Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Astros Minor League Playoff Recaps

California League Championship Series: Lancaster 10, Visalia 2 (Lancaster wins series 3-2)

W- Tyler Brunnemann
L- Blake Perry

Lancaster home runs: None.

For the 2nd time in the last 3 seasons, the Lancaster JetHawks are the kings of the California League.

The JetHawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 2 innings, and then the Rawhide put up 2 in the top of the 3rd to cut the lead to 1. After that, though, it was all Lancaster as they wrapped it up with 7 unanswered.

Brett Phillips led off the bottom of the 1st with a double, advanced to 3rd on an error, and scored the game's first run on a Jack Mayfield sac fly. Phillips was back at it again in the 2nd when he poked a ball through the right side of the infield to drive in 2. In the 4th, Rio Ruiz hit an RBI single, and then Danry Vásquez added an RBI base hit of his own in the 5th.

The JetHawks opened up the floodgates as they put up 5 in the bottom of the 6th. Mayfield hit an RBI single, Ronnie Mitchell drove in 2 with a single, Tyler White scored on a fielder's choice/error, and then Roberto Peña hit an RBI single for what turned out to be the final run of the evening.

Brett (2B, 2 RBI, 3 R) and Rio (2B, RBI, R) both finished 3-4. Mitchell, Peña, and Chase McDonald all had 2-hit nights.

Kyle Westwood went 4 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 8 hits, walked 2, and struck out 5. He pitched to 2 batters in the 5th but did not retire either of them. Tyler Brunnemann, who was named series MVP, tagged in and proceeded to throw 3 perfect innings, striking out 6. Dan Minor finished it off with 2 scoreless as he allowed 3 hits and struck out Socrates Brito for the final out of the series.

And so ends another season in the Houston Astros minor league system. Next up on the docket is instructional league and the Fall and Winter Leagues. I, Dustin Nguyen, your humble servant, will be right with you the whole way during this time.

Happy Birthday - 9/16

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Cristofer Melendez (17)
Signed by the Astros during the International Signing Period in July, Melendez has not yet made his professional debut.

RHP Austin Chrismon (22)
Drafted by Houston in the 26th round in 2013 out of East Carolina University (Greenville, NC), Chrismon spent his second professional season with the Tri-City ValleyCats. In 16 games (13 starts), he was 6-3 with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP. He walked 15 batters and struck out 49 in 68.1 innings pitched.

OF Robbie Grossman (25)
Originally drafted by the Pirates in the sixth round in 2008, Grossman came to the Astros in the July 2012 trade for Wandy Rodriguez. Grossman has currently played in 92 games in Houston this season, hitting .223/.327/.333 with 13 doubles, two triples and six home runs.

Two former Astros celebrate the day as well ~

SS Hector Torres (69)
The native of Mexico played for Houston from 1968 to 1970 and again in 1973. He was a starter in 1968, but then was relegated to bench duties in his latter three seasons with the Astros. He had a .206 BA and a .244 OBP in 666 AB's. In October of 1970, he was traded to the Cubs for Roger Metzger.

RHP Chad Harville (38)
Originally drafted by Oakland in the second round in 1997, Harville came to Houston in an April 2004 trade with the A's for Kirk Saarloos. Harville spent parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons with Houston and in 93 regular season appearances, he was 3-4 with a 4.63 ERA and a 1.533 WHIP. In 4 post-season appearances (in the NLDS and NLCS in 2004), he had an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 2.000. He played his final major league game with Tampa Bay August 12, 2006.

Tweet of the Day

There are probably a hundred tweets that I could pick from tonight with the JetHawks winning the California League Championship, but this response I got from Tyler Brunnemann's dad really touched me. Brunnemann, the 40th round (out of 40 rounds) draft pick from 2013 has had an amazing season. It culminated in his winning the MVP trophy for the California League Championship Series last night. Before the game was even over, his father said this to me ...

