All-Star chatter includes Altuve, Lowrie; fans encouraged to Tweet the Vote.

Altuve-mania is sweeping the greater Houston area, and it’s becoming exceedingly clear that your second baseman is going to find himself in Kansas City in about a month.

No, no, no…the Astros didn’t make another trade with the Royals. Rather, Kansas City is the site of the 2012 All-Star Game, and Jose Altuve, who’s maintained an average well over .300 the entire season, arguably is the leading candidate to represent the Astros this year.

Don’t count out Jed Lowrie, either, who as of Sunday is leading all big league shortstops with 12 home runs and should be in any conversation at this point about the Astros and the All-Star Game. It would be nice to see both Lowrie and Altuve — with his .326 batting average, 17 doubles, three triples and 22 RBIs — head to Kansas City.

I have no idea how many Altuves it takes to get from Houston to Kansas City, but I’m pretty sure of one thing: every time someone mentions his height (or lack thereof) Altuve gets a hit.

Athletes from the other Houston sports teams are jumping on the Altuve bandwagon, too. On Sunday, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt tweeted: “Hey Houston, @JoseAltuve27 hit a HR & stole home today and is hitting .326 on the year. Get your votes in, make him an All-Star #TeamHouston”

I’m guessing Watt has already voted here…

…and you can also Tweet the Vote here, using a slew of hashtags that identifies the Astros and your favorite players.


In addition to signing their first-round pick in less than 72 hours, the Astros have been busy working on signing as many of the remaining 40 players they selected during the Draft last week.

So far, they’ve inked 18, including their third-rounder (RHP Brady Rodgers) and their fifth-rounder (OF Andrew Aplin).

The full up-to-date list, as of Sunday night:

1 SS Carlos Correa
3 RHP Brady Rodgers
5 OF Andrew Aplin
9 RHP Daniel Minor
12 OF Terrell Joyce
13 LHP Brian Holmes
14 IF Joseph Sclafani
15 RHP Erick Gonzalez
16 OF Daniel Gulbransen
17 RHP Aaron West
18 C Richard Gingras
19 IF Austin Elkins
28 IF Angel Ibanez
29 RHP Christian Garcia
30 RHP John Neely
31 C M.P. Cokinos
34 RHP Jordan Jankowski
37 RHP Michael Dimock

(Update: the Astros signed three more: LHP Joseph Bircher (10th round), RHP Travis Ballew (23rd round), 1B Michael
Martinez (36th round).


Speaking of the Draft, it wasn’t at all surprising when the announcement regarding the Player To Be Named in the trade with the Royals from a few months ago came down this weekend.

The Astros traded Jason Bourgeois and Humberto Quintero to Kansas City during Spring Training for left-hander Kevin Chapman and that always-mysterious Player to Be Named, who was to be named, well, later. Much, much later.

We now know that player is 20-year-old outfielder D’Andre Toney. He was drafted by the Royals in 2011, and because a player has to be in the system for a full year before the team who drafted him can trade him, the Toney transaction couldn’t happen until the 2012 Draft was complete.

Hence, the timing.

Jeff Luhnow hinted in March the PTBNL was the cornerstone of the trade, and if early returns are any indication, it appears the Astros acquired a speedy outfielder with offensive potential. Last year while in Rookie Ball, he hit .340 with 12 doubles, five triples, five home runs and 29 RBIs and a .432 on-base percentage.

In trading two bench players, the Astros acquired a young lefty pitching prospect and outfielder, moving the organization forward as it continues to build the farm system and plan for the future. Looks promising.

(Chapman, by the way, has a 3-2 record with a 2.30 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings in 24 appearances for Double-A Corpus Christi this season and was named the club’s Pitcher of the Month in April.)

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We love Altuve. But it isn’t “exceedingly clear” to me that he will be the Astros representative at the all star game. He ranks 3rd among 2dbasemen in wOBA (.369) and 10th of 12 NL 2d basemen in UZR/150′ (-.5) and combining the two he is 4th among second basemen in WAR (2.0). Lowrie, on the other hand is 1st in wOBA (.387) 3rd in UZR/150 (10.4) and first in WAR (2.7) among shortstops. This is no knock on Altuve, who deserves all the accolades he is getting, but Lowrie is having the better year, particularly when compared against their positional competitors.

I think they both deserve to go, but that will be up to the players, who get more votes than anyone, and NL manager Tony La Russa, who has a handful of picks after the fan vote and player vote.

I’m interested in how the draft bonus money is being distributed, since that will affect our ability to sign our picks. So far I have only been able to find Correa’s signing bonus. Is there a place to find that information for the other players (at least through the first 10 rounds). I’m interested in what we will have from the pool in order to complete our tougher signs (McCullers, Ruiz, Virant, etc.). By the way, thanks for signing an autograph for me when the Astros were in Colorado!

Adam, the front office doesn’t release those numbers, although most mainstream media does manage to obtain them (through agents and MLB sources). I honestly do not know how the money will be allotted at this point. They’re still negotiating with several picks, so they don’t even know how the money will be dispersed. I do know what Correa signed for was well below what the first overall pick was slotted for, which will give the Astros extra money to spend on the other picks. That is all very good news. Alyson

That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for that information. It’s so nice to finally be able to trust the front office to make good draft decisions after so many seasons when it was not given the focus it clearly needed. When the major league team struggles, it’s refreshing to look to the minor leagues and see light at the end of the tunnel.

Is LaRussa, like, coming out of retirement for one day to manage the All-Star team or something…?

I really like what Jeff Luhnow has done so far. I think the Astros are–finally–on the right track.

Speaking of the draft, I was looking at some early 2011 draft picks but cannot find them on any of the active minor league rosters. Is there any update on early picks such as Adrian Houser, Christopher Lee, and Javaris Reynolds, who I know all signed?

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