Transcript from chat session with GM Jeff Luhnow
johnny14k_2: Padres edged us out last night in 10 – how will we do tonight?
JL: We are going to win tonight…after all we are a good club at home and we’ve got Lyles on the bump. Faith!
Ashitaka: First, thanks so much for chatting with us as often as you do; we all appreciate it greatly. And please pass along the fanbase’s thanks to Bobby Heck & Co. for the outstanding job on the draft. In keeping with that, do you believe that Carlos Correa stick
JL: The scouts did a tremendous job preparing for the draft and everyone in the front office helped pull it all together. I gather you were going to ask whether Carlos will stick at shortstop. The answer is yes, in my opinion. He is very talented and athletic. That being said, he is so young that his body may change…he may end up taller, thicker, etc. and if that happens he may end up at third, but that won’t be a problem. He projects to be a plus defender at either position.
Ashitaka: Matthew Duffy is currently having an excellent season in Lexington, out of nowhere it would seem. Interesting that he’s also a 20th round pick like a certain outfielder on the Astros roster. Is this guy the real deal?
JL: He is having a big season, and that is great. Anytime a drafted player does well in full season A ball, there is reason to be excited, regardless of the round in which he was selected. He will continue to get challenged and if he continues to respond, he could be a big leaguer some day.
Ashitaka: When Foltynewicz was drafted he was touted as a #1 starter type with the sort of typical power pitcher’s profile. He’s looking good this year, but it seems like he might be trying to pitch to contact and get ground balls. Is that accurate?
JL: Often times, what gets a player drafted is not what makes them successful in pro ball. Remember the objective is to get outs, and while velocity helps, control and movement are critical. It’s not unusual to see a power pitcher find success by pitching to contact and generating ground balls. Folty is having a big year, and that is exciting. I’ve also seen pitchers go down in velo for a few years and after they get used to the grind of pro ball, it goes back up.
Ashitaka: Reports have talked about the improving velocity of Nicholas Tropeano (the Astros.com message board is calling him “NiTro”) and he’s certainly looking like a better strikeout pitcher than a lot of people though when he was drafted.
JL: Got out of that jam? Good job Jordan. Yes, NiTro (cool nickname, mind if I start using it?) is striking guys out, and that is a key predictor of future success. He is a pitcher we are keeping a close eye on and those strikeouts are screaming that he has big league potential. Go NiTro!
Ashitaka: It looks like Delino DeShields has improved greatly, especially in the key areas you look for a in a top-of-the-order bat. Is he a guy that’s close to taking off, or does he still need a lot of work in other areas?
JL: It is so exciting to have a guy like DD in our system! He’s young and still has some development ahead of him, but you don’t find guys with his tools everywhere. I’m thrilled with what he’s doing and can’t wait to watch him do it at the upper levels in the coming years.
Ashitaka: Should we be concerned about Jarred Cosart’s pedestrian strikeout rate, or his…perhaps off-the-field issues is the term? It seems like there might have been something going on related to some Twitter comments he made recently that lead to a suspension.
JL: Cosart has a big league arm. He still needs some time in the minor leagues but you should remain excited about him. There is a reason we acquired him and that hasn’t changed.
Ashitaka: Nolan Fontana has probably gotten the least amount of publicity of our first five picks, and there seems to be a lot of differing opinions about where he profiles defensively and if he’ll be able to hit enough to be a regular starter.
JL: Maybe it’s “draft fatigue” but he should get every bit of the attention that the other guys are getting. He has done something the younger guys have not — had success at a high college level. We are challenging him right out of the box and sending him to Lexington, and once you see what he does there, I believe you will be equally excited about him and his future in our organization.
Ashitaka: Are you concerned for Jonathan Singleton right now? It looks like he’s still fairly patient at the plate, but he’s in a pretty spectacular slump right now.
JL: No. Slumps are part of the game. What we watch for is how the player makes adjustments and how he battles out of a slump. Singleton has the talent to be an impact player at the big league level and should be ready soon. Everyone can watch him in Kansas City at the Futures Game.
