Astros director of player development Fred Nelson is spending this week at extended spring camp, which takes place at the club's facility in Kissimmee, Fla. There are currently about 70 players participating, ranging from those on medical rehabs to younger players who will be sent out when the short-season clubs begin play next month.
The players participated in a six-inning simulated game Monday before playing the Tigers at Osceola County Stadium. When the Astros play the nearby Nationals, they will play a doubleheader consisting of seven-inning games.
"It gives our pitchers more work and preparation for the short-season clubs starting out," Nelson said.
The healthy players are used to fill out the rosters at rookie level Greeneville, short-season Tri-City and the rookie Gulf Coast League Astros, along with those players taken in June's First-Year Player Draft. The three short-season clubs carry a total of 90 players.
"We have the Draft to help us supply those players, but you don't sign everybody in the Draft, and there will be some guys who will be released after the Draft that aren't going to make clubs and we feel we've seen enough of them," Nelson said.
Among the players who have been sent back to extended spring camp after early-season struggles in Lexington are pitchers Tanner Bushue, a right-hander, and Kyle Hallock, a left-hander.
Among the players rehabbing in Kissimmee are Taiwanese right-hander Chia-Jen Lo, who had Tommy John surgery last August and could pitch in a game by year's end, and former second-round pick Vincent Velasquez, a pitcher who had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and will be sent out to a short-season club next month.