Saturday, November 10, 2012

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 11/9

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Mesa over Salt River 7-5
CF George Springer had a tremendous day for Mesa as he went 3-for-3 with two monster home runs, three RBI, two walks and a stolen base. Jio Mier got the start at third base and went 1-for-5 with an RBI double and four strikeouts. RHP Jarred Cosart got the start and allowed three runs on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts in four innings. LHP Alex Sogard got the win in relief as he pitched a perfect inning with one strikeout and RHP Chia-Jen Lo got his third save as he also pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts.

Today's Game - Mesa (9-16) at Peoria (17-10) at 1:35 CST

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Magallanes over Margarita 5-4
2B Jose Altuve went 2-for-3 with two walks and scored two runs for Magallanes. He also stole a base.

Caracas over Lara 13-4
CF Brandon Barnes put on a show of his own for Caracas as he went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI including a two-run home run. He also tripled, walked and struck out once. Marwin Gonzalez came in to pinch hit for Caracas and went 0-for-1.

Aragua over Caribes 5-1
Jose Martinez was the DH for Aragua and went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run and a strikeout. RF Jake Goebbert was 1-for-4 with a strikeout for Caribes.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Toros over Estrellas 10-4
*RHP Aneury Rodriguez got the start and the win for the Toros as he allowed two runs on one hit (a home run) and four walks with two strikeouts in five innings.

Aguilas over Gigantes 2-1
Jimmy Paredes got the start in left field for the Gigantes and went 1-for-4 with a double while Rhiner Cruz pitched one and two-thirds innings, allowing one hit, no runs and one walk. He struck out two.

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Carolina over Santurce 6-1
For Carolina, Kiké Hernandez was 1-for-4 with an RBI triple, a walk and a strikeout. He was also caught stealing. Also for Carolina, SS Carlos Correa was 1-for-3 with two strikeouts and scored a run; C Rene Garcia was 1-for-3; and C Carlos Corporan came in as a late inning defensive substitution and got a sac fly RBI.

Caguas over Ponce 7-1
C Roberto Pena came into the game in the fifth as a defensive substitution for Caguas and went 0-for-1.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE

Hermosillo over Mazatlan 5-4 in 18 innings
*RHP Edgar Gonzalez pitched the first four and two-thirds innings of this 18-inning marathon, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts for Hermosillo.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/10

I hate the few days a year when there are no future or former Astros with birthdays. I still feel compelled to come up with something and I end up going down tons of rabbit trails. But I always seem to find something of interest, at least to me.

In looking at non-Astros players with birthdays today, one name jumped out for me - Jack Clark who is 57 today. I remember the absolute dread of seeing him come to the plate against the Astros. He always seem to just kill us. Well, that wasn't all in my imagination. Thanks to Baseball-Reference's fabulous search engine, I discovered that Jack the Ripper had a robust batting average against several of the Astros pitchers.

.385 vs. Danny Darwin
.341 vs. Joaquin Andujar
.326 vs. Bob Knepper
.306 vs. Joe Niekro

He even hit .289 vs. J.R. Richard who allowed a lifetime batting average of only .212.

But there were a few pitchers that shut him down fairly well. He only hit .167 off Mike Scott and Frank DiPino, .190 off Dave Smith and .231 off Jim Deshaies, which brings me to the next thing I found.

I found a site that will "replay" any game in which you're interested. This particular game was one in which JD shut down Jack Clark, striking him out three times. As an added bonus, it will take you down memory lane in looking at that terrific 1986 team. Hope you enjoy it.

Tweet of the Day

Jamaine Cotton

I wanna b like Bruce Lee when I grow up...lmbo 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Mesa over Phoenix 4-3
1B Jon Singleton was 1-for-4 with a strikeout. CF George Springer was 0-for-3 with a strikeout, scored a run and had an outfield assist. SS Jio Mier was 0-for-3. A couple of notes - Jarred Cosart was scheduled to start this game, but didn't. I haven't seen anything about why he was scratched. Also, Bobby Borchering has not played since November 1st. Again, I don't know why. He had been struggling but his last game was one of his best at the plate.

Today's Game - Mesa (8-16) at Salt River (13-10) at 1:35 CST

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Aragua over Caracas 8-7
Jose Martinez was the DH for Aragua and went 1-for-5. CF Brandon Barnes was 1-for-4 with an RBI single, a walk and a strikeout while SS Marwin Gonzalez was 0-for-4 with a walk.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Licey over Gigantes 12-11
DH Jimmy Paredes was 0-for-5 and scored a run for the Gigantes while *RHP Erick Abreu gave up one run on one hit with one strikeout in one and one-thirds innings.

