Saturday, April 20, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Friday's Games

Quad Cities River Bandits, Kane County Cougars
-Postponed. This game will be made up in a double-header on April 20th.

Bakersfield Blaze 9, Lancaster JetHawks 7
Seven runs wasn't enough for the JetHawks at home on Friday after giving up four-run fourth and fifth innings. David Rollins (2-1) started the game on the mound and ended up with his first loss of the season after pitching four and two thirds. During his shift, Rollins recorded eight runs on ten hits, one walk and four Ks. Tyson Perez came on in the sixth as the latter of the tandem and did his best to stop the offensive bleeding. In his four frames, Perez allowed one run on six hits and struck out one. Nolan Fontana was the big man at the plate for the JetHawks on Friday. Fontana went two-for-five with a run scored and hit a huge, three-RBI triple in the fourth inning. Zach Johnson hit his first homer of the season, a two-run shot that scored Andrew Aplin in the seventh inning. Johnson finished hitting at one-for-three with a run scored, those two RBIs, two walks and a strikeout.

Frisco RoughRiders 2, Corpus Christi Hooks 3
Bobby Doran (5IP 5H ER BB 6SO) and Nick Tropeano (4IP 5H R 4SO) combined their talents on the mound Friday for the win at home at Whataburger Field. The tandem allowed two runs (1 ER) on ten hits and struck out ten batters while walking just one. Doran improved to 2-0 after earning the win and Tropeano picked up save number two of the season. Michael Burgess put the Hooks on the board in first inning with what went down as a two-RBI double (Burgess was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple) and finished the game at the plate one-for-four. George Springer hit two-for-four Friday with the Hooks' other RBI, a single in the third that scored Austin Wates. Wates also went two-for-four at the plate.

Round Rock Express 2, Oklahoma City RedHawks 5
The RedHawks closed out an eight-game homestand in style on Friday with this win. Jordan Lyles started the game on the mound for Oklahoma City and pitched four and two thirds, allowing one run on six hits and striking out one. C.J. Fick (1-0), who came on for the next one and a third, picked up his first win thanks to a three-run fifth by the RedHawks batters. Fick kept it hitless in his time on the hill, walked one and K-ed another. Josh Zeid picked up his first save after throwing the final one and a third. Zeid faced five batters, struck out three and walked one. The other batter Zeid faced grounded out for the last out of the game. At the plate, Trevor Crowe hit two-for-four with a two-RBI triple in the fifth inning and a swiped bag, safely extending his hitting streak to 13 games. Jonathan Villar was also on fire at the plate Friday, hitting two-for-four with a run scored, a double, a triple and an RBI. Mark Krauss (2x2 R 2B 2BB) and Robbie Grossman (2X5 R SO) also had multi-hit games. The RedHawks collected 11 hits on Friday and five of those were extra base hits.

Player of the Day: Carlos Perez, come on down. Perez hit one-for-four on Friday, collecting his fourth double, but that's not why he's here today. Perez also threw out THREE different players trying to steal against Corpus on Friday. That is heroic, that is herculean, that is, well, Carlos Perez on a Friday night.

Pitcher of the Day: The Bobby Doran and Nick Tropeano tandem gets to share the crown today. This duo was pretty impressive Friday, K-ing 10 guys and facing only 7 batters over the minimum. 

Happy Birthday - 4/20

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Ricky Martinez (25)
Martinez, a former Cardinal farmhand, was picked up by Jeff Luhnow in the off-season. Originally signed by the Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent, Martinez played for Nova Southeastern University from 2007-2009. He split the 2012 season between the A and High A Cardinals affiliates and compiled a 5.91 ERA and a 1.686 WHIP with five saves in 38 appearances out of the bullpen.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Jimmy Jones (49)
A first round draft pick by the Padres in 1982, Jones came to Houston as a free agent in 1991. In 1991 and 1992, he went 16-14 in 51 games (45 starts) with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.340 WHIP.

OF/1B/PH Tim Tolman (57)
Tolman played in 107 games spread out over 1981 through 1985 for Houston. Despite a .296 career minor league batting average, Tolman hit only .196 in his best season with the Astros.

RHP Jim Dickson (75)
Dickson pitched in 13 games for the Colt .45's in 1963 before being traded to the Reds in 1964 for Eddie Kasko.

MGR Preston Gomez (died January 13, 2009 at 85)
The Cuban born Gomez managed the Astros to an 81-81 record in 1974 but was replaced late in the 1975 season by Bill Virdon after he had managed the Astros to a 47-80 record in his second season.  Twice during his managerial career, he removed a starting pitcher for a pinch-hitter late in a game when the pitcher had a no-hitter going, with the Astros Don Wilson being one of them. Both of those games were lost.

