Saturday, May 11, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Friday's Games

Cedar Rapids Kernels 2, Quad Cities River Bandits 0 (11) Game 1 
This game was the first of two scheduled for the day and it quickly became a classic pitchers' duel, lasting 11 innings. Josh Fields, on rehab assignment, started on the hill for Quad Cities and pitched the first two innings, allowing one hit and striking out three. Jamaine Cotton followed Fields for the next four frames and kept it scoreless, allowing just a hit of his own, walking two and striking out a pair. John Neely came on in the seventh, for what was scheduled as the last inning of the game, and gave up a hit, walked one and struck out two. Cameron Lamb (1-2) was next on the mound, starting the extra innings, and pitched three and a third scoreless of his own before allowing two runs on three hits in the 11th to break the stalemate and tally the loss. Lamb finished at two runs on five hits with five Ks. Mitchell Lambson came in to replace Lamb and retired the final two batters, striking out one. There wasn't much happening at the plate for the River Bandits in this game, they collected six hits (all singles) and two walks total. That said, Jordan Scott still ended up three-for-four batting, collecting half of his team's hits.

Cedar Rapids Kernels 5, Quad Cities River Bandits 1 (7) Game 2
Game two of the doubleheader was the makeup of the rainout from the previous day and the River Bandits came within one out from being shutout in this one (Roberto Pena, who was on with a leadoff walk, scored on a one-out sac' fly by Jordan Scott in the bottom of the seventh). Vincent Velasquez (3-1) took the start and the loss, his first of the season, after pitching the first four and two thirds. Velasquez was hit hard in the first frame for four runs on six hits and ended up allowing five runs all day over nine hits while recording a career-high nine Ks. Gera Sanchez took over the helm from Velasquez and finished out the game, retiring the first four batters he faced in order before allowing a single in the seventh. Sanchez then got back in the groove and retired the final two and recorded one strikeout on the day. There was very little offense in this game as well for Quad Cities, four hits and five walks, but Teoscar Hernandez, who hit one-for-four, did steal a base in the second for his 10th of the season. 

Stockton Ports 13, Lancaster JetHawks 19
Allowing 13 runs to the opposing team is not usually a good thing, but when you are already far ahead and record 19 of your own, the home crowd doesn't seem to mind too much. Brady Rodgers got the start and threw for the first four and two thirds, allowing seven runs (5ER) on seven hits, walking two and striking out five. By the time Rodgers left the game in the top of the fifth the JetHawks already had 16 runs. Chris Devenski (3-1) picked up the reins in the six to finish out the pitching and took the win as well, giving up six runs on six hits, walking three and striking out four. At the plate, it was pure insanity: all but two starters had multi-hit games, every one of them recorded a hit, Telvin Nash hit two homers and recorded seven RBI,  Andrew Aplin hit three-for-four with a triple and four RBI of his own and while all that was going on Chris Epps was running around stealing bases. Here's the box, because trust me, I'd miss something otherwise:  


Frisco RoughRiders 4, Corpus Christi Hooks 9
The Hooks crept out to an early lead in this one and when things got close again in the seventh frame, they came back to drop four runs in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win. Nick Tropeano got things started on the mound, pitching four innings and recording one run (0ER) on two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Bobby Doran (5-0) clocked in for the next three and a third and went on to earn the win. Doran cruised through his first two frames of work, but allowed three runs in the seventh, finishing with those three runs on two hits and a K. One man was responsible for over half of Corpus Christi's nine runs on Friday, Domingo Santana. Santana hit a team-first, three homers in the game and recorded five RBIs all day, finishing three-for-four at the plate. Rene Garcia hit two-for-four with a double, RBI, and run scored. 

Tacoma Rainiers 0, Oklahoma City RedHawks 1
Oklahoma City won what could be called a four-hit shutout on Friday at home, but what really was another classic pitchers' duel. The RedHawks didn't tally a hit until the fourth inning when a Brett Wallace (1X4 R 3B 2SO) triple followed by a Brandon Laird (1X4 2B RBI SO) double scored the only run of the game. Brett Oberholtzer (2-3) threw the first five and two thirds frames and collected the win. Oberholtzer recorded 1-2-3 innings in the second, third and fourth while allowing one hit, walking two and striking out nine. Josh Zeid (1.1 IP H 4SO), Kevin Chapman (.1 IP H BB) and Jason Stoffel (.2 IP SO) all earned holds, their third, fifth and second, respectively, after Oberholtzer left the game. Jose Valdez came in for the ninth to close and picked up his ninth save after giving up a hit and striking out one. Valdez is second in the Pacific Coast League in saves so far this year.