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Mayaguez over Carolina 5-1
SS Carlos Correa went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his winter debut with Carolina, while Carlos Corporan was 1-for-4 with a strikeout. Kiké Hernandez drove in Carolina's only run with a pinch hit RBI double and *RHP Adalberto Flores pitched two innings, allowing one unearned run on one hit.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/9

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Red Witt (79)
Witt came to Houston from the Pirates in May 1962 and pitched in eight games for the Colt 45's that season with a 7.04 ERA and a 1.891 WHIP. Witt's major league career was delayed by military service as he served in the Korean War. His best season was for the Pirates in 1958 when he was 9-2 in 18 appearances (15 starts) with a 1.61 ERA and a 1.292 WHIP.

RHP Rick Williams (60)
Signed by Houston as an amateur free agent in 1972, Williams pitched in 48 games (17 starts) for the Astros in 1978 and 1979 with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.314 WHIP.

OF Todd Self (34)
Drafted by Houston in the 15th round in 2000, Self's entire major league career consisted of 21 games played for the Astros in 2005 in which he hit .200/.250/.311.

Tweet of the Day

Brady Rodgers

Someone call  cuz I'm in the weight room right now

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Astros MiLB Organization All-Stars

MiLB.com has posted their Astros organization All-Star team here. In addition to the "usual suspects" such as Mike Foltynewicz, Jon Singleton and Delino DeShields, it was nice to see that they included a few players who flew beneath the radar somewhat in 2012, including Erik Castro and Matt Duffy, as well as newcomers  Brian Holmes and Tyler Heineman.

Roster Moves

A couple of additional releases were on the Baseball America transactions list from yesterday that weren't on  my list from last week:

RHP Rodney Quintero
LHP Gabriel Garcia
LHP Kilby Pena

They also noted that OF J.B. Shuck and IF Matt Downs asked for and were granted their releases.

So How Did I Do? Oklahoma City Redhawks

I've been taking a long overdue look at how I did in predicting the the 2012 Astros minor league full season team results. Last week I looked at the Lexington Legends and the Lancaster JetHawks, and earlier this week I looked at the Corpus Christi Hooks. Today let's look at the AAA level Oklahoma City Redhawks.

OFFENSE

I didn't go into any detail about specific players, but did predict better overall results in the categories of batting average and slugging percentage which is precisely what happened (OBP stayed roughly the same). I went on to note that since several of the players had significant experience at the AAA level with good results, I saw no reason that trend wouldn't continue. Players such as J.B. Shuck, Brett Wallace, Brad Snyder, Scott Moore and Jimmy Paredes performed as I expected while players such as Justin Ruggiano, Angel Sanchez and Fernando Martinez outperformed my expectations. And Mike Hessman's 35 home runs didn't exactly hurt the team slugging percentage.

This is how things shook out:

2011 - .260/.341/.381 with 4.33 runs scored per game
2012 - .282/.349/.434 with 5.34 runs scored per game

PITCHING

Much as I noted for Corpus Christi's rotation, it really wasn't a stretch to predict that an opening day rotation of Jordan Lyles, Aneury Rodriguez and Henry Sosa (all with significant major league experience), as well as Dallas Keuchel and Paul Clemens (both of whom had gotten their feet wet at AAA the prior year) would be an upgrade over Ryan Rowland-Smith, Nelson Figueroa, Andy Van Hekken, Sergio Perez and a younger version of Jordan Lyles. Little did I know that Rodriguez and Clemens would struggle and Sosa would leave the team after only six starts. Keuchel and Lyles both performed well, however, and ended up in Houston.

It took several players who didn't start the season with Oklahoma City, such as Brett Oberholtzer, Wes Musick, Armando Galarraga and Jarred Cosart, to keep the starting rotation from taking a big step backward from last season. Mickey Storey showed great consistency out of the bullpen, but he was the exception rather than the rule.

On paper I saw the 2011 and 2012 staffs (at least the way they were drawn up on opening day) as being roughly equivalent as translated to wins and losses but that was if the pitchers showed no improvement. I anticipated that they would most definitely show improvement, but as noted above, the results were mixed and ultimately the staff did not perform as well as I had hoped.

This is how the pitching stacked up:

2011 - 4.63 ERA/1.561 WHIP/5.01 runs allowed per game
2012 - 4.91 ERA/1.508 WHIP/5.30 runs allowed per game

OVERALL RECORD

With the offense overperforming somewhat and the pitching (overall) underperforming a bit, it was kind of a wash and this turned out to be my closest prediction.

2011 Actual - 68-75/.476 win percentage
2012 Prediction - 76-68/.527 win percentage
2012 Actual - 78-65/.545 win percentage

FINAL NOTE

I underestimated the number of wins in 2012 for these four teams by 26. I was under by four on Lexington, a whopping 14 on Lancaster, six on Corpus and only two on Oklahoma City. Little did I know that this group of four teams would go from a cumulative win percentage of .414 to a cumulative win percentage of .538 in one season. I thought that my cumulative prediction of .489 might be too ambitious, but I also hoped that the individual teams would prove me wrong by winning more than I projected. This is one instance when I'm very, very happy to have been wrong.

