Astros' Foltynewicz Rebounds In Lexington

HOUSTON—Nobody is looking for a repeat season on the route from the draft to the big leagues.

So the goal when faced with one is to make the absolute most of it, and that's what Mike Foltynewicz did in his breakout season. Foltynewicz, who turned 21 after the season, took advantage of that repeat of low Class A to go 14-4, 3.14 with 125 strikeouts and 62 walks in 152 innings, and earn the distinction of the South Atlantic League's most outstanding pitcher.

That he was repeating Lexington, which as of next year will no longer be an Astros affiliate, is no surprise. There was the 4.97 ERA in his full-season debut of 2011 that proved a learning experience. There was also the fact that the logical step for an in-season promotion was high Class A Lancaster, where the Astros have avoided sending premium pitching prospects.

A two-step promotion would have been impossible because of the influx of trade deadline pitching prospects that repopulated the Astros' Double-A ranks.

So 2012 was about wait, learn and dominate—and he credits Lexington pitching coach Dave Borkowski for his improvement from year one to year two.

"I knew what to expect going into the next season and how to prepare, what the workload would be like," Foltynewicz said.

The big challenge will come next year.

The Astros hope the 2010 first-round pick (No. 19 overall) is ready to begin the year in Double-A Corpus Chrisi and skip Lancaster. They plan to start Foltynewicz with the Double-A team in spring training and see if he earns the spot.

General manager Jeff Luhnow has been a fan for a long time back to Foltynewicz's high school days in rural Illinois and Luhnow's tenure running the nearby Cardinals' amateur scouting department.

"I always believed that he was going to have success and this year, he was 20 years old, he's dominated at that Low-A level and he, right now, is one of our top pitching prospects in the organization," Luhnow said.

Foltynewicz has been the model for a pitcher with his 6-foot-4, 200 pound frame, good fastball and durability that's given him 53 starts in the last two seasons.

With the performance starting to match the body, the Astros want to order a few more.

"Right now, he's one of our top pitching prospects in the organization. You could see him being in Houston in two years time and beginning to have a real impact there," Luhnow said as he continues the process of rebuilding through the farm.

"We need four more just like him."

Space Shots

• Nearly forgotten righthander and one-time organizational top-five prospect Chia-Jen Lo is continuing his comeback bid in the Arizona Fall League. Lo pitched just 17 innings in 2010 and 2011 combined but had a 0.90 ERA in 30 innings this year, ending in Lancaster.

• Shortstop Jiovanni Mier is looking to make up for a mostly lost season on the taxi squad for Mesa in the AFL. Mier was limited to 171 at-bats at Lancaster because of a hamstring injury.