Saturday, September 1, 2012

Roster Moves

Houston/Oklahoma City
3B Brandon Laird was claimed off waivers from the Yankees and assigned to Houston.
CF Jordan Schafer was activated from the DL.
IF/OF Matt Downs was recalled from Oklahoma City to Houston.
RHP Jose Valdez was called up to Houston.
RF Adam Bailey was assigned from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.

Minor League Recaps

Friday's Results

Tri-City ValleyCats 2, Vermont Lake Monsters 7
Tri-City tried to make a late eighth inning rally Friday after being shutout the entire game and fell a run short of tying the game.  Joe Bircher (3-3) started the game for the ValleyCats and over 6 innings allowed just 2 runs on 6 hits with 5 Ks and 2 walks.  Dan Gulbransen (1X4) led off the 8th inning with a homer to center field; this was Gulbransen's fourth dinger of the year.  Preston Tucker and Jesse Wierzbicki both had multi-hit games, going 2 for 4 at the plate.  Tucker also had a run scored.

Rome Braves 4, Lexington Legends 2 (7)
This was the first game of a doubleheader for Lexington on Friday and they fell behind 2 runs in the third frame and never caught up.  Matt Duffy was hard at work in the game, hitting 2 for 3 with a first inning RBI.  Justin Gominsky (0X3) hit in the other run of the game with a ground out in the 4th that scored Zach Johnson (0X2) who was on base after drawing a walk to lead off the inning.  David Rollins (1-3) took the loss in this game, throwing the first 5 frames and allowing 3 runs on 7 hits,  Rollins also had 2 strikeouts and 4 walks.

Lexington Legends 2, Rome Braves 3
In the second game Friday, Lexington played as the visiting team because it was the makeup for a rained out game from August.  The Legends got off to a strong start, scoring 2 in the first, but then allowed a run in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings without scoring again. Kyle Hallock started the game on the mound for Lexington and threw 3 innings.  Hallock gave up just a run on 1 hit with 1 walk and 3 Ks.  Thomas Shirley (2-4), who pitched the next inning and two thirds, took the loss after allowing 2 runs (1ER) on 5 hits, walking 2 and K-ing a pair.  Zach Johnson was the big man at the plate for the Legends in this game, going 2 for 3 with a run scored and his 38th double of the season.

Lancaster JetHawks 11, High Desert Mavericks 1
Lancaster had a really big 4th inning to get ahead in this game on Friday, but then topped it with 2 HRs and 6 runs total in the eighth inning.  This very decisive win clinched a playoff spot for the JetHawks and home field advantage in the South Division mini-series.  Nicholas Tropeano (6-3) had a stellar night on the mound, throwing 6 frames and allowing 1 run on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7.  Tropeano now has 166 Ks in 158 innings pitched this year for Lexington and Lancaster combined. Chia-Jen Lo and Pat Urckfitz came on to pitch after him and each gave up just a hit; Chia-Jen Lo struck out 1.  Delino Deshields (1X6) didn't steal any bases in the game, but he did hit a 2-run tater in the eighth inning.  Domingo Santana stole the show Friday, hitting 4 for 5 with 3 runs scored and a 2-run shot of his own in the eighth inning. 

Here's the box with everyone else that contributed offensively in the game, it's staggering:

Corpus Christi Hooks 3, Frisco RoughRiders 4
Corpus was blanked until the seventh inning on Friday when they began mounting a comeback and they fell just a run shy of tying the game in ninth inning.  Paul Clemens had a good start, lasting 5 innings and allowing 2 runs on 6 hits with 4 Ks.  Jake Buchanan (5-9) came on for the next 2 frames and took the loss, allowing another 2 runs on 4 hits and striking out 1.  No Hooks pitcher gave out a walk in the game.  Offensively Jonathan Singleton had a strong showing, hitting 1 for 2 and drawing 2 walks.  Singleton's 1 hit was a solo homer in the ninth to left field.  Jake Goebbert went 2 for 4 with a run scored in the DH spot.  Outside of Singleton's HR, no Hooks player had an extra-base hit all game.

Round Rock Express 5, Oklahoma City RedHawks 11
The RedHawks opened the game with 5 runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back.  They would go on to score another 5 runs in the fourth inning as well.  Rudy Owens (2-3) had plenty of room to work and took the win, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 3 in 6 innings on the bump.  Aneury Rodriguez pitched the eighth inning and gave up 4 runs on 5 hits, but was still safe behind a 6-run buffer.  J.D. Martinez (2X3, 2R, RBI, 2BB), Brian Bixler (2X4, 2R, RBI, BB) and J.B. Shuck (2X4, R, 2RBI) all had multi-hit games.  Both of Shuck's hits were 2-baggers.  Mike Hessman went 1 for 3 at the plate with a walk and hit a 2-run longball in the fourth inning, his 34th of the season.

Player of the Day:  Domingo Santana gets the nod (and probably a little ice too) after absolutely tearing it up at the plate on Friday.  Domingo Santana is just a regular guy from the Dominican Republic, but I'm beginning to suspect he might be part monster as well.

Pitcher of the Day:  Nicholas Tropeano takes the crown today for a commanding performance on the mound yesterday.  Dropping seven Ks in 6 innings and giving up just a run on 4 hits is the baseball version of playing hide-and-go-seek with your little cousin and leaving the neighborhood in your car when it's your turn to hide.  [NOTE from Jayne: Buca may not be comfortable with saying this but I needed to add that Nick is not only the Pitcher of the Day, he is also, with apologies to Mike Foltynewicz, the Stud Muffin of the Day.]

Happy Birthday - 9/1

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

LHP Dean Stone (82)
Dean played for the Colt 45's for part of the 1962 season. His first two games were complete game shutouts. When he was traded to the White Sox in June of that year, he had a 3-2 record with a 4.47 ERA. His best season was his 1954 All-Star season for the Washington Senators.

LHP Pat House (72)
Obtained from the Braves in the minor league draft in November of 1966, House had a short major league career, pitching for parts of two seasons with the Astros in 1967 and 1968. He was 2-1 with 1 save in 24 appearances over 20.1 IP, with a 7.08 ERA and a 1.475 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

Enrique Hernandez

Pumped that the  made the playoffs. Now I got a chance to win 2 rings this year!  

Roster Moves

RHP Luis Ordosgoitti was placed on the 7-day DL.
LHP Kyle Hallock was activated from the 60-day DL.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Greeneville Astros Season Recap

Earlier this week, I took a look at the DSL Astros season (not so good) and the GCL Astros season (not so bad). Now let's look at the Greeneville Astros, the first of the three with a win percentage over .500 and a positive run differential. Here's a quick look at how the 2011 and 2012 teams compare.

2011 Win Percentage - .368
2012 Win Percentage - .529

2011 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential - 326 - 419 = (93)
2012 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential - 339 - 297 = 42

2011 Team ERA & WHIP - 5.12 & 1.487
2012 Team ERA & WHIP - 3.80 & 1.301

2011 Team Batting Line - .252/.330/.365
2012 Team Batting Line - .262/.328/.379

The differences are dramatic with an 11-game swing in the win column and a 135 run swing in the run differential. The biggest difference, statistically, is the pitching with this year's team ranking third in the Appy League in ERA (out of 10 teams) and fourth in WHIP while last year's team was ranked ninth out of ten in both of those categories. There is definitely improvement in batting categories as well, though, as the 2012 club's BA/OBP/SLG rank third, fifth and fifth respectively as compared to the eighth, seventh and tenth rankings of last year's club.

As far as individual players go, there are several standouts.

IF Jean Batista did so well at Greeneville, hitting .321/.345/.531, that he merited a mid-August promotion to Tri-City where he is currently hitting .302/.295/.372 over ten games. Batista ranked fourth in BA and second in SLG in the Appy League, and was also second in doubles and tied for tenth in hits despite not finishing the season with Greeneville. The 20-year old switch-hitter has played about half of his games at 1B with the remainder split between 2B and SS.

2B Brian Blasik, team MVP, finished the season with a .318/.346/.424 batting line, fifth in the league in BA and RBI and tied for third in hits. The 22-year old Blasik was signed as a non-drafted free agent this year.

RF Ariel Ovando won't be 19 until September 15th which makes his .287/.350/.444 batting line even more impressive. He was in the top three or four on the team in virtually every offensive category except for stolen bases. Unfortunately, he led the team in strikeouts as well.

