Friday, June 24, 2016

Meet the GCL Astros

It's time to meet the Gulf Coast League Astros! They will begin their 2016 season on the road as they take on the Nationals at noon Eastern on Saturday.

The GCL is a complex league, which means that this team is located at the Astros' Spring Training complex in Kissimmee, Florida. However, the actual games take place on the back fields of Osceola County Stadium.

2015 was a struggle for the GCL Astros; with the youngest squad in the league, they stumbled to a 19-41 record, which was the second-worst mark in the league. Without a doubt, the GCL Astros took their lumps and went through plenty of growing pains last year.

The GCL re-aligned its divisions before the season; the Astros are now in the GCL East division with the Cardinals, Marlins, Mets, and Nationals.

The roster is a mix of Dominican Summer League players who are making their U.S. debuts; a few of these players started the 2016 season in the DSL. Some members of the 2016 draft class will make their pro debuts on the back fields of the Grapefruit League stadiums. There are also a handful of players who are returning to the GCL, as well.

And now, meet the 2016 Gulf Coast League Astros! Forrest Whitley, the Astros' 1st-round pick from this year's MLB Draft, is not listed on the roster, which I've pulled from MiLB.com, but he will begin his professional career in the GCL this season.

As always, you can learn more about these players by purchasing the 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook on Amazon. Trust me, this book definitely comes in handy, especially at the lower levels of the Astros system.

Italics - Player bats/pitches left-handed.
Asterisk - Player is a switch hitter.

Coaching Staff

Manager - Marty Malloy
Hitting Coach - Luis Mateo
Pitching Coach - Erick Abreu

Two coaches from last year's DSL Blue staff will join Marty Malloy this season. Malloy is in his 3rd season at the helm of the Kissimmee Stros.

Signed as an undrafted free agent in 1992 by the Braves, Malloy made his Major League debut in 1998 with Atlanta, appearing in 11 games. He re-appeared in the big leagues in 2002 with the Marlins, playing 28 games for them.

Luis Mateo was the DSL Blue team's hitting coach in 2015, and he will reprise that role with the GCL club in 2016. Mateo played as an outfielder from 1999-2005 in the Devil Rays organization and reached AA in his final season. He also has Texas ties, apparently, as he attended Hill College in Hillsboro.

Erick Abreu was the pitching coach for the DSL Blue team last season. Originally signed by the Yankees in 2003, he was a member of the Astros organization from 2008-12, spending the bulk of his time with Corpus Christi.

In addition, Rachel Balkovec is on the staff as the strength and conditioning coach. She is the first woman to serve as a strength and conditioning coach in professional baseball. If I'm not mistaken, she is also currently the only woman in affiliated professional baseball who is serving as a coach in any capacity.

Italics - player bats/throws left-handed.
Asterisk - player is a switch-hitter.


Pitchers

Bryan Abreu - International free agent (DR), 2013; DSL Orange
Jorge Alcala - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Blue
Dariel Aquino - International free agent (DR), 2013; DSL Blue/GCL
Chad Donato - 11th round, 2016 draft, West Virginia; pro debut, currently on DL
Junior Garcia - International free agent (DR), 2014; GCL
Jorge Guzman - International free agent (DR), 2014 - DSL Orange/DSL Blue/GCL
Ian Hardman - 36th round, 2016 draft, Seminole State College (Oklahoma); pro debut
Cristian Javier - International free agent (DR), 2015; DSL Orange/Blue
Reggie Johnson - NDFA, 2016, Hampden-Sydney College; pro debut
Enoli Paredes - International free agent (DR), 2015; pro debut
Hansel Paulino - International free agent (DR), 2014; started 3 games with DSL Orange team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
Moreno Polanco - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL/Greeneville
Jose Ramos - International free agent (Panama), 2013; appeared in 3 games with DSL Orange team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
Juan Robles - International free agent (Mexico), 2014; DSL Orange/GCL/Quad Cities
Leovanny Rodriguez - International free agent (DR), 2015; started 3 games with DSL Blue team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
César Rosado - International free agent (DR), 2014; started 3 games with DSL Orange team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
Cristhopher Santamaria - International free agent (Panama), 2012; Greeneville
Gabriel Valdez - International free agent (Panama), 2013; DSL Orange/Blue
Luis Vasquez - Minor league free agent signing, 2014; DSL Orange

Catchers

*Brandon Benavente - International free agent (VZ), 2014; DSL Orange
Oscar Campos - International free agent (VZ), 2014; DSL Blue
Jorge Martinez - 25th round, 2015 draft, Carlos Beltrán Baseball Academy (Florida, Puerto Rico); GCL
Oliver Toribio - International free agent (DR), 2012; DSL Orange
Randy Vasquez - International free agent (DR), 2015; DSL Orange

Infielders

Reiny Beltre - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Blue/GCL
Cristopher Luciano - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Blue
Jonathan Matute - International free agent (VZ), 2013; GCL
Joan Mauricio - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL
Juan Piñeda - International free agent (Panama), 2014; played in 11 games with DSL Blue team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
Troy Sieber - 24th round, 2016 draft, St. Leo (Florida); pro debut
Brody Westmoreland - 30th round, 2016 draft, College of Southern Nevada; pro debut

Outfielders

Wilson Amador - International free agent (DR), 2013; DSL Blue
Edgar Lorenzo - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL/DSL Blue
Carlos Machado - International free agent (VZ), 2014; DSL Orange
Nestor Muriel - 6th round, 2015 draft, Carlos Beltrán Baseball Academy (Florida, Puerto Rico); GCL
Andy Piñeda - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Blue

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Thursday, June 23, 2016

Happy Appalachian League Opening Day!

The Astros' Class A affiliates returned to action following their leagues' All-Star breaks.

Fresno 5, Albuquerque 2

W- Joe Musgrove (3-3, 5-4 season)
L- Christian Bergman (0-1)
S- Brendan McCurry (1, 14 season)

Fresno home runs: Jon Kemmer (4, 2-run in 3rd), A.J. Reed (11, solo in 4th), Tyler White (2, 2-run in 6th)

Joe Musgrove has gotten roughed up in his last two starts, but he responded with a fine performance on Thursday.

In 6 innings, the only run that Musgrove allowed came on a solo home run hit by Dustin Garneau. He allowed two other hits, walked 1, and struck out 7. Jandel Gustave was the first man out of the Grizzlies bullpen, and in 1.1 innings, he allowed an unearned run on 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 2. Brendan McCurry recorded his first save in the Pacific Coast League by pitching the final 1.2 innings; he allowed a hit and struck out 3.

All 5 Fresno runs scored on home runs. Jon Kemmer hit a 2-run home run in the 3rd to put the Grizzlies in the lead, and A.J. Reed led off the bottom of the 4th with a solo homer. Tyler White smacked a 2-run homer in the 6th inning. Reed finished 2-4 with 2 runs scored.

The Grizzlies will look to sweep the series as Brady Rodgers takes the mound. He'll face Jeff Hoffman at 7:05 Pacific.

