Astros 2015: Origins, trends, makeup and background


So, just whose team is the Houston Astros anyway? For the first time since he joined the team as general manager, more players than not on the 40-man roster have been acquired by Jeff Luhnow.

Despite trades, drafts, free agents and waiver wire pickups — until this year — more players were still left over from previous Astros’ administrations believe it or not.

Here’s a little research for you that looks at the current makeup of the 40-man roster (including DL players), how they were acquired by their original teams and how they ultimately joined the Astros. A few quick notes, then you can add your observations.

  • It’s no secret, but Luhnow has shown his preference for former first rounders. There are currently eight on the 40-man. As you know, several others lurk just below this group in the organization.
  • Ten of the 12 pitchers on the current 25-man roster were acquired through free agency or on the waiver wire.
  • EOTP. The Astros have been Equal Opportunity Trade Partners. Players currently on the 40-man acquired through trade came from 9 different teams. Oakland and Miami were on the list twice.
  • Luhnow has hit it big with waiver pickups. There are only three on this roster, but Collin McHugh, Will Harris and Sam Deduno appear to be steals. Especially McHugh, who is developing into a strong ace candidate.
  • Interestingly, though he’s been GM since December 2011, four key players on the ’15 roster were acquired prior to his arrival: Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, George Springer.

Here is the rest of the list. Open for your observations, notes and commentary. Players noted with an asterisk (*) were acquired during the Luhnow Era.

Player Age Drafted/Signed How Acquired By Astros Acquisition Details
Round Year
Jason Castro 27 1 2010 Draft Drafted by Astros 2008 (1/10)
* Chris Carter 28 15 2005 Trade Acquired with Brad Peacock, Max Stassi from A’s for Jed Lowrie.
Jose Altuve 24 Amateur FA Houston 2007 FA Signed by Astros as free agent 2007.
* Jed Lowrie 30 1 2005 FA Signed by Astros as free agent 12/14.
* Luis Valbuena 29 Amateur FA Seattle 2002 Trade Acquired with Dan Straily from Cubs for Dexter Fowler.
* Colby Rasmus 28 1 2005 FA Signed by Astros as free agent 1/15.
* Jake Marisnick 24 3 2008 Trade Acquired by Astros with Colin Moran from Miami for Jarred Cosart, Austin Wates and Kike Hernandez.
George Springer 24 1 2011 Draft Drafted by Astros 2011 (1/11).
* Evan Gattis 28 28 2010 Trade Acquired by Astros with James Hoyt from Atlanta for Michael Foltynewicz, Andrew Thruman, and Rio Ruiz.
* Robbie Grossman 25 6 2008 Trade Acquired by Astros with Rudy Owens and Colton Cain from Pittsburgh for Wandy Rodriguez.
* Jonathan Villar 23 Amateur FA Philadelphia 2008 Trade Acquired with Anthony Gose and J.A. Happ from Philadelphia for Roy Oswalt.
* Hank Conger 27 1 2006 Trade Acquired from Angels for Carlos Perez and Nick Tropeano.
* Marwin Gonzalez 26 FA 2005 Trade Acquired from Boston for Marco Duarte (Rule 5).
Dallas Keuchel 27 7 2009 Draft Drafted by Astros 2009.
* Scott Feldman 32 30 2003 FA Signed by Astros as FA 12/13.
* Collin McHugh 27 18 2008 Waivers Claimed off waivers from Colorado 12/13.
* Asher Wojciechowski 26 1 2006 Trade Acquired in the J.A. Happ trade.
* Roberto Hernandez 34 FA 2000 FA Signed as a free agent 2/15
* Luke Gregerson 30 28 2006 FA  Signed as a free agent 12/14
* Will Harris 30 9 2006 Waivers Selected off waivers from Arizona 11/14
* Pat Neshek 34 6 2002 FA Signed as a free agent 12/14
* Chad Qualls 36 2 2000 FA Signed as a free agent  12/13
* Tony Sipp 31 45 2004 FA Signed as a free agent 5/14
* Sam Deduno 31 Amateur FA Colorado 2003 Waivers Selected off waivers from Minnesota 8/14.
* Joe Thatcher 33 Purchased from Indy League 2005 FA Signed as free agent 2/15.
Jake Buchanan 25 8 2009 Draft Drafted by Astros 2010 (8/10)
* Kevin Chapman 27 4 2010 Trade Acquired by Astros for Jason Bourgeois and Humberto Quintero from Kansas City 3/12.
Luis Cruz 24 9 2008 Draft Drafted by Astros 2008.
Michael Feliz 21 FA 2010 FA Signed by Astros as a free agent originally in 2010.
* Josh Fields 29 1 2008 Rule 5 Drafted from Red Sox in 2012 Rule 5.
Brett Oberholtzer 25 8 2008 Trade Acquired by Astros with Juan Abreu, Paul Clemens, Jordan Schafer for Michael Bourn (7/11).
* Brad Peacock 27 41 2006 Trade Acquired by Astros with Chris Carter, Max Stassi for Jed Lowrie, Fernando Rodriguez (2/13).
* Dan Straily 26 24 2009 Trade Acquired by Astros with Luis Valbuena for Dexter Fowler (1/15).
Vincent Velasquez 22 2 2010 Draft Drafted by Astros 2010.
* Max Stassi 24 4 2009 Trade Acquired by Astros with Chris Carter, Brad Peacock from Oakland for Jed Lowrie, Fernando Rodriguez (2/13).
* Matt Dominguez 25 1 2007 Trade Acquired by Astros with Rob Rasmussen from Miami for Carlos Lee (7/12).
Jon Singleton 23 8 2009 Trade Acquired by Astros with Domingo Santana, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid from Philadelphia for Hunter Pence (7/11).
* Ronald Torreyes 22 FA 2010 Trade Acquired by Astros from Cubs 2013.
* L.J. Hoes 25 3 2008 Trade Acquired with Josh Hader from Orioles for Bud Norris (7/13).
Domingo Santana 22 Amateur FA Philadelphia 2009 Trade Acquired by Astros with Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid from Philadelphia for Hunter Pence (7/11).
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61 comments on “Astros 2015: Origins, trends, makeup and background

