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Norris Gets First Big League Promotion

July 29, 2009 - Pacific Coast League (PCL) Round Rock Express

ROUND ROCK - The prolific Triple-A season Bud Norris is in midst of has been put on hold. The Houston Astros announced late Tuesday evening that Bud Norris will be joining the club's rotation Wednesday.

The announcement came shortly after Houston right-hander Roy Oswalt left the mound during the second inning of a Tuesday start against the Chicago Cubs with a lower back strain.

Norris will be replaced in Round Rock by Erick Abreu, who will join the Express from Corpus Christi on Wednesday in Memphis.

The Major League promotion is the first for Norris, 24, who was ranked as the Astros' No. 1 prospect by Baseball America heading into this season. Norris generally works his fastball in the 92 - 95 mph range, but was clocked as high as 98 mph in the Arizona Fall League. Those speeds, combined with a slider and variations his delivery angles helped Norris fan 117 batters in 97 innings of work with Single-A Lexington in 2007.

Despite an elbow strain that sidelined him for nearly two months in 2008, Norris showed fortitude and promise, rebounding in the second-half of his season with Double-A Corpus Christi. Limited to just 75 pitches per game, Norris trimmed a 3.85 ERA over his final 43 innings.

Norris carried a 2.51 ERA through his first five starts with Round Rock this season, earning a no decision in each before picking up his first win with 6 2/3 scoreless innings (1 UER) against Oklahoma City on May 9. He has allowed three or more earned runs in just four of his 19 starts, limiting hitters to a .237 clip and carving out a Pacific Coast League-best 2.63 ERA along the way.

Norris has fanned 112 batters over a career-high 120 innings (second-best among all Houston minor leaguers).

Abreu, 25, is 3-0 with a 2.54 ERA for the Hooks and has allowed just two runs over his last seven outings (1.23 ERA). He was 7-6 with a 3.98 ERA with Single-A Salem in 2008, his first full minor league season.

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