Corpus Christi 3, Frisco 2

W- Kyle Smith (2-5)
L- Ryan Ledbetter (0-1)
S- Cy Sneed (1)

CC home runs: Chase McDonald (12, solo in 6th)

Cy Sneed was absolutely dominant out of the bullpen as the Hooks took the first game of their final series before the Texas League All-Star break.

Kyle Smith went 5 innings, and the two runs he allowed came on two solo home runs hit by Ryan Cordell and Drew Jackson. Smith allowed 4 other hits and struck out 2. Cy Sneed pitched the final 4 innings, and in the process, he totally dominated the Frisco offense, allowing just 2 hits, walking 1, and striking out 10. It's the second time that Sneed has recorded double-digit strikeouts in a single outing; he struck out 10 in a start with Brevard County on September 4, 2015.

Corpus Christi scored twice in the 1st inning on a pair of RBI singles from D.J. Fisher and Nick Tanielu. Chase McDonald's solo home run in the 6th broke a 2-2 tie and proved to be the difference. Danry Vásquez (2B, BB, SB) and Mott Hyde had two hits apiece.

Keegan Yuhl will start game 2 of this series. He will face Connor Sadzeck at 7:05.

Lancaster 8, Lake Elsinore 7 in 10 innings

W- Jacob Dorris (1-0, 2-0 season)
L- Colby Blueberg (0-1)

Lancaster home runs: Bobby Boyd (6, 2-run in 3rd)

The JetHawks opened up the second half of their season by walking off with a victory.

Both teams scored a run in the 1st inning; Lancaster's run came off an RBI triple from Bryan Muñiz. They also scored in the 3rd, but the JetHawks emerged with the lead by winning that inning 4-3. Tony Nuñez led off the inning with a walk, and one batter later, Bobby Boyd clubbed a 2-run homer. Garrett Stubbs and Ramon Laureano followed by hitting singles, and Muñiz drove them both in with a double. The Storm won the 5th inning 2-1; Jason Martin drove in the JetHawks' 5th-inning run with a single. Lake Elsinore broke the 6-6 tie with a run in the top of the 8th, but Lancaster set the stage for a thrilling finish in the bottom of the 9th.

With the JetHawks down to their final out, Martin drew a walk and scored the tying run on a mad dash home following a single from Brooks Marlow. With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Nuñez reached on an error and advanced to 2nd. Boyd reached on a fielder's choice, and Stubbs won the game with an RBI double.

Muñiz (2 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, R) and Stubbs (walk-off RBI 2B, 2 R) both finished 3-5, while Boyd finished 2-5.

Brock Dykxhoorn went 4.2 innings and allowed 6 runs (5 earned) on 9 hits (solo homer), walked 1, and struck out 5. Yeyfry Del Rosario was the first man out of the Lancaster bullpen, and in 2.1 innings of work, he issued a walk and struck out 2. Jacob Dorris pitched 3 innings and did not allow a hit, but he did allow a run on a wild pitch in the 8th which allowed Lake Elsinore to take the lead. However, all was forgiven when the JetHawks walked off with the win. Dorris also walked 4 (1 intentionally), hit another batter, and struck out 5.

Josh James will start game 2 of this series. He'll take on Zech Lemond at 6:35 Pacific.

Wisconsin 2, Quad Cities 0

W- Jake Drossner (2-5)
L- Elieser Hernandez (3-1, 4-5 season)
S- Nate Griep (11)

QC home runs: None.

The Banditos could only muster up one hit as they dropped their first game of the 2nd half. That one hit for Quad Cities was a single from Myles Straw. In his first game since being activated from the disabled list, Kyle Tucker went 0-3.

Jose Luis Hernandez turned in another strong start as he allowed 3 hits and struck out 5 over 5 shutout innings. Elieser Hernandez pitched the final 3 innings and allowed 2 unearned runs on 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 4.

In game 2 of this series, Chris Murphy will take on Miguel Diaz. First pitch is at 7:05.

Vermont 4, Tri-City 3

W- Dakota Chalmers (1-0)
L- Erasmo Pinales (0-2)
S- Tyler Painton (1)

TC home runs: None.

The ValleyCats' 9th-inning rally fell just short as they left the tying run on 3rd base to end the game.

Ronnie Dawson opened the scoring with an RBI single in the 1st inning. He stole his way to 3rd, but was stranded there to end the inning. Randy César doubled to lead off the bottom of the 7th, advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, and scored on a botched pickoff attempt. Carmen Benedetti and César both singled to lead off the bottom of the 9th, and they advanced on a sac bunt from Chuckie Robinson. Alex De Goti hit a sac fly to bring in Benedetti and cut the deficit to one run, but Ryne Birk flew out to end the game. César finished 2-4, while Dawson's two stolen bases give him 3 on the season.

Hector Perez pitched 3 innings and allowed a run on 3 hits while striking out 4. Erasmo Pinales got the first out of the 4th inning, but he walked the next 5 batters that he faced, resulting in two runs for the Lake Monsters. Enrique Chavez extraced Pinales from this jam without incurring any further damage by getting a flyball out and a strikeout to end the inning. Chavez wound up going 4.1 innings and had an inherited runner charged to him. He allowed 4 hits and struck out 3. Nick Hernandez allowed a hit and walked 1 in 1.1 innings.

The ValleyCats will look to avoid the sweep tonight as Brett Adcock gets the start. He'll take on Brendan Butler at 7:00 Eastern.

Johnson City 10, Greeneville 6

W- Yeison Medina (1-0)
L- Carlos Sanabria (0-1)

Greeneville home runs: Wander Franco (1, 2-run in 4th)

The Cardinals spoiled the Appy Astros' Opening Night festivities as they took control of this game with a 4-run top of the 7th inning. They also tacked on another run in the 8th.

Carlos Hiraldo went 4 innings and allowed 3 runs on 4 hits, walked 2, and struck out 1. Carlos Sanabria was the first man out of the bullpen and went 3.1 innings, allowing 7 runs (5 earned, 1 inherited runner charged to him) on 8 hits, walking 1, and striking out 1. Abdiel Saldaña allowed a hit and struck out 4 over 1.2 innings.

Miguelangel Sierra led off the bottom of the 1st with a triple and scored Greeneville's first run of the season on a sac fly from Luis Payano. Wander Franco doubled to lead off the 2nd inning and scored on a Frankeny Fernandez single. Franco hit the Appy Astros' first home run of the season, a 2-run shot, in the 4th inning, and Gabriel Bracamonte smacked a 2-run double in the 6th. Franco, Fernandez, Bracamonte, and Tyler Wolfe all finished with 2 hits in the game.

Patrick Sandoval will start game 2 of this series. He'll take on David Oca at 7:00 Eastern.

DSL Astros Blue 3, DSL Phillies1 2

W- Carlos Perdomo (2-0)
L- Roimy Mendoza (0-1)
S- Juan Cuevas (1)

Blue home runs: None.

The Blue team just wins. In this latest victory, they edged the Phillies with a run in the 8th that broke a 2-2 tie. All 3 of their runs scored on doubles.

