Know who else I still like a lot? AJ Reed. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BpLNUNhiwK0?rel=0&" s[...]



Sleeper No Longer? Abraham Toro-Hernandez Draws Praise

2017-12-01T13:30:01-06:00

Despite a .209 batting average with Quad Cities, John Sickels ranked the young third baseman 17th in the Astros’ strong farm system citing strong reports A member of the 2016 Astros draft class that included top prospect Forrest Whitley, third base prospect Abraham Toro-Hernandez followed a circuitous route to professional ball. Born in Longueuil, Quebec, located just north of Montreal, he was a part of a burgeoning prospect scene in Canada that has produced players like Josh Naylor and Mike Soroka in recent years as a prep star. Not a highly coveted player out of high school, Toro-Hernandez joined Seminole State College in Oklahoma, a strong JuCo program that has been attended by players such as Adam LaRoche, Ryan Franklin and briefly Astros C/DH Evan Gattis, prior to his exit from baseball in 2006. As a freshman with SSC, Toro paced the team in RBI while walking 38 times against just 18 strikeouts in 223 plate appearances, hitting 20 home runs, and registering a .439/.545/.849 slash line. His offensive performance, switch hitting bat and athleticism impressed the Astros enough for them to spend a fifth-round pick on him as a 19 year-old. After struggling a bit in Greeneville in 2016, hitting just .254/.301/.322, the young third baseman started to show the traits that excited the Astros when he moved to Tri-City this past season. With the ValleyCats, playing against players on average two and three years his senior, Toro-Hernandez hit 6 homers in just 125 plate appearances, while walking 19 times and striking out 21- exemplifying the outstanding recognition and plate discipline he displayed as a JuCo star. Promoted to Quad Cities late in the year, Toro-Hernandez got off to a hot start with the River Bandits but cooled towards the end of the season, possibly a sign of fatigue which isn’t uncommon for players getting their first taste of full-season ball. While he hit .209 with QC, he managed 9 more homers to bring his season total to 15 in 280 plate appearances, and continued to post great strikeout-to-walk numbers, adding 21 more bases on balls against 30 Ks. In his recent Top 20 organizational prospects list, Minor League Ball’s John Sickels ranked the 20-year-old 17th in the system, writing to fans “don’t be deceived by the low batting average, Midwest League observers liked his power, strike zone judgment, and defense at third base; intriguing breakthrough prospect for 2018.” Toro-Hernandez will turn 21 later this month, and figures to earn an assignment to Quad Cities to start the 2018 season. Based on the early returns and his amateur track record, he has the potential to hit for both average and power, and could do so at a semi-premium defensive position as well. He has gotten some brief looks at catcher in the past, but given his chops at the hot corner and the organization’s words about his defensive home after he was drafted, it doesn’t appear likely that he will see any more time behind the plate going forward. The youngster has also drawn praise for his work ethic, and speaks three languages fluently. With the Astros top prospect ranks occupying primarily pitchers and bats on the verge of graduating to the majors, Toro-Hernandez represents the offensive player closest to taking a big step forward in the system, before teenagers such as Freudis Nova, Miguelangel Sierra and Joe Perez mature. With greater offensive consistency, Toro-Hernandez could find himself drawing national praise in 2018. While we look forward to seeing what his explosive bat can do in the coming year, here’s a video of one of his 9 Quad Cities long-balls in 2017. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/a8yBn-2-OCY?rel=0&" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> [...]