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 11/7

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Mesa over Scottsdale 4-3
Jio Mier got the start at third base and went 1-for-4 with a a strikeout. RHP Nick Tropeano pitched one inning in relief and allowed two hits, including a solo home run, and two walks. Despite all the traffic, he only allowed one run as he left the bases loaded with his third strikeout in the innning. RHP Chia-Jen Lo got his second save of the fall as he pitched one inning allowing two hits and no runs with two strikeouts in one inning.

Today's Game - Phoenix (9-12) at Mesa (7-16) at 1:35 CST

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Magallanes over La Guaira 12-11
2B Jose Altuve made his season debut for the Magallanes team, going 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI.

Caracas over Zulia 6-3
Marwin Gonzalez debuted for Caracas as DH and went 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout. He also reached base after being hit by a pitch and, despite getting no hits, scored two runs. Also for Caracas, CF Brandon Barnes was 3-for-4 with a triple, two RBI and an outfield assist.

Aragua over Margarita 3-2
DH Jose Martinez was 1-for-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts for Aragua.

Caribes over Lara 1-0 in 7 innings
RF Jake Goebbert was 0-for-3 for Caribes.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Gigantes over Escogido 15-13
DH Jimmy Paredes was 1-for-4 with a walk, RBI, strikeout and run scored for Gigantes. For Escogido, *RHP Jorge de Leon allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks in a third of an inning and was charged with a blown save and the loss.

Toros over Licey 8-3
For Licey, RF Domingo Santana went 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the ninth.

Estrellas over Aguillas 8-1
Jonathan Villar came into the game for Aguilas as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and stayed in to play short. He was 1-for-2 and scored a run.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/8

LHP Blair Walters (23)
Drafted by the White Sox out of the University of Hawaii in the 11th round in 2011, Walters came into the Astros organization as a part of the July 2012 trade with Chicago for Brett Myers. He made 13 starts for the White Sox in their low A affiliate with good success, compiling a 2.88 ERA and a 1.097 WHIP. He struggled somewhat in making the transition to High A, first for the White Sox and then for the Astros. In his final eight starts of the regular season for Lancaster, he was 3-3 with a 7.62 ERA and a 1.641 WHIP. In the post-season, Walters was 1-0 in two starts with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.600 WHIP.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

OF John Fishel (50)
Drafted by Houston in the ninth round in 1985, Fishel's entire major league career consisted of 19 games played for the Astros in 1988 in which he hit .231/.310/.346. He was traded, along with two others, to the Yankees in January of 1989 for Rick Rhoden. He was the 1984 College World Series Outstanding Player when he played for California State at Fullerton.

OF Eric Anthony (45)
A 34th round draft pick by Houston in 1986, Anthony played for the Astros from 1989 to 1993, hitting .224/.295/.378. He was traded to the Mariners in December 1993 for Mike Felder and Mike Hampton. He was one of the few players ever to hit a home run into the upper deck of the Astrodome.

Tweet of the Day

Zach Johnson

Best part of legs day is after I dont have to do anything, in large part because I cant move. Therefore, I get to play halo all day 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Interview with RHP Mike Hauschild

It should be a good day at the Hauschild residence. Or at least a quiet one. When I talked to Mike last week, the Ohio native noted, "Our house phone just rings off the hook." But he has been too busy working and working out to be bothered too much by campaign phone calls.

Mike is a quiet guy so it took a little prodding to find out much about him. A 33rd round draft pick in 2012 out of the University of Dayton, his career and single-season strikeouts rank second in the history of the school and he is third in wins; and he was the New England Collegiate Baseball League Pitcher of the Year in 2010 summer ball.

In his first season in the Astros organization, he had a 1.78 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP in 19 appearances with 11.6 SO/9 and a 4.33 SO/BB ratio. As good as those numbers were, there were a couple of other things that struck me about Mike when I saw him in Greeneville in August. First of all, at 6'3" 210 lbs., he literally stood out among his teammates, many of whom were straight out of high school. Secondly, as I alluded to in my interview with Jordan Jankowski, I was impressed with the work ethic I saw from Hauschild and Jankowski. And it didn't hurt that he was wearing high socks the one time I saw him pitch.

But one other thing really struck me about him. According to the MiLB.com stats page, his groundball out to air out ratio for 2012 was a whopping 5.25. The Astros system player with the next highest rate was 2.81. Jankowski singled out Mike as the fellow pitcher who had a pitch he'd like to steal, stating, "I'd have to say definitely Mike Hauschild's fastball. His fastball moves like two feet. If I could steal that off him, that would be unreal. He can throw that to lefties, righties. That's one of the best pitches you could possibly have that moves that much and he just gets so many groundballs, it's just unreal to watch him pitch." [My emphasis]

So, enough with the intro, here's what Mike had to say ~

On his pitch repertoire: "I think my best pitch is my splitter ... I guess it's a forkball. But I don't have the control [with that] that I have on my change up. My change up is probably my most consistent pitch. They both drop the same amount but my forkball goes away to righties and my change up goes away to lefties so I kind of use my change up for left-handed hitters and my forkball for right-handed hitters. My slider was a lot better in the summer. I think that's why I had such great success against the righties because I got ahead of them with my slider and then I was able to use the forkball to get them to ground out and strike out.

