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Self Improvement

HOUSTON–While he’s not likely to move from high Class A Salem this season, Todd Self could be moving from the outfield to first base.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Self has developed into a gap-to-gap hitter with excellent defensive and baserunning skills. Farm director Tim Purpura said the Astros might move Self around to see where he fits best on defense.

"I would think he would stay (at Salem) the whole year," Purpura said. "We probably will transition him to play more first base as the season progresses."

Self, 24, broke his left thumb in a game in early May and was expected to miss at least four weeks. It was an unfortunate blow for the Louisiana-Monroe product, who was leading the Carolina League with 11 doubles and was hitting .315-0-16 at the time of the injury.

"Over the years, I’ve watched him a lot," Purpura said. "He’s a big, strong guy that we drafted in 2000. He’s one of those guys where I think home runs are going to come for him. Todd is a real playable outfielder with good range and long arms. He’s not a plus runner, but he gets to everything he needs to."

Self, a lefthanded hitter, was drafted in the 15th round and has batted better than .300 in each of the last two seasons in the organization. He earned team MVP honors at low Class A Michigan last year with a .310-12-94 showing. He hit .303-3-49 in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2001.

Self stole 10 bases in each of his three previous professional seasons, and Purpura gave his baserunning skills good grades. Astros executives would love to see Self reduce his strikeouts. "As with most young players, you look for Todd to narrow down his strike zone," Purpura said.

Space Shots

• Righthander Anthony Pluta was slated for surgery to repair his injured right elbow and likely is out for the season.

• Round Rock second baseman Chris Burke was hitting .365-1-15 in the leadoff spot for the Express, with 10 doubles, 14 walks and 14 strikeouts in 159 at-bats.

• Previous organization report: Brooks Conrad

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