Samir Caraballo put Team Blue on the board with an RBI double in the 4th inning. Both teams scored a run in the 7th; the Blue team's run came off an RBI double hit by Angel De Leon. Ronny Jimenez tripled to lead off the top of the 8th and trotted home with the go-ahead run on a double from Jose Benjamin. Both of Caraballo's hits were doubles. Benjamin finished 3-4 and was thrown out trying to stretch that go-ahead double into a triple, but he's probably happy that his hit helped give his team the victory.

Felipe Tejada pitched 5 innings and allowed a run on 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 1. Carlos Perdomo was the first man out of the Blue team's bullpen; he allowed a run on 5 hits, walked 1, and struck out 1 in 3.1 innings, and Juan Cuevas worked around a hit to close out the game; he recorded the final 2 outs of the game.

These two teams are currently playing at the Astros' complex.

DSL Mets2 8, DSL Astros Orange 4


W- Jorge Cespedes (1-0)
L- Cosme Zapata (0-1)

Orange home runs: Hector Martinez (3, solo in 2nd)

The wheels fell off in horrific fashion for the Orange team as the Mets 2 scored 7 in the top of the 9th inning to seize control of this game.

Hector Martinez opened the scoring with a solo home run in the 2nd inning. Gerry Castillo doubled to lead off the 3rd inning, advanced to 3rd base following an errant pickoff throw, and scored on a passed ball. Martinez reached on an error in the 4th, advanced to 3rd on a couple of groundouts, and scored on a wild pitch. Kendy Moya ripped an RBI double in the 6th inning. Gilberto Celestino finished 2-4 and stole a base, his 6th of the season.

Diosward Gonzalez allowed a run on 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 3 in 5 innings. Kilvio Peralta allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 2 over 3 scoreless innings. Unfortunately, the 9th proved to be a nightmare for Jacques Sambo, Cosme Zapata, and Gabriel Pirela.

Both of these teams are currently playing at the Mets' complex.

Too Many Stars



Photo by Tammy Tucker
Cy Sneed, RHP, Corpus Christi
Save (1), 4 IP, 2 H, BB, 10 K

Bryan Muñiz, 1B, Lancaster
3-5, 2 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, R

Garrett Stubbs, C, Lancaster
3-5, walk-off RBI 2B in 10th, 2 R

Joe Musgrove, RHP, Fresno
W (3-3, 5-4 season), 6 IP, 3 H (solo HR), ER, BB, 7 K

Jose Luis Hernandez, RHP, Quad Cities
5 IP, 3 H, 5 K

Photo from MiLB.com
Wander Franco, 3B, Greeneville
2-3, 2B, 2-R HR (1), 2 R

Astros Farm Report: 6-24

If you haven't been paying attention, Dustin has been killing it with his Astros MiLB game recaps and short season team intros. Ah, to be young again and to have that kind of energy. Anywho, let's check in on the latest happenings in the Astros system, plus an update on a former Astro third rounder.

TRANSACTIONS/ROSTER MOVES

6-23: OF Eury Perez traded from Fresno to Tampa Bay for cash
6-23: RHP Chad Donato assigned to the GCL (2016 11th round pick out of West Virginia University)
6-23: OF Kyle Tucker activated from the Quad Cities 7-day DL
6-23: RHP Kevin McCanna assigned from Quad Cities to Lancaster
6-22: RHP Juan Minaya (Fresno) claimed off waivers by the White Sox
6-22: 2B Ryne Birk assigned to Tri-City (2016 13th round pick out of Texas A&M)
6-22: RHP Willy Collado assigned to the DSL Astros Orange team
6-21: IF Chan Jong Moon assigned from Corpus Christi to Fresno
6-21: LHP Albert Minnis to Tri-City for a rehab assignment
6-21: RHP Kevin Hill assigned to Tri-City (2016 25th round pick out of the University of South Alabama)
6-20: RHP Brendan McCurry assigned from Corpus Christi to Fresno
6-20: RHP Ryan Thompson assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi
6-14: RHP Starlyn Taveras released

In addition, the Astros have signed several more players over the last few days from the 2016 draft, many of whom have been assigned to the Greeneville Astros team which Dustin covered in depth right here. And first round pick 1st round pick RHP Forrest Whitley (out of Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio) signed on Wednesday, but he won't be assigned to a team right away. The GCL Astros start play on Saturday and some of the recent draftees will be assigned to that team. Look for another team intro from Dustin on that team's makeup.

STANDINGS

It's been while since we last checked in on the standings. Let's see how things have gone for the farm crews. Fresno is still in third place, but they have gone 6-2 in the last 8 and are climbing closer to .500. Both the division-leading Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) and second place Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) have gone 5-5 over that period. The Grizzlies trail the second place team by two games.

Similarly, the Hooks have gone 7-2 in their last nine. They handily won the first half championship, assuring that they will appear in the playoffs at the end of the season. They are currently tied for first place in the second half with Midland (Oakland) with both teams 2-1 to start the second half.

Lancaster has scuffled a bit since we last looked in on them (1-4), but came back from their All-Star break to win their first game of the second half. Although they may be seven and a half games back for the entire season, they are actually tied for first in the second half with Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers). A clean slate is a good thing!

Quad Cities first half was completely forgettable, so let's do that. They also get the opportunity for a do-over in the second half, but unlike Lancaster, they lost their first game of the second half. Hopefully, they will start playing stronger in the second half and get an opportunity for a playoff berth by virtue of their second half record.

The short season A Tri-City team is on a 3-game losing streak, but it is EARLY in the season so they will have a lot of opportunities to right that ship. Greeneville lost their season opener on Thursday.

The DSL Blue team is practically unbeatable. They are currently on an 11 game win streak. But the Orange team is 3-4 over their last seven games and have slipped into second place. But considering that the Orange team jockeyed for dead last most of the 2015 season, a second place ranking is very encouraging.

AAA Fresno 3rd 35-37 .486 5.5GB W4

AA Corpus Christi 1st 49-24 .671 0.0GB W1

A+ Lancaster 3rd 35-35 .500 7.5GB W1

A- Quad Cities 8th 31-39 .443 8.5GB L1

SSA Tri-City 4th 2-5 .286 5.0GB L3

Rk+ Greeneville T4th 0-1 .000 1.0GB L1

FRk DSL Blue 1st 15-1 .938 0.0GB W11

FRk DSL Orange 2nd 11-6 .647 2.0GB L2

The Gulf Coast League Astros team will start play tomorrow.

RANDOM FORMER ASTRO UPDATE

I went to find out how 2009 Astros 3rd round pick 1B Telvin Nash was doing playing for the York Revolution in the Atlantic (independent) League and he wasn't on the roster despite having hit .275/.385/.565 with 11 doubles and 15 home runs for York in 54 games this season. That's because his contract was purchased by the White Sox on Tuesday so he's back in affiliated ball! Here's the story. Nash will start with the Sox playing for their High A affiliate, the Winston-Salem Dash. We at WTHB wish Nash the best of luck as he continues his quest.

Telvin Nash - May 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Nolan Fontana and Andrew Aplin: A Bromance for the Times

George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller. Nolan Fontana and Andrew Aplin. All-time great bromances.