In school ball, the balls we use are different. They have bigger seams. I got more movement [in school] because I used the seams to my advantage. So when I got to Greeneville, [I didn't get quite as much movement] so my forkball was a little rusty at the beginning and I threw a couple passed balls with it. So once I got someone on base, I tried to stay away from it. I'm trying to get it so I can throw it more for strikes right now. And some days it'll be good and I can throw it where I want it, but other days I don't want to give the catchers a headache so I can just get someone to ground out with my slider or my change up."

On his groundball rate: "Pretty much my whole career [I've been a groundball pitcher]. I kind of throw at a lower arm angle than most other guys that were on the staff at Greeneville. I kind of pronate everything so that's why I get all that run and sink. Those two things combined really just tend to be a little trouble for hitters."

On what he accomplished in the short season: "More than anything, just the kind of pitcher that I am, to set the tone for what I know I can do. Hopefully, management saw that. That I'm a guy whose going to get a lot of ground balls, throw a lot of strikes. That's probably the biggest thing that I took away from it.

On being a lower round draft pick: "I try not to worry about that. I'm just going out and having fun. I'm just honestly really happy that I got the chance to keep on playing. I hadn't heard anything going into the draft so it was kind of a surprise. I didn't want to get my hopes up. I felt like I was good enough to be drafted but no one had talked to me at all. I filled out a questionnaire a couple weeks before the draft from the Astros and that was the only thing that I'd done in the spring. I filled out a bunch of questionnaires in the fall because I played in the Cape and did pretty well in the Cape but no one called me or talked to me at all. I'd stopped following the draft actually. My head coach just called me and told me 'congratulations' and I [said] 'for what?' He [told me that I had gotten] picked up by the Astros."

On his UD teammate Brian Blasik: "I was surprised he didn't get drafted. I know he's definitely good enough and I'm sure a lot of people do now. I've played with him for seven years and this is what I've expected from him every year ... just come out, hit the ball hard and be solid defensively."

On his workout regimen: "It takes a lot of getting used to. Like summer ball ... I played summer ball on the Cape. It's very competitive up there. I kind of had an idea. There were some guys who have played from UD and they helped me along. They said, 'go and get your work done.' [At Greeneville] me and J.J. [Jankowski], we'd go lift before a lot of people even got there, [got] in our routine and it worked out well because we were pitching well. I [figured] I wasn't going to change anything if I was doing well."

On the biggest surprise from his first pro season: "Pretty much the same as Brian [Blasik, who talks about his experience here], just how relaxed everything was. I kind of expected it to be a little bit more ... coaches telling you what to do, super serious about everything because that's how it was at UD. They were always on us to do everything how they wanted. Here you have a lot more freedom to do whatever you wanted to do. Get two lifts in during the week. If you want to do more, you can. Run extra if you want to, but you don't have to. So it's just that freedom. I wasn't really expecting that."

On what he's doing in the off-season: "Trying to make as much money as possible. I work at UD. We have pitching clinics. We have a new pitching coach this year. He took over the clinics I've always worked and he asked me to help out with those too. So I'm working those. Working at a sports apparel store at a mall around here, helping [with] stats at UD sporting events. And then I'm working out trying to get in better shape."

Who on the team makes you laugh? : "I'd probably have to go with two of them. Michael Dimock and Zach Dando. Our whole bullpen was pretty close and we got along really well and joked around together so it was a lot of fun down there, but those two were pretty much the ringleaders. Had a lot of fun together, played jokes on people and just made everybody feel like a big family."

Was there a player you liked to just sit back and watch? : "I really like how Brian plays but I don't know if he would be my answer just because I've seen him play for as long as I can remember. I was very impressed by Carlos Correa when he came up. He played the game the right way and I wasn't really sure what to expect with the number one pick, you know, coming in feeling entitled, but he was not like that at all. He's a great, great kid. He played hard."

Who has a pitch you'd like to steal? : "Probably Jordan's [Jankowski] slider. He has a great slider and he made a lot of people look very bad this season with that pitch."

Which batter would you least like to face? : "Probably Brian just because he knows everything that I do. He'd be tough to get out. He knows all my pitches and what I like to throw so it would just have to be a mound battle up there. I always hated facing him in the fall when we played at UD because if I got behind he knew a fastball was coming and he was going to hit it hard."

On his connections with other Astros players: "I played with Brian seven years in a row. I played with him in high school. We played on the same summer ball team in high school. I knew a couple guys from Tri-City. They played on the same team in the Cape as I did. I knew Kenny Long and Andrew Aplin. I was acutally Kenny's roommate in the Cape. [I then asked him about Aplin.] I was very impressed by how he played there [the Cape]. He's kind of like Carlos [Correa]. Played the game the right way. Just all out all the time. If he were behind me every game I would be super excited."

