Underrated Oberholtzer improving at Double-A

Underrated Oberholtzer improving at Double-A

Underrated Oberholtzer improving at Double-A
HOUSTON -- It's been nearly a year since the Astros traded away popular outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, a move which significantly upgraded their Minor League system and provided several of the organization's current top prospects.

While much of the focus has been on pitcher Jarred Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton -- both acquired in the Pence deal with the Phillies -- another up-and-comer is having a solid season with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.

Left-handed starting pitcher Brett Oberholtzer, who came to Houston in the Bourn deal last July, is 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA in 11 starts for the Hooks. In 63 1/3 innings, he's allowed 73 hits, 10 homers and 20 walks while striking out 55 batters.

"I like him a lot," Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said. "On any given night he goes out, his stuff is very good and certainly good enough to pitch in the big leagues. I think he needs to be more consistent with his command and with his stuff, and if he does, it will be beneficial."

Oberholtzer is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his last two starts.

"I'm throwing the ball well now," he said. "I've still got a lot of work to do, but I'm getting back to where I need to be, and hopefully I'll be ready to go."

Oberholtzer felt at home with the Braves, the team that drafted him in the eighth round in 2008, but he understands the rebuilding Astros present a land of opportunity.

"I love the Braves," he said. "The Braves were a good organization to play for and learn from, but I feel like the opportunity over here with the Astros is going to be more beneficial in the long run. I'm taking it for what it's worth and just playing baseball."

Oberholtzer helps anchor a promising Hooks rotation that includes Jake Buchanan (3-4, 5.32 ERA), Ross Seaton (5-3, 4.28), Jose Cisnero (2-6, 4.58) and Cosart (3-3, 4.50), who's the team's top pitching prospect.

With at least a couple of those arms likely headed for Triple-A later this year -- and perhaps even the Majors within the next year -- Oberholtzer is excited about the future.

"With the pitching and some of the young players I see coming up and that I'm playing with now, we are very talented," he said. "I feel like the Astros have a good team coming up. I know they might not be seeing it now or the fans might be getting anxious, but with the next five years, we're going to bring winning back to Houston."

The Astros haven't been shy about pushing prospects through the system, promoting pitcher David Carpenter, outfielder J.D. Martinez and infielder Jose Altuve quickly last year. They aren't likely to move as swiftly with a starting pitcher, but Oberholtzer can see the light.

"It's up to me to keep pitching well and doing what I need to do and take care of what I need to do," he said. "If can do that, everything will fall into place. That's for this year. In the next couple of years, obviously I want to be held accountable to bring a winning team here to Houston. It's definitely one of my goals."