  1. Thanks for all the research, Chip. Some thoughts and a question on what I am looking at:
    – I guess Tony Sipp was not a waiver pickup because they did not pick him up until he had cleared waivers? I guess he was as good as a waiver pickup.
    – Interesting that there are so few Astro draftees on the list and no player that Luhnow has drafted on the list – I know that will change, but it hasn’t yet.
    – It has been nice to see the variety of teams they deal with since Luhnow took over – It seemed that Ed Wade had a speed dial list that included the Phillies GM and Domino’s Pizza only (at times – I know he started dealing more widely, but still).
    – Also, interesting that as you say 10 of 12 pitchers picked up elsewhere – of course when you keep dealing away the pitching prospects the other guy drafted or traded for (Lyles, Folty, Tropeano, Cosart) – you have to get the pitchers from some place.

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    • Dan, Sipp apparently had an opt out in his deal with the Padres. He was in the Padres minors and the organization released him on May 1 so he could sign a major league deal with Houston just hours later.

      Wonder if you can chalk that up to Luhnow’s scouting/stat gurus for picking him out there?

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  2. The 25-man could begin to see some movement this week:

    * Josh Fields is scheduled to throw back-to-back games in Fresno “…between Monday and Wednesday”, according to HInch. After that, he could be ready. Who does he replace?

    My guess would be a move is made on Thursday’s day off if Fields is healthy. One possibility: Wojo down, Fields up. Then, another move is made next week (Peacock?) when the Astros need a fifth starter.

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  3. It’s Luhnow’s team but it is not necessarily the team of his vision for a championship.
    The starting rotation is interesting. Keuchel, the Ace, is a Wade draftee that Luhnow stuck with and he developed. But Keuchel is Luhnow’s kind of pitcher: an extreme Groundball pitcher.
    McHugh is Luhnow’s Project. Waiver wire pitcher developed into a K/GO pitcher.
    Feldman a free agent signee to get innings and give the team a chance to win late.
    Ober and Wojo, both borderline starting pitcher prospects with deliveries that aren’t prone to major injuries. and, finally, Fernandez. An older #5 who won’t get too rattled, but has never been able to be the guy to settle in because of his stuff, but gets enough grounders to keep his team in the game.
    Lowrie has been so steady at SS that he might be making Appel the most valuable minor leaguer we have right now, because of the condition of our #3-5 starters. Somebody is becoming a placeholder for Appel and Lowrie, so far, appears to be letting Correa finish his minor league career without the pressure of having to be moved up before he’s ready.

