Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winter League Recaps

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE

Caguas over Carolina 9-2
Roberto Pena was 0-1 as a pinch hitter for Caguas.  Enrique Hernandez was 0-2 for Carolina, while Adalberto Flores pitched one inning with one hit and one strikeout. (Note: Adalberto Flores recently moved from the Ponce team to the Carolina team, most likely just to see if I was paying attention. I wasn't.)

Mayaguez over Ponce 13-7
Angel Sanchez had a good night, going 3-5 with a triple(!), three RBI's and scored a run for Mayaguez.  Unfortunately, he also committed a fielding error, his third.  *Robinson Cancel was 1-3 with an RBI, a walk, two strikeouts and scored a run for Ponce.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE

Gigantes over Toros 8-2
Jimmy Paredes was 3-4 with a triple and three RBI's in his start as DH for the Gigantes team.  Also for the Gigantes, Enerio del Rosario pitched 1.2 innings with one hit and one strikeout, and Rhiner Cruz pitched one inning, giving up one hit.  Diory Hernandez was 1-4 with a double and an RBI and scored a run, and Jimmy VanOstrand was 1-4 for Toros.  Jonnathan Aristil pitched one inning for the Toros team with one hit, one run, one walk and one strikeout.

Estrellas over Licey 2-1
*Anderson Hernandez was 1-4 with an RBI for Licey.

Escogido over Aguilas 7-6
Jonathan Villar was 0-1 and scored a run for Aguilas.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

Lara over Magallanes 5-4
Joe Thurston was 1-3 with a walk and scored a run for Lara.  Jose Altuve was 1-4 with two RBI's and a strikeout for Magallanes, and Carlos Quevedo pitched three innings, giving up nine hits, five runs (four earned) and one home run with a strikeout and was charged with the loss.

Caracas over Margarita 6-5
Marwin Gonzalez was 2-4 with a double and scored two runs for Caracas.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

Sydney over Canberra 7-0
Brandon Barnes was 0-2 with a walk for Sydney.
*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/17

LHP Fernando Abad (26)
Abad was signed by the Astros as a NDFA out of the Dominican Republic in 2002.  He made his major league debut in 2010 in Houston and pitched 22 games, putting up a 2.84 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP.  Unfortunately, he struggled in 2011.  In 29 games in Houston, he had a 7.32 ERA and 1.881 WHIP before being sent down to OKC (4.80 ERA and 1.218 WHIP in 29 games).  He pitched for the Toros del Este team in the Dominican Republic this winter and was 1-1 in four starts with a 2.25 ERA and a 0.813 WHIP (last pitched 11/22).

Tweet of the Day


Adrian Houser
You know its a great workout when your legs and arms feel like they are going to explode and you feel like throwing up

Roster Moves

The Washington Nationals have signed OF Jason Michaels to a minor league contract.  Here is the story from Steve Campbell.  This is kind of how I feel about that.  Nothing personal against Jason, but maybe Bogusevic will get some AB's against lefties now.  At least a girl can hope.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter League Recap

Lots of extra inning action last night.

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE

Caguas over Mayaguez 6-5 in 10 innings
Angel Sanchez was 1-4 for Mayaguez.

Ponce over Carolina 3-2
*Robinson Cancel was 1-4 with two RBI's and a strikeout for Ponce.  Enrique Hernandez was 1-4 with a double for Ponce, and Xavier Cedeno pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up one hit.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE

Licey over Toros 6-3
*Anderson Hernandez was 1-3 with a walk and a strikeout, and scored a run for Licey.  Diory Hernandez was 2-4 with three RBI's and a strikeout for the Toros, while Jimmy VanOstrand was 0-4 with a strikeout.

Aguilas over Estrellas 4-1
Mickey Storey pitched one inning for Estrellas with no hits, no runs, two walks and two strikeouts.

