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Astros acquire right-hander Villarreal from Atlanta
11/16/2007 4:10 PM ET
HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros announced today that the club has acquired right-handed pitcher Oscar Villarreal from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for outfielder Josh Anderson. The Astros also signed outfielder Yordany Ramirez, formerly of the San Diego organization, to a Major League contract that includes a spot on the 40-man roster. The announcement was made by Astros General Manager Ed Wade.

"Oscar Villarreal gives us another experienced, durable arm for the bullpen," said Wade. "He has the ability to pitch late in a game, throw multiple innings and pitch back-to-back days. We gave up a good, young prospect in Josh Anderson, but with the additions of Michael Bourn and Yordany Ramirez, along with our earlier waiver claim of Reggie Abercrombie, we had the outfield depth to make this move."

"Yordany Ramirez ranks as one of the top defensive outfielders at the higher minor league levels, and we think that he will continue to make significant progress with the bat. Felix Francisco, our recently hired Director of Latin American Scouting, originally signed Yordany while working for the San Diego Padres, and he thinks that Yordany will develop into a front-line big league player. There were several teams pursuing Ramirez, and we thought enough of his ability to sign him to a Major League contract."

Villarreal, who turns 26 on November 22, was 2-2 with one save and a 4.24 ERA (36ER/76.1IP) in 51 games for Atlanta in 2007. The right-hander has appeared in 223 career Major League games and owns a 23-12 record with one save and a 3.71 career ERA (123ER/298.1IP). He has pitched the last two seasons for the Braves (2006-07) after three big league seasons with Arizona (2003-05). Villarreal was acquired by the Braves in December of 2005 along with right-hander Lance Cormier in exchange for catcher Johnny Estrada. He was originally signed by Arizona as a non-drafted free agent on Nov. 6, 1998.

During his rookie season of 2003, Villarreal pitched in a National League rookie-record 86 games and finished 10-7 with a 2.57 ERA (28ER/98IP). His 86 appearances in 2003 also set the Major League record for the most in one season by a pitcher from Mexico, eclipsing the previous mark of 84 set by Enrique Romo of Pittsburgh in 1979.

Anderson, 25, hit .358 (24x67) with three doubles and 11 runs batted in during 21 games with the Astros in 2007. He played in 132 games at Triple A Round Rock, hitting .273 (140x513) with two home runs, 43 RBI, and 40 stolen bases. Anderson was selected by Houston in the fourth round of the June 2003 draft.

The 23-year-old Ramirez is a native of Boca Chica, DR and hit .269 (77x286) with four home runs, 43 RBI, and 22 stolen bases for Class A Lake Elsinore of the San Diego organization in 2007. He also played in 30 games for Triple A Portland this season, hitting .315 (40x127) with four home runs, 18 RBI, and six stolen bases. Ramirez is currently playing for Licey in the Dominican Winter League, hitting .344 (11x32) with five RBI in 12 games.

In Baseball America's 2007 Best Tools Survey, Ramirez was tabbed as being the Best Defensive Outfielder and the player with the Best Outfield Arm in the San Diego organization. He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent on Apr. 23, 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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