Friday, July 31, 2015

Astros Minor League Transactions

In addition to the moves reported earlier this week, these are the latest Astros minor league moves. Check back throughout the day; I will update with any corresponding moves that will take place in conjunction with the players lost to trade.

FRESNO GRIZZLIES
7-31: 1B Jon Singleton optioned to Fresno
7-30: OF Leo Heras placed on the 7-day DL
7-30: RHP Jose Veras released
7-30: OF Domingo Santana traded to the Brewers

CORPUS CHRISTI HOOKS
7-30: OF Brett Phillips traded to the Brewers
7-30: RHP Adrian Houser traded to the Brewers
7-30: LHP Josh Hader traded to the Brewers

Tweet of the Day

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Weighing in on the Carlos Gomez Trade

I'll be honest. I wasn't very happy when I saw this late this afternoon.

I have nothing against Carlos Gomez. And I'd never even heard of Mike Fiers until a couple of hours ago. I want the Astros to be better and if this trade helps them get better, I'm all for it. But let me tell you a little about the players we're losing.

I love Adrian Houser. He's a competitor. I did my first interview with him when he was only 18. The first time I watched him pitch, he was just a kid about 30 pounds lighter than he is now, but showed great rhythm and athleticism on the mound. He was fun to watch. And then I saw him grow and develop and find his command. Each time I saw him, he had matured as a man and as a pitcher.

Domingo Santana was the opposite, physically at least. He was HUGE the first time I saw him at High A in 2012, the year after the trade, but he was what I called a little "doughy." By the time he got to Corpus Christi the next season, he had transformed himself. He was nothing but muscle and incredibly strong at the plate. And he had also started to transform himself defensively. I'll admit that I occasionally cringed when I saw him in right field. But he worked hard and started to learn what routes to take to balls and how to play smarter in the outfield. In late May in Fresno, there was a constant chatter going in Spanish between he and Carlos Correa on either side of the batting cage. I have no idea what they were talking about, but they were having a whole lot of fun together.

Josh Hader is just a good kid who likes sweet tea and country music ... until he gets on the mound. Then he's as hard-nosed and competitive a pitcher as you will ever see. He once told me that he wanted to "assassinate" the hitter. A little hyperbole, sure, but to see him go from laidback country guy to a ninja assassin with a deceptive delivery was quite entertaining.

I did like and do like all three of those players very much, but I will honestly tell you that I think they will all have a clearer path to the majors with another organization. If you haven't noticed, things are getting a little crowded at the top. There are a lot of moving parts as the Astros are having to get more and more and more creative with the 40-man roster. Houser would likely be lost in the Rule 5 draft this coming year if not protected, and Santana would not make it through waivers if he was removed from the 40-man roster. It makes sense to get something for those players now rather than losing them for nothing later.

However, I had three players in the minor league system that were, to me, untouchables. I won't reveal the other two because I don't want Jeff Luhnow to get any more ideas and further break my heart. But Brett Phillips was at the top of that list of three players.

Brett Phillips is a phenomenal talent. Quick twitch athleticism, speed, a canon arm, the ability to hit for average and for power. I see Phillips as becoming a legit 5-tool player in the major leagues and I think he will make his debut by the end of 2016 if not sooner. And I'm not the only one. MLB Pipeline had Phillips as the number 2 prospect in the Astros system. More than that, though, is Phillips' special ability to connect with everyone and to lead a team. He is going to become a very special player, one that can become the heart and soul of a team. And, yes, I am very sad to see him go. This one is going to hurt. It already does. As one person said, in a trade you have to give up good players, but you should make sure you keep the ones that can be great.

Tweets of the Day

Happy Birthday - 7/30

Wishing a Very Happy Birthday to ...

RHP Jorge Perez (22)
Perez was born on July 30, 1993 in Jamaica, New York, and was drafted by the Astros in the 30th round in 2013 out of Seminole State College in Seminole, Oklahoma. He is currently playing for the Low A Quad Cities River Bandits.

