Round Rock (Triple-A)
Lou Santangelo, catcher — The 25-year old is hitting below the Mendoza line this season, .185/.247/.284, with one home run and five doubles. You may remember that Santangelo served a 50-game suspension last season for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The Astros moved him up from Corpus Christi to Round Rock this season, and he's been the back-up for most of the season. His playing time has been jerked around enough that I'm not concerned about his stat line. He was the back-up to J.R. Towles at the beginning of the season, was the regular catcher when Towles was called up and has been a backup once Quintero and Towles came back to Round Rock. His 26 strikeouts in 81 at-bats is troubling, but he has the kinds of skills you like in a backup catcher: some pop, decent receiving skills and few mistakes. He's not a starting catcher, but it would have made more sense to call him up when Q got hurt that Towles (especially if they weren't going to play whomever they called up).
Matt Kata, utility — The 31-year old super-utility man has started games at second, third, short, left field and right field this season. He's hitting .288/.338/.379 this season but his defense and versatility are why he's played so much (132 at-bats over 38 games). Kata had a stint with the Diamondbacks, Rangers, Pirates and Phillies over the course of four seasons and 90 plate appearances in the show. He reminds me a bit of Casey Candaele at this point, and will be a nice replacement part should the Astros suffer a catastrophic injury at the big-league level.
Casey Daigle, LHP — When you're better half is former standout Arizona softball player Jenny Finch, and you were once forced to wear her uniform as a rookie hazing prank, it's safe to say you can handle the rigors of minor league baseball. Daigle has been rock solid since signing with the Astros last month. The 28-year old has pitched in 15 games and thrown 19 1/3 innings. Daigle (1-0) has an ERA of 1.89 and has struck out 15 while walking five. His WHIP of 1.24 is the third-best mark on the team. If the Astros need a situational lefty (look out Wesley Wright), they can look no further than Daigle.
Corpus Christi (Double-A)
Jhon Florentino, third base — The 25-year old is listed as 6-foot, 155 lbs., so you know he probably weighs less than that. Guys with his body-build don't typically hit for power, and Florentino hasn't done much to bust up that theory. In all four of his minor league seasons, Florentino has hit four home runs each year. The fact that he's sitting at three home runs now is a feat. Don't get me wrong-- Florentino shows nice gap power and coupled with his speed (14 SB in 2008), he could be a good top of the order hitter. This season, he's batting .295/.362/.377 in 122 at-bats. Florentino also has the versatility to play short and second, which he did when starting shortstop Wladimir Sutil went down with a hamstring injury earlier this month.
Rob Semerano, RHP — The 27-year old was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2004 and has also played for the Yankees organization. He's never played above Class A ball before this season and hasn't pitched more than 46 2/3 innings yet in a season. With Corpus Christi, Semerano (0-1) has thrown 18 2/3 innings with an ERA of 6.75. He's struck out five and walked six while giving up 23 hits. He's not the best reliever the Hooks have, but he's dependable, appearing in 11 games already, one shy of the club lead. Frankly, he's done nothing to impress me, but he has played a lot and I haven't mentioned him once, so I wanted to set the record straight.
Erick Abreu, RHP — The 25-year old is a player I actually like. I've followed him for a couple of years now. He's never been impressive or overpowering (3.42 career ERA in 77 games), but he's effective and has moved up steadily. This season with Corpus, Abreu (0-0) works mostly in middle relief and has an ERA of 4.50 in 16 innings. He has struck out 14 and walked six, so his stuff is good, but he just doesn't profile as a big time arm. If he continues this path, he'll pitch for Round Rock eventually, which leaves him an injury away from the big time.
Lancaster (High A)
Nick Moresi, right fielder — The 24-year old was drafted in the third round of the 2006 draft out of Fresno State. He was hurt his junior year when he was drafted, but the Astros took a chance on him because of his speed and potential to hit the ball. Well, a funny thing happened...none of that panned out. Moresi has been hurt for parts of the past couple seasons and currently sports a career batting average of .219. He's had a good month of May, hitting over .300 with a .500 slugging percentage, but he strikes out a ton and has only stolen 27 career bases. He does play pretty good defense, and his arm is good enough to play right field after Moresi was a centerfielder in college. He currently has 11 outfield assists in four seasons, including four for Lancaster this season.
Fernando Abad , RHP — Believe me when I say that the JetHawks pitching staff has been atrocious. Truly awful stuff has been going on in California. Still, if you look past the ERAs and the WHIPs, there are some solid numbers being posted by some members of the staff. Because of the overall futility, I've focused mainly on starting pitchers here when Lancaster comes up, but Abad deserves a mention too. His 18/1 K/BB ratio is outstanding, and his 1.02 HR/9 ratio will also play at higher levels. Heck, even his 1.24 WHIP is great for that ballpark, but that's mostly because he hasn't walked anyone this season. Abad has appeared in 16 games, easily the highest on the JetHawks staff. At 23, he's definitely a prospect, and may find his way to Corpus before too long.
Lexington (Low A)
Patrick Urkfitz, RHP — The 20-year old was mentioned in Baseball America's review of the Astros farm system as an undrafted free agent that the team was very excited about. In his first full season, Urkfitz has been used out of the bullpen with mixed results. He was hit around pretty well in April, but has lowered his ERA to 3.63 since then. Urkfitz has appeared in 13 games this season, throwing 17 1/3 innings, striking out 18 and walking six. He's also tied for the club lead with four holds.
Arcenio Leon, RHP — At 22, Leon is older than most of the pitchers on the Legends' staff, but he's been one of its most versatile performers. His stats don't sparkle, but he has started three games and appeared in seven more while compiling a 3-1 record and an ERA of 4.56. His 16/12 K/BB is not great, but Leon has only allowed 21 hits in 23 2/3 innings. He apparently has the stuff to miss bats and has only given up one home run this season, but he will need to lower his walk rate to be successful at the higher levels.