Andrew Aplin and Nolan Fontana - September 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Earlier this month, I spoke with Fresno Grizzlies IF Nolan Fontana and OF Andrew Aplin about this epic bromance. They humored me and I think you'll enjoy the result.


In case you missed it, here are other recent interviews of Astros minor leaguers:

Grizzlies RHP Brady Rodgers
JetHawks C Garrett Stubbs
JetHawks OF Ramon Laureano
JetHawks RHP Josh James

Meet the Greeneville Astros

The Greeneville Astros head into the 2016 season as the defending champions of the Appalachian League, and tonight, they will take the first step towards defending their crown as they play host to the Johnson City Cardinals. For those who are not familiar with the town of Greeneville, Tennessee, here is a little introduction.

Greeneville is located in the far reaches of East Tennessee, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The town prides itself on being the only "Greeneville" in the United States, as it was named for Nathanael Greene, a general in the American Revolution. Former President Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln's successor, considered Greeneville to be his hometown.

In addition, the USS Greeneville, a submarine of the United States Navy, is named for the town.

The Appy Astros play their home games at Pioneer Park, located on the campus of Tusculum College, the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Tennessee. They play in the Appalachian League's West Division, along with the Bristol Pirates, the Elizabethton Twins, the Kingsport Mets, and the Johnson City Cardinals.

For some of these players, Greeneville is their first stop on the road to Houston. Others are continuing their journey to the Majors, and Greeneville is serving as their next stop. You can learn more about some of these players by purchasing the 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook, a must-have for Houston Astros fans who want to learn more about the players in the Minor League system.

So, without further ado, your 2016 Greeneville Astros!

Italics - player throws/bats left-handed
Asterisk - player is a switch-hitter

Coaching Staff

Manager - Josh Bonifay
Hitting Coach - César Cedeño
Pitching Coach - Bill Murphy
Coach - Wladimir Sutil

Josh Bonifay returns for his second stint as Greeneville manager after spending 2015 as the manager at Quad Cities. Prior to his managerial career, he was Greeneville's hitting coach in 2011 and was the hitting coach at Lexington in 2012.

Anyone claiming to be a Houston Astros fan surely has to know César Cedeño, who was one of the first superstars in Astros history. Cedeño is in his fifth season as Greeneville's hitting coach.

Bill Murphy is the Appy Astros' new pitching coach. Before joining the Astros organization, he was the pitching coach at Brown and was co-manager and pitching coach of the Battle Creek Bombers in the Northwoods League. He pitched at Rutgers for three years, graduating in 2010. Murphy transferred to Wagner, and earned his MBA there. He also played his final collegiate season for Wagner as a first baseman.

Wladimir Sutil has spent much of his baseball career with the Astros organization; he signed with Houston in 2003 and played in the Astros system until 2011. After spending the 2012 season in the D-Backs organization, Sutil concluded his career with Southern Maryland of the independent Atlantic League in 2013 before returning to the Astros to begin his coaching career.

Pitchers

Diogenes Almengo - International free agent (DR), 2014; played with the DSL Blue team, the GCL team, and Greeneville in 2015
Howie Brey - 31st round, 2016 draft, Rutgers; making professional debut
Tyler Britton - 23rd round, 2016 draft, High Point; making pro debut
Devon Carr - NDFA, 2016, Florida Atlantic
Ricardo Castro - International free agent (Mexico), 2015; appeared in 1 game with Quad Cities and 1 game with Tri-City before being assigned to Greeneville
Carlos Hiraldo - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL/Greeneville
Colin McKee - 18th round, 2016 draft, Mercyhurst; making pro debut
Salvador Montaño - International free agent (DR), 2013; Greeneville
Devin Raftery - NDFA, 2016, Nova Southeastern; making pro debut
Abdiel Saldaña - International free agent (Panama), 2013; GCL
Carlos Sanabria - International free agent (VZ), 2014; GCL
Patrick Sandoval - 11th round, 2015 draft, Mission Viejo High School, Mission Viejo, California; GCL
Angelo Serrano - International free agent (DR), 2015; DSL Blue/Orange
Sean Stutzman - NDFA, 2016, Dallas Baptist; making pro debut
Nathan Thompson - 27th round, 2016 draft, Oklahoma Baptist; making pro debut
Framber Valdez - International free agent (DR), 2015; appeared in 1 game with Tri-City before being assigned to Greeneville
Lucas Williams - 40th round, 2016 draft, Central Missouri; making pro debut

Catchers

Gabriel Bracamonte; International free agent (VZ), 2014; Greeneville
Ruben Castro - 19th round, 2014 draft, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School
Ray Henderson - 22nd round, 2016 draft, Grayson College; making pro debut

Infielders

Jonathan Arauz - Acquired from the Phillies, along with Ken Giles, in a trade for Brett Oberholtzer, Mark Appel, Vince Velasquez, Harold Arauz, and Thomas Eshelman in December 2015. Originally signed with the Phillies in 2014 out of Panama. Played with the GCL Phillies in 2015.
*Wander Franco - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL/Quad Cities
Justin Garcia - 17th round, 2015 draft, Nova Southeastern; Greeneville
Connor MacDonald - International free agent (Australia), 2012; GCL
Miguelangel Sierra - International free agent (VZ), 2014; DSL Orange/GCL
Tyler Wolfe - 39th round, 2016 draft, Kansas State; making pro debut

Outfielders

Bryan De La Cruz - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL
Frankeny Fernandez - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL
Spencer Johnson - 16th round, 2016 draft, Missouri State; making pro debut
Chaz Pal - 38th round, 2016 draft, South Carolina—Aiken; making pro debut
Luis Payano - International free agent (DR), 2013; appeared in 1 game for Tri-City before being assigned to Greeneville
Vicente Sanchez - International free agent (DR), 2014; GCL

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Not exactly a night to write home about on offense, but there were some strong pitching performances on the farm.

Fresno 2, Albuquerque 1

W- César Valdez (4-1)
L- Harrison Musgrave (3-4)
S- James Hoyt (17)

Fresno home runs: Tyler White (1, solo in 2nd)

The Grizzlies got some fine pitching as they edged the Isotopes.

The last time César Valdez started, he threw a complete game, 1-hit shutout. He did not go the distance this time around, but was effective nonetheless. In 7 innings, Valdez allowed a run on 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 5. Josh Fields struck out 2 in a 1-2-3 8th, and James Hoyt worked around a walk to record his 17th save, striking out 2 in the 9th inning.

Both of Fresno's runs came in the 2nd inning; Tyler White led off the inning with a solo home run, and Jon Kemmer later added an RBI single. Preston Tucker finished 3-4 with a double and scored on Kemmer's single.

Joe Musgrove will start game 3 of this series. First pitch is at 7:05 Pacific.

San Antonio 2, Corpus Christi 1 in 13 innings

W- Yimmi Brasoban (1-0)
L- Michael Freeman (3-2)

CC home runs: None.

The Hooks were thwarted in their bid to sweep the series as the Missions walked off with a victory.

Chase McDonald opened the scoring with an RBI single in the 4th, which turned out to be Corpus Christi's only scoring play on the day.