Manager Josh Bonifay (37)
Bonifay was born on July 30, 1978 in Macon, Georgia. Originally drafted by the Pirates in 2006 out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bonifay ended his minor league career in the Houston organization. After serving as a Hitting Coach in the Astros system for two seasons, he was the Manager of the Rookie League Greeneville Astros in 2013 and 2014. 2015 is his first season as the Manager for the Low A Quad Cities team.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fresno was off

The Grizzlies will begin a 3-game series in Reno tonight at 7:05 Pacific. Mike Hauschild will take on Jhoulys Chacín.

Corpus Christi 3, San Antonio 2

W- Adrian Houser (1-2, 2-4 season)
L- Brandon Alger (3-4)
S- Juan Minaya (1)

CC home runs: None.

The Hooks were held to 4 hits, but they managed to get even in the series as Adrian Houser had a fine night on the mound.

Houser earned his first Texas League win as he allowed 2 runs on 5 hits (solo homer), walked 1, and struck out 4 in 7 innings of work. Juan Minaya struck out 2 over 2 perfect frames to get his first save of the year.

Brett Phillips put Corpus on the board in the 1st when he scored on an errant pickoff throw. Jon Kemmer scored on a double play in the 2nd to give the Hooks a 2-1 lead. After the Missions tied the game in the 6th, Conrad Gregor promptly un-tied it with an RBI single in the 7th, which proved to be the difference. Kemmer was 1-2 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored.

Chris Devenski will get the start in the series finale. He'll face James Needy at 7:05.

Rancho Cucamonga 9, Lancaster 6

W- Karch Kowalczyk (1-1)
L- Bryan Radziewski (3-4, 4-4 season)

Lancaster home runs: J.D. Davis (15, solo in 7th), D.J. Fisher (13, 19 season; solo in 9th)

The JetHawks led 4-2 after the first third of the game, but the Quakes closed out on a 7-2 run.

James Ramsay put Lancaster on the board with an RBI single in the 2nd inning. Their 3 runs in the 3rd came on 3 RBI doubles hit by J.D. Davis, Marc Wik, and Chase McDonald. Unfortunately, Rancho went on its run afterwards, and all Lancaster could muster up were solo homers from Davis in the 7th and D.J. Fisher in the 9th. Fisher finished 3-5, while Davis and Wik had 2 hits apiece. Alex Bregman, in his first start with the JetHawks, went 0-5. They had a shortage of position players, so Troy Scribner, who normally pitches, served as the DH. He went 0-4. I don't know how long it was since he last swung a bat in an actual game.

Bryan Radziewski went 4.1 innings and allowed 5 runs on 6 hits (solo and 3-run homers), walked 2, and struck out 4. Jordan Mills was the first man out; he allowed 4 runs (1 inherited runner charged to him) on 5 hits (solo homer), walked 1, and struck out 3. Andrew Walter allowed 2 hits and struck out 5 in 2 innings of work.

Keegan Yuhl will take on Chase De Jong in the series finale. First pitch is at 6:30 Pacific.

Quad Cities 11, Beloit 4

W- Christian Powell (3-1)
L- Junior Mendez (3-8)

QC home runs: Bobby Boyd (1, solo in 6th; first pro home run)

The Banditos seized control of this game with a 5-run 5th that broke a 2-2 tie.

Kristian Trompiz put Quad Cities on the board with an RBI double in the 3rd inning and put them in the lead when he scored on a Jason Martin sac fly. Nick Tanielu drove in the first of the 5 runs in the 5th with a sac fly, and Drew Ferguson followed with an RBI single. Jose Fernandez walked to re-load the bases, and Ramon Laureano promptly cleared them with a double. In the 6th, Bobby Boyd hit his first home run as a pro. And, for good measure, Tanielu cleared the bases with a double in the 8th inning. He, Trompiz (2B, RBI, 2 R), and Boyd (solo homer, 3 R) had 2 hits apiece.

Christian Powell allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4 in 6 innings of work. Michael Freeman allowed 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 1 in 2 scoreless, and Jorge Perez allowed a run on a single, walked 3, and struck out 1 in the 9th.

Game 2 of this series will be at 7:00. The Bandits' starter is TBA.

