Astros notes: Castro in ’12, Social Media Night and a pitching prospect channeling his inner John Travolta.

Upon hearing his name for the first time after the Astros took him in the third round of the draft, the only thing that struck me about Jack Armstrong Jr. is that he’s the son of Jack Armstrong Sr., who just happened to pitch for my beloved 1990 World Series champion Cincinnati Reds.

But the more I learn about Armstrong Jr., the more I am hoping he ends up being a true Major League prospect, regardless of who his dad is.

I mean, sure, I’m hoping he has a Major League arm and can translate his six feet, seven inch frame and 230 pounds of athleticism into the next big thing on the Astros’ pitching staff. But I’m mostly anxious for him to get here because he appears to be something of a class clown who seemingly would be good at keeping things loosey goosey behind the scenes in the clubhouse.

He piqued my interest after I watched this video of his pregame routine, which included doing a back flips surrounded by chortling teammates.(My reaction: “That’s funny. Really cool. Now don’t ever do that again please.”)

But this video, and Armstrong’s role in it, is, by all accounts, highly entertaining. Clearly, Armstrong and friends aren’t afraid to let themselves go every now and again. They also are seemingly unfazed to air it out with the YouTube generation as an audience. The videos are great. The fact that Vanderbilt University produced them makes it that much better.

From a Social Media perspective, it’s nice to see the team being unafraid to expose the…”lighter” side of a baseball team.

When you have a minute or two, please watch. Armstrong’s cameo begins in earnest around 0:40.

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Interesting conversation during the manager’s session today involving Jason Castro. Brad Mills was asked how many starts Castro could realistically be expected to make next year, assuming full health, and the answer, loosely calculated, was about half of the 162-game schedule.

Mills emphatically noted that this number was completely a guess. But even if it’s a little less, or a little more, than 81 games, clearly, Castro is not going to be ready for a full slate his first season back after suffering a major knee injury and undergoing extensive surgery. Given the demanding nature of his position, one that requires him to squat and stand up dozens of times in a single game, catchers have to proceed much more cautiously when making a comeback after a full year off from playing.

Mills acknowledged that these circumstances could prompt the team to carry a third catcher. But that catcher would have to be versatile enough to be able to do other things than catch, like play first base and move around the outfield a little.

This probably also bodes well for Humberto Quintero, who is viewed as more of a backup catcher type but has certainly had played like a front-line catcher for parts of this season. He’s making $1 million this year and has one more year of arbitration-eligibility left. Presumably, he’d be back in 2012 to share the main catching duties with Castro.

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Checking in on some of the more prominent names in the Astros’ Minor League system:

Jarred Cosart (acquired in Pence trade) got his first win since joining the Double-A Hooks. On Tuesday, he pitched five innings and struck out five, while giving up only one run. His ERA is now 2.78 in six starts with Corpus Christi.

The Lexington Legends defeated the West Virginia Power 4-2 on Tuesday, and outfielder Domingo Santana (PTBNL in Pence trade) continued to hit well, going 3-for-4 on the night. He is now hitting .429 (18-for-42) with five homers and 12 RBIs in his last 10 games.

In Lancaster, Jonathan Singleton (acquired in Pence trade) is hitting .342 with two homers and four RBIs in his last 10 games.

_______________

Friendly reminder that our final Social Media Night will take place on Sept. 24, the final Saturday home game of the season, and will feature an appearance by left fielder J.D. Martinez. A $45 ticket includes a game ticket on the Budweiser Patio, a ballpark tour, batting practice viewing, dinner, dessert, a t-shirt and an opportunity to win signed prizes, handed out by Martinez, during our Twitter Trivia session.

The player appearance is usually from 5-5:15, but to accommodate Martinez’s pregame preparation routine, we’ll begin the Twitter Trivia at 4:55 and conclude sharply at 5:10.

We’ll also be raffling off (for free) a visit to the television booth to watch Brownie, J.D. and Jeff Bagwell work their game day magic for one inning.

You can purchase tickets here. Hope to see you then!


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2 Comments

This kid looks like fun! I think he should do the backflip every time he strikes out a batter in the bigs. fl billlllly

Alyson, I can’t attend the social night of course, but hope to someday next year.

Hoping you or someone else there that night will ask J.D. Martinez about that strange little ritual he does before each pitch when he’s batting. Ends up pointing with his index finger. Also, what does J.D. stand for anyway?

Thanks, Scott

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