Before they were postseason bound: Astros

Before they were postseason bound: Astros

The Astros are headed to the postseason for the first time since their World Series appearance in 2005, and here's the skinny on the origins of every player wearing the H-Star.

Dallas Keuchel, LHP
Born: Tulsa, Okla.
DOB: 1/1/1988
HS: Bishop Kelley (Okla.) High School
College: University of Arkansas
Minors: Tri City (A-), Lancaster (A+), Corpus Christi (AA), Oklahoma City (AAA)
• Keuchel was a two-time conference Pitcher of the Year while at Bishop Kelley High and he also played quarterback for the school's football team.
• Keuchel and Rays southpaw Drew Smyly were roommates at Arkansas, where they led the Razorbacks to an appearance in the 2009 College World Series.
• Keuchel made his Major League debut at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 2012, the same park where he attended his first Major League game as a child.

Date Result
Oct. 6 HOU 3, NYY 0

Scott Kazmir, LHP
Born: Houston
DOB: 1/24/1984
HS: Cypress Falls (Texas) High School
Minors: Brooklyn (A-), Capital City (A), St. Lucie (A+), Montgomery (AA), Binghamton (AA), Vero Beach (A+), Durham (AAA), Charlotte (A+), Rancho Cucamonga (A+), Salt Lake (AAA), Columbus (AAA)
• During one stretch of baseball at Cypress Falls High, Kazmir threw five no-hitters in six games.
• Kazmir also played quarterback at Cypress Falls and was highly recruited in football, though he ultimately chose baseball.
• Kazmir and high school teammate Clint Everts were both selected in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft -- the first pair of high school pitchers from the same team ever selected in the same first round.

Dress for the postseason like the Astros

Collin McHugh, RHP
Born: Naperville, Ill.
DOB: 6/19/1987
HS: Providence Christian Academy (Ga.)
College: Berry College 
Minors: Kingsport (Rookie), Brooklyn (A-), Savannah (A), St. Lucie (A+), Binghamton (AA), Buffalo (AAA), Las Vegas (AAA), Tulsa (AA), Colorado Springs (AAA), Oklahoma City (AAA)
• McHugh is the first player in Berry College history to reach the Major Leagues.
• An avid writer, McHugh's has maintained his blog, "A Day Older, a Day Wiser," since 2008 and has seen it quoted by some national news outlets.
• McHugh plays both the ukulele and guitar.

Mike Fiers, RHP
Born: Hollywood, Fla.
DOB: 6/15/1985
HS: Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School
College: Nova Southeastern University
Minors: Helena (Rookie), Wisconsin (A), Brevard County (A+), Huntsville (AA), Nashville (AAA)
• Fiers led the nation in strikeouts while at Nova Southeastern University in 2009, amassing 145 in just 108.2 innings.
• Fiers was named 2011 Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year, going 13-3 with a 1.86 ERA while jumping between Double-A Huntstville and Triple-A Nashville.
• Fiers often assists his high school baseball team in the offseason while also volunteering his time at baseball camps.

Postseason
Before they were postseason bound

Lance McCullers,RHP 
Born: Tampa, Fla.
DOB: 8/2/1993
HS: Jesuit (Fla.) High School 
Minors: Greeneville (Rookie), Quad Cities (A), Lancaster (A+), Corpus Christi (AA)
• McCullers' father, Lance McCullers Sr., played part of seven seasons for four Major League teams. He had a 28-31 record with a 3.25 ERA.
• McCullers was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year in 2012.
• He is a Batman fan, even sporting cleats with a Batman logo on the heels.

Scott Feldman, RHP
Born: Kailua, Hawaii
DOB: 2/7/1983
HS:Burlingame (Calif.) High School 
College: College of San Mateo
Minors: AZL Rangers (Rookie), Bakersfield (A), Frisco (AA), Oklahoma City (AAA), Round Rock (AAA)
• At 6-foot-7, Feldman -- who is out for the season with a sprained right shoulder -- is the third tallest pitcher in Astros history.
• In 2009, while at Double-A Frisco, Feldman and two others combined to throw a perfect game against Houston's Double-A affiliate, Corpus Christi. It was the first combined nine-inning perfect game in Texas League history.
• After losing 40 pounds and walking on to the team at the College of San Mateo, Feldman garnered Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year honors in both his freshman and sophomore years.

