Saturday, July 21, 2012

Another Trade And A Waiver Claim

Jeff Luhnow has been a very busy boy. Remind me not to take any more naps until August 1st. After yesterday's 10-player Mega Trade, we will have four more new Astros to get to know, three from a trade and another player from a waiver claim.

Closer Brett Myers was traded to the Chicago White Sox for LHP Blair Walters, RHP Matt Heidenreich and a PTBNL.

Walters was listed by Baseball America as the 26th top prospect in the White Sox system going in to 2012. He is said to have a low 90's fastball with natural sink and a combo cutter/slider with late bite that baffles hitters. He was the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year in 2011. He excelled in 13 starts for A-level team Kannapolis in the Sally League, but hasn't done as well since his promotion to the Hi-A Winston-Salem team. He will be assigned to Hi-A Lancaster.

Heidenreich started the season with the Hi-A Winston-Salem team where he did very nicely in 15 starts and was named to the Carolina League All-Star team. He was recently promoted to Birmingham in the Southern League and had one very good start, one pretty good start and one extremely forgettable start. He was ranked by Baseball America as the 27th top prospect in the White Sox system before the 2011 season, but fell off the 2012 list. He will report to Corpus Christi.

RHP Mark Hamburger was claimed off waivers from San Diego and will report to AAA Oklahoma City. Hamburger has struggled to be effective this season, but he was 7-4 with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.181 WHIP at AAA last season when he was in the Rangers organization.

Minor League Results

Friday's Results

DSL Astros 0 DSL Athletics 5
The DSL Astros batted a depressing .125 on Friday.  That comes from 4 hits in 32 AB's.  Elieser Hernandez gave up 4 runs over 6 innings and threw 2 wild pitches.  Hernandez didn't issue any walks, though and struck out 3.  Luis Abad came on for the final 2 frames and gave up a tater to the first batter he faced. Abad then settled down and didn't allow anymore hits, struck out 2 batters and didn't walk anyone either.

GCL Nationals 8 GCL Astros 7
The Astros tried to pull out a comeback on Friday but came up a run shy of squaring it.  This was made possible largely in part by Agapito Barrios, who came on for the final 4 and a third and kept it scoreless, allowing only 4 hits.  Rio Ruiz had an awesome game, hitting 3 of 5 with a triple and 2 runs scored.  Juan Santana was 2 for 3 with a double and a RBI.  Carlos Correa went 2 for 5 and snagged his 10th double of the season.

Greeneville Astros 0 Kingsport Mets 2 (7)
In the first game of the doubleheader on Friday both teams had 3 hits each, but the Mets managed to score 2 runs (1ER) in the 3rd inning and that sealed the deal (one of those hits was Jose Monzon picking up his first double of the year).  Frederick Tiburcio pitched the whole game and moved to 1-3 on the season with the loss.  Tiburcio struck out 3 and walked a pair as well.

Greeneville Astros 1 Kingsport Mets 2 (7)
The Astros tried to get something started in the last inning to take the second game on Friday, but came up short. The Astros had the bases loaded with 1 out in the bottom of the 7th when James Howick grounded out to score the only run.  Angel Ibanez went 2 for 3 on the day.  Christopher Lee (1-1) was charged with his first loss after giving up both runs in the first inning. Lee stayed on for 1 more inning of work before Andrew Walter came on for the next 3 innings, striking out 3 and allowing just one hit.  Mike Hauschild pitched the final inning for the Astros and allowed just 1 hit as well and struck out 1.

Tri-City ValleyCats 6 Vermont Lake Monsters 0
This was a really exciting win for the ValleyCats.  The big story of the night was Preston Tucker, who batted 2 of 5 with 5 RBIs and his first career homer, a 3-run bomb in the 4th.  The other hot topic Friday for the ValleyCats was Aaron West (4-0), who picked up his fourth win.  West dominated on Friday, striking out 7 in 7 innings and allowing just 2 hits.  Jamaine Cotton came on for the final 2 frames and kept it hitless and scoreless to preserve the shutout.

Lexington Legends 7 Greenville Drive 4 (8)
This game on Friday was shortened by an inning due to rain.  This game was also a back and forth battle until the 5th inning when Lexington pulled ahead by a run and never looked back.  Zachary Johnson went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI.  Delino DeShields was hot Friday too, going 2 for 3 at the plate with a walk, a double and two stolen bases.  DeShields now has 69 SBs.  Ruben Sosa went 3 of 4 at the plate and scored a couple runs as well.  Juri Perez had a mixed night on the mound but moved to 1-1 on the season, collecting his 1st win.  Perez threw the first 5 and a third, gave up all 4 runs (1ER) and walked 3.  Perez also struck out an impressive 7 Greenville batters.

Lancaster JetHawks 8 Rancho Cucamonga 2
Once Lancaster got on the board in the second inning Friday, they never looked back.  The Lancaster bats were on.  Domingo Santana and Enrique Hernandez both hit 2 run homers in the game.  Santana's was his 16th long ball of the year. George Springer went 3 for 5 batting, and collected 3 RBIs. Ruben Alaniz, who is coming off the DL, threw the first 3 innings and allowed the pair of runs on 3 hits and a homer.  Alaniz also struck out 2 and walked 2.  David Martinez came on in the 4th and blanked the opponents for the rest of the game.  Martinez (4-4) allowed 7 hits and struck out 3 while recording his 4th win of the season. 

Frisco RoughRiders 5 Corpus Christi Hooks 7
The score of this one makes it look a lot closer than it was, but in reality the Hooks dominated Friday.  None dominated more than Mr. Andrew Simunic.  Simunic went 2 for 3 at the plate, drew a walk, collected another 5 RBI performance for the Astros' system on Friday and, oh yeah, clobbered a grand slam in the 5th inning.  Rob Rasmussen snatched his first AA win after taking the mound for the first 6.  Rasmussen allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and K'ed 6 batters.  Jason Stoffel got save number 16 after allowing a hit and nothing else in the 9th.

Oklahoma City RedHawks 1 Memphis Redbirds 8
Obviously, this game is probably one the RedHawks want to put behind them as fast as possible, but there were a few positives on the event.  While this was a depressing defeat, the RedHawks are coming off a 5 game winning streak.  Jimmy Paredes went 2 for 4 at the plate and scored the only run.  Paredes BA is now a meaty .327 (Brandon Barnes has the highest BA on the RedHawks, hitting .349 in his time with them this season.  Barnes is .333 overall for this year).  Brett Oberholtzer gave up 5 runs in the first inning and 6 runs overall, but settled down and found a way to strike out 7 batters in 6 innings of work. 

Player of the Day:  There are 2 guys today who deserve it equally, Preston Tucker and Andrew Simunic.  Both of these guys had 5 RBI games on Friday and both had massive, multi-run homers.  Simunic's was a grand slam and Tucker's was the first of his career.  Congrats, guys.

Pitcher of the Day:  I can't resist, Aaron West gets the nod today.  The guy threw a 2 hitter for 7 innings and averaged a K a frame.  That puts the "quality" in quality start. 


Happy Birthday - 7/21

LHP Pat Urckfitz (24)
Signed by Houston as a NDFA in 2008, Urckfitz is having a very good season at Lancaster this year. In 34 appearances out of the bullpen, the lefty is 0-2 with a 3.60 ERA, a 1.240 WHIP and seven saves. He has allowed only 13 walks to 52 strikeouts in 50.1 innings pitched.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

C John Bateman (died December 3, 1996 at 56)
Bateman was signed by Houston in 1962 and played for the Colt .45's and the Astros from 1963 to 1968. In 565 games, he hit .228./.274/.353 with 71 doubles, 10 triples and 45 home runs, and had a career caught stealing percentage of 34%. Some may be under the impression that Bateman is still alive because his persona has been used on twitter as a very clever way to look at the early Colt .45's and Astros history.

SS/2B Dennis Menke (72)
Menke came to Houston in a trade with Atlanta in October 1967 and played for the Astros for four years before being traded to the Reds in November of 1971. He came to Houston a second time in yet another trade with the Reds in February of 1974 and played one final season for the Astros that year. Menke was a two-time All-Star for the Astros in 1969 and again in 1970. In 634 games for Houston, he hit .266/.355/.373. He best season by far was 1970 when he hit .304/.392/.441.

