HOUSTON - They say the grass is greener on the other side.
For the members of the Corpus Christi Hooks who took part in the first-ever Astros Futures Game, that statement has likely been confirmed. Having the opportunity to play at cavernous Minute Maid Park made for an experience the players won't soon forget.
"There's probably not a better feeling than when you're on a big-league field thinking, 'Man, I could be here one day,'" Jonathan Meyer said. "That really set into a lot of guys' minds."
Meyer hit one of the Hooks' three home runs in a 15-14 loss to San Antonio on June 10. He said there aren't many home runs more memorable than his three-run shot into the Crawford Boxes in left field.
"I wasn't really watching that when I hit it," he said. "I just put my head down and started running. I didn't even know (where it was going to land). It's a great feeling."
Without having to battle the strong winds that blow from right to left at Whataburger Field, Preston Tucker added to his league lead by hitting a pair of home runs. Tucker's 17th homer traveled 436 feet, according to MLB.com's Richard Dean, clearing the right-field porch with ease.
"Playing here (in Corpus Christi) I think has actually helped my swing because I have to drive a lot more balls out of here to lift them out of the yard," Tucker said. "I can only look forward to playing there when I move up."
It is no coincidence that after Corpus Christi's victory over Frisco the following night, Tucker, rated as Houston's No. 20 prospect, was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City, moving him one step closer to The Show.
"I think we all had a good time playing there," Tucker said. "As far as it goes for me, I enjoyed it, and hopefully I get a couple more at-bats there."
For Brady Rodgers, who grew up just outside Houston in Richmond, standing inside the home of the Astros brought back memories of the former greats he grew up idolizing.
"Me being from Houston, it was even more exhilarating," Rodgers said. "Roger Clemens pitched at that field. Andy Pettitte has pitched there. (Lance) Berkman played there. Unfortunately, I didn't get to pitch, but it was still cool just to be in that dugout."
Having a small taste of life as a major leaguer made the players even hungrier to become major leaguers.
"It just makes you want to play a lot better to get out of here, not to make that sound bad, but to get to go to Houston," Rodgers said. "I think everybody got that feeling. We're striving to become Astros."