The Astros organization continued to show how they have one of the best community outreach programs in baseball. Jason Castro, Lucas Harrell and Chris Carter came out Friday morning to help instruct kids at a baseball camp hosted by the Astros Urban Youth Academy.
"It is great to come out here and see youth baseball in the Houston area. We are here to inspire these kids to play baseball, and we want to see them go out and have fun like we did growing up," Castro said. "We just want to make sure that these kids have every resource at their disposal and that they are given every opportunity that we had growing up."
Friday was the last day for baseball and softball players, ages 7 to 17. This was the third of five weeklong camps the Astros Urban Youth Academy is hosting. All camps are free and are designed to teach the young players the fundamentals of baseball. The camps focus on reaching out to underprivileged youth in the Houston area and teaching life lessons through the game of baseball.
"For the Astros organization to be this involved in the community is something that is truly outstanding and something that you really don't see that often," Castro said. "I am proud to be a part of this and grateful to come out and spend the day with these kids."
This is the fourth year the Astros Urban Youth Academy has held summer camps for kids. For some of the players, this has become something they look forward to every summer. Hunter Branch has been a part of the Academy for a couple of years and can tell that his playing style has improved.
"Camp has been going great for me this week. I have been here a couple years now and my playing has changed a lot," Branch said. "This camp is something that you should go to every summer and it is something that you should put out the time and come participate in."
The three Astros players were able to speak to the kids and then pitch to them while they were scrimmaging against one another. Harrell talked about getting to interact with some of the kids.
"It is great just to come out here and get to talk to these kids. I just met Cameron, and he says he wants to play outfield, but they have him playing at second base," Harrell said. "It is just great to see him running around out here and having a lot of fun playing today."
The final two camps will take place July 8-12 and July 15-18. These camps are also free and will be hosted at the Astros Urban Youth Academy facilities in northwest Houston.
Ryan Cantrell is an associate reporter for MLB.com.