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    • OP, glad you mentioned Lowrie and you are spot on. In the short span of six games, he has looked very smooth at SS. Almost effortless, which is a nice change. Hopefully, I haven’t jinxed him.

      As for placeholders for Appel, not sure there is just one. You may see an entire rotation of place holders for him — Oberholtzer, Wojo, Peacock, Hernandez, Deduno, Straily and more — before it’s all said and done.

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  4. Maybe we can put a bandaid on Qualls’s middle finger and DL him for 15 days…..that way we can call up Fields without losing Harris, or Deduno.
    It was evident yesterday that Qualls was not on the same PLANET…..much
    less the same game.

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    • Becky, every pitcher has one of those days. I’m not necessarily concerned about Qualls at this point (though he doesn’t need to have too many of “those days”.) That said, two other guys have raised my eyebrows a little.

      Neshek hasn’t exactly looked good, and Thatcher has now made 3 appearances with only 2/3 of an inning to show for it. Neshek isn’t going anywhere with that fancy 2-year deal, but Thatcher needs to fix his game quickly.

      P.S. Did Neshek really get a two-year, $12 million deal with a $6.5 million option that could balloon to $9 million for 2017?

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  5. Here is a question for you Guru’s. If Jon Boy keeps hitting and gets called up , who gets sent down, and what doe the platoon situation look like , 1st, DH and LF.

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    • Kevin, as I’ve mentioned earlier, I don’t think Singleton is even on the radar right now. Barring an injury, he’ll need to hit upper .300s for a few weeks or longer. At this point, he has much to prove since 1B is no longer his job to lose. It’s his job to win!

      Heck, at this point, he has only 6 hits (3 doubles), no HRs and just the 1 RBI, not to mention only a couple of walks.

      With Marwin obviously able to slide in there and Villar available to back up on the left side, there’s no urgency yet.

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  6. This is just a guess, but Singleton is more valuable at his age raking in AAA than he is struggling in the majors. I’m sure Luhnow has a better feel of this pulse than I do, but Big Jon hitting over .300 is nothing we have ever seen from him at any level so let’s see how he does over a 2-3 month period. By that time we will know a lot more about Jake and Evan and Villar.

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      • Yup. He’s only 23, but in my book, Singleton has one more good shot at it. Not saying that he won’t be up and/or down over this year or next, but you can’t allow outside conditions (“…gattis and carter are batting .100”) to impact how you handle SIngleton at this point. Again, Marwin can slide into the role and you can have Lowrie DH from time to time if needed. Heck, even Rasmus or Marisnick can DH…

        May sound extreme, but you have to stay on target with Singleton. Bringing him up soon only to have him fail again will set him back even further. IMO.

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  7. How long has it been to see our outfield the envy of nearly 29 other teams!
    Chip……I’m sure Qualls will figure it out, but he sits for the next 3 games!

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    • Becky, I mentioned recently that this outfield may be the best defensive OF for Houston in years. It was pretty good with Bourn in CF and Pence in RF, but you had Carlos in LF at the time…so it’s been quite some time since it’s been the “envy of nearly 29 other teams!”.

      And, the good thing is: You can mix and match with a few different players and not lose too much, at least defensively. And, yes, I’m including Villar in that bunch, not Gattis.

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  8. Who is hot – and who is not – in Fresno.

    The Hot Squad
    1. Joe Sclafani [only 7PAs, but in those he has 3 hits (one of which was a double), a BB, and has scored all 4 times he’s gotten on base]. This fellow is a scrapper, a table setter, and playmaker. Wherever he goes, good things happen.
    2. Jon Singleton: .400/.400/1.000 with doubles and only 2 Ks. Don’t give up on him yet; let him rake on some of this AAA pitching and get his confidence and mojo back.
    3. Preston Tucker: .333/.412/1.012 with 1 HR, 1 2b, 3 RBIs and only 2 Ks. If Carter and Gattis don’t wake up soon we still have ‘the nuclear option’.

