6/4/2014 8:44 P.M. ET
Drake to host Houston Appreciation Weekend
By Brian McTaggart and Mike Vernon / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Grammy Award-winning artist Drake will host the three-day Houston Appreciation Weekend with a special Houston Appreciation Night at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, June 12.
The Appreciation Night at Minute Maid Park will include a pregame ceremony, along with several other events geared to benefit local, youth-based charities.
More than 50 children from the Houston Urban Youth Academy and RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program will have a chance to be on the field with Drake for a meet-and-greet that will include dinner and tickets to the game.
There will be a Drake Section at Minute Maid Park, where the ticket sales in the section will benefit a local charity of Drake's choosing. Those who buy tickets in the section will receive a Houston Appreciation Night T-shirt.
Drake has sold more than 5 million albums and has had 12 No. 1 singles.
Villar sidelined by sore right elbow
HOUSTON -- Astros starting shortstop Jonathan Villar could be out of action for a few days after he was struck on the right elbow by a pitch in Tuesday's win over the Angels. Villar was taken for X-rays, which were negative, but he had his arm heavily wrapped on Wednesday.
Villar said he was a little sore Wednesday and was told by the trainers not to do any throwing. Marwin Gonzalez started in Villar's place against the Angels.
"Obviously, it's going to be a little bit sore," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "It got him pretty good on the elbow. I think it's just a day-to-day thing and he should be fine, but we'll give him the day, and Marwin will play shortstop and hopefully it's something that's behind us tomorrow."
Villar is hitting .193 with five home runs and 17 RBIs, but has struggled lately. He's hitting .101 (7-for-69) with four RBIs and one extra-base hit in his last 22 games. Gonzalez has done a nice job as the team's backup infielder, entering Wednesday hitting .302.
"Marwin's been outstanding," Porter said. "Every time we've plugged him in, he's given us quality at-bats and solid defense, and he's done a tremendous job this entire year."
Castro remains Astros' MLBPA representative
HOUSTON -- It was no surprise that Astros catcher Jason Castro, who recently got his degree from Stanford, was re-elected by his teammates Wednesday to be the team's representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association for two more years.
Pitcher Dallas Keuchel, third baseman Matt Dominguez and rookie outfielder George Springer were chosen as alternate player representatives. Castro said it was important for some of the younger players to take a more active role like he did when he was called up in 2010.
"Guys that will be here for a while will benefit from learning about the ins and outs of the Players Association and the kind of impact they can have on bargaining agreements and day-to-day operations around baseball," Castro said.
The player rep is charged with keeping his teammates informed about the Collective Bargaining Agreement and any other issues involved the MLBPA. He'll also attend meetings at different points throughout the season. Castro takes the role seriously.
"The Players Association has had such an integral role in progressing the game to where it is now, if it weren't for the guys before us and their effort to get us where we are, we wouldn't have all the things we kind of sometimes take for granted," Castro said. "I think it's important for us to be educated and not just come here and play. It's up to us to continue to push for progress and kind of acknowledge the things the people before us have done for us."
Castro was thrust into the alternate club rep role in 2010 when he was called up and joined a veteran team of players who had for the most part paid their dues as reps at some point.
Springer said he's going to learn as much as he can.
"[Castro] talked to me about it earlier in the day and just explained to me how it works and all that stuff, and I think as a player it's something I need and something that could help me and everyone else," he said.
Singleton ready to play after shedding debut nerves
HOUSTON -- Before his second Major League game, Astros rookie Jon Singleton received a present from manager Bo Porter.
Porter handed the lineup card from Tuesday's game to Singleton, who grabbed hold of it with two hands. Singleton looked up and down at the sheet, which featured Singleton as the No. 6 hitter in Houston's lineup. Then he carefully put the card away in his locker.
Singleton hit fifth on Wednesday, but he batted sixth for his Major League debut. His eighth-inning home run to right-center field was his first hit in the Astros' 7-2 win over the Angels.
After the game, Singleton got to spend some time with his parents, Rocky and Sherry, who were in town from Southern California.
"It definitely set in once the game was over and my nerves kind of came back down," Singleton said. "It definitely settled in. It was a lot. It's monumental. It's a big day in my life."
After Tuesday's game, Singleton said calling him nervous would be an understatement. On Wednesday, though, Singleton went to lunch with his family before coming to Minute Maid Park ready to play in game No. 2.
"I'm ready to play now," Singleton said.
Class A prospects named to All-Star teams
HOUSTON -- The Astros' two Class A Minor League affiliates will send a total of eight players to their respective All-Star Games on June 17.
Houston's affiliate in Lancaster, Calif., will send five players to its All-Star game in Wilmington, Del. The five players are the most All-Star selections from one team in the California/Carolina Leagues.
Tony Kemp will be the starting second baseman for the California League. He leads all of Minor League Baseball with 80 hits and 66 runs scored. Kemp leads the JetHawks in batting average (.339), on-base percentage (.430) and stolen bases (21).
The JetHawks' other starter will be outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, whose seven triples are the best in the California League. Hernandez is batting .291 with 10 home runs and 46 RBIs.
Carlos Correa, Josh Hader and Roberto Pena will all be reserves for the California League. Correa, the No. 1 pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, is second in the League with 49 RBIs, on top of his .328 batting average.
Quad Cities will send three players, including one starter, to the Midwest League All-Star game in Comstock Park, Mich.
River Bandits' outfielder Brett Phillips will start for the Western Division. He's the team's youngest player at 20 years old. He's batting .309 with a team-high 37 runs, 60 hits, 93 total bases and seven triples.
Infielder Chan-Jong Moon and right-hander Tyler Brunnemann will also represent the River Bandits as reserves in the game.
Elsewhere, Matt Duffy of Double-A Corpus Christi was named the Texas League Player of the Month for May. He hit .365 with three doubles, four home runs and 20 RBIs in 25 May games. He was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City last week.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Mike Vernon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.