Well, this time it happened to yours. Well done, Tyler, well done.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Astros Minor League Playoff Recaps

California League Championship Series Game 4: Visalia 11, Lancaster 3 (Series tied 2-2)

W- Spencer Arroyo
L- Kent Emanuel

Lancaster home runs: Tyler White (solo in 2nd), Jack Mayfield (solo in 8th)

The wheels completely fell off for the JetHawks in Game 4 as the Rawhide used a 10-1 run from the 6th-8th innings to completely turn the tide of this game in their favor.

Tyler White scored 2 of the 3 Lancaster runs; he hit a solo shot in the 2nd that put them on the board and tied the game at 1. He scored on a Chase McDonald double in the 4th, and in the 8th inning, Jack Mayfield hit a solo homer. Chan-Jong Moon went 2-3 at the bottom of the order.

Kent Emanuel pitched 6 innings and allowed 4 runs (2 earned, 1 inherited runner charged to him) on 5 hits (a solo homer to Raul Navarro that led off the game) and struck out 3. He pitched to 1 batter in the 7th. The bullpen.... failed. Gonzalo Sañudo allowed a run on 2 hits and struck out 1 in the 7th and also allowed the runner he inherited from Emanuel to score. Zach Morton got 2 outs in the 8th, both via strikeout, but in the process, he allowed 4 runs (1 inherited runner charged to him) on 3 hits (3-run homer) and walked 1. Evan Grills got the final out of the 8th, but not before he allowed the runner he inherited from Morton to score, and then he allowed a 2-run homer to Tyler Baker. Chris Cotton struck out 2 in a 1-2-3 9th, but the damage had already been done.

In the deciding game 5, Kyle Westwood will take on Blake Perry at 8:30.

Quad Cities River Bandits Season in Review

In my ongoing season reviews of the various Astros minor league teams, today we'll look at the Quad City River Bandits.

The team finished with a 70-69 record (.504 win percentage) and fell just short of getting a playoff berth. As a team they ranked within the league as follows:

Quad Cities Team Batting
.261 BA - 3rd out of 16 teams
.340 OBP - 1st
.408 SLG - 1st

They also led the league in doubles and walks, and were tied for second in home runs.

Quad Cities Team Pitching
3.79 ERA - 10th
1.33 WHIP - 10th
1064 SO - 10th
399 BB - 15th

For each of the full season teams, I made bold predictions in my season preview. [Note to self: Quit making bold predictions.] I was woefully wrong on my prediction of the Quad Cities team which I predicted to have a much better finish. I completely underestimated the offense (and the number of players who would be promoted!) and completely overestimated the pitching. The starting pitching was uneven at times, and it is probably a given that they were not exactly helped out by the inordinate number of postponements and make-up doubleheaders that the team experienced. Mother Nature was not a friend to the 2014 River Bandits.

Now, on to individual achievements. Below I am indicating the player's current age as well as information as to how many years the player has been playing. Any players who were promoted to Lancaster or above prior to the end of the season will be addressed in the season recap for that team.


Brian Holberton - 22; 2nd season
The 9th round 2013 draft pick appeared in 85 games (66 as catcher), hitting .253/.330/.380 with 18 doubles, one triple, six home runs and 34 RBI. The lefty walked 33 times while striking out 42 times. His defense behind the plate can be characterized as average which is actually a good thing considering that he was not a catcher in college and is still learning the nuances of his trade. He caught 23% of would-be base stealers.

Brett Booth - 23; 2nd season
Booth played in 56 games (38 as catcher) and the 34th round 2013 draft pick shows plus defensive abilities and managed a very nice 40% caught stealing rate. He put up a .242/.322/.390 batting line with ten doubles, a triple and five home runs (.271/.333/.438 in August).


1B A.J. Reed - 21; 1st season
Reed, the Astros 2014 second round pick, split his season evenly between Tri-City and Quad Cities (34 games each). In the two venues combined, he hit .289/.375/.522 with 20 doubles, a triple, 12 home runs and 54 RBI and displayed plus defense at his position. He is a left-handed hitter.