CF D'Andre Toney was fifth in the Appy League in runs scored and was tied for sixth in stolen bases, and he led the Greeneville team in those two categories as well as in walks. The 20-year old Toney had a .252/.351/.326 batting line.

SS Carlos Correa only played in 11 games at Greeneville, but the 17-year old did quite nicely as he hit .371/.450/.600 with three doubles, a triple and a home run. His 11 doubles with the GCL tied him for 13th in the Gulf Coast League, despite having not played there since early August. His final combined line was .258/.305/.400 with 14 doubles, two triples, three home runs and six stolen bases.

18-year old 3B Rio Ruiz didn't make the adjustment from the GCL to Greeneville as well as Correa did. He hit .271/.361/.412 in 23 games with the GCL and .220/.291/.380 in 15 games at Greeneville.

RHP Daniel Minor was an absolute standout with Greeneville, leading the league in ERA (2.75) and WHIP (1.034). The 21-year old had a SO/BB ratio of 4.80.

20-year old RHP Francis Ramirez led the team in wins and was tied for third in the league in that category. He was team leader and fifth in the league in strikeouts. His 10.0 SO/9 was good. His 4.9 BB/9 was not.

19-year old RHP Adrian Houser was 12th in the league in ERA (4.19), ninth in the league in WHIP (1.310) and was tied for tenth in the league in strikeouts.

RHP Lance McCullers was under strict pitch/innings limits so we didn't see that much out of the 18-year old top prospect. He made four starts with the GCL (11 total innings) with a 1.64 ERA, 1.091 WHIP and 9.8 SO/9. He also made four starts with Greeneville (15 total innings) with a 4.80 ERA, 1.333 WHIP and 10.2 SO/9.

RHP Jordan Jankowski, at 23-years old, was one of the greybeards on the team, but he dominated. His 14.8 SO/9 easily led the team. He compiled 53 strikeouts in 32.1 innings, only six fewer than the team leader who needed 21 additional innings to get that extra six. Jankowski also led the team in appearances.

22-year olds RHP Mike Hauschild and LHP Scott Zuloaga (prior to his promotion to Tri-City) both had successful seasons in the bullpen at Greeneville as well. Hauschild had a 1.78 ERA, 1.022 WHIP, and 11.6 SO/9 in 19 appearances. Zuloaga had a 2.13 ERA, 1.105 WHIP and 11.4 SO/9 in 10 appearances; he has not allowed a run in seven appearances with Tri-City and has a very modest 0.800 WHIP.

No more season recaps until more seasons are over starting next week. I'm hoping a few of the remaining five teams can keep us waiting a while as they pursue Championships!

Minor League Recaps

Thursday's Games

Connecticut over Tri-City 7-3
Juan Minaya had a bit of a rough start, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and four walks in five innings and was followed by Jamaine Cotton who also got hit around giving up three runs (two earned) on three hits. Euris Quezada and Scott Zuloaga provided scoreless relief but it was too little, too late as Tri-City was unable to come back from an early deficit. The ValleyCats were held to seven singles, three of them belonging to M.P. Cokinos who also drove in two.

Hickory over Lexington 3-1
Jonas Dufek got the hard luck loss as he put up a quality start, allowing three runs on seven hits (two home runs) and a walk with 11 strikeouts over seven innings. He was followed by a perfect inning from Nate Pettus. The Legends lone run came via a Zach Johnson sac fly, his 108th RBI of the year.

Corpus Christi over Frisco 7-2
Matt Heidenreich got the start and his third win of the season as he allowed only one run on four hits over five innings of work. Alex Sogard pitched two scoreless innings, Kevin Chapman allowed one run in one inning, and Jason Stoffel extended his scoreless streak to seven games. George Springer and Kike Hernandez both were three-for-five with Springer hitting his first home run since his promotion to Corpus. Jake Goebbert followed Springer, knocking out back-to-back home runs. Ben Orloff and Goebbert were both two-for-four with two RBI each.

Lancaster over Inland Empire 2-0
What a great game! I'm glad I got to listen to Jason Schwartz with the call for the last few innings of the game as a pitcher's duel was being played out. Tyson Perez had a fantastic outing, allowing only five hits and no walks over seven and a third innings with five strikeouts. Kenny Long followed, striking out four of the five batters he faced and earning his first win as a JetHawk and preserving the shutout in the process. Jonathan Meyer was the star of the game, driving in the two Lancaster runs in the top of the ninth to break the 0-0 tie. He, along with catcher Carlos Perez, was also instrumental in a fielder's choice play at the plate to keep Inland Empire scoreless. Jio Mier was two-for-four and scored a run. Lancaster's magic number to earn a spot in the playoffs has now been reduced to one.

Oklahoma City over Albuquerque 3-1
Brett Oberholtzer had his best start since joining the Redhawks rotation as he gave up one run on seven hits and no walks with six strikeouts over seven and a third innings, but he wasn't awarded with the win as OKC took the lead late. Chuckie Fick got the win in relief and Jose Valdez earned his 21st save. Brian Bixler (2x3 RBI) and Brad Snyder (2x4 2B 2RBI) drove in all the Redhawks runs with singles as OKC mounted a small ball offense on their six hits and one walk.

Player of the Day: I have to go with Jonathan Meyer for a solid two-for-four night, a clutch two-out RBI single in the ninth inning and his great play in the field.

Pitchers of the Day: Tyson Perez with his seven and a third shutout innings gets the nod, but I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge Brett Oberholtzer's great outing as well. Both pitchers deserved better than a no decision.

Happy Birthday - 8/31

C Marlon Avea (19)
From Nicaragua, Marlon was signed by the Astros as a NDFA in 2010 and played his second season this year in the DSL. Over 35 games, he hit .204/.286/.312 which was actually an improvement over 2011.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

RHP Tom Dukes (70)
Dukes came to Houston via a trade with Atlanta prior to the 1967 season. In 60 appearances out of the bullpen in 1967 and 1968, he was 2-4 with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.651 WHIP. He was subsequently picked up by the Padres in the 1968 expansion draft.

Tweets of the Day


Being on the DL makes you? A. Unproductive B. Spend more time in bullpen C. Bored D. Miss playing Answer, of course, is... E. All the Above


 F) love baseball even more

Roster Moves

Houston/Oklahoma City
3B Matt Dominguez was recalled from Oklahoma City to Houston.
LHP Dallas Keuchel was optioned from Houston to Oklahoma City.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

An Interview with RHP Lance McCullers

When I sat down with Lance McCullers at Greeneville earlier this month, I pretty much knew what to expect and I wasn't disappointed. It would be difficult to get a bad interview from McCullers. He's very engaging and confident, and I don't think he'll ever falter in finding something to say.

Lance isn't particularly modest about his own accomplishments, but he actually spent more time talking up his friends in the organization and bragging about their talents than his own. And when your best friends are first round pick Carlos Correa, fourth round pick Rio Ruiz and sixth round pick Brett Phillips, you should be bragging.

It is clear that McCullers is the glue that holds the group together. His personality draws people in, but his ability to connect and generosity of spirit keep them there. While I see Rio Ruiz as a leader by example, I see McCullers as the shepherd who will keep the flock together through praise and encouragement.

What was the deciding factor in signing? "I think just knowing that Houston has the best interests for me and they were willing to pay my college scholarship and give me the money I thought was fair for the type of player that I am. I thought it was fair and I thought that the Astros are doing the right things, going in the right direction."

On the new draft rules: "It's almost like the Astros are ahead of the curve as far as [the draft]. I think a lot of teams next year will be taking that same approach. At least a team with a good amount of money in the draft will be taking guys that are certainly deserving to go the top couple picks and then saving some money for maybe some guys later on that may fall because, this new draft system, one rumor out there about signability or anything like in my case, you're not going to be drafted by anybody. Luckily in my situation, the Astros were willing to take a shot on me. I read some of Mr. Luhnow's statements that he was confident that he would get the deal done. That makes you feel excited and they pretty much started negotiating right away and it was done fairly quick, especially compared to last year's rules."

On Jeff Luhnow:  "A smart man. Very smart. Knows what he's doing, knows what it's going to take to turn around a franchise. Very, very sharp. Understands the game of baseball. He's doing the right things. In the minor leagues, it's easy to look at last year vs. this year. The whole minor leagues [system] is just loaded now with prospects. It's unbelievable."

