Lyles Looks To Ace Triple-A Test





HOUSTON While a kid in baseball years, 20-year-old Jordan Lyles is not a kid, and so he probably didn't need one of those "life ain't fair, son" talks from Brad Mills and Ed Wade when he got reassigned to minor league camp.

Lyles knew the deal, that even though he had the best spring training of any pitcher in camp, he did not make the rotation.

Nor did Lyles, the Astros' top pitching prospect, expect to.

"I knew it was coming, sort of," Lyles said.

Lyles, the Astros' supplemental first-round pick in 2008, yielded just three earned runs in 14 innings this spring. To say that he was a legitimate candidate for the rotation was hardly a lie by the Astros, but there were names in front of him, like fifth starter sweepstakes winner Nelson Figueroa, who would have had to falter or get injured.

"There's probably nothing that (Lyles) could have done more," Mills said. "The situation is for his development. We have other guys in camp who have performed as well."

Lyles thrived in the Double-A Texas League last year against competition typically  four years his senior. However, he struggled upon reaching Triple-A Oklahoma City, going 0-3, 5.40 with 22 strikeouts and 11 walks in 32 innings. That performance led some in the organization to feel there was unfinished business at that level.

"I think I opened some eyes this spring," Lyles said. "Whenever they need a guy to go out for them on the mound this season, maybe I'm first in line."

Lyles opened the season back in Oklahoma City. He got a no-decision in his first start after yielding three earned runs in four innings against Memphis. He took the loss in his second outing when he yielded two runs on six hits over four innings against Nashville.

SPACE SHOTS

• The Astros kept Rule 5 pick Aneury Rodriguez, whom they took from the Rays, on the roster for Opening Day. They returned their second-round Rule 5 draft pick, Lance Pendleton, to the Yankees after failing to work out a trade.

• Every player from last year's short-season New York-Penn League champion Tri-City affiliate gathered at spring training for a ring ceremony attended by Astros and ValleyCats management. While winning in the minor leagues is not a major organizational goal, Wade praised the club for establishing the culture of winning at one of the youngest levels.