Astros getting up-close look at young talent
HOUSTON -- The Astros' clubhouse during this current seven-game homestead varies drastically from how it looked before the club went out on the road two weeks ago.
With three players traded, J.D. Martinez injured against Toronto and veterans Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno designated for assignment since July 21, the future has arrived early in Houston.
The Astros have the youngest active roster in the Major Leagues by more than a full year on average. The average age of the current clubhouse is 25.7.
"You see a lot of movement in the Minors, guys moving up and down," said center fielder Brandon Barnes, himself a rookie. "This is a rebuilding process. Guys are going to be traded and not pan out or brought up to see what they can do in the big leagues.
"I'm on board. Whatever they have in store for us, that vision, we all want to be a part of that process. Nine new guys or one new guy, we welcome them all."
Eleven of Houston's 25 players during this series have played in Triple-A Oklahoma City since Memorial Day, marking this summer as a huge influx of talent from the organization's touted Minor League ranks.
Pitching has been the biggest boon of late, with recent callups Brett Oberholtzer, Jarred Cosart and Brad Peacock leading a sudden surge in starting production.
Entering Tuesday's game, Houston starters have posted a 2.68 ERA in their last nine games. Oberholtzer has delivered two shutouts, Peacock was a tough luck loser against Minnesota and Cosart's continued to resemble the frontline arm he was expected to be.
"They've been putting us in a position to win," said manager Bo Porter. "It's good to see those guys come here and build on that success at the Major League level.
"A lot of these guys are growing together, so it's a close-knit group. They're anticipating being here for a long time. You can see the camaraderie on our bench. They're watching the game intently. As a manager, we sit here and think, 'This is the start of something good.'"
Porter said the recent flood of youth has allowed the front office to better examine the Astros' young talent on an accelerated timetable.
"The maturation that's taken place with our ballclub backwards in age, it's actually a good thing to evaluate the number of players we've been able to evaluate," Porter said. "The questions we had as a staff, we're allowing the players to answer those questions. The big leagues don't lie. We're seeing the answers as this season goes."