Tweet of the Day

Michael DimockMichael Dimock@slimdim23
So much for the boys of summer, looks like we are playing in the snow today

Friday, April 19, 2013

Funky Foto Friday

I've been playing over the last few days with a site called BeFunky that lets you apply all kinds of different effects to photos. Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

Roberto Peña

Ariel Ovando

Marc Wik

Jose Altuve
Folty and Company
Kiké Hernandez

Jon Singleton

Astros Minor League Recaps

Thursday's Games

Oklahoma City over Round Rock 5-3 in 7 innings (Game 1)
In his first rehab appearance, Travis Blackley allowed no hits in two innings, but was charged with one run on the only batter he faced (HBP) in the third who later scored. Jose Cisnero (W, 1-1) pitched three innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks before handing it over to the bullpen. The RedHawks took a 2-0 lead in the second on a Che-Hsuan Lin two RBI single, added on two more on a Marc Krauss (2x3 2R) RBI double and a Jonathan Villar (3x3 2B 2R 2SB) RBI single. Cody Clark accounted for the final insurance run in the sixth with an RBI double. Fernando Martinez is 1-for-14 in his rehab appearances.

Round Rock over Oklahoma City 8-4 in 7 innings (Game 2)
Rudy Owens (L, 0-2) allowed his first two earned runs of the new season on seven hits and three walks in his four innings of work. Kyle Hallock allowed a third run in the fifth, but Round Rock pounced on Eric Berger and Lance Day as they combined to allow five runs across in the top of the seventh to take an 8-1 lead. OKC managed three runs in the bottom of the seventh, one on a bases-loaded hit by pitch and two more on bases-loaded walks, but the hole was too deep. Andy Simunic was 2-for-3 and scored a run in his first start since graduating from Team Rehab. Jason Jaramillo was also 2-for-3 with a run scored. Jimmy Paredes was 2-for-2 with two walks, including an RBI walk, and stole a base.

Frisco over Corpus Christi 4-2 in 17 innings
Yes, you read that right ... 17 innings. Jake Buchanan pitched a gem ... five innings with two hits, no runs and nine groundball outs, including two double plays, on only 51 pitches. Carlos Quevedo gave up the first Frisco run in the sixth and was charged with a blown save in what was then a 1-0 game. Jason Stoffel gave up the second run and was charged with a second blown save in the then 2-1 game. That was followed by seven innings of scoreless extra inning baseball, until Pat Urckfitz got touched for two runs in his third inning out of the bullpen. The bullpen was very strong with good appearances from Andrew Robinson (1.1IP 1H 3SO) and Alex Sogard (0.2IP 1H 2SO) and an almost perfect four innings from Jorge de Leon (1H 1SO). The Hooks only managed seven hits and got their first run in the fourth on a Jonathan Meyer bases-loaded walk and their second hit on a Kiké Hernandez solo homer in the seventh. Austin Wates, Jio Mier and Drew Muren only had one hit each, but all were doubles. Rene Garcia had the only multi-hit game with two singles. The team as a whole struck out 19 times, with George Springer (4), Austin Wates (3), Jonathan Meyer (3), and Drew Muren (3) having the toughest nights.

UPDATED with great comment from HooksFan: The Hooks/Frisco game is officially the longest ballgame that I've seen. When Pat Urckfitz came out in the 15th inning he was either going to get the win or loss since he represented what was left of the bullpen. We can see the one disadvantage of a tandem takes away 3 relief pitchers. We had our best scoring opportunity in the 12th with the bases loaded and one away but the Hooks couldn't capitialize on that or when Frisco brought in an infielder to pitcher, Guilder Rodriguez and were unable to get someone past 2nd. Guilder ended up with the win. Guilder didn't have any pitches get above 70 mph...and quite a few were in the high 50's. Hooks looked off balance when he was on the mound.

Bakersfield over Lancaster 4-2
Starter Chris Devenski went five innings and allowed all four runs and six of his 10 hits in the second inning for his first loss of the season. Brady Rodgers pitched the final four innings very effectively allowing only three singles while striking out four, but the 'Hawks never really got much going at the plate. Nolan Fontana, Andrew Aplin and M.P. Cokinos all went 2-for-4; Aplin had the only extra base hit, a double. Zach Johnson was credited with an RBI single, his 14th of the season.