Luke Gregerson, RHP
Born: Park Ridge, Ill.
DOB: 5/14/1984
HS: Morton (Ill.) High School
College: St. Xavier University
Minors: Johnson City (Rookie), State College (A-), Palm Beach (A+), Springfield (AA), Tucson (AAA)
• In his senior season, Gregerson was the closer and starting right fielder for St. Xavier University. He hit .330 with 49 RBIs while compiling a 0.68 ERA and was named NAIA Region VII Player of the Year.
• Gregerson is a member of the St. Xavier University Hall of Fame along with his former coach, Mike Dooley. The pair led St. Xavier to an NAIA World Series appearance in 2006 -- its first since 1998.
• Gregerson pitched two scoreless innings for Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Chad Qualls, RHP
Born: Harbor City, Calif.
DOB: 8/17/1978
HS: Narbonne (Calif.) High School
College: Los Angeles Harbor College, University of Nevada-Reno
Minors: Michigan (A), Round Rock (AA), New Orleans (AAA)
• Qualls anchored a starting rotation at the University of Nevada that included former Major Leaguer Darrell Rasner. Qualls was named All Big West in 1999 and 2000.
• Qualls was the first player in Astros history to have a last name beginning with Q.
• He set the Class A Michigan franchise record with 15 wins in 2001.

Pat Neshek, RHP
Born: Madison, Wis.
DOB: 9/4/1980
HS: Park Center (Minn.) High School
College: Butler University
Minors: Elizabethton (Rookie), Quad Cities (A), Fort Meyers (A+), New Britain (AA), Rochester (AAA), Tucson (AAA), Norfolk (AAA)
• Neshek developed his unorthodox sidearm delivery while recovering from a comebacker that drilled him in the forearm at Park Center High School. He threw sidearm while playing shortstop while recovering from the injury and never changed.
• Neshek holds the Butler single-game (18), single-season (118) and career (280) strikeout records.
• An avid autograph seeker, Neshek runs his own website devoted to autograph collecting where fans can interact about memorabilia.

Tony Sipp, LHP
Born: Pascagoula, Miss.
DOB: 7/12/1983
HS: Moss Point (Miss.) High School
College: Clemson, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Northwest Florida State College, Okaloosa-Walton College
Minors: Mahoning Valley (A-), Lake County (A), Kinston (A+), Akron (AA), Gulf Coast Indians (Rookie), Columbus (AAA), Reno (AAA), El Paso (AAA)
• Sipp was a two-sport star at Moss Point High School, winning a state title with the football team in 2000.
• In one season at Clemson, Sipp was the Tigers' leadoff hitter and starting center fielder -- hitting .280 while also making 22 appearances on the mound.
• Sipp played against Joey Butler -- who is also from Mississippi -- in high school.

Will Harris, RHP
Born: Houston
DOB: 8/28/1984
HS: Slidell (La.) High School
College: Louisiana State University
Minors: Tri-City (A-), Asheville (A), Modesto (A+), Tulsa (AA), Colorado Springs (AAA), Reno (AAA)
• While at LSU, Harris started at first base from 2004-2005 and third base during his senior season.
• Harris was named to the 2004 NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team after leading LSU with a .429 average in seven NCAA Tournament games, leading to a College World Series berth.
• Harris' older brother, Clay, also started for LSU. Clay was drafted in the ninth round by Philadelphia in 2005.

Oliver Perez, LHP
Born: Culiacan, Mexico
DOB: 8/15/1981
HS: Cobales (Mexico)
Minors: Arizona League Padres (Rookie), Idaho Falls (Rookie), Fort Wayne (A), Lake Elsinore (A+), Mobile (AA), Portland (AAA), Indianapolis (AAA), Norfolk (AAA), Brooklyn (A-), St. Lucie (A+), Buffalo (AAA), Tacoma (AAA)
• Perez played for Team Mexico in the 2006, 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classic.
• Perez was a Midwest League All-Star in 2001.
• He earned a win in his first ever Major League appearance in 2002, tossing five innings of two-run ball as the youngest player in the Major Leagues.

Vincent Velasquez, RHP
Born: Montclair, Calif.
DOB: 6/7/1992
HS: Garey (Calif.) High School
Minors: Greeneville (Rookie), Tri-City (A-), Quad Cities (A), Lancaster (A+), Corpus Christi (AA)
• Velasquez also played shortstop while at Garey High, where he was a three-time All Mt. Baldy League First-Team infielder.
• Also a potent high school hitter, Velasquez clubbed his way to a .608 average with 14 doubles in his senior season.
• Velasquez underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011, missing the entire season, but came back to start throwing in 2012.

Josh Fields, RHP
Born: Athens, Ga.
DOB: 08/19/1985
HS: Prince Avenue (Ga.) Christian School
College: University of Georgia
Minors: West Tennessee (AA), Portland (AA), Jackson (AA), Tacoma (AAA), Pawtucket (AAA), Quad Cities (A), Corpus Christi (AA), Oklahoma City (AAA), Fresno (AAA)
• As a senior at Georgia in 2008, Fields was named the Stopper of the Year and SEC Pitcher of the Year after collecting a school-record 18 saves.
• Fields' 41 career collegiate saves are an SEC record.
• He opted to go back to school after being a second-round pick in 2007. The move was wise as he vaulted into the first round in 2008.