    The ice bucket challenge
    1. Ronald Torreyes: .091/.157/.268
    2. Domingo Santana: .100/.182/.282 with 7 Ks in 11 PAs – O EBHs, 0 RBIs.
    3. Matt Domingues: .167/.267/.600; but he does have 2 doubles and 4 RBI

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  9. Who is nails – and who is athletic tape – in Fresno:

    Nails (or at least liquid nails):
    1. Brad Peacock – 0.00 ERA, 1.07 WHIP; but walked 5 in 4.2 IP, with only 2 Ks
    2. Jake Buchanan – 2.25 ERA, 0.50 WHIP;
    3. James Hoyt – 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (alas, only one inning)
    4. Tommy Shirley – 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (also only one inning)
    5. Jason Stoffel – 0.00 ERA. .086 WHIP, no hits, 2 BBS and 3Ks in 2.1 innings

    Athletic Tape:
    1. Kevin Chapman – 16.20 ERA, 2.40 WHIP ( only 1.2 innings)
    2. Dan Strailey – 5.40 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 2 Ks, 5 hits and 3BBs in 5 innings

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    • Don’t forget that Baseball America had Las Vegas rated as the 3rd most talented team in all of the minors and the #1 most talented in the PCL. The four game split was pretty good for Fresno, and they almost pulled that last game out yesterday.

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  10. Our Corpus Christi Hooks have 4 guys in the line-up who have an OPS of over 1.0 [Tony Kemp, Kelvin Nash, Brandon Meredith, & Tyler Heineman]. Carlos Correa is actually 5th in the OPS standings, putting up a measly .988.

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  11. Interesting note about JL and #1 picks. I was channel flipping on the various MLB games the other day. One color guy (sorry I don’t remember his name) was a #1 pick that flamed out. His partner asked him if he was assisted by being a #1 pick – his response was No. But he then added, you have to perform on the field but if you are a #1 pick like me, you will get a lot of extra chances. (So it must happen with most GMs you get more chances to make it.)

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    • The interesting thing about the #1s the Astros have is that they’ve actually traded to get most of them (e.g. Rasmus, Conger, Dominguez, Fields, Wojo).

      I will say that if you have talent, but just haven’t put it together, most coaches (and I’m assuming GMs) will feel like they can “fix” you. They figure that they can be the missing ingredient or see the flaw and give you the right words (that no one else has said) to get you where you need to be.

      I know. I was one of those coaches.There is a high reward if you can make it happen, depending on the risk. There are just some things you can’t teach, so if the #1 comes with the tools, they’re well on the way, if that makes sense.

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  12. You were hoping for another lineup? Waiting for a new #2 hitter? Here tonight’s Lineup du Jour (Becky, cover your eyes!).

    1. Altuve 2B.
    2. Grossman LF.
    3. Springer RF.
    4. Carter 1B.
    5. Gattis DH.
    6. Valbuena 3B.
    7. Villar SS.
    8. Conger C.
    9. Marisnick CF.

    Feldman on the hill.

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  13. Here’s hoping 3-7 all defy the trend of the early season numbers and cause Scott Kazmir to have an unpleasant homecoming this trip – at least during the time he is on the bump at Minute Maid.

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  14. Strange activity with Ryan Webb, recently of the Orioles and now Dodgers. It’s been only a few years since the Astros had interest. Now, he’s free to sign anywhere at the league minimum.

    Luhnow probably has no interest at this point, but here’s suggesting that some team is going to get a bargain as Webb probably has a chip on his shoulder…

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  15. Astros will be on 740am tonight, I wish they could have that Clear channel back…….
    790am SUCKS.
    Chip…….not hiding my eyes, because I WANT Villar to get better. He’s on the clock.
    Gattis back in as the DH……..uggh.

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  16. I’ve already turned it off. In the second inning you realize that the crowd and the team didn’t show up tonight. I got grandkids to get to bed. Even Scorpion is better than this.
    No wonder they are looking for starting pitching. I suggest trading an ex-SS for one.

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  17. I’m packing it in too. Course it’s an hour later here. Tough for a pitcher to have a routine grounder blown to start the game. But Feldman has not impressed either. They needed a veteran job on the mound tonight and did not get it. That second throwing error on Villar should have been handled by Conger. And when was the last time you’ve seen a ML catcher trip over a bat? As a backstop, you learn to avoid that stuff when you’re a kid. I miss Carlos. And I might end up missing Tropeano.