Edison Frias went 7 innings, and the only run he allowed came on a solo homer hit by Jose Rondon. Frias allowed 4 other hits, walked 3, and struck out 2. Gonzalo Sañudo and Aaron West followed with 2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen; Sañudo allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 2, while West allowed 2 hits and fanned 2.

The Hooks are back in Frisco for the final series before the Texas League All-Star break. Kyle Smith will start game 1. First pitch is at 7:05.

Lancaster was off

The JetHawks will begin a 4-game series with Lake Elsinore tonight at 6:35 Pacific.

Quad Cities was off

The River Bandits will start a 4-game series in Wisconsin tonight at 7:05. Jose Luis Hernandez will take on Conor Harber.

Vermont 7, Tri-City 2


W- Heath Bowers (1-1)
L- Akeem Bostick (1-1, 1-2 season)
S- Jordan Schwartz (1)

TC home runs: None.

The ValleyCats trailed 4-0 after the 3rd inning and they couldn't seem to string their hits together to get a rally going.

Ronnie Dawson hit an RBI single in the 8th to put Tri-City on the board, and an error on the play also allowed Rodrigo Ayarza to score another run. Randy César finished 3-4, while Carmen Benedetti went 2-4.

Akeem Bostick went 5 innings and allowed 4 runs on 8 hits (3-run homer) and struck out 5. Albert Minnis struck out 4 over 2 scoreless innings, and Ben Smith pitched 2 innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits, walking 2, and striking out 1.

Game 2 of this series starts at 7:00 Eastern. Hector Perez will take on Dakota Chalmers.

DSL Astros Blue 3, DSL Dodgers2 2

W- Javier Navas (1-0)
L- Johan Mena (0-2)
S- Yeremi Ceballos (1)

Blue home runs: Jose Benjamin (2, 2-run in 3rd)

The Blue team just wins. In this latest win, Jose Benjamin's 2-run home run in the 3rd inning proved to be the difference. Ronny Jimenez drove in the first run of the day when he ripped an RBI double in the 1st inning. Alfredo Angarita finished 2-5 with a triple. Benjamin reached in all 4 of his plate appearances, going 2-2 with 2 walks.

Jheyson Caraballo pitched 3 innings and allowed a run on 2 hits, walked 3, and struck out 4. Yonatan Quintin threw a 1-2-3 4th. Javier Navas tagged in to throw 4 innings, allowing a run on 3 hits and striking out 6. Yeremi Ceballos worked around a walk to record his first career save, striking out 2 in the 9th inning.

The Blue team will travel to the Phillies complex for today's game. First pitch is at 10:30 AM Eastern.

DSL Phillies2 3, DSL Astros Orange 1

W- Wilerik Diaz (1-3)
L- Asael Uribe (1-1)
S- Orestes Melendez (3)

Orange home runs: None.

The Orange team's bats went cold as they had to settle for a split with the Phillies 2.

Ramiro Rodriguez was the only person in the lineup who could get himself going; he finished 3-3 with an RBI triple in the 4th inning, which was the Orange team's only scoring play. Enmanuel Valdez, who scored on the play, led off the inning with a single, which was their only other hit.

Asael Uribe went 4 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned), a hit, and walked 1. In his debut, Willy Collado allowed a run on 2 hits in the 5th, and Miguel Matos allowed 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 3 over the final 3 innings.

The Orange team will take on the Mets 2 today, First pitch is at 10:30 AM Eastern.

Four Stars (in three)

3. Javier Navas, LHP, DSL Astros Blue: W (1-0), 4 IP, 3 H, ER, 6 K

2.


César Valdez, RHP, Fresno
W (4-1), 7 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 5 K

Edison Frias, RHP, Corpus Christi
7 IP, 5 H (solo HR), ER, 3 BB, 2 K


1. Jose Benjamin, OF, DSL Astros Blue: 2-2, 2-R HR (2), 2 BB, R

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fresno 3, Albuquerque 1

W- Brad Peacock (2-3)
L- Carlos Hernandez (0-1)
S- Jordan Jankowski (2)

Fresno home runs: Matt Duffy (6, solo in 8th)

The Tacos took the first of 4 from the Isotopes behind a strong pitching performance from Brad Peacock.

Peacock pitched 8 innings and allowed an unearned run on 6 hits, walked 1, and struck out 6. Kevin Chapman retired the only man he faced in the 9th, and Jordan Jankowski recorded the final two outs of the game to get the save.

A.J. Reed opened the scoring with an RBI single in the 1st, and Tyler White drove in another run with a groundout later in the inning. Matt Duffy provided a crucial insurance run in the 8th inning with his solo home run. Reed finished 2-4 with a double, and Colin Moran finished 2-4 as well.

César Valdez will start game 2 of this series. He will face Harrison Musgrave at 7:05 Pacific.

Corpus Christi 5, San Antonio 1


W- Evan Grills (2-1, 5-2 season)
L- Aaron Northcraft (1-1)

CC home runs: None,

The Hooks jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the 1st inning, and Evan Grills and two relievers handcuffed the Missions offense.

Grills pitched 6 innings and allowed a run on 4 hits, walked 3, and struck out 4. In his Texas League debut, Ryan Thompson walked 1 and struck out 3 over 2 scoreless innings, and Eric Peterson worked around a walk to throw a scoreless 9th.

Corpus Christi immediately threatened when they loaded the bases to begin the game; Teoscar Hernandez walked, stole 2nd base, and advanced to 3rd on a Mott Hyde single. D.J. Fisher joined them on the bases after getting hit by a pitch. J.D. Davis drove in the first run of the evening with an RBI single. Nick Tanielu followed with an RBI single of his own, and then Fisher scored on a wild pitch. Tanielu eventually scored on an error that allowed Alfredo Gonzalez to reach base safely. Hyde, who finished 3-5, ripped an RBI double in the top of the 9th to drive in the final run of the evening. Davis finished 2-5, while Hernandez walked twice and stole 2 bases to give him 28 on the season. Teoscar now leads the Astros organization in stolen bases.

The Hooks will look to complete the sweep today as Edison Frias gets the start. He'll take on Kyle Lloyd at 11:05 AM.

California/Carolina League All-Star Game

Bobby Boyd got the start in center field for the California League All-Stars; he tripled in the 4th inning and scored the California League's first run on a C.J. Hinojosa groundout. Garrett Stubbs entered in the 6th inning and caught the remainder of the game. The California League attempted to mount a rally in the bottom of the 9th, and Stubbs chipped in with an RBI double. However, their comeback bid fell short, as the Carolina League All-Stars emerged victorious, 6-4.

Lancaster returns to action tomorrow by welcoming Lake Elsinore to The Hangar for a 4-game series.

Midwest League All-Star Game

Kevin McCanna got the final two outs of the 4th inning, one via strikeout, but not before he allowed a couple of inherited runners to score. The East All-Stars came out on top, 11-10.

The River Bandits will kick off the 2nd half of their season tomorrow as they begin a 4-game series in Wisconsin.