What has surprised him most about pro ball?: "I haven't had any big surprises yet. I've enjoyed it a lot. [Under last year's draft deadline, I would probably have signed late] and I've already had six starts in professional baseball and I'm about to have another one tomorrow. [Note: This interview was conducted on August 19th and Lance ended the season with eight starts.] It's gone by pretty fast so far. My first summer in pro ball has gone by pretty fast and I'm just not ready for it to be over yet."

On his pitch repertoire: "I have a 4-seam fastball that sits comfortably in the mid 90's, probably 94, 96 and I can run it up there when I'm feeling good, just all depends on the situation whether I need to or not, up to 97, 98 -- I think 100 a couple of times. My 2-seam fastball sits, I would say, 92, 94, touch 95 with some good movement on it. I have a hard slurve that I throw. It's kind of a cross-breed between curveball and a slider. I throw a circle changeup that I'm really starting to get more consistent with as I'm able to call my own pitches and being able to rely on more."

[Note: If you follow Lance on twitter, you may have seen some back and forth between him, Rio Ruiz and Brett Phillips about shaving their legs. So I had to ask about it.] Who shaved their legs and why?:  "Carlos [Correa] and Rio shaved their legs, I don't know why, they just do. So they were always trying to get me and Brett to do it. I still have my hairy legs. I was always there to keep Brett strong to make sure he didn't fold to the evil and when I left the GCL, they got to him. He shaved his legs. I'm the only one still standing."

What has he accomplished in his short season of work?: "Just [getting] some starts under my belt playing against professionals and doing pretty well against these guys who are getting paid as well. I think I am learning how to pitch more and more every day which is the biggest thing I can possibly learn about being a professional pitcher now, just really learning the situation and those kind of things. It's been a short six starts. I went a couple of innings in the GCL, stretching it out a little here, four innings, but I was really looking to finish the year strong and as long as I go out there, whether it's a good start or a bad start, if I can come away from it learning something, then in the long run, it's always positive."

Which Astros pitcher has a pitch he'd like to steal?: "I really like Bud Norris' slider. He's got a good slider. I'd like to be able to throw that type of good, sharp slider. And I think [Daniel] Minor has a nice 12-6 curveball that he flips in for strikes constantly. Even in hitter's counts, he'll go to it and it's just right down the middle every time and just freezes them up and he'll just go to it anytime. He's an impressive pitcher. He's good."

Which Astros hitter would he least like to face?: "I think Rio because first, he's a lefty, so that's an automatic disadvantage on righty vs. left, and he actually hit me during my live bullpens before I started pitching in the GCL. He's just seen me a lot and he's got such good hands and he can go away with the ball to the opposite field and he can turn a ball if he needs to and has a pretty good eye. Those guys with good hands that have good eyes that don't chase that much out of the zone are tough guys to pitch against."

Who on the team makes him laugh?: "When I was at the GCL, Brett [Phillips]. Brett's a clown, in a good way though. He keeps everything light, fresh. He's a great player, great kid, just really true, down to earth, awesome. Very good player, knows how to turn it on when he needs to. Great outfielder, great arm, good speed, good bat. He has this laugh. It's just out of this world how he laughs."

Something that most people don't know about him  : "Last year I had a British [literature] class and I not only found out it was my favorite class I had ever taken but I actually enjoyed [Shakespeare's poetry] and epic poems."

What would you do if you couldn't play baseball?: "Go back to school, get a degree in something. I'd love to coach baseball somewhere somehow, just be around the game as long as I can."

A little bit on his father, what he learned from him and how he differs:  "My Dad's pretty laid back. Not a lot bothers him. He's a great guy. He's someone to look up to, someone you want to be like. I think I take things a little more seriously than my Dad. I'm really a big competitor on the mound and I'll do anything to win really. I learned a lot from my Dad. Pretty much everything out there is my Dad. I think the big thing would be just his baseball mind, being a little more advanced for my age just because I had a father that played in the big leagues."

What would he say to Astros fans?: "Everyone goes through ups and downs in any organization. Look at the Rays who were in the playoffs the last couple of years. Before that, they were terrible and they really got this influx of young talent to come up through the minor leagues. Even the Pirates, the Nationals ... they weren't very good, [but they've been focusing on] getting young players, getting in talent up the system and [letting] it pay off in the long run. Just be patient. I know it's hard to watch a big league club struggle. Just be patient and be excited about the future because it's a bright one."

The best part of interviewing McCullers, Ruiz and Correa was seeing how close-knit they are, along with their friend Brett Phillips in the GCL. My imagination ran wild as I envisioned the four musketeers coming up through the system together and coming to Houston with an unbroken bond of talent and teamwork.

Thanks for your time Lance. I'm looking forward to seeing you for many years to come, hairy legs and all.

Minor League Recaps

Wednesday's Games

Tri-City over Connecticut 8-4
Brian Holmes went to 7-2 on the season as he allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits over five innings. Jeremiah Meiners allowed another two runs (one earned) in his inning of work before giving way to John Neely for a three-inning save in which he allowed no hits, walked one and struck out six. For Jean Batista, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times as he went four-for-four with a double, stolen base and two runs scored at the plate, but committed three errors in the field. In all, Tri-City banged out 16 hits with Joe Sclafani, Tyler Heineman, M.P. Cokinos and Jesse Wierzbicki each getting two, including doubles from Sclafani, Heineman, Cokinos and Batista, a home run and two RBIs from Emilio King and two RBIs and a stolen base from Jarrod McKinney. The win tied the team record for wins at 50 with several games left to play in the regular season.

Hickory over Lexinton 5-3
Luis Cruz got the loss going to 9-8 as he allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and six walks over six innings with six strikeouts. Evan Grills allowed another two runs in his two innings. Gabriel Garcia pitched one scoreless frame. The Legends fell behind in the third inning and never caught up to Hickory. Chan Moon and Chris Epps each hit a solo home run; Ruben Sosa was three-for-four; Jobduan Morales was two-for-four; and Justin Gominsky was two-for-three with a walk, two stolen bases and a run scored.

Inland Empire over Lancaster 7-1
Blair Walters struggled early, allowing six runs on seven hits in only three innings pitched. Brad Dydalewicz allowed an additional run in his three and a third innings of work. Jose Trinidad brought up the rear allowing only one hit over one and two-thirds. Domingo Santana had a big night, going three-for-four with an RBI. Jio Mier and Carlos Perez were each two-for-four. Delino DeShields stole his 98th bag of the season.

Frisco over Corpus Christi 3-0
Rob Rasmussen gave up three runs on five hits over five and a third and was charged with his fourth loss for the Hooks. Arcenio Leon and Josh Zeid combined for two and two-thirds frames of scoreless relief. Corpus Christi was held to four hits and no walks with Robbie Grossman getting two of them, including a double.

Oklahoma City over Albuquerque 11-0
Edgar Gonzalez got the start and pitched a very strong seven innings with four hits, no walks and six strikeouts to earn the win. Enerio del Rosario and Garrett Mock each pitched a scoreless frame to keep the shutout in place. The Redhawks also banged out 16 hits. Angel Sanchez, three-for-four with a three-run home run, and Matt Dominguez, three-for-five with a double and two runs scored, had particularly strong nights. Mike Hessman was two-for-four with a double and his 33rd home run of the season; and J.D. Martinez was two-for-five with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Jordan Schafer was two-for-four and stole a base in his latest rehab start.

Player of the Day: I've got to go with Angel Sanchez and his three-for-four night, including a three-run home run.

Pitcher of the Day: This one is easy. Seven shutout innings from Edgar Gonzalez earns him the honors.

