The Astros are trying to get a firm grasp on all the new players they've injected into their Minor League system via trades in the past month, but it's also the time of year when prospects already in the organization find themselves facing new challenges.
Right-handed pitcher Ross Seaton is no stranger to longtime Astros fans, who certainly remember the Houston-area native being one of the team's top Draft picks in 2008 -- the first Draft for assistant general manager/director of scouting Bobby Heck.
Seaton, 22, was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City last week and was scheduled to make his first start for the RedHawks on Monday night.
"He's just continued to show that he's really durable," Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said. "He can be counted on to go deep into games. Even when he doesn't pitch real well, he has the knack of keeping his club in the game and getting through where you don't have to abuse your bullpen.
"I think he's made just enough progress maturity wise and has begun to refine his command and pitches a little bit, and it's set him up for a good opportunity to go to Oklahoma City and see what he can do at the next level."
Seaton, drafted by the Astros out of Second Baptist High School in Houston in 2008, has moved methodically through the system, spending a full season at Class A Lexington ('09), advanced Class A Lancaster ('10) and Double-A Corpus Christi ('11).
Seaton returned to Corpus Christi this year and showed the Astros the kind of improvement necessary to prove he was ready to pitch at a higher level.
"I feel like I've made a lot of improvement, especially since the start of the year," Seaton said. "In my delivery, for whatever reason, I was off-kilter. The other stuff is the mental side of the game, getting more experience. I feel like I'm beginning to understand it more, and the more you understand it, the more you appreciate the game."
Seaton, who has a four-pitch mix that starts with his four-seam fastball and his slider, went 6-8 with a 4.41 ERA in 22 starts at Corpus Christi, allowing 142 hits in 128 2/3 innings. New challenges are ahead at Oklahoma City, but the goal remains the same.
"I just have to keep improving," he said. "That's really all that I'm concerned with, is going out and making my pitches in the game and learning something and getting better every day. That's really my whole game, just improving and keep going at it."
Newcomers hot since arrival in Corpus Christi
Outfielder Marc Krauss, who was acquired by the Astros from the D-backs in the Chris Johnson trade, is off to a red-hot start for Double-A Corpus Christi. The left-handed-hitting Krauss is hitting .423 with five homers and 15 RBIs in his first six games for the Hooks.
Krauss tied the Corpus Christi franchise record with six RBIs in Saturday's 17-6 win at Midland. The Hooks tied a club record for runs in a game, including scoring 11 runs in the ninth inning to break a 6-6 tie. Kraus began the ninth with a homer to left field.
Bobby Borchering, who came over with Krauss in the trade, went 4-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs in the game and is hitting .333 with three homers and 10 RBIs in seven games for the Hooks.
The Hooks' 11-run explosion marked the first time a team had scored 11 or more runs in the ninth inning of a Texas League game since 1937. It was also just the eighth time in Texas League history that a team has scored 10 or more runs in the ninth inning.
Zach Johnson breaks Legends' single-season RBI record
Class A Lexington third baseman Zach Johnson set the franchise's single-season record for RBIs by driving in three runs Sunday, in a 16-6 win over Hagerstown. Johnson reached 100 RBIs, breaking Jake Goebbert's previous club record of 98 set in 2010.
Johnson, taken in the 15th round of last year's Draft out of Oklahoma State, entered Monday hitting .254 with 15 homers in 110 games. He has 13 more RBIs than any other player in the South Atlantic League, but is tied for seventh in home runs.
"That's a special year," Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said. "He's been pretty steady all year. I don't think his batting average is overly impressive, but he does have a knack for driving in runs. That's important, because scoring runs and driving in runs is how teams win."
Oklahoma City's Jimmy Paredes, who will be getting lots of playing time in center field in August, hit .350 in the month of July, with a .402 on-base percentage and a .563 slugging percentage. The switch-hitter had 13 multihit games during the month and had a 10-game hitting streak from July 15-24.
Rookie-league Greeneville tied the club record for runs in a game, and set the club record for RBIs in a game (17) and largest margin of victory in Friday's 18-2 win over Kingsport. Third baseman Angel Ibanez tied two club records with five hits and four runs scored.
Class A Lancaster turned a triple play in Saturday's win over High Desert. Shortstop Alex Todd made a diving catch of a liner and flipped to second baseman Enrique Hernandez for an out at second base. Hernandez kept the ball and tagged out a runner between first and second base.
Lexington's Matt Duffy was hit by three pitches in Sunday's game, giving him 33 for the season to set a South Atlantic League record.
Lexington's Delino DeShields Jr. stole three bases Sunday, to reach 80 for the season. The 19-year-old is hitting .294 with five triples, nine homers and 50 RBIs in 108 games. He's been caught stealing 13 times.