Saturday, August 18, 2012

Minor League Recaps

Friday's Results

DSL Rays 7 DSL Astros 3
The DSL Astros had the lead until the eighth inning yesterday, but couldn't hold on.  Jesus Castillo (0-1) took the loss after pitching the seventh inning and facing 2 batters in the eighth.  Castillo was charged with 2 runs (1ER) on no hits and walked 3.  Luis Reynoso went 2 for 3 with a walk at the plate on Friday.  Reynoso also had a stolen base, his seventh of the year.

GCL Nationals 5 GCL Astros 0 (Completed Early)
This game ended after the top of the seventh inning and the GCL Astros had only 4 hits and no runs.  Only 3 Astros were struck out in the shortened game, but 7 hit into ground outs. Agapito Barrios (1-4) took the loss, pitching the first 5 and being charged with 4 runs (3ER) on 7 hits.  Barrios also struck out 2.  Offensively not much happened for the Astros on Friday.  Not one player collected an extra base hit or drew a walk.

Burlington Royals 1 Greeneville Astros 5
Greeneville got ahead early in this game and kept the pressure on.  In the eighth inning, after giving up their first run of the game, Carlos Correa (2X4) hit a solo shot to left field to take that run back.  The homer was his first since being in Greeneville.  Terrell Joyce went 2 for 4 in the game with a RBI, swatting his 12th double of the season.  Jose Monzon batted 2 for 3 and collected 2 RBIs.  Daniel Minor (2-2) earned the win Friday, pitching the first 6 scoreless innings.  Minor gave out just 5 hits and struck out 6. Jordan Jankowsi, who took the mound for the last inning, kept his performance scoreless and hitless, striking out 2.

Brooklyn Cyclones 12 Tri-City ValleyCats 4
After this game Friday, Tri-City manager Stubby Clapp simply said, "It was ugly, there was no other way to describe it."  The ValleyCats pitchers issued 10 walks in the game and every pitcher gave up at least 2 runs.  Starting pitcher Brian Holmes (6-2) took the loss after throwing the first 3 and a third, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits, walking 4 and striking out 4.  Travis Ballew, who pitched the last 2 outs of the game, had a rough outing.  Ballew was charged with 3 runs on 1 hit after giving up a 2-out grand slam in the ninth inning.  Ballew also walked 2 and struck out 1.  Neiko Johnson went 2 for 5 at the plate and collected his first double of the season. Tyler Heineman went 2 for 4 and hit a double. In 137 ABs this season, Heineman is hitting .365.

Lexington Legends 8 Rome Braves 17
The good news is Lexington scored 8 runs on 8 hits; the bad news is their opponents scored 17.  Jonas Dufek (6-3) took the loss after an inning and a third of work.  In his time on the mound, Dufek was charged with 8 runs on 8 hits, walked 2 and struck out 1.  Murilo Gouvea also had a tough outing Friday.  After coming on to start the eighth inning, Gouvea faced 6 batters without recording an out.  Gouvea left the game with 6 runs (4 ER) on 3 hits and a walk. Nolan Fontana came alive at the plate Friday, hitting 2 for 3 with 2 walks and a RBI.  Chan Moon hit 2 for 4 with a walk, a double and scored 2 runs.

Lancaster JetHawks 1 Inland Empire 66ers 5
The JetHawks got a solid pitching performance out of starter Colton Cain, but couldn't get anything started offensively.  Cain moved to 0-2 after going 6 innings Friday and left the game with 2 runs on 8 hits, a walk and 3 Ks.  Amidst the offensive stalemate, Drew Muren hit 4 for 4.  In 64 ABs with Lancaster, Muren is batting .344.   Domingo Santana hit 2 for 3 with a double, a walk and scored a run.  Santana now has 22 doubles this season.

Corpus Christi Hooks 1 Arkansas Travelers 6
The Hooks left 10 on base Friday in this road loss.  Rob Rasmussen (4-3) went the first 5 innings on the mound and ended up with the loss.  Rasmussen was charged with 4 runs on 4 hits, walked 1 and struck out 5.  Rasmussen now has 33 Ks since joining Corpus Christi (43 IP) and 108 all year (130.2 IP).  Jake Goebbert hit 2 for 3 at the dish with a walk and a run scored.  Goebbert  (1X4) scored the only run of the game on Adam Bailey's on hit of the game, a RBI double in the sixth.  Bailey also had a walk.

Fresno Grizzlies 2 Oklahoma City Redhawks 3 (12)
Oklahoma City hung on for an extra inning win at home on Friday.  Both teams combined for 26 stranded runners in the game.  Jose Martinez however, wasn't left stranded in the bottom of the 12th, when Brian Bass knocked him in to win the game with a single.  That was Bass' second RBI of the season and his BA is now a ripe .083. Matt Downs batted 2 for in the game with a walk and a RBI.  With the RBI, Bass (2-5) took the win and after an inning and a third of work gave out just a hit and struck out 1.  Ross Seaton started the game for the RedHawks and was charged with 2 runs (1 ER) on 8 hits, walked 1 and struck out 2 in his time on the hill.

Player of the Day:  Ross Seaton is taking the honor today for his game winning performance yesterday.  Even though he is a pitcher, he demonstrated his skill with a bat in a clutch situation.  That takes the honor any day.

Pitcher of the Day:  Daniel Minor is back again for the WTHB accolades today.  In 52 innings pitched this year Minor has walked 9 and struck out 43.  That's pretty impressive.       

Happy Birthday - 8/18

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

3B Jack Howell (51)
Howell came to Houston as a free agent in December of 1997 and played for the Astros in a handful of games in 1998 and 1999 at the end of his career. In 61 games for the Astros, he hit .254/.361/.437.

Tweet of the Day

kenny long

I'm officially a college drop out no classes this fall. 

Roster Moves

RHP Richard Rodriguez was assigned from the GCL to Greeneville.
RHP Kevin Comer was assigned to Greeneville.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Minor League Recaps

Thursday's Games

DSL Astros over DSL Dodgers 10-3
Really? Wow! Elieser Hernandez pitched one perfect inning followed by a very unperfect inning from Geronimo Franzua (three runs on three hits). Javier Saucedo then took the biggest chunk (one hit in five innings) and got a W for his trouble. Angel Heredia earned his second save with two perfect frames to close it out. Down 3-0 going into the bottom of the fifth, the Astros put up a couple of big innings to come from behind. Home runs from Johan Tomas de la Cruz and Marlon Avea, a triple from Jean Carlos Cortorreal and a double from Mesac Laguna helped power the offense.

GCL Astros at GCL Marlins - suspended in the middle of the fourth inning
Kyle Hallock got his second rehab start, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. Jandel Gustave pitched one inning, allowing only a walk before the game was suspended. Teoscar Hernandez got the only Astro hit, a single in the fourth.

Bristol over Greeneville 3-2
Michael Feliz got the loss as one bad inning derailed an otherwise good outing. Feliz pitched four and a third and gave up three runs on two hits and four walks with eight strikeouts. Unfortunately, one of the two hits was a triple after he had walked the bases loaded. Ouch. Christian Garcia and Jordan Jankowski provided effective relief, but Greeneville never scored after the third inning. Carlos Correa drove in one run with a triple and Ariel Ovando drove in the other with a double. Ovando was two-for-four as was Michael Martinez.

Tri-City over Brooklyn 4-2
Lance Day earned his fifth win with a five and a third inning outing in which he allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits. Euris Quezada, Scott Zuloaga, Jamaine Cotton and Blake Ford provided scoreless relief with Ford earning his 14th save of the season. Tri-City led from the fifth inning on largely on the strength of an Emilio King two-run home run. Jean Batista had a strong debut for Tri-City going two-for-three with a steal. Dan Gulbransen drove in the other two runs with sac flies.

