06/25/10 9:14 PM ET
Castro working hard behind plate
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
Banks was 8-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 15 starts for the Express, 13 of which came with Castro behind the plate. Castro made his Major League debut Tuesday.
"He knows me pretty well as far as thinking-wise and gets a lot of different signs and that makes it a little bit easier," Banks said. "Whoever's catching, you still have to get on the same page and get as many outs as you can."
Castro started three consecutive games upon making his Major League debut before being out of the lineup Friday against the Rangers. Astros pitchers posted a 1.33 ERA in the three games Castro started behind the plate. Castro said having the ability to study video has been a help.
"I've done a lot, and really, for the first time in my career I have the resources and ability to scout the other team," Castro said. "We put a lot of work in with [pitching coach Brad Arnsberg] and have gone over some footage and talked about plans of attack with each hitter and things like that. It's been extremely beneficial and really helped me so far. I continue to put that to work and see similar results."
Astros sign second-round pick Velasquez
ARLINGTON -- The Astros announced Friday they have signed second-round Draft pick Vincent Velasquez, a right-handed pitcher from Garey High School in Pomona, Calif.
Velasquez, taken with the No. 58 overall pick, hit .608 with 29 RBIs, 44 runs scored, 14 doubles, five triples, two homers and struck out only four times in 80 at-bat as a senior. He also stole 18 bases and was caught just twice. On the mound, he was 6-1 with a 1.89 ERA, 52 strikeouts and eight walks in 49 innings pitched.
"It's very exciting," Velasquez said. "I took the physical [Friday] and they were concerned about my shoulder, but they said my rotator cuff is in good shape. It's the best feeling I've ever had, and I'm ready to be an Astro."
Velasquez, who received a signing bonus of $655,800, will report to Rookie League Greeneville on Saturday.
Velasquez, 6-foot-3, had signed a letter of intent to play at Cal State Fullerton
Houston has signed 29 of 52 Draft picks, including 17 taken in the first 20 rounds. The Astros have yet to sign their top pick, Georgia high school infielder Delino DeShields Jr., who was selected with the No. 8 pick overall.
Bourgeois gets start in left field
ARLINGTON -- The Astros fielded one of the fastest outfields in the Majors on Friday when they had Jason Bourgeois in left field, Michael Bourn in center and Hunter Pence in right. Bourgeois has played mostly center field, but has some experience in left field.
Carlos Lee, the Astros' starting left fielder, was in the lineup as the designated hitter.
"With those guys out there, you're getting very athletic," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "They can do some things."
Bourgeois, who appeared in his 12th Major League game Friday, worked on all three outfield positions with third-base coach Dave Clark during Spring Training. He played left field for a couple of innings in Thursday's series finale against the Giants.
"We've got a chance to cover a lot of ground," Bourgeois said. "It's a pretty big outfield, so I'm looking forward to the challenge."
But when it comes to covering ground, Bourgeois will follow the lead of Bourn, a Little League teammate growing up in Houston.
"He had the priority out there," Bourgeois said. "He controls the field. He's got the Gold Glove. You might want to listen to him."
Playing at home thrills Pence
ARLINGTON -- Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who grew up in Arlington as a fan of the Texas Rangers and attended the University of Texas at Arlington, always cherishes a chance to return and play before his hometown fans.
"It's incredible to come home," he said. "The difference between coming here and anywhere else is the feeling growing up as a kid and driving by the stadium and dreaming of being able to play there one day. There's no place like it. It's unique, and every time I come here it's an incredible opportunity to play in my hometown."
Entering Friday's game, Pence had a career .368 batting average with three homers and five RBIs in nine games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"The opportunity to come down and stay in the house I grew up in and see my folks, you can't beat it," he said. "It does remind you that you're living a dream."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.