RHP Mark Lemongello (57)
Not to be confused with this or this, Lemongello was a RHP who came to Houston in a December 1975 trade with Detroit. In 71 games (64 starts) for the Astros from 1976 through 1978, he was 21-29 with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.304 WHIP. He was only 21 years old when he made his first major league start.

Tweet of the Day

Joe Musgrove

All I do is pitch. I have no control over who I pitch for. My game and dream stays the same all that changes is the logo 

Roster Moves

Oklahoma City
C Chris Wallace was assigned from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City
SS Angel Sanchez was activated from the TI list.
C Jay Fernandez was placed on the 7 day DL.
LHP Dallas Keuchel will be assigned to Houston effective 7/21.

Corpus Christi
RHP Asher Wojciechowski was assigned to Corpus Christi.
C Ben Heath was assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.

C Carlos Perez was assigned to Lancaster.
UPDATED TO ADD: RHP Kirk Clark was released from the Astros.
RHP R.J. Alaniz was activated from the DL.

LHP David Rollins was assigned to Lexington.

RHP Joe Musgrove was assigned to Greenevile.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mega Trade

The Astros traded LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Brandon Lyon and RHP David Carpenter to Toronto for major leaguers RHP Francisco Cordero, OF Ben Francisco, minor league players RHP Joseph Musgrove, LHP David Rollins, C Carlos Perez, RHP Asher Wojciechowski and a PTBNL. Click on the name to see the players stats page. For the full story, see the Houston Chronicle article here.

Three of the four named minor league players were listed in Jonathan Mayo's Top 20 prospect list for the Blue Jays coming in to the 2012 season.

8th - C Carlos Perez was described as a very good defensive catcher (34% caught stealing coming in to the 2012 season) that has some ability with the bat. Baseball America had him at 14th and agreed that, even though he had an off-season in 2011, he has the ability to swing the bat well.

10th - RHP Asher Wojciechowski could be a workhorse starter if he can find consistency with his fastball. He has a plus fastball, above average slider and has a changeup that needs work. Baseball America also ranked him 10th and also cited the need to find consistency with his fastball and repeat his mechanics but thought he had the potential of a #2 starter.

11th - RHP Joe Musgrove is a hard thrower with good sink. He has a pretty good breaking ball and has used a splitter in the past. According to Baseball America who had him ranked 20th, his fastball has a very good combination of velocity and life and he has been known to hit 98.

UPDATED TO ADD: Jonathan Mayo just posted his take on these prospects and included some information on LHP David Rollins here.

Minor League Recaps

Thursday's Games

DSL Indians over DSL Astros 5-3
Writing about the DSL Astros is about as depressing as following the big club. You just have to look for nuggets of hope for the future. With that said the Astros did collect 10 hits and two doubles in this game which is significant for this light-hitting club (alas, the big club only collected one). Victor Mesa was pegged with the loss after allowing all five of the Indian runs (three earned).

GCL Marlins over GCL Astros 6-0
The less said about this one the better. The Astros were the victim of a perfect game. Lance McCullers was charged with the loss after giving up two runs on five hits over two innings. Jose Montero and Brandon Culbreth allowed the remaining runs. The good news is that Chia-Jen Lo and Rodney Quintero both pitched one perfect inning each.

Pulaski at Greeneville - Game suspended after the top of the 7th
Pulaski was up 5-0 over Greeneville when the game was suspended. Daniel Minor had a shutout going through six innings and then Minor, Scott Zuloaga and Zach Dando had things blow up on them with a five-run seventh. Greeneville only had four hits in the game at the time it was suspended, but two of those belonged to Brian Blasik. The game will resume today, weather allowing.

Tri-City over Vermont 6-3
Vincent Velasquez (W, 4-1) gave up two runs on three hits and three walks over five innings and John Neely let another run come across in the seventh, but then the bullpen shut things down and Blake Ford earned his 10th save of the season. On the offensive side, Joe Sclafani got things started with a two-run triple in the third, one of his two hits for the night. Preston Tucker was two-for-three with a double and an RBI single. Andrew Aplin got one hit and scored two runs.

Greenville over Lexington 11-10 in 15 innings
What makes this loss worse is that Lexington should have won it once in regular innings and once in extra innings before they finally lost in the 15th. Starter Jonas Dufek allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits and no walks over six innings with nine strikeouts. He had a tough four-run fifth inning, but otherwise looked very good. Greenville led 5-2 going into the seventh, but Lexington scored six runs in the seventh thanks in large part to two hit batters, two wild pitches and three walks issued by the Greenville crew. With Lexington leading 8-5 going into the bottom of the ninth, the normally reliable Dayan Diaz gave up three runs to tie it. Then Lexington went ahead again in the top of the 12th with a two-run Mike Kvasnicka double, but Nate Pettus gave up two runs in the bottom of the frame. In the end, Mitch Lambson got stuck with the loss, but it never should have gotten that far. Offensive standouts were Brandon Meredith (2x6 2B 3B RBI), Mike Kvasnicka (2x6 2B HR 4RBI) and Jose Fernandez (2x6 2-2B).

San Jose over Lancaster 15-8
I think when you allow 15 runs, it goes without saying that the pitching staff struggled. The "Let's Convert Jorge de Leon to a Starting Pitcher at Lancaster Experiment" is still a miserable failure as de Leon fell to 2-9 for the season, but it was Jose Trinidad giving up eight runs in 1.1 innings that sealed Lancaster's fate for the evening. Only birthday boy Kirk Clark went unscathed as he pitched a perfect final frame. Chris Epps had a particularly good night with an RBI double and a three-run home run as did Ben Heath with an RBI single and a two-run home run. Kike Hernandez was two-for-four and George Springer was three-for-four with an RBI.

Midland over Corpus Christi 6-4
Jake Buchanan gave up five runs on nine hits in seven innings and went to 5-6 for the season. The Hooks got within a run with a big sixth inning thanks to a Drew Locke RBI double and a three-run Jake Goebbert home run, but they stranded runners in the eighth and ninth innings and that was that. Andrew Simunic and Jose Martinez each had two hits, but Drew Locke was locked in with a five-for-five night.

Oklahoma City over Omaha 9-8
This one got closer than it should have as Jonnathan Aristil and Juan Abreu combined to allow three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but ultimately starter Armando Galarraga got the win despite giving up five runs, four of them on home runs. The Redhawks scored four via the long ball as well, with a two-run shot from Jimmy Paredes and solo homers from Brad Snyder and Landon Powell. There was good hitting across the board with everyone getting at least one hit and Brandon Barnes and Paredes getting three hits each.

Pitcher of the Day: I'm going to go with Blake Ford for converting his 10th save out of 10 opportunities for Tri-City. He still has a 0.00 ERA for Tri-City, and a WHIP of only 0.868.

Players of the Day: Chris Epps should get some recognition for his four RBI night, as should Drew Locke for his five-for-five outing.

Happy Birthday - 7/20

LHP Mitch Lambson (22)
Drafted in the 19th round out of Arizona State in 2011, Lambson only spent four games with Greeneville this season before he and his 0.00 ERA were kicked upstairs to Lexington. For the season, he is 2-1 with a 1.51 ERA and a 0.708 WHIP in 10 appearances.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

OF Gary Woods (58)
Woods came to Houston in a December 1978 trade with the Blue Jays and played for Houston in 1980 and 1981. In 74 games for Houston, he hit .264/.315/.368. He was first in fielding percentage in the National League as an outfielder in 1982.

Tweet of the Day

Lance Day

Baseball in Vermont. 72 degrees. I suppose I can handle this.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Roster Moves

Oklahoma City
RHP Hector Ambriz was placed on the 7-day DL.
RHP Jonnathan Aristil was activated from the temporary inactive list.

RHP Euris Quezada was assigned from Greeneville to Lexington.

OF Preston Tucker was assigned to Tri-City (which 99% of you already knew)

A Look at Tri-City ValleyCats

In looking at the short season teams, we've looked at the DSL Astros (not so good) and the GCL Astros (a definite step up) and the Greeneville Astros (winning!). Now let's look at the creme de la creme of the short season teams, the Tri-City ValleyCats.

