Clemens vs. Clemens on tap?
Father-son matchup may highlight Minor League camp
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- A total of 37 Minor Leaguers -- 21 position players and 16 pitchers -- arrived to Spring Training nearly two weeks early to participate in a minicamp, taking place on the backfields of the Osceola County Stadium complex.
The remainder of the club's pitchers and catchers on the Minor League side are due to report to camp on March 5 and work out on March 6. The position players will report March 9, and the full Minor League squad will work out together on the 10th.
Among the minicamp attendees is Koby Clemens, the oldest son of Roger Clemens. Koby Clemens is a third baseman in the Astros system after being selected in the eight round of the '05 draft.
The younger Clemens could be one of the lucky hitters to take batting practice against the Rocket this week. Roger is scheduled to pitch to the mini-campers, at his request, in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. He'll throw Monday afternoon and early Thursday morning before heading to Arizona to train with Team USA.
On the move: Ben Zobrist, the Astros' sixth-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, is a switch-hitting shortstop we may be seeing more of in the near future. The 24-year-old is a very instinctive player, a natural leader, and fundamentally sound."You tell him something one time, and he'll pick it up," assistant GM Ricky Bennett said. "He already knows things that you normally have to remind a player about."
Names in the game: Former Houston third baseman Sean Berry is in his second year as the Astros Minor League hitting coordinator and is participating in both big league camp and the Minor League minicamp as a coach. Berry, who played for the Astros from 1996-98 as part of an 11-year Major League career, has been in the Astros system in the coaching ranks since 2003. During the minicamp, Berry is assisting with hitting as well as third base and infield fundamentals.
They're No. 1: Hunter Pence, the Astros' first pick in 2004, put on quite a display at last month's elite camp at Minute Maid Park, where he he hit several balls into the Crawford Boxes. That said, Pence is not the showboat type and is one of the more coachable players in the system. He understands he has elements of his game to work on, namely, baserunning and defensive play in the outfield. He's committed to being a well-rounded player, although his best asset is his power.
"He takes it all in stride," Bennett said. "He doesn't rub it in anybody's face that he's been around the game his whole life. He understands he's a long way from the big leagues. At some point, there will be pressure for him to perform and live up to the name, but right now he's a kid who needs to work."
What they're saying: "He has his mother's demeanor, which is good, because she's the toughest one in the family." -- Phil Garner, on Koby, the eldest son of Roger Clemens and his wife, Debbie
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.