3B J.D. Davis - 21; 1st season
The 3rd round draft pick from 2014 had an excellent freshman season, splitting his time between Tri-City (30 games) and Quad Cities (43 games) and hitting .293/.371/.508 with 16 doubles, a triple, 13 home runs and 52 RBI. On paper, his defense skews slightly below average.

There were two players who played both infield and outfield for the River Bandits who had very nice seasons at the plate:

2B/OF Jose Fernandez - 21; 5th season
In 40 games, Fernandez hit .279/.363/.434 with seven doubles, two triples and 21 RBI. He stole nine bases and was caught stealing four times. His defense at second base is passable, but his outfield defense will need improvement if he continues to split his time. He is from the Dominican Republic.

IF/OF Marc Wik - 22; 3rd season
The lefty-hitting Wik was drafted by Houston in the 21st round in 2012. He played in a total of 75 games: two at Corpus Christi; two at Lancaster; 12 at Tri-City and 59 at Quad Cities. He played 2B (26 games); 3B (17 games); SS (2 games); RF (9 games); LF (14 games); and CF (10 games). He was solid defensively at all of the positions he played. His combined batting line for all venues was .252/.343/.408 with 17 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 33 RBI and 15 stolen bases (10 caught stealing). Wik's versatility will likely take him a long way.


Brauly Mejia - 19; 3rd season
Mejia spent the vast majority (49 of 54 games) in the GCL, earning a promotion to Quad Cities for the final five games of the season. In total, he hit .263/.377/.406 with seven doubles, six triples, two home runs and 26 RBI. He stole nine bases, but was caught 10 times. His defense in left field was somewhat below average for the season.

Ryan Bottger - 21; 1st season
Bottger, the 12th round 2014 draft pick, spent his first 27 games at Tri-City, hitting .313/.395/.495 before his promotion. In a total of 61 games, he hit .266/.333/.372 with eight doubles, five home runs, 25 RBI and eight stolen bases (five caught stealing). He walked 18 times while striking out 38 times. His numbers are indicative of more or less average defensive abilities. He is a switch hitter.

Bobby Boyd - 21; 1st season
The 8th round 2014 draft pick played his first 42 games with Tri-City before receiving his promotion to Quad Cities for his final 20 games. A left-handed hitter, Boyd hit .333/.404/.371 at Tri-City and .297/.368/.332 with six doubles, one triple and 24 walks to 33 strikeouts for the season. Boyd stole 19 bases and was caught six times. His defensive numbers skew above average.


Chris Lee - 22; 4th season
The Astros fourth round pick in 2011 had a bit of a mixed bag of a season, but ended it on a high note, compiling a 2.66 ERA and a 1.394 WHIP in six games (three starts) in August. For the season, he had a 3.66 ERA and a 1.513 WHIP in 28 games (16 starts). He walked 51 batters while striking out 75 in his 113 innings of work.

Blaine Sims - 25; 5th season
You may not be buying it when I tell you that a 25-year old in Low A with a 1.677 WHIP had a very successful season, but all the rules go out the window for the lefty knuckleballer. His 3.31 ERA and 1.677 WHIP are a huge improvement over his 2013 numbers (8.44 ERA and 2.044 WHIP) and seem to indicate that he is having better success in learning the nuances of the knuckleball. Sims, picked up from Atlanta in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft in December 2013, appeared in 17 games (12 starts) between Tri-City and Quad Cities. He walked 47 batters and struck out 60 in 73.1 innings pitched.

Albert Minnis - 22; 2nd season
Drafted by Houston in the 25th round in 2013, Minnis had a tough start to his season and ended it with a 4.18 ERA and a 1.585 WHIP in 27 games. However, things came together for him in his final 12 games in July and August; he had a 2.10 ERA and a 1.208 WHIP in his final 25.2 innings. Minnis walked nine and struck out 25 during that period (15 walks to 42 stikeouts in 47.1 innings for the season).