As of Wednesday the 18th, the Tri-City team has a record of 22-8. They have scored 5.4 runs per game while the pitching staff has allowed 2.93 runs per game. The average age of hitters and pitchers is the same at 21.7 years of age.

Andrew Aplin and Austin Elkins practically own the New York-Penn League in several categories, but there are other players who are excelling in some of these categories as well. This is how the top Tri-City performers rank versus other players in the league in batting statistics (BA, OBP & SLG are based on 2.7 plate appearances per team game).

Batting Average
1st - Andrew Aplin .388
2nd - Austin Elkins .351

On Base Percentage
1st - Andrew Aplin .495
18th - Austin Elkins .390

Slugging Percentage
2nd - Andrew Aplin .612
7th - Austin Elkins .505
17th - Jobduan Morales .453

Runs Scored
3rd* - Jesse Wierzbicki 22
5th* - Andrew Aplin 21
5th* - Austin Elkins 21
13th* - Jobduan Morales 18
13th* - Ryan Dineen 18

2nd - Austin Elkins 39
7th* - Andrew Aplin 33
12th* - Jesse Wierzbicki 30

17th* - Austin Elkins 7

4th - Andrew Aplin 4
5th* - Austin Elkins 2

Home Runs
4th* - Jobduan Morales 4

4th* - Dan Gulbransen 19
9th* - Jobduan Morales 18

9th* - Andrew Aplin 16
12th* - Ryan Dineen 15

None in the top 20!

Stolen Bases
1st - Andrew Aplin 14
3rd - Austin Elkins 10
14th* - Neiko Johnson 6

In addition to these players, Tyler Heineman does not qualify as a league leader but has a .340 batting average and a .418 on base percentage which would put him in the top five in the league if he did qualify.

As far as how the team numbers rank against the other teams in the league, Tri-City is ranked first in batting average, on base percentage and stolen bases, second in runs scored and RBI, third in slugging percentage and tied for third in triples. They are sixth out of 14 teams in drawing walks and dead last in striking out. They are fifth in hits, tied for fifth in home runs and tenth in doubles.

Several of the ValleyCats pitchers are excelling thus far this season. This is how the top Tri-City pitchers rank versus other pitchers in the league in pitching statistics (based on 0.8 innings pitched per team game).

Juri Perez 0.76 [See note below]
Aaron West 1.14 [See note below]
3rd - Brady Rodgers 1.37
14th - Vincent Velasquez 2.39

Note that Juri Perez was #1 on the list and Aaron West was tied for #4 on the list before yesterday's game. They both fell off the list of league leaders due to the qualification being based on 0.8 innings pitched per team game.

Aaron West 0.634 [See note below]
Juri Perez 1.056 [See note below]
12th - Vincent Velasquez 1.101

Note that Aaron West was #2 on the list and Juri Perez was #8 on the list before yesterday's game. They both fell off the list of league leaders due to the qualification being based on 0.8 innings pitched per team game.

7th* - Vincent Velasquez 28
7th* - Brady Rodgers 28

1st - Blake Ford 9

In addition, although these pitchers do not qualify as league leaders in ERA or WHIP, Blake Ford still has a 0.00 ERA after 12 appearances and a 0.771 WHIP; and Travis Ballew has an 0.53 ERA and a 0.706 WHIP in his 8 appearances; and Tommy Shirley has an ERA of 1.29 and a 1.000 WHIP in 3 games. Other pitchers with a WHIP under 1.000 include Kenny Long, Lance Day and Jeremiah Meiners; and Jamaine Cotton has an ERA under 2.00.

The team rankings are great across the board. The team ERA (2.25) ranks first out of 14 teams and the team WHIP (1.102) is third. They are first in wins, fourth in strikeouts, and 13th out of 14 in allowing walks.

*Indicates a tie

A Hypothetical Question

Let's look at Player A and Player B and let's decide together which of these players deserves a hypothectical callup by the Astros. I say hypothetical because the 40-man roster is full and unless and until some room is cleared, no one is going anywhere. These players don't play the same position, but each of the positions they play are in need of improvement offensively.

*Minor league stats only

So, how many of you picked Player B? Good. I see quite a few hands raised out there. That's shows you're paying attention. If you still picked Player A, please look at all the stats again. If you still pick Player A, then I have to assume that all you care about is home runs and nothing else.

If you hadn't already figured this out, Player A is Mike Hessman and Player B is Brandon Barnes. But Mike Hessman has major league experience, you may say. Yes he does. In 109 games in the majors, he hit .188/.272/.422 with a 31.6% strikeout rate. Next argument? But, Jayne, you used Barnes' combined numbers between AA and AAA, instead of just his AAA numbers. Yes, I did. But Barnes actually has a higher BA and OBP at AAA than he did at AA. His SLG% is lower, but is still a very healthy .524. Any other questions?

As far as defense, Barnes has a lifetime .978 fielding percentage and is actually .985 in Oklahoma City this season. You can't use defense as an excuse.

Mike Hessman is hitting .146 with ZERO home runs in his last 10 games. If the Twitter General Managers out there had their way, the Astros could have had that kind of production since the All-Star break, and they would have had the extra benefit of potentially losing a younger out-of-options player that could have helped us in the future so that a 32-year journeyman could get a few at bats. That is not how you rebuild a team.

A little unsolicited advice. Quit stressing over Brett Wallace. He's already on the 40-man roster and unless he is traded, he will be in Houston sooner rather than later. And instead of a #HessmanToHouston campaign on twitter, how about a #FreeBrandonBarnes campaign. That I can get behind.

Minor League Recaps

Wednesday's Games

DSL Indians over DSL Astros 7-1
Samil de los Santos gave up four runs in his three innings of work, but what caught my eye from the boxscore was that his successor, Juan Delis gave up three unearned runs on no hits. How did that happen you might ask.
  • Juan De La Cruz grounds out to first baseman Frederick Serrano.
  • Juan Carlos Moncion strikes out swinging, catcher Brian Pena to first baseman Frederick Serrano.
  • Omar Sanchez strikes out swinging. Omar Sanchez advances to 1st, on throwing error by catcher Brian Pena.
  • Francisco Miguel walks. Omar Sanchez to 2nd.
  • Amauri Castillo walks. Omar Sanchez to 3rd. Francisco Miguel to 2nd.
  • Pitcher Change: Geronimo Franzua replaces Juan Delis.
  • Ordomar Valdez walks. Omar Sanchez scores. Francisco Miguel to 3rd. Amauri Castillo to 2nd.
  • Yonathan Mendoza walks. Francisco Miguel scores. Amauri Castillo to 3rd. Ordomar Valdez to 2nd.
  • Victor Cabral hit by pitch. Amauri Castillo scores. Ordomar Valdez to 3rd. Yonathan Mendoza to 2nd.
  • Pitcher Change: Rauldison Rodriguez replaces Geronimo Franzua.
  • Michael Depen strikes out swinging.
Delis was one throwing error away from recording three innings of hitless, scoreless pitching. Ouch. Mesac Laguna had two hits, but it was a Brauly Mejia sac fly that accounted for the Astros only run.

GCL Astros over GCL Marlins 4-2
Jose Valdez pitched a perfect inning in another rehab outing and was followed by Raul Rivera with a two inning outing in which he gave up two runs. Michael Feliz pitched the final six innings for his fourth win as he gave up a miserly three hits and no walks with seven strikeouts. After the Marlins scored in the top of the second, the Astros immediately answered with a two-run home run from Teoscar Hernandez, his third home run in as many games. Thanks to Feliz' great pitching, Rio Ruiz' double scoring Carlos Correa in the third proved to be enough, but Carlos Correa drove in one extra run with a double in the seventh, just for good measure. Hernandez hit a double in addition to his home run, and Juan Santana went two-for-three with a walk and stole two bases.

Greeneville over Pulaski 4-1
Greeneville is now on a streak of its own winning six straight. Francis Ramirez pitched a terrific game, giving up just the one run on six hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts over six innings for his fourth win of the season. Jordan Jankowski and Michael Dimock (S, 3) were perfect in relief. I know this will come as a great shock but Brian Blasik was three-for-three with a double, a walk and two runs scored. What an unbelievable season he's having - Appy Astros digs a little deeper on Blasik here. Marc Wik was two-for-two with a walk and scored two runs for his birthday. And Angel Ibanez contributed a two-run double to the mix.

