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J. R. Towles

MLB Player information
NameJ. R. Towles
PositionCatcher
Place of birthCrosby, Texas
BatsRight
ThrowsRight
MLB debutSeptember 5, 2007 for the Houston Astros
Career statistics
Batting average.184
Home runs11
Runs batted in49
Teams
*Houston Astros (2007 present)

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Justin Roberts Towles (born February 11, 1984 in Crosby, Texas) is a Major League Baseball catcher for the Houston Astros.

The Oakland Athletics originally drafted him in the 32nd round (968th overall) and in the 23rd round (692nd overall) in the 2002 and 2003 Major League Baseball drafts, respectively. He did not sign with them either times. He signed with the Houston Astros when they drafted him in the 20th round (604th overall) in the 2004 draft.

In 2004 after being signed, Towles played at the rookie level for the Greeneville Astros. He played in just 39 games and batted .243 with no home runs. In 2005 and in 2006, he played for the Single-A Lexington Legends. He batted .345 with 5 home runs in 45 games in 2005 and in 2006, batted .312 with 12 home runs in 81 games. He was a South Atlantic League Mid-Season All-Star in 2006 and was a Baseball America Low A All-Star.

Towles worked his way up the minor leagues in 2007. He began the year with the Single-A Salem Avalanche, then the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, and by the end of the minor league season, was with the Triple-A Round Rock Express. He played a total of 100 games in the minor leagues and batted .287 with 11 home runs. He also was a selection for the All-Star Futures Game at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Towles had his contract purchased by the major league club on September 4, 2007. He made his major league debut on September 5, 2007, against the Milwaukee Brewers. He faced relief pitcher Matt Wise as a pinch hitter and flied out to left fielder Mel Stocker. On September 20, 2007, Towles got 8 RBI in a game beating the club record of 7 RBI. In the same game, the Astros got a combined 23 hits in their 18-1 win against the St. Louis Cardinals. Towles also hit is first career home run that day. The pitcher who gave up that home run was actually infielder Aaron Miles.

Towles was expected to be the starting catcher starting in 2008 with the club signing Brad Ausmus to a one-year contract to serve as a back-up catcher and mentor to the young Towles on October 30, 2007.

On June 5, 2008, Towles was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock for having some hitting troubles. Towles hit .145 over 42 games for the Astros. He had 17 hits in 117 at-bats, knocking four homers and driving in 14. Towles was not surprised about this move though and took it very well. Towles thought of it as a time to get some confidence back. Cooper said it wasn't his catching or game calling, it was his offense. Ausmus became the primary catcher.

He was competing with Humberto Quintero and Lou Palmisano for the starting or back-up job in 2009, but is now expected to begin the season in Round Rock to play everyday and develop since it was reported that the team had agreed to a contract with Ivan Rodriguez on March 16.

After Humberto Quintero was designated to the 15 Day Disabled List, Towles was called up to the Astros to serve as back-up catcher for Ivan Rodriguez. He has performed in one game, coming in after manager Cecil Cooper and Rodriguez were ejected from the game, getting one hit in three at bats. The one hit, however was a game tying two run double.

Towles hit .191 (9-for-47) with one homer and eight RBIs in 17 games with the Astros. He was the Opening Day starter and wound up starting 13 of the team's first 26 games, splitting time with career backup Humberto Quintero. On May 5, 2010, He was optioned to Double-A Corpus Christi because the Astros have No. 1 prospect Jason Castro catching at Round Rock, so the club sent Towles to Double-A to give him a chance to play every day.




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