Jordan Mills - 22; 2nd season
Mills spent the majority of his season with Tri-City before his promotion to Quad Cities for his final seven appearances. In 31.2 innings, he had a 2.84 ERA and a 1.295 WHIP. He walked 14 batters and struck out 39. Mills was drafted in the 28th round in 2013.


Several of the right-handed starters on the team had uneven seasons. Andrew Thurman (22; 2nd round pick 2013) is certainly capable of better results than the 5.38 ERA and 1.405 WHIP that he put up for the season. Likewise, Edison Frias (23; 4th season) had an up-and-down season before hitting the DL in early August (4.82 ERA, 1.326 WHIP, 15BB:60SO in 74.2IP).

Two of the tandem starters fared much better in relief. Kevin Comer (22; 3rd season) had a 4.24 ERA and a 1.389 WHIP for the season, but when he was on the relief side of the tandem, that improved to a 1.41 ERA and a 1.031 WHIP. And Jandel Gustave (21; 5th season) had a 5.01 ERA and a 1.557 WHIP for his overall season, but a 0.78 ERA and a 0.870 WHIP as a reliever. Gustave's overall numbers may have been impacted by injury, though, as he spent over a month on the DL.

Three right-handed starters stood out from the rest.

Adrian Houser - 21; 4th season
Houser, drafted in the second round in 2011, had a 4.14 ERA and a 1.252 WHIP in 25 games (17 starts). In August, that improved to a 3.00 ERA and a 1.074 WHIP in six games (three starts). He had four walks to 26 strikeouts in August (27IP), as compared to 37 walks and 93 strikeouts over 108.2 innings pitched for the season.

Michael Feliz - 21; 5th season
Feliz did not dominate in 2014 as he did in 2013, but he still had a solid season and still showed (several) flashes of what he can ultimately become (which is really, really good). In 25 games (19 starts), he had a 4.03 ERA and a 1.373 WHIP. He walked 37 batters and struck out 111 in 102.2 innings of work. In August, he had a 2.89 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP in five starts.

Troy Scribner - 23; 2nd season
Scribner got a couple of spot appearances in Corpus Christi early in the season before taking Tri-City by storm. He ended the season with five games (three starts) at Quad Cities. All told, he ended the season with a 2.09 ERA, a 1.102 WHIP and 27 walks to 103 strikeouts in 81.2 innings pitched. Not bad for a non-drafted free agent!

Of those who weren't promoted to the next level (which was darn near every reliever at Quad Cities!), these three right-handed relievers stood out.

Frederick Tiburcio - 23; 6th season
Tiburcio appeared in 28 games, including a spot appearance at Oklahoma City, and ended his season with a 2.91 ERA and a 1.154 WHIP and seven saves. He walked 17 batters and struck out 48 in 43.1 innings of work. He is from the Dominican Republic.

Raul Rivera - 23; 5th season (DNP in 2011)
Rivera, the 37th round pick in 2009, spent the majority of his season with Tri-City, earning a late August promotion to Quad Cities. In 22 bullpen appearances, he had a 2.97 ERA and a 1.277 WHIP (1.65 ERA and 0.980 WHIP in 8 games in August). He walked 12 batters and struck out 38 for the season (36.1IP); in August that ratio improved to three walks to 20 strikeouts (16.1IP).

Keegan Yuhl - 22; 1st season
Yuhl was drafted in the 35th round in 2014 and started his season at Greeneville, appearing in nine games (two starts), before leap-frogging Tri-City and receiving a promotion directly to Quad Cities in early August. For the season, he put up a 1.98 ERA and a 1.073 WHIP and walked eight batters while striking out 33 in 36.1IP

Next up will be the Corpus Christi team (I am skipping Lancaster for the moment because I didn't want to do their write-up before their season was finished. That will happen tonight as they play Game 5 in the best of 5 California League Championship Series).