Player of the Day: What a day Friday was. Telvin Nash hit two homers and would normally be a shoe in, but Domingo Santana had to come along and hit three. You know what? They get to split it today. They without a doubt earned it and both had incredible games. Between the two is 12 runs and five homers on Friday. Wow.   

Pitcher of the Day: Brett Oberholtzer, come on down. This guy was on fire Friday and set the pace for the rest of the pitching staff in their shutout while striking out 9-nearly two guys an inning. 

Happy Birthday - 5/11

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

RHP Francisco Cordero (38)
Originally signed by the Tigers as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic n 1994, Cordero came to the Astros as a part of a 10-player trade with the Blue Jays in July 2012. Cordero only appeared in six games (five innings) for Houston before being released in September 2012. And that appears to have concluded a 14-season major league career in which Cordero was 47-53 in 800 appearances (all out of the bullpen) with a 3.38 ERA, a 1.365 WHIP and 329 saves. He was a three-time All-Star for the Rangers, the Brewers and the Reds.

Tweet of the Day

Brady Rodgers
Unbelievable offensive show tonight!! Gotta love my team mates!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps


Thursday's Games

Cedar Rapids Kernels, Quad Cities River Bandits
-Postponed due to rain.

Lake Elsinore Storm 4, Lancaster JetHawks 10
The JetHawks' offense was consistent Thursday evening at home, scoring in every inning except the sixth and seventh, which was more than enough to secure the win. Aaron West started on the mound for Lancaster and cruised through the first two innings, but in the third got into a little trouble and ended up allowing three runs on four hits with a walk and 3 Ks during his shift. West was replaced by Theron Geith (3-0) (2IP 2H BB) in the fourth frame and Geith threw two innings of shutout ball, earning him the win as the offense plugged away. Blair Walters, the second in the tandem, came on to pitch the next three and gave up a run on two hits while walking three. Travis Ballew closed out the game, retiring all three batters he faced in the ninth in order, striking out one. Joe Sclafani (2X5 R RBI), Tyler Heineman (2X4 R 2B SO) and Andrew Aplin (3X5 2R 2B RBI) all had multi-hit games, but none was more impressive than Aplin's, who also stole a base and collected his 29th RBI. Aplin is still tied for most in the California League. Chris Epps (1X3 R HR RBI) and Telvin Nash (1X2 2R HR 2RBI 2BB SO) got in on the offensive action too, clubbing two-run homers in the second and fifth innings, respectively.      

Frisco RoughRiders 6, Corpus Christi Hooks 4
Corpus Christi got out to a great start behind the performance of starting pitcher Jake Buchanan, but began to fall in the sixth frame and were never able to catch completely up. Buchanan pitched through the fifth inning and in his time, allowed just two hits and struck out four while facing the minimum (thanks to a couple double plays behind him). Carlos Quevedo (1-3) took the hill next and lasted four outs, giving up five runs on five hits (2HR), walking one and striking out a pair. Quevedo ended up with the loss. Alex Sogard replaced him and did his best to stop the onslaught, finishing out the game and giving up a run on three hits while K-ing one. The Hooks only had 5 hits in the game, but Domingo Santana (1X4 R 2B 2SO) and Jonathan Meyer (1X3 2B BB) both made theirs doubles. Erik Castro's (1X4 R HR RBI SO) hit was a solo-shot to lead off the bottom of the sixth and get the scoring started for the Hooks. George Springer went naught-for-three with 3 strikeouts.