Rome over Lexington 5-0
Luis Ordosgoitti gave up five runs (three earned) on seven hits over five and a third innings and went to 5-5 for the season. Mitch Lambson and Dayan Diaz shut the door, but Lexington never got anything going as they only managed three hits off the Rome staff with Chan Moon getting two of those, including a double. Justin Gominsky was one-for-two and walked twice.)

High Desert over Lancaster 4-3
Nick Tropeano gave up three runs (one earned) on seven hits in 6.2 innings. Chia-Jen Lo and Kenny Long kept the scored tied through their appearances, but Andrew Robinson got the hard luck loss as he allowed one unearned run to score in the top of the ninth to break the tie. Telvin Nash hit his 25th home run and Jio Mier appears to be back in good form as he went two-for-three with a double.

Corpus Christi over Arkansas 5-1
An excellent start from Bobby Doran as he allowed only one run via the long ball on three hits over seven innings followed by two innings of scoreless ball from Jake Buchanan. The Hooks led early and never let up. Drew Locke set the tone early with a two-run inside the park home run in the first inning. Bobby Borchering was two-for-three with a double, a triple and two RBI, and Ben Orloff was two-for-three with a double.

Fresno over Oklahoma City 5-1
Despite a decent start from Rudy Owens (two runs on five hits over five and two-thirds), he was charged with the loss as the Redhawks never got much going offensively. Brian Sanches pitched a perfect one and a third and was followed by Garrett Mock's three runs on three hits. Oklahoma City was held to four singles and a Jimmy Paredes double. The lone run of the game came as Matt Downs scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth.

Player of the Day: Bobby Borchering gets the nod for a double, triple, walk, run and two RBI.

Pitcher of the Day: Big Bobby Doran, come on down!

Happy Birthday - 8/17

2B/SS Tyler Greene (29)
One of our newest Astros, Greene was a first round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2005 and came to Houston on August 9th in a trade with St. Louis for a PTBNL or cash. In 77 games for St. Louis in 2012, Greene hit .218/.272/.358. In six games with Houston, he is hitting .350/.350/.600.

LHP Christopher Lee (20)
Drafted by Houston in the fourth round in 2011 and originally from Tampa, Florida, Lee was assigned from Greeneville to the GCL recently. He hasn't pitched in three weeks which leads me to believe there may be an injury involved. In five appearances (three starts) for Greeneville, Lee was 1-2 with a 11.42 ERA and a 2.538 WHIP.

OF Emilio King (23)
King was signed by the Astros as an NDFA out of the Dominican Republic prior to the 2006 season. King has struggled somewhat this season and has been unable to recreate his solid 2011 Lexington season when he hit .293/.332/.439. He is now with the Tri-City club and appears to be heating up. In his last 10 games, he is hitting .314/.314/.714. For the season, he is hitting .190/.246/.322.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP John Buzhardt (died June 15, 2008 at age 71)
Buzhardt came to Houston from the Orioles in September of 1967 and pitched in only one game in 1967 and an additional 39 games in 1968 at the end of his career. Buzhardt compiled a 4-4 record with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.281 WHIP.

RHP Chad Qualls (34)
A second round pick by Houston in 2000, Qualls pitched for Houston from 2004 to 2007. In 262 games, he was 24-12 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.236 WHIP. He appeared in 3 games in the 2005 World Series with a 1.69 ERA and a 0.938 WHIP. In December 2007 he was included in a trade with Arizona for Jose Valverde. He is currently with the Pirates, his sixth team since leaving the Astros organization.

RHP Brett Myers (32)
A first round pick by the Phillies in 1999, Meyers came to Houston as a free agent in January 2010 and pitched for the Astros until the July 2012 trade that sent him to the White Sox. In 102 games (66 starts), he was 21-26 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.280 WHIP with 19 saves.

Tweet of the Day

Rob Rasmussen
Rob Rasmussen@RasmussenRob
Couldnt get in Corpus hotel and can't get it in Little Rock hotel

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Interview with OF Chris Epps

[A note on this interview: When Epps was assigned to Lancaster in early June, Domingo Santana and Grant Hogue had been on and off the DL. I don't think the assignment was intended to be permanent, but Epps played so well that he at least turned the assignment into a semi-permanent one. But with the additions to the Corpus outfield forcing Drew Muren to Lancaster, the assignment of Andrew Aplin to Lancaster and the activation of Grant Hogue from the DL, the numbers were finally against Chris and he was assigned to Lexington. But he did a terrific job with Lancaster in his two months with the team, hitting .285/.376/.589 with six doubles, six triples and ten home runs. Coincidentally, one of the things I talked with him about was whether or not he thought the assignment was going to be temporary.]

One of the reasons that I wanted to talk to Chris Epps is because I was trying to wrap my brain around his splits against lefties. A left-handed hitter, Epps is hitting .388/.446/.653 against lefties at Lancaster this season. I looked at his splits for last season and his good numbers against lefties are not a fluke.

As if to prove that his numbers against lefties were no fluke, Epps hit three home runs while I was at Lancaster - one off a lefty to dead center field that hit the batter's eye, one off a lefty to right field and one off a righty to left field. I must say I was impressed.

On hitting vs. lefties: "With me and my swing I try to stay a lot up the middle. I just focus a little more up the middle, keep my front side closed vs. lefties. That's when I get myself in trouble vs. righties when I try to fly open a little bit too much, but that's what I kind of like to do, just keep my front side closed against lefties and it's been working out in my favor."

What is he working on?: "Consistency is something that I'm really working on. Slumps happen, but trying to keep them to a minimum and getting hits when you're feeling bad is something I'm trying to strive for, trying not to have such a roller coaster and not be so streaky, just be more consistent throughout the season so that's what I'm trying to work on."

On the call up to Lancaster: "Until you get the call up you just try to do what you can do. Only thing you can control is yourself and the way you play so you can't control anything else that happens so I didn't look to see if it was going to be a temporary move or a permanent. Just go up there and play ball."

Which Astros pitcher would he least like to face?: "That's kind of hard to say, you know. A lot of good guys up there [in the organization]. A lot of flame throwers, some lefties like Sogard and you've got Cosart up there throwing gas and there's a couple guys down here. Tropeano's a great pitcher. Bobby Doran is a good one. But I'm always up for a challenge.  I'm never one to back down from a challenge. Anything can happen when you step in the box."

Who on the team makes him laugh?: "Grant Hogue is a character. He's my boy. He's funny. Springer's always a good one to be around. Domingo Santana - he might not look like he says much but he's funny to me. He cracks me up. Before he just left, Chowning is a character. The team actually is animated. You've got to keep your mind off baseball at some point in time."

What would he do if he couldn't play baseball?: "I'd still do something around the sport- maybe be a coach or something, maybe be a teacher. I'd love to teach one day, elementary school kids. I love to put myself around kids. They're fun to be around, cool. I don't know. I never really looked that far into it. I got my college degree so maybe I could do something right there - sports management. Try to get in the business side of that, maybe I could work my way into owning a team or something."

Something that most people don't know about him: "I'm an animal lover. People probably don't know that. I love animals. My girlfriend is actually an animal science major. She has horses, lizards, dogs. You name it, she has it so I surround myself with animals all the time. People probably don't know I'm a jokester. I'm a bit of a silly guy sometimes. I look serious at times but I'm kind of goofy."

On the changes in the Astros organization: "This organization - there's so much competition right now. It's good competition. It makes the game fun."

I wish Chris the best of luck back in Lexington. If he keeps hitting home runs to all fields and keeps hitting lefties like there's no tomorrow, I have a feeling he'll work his way back sooner rather than later.

An Interview with 1B/DH Erik Castro

Erik Castro has flown beneath the radar this season and I think he likes it that way. He was very modest in discussing his season accomplishments with me which include 25 doubles, 21 home runs and 91 RBIs to date. The stacked lineup at Lancaster which includes Domingo Santana, Telvin Nash and, until recently, George Springer has helped Erik in that he has seen a lot of good pitches to hit, but it has also overshadowed his contributions.

