GREENEVILLE, TN - As baseball season begins, many former Greeneville Astros are looking to make an impact on their parent club in Houston and throughout their four full season affiliates that begin play on Thursday.
Three players that began their professional careers in Greeneville suited up for the Houston Astros on Sunday when they defeated the Texas Rangers, 8-2, to open the Major League Baseball season. All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve was joined by outfielders Brandon Barnes and J.D. Martinez. Altuve and Martinez were on the Opening Day roster for the second consecutive time while Barnes was making his first appearance and joined Altuve in the lineup as the starting right fielder.
Altuve, Barnes and Martinez will all serve as great examples for the 2013 Greeneville Astros once their roster is set following the First-Year Player Draft in June. However, the top four affiliates in the farm system for the Astros, Triple A Oklahoma City, Double A Corpus Christi, Class A Advanced Lancaster and Class A Quad Cities, got their rosters set this week and will feature a total of thirty-three former Greeneville Astros.
Thursday, April 4th marks the beginning of a new season and the opportunity for these players to show everyone how hard they have been working on improving during the off-season. It is their next step in moving closer to playing Major League Baseball.
Upon the release of the Opening Day rosters, Greeneville Astros general manager David Lane said, "We are so happy for our former players that are improving and advancing through the Astros' system. While we have had thirteen players reach the big leagues and have three players in Houston right now, there are several others getting closer and closer to reaching their dreams."
Many of the next big leaguers will come from Triple A Oklahoma City. In fact, right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles has already reached the ultimate goal of playing in the big leagues and could likely return before long. However, the 2008 supplemental first-round selection will begin the season with the RedHawks. Lyles will be joined by fellow right-hander Jose Cisnero and catcher Chris Wallace.
At the Double A level, ten former Greeneville Astros will suit up for the Corpus Christi Hooks to begin the season. Five of those are pitchers including right-handers Ruben Alaniz, Jorge De Leon, David Martinez, Ross Seaton and lefty Pat Urckfitz. Meanwhile, Rene Garcia and Ryan McCurdy will be two of the team's catchers while Jonathan Meyer, Jiovanni Mier and Ben Orloff will be manning the infield.
In Class A Advanced Lancaster, there will be six former Greeneville Astros. They will be led by a pair of former first round draft selections in right-handed pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and second baseman Delino DeShields, Jr. In 2012, Foltynewicz was named the South Atlantic League's Most Outstanding Pitcher and DeShields became the first minor league player in the modern era to steal over 100 bases and hit over 10 home runs.
Other former Greeneville Astros players that will be joining the JetHawks will include right-hander Tyson Perez, right-hander Carlos Quevedo, left-hander Luis Cruz and third baseman Rafael Valenzuela.
At the newest Astros affiliate in Class A Quad Cities, there will be fourteen players that previously played in Greeneville. This includes nine players that were in Greeneville as recently as last season. Among those players is last year's number one overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft, shortstop Carlos Correa. Moving up with him will be Mike Hauschild, Jordan Jankowski, Mitchell Lambson, Lance McCullers, Daniel Minor, Rio Ruiz, Terrell Joyce and Ariel Ovando.
Among the River Bandits players that were on the Greeneville Astros prior to last season include Vincent Velasquez, Roberto Pena, Chase Davidson, Jesse Wierzbicki and 2011 Greeneville MVP Jordan Scott.
Fans can keep track of the progress of each of these players throughout the season under the "Where are they now?" section on www.greenevilleastros.com.
The Greeneville Astros begin their season on June 20 at the Bluefield Blue Jays for three games before returning for their home opener on June 23 at 7:00pm against the Elizabethton Twins.
Season tickets, half-season tickets, and ticket books are now available for purchase at the Astros Administrative office located at Pioneer Park on the campus of Tusculum College. The office is open Monday-Friday from 9:00am-5:30pm. For more information on the Astros, call (423) 638-0411 or visit www.greenevilleastros.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.