Earlier season reviews ~
Dominican Summer League offensive standouts
Dominican Summer League Pitching Standouts
Gulf Coast League Astros
Rookie League Greeneville Astros

Happy Birthday - 9/15

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Murilo Gouvea (26)
Obtained in a 2009 trade with the White Sox for future considerations, the Brazilian-born Gouvea was a workhorse out of the Lexington bullpen in 2012. In 50 appearances, he was 2-7 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP. He went on to pitch successfully for Team Brazil in the World Baseball Classic during the 2012/2013 off-season, but ended up on the DL to start 2013 and has now missed two seasons. The last I heard was that he was a member of Team Rehab in Kissimmee.

OF Ariel Ovando (21)
Signed by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic as a NDFA in 2010 (for a ginormous $2.6 million dollar signing bonus), Ovando played his 2014 season on the Tri-City team, hitting .237/.287/.289 in 58 games.

RHP Jason Stoffel (26)
Originally drafted by the Giants in the fourth round in 2009, Stoffel was obtained (along with Henry Sosa) in the Jeff Keppinger trade in July 2011. Stoffel pitched the entire season for Oklahoma City with a 5-4 record, 11 saves, a 3.20 ERA and a 1.485 WHIP in 54 appearances (and led the Astros system in number of appearances). He walked 28 batters (six intentional walks) while striking out 68 in 64.3 innings pitched.

Tweet of the Day

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Astros Minor League Playoff Recaps

California League Championship Series: Lancaster 4, Visalia 3 in 10 innings (Lancaster leads series 2-1)

W- Andrew Walter
L- Joey Krehbiel

Lancaster home runs: Chan-Jong Moon (solo in 3rd), Chase McDonald (solo in 4th), Rio Ruiz (walk-off solo in 9th)

RIOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He sent one into the Antelope Valley night to begin the bottom of the 10th inning to give the JetHawks the lead in this Cali League Championship Series.

Vince Velasquez pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4. He pitched to 3 batters in the 7th but did not record an out. So, in came Tyler Brunnemann, who inherited a 2nd and 3rd situation with nobody out. How many runs did he allow? Zero. Brunnemann, who also got 1 out in the 8th, walked 1 and struck out 2. Jamaine Cotton got the final 2 outs of the 8th; he issued an intentional walk and struck out 1. Andrew Walter tagged in for 2 frames and walked 2 and struck out 4. So, the 3 JetHawks relievers in this game combined to throw 4 hitless and scoreless innings, walking 4 (1 intentionally) and striking out 7.

3 of the 4 JetHawks runs, as you can see, came off solo homers. Chan-Jong Moon put Lancaster on the board with his Moon-shot in the 3rd, Chase McDonald tied the game at 2 with his 4th-inning blast, and Rio won the game in the first extra frame. Moon drove in 2; after the Rawhide got 1 in the top of the 7th to take a 3-2 lead, he hit an RBI groundout that scored Danry Vásquez to re-tie the game in the bottom of the inning. McDonald (2B to go along with his homer), Danry (2B, R), Jack Mayfield (2B), and Brett Phillips all had 2-hit nights.

Now, the JetHawks have their first crack at clinching the crown. Kent Emanuel will get the start in game 4. First pitch is at 7:00. Vamos Hawks???

Happy Birthday - 9/14

No future Astros with birthdays today, but two former Astros celebrate the day ~

C Cody Clark (33)
Originally drafted by the Rangers in the 11th round in 2003, the journeyman catcher finally made his MLB debut on August 23, 2013 after spending 11 years in the minor leagues. In 16 games with Houston, he hit .105/.128/.132.

LHP Frank Carpin (76)
After pitching for Pittsburgh in 1965 (3-1, 4 saves and a 3.18 ERA), Carpin was picked up by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. He only appeared in 10 games for the Astros in 1966, compiling a 7.50 ERA and a 2.500 WHIP, and he played his last major league game on September 3, 1966.

Tweet of the Day