Happy Birthday - 8/30

No future or former Astros with birthdays today, so how about we celebrate the birthday of Hall of Famer Ted Williams who would have been 94 today. Williams played for Boston for 19 seasons from 1939 to 1960, interrupted by three years of military service in 1943, 1944 and 1945. His accomplishments as noted in Baseball-Reference are legion ~

  • 17-time AL All-Star (1940-1942, 1946-1951 & 1953-1960)
  • 2-time AL MVP (1946 & 1949)
  • 2-time AL Triple Crown (1942 & 1947)
  • 6-time AL Batting Average Leader (1941, 1942, 1947, 1948, 1957 & 1958)
  • 12-time AL On-Base Percentage Leader (1940-1942, 1946-1949, 1951, 1954 & 1956-1958)
  • 9-time AL Slugging Percentage Leader (1941, 1942, 1946-1949, 1951, 1954 & 1957)
  • 10-time AL OPS Leader (1941, 1942, 1946-1949, 1951, 1954, 1957 & 1958)
  • 6-time AL Runs Scored Leader (1940-1941, 1946, 1947 & 1949)
  • 6-time AL Total Bases Leader (1939, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1949 & 1951)
  • 2-time AL Doubles Leader (1948 & 1949)
  • 4-time AL Home Runs Leader (1941, 1942, 1947 & 1949)
  • 4-time AL RBI Leader (1939, 1942, 1947 & 1949)
  • 8-time AL Bases on Balls Leader (1941, 1942, 1946-1949, 1951 & 1954)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 16 (1939-1942, 1946-1951, 1954-1958 & 1960)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 8 (1939, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1951 & 1957)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1949)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 9 (1939-1942, 1946-1949 & 1951)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 9 (1939-1942, 1946-1949 & 1951)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1966

Tweet of the Day

3 hrs from being home and my mom has no idea :) Only bad thing about surprising her, is that she won't have food ready! #hungry#excited

Arizona Fall League Rosters Announced

The Astros minor leaguers who will be participating in the Arizona Fall League have been named:

RHP Jarred Cosart
1B Jon Singleton
CF George Springer
LHP Alex Sogard
RHP Chia-Jen Lo
SS Jio Mier
3B Bobby Borchering

They will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox and will be managed by current Lancaster JetHawks manager Rodney Linares. Mesa's season starts on October 9th.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gulf Coast League Astros Season Recap

On Monday, I took a look at the DSL Astros season and it wasn't the best of news. Things definitely look better for the GCL team though. Here's a quick look at how the 2011 and 2012 teams compare.

2011 Win Percentage - .370
2012 Win Percentage - .475

2011 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential - 215 - 280 = (65)
2012 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential - 227 - 240 = (13)

2011 Team ERA & WHIP - 4.19 & 1.453
2012 Team ERA & WHIP - 3.45 & 1.387

2011 Team Batting Line - .231/.308/.314
2012 Team Batting Line - .244/.307/.342

There is still room for improvement but ending up three games below .500 instead of 14 games below .500 is definitely a step in the right direction. The biggest improvement, as measured against the rest of the league, was in team batting average and slugging percentage where the GCL Astros now rest comfortably in the middle of the pack instead of the bottom. Although the ERA and WHIP are improved over last year in terms of raw numbers, the team was still in the lower third of the league.

Whose individual performances merit recognition? I'm glad you asked.

3B Darwin Rivera led the team in most hitting categories as he hit .310/.373/.410 with 62 hits, 14 doubles, four home runs and 29 RBI. He was in the top 10 in the GCL in batting average, on base percentage and slugging and in the top five in the league in hits, doubles and RBI. He will be 21 in October.

2012 sixth round draft pick CF Brett Phillips hit .251/.360/.360 with six triples (tied for first in the league) and 28 walks (tied for fourth in the league). He also ranked in the top 15 in the league in on base percentage and runs scored. He is 18.

19-year old RF Teoscar Hernandez is in his first season in the GCL after excelling in the DSL in 2011. In 51 games, he hit .243/.325/.395. He ranks in the top 20 in the league in numerous categories, including slugging, runs scored, doubles, home runs, walks and stolen bases. He also had 12 outfield assists. He received a late call-up to Lexington to take the place of Jordan Scott who is on the temporary inactive list dealing with a family matter. He's only played in two games at Lexington at this point but he's made quite an impression, going four-for-seven with a double, home run, two RBI, two walks and two runs scored.

SS Juan Santana, who just turned 18 this month, hit .268/.309/.330 and is in the top 10 in the league in hits and RBI, and is tied for 11th in doubles.

There are only nine pitchers in the entire GCL who even qualify to be league leaders based on the innings pitched criteria. 18-year old RHP Agapito Barrios ranks fourth on that list with a 3.28 ERA and is third in WHIP at 1.196.

15th round draft pick RHP Erick Gonzalez pitched in 19 games for the GCL and was 2-0 with 10 saves, a 1.80 ERA and a 1.320 WHIP. He earned a late promotion to Greeneville where the 20-year old was perfect in one appearance.

RHP Edison Frias falls just short of qualifying, innings-wise, as a league leader but he would rank highly as the 21-year old, in his second season in the system, compiled a 4-1 record with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.273 WHIP.

18-year old RHP Michael Feliz went 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA and a 0.887 WHIP before being promoted to Greeneville. He wasn't quite as effective at Greeneville as he was with the GCL, but he did earn a win in the final game of the season with an effective outing.

After sitting out the 2011 season, RHP Raul Rivera came back strong in 2012. In 12 appearances (six starts) he was 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA and a 1.111 WHIP. His SO/9 is 8.8 and his BB/9 is 1.0. He is 21.

Since Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz split their time between the GCL and Greeneville, I will be looking at them when I do my Greeneville recap -- coming soon.

The GCL and DSL did finish below .500, but of the remaining six Astros minor league affiliates, Greeneville finished their season four games over .500 yesterday; Oklahoma City, Corpus Christi and Tri-City are all guaranteed to finish over .500; and Lancaster is guaranteed at least a .500 finish. Lexington is currently four games over .500 with seven games left to play, in good position to finish over .500 as well. So as I  continue to do season recaps, the news will get better and better!

Minor League Recaps

Tuesday's Games

Greeneville over Bluefield 5-2
This was a good send-off for the G'ville Astros as they ended their season on a high note. The Astros scored early in support of Michael Feliz allowing him his first win since joining Greeneville to go with the five wins he earned in the GCL. And Feliz had a very good start as he pitched five shutout innings allowing three hits, no walks and five strikeouts. He was followed by scoreless outings from Cristian Garcia and Brad Propst before Zach Dando allowed two runs in his two-third innings of work. Jordan Jankowski earned a four-out save, his fourth while recording yet another three strikeouts. Jankowski has ended the season with 53 strikeouts -- 14.8 SO/9. Yep, he did that. Angel Ibanez had a great night at the plate, going three-for-four with an RBI single. Brian Blasik ended his MVP, All-Star season going two-for-four with an RBI double and hitting .318 for the season. Ernesto Genoves was two-for-four with an RBI; Rio Ruiz had an RBI triple; Ricky Gingras was two-for-four; D'Andre Toney scored two runs and swiped a bag; Mike Martinez had a sac fly RBI and a walk. In other words, just a good, solid team effort to put an exclamation point on the season.

Tri-City over Lowell 1-0
Great pitching efforts from Lance Day (W, 6-1) and Travis Ballew (S, 2) as Day allowed five hits and no walks with four strikeouts over seven innings and Ballew pitched a perfect two frames with three strikeouts. The ValleyCats only managed four hits, but they did draw nine walks, including four walks from Dan Gulbransen. The only Tri-City run scored on an M.P. Cokinos sac fly. Ryan Dineen had two of the four ValleyCat hits.

Lexington over Hickory 10-9
It may have been ugly but a win is a win, especially when you've lost 11 in a row. Mike Foltynewicz was very un-Folty like as he allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks in only three and two-thirds innings. Mitch Lambson allowed another two runs as did Murilo Gouvea. Tommy Shirley and Dayan Diaz (W, 5-4) were the only pitchers to stay out of the run column. The Legends managed thirteen hits to Hickory's fifteen, but Hickory's four errors helped. The lead changed hands more than once in this game and it was the lone run in the ninth that gave them their final lead. Nolan Fontana (2x5 R), Chan Moon (2x5 4RBI 2R), Zach Johnson (0x2 3BB 2R), Jobduan Morales (1x4 2RBI), Justin Gominsky (3x5 2B 3RBI), Teoscar Hernandez (3x4 2B BB R), Ruben Sosa (2x4 BB R), and Ryan McCurdy (0x2 2BB 3R) all contributed to the cause.