Jason Castro, C
Born: Castro Valley, Calif.
DOB: 6/18/1987
HS: Castro Valley (Calif.) High School
College: Stanford
Minors: Tri-City (A-), Lancaster (A+), Corpus Christi (AA), Round Rock (AAA), Oklahoma City (AAA)
• Castro was named Stanford's team MVP in 2008, hitting .376 with 14 homers to lead the Cardinal to a College World Series appearance.
• He played in the 2009 All-Star Futures Game in St. Louis, where he hit a three-run homer and threw out a would-be basestealer.
• Castro and his wife, Maris, started Castro's Kids in 2013, a charity that has donated more than 30,000 books to the Houston Independent School District over the last two years.

Hank Conger, C
Born: Federal Way, Wash.
DOB: 1/29/1988
HS: Huntington Beach (Calif.) High School
Minors: AZL Angels (Rookie), Cedar Rapids (A), Rancho Cucamonga (A+), Arkansas (AA), Salt Lake (AAA)
• Conger hit 34 home runs as a 12-year-old when he led his Huntington Beach Little League team to within one win of the 2000 Little League World Series.
• Conger was named the MVP of the 2010 All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium, where he hit a three-run homer and caught three innings.
• He was a second-team All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year at Huntington Beach High School.

Max Stassi, C
Born: Woodland, Calif.
DOB: 3/15/1991
HS: Yuba City (Calif.) High School
Minors: Arizona League Athletics (Rookie), Vancouver (A-), Kane County (A), Stockton (A+), Corpus Christi (AA), Oklahoma City (AAA), Fresno (AAA)
• He finished his high school career with a .513 average. He was named Tri-County Conference Co-Player of the Year in 2009.
• Stassi's father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all Major League catchers. His father, Jim, coached at Yuba City High School.
• Stassi has a charity event -- Homers for the Hungry -- at Yuba City High School. The 2014 home run derby, where he and his brother Brock hit 172 homers off their father, raised more than $30,000 for 12 food banks in the area and in its six years of existence has raised more than $100,000.

Luis Valbuena, IF
Born: Zulia, Venezuela.
DOB: 11/30/1985
HS: La Cordillera (Venezuela)
Minors: Everett (A-), Wisconsin (A), Inland Empire (A+), West Tennessee (AA), Tacoma (AAA), Columbus (AAA), Iowa (AAA),
• Valbuena was named a Postseason All-Star while with Triple-A Tacoma in 2011.
• In only his second season of professional baseball, Valbuena was named MVP of the Venezuelan Summer League in 2004, hitting .361 with 78 hits.
• Valbuena's hit one career grand slam, in 2010 off Justin Verlander.

Chris Carter, 1B
Born: Redwood City, Calif.
DOB: 12/18/1986
HS: Sierra Vista (Nev.) High School
Minors: Bristol (Rookie), Great Falls (Rookie), Kannapolis (A), Stockton (A+), Midland (AA), Sacramento (AAA)
• Carter was named Texas League Player of the Year in 2009.
• Along with teammate Jose Altuve, Carter traveled to Japan in the offseason as a member of the MLB All-Star Team that faced off against "Samurai Japan" for five games.
• Carter played shortstop at Sierra Vista High School, where he hit .343 with seven homers as a senior.

Marwin Gonzalez, IF/OF
Born: Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
DOB: 3/14/1989
Minors: Arizona Cubs (Rookie), Boise (A-), Peoria (A), Daytona (A+), Tennessee (AA), Iowa (AAA), Oklahoma City (AAA)
• Gonzalez has played every position besides pitcher, catcher and center field for the Astros.
• In 2013, Gonzalez foiled Yu Darvish's attempt at a perfect game with a single back up the middle with two outs in the ninth.
• Gonzalez's first Major League homer, on May 14, 2012, came as a pinch-hitter.

Jose Altuve, 2B
Born: Maracay, Venezuela
DOB: 5/6/1990
Minors: Greeneville (Rookie), Tri-City (A-), Lexington (A), Lancaster (A+), Corpus Christi (AA)
• Standing 5-foot-5, Altuve is the shortest active Major League baseball player.
• Altuve was the 2011 Houston Astros Minor League Player of the Year, and was called up that summer.
• There is an unofficial unit of measurement, the Altuve, coined by broadcasters who ask "how many Altuves" a home run has traveled.

Carlos Correa, SS
Born: Ponce, Puerto Rico
DOB: 9/22/1994
HS: Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Minors: Greeneville (Rookie), Quad Cities (A), Lancaster (A+), Corpus Christi (AA), Fresno (AAA)
• A No. 1 overall pick in 2012, Correa is the highest drafted player ever out of Puerto Rico, besting Ramon Castro, whom the Astros drafted 17th overall in 1994.
• Correa was named a Rawlings First-Team All-American in his final year at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.
• Correa graduated as valedictorian of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.