Tri-City over Lowell 9-2
Brady Rodgers pitched five scoreless innings before getting hit for a two-run home run in the sixth, but no harm, no foul as Tri-City had scored nine runs through the second to provide Rodgers with a very healthy margin. Juan Minaya and Brad Propst pitched three perfect frames to seal the deal. Andrew Aplin set the tone with a home run in his first at bat. He ended the night going two-for-three with a double, home run and two RBIs. Ryan Dineen (3 RBI) and Tyler Heineman (2 RBI) had very productive nights as well. Jarrod McKinney and Joe Sclafani were both two-for-four; McKinney also doubled and drove in a run. Preston Tucker, in his first game for Tri-City (after being signed about five seconds before game time), was one-for-four and scored a run.

Lexington - Off Day

Lancaster over San Jose 9-0
Nick Tropeano got his second win for Lancaster in a very fine performance in which he allowed only five hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings. Zach Grimmett and Brad Dydalewiz came in from the bullpen to keep the shutout intact. The JetHawks struck early and scored all nine of their runs by the end of the fourth inning. Grant Hogue was two-for-five and scored two runs; Kike Hernandez was two-for-four with a double and an RBI; and Domingo Santana hit his 15th home run of the season and drove in three. Hogue also stole his 17th base in only 27 games.

Midland over Corpus Christi 5-0 in 7 innings (Game 1)
Ross Seaton just simply had a bad night as he allowed five runs on fifteen hits over six innings to go to 6-6 on the season. The offense was held to eight singles and one walk and simply couldn't string enough together to score a run. Jon Singleton and Ben Orloff were both two-for-two and Adam Bailey was two-for-three.

Corpus Christi over Midland 4-1 in 7 innings (Game 2)
According to game day, Jake Buchanan was scheduled to start, but Erick Abreu got a spot start instead. Alex Sogard got the win in relief. Abreu, Sogard and Josh Zeid combined for three hits and no runs in their six innings of work. Jason Stoffel allowed the only Midland run in the seventh. Jake Goebbert drove in three of the Hooks runs, and Austin Wates scored the fourth one on a wild pitch. Wates and Goebbert both had two hit nights as did Jose Martinez.

Oklahoma City over Omaha 10-5
Brian Bass got the start, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks over five innings, and Aneury Rodriguez gave up another two runs before Adalberto Flores (W, 6-1) and Mickey Storey shut down Omaha's offense. It was a very good night for the Redhawks hitters. They just didn't get anything across until the fifth inning, but then singles from Travis Buck, J.B. Shuck and Landon Powell set the table for a Brandon Barnes grand slam. Omaha tied it up in the bottom of the seventh, but run scoring doubles from Matt Dominguez, Landon Powell and Brandon Barnes and a run scoring single from Travis Buck gave Oklahoma City a five-run cushion in the eighth. Fernando Martinez' solo shot in the ninth was just gravy. A look at some of the better offensive performances of the night:

Brandon Barnes - 3x5 2B HR 5RBI 2SO R
Fernando Martinez - 3x5 HR RBI R
Brett Wallace - 4x5 R
Travis Buck - 2x4 RBI R
J.B. Shuck - 2x4 2R
Landon Powell - 2x4 2B RBI 2R

Player of the Day: Brandon Barnes with five RBIs, including a grand slam, is the man. Look for something I'll be posting later today about Brandon.

Pitcher of the Day: While we've been focused on the more high profile players, Francis Ramirez, a 20-year old from the Dominican, has quietly gone about getting his fourth win for Greeneville. He ranks third in ERA, second in strikeouts and is tied for first in wins in the Appy League. His 11 strikeout performance last night was impressive.

Happy Birthday - 7/19

RHP Wilton Lopez (29)
Originally signed by the Yankees as a NDFA out of Nicaragua, Lopez was selected off waivers from the Padres in April 2009. In 183 games for the Astros from 2009 forward, Lopez has a 10-10 record with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.220 WHIP. This season, he is 3-0 with a 2.29 ERA and a 0.962 WHIP in 34 appearances. He was the 11th Nicaraguan national to make it to the U.S. major leagues.

RHP Kirk Clark (24)
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2009, Clark is originally from Moline, IL and went to Creighton. In his second season at Lancaster, he is 4-4 with a 5.49 ERA, a 1.678 WHIP and 8 saves out of the bullpen. On the road (away from the Lancaster effect), he has a 3.15 ERA and six saves.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

CF Preston Wilson (38)
Originally drafted by the Mets in the first round in 1992, Wilson came to Houston as a free agent in January 2006 and was released in August of that year after hitting .269/.309/.405 in 102 games. In 1999, he was second in Rookie of the Year voting to Reds pitcher Scott Williamson. In 2003, Wilson was an All-Star for Colorado.

Tweet of the Day

Mike Kvasnicka

Really pleased with my dinner company. At least I know where I stand in comparison to a racing game app...
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Under the Radar Prospects

I posted a look at some under the radar position player prospects over at The Crawfishboxes site. If you're interested, all you have to do is click right here. C'mon, you know you want to.

A Look at the Greeneville Astros

In looking at the short season teams, we've looked at the DSL Astros (not so good) and the GCL Astros (a definite step up). Now let's look at the first of the short season teams with a current winning record, the Greeneville Astros.

As of Tuesday the 17th, the Greeneville Astros have a record of 18-9. They have scored 6.00 runs per game while the pitching staff has allowed 4.15 runs per game. The average age of hitters is 20.4 and the pitchers are less than a year older with an average age of 21.1.

Brian Blasik, Ariel Ovando, Jean Batista, Terrell Joyce and D'Andre Toney are all names that pop up again and again when looking at the top performers in the league. This is how the top Greeneville Astros performers rank versus other players in the league in batting statistics (BA, OBP & SLG are based on 2.7 plate appearances per team game).

Batting Average
2nd - Brian Blasik .361
10th* - Ariel Ovando .323
12th - Jean Batista .320
13th - Terrell Joyce .315

On Base Percentage
12th - Marc Wik .405

Slugging Percentage
7th* - Jean Batista .550
9th - Brian Blasik .530

Runs Scored
1st - D'Andre Toney 25
6th* - Jean Batista 20
15th* - Ariel Ovando 17

1st* - Ariel Ovando 32
1st* - Jean Batista 32
7th* - Brian Blasik 30
10th - Terrell Joyce 29
14th* - D'Andre Toney 27

2nd - Brian Blasik 9
3rd* - Ariel Ovando 8
3rd* - Terrell Joyce 8
3rd* - Ernesto Genoves 8
11th - Jean Batista 7

7th* - Jean Batista 2

Home Runs
7th* - Jean Batista 4

3rd - Brian Blasik 22
6th* - Jean Batista 19

11th* - Marc Wik 12

12th* - Ariel Ovando 27
17th* - Terrell Joyce 24

Stolen Bases
6th* - D'Andre Toney 6

As far as how the team numbers rank against the other teams in the league, Greeneville generally ranks average to above average in most categories. Out of 10 teams, the Greeneville Astros are second in batting average, and fourth in on base percentage and slugging. They are tied for first place in doubles and are above average in runs, hits, and RBI. They rank seventh out of 10 teams in strikeouts (good), and seventh out of 10 in walks (could be better). They are ninth out of 10 teams in triples and fifth in home runs and stolen bases.

Three names repeat themselves in the pitching categories. This is how the top Greeneville Astros pitchers rank versus other pitchers in the league in pitching statistics (based on 0.8 innings pitched per team game).

5th - Francis Ramirez 1.64
11th - Adrian Houser 2.97
14th - Richard Rodriguez 3.64

9th* - Richard Rodriguez 1.079
13th - Francis Ramirez 1.182
14th - Adrian Houser 1.290

2nd - Richard Rodriguez 34
3rd - Adrian Houser 31
11th - Francis Ramirez 24
12th* - Jordan Jankowski 23

In addition, although these pitchers do not qualify as league leaders, Euris Quezada has a 1.86 ERA and a 0.931 WHIP in his 5 appearances, and Zach Dando has a 1.54 ERA and 1.114 WHIP in his 8 appearances.

