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Last summer, the Houston Astros dealt popular All-Star OF Hunter Pence to Philadelphia, and in return they received a promising quartet of prospects in 1B Jonathan Singleton, RHP Jarred Cosart, OF Domingo Santana and RHP Josh Zeid that could change the downtrodden franchise's fortunes.
Forcing his way up?
Cosart, the key pitcher acquired by Houston in the deal, throws a heavy fastball that can get into the high-90s on the radar gun. He also throws two filthy secondary pitches (curveball, changeup), but he's not always consistent with the pair of offerings.
Yesterday the Astros promoted Cosart from Double-A Corpus Christi to Triple-A Oklahoma City to start in place of Aneury Rodriguez (called up to majors Tuesday) and the former showed that he still needs some minor league seasoning.
In Oklahoma City's 4-1 loss to Las Vegas, Cosart allowed four earned runs on 10 hits and two walks over six innings. He struck out five.
At Corpus Christi this year, Cosart is 1-2, with a 2.84 ERA, 18 strikeouts and has yet to allow a home run in 19 innings. Demonstrating the heavy movement of his fastball, he has also averaged 2.33 groundouts per every air-out.
After being critiqued for having a mediocre strikeout rate last season (6.3 whiffs per nine frames) that didn't match the caliber of his stuff, Cosart is missing more bats this season (8.3 whiffs per nine frames), which is a good sign.
The bad news is that Cosart is still showing some wildness (13 walks) that could be related to his high-effort delivery.
The sky is the limit for Cosart in terms of raw stuff, but the results haven't necessarily matched the talent in his minor league career. Expect the Astros with their new think tank under GM Jeff Luhnow to handle Cosart delicately. Barring a move to the bullpen, the 22-year-old fireballer is probably still at least a year away from helping Houston at the major league level.
Meanwhile, in Corpus Christi's 17-3 thumping of San Antonio, Singleton went 1-for-3, with a homer (4), three walks and four runs scored. The 20-year-old is hitting .310 with 15 RBIs, 21 runs scored, 17 walks and a .965 OPS in 100 at-bats with the Double-A club.
Blessed with a pretty swing, Singleton has shown a really firm grasp of the strike zone thus far. He has shown he can hit for a steady average, get on-base at a strong rate, and be a producer of extra-base hits. There are some skeptics that feel he hasn't yet shown the type of raw power (career high of 14 homers) that is desired in a first baseman, but many feel the 20-year-old is on the right developmental path to being at least a 25-home run slugger. He's a big kid at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds.
A more polished player than Cosart at the moment, Singleton has a better chance to reach Houston later this summer, but there's a decent chance the Astros will wait until spring of 2013 to hand him the keys to the first base job in the majors.
Make it two consecutive starts for Manny Banuelos without issuing a walk. In his last two starts with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Banuelos has allowed only one run and six hits over 8 2/3 innings, while fanning eight.
The New York Yankees prospect averaged 4.9 walks per nine innings last season, easily the biggest chink in the southpaw's armor. The Mexican lefty has an admirable mix of three-pitches and a promising strikeout rate that projects him to be a No. 3 starter someday, but walks have slowed his path to the Bronx.
The 21-year-old still holds a 10:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 innings with Scranton/Wilkes Barre in large part due to one ugly six-walk outing back on April 12.
Chicago Cubs 1B prospect Anthony Rizzo clubbed two homers and plated six runs in Triple-A Iowa's 13-2 rout of Fresno last night.
Rizzo is now hitting .357 with nine homers, 31 RBIs, 20 runs scored and a 1.056 OPS in 115 at-bats with Iowa. Obviously, 1B Bryan LaHair's tear (1.241 OPS) in the majors doesn't make Rizzo's promotion a priority at the moment, and tearing up the Pacific Coast League is nothing new for the latter. Rizzo still has somewhat of a shaky strike zone (26 K, 10 BB) and still hasn't figured out lefties (.257 average vs. southpaws), so not all is perfect here.
But it seems like Rizzo is on pace for a June call-up at the latest, and the Cubs will find some way to fit both LaHair (move to OF) and Rizzo into their regular lineup at some point this season.
Kansas City Royals OF prospect Wil Myers homered in his fourth straight game yesterday in Double-A Northwest Arkansas' 9-4 loss to Tulsa. In 115 at-bats, Myers is now hitting .339 with 11 homers, 24 RBIs, 27 runs scored, four steals and a 1.115 OPS.