What would he do if he couldn't play baseball? : "I'd probably try to coach. I really like helping the kids with the clinics. I understand mechanics pretty well so I know when guys are doing some stuff differently so I'd try to be in coaching and if not hopefully something else in baseball. I don't know exactly what it would be, but I love the game and I'd like to be around it for as long as I can."

Thanks for your time, Mike! Enjoy the peace and quiet, and best of luck next season.

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 11/6

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Surprise over Mesa 7-0
DH Jon Singleton was 0-for-4 and RF George Springer was 0-for-3 with a walk. Springer also grounded into a double play, but redeemed himself somewhat by contributing an outfield assist. LHP Alex Sogard allowed two hits and no runs in his one inning of work.

Today's Game - Mesa (6-16) at Scottsdale (12-10) at 1:35 CST

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

La Guaira over Caracas 9-5
CF Brandon Barnes was 0-for-4 for Caracas.

Caribes 2 and Lara 0 - suspended after three innings
RF Jake Goebbert was 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout.

Magallanes over Aragua 8-4
2B Jose Martinez was 1-for-3 with a solo home run and a sac fly RBI for Aragua. He also struck out once and committed his first error of the season. According to Baseball America's transactions report from yesterday, Martinez has re-signed with the Astros.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Aguilas over Gigantes 8-4
DH Jimmy Paredes was 2-for-4 with a two-run single and a two-run double. That makes seven RBI in his last two games. *RHP Erick Abreu pitched one and two-thirds innings and gave up two runs on two hits with a strikeout. He was charged with his first blown save of the season.

Escogido over Licey 10-7
RF Domingo Santana was 0-for-3 with a walk for Licey.

MEXICAN PACIFIC WINTER LEAGUE

Hermosillo over Mexicali 7-3
*RHP Garrett Mock got the start and gave up two runs on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts in five innings of work for Hermosillo. UPDATE: Garrett Mock was signed by the Diamondbacks.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 11/7

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Joe Niekro (died October 27, 2006 at 61)
Originally drafted by the Cubs in the third round in 1966, Niekro was purchased by Houston from the Braves in April 1975 for $35,000. He played for Houston from 1975 until his trade to the Yankees for Jim Deshaies in September 1985.

Joe Niekro played in 22 seasons, from 1967 to 1988, for a total of seven different teams.  For his career, Niekro was 221-204 with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.319 WHIP over 702 games and 3584.1 innings pitched.  In 11 seasons for Houston, he was 144-116 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.264 WHIP over 397 games and 2270 innings pitched.  His most successful season was in 1979 when he was 21-11 and led the National League in wins.  1979 was an All-Star year for Niekro and he also placed second in NL Cy Young voting that year, behind Bruce Sutter and in front of 3rd place finisher J.R. Richard and his brother Phil in 6th place.

Niekro simply dominated in post-season pitching.  In the 1980 NLCS, he pitched 10 innings of shut-out ball in a game against Philadelphia which the Astros ultimately won 1-0 in 11 innings.  In the 1981 NLDS, he pitched eight innings of shut-out ball against the Dodgers in another 11-inning 1-0 win for the Astros.  In 1987, Niekro finally got his shot at a ring and pitched two innings for Minnesota in the World Series.  The Twins won the series and Joe got his ring.  For the post-season, Niekro had an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.950.

Joe is probably as well-known for the emory board incident as anything else in his career.  For more on Joe, here is his Wikipedia page.  He died in 2006 of a brain aneurysm, and his daughter has established a foundation in his name to raise money for aneurysm treatment and research.

RHP Russ Springer (44)
A seventh round pick by the Yankees in 1989, Springer first came to Houston as a free agent in December 1996 and pitched in 54 games for the Astros in 1997 before being selected by Arizona in the 1997 expansion draft. He then came back to Houston as a free agent in June 2004 and pitched three additional seasons for Houston from 2004 through 2006. In 204 total games with Houston, he had a 4.03 ERA and a 1.215 WHIP. Springer pitched in a total of 18 seasons for 10 different teams.

Tweet of the Day

Austin Wates

Peace. Unity. Tolerance. Acceptance. Division is not the answer. We must work as one! How about less division?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

So How Did I Do? Corpus Christi Hooks

I've been taking a long overdue look at how I did in predicting the the 2012 Astros minor league full season team results. Last week I looked at the Lexington Legends and the Lancaster JetHawks. Today let's look at the AA level Corpus Christi Hooks.

OFFENSE

I predicted across-the-board improvements in offensive output for this team as compared to the 2011 team. I thought that Austin Wates and Jon Singleton would make smooth transitions from Lancaster to Corpus and they did. Austin Wates actually had slightly better numbers at Corpus than he did at Lancaster the previous year (although in fewer at-bats) and Singleton didn't suffer from the Lancaster effect either as he hit home runs at a higher rate in Corpus Christi than he had in hitter-friendly Lancaster.

