Stedler Division rivals: Tri-City Valleycats

The Tri-City Valleycats, New York-Penn League affiliate of the Houston Astros, had a poor season in 2009, finishing last in the Stedler Division with a 27-48 record.  While the team struggled a year ago, the Astros have several solid players in extended spring training who could help turn the Valleycats around in 2010.

David Coleman, writer for and part-time sports writer for the Bryan/College Station Eagle, chatted with Connecticut Tiger Den about some of the Astros in extended spring training who may be assigned to Tri-City in June.

Stephen Hamel: Telvin Nash is the highest rated Astros prospect in extended spring training according to Baseball America.  He struggled last season in the Gulf Coast League.  Do you think he will play for Tri-City at all this summer or is he more likely to play in the Appalachian League or return to the GCL?  Can you give a brief scouting report on him?

David Coleman: Telvin Nash will probably start at Greeneville in the Appalachian League. He struggled in his transition to the pros last season, even with playing near home in Kissimmee, Florida. He has prodigious power, but that hasn’t translated well to the field yet. He’s probably on a similar developmental path as Jay Austin, although the Astros didn’t have a GCL team when Austin was drafted. Here is a scouting report I did on him after the draft and another after he’d played a month in the minors.

Erik Castro/Photo courtesy of Glenn Connelly/SDSU Athletics

SH: Erik Castro is perhaps most famous for being Stephen Strasburg’s catcher at San Diego State, but the Astros have moved him to third base.  Why do you think that position switch was made?  Do you think Castro is capable of being a New York-Penn League All-Star this year in his second time around the league?

DC: Castro was moved to third base primarily because the Astros have a ton of depth at catcher and none at third. Castro gives them a toolsy guy with a good arm who they can project a bit at the position. He definitely flashed good power in 2009, but that entire lineup was pretty stacked. The Astros like sending their more polished players, usually four-year college starters, to Tri-City, and I’m sure the only reason Castro didn’t break camp with Lexington is they’d like to get him some more reps at third base before he gets into more games.

SH: The Astros have several catchers in extended spring training.  Which one is the most likely to play for Tri-City this season?

DC: Looking at the catchers not currently assigned to teams, I’d expect David ‘Bubby’ Williams to be one of the most likely candidates to go to Tri-City. He played at Greeneville in 2009 and played college ball, so he’s more advanced than some of their international signees. In fact, Carlos Mojica and Luis Alvarez are also good bets to make the transition to Tri-City. Pedro Gonzalez may also stay at Tri-City, since he was promoted there last season for five games. Williams and Gonzalez are probably the favorites, though.

SH: Carlos Quevedo posted a pretty good 55 to 9 strikeout to walk ratio in the Appy League last season.  He was victimized by a high BABIP, but he appears ready to move up to the New York-Penn League.  What kind of stuff does he have?

DC: I don’t know much about Quevedo, unfortunately. The first time I became aware of him was last season and I haven’t seen any scouting reports on him since. I will say that at 6-foot-1 and 222 pounds, he’s bigger than many of the Astros international signees. Most of the pitchers they have in the system are right at 6-foot and anywhere from 160 to 180 pounds. That suggests Quevedo probably has the frame to get good velocity on his fastball.

SH: Is there anyone else in extended spring training right now who could make a splash with Tri-City this summer?

DC: As for other guys who could make an impact…Spencer Hylander was a late-round pick who could factor into the back end of the Tri-City bullpen. Literally, he was the last player the Astros drafted, but put up good numbers in the GCL. (Astros scouting director) Bobby Heck has done well in finding these obscure relievers who have performed well in the past couple of years for the Astros. … Another guy I really like is Enrique Hernandez. He was drafted as a shortstop, but he’ll probably move to second base long-term. He’s got a good bat that could play for a high average. He might start at Greeneville, but could be exactly the kind of player the Astros push to Tri-City. … You might see a guy like Ben Orloff at short. He struggled through injuries last season and didn’t play much shortstop. I don’t know that he’s got the arm for the position long-term, but he’d make a nice pairing with Hernandez up the middle. … Another good bet to be in Tri-City’s rotation is Luis Cruz. He might have a slight frame, but everything I read says he’s got a serious fastball. He had good strikeout numbers last season, but may be better suited to the bullpen at higher levels. I could see the Astros putting him as a starter in the NY-Penn and seeing how he does.

I’d like to thank David Coleman for helping me preview the 2010 Tri-City Valleycats.  His work can be found at

EDIT: Spencer Hylander is no longer a part of the Astros organization.  He was released in spring training.

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2 Comments on “Stedler Division rivals: Tri-City Valleycats”

  1. […] David Coleman of THE CRAWFISH BOXES answered some questions for a blog that covers the Connecticut Tigers in the New York-Penn League. Coleman addressed the Tigers’ division rivals, Tri-City, which is the Astros’ affiliate. […]

  2. […] may have seen the FanPost, but I recently answered some questions on the probable Tri-City roster. Some good, tough questions that I really had to think about. That site should be a good resource […]

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