What a difference a year makes. The 2008 Greeneville Astros finished the year 30-36. While not quite at .500, they were 13 games better than the previous year's team. This was a young team with 18 of the 38 players still in the teen years when the season began. Three of them were still 17 (Jay Austin, Jordan Lyles & Luis Cruz). In 2011, 58% (22 out of 38) of the 2008 roster were still playing affiliated baseball. In fact 12 of the 18 teenagers were still active.
Let's look at this group based on the highest level they played at this year. The percentage is of the 2008 full roster.
MLB 2 (5%)
- Started in Lancaster and hit .408 prior to being moved to Corpus
Christ where he hit .361. Then he was promoted to Houston. In the big
leagues, he hit a respectable .276 in 221 at bats in 57 games. He
appears to have locked down the starting 2nd base position for 2012 at
the ripe age of 22.
Jordan Lyles - While
Altuve's sudden climb was a bit of a surprise to some, Lyles ascendance
was expected. He was sent to AAA to start the year after a solid spring
training but was called up to the quickly to the majors and spent most
of the season there. He started 15 games before being moved to the pen
to keep his inning count down. He finished with a 2-8 record and a 5.
36 ERA. He has locked up a rotation position for 2012 at age 21.
AAA 2 (5%)
- Urckfitz bounced around earning frequent flier miles this year. He
was in AA to start the season. Then got some brief time in at AAA
before heading back to AA. Next came a short time in hi A before return
to AA to wrap up the season. In four games at AAA he amassed a 17.47
ERA. In AA 5.08 in 31 games. In hi A, he appeared in 10 games with a
2.02 ERA. Gotta love a NDFA reaching this level. he will be 23 at the
start of next season.
Henry Villar - Started
the season in AAA but was moved to AA in June. In AAA, he made 7
starts but that experiment ended and he spent the rest of the year in
the pen. Pitched just 76 innings worth of ball between the two for a
combined 5.45 ERA. Villar had a brief appearance in the big leagues in 2010. He will be 24 at the start of next season.
AA 5 (13%)
- Had a break out year. He started in Lancaster, where he hit .323
with 22 HR. He was promoted to CC where he hit 281 with 7 HR. He is
getting extra at bats in the Arizona Fall League right now. Another
solid Non Drafted Free Agent (NDFA) signing. He will be 24 in spring
Federico Hernandez - It was a
rough year for Freddy. He struggled at the plate both at AA and at High
A after he was sent down to Lancaster. In both stops he hit less than
.200. He will turn 24 just before pitchers and catchers report.
Ross Seaton - Spent the year in Corpus Christi, 4-9 with a 5.23 in 28 starts. He continues to climb a level a year even thought the results aren't spectacular. He will just be 22 when spring training starts.
Kyle Greenwalt & Arcenio Leon see the 2007 write up.
Hi A 7 (18%)
- The former 2nd round draft pick repeated Lancaster to start the
season. After not showing much progress over last season, he was sent
to Lexington to finish the year and he continued to struggle. He is
getting more at bats int the Arizona Fall League right now. He will be
just 21 when the 2012 minor league players report to camp.
- The 35th round pick from 2008 spent this season in the California
league where he hit hit .242 with only 41 K in 326 AB. He threw out 30%
of base stealers. He will turn 22 during spring training next year.
- The 9th round pick in 2008 made 4 starts in Lancaster where he got
shelled (ERA over 14). But found moderate success back in Lexington
where he went 5-4 with a 4.45 era. He had 92 strike outs in 91 IP in
Lex but gave up 15 HR. He will still be 21 when next season ends!
Colton Pitkin - see the 2007 write up
- He split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen this year
in Lancaster. As a starter 7.35 ERA in 18 games (85 2/3 IP) as a
reliever 5.34 in 12 games (32 IP). He will turn 22 before he reports to
Jose Trinidad - Season shorted to just 10 games due to an injury. He will start the season on the DL at age 24.
Wander Alvino -
Had 73 K in 73 IP (46 games). His 4.19 ERA isn't bad when you consider
the location. His walks per 9 jumped from 2.8 in Lex in 10 to 6.3 in
Lancaster. Alvino will turn 25 before he reports this spring.
Low A 3 (8%)
Jorge De Leon -
The former shortstop now converted to pitcher went 6-4 with a 3.42 ERA
in 43 games (55 1/3 IP). He struck out 51 to just 13 walks while giving
up 5 long balls. He will be 24 next season.
Brad Dydalewicz - The 8th round pick of the 2008 draft had
a rough season. In only 29 2/3 innings pitched between GCL &
Lexington, he amassed a 10.86 ERA. He will turn 22 during spring
training next season.
Jeiler Castillo - After being drafted by the A's in the
rule 5 draft; Castillo started in the Midwest league (Low A) but was
sent back to Vermont (SS A) for his 4th season in short season ball. He
was released after the season.
Short Season 1 (3%)
Wilton Infante - The former outfielder tried to make the move to pitcher. After six outings in the GCL, he was released
DL/Rehab 2 (5%)
Albert Cartwright - see the 2007 write up.
- The former 27th round pick of the 2008 draft spent most of 2011 on
the DL. He appeared in 5 games at the GCL Astros rehabbing his way back
from an injury. He will be 23 when the new season starts.
We would expect the number of active players to continue to rise while we look at more recent teams but the jump from
five to 22 in one year tells us that something changed in the Astros
farm system in 2008. Oh yeah, Bobby Heck joined the Astros staff in
October of 2007. You think that change made a difference?