Quad Cities over Kane County 9-8 in 10 innings
Colton Cain only lasted three innings as he allowed seven runs on eight hits, including a three-run home run. Gera Sanchez allowed an eighth run to come across in the fourth before the QC pitching staff shut the door, allowing their offense to scrape their way back into the game. Mike Hauschild was the second starter of the tandem and allowed only one hit and two walks in his four innings and was rewarded with the win. John Neely pitched the tenth for his second save of the season. Initially, it looked as though Quad Cities would cruise in this one, taking a 5-0 lead in the top of the second due in large part to an Ariel Ovando three-run home run, his first of the season. Teoscar Hernandez was 2-for-5 with an RBI double; Jesse Wierzbicki was 2-for-4 with a triple, RBI and run scored; and Terrell Joyce was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, two runs scored and he drove in the game-winning run. Rio Ruiz got his first double of the season.

Player of the Day: Terrell Joyce has had a tough start to the season, but he has broken out in a big way in the last couple of games, going 4-for-7 with three doubles, three runs, two RBI and  a walk. The RBI double that put Quad Cities ahead in the top of the 10th was gravy.

Pitcher of the Day: Jake Buchanan was impressive, working quickly and doing what he does best ... lots of ground ball outs. I'm going out on a limb and saying that the 2011 version of Jake Buchanan is officially back!

Happy Birthday - 4/19

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

LF Aaron "Hawk" Pointer (71)
Pointer played in 40 games for the Colt .45's and Astros in 1963, 1966 and 1967 with less than auspicious results. His minor league numbers and his family ties are what brought him some degree of fame. Pointer is the last person to hit over .400 over a full summer in U.S. minor league ball when he batted .402 in 93 games for the Salisbury Braves in the Western Carolina league in 1961. He is also brother to Anita, June, Bonnie and Ruth, also known as The Pointer Sisters. I'm so excited.  For more of his story, visit Baseball-Reference's Bullpen writeup.

OF Jose Cruz Jr. (39)
Originally drafted by the Mariners in the first round in 1995, Cruz went on to play for nine teams over 12 seasons including 38 games for Houston at the end of his career. He came in second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1997, losing to Nomar Garciaparra, and won a Gold Glove in 2003 while playing for the Giants. His best season was 2001 for Toronto when he hit .274/.326/.530 with 38 doubles, four triples, 34 home runs, 88 RBI's and 32 stolen bases.

MGR Harry Craft (died August 3, 1995 at 80)
Craft played CF for the Reds in the late 30's and early 40's before going into the military during WWII. He managed for the Kansas City Athletics and the Chicago Cubs before coming to Houston to manage the expansion Colt .45's from 1962 to 1964.

Tweet of the Day

Kenny Long
A bit mind blowing about all the friends I've made and from all across the globe I have made just through baseball alone.

Roster Moves

LHP Xavier Cedeno designated for assignment
1B/3B Brandon Laird contract selected and assigned from Oklahoma City to Houston

1B Brett Wallace assigned from Houston to Oklahoma City
LHP Travis Blackley to Oklahoma City for rehab assignement

OF Domingo Santana placed on the 7-day DL

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Astros Minor League Recap

There was only one Astros MiLB game last night with the rest being washouts or days off. And that one game was the Lancaster game which didn't start until 9:00. Since the Astros West Coast trip had left me totally sleep deprived, I opted for an early bedtime. This morning I looked back through my twitter timeline to get a flavor of what I had missed (you can't tell everything from a boxscore) and there was some good stuff in there so let's try something new today. The Call of the Game courtesy of twitter:

Lancaster JetHawks
Mavs jump out to an early 2-0 lead on . looking for a comeback win in the rubber game of the series!

Buca Morris
 "It's a beautiful drive. Lot's to see... (beat)... That is, of course, if you like desert."

Jason Schwartz
Matt Duffy extends his hitting streak to 10 games with a leadoff 2B in the 4th.

Jason Schwartz
Nolan Fontana just walked for the 3rd time tonight -- in the 4th inning! He’s now walked 8 times in 15 PAs this series.

Lancaster JetHawks
put up 6 runs in the 4th inning to take a 9-2 lead in High Desert… Johnson w/ a big 3-R 2B!

Jason Schwartz
Umpire called a balk and I could read the official scorer’s lips as he turned to the guy next to him… “What’s a balk?”

Jason Schwartz
leading 9-3 and hitting the ball well but the play Matt Duffy just made at 3rd base is the best thing we’ll see tonight.

Anthony Boyer
The Mavericks mascot is hanging out, silently, in the booth with . Is it me or is that super creepy?

Lancaster JetHawks
Mavericks score three in the 6th inning to cut the lead to 9-6.

Jason Schwartz
Mavs mascot Wooly Bully joined me in booth last inning. I asked him/her(?) about league’s new deal with the California Beef Council.

Jason Schwartz
…unfortunately mascots don’t talk so that didn’t go anywhere.

Anthony Boyer
Gotta be a him. Otherwise it'd be Wooly Heifery...

