HOUSTON -- Right-handed pitcher Barret Loux, the first-round Draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks who was declared a free agent after he failed a physical, threw an extended bullpen session Friday afternoon in College Station, Texas, for more than a dozen teams, including the Astros.
Area scout Rusty Pendergrass was at the workout representing the Astros, and the club was pleased with what it saw mechanically and physically from Loux.
"What we saw was pretty consistent with what we saw during the spring, so the process of them showcasing him, so to speak, has been portrayed not as a sprint, but more as a process that will go through the fall a little bit," Astros assistant general manager/director of scouting Bobby Heck said.
"He's finishing up his degree this semester [at Texas A&M], and it's not really a race to get something in place, but they want to have something in place later in the fall and know where their landing place is for Spring Training."
Loux was drafted No. 6 overall and failed a physical reportedly because of arm problems. Major League Baseball declared Loux a free agent, and he was available to sign with any club beginning Sept. 1, with the D-backs being awarded compensatory Draft picks. The Astros had interest in the Houston-area product before he was picked by Arizona.
Loux went 11-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 16 starts last season as a junior at Texas A&M.
"The fact there were 15 teams there today and the fact some clubs didn't sign their first-round [pick] showed there was some interest," Heck said. "The fact we have someone there, our interest is sincere. We'll do our work on it. You have to balance, not only the evaluation process, but because of the medical circumstances [team medical director] Dr. [David] Lintner becomes a part of our process as well as we gauge where we can or can't go on this."
The Dodgers, Twins, Marlins, Reds, Yankees, Cardinals, Pirates, A's, Brewers, Mets, Angels, Blue Jays, Royals and one unidentified team were also on hand to watch Loux throw.
Astros hand hard-throwing Chapman first loss
HOUSTON -- This weekend's series against the National League Central-leading Reds marked the first appearance at Minute Maid Park of hard-throwing Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman, who has thrown 48 pitches of at least 100 mph this year, including a 103.9 mph pitch on Sept. 1.
"I know he throws hard, but other than that, I know that when he worked out in Boston with some guys before he signed, they talked about how hard he threw, but his breaking ball seemed to be inconsistent at times," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "I've seen clips of that thing being devastating at times, but other times not so much. We'll just see and go from there."
Chapman, who was promoted from Triple-A Louisville on Aug. 31, was handed his first loss in the Astros' 5-3 win on Friday night after allowing two runs without recording an out in the seventh inning.
"He's got to throw the ball over the plate and I have to be ready to hit it, and it's going to be coming quick," Astros right fielder Hunter Pence said. "He also has some curveball and sliders. Who knows? I'll look at the scouting report and go compete."
Downs getting chance to show his versatility
HOUSTON -- With starting second baseman Jeff Keppinger getting an extra day off to rest his sore left big toe, Matt Downs made his third start this year for the Astros. He had previously started one game at third base and one game at shortstop, so getting the nod at second gives him another chance to show his versatility.
"The Giants were grooming me to be a utility guy, and I told them when I came over here I could play all over the infield, and if I had to go to the outfield I could do that also," said Downs, who was claimed off waivers on Aug. 25. "I think they may be looking at me as a utility-type guy, I don't know. I'm not going to take Jeff Keppinger's job. He's a great player."
Keppinger had played in every game but one since he was reinstated from the disabled list on Sept. 1 after missing two weeks with soreness in his left big toe, an injury that should heal with rest in the offseason. Manager Brad Mills wanted to give Keppinger an extra day off following Thursday's scheduled off-day, but Keppinger was available to pinch-hit.
"Hopefully he's feeling good for a few more days and we'll see how he is," Mills said. "We'll have to be careful the rest of the way. He's gotten a lot of playing time. I don't know if he's gotten this much playing time in his career, so we're going to have to watch it a little bit."
Keppinger's 460 at-bats entering Friday were one more than his previous career high of 459, set in 2008 with the Reds.
Del Rosario joins team in Houston after trade
HOUSTON -- Right-hander Enerio Del Rosario, acquired from the Reds on Thursday in exchange for cash, joined the Astros on Friday and wore No. 66. He posted a 2.08 ERA in two stints this year with the Reds, who opened a three-game series with the Astros on Friday.
"I know he's got a real good sinker," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He has thrown in the past in the 90s, but he really has a power sinker, and that's been his bread and butter. It's going to be interesting to see. We'll watch him throw a bullpen and get in a game and see how it goes."
The Reds put Del Rosario on waivers with the intention of sending him to the Royals to complete the Willie Bloomquist trade, but the Astros claimed him after he had been designated for assignment. Bloomquist was acquired by the Reds on Monday for cash or a player to be named later.
The addition of Del Rosario gives Mills 12 relievers at his disposal, including four left-handers. Mills hopes to get a good look at some of the newer relievers in the final two weeks of the season.
"I don't know how much of a leg up anybody can get, but there's no doubt we'll be able to see what everybody has going forward, and how that carries over to Spring Training," Mills said.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.