Brooklyn 8, Tri-City 3

W- Raul Jacobson (1-0)
L- Framber Valdez (0-1)

TC home runs: Randy César (1, solo in 2nd), Ronnie Dawson (1, solo in 3rd)

The ValleyCats led 3-0 after 3 innings, but the Cyclones finished this game on an 8-0 run to take the series.

Stephen Wrenn tripled to lead off the game and scored on a Marcos Almonte groundout. Tri-City's other two runs came on solo homers from Randy César in the 2nd and Ronnie Dawson in the 3rd. Rodrigo Ayarza finished 2-4.

Sebastian Kessay pitched 4 innings and allowed 3 runs on 4 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4. Framber Valdez threw 2 scoreless innings, but the wheels fell off for him in the 8th inning. Ultimately, Valdez pitched 2.2 innings and allowed 5 runs (4 earned) on 5 hits, walked 1, and struck out 5. Edgardo Sandoval allowed 1 hit and struck out 1 in 1.1 innings.

The ValleyCats are back home tonight, where they'll begin a 3-game series with Vermont. First pitch is at 7:00 Eastern.

DSL Astros Blue 2, DSL Dodgers2 0 through 4.5 innings

This game was suspended with 2 outs in the top of the 5th due to rain. Orlando Marquez opened the scoring with an RBI single in the 4th, and Ronny Jimenez hit an RBI single of his own in the 5th inning.

Juan Corniel struck out 4 over 4 perfect innings.

I presume that they'll finish this game and then play the regularly scheduled game today, weather permitting.

DSL Astros Orange 7, DSL Phillies2 4

W- Luis Castro (2-0)
L- Leonel Aponte (1-2)
S- Gabriel Pirela (1)

Orange home runs: None.

The Orange team seized control of this game with a 6-run 4th inning.

Anthony Rodriguez walked to lead off the 4th. It looked as if the rally would be snuffed out before it even began, because Hector Martinez and Alvaro Alvarez followed by striking out. However, Bernardo Heras and Jose Miguel Hernandez were both plunked to load the bases, and Kendy Moya promptly cleared them with a triple. Ronaldo Urdaneta followed that with a single, and Ramiro Rodriguez ripped an RBI double to bring Moya home. Gilberto Celestino capped off the scoring in the 4th by smacking a 2-run double. Heras drove in Team Orange's final run of the day with an RBI single in the 7th. Ramiro Rodriguez and Celestino both finished 2-5 on the day.

Humberto Castellanos went 4 innings and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4. Luis Castro was the first man out of the bullpen; he allowed 2 runs (1 earned, 1 inherited runner charged to him), a single, walked 3, and struck out 2. Gabriel Pirela allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 1 in 2.2 innings to get the save.

These two teams will play again later this morning. First pitch is at 10:30 AM Eastern.

Three Stars

3.

Evan Grills, LHP, Corpus Christi
W (2-1, 5-2 season), 6 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 4 K

2.

Mott Hyde, IF, Corpus Christi
3-5, 2B, RBI, R

1. 

Brad Peacock, RHP, Fresno
W (2-3), 8 IP, 6 H, unearned run, BB, 6 K

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Monday, June 20, 2016

Fresno 2, Tacoma 1

W- Tommy Shirley (5-4)
L- Cody Martin (5-5)
S- James Hoyt (16)

Fresno home runs: A.J. Reed (10, solo in 9th)

Both teams recorded 5 hits and scored a run in the 9th, but the difference in this game was a run in the 1st inning for Fresno.

A.J. Reed served as the one-man show on offense; he opened the scoring with a sac fly in the 1st inning and hit a solo home run in the top of the 9th. Andrew Aplin, who scored on the sac fly, finished 2-4 and was the only player on either side to record a multi-hit game.

Tommy Shirley pitched 6 shutout innings and allowed 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 5. In his PCL debut, Brendan McCurry struck out 2 over 2 perfect innings. James Hoyt was greeted rudely by Stefen Romero, who hit a solo homer off of him to lead off the bottom of the 9th. However, that would be the only hit that Hoyt would surrender in the inning as he recorded his 16th save of the season. He struck out 1 in the 9th.

The Grizzlies are back home, where they will begin a 4-game series with Albuquerque tonight at 7:05 Pacific. In game 1, Brad Peacock will get the start. Jordan Lyles was Albuquerque's scheduled starter, but he was just recalled by the Rockies.

Corpus Christi 5, San Antonio 3 in 11 innings

W- Aaron West (5-0)
L- Kyle McGrath (0-2)

CC home runs: None.

Both teams were tied at 2 heading into extra innings, but the Hooks got the victory thanks to an 11th-inning outburst.

Conrad Gregor ripped an RBI ground-rule double in the 4th inning to put the Hooks on the board. Corpus and San Antonio both scored a run in the 6th; the Hooks' run came in the form of an RBI single from J.D. Davis.

Gregor led off the top of the 11th with another double. Roberto Peña joined him on the bases by smacking a double of his own, and Alejandro Garcia put the Hooks in the lead with a 2-run single. Garcia advanced to 3rd on a Teoscar Hernandez groundout and scored on a passed ball.

Davis (RBI, 2 BB), Gregor (2 2B, RBI, R), and Garcia (2 RBI, R) all finished with 2 hits in the game. There was a scary moment in the 8th as Alex Bregman was hit in the helmet by a pitch. Fortunately, he tweeted out that he's alright. He was taken out of the game as a precaution.

Kent Emanuel went 5 innings and allowed a run on 5 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4. Francis Martes tagged in for 4 innings and allowed a run on 3 hits, walked 1, and struck out 7. Aaron West pitched 2 innings, and the only run he allowed came on a solo home run from Gabriel Quintana in the 11th. West allowed one other hit and struck out 2.

Evan Grills will start game 3 of this series. He'll face Aaron Northcraft at 7:05.

Lancaster is on its All-Star break

The California-Carolina League All-Star Game will take place tonight in Lake Elsinore. Bobby Boyd and Garrett Stubbs will represent the JetHawks.

Quad Cities is on its All-Star break

The Midwest League All-Star Game is tonight in Cedar Rapids. Kevin McCanna and Kyle Tucker are the River Bandits' representatives.

Tri-City 10, Brooklyn 9 in 17 innings

W- Luis Ramirez (1-0)
L- Santo Marte (0-1)

TC home runs: Stephen Wrenn (2, 2-run in 17th)

It took a little over six hours, but the ValleyCats emerged victorious despite the Cyclones' bid to win the game in the bottom of the 17th.

Tri-City scored 2 in the 3rd inning as Stephen Wrenn hit an RBI single and Daz Cameron scored on a botched pickoff attempt. Carmen Benedetti ripped a 2-run double in the 6th inning to put the ValleyCats up 4-2, but Brooklyn scored 4 in the bottom of the 6th to take the lead. Tri-City responded by scoring a run in the 7th on a sac fly from Wrenn, and in the 8th on an RBI double from Jake Rogers that tied the game at 6. That was where the scoreline stood until the 17th inning.