Astros MiLB Position Review: Center Field

2017-11-29T10:30:01-06:00

A look at the center field position in the Astros minor league system. We continue our position reviews in the Astros system this week, taking a look at the center field position. I will focus on guys who played primarily center field in 2017. Here are the previous position reviews: Catcher First Base Second Base Third Base Shortstop Left Field TOP PERFORMERS Kyle Tucker Tucker has steadily moved up the prospect rankings and his stock got even higher this year. He started the season with Buies Creek (High-A) and made quick work of the Carolina League hitting .285 with 9 HR, 43 RBI in 48 games with a 159 wRC+. He was promoted to Corpus Christi and spent the remainder of the season. In 72 games with the Hooks, Tucker hit .265 with 16 HR, 47 RBI and a 129 wRC+. While his walk rate dropped, he actually cut down on his K rate a bit. Overall Tucker had a very good season combining for 25 HR, 90 RBI and a 141 wRC+ as a 20 year old. Tucker had the 6th highest ISO (.247) in all of AA with at least 300 PAs. The only notable above him was Rafael Devers, the rest were 23+ years old. 2017 Stats: 120 G, .274 BA/.346 OBP/.528 SLG, 33 2B, 5 3B, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 21 SB, 46 BB/109 SO Derek Fisher Fisher was drafted by the Astros with the 37th overall pick in 2013 and has always been known as a high upside guy. He was ranked the #83 prospect in baseball prior to the 2017 season (MLB.com). After a strong finish in AAA last year in 27 games, Fisher carried that over this year destroying the PCL. He played in 84 AAA games and hit .318 with 26 2B, 21 HR, 66 RBI including .369 in May and .353 in July. He performed well enough to earn a promotion to Houston where he had 5 HR and 82 wRC+ in 166 PA. He figures to be a big time player in Houston in 2018. 2017 Stats: 84 G, .318 BA/.384 OBP/.583 SLG, 26 2B, 21 HR, 66 RBI, 16 SB, 35 BB/74 SO (AAA) Myles Straw Straw had somewhat of a breakout prospect in 2016 when he hit .374 in 68 games for Quad Cities (.358 overall). Straw started the 2017 season with Buies Creek and continued to swing the bat well hitting .295 with a .412 OBP in 114 games for BC. He posted a phenomenal 16.3 BB% and 13.1 K%. Straw is also one of the fastest runners in the Astros system and he showed it on the bases in 2017 stealing 36 bases for Buies Creek. He was promoted to AA and played in 13 games there hitting .239 with a .340 OBP. Overall he had 94 BB/79 SO and was 38/47 in SB in 127 games. 2017 Stats: 127 G, .290 BA/.405 OBP/.360 SLG, 17 2B, 7 3B, 1 HR, 44 RBI, 38 SB, 94 BB/79 SO THE REST OF THE PACK Drew Ferguson Ferguson has flown under the radar during his Astros career, most likely due to draft position (19th round) and age (now 25) but he has produced at every level. In 2017 he started the season with Corpus Christi and hit .292 with 18 2B, 8 HR, 15 SB in 84 games, good for a 133 wRC+. He was promoted to AAA and hit just .223 but maintained solid walk and strikeout numbers. 2018 should be an interesting season for him. 2017 Stats: 113 G, .275 BA/.369 OBP/.400 SLG, 25 2B, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 18 SB, 57 BB/98 SO Gilberto Celestino The Astros signed Celestino for $2.5 million back in 2015 and was the #7 international prospect that year according to MLB. Celestino is very athletic and a good defender in CF. In 2017 he played for the Greeneville Astros and hit .262 but showed some of his offensive tools with 10 2B, 4 HR in 59 games. He will be 19 in 2018 and should start with Quad Cities. 2017 Stats: 59 G, .268 BA/.331 OBP/.379 SLG, 10 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 10 SB, 22 BB/59 SO 2018 OUTLOOK/CONCLUSION Probably the deepest position in the Astros minor league system. Fisher has now graduated but Tucker a consensus top 30 prospect in the MLB. Straw is very fast and has improved his plate discipline. Then you have guys like Ferguson who are solid depth and Celestino who is a high potential guy. Look for Tucker to make his MLB debut some time in 2018 if the need arises, or he forces his way onto the MLB club. [...]



Happy Thanksgiving from The Crawfish Boxes

2017-11-23T08:00:00-06:00

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On the day that we give thanks for all the things that we have been gifted throughout the year, we at The Crawfish Boxes wanted to give thanks for you the reader.

We especially, wanted to thank those first responders that helped the Texas Coast pull themselves out of the flood waters and those volunteers that have helped Houston rebuild. We, of course, then wanted to thank the Astros, general manager Jeff Luhnow, ALCS MVP Justin Verlander, World Series MVP George Springer, AL MVP Jose Altuve and the rest of the players, coaches, and staff that helped bring the Astros bring Houston’s its first World Series Championship.

On personal note, I thank you thank you the reader for patience with the site. The playoff run burned me out and may lives for the staff have changed over the year as well. TCB staff will be back to work after Thanksgiving.