The team rankings are good across the board. The team ERA (3.38) ranks second out of 10 teams and the team WHIP (1.261) ranks fourth. They are tied for second out of 10 in wins and are tied for first in strikeouts.

*Indicates a tie

Next up: A Look at the Tri-City team tomorrow (hint - they're kind of good)

Minor League Recaps

Tuesday's Games

DSL Rays over DSL Astros 6-1
Edwin Villarroel got a tough luck loss as he gave up one more run in his 6.1 innings than his team managed to score for him. Yonquelys Martinez didn't help matters as he allowed another four runs in relief. The DSL Astros offensive woes continue as they were held to five hits. The lone run came via a Mesac Laguna long ball.

GCL Cardinals over GCL Astros 5-3 (Completed early after 8.1 innings)
Jose Valdez pitched a perfect inning as part of his rehab followed by Enderson Franco who gave up two runs over his 3.2 innings. Ricardo Batista only allowed one hit in 2.1 innings and was followed by Juan Mojica who gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning for the loss. Erick Gonzalez got the final out to preserve his 0.00 ERA but not before he allowed two of Mojica's runners to score. The Astros led this one early, but the three-run eighth put the game out of reach particularly when the game was called early. Teoscar Hernandez hit his second home run in as many days. Kenny Diaz was two-for-three with an RBI, and Brett Phillips was two-for-four with a double. Carlos Correa was one-for-four with a double while Rio Ruiz went hitless in four at-bats.

Greeneville over Pulaski 13-8
The pitching in this one wasn't particularly pretty. Richard Rodriguez only allowed one run in his three innings, but the bullpen (Christian Garcia, Tanner Bushue and Euris Quezada) allowed the next seven runs. It's a really good thing that the offense decided to bang out 18 hits, including eight doubles and two home runs. The offensive standouts included:

D'Andre Toney - 3x4 HR 2RBI BB SO 3R
Brian Blasik - 3x5 2B 2RBI R
Terrell Joyce - 2x5 2-2B RBI R
Ariel Ovando - 2x5 2B SO 2R
Jean Batista - 3x5 2-2B HR 2RBI 3R
Ernesto Genoves - 2x4 2-2B RBI BB SO 3R

Lowell over Tri-City 3-2
Tri-City's win streak stopped at seven as the bullpen couldn't hang on. Joe Bircher pitched six scoreless innings with five hits, a walk and three strikeouts. It was a pitcher's duel through seven innings and each team scored two in the eighth. One run was charged to Jeremiah Meiners, and two runs and the loss were charged to Jamaine Cotton. The two runs came via a Jobduan Morales home run. Morales had the only multi-hit game with a double and a home run.

Lexington over Hagerstown 10-7
Luis Ordosgoitti didn't have the smoothest start as he allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings, and Tommy Shirley came in for the sixth and gave up two more runs putting the score at 7-4. It looked like it might be another one of those nights for Lexington until they scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth and an insurance run in the eighth, giving Shirley the win and putting Dayan Diaz in line for his 14th save. It must be doubles night because Lexington had five of them from Ruben Sosa, Zach Johnson, Brandon Meredith, Mike Kvasnicka and Ryan McCurdy. Multi-hit nights from Johnson, Meredith, Kvasnicka and Matt Duffy; and Nolan Fontana, Kvasnicka and McCurdy each had two RBIs.

Lancaster over San Jose 4-3
I know that Bobby Doran was disappointed to be sent back to Lancaster, but I also know that the Lancaster team and fans have to be happy to have him back to add some stability to the starting rotation. And he did well in his first start back in Lancaster, giving up two runs on only four hits over 6.1 innings for the win. Despite allowing a solo shot in the ninth that trimmed the lead to one run, Pat Urkfitz got his seventh save of the season. Newcomers Roberto Pena and Chan Moon made their mark in their first appearances for Lancaster since their recent promotions. Chan Moon got a hit and scored a run, and Pena was two-for-four and drove in what proved to be the winning run.

Corpus Christi over Midland 9-3
The Hooks scored early and often in support of Jose Cisnero on his way to his eighth win. Cisnero allowed two runs on four hits over his 6.2 innings and recorded eight strikeouts. Arcenio Leon gave up the final run, and Josh Zeid pitched very effectively in his one frame after struggling in his last outing. Jose Martinez turned the 3-0 game into a 6-0 game with his three-run home run in the sixth inning. Jon Singleton was two-for-four with a double, two RBI, and a walk; and Chris Wallace was two-for-three with two RBI, two walks and scored two runs. Wallace, after a very slow start to the season and a trip to the DL, is now hitting .261/.351/.438 (.500/.600/.679 over his last ten games).

Oklahoma City over Omaha 7-6 in 10 innings
Paul Clemens only lasted 4.1 innings as he gave up six runs on eight hits and two walks. Mickey Storey, Xavier Cedeno, Juan Abreu (W, 2-2) and David Carpenter (S, 3) combined for 5.2 innings of scoreless relief. The Redhawks trailed 6-2 going into the sixth inning but battled back over the next couple of frames thanks in large part to a Brett Wallace three-run home run. A Fernando Martinez home run in the tenth got them the win. Wallace had two more hits, including a double, and scored two runs; Brandon Barnes hit a triple and a solo homer; and Jimmy Paredes was three-for-five with an RBI.

Players of the Day: Uh, yeah, those hitters in Greeneville all deserve it so they're all going to get the honors.

Pitcher of the Day: Despite not getting the win, the best pitching performance of the day came from Tri-City's Joe Bircher - five hits, no runs, one walk and three strikeouts in six innings. Honorable mention goes to the Oklahoma City bullpen.

Happy Birthday - 7/18

OF Marc Wik (20)
A 21st round draft pick in 2012 out of Chabot College in California, the lefty hitting outfielder is currently hitting .267/.405/.283 for Greeneville in his first professional season. In June he was even better with a .357/.486/.393 batting line.

Former Astros with birthdays today

1B/PH Harry Spilman (58)
Spilman came to Houston via a trade from the Reds in June 1981 for SS/2B Rafael Landestoy. In 223 games from 1981 to 1985, he hit .222/.286/.313, much of that as a pinch hitter. After retiring from baseball, Spilman went into coaching and served as the Astros hitting coach from mid-2000 to 2004.

RHP Josh Banks (30)
A second round pick by the Blue Jays in 2003, Banks signed with Houston as a free agent in 2009 and pitched in only one game for the Astros in 2010 going 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA and a 3.000 WHIP in four innings.

Tweet of the Day

Austin Wates

Fear kills everything: Your mind, your heart, your imagination. Don't let it get in the way

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Roster Moves

Oklahoma City
2B Jordan Kreke was assigned to Oklahoma City from Corpus Christi.

RHP Brian Streilein was released.

A Look at the GCL Astros

Yesterday, we looked at the DSL Astros. It wasn't the best report in the world, but I promised it would get better. The GCL Astros are definitely a step up.

Through Monday's game, the GCL Astros have a record of 12-13. They have scored 3.88 runs per game while the pitching staff has allowed 4.04 runs per game. The average age of hitters is 18.9 and pitchers are considerably older with an average age of 21.

Overall, the team hasn't started off as a strong offensive team, but there are certainly some standouts on the team. In particular, Darwin Rivera and Brett Phillips are names that come up time and again when looking at the top performers in the league. This is how the top GCL Astros performers rank versus other players in the league in batting statistics (BA, OBP & SLG are based on 2.7 plate appearances per team game).

Batting Average
1st - Darwin Rivera .391
16th - Yonathan Mejia .283

On Base Percentage
5th - Darwin Rivera .431
20th - Brett Phillips .354

Slugging Percentage
1st - Darwin Rivera .565
19th - Brett Phillips .405

Runs Scored
7th* - Brett Phillips 14
7th* - Darwin Rivera 14

4th* - Carlos Correa 7
4th* - Darwin Rivera 7

1st - Brett Phillips 5

Home Runs
2nd* - Darwin Rivera 3

1st - Darwin Rivera 18
6th* - Yonathan Mejia 12

3rd* - Brett Phillips 13

5th* - Teoscar Hernandez 27
5th* - Brett Phillips 27

Stolen Bases
18th* - Teoscar Hernandez 5

Wallace Gonzalez has also done nicely with a .296 batting average over 18 games, but he doesn't have enough plate appearances to qualify as a league leader. Also worth noting is that Carlos Correa is tied for 4th place in doubles despite having been out since July 6th with a slight groin strain (he started on Monday for the first time since then). And Rio Ruiz has only played in two games, but has looked very good at the plate thus far.