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  18. I finally figured out who Gattis swing reminds me of, JASON LANE,, no matter where the pitch is thrown, his swing is on the same exact plane every time. That is great, as long as the pitch is on the same plane as his swing every 40th pitch! Geez really UGH

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  19. I’m done griping about him……..so if Luhnow keeps him on the roster the Astros deserve to loose. Positives from the game:
    Wojo bailed the bullpen out tonight.
    Gattis got his FIRST hit.
    Altuve went 3 for 4.
    That’s about it.

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  20. So I have some minor league questions.
    Since Brett Booth was the catcher who could catch Blaine Sims’s knuckleball last season, why did the Astros jump him up two notches, to AA and then let Jobduan Morales ruin Sims’s first start last night with 4 passed balls? And why did the best defensive catcher in our system just disappear off the radar? Why didn’t the Astros let Pena stay in Lancaster and catch Sims and all the rest of their pitchers, rather than not use him anywhere.
    Why did Weiland’s wife have to announce his release on twitter.
    Why is Andrew Aplin not playing? Sosa is listed as temporarily inactive and it is because Presley needed a Fresno roster spot. But if Aplin is hurt why didn’t the Astros just DL him and let Presley and Sosa play. Instead, Aplin is still on the roster but hasn’t made an appearance this year.
    If Brady Rodgers pitched so badly in AA last year, why was he promoted and pitching so badly in AAA this year?
    If Joe Sclafani was your leading hitter in AAA last season, led the Arizona Fall league in batting last season and is one of the leading hitters on your AA team this year so far, why won’t you play this guy every day in AAA?
    Why is Ober still not pitching? On March 15th they said he would be held out a week. It’s been a month. He’s not even rehabbing in the minors.
    Why can’t the Astros get Velasquez healthy from a Lat strain he suffered five months ago?

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    • Hey OP, don’t have answers for all qeustions, but here are a couple…

      * Obie is still nursing the blister, apparently at the long-toss stage. All along, they said he would be the longest returning among he, Peacock and Fields. Back on March 15, I think they were referring to the original injury, now it’s the blister that’s holding him back.
      * On Sosa, the “temporarily inactive” designation is an official MiLB term ususually referring to a personal matter. It can last 3 days. It is also used when a player is seeking a contract affiliation with a foreign club.

      On Sclafani, it’s early and I’d suggest there could be any number of reasons he didn’t start the season as a starter. Give it a week or two and see how it shakes out.

      And, I ain’t got no clue on Pena! He isn’t listed anywhere! I’ll make an inquiry.

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    • Why did it take half a season for Springer to heal from a pulled quad?

      Re the knuckleballer, it is not realistic to have only one catcher who can handle it. They likely are testing the waters with other guys…kind of like playing Villar all over the diamond.

      Sclafani likely does not command a starting spot because he performs well despite the instability. Does anyone have data on the quality of contact he makes? It’s a small sample size, but I saw a lot of bloopers and non-solid contact last year off his bat. That doesn’t garner the respect that the results might imply it deserves.

      Wieland’s wife announced his retirement on twitter.

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      • Devin, you can do better than that. Poor contact? Jose Altuve hit 168 singles last season. When a infielder hits .333 in his first half a season in AAA, why is there any question about his contact rate. Sclafani isn’t DDJ laying down bunts, trying to get on base. The guy hits.
        And my question is: why didn’t the Astros announce Weiland’s release? They tried for three years to get this guy able to pitch. Then they just cast him off the island without even extinguishing his torch.

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      • Not contact rate – hard contact. For example, a jam shot over the third baseman’s head is not hard contact. A line drive to center is probably hard contact.

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  21. Corpus Christi won their fifth straight game last night 6-3 over Tulsa. Although Carlos Correa was only 1 for 5, his one hit was(yeah, you guessed it) a bases loaded double that knocked in the 3 winning runs late in the game.

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  22. Pena is @extended spring trng. He took a 96mph pitch right in the face(DDJ) and was held for two weeks. He should be @CC either today or tomorrow. Probably tomorrow since its a day off.

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    • Thanks, jake. The Astros never said a word. When it happens on the back fields of Osceola, it stays there.
      jake, are you in the insurance business?

      Like

  23. No im not on those types of bussiness. Im just a regular astro fan from cali. I just heard that from a friend who follows a lot of minor leaguers specially the latin ones. By the way i had the same question about a week ago. I thought he was traded cus i couldnt find him in any of the astros farm rosters.

    Like

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