In a move that seems long overdue, the Astros have finally optioned “reliever” Hector Ambriz to AAA Oklahoma City. According to Astros beat writer Brian McTaggart, Ambriz will be replaced in the bullpen by lefty Brett Oberholtzer.
Oberholtzer, who turned 24 yesterday, posted a 5-6 record and a 4.60 ERA in 15 starts for Oklahoma City this season. Acquired in the Michael Bourn trade with the Braves back in 2011, Oberholtzer made his big league debut with the Astros this April but was sent back to AAA after only one appearance.
McTaggart is also reporting that the Astros have signed four international Free Agents and completed a trade with the Cubs. The Astros sent second and third round slot money totaling $784,700 to the Cubs in exchange for 20-year old infielder Ronald Torreyes. That leaves the Astros, who had the most money to spend internationally prior to the trade, with a pool of $4,159,000, still third highest in the majors and tops in the American League.
Today’s moves make for an interesting combination. Sending Ambriz down will be extremely popular with the fans and is a move that had to be made. Trading away international signing money could be another story, though. Fans may not be able to wrap their heads around the idea of missing out on possibly two young players for the sake of acquiring a 5′ 9″, 140 pound second-baseman.
It had been rumored earlier that the Astros might sacrifice some of their international bonus pool if the right opportunity presented itself. Whether or not this was the right opportunity remains to be seen. This is the type of transaction that is difficult to make a judgement on, given the age and experience of the players involved.
Even though he is only twenty years old (allegedly) Torreyes is a veteran of 337 minor league games. The native of Venezuela has a spiffy .312/.374/.449 slash line and has walked more than he has struck out. Obviously Jeff Luhnow, Oz Ocampo, and company like what they see in him — as well as the four other youngsters that have been brought into the organization. Expect to see more international signings by the Astros in the next several days.