I was high on Adam Bailey based on his great season in 2011, including limited time at Corpus Christi at the end of the season, but Bailey was sent back to Lancaster before the season even started and didn't make it to Corpus until later in the season. Bailey had a solid, albeit unspectacular, season at Corpus in limited playing time. I was also high on Kody Hinze, largely based on his good transition to AA at the end of the season, but he had a highly uneven season (hitting .278 in April, .106 in May, .306 in June and .167 in July) leading to his ouster in early August. Obviously, that wasn't one of my better predictions.

One of my big questions had to do with J.C. Thompson and Andy Simunic and whether or not they could recreate their 2011 success at Lancaster. Thompson couldn't and was cut after only 18 games. Simunic fared well though, hitting .297/.349/.345. Simunic will never be a big power threat, but he did do a decent job of getting on base and increased his stolen base output while lowering his strikeout rate. My other question had to do with T.J. Steele. I didn't want him taking away at-bats from Bailey, Wates and Brandon Barnes which is precisely what he did to start the season (one of the reasons that Bailey was sent to Lancaster). Steele hit .141 in 26 games for Corpus and was released in late May.

Ultimately, the offense stacked up this way:

2011 - .258/.320/.388 with 4.32 runs scored per game
2012 - .268/.342/.410 with 5.26 runs scored per game

PITCHING

It really didn't take a rocket scientist to predict that an opening day rotation of Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Ross Seaton, Jose Cisnero and Jake Buchanan would have a better time of it than the five most frequently used starters from 2011 - Dallas Keuchel, Erick Abreu, Jonnathan Aristil, Xavier Cedeno and a younger, less experienced version of Ross Seaton. Granted Keuchel had a terrific season with Corpus in 2011, but the others had average to below average seasons and I didn't think that would be the case with the 2012 staff.

I predicted that Cosart might start slowly and end strong. He didn't start particularly slowly, but he definitely ended stronger, including a successful stint at AAA. I thought that Oberholtzer would benefit from a second year at AA. Oberholtzer made the most of his 13 starts in Corpus Christi and parlayed that into a promotion to Oklahoma City. I was very high on Ross Seaton based on his improvement late in the 2011 season. I expected to see a vast improvement from him as he had been young for the league in 2011, but would benefit from the year of experience. He did not disappoint me as he went from a 4-9 record, 5.23 ERA and 1.387 WHIP in 2011 to an 8-8 record, 4.07 ERA and a 1.274 WHIP at Corpus Christi in 2012.

I also predicted success for Buchanan and Cisnero. I figured if they could pitch effectively in Lancaster, Corpus would be a piece of cake for them. Buchanan didn't do as well as I had hoped (5-9 in 27 games/19 starts with a 4.96 ERA and a 1.519 WHIP), but Cisnero exceeded my expections with his 9-6 record, 3.40 ERA and 1.279 WHIP which led to a late-season promotion for him.

In looking at the bullpen, I anticipated that the relievers would be more effective since several of them were repeating the AA level. The one thing that jumps out at me when looking at this year's relief staff vs. last year is how stable the 2012 crew was. Seven relievers pitched a minimum of 50 innings (with a combined ERA of 3.94), and only 10 pitchers were used primarily in relief. In 2011, 18 different pitchers were used primarily for relief and only one of them pitched more than 50 innings; of those 18, only three had an ERA lower than the 2012 core staff.

Ultimately, this is how the pitching stacked up:

2011 - 5.01 ERA/1.460 WHIP/5.44 runs allowed per game
2012 - 4.49 ERA/1.332 WHIP/4.49 runs allowed per game

OVERALL RECORD

I actually fudged on my predictions and gave a worst-case/best-case prediction. The ironic part was that I remember thinking at the time that the Hooks would do even better than my most optimistic prediction, but I was afraid that I would be accused of either: a) being the biggest homer in the City of Houston , or b) being downright delusional for predicting they would have 30 more wins than the prior season. I should have listened to my heart because they actually had 31 more wins!

2011 Actual - 50-90/.357 win percentage
2012 Worst-Case Prediction - 65-75/.464 win percentage
2012 Best-Case Prediction - 75-65/.536 win percentage
2012 Actual - 81-59/.579 win percentage

Next (and last) on Thursday: Oklahoma City

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 11/5

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Mesa over Scottsdale 5-4
1B Jon Singleton went 1-for-1 with three walks, including a bases-loaded walk which accounted for his one RBI, and scored a run. RHP Chia-Jen Lo got his first save despite allowing a run on three hits in his one inning of work. He struck out one.

Today's Game - Surprise (12-10) at Mesa (6-15) at 2:35 CST

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Gigantes over Estrellas 6-4
DH Jimmy Paredes went 2-for-5 with three RBI including a 2-run home run for the Gigantes. He's now hitting .289/.289/.553 with one double and three home runs in nine games.

The Venezuelan Winter League and the Mexican Pacific League were off on Monday.