Frisco over Corpus Christi 2-1
Bobby Doran got the start, allowing one run on five hits with six strikeouts in five innings and Jake Buchanan got the hard luck loss as he allowed the second Frisco run in his three innings of work as the Hooks scored in the second and never crossed the plate again. The Hooks were limited to three hits and scored their only run on a Bobby Borchering sac fly.

Lancaster over Inland Empire 7-2
David Martinez (W, 9-5) pitched five and a third innings before allowing a hit. Only one man reached base against him prior to that via a Delino DeShields fielding error. He ended up giving up two runs on four hits over six innings and was followed by three frames of scoreless relief from Jorge de Leon (S, 4). The long ball played a big part in this one with six of the seven runs scoring on an Erik Castro two-run home run (25th) and a Telvin Nash grand slam (28th). Domingo Santana hit two doubles and drove in the other run. The JetHawks retained their three-game lead in the wild card with the win.

Oklahoma City over Albuquerque 6-5
With six pitchers and a total of 18 players playing for the Redhawks in this one, you're only going to get the highlights. Jose Cisnero allowed three runs in his four innings and Mark Hamburger added on two (one earned) without recording an out. Jose Valdez got his 20th save. A three-run home run from Matt Downs and a two-run home run from Matt Dominguez accounted for five of the six runs. A J.D. Martinez sac fly drove in the final run.

Player of the Day: Hit a grand slam, get player of the day honors. It's really that simple. Telvin Nash wins the prize. Honorable mention, however, goes to Dan Gulbransen for walking four times in the game; maybe he should get the Good Eye Award.

Pitchers of the Day: A combined five-hit shutout with no walks and seven strikeouts to allow your team to win a 1-0 game? That is impressive pitching. Lance Day and Travis Ballew get today's WTH love. Honorable mention goes to Michael Feliz for a dandy of a start and to David Martinez for five and a third no-hit innings.

Happy Birthday - 8/29

OF Frederick Serrano (18)
From the Dominican Republic, Serrano was signed as a NDFA in 2011 and played his second season for the DSL in 2012. He hit .209/.293/.297 in 56 games which was an improvement over his .169 batting average for 2011.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Roy Oswalt (35)
Drafted by Houston in the 23rd round in 1996, Oswalt pitched for Houston from 2001 until he was traded to Philadelphia for J.A. Happ, Jonathan Villar and Anthony Gose (flipped for Brett Wallace) in July 2010. In   303 games (291 starts), he was 143-82 with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.196 WHIP. He came in second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2001 to some guy named Pujols. He was a three-time All-Star for Houston and the NLCS MVP in 2005 when he went 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP.

OF Dave Nicholson (73)
Nicholson came to Houston in a trade with the White Sox prior to the 1966 season. In 100 games for the Astros, he hit .246/.356/.411.

LHP Dan Schneider (70)
Obtained in a trade with Atlanta in October 1966, Schneider played in 54 games for Houston in 1967 and in  six games for Houston in 1969 with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

Drew Muren

Bus is so hot we have to take shirts off and roll up pant legs  
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Interview with 3B Rio Ruiz

When I visit the minor league venues and schedule back-to-back-to-back interviews, things have a tendency to be rushed and unfocused with everything blurring together in my mind. I often don't realize what I have until I get home and start transcribing the audio. When I sat down and listened to the Rio Ruiz interview, I became really excited about the type of player the 2012 fourth round draft pick can become.

The picture that emerged is a young man with a genuine love of and respect for the game. Someone who knows his mind, knows what he wants and knows what he needs to do to get there. Someone who knows it won't be easy but is prepared to embrace the challenges with a smile on his face.

What was the deciding factor in signing with the Astros? "I think it was just how comfortable I was in choosing what I wanted to do. I was really leaning towards [USC] but the Astros gave me a gift and it is hard to turn down something [like that]. [The signing bonus wasn't along the lines of what Lance McCullers and Carlos Correa received], but then I thought back and said, 'You know, baseball's what I want to do. Baseball's all I want to do.' So after that, after I made my decision, I just rolled with it and I'm just enjoying life right now."

On the draft: "[Mr. Luhnow] and his team really worked well. Mr. Heck, Mr. Luhnow and all his team worked really well [in signing] not just me, not just Carlos, not just Lance, but his whole draft class. It was a great draft class. Everyone's saying it's the best draft class. Who knows? Our job is to just play the game."

What is the biggest surprise about playing pro ball so far?: "I think just the grinding every day. Everyone kept telling me the same thing, it's a grind every day. You're playing every day and I [thought], 'Ah, I can deal with it. It's fine. No big deal.' My second week of playing every day I was like, 'Dang, this is a grind.' Yeah, I was tired. Yeah, I was sore. But I just kept fighting through it because it's a game I love. I just went out there with a smile on my face and just kept doing the thing I love to do."

On being away from his family: "It's not hard being away from them. I love being out here on my own, growing up on my own. The only thing I can say that I miss is them being with me and experiencing all this stuff that I'm experiencing. There's going to be many opportunities and potentially if I'm in the big leagues, they're going to be there every step of the way."

On his friendship with Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers: "We all hang out together. We're like three best friends. My first day after I signed, my first day was in the GCL and they just welcomed me in, took me in and showed me around, got me [acquainted] with everybody and now we're together [again at] Greeneville."

Who on the team makes him laugh?: "I'd have to say [Michael] Dimock and [Zach] Dando. They're funny guys. My locker's right next to Dimock and he just makes me laugh all the time. It's good having those guys around because it makes you think less that it's a job and more that it's just fun. You really don't think about it as a job until the off-season. It's good to have those guys around. [They] really keep a smile on my face."

What has he accomplished and what is he working on?: "My first focus when I was coming in to pro ball was maturity. I was coming out of high school and not a lot of guys are mature. For me, being 18 years old and signed and out here playing ball every day, I think maturity is a big factor in playing pro ball and that's what I was focusing on first. I feel like I have matured out here and done a lot of growing up on my own. Now it's just playing, playing hard every day and not giving away at bats. Playing the game the right way, respecting the game, and playing the game how it's supposed to be played."

Which Astros pitcher would he least like to face?: "Seeing this is my first year, I really haven't seen too many. Coming into it, I [thought], 'I don't want to face Lance,' but the first week I was here, I had to face Lance in live BP all the time so I got comfortable facing him. Seeing [as] he sits in the mid-90's and throws that dirty change up, I feel like [he's given me a look at the kind] of stuff that people will be throwing at me in the near future. So I feel like I'm ready and he's gotten me ready for [the pitchers I'll face] as I go up."

On comparisons to major league players: "I get compared to Eric Chavez with the Yankees. A lot of guys have said [Pedro] Alvarez from the Pirates. But I'm not trying to be like them. I'm trying to be my own guy and just play my own game. God gave them gifts. God gave me gifts I'm just trying to fulfill."

Who was his favorite player growing up? : "Growing up I was a huge Darin Erstad fan. He started off in the Angels. I went to go see him all the time. He was my favorite player. And then he went to Houston. He was a great player."

Something most people don't know about him that may surprise him: "I'm a real big Justin Bieber fan. A lot of people make fun of me for it. People have preferences. It's not like I listen to him all the time or he gets me pumped up for a game or anything, but it's just something when I'm sitting back in my hotel room or back home or just driving around back home, I just throw that in."

What would he do if he couldn't play baseball?: "I'd go back to school definitely. I'd go back to school, get my degree. When I was thinking [about] going to school, I wanted to major in kinesiology and become a physical therapist. God willing, I have a great long career in the Houston organization and, hopefully, I get to make my decision on what I want to do when I'm 40-something years old, when I'm 50 years old."

What would he tell Houston fans about the future of the Astros?: "It's going to be OK. Everything you do in life, you're going to have rough patches. Right now, they're in that stage, the Houston organization. They're rebuilding right now. Mr. Luhnow has got everything off to a great start with this draft class and all the things he's doing so far. A lot of changes have been made and I think the biggest thing for the Houston fans is sit back and watching everything develop. Yeah, they're struggling but in years to come, it will be, 'Whoa, remember when we were this, remember when we were that?,' and then we have two World Series rings in the future. Who knows what the future holds? Just sit back and enjoy everything that's happening."

Is he having fun?: "Absolutely. I wouldn't change this for the world. The GCL [wasn't] the greatest place to play. Hot, humid, it was brutal. But even there I enjoyed playing every day and grinding it out and battling the sun. Then I got promoted out here and this is like paradise out here, and I'm having even more fun. I can't imagine, as I go up, how much more fun it's going to be."