Ashitaka: I believe Telvin Nash might be leading the solar system in strikeouts right now. Is he a guy that can’t stop swinging and missing, or more on the Adam Dunn side that he takes a lot of close pitches and gets rung up as a result? How do you seem him developing?
JL: Unfortunately, for most players strikeouts and power go hand in hand. He’s mashing, for sure, but that comes at a cost. Trust me when I tell you that our coaches and the player know this is an issue and are working hard to address it.
Ashitaka: Ariel Ovando is off to a nice start, can you give us a feel for the new regime’s view on him, how you think he may develop and how quickly or slowly he might be able to rise through the system?
JL: I didn’t know much about Ovando until I saw him in January in the DR, and then saw him more in Florida. He has a big league body and some big league tools. It’s great to see him get off to a good start. I’m increasingly bullish on him and he’s still soooo young.
Ashitaka: There’s a pretty good debate within the fanbase right now about what Jed Lowrie’s trade value would be. Without asking if you would or are trying to deal him, what do you see his value as on the trade market?
JL: His trade value would be very high. His value to us is very high. Jed’s very important to our organization and while I’d never say anyone is untradeable, he’s not likely to go anywhere for a while…or longer!
Ashitaka: Can you give us a name or two of late-round guys you and the crew picked who you felt flew under-the-radar in the draft and could exceed what most people might expect from where they were selected? Your personal favorites, so to speak?
JL: West from Washington has a good arm, Ballew from Texas State, and Gulbransen from Jacksonville University are all sleepers!
Ashitaka: Offensively, Jobduan Morales is making you look pretty smart right now. Is his defense still as rough as people say though, and do you see him being able to work those kinks out and move through the system quickly, or is he much more of a long-term project?
JL: He is swinging the bat well, and there is a saying among baseball people, the more he hits, the better he looks behind the plate. He’s OK defensively but we have our best guys working with him. Thanks for the compliment!
Ashitaka: Jason Castro has looked a lot better at the plate recently. Can you give us a realistic expectation for him as a long-term offensive player?
JL: He’s increasingly comfortable. Last night’s home run was great. I think he can be a guy who hits .260/.350 OBP with 10 to 15 home runs and that would be interesting for an athletic catcher.
Ashitaka: Is Jim Crane and the ownership group going to want you to be conservative at the deadline for appearance purposes, or do you have free reign to wheel and deal as you see fit for the sake of the long-term rebuilding process?
JL: We will stay on strategy…acquire talent, compete, and as quickly as possible get to the point of being able to challenge for a playoff spot year in and year out.
JL: Wish we had scored there. Oh well. Fontana on the radio with Milo now. When he’s done I’m going to take him down to the field, so at that point I will have to cut this off…
Ashitaka: What is going on with the construction in left field? Or at the least can you tell us when we might expect information about it to be revealed?
JL: I believe the cover story of Sports Business Daily covered the story. There will be a release soon so stay tuned…
yonip: Congrats on the draft! With most of the picks signed, are their any more picks you expect to sign in the next couple of weeks?
JL: We have one more in the top 10 rounds to go and then possibly a few after that…most of the work is done. It’s a huge benefit to have so many players signed quickly, for them and for us.
TimothyDeBlock: Most recent move you’ve seen and what did you think of it?
JL: I saw the Avengers in 3D and it was awesome!
strosfn4vr: Jobduan is off to a great start in Tri-City. Will we be seeing him in Lexington soon? Also any insight into the pronunciation of Jobduan?
JL: Just like you spell it! He’s just started so no need to promote him quite yet!
astros821: Lance McCullers had excellent stats do you think he can be the future opening day starter?
JL: Lance has the stuff to be a dominant big league starter, so the answer is yes. He’s special.
johnny14k_2: Do you think Altuve voted 25 times for himself this year to be in the All-Star Game? I know I did!!!
JL: He’s a humble man so I doubt it, but he sure appreciates your votes (and mine). I have to believe he will make it. He sure deserves to be there!
