Friday, December 9, 2011

No Updates This Weekend

I'm going to have sketchy Wi-Fi access this weekend so I won't be posting any updates on Saturday and, if I post on Sunday, it will be later in the day.  Since I haven't missed a day in posting since I started the blog this summer, I hope you'll indulge me and come back and see me on Monday!  (I have another player interview coming out on Monday if that helps.)

I'm leaving you with birthday greetings for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Have a great weekend!

Winter League Recaps


Toros over Estrellas 9-2
Diory Hernandez went 1-3, scored a run and ground into a double play for the Toros team, while Jimmy VanOstrand was 2-4 with two RBI's and a strikeout in his first Winter League appearance.  Wander Alvino pitched one inning with three hits and a run for Estrellas.

Aguilas over Gigantes 7-2
Jonathan Villar went 0-4 with two strikeouts for Aguilas.  Jimmy Paredes made a pinch hitting appearance for the Gigantes team and was 1-1 with a double and scored a run; this is great news because it was reported that had a minor shoulder injury that had kept him out of the line-up for a few days.  Also for the Gigantes team, Jose Cisnero pitched one inning with two walks and a strikeout.

Escogido over Licey 3-0
*Anderson Hernandez was 1-3 with a walk for Licey.


Zulia over Caracas 8-1
Arcenio Leon pitched one inning for Zulia with one hit, one run and one walk.  Marwin Gonzalez (the newest Astro) was 1-5 with a strikeout for Caracas.

Magallanes over Caribes 2-1
Jose Altuve was 0-4 as a DH for Magallanes.

La Guaira over Margarita 5-1
Sergio Escalona pitched 1.1 innings with no hits, no runs, no walks and one strikeout for La Guaira.

Aragua over Lara 5-1
Sergio Perez got the start for Aragua, pitching 4.1 innings with four hits, one run, four walks and one strikeout.  Joe Thurston was 1-1 for Lara.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/11

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today (and a lot of them!)

OF Derek Bell (43)
Bell played for Houston from 1995 to 1999 and compiled a batting line of .284/.341/.430/.771 in 683 games as an Astro.  He had 153 doubles, ten triples, 74 home runs, 444 RBI's and 102 stolen bases.  In 9 games of post-season play from 1997 to 1999, he only managed a .094 batting average.

OF Thomas Howard (47)
Played in 107 games in 1997 with a .247 batting average

RHP Hal Brown (87)
Pitched in 53 games for the Colt 45's in 1963 and 1964
Had an ERA of 3.62 and a WHIP of 1.189

OF Lee Maye (died July 17, 2002 at 67)
Played for Houston in 1965 and 1966 with a .268 batting average

2B Rob Andrews (59)
Came to Houston with Enos Cabell in a trade with Baltimore
Played in 212 games in 1975 and 1976 with a .249 batting average

RHP Mike Henneman (50)
Acquired from Detroit for Phil Nevin
Pitched in 21 games in 1995 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.190 WHIP

Happy Birthday - 12/10

LHP Kristian Bueno (23)
Originally from Corpus Christi, Bueno was drafted by Milwaukee in the 9th round in 2007 and was signed by Houston as a free agent in 2010.  In his stint with Tri-City he had a 6.10 ERA and a 2.177 WHIP as he was unable to duplicate his 2.87 ERA from 2010 with the GCL Astros.  This lefty did manage to lower his ERA against his fellow lefties to 2.84.  He is currently a free agent.

OF Chris Epps (23)
Drafted in the 45th round in 2011 out of Clemson, this Georgia native had a .304 BA in 35 games with the GCL Astros and a .212 BA in 19 games with Tri-City.  His combined batting line was .274/.422/.457/.880 and he hit .385 vs. lefties.

Former Astros with birthdays today

RHP Doug Henry (48)
Henry pitched in 139 games for Houston from 1998 to 2000.  He was 11-8 with 5 saves and had a 3.88 ERA and a 1.372 WHIP.  In four games for Houston in the NLDS in 1998 and 1999, he had a 1.88 ERA and a 1.125 WHIP over 5.1 innings.

RHP Dan Wheeler (34)
Dan pitched for Houston from 2004 to 2007.  In 205 games, he was 6-12 with 23 saves and had a 3.02 ERA and a 1.088 WHIP.  In the NLDS in 2004 and 2005, he pitched in 4 games with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.313 WHIP.  Since it's his birthday, we'll just say that he didn't fare quite that well in the World Series and leave it at that.  He was traded to the then Devil Rays in 2007 for Ty Wigginton.

