Rasmussen Heads To Double-A For Astros

HOUSTON—Scouting director Bobby Heck showed a preference for righthanded pitchers in his first four drafts. So it's no surprise that 15 of the 17 pitchers ranked among the organization's top 30 prospects last offseason were righties.

For that reason, lefthander Rob Rasmussen already stands out in the system. He joins lefty starters Brett Oberholtzer and Dallas Keuchel (who recently got a four-start stint in the big leagues) as well as reliever Kevin Chapman as notable Houston southpaws.

Rasmussen, like Chapman, was part of a trade haul as the Astros continue to jettison veterans. Rasmussen joined the organization, along with third baseman Matt Dominguez, in the deal that sent Carlos Lee to the Marlins. He made his first start for Double-A Corpus Christi on July 8.

Four days earlier, the 23-year-old was set to make his first Double-A start for Jacksonville. Just hours before, his phone started going crazy. While he usually lets it be in the final hours before go-time, it was too frequent to ignore. He'd been traded.

"I'd be lying to say that I wasn't a little bit shocked," Rasmussen said. "I wasn't expecting it—there wasn't a rumor. It really seemed out of thin air for me.

"As I calmed down and settled down, I became real happy. I'm excited to be with the Astros. The Marlins changed a lot, there's been a lot of turnover with the organization since I had gotten there. It's great to be a young player with the Astros the way they're moving now."

Rasmussen is considered a starter at this point, two years removed from UCLA, where he was part of a rotation with Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. The Marlins drafted the 5-foot-9, 160-pound lefty in the second round in 2010, and he credits UCLA coach John Savage for his success.

"(Savage) was real big on us being able to throw any of our pitches at any time," Rasmussen said. "That's kind of carried over. Sometimes I'll pitch backward, sometimes I'll pitch book. It just depends on the situation."

His arsenal includes a fastball at 90-91 mph, a curveball, a slider and a changeup. He put up a 3.90 ERA in 17 starts for high Class A Jupiter before getting the call to Double-A and then the call to the Astros.

Space Shots

• Fourth-round pick Rio Ruiz was cleared to play after the third baseman missed most of his senior season of high school with a blood clot near his neck. Ruiz was assigned to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League after signing for $1.85 million.

• Jonathan Singleton represented the Astros well in the Futures Game, going 3-for-4 with a walk. Then he took home the Double-A Texas League player of the week award after six extra-base hits in six games.