Gigantes over Escogido 5-4 in 14 innings
Jimmy Paredes came in to pinch hit and stayed in the game as a DH in this 14-inning affair, going 1-2 with a walk and a run scored for the Gigantes team.  Also for the Gigantes were Rhiner Cruz who gave up one hit, two runs (one earned), a walk and a home run without retiring a batter; and the hero of the night, Erick Abreu, who pitched four innings in relief giving up one hit and two strikeouts to get the win.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

La Guaira over Caracas 4-3
Sergio Escalona pitched a third of an inning and gave up one hit for La Guaira.  Marwin Gonzalez was 0-4 with a strikeout for Caracas.

Lara over Margarita 3-2 in 12 innings
*Oswaldo Navarro had two walks and an RBI for Lara, and Joe Thurston was 2-4 with a walk, a strikeout and scored a run.

Magallanes over Zulia 10-9 in 12 innings
Jose Altuve was 2-4 with a walk, two stolen bases and scored a run for Magallanes, while Gabriel Garcia faced one batter giving up a hit and a run, and recording no outs.  Arcenio Leon pitched one inning for Zulia and gave up no hits, no runs and two walks.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

Sydney over Canberra 3-2 in 11 innings
Brandon Barnes was 1-4 with a caught stealing for Sydney.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday -12/16

OF Kellen Kiilsgaard (23)
Originally from Washington, Kellen was drafted in the 30th round in 2010 out of Stanford.  He did not play in 2010 and spent his time in 2011 between Greeneville and Tri-City, playing in 36 games.  Since 2011 was his first season and since it's his birthday, let's just give him a mulligan on his numbers.  Suffice it to say that he didn't win any batting titles. (If you insist on looking at his numbers, go here, but don't say I didn't warn you.)  Kellen has been back at Stanford in the off-season and is a relatively prolific tweeter with a good sense of humor.  In late November, he had this to say about his studies.


Kellen Kiilsgaard
This week I'm setting up my tent for

Former Astros with birthdays today
RHP Randy Hennis (46)
Many players who only get a cup of coffee in the major leagues probably envy Randy Hennis.  He only got to pitch in 3 games (9.2 innings) in 1990, but he managed to keep his ERA perfect at 0.00 with a WHIP of 0.414.  Nice.

OF Chris Jones (46)
Played in 54 games for Houston in 1992

Tweet of the Day


Andrew Robinson
I'm more nervous going into my last final ever then I ever have been on the mound.

No Announced Roster Moves Today But ...

Free Agent C J.R. Towles was signed by the Twins to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.  Zachary Levine has the story.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winter League Recaps

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE

Mayaguez over Caguas 4-3
Angel Sanchez was 0-3 with a walk and a strikout, and scored a run for Mayaguez.

Carolina over Ponce 2-1 in 12 innings
Rene Garcia was 0-4 with a walk for Carolina, while Xavier Cedeno pitched two-thirds of an inning with one hit and one strikeout and earned the win.  *Robinson Cancel was 2-5 with a solo home run and two strikeouts for Ponce.  *Ryan Rowland-Smith got the start for Ponce pitching five strong innings with four hits, one run, two walks and two strikeouts.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

#1 Margarita over Lara 5-3
Joe Thurston was 1-3 with a strikeout and scored a run for Lara.

#2 Margarita over Lara 1-0
Joe Thurston was 1-4 with a strikeout for Lara.

Caracas over Magallanes 8-3
Marwin Gonzalez was 1-4 with a strikeout and scored a run for Caracas.  Jose Altuve was 2-4 with an RBI and scored a run for Magallanes, and Gabriel Garcia retired his one batter faced.

Caribes over Aragua 11-0
Sergio Perez got the start for Aragua pitching five innings and giving up seven hits, two runs (one earned), and two walks with two strikeouts.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE

Sydney over Canberra 1-0
Brandon Barnes was 0-4 with a strikeout for Sydney.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/15

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today

IF Art Howe (65)
Howe played for Houston from 1976 to 1982.  In 706 games, he played all of the infield positions (even a little shortstop) and compiled a .269/.337/.394/.730 batting line.  As Manager of the team from 1989 to 1993, he went 392-418.