As far as how the team numbers rank against the other teams in the league, the news could be better but it could also be worse (see the DSL). Out of 14 teams, the GCL Astros are ninth in batting average, 11th in on base percentage and fifth in slugging. They are 11th in walks and stolen bases and fifth in strikeouts. They are generally in the middle of the pack or higher in most other categories.

There are several pitchers having good seasons for the GCL Astros. This is how the top GCL Astros pitchers rank versus other pitchers in the league in pitching statistics (based on 0.8 innings pitched per team game).

3rd - Edison Frias 1.27
5th - Agapito Barrios 1.59
6th - Michael Feliz 1.65

4th* - Michael Feliz 0.878
10th* - Agapito Barrios 0.926

14th* - Michael Feliz 21

2nd* - Erick Gonzalez 6

In addition, there are four pitchers on the team with a 0.00 ERA and WHIP under 1.000 who didn't qualify as league leaders: Chia-Jen Lo, Andrew Walter, Erick Gonzalez and Lance McCullers.

Despite some of these very good performances, there are a number of very bad performances that bring down the team ranking. The team ERA (3.60) and team WHIP (1.399) rank 10th and 11th, respectively, out of 14 teams. They are tied for seventh place in wins and are 13th out of 14 in strikeouts.

*Indicates a tie

Next up: A Look at The Greeneville Astros tomorrow

Minor League Recaps

Monday's Games

DSL Astros over DSL Rays 4-3 in 10 innings
Rayderson Chevalier pitched a very strong six innings as he allowed only one unearned run on two hits and three walks with five strikeouts, but Luis Abad couldn't hold the lead so Javier Saucedo got the win in relief. Frederick Serrano was three-for-three with an RBI, but it was Randy Cesar who was the hero with an RBI double in the bottom of the 10th for the win.

GCL Astros over GCL Cardinals 5-4
Chia-Jen Lo pitched another two innings as a part of his rehab and has still not given up an earned run. A total of six pitchers pitched in this one, with Reymin Guduan and Jandel Gustave struggling with both control and effectiveness as they each allowed two runs. Jose Montero, Alan Abreu and Ambiorix de Leon (W, 1-2) had very good outings keeping the game close and allowing Brett Phillips to hit a walk-off single to win it in the ninth. But it was a three-run home run from Teoscar Hernandez in the fourth and a Rio Ruiz RBI double scoring Carlos Correa in the fifth that put them in that position. In Carlos Correa's first game back in 10 days, he was hitless and only reached base once on a hit by pitch.

Greeneville over Bristol 6-2
Adrian Houser had a nice start with two runs on five hits and six strikeouts over five innings, but the win went to Zach Dando in relief. Dando, Jordan Jankowski and Andrew Walter pitched four innings of scoreless relief. Jean Batista was the hero of the night with a two-run home run. Ricky Gingras also homered. Jimmy Howick and Angel Ibanez were each two-for-four with an RBI.

Tri-City over Jamestown 3-0 in 7 innings (Game 1)
Brian Holmes took a no-hitter through 5.2 innings before allowing a single in the combined one-hit shutout as Blake Ford got his ninth save. Austin Elkins was the offensive star as he went two-for-three with two triples, an RBI and a run scored.

Tri-City over Jamestown 4-1 in 7 innings (Game 2)
This time it was Lance Day and Travis Ballew holding Jamestown to two hits and one run. And once again, it was Austin Elkins that stood out, going two-for-four with a double, a run scored and a stolen base.

Lexington over Hagerstown 11-1 (Game 1)
This was the continuation of the game started by Mike Foltynewicz on Sunday which was suspended in the middle of the fourth with Lexington leading 8-1. Folty pitched four innings and allowed Hagerstown's sole run. Mitch Lambson took over Monday and gave up only one hit and three walks over his four innings to qualify for the win. Lexington scored six runs in the first inning Sunday and chased out the starting pitcher. There were several good offensive performances. 2B Ruben Sosa was three-for-five with three runs scored; SS Jose Fernandez was two-for-four with two doubles and three RBI; and Nolan Fontana was two-for-two with three walks. Matt Duffy, Ryan McCurdy and Zach Johnson each had two RBI. Delino DeShields stole his 66th bag on Sunday; he sat out the continuation of the first game on Monday.

Lexington over Hagerstown 8-4 in 7 innings (Game 2)
Luis Cruz pitched extremely well until he got into a little trouble in the sixth, but still got the win, his seventh, after allowing four runs (two earned) over 5.2 innings. Murilo Gouvea took it the rest of the way. Delino DeShields had an incredible night, going three-for-three with a double, RBI, walk and three runs scored. Nolan Fontana and Mike Kvasnicka both hit two-run bombs. And Zach Johnson retook the league RBI lead with three RBI bringing his season total to 76 as he went two-for-four with two doubles. Luis Alvarez was two-for-two with a triple and two runs scored.

Lancaster over Modesto 2-1 in 10 innings
Starter Tyson Perez managed to give up only one run, a solo home run, on 10 hits and three walks in 6.2 innings, but it was Carlos Quevedo who dominated in a 3.1 inning relief performance, allowing only one hit with five strikeouts for the win. The JetHawks were held to seven singles, but Grant Hogue and Domingo Santana managed to make their singles count as they drove in the only two runs.

Corpus Christi at Midland - Postponed

Oklahoma City over Omaha 16-6
Starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel had to feel pretty confident about getting the win when his team turned their 4-2 lead into a 14-2 lead in the top of the sixth. Keuchel walked five, but only gave up two runs on four hits. You might think that a 10-run inning would rely heavily on home runs, but the Redhawks had already scored seven runs in the frame (thanks in large part to two errors and three wild pitches) before Jimmy Paredes put an exclamation point on it with a three-run bomb. Brad Snyder hit two home runs for four of his five RBIs. There were several offensive standouts in the game (enough that Brett Wallace's and Mike Hessman's 2-hit nights don't even make the short list):

Brandon Barnes - 3x4 2B RBI 3BB SO 2R
Jimmy Paredes - 3x6 HR 4RBI 2R
Matt Dominguez - 2x5 2B BB SO 3R
Brad Snyder - 3x5 2B 2HR 5RBI BB 3R
Landon Powell - 2x6 3RBI 2SO R
J.B. Shuck - 3x6 SO 2R

Player of the Day: There were tons of great performances, but I'm going to single out two. In the two games of the double-header, Austin Elkins was four-for-seven with a double, two triples, an RBI and scored two runs. That's pretty impressive any way you look at it. And Brad Snyder was hot at the plate with his two home runs and five RBIs.

Pitcher of the Day: If you take a no-no into the sixth inning and allow only one single, you too can be my pitcher of the day. Brian Holmes it is!

Happy Birthday - 7/17

2B Jean Carlos Cortorreal (18)
Cortorreal signed as a NDFA from the Dominican Republic and is spending his first season as a professional with the DSL Astros. In his first 24 games, he is hitting .186/.255/.186 but that's mainly because he's gone 0-for July. In 17 games in June, he hit .286/.355/.286.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

RHP Jason Jennings (34) aka He Who Must Not Be Named
A first round pick by the Rockies in 1999, Tim Purpura in his infinite wisdom obtained Jennings in a trade with the Rockies for Willie Taveras, Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh in December 2006 without adequately checking out his medical records (he had been playing injured before the trade). In 19 games (18 starts) for Houston, he was 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA and a 1.545 WHIP. But it was his seventh loss that is forever etched in my mind.

Tweet of the Day

Andy Simunic

A wrong turn and a busted hose will get u stranded in San Angelo Texas at 5am 

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Look at the DSL Astros

Let's look at the short season teams and see how they are faring thus far this season. I'm a bad news first kind of person so let's look at the Dominican Summer League Astros and get that out of the way. It seems like a good thing to post on a Monday. Everybody hates Monday anyway.

