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12/10/2003 10:15 PM ET
Nieve, Gimenez progressing
HOUSTON -- With the Winter Meetings approaching and negotiations with Andy
Pettitte on the front burner, the Houston Astros will concentrate on the
immediate future in the coming weeks. But south of the border, a couple of
players are making an impression that may help the team a year or two down
Right-hander Fernando Nieve, one of the recent additions to the 40-man
roster, is 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA in seven starts for the Caribes club in the
Venezuelan League. He has allowed eight earned runs over 38 1/3 innings,
walking eight while logging 46 strikeouts.
Switch-hitting catcher Hector Gimenez, also a new addition to the 40-man, is
hitting .305 for the Magallanes club in the Venezuelan League. He is
32-for-105 with five doubles, two triples and two homers, and he is tied for
the team lead with 15 RBIs.
Assistant general manager Tim Purpura envisions both players having a chance
to make the Major League team in the future, and he is encouraged by how they
have performed this winter.
"They're in the top 40 of our players, and if you take out the 25 Major
Leaguers on the Opening Day roster, they're in the top 15," Purpura said.
"They're both players with very high ceilings."
Purpura indicated Nieve is likely closer to the big leagues than Gimenez,
even though Gimenez played at a higher minor league level last year.
Gimenez spent the 2003 season with the high Class A Salem Avalanche, batting
.247 (94-for-381) with 17 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 54 RBIs.
Nieve was 14-9 with a 3.65 ERA for Class A Lexington in 2003. He made 28
starts, allowed 61 earned runs over 150 1/3 innings, walked 65 and struck
"I can see Nieve competing for a job at [Double-A] Round Rock in Spring
Training," Purpura said. "He has a chance to make that rotation."
Gimenez is progressing well defensively, but the Astros predict he will need
more offensive seasoning before advancing through the system.
"He could end up in Salem again," Purpura said. "He hasn't progressed
offensively to the point where we'd be comfortable putting him at the Double-A level to start the season. We need to get a little more of a comfort
level. He's progressing well, but at this point his defense is far better
than his offense."
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Alyson Footer is a
reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League
Baseball or its clubs.