If you take a talented prospect like Nick Tropeano out of any pitching rotation, there figures to be a few complications.
Class A Lexington manager Ivan DeJesus understands the price of progress, even if it did put a huge hole in his starting rotation. Tropeano was 6-4 with a 2.78 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) for the Legends before being promoted to high Class A Lancaster on June 29.
The departure of Tropeano, right-hander Carlos Quevedo (also to Lancaster) and injuries to outfielders Jay Austin (hamstring) and Brandon Meredith (groin) have helped Lexington stumble out of the gate in the second half, losing 15 of its first 23 games after the break.
Also, catcher Roberto Pena has been sent to Lancaster, though it could be just for the short term, and shortstop Chan Moon has been sent to the California League as well.
The Legends went 39-30 in the first half for fourth place in the South Atlantic League's Southern Division.
"I think we were kind of slow a little bit early because we got new players almost every week and there was a lot of movement around," DeJesus said. "We have had a lot of people hurt, key players. Until we get everybody playing together like we did in the first half, it might take longer. We're coming around good."
Lexington is home to a pair of prospects who will undoubtedly be in consideration for the organization's Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year.
Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz is 10-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 18 starts, striking out 81 batters and walking 40 in 107 2/3 innings.
Second baseman Delino DeShields Jr. is hitting .302 with eight homers, 42 RBIs and 65 stolen bases, which ranked second in all of Minor League Baseball. He's second on the team to third baseman Matt Duffy with 101 hits, and DeShields' .392 on-base percentage dwarfs the .305 he posted last year while in Lexington.
"He's improved a lot," said DeJesus, a former Minor League shortstop. "I didn't see him last year, but he's working hard and I think what we're seeing so far is that he's getting better every day. He's more comfortable making the plays, especially around the base."
Organization plans to promote worthy players
Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said Monday the club is prepared to give promotions to worthy players. When asked specifically about 2011 first-round pick -- outfielder George Springer -- Nelson spoke in broad terms.
"I think there's some guys we've targeted who could be upward moves, some pitching guys and position players," he said. "When the time is appropriate, we'll do that. I don't think [general manager] Jeff [Luhnow] and my staff and other front office personnel are opposed to moving guys. We just wanted to give them an opportunity to really settle in and have a lot of good at-bats, and if the time is right give them a challenge at the next level."
Springer, the Astros' No. 3-ranked prospect, went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs on Sunday for Class A Lancaster. He's 8-for-11 with five RBIs and five runs scored in his last three games following an 0-for-8 stretch. Springer has struck out 100 times in 347 at-bats this year.
Cosart pitches 5 2/3 innings in return from DL
Jarred Cosart, the Astros' top pitching prospect, was activated from the disabled list at Double-A Corpus Christi on Sunday and allowed one hit, four walks, two runs and struck out five batters over 5 2/3 innings in the Hooks' 5-2 win over Frisco.
Cosart had been on the disabled list since July 3, when he had a start against Tulsa cut short because of a nagging blister. On Sunday, Cosart, Kevin Chapman and Jason Stoffel combined for the first one-hitter in Corpus Christi franchise history. Cosart was crisp and down in the zone.
"I just wanted to go out there and let it go and not just worry about my finger," Cosart told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. "It held up fine for me and felt great. I'll just keep doing what I've been doing and hopefully it's not a recurring issue. It's not tender, not sore, not anything."
Double-A shortstop Villar out for six weeks
The loss of Double-A Corpus Christi shortstop Jonathan Villar for six weeks with a fractured right hand and has forced the organization to shuffle some shortstops around. Villar hurt the hand punching a door during a game Friday and will be evaluated by team physician Dr. Tom Mehlhoff on Tuesday.
"First of all, he's really disappointed in himself," said Astros director of player development Fred Nelson, who was in Corpus Christi when the injury occurred. "He understands what has happened and is remorseful. There's some disciplinary actions that have taken place, and it would be normal procedure that we would do with anybody that got frustrated in that manner."
Ben Orloff was sent to Corpus Christi from Class A Lancaster to help fill the void, where he will split time with Andrew Simunic. Orloff was playing in Lancaster in place of Jiovanni Mier, who's been out since May 4 with a hamstring injury. Shortstop Chan Moon has arrived in Lancaster from Lexington and will share the job with Alex Todd.
There has been a rash of injuries at shortstop throughout the organization, with Major League shortstop Jed Lowrie put on the disabled list Sunday with a leg injury. That prompted the Astros to call up Marwin Gonzalez.
Oklahoma City was so shorthanded at shortstop that Brett Wallace started at the position Thursday because Gonzalez had flight issues and Jimmy Paredes was away for the birth of his child. Wallace got a couple of innings at shortstop Sunday, too.
Jordan Kreke, a utility player at Corpus Christi, has been sent to Oklahoma City to provide depth.