Although Chuckie Robinson was thrown out at 3rd base trying to stretch a double into a triple, Kolbey Carpenter was able to take his place on the bases with a single. He moved to 3rd on a Marcos Almonte double, and Cameron put the ValleyCats in the lead with a 2-run single. One batter later, Wrenn smacked a 2-run home run, his 2nd of the season.

Everyone in the lineup recorded a hit; Wrenn (2-R HR, 4 RBI), Benedetti (2B, 2 RBI) and Almonte (2 2B, R) all finished with 3 hits in the game. Wrenn and Almonte also stole a base; Wrenn now has 4 steals, while Almonte has 2 stolen bases.

Brett Adcock pitched 1.2 innings and an inherited runner was charged to him. He also allowed a single, walked 1, and struck out 3. Ricardo Castro was the first man out of the bullpen, and in 4 innings, he allowed 4 runs (2 inherited runners charged to him) on 4 hits, walked 3, and struck out 3. Dylan James allowed a run on 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 2 in 1.1 innings. Carlos Sierra was the next pitcher to appear for Tri-City; he threw 6 scoreless innings, allowing a hit, walking 2 (1 intentionally), and striking out 5. Nick Hernandez followed with 2 scoreless, allowing a hit, walking 1, and striking out 3. Luis Ramirez pitched 2 innings and allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits, issued 3 intentional walks, and struck out 3.

Sebastian Kessay will start the series finale. He'll take on Erik Manoah at 7:00 Eastern.

DSL Astros Blue 5, DSL Marlins 3

W- Yulian Frontado (1-0)
L- Edison Suriel (0-1)

The Blue team just wins.

Angel Tejeda finished 3-4 and put Team Blue on the board with an RBI single in the 4th inning. Tejeda struck again with a 2-run single in the 6th inning. In the 7th, Jose Benjamin hit an RBI single. Tejeda singled to lead off the 8th and two botched pickoff attempts allowed him to advance to 3rd base, and he scored the final run of the day on a sac fly from Orlando Marquez. Benjamin (RBI, 2 R) and Ronny Jimenez (2B, BB, SB) both finished with 2 hits in the game.

Edwin Fidel, Johsson Arias, and Yulian Frontado pitched 3 innings apiece. Fidel got the start and allowed 2 unearned runs on 2 hits, walked 2, and struck out 3. Arias allowed a hit, walked 2, and struck out 1, and the only run that Frontado allowed came on a solo home run hit by Felix Arosemena. Frontado allowed three other hits, walked 2, and struck out 2.

The Blue team squared off against the Dodgers 2 today.

DSL Rays2 4, DSL Astros Orange 0

W- Joel Peguero (1-2)
L- Gerardo Bojorquez (0-2)

Orange home runs: None.

The Orange team could not push a run across. Ronaldo Urdaneta finished 2-3 with a double.

Gerardo Bojorquez pitched 4 innings and allowed 3 runs coming off a solo and a 2-run homer. He allowed two other hits and struck out 5. Jacques Sambo allowed a run on a single and walked 2 in the 5th inning. Carlos Espinoza worked around a hit to throw a scoreless 6th, and Francisco Villegas allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 2 in 2 innings of work.

The Orange team took on the Phillies 2 this morning.

Four Stars (in three)

3.

Photo from MiLB.com
Alejandro Garcia, OF, Corpus Christi
2-5, go-ahead 2-RBI single in 11th, R


2.
Stephen Wrenn, OF, Tri-City
3-9, 2-R HR (2), 4 RBI, SB (4)

1. Carlos Sierra, RHP, Tri-City: 6 IP, H, 2 BB (1 IBB), 5 K; professional debut

Tommy Shirley, LHP, Fresno
W (5-4), 6 IP, 4 H, BB, 5 K

An Interview with Astros/JetHawks RHP Josh James

Lancaster JetHawks RHP Josh James has been consistent since he was first drafted by the Astros in the 34th round in 2014 ... consistently good. And that has not changed since coming to pitch in the two extreme hitter's parks of the California League: Lancaster and High Desert. Although he has been somewhat better on the road than at home this season, his home stats would still be the envy of many a California League pitcher. James is just shy of having enough innings to qualify as a league leader, but his 3.02 ERA and 1.184 WHIP would both rank in the top 10 in the league with just a handful more innings under his belt.

Josh James - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

And, according to Lancaster Manager Ramon Vazquez, James has improved over the season and is still improving, really learning how to pitch. Pitching Coach Mike Burns weighed in on James's upside and his challenges, "His upside is he throws four pitches, all for strikes. He's got a good fastball. He's developed a really good changeup. He's got a good curveball/slider. So he's got a good mixture of pitches. The one thing he needs to really work on is having confidence in himself and understanding that he has good stuff. Just learning the game and learning the routine and once he gets that down, the sky's the limit for him." Burns noted that James has pitched well in the California League, something that's not a given, and that is helping James establish more confidence in himself and his pitches.

It may sound somewhat unusual to hear about a pitcher in his third professional season who, despite his success, is still learning the nuances of pitching and working to build his confidence. But when you consider that James hardly pitched at all until 2014, the year that he was drafted, the picture becomes much clearer.

When I sat down to talk with James earlier this month, his lack of experience pitching was the first thing we discussed. James said, "I didn't start pitching until I was like 16. I pitched a little bit in high school, but I was more of an infielder. Then I went to Barry (University) my freshman year and they made me an exclusive pitcher but I only threw five innings so I didn't get that much work as a pitcher. Then I went to Western Oklahoma and tried to be an infielder there. My coach told me I was better off as a pitcher so I stuck to pitching again for that year and didn't pitch at all, red-shirted, and came back the following year (2014) and actually got a full season in. So that was my first year and I was probably 20 years old when I got my first season as a pitcher." Given that pedigree, what James has accomplished since being drafted is nothing short of remarkable.

I commented on James's relatively decent home split given The Hangar's reputation and asked him if that reputation was intimidating. "At first it's kind of tough, but you just try to be better as a pitcher and not to mentally let the wind affect me. If I give up a home run, just keep pitching through it. I know it's part of my development. I know I have to come here and I have to go through it," said James.

James throws a fastball that sits around 89-92 with "a little run," a sinking changeup and slider with good velocity differential and a slow curve. He's also been working on addng a splitter to the mix. When asked who in the system has a pitch that James would like to steal, he picked Corpus Christi Hooks RHP Francis Martes's fastball, "I'd like to see that. God's really blessed him with a great arm."

James picked out Fresno 1B A.J. Reed as the system hitter he'd least like to face, "It would probably be A.J. Reed just because he's a super smart hitter, intelligent and he also has a lot of power."

Asked to give a scouting report on himself, James said, "Improvements would be commanding my fastball a little better. I need to do a better job doing that. And my pluses would probably be that I don't really give up that easy when it comes to pitching in tough spots. I think that's probably my best quality."

What does James feel that he's accomplished this season? "I've gotten a lot better at just understanding my mechanics and understanding how to pitch and I'm growing as a pitcher. As long as I can just keep it going, I think I'll become a lot better. I think that's what I've accomplished so far as becoming a better pitcher," said James

In James's mind, the key to his development is fastball command. "I've been doing an OK job, but I've looked at my Trackman stuff and I'm still kind of everywhere. I really need to be able to (tighten up) my command. I'm just trying to be consistent and just trying to maintain throughout the season because every season is long. I'm just trying to be as best as I can be."

