The Houston Astros Caravan made a quick pit stop at Sam Houston State University to talk to students Wednesday at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Astros wrapped up their daylong trip in Huntsville after visiting San Antonio, Galveston, Texas City, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La., and Conroe earlier in the day.
A crowd of SHSU students including the Bearkat baseball and softball teams listened in on Astros’ starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and outfielders L.J. Hoes and Houston native Robbie Grossman. Director of amateur scouting Mike Elias and Astros’ broadcaster Robert Ford joined the players as they answered questions from students as well.
“It’s good to go out into the community and meet fans face-to-face. You want to give back to the fans who support us.” Foltynewicz said. “I love being with these guys and hanging out with them.”
Grossman described the experience of his Major League Baseball debut for his hometown team. As a graduate from Cypress Fairbanks High School in 2008, Grossman made his Astros debut July 30, 2013, and said the experience is something he’ll never forget.
“It was very cool,” he said. “My parents got to see the game. I was really happy for them.”
Hoes, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, discussed his trade to the Astros just hours before the two teams played each other in Baltimore, Md., in July last season.
“It was kind of surreal to go from being in the lineup with the [Orioles] and going into the locker room and seeing I got traded to the team I was supposed to be playing,” he said.
Hoes said his family was on their way to the game dressed in Orioles gear and had to switch to Astros gear once they heard about the trade.
Fans took photos with the guests and received autographs from each of the players. After completing a few more stops on this year’s caravan, the Astros will head off to spring training in Kissimmee, Fla.
“The first wave of these guys in the minors will be coming up to the majors for spring training,” Elias said. “It shows just how near we are to getting the help we expect to get from the farm system.”
Hoes said he’s excited for the rest of the caravan with his teammates and moving into training to prepare for the new season.
“I’m looking forward to being around the guys,” he said. “You build such camaraderie with them. They become like brothers.”
The Astros’ caravan will head into Austin, Victoria, Rockport, Beaumont, College Station and Bryan Thursday before heading back to Houston Saturday for FanFest at Minute Maid Park.