IF Bob Fenwick (65)
Played in 36 games for Houston in 1972

Happy Birthday - 12/9

Only former Astros with birthdays today

3B Chris Truby (38)
Chris played in 126 games for Houston in 2000 and 2001.  He hit .241/.288/.464/.753 with 21 doubles, five triples and 19 home runs.  He was traded to the Expos for Geoff Blum (in Blum's first stint with the team).

It is also Ed Romero's 54th birthday.  Romero managed the GCL Astros in 2011 after managing the Greeneville Astros in 2010.  He was the Astros third base coach and bench coach in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Tweet of the Day

Kellen Kiilsgaard
Here's a pic of me and David, the kindergartner I've been tutoring in East Palo Alto!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Roster Moves - 12/8

RHP Rhiner Cruz and SS Marwin Gonzalez were placed on the Astros 40-Man Roster.  The roster now stands at 40.

The Astros picked RHP Rhiner Cruz in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft.  Here are his stats from the MiLB page.  One initial observation - weird splits on GO/AO.

In the AAA phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Astros picked RHP Marco Duarte.  Here are his stats from MiLB.  And, apparently, according to MLB Trade rumors (with a h/t to Bryan Trostel), the Astros promptly traded him to the Red Sox for their pick from the Cubs roster SS Marwin Gonzalez.  Here are HIS stats.

The Astros did not lose any players to the draft.  Here is the full list of players drafted in both the major league phase and the minor league phases, along with some analysis by Baseball America.

Winter League Recaps


Licey over Aguilas 4-0
*Anderson Hernandez was 1-4 for Licey.  Jonathan Villar went 0-3 with a strikeout for Aguilas.  (Bogusevic hasn't played in the last few games.)

Gigantes over Estrellas 6-3
Henry Sosa pitched 2.1 innings with four hits, three runs, two walks, one strikeout and a home run for Estrellas.

Escogido over Toros 9-6
Diory Hernandez was 3-5 with a double and an RBI and scored a run for Toros, while Jonnathan Aristil pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs (one earned) and a walk.


Mayaguez over Carolina 9-2
Angel Sanchez was 3-4 with a double, an RBI, a walk, a strikeout and scored two runs for Mayaguez.  Rene Garcia was 2-4 with a run scored for Carolina.

Caguas over Ponce 6-2
Luis Cruz pitched five innings with eight hits, two runs, four walks and three strikeouts for Caguas.  *Robinson Cancel was 2-4 with a walk for Ponce, and *Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched a third of an inning with a hit and a run, and was charged with the loss.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/8

No future Astros and only one former Astro with a birthday today

C John Mizerock (51)
Mizerock, born in Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania (the home of Groundhog Day) played in 92 games for Houston in 1983, 1985 and 1986.  As the back-up back-stop for Alan Ashby, Mizerock didn't warrant a great deal of playing time and his .181 batting average for Houston helped insure that would be the case.

Tweet of the Day

John Hinson
So sore I think I'm legally disabled

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter League Recaps


Carolina over Ponce 4-1
Rene Garcia had a terrific night for Carolina, going 3-4 with a double and two RBI's.  *Robinson Cancel was 0-4 with a strikeout for Ponce, and Adalberto Flores pitched one inning with one hit and two strikeouts.

Mayaguez over Caguas 6-3
Angel Sanchez was 3-3 with a walk and scored a run for Mayguez.


Aguilas over Toros 5-4
Jonathan Villar got a rare start at shortstop for Aguilas and was 1-4 with two strikeouts and a stolen base, and he scored a run.  Diory Hernandez was 0-4 with an RBI and a strikeout for the Toros.

Licey over Gigantes 5-2
*Anderson Hernandez went 3-5 with a strikeout and scored a run for Licey.  Enerio del Rosario pitched a third of an inning for the Gigantes team, allowing one hit and one walk, while Erick Abreu also pitched a third of an inning with no hits, no walks and one strikeout.


Zulia over Lara 7-6
*Oswaldo Navarro was 0-3 with a sac fly RBI for Lara, and Joe Thurston was 1-4 with a strikeout and scored a run.