Tacoma Rainiers 1, Oklahoma City RedHawks 3
The RedHawks again flirted with a shutout victory at home Thursday, but lost the shutout in the ninth while going on to win their 10th consecutive home game. Asher Wojciechowski (1-0) took the start and the win (his first since the promotion from Corpus) after throwing six innings of scoreless ball. Wojo struck out three and walked a trio during his shift. Rhiner Cruz (2IP BB SO) followed suit for the next two innings and was replaced by Jose Valdez to close out the game in the top of the ninth. Valdez gave up a double to the first batter he faced then retired the next two on ground outs bringing the runner around to score. Valdez flied the next batter out to finish the game at one run on one hit. The RedHawks collected seven hits in the game Thursday and four of them were divided between Brett Wallace (2X3 R 2B RBI SO) and Jonathan Villar (2X4 SO). Villar also stole a couple bags on the night, pushing his season total to 12.

Player of the Day: Andrew Aplin, come on down. This guy always plays ball well, but put a little something extra on it yesterday, earning him the honors today. It also doesn't hurt that he is a virtual RBI-machine so far this season (Just a little trivia: his 29 is ten more than the Astros RBI-leader Chris Carter has so far and Aplin has played in two less games). 

Pitcher of the Day: Jake Buchanan dominated again on Thursday and his performance earned him the nod today. Buchanan has allowed just five runs so far this season over 39 and a third and is now sporting a 1.14 ERA, which is second best in the Texas League (his teammate, David Martinez leads the league with .87).

Happy Birthday - 5/10

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

C Merritt Ranew (died October 18, 2011 at 73)
Drafted by Houston from Milwaukee in the 1961 expansion draft, Ranew played in 71 games for the Colt .45's in 1962 before being traded to the Cubs in March of 1963. Check out this very interesting story about Ranew being hit on the head with a bat during an in-game fracas during his time in the Seattle Pilots system.

LHP Pete Shourek (44)
A second round signing by the Mets in 1987, Shourek started 15 games for Houston in 1998, with a 7-6 record, a 4.50 ERA and a 1.475 WHIP. He came in second in Cy Young voting to Greg Maddux in 1995.

CF Glen Barker (42)
Barker came to Houston as a Rule 5 pick from Detroit in 1998. In 235 games played for the Astros in 1998 through 2000, Barker only had 197 plate appearances with a .232/.330/.323 batting line.

Tweet of the Day

Kenny Long
Well I guess my parents are going to enjoy California without me there bad timing but great opportunity

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Roster Moves

OKLAHOMA CITY
Confirmed that OF Austin Wates assigned from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City

CORPUS CHRISTI
LHP Kenny Long assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi

LANCASTER
Kyle Hallock assigned from Oklahoma City to Lancaster

QUAD CITIES
RHP Jamaine Cotton assigned from Extended Spring Training to Quad Cities
3B Rio Ruiz activated from the DL
RHP Josh Fields assigned to Quad Cities for Rehab Assignment

Talking to the Quad Cities Coaches

I spoke with both Pitching Coach Dave Borkowski and Hitting Coach Joel Chimelis when I was in Quad Cities to get their take on the players that I interviewed, but I spoke with them about a few other players/topics as well and wanted to share their thoughts.

DAVE BORKOWSKI

Borkowski on Lance McCullers
He's doing fine. I think he's getting back to his old form and the ball's coming out very well. He's got a strong arm. We all know that. It's well above average. He's young. He's going to have some growing pains. That's part of it. The stuff is fine. The competitiveness is fine. The intensity. The focus. What he's trying to do is fine. He just needs to age and get better with age. He's doing well, though. He should be fun to watch. He's par for the course. He's doing what he should be doing at 19 years old.

Colton Cain under the watchful eye of Dave Borkowski
April 2013 - Photo by Jayne Hansen

Any surprises on the pitching staff?
I don't know that I'm surprised, but I've been impressed with what [John] Neely's done out of the bullpen. You know, he's got a good heavy sinker. He's just closing games and going after guys. I don't think he's given up a fly ball out this year. [Neely has a 5.00 GO/AO through 11 games.] Breaking a bunch of bats with that sinker, and he's got a good slider to go with it. I've been impressed with what he's done.

Borkowski on Tandem Pitching
You know what? It's working out pretty well right now. Honestly, I wasn't much for it early on, but it seems to be working well. The biggest thing is the three days off and the recovery -- guys are handling it fine. I think at this level, it's a good way to monitor some innings and maybe not overwork them in a game where we're trying to get them through seven and [they throw] too many pitches, so it's been good.