Buca Morris
Ze plane! Ze plane! Apparently the "Swooping Spruce Goose" is back in Adelanto. No matter, the JetHawks are up, 9-7.

Eric L. Smith
. What up with the heckling of Torrez? Is that guy mad they cut off alcohol in the 7th?

Anthony Boyer
E6 on Fontana. WP on Ballew. 9-8 Lancaster, 2 outs B9.

Lancaster JetHawks
Mavs get close but shuts the door, striking out the side and leaving the tying run at 2nd in the 9th. 9-8 the final.

Aaron West
My roommate is a pretty good pitcher. In his last 3 innings pitched he has 9 strikeouts.

Buca Morris
Fun game to listen to tonight. Plane returns, heckler, Lancaster fans doing a commercial below booth, mascot & the tense B9.

Lancaster JetHawks
FINAL: 9, Mavs 8. WP: Walters (2-0) LP: Guaipe (0-1) SV: Ballew (3) HR: LAN - None, HD: Blash (6)

Now to fill in a few of the blanks ~

Mike Foltynewicz - 4IP 4H 3R/2ER 1BB 2SO 1HR
Blair Walters (W, 2-0) - 2IP 4H 3R 3BB 2SO
Jonas Dufek - 2IP 3H 1R 0BB 2SO
Travis Ballew - 1IP 1H 1R/0ER 0BB 3SO

Nolan Fontana - 1x2 3BB 2R CS
Carlos Perdomo - 1x2 BB 2SO 2R
Zach Johnson - 3x5 2B 4RBI SO R
Brandon Meredith - 1x2 3B 2RBI 3BB 1R

Player of the Day: Zach Johnson's RBI single and three-run double were pivotal to the JetHawks offense.

Pitcher of the Day: You heard Aaron West ... Travis Ballew is a pretty good pitcher.

Happy Birthday - 4/18

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Luis Abad (19)
Signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, Abad has spent the last two seasons pitching for the DSL Astros. In 14 games (five starts) in 2012, he had a 7.96 ERA and a 1.885 WHIP over 26 innings pitched. His 9.3 SO/9 was quite good, but he'll have to do something about that pesky little 10.7 BB/9.

Tweet of the Day

Max Stassi
Houston , first class organization taking all players down in FL extended spring training to see the movie "42".

Roster Moves

1B Rafy Valenzuela assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi
OF Drew Muren assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi

C Ryan McCurdy assigned from Corpus Christi to Lancaster

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

An Interview with Astros OF Justin Gominsky

Justin Gominsky, a long, lanky outfielder drafted in the 11th round in 2011 out of the University of Minnesota, hasn't had the smoothest transition into professional baseball, experiencing untimely injuries and personal adversity. But you'd never guess any of that when talking to him. Gominsky is one of the most positive, upbeat individuals you would ever care to meet. Full of life, energy and enthusiasm, it is not surprising that he has carried the nickname GoGo with him for years now. And that makes his stint on "Team Rehab" at Extended Spring Training all that much harder to endure.

Justin Gominsky - Spring Training 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

I caught up with Gominsky by phone last week. This is what he had to say [edited for brevity and clarity].

On his injury and being held back at Extended Spring Training: "I’m on Team Rehab. Team Rehab indeed. I was swinging off a T two weeks to go before season and I felt a little pop in my wrist. I tried to take another swing and it hurt really bad so I stopped and then I called my trainer who I had last year and I explained what it did and he told me not to swing again until I got [to Spring Training]. Then when I got here, they took me to get an MRI and the MRI showed that I had some torn cartilage there. So now we’re just trying to rehab it and work to get stronger. Once we get there then we’ll start swinging again. I’m hoping to get out on the field soon because I’m dying. I’m dying not being able to play right now. It’s tough.

"It’s a good learning experience. That’s how I take it. I try to take everything positive. It’s learning something new every day. That’s something good for me. For me right now what I’m doing is I’m trying to do all my rehab, and then I’m trying to learn more Spanish. I’ll go and talk to the Spanish teacher. She teaches English to the Spanish guys. I’ll also help some of my teammates out with Rosetta Stone or I’ll just go do it myself. I think [it helps you] get closer to your Latin teammates that you’re not usually able to talk to because of the language barrier. You can take it [the experience] either way. If I was here and I was not trying to get better, I’m sure I’d be miserable. I try to take that as a positive. And I’m learning  more about hitting in talking to Jeff Albert [who] is one of our hitting coordinators this year. He’s been great."

On Spring Training: "When Spring Training  rolled around, I was stretching and I was throwing and I was doing a little defensive work, but I couldn’t  hit at all. So I haven’t hit in probably 8 to 10 weeks. I think that’s the most rough [thing] about it because my nickname is GoGo. All my friends and all my college teammates back home call me that because I’m so used to going. I’m always going and now to be completely stopped and not doing anything kills me."