Astros MiLB Position Review: Left Field

2017-11-22T10:30:01-06:00

A review of the left field position in the Astros minor league system. We continue our position reviews in the Astros system this week, taking a look at the left field position. I will focus on guys who played primarily left field in 2017. Here are the previous position reviews: Catcher First Base Second Base Third Base Shortstop TOP PERFORMERS Jason Martin Martin was drafted in 2013 and has moved his way up through the system. He had a solid 2016 season but people wanted to see him perform outside of the Hangar and he did just that. In 46 games with Buies Creek he hit .287 with .848 OPS and 136 wRC+ before being promoted to AA. He continued his power surge there with a .210 ISO and .483 SLG. Overall he had a 127 wRC+ with 35 2B, 18 HR between A+/AA as a 21 year old. 2017 Stats: 125 G, .278 BA/.332 OBP/.487 SLG, 35 2B, 5 3B, 18 HR, 66 RBI, 16 SB, 39 BB/124 SO Ronnie Dawson Dawson was a 2nd round pick out of Ohio State in 2016. After dominating his junior year in college many expected him to be a fast mover in the system. Unfortunately, his 2017 season started very slow hitting just .217 with 5 HR in 61 first half games. He really turned it up in the second half though hitting .332 with 9 HR in 55 second half games with Quad Cities before being promoted to A+. He finished the season hitting .327 in 13 High-A games and a combined 128 wRC+ overall. 2017 Stats: 129 G, .278 BA/.363 OBP/.437 SLG, 26 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 67 RBI, 18 SB, 59 BB/110 SO Jon Kemmer Kemmer has been a late round steal for the Astros after being drafted in the 21st round of the 2013 draft. Kemmer has hit at every stop in the minors making it all the way up to AAA. In 2017 he repeated AAA but made huge improvements in every category. Overall he hit .299 with .932 OPS and 16 HR in 87 games. Unfortunately, he missed the end of the season due to an injury. He finished the season with a 142 wRC+ which was just 5 points shy of Derek Fisher. 2017 Stats: 87 G, .299 BA/.399 OBP/.533 SLG, 17 2B, 3 3B, 16 HR, 57 RBI, 6 SB, 44 BB/95 SO THE REST OF THE PACK Alejandro Garcia The Astros signed Garcia out of Cuba in 2015. He has played 200 minor league games and hit .282 but doesn't walk much or have much power. In 2017, between AA and AAA, Garcia hit just .235 with a .618 OPS. 2017 Stats: 92 G, .235 BA/.278 OBP/.341 SLG, 18 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 35 RBI, 6 SB, 9 BB/45 SO 2018 OUTLOOK/CONCLUSION While the left field position isn't the most stacked in the system, there is a good mix of upside and floor here. Martin was left unprotected and is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft but still has a lot of upside. Dawson ended up having a solid season after a slow start and could be a breakout guy in 2018. Add in an older guy like Kemmer, who could be MLB ready, and the Astros have solid depth at the position. [...]



Astros Trade Ramon Laureano, Add Cionel Perez and Dean Deetz

2017-11-20T18:22:48-06:00

Astros made some roster moves today Nearing the deadline for rosters to lock for Rule-5 Draft protection, the Astros traded OF Ramon Laureano to Oakland in return for RHP Brandon Bailey while protecting RHP Dean Deetz and RHP Cionel Perez by adding them to the 40-Man Roster. Brandon Bailey comes to Houston from Oakland with the pedigree of being a 6th Round pick in 2016. Considered a good prospect going into the draft, questions about past injuries (Tommy John Surgery) and Small stature (5’10, 175 lbs) caused his Draft stock to fall to middle rounds. Saw him tear apart Purdue in college but thought he was a reliever because of his size. Low-to-mid-90s, big, overhand curveball, avg slider and above avg changeup. He's still starting, body is better. Very Peacockish. https://t.co/cUIjiTELw2 — Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) November 21, 2017 Bailey has four pitches, a fastball that hits low-to-mid-90s, a curve and changeup that register high 70s, and a slider that clocks mid 80s. Debuting in pro ball in 2016, he put up solid numbers across the two leagues of Rookie/A-: 12 G, 43 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 9.6 K/99 In his first full season of pro ball in 2017, he continued to pitch well, pitching in A/A+: 24 G, 91 IP, 31 BB/120 K, 3.26 ERA, 1.088 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 11.9 K/9. Bailey is a solid arm to come back in return for a player the Astros might have lost anyway in Ramon Laureano. Laureano hit .317 in 2016 across two levels, but dropped struggled in 2017. He will have a new opportunity to establish him in Oakland. Best of luck to Laureano, and welcome to the Astros organization Brandon Bailey! Cionel Perez The Astros originally agreed to a contract with Perez for $5.15 million but due to a physical ended up signing him for just $2 million. But since he resigned with the Astros after signing the first, and later voided, contract, he is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Perez pitched across three levels this season and had a good year. After posting a 4.39 ERA with Quad Cities, he posted a 2.84 ERA with Buies Creek. He was moved to AA and pitched in 13 innings. Overall the lefty had a 4.13 ERA with 83 K in 93.2 IP. The Astros added Perez protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft. Dean Deetz Deetz was drafted by the Astros in the 11th round of he 2014 draft. He moved his way through the system and good year in 2017. He started the year with the Hooks and went 4-2 with a 1.82 ERA and 9 BB/42 K in 39.2 innings. He was promoted to AAA and struggled a bit there with a 6.40 ERA in 45 IP. The Astros used him in relief some and had success. In the Arizona Fall League he had 4 BB/23 K in 11 IP. Deetz has a 97-99 MPH and a sharp slider making him a good fit in the pen. Deetz was also added to the 40 man roster and therefore, not eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Unprotected The Astros left a few interesting names unprotected. Jason Martin, Jon Kemmer, Brendan McCurry just to name a few. [...]