Astros sign their second-rounder, and send him to Greeneville.


The Astros’ farm system added another young and promising arm, in the wake of the news that the team signed its second-round Draft pick, right-hander Vincent Velasquez.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound recent high school graduate turned 18 the day after the Draft and will head to Greeneville to join the Astros’ Rookie League team.

Velasquez, a native of Pomona, CA, signed his contract Friday at Minute Maid Park with his parents, Juanita and Leonard, at his side. Most draftees have to have their parents present, because players who are not yet 21 (which accounts for the majority of the draftees) have to have a parent co-sign the contract.


Vincent Velasquez with his parents, Juanita and Leonard

A few stats: Velasquez, the 58th overall pick in this year’s Draft, recorded a 5-1 record and a 1.70 ERA over 10 games (nine starts) for Garey High School in 2010. He walked five and struck out 60 and recorded two complete games.

Velasquez pitched in the 2010 Southern California Invitational Showcase, held at Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, CA. He’s a three-time All-Mt. Baldy League First-Team Infielder and was his club’s Most Valuable Player in 2009 as a junior.

He was also 2009 participant in the 17th Annual USA Baseball Tournament of Stars.

Overall, 29 of the 52 players the Astros drafted are now under contract, including 17 players selected in the first 20 rounds.



Player voting begins

All-Star balloting for fans began online and in stadiums a couple of months ago, but on Friday, the voting opened up to the players.

Managers, coaches and all 25-man roster players, including players on the disabled list, are invited to cast their votes, which carry more weight than either the fans or the All-Star manager. Players will select 16 for each team, while fans select only eight and managers nine. Last year, the players voted in Hunter Pence and Miguel Tejada.

Players will select a total of eight pitchers and eight position players. They’re asked to vote for a total of five starting pitchers and three relievers.

Additionally, In April, Major League Baseball announced several rules changes for the All-Star Game. Rosters expanded from 33 to 34, and each manager may designate a position player who will be eligible for re-entry into the game if the last position player at any position is injured. Managers may also allow a player to re-enter the game to replace a catcher who was injured.

The designated hitter will be used in all games, regardless of what ballpark the game is being played in. Also, pitchers who start on the Sunday before the All-Star break are not eligible to appear in the game. They’ll be recognized as All-Stars but will be replaced on the roster.

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