Magallanes over Aragua 3-2
Jose Altuve was 2-5 with an RBI double and scored a run for Magallanes.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/7

3B Mike Kvasnicka (23)
Drafted as a supplemental pick in the first round in 2010 out of the University of Minnesota, Mike spent  2011 at Lexington after getting his feet wet at Tri-City in 2010.  His batting line in the first half was .286/.346/.419/.765, but that tapered off to .260/.328/.368/.696 for the full season.  He led all Astros minor-leaguers in doubles for the season with 32.

Former Astros with birthdays today

C Hal Smith (81)
Played in 140 games for the Colt 45's in 1962 and 1963

LHP Bo Belinsky (died November 23, 2001 at 64)
Pitched in 27 games for Houston in 1967

Tweet of the Day

Zach Johnson

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter League Update & Cumulative Stats

Only one game in the Caribbean winter leagues last night and no Astros participated.  The Dominican and Venezuelan League All-Star games are coming up next week and regular season play will end later this month for all but the Puerto Rican League whose regular season ends 1/04.

Caribbean Series
Dominican Winter League
Opening Day10/14/2011
DWL All Star Game12/13/2011
Regular season ends12/21/2011
Mexican Pacific League
Opening Day10/11/2011
Second half begins11/22/2011
Regular season ends12/30/2011
Puerto Rican League
Opening Day11/04/2011
Regular season ends01/04/2012
Postseason begins01/07/2012
Postseason ends01/25/2012
Venezuelan Winter League
Opening Day10/12/2011
All-Star Game12/13/2011
Regular Season ends12/30/2011
Playoffs begin01/02/2012

Here are the updated cumulative stats for all Astros players on rosters for the Caribbean Winter League teams through 12/5.  If there are no stats, the player hasn't been in a game yet.  For now, I am including those players who played for the Astros in 2011 but are now free agents as some of those players may still end up re-signing with the Astros at some point.  I will mark the free agents with an asterisk on the stats table and in the recaps.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/6

Only Former Astros with birthdays today

LHP Jay Dahl (died June 21, 1965 at 19)
Dahl pitched in 2.2 innings for the Colt 45's at the ripe old age of 17.  The game featured an all rookie line-up, including such notables as Joe Morgan, Jim Wynn and Rusty Staub.  For the story of his all too short life, his tragic death and the aftermath, go here.

C Kevin Cash (34)
Played 20 games for Houston in 2010 before being traded to Boston for Angel Sanchez

Tweet of the Day

Garen L. Wright
Bein with these special Olympic kids makes me very grateful for the things God has blessed me with.. 4real yo..

Monday, December 5, 2011

An Interview with LHP Kyle Hallock

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions, Kyle.

This is what John Sickels of SB Nation had to say about your first pro season:

“Kyle Hallock, LHP, Astros: 10th-round pick in 2011 out of Kent State, was brilliant at times for Tri-City in the New York-Penn League, posting 2.63 ERA with 61/17 K/BB in 62 innings, 58 hits, 1.95 GO/AO. Threw harder than expected, and he knows how to use his curveball, slider, and changeup effectively.”

And Baseball America singled you out for having the best pro debut of all of the 2011 Astros draft class.

Now, on to the questions.

WTH:  Let's start at the beginning.  You were drafted by the Phillies in the 49th Round in 2010 and opted to go back to Kent State for your senior year.  Was that a difficult decision?  What did you do in that final year to elevate your stock to the 10th round (aside from being named Mid-American Conference pitcher of the year)?

KH:  The 2010 Draft was an extensive process. I waited until the beginning of August to make a decision on whether to sign or head back for my senior year. I would say yes it was very difficult because I was eager to start my professional career. I also knew we had a great team coming back at Kent State so I felt it was in my best interest to go back and up my stock while playing with some of my best friends while chasing a fourth championship ring. The biggest thing that changed my senior year as opposed to my first two and a half years was my mindset. If I wanted to be as good as I could be I needed to think great. Our pitching staff last year pushed each other, raised the bar each weekend and that forced me to elevate my pitching.

WTH:  Tell me a little about your short season experience at Tri-City.  Any comments on John Sickels’ take? Highs?  Lows?  What did you take away from the experience?

KH:  I greatly enjoyed my time in Tri-City. I can't say enough good things about the coaching staff, front office and fan base. I looked forward to throwing at home because the support for our team was tremendous. I appreciate John Sickels’ evaluation of me. The high for me personally was being named the starting pitcher in the NYPL All-Star Game and performing well with that opportunity. The low for me was when the team was eliminated from playoff contention. The experience gave me a solid base for next year. I have a good understanding of how professional baseball works on a daily basis because of this summer and my time at Kent State has prepared me for this experience.