IF Jimmy Sexton (60)
Played in 140 games in 1978 and 1979

Tweet of the Day


Jed Williams
The move to the AL was contingent on getting Jed Lowrie

Roster Moves - 12/14

The Astros traded RHP Mark Melancon to the Red Sox for IF Jed Lowrie and RHP Kyle Weiland.  To make room on the 40-Man Roster, IF Brian Bixler was designated for assignment.  Here is Zachary Levine's story on the trade.  And here is a fun read about the Legend of Jed Lowrie.

It's never easy to see a good, young player like Mark Melancon go, but I think Sean Feist said it best ...


Sean Feist
Having a closer on a 100 loss team is like having a taser gun taped to the side of a battleship.
~~~~~~~~~
And as I was writing this, Zachary Levine tweeted that IF/OF Nick Stavinoha was given his release by the Astros to play in Japan.  Here is Levine's story on that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winter League Recaps

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE

Ponce over Caguas 3-2
*Robinson Cancel was 0-3 with a strikeout for Ponce.  Luis Cruz got the start for Caguas and pitched 6.1 innings, giving up three hits and one walk with two strikeouts.

Carolina over Mayaguez 2-1
Rene Garcia was 1-3 and drove in both of Carolina's runs with a two-run home run in the team's win.  Angel Sanchez was 0-4 with a strikeout for Mayaguez.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/14

RHP B. J. Hyatt (23)
Drafted in the 4th round in 2009 out of the University of South Carolina, Hyatt has not pitched since 2009.  He spent the entire 2011 season on the DL and, unfortunately, I was unable to find out any information on his status.

RHP Jack Armstrong (22)
Originally from Florida, Armstrong was drafted in the 3rd round in 2011 out of Vanderbilt.  He signed late and did not play in 2011.  I think we all look forward to seeing his fastball, rumored to be in the mid to high 90's in the coming season.

Former Astros with birthdays today

2B Craig Biggio (46)
Craig played for the Astros from 1988 to 2007.  He played in 2850 games and had 3060 hits, 668 doubles, 55 triples, 291 home runs, 1175 RBI's, 414 stolen bases, and 285 HBP's.  His lifetime batting line was .281/.363/.433/.796.  He won five silver slugger awards, four gold glove awards and appeared in seven All-Star games.  If he doesn't go in to Cooperstown on the first ballot, there is no justice in the world.

RHP Rodrigo Rosario (34)
Pitched in 2 games in 2003 with an ERA of 1.13 and a WHIP of 1.000

Tweet of the Day


Jordan Comadena
A S'more sounds really good right now.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Why we bought the fire pit- s'mores!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I think introductions are in order. Funky, Terri. Terri, Funky.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter League Cumulative Stats

No games in the Caribbean League on Monday.  The All-Star games for the Dominican League and Venezuelan League will take place today.  According to Appy Astros ...


Appy Astros
here is the LVBP roster for the All Star game - Altuve starting & batting 2nd

UPDATED TO ADD:
Appy Astros
Battle of the Infielders - It's Altuve v. Paredes in the Dominican/Venezuela All Star Game -
~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Here are the cumulative stats for all Astros players through 12/11 who are playing in the Winter Leagues.  New additions are Marwin Gonzalez, Rhiner Cruz and Jimmy VanOstrand.


Happy Birthday - 12/13

RHP Aneury Rodriguez (24)
Originally signed by the Rockies as a NDFA out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, the Astros acquired Aneury from Tampa Bay in the Rule 5 draft in 2010.  He pitched in 43 games for the Astros in 2011, with 8 starts and 85.1 innings pitched.  He had a 5.80 ERA and a 1.438 WHIP as a starter and a 4.80 ERA and a 1.267 WHIP as a reliever.  He is currently pitching for the Toros del Este team in the Dominican Republic and as of 12/12, he was 2-0 in seven games (six starts) with a 2.93 ERA and a 0.904 WHIP.  He has 26 strikeouts in 27.2 innings.

