Friday, March 16, 2012

A Few Short Thoughts On Our Baby 'Stros

MAR 16th, 2012-While my time was limited in Kissimmee, and most of that time was behind a camera, I did notice just a few details concerning some of our minor leaguers. Some are more minor than others, so take it for what it's worth:

David Martinez, RHP
2011-Class A Lexington

-Fastball was a tick below normal (to be expected; early in camp), and seemed to have gained a little weight. Shouldn't be an issue, as long as he doesn't gain much more.

Telvin Nash, 1B-DH
2011-Class A Lexington

-Has definitely gained weight. He's a big guy to begin with, but I have a feeling that last year's listed weight of 230 may be about 15 pounds less than he weighs now. Same issues that Frank Thomas faced when he played; it could be that he can play at a heavier weight, but I'd be careful about that if I were him. Better he be mindful of it now than to play with bum knees at age 30.

Mike Kvasnicka, 3B
2011-Class A Lexington

-For the time I was able to see him, he worked exclusively at catcher. Never once saw him without the gear on. I'm thinking that Houston has accepted that he won't ever hit for enough power for a corner infielder, so moving him back behind the plate (C experience from his days at U of Minn.) takes full advantage of that strong arm of his. If he handles the transition well, he'll probably stay there for the time being.

Jason Chowning, RHP
2011-Class A Lexington

-From my talks with him, his arm seems to be feeling better than he expected. There was some concern over a possible torn labrum (see WTH, Bobby post from Sept 28th, 2011) but thus far he says he's feeling much better. From my point of view, he seems to have lost weight; I would be very surprised if his 2011 weight of 178 wasn't a bit high, maybe by around 8 pounds. Dude looks THIN. I'd be concerned about his endurance, through a full season. (ed. note-He and I talked about the "dude looks THIN" observation on the evening of the 15th, I believe. He says he worked out intensively to decrease his body fat percentage this past off-season and actually was a fair sight heavier than I had thought. Seeing him during and after camp drills in person really gives you the impression that his time in the gym will pay significant dividends this year. I told him my concern was that his being underweight for his height/frame could make getting through the long season a little tougher, but I think I may have missed the mark on that assessment. I'm just glad his arm is feeling better.)

Ruben Sosa, OF
2011-Class A Lexington, Rookie-League Greeneville

-Not that it matters, but there is NO WAY Sosa is 5'7". Just saying. Anyway, swing looked a little long in limited time I saw him. He's got time to work that out, of course.

Vincent Velasquez, RHP
2011-DNP (Injured)

-Vince tells me his arm feels great now, and that he's throwing free and easy since his surgery. I imagine he'll start the year in Greeneville for a short time, although rumor has it that he could go straight to Lexington. More on that, later.

Adrian Houser, RHP
2011-Draftee

-Houser strikes me as somewhat advanced on the mound, in terms of the mental aspects of pitching. He's certainly got the stuff to go along with it. With Archie Bradley and Dylan Bundy coming in the same draft, it may have been easy for some to forget Houser has some pretty wicked stuff, too. Once he has a full season under his belt, I doubt it will be so easy.

Mitchell Lambson, LHP
2011-Short-Season Tri-City

-The one thing that stuck out for me about Lambson, besides the fact that I never saw him without a smile on  his face (I'd be enjoying myself, too), was the changeup. Wicked. Looked to be about 15 MPH less than the FB, but same arm motion, same slot, same release point. Very nice tail and sink on that pitch; with a solid breaking ball, he could definitely be one to watch. While he reported to camp with hair down to his shoulders, Houston was not having it. He got rid of it, and in a hurry. Looks like a different person, altogether. Seems like a nice kid; will be interesting to watch his progress.

Brandon Culbreth, RHP
2011-GSL Astros

-This 8th round pick throws a FB that peaks around 95, plus a slider/cutter type pitch (his words) he relies on extensively. Working on control that was shaky coming into camp, but making progress. Development of a reliable breaking ball (according to him, one of his greatest deficits) will determine how quickly he progresses in the system. Has good, projectable frame; FB may top out around 97 at his peak, if he's used in the 'pen. 
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