Brooks Conrad has been one of my favorite minor leaguers for a long time. I gave him 3 ½ stars before the 2005 season. In hindsight the rating was dead on, but I should have been a bit more reserved in my praises of him. I overstated his offensive value.
Conrad seems to be in line to become a bench player for the Astros in 2007. They purchased his contract about a week ago to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He split his time approximately 60/40 between second and third with Round Rock. Then in the Arizona Fall League, he played all three outfield spots. If the Astros don't re-sign Craig Biggio, Chris Burke becomes the starter at the keystone. If not, then Conrad would be relegated to either the 25th man spot or back to Round Rock as Burke becomes the backup there and in the outfield. Of course that assumes that they won't trade Burke or bring in another utility player who can handle second.
When I overstated his offensive value, it was in projecting him to be capable of being an everyday player. That's pushing it. Given translation between the PCL and the NL, Conrad's batting average and OBP probably would dive into the margin where he becomes more of a decent bench bat than a starter. I certainly no longer see him as a Mark Grudzielanek in the making. David Newhan might be a more realistic upside here.
The bad part of this picture is that Conrad is already 27 years old, so there's no projection left. He is what he is, a tweener in every sense of the word, His glove plays better at third, but his bat clearly isn't a fit there. He's also a good bet to get stuck in the Houston-Austin-Houston-Austin shuttle for a few years. He's too good for AAA, not quite good enough to catch the attention of Major League managers. I'd much rather have him on my bench than Neifi Perez or the bloated corpse of Lenny Harris. I only hope Phil Garner agrees with me.