Tri-City 5, West Virginia 1

W- Rogelio Armenteros (1-1)
L- Dario Agrazal (4-2)

TC home runs: None.

The ValleyCats scored 5 unanswered runs to take the first of 3 against the Black Bears.

Tony Nuñez hit a 2-out double in the 5th and scored on an error following a Johnny Sewald single. Sewald, who advanced to 2nd, scored the go-ahead run on an RBI triple from Edwin Medina. Sewald reached on another error in the 7th, which allowed Cesar Carrasco to score. Later in the inning, Aaron Mizell smacked a 2-run double. Medina and Anthony Hermelyn had 2 hits apiece.

Rogelio Armenteros went 5 innings and allowed a run on 4 hits while striking out 2. Austin Nicely tagged in for 3 innings and allowed 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 1. Zac Grotz got 2 strikeouts in the 9th, but only recorded 1 out. Steve Naemark got the final 2 outs of the game via strikeout.

In game 2 of this series, Trent Thornton will face Juan Paula. First pitch is at 7:00 Eastern.

Greeneville 12, Bristol 4

W- Jose Hernandez (1-0)
L- Logan Sendelbach (0-2)

Greeneville home runs: Randy Cesar (3, 2-run in 4th), Hector Roa (5, 3-run in 6th)

The Appy Astros pounded out 18 hits as they romped to a win in game 1.

Randy Cesar finished 3-4 and opened the scoring with an RBI single in the 1st. Arturo Michelena also finished 3-4; he ripped a 2-run double in the 2nd. He struck again in the 4th with an RBI single. Later in the inning, Cesar smacked a 2-run homer. All 3 of Cesar's hits drove in at least 1 run. He hit an RBI single in the 6th. Justin Garcia followed with an RBI single of his own, and then Hector Roa whacked his 5th homer of the year. Michelena drove in Greeneville's final run of the evening with a sac fly in the 9th. Garcia, Roa, Kevin Martir, and Ford Stainback had 2 hits apiece.

Jose Hernandez went 5 innings and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits, walked 2, and struck out 6. Yhoan Acosta allowed a hit, walked 2, and struck out 3 over 2 scoreless, and Starlyng Sanchez allowed 2 runs on 2 hits and struck out 1 in 2 innings.

In game 2 of this series, Salvador Montaño will take on Marek Minarik at 7:00 Eastern.

GCL Astros 2, GCL Yankees2 1

This game was suspended with the Kissimmee Stros leading 2-1 heading into the bottom of the 4th. It will be completed on August 12. So far, Daz Cameron has his 12th steal of the season.

DSL Astros Blue 9, DSL Phillies 0

W- Ricardo Castro (1-0)
L- Randy Alcantara (6-2)

Blue home runs: None.

The Blue team held the Phillies off the scoreboard and held them to 5 hits.

Ricardo Castro allowed 3 hits and struck out 4 over 5 innings. Hansel Paulino allowed 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 4 in 3 innings, and Cristofer Melendez struck out the side in order in the 9th inning.

Andy Piñeda went 3-4 with a run scored and a stolen base (24). Cristopher Luciano whacked a 2-run triple in the 1st inning. Later in the inning, Orlando Marquez drove in a run on a groundout, and Angel Tejeda hit an RBI single. Carlos Canelon scored on a passed ball in the 6th, and then Ozziel Sanchez-Galan hit an RBI single. Sanchez-Galan made his way to 3rd on 2 wild pitches and scored on a Marcos Almonte single. Sanchez-Galan scored on a wild pitch in the 8th and Marquez drove in the final run of the day with an RBI double.

DSL Mariners2 11, DSL Astros Orange 1

W- Juan De Paula (3-3)
L- Maikel Sepulveda (2-2)

Orange home runs: None.

Juan Fuente's RBI double in the 3rd was the Orange team's only run.

Luis Vasquez allowed a hit as he got the final 2 outs of the 8th. He was the only Orange team pitcher to not allow a run.