Happy Birthday - 11/6

OF Justin Maxwell (29)
Originally drafted by Washington in the fourth round in 2005, Maxwell was claimed off waivers from the Yankees in April 2012. In 124 games for Houston in 2012, he hit .229/.304/.460 with 13 doubles, three triples and 18 home runs. In 28 at-bats as a pinch hitter in 2012, he hit .250 with three home runs and six RBI.

Tweet of the Day

slimdim23's avatar

What if instead of an election we had a presidential dance off...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Winter League Recaps and Stats

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Sunday was an off day. Today's game is Scottsdale (12-9) at Mesa (5-15) at 7:35 CST.

AFL Player Stats to Date:

Bobby Borchering - .158/.250/.368 2-2B 2HR 5RBI in 11 games
Jio Mier - .297/.325/.432 5-2B 6RBI in 10 games
Jon Singleton - .247/.360/.479 4-2B 2-3B 3HR 7RBI in 19 games
George Springer - .250/.411/.432 3-2B 3B HR 8RBI 4SB in 14 games

Jarred Cosart - 0-2 7.36 ERA 2.000 WHIP 6BB/7SO in 4 starts
Chia-Jen Lo - 0-1 1.74 ERA 0.871 WHIP 3BB/6SO in 9 appearances
Alex Sogard  1-0 11.42 ERA 2.423 WHIP 7BB/6SO in 8 appearances
Nick Tropeano - 0-0 2.45 ERA 0.818 WHIP 3BB/14SO in 8 games (1 start)

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Caracas over Margarita 4-1
CF Brandon Barnes went 2-for-4 with an RBI double for Caracas.

Caribes over Aragua 3-1
RF Jake Goebbert was 0-for-4 for Caribes. 2B Jose Martinez was 0-3 with a walk for Aragua.

LVBP Player Stats to Date:

Brandon Barnes - .291/.356/.468 3-2B 3B 3-HR 15RBI 2SB in 20 games
Jake Goebbert - .226/.273/.290 2-2B 2RBI 1SB in 8 games
Jose Martinez - .297/.370/.375 2-2B HR 9RBI in 18 games

Gabriel Garcia - 0-0 7.71 ERA 2.143 WHIP 1BB/1SO in 5 appearances
Sergio Perez - 3-2 4.81 ERA 1.274 WHIP 8BB/16SO in 5 starts

Liga Paralela Player Stats to Date:

Luis Alvarez - .268/.333/.293 2B 8 RBI in 11 games
Ernesto Genoves - .325/.460/.525/ 2-2B 2HR 7RBI in 11 games
Jose Monzon - .241/.353/.414 3B HR 2RBI in 10 games
Carlos Perez - .385/.429/.590 5-2B HR 7RBI in 12 games
Alfredo Gonzalez - .364/.417/.591 2-2B HR 5RBI in 8 games

Carlos Quevedo - 1-1 2.08 ERA 0.846 WHIP 2BB/14SO in 3 games (1 start)
Enderson Franco - 0-1 3.18 ERA 1.647 WHIP 7BB/13SO in 5 games (4 starts)

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Gigantes over Estrellas 7-4
RHP Erick Abreu pitched two and a third perfect innings of relief for the Gigantes with four strikeouts and was rewarded with the win while DH Jimmy Paredes went 2-for-4 with a strikeout.

Toros over Escogido 3-1
*Jorge de Leon made his first appearance for Escogido and allowed one unearned run on one hit and one walk over one and two-thirds innings.

Aguilas over Licey 14-12 in 10 innings
Jonathan Villar came in to pinch run in the 10th inning for Aguilas, scored a run and stayed in to play second base. Domingo Santana came in as a defensive substitution for Licey in the 10th and played right field. Neither player got an at-bat.

LIDOM Player Stats to Date:

Jimmy Paredes - .273/.273/.485 2B 2HR 7RBI 1SB in 8 games
Domingo Santana - .200/.500/.200 1RBI in 3 games (only 5AB)
Jonathan Villar - .167/.231/.167 SB in 8 games

Erick Abreu - 1-0 2.79 ERA 0.414 WHIP 0BB/13SO in 5 appearances
Rhiner Cruz - Only pitched 1 perfect inning in 1 game with 2 strikeouts
*Jorge de Leon - 0-0 0.00 ERA 1.200 WHIP 1BB/0SO in 1 appearance
Aneury Rodriguez - 1-1 1.93 ERA 1.214 WHIP 3BB/12SO in 4 starts

LMP (Mexico) Player Stats to Date:

Garrett Mock - 2-1 3.75 ERA 1.333 WHIP 9BB/6SO in 5 games (2 starts)

LBPN (Nicaragua) Player Stats to Date:

Marlon Avea - .200 AVG/.200 SLG in 4 games (no extra base hits)
Mesac Laguna - .250 AVG/.583 SLG 2-2B 2HR in 9 games

*Free Agent



Happy Birthday - 11/5

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

OF Tom Wiedenbauer (53)
A seventh round pick by the Astros in 1976, Wiedenbauer played in four games for Houston in 1979. Those four games constituted his entire major league career and he made the most of them. In six at-bats, he had four hits, a double and two RBI. His career batting average was .667. Now that's a cup of coffee that you can live with.