WTH:  What are your best pitches?  What kind of velocity do you have?  Are you working on adding a pitch or refining any of your pitches?

KH:  I throw four pitches and my fastball is my best pitch because I utilize that the most. My fastball velocity sits in the 87-90 mph range but I am able to reach back for a little more if I need it and top out at 92. I am always looking for ways to get better so my focus is to command all of my pitches while adding sharpness to my breaking ball and depth to my change up.

WTH:  What is your basic philosophy as a pitcher?  How do you approach the hitters, make adjustments, etc.?

KH:  My philosophy is quality strikes early in the count and pitch in the present. I have really worked on making pitch to pitch adjustments so I can minimize damage and stay away from big innings. I spend a good amount of time learning from hitters swings and tendencies during games I do not pitch as well as the games I am a part of.

WTH:  You were used as a starter at Tri-City this year.  Do you see yourself more as a starter or can you see yourself in a relief role?

KH:  I was a starter and reliever in college so I am comfortable with both. My pitching coach in college, Mike Birkbeck, told me "whether it's two outs in the 6th or the first out of the game you have to get, all 27 outs are important." Being a pitcher, I approach every opportunity with that mindset.

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

KH:  My dad, Dan Hallock, and I watched Tom Glavine a lot. I looked at how he attacked hitters and had success as a model for when I was younger. As I have gotten older, I have wanted to be the best pitcher I can be and let other people make comparisons.

WTH:  What do you do in the off-season to prepare?  Are you given specific instructions by the Astros?

KH:  The offseason is a chance for me to get better. I break down my mechanics and go over film of my games from this spring. I am also long tossing, conditioning and lifting to make myself as good as I can be. I am a firm believer that hard work pays off so I take that attitude in everything I do. Yes I have received an itinerary workout wise from Houston.

WTH:  I'm sure that you're aware of the impending move of the Astros to the American League.  Do you have any thoughts or opinions about that?

KH:  Yes I am aware of the league change. I don't have an opinion either way to be honest. I have great respect for both leagues.

WTH:  Last question.  Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don't know?  It doesn’t have to be baseball related.

KH:  Something most people don't know about me is that I will be graduating college on December 17th with a Bachelor Degree in Sport Administration and my sister Kimberlyn will be enrolling at Kent State in the fall of 2012. (My mom, Jennifer Hallock, is a fourth grade teacher in the Perkins Local School District and this will be her favorite accomplishment of mine to date.)

And Kyle's final words to me?  "Go Astros!"

WTH 25-Man Roster - Shortstop

As posted over the weekend, RHP Jarred Cosart won the 11th spot on the WTH roster as our third Starting Pitcher.  Also receiving votes were Kyle Hallock, Luis Ordosgoitti, Tommy Shirley, Nick Tropeano, Tanner Bushue, Brandt Walker and Vincent Velasquez.  Go here for more info on the What the Heck 25-Man Roster.

Next, let's pick our shortstop.  I included some additional information on these players, including fielding percentage, since the shortstop is such an important defensive position.  It would be nice to have a player there who can hit above the Mendoza line, but fielding the position well is frankly more important.  A good balance between the two assets is gravy.

Those with the best fielding percentages (I used SS FLD% only) are Ben Orloff, Jio Mier and Chan Moon.  The best power numbers belong to Jonathan Villar.  Juan Santana has good batting skills, but he fields like the 17-year old that he is.  And then you have the unknowns - Jonathan Merritt and Jimmy Howick who were both on the DL in 2011.  Merritt had good power numbers in 2010 but that was accompanied with a fielding % at SS of .924.  Jimmy Howick was a 21st round pick by the Astros in 2011 but we don't know a whole lot beyond that.

With all that said, here are the 2011 stats for the players.  Look them over and vote for one.

Winter League Recaps


Lara over Caracas 3-2
Joe Thurston was 1-2 with a caught stealing for Lara.

La Guaira over Caribes 4-3
Sergio Escalona pitched one inning for La Guaira and gave up one hit.

Margarita over Magallanes 4-0
Jose Altuve was 0-3 with a walk for Magallanes, and Carlos Quevedo got the start and the loss as he pitched 4.2 innings, giving up three hits and one run with three strikeouts.  Also for Magallanes, Gabriel Garcia pitched a third of an inning and gave up one hit.