Rio displayed wisdom in his answers that was far beyond his years. The idea that he's even thinking about his maturity level at 18 tells me that maturity won't ever be a problem for him.

And I may be reading too much into this, but I was really impressed with Rio's pick of Darin Erstad as his favorite player growing up. Erstad wasn't necessarily the flashiest player, but he was a hard-nosed player and a great role model. He played the game the right way and he led by example. Rio struck me as the kind of player who will eventually fall into that role, one of leading by example. Not to put any pressure on him, but one former Astro kept popping into my mind as I listened to his answers and envisioned the Astros future. A very bright future.

Minor League Recaps

Monday's Games

Bluefield over Greeneville 5-2
Francis Ramirez got the loss despite only allowing one run on four hits over four innings as Greeneville trailed this one from the start and waited until the eighth to put a notch in the run column. Michael Dimock allowed an additional run in his inning of work before giving way to Joe Musgrove who, despite pitching a very effective sixth inning, got into trouble in the seventh. After one quick out, Musgrove gave up a double followed by a triple followed by a wild pitch followed by an ejection and three more runs had scored before all was said and done. Tanner Bushue pitched clean up with two and two-thirds innings in which he allowed only one hit while striking out five. This is just the latest in a nice string of work for Bushue. Greeneville was held to four hits and Brian Blasik had two of them and drove in one. Mike Martinez drove in the other run. Greeneville only has one game remaining on the schedule.

Lowell over Tri-City 3-2
Starter Juri Perez gave up three runs in the first inning and was pegged with his first loss of the season. Perez allowed no further runs in his six innings. Jamaine Cotton, Blake Ford and Scott Zuloaga combined for scoreless relief. Tri-City scored their two runs in the second on a two-run Jarrod McKinney home run but were never able to scratch out another run despite a lead-off triple from Ryan Dineen in one inning and a Joe Sclafani lead-off double in the next.

Lexington - Off Day

Lancaster over Lake Elsinore 12-4
Colton Cain finally got that elusive first win since coming to the Astros organization. He had a solid start (two runs on four hits over six innings) but his team staking him to an 8-1 lead by the time the third inning was over didn't hurt either. Jose Trinidad gave up two runs in his two innings of work while Andrew Robinson allowed only one single in the ninth. Delino DeShields set the tone early hitting a triple in the first JetHawks at bat. He would end the night three-for-five with two triples and his 97th stolen base of the season. Home runs from Rafy Valenzuela (4th), Domingo Santana (20th) and Telvin Nash (27th) and doubles from Andrew Aplin and Jonathan Meyer added to the extra base onslaught. Telvin Nash ended the night with four RBI to go with his three strikeouts. The JetHawks have now padded their wild card lead to three games over Lake Elsinore and Rancho Cucamonga with seven games left to play.

Corpus Christi over San Antonio 3-0
Ross Seaton pitched a beauty as he and Erick Abreu combined to shut out the Missions. Seaton earned his eighth win as he allowed only four hits and no walks with nine strikeouts over seven innings while Erick Abreu earned his second save with a perfect eighth and ninth. Jon Singleton had a great three-for-four night with a double and a stolen base, but it was Ross Seaton's two-run triple that gave the Hooks all the runs they would need for the win.

Oklahoma City over Albuquerque 6-1
Despite walking five in five innings, Jarred Cosart got a quality start as he allowed only one run on five hits. What he didn't get was the win as the Redhawks scored late. Enerio del Rosario got the "W" as he allowed only one hit in his two innings of work. He was followed by Garrett Mock striking out the side in the eighth and a perfect ninth from Chuckie Fick. OKC finally got on the board in the seventh courtesy of a two-run single from Brad Snyder, a sac fly from Matt Downs and a solo home run from Mike Hessman (his 32nd). Snyder and Hessman would also factor in the scoring in the eighth as Snyder drove in another run with a single and Hessman drew a bases loaded walk. Carlos Corporan was two-for-three with a double, a walk and stole his second base of the season. Snyder, Downs, J.D. Martinez and Matt Dominguez each had two hits as well. Jordan Schafer was 0-for-two with a walk in his rehab appearance.

Pitcher of the Day: Ross Seaton not only set a career total in strikeouts in a totally dominating performance, he did it all last night, hitting a two-out, two-run triple and subsequently scoring.

Player of the Day: Delino DeShields, come on down. Triples are rare. Two triples in a game plus stealing your 97th bag of the season is out of this world.

Happy Birthday - 8/28

3B Matt Dominguez (23)
A first round pick by the Marlins in 2007, Dominguez came to Houston along with LHP Rob Rasmussen in a July 2012 trade for 1B/LF Carlos Lee. After four games with the Astros, Dominguez went to Oklahoma City where he has done quite nicely. In 43 games, he is hitting .289/.341/.368.

Tweet of the Day

Greg Rajan

 finally wearing their whites again -- with this awesome Wojciechowski namebar. Longest name in team history.
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Roster Moves

Houston/Oklahoma City
IF/OF Steve Pearce was traded to the Yankees for cash.
IF/OF Jimmy Paredes was called up from Oklahoma City to Houston.
RHP Brian Bass was released.
RHP Sergio Perez was activated from the DL.
CF Jordan Schafer was assigned to Oklahoma City for a rehab assignment.

OF Drew Muren was placed on the 7-day DL.
1B Rafy Valenzuela was activated from the DL.

DSL Season Post-Mortem

The DSL season is mercifully over. It was not a good one. The DSL represents the one failure by the Astros farm system to improve their record from the prior year. (Heck, you were already in a bad mood because it's Monday -- why not pile on a bit?) With that said, here's how this season compared to last season.

2011 Win Percentage - .403
2012 Win Percentage - .319

2011 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential - 306 - 391 = (85)
2012 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential - 254 - 383 = (129)

2011 Team ERA & WHIP - 4.71 & 1.625
2012 Team ERA & WHIP - 4.19 & 1.494

2011 Team Batting Line - .245/.339/.337
2012 Team Batting Line - .215/.301/.285

Believe it or not, there were actually three teams with lower win percentages this season. The biggest difference between 2011 and 2012 was the total lack of offense. Pitching improved slightly while offensive categories went from above average to the bottom two or three in the league.

Were there any bright spots? Yes, there were a couple of players with good seasons that will bear watching.

SS/2B Luis Reynoso led the team in batting average with a .281 mark and in OBP at .382 while ranking third in SLG at .363. And he won't turn 18 until next week.

1B Mesac Laguna led the team in several offensive categories, but he did so as the only 20-year old position player on a team on which 12 of 17 position players were 17 or 18 during the season.

At 18, RHP Samil de los Santos compiled the second most innings on the team as he pitched in 12 games (nine starts) with a 2.50 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, 9.8 SO/9, 3.15 SO/BB ratio and a .197 batting average allowed.

The 17-year old LHP Edwin Villarroel led the team in innings pitched and in ERA (2.25), but needs serious improvement in his SO/BB ratio as he struck out only 2.9 per nine innings while walking 3.9 per nine. But since he just turned 17 in May, he definitely has time to develop.

In 17 appearances (one start), LHP Javier Saucedo was 5-4 with a 3.21 ERA and a 1.322 WHIP. He had 6.2 SO/9 but an even worse walk rate than Villarroel as he walked 4.7 per nine innings pitched. He will be turning 19 in a month.

A total of 24 out of 37 players who appeared for the DSL team in 2012 were either 17 or 18 which keeps me from being very hard on the team, but also keeps me from getting very excited about anyone either. But if even one player from this group eventually appears on a major league roster, the year and the team will be deemed a rousing success in hindsight.

The news all gets better from here on out. I will look at the GCL Astros later in the week.

Minor League Recaps

Sunday's Games

Bluefield over Greeneville 3-2
With the loss, Greeneville has been officially eliminated from a playoff berth. They have only two games left in their season. Frederick Tiburcio was charged with the loss as he gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits with five strikeouts over six innings. Erick Gonzalez and Mike Hauschild were perfect in relief. Down 3-0 going into the seventh inning, Greeneville did battle back but fell just short. Mike Martinez was two-for-three with a double, a walk and a run scored; Ariel Ovando was one-for-four with a double and an RBI; and Rio Ruiz drove in the other run.

