Monday, April 27, 2009

Who's Catching?

Mike Cameron's collision with Humberto Quintero on Friday night shook up the Astros minor league system just as much as it shook up both participants.

J.R. Towles was called up to the big leagues after Q went on the 15-day disabled list with a sore shoulder. I'm not sure what the Astros plan to do once Q is healthy, since they made numerous moves in the minor which suggest the call-up may be permanent. However, Pudge isn't one to take days off very often, and Towles needs to be playing. He only had 34 plate appearances in the minors this season and though he went 11 for 32 with a walk, three doubles and a home run, he also struck out seven times. Eventually, he'll break into the starting lineup for the Astros and hopefully provide some punch, but as long as Pudge keeps getting game-winning hits, that's not happening soon.

To replace Towles in Round Rock, 31-year old Brian Esposito got the call from Corpus. He's hit .244/.311/.415 in 41 at-bats this season and caught most of the Hooks games. I guess he's a guy that could be released to make room for Towles if the much younger backstop is sent down again. He most likely won't be sent back to Corpus since Clemens the Younger, Koby, was called up from Lancaster. I've already talked some about the talents of young Mr. Clemens, so I won't go into more detail now. I will probably have a hitting profile of him go up sometime this week.

To fill Clemens' roster spot with the JetHawks, 23-year old Jordan Comadena was called up from Lexington. The former Purdue player spent time behind the plate and in the outfield for the Boilermakers. He went undrafted after his senior season in 2007, but a chance encounter with former Astros great Jimmy Wynn last August at an alumni game provided an opportunity. It's really cool story found here and here.

Comadena didn't play much for Lexington before getting the call-up, but the Astros farm system lacks depth at catcher. They have some top-end talent in Towles, Clemens and Castro but lack those second catchers every team need. Currently, the second catcher in Corpus is a 19th round selection from the 2007 draft. The two catchers at Lexington right now? Federico Hernandez and Pedro Gonzalez, both products of the Astros Venezuelan scouting department.

So, hopefully no one else will get hurt on the big club, forcing roster shake-ups. I mean, no one decent. I'd feel bad personally if Jason Smith, Jeff Keppinger, Jason Michaels or Darin Erstad got injured, because no one wants to wish pain on another human being. For the Astros thought? A roster opening to call up some more talented kids is just what that team needs.

Speaking of talented kids, Alyson Footer of finally posted a story on Chris Johnson's injury (reported by yours truly as it happened). So, not as severe as I'd feared but it still looks like he'll be out for a little while. Maybe by August, he'll be ready for the big boys. I'll be back later today with a look at the weekend's top performers.

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