Manager Rodney Linares is paying attention though, "He's been the most consistent hitter we've had all year. He's got a chance to drive in 100 runs. He's got a chance to hit 25 home runs." Linares praised Erik for the work he has put in as he comes back from an arm injury that has limited him to playing first base, a position he has played very adeptly. But it is Erik's bat that gets Linares excited, "I love his bat especially now that he's hitting with power to the opposite field."

When talking with Erik, one is left with the impression of someone who is highly intelligent and who has thought things through pretty thoroughly, whether it's the state of the Astros farm system or his place in that system.

Here's what Erik had to say when I talked to him earlier this month ~

On his career thus far: "I had a decent first short season [in 2009] and then I got hurt, had surgery and didn't play in 2010. In 2011, last year, I kind of split time and didn't play too much. I got 250 at bats. I just wasn't an everyday guy. Luckily this year I got the opportunity to [play regularly] and I'm just trying to take advantage."

On his 2012 success and the Lancaster lineup: "They're a big reason why I'm having the year I am, especially with George hitting in front of me. You couldn't ask to hit behind somebody like that. When he gets on base I see a lot better pitches. When he's not on base it's really different. Domingo drives me in. It's just a nice line up to be in. In '09, we had [Jose] Altuve, [Jake] Goebbert, J.D. Martinez and I hit behind J.D. so I had it going well in '09 too with them. It's important who you hit behind. It helps. I can't take all the credit. You can't drive in runs without people being on base."

What does he need to do to get to the next level developmentally?: "I still think I need to finish strong. I was pretty hot in the first half and I've kind of tapered off average-wise in the second half, but I'm still being productive with RBIs and home runs. I think just trying to be consistent. I think my goal for the rest of the season is to keep driving in runs and to keep being a run-producer, getting on base, scoring and driving runs in. The average will take care of itself then.

"Things I need to work on? I could always get better defensively. I used to primarily be a third baseman. I used to be able to play the outfield a little bit but since my shoulder surgery, they've kind of put me over to first so maybe something in the off-season to work on is [getting] back to playing a few more positions so I have a little more opportunity in the organization. I wouldn't say I've been the best defender my whole life, but I've always enjoyed playing defense and in college I was a pretty decent third baseman. I've always prided myself on being a good defender. I enjoy it. I enjoy playing defense." [Note: Erik has a .992 fielding percentage at first base this season and a 9.02 RF/G.]

Which Astros pitcher would you least like to face?: "To be honest with you, there was one guy in Spring Training that I hated facing and it was Tropeano. I hated facing him. It just seemed like every time I faced him, he struck me out. Or if I hit him, I'd hit a weak nubber back to the pitcher. He's got a lot of movement on his ball, throws a split finger. So, yeah, I don't like facing Nick."

Who on the team makes him laugh?: "A lot of the guys. Of course, Kike is hilarious. He keeps everybody pretty loose. I would say Grant has a different humor, but Kike I would say is definitely the class clown. Actually I think Moon's pretty funny too. For how little English he speaks, he's pretty funny."

What would he do if he couldn't play baseball?: "I'd probably want to work in a sports agency, sports management. I like helping kids go through situations that I've been through whether it's community college, pro ball, just to be able to help people who go through the process because a lot of people don't understand how hard it is to do what we do. People think we're living the dream ... and we are in a way, but a lot of people don't understand the hard decisions that come with choosing to go to college, what college to go to, choosing to play in the minor leagues where you're gone from your family and things like that so I think I would enjoy working in the sports management area just to be able to help other kids that are going through this process."

On the changes to the Astros farm system: "I think Mr. Luhnow is doing a really great job to be honest with you. He addressed some areas in our farm system where we needed help. He went out and got a ton of pitching and he's stockpiling our minor leagues to make sure that we're good for the future, and I think that's what needed to happen. You can see the success that our minor leagues are having this year as opposed to last year. I've been here since '09. We've never been good. In '09 I was on one of the worst Tri-City teams. Last year, I think we were the worst team in minor league baseball and it was just kind of depressing.

"I feel like the culture's definitely changed this year. I'm not saying we're the best team ever but you can see that we're winning. The AA team is winning. We're about .500. I think Lexington is [winning] too. Tri-City is just doing such a great job. I think that the culture's changing that now if we were to go under .500, we would be like, 'Oh, shoot,' like this isn't really how it is any more so we have to step it up. I think as an organization we've kind of embraced it and I think that we're headed in the right direction. As much as people want to say the Astros are painful to watch (I think I heard Tim Kurkjian say that on ESPN or something like that), I think we're moving in the right direction and it's nice to see.

"In past years, if you're doing well, you're moving up. And I think there's still opportunity to move up but it's becoming harder and that's a good thing to see in an organization. If a guy's having a good year, if he was here a year ago, there's no way he'd stay here. We've stockpiled our minor leagues so deep that even a top prospect having a good year is going to stay in one spot. It's kind of crazy to see."

Erik has quietly gone about making a statement this season. He has told us he can hit for average, he can hit for power, he can field, he is healthy and he is willing to do whatever it takes to improve his versatility and value to the organization. He has made those statements with his bat and his glove and his hard work.

RHP Kevin Comer - PTBNL in Blue Jays Trade

It is now being reported that RHP Kevin Comer is the PTBNL in this Blue Jays-Astros mega trade from last month. RHP Kevin Comer was a first round supplemental pick by the Blue Jays in 2011 (#57 overall). He was ranked by Kevin Goldstein as the #10 prospect in the Blue Jays organization going in to the 2012 season. Goldstein cited his plus fastball at 94-95 and a plus power breaking ball. Jonathan Mayo had him at #15 going in to the season and noted his plus fastball and signs of a plus curveball. Both noted that he was very unpolished and would need to develop a changeup. Baseball America ranked him at #17 coming in to the season. According to a tweet from Keith Law, his velocity has been down to the upper 80's this season. According to a tweet from Zachary Levine, he will be assigned to the Rookie League Greeneville Astros. His stats for this season can be found here.

Minor League Recaps

Wednesday's Games

DSL Astros over DSL Dodgers 6-3
Edwin Villarroel earned his fourth win of the season as he allowed only one unearned run on five hits in his five innings of work. Erick Hurtado gave up two runs in his one inning before Yonquelys Martinez came in for a three-inning save, his first save of the season. Martinez allowed only two hits and struck out four. The Dodgers came within one run in the sixth, but the Astros cushioned their lead with a couple of runs in the eighth on back-to-back doubles from Cristian Murillo and Luis Reynoso (Reynoso's second double of the day). Mesac Laguna and Hector Roa also had two-hit games.

GCL Astros over GCL Marlins 2-1
Edison Frias (7IP 7H 1R/0ER 0BB 4SO) and Krishawn Holley (2IP 1H) combined to pitch a terrific game. Holley earned the win as the Astros scored the winning run late. A Brett Phillips sac fly and a Yoel Silfa single accounted for all the Astros runs. Brett Phillips (2x4 RBI), Darwin Rivera (2x4 2B), Yonathan Mejia (2x3 2B) and Wallace Gonzalez (2x3 BB) all had good games.

Greeneville over Bristol 5-4 in 10 innings
Way to battle back! Down 4-1 going into the bottom of the seventh, Greeneville scraped across one run each inning while holding Bristol to no runs, eventually prevailing in the 10th. Five pitchers combined in this one with Francis Ramirez and Tanner Bushue allowing two runs each in short outings. Zach Dando allowed only three hits with two strikeouts in three and a third innings before giving way to Michael Dimock and Mike Hauschild who each pitched two perfect innings. Hauschild was rewarded with the win, his second. Carlos Correa had a great night as he went two-for-four with a double, two walks and scored a run, as did D'Andre Toney who was three-for-five with a walk and a run scored.