Some Closing Thoughts on HOF Weekend

Due to a variety of travel issues, I haven't been able to weigh in with a few thoughts from HOF induction weekend before now. (In case you missed it, I posted a ton of pictures from the Parade of Legends here, and I'll try to put up the rest on Flickr this weekend.)

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Travel problems coming and going to Cooperstown over the weekend did not detract from the main event. And the baseball gods answered the prayers of Astros fans everywhere on Sunday, granting us good weather for the induction ceremony. [Note to self: Be careful what you wish for! The sun was blazing hot and your intrepid correspondent thought she might pass out before Randy Johnson finished his speech.]

I don't care what the crowd estimates said. I personally thought that there were more people at the ceremony on Sunday than there were at last year's induction, based solely on my eyeball estimates of how many people were sitting on the hill last year versus this year, but in any event, it was at least a comparable number. But one thing cannot be disputed. Astros fans were well in the majority of those who attended. Everywhere you looked ...

Young fans


And not so young fans


And although there was a lot of orange, there was also a wide variety of Astros plumage in evidence ...




There were some very familiar faces in the crowd as well ...

Bill Brown

Tal Smith

Rex Jones

And one VERY familiar head of hair ...

Alyson Footer

The ceremony itself, honoring Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, was wonderful. The chants of B-G-O were robust. The tears were flowing. And the Astros faithful were ecstatic to see their adopted son of Houston enshrined in the Hall as the first player to sport an Astros cap on his plaque.



  

There was one theme that kept emerging throughout the weekend. Everywhere that my sister and I went we looked for Astros merchandise. Outside of the Hall of Fame gift store, there were very few stores that carried ANY Astros gear other than a few dusty brick red open star hats. Those that did carry Astros gear sold out quickly. You might be able to find a few small size T-shirts here and there, but that was about it.

Everyone seemed to have been surprised by the number of Astros fans who descended upon Cooperstown for the weekend. Everyone ... shopkeepers, organizers and media alike ... seemed to have underestimated the Astros fan base. Similarly, everyone seems to be underestimating the team that is currently playing in Minute Maid Park.

Those shopkeepers haven't been paying attention and they weren't prepared for what was to come. The AL West teams are starting to figure it out, though. Underestimate the 2015 Astros at your own risk. This team may not get as far as fans hope they will this year. But, again, they just might. In any event, the Astros system is poised to remain in contention for a very long time. That should no longer come as a surprise to anyone.

One final note .... with the news that the Hall of Fame has finally culled their voting rolls of those writers who haven't covered baseball in more than a decade, I am suddenly much more optimistic as to Jeff Bagwell's chances to get into the Hall and to do so quickly. Those dinosaurs who hadn't covered a baseball game in years and who relied upon unsubstantiated rumor and innuendo in order to make their decisions will soon give way to writers who are actually engaged in watching baseball every single day during the season and who might actually have some informed insight into these things.

Which brings me to this. Shortly before heading to the airport on Monday, my sister and I had lunch at the Doubleday Cafe on Main Street in Cooperstown. This sign was in the restroom. When I left, I thought sadly that I probably wouldn't be back next year because Bagwell wouldn't be likely to get in for another year or two. Now my hopes have surged that the writing on this chalkboard was a happy omen.


I hope to be back in Cooperstown again next year and I hope to see another adopted son of our City become immortalized. I also hope to see another sea of orange in the crowds and in the shops. Do not ever underestimate the Astros faithful again, Cooperstown. We are a force to be reckoned with. Our team is a force to be reckoned with. It's no longer a secret and it should no longer be a surprise to anyone.

Tweet of the Day

Happy Birthday - 7/29

Wishing a Very Happy Birthday to ...

RHP Moreno Polanco (21)
Polano was born July 29, 1994 in La Terrenas, Dominican Republic and his first season in the Astros system was in 2014. He is currently playing for the Gulf Coast League Astros.

Moreno Polanco - June 2015
Photo Courtesy of Bryan Green

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Monday, July 27, 2015

Let's play 2 in Greeneville!