Gominsky has the arm, speed and defense down, but can he get the hitting?: "Can I get the hitting? Of course I can. I mean even in some of the meetings I’ve had this year, probably the basic thing that they’re telling me is you’ve got the defense part down, you’ve got a great arm. You threw out a lot of guys last year. But we need your hitting to get better. And I think part of it is that I’ve been plagued by injuries in my pro career so far and that’s kind of stunted my growth in hitting. I was a career .300 hitter in college. I haven’t had so many injuries ever in my life. If I can just get healthy and see regular pitching then that’s going to get better with time [and] I’ll get back to where it used to be. It was nice to see that I had some more power numbers at the end of the year last year. I wanted to keep playing when everyone was ready to be done. I was like 'No, I’m starting to heat up. Let’s keep playing.'"

On being a fan favorite: "That’s one of the things I take pride in is the fans. I remember being a fan back in the day when I was a kid. Sometimes there’d be guys who would just blow by you and really not acknowledge you and whatnot. I never wanted to be that guy. I promised myself if I ever played pro ball, I’d always acknowledge the fans. I don’t care how long I have to stay out there. Sometimes last year I’d stay out there for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, just signing autographs. I guess you could say [it can be attributed to] “Minnesota nice” but [it also is because of] some of the values and morals I’ve grown up that my dad and my mom instilled in me. I like to ... build relationships, and that’s one thing I’ve really been able to do at Tri-City and Lexington so it’s been awesome."

On his home state of Minnesota: "Minnesota’s great. It gets cold in the winter time, [but] Minnesota summers you can’t beat. You got the lakes and it gets really nice. It gets around the 80s, mid 80s. The people are great, really really friendly and then you’ve got all the activities you can do in the summer. It’s awesome."

What would he do if he couldn't play baseball?: "I'd coach, or one of the things I’m really interested in is maybe part owning a baseball academy back home, the baseball academy I came up with as a player. That’d be something I’d want to do. I’d want to stay in baseball because I love the game and I love the relationships you make through baseball that are unbelievable. I would never have as many friends as I do if I didn’t play baseball because I’ve met some really good people whether it be in high school ball, college ball or pro ball. It’s really awesome."

What Astros pitcher would he least like to face in the batter's box?: "Either Mike Foltynewicz or Kyle Hallock. I’ll tell you something about Kyle. Kyle does not want to lose. He’s a fierce competitor. He just gets up there and he competes. He might not have all the tools that Foltynewicz has, but he’s just one of those guys that’s just going to beat you. He’s one of my really good friends here."

Which of your teammates makes you laugh?: "I’d say Brandon Meredith and Matt Duffy. [Duffy is] one of the funniest guys I know. He was my roommate here in spring training before he left and I was laughing every night. It was awesome. Brandon’s pretty funny. You know who else is a good laugh is Chan Jong Moon. I’m his roommate right now here at Extended. His personality really doesn’t come out with strangers. I think that’s his culture. If you get [him together] with someone he knows, his personality really really comes out."

Which Astros teammate stands out as a leader?: "I haven’t actually played with him, but I played with him in Spring Training this year … Carlos Correa. For how young he is, the type of player he is, he’s really a good leader by example. And if he has something on his mind, he’ll speak out. He will not hold it in. That’s one thing that really stood out about him is that he’s a pretty good leader especially how old he is."

On sporting the high socks look: "Always! Always! I’m an old-school guy. I will always wear my pants up. As long as I’m playing baseball, I will always wear my pants up."

Which does he prefer playing, center field or right field?: "I like center field so I can track balls, but I like right field because I get more chances to throw guys out. I can use my tools in center field because I can throw, I can run and I can track balls down, but I also love right field because I have probably twice as many chances to throw guys out."

What is something most people don't know about him, and might be surprised to hear?: "I like poetry and I’m pretty sure no one knows that ... anyone on my team I don’t think have ever known that. Not as much reading but writing. I will write poetry just to kind of relax. So that’s something that not a lot of people know about me. Especially in this profession. It’s the last thing you want to tell your teammates. I write poetry."


I must admit that I really enjoyed talking with Justin on a personal level. We got sidetracked with an animated discussion of the Midwestern roots we share in common. It's hard to have a conversation with him that doesn't become animated because his enthusiasm is infectious. It is my sincere hope that he will soon be able to leave Team Rehab behind and get back in action.

Thank you for your time, Justin, and the best of luck!