Former Astros with birthdays today

RHP Ron Taylor (74)
Pitched in 68 games for Houston in 1965 and 1966

SS Dale Berra (55)
Played in 19 games for Houston in 1987

Tweet of the Day


Tyson Gillies
Minor league baseball players should be able to file for unemployment in the offseason haha!

Roster Moves - 12/12

The Astros came to terms with C Humberto Quintero and signed him to a one-year contract.  In related news, C Jason Castro is having foot surgery due to an injury suffered in the final game of the Arizona Fall League.  He will miss at least the first part of Spring Training.

The Astros also tendered a contract to LHP J.A. Happ.

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Interview with Ryan Cole

Let me preface these questions by saying that I think that bullpen guys get short shrift when it comes to looking at the prospects in the system.  To me, a good pitcher is a good pitcher and I like to recognize that.

Some key stats -
2010 - 2.83 ERA 1.085 WHIP 3.50 SO/BB ratio 7.2 SO/9  BAA .222  2HR
2011 - 2.33 ERA 1.333 WHIP 4.167 SO/BB ratio 8.3 SO/9  BAA .280  0HR

In 2011, Ryan converted 10 of 12 save opportunities.  In one of his blown saves, he gave up one run and ended up getting the win (thanks to a Chris Epps HR).  In the other blown save, he gave up two runs (neither earned).  He didn’t give up a walk until his 9th appearance.  His strikeout to walk ratio in 2011 was in the top ten of all Astros minor league pitchers.

So on to the questions. [Note: I adjusted some punctuation for readability, but the words are all Ryan’s.]

WTH:  You were drafted in the 34th round in 2010 out of St. John's University and spent your first season in Greeneville and the 2011 season in Tri-City.  What did you learn in your first season that has helped you at Tri-City?  How do the first and second season experiences compare (high points, low points, etc.)?

RC:  When I was first drafted it truly was a dream come true! All the hard work that I have put in over the years had finally paid off. However, once I got to Greeneville it was time to lace up the spikes and continue to do what I have done to make me successful. First year of pro ball is a huge learning curve. Playing great competition every night, long bus rides, hot humid summer nights – it truly is grind, but every baseball player’s dream. My first year couldn’t have gone better. I had a good season in the Appy League with Greeneville and was fortunate enough to be called up for the NY PENN league (Tri-City Valleycats) playoffs, which we proceeded on winning in Brooklyn. That will always be a high point of my career. Baseball is a game of failure, and I can say I have failed numerous times, but try and learn from those mistakes. I was told never get too high and never get too low, be humble and good things will happen.
         
WTH:   Did you start out to be the closer at Tri-City or did the opportunity just arise at some point during the season?  How does closing a game compare to middle or late relief outings?

RC:  I was closing during extended spring training, and did well. Once we broke for Albany I was never told I was the closer; roles were established during the season, and I fell into that role. I personally want to be in that spot (closing). It’s not for everyone. I like having the ball in my hand with the game on the line and knowing that just one bad pitch can change the outcome of the game. I can’t really answer those questions about middle relief.  What I do know is you’re trying to keep the lead and give the ball up in the 9th.

WTH:  What are your best pitches?  What kind of velocity?  Are you working on any new pitches?

RC:  My best pitch is a two-seamer inside to right handers, I am right around 90-93, and I am not working on any new pitches just trying to make the pitches I have now better.  [Note from WTH: Ryan’s best pitch may be against right handers, but he was even better against lefties in 2011 with a 2.13 ERA vs. lefties and a 2.51 ERA vs. righties.]