Tacoma 11, Fresno 10

W- Tyler Olson (2-3)
L- Jason Stoffel (3-2)
S- Tony Zych (1)

Fresno home runs: Domingo Santana (16, solo in 1st)

The Grizzlies trailed 8-3 after 2 innings and entered the 7th down 9-3. They proceeded to scored 7 runs in the inning to take the lead.... and then the Rainiers scored 2 in the 8th to re-take the lead. There was an apparent protest, but Fresno manager Tony DeFrancesco never formally filed the protest. Turns out that Tony Zych, who pitched the 9th for Tacoma, was not on the lineup card, but on the active roster. Clerical error, I guess.

Everyone in the Fresno lineup had a hit, led by Andrew Aplin, who finished 4-4 with a 2-run single in the 7th. He hit a single in the 2nd that scored Tony Kemp, but Kemp scored because an error occurred. Domingo Santana (solo HR, 2 R) and Kemp (2-run 3B, 2 R) both went 3-4. Robbie Grossman went 2-5 with a double and an RBI infield single in that big 7th inning. In fact, everyone in the Fresno lineup scored a run except for Tyler White, who hit an RBI single in the 1st to open the scoring.

Brady Rodgers went 2 innings and allowed 8 runs on 8 hits (3-run homer), walked 1, and struck out 2. Luis Cruz was the first man out; he allowed a run on a solo homer to Jabari Blash in the 5th. Cruz allowed 2 other hits, walked 3, and fanned 2 in 3.1 innings. Jason Stoffel had 2 inherited runners charged to him in 2 innings and struck out 1. Those 2 runs scored in the 8th because of 2 wild pitches from James Hoyt, and one of those wild pitches came on an intentional walk situation. Hoyt got the final 2 outs of the 8th, but the damage was done. He allowed a hit, walked 1, and fanned 1.

The Grizzlies will continue their roadtrip tomorrow in Reno.

San Antonio 13, Corpus Christi 7

W- Bryce Morrow (2-2)
L- Brian Holmes (4-5, 6-6 season)

CC home runs: A.J. Reed (4, 27 season; solo in 4th)

This game started out well enough for the Hooks as they led 4-0 after 3 innings, but the Missions turned everything upside down with an 8-run 4th inning.

Every position player who appeared in the game for the Hooks reached base, including Jed Lowrie, who went 1-5 with a run scored. Brett Phillips and Jon Kemmer had 2 hits apiece. A.J. Reed homered for the 2nd consecutive night; this one was a solo shot in the 4th, giving him 27 on the year.

The pitching staff struggled, and I'd like to leave it at that.

Adrian Houser will be on the mound for Corpus Christi tonight. He'll take on Casey Kelly at 7:05.

Lancaster 6, Rancho Cucamonga 5

W- Akeem Bostick (2-3, 5-4 season)
L- Brock Stewart (2-3)
S- Tyler Brunnemann (3)

Lancaster home runs: Sean McMullen (1, 6 season; solo in 2nd), J.D. Davis (14, 3-run in 3rd)

The JetHawks built a 6-1 lead after 3 innings, then saw it whittle away. However, the bullpen kept the Quakes at bay.

J.D. Davis and Sean McMullen were responsible for driving in all 6 JetHawks runs. Well, Davis shouldered the load. He opened the scoring with a 2-run double in the 1st and then whacked a 3-run homer in the 3rd inning. In between those hits, Sean McMullen hit his first homer in the California League in his first at-bat at the level in the 2nd inning. Davis, Jamie Ritchie (2B, 2 R), and James Ramsay (SB [8], R) had 2 hits apiece. Alex Bregman came on as a defensive replacement and went 0-1.

Akeem Bostick allowed 4 runs on 7 hits, walked 1, and struck out 3 in 5 innings. This was his first start in The Hangar. Troy Scribner went 2 innings and allowed a run, a double, walked 4, and struck out 2. Tyler Brunnemann threw 2 scoreless, allowing a hit, walking 1, and striking out 3.

In game 2 of this series, Bryan Radziewski will take on Jeff Brigham. First pitch is at 6:30 Pacific.

Quad Cities was off

The River Bandits are in Beloit tonight to begin a series. Christian Powell will take on Junior Mendez at 7:00.