Astros Minor League Recaps

Tuesday's Games

Clinton over Quad Cities 6-3 in 7 innings (Game 1)
Lance McCullers would probably just as soon forget this start as he allowed six runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk while striking out one in two and a third innings of work. A Joe Sclafani error came back to hurt McCullers, but so did a bases-loaded hit batter. Mitch Lambson came on to put out the fire with one out in the third and pitched three and two-thirds scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk with three strikeouts and Cameron Lamb finished it off with a scoreless frame, but the damage was already done by that point. Quad Cities only had one hit (a Chase Davidson double in the first) through the first six innings and didn't manage to get on the board until that frame. That the River Bandits managed to score at all was pretty impressive considering they only had two hits in the game, the second being a Terrell Joyce RBI double in the seventh. They were, however, helped out by their nine walks (Sclafani with three of them) which allowed runs to score on a Jesse Wierzbicki sac fly and a Carlos Correa ground out. Davidson got his first stolen base of the season and Joyce was credited with an outfield assist.

Quad Cities over Clinton 3-2 in 7 innings (Game 2)
Daniel Minor got the start and gave up two runs on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts in four innings pitched before giving way to Michael Dimock who shut the door beautifully with three perfect frames in which he struck out four. The Bandits did all their scoring in the fifth inning on an RBI single from the just promoted Austin Elkins and a two-run double from Ryan Dineen. Quad Cities was held to five hits -- two of them belonged to Jesse Wierzbicki.

High Desert over Lancaster 6-5 in 11 innings
Aaron West cruised through his first four innings very effectively before giving up two solo jacks in the fifth inning. Luis Cruz then turned a 5-2 lead into a 5-5 tie in his three innings of work. Cruz was followed by a phenomenal performance from Travis Ballew who proceeded to collect six straight swinging strikeouts in the ninth and 10th innings. The 'Hawks were unable to convert a bases loaded situation in the top of the 11th, and Tommy Shirley's one pitch exited stage right for a walk-off. Preston Tucker was 3-for-5 with a home run, and Drew Muren was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI single. Andrew Aplin, Zach Johnson and Matt Duffy also doubled in the game.

Tulsa over Corpus Christi 9-3
A double, triple, single, wild pitch and throwing error was all it took to put the Hooks in a 3-0 hole in the first inning as R.J. Alaniz ultimately allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits while striking out three in five innings. But that line looked great compared to the five runs allowed by Matt Heidenreich on three home runs in only one and a third innings. Lefties Pat Urckfitz and Alex Sogard took it the rest of the way with scoreless outings. Corpus finally hit the run column in the seventh inning courtesy of a two-run home run from Rene Garcia, his first of the season. George Springer followed with a solo home run in the eighth. Austin Wates was 2-for-5 with a triple.

Round Rock over Oklahoma City 8-6
If Brett Oberholtzer could just erase the third inning, he would have had a terrific outing, as he allowed only one hit and one walk in the other four innings he pitched. Unfortunately, he allowed four hits and a walk and all five of those runners scored on a Jurickson Profar three-run home run and a Joey Butler two-run shot. No tandem pitching for OKC last night, though, as five relievers took their turns. Kevin Chapman was charged with three runs (one earned) as Josh Zeid allowed two inherited runners to score. Eric Berger saw his first action as an Astro, facing three batters and walking one. The RedHawks took an early lead scoring four in the second, but the lead was shortlived. Two additional runs scored on a Marc Krauss double in the eighth (the only extra base hit) that brought OKC within striking distance. Jake Elmore was running wild on the bases, stealing two and getting caught once. Che-Hsuan Lin and Jimmy Paredes each stole a base as well.

Player of the Day: Ryan Dineen's two-run RBI for Quad Cities was the ultimate game winner.

Pitchers of the Day: It's another tie as two relievers deserve acknowledgment. Travis Ballew simply dominated the High Desert crew with his six strike outs swinging and gave them the chance to win, a chance which was unfortunately not cashed in. And Michael Dimock's three perfect frames for Quad Cities preserved their tenuous 3-2 lead.

Happy Birthday - 4/17

Two former Astros with birthdays today ~

SS Jed Lowrie (29)
A first round draft pick by Boston in 2005, Lowrie came to Houston, along with Kyle Weiland, in a trade for Mark Melancon in December of 2011. In 97 games for Houston in 2012, he hit .244/.331/.438. He was traded in February 2013 to Oakland, along with Fernando Martinez for Max Stassi, Brad Peacock and Chris Carter. In 15 games for Oakland so far this season, he has a .357/.429/.625 batting line.

UT Denny Walling (59)
Walling was a first round pick by Oakland in 1975 and came to Houston in a trade in June of 1977 where he became a fixture until traded to the Cardinals in August of 1988 for Bob Forsch. Denny Walling was the quintessential utility player, moving among first base, third base, the outfield and a pinch-hitting role with ease and effectiveness. In 13 years for Houston, he hit .277/.345/.402 in 1072 games. One of his career highlights was hitting the game-winning home run in the division-clinching no-hitter pitched by Mike Scott in September 1986. Most recently, Walling has been the hitting coach for the Orioles AAA Norfolk affiliate since 2012.