JOEL CHIMELIS

Chimelis on Teoscar Hernandez
I think a lot of people, the first time they see him, they start liking him a lot. The more they see him, even more so. He's got some tools. He can run. He can throw. He can hit. He's a very good player. Hitting wise, he's very simple when it comes to his mechanics. Most of these young kids get into trouble when they try to do too much. They've got to find that balance between being aggressive, but get under control. But overall, he's got quite a few tools and he's exciting to watch. We've had scouts that have never seen him that came over from different organizations, and they saw him for the first time in Spring Training, "Wow, I love that guy!" We're talking about [a prominent scout] and he says, "Wow, I love this guy. He's my man. He's my guy." It's pretty obvious he's a pretty good player.

Joel Chimelis throwing BP - April 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

On Carlos Correa and working with young hitters
I think his biggest fault is just his effort level. He tries to do too much. He knows he's got some thunder in his bat, and I think sometimes he gets too aggressive. He gets out there a little bit too far, commits to bad pitches. So we're just trying to make him trust himself, "What I'm doing is enough to drive the ball. I don't need to go out and get the ball. I don't need to lunge out there." Slowly but surely, he's going to get comfortable and confident with his ability to just relax and let the ball get to him. Because right now when he gets in trouble, the main thing is [that he is] going out there a little too far to get the ball, just lunging to the ball, drifting to the ball and as a result of that, he commits to bad pitches.

A lot of these guys, especially when they have runners in scoring position, the intensity level increases and then the mind is going 100 miles an hour and as a result, the body's going to do the same. So it's just a matter of trying to keep these guys on an even keel and just try to be consistent with that thought process. As you go up on the higher levels, those guys get better with that. They trust themselves. Less is more sometimes. Eventually it will come to a point where it's like, "I remember back in A ball in Quad Cities where they were telling me to relax and let the ball come to me. You don't have to go out and get it." Eventually it will start clicking for him. Hopefully sooner than later. And again, most of these guys are like that. They just get too antsy and they want to do too much and I keep saying, "The mind controls the body. If you're not relaxed up in the head, in your mind, your body can't do the same."

If he can control his emotions and his effort level, he's going to be more consistent. With Correa, he's going to have to keep trusting. He's going to have to keep working on that. He's capable of a lot. We have a lot of kids on this team that have a lot of ability. It's there. We've just got to find it and build it.

Astros Minor League Recaps

Wednesday's Games

Oklahoma City over Tacoma 7-6 n 10 innings
There's nothing quite like going in to the bottom of the ninth inning down 6-0 and scoring six runs with two outs to tie up the game and force extra innings! That's why we love baseball. Anything is possible. Brad Peacock got his first start at OKC, allowing four runs on six hits with five strikeouts. Eric Berger gave up the fifth Tacoma run on a solo homer before giving way to a scoreless inning from C.J. Fick. Jason Stoffel pitched the final two (3H 1R 1SO) and got the "W" in extras after the late comeback kept OKC in the game. And about that comeback. After managing only three walks and three singles in the first eight and two-thirds, the RedHawks got to work. A Marc Krauss (2x3 2BB) single was followed by a Jason Jaramillo RBI double and walks from Andy Simunic (2x4 BB SB) and Che-Hsuan Lin. A Cody Clark single scored Jaramillo and re-loaded the bases so that Jonathan Villar could hit a Grand Slam. All in a day's work. Brandon Laird scored the winning run in the tenth on a throwing error.

Corpus Christi - Off Day

Lake Elsinore over Lancaster 7-2 in 7 innings
The game was tied 1-1 until a big fifth inning chased starter Luis Cruz from the game (4.1IP 4H 5R 3BB 3SO 2HR). Two of Cruz' runs scored under reliever Jonas Dufek's watch and Dufek allowed two more unearned runs of his own before all was said and done. The JetHawks got on the board in the third on an RBI single from Andrew Aplin scoring M.P. Cokinos (2x3 2-2B). The only other run came via a solo home run from Preston Tucker in the bottom of the seventh. It was Tucker's sixth of the season.