James is an interesting player to watch, both as a person and as a developing pitcher. When he's on the field, even for early work, his physicality and athleticism are the first things one notices. Whether it was running the steps at The Hangar, participating in pitcher's fielding practice, squatting to catch another pitcher's bullpen or going long and fending off a tackle in football drills conducted by the strength and conditioning coach, James stands out.

His energy on the field has its counterpoint off the field where he is quiet, softspoken and relaxed as he enjoys listening to blues and jazz and pretty much every other type of music, and enjoys the quiet of a place like Lancaster. You can almost feel the calmness in him. The yin/yang of calmness and energy seems to work for James as he works through the process of becoming a major league ready pitcher while never getting too high or too low.

I, for one, am incredibly impressed by what James has managed to accomplish despite being so new to pitching. And I can't wait to see how good he can be once he really learns all of the nuances of his craft. And one more thing ... those dimples, though!

>>>>>>><<<<<<<

Thank you for your time, Josh, and best of luck as the season continues.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tacoma 1, Fresno 0 in 12 innings

W- Casey Coleman (2-0)
L- Reymin Guduan (0-2, 1-2 season)

Fresno home runs: None.

The Grizzlies literally walked off with a loss; a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 12th allowed the only run of the game to score.

Colin Moran and A.J. Reed both finished 2-5; Moran was starting at shortstop for the first time in his professional career.

Mike Hauschild went 7 innings and allowed 7 hits, walked 1, and struck out 6. Josh Fields was the first reliever to appear for the Grizzlies; in 1.2 innings, he allowed a hit and struck out 2. Kevin Chapman recorded the final out of the 9th inning. Jandel Gustave was next; he went 2 innings and allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 2. Reymin Guduan recorded 2 outs in the 12th inning, but three consecutive walks, one of which was intentional, allowed Tacoma to score the winning run. Guduan also allowed a single and struck out 1 in the 12th.

The Grizzlies and Rainiers will wrap up their series tonight as Tommy Shirley faces off against Cody Martin. First pitch is at 6:05 Pacific.

Corpus Christi 8, San Antonio 4

W- Keegan Yuhl (7-1)
L- Zech Lemond (0-1)

CC home runs: None.

The Hooks stormed out to an 8-2 lead after the 3rd inning, and the early offensive outburst held up thanks to a fine pitching performance from Keegan Yuhl.

Yuhl went 7 innings and allowed 2 unearned runs on 5 hits, walked 2, and struck out 3. Michael Freeman pitched the final 2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and striking out 2.

Teoscar Hernandez led off the game with a single, and then stole 2nd (25). Alex Bregman and D.J. Fisher both walked to load the bases, and the Hooks immediately took advantage as all three of them scored. J.D. Davis hit an RBI single to open the scoring, and then Conrad Gregor and Nick Tanielu followed with a sacrifice fly and an RBI single, respectively. Danry Vásquez struck out to become the second out of the inning, but Roberto Peña came through with an RBI single. In the 2nd inning, Gregor struck again as he added a 2-run double to his ledger, and Tanielu followed with another RBI single. Teoscar hit an RBI single in the 3rd.

Peña finished 3-4 with a double and a run scored to go with his RBI single in the 1st inning. Hernandez (RBI, R, SB), Gregor (2B, 3 RBI, R), and Tanielu (2 RBI) all finished with 2 hits in the game. Fisher drew 2 walks, scored 2 runs, and stole his 14th base of the season.

Kent Emanuel will start game 2 of this series. He will face Dinelson Lamet at 7:05.

Bakersfield 12, Lancaster 2

W- Eddie Campbell (7-5)
L- Dean Deetz (3-3)

Lancaster home runs: None.

The JetHawks were swept to close out the first-half portion of their schedule. They sputtered towards the finish, going 2-9 in their final 11 games.

Lancaster's two runs in this game came in the 5th inning: Aaron Mizell hit an RBI groundout, and Drew Ferguson ripped an RBI double. Bryan Muñiz had two of Lancaster's 4 hits in this game.

Dean Deetz went 5.1 innings and allowed 5 runs (3 earned, 1 inherited runner charged to him) on 7 hits, walked 5, and struck out 5. Kevin Comer was the first reliever to appear for the JetHawks; in 1.2 innings, he allowed 5 runs (4 earned) on 4 hits (3-run homer), walked 1, and struck out 2. Andrew Thome allowed a run on 3 hits in the 8th, and Ryan Deemes allowed a run on 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 1 in the 9th inning.

The California League All-Stars will take on the Carolina League All-Stars on Tuesday in Lake Elsinore. Lancaster will return to action on Thursday when they begin a 4-game series with Lake Elsinore.

Quad Cities 4, Cedar Rapids 3

W- Justin Ferrell (3-3)
L- Sam Clay (4-4)
S- Adam Whitt (4)

QC home runs: None.

The River Bandits earned a series split to close out the first half of the Midwest League schedule as they took a pair of one-run games from the Kernels.

Osvaldo Duarte put Quad Cities on the board with an RBI single in the 3rd inning. Later in the frame, Myles Straw scored on a wild pitch. The Banditos also scored twice in the 5th inning on a pair of RBI doubles from Marlon Avea and Straw.

Straw and Duarte both had 2 hits and stole a base; Straw stole his 7th, while Duarte now has 13 stolen bases on the season. Hector Roa also finished with 2 hits.

Justin Ferrell went 6 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits, walked 1, and struck out 4. Juan Carlos Santos walked 2 and struck out 2 in 1.2 innings, and Adam Whitt was able to record the save despite allowing a run in the top of the 9th. In 1.1 innings, Whitt also allowed 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 1.

The Midwest League All-Star Game will take place tomorrow in Cedar Rapids. The River Bandits will return to action on Thursday in Wisconsin.

Brooklyn 2, Tri-City 1

W- Alejandro Castro (1-0)
L- Erasmo Pinales (0-1)
S- Taylor Henry (1)

TC home runs: None.

Both teams scored in the 7th inning, but the Cyclones scored one more run in their half of the inning.

Chuckie Robinson's RBI single in the top of the 7th represented Tri-City's only scoring play. Carmen Benedetti, who scored on the play, finished 3-4.

Austin Nicely pitched 4 scoreless innings, allowing a hit and walking 1. Erasmo Pinales was the first man out of the Tri-City bullpen; he went 3 innings and allowed 2 runs (both in the 7th) on 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 2. Enrique Chavez pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning.

In game 2 of this series, Brett Adcock will make his professional debut. First pitch is at 7:00 Eastern.

Three Stars

3.

Conrad Gregor, 1B, Corpus Christi
2-4, 2B, 3 RBI, R

2.

Keegan Yuhl, RHP, Corpus Christi
W (7-1), 7 IP, 5 H, 2 unearned runs, 2 BB, 3 K

1.

Mike Hauschild, RHP, Fresno
7 IP, 7 H, BB, 6 K