On Draft Day Eve, a few notes about the farm system, youth and the future.

Early in the 2009 season, when I was still a reporter for MLB.com, a player asked me to look up whether the Astros, collectively, had the most service time than any other team in the Majors.

It was pretty easy to research — I just had to check a web site that details the salaries and service time of players, both individually and collectively. About 30 minutes into the project, I knew I wouldn’t have to actually check all 30 teams — after about 20, it was clear none even came close to having as much service time as the Astros. Even the most veteran teams couldn’t hold a candle to the Houston club, as it was constructed at that time.

Having “the most service time,” of course, is another way of saying a team is old. It’s a distinction for which teams don’t want to be known. Old teams don’t win, and the 2009 Astros didn’t, either.

So when I received this tidbit from media relations maven Sally Gunter during Saturday’s game, I was reminded that this team has indeed made progress, even if we’re still waiting to see a change of fortune in the win-loss record:

The average age of the Astros on Opening Day 2009 was 32.33 years, and there were only five players on the roster below the age of 30. Only three were 27 years of age or younger: Michael Bourn (26), Hunter Pence (25) and Wesley Wright (24).  Others under 30:  Jeff Keppinger (28) and Humberto Quintero (29).

The average age of the Astros as of June 4, 2011 was 28.10, 4.33 years younger than the 2009 Opening Day roster.  As of this June 4, the Astros had 17 players under age 30, 12 of whom are 27 years of age or younger.  27 or younger:  Enerio Del Rosario (25), Matt Downs (27), Sergio Escalona (26), Chris Johnson (26), Jordan Lyles (20), Mark Melancon (26), Bud Norris (26), Aneury Rodriguez (23), Fernando Rodriguez (26), Angel Sanchez (27), J.R. Towles (27), Brett Wallace (24).  Others under 30:  Michael Bourn (28), J.A. Happ (28), Pence (28), Jose Valdez (28), Jason Bourgeois (29).

Only seven players remain from the 2009 roster:  Bourn, Keppinger, Carlos Lee, Jason Michaels, Pence, Quintero and Wandy Rodriguez.  The youngest player on that club was Wesley Wright (24).

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The 2011 Major League First-Year Player Draft will begin with the first round on Monday at 6 p.m. CT. With a five-minute break in between each pick in the first round, the Astros will make their first selection (11th overall) approximately an hour later. The prime-time event will be held at MLB Network’s Studio 42 in Secaucus, NJ, and representing the Astros this year will be former All-Star Jimmy Wynn and current scout Ed Fastaia.

The Astros will also have the 69th pick (second round) and the 99th pick (third round).
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Our super sharp Social Media Twintern Rachel Frey reports on the farm system (stats are through Thursday’s games):

For Triple-A Oklahoma City, OF Collin DeLome has the highest batting average on the team (.296). LHP Andy Van Hekken has the lowest ERA (1.98) of the RedHawk pitching staff, and was recently named one of the Astros’ Triple-A Minor League Players of the Month.

For Double-A Corpus Christi (19-33), OF J.D. Martinez is on the Texas League’s Top 10 Batting list with a .333 batting average and 32 RBIs.  LHP Xavier Cedeno, another Minor League Player of the Month, is pitching with a 3.73 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 62.2 innings. LHP Dallas Keuchel has a 3.04 ERA, and 32 strikeouts through 56.1 innings.

For the Class A Lancaster, (22-32), IF Kody Hinze is batting .328 with 14 home runs, and 46 walks. RHP Jake Buchanan has a 3.15 ERA through 74.1 innings, with only 18 walks.  RHP Kirk Clark also has 12 saves in 13 save opportunities.

The Class A Lexington Legends had the second highest team batting average in the South Atlantic League through Thursday’s games. OF Daniel Adamson is working his way up on the list of Top 10 batters in the league with a .329 batting average. RHP Carols Quevedo continues his lead in the league’s lowest walk per nine innings pitched ratio – 3 walks in 47.2 innings pitched.

The Dominican Summer League started last week. IF Darwin Riviera is batting .500 with two RBIs, and OF Teoscar Hernandez has a  .316 batting average with two doubles and two triples in 19 at bats.

The Tri-City ValleyCats and Greenville Astros will begin their seasons this month.

Follow our affiliates on Twitter: @okcredhawks, @cchooks, @JetHawks , @LexingtonLegend, @ValleyCats, @GvilleAstros.

2 Comments

Alyson: Where is Ariel Ovando assigned?

It was embarassing to have the oldest team in MLB in 2009 and be as bad as we were. At least as a young team you can hope for the future, but a veteran team is a win now team and a losing veteran team has nothing going for it.

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