Tri-City over Brooklyn 6-2
Juri Perez got the win as Tri-City led this one from the fourth inning on. Jeremiah Meiners had a rare hiccup in relief as he allowed the only two Brooklyn runs before handing it off to Travis Ballew and John Neely who pitched scoreless relief. Preston Tucker was the star of this one, driving in three with an RBI double and a two-run single; Joe Sclafani was three-for-five with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base; Jesse Wierzbicki was two-for-three with a walk, stolen base and run; and Jarrod McKinney was two-for-four with an RBI. Neiko Johnson stole his 12th bag of the season and crossed the plate twice.

Savannah over Lexington 8-2
Luis Cruz got hit early and Evan Grills got hit late as each gave up four runs. Lexington's only runs came off a two-run double from Zach Johnson in the fifth giving him his 103rd and 104th RBI of the season. Chan Moon also doubled, but that was about the extent of it as the Legends were held to five hits.

Lancaster over High Desert 2-1
Tyson Perez earned his eighth win with a very effective outing in which he allowed only one run on six hits over six innings. Carlos Quevedo, Kenny Long and Jorge de Leon (S, 5) combined for three innings of no-hit relief. Lancaster had all the runs they needed by the end of the second inning, scoring on a wild pitch and a Drew Muren single. Delino DeShields was two-for-four with a stolen base, his 85th of the season. Muren was two-for-three.

Arkansas over Corpus Christi 3-0
A pitcher's duel early on, Arkansas broke through against starter Asher Wojciechowski in the fifth inning for two runs and added on another in the sixth. Wojo was charged with his first loss as a Hook as he allowed the three runs on eight hits (all singles) and no walks with five strikeouts. Erick Abreu only allowed one hit in his two and a third innings. The Hooks only managed one hit, a double from Kike Hernandez, and one walk from Chris Wallace.

Oklahoma City over Fresno 7-1
Brett Oberholtzer evened his record to 5-5 with a very strong outing, allowing one run on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts over seven innings. Mark Hamburger pitched the final two, allowing only two hits. Oberholtzer came awfully close to a no decision as the score was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the seventh, but OKC put up a six-spot in the bottom of the frame by way of seven singles and an Angel Sanchez 2-run double. Sanchez would end the night with three RBI; Matt Downs was two-for-four with two RBI; Jimmy Paredes went two-for-four with a triple, walk and scored twice; and Carlos Corporan was two-for-three with a walk.

Players of the Day: This was a tough one, but I'm going with Preston Tucker and Angel Sanchez for their three RBI outings.

Pitchers of the Day: Another tough one. I'm going with a tie between Brett Oberholtzer and Edison Frias, but I've got to give honorable mention to some great relief outings from Yonquelys Martinez, Krishawn Holley, Zach Dando, Michael Dimock, Mike Hauschild, John Neely, Carlos Quevedo, Kenny Long, Jorge de Leon, Erick Abreu and Mark Hamburger. A good night for the relief corps.

Happy Birthday - 8/16

LHP Jeremiah Meiners (24)
Drafted in the 40th Round of the 2010 draft out of Francis Marion University (SC), Meiners is 3-2 in 14 appearances, including 1 save, for Tri-City with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.084 WHIP. Lefties are only hitting .167 against him.

2B Delino DeShields Jr (20)
The Astros first round draft pick from 2010 has had a break out season with Lexington leading to his recent promotion to Hi-A Lancaster. In his time in Lexington, he hit .298/.401/.439 with 22 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs and 83 stolen bases. Since his promotion to Lancaster, he is hitting .348/.348/.348 with two steals in five games for a total of 85. He is rapidly approaching the all-time Astros minor league record of 87 steals set by Lou Frazier in 1988.

SS Juan Santana (18)
Santana was signed by the Astros as an NDFA from the Dominican Republic at the end of 2010 and is currently playing in his first season in the GCL after playing in the DSL last season.  In 48 games, he has compiled a .252/.301/.319 batting line. In August, he is hitting .275/.341/.375.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Xavier Hernandez (47)
Originally drafted by Toronto in the fourth round in 1986, Hernandez came to Houston via the Rule 5 draft in December 1989. Hernandez played for the Astros from 1990 to 1993 and again in 1996. In 273 games, he was 22-19 with a 3.40 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP.

OF Roger Cedeno (38)
Cedeno came to Houston in a December 1999 trade with the Mets and spent one season in the Astros organization before being traded to Detroit. In 74 games with the Astros, he hit .282/.383/.398. His best season was in 1999 when he hit .313/.396/.408 for the Mets with 66 stolen bases.

Tweets of the Day

Rafael Valenzuela

Really Melky, really... Unacceptable

Rafael Valenzuela

Felix Hernandez you are the man.. sorry about it

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Roster Moves

Sorry, guys, this blog is in no way affiliated with Bobby Heck although he was nice enough to give me an interview a while back. The "announcement" of Jay Austin's release came from me looking at today's transactions on

Corpus Christi
C Ben Heath went on the 7-day DL.

LHP  Pat Urckfitz was placed on the 7-day DL.
RHP Zach Grimmett was activated from the DL.
OF Grant Hogue was activated from the DL.

CF Jay Austin (2008 2nd round pick) has been released.
OF Chris Epps has been assigned from Lancaster to Lexington.

SS Jean Batista was assigned from Greeneville to Tri-City.
LHP Scott Zuloaga was assigned from Greeneville to Tri-City.
RHP Euris Quezada was assigned from Greeneville to Tri-City.

An Interview with Lancaster RHP R.J. Alaniz

One thing I have learned in the past year is that it takes more than talent to turn a prospect into a major leaguer. Consistency is also a key, but one thing may be even more important than consistency, particularly when you look at pitching prospects, and that one thing is confidence.

R.J. Alaniz is a very confident young man. He shows confidence through his style of pitching and exudes confidence in his ability to move through the Astros system quickly. When I interviewed him recently, I was impressed by his grasp of what he needed to do as a starting pitcher and how completely he had embraced that role, particularly considering he only recently turned 21.

Before I met R.J., I talked with Pitching Coach Don Alexander who described him thusly, “He’s got the make-up. He’s got the competitiveness. His stuff is very lively. He’s got plus command of his fastball, changes speed real well. His breaking stuff has sharpened up a lot. He’s got the physical skills, but he’s [also] got those intangibles that we like. He’s got all the tools that he needs to be pretty successful.”

And first round draft pick George Springer cited Alaniz as one of the pitchers in the Astros system that he would least like to face, “For someone like him who throws as hard as he does and for the ball to move that much, that’s why he’s so effective. Then on top of it, he can control his other pitches.”

R.J. is currently on the DL for the Hi-A Lancaster team, his second such stint of the season. After a heavy load in the first half in which he frequently pitched deep into games, he suffered some shoulder fatigue and was shut down. However, I was told that he is expected to pitch again prior to the end of the season.

On to the interview ~

On his pitch repertoire: “[My] velocity right now, it’s been anywhere between 90, 93, 94 but I’ve gotten up to 97. That was last year. This year it’s been down a little bit because of arm issues, but I throw a fastball, split change, a slider and a sinker. That’s pretty much my four pitches.”

On what sets him apart: “I throw strikes. I think of myself not as a wild pitcher, more as a control pitcher. I get outs quick. I don’t strike out a lot of people even though I do throw hard. I try to get an out within three pitches. ‘Here you go, hit it.’ You keep the ball down, get a ground ball, that’s pretty much all you need, go deep in a game.”

On what he’s accomplished this year: “Hitting more of the inside corners, throwing more inside to hitters. That’s what you’ve got to do in his league because if not, you’re going to get hit. You get the ball up in the air here, it’s gone. This league pretty much shows you how to pitch and makes you learn how to pitch. You’ve got to keep the ball low and throw inside and it really makes you a complete pitcher. That’s the most progress I’ve made here, just throwing 6, 7, 8 innings or 9 if I can. That’s pretty much the main thing, throwing the ball inside.”