Tweet of the Day

Jake Elmore
"We can check surviving an Earthquake off the bucket list" -

Roster Moves

Lots of movement in the minors yesterday:

2B Ruben Sosa assigned from Oklahoma City to Extended Spring Training (EST)
3B Andy Simunic assigned from EST to Oklahoma City

2B Carlos Perdomo assigned from Quad Cities to Lancaster
C Tyler Heineman placed on the 7-day DL (ankle)
LF Chris Epps activated from the Temporary Inactive (TI) list
RHP Alex Gillingham placed on the 7-day DL

LHP Joe Bircher assigned from Quad Cities to EST
2B Austin Elkins assigned from Tri-City to Quad Cities (had been at EST)
1B Chase Davidson activated from the TI list

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Monday's Games

Oklahoma City over Memphis 11-0
Wes Musick (5IP, 2H, 1BB, 5SO) and Jarred Cosart (3.2IP, 3H, 3SO) combined to allow only five hits and one walk in the shutout with Kyle Hallock getting the final out. The RedHawks got on the board early scoring three runs in the first on RBI singles from Brandon Laird, Trevor Crowe and Marc Krauss, but kept playing add-on culminating in a five-run outburst in the sixth inning to seal the deal. Laird was 3-for-4 with a double, walk and two runs scored; Jimmy Paredes was 2-for-5 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored; Crowe was 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI; and Jonathan Villar was 2-for-4 with a triple and scored one of his two runs on a wild pitch. Villar and Robbie Grossman each stole a base. Marc Krauss was only 1-for-2 but drove in three, including two by way of sac flies.

Tulsa over Corpus Christi 3-2
Asher Wojciechowski did his job, keeping Tulsa off the board through five innings, allowing only four hits while striking out three. Corpus led through six, but David Martinez, Jorge de Leon and Andrew Robinson allowed one run each in the final three frames, giving Tulsa the edge. Corpus scored early with a George Springer RBI single in the first and an Austin Wates (2-for-3) RBI single in the second, but that was it for the scoring. Carlos Perez was 2-for-4 and had the only Hooks extra base hit, a double. Austin Wates swiped two bags while Springer borrowed one.

Lancaster over High Desert 15-5
Delino DeShields sat out another one as he nurses an injured finger, and the JetHawks lost a second man to injury early in Monday's game as Tyler Heineman tweaked an ankle on a slide in the first inning and was pulled. But that is the end of the bad news as Lancaster pounded out 12 hits (including two doubles, a triple and three home runs) and drew ten walks in what became a laugher after a seven-run seventh inning. Starter Tyson Perez got knocked around a little, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out one. He was followed by one and a third scoreless from T.J. Geith who in turn was followed by second starter David Rollins who kept High Desert to two hits and two walks while striking out six in his four innings of work. Although Preston Tucker (RBI single and solo home run), Drew Muren (three-run home run), Raoul Torrez (two RBI double) and M.P. Cokinos (2-for-4, RBI, 2R) all had good outings, it was really the Andrew Aplin Show with a run scoring triple in the fourth followed by a grand slam in the seventh. It was Aplin's first home run of the season. Also of note were the three walks and three runs scored by Nolan Fontana.

Clinton at Quad Cities - Postponed due to rain

Player of the Day: 2-for-4 with a triple, grand slam, five RBI, two walks and two runs scored? Yeah, I'll take that. Congratulations Andrew Aplin!

Pitchers of the Day: It's a tie. Not only did David Rollins and Asher Wojciechowski have great outings on Monday, they have both had tremendous starts to their seasons. In 13 innings pitched, Rollins has allowed one unearned run on nine hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts while Wojo has not allowed any runs (earned or otherwise) and has limited the opposition to six hits and four walks while striking out 14 in 14 innings. A tip of the cap to Wes Musick who also had a tremendous outing!

Roster Moves

The Astros announced on Monday that C Chris Wallace was being traded to Cleveland for LHP Eric Berger. The 26-year old Berger was drafted by Cleveland in the 8th round in 2008 and has a minor league career 3.91 ERA and 1.399 WHIP in 135 appearances (78 starts). He will be assigned to AAA Oklahoma City. Wallace was a 16th round pick in 2010. His career batting line over 3+ seasons is .272/.348/.464 with a career caught stealing of 27%.