Tri-City was off

The ValleyCats will welcome the West Virginia Black Bears (formerly known as the Jamestown Jammers) to Joe Bruno Stadium for 3 beginning tonight at 7:00 Eastern. In game 1, Rogelio Armenteros will face Dario Agrazal.

Game 1: Greeneville 4, Kingsport 1

W- Chris Murphy (1-0)
L- Harol Gonzalez (1-2)

Greeneville home runs: Arturo Michelena (1, solo in 6th), Justin Garcia (1, 2-run in 6th)

The Appy Astros took game 1 behind fine pitching performances from Makay Nelson and Chris Murphy.

It hasn't been a great start to Makay Nelson's career, but he delivered his best outing yet as he threw 3 perfect innings and struck out 1 on his 21st birthday. Here's hoping that it's a sign of better things to come for him. Chris Murphy allowed a run on 6 hits and struck out 1 over the final 4 innings.

Luis Payano broke a scoreless tie with a sac fly in the 5th. Michelena and Garcia tacked on 3 more runs with their home runs in the 6th inning. Ford Stainback finished 2-3.

Game 2: Kingsport 2, Greeneville 1

W- Witt Haggard (2-1)
L- Cris Santamaria (2-1)

Greeneville home runs: None.

The Appy Astros had to settle for a split in the twinbill as the K-Mets got 1 in the 7th to break a 1-1 tie.

Ford Stainback grounded into a force out that allowed Luis Payano to score in the 3rd inning. Payano finished 2-2, and he's gotten himself going at the plate as of late.

Andrew Thome allowed a run on 4 hits and fanned 3 in 3 innings. Matt Bower was the first man out and he struck out 2 over 2 perfect innings. Cris Santamaria allowed the go-ahead run on a single with 2 outs in the 7th. He walked 1 and struck out 2 in 2 innings.

Jose Hernandez will start the first game of a 3-game set in Bristol. First pitch is at 7:00 Eastern.

GCL Astros 4, GCL Yankees2 0 in 6 innings

W- Moreno Polanco (1-1)
L- Daris Vargas (2-2)

GCL home runs: None.

Moreno Polanco and Carlos Hiraldo combined to throw a rain-shortened no-hitter in Kissimmee.

Polanco walked 3 and struck out 3 over 5 shutout innings, and Hiraldo struck out 1 in a 1-2-3 6th.

Their 4 runs came in the 4th. Vicente Sanchez hit a sac fly, Miguelangel Sierra scored on an error, and then Kyle Tucker hit an RBI single. To top it all off, Connor MacDonald ripped an RBI double. Tucker finished 2-3. Daz Cameron stole 2 bases (11).

DSL Phillies 6, DSL Astros Blue 3

W- Oscar Marcelino (1-1)
L- Felipe Tejada (1-3)
S- Steiner Carmona (4)

Blue home runs: None.

The Phillies mounted a late uprising to take control of this game.

Cristopher Luciano went 3-5 with a double and a run scored. Angel Tejeda went 2-3. Wilson Amador scored the first run of the day on an error in the 1st inning. Oscar Campos had an RBI single in the 3rd, and Ozziel Sanchez-Galan hit a sac fly in the 8th.

Jose Ramos allowed a hit, walked 2, and struck out 3 over 5 shutout innings.

DSL Astros Orange 12, DSL Mariners2 11


W- Harlen Florencio (1-0)
L- Raul Pedie (6-1)
S- Yan De La Cruz (2)

Orange home runs: Juan Fuente (2, 2-run in 1st), Felix Lucas (3, 3-run in 8th)

The Orange team trailed 10-6 heading into the bottom of the 8th, but they put up 6 in the inning to take the lead again. That's the DSL for you...

Alejandro Garcia finished 4-5, a home run shy of the cycle. His triple cleared the bases in the 8th inning. Hector Martinez and Brandon Benavente had 2 hits apiece.

Angelo Serrano was the first reliever to appear; he allowed a hit, walked 2, and struck out 3 in 2.2 innings. Yan De La Cruz got the final 2 outs of the game.