TimothyDeBlock: What will happen to the Sr. Director of Social Media position now that Alyson Footer is heading back over to MLB.com?
JL: We all know that Alyson can’t be replaced. She’s awesome and everyone will miss her. She will still be around covering baseball at our park, so I still get to see her! We will continue to develop and improve our presence in social media, don’t you worry. Maybe we can get those guys from the LA Kings to help us out!
Astros2011yes: Is there any chance of Jimmy Paredes getting called up this year?
JL: Yes, of course. He’s hitting for a high average, stealing bases and hitting for power. He still has some refining to do at second and with his pitch selection, but he’s very close to being ready to help here.
andy_hc: Jeff, remember how much fun we had in Colorado? What an awesome time! Thanks for the M&Ms! So, are we BFFs or what? …and who was your favorite player growing up?
JL: Andy, that was fun and I agree with the tweeps that you are over your skiis with your girlfriend! So, growing up I loved Reggie, Steve Garvey, and Nolan Ryan!
cbstro1: Could you share what the new structure on the light tower in left center will be?
JL: A very cool program that will benefit our city for generations. Stay tuned…
40acre: When do you expect Jiovanni Mier to be back on the field?
JL: A couple of weeks, assuming no setbacks.
jrivers2: We all are expecting big things from Correa, Ruiz, & McCullers, but who beyond them will we look back on and say that was the steal of the draft?
strosfn4vr: After this draft and subsequent signing period I’m considering getting a “Luhnow” jersey when the new ones come out next year. What number would you recommend for it?
JL: Ha ha, thanks! I like 4 but Jed has that number. Maybe 11 for the year I started working for the awesome Astros?!
buckystros: Are you concerned with Lance McCullers arm action in the stress it may generate? Does his delivery mimic his father enough to where you believe his genetics may support the arm action and injuries that may come with it?
JL: We have studied his delivery. He had a lot going for him and does many things naturally that we love. Anybody who throws 100 has a decent risk of arm trouble, but we are hoping that our pitching coaches and conditioning program and trainers will keep him healthy!
Tmengd: Just don’t trade Altuve. Everyone in Houston sees him as the next big guy (no pun intended) they can hold onto for the next decade!!!
jrreyes: If you had to get rid of hot dogs or nachos at the ballpark, which would it be?
JL: I would add more Mexican food!
JL: How about a mid-chat takeover by our 2nd round pick Nolan Fontana? He’s about to come in here…
usc1: If we are planning for the future, why are we playing Carlos Lee. Brett Wallace came up and did a great job and deserves a chance now. Lee is not going to be on the team. He is not our future.
JL: Wallace did a great job here. LOOOONG ball out by JED!!!!
JL: How about that?!
Nolan Fontana: Hey there this is Nolan Fontana, Just finished talking with Milo
Jeff Luhnow: Any questions for our newest Astro?
tidalwave2: Given the new infusion of talent with the draft, which of this years players can we expect to see in Houston fastest?
JL: It’s really him, I promise.
Astros2011yes: Is there a realistic chance of Jed Lowrie in the All-Star game this year?
JL: I would say so. Gosh, 14 home runs for a shortstop?! Are you kidding me? How could he not? TLR, are you watching?
strosfn4vr: Kuechel is off to a great start to his big league career. With Bud returning from the DL soon, how tough of a decision will it be to send him down? Or is there a chance someone else goes to OKC?
JL: Stay tuned…I think you will all enjoy the answer.
johnny14k_2: What can we expect from newly signed Scott Moore?
JL: He earned this promotion. Look at his numbers in AAA.
mtx711: Where would Carlos Correa fit right now in terms of top prospects?
JL: Near or at the top.
JL: Ask Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law.
dan410: Is there a chance that Jarred Cosart makes it to AAA this season?
JL: Yes, we thought about it already and it will happen at some point.
JL: Ok folks, NF and I are headed to the field for an introduction. Nice chatting with you! Let’s win this game! Let’s talk again soon…