Lake Elsinore over Lancaster 4-2 in 7 innings
This is the one that hurt. Losing three in a row from the last place team caused Lancaster to fall out of first place for the first time since April 7th. Starter Tommy Shirley (4.1IP 7H 3R 1BB 3SO) collected his third loss of the season. Travis Ballew was charged with the final Lake Elsinore run in his one and two-thirds innings of work before giving way to a perfect frame from Kenny Long. Lake Elsinore scored a couple early but Lancaster was able to tie it up in the bottom of the fourth on a Preston Tucker (2x3) RBI single scoring Tyler Heineman and a Matt Duffy (1x2 2B) bases-loaded hit by pitch. The JetHawks' bats remained mostly silent the rest of the way, though, as they only mustered a total of five hits and one walk in the game.

Quad Cities over Cedar Rapids 4-2
Brian Holmes got the start for Quad Cities and allowed three hits and three walks while striking out eight in four and two-thirds scoreless innings. Michael Dimock came on with men on the corners to get the final out of the fifth. Jordan Jankowski (2.1IP 2H 1R 3SO 1HR) earned his first win of the season as the second half starter. Mitch Lambson got two quick outs in the eighth and John Neely allowed one unearned run as he converted his sixth save of the season. The River Bandits drew first blood in the first inning as Austin Elkins drove in Brian Blasik (3x4 2B) with an RBI single and were quiet until a solo home run from Teoscar Hernandez in the fifth gave them a 2-0 lead. They played add on with one more in each of the next two innings. Quad Cities has consistently trailed the first place Cedar Rapids team by three games over the last couple of weeks. This win was very welcome as Quad Cities now trails the first place team by only two games.

Player of the Day: A Grand Slam to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs? Yep, Jonathan Villar, come on down!

Pitcher of the Day: Brian Holmes gets the nod for his four and two-thirds scoreless frames and his eight strikeouts against the first place team. Very impressive.

Tweet of the Day

Jake Buchanan
Grill masters
Embedded image permalink

Bobby Doran
grill amateurs

Roster Moves

OKLAHOMA CITY
Although this hasn't been made official yet, it appears that Austin Wates is headed from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City to take the place of recently promoted Trevor Crowe.

QUAD CITIES
As reported by local reporter Daniel Makarewicz, Manager Omar Lopez indicated that Carlos Correa should be coming off the DL on Friday or Saturday. Correa has been nursing a hand injury from a hit by pitch.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

An Interview with Astros LHP Joe Bircher

Joe Bircher was drafted by Houston in the 10th round in 2012 out of Bradley University in Illinois. In his first seven appearances (three starts) for Quad Cities this season, he is 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.012 WHIP. He has allowed only four walks while striking out 19 batters in 27 and two-thirds innings.

I saw Bircher pitch on April 26th as the second half of a tandem with Vincent Velasquez starting the game. He pitched four scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and no walks while striking out two en route to his second save of the season as the tandem shut out Lansing in a very quick 2:14 game.

Before I spoke with Bircher the next day, I talked with Quad Cities Pitching Coach Dave Borkowski about the Velasquez/Bircher tandem, "Yeah, it's kind of a weird combination and they're kind of polar opposites but here's a guy [Bircher] with a lot less fastball with no fear, too. He's not afraid to pitch inside. He's not afraid to pitch to contact. Great changeup. Sells it real well. Keeps them off the fastball. He's been a huge bright spot this year."

Joe Bircher (L) and Jordan Jankowski - April 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

On to the interview (edited for clarity and brevity) ~

On his pitch repertoire: "I throw mid-80's fastball; changeup is my best off-speed. I also throw a curveball and a little slider when I pitch to lefties. My changeup is probably my best pitch. Especially so far this year. In the past, it's been the curveball and the slider. It's mostly just the changeup, but I get to a point where I can surprise people with fastballs late. It might not be too dang hard but "crafty little lefty" ... been doing it my whole life. [I commented that "crafty little lefties" have a long shelf life if they've got good command.] That's the biggest thing -- just try to command all four of them in the zone, throw it early for a strike off-speed and then bust them in late with the fastball."

On working in tandem with Vincent Velasquez: "He's a power pitcher in the truest sense of the word, good hard fastball, righty, really good command of it. And so I come into the game and I can throw changeups, but it's kind of got the same effect, being 25 miles an hour slower. It's fun. I come in there, different look, maybe a little deception or something. I don't know what the heck's going on; I can't watch myself. But it seems to be working. It's fun pitching with Vince. He's damn good. He can throw the hell out of the ball."