Happy Birthday - 4/16

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

C Bruce Bochy (58)
A first round draft pick by Houston in 1975, Bochy was an Astro from 1978 to 1980 before playing for the Mets and the Padres. As an Astro, he hit .239/.308/.321 over 132 games. Shortly after he quit playing in 1988, he started managing in the minor leagues, graduating to manager of the San Diego Padres in 1995 at the ripe old age of 40. After a dozen years at the helm in San Diego, he started managing the Giants in 2007, leading them to World Series Championships in 2010 and 2012.

SS Tommy Manzella (30)
Drafted by Houston in the third round in 2005, Manzella played in 90 games for Houston in 2009 and 2010.  Despite hitting .289/.339/.417 in 133 games at AAA in 2009 prior to his September call-up that year, he struggled at the plate in the majors, hitting .224/.266/.262.  He was claimed off  waivers by the Diamondbacks in August of 2011. He is currently playing for the AAA affiliate of the Rockies.

Tweet of the Day

Enrique Hernandez
Thank you Jackie Robinson!!! If it wasn't for you we wouldn't have our spectacular Team Captain #42
Embedded image permalink

Monday, April 15, 2013

Astros Minor League Snapshot

After approximately 10 games into the minor league season, let's take a look at how things are going for the teams and for a few individual players. First, let's look at how each team ranks in various areas as compared to the rest of their league.

5-5 in 4th place in their division

Team Batting
BA - 6th of 16
OBP - 4th of 16
SLG - 11th of 16
BB - 8th of 16
SO - 14th of 16

Team Pitching
ERA - 13th of 16
WHIP - 7th of 16
BB - 14th of 16
SO - 16th of 16

7-3 in 1st place in their division

Team Batting
BA - 3rd of 8
OBP - 2nd of 8
SLG - 2nd of 8
BB - 2nd of 8
SO - 1st of 8

Team Pitching
ERA - 2nd of 8
WHIP - 1st of 8 (Team WHIP is 0.989!)
BB - 8th of 8
SO - 7th of 8

7-3 in 1st place in their division

Team Batting
BA - 2nd of 10
OBP - 2nd of 10
SLG - 1st of 10
BB - 5th of 10
SO - 10th of 10

Team Pitching
ERA - 7th of 10
WHIP - 10th of 10
BB - 5th of 10
SO - 6th of 10

7-2 and tied for 1st in their division

Team Batting
BA - 8th of 16
OBP - 2nd of 16
SLG - 11th of 16
BB - 1st of 16
SO - 1st of 16

Team Pitching
ERA - 4th of 16
WHIP - 3rd of 16
BB - 15th of 16
SO - T12th of 16

Within the Astros minor league system, here are the current leaders in select categories:

RBI - Matt Duffy (14)
Hits - Jake Elmore (19)
2B - Four tied at 5 (Jake Elmore, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Paredes, Michael Burgess)
HR - Matt Duffy (4)
SB - Austin Wates (5)
BB - Robbie Grossman (11)
SO - George Springer (17)
BA (min. 40 PA) - Jake Elmore (.452)
OBP (min. 40 PA) - Matt Duffy (.500)
SLG (min. 40 PA) - Matt Duffy (.800)
Wins - Three tied at 2 each (Chris Devenski, David Rollins, Vincent Velasquez)
ERA (min. of 10 IP) - Two tied at 1.50 (Joe Bircher, Chris Devenski)
WHIP (min. of 10 IP) - Vincent Velasquez (0.643)
Saves - Jason Stoffel (3)
BB - Mike Foltynewicz (7)
SO - Two tied with 15 each (Luis Cruz and Nick Tropeano)

Bloggers Night at Minute Maid Park

Here is your chance to meet a few of the Astros bloggers and ask us all of those burning questions you have about the team and the farm system.

  • Who do you expect to have a breakout season for the Astros?
  • Who will be a bust?
  • Who is the most underrated prospect in the system?
  • What prospect is generating the most excitement?
  • Which Astro has the dreamiest eyes? (Terri of Tales from the Juice Box is all over this one!)

If we don't have the answers, we'll make them up! But we will do so with conviction. (That's what bloggers do.)

So far, we expect Terri, De and Greis of Tales from the Juice Box and John Burgess of Climbing Tal's Hill to attend, in addition to yours truly of course! We hope to have more.

Here are the details.

WHO: Anyone and everyone who is interested. The more the merrier!

WHAT: A fun get-together and a chance to meet some of your fellow Astros fans and the bloggers who write about the team.

WHEN: Saturday, May 4th at 6:10 p.m. vs. Detroit

WHERE: Section 134, starting with Row 18 in right field

WHY: Why not?!?

HOW: Click on this link for discounted tickets. Go to the interactive map and click on Section 134, starting with Row 18. Make sure you enter the code "WTHB" for the discount.

We hope to see you there!