©2013 NPT PHOTO BY SETH BUTLER Greeneville Astros assistant general manager Hunter Reed displays some of the promotional items the team will give away during the 2013 campaign. Reed spoke at this past Tuesday’s Newport Kiwanis Club meeting at the Fox and Hound.
Friday, May 31, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-05-31 20:32:34)
Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

While the on-field struggles of the Houston Astros big league club are well-documented this year, improvements could be on the horizon.

With a farm system that produced the best combined record in Minor League Baseball in 2012, along with new ownership, the American League’s newest team might be poised to climb from the cellar soon.

And it all starts in Greeneville.

The Astros’ rookie league affiliate begins its tenth season later this month in Greeneville and the talent coming into the organization mostly all begins their on-field careers there. With the big league club struggling, the past few seasons have seen a number of future Major Leaguers take the field at Pioneer Park, which is located at Tusculum College.

“It’s all about player development at our level more than anything,” said Greeneville Astros’ assistant general manager Hunter Reed, who was the guest speaker at this past Tuesday’s meeting of the Newport Kiwanis Club. “We’ve had 14 players that have come through Greeneville to go on to play in
the big leagues.

“With eight different levels in the Astros’ organization, it takes time to make the big leagues,” Reed said. “To have that many players make the big leagues, it shows we’ve had quality players come through - even if our record hasn’t always indicated that.”

Greeneville won the Appalachian League in its inaugural season of 2004, but hasn’t returned to the championship level of that season, despite the talent that has filtered through the system. Last season, Greeneville hosted the No. 1 overall pick in all of baseball in Carlos Correa at the end of last season. Correa, a then 17-year old short stop from Puerto Rico, was drafted at the top of the 2012 draft by the Astros last June.

Current Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who was a member of the National League All-Star team in 2012, also played in Greeneville in the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

“Our big league club has been struggling - obviously you don’t get the number one pick without having a rough year, but the signs of progress are there,” Reed said. “We went from two to three years ago, having one of the bottom two or three minor league organizations as far as winning percentage goes, all the way to the top.

“These guys know what they’re doing,” Reed said.

Those guys would be the current front office staff in Houston.

The Astros switched ownership in the 2011 offseason. Longtime owner Drayton McLane sold the team to Houston businessman Jim Craine in November of 2011. Along with the new ownership, Craine agreed to move the franchise to the American League, after a fifty-year stint in the National League.

The Astros also reverted to some of their past, changing their logos and uniforms for this season.
Craine also hired Bo Porter as the club’s on-field manager at the close of the 2012 campaign and has made a number of other front office moves, including recently hiring Reed Ryan as team president.

Ryan is the son of legendary professional pitcher, and current Texas Rangers owner Nolan Ryan.

The ownership affects Greeneville directly, as they are one of a handful of Minor League teams to be
owned by their parent club.

“We’ve got new ownership with a lot of fresh ideas, they’ve brought a new look and just about a new everything,” Reed said.

It’s that fresh face to the franchise which leads to hope for a successful 2013 season in Greeneville, which Reed says he hopes will be a viable entertainment option for everyone in the immediate area.

“We don’t want to be just Greeneville’s team, we want to be Newport’s team,” Reed said. “We think we’ve got a good product and we have a lot for everybody to do - we’ve got something for everybody.”

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