Delino DeShields Jr. wasn't too shy to admit he had set some lofty goals for himself entering this season. He wanted to finish with a .280 batting average, swipe 75 bases and score 85 runs, all of which would have made for a successful year at Class A Lexington.
When the Astros promoted DeShields -- their first-round pick (eighth overall) in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft -- to Class A Lancaster last week, DeShields had reached those goals, and then some. He left Lexington with a .298 batting average, 83 steals and 96 runs scored, to go along with 10 homers, 52 RBIs and a .401 on-base percentage.
DeShields, who turns 20 years old on Thursday, will finish out the season at Lancaster with a chance to compete in the playoffs, which would cap a fantastic 2012 campaign.
"I just want to do well here, and show people that I can play at a high level and finish out the year good, you know?" DeShields said. "We're in the running for the playoffs right now, which would be kind of cool. It would be the first time I get to play for something."
The Astros are thrilled at the progress DeShields made this season. He was sent back to Lexington for the second year in a row, but he was still one of the younger players in the league this year, and he dominated at his position.
"He's proven to us he's an elite prospect, and has a very, very high ceiling," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We want players to dominate the leagues they're in before they move to the next level. He hadn't quite done that yet [in 2011], and we didn't want to do a social promotion -- just promote him because it's the next year and that's what other people do. He's absolutely earned it."
In his first full season in pro ball last year, DeShields hit .220 with nine homers, 48 RBIs and 52 stolen bases in 119 games at Lexington. For DeShields, the 2011 season was more about learning to play second base -- he was an outfielder in high school -- and adapt to the rigors of a full season than putting up numbers.
"I was just putting everything together," DeShields said. "I feel I'm a better second baseman now. A lot of the stuff I was learning last year is like second nature to me now. I don't even think about it. It just kind of happens. There's still a lot I need to learn and progress on, but from last year to now has been a big improvement."
With DeShields on a path to reach the Major Leagues in the next year or two years, the Astros could soon have a decision to make about second base, where All-Star Jose Altuve is entrenched as the starter. The Astros recently moved Jimmy Paredes to the outfield at Triple-A Oklahoma City because of Altuve's stronghold on the position.
"We can't try to outsmart ourselves," Luhnow said. "It's a good problem to have, and we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. What ideally we want to do is put the player in the position he's most apt to be successful, irrespective of where everybody is in our organization.
"If we get to the point we have two guys up here and they're blocked, or one guy here and one guy [at Triple-A], maybe then you make an adjustment. That's how we're going to approach it."
Borchering makes move back to third base
Bobby Borchering, one of two players the Astros acquired from the D-backs in last month's Chris Johnson trade, has made the transition back to third base after playing the outfield the first half of this year while with Arizona. Borchering came up as a third baseman, but he was moved to the outfield prior to this year.
"We just decided, based on some of his past numbers and where he was when he joined the Diamondbacks, that we're going to pursue the opportunity at third base because he's a switch-hitter with some power," said Astros director of player development Fred Nelson. "It's going to be a little bit of a remake, and will take some hard work on his part, but he's progressed very noticeably."
Borchering is hitting .275 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 13 games since joining Double-A Corpus Christi, and he was scheduled to undergo a precautionary X-ray on Monday for an ankle injury.
"He's swung the bat very well, and is an impressive offensive player for us," Nelson said. "He's well-liked and works hard and is anxious. He's a sponge, trying to take in a lot of information as we work with him at third base."
Springer resting after possible concussion
In his second game after being promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi, former first-round Draft pick George Springer was hit in the head by a pitch Friday and hasn't played since. Springer was scheduled to meet with a doctor on Monday and could return to game action on Tuesday.
"He's in a position [Monday] that he will be able to work out and hit ... and we're kind of in that mode where he's not going to the DL, but we have to be concerned about the whole concussion thing," said Astros director of player development Fred Nelson. "Although he's not been diagnosed with a concussion, we want to make sure the proper time goes by and he's seen by a doctor. He's doing fine, and everybody looks forward to seeing him again."
Robbie Grossman had been playing center field prior to Springer's arrival, and they will split time at the position, with Grossman also seeing time in left field and Springer in right. Austin Wates, who returned from the disabled list Sunday by coming off the bench to get three hits, will filter into the empty spot, with Jake Goebbert also playing some outfield.
Abad heads back to rotation at Triple-A
The Astros are transitioning Fernando Abad back to the starting rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Abad has been used as a starter earlier in his Minor League career, and the left-hander flourished as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.
Abad performed so well in the Dominican prior to the 2011 season that he came to spring camp competing for a spot in the Astros' rotation. He wound up pitching in relief and struggled in that role, going 1-4 with a 7.32 ERA. He's split time between the Astros and Triple-A this year.
In his return to the rotation Wednesday, Abad allowed five hits and three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.
"We're trying to look at what might be best," said Astros director of player development Fred Nelson. "He's pitched well in the Dominican Republic as a starter, and we've vacillated back and forth between what is best for him, and I think we're going to take a look and see what he can do in a starting role and see if he can filter in to be a guy that might end up starting for us."
Abad has taken the rotation spot once occupied by Jarred Cosart, whose recurring blister problems have forced him to rehab in Kissimmee, Fla. Nelson said Cosart could be in a position to get a few starts at the Gulf Coast League if his finger keeps doing well, and he could return to the RedHawks' rotation before season's end.
• Triple-A Oklahoma City entered Monday on a nine-game losing streak, and has fallen into third place. The RedHawks stranded 13 runners on base in Sunday's loss to Sacramento. Eight batters drew walks, but none of them scored.
• Outfielder Travis Buck, who began the season with the Astros, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Oklahoma City with a knee strain. He's hitting .359 in 22 games this year for the RedHawks.
• Oklahoma City's pitching staff allowed at least five runs in 21 of its last 28 games since the All-Star break. The staff ERA over the previous 27 games entering Sunday was 6.41, and the 5.30 ERA is the highest in the Minor Leagues.
• Corpus Christi lefty Rob Rasmussen is 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA, and is 4-2 with a 4.74 ERA in seven starts with the Hooks. He was 4-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 16 starts for Jupiter of the Florida State League before being traded.