As of Sunday the 15th, the DSL Astros have a record of 11-24. They have scored 3.54 runs per game while the pitching staff has allowed 5.6 runs per game. The average age of hitters is 18 and pitchers are barely older at 18.2 years of age.

Again, let's start with the bad news first. The offense has been bad. This is how the top DSL Astros performers rank versus other players in the league in batting statistics (BA, OBP & SLG are based on 2.7 plate appearances per team game).

Batting Average
154th - Randy Cesar .240

On Base Percentage
145th* - Randy Cesar .342

Slugging Percentage
124th* - Mesac Laguna .353

Runs Scored
123rd* - Mesac Laguna 16

118th* - Mesac Laguna 5

55th* - Arturo Michelena 2

Home Runs
17th* - Mesac Laguna 3

141st* - Randy Cesar 12

68th* - Cristian Murillo 16

5th* - Frederick Serrano 43 (in 103 AB)

Stolen Bases
34th* - Jarico Reynoso 9

The good news is that two of the more recent additions to the team, Brauly Mejia (.258 in 22 games) and Hector Roa (.263 in 5 games) have shown some promise in their limited time.

As far as how the DSL team numbers rank against the other teams in the league, the news doesn't get any better. Out of 35 teams, the DSL Astros are 35th in walks and in triples, 34th in batting average, on base percentage, slugging, runs scored, hits, doubles and RBI. They are 33rd in total bases, 27th in stolen bases, 14th in strikeouts and are tied for 12th in home runs.

And, although the pitching isn't great, it is a bit easier to find the occasional bright spot. This is how the top DSL Astros pitchers rank versus other pitchers in the league in pitching statistics (based on 0.8 innings pitched per team game).

47th - Edwin Villarroel 2.20
50th - Samil de los Santos 2.41

35th - Samil de los Santos 1.02
73rd - Edwin Villaroel 1.29

10th* - Samil de los Santos 40

27th* - Geronimo Franzua 18 (in 8.1 innings)

Juan Delis doesn't qualify, but in his seven appearances he has a 2.81 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP.

As far as how the team ranks, the news isn't quite as dire, but there is a great deal of room for improvement. The team ERA (4.01) is 23rd in the league and the WHIP (1.481) is 26th in the league. They are 29th in strikeouts and 32nd out of 35 teams in wins.

Most of the best DSL players from 2011 were promoted to the GCL this season, so it's not unexpected that this raw young team is struggling to make their way. This is the halfway point of their season. Let's see where they end up.

*Indicates a tie

Next up: A Look at The GCL Astros tomorrow (Spoiler Alert - the news gets better)

The Journey

It's not the destination, it's the journey.

I like to hike. But I usually do so alone. That is my preference. I do like to see or hear other people along the trail, but that's more because of my unnatural fear of bears, even when there are no bears anywhere nearby. The occasional noisy person on the trail will scare off any pesky bears. At least that's my reasoning.

I like to hike alone for a number of reasons. Part of it is that I'm an amateur photographer and I like to take my time and take pictures of all manner of weird things that I see. I'm sure that would annoy a serious hiking companion to no end. And I like the quiet and solitude of a solo hike wherein the only sounds I hear are birds chirping and my own labored breathing on the steep sections.

But most of all, I enjoy taking my time and just taking in the experience. A hike that would take a serious hiker an hour or two may take me twice that long. I take the time to really look at the bark on a tree, a mangled stump, a single flower, a bit of moss or fungus. I look for the birds I hear above me. I look at the trail ahead, the trail behind, the ground at my feet and the sky above me, taking particular delight in the dappled glow of filtered sunlight as it makes everything greener and more vibrant. I'm always struck by how many shades of green abide in nature. And how those shades change depending upon how the sunlight touches them.

And I am often rewarded on my journey for my patience. As I was hiking around Cascade Lake on Orcas Island in Washington this past week, I encountered a number of people. Families and friends hiking together chattering away and barely acknowledging their surroundings, an older woman on a power walk and a younger woman jogging the trail, each of whom were fairly oblivious to the wonders around them. As I rounded one corner on the trail, I came to an opening in the forest and a breathtaking view of the lake. As I stood there transfixed taking in all of the colors and textures, a bald eagle soared overhead across the lake and into the trees.

It was just a few seconds, but the image is fixed in my mind and will be tucked away with memories of other such encounters over the years - mountain goats in Montana, wild toucans in Brazil, a mongoose on St. Vincent's, a waved albatross mating dance in the Galapagos, a magnificent elk in the Canadian Rockies.

And what does this have to do with baseball you might ask? Nothing and everything. The destination for the minor league players I follow is to make it to the show. The destination for me in following them is to see a strong farm system that can keep supplying the Astros with good players for years to come, players that will make them a competitive team from year to year.

But even when the Astros are competitive again and the farm system ranks in the top five perennially, I will continue to follow "my boys." Because I have enjoyed the journey so much as I have slowly gotten to know so many of these young men. The metaphorical colors and textures of these players is as varied as those I find in nature. I am endlessly fascinated by their talent, their stories, their personalities. And if I'm very, very patient, I know I will see some of them soar.

Minor League Recaps

Sunday's Games

Greeneville over Bristol 4-1 in 7 innings (Game 1)
Frederick Tiburcio got his first win of the season in a complete game win (albeit a 7-inning game) as he allowed only one run on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. Terrell Joyce as the DH drove in three of the Astros four runs with his two home runs.

Greeneville over Bristol 4-0 in 7 innings (Game 2)
Mike Hauschild (3IP 2H 5SO), Chris Lee (2IP 0H 4SO), Michael Dimock (1IP 1H 1BB 1SO), and Tanner Bushue (1IP 0H 1BB 1SO) combined on a three-hit shutout. Brian Blasik's RBI single in the first was all the Astros really needed, but D'Andre Toney added an RBI double and Jimmy Howick an RBI single just for good measure. Jean Batista and Ernesto Genoves also doubled; and Blasik and Angel Ibanez each had a pair of hits.

Tri-City at Jamestown - postponed

Hagerstown at Lexington - The game was suspended after the top of the third inning with Lexington leading 8-1 and is to be completed today as part of a double header.

Lancaster over Modesto 12-8
David Martinez got the win despite giving up six runs on seven hits (including three home runs) and two walks. Jose Trinidad gave up a couple more runs in relief and Kirk Clark came in for the final out and his eighth save. George Springer was three-for-five with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored. Domingo Santana, Telvin Nash and Alex Todd also homered in the game. Everyone got in on the hitting except for Grant Hogue, but he still managed to walk twice, steal a bag and score two runs. It would be much faster to list the players who didn't have multi-hit games (Hogue and Ben Heath) than those who did. Springer, Santana and Todd all had multi-hit, multi-RBI games.

Corpus Christi over Frisco 5-2
Not to be outdone by Greeneville, the Corpus staff in the guise of Jarred Cosart (5.2IP 1H 2R 4BB 5SO), Kevin Chapman (2.1IP 0H 0BB 2SO) and Jason Stoffel (1IP 0H 0BB 2SO) combined on a one-hitter. Unfortunately the one hit was a no-out triple following a walk. Add a fielder's choice and voila, one hit becomes two runs. Those two runs tied things up in the top of the sixth, but a Drew Muren sac fly and a two-run Austin Wates homer put the Hooks ahead for good in the bottom of the frame. Wates was three-for-five; Chris Wallace was two-for-three; and Jon Singleton had two RBI. Chapman was awarded the win in relief and Jason Stoffel converted his 15th save.

Oklahoma City over New Orleans 12-3
Brett Oberholtzer (W, 3-2) had a nice outing with two runs (one earned) allowed on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts over six innings. Juan Abreu, Hector Ambriz and David Carpenter each pitched a frame with Ambriz giving up the only additional run. Oklahoma City managed 12 runs without hitting a home run, but took advantage of wild pitches, hit batters and walks to supplement their 12 hits. Brandon Barnes, Jimmy Paredes, Mike Hessman and Brett Wallace all had multi-hit games; Barnes, Hessman, Fernando Martinez and J.B. Shuck all doubled in the game; and Hessman, Shuck, Angel Sanchez, and Jay Fernandez (in his first  appearance with the Redhawks) all contributed a pair of RBIs.