How does he feel about the tandem in general: "It's different. It's very different. I don't mind it. We're having success with it and that's kind of the whole point, and a lot of starters are getting innings. I think it's actually harder on bullpen guys -- like a closer. We've got some really good starting pitching in the Astros [system] so these bullpen guys [haven't made many appearances]. That's a little rough."

What is he working on?: "At this point, pretty much just working on fastball command and developing a bond with my catcher here. [This was said as Roberto Peña happened to walk past us in the dugout which led to a discussion about catchers in general and Peña in particular.]

"He's [Peña] very good. I enjoy throwing to him, both of the catchers really -- Morales and Peña. They can stick it. Good arm. Smart behind the plate. He's very good. Such an underrated part of catching is calling the game. As a pitcher, I just step on the rubber and I know that's the right pitch. I can just get into a rhythm. I don't have to stand there and shake and wait. I can just get on the rubber and throw. Just dial it in instead of having to worry about all that."

Whose pitch would he like to steal?: "I've got to go with Kenny Long. Kenny Long's slider. He's one of the funnest guys I've ever gotten to watch pitch. He just flips it up there and they can't hit it. It's got some kind of darkness to it and they just cannot hit it. No lefty can hit it. I'll take that pitch."

Which Astros hitter would he least like to face?: "A lot of them. Andrew Aplin's got to be up there. He's a good hitter. It's got to be [George] Springer, though. He's big-league ready right now. One little mistake and that ball is gone. He's probably the one that would be toughest to face."

How did he prepare for his first full season?: "Just trying to keep the same routine. It was my first off-season which was kind of iffy. Not really sure what to do. I went through all of college just being told what to do, 'come here, throw this time, this, this, this'. So it was kind of interesting having to do it on my own. I could have been more prepared for Spring Training. I wasn't quite ready but it's just kind of working out."

Something most people don't know about him?: "I studied Sports Psychology in college, just Psychology but I kind of did it with sports. Everything I did had to do with sports. I really enjoy that part of the game. Noticing guys, whether it's on the bases or up at bat or a pitcher. I like putting myself in there, thinking about what I would do from a mental standpoint. I graduated in January. I'll probably end up going to graduate school after baseball is done ... hopefully when I'm 50."

What would he say to Astros fans?: "Stick with it. We're going to be good. We're going to be fun to watch. It reminds me of when the Devil Rays had that big influx of really good pitchers and players all rise up at the same time and they made the playoffs. We're going to have something like that. There's just too much damn talent and everybody wins. Everybody's got the right attitude. You can just tell everybody was businesslike in Spring Training and carried it over here and we're winning. It's going to be fun. Give it a couple of years. It's going to be exciting down in Houston."

>>>>>>><<<<<<<

Listed at 6'4" 205#, I don't think that Bircher can lay claim to the "little" part of the "crafty little lefty" designation, but he's got the crafty part going well so far this season using his plus changeup to full advantage.  When Peña walked by Joe and I in the dugout, I asked him, "So, is he any good?," pointing to Bircher. Peña's deadpan response, "Yeah, he's getting better." Peña then laughed, "No, he's good." I would concur with that assessment.

Thank you for your time, Joe, and the best of luck as the season unfolds.

Astros Minor League Recaps


Tuesday's Games

Quad Cities River Bandits
-Off day. The River Bandits will begin a seven-game home stand today, playing the first three games against the Midwest League-leading Cedar Rapids Kernels (21-8).

Lake Elsinore Storm 8, Lancaster JetHawks 5
Lancaster lost the lead twice on Tuesday and couldn't muster the bats for a third comeback, recording only one hit after the seventh frame. The second comeback though, was spearheaded by Andrew Aplin (2X5 R HR RBI) in the seventh with his homer to lead off the inning. That homer also marked Aplin's 27th RBI (tied for the most in the California League). David Rollins led things off on the mound and through his five innings, allowed 4 runs (1ER) on five hits while striking out half a dozen. Rollins saw scoring against him in the second and fifth frames, but every other inning he pitched in was a 1-2-3 set. Tyson Perez (1-1) came on to pitch next and kept things scoreless through the sixth and seventh, allowing one hit each inning. Perez only made it one out into the eighth however and finished with three runs (2ER) on six hits, one K and the loss. Kenny Long finished out the game for the JetHawks and allowed a hit that scored an unearned run in the ninth, while striking out a pair. Tyler Heineman also went two-for-five at the plate Tuesday, with a double, run scored and RBI.  

