Kevin Hooper, a former Lawrence High baseball standout, has left the Detroit Tigers organization and signed a minor-league free-agent contract with the Houston Astros.
Hooper, who spent the bulk of the last three seasons with the Tigers' Triple-A farm team in Toledo, Ohio, figures to have a better chance of making the Astros' Opening Day roster as a utility player.
Hooper, who will turn 31 on Dec. 7, was a team leader and fan favorite for Toledo. He batted .301 this year, but played in only 60 games because of two stays on the disabled list. A broken left index finger ended his season in July.
Hooper appeared in 14 big-league games with the Tigers - six in 2005 and eight in 2006 - and had one hit in eight at-bats (.125).
The Astros will be Hooper's fifth major-league organization. He was taken in the eighth round of the 1999 June draft by the Florida Marlins after spending four seasons at Wichita State.
A 1995 Lawrence High grad, Hooper also has played in the minor-league systems of the Yankees and the Royals.