On what he’s working on: “I still need to work on some mechanical issues. I still need to get more consistent. I’ll have two or three good games and then go out there and have a bad game. I need to get more consistent. This year’s been a little bit tough on me because of my arm. [I need to] come back healthy next year. That’s the main thing. Just stay consistent with my stuff and my mechanics.”

On being on the DL: “I threw like 90 innings first half, pretty much led the minor leagues in innings. That’s good. I felt good because I was going deep – 7, 8 innings every time I pitched so that felt great, but then I had the arm issue. It’s terrible now. I want to pitch but I can’t.”

On which Astros pitcher’s pitch he would like to steal: “I’d have to go with [Andrew] Robinson’s curveball – big curveball and a hard curveball. If I had that pitch in my weapons, I’d be pretty good. Throwing that curveball – it’s like coming down from the sky. Pretty huge and hard so it’s pretty much unhittable if you throw it right.”

On what he’d do if he couldn’t play baseball: “I’d be a border patrol. Hopefully I’ll make it [in baseball] and I’m sure I will. I’m positive of myself but if something goes wrong or whatever, that’s my back-up plan.”

On something people may not know about him: “People [may see] I’ve got a lot of tattoos, and they may think I’m mean but I’m a nice guy. I don’t get into trouble. I’m pretty much a nice guy to be around. I get along with everybody – Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Americans.” [Note: Alaniz grew up along the border in Texas and speaks English and Spanish fluently.]

On the changes in the Astros farm system: “They’re making a lot of moves since Luhnow came in. We’ve gotten I don’t know how many pitchers. I’m guessing it’s good. For me it’s good, for older guys I don’t think it’s good. But for me, since I’m young, I’m still good. I think there’s going to be a lot of improvements in the next two to three years with the Astros. I think he’s doing a good job. I talked to Luhnow in Spring Training once. He’s a pretty cool guy. Not many General Managers come in and talk to you. He came down here and started talking Spanish to the Latin guys. Wow!”

R.J. left me with these words, “Hopefully I’ll get healthy and I’ll be in the big leagues in two years.” Now that’s confidence. And he has the talent to back it up.

Minor League Recaps

Tuesday's Games

DSL Royals over DSL Astros 5-4
Francisco Baso got a two inning start, his fifth short start with the DSL and he preserved his 0.00 ERA. Rayderson Chevalier and Johan Arias didn't fare as well in their appearances as they allowed five runs (three earned) between them. Luis Abad and Angel Heredia finished things off with scoreless appearances. Buca's hero from yesterday, Hector Roa, had another good outing as he went two-for-five with a double. Luis Reynoso and Mesac Laguna were two-for-five as well and each had an RBI and Reynoso stole two bags to boot. The Astros came close late in this one, but fell short.

GCL Astros over GCL Cardinals 9-3
Brandon Culbreth got the start and his first win of the season to go along with it, and Raul Rivera got his first save. Darwin Rivera went four-for-five with a double and scored twice. Yonathan Mejia was three-for-five with two RBIs, scored one run and swiped a bag. Teoscar Hernandez was two-for-four with a double, RBI, scored two runs and stole two bases. Edwin Gomez had two hits, an RBI and two runs scored as well.

Greeneville over Bristol 10-0
Frederick Tiburcio pitched a beauty, seven innings of scoreless ball with four hits, four walks and seven strikeouts. Perfect innings from Brad Propst and Andrew Walter preserved the shutout. D'Andre Toney, Michael Martinez and Ernesto Genoves had multi-hit games and Rio Ruiz and Genoves doubled. Everyone in the lineup either got a hit or an RBI or both for a true team win. Appy Astros has an eyewitness account.

New York-Penn League All-Star Game
The National League All-Stars prevailed over the American League All-Stars 8-1. Austin Elkins came in to pinch hit and stayed in to play second base. He was one-for-two with a two run single and scored a run. Tyler Heineman was 0-for-two. Aaron West gave up one hit with one strikeout in his inning of work. Brian Holmes gave up one walk in his inning. And Blake Ford gave up the American League's only run via a home run in his inning of work.

Lexington over Savannah 10-1
Mike Foltynewicz got the start and once again dominated. I know that the powers that be are sensitive to playoff runs by the various teams, but Folty really deserves a call up. In his 14th win, he allowed no runs on four hits and one walk with six strikeouts. Lambson pitched one scoreless before Gabriel Garcia allowed the only run of the night for Savannah. Justin (GoGo) Gominsky WentWent with a three-for-four outing with a walk, four RBIs, and a run scored. Brandon Meredith also had a big night - two-for-five with a double, triple, two RBI and crossed the plate twice. Jordan Kreke and Zach Johnson both had multi-hit nights as well.

Oklahoma City over Fresno 4-3
Thankfully the 10-game OKC losing streak is at an end because this was my next step. Fernando Abad got the win in his second start since being converted back to a starter. He allowed two runs on eight hits and a walk with three strikeouts over five innings. Brian Bass, Garrett Mock and Hector Ambriz combined for relief with Mock allowing one run. The Redhawks took the lead in the fifth and held on. Matt Downs and Brad Snyder homered. Jimmy Paredes was two-for-four with a double, RBI, run and two stolen bases. J.B. Shuck got two hits and stole a bag as well.

High Desert over Lancaster 8-4
Blair Walters pitched five and a third and allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits while striking out seven. Pat Urckfitz then took it through the eighth allowing only one hit before handing the ball to the usually dependable Andrew Robinson for the 4-4 tie in the ninth. A Jio Mier error led to two of Robinson's four runs being unearned as he gave up three singles and a walk while only recording two outs. Jose Trinidad recorded the final out of the ninth but not before allowing a two-run double. The resultant four-run lead proved to be too much for the JetHawks to overcome. A Drew Muren RBI single and a Telvin Nash three-run tater accounted for all of Lancaster's scoring in the fourth inning. Domingo Santana was en fuego going three-for-three with a double, walk and run scored. Andrew Aplin was two-for-five and Nash was two-for-four.

Player of the Day: I've got to GoGo with GoGo Gominsky for his four RBI night, but a tip of the cap to Telvin Nash for his three-run bomb, his 24th of the season.

Pitcher Studmuffin of the Day: Do you have to ask? Folty's 14th win in dominating fashion earns him the honors.

Happy Birthday - 8/15

RHP Jorge de Leon (25)
Originally signed by the Astros as a NDFA out of the Dominican Republic, de Leon is in his seventh season in the Astros system and his first season at Lancaster, but only his third season as a pitcher as he was originally signed as a shortstop. In 33 appearances (14 starts) for Lancaster, he has a 8.02 ERA and a 1.858 WHIP.

SS Alex Todd (23)
Alex was selected in the 27th round of the 2011 draft out of Sonoma State. He has split his time this season between Lexington and Lancaster, hitting a combined .294/.372/.417. In his last 10 games, he is hitting .400/.475/.514.

Tweet of the Day

Austin Elkins

Roster Moves

Corpus Christi
C Chris Wallace was assigned from Oklahoma City to Corpus Christi.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Interview with RHP Andrew Robinson

When I met Andrew Robinson earlier this month in Lancaster, I hadn't seen him pitch yet. Later that evening I would not only get to see him pitch, I would get to see him dominate High Desert. He was pressed into service to pitch three innings in what would turn out to be an extra inning affair. In three innings, he gave up zero hits, zero runs, one walk and struck out seven. He ended up getting the win, and it was well-deserved.

Robinson caught my attention earlier this season. After a simply awful April, he made some adjustments and he got better and better and better as the season progressed. In his last ten games, he has a 1.26 ERA, a 0.628 WHIP, 14.4 SO/9 and a 0.91 batting average against.

Pitching Coach Don Alexander was very complimentary of Robinson's work this season, "From start to where we are now, he might have made the most progress of anybody. This kid's really come on." Alexander stressed that Robinson had worked hard at making adjustments early in the season and the results have been impressive, including a nice bump in velocity. "He's done the work and he's earned every bit of what he's getting right now."