Corpus Christi Hooks 5, San Antonio Missions 10
The Hooks jumped out to a four-run lead in the bottom of the first but that was erased by the end of the inning. Eight innings, five pitchers and one scored run later, Corpus Christi was moving on to their off day. Matt Heidenreich (2-3) got the start on the hill and one and a third innings later his night was at a close, having allowed six runs on seven hits with a walk and the loss. Jorge De Leon was the fifth and last pitcher of the game for Corpus, working the bottom of the eighth and also was the only hurler to not see a run scored during his shift. De Leon faced 5 batters, allowed 2 hits and struck out the same. Austin Wates quietly hit two-for-three Tuesday while George Springer hit one-for-three with a walk, two runs scored and swiped two bags. Springer now has nine stolen bases this season.

Tacoma Rainiers 1, Oklahoma City RedHawks 6
Oklahoma City nearly won this one in shutout fashion at home on Tuesday, thanks in large part to starting pitcher Jarred Cosart (4-0) who struck out 10 in his five and two thirds innings of work. Cosart also walked a trio while giving up six hits-all singles. Josh Zeid (1.1 IP 2SO) and Rhiner Cruz (1IP SO) followed on the mound, respectively and combined for two and a third innings of perfect pitching. Kevin Chapman came on to finish out the game on the rubber and after giving up a homer to the first batter he faced, retired the final three batters in order, striking out one. Jake "The Lumberjack" Elmore was a homer short of the cycle Tuesday, finishing three-for-four with two runs scored, a double and a triple. Brett Wallace batted two-for-four with a run scored and three RBI-two on his eighth-inning, two-run homer. Marc Krauss hit one-for-four in the game with a run scored and RBI on his seventh homerun of the year-a solo shot to lead off the fourth inning.

Player of the Day: Jake "The Lumberjack" Elmore is at it again and gets to wear the WTHB crown today. Any time you have a 3X4 game and end up a just a homer short of the cycle you've had a special game. So here's to the Elmore and his lumber, good job.

Pitcher of the Day: It's obviously Jarred Cosart. So obvious in fact, I couldn't even think of a way to be witty about it. This guy threw five and two thirds innings of shutout ball while striking out 10 in front of the home crowd. If he has any room left on his back to pat, here's another for the honors of the day.



Happy Birthday - 5/8

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

LHP Mike Cuellar (died April 2, 2010 at 72)
The Cuban born Cuellar was signed by Cincinnati in 1957 and came to Houston in a trade with the Cardinals in June 1965. In 127 games (88 starts) for Houston from 1965 to 1968, Cuellar was 37-36 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.162 WHIP (with one All Star nod) before being traded to Baltimore. In eight seasons with Baltimore, Cuellar was a three-time All Star winner and one-time Cy Young Winner.

2B Dave Rohde (49)
Drafted in the 5th round by Houston in 1986, Rohde played in 88 games for Houston in 1990 and 1991. Despite hitting .353 at AAA in 1990 and .372 in AAA in 1991, he only managed a collective .165 batting average during his time in Houston during those two seasons.

Tweet of the Day

Kevin Comer
Spanglish all day everyday.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Roster Moves

LANCASTER
SS/2B Joe Sclafani was assigned from Quad Cities to Lancaster. I'm assuming that this is to help cover for Delino DeShields while he's on the DL, but Joe has been doing quite nicely as of late, hitting .303/.465/.364 in his last 10 games.

Astros Minor League Recaps

Monday's Games

Iowa over Oklahoma City 6-1
Starter Ross Seaton allowed four runs on eight hits en route to his second loss of the season. He struck out six batters in five innings before giving way to tandem partner Wes Musick. In three innings, Musick allowed two runs (via the long ball) on two hits and a walk while striking out three. The Cubs effectively shut down the RedHawks offense as the 'Hawks only managed one run in the fourth inning which came across when Jonathan Villar (2x4) singled, stole second, stole third and scored on a single from Andy Simunic. Trevor Crowe went two-for-four in his last start before being called up to Houston; he is hitting .307/.402/.421 with three doubles, two triples, two home runs, 14 RBI and 11 stolen bases through 30 games. Jimmy Paredes, who also got the call to Houston, was hitless in Monday's game, but is hitting .366/.433/.580 with nine doubles, three triples, three home runs, 15 RBI and seven stolen bases through 30. Carlos Perez also went two-for-four in the game.