WTH:  What is your basic philosophy as a pitcher?  How you approach the hitters, make adjustments, etc.?  As a mostly groundball pitcher, is it difficult to trust in the players behind you?

RC:  The philosophy I have is to throw strikes, and knowing I am better than you. I am going to attack you and go right after them. I will pitch to my strength and not give in. I trust all my teammates.  Everyone makes mistakes but no one is tanking plays on purpose.  This is their job and if they make an error I will pick them up, just like they would pick me up if I made a mistake.

WTH:  You worked with some other promising pitchers this season - Kyle Hallock, Nick Tropeano and Dayan Diaz among others.  What was the relationship?  Feeding off each other?  Healthy competition?

RC:  The staff was tight.  We hung out quite a bit on and off the field. We spent a lot of time together and it builds great relationships. It’s easy to feed off of great pitching like our staff had.  We all just went out and did our jobs and got the ball to the next guy to do the same thing. We all wanted to win!

WTH:  What MLB pitcher would you compare yourself to?  Any role models growing up?

RC:  I am an intense relentless individual who loves to have a good time, laugh and joke around, but once I am on the bump it’s go time. So I would compare myself to Jonathan Papelbon.  I would have to say my role models would have been my father just because he was always pushing and telling me to work hard and good things will happen, and Roger Clemens, once again his work ethic and his dominance on the mound. [Ryan added that he learned how to pitch and throw with conviction from his college pitching coach Scott Brown.]

WTH:  What are you doing in the off-season to prepare?

RC:  I started cross fit training this off-season. It is intense, and I love it. It works on everything I need to be successful this upcoming spring training, and hopefully it transfers right into the season.

WTH:  Tell me something about yourself (doesn't have to be baseball-related) that most people don't know.

RC:  I have a giant tiger tattoo on my back that I got throughout my senior year of college.

As a final thought, Ryan wanted me to make sure that I told everyone how much fun he has (I think in case the interview made him sound too serious).

Ryan wasn’t particularly comfortable talking about himself which is something I like about him.  In following him on twitter, I got the sense that if he hadn’t gotten into baseball, he would have made a good marine – no apologies, no excuses, just get the job done. 

L to R: Adam Champion, Garrett Bullock, Travis Smink, Ryan Cole (Tri-City 2011)
















WTH 25-Man Roster - Long Relief

The winner of our 12th spot on the WTH roster was SS Jonathan Villar.  Also receiving votes were Jio Mier, Ben Orloff and Juan Santana.  Go here for more info on the What the Heck 25-Man Roster.

Next, let's pick a long relief pitcher.  These pitchers were generally called on for middle relief, frequently pitched multiple innings (all pitched in excess of 1.5 innings per appearance on average), and many were called upon to start on occasion.   This list contains both LHP's and RHP's and the minimum innings pitched was 35.  I included Xavier Cedeno in both this list and the LH starter list because he was used as both a starter and a reliever extensively during the season.

Dayan Diaz has absolutely ridiculous numbers with a 1.98 ERA, 1.140 WHIP, .158 BAA and 12.60 SO/9, but there are other interesting pitchers in the mix.  Mitchell Lambson's ERA is a little high, but it is accompanied by a 9.93 SO/9, 4.88 SO/BB ratio and a 1.160 WHIP.  Gabriel Garcia's and Alex Sogard's peripheral numbers are almost as good as Lambson's and they both have lower ERA's.  And Jeremiah Meiners is another one that I've had my eye on since before he earned a late promotion to Lancaster.