On to the interview ~

On his pitch arsenal: "I throw a 2-seam fastball most of the time. I throw a 4-seam every once in a while and a curveball is my main secondary pitch, and then a changeup I throw every once in a while. The curveball is kind of my go to out pitch. Beginning of the year, I was more like 89, 91 but now lately I've been sitting around 93, 94. I've actually hit 97 a few times. I don't know where that came from. Mostly I've just been around 93, 94."

On what he's accomplished this season: "I think I made a big stride this year. I think I got a lot better. A lot of it was the mechanics change that I had, that I actually made after the first month. Right now, I'm still struggling to get that perfect and I'm having trouble getting the ball down a little bit more consistently. I just think I need to get more consistent with keeping the ball down, but once I get there I think it would be good."

On his pitching role [note that he was used extensively as a starter in 2011]: "I think I'll be a bullpen guy. I don't make those decisions, but I think I'm better out of the bullpen. I think I've shown that a little bit this year. I've done a little bit of everything this year. Lately I've been kind of late in the game, throwing 8th and 9th, around there. And I've really enjoyed it."

Which Astros pitcher has a pitch he'd like to steal?: "I might have to say Cisnero's fastball because people swing through that thing like I've never seen before. He throws it up there, I don't know how hard he's throwing it this year, but last year it was low to mid 90's and people just swing right through it. I think he has one of the more impressive fastballs."

What would he do if he couldn't play baseball?: "I finished school this past semester in the off-season. I graduated from Georgia Tech. I got a business administration degree with a finance concentration so I probably would want to do something along the lines of financial advisor or work for a hedge fund as some sort of analyst, something like that, but hopefully I won't have to do that for a while."

On what most people don't know about him: "I'm a big nerd. I like Apple products, big Apple product fan. I wach the blog on the Worldwide Developers Conference every year for when they announce their products and stuff like that. I'm always looking at rumors for the new I-Phones. I'm a nerd. Big Harry Potter fan." [If Harry Potter makes you a nerd, I must be one too.]

On the changes in the Astros system: "I'm actually really excited about it. How can I put this? Last year we were not very good as a team. Our record was not very good and it was not fun. This year's been a lot of fun. We're winning. We're in the playoff hunt and I think it's just going to continue being like that. We made a lot of trades, got a lot more guys that are better players and I think I'm going to enjoy that because we're going to be good so I'm excited. The guys I've met have been great and I really like everybody so we'll see where that goes."

When Robinson told me that he'd touched 97 a few times this season, he seemed almost bewildered that he'd been able to do that. I told him that whatever he was doing to get that velocity, he needed to keep doing it. I may want to hire him as a financial advisor, but not quite yet.

Minor League Recaps

Monday's Results

DSL Royals 5 DSL Astros 7
The DSL Astros had a rollercoaster-ride of a game on Monday.  After scoring 3 in the first and another in the second, the Astros held the lead until the seventh inning when Juan Delis logged his third blown save of the season.  Delis was charged with 2 runs (0ER) and walked 4 batters in his 1 and 2 thirds innings of work.  Harold Arauz (1-1) came on next for 1 and 2 thirds frames of his own and picked up the win.  Arauz allowed 2 hits, walked 1 and struck out a pair in his time on the mound.  Victor Mesa came on to pitch the final 2 outs of the game and earned his fourth save, getting both batters he faced to ground out. Hector Roa was the big man at the plate Monday for the Astros.  Roa hit 2 for 4 with a two-bagger and a 3-run homer.  Roa was responsible for knocking in 5 of the Astros 7 runs.

GCL Cardinals 10 GCL Astros 11
This was another game Monday where the home team lost the lead in the 7th and managed to come back in the 8th to take the win.  The GCL Astros got off to a good start Monday, scoring 7 runs by the third inning (6 in the first).  Ambiorix De Leon got beat up in the seventh inning for 4 runs on 6 hits and the blown save, his second, while recording 1 out.  Gera Sanchez (1-0) picked up his first win after taking the helm to finish out the games remaining 2 and 2 thirds.  Sanchez recorded a pair of hits and 1 K.  Yoel Silfa had a good game, getting his first ABs since his promotion from the DSL he hit 2 for 3 with a double and 4 RBI.  Alfredo Gonzalez connected for 3 out of 4 and hit a double.  Silfa and Gonzalez had the only extra base hits of the game.

Lexington Legends 3 Savannah Sand Gnats 4
This was a tough loss for Lexington and just a tough game of baseball all around.  Lexington starting pitcher Chris Devinsky (7-6) took the loss after 5 innings on the mound, allowing all 4 runs on 6 hits, walking 4 and striking out 5. Devinsky balked in a run in both the first and third inning.  It was a tough night offensively as well.  The Legends had 4 hits overall, hit by 3 players: Chan Moon (2X5, RBI), Matt Duffy (1X3) and Jobduan Morales (1X3, BB, R).  Thomas Shirley pitched the final 3 frames for Lexington, allowing just 3 hits, walking 2 and K-ing 5 of his own.  Shirley now has 36 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched for Lexington and 44 strikeouts in 35 innings on the entire year. 

Springfield Cardinals 5 Corpus Christi Hooks 2
The Hooks couldn't get anything started at Whataburger Field on Monday.  Jake Goebbert and Andrew Simunic both went 2 for 4 at the plate and that accounted for half of the team's hits. Goebbert and Simunic also both cranked out doubles and Goebbert scored a run.  Jonathan Singleton went 1 for 4 at the plate with a double of his own, a run scored and a walk.  Paul Clemens (2-1) took the loss after working the first 6 frames, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits, walking a trio and striking out as many.

Sacramento River Cats 8 Oklahoma City RedHawks 5
The RedHawks have lost 10 in a row after a disappointing loss on Monday at home.  Oklahoma City led until the 6th inning when the game was tied at 5 by their opponents.  The RedHawks didn't score after the fourth inning, but got off to a strong start.  Mike Hessman (1X4) got the RedHawks on the board first with a solo shot in the second inning, his 30th homer of the year, which leads the Pacific Coast League.  J.B. Shuck went 3 for 5 at the plate, with a RBI and a run scored.  Mark Krauss went 2 for 4 and scored a run too.  Brian Sanches (0-2) picked up his first blown save and his second loss after coming on 2 outs into the sixth for an inning and 2 thirds on the bump.  Sanches allowed 1 run on 1 hit and walked 2.

Player of the Day:  Mike Hessman gets half a share for his 30th homer, that's a given, but I can't forget Hector Roa.  It's not often I get to brag on DSL guys and Roa is making it easy with his game yesterday that included a double, a 3-run homer and 5 RBI.   

Pitcher of the Day:  Thomas Shirley of Lexington gets the honor for closing out the last 3 frames of a tough game on Monday virtually unscathed.               

Happy Birthday - 8/14

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

IF Mark Loretta (41)
A seventh round pick by the Brewers in 1993, Loretta came to Houston the first time in an August 2002 trade with the Brewers. He played in only 21 games for the Astros in 2002. He came back to Houston in January 2007 as a free agent and spent the next two seasons in the organization. In all, he played in 255 games for the Astros, hitting .296/.363/.393. During the 2007 and 2008 seasons, he was often used as a pinch hitter and batted .333 in those situations. Loretta was an All-Star for San Diego in 2004 and for Boston in 2006. He also earned a Silver Slugger in 2004.

Tweet of the Day

Bobby Doran

If you're not having fun, you're not living.... Or you're not playing the right game!

Roster Moves

Corpus Christi
OF Austin Wates was activated from the DL.
RHP Erick Abreu was activated from the DL.
RHP Josh Zeid was placed on the 7-day DL.
1B Kody Hinze was released.

2B Jordan Kreke was assigned from Corpus Christi to Lexington.
C/OF Mike Kvasnicka was placed on the 7-day DL.

Monday, August 13, 2012

An Interview with 2B Kiké Hernandez

The first two people I interviewed when I was in Lancaster a week ago were George Springer and Kiké Hernandez. Within a week, they were both headed to Corpus Christi for promotions to AA.

