Astros call top prospect Pence up from Class AAA
By JOSE DE JESUS ORTIZ
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
After their season-high losing streak grew to seven games late Friday night, the Astros purchased the contract of stud outfield prospect Hunter Pence.
Pence is expected to be in the Astros' starting lineup in center field Saturday night against the Milwaukee Brewers, who won the opener of the three-game series Friday night 4-1 at Minute Maid Park. Chris Burke, who started the season in center field, has been shifted to a utility role.
"We're going to purchase the contract of Hunter Pence from Round Rock," general manager Tim Purpura said. "And he's going to be in the lineup in center field. And we also notified Chris Burke that he was slotted into a utility role for us."
Pence is hitting .341 with three home runs, 10 doubles and 19 RBIs over 22 games in his first season at Class AAA Round Rock.
"We got to find a way to get the offense rolling," Purpura said. "We're getting our hits. We're not driving in runs. Hunter is a kid that we really hope that can help us with that.
"It's certainly asking a lot of a young player, but all the returns from Round Rock have been very positive. I feel very good about this player. We feel like he can come up here and give us some energy and help that process. It can't just be hunter Pence, though. We got to have more production from our lineup than we're getting right now. This is stage 1. Now we have to get some other pieces to get some other players going."
Lefthanded reliever Stephen Randolph, who gave up a home run Friday night, was designated for assignment to make room for Pence on the 25-man roster.