03/09/2013 5:31 PM ET
Goebbert returns to farming roots each offseason
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- You can honestly say outfielder Jake Goebbert's offseason routine is different than just about anyone else's in baseball.
Goebbert, a non-roster invitee who spent most of last season at Double-A Corpus Christi, works on his family's farm in Illinois in the fall and the winter. Goebbert calls it the "agri-tainment" business, where people come to the farm for six weeks out of the year for hayrides, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo and wagon rides.
"I have a lot of fun working the shop with my father and brother and thinking of ideas and new things for next year," said Goebbert, who grew up on the farm in Hampshire, Ill., about 55 miles northwest of Chicago. "It's been a growing business and something families look forward to, and it's neat because it's a staple in the community."
Goebbert used to be in charge of a small area, now helps his father manage the farm. A busy day for him could include driving a tractor and doing whatever else to keep things running smoothly.
"I just fill in the best I can with anything that needs to be done," he said.
As far as baseball goes, Goebbert, who attended Northwestern, is the type of player Astros management loves. He's a career .285 hitter with 31 homers and 237 RBIs in 456 career Minor League games, but he has a career .363 on-base percentage.
Krauss' power makes him intriguing
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Marc Krauss connected on his first homer of the spring in Friday's loss to the Braves, showing the kind of raw power that intrigued the Astros enough that they traded for him last July. Krauss was acquired from the D-backs with Bobby Borchering in exchange for Chris Johnson, who's since moved on to the Braves.
Krauss, an imposing 6-foot-2, 234-pound left-handed hitting outfielder, made a terrific first impression on the organization when he hit .414 with five homers and 16 RBIs in only seven games at Double-A Corpus Christi. That earned a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City for the final 22 games.
"That was a fun week, definitely," Krauss said. "It was one of those weeks when everything kind of clicks and everything goes right, and it happened to be that first week coming over with the new organization. Obviously, I just want to try to continue that and try to do as much as possible."
Krauss, 25, is likely to begin the season in the outfield back in Oklahoma City, and like many of the players in camp this year with the Astros, he's thankful for the opportunity to be with a new team. He was drafted by Arizona in the second round in 2009 out of Ohio University.
"It's refreshing," he said. "It's like a new chapter. It's exciting, because you can -- not reinvent yourself -- but start over with new eyes and a new management and new teammates. It's fun, and it adds a little excitement to the whole process. It's been good."
Krauss hasn't played first base full-time since his freshman year in college, but he says he's as comfortable there as he is at the corner outfield spots.
"I'm trying to broaden my horizons and give myself the best chance to play and help the team out the best way I can," he said.
Luhnow gets first-hand look at Draft prospects
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow spent a couple of days on the road earlier this week wearing his scouting hat. Luhnow, like he did last year, is trying to get a first-hand look at some of the players the club is considering taking with the No. 1 overall pick in the June First-Year Player Draft.
"I'm going to wait until the season starts to go back out, but it's always fun to get back on the scouting trail," said Luhnow, who oversaw the Cardinals' scouting department during much of his tenure in St. Louis.
Luhnow, who likes to keep his scouting trips hush-hush so he doesn't reveal some of the players the Astros are considering, might only get a chance to see a player once or maybe twice, so his trips are about much more than watching games.
"I try and take advantage and meet the parents or players or whoever I can and form a more complete picture," he said. "I focus on players that are likely to be our top Draft picks, whether it's 1-1 or 41 [overall]. I don't have the luxury of going too deep down the list, so days off are usually good days to do that."
White, Astros pleased despite lackluster results
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If Alex White's goal was to come out and throw strikes, he certainly accomplished that Saturday afternoon against the Mets at Tradition Field. White, vying for one of the final spots in the Astros' rotation, worked 2 2/3 innings and allowed five hits and four runs in his second start and third appearance of the spring. He threw 41 of his 55 pitches for strikes.
"I threw a lot of strikes and made some really good pitches, and gave up some hits that were not hit real well. It's going to happen," White said. "I threw a lot of strikes and that's a big key for me. I walked one guy and he ended up scoring. Those are things I can't do. I feel good about the outing. Obviously, the numbers aren't what I wanted them to be, but it's a little early and we'll keep working."
Astros manager Bo Porter said the high-strike ratio was a good sign.
"Like I told those guys, we really put an emphasis on pounding the strike zone, pounding the strike zone and giving the defense a chance. Alex did a great job. His sinker had a lot of movement today and we were pleased with his outing."
White issued a two-out walk in the first to Ike Davis, who then stole second and scored on a single by Lucas Duda right into the teeth of an Astros shift on the right side of the infield. White retired the next five batters in a row before giving up four hits and three runs in the third, including back-to-back RBI doubles by Duda and John Buck.
With three weeks to go in spring, White would like better results, but he's happy his slider is improving.
"I think you'll see more breaking balls the better it gets," he said. "Last year and especially the year before that, I didn't have a really good breaking ball, but now that it's becoming a pretty good pitch, you're going to see more of it."