When Kiké walked out of the clubhouse to meet me, he saw the confusion on my face as I saw the mop of dark blonde hair. “I’m not your typical Puerto Rican,” he said with a grin. It turns out Kiké really isn’t your typical anything. He has one of the most upbeat, charismatic, vibrant personalities of anyone I’ve ever met. I “knew” him only through twitter, but I felt like I’d known him my whole life.

Kiké will be 21 later this month and as Lancaster Manager Rodney Linares put it, “He’s starting to come into his own.” Being healthy and being an everyday player has agreed with him. According to Linares, “He’s developing nicely. He’s going to make it interesting for the people that make the decisions. He’s having a solid year. His biggest attribute is his bat and I don’t think he knows that. He’s not going to hit 40 home runs, but he’s got a chance to hit 40 doubles.” Linares also praised Kiké for the progress he has made in his defense this season.

On to the interview ~

On his improvement over last season: “I’m healthy. [Kiké went on to describe the ankle injury that turned out to be much worse than initially thought and which derailed his development.] No problems this year.”

On what he’s accomplished this season: “Last year I didn’t play much second and I’m letting people know that I can still play second base every day. I’m just letting my hitting do the talking and my playing do the talking now. I just really want to accomplish some goals and so far I’ve been pretty happy with the way I’m playing. I just want to keep that up and help the team make the playoffs.”

On what he’s working on: “I still need to work a little bit on second base (I made a couple of errors and some unnecessary throws that have been forced) and work a little bit more on my defense and have my batting be a little bit more consistent. I’ve been a little bit of a streaky hitter this year and I guess that’s just part of pretty much my first full season and getting used to the grind of every day playing. I got my first day off last night after like 35 games and I was starting to feel it a little bit. It’s just one of those little things you’ve got to get used to and have in mind for the off-season. You’ve got to work harder than you worked the year before so you get in better shape and come back stronger”

On playing winter ball: “Definitely plan on playing winter ball [in Puerto Rico]. It’s a good experience. You play with older guys that have more experience, learn a little bit about the game. Those veterans help you a lot, just help [with] those little things that are still not there.”

On which Astros pitcher he would least like to face: “Right now, I feel like one of the toughest pitchers we’ve got on our team is Tropeano. He throws like 20 different pitches. Whenever a pitcher throws that many pitches, it’s kind of tough to hit him. There’s a lot of different views the ball comes from. I feel like Tropeano would be a tough match up.”

Who on the team makes him laugh?: “It’s definitely George [Springer], [Chris] Epps and [Grant] Hogue. Those are the three – pretty funny. We’ve got a couple of characters on the team, a couple of funny people.”

On what he would do if he couldn’t play baseball: “There’s a lot of people that say I could be an actor and it’s something I like and I’ve done before but it’s a tough career. I’d probably go to school and try something like some computer thing. I’m pretty good at technology.”

On something most people don’t know about him: “Only my teammates would know I’m a guy you always see with a smile on his face. I like to see people happy. Whenever someone’s not having a good day,  I always try and go and make their day better. I like to see people happy, people around me happy, people I care about. This is my family right here. My teammates are my family when I’m away from home so I just want everybody to feel like they’re home. We get pretty homesick sometimes and miss our families because it’s a long road, six months away from home. We’ve been getting new guys pretty much every week and you just want to make those new guys feel comfortable. That’s pretty much what I’m here for, making everybody feel better.”

Does he think about how close Hi-A is to the big leagues?: “I really didn’t think about it until I heard Eddy Rodriguez [San Diego] got called up to the big leagues straight from Hi-A a couple days ago. It’s crazy. He was just playing against us last week and then yesterday facing big leaguers hitting a home run his first big league at bat. You really can’t think much about it. You’ve got to go out and do your own thing. It’s baseball here. It’s going to be baseball up there. It’s going to be baseball everywhere but at a tougher level. It’s just about experience and maturing form the game and learning from the game every day.”

What should Astros fans know?: “Be patient. It’s going to take two or three more years and I promise you guys we’re going to be really good. I can see from where I signed in ’09 and the people we’ve got now, the difference is huge and we got a lot better. I knew from the beginning we were going to be really good because our line-up was stacked, but I guess it caught me by surprise that everybody else is so good. I was just so focused on my team that I didn’t think too much about the other [Astros farm system] teams and we’re really good. I think one of the reasons why as a team when we struggled we would recover so fast is because our chemistry is so good. Everybody gets along in the locker room. Everybody just wants the best for everybody else. Everybody’s pulling for everybody. I guess those are the little things that make a team go to the next level.”

Kiké also talked about a conversation he had recently with Ben Orloff who had described the Corpus Christi team similarly, noting the great chemistry and how special the team is, how much fun they’re having and how badly they want it. Kiké should fit right in. He won’t be the new guy for long; he’ll be the guy who makes everybody feel right at home just like he did with me.

Minor League Recaps

Sunday's Results

Greeneville Astros 0 Princeton Rays 1
Let's call this what it was, a pitcher's duel—with an emphasis on the plural.  There were a total of 8 pitchers used in the game by both teams and Greeneville used 4.  Lance McCullers (0-1) got the start for the Astros and after going 4 innings took the tough loss after allowing 1 run on 2 hits, walking 1 and striking out 2. Joseph Musgrove came on for the next 3 and a third frames with just 4 hits and 6 Ks.  Even though there wasn't much going at the plate for Greeneville on Sunday Carlos Correa (2X3, 2B, BB) and Ariel Ovando (2X4) both managed multi-hit games.  Correa collected his 12th double all year and the first since his Greenville call-up.

Tri-City ValleyCats 6 Staten Island Yankees 5
Tri-City was in control of this game almost the entire time even though the score might suggest otherwise.  Jamaine Cotton worked an okay sixth inning but had an uncharacteristically bumpy time after coming out for the seventh.  Cotton ended up being charged with 4 runs (3ER) on 2 hits, walking 4 and striking out 1.  Brady Rodgers (6-2), who started the game, pitched 5 innings, allowed 1 run on 3 hits, walked 1, struck out 3 and earned his sixth win of the year.  Travis Ballew came on for the ninth and earned his second save, giving up a lone hit.  M.P. Cokinos continued to swing the bat well Sunday, going 2 for 4 with a double, triple, 2 RBI and a walk.  Preston Tucker was hot on his heels, batting 2 for 5 with a double and his 5th homer of the season.

Lancaster JetHawks 3 San Jose Giants 2
Lancaster didn't get on the board until later in the game Sunday, but when they did it forced the opposition's starting pitcher out of the game.  Coupled with the fact that Lancaster pitching allowed no runs outside the second inning, it made for a significant win on the road at Municipal Stadium.  David Martinez (7-4) got the start and the win, pitching seven strong innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits, walking 1 and striking out 5.  Jorge De Leon picked up his fourth save after coming on for the last out in the ninth, an inning that saw 3 pitchers for Lancaster.  De Leon fanned the 1 batter he faced, moving his season K total to 52.

Springfield Cardinals 9 Corpus Christi Hooks 20
It's baseball 101.  If there's a chance the opponent might hang 9 runs on your team, bring 20 of your own to the ballpark for good measure.  The Hooks scored 12 runs in the sixth inning but the offense didn't start there.  With 2 outs in the bottom of the first, Jonathan Singleton and Drew Locke homered back-to-back to get Corpus Christi on the board.  Singleton would homer again in the eighth inning, this time a 3-run shot to left center field.  Ben Orloff went 5 for 5 with a triple, double and 4 RBIs.  Austin Wates came into the game in the sixth inning and ended up 3 for 3 with a double and 2 RBI.  Alex Sogard (BS 2, 3-1) picked up the blown save and the win after giving up a run on a hit in the sixth inning.  Matthew Heidenreich started the game and through 5 and third was charged with 5 runs on 5 hits (3ER), K-ing 3. 
In case your curious what the box looked like after a game like this, here it is:

Sacramento River Cats 3 Oklahoma City RedHawks 1
The RedHawks offense was stifled a little on Sunday and they went down for their ninth loss in a row.  Not stifled however, was Julio Daniel Martinez, who batted 4 for 5 with a double.  Overall, the RedHawks left 13 on the bases and the team RISP was 0 for 7.  Matt Downs (2X3) scored the lone run with a long ball over center field as the first batter in the fourth inning.  Downs also drew a walk. Ross Seaton (0-1) took the loss but had a good outing despite it.  Seaton was charged with 2 runs (1ER) on 6 hits, walked 2 and struck out 3. 