Tri-City over Vermont 9-4
Brady Rodgers notched his seventh win as he went five innings and allowed three runs on six hits. Euris Quezada gave up one unearned run in his three innings of work while striking out five. Scott Zuloaga pitched a scoreless ninth. And four runs allowed really wasn't much of a problem as Tri-City scored early and led 8-0 after two. With that kind of score, you might expect a few long balls, but there was only one solo homer from M.P. Cokinos. It was a three-run double from Dan Gulbransen that helped pad the lead. Ryan Dineen was two-for-four with a double. Gulbransen and Joe Sclafani each had a stolen base.

Charleston over Lexington 5-4
The Legends' woes continue as they have now dropped 11 in a row after leading this one through five innings. Chris Devenski had a rocky outing but got away with it as he walked six in five innings to go with three hits, but only allowed one run. Evan Grills gave up three in his one inning and was charged with a blown save. After Lexington scored in the bottom of the sixth, Nate Pettus inherited a tied game and kept it that way until allowing one run in the ninth for the loss. The good news is that Teoscar Hernandez, in his first at bat since being promoted to Lexington whacked out a 2-run bomb which was immediately followed with a solo shot from birthday boy Justin Gominsky. Nolan Fontana was two-for-five with two doubles and scored a run; Matt Duffy was two-for-four with a RBI, a walk and a stolen base; and Jordan Kreke had two hits as well.

Corpus Christi over San Antonio 2-1
Asher Wojciechowski pitched a very strong six scoreless innings (2H 2BB 4SO) for his second win with the Hooks, and was followed by Josh Zeid who allowed a solo home run for the only run the Missions were to plate. Arcenio Leon pitched the ninth to earn his second save of the season. Austin Wates had a great night, going three-for-four and scoring a run. The Hooks' runs were driven in by an Andy Simunic sac fly and a Chris Wallace single. Wates and George Springer each swiped a bag.

Lancaster over Lake Elsinore 7-4
Nick Tropeano got an early birthday present in the form of his fifth win for Lancaster as he allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts over five innings. Chia-Jen Lo followed to give up an additional run in his one and two-thirds innings. Carlos Quevedo pitched a scoreless one and two-thirds and was followed by Kenny Long who retired the final two batters via strikeout to earn his second save with the JetHawks. Domingo Santana hit his 19th home run of the season; Jonathan Meyer was three-for-five with two doubles and two RBI; and Grant Hogue was two-for-four with a double, walk, run scored and stole a base.

Oklahoma City over Iowa 4-3
Rudy Owens earned his first win with the Redhawks as he pitched six solid innings (two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts). Aneury Rodriguez and Chuckie Fick were in lockdown mode before giving way to Jose Valdez who earned his 19th save despite allowing a run to cut the lead to one. Jimmy Paredes was two-for-four with a double and cranked out his 13th long ball of the season, while Mike Hessman got his 31st.

Player of the Day: There were several good outings, but I'm going with Jonathan Meyer for his big three hit, two double, two RBI night.

Pitcher of the Day: Six scoreless innings earns Wojo a little WTH love.

Happy Birthday - 8/27

RHP Nick Tropeano (22)
Drafted in the fifth Round in 2011 out of Stony Brook (NY), Tropeano has split his season between Lexington and Lancaster this season. In 26 games (25 starts), he is 11-7 with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP. In four starts in August, he is 3-0 with a 2.27 WHIP and a 1.168 WHIP.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Jim York (65)
A 16th round pick by the Royals in 1969, York came to Houston in a trade with Kansas City prior to the 1972 season. In 114 games with the Astros from 1972 to 1975, he was 9-11 with a 4.19 ERA and a 1.646 WHIP.

C Ed Herrmann (66)
Obtained in a trade with the California Angels in June of 1976, Herrmann was with the Astros until he went to the Expos in June of 1978. In 151 games with the Astros, he hit .227/.293/.288. He was an All-Star for the White Sox in 1974.

3B David Gus "Buddy" Bell (61)
Originally drafted by Cleveland in the 16th round in 1969, Bell came to Houston in a June 1988 trade with the Reds and played for the Astros the remainder of that season. In 74 games, he was .253/.301/.375. In all, he played for four teams over a span of 18 seasons and won six Golden Gloves, a Silver Slugger and five All-Star nods.

RHP Mike Maddux (51)
A fifth round pick by the Phillies in 1982, Maddux came to Houston as a free agent in 2000 at the end of his career. In 21 games, he was 2-2 with a 6.26 ERA and a 1.573 WHIP. The well-traveled Maddux played for nine different teams in his 15-year major league career.

Tweet of the Day

Mike Martinez

We gave it a good run at the playoffs and fell just short. Thank you for your hospitality GreenEville. Had a lot of fun this summer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Roster Moves

Oklahoma City
RHP Brian Bass was placed on the 7-day DL.

Some Thoughts on Jim Crane & Roger Clemens

Back in January I got up on my soapbox to give Jim Crane a little warning friendly advice about trifling with the Houston fanbase. I'm sure he never read it, but it made me feel better. Since then, I have mostly left him to his devices, both good and bad. As much as I hate that thing in left center, I understand why it's there as I look around at all the empty seats. Until the Astros are competitive again, Crane needs to make money somehow.

But I left him alone because it appeared that he was committed to re-building the team the right way, from the bottom up. He has spent wisely, focusing the Astros dollars on the farm system rather than quick-fix free agents. He has hired, in Jeff Luhnow, a General Manager who has publicly stated that he has no interest in making moves that would risk mortgaging the future.

Yes, the current Astros team is doing badly by any definition of the word. Some of the current players will be a part of the future and are slowly adjusting to the major league level. Some players are, to put it bluntly, placeholders until younger players are ready to stake their claim. Re-building is not for the faint of heart. But it appeared that Jim Crane and company were committed to the philosophy at hand.

Then the Roger Clemens circus came to town. I have no ax to grind with Roger Clemens. Leaving the unproven steroid allegations completely out of it, there have been other issues over the years that have kept me from really liking Clemens as a person. Whether it's fair or unfair, I'll admit it. BUT I can put that aside, and I will be the first to acknowledge that he is one of the greatest pitchers to have ever played the game. Hands down. And I will never forget the sight of him warming up in the bullpen to pitch the 16th, 17th and 18th innings for the win in the 2005 NLDS. It still gives me chills.

With that said, it appears I am in the minority when I say that Jim Crane should not sign Roger Clemens to pitch for the Houston Astros. It is a bad idea on several different levels. As a matter of fact, I think even Jim Crane knows it's a bad idea. In this article, Crane goes out of his way several times in saying that Clemens wouldn't be a part of the long-term plans. Then why do it? If it admittedly doesn't advance the long-term plans of the organization, what is the reason for doing it?

He would be doing it for money, pure and simple. Crane may protest that he will give most of the money to charity, but so many people would come to see Roger Clemens pitch that there would be a lot of extra cash coming in the door via concessions and the $250 specialty jerseys that I feel certain would be made available.

So what's wrong with that, you may ask? What are you, a communist or something? No, but I am a purist. Bringing in someone who in no way advances your long-term goals (or even short-term goals for that matter) just to bring people in cheapens the game of baseball, the Astros franchise and the efforts of those players who are working their tails off to be a part of the team moving forward. There is no shame in losing. There is, however, shame in bringing in an Eddie Gaedell or a Herb Washington or a Roger Clemens just to put butts in seats.

Another reason I am against the idea is that Clemens would, by necessity, take up a 40-man roster spot. I was presented with a whole list of individuals who some think could easily be removed from the 40-man roster to make room for him. That may or may not be true but it misses the point entirely. Here is just a short list of pitchers who should at least be considered for a September call-up and a 40-man roster spot over Roger Clemens:

Brett Oberholtzer
Jason Stoffel
Kevin Chapman
Jarred Cosart
Jose Cisnero
Ross Seaton

Every one of those pitchers has the potential for being a part of the Astros' future. Roger Clemens does not. He should not be taking developmental innings away from any pitcher in this organization.

Roger Clemens can make a difference for the Astros and he can contribute to the Astros' long-term development, but not as a player. He can be coach, consultant, mentor or cheerleader under the personal services contract that is already in place and I would love to see that happen.