Pitcher of the Day
There were a lot of really good pitching performances yesterday, but I'm going with Frederick Tiburcio as he got his first win on a complete game with nine strikeouts. Honorable mention goes to the Greeneville Four and the Corpus Three for their great outings.

Player of the Day
George Springer, with his four RBIs, will have to share the podium with Terrell Joyce and his two homer, three RBI performance.

Happy Birthday - 7/16

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

RHP Jonathan Johnson (38)
A first round pick by the Rangers in 1995, Johnson came to Houston as a free agent in October of 2002. In four games for the Astros in 2003, he was 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA and a 2.283 WHIP. According to Baseball-Reference, he was 1-1 with a 3.84 ERA for Team USA in the 1994 Baseball World Cup.

Tweet of the Day

Enrique Hernandez

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Roster Moves - Updated

SS Marwin Gonzalez was activated from the DL.
SS Jed Lowrie was placed on the 15-day DL.
C Carlos Corporan was put on the 40-man roster and assigned from Oklahoma City to Houston.
C Jason Castro was placed on the 15-day DL.
RHP Kyle Weiland was placed on the 60-day DL.

Oklahoma City
C Jair (Jay) Fernandez was assigned from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.
RHP Jonnathan Aristil was placed on the temporary inactive list.
2B Jimmy Paredes was activated from the temporary inactive list.

Corpus Christi
C Rene Garcia was assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.
RHP Jarred Cosart was activated from the DL.
SS Jonathan Villar was placed on the 7-day DL.
SS Ben Orloff was assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.

RHP Bobby Doran was assigned from Corpus Christi to Lancaster.
SS Chan Moon was assigned from Lexington to Lancaster.
UNCONFIRMED report that C Roberto Pena is being assigned from Lexington to Lancaster.

Jay Austin was activated from the DL.
UPDATED TO ADD: C Luis Alvarez was assigned from Greeneville to Lexington.

2B Josh Magee was released.
LHP Zach Hardoin was released.
One I missed - RHP Jose Perdomo was released a couple of weeks ago.

Minor League Results

Saturday's' Results

GCL Nationals 6 GCL Astros 8
The Astros committed 4 errors Saturday but still found a way to win.  Darwin Rivera ( 3 for 4) and Jose Solano (1 for 4) both hit homeruns in the game.  Rio Ruiz went 1 for 3 with 2 walks.  Edison Frias (3-0) picked up the win after coming on in the 4th for 4 innings, allowing a run on 4 hits and striking out 1.

Greeneville Astros Bristol White Sox

Tri-City ValleyCats 11 Jamestown Jammers 1
The ValleyCats benefitted from an offensive explosion on Saturday.  3 Tri-City players had multi-hit performances.  Ryan Dineen went 1 for 1 at the plate and drew 4 walks.  Jesse Wierzbicki hit 3 for 5 with 2 RBI.  Tri-City pitching was on fire too, allowing just 4 hits Saturday.  Aaron West got the win and gave up the only run in the 4th inning.  West also struck out 4 in 6 innings.

Lancaster JetHawks 3 Modesto Nuts 11  
Lancaster was outscored on Saturday, plain and simple.  Jorge De Leon (2-8) picked up the loss after allowing 6 runs on 9 hits through, walking 2 and striking out 3 through 5 innings on the bump.  George Springer had a nice night at the plate.  Springer went 2 for 3 and drew a walk. Domingo Santana hit 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs and a homer. 

Hagerstown Suns 9 Lexington Legends 4
The Legends started a rally in the 7th, but it proved to be too little too late.  Juri Perez, who was in his debut, allowed 5 runs on 6 hits over 4 innings.  Perez also K'd 6 batters.  Every Legends pitcher gave up at least a run in this game.  Nolan Fontana went 3 for 4 at the dish.  Mike Kvasnicka and Chan Moon both went 2 for 4 with a couple of RBIs each.

Frisco RoughRiders 11 Corpus Christi Hooks 7
The game was back and forth for the first few innings on Saturday at Whataburger Field.  Chris Wallace went 2 for 3 at the plate with double and a walk.  Rob Rasmussen was charged with his first loss after giving up 6 runs on 8 hits through the first 3 innings.  It was a tough outing all around for Corpus Christi pitchers.  Josh Zeid, who came on for the final two frames, gave up 3 runs on 4 hits and struck out a pair. 

New Orleans Zephyrs 8 Oklahoma City RedHawks 0
Oklahoma City got shut out at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Saturday.  The opposition only scored in 2 innings, but without any RedHawks offense, it was too much.  Armando Galarraga moved to 2-2 after picking up the loss.  Galarraga allowed 5 runs in the 2nd inning and struck out 3.  Jonnathan Aristil came on for the final two frames and only allowed a hit and struck out 2. Matt Dominguez went 2 for 3 at the plate with a walk and a double.

Player of the Day: Ryan Dineen gets the honor today for going 1 for 1 at the plate and drawing 4 walks.  Good eye, Dineen.

Pitcher of the Day: Aaron West gets the nod for throwing 6 strong innings on Saturday.  He gave up a run on 3 hits, but who cares when your team scores 11 in route to their 5th win a row?

Happy Birthday - 7/15

RHP David Carpenter (27)
Originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 12th round in 2006 out of West Virginia University, Carpenter came to Houston in an August 2010 trade with St. Louis for Pedro Feliz (one of Fast Eddie's finer hours). He made his major league debut June 30, 2011 and went 1-3 with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.482 WHIP. The 2012 season hasn't been as kind to him and he has split his time between AAA and Houston as a result. At Houston this season he is 0-2 with a 6.07 ERA and a 1.921 WHIP. At Oklahoma City, he is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and a 0.750 WHIP.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

C Dave Adlesh (69)
Adlesh was signed by the Colt .45's as an amateur free agent in 1963 and played a handful of games over six seasons (from 1963 to 1968) for Houston. In 106 games, he hit .168/.227/.199. He was 19 years old when he started playing for the Colt .45's in 1963.

C Kirt Manwaring (47)
A second round pick by the Giants in 1986, Manwaring came to Houston in a July 1996 trade and spent only 37 games as an Astro, hitting .220/.264/.256. With the Giants, he earned a Gold Glove in 1993 and led the National League in caught stealing percentage in 1992 and 1993 with a 50.5% and 45.9% respectively.

RHP Fernando Nieve (30)
An amateur free agent signed out of Venezuela by Houston in 1999, Nieve pitched in 51 games for Houston in 2006 and 2008 before being picked up off waivers by the Mets in March of 2009. In those 51 games (11 starts), he was 3-4 with a 4.64 ERA and a 1.374 WHIP. He once again signed with the Astros in March 2011 but was released a month later. He signed as a free agent with the Dodgers in December of 2011 and is currently playing for their AAA team.

CF Reggie Abercrombie (31)
A 23rd round pick by the Dodgers in 1999, Abercrombie was selected by Houston off waivers from the Marlins in October of 2007. He played in 34 games for Houston in 2008, hitting .309/.339/.539. He is currently playing in the Mexican League and hitting .312/.382/.579 over 82 games in 2012.

Tweet of the Day

Blake Ford

The hitters went off tonight big win 11-1 and got a good start from that's 5 in a row! 

Roster Moves - 7/14

Oklahoma City
According to Greg Rajan of the Corpus Christi Caller times, C Jay Fernandez has been assigned from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.

Corpus Christi
Also according to Greg Rajan, C Rene Garcia has been assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.
SS Jonathan Villar will be placed on the DL after breaking his hand, but that move hasn't been made official yet.
[UPDATED TO ADD] An UNCONFIRMED report has SS Ben Orloff going from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.

An UNCONFIRMED rumor has SS Chan Moon going to Lancaster from Lexington.

With the injury to Villar, last night's injury to Jed Lowrie in the San Francisco game and possible time off needed for Jason Castro, who has been experiencing pain in his surgically repaired knee, look for more roster moves to come. I will update when information becomes available.