Player of The Day:  Ben Orloff is the man today for his work yesterday.  Orloff went 5 for 5, which isn't nearly as easy to do as it is to say.  It also marks 6 consecutive hits for Orloff and ties the team record for hits in a game.

Pitcher of the Day:  I'm going to go slightly against convention and give the honor to Jorge De Leon today.  Here's why:  the two Lancaster pitchers that preceded him in the ninth inning Sunday both walked a batter, meaning the go ahead run was already on base when De Leon came into the game with 2 outs.  De Leon, unfazed,  then finished it out for his team in style, striking that last batter out swinging.     

Roster Moves

Sorry for the delay in getting these out. I've had computer issues which I hope are over.

Houston/Oklahoma City
C Carlos Corporan is being optioned to Oklahoma City from Houston.
C Jason Castro is being activated from rehab assignment.
LF Travis Buck is being placed on the 7-day DL.

CF Jay Austin was activated from the DL.

3B Rio Ruiz was assigned from the GCL Astros to Greeneville.
SS Carlos Correa was assigned from the GCL Astros to Greeneville.

Happy Birthday - 8/13

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

3B Gary Cooper (48)
A seventh round draft pick by Houston in 1986, Cooper played in only nine games in the majors. In 1991, he hit .250/.368/.313 over those nine games. He hit .305/.402/.500 in 120 minor league games that season, but some guy named Caminiti was in his way.

Tweet of the Day

Mike Kvasnicka

If the walls of this motel are 'paper-thin', I don't even know how you would describe the TP in the bathroom...? ?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Minor League Recaps

Saturday’s Results

DSL Cardinals 11 DSL Astros 2
This was one of those tough DSL games we have all come to know and love. Samil De Los Santos (2-3) took the loss after going the first 2 and a third.  De Los Santos was the first of 7 pitchers used in this game for the Astros and all but the last, Juan Delis, gave up at least a run.  There wasn’t much offense to speak of, but Luis Reynoso did go 1 for 4 and pick up the Astros only extra base hit of the game, a double in the bottom of the first.
Here’s the box straight from containing all of the Astros pitchers used in the game:

GCL Nationals 2 GCL Astros 5
The Astros were getting shutout on Saturday until the eighth inning when they dropped a 5 spot on the scoreboard and took the win at home.  In fact, the GCL Astros only had 1 hit until the eighth inning.  Brett Phillips doubled in the eighth with his only hit in four at bats and ended up with 2 RBIs.  Agapito Barrios got the start and through 4 and a third frames was charged with both runs (1ER) on 5 hits and walked 2.  Erick Gonzalez (2-0) picked up the win after coming on for the final 1 and a third.

Greeneville Astros 6 Princeton Rays 5
Greeneville scrapped for a nice victory here on Saturday.  Carlos Correa and Rio Ruiz both made their debuts with Greeneville in the game and both went 1 for 2 with very timely hitting. Ricky Gingras went 1 for 4 with another homer, giving him 3 on the season and 2 in the last 2 games.  Zachary Dando took the “W” with just 2 innings of work in the fifth and sixth.  Dando was charged with 2 runs (1ER) on a hit, walked 1 and struck out 5.  Euris Quezada earned his second save of the season after pitching a perfect last inning.

Tri-City ValleyCats 6 Staten Island Yankees 3
Once Tri-City got on the board Saturday in the fourth the game never left their hands again.  M.P. Cokinos had a big game, hitting 3 for 4 with a huge 2-run homer, 2 RBIs and a walk.  Emilio King, who went 1 for 4 at the plate, also had a 2- run shot of his own.  Joe Bircher (2-2) took the win after the first 5 innings of work.  Bircher allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, walked 3 and K-ed 4.  Blake Ford picked up his 13th save upon completion of the last inning, giving up just a hit and striking out 1.

West Virginia Power 4 Lexington Legends 3
Even though the score is close here, Lexington never had the lead on Saturday.  Lexington actually had only 3 hits on Saturday.  One of those hits was good for Matt Duffy’s (1X3) 62nd RBI of the season.  Nolan Fontana drew another walk, stole a base and scored a run in the game as well.  David Rollins (1-2) took the loss with the first 5 and 2 thirds innings of work, getting charged with all 4 runs (2ER) on 6 hits, walking 1 and striking out half a dozen.

Lancaster JetHawks 2 San Jose Giants 3
The JetHawks scored both their runs in the first inning and then fell silent offensively for the rest of the game.  Delino DeShields went 1 for 4 with a run scored and stole his first base since his promotion to the California League yesterday.  Andrew Aplin had a big day at the plate, going 2 for 3 with his first California League triple, a walk and a RBI. Aplin also swiped a bag in the game.  Colton Cain picked (0-1) up his first loss after starting and pitching 4 and 2 thirds.  Cain allowed all 3 runs on 6 hits, walked 5 and struck out 3.  Chia-Jen Lo, who came on next for 2 and a third, gave out just a pair of hits and sent 4 back to the dugout holding their bats.

Springfield Cardinals 3 Corpus Christi Hooks 9
Corpus Christi poured it on at home on Saturday.  Bobby Borchering helped pour in the fourth inning with a big 3-run homer to put the Hooks up by 4.  Borchering ended up 1 for 2 on the day with 4 RBI.  Robbie Grossman went 3 for 4 at the dish with a triple, walk and pair of runs scored.  Rob Rasmussen earned the win, moving him to 4-2 on the season after pitching a solid 6 and 2 thirds.  Rasmussen allowed 9 hits, but only 2 runs and K-ed 3.

Sacramento River Cats 5 Oklahoma City RedHawks 3
This loss makes it 8 in a row for the Oklahoma City RedHawks and it was a tough one.  The RedHawks didn’t get on the board until the fifth inning.  Rudy Owens (0-1) got the start and lasted 7 innings, but not before giving up 4 runs (3ER) on 6 hits (2HR) and striking out 4.  Jason Castro did well again on Saturday at the plate.  Castro hit 3 of 3 with a RBI and a walk.  Jose Martinez went 1 for 3 with a walk, his first double since moving up to AAA and scored a run.  Matt Dominguez hit 2 for 3 and had a walk as well.

Player of the Day:  Andrew Aplin gets the honor today.  Aplin had a really strong day at the plate Saturday and picked up both steal and triple number 1 after his promotion to the California League.  Way to go, Aplin.

Pitcher of the Day:  Rob Rasmussen gets to wear the WTHB crown today for recording another solid start and his crafty pitching performance on Saturday (Said crown may, or may not, be a Burger King crown that I taped the WTHB logo onto).   

Best. Tweet. Ever.

Mike Martinez

Home runs are like stuck up girls. You have to play hard to get. Ignore them and they'll come to you.

Happy Birthday - 8/12

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

LHP Dean Hartgraves (46)
A 20th round pick by Houston in 1987, Hartgraves pitched in 59 games for the Astros in 1995 and 1996 before being selected off waivers by Atlanta. He had a 2-0 record with a 3.90 ERA and a 1.446 WHIP.

RHP Reggie Harris (43)
Originally drafted by Boston in the first round in 1987, Harris signed with Houston as a free agent in January of 1998. He only pitched in six games for Houston that season compiling a 6.00 ERA and a 1.333 WHIP.