photo by Tammy Tucker

Astros waves of young arms just getting Cos-tarted

Many years ago *NSYNC had a song about getting paid on Friday nights. A couple years ago that one girl had a hit only because people (are dumb) like Fridays. There’s even a restaurant that used the end of the school/work week to their advantage, TGI Fridays, which of course stems from the expression “Thank God It’s Friday.” Fridays where I grew up meant to party by invite or claim, since you were in the classroom at the time the cool kids were passing out RSVP cards,  that you were caught in the gravitational pull of the invite and showed up regardless. I did the latter twice in my dozen year school career. Both times I hated it.I’m in college now and the party scene has shifted from “just chillin, bro” to “we’re practically 21….bro,” I still remain in my sports shell that is currently floating comfortably in baseball waters. If I had gone to a party last Friday night, I would have been oh. so. very. very. sorry.

Because last Friday night Astros fans and all of baseball got the first look at 23-year old pitching prospect  Jarred Cosart. Fans on Twitter rightly generated and shared the #JarredCosartDay trend, and what a day it was.

The rookie from League City, Texas and a lifelong Astros fan took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the playoff contending – albeit notoriously light hitting – Tampa Bay Rays. Of course it was former Astros minor leaguer Ben Zobrist (traded for Aubrey Huff in 2006) who broke up the no-no.

The Astros top pitching prospect of 2013 was rattled. Shaken. Torn. The rookie had blown a chance at history few have achieved.

Actually no, the next batter grounded into a double play.

Cosart, as seen in AA Corpus Christi, has fans excited. Really excited. (photo by Tammy Tucker)

Jarred Cosart allowed one more hit but finished with 8 scoreless innings in his MLB debut, capturing the win and all of baseball’s attention. (Which is seemingly more and more focused on prospects these days)

Acquired in 2011 in the Hunter Pence trade along with Jonathan Singleton, Domingo Santana and Josh Zeid,  Cosart is just the first of an extensive, promising, potential packed, exciting and intriguingly long list of pitchers continuing to develop in the Houston Astros system.

At the top resides the newest member of the group and last month’s MLB Draft. From Stanford University and two starts into his pro career – one in rookie ball and one already in class A – the seasoned college product (literally) just turned 22 and has long been considered a nearly polished product anticipated by teams to move quickly through their farm system.

Those teams include the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates. Detroit drafted Mark Appel out of high school in 2009 in the 15th round. The Pirates boldly selected Appel with the 8th overall pick in 2012. Obviously both times he either entered or returned to college.

But after the conclusion of another stellar season he was out of college eligibility (well some college running backs and also Brandon Weeden are unlimited) and it wasn’t a matter of him signing come draft day but who would select and pay the arguably best talent in the ’13 draft.

Despite his ties to Houston and growing up an Astros fan, not many predicted that the Astros, after selecting the cost-effective Carlos Correa first in 2012, would select the high-demanding and Scott Boras client Mark Appel first overall.

Mark Appel. Can’t Wait!

Jeff Luhnow doesn’t play games, though.

Along with Mark Appel and Jarred Cosart, the Astros still have an eye opening plethora of arms in their system.

The only negative thing to say about the continuing development of these next two arms is the copy-and-paste method used to put their names in any form of print.

Mike Foltynewicz was the Astros second selection (Delino Deshields, Jr.; 10) and 19th overall out of high school in the 2010 draft. Since he has been developing at a pace that “experts” may be impatient with because he was a first round pick and isn’t throwing complete games by age 23. “Folty” is in AA for the first time in 2013 after seven starts at A ball, and he is thriving. So far for the Corpus Christi Hooks he is 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA and striking out 9.3 batters per 9 innings.

Then there’s Asher “Wojo” Wojciechowski, who was drafted 22 picks after Folty in 2010 in the compensation round by the Blue Jays and part of the 2012 mega-super-ultra package sent from Toronto for J.A. Happ. (Still a curious move to this day) Wojo has had a great season, currently throwing lights out ball in AAA Oklahoma City and was just named the Pacific Coast League’s pitcher of the week. (Teammate and recently promoted OF George Springer was named hitter of the week)

Mike Foltynewicz (photo credit to the awesome Tammy Tucker)

Now to much easier spelled and pronounceable names.Lance McCullersJr. was Jeff Luhnow’s first ever compensation pick as Astros General Manager and he is proving to be a nice find at the 41st pick.

Jake Buchanan has slid back and forth from AA to AAA the past 2+ seasons but after dominating AA hitters to begin 2013 hopefully Buch has found his groove and can put AA in his rearview mirror for good.

Nick Tropeano, or as you may know him on Twitter, @PaPaTropeano, is the one in this group experiencing his very first stop at AA baseball. The awakening hasn’t been rude but it hasn’t been gentle either. Tropeano has spent 8 of his 20 trips to the mound jogging in from the bullpen as opposed to his usual slow walk from the dugout.

But he’s still just a very young 22 and if the new Astros regime has shown anything among many things, it is that they will be very, very patient with their young talent, and the end results will be very, very rewarding for these arms and more in a matter of seasons.

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Tags: Houston Astros Mark Appel Mike Foltynewicz

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