Carolina over Caguas 10-4 (1st game)
Xavier Cedeno pitched two innings for Carolina and gave up two hits, one run and two strikeouts.

Caguas over Carolina 4-2 (2nd game)
Carlos Corporan was 0-2 for Carolina.

Ponce over Mayaguez 5-3 in 14 innings
*Robinson Cancel was 2-4 with two strikeouts for Ponce.  Angel Sanchez was 1-5 with two strikeouts for Mayaguez.


Aguilas over Licey 4-0
*Anderson Hernandez was 0-3 with a walk for Licey.

Escogido over Toros 6-3
Diory Hernandez was 1-4 with an RBI and a strikeout for the Toros team.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/5

C Cristian Moronta (22)
Signed by Houston as a NDFA out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, Moronta spent his first two seasons in the DSL before landing in Greeneville in 2011.  He hit .242 in 13 games there, .313 with runners on.

RHP Sergio Perez (27)
A native of Florida, Perez was drafted in the second round in 2006 out of the University of Tampa.  In 2011 at OKC, he was 5-9 with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.609 WHIP in 22 games, pitching 110 innings.  This winter, he is pitching for the Aragua team in the Venezuelan league and is 3-0 in 10 games with a 2.53 ERA and a 1.096 WHIP.

Former Astros with birthdays today:

RHP Steve Shea (69)
Played in 30 games for Houston in 1968, going 4-4 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.486 WHIP

RHP Buddy Harris (63)
Pitched in 22 games for Houston in 1970 and 1971

Tweet of the Day

Andrew Robinson
My mom and I after church. My hair is getting long!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

WTH 25-Man Roster

The 11th player selected for the What the Heck 25-Man Roster was RHP Jarred Cosart as our third Starting Pitcher.  Also receiving votes were Kyle Hallock, Luis Ordosgoitti, Tommy Shirley, Nick Tropeano, Tanner Bushue, Brandt Walker and Vincent Velasquez.  (For more information on the WTH 25-Man Roster, go here.)

Coming Monday - Let's pick a shortstop.

Winter League Recaps


Caguas over Mayaguez 9-6
Angel Sanchez was 0-4 for Mayaguez.

Carolina over Ponce 10-3
Carlos Corporan went 0-2 with a sac fly RBI and a walk for Carolina.  *Robinson Cancel was 1-2 for Ponce; *Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched two innings with one hit and a walk; and Adalberto Flores pitched 1.2 innings, giving up three hits, three runs and a walk, and was charged with the loss.


Estrellas over Licey 7-5
*Anderson Hernandez was 1-3 with two walks and scored a run for Licey.

Gigantes over Toros 9-3
Diory Hernandez went 3-4 with a double and scored a run for the Toros team.

Aguilas over Escogido 7-6 in 17 innings
Brian Bogusevic was 1-6 with a double, two RBI's, three walks, a strikeout and scored two runs.  Most importantly, he scored the winning run in this marathon 17-inning match, so I'm assuming he'll be nursing his wounds today from the scrum at home plate last night when he ended it.


Margarita over Magallanes 5-0
Jose Altuve was 1-3 with a walk and an error (his 13th).

Lara over Caracas 1-0
*Oswaldo Navarro was 0-4 with a strikeout and an error (his 8th) for Lara, while Joe Thurston was 1-3 with a caught stealing.


Sydney over Brisbane 2-1
Brandon Barnes was 2-4 with an RBI, a walk and a strikeout for Sydney.

*Free Agent

Happy Birthday - 12/4

1B Koby Clemens (25)
Am I the only one who is shocked to realize that Koby is only 25?  Drafted out of high school in 2005, he's now been in the Astros system for seven seasons.  In 2011, he played in his first season at AAA and put up a .234/.331/.424/.756 batting line with 21 doubles, two triples and sixteen home runs.  He was granted free agency this off-season and was playing for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican winter league before he went AWOL.

Former Astros with birthdays today

IF Lee Bales (67)
Played in 19 games for Houston in 1967

LHP Gustavo Chacin (31)
Pitched in 44 games for Houston in 2010
Was last in the Mets organization
Currently a free agent

Tweet of the Day

Austin Wates
Tired from all her Vaccinations :-/ her name is Layla
All together now,  Awwwwwww