As I've done with the other relief pitchers, I'm going to allow votes for multiple players and then we'll recycle the runners-up in a later poll as we fill our last 2 or 3 bullpen positions.  Vote for your top five choices.  I'll put you on the honor system.  Here are their 2011 stats.

Winter League Recaps

As you may have noticed I was out of pocket over the weekend so we have some catching up to do on our recaps.  I will post the most recent recaps first and go back from there for Saturday and then Friday.

SUNDAY'S GAMES

DOMINICAN LEAGUE

Toros over Gigantes 1-0
Diory Hernandez was 1-3 for the Toros, and Aneury Rodriguez pitched three innings with one hit and six strikeouts.  Rhiner Cruz pitched one-third of an inning with no hits, no runs and no walks for the Gigantes.

Escogido over Aguilas 11-2
Jonathan Villar was 0-3 for Aguilas.

Licey over Estrellas 4-3
*Anderson Hernandez was 2-5 with two strikeouts for Licey.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

Lara over La Guaira 5-2
Joe Thurston was 2-3 with a double, two RBI's and a walk for Lara.  Sergio Escalona pitched a third of an inning with one hit and one strikeout for La Guaira.

Aragua over Zulia 4-3
Arcenio Leon pitched one inning for Zulia with one hit and one strikeout.

Magallanes over Caracas 3-1
Altuve was 0-4 with a walk and a strikeout as DH for Magallanes, while Gabriel Garcia pitched one-third of an inning with a walk.  Marwin Gonzalez was 1-4 with a walk and a strikeout for Caracas.

SATURDAY'S GAMES

DOMINICAN LEAGUE

Escogido over Licey 8-2
*Anderson Hernandez was 2-3 with a double, a walk and scored a run for Licey.

Aguilas over Gigantes 3-1
Jimmy Parades was 0-1 as a pinch hitter for Gigantes, while Enerio del Rosario (no hits, no runs, no walks) and Rhiner Cruz (one hit, no runs, no walks) each pitched one inning.

Estrellas over Toros 2-0
Diory Hernandez was 2-3 for the Toros.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

La Guaira over Caracas 8-2
Sergio Escalona pitched 1.1 innings with one hit, one walk and one strikeout, and got the win for La Guaira.  Marwin Gonzalez was 0-3 with a strikeout for Caracas.

Magallanes over Lara 4-2
Jose Altuve was 3-4 for Magallanes with a solo home run, four RBI's, a sac fly and scored a run.  Also for Magallanes, Carlos Quevedo pitched five innings, giving up one hit and three walks with two strikeouts to earn the win, and Gabriel Garcia pitched a third of an inning and walked one batter.  Joe Thurston was 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts for Lara.

FRIDAY'S GAMES

DOMINICAN LEAGUE

Aguilas over Toros 2-0
Jonathan Villar was 1-3 with a strikeout and scored a run for Aguilas.  Diory Hernandez was 0-4 with two strikeouts for the Toros, and Jimmy VanOstrand was 0-3 as a DH and grounded into a double play.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

Lara over Aragua 3-0
*Oswaldo Navarro was 2-3 with two RBI's for Lara, while Joe Thurston was 0-4.

Caracas over Zulia 3-0
Marwin Gonzalez was 0-4 with a strikeout for Caracas.

Caribes over Magallanes 1-0
Jose Altuve was 0-3 for Magallanes, and Gabriel Garcia retired his one batter.

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE

Ponce over Mayaguez 6-1
*Robinson Cancel went 1-3 with a double, three RBI's and a walk for Ponce.  Angel Sanchez was 2-4 with a double and scored a run for Mayaguez.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/12

RHP Ryan Cole (24)
Drafted in the 34th round in 2010 out of St. John's University in his home state of New York, Ryan improved upon his impressive 2010 numbers at Greeneville with even more impressive 2011 numbers at Tri-City.  In 26 games, he was 1-1 with 10 saves in 12 opportunities and had a 2.33 ERA and a 1.333 WHIP.  Watch for my interview with Ryan coming out later today.

One former Astro with a birthday today

IF Carlos Hernandez (36)
Played in 16 games for Houston in 1999

Tweet of the Day


Brian Hamilton
DIVISION CHAMPS BABY!!! HOUSTON TEXANS!!!!!

No Announced Roster Moves Today But ...

It was widely reported over the weekend that free agent LHP Andy Van Hekken accepted an offer to play for the Nexen Heroes in Korea in 2012.