Jed Lowrie, 3B
Born: Salem, Ore.
DOB: 4/17/1984
HS: North Salem (Ore.) High School
College: Stanford
Minors: Lowell (A-), Wilmington (A+), Portland (AA), Pawtucket (AAA), Oklahoma City (AAA)
• Lowrie was named Pac-10 Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2004, winning the conference's Triple Crown with a .399 average, 17 homers and 68 RBIs.
• While at Stanford, Lowrie played with future Major Leaguers John Mayberry Jr., Sam Fuld and Carlos Quentin.
• An avid photographer, Lowrie spent the 2010 offseason studying photography and travelling to take photos.

Colby Rasmus, OF
Born: Phenix City, Ala.
DOB: 8/11/1986
HS: Russell County (Ala.) High School 
Minors: Johnson City (Rookie), Quad City (A-), Palm Beach (A), Springfield (AA), Memphis (AAA)
• Rasmus became Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow's first career Draft selection when Luhnow orchestrated the Cardinals 2005 Draft.
• He broke Bo Jackson's Alabama single-season record with 24 home runs in 2005 at Russell County High School.
• Rasmus was a member of the 1999 U.S. Championship Team at the Little League World Series, which lost to Hirakata Little League of Osaka, Japan.

Carlos Gomez, OF
Born: Santiago, Dominican Republic
DOB: 12/4/1985
HS: Ana FA Jimenez (D.R.) High School 
Minors: Kingsport (Rookie), Gulf Coast Mets (Rookie), Hagerstown (A), Binghamton (AA), St. Lucie (A+), New Orleans (AAA), Wisconsin (A), Nashville (AAA)
• Gomez was the co-winner of the Sterling Award, given to the team MVP, while in Double-A Binghamton
• Gomez and Jose Reyes would run foot races against one another while with the Mets in 2007 and Gomez often won.
• While with the Mets in 2007, he, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran were in the same lineup -- the first time in Major League history a team had three starters in its lineup named "Carlos."

George Springer, OF
Born: New Britain, Conn.
DOB: 9/19/1989
HS: Avon Old Farms (Conn.) High School
College: University of Connecticut
Minors: Tri-City (A-), Lancaster (A+), Corpus Christi (AA), Oklahoma City (AAA), Quad Cities (A)
• Springer is the highest drafted UConn player in school history. He was named 2009 Big East Rookie of the Year, the first ever UConn player to win that award, and 2011 Big East Player of the Year.
• Springer's mother, Laura, is a former gymnast. Springer took gymnastics lessons until he was 12 years old.
• Springer, who speaks with a stutter, was named the spokesperson for the Stuttering Association for the Young (SAY)

Jake Marisnick, OF
Born: Riverside, Calif.
DOB: 3/30/1991
HS: Riverside Poly (Calif.) High School
Minors: Gulf Coast League Blue Jays (Rookie), Lansing (A), Dunedin (A+), New Hampshire (AA), Jupiter (A+), Jacksonville (AA), New Orleans (AAA), Fresno (AAA)
• Marisnick was an All-County selection as a wide receiver on Riverside Poly's football team during his junior season.
• Marisnick is widely seen as the top video gamer in the Astros clubhouse, often playing football video games against all challengers during pregame.
• Marisnick was recognized as first-team All California Interscholastic Federation during his senior season, when he batted .404 with six homers and 22 stolen bases.

Preston Tucker, OF
Born: Tampa, Fla.
DOB: 7/6/1990
HS: Henry B. Plant (Fla.) High School
College: University of Florida
Minors: Tri-City (A-), Lancaster (A+), Corpus Christi (AA), Oklahoma City (AAA), Fresno (AAA)
• During his senior season at Henry B. Plant High School, Tucker was an honorable mention Louisville Slugger All-American, hitting .468.
• Tucker is the only player in University of Florida history to earn NCAA Regional All-Tournament honors in all four years of his career.
• Tucker is also the only Florida player to be named the Most Outstanding Player of two NCAA Regional Tournaments (2009, 2011).

Evan Gattis, DH
Born: Dallas
DOB: 8/18/1986
HS: Bishop Lynch (Texas) High School
College: University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Minors: Danville (Rookie), Rome (A), Gulf Coast League Braves (Rookie), Lynchburg (A+), Mississippi (AA), Gwinnett (AAA)
• Gattis worked a variety of odd jobs, including valet parker, pizza maker and ski-lift operator, while he was away from baseball from 2007-10.
• After hitting .303 with 16 homers in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2012, he earned the nickname "El Oso Blanco" which translates to "The White Bear."
• During his baseball upbringing in Dallas, he played alongside Clayton Kershaw while playing with Billy Butler, Justin Upton and Homer Bailey in the Junior Olympic Games.