The Houston Astros will purchase the contract of left-hander Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A Oklahoma City prior to Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.
In a corresponding roster move, the Astros will place reliever Sergio Escalona on the 60-day disabled list after the 27-year-old southpaw injured his left ankle while tripping over a glove in the outfield during the team’s batting practice on Friday evening.
Cedeno, 25, is expected to be in uniform on Sunday, thus providing manager Brad Mills with another left-hander in the bullpen.
Wesley Wright represents the other.
Cedeno, a 2011 Texas League All-Star, went 7-9 with a 4.38 ERA over 137 2/3 innings in 35 combined games (22 starts) between Double-A Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City this season.
He was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 31st round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and spent five seasons in their system.
Unfortunately, his tenure in Colorado’s farm system ended following the 2009 season, forcing him to become a minor league free agent.
Cedeno didn’t get a single bite for 2010, causing him to sit out the entire year while holding out hope that his career wasn’t over.
“I got released before last season, stayed at home and didn’t play,” Cedeno told knotmove.com following the 75th Texas League All-Star Game in June. “I was hoping a team would come into the picture.”
Although Cedeno missed the entire 2010 regular season, he was able to catch on with Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League this past offseason, where the southpaw posted a 1-2 record with a 2.32 ERA over 42 2/3 innings in 12 games (seven starts).
That was a turning point for Cedeno.
The Astros had seen him pitch a few times at the Double-A level and thought well enough of his performance in Winter Ball to sign the lefty to a minor league contract in January, with an invitation to Minor League Camp in Kissimmee, Fla., for Spring Training.
“When you get released and think about that stuff, you want to keep playing and have to work even harder to make that happen,” Cedeno said. “The time I had at home last year made me think about my career. I really worked hard and I’m glad that a good organization, like the Astros, gave me a chance.”
His strong performance for the Astros during Minor League Camp enabled him to start the 2011 campaign in the rotation at Corpus Christi.
Cedeno had led the Texas League in strikeouts, but his time at Oklahoma City caused him to finish seventh (110) in this category.
He made headlines throughout Minor League Baseball by setting a Corpus Christi franchise record on June 27 with 14 strikeouts, including nine straight, to start the game against Frisco — falling one shy of tying the Texas League record for most consecutive strikeouts (10) established a little over 100 years ago.
“I don’t know what was going on,” Cedeno said. “It was just my day. I was trying to make them swing the bat and they couldn’t hit the ball. I felt really good and was in the zone. I am really finding out this year that I can be a good starting pitcher. It’s starting to click and I’m finding out that I’m kind of a strikeout pitcher.”
Cedeno finds himself on a personal mission to keep improving and performing well in order to keep his foot in professional baseball.
“I’m hoping for the best,” he said. “I need to keep doing what I’m doing. I need to work hard and hopefully opportunities will be there.”
The addition of Cedeno on Sunday will give Houston a total of 16 rookies on the active roster — 10 pitchers and six position players.
For the latest Astros news, click on the Subscribe button at the top of the page. Also, be sure to follow Houston Astros Examiner Stephen Goff on Facebook and Twitter, or email email@example.com.