I'm sure that there are other teams that are in need of his services as a pitcher now. We are not one of them. Let another team deal with the circus atmosphere that would accompany a Roger Clemens comeback. Please. Let the Astros retain at least a shred of dignity.

I know there are many who won't agree with me, but I just wanted to let you know my reasons.

Minor League Recaps

Saturday's Recaps

DSL Astros DSL Mariners

GCL Nationals 2 GCL Astros 5
The Astros opened this one up in the fourth frame with a 4 run inning.  The Astros didn't draw a walk all game, but still had a strong showing at the plate with everyone except Luis De La Rosa getting a hit.  Yoel Silfa went 2 for 3 with a pair of runs scored and Juan Santana went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs.  Raul Rivera (2-1) picked up the win after throwing the first 6 innings, charged with 2 runs (0 ER) on 4 hits and striking out 5.

Greeneville Astros 0 Danville Braves 6
Lance McCullers (0-3) was charged with 5 runs (4 ER) on 4 hits through 4 innings in this shutout game for the Astros.  McCullers also walked 3 and K-ed 6.  Among the 3 hits Greeneville had in the game was a Carlos Correa (1X4) double that was his 14th all year, third since joining Greeneville and the teams' 120th all season, breaking the Astros' season record.

Vermont Lake Monsters 2 Tri-City ValleyCats 9
Tri-City got on the board first Saturday, but didn't really scoot out ahead until cranking out a 5 run sixth inning.  The slow start ended up costing Joe Bircher the win, when their opponents scored 2 runs in the fifth inning.  Bircher finished with 2 runs (0 ER) on 4 hits, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts through his 5 frames of work.  Every ValleyCat who came to the plate in the game collected at least a hit, 6 had multi-hit games and the team finished with 16 total.  Catfish Elkins and Jarrod McKinney both hit solo homers in the game.  McKinney's homer started off the sixth inning and later in that same inning Preston Tucker clubbed a 2 out grand slam to left field.  Jeremiah Meiners (4-2), who came on top pitch 3 innings after Bircher left, picked up the W, allowing only a hit in that time while striking out 2 and walking 1.

Here's the box from, so you can see all that ValleyCat offense:

Charleston RiverDogs 1 Lexington Legends 0 (10)
This game was the epitome of a pitchers' duel.  Both teams collected only 6 hits combined and the game was decided by a single run in extra innings.  Lexington starting pitcher David Rollins went 7 and 2 thirds, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 10 in that time.  Dayan Diaz, (4-4) threw the final 6 outs and took the loss, allowing a run on 2 hits.  Chan Moon had the only hit of the game for the Legends, his 12th double of the year in the bottom of the first.

Lake Elsinore Storm 11 Lancaster JetHawks 3
Lancaster didn't score until the seventh inning when they tallied 3 runs, but by that time they were already down 8.  Starter Tyson Perez (L, 9-5) and Jorge De Leon had back-to-back 4 run innings in the fourth and fifth.  Perez left the game with 4 runs (3 ER) on 8 hits, a walk and 4 Ks.  De Leon pitched for just the fifth inning and left with his 4 runs (3 ER) and a walk.  Erik Castro went 2 for 4 at the plate and collected RBI number 101.  Delino DeShields was hitless again Saturday, but collected a pair of walks and had a RBI.

San Antonio Mission 2 Corpus Christi Hooks 5
Corpus Christi clinched a playoff spot Saturday night at home with this win.  Paul Clemens (3-2) got another notch in his win column too, pitching 6 innings and giving up 1 run (0 ER) on 3 hits, walking a pair and striking out 5.  Jason Stoffel threw the last 4 outs of the game and collected his 26th save of the season, striking out 1.  At the plate, Jake Goebbert (2X4) got the offense started in the first inning with a 2 out, 2 run homer.  Austin Wates went 2 for 2 in the game after coming in the 6th inning and hit a solo homer in the 8th inning. Wates' other hit was a double, his 16th of the season.  Kiké Hernandez also went 2 for 4 at the plate Saturday with a double of his own, his 27th of the year and second for Corpus Christi.

Oklahoma City RedHawks 1 Iowa Cubs 4
Oklahoma City scored just a run in the seventh inning Saturday and was limited to just 4 hits and 2 walks.  Brett Oberholtzer (5-7) took the loss but still had a good start.  Oberholtzer went 6 and 2 thirds innings giving up just a pair of runs on 7 hits with 2 walks and 7 Ks, earning his fourth quality start in a row.  Jimmy Paredes hit 2 for 4 in the game and Mike Hessman hit 1 for 3 with an RBI double.  That is Hessman's 70th RBI of the season. 

Player of the Day:  If you haven't figured this out by now, here's how it works: you hit a grand slam and you get to be player of the day, no questions asked.  That said, Preston Tucker takes the honor today.  Tucker not only clubbed a grand salami yesterday, he did it with 2 outs in the inning, because he leaves no man behind.

Pitcher of the Day:  There were a few really nice pitching performances Saturday (Oberholtzer, Clemens, Stoffel, I'm looking at you), but Lexington's David Rollins stands atop the pedestal today.  Rollins may have "technically" lost, but after a guy goes 7 and 2 thirds on the mound and strikes out 10, the last thing he's going to hear while icing down after the game is the word "loser."  Great job, Rollins.                 

The Futurists - Profile of LHP Brett Oberholtzer

I take a look at LHP (and possible September call-up) Brett Oberholtzer over at The Futurists blog. Take a look if you so desire.

Happy Birthday - 8/26

1B/3B Brett Wallace (26)
Received in a quick flip after the Oswalt trade in 2010 (for Anthony Gose), Wallace was first drafted by St. Louis as its first Round pick in 2008. In a total of 86 games at AAA Oklahoma City this season, he hit .300/.379/.506 with 16 doubles and 16 home runs. At the major league level this season, Brett is hitting .277/.354/.482 with five doubles and six home runs in 33 games.

LHP Xavier Cedeno (26)
Cedeno was originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 31st round of the 2004 draft and picked up by the Astros as a free agent in 2010. A native of Puerto Rico, Cedeno has split his time between Oklahoma City and Houston this season. In 22 appearances out of the bullpen for the Redhawks, he is 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA and a 1.301 ERA. In Houston, Cedeno has a 4.71 ERA and a 1.571 WHIP in 28 appearances.

OF Justin "GoGo" Gominsky (23)
Drafted in the 11th Round in 2011 out of the University of Minnesota, Justin has spent the majority of the 2012 season at Lexington where he is hitting .238/.316/.299 in 88 games. He was an All-Star in 2011 for the Tri-City team.

SS Jimmy Howick (22)
Jimmy was drafted in the 21st Round of the 2011 draft out of Jacksonville University in FL. An injury kept him from playing in 2011. In 2012, he has split his time between Lexington and Greeneville, where he is currently playing and hitting .207/.270/.276.

SS Jiovanni Mier (22)
A first Round draft pick from 2009, Mier once again struggled with injuries this season that kept him on the DL for three months. He is now back at Lancaster and is showing continuing signs of the improvement at the plate that he had demonstrated before the injury. In 39 games with Lancaster, he is hitting .291/.392/.426.

1B/OF Edwin Gomez (21)
Originally a fourth round pick out of Puerto Rico by Detroit in 2009, Gomez was picked up by Houston in July 2012 after he was released by the Tigers organization. In 31 games for the GCL Astros, he is hitting .260/.304/.385.

DSL Manager Luis Martinez (47)
An Oakland farmhand in the 1980's, Luis Martinez has now managed the DSL Astros for three seasons. In 206 games, he is 75-130.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

3B Morgan Ensberg (37)
A ninth round pick by the Astros in 1998, Ensberg got his toes wet with the Astros in four games in 2000 and then played in 669 more games from 2002 to 2007, hitting .266/.367/.475. In his All-Star year of 2005, he hit .283/.388/.557 with 30 doubles, three triples, 36 home runs and 101 RBI, and won a Silver Slugger as well.

RHP Geoff Geary (36)
Originally drafted by the Phillies in the 15th round in 1998, Geary came to Houston (along with Michael Bourn and Mike Costanzo) in the November 2007 trade that sent Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett to the Phillies. In 71 games for Houston in 2008 and 2009, Geary was 3-6 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.345 WHIP.