Heidenreich strong in Hooks debut

Recently acquired righty tosses eight one-run innings in win

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | July 26, 2012 9:43 PM ET

It'd be easy to get lost amid all the new faces entering the Houston organization in recent weeks. Matt Heidenreich's first start for Double-A Corpus Christi, though, helped him stand out.

The right-hander, acquired along with Blair Walters from the White Sox on July 21 by the Astros, made his debut with the Hooks on Thursday. He stifled San Antonio for one run on five hits and a walk while striking out seven over eight innings in a 3-2 victory.

"I felt great, I was welcomed with open arms," said the 21-year-old. "I just wanted to be a part of the team, and I was fortunate enough to have a great start and a good manager. I love it here, I'm enjoying it."

Houston has acquired 11 Minor Leaguers in four separate trades since dealing Carlos Lee to Miami on July 4. Four of those players -- Heidenreich, Asher Wojciechowski, Rob Rasmussen and Robbie Grossman -- have landed at Corpus Christi.

Heidenreich said it's fun to be part of an organization committed to giving young guys a chance and to potentially have a role in Houston's rebuilding process.

"It's wild, since I've been here I'm already met so many more traded guys," he noted. "It's exciting as it can get being here with this team."

It's been something of a whirlwind season for the 2009 Chicago fourth-rounder. He began the year with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, going 8-2 with a 3.57 ERA before getting called up to Double-A Birmingham, where he made just three starts prior to the trade.

In all, he's racked up 119 2/3 innings across 19 starts with three different teams, going 10-4 with a 3.76 ERA and 78 strikeouts. Having issued just 19 walks, he also boasts a 1.43 walks-per-nine innings ratio.

He said he's been most satisfied with the innings-eater reputation he's taken on this season. The California native has two complete games under his belt and eight outings that have lasted at least seven innings.

"That's what I try to do, eat as many innings as I can and save the bullpen," he said. "I don't throw 97 [mph], so that's going to be my goal, throw as long as I can every five days."

Wojciechowski, acquired by Houston in the 10-player trade with Toronto, made his own debut with the Hooks on Tuesday, allowing a run on three hits and three walks with six strikeouts over seven innings. Rasmussen has gone 1-2 in four starts since coming over in the Lee trade.

And Grossman, acquired just Wednesday in the Wandy Rodriguez trade, also made his debut Thursday, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run from the leadoff spot. Wojciechowski (No. 11), Rasmussen (No. 13) and Grossman (No. 17) all figure into MLB.com's Astros Top 20 Prospects list.

"This is where the future of the Astros is. Here, the team below us and the team ahead of us," said Heidenreich. "I hope someday I can get there and help them win a World Series, but it's a process. Everybody's getting their shot, everybody's been welcomed here. This wasn't a sore team when I got here. They're here to win, to play hard, to help the Astros."

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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