RHP Craig McMurtry (53)
Originally drafted by Atlanta in the first round in 1980, McMurtry signed with Houston as a free agent in March of 1994. In 11 appearances for the Astros in 1995, he had a 7.84 ERA and a 2.323 WHIP. His rookie year in 1983 was arguably his best as he went 15-9 with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.300 WHIP in 36 games (35 starts) for Atlanta and came in second in Rookie of the Year voting to Darryl Strawberry.

Tweet of the Day

Jarred Cosart

Start unknown, become known, leave unforgettable

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 11/3

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Rising Stars Game - AFL East over AFL West 9-4
RHP Jarred Cosart got the start for the East and quickly learned that one shouldn't walk Reds prospect Billy Hamilton who promptly stole two bases against him. In two innings, Cosart gave up two runs on one hit and two walks with a strikeout. According to Jonathan Mayo, Cosart was hitting 96-99 during his outing. 1B Jon Singleton was 1-for-2 with a walk and George Springer came into the game late, going 0-for-1 with a strikeout.

Jon Singleton continues to impress me with his plate discipline. He had really good at-bats and, in the times I've seen him, he never looks like he's pressing or lost at the plate. I would like to see more of that from George Springer. In the times that I've seen him, including last night, he has a tendency to swing for the fences ... a lot. I'd really like to see him work harder on just getting the ball in play, but that's just my opinion.

The announcers were very complimentary of the Astros trio. They see Cosart as a front of the rotation starter with great stuff and think that Jon Singleton will easily adjust to hitting left-handed pitching better. George Springer's batting practice was also a subject of discussion as Springer hit a ball high up off the batter's eye in dead center that got everyone's attention.

But most of the talk revolved around Hamilton and Washington's Brian Goodwin, the lead-off hitters for the two teams. I couldn't help but think that, in next year's Rising Stars Game, they will no doubt be talking about a speedy lead-off hitter again, but this time it will be Delino DeShields. I will take DeShields any day of the week over Hamilton. Hamilton is very exciting to watch, but so is DeShields. And I think Delino will ultimately prove to be the more well-rounded player.

In any event, I realized that Houston should be well-represented in the Rising Stars Game for years to come, and that's a pretty cool realization.

No game today

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Zulia over Magallanes 6-5
Sergio Perez got the start and the loss for Magallanes. In three and two-thirds innings, he allowed six runs on nine hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

Lara over Caribes 8-7
Jake Goebbert was the DH for the Caribes team and went 1-for-5 and scored two runs.

Caracas over Margarita 6-5
CF Brandon Barnes was 0-5 with a strikeout.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Toros over Gigantes 3-0
Aneury Rodriguez had a very good start for the Toros and was rewarded with the win. In five scoreless innings, he allowed only three hits and no walks and struck out five. Jimmy Paredes was DH for the Gigantes and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Aguilas over Escogido 4-3 in 13 innings
SS Jonathan Villar went 0-for-4 with a strikeout for Aguilas.


Happy Birthday - 11/4

RHP Adalberto Flores (26)
Flores was originally drafted by the Marlins in the 32nd round in 2005 out of Puerto Rico and spent time in the Rangers organization before signing with the Astros as a free agent in November of 2011. Flores split his time between Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City in 2012 with a combined ERA of 7.58 and a WHIP of 1.745.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

C Mark Bailey (51)
A sixth round pick for Houston in 1982, Bailey played for the Astros from 1984 to 1988 before being traded to the Montreal Expos for Casey Candaele in 1988. In 322 games for Houston, he hit .223/.340/.340. Since retiring from playing, Bailey has been a coach in the Astros system.  He served as bullpen coach for the Astros from 2002 to 2009 and has since functioned as the hitting coach for Corpus Christi in 2010 and the hitting coach for Tri-City in 2011 and 2012.

OF Ryan Thompson (45)
Originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the 13th round in 1987, Thompson came to Houston as a free agent in January 1999. In 12 games for the Astros that season, he hit .200/.273/.400.

RHP Ezequiel Astacio (33)
Astacio came to Houston as part of the November 2003 Philadelphia trade for Billy Wagner. In 28 games (14 starts) for the Astros in 2005 and 2006, he was 5-6 with a 6.02 ERA and a 1.592 WHIP. Astacio never made it back to the major leagues but was still pitching in Independent League ball up through 2011.

Tweet of the Day

Scott Heineman

Congrats to my bro Tyler  for being awarded first year minor league player of the year tonight at Angel Stadium! You're th man T

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After I saw this tweet, I looked up the details and saw that Tyler Heineman won the First Year Minor League Player of the Year from the Professional Baseball Scouts of Southern California at their annual awards dinner. Jon Singleton won the Minor League Player of the Year as well. Congratulations guys!