Corpus Christi over San Antonio 3-0
Mike Foltynewicz absolutely dominated in his AA debut, allowing only one single and one walk (picked off at first by Folty) in five innings while striking out nine hitters. He did not allow that hit until his fifth and final inning of work. He was followed by David Martinez (3.1IP 2H 1BB 1SO) who cruised to his fourth win of the season and Alex Sogard (0.2IP 1BB 1SO) who converted his third save. This game was a pitcher's duel and remained scoreless until George Springer and Domingo Santana hit back-to-back jacks in the eighth.

Lancaster over High Desert 8-7
Chris Devenski went three innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and was followed by two scoreless innings from Jonas Dufek. Brady Rodgers, the second half of the tandem, got his third win of the season as the JetHawks did most of their scoring late. Rodgers pitched three scoreless innings and allowed three singles and a triple (erased by Preston Tucker at home). Down 5-1 going into the sixth inning, the 'Hawks chipped away with two runs in the sixth, one in the seventh, one in the eighth and three in the ninth to gift Travis Ballew with an 8-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth. Ballew made things interesting by giving up a two-run home run with two outs, but ultimately converted the save, his fifth of the season. Matt Duffy was two-for-five with an RBI triple, an RBI single and scored a run. Chris Epps had an RBI triple as well in his two-for-two outing after coming into the game in the eighth. M.P. Cokinos, Preston Tucker (RBI single) and Tyler Heineman (RBI double) each had two hits as well. Nolan Fontana drew two more walks and now has 30 walks in 30 games. Brandon Meredith was hit by a pitch on the wrist and was removed from the game in the eighth.

Quad Cities over West Michigan 8-3
Colton Cain had his best outing of the season, by far, and was rewarded with his first win of the season. He pitched five scoreless innings with three hits and a walk while striking out three. Mike Hauschild allowed two runs in his two innings and Gera Sanchez let one more across in the ninth. This game was much closer than the score would indicate. Quad Cities had a tenuous 3-2 lead until a five-run eighth broke things open. The inning featured three walks, two singles and a wild pitch; Jordan Scott's (2x3 3B 3RBI BB) two-RBI triple was the icing on the cake. Jesse Wierzbicki (2x5 2-2B 2R), Ryan Dineen (2x4 2RBI 2R SB), and Roberto Pena (2x5 RBI R) all had good games at the plate as well. Joe Sclafani and Ariel Ovando each walked twice.

Player of the Day: Jordan Scott wins the honors for his two-out RBI single in the first and his two-out two-RBI triple in the eighth for Quad Cities.

Pitcher of the Day: Other pitchers had good days, but it is no contest. Mike Foltynewicz took a no-hitter into the fifth while striking out nine in his debut at AA. That's impressive.

Happy Birthday - 5/7

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Claude "Frenchy" Raymond (76)
First signed by Milwaukee in 1955, Raymond played for Houston from 1964 to 1967. In 154 games for the Colt .45's and Astros, he was 19-18 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.127 WHIP. The one-time All Star for Houston was traded to Atlanta in June 1967 for LHP Wade Blasingame.  He would ultimately play for Montreal in 1969 through 1971 where (from Baseball-Reference):

"Claude Raymond [was] considered a baseball hero in Quebec as the first Québécois to play for the Montreal Expos. He was an Expos French-language color broadcaster from 1972 to 2001, and was the public address announcer for the 1996 Olympics baseball tournament in Atlanta."

RHP Manny Hernandez (52)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1978 by Houston, Hernandez only pitched in 15 games (7 starts) for the Astros in 1986 and 1987, going 2-7 with a 4.56 ERA and a 1.520 WHIP. In 13 minor league seasons, he was 83-68 with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP.

I would also like to wish a Very Happy Birthday to a friend of the blog.

Zachary "Lefty" Levine (?)
Seinfeld afficianado, SABR geek, super funny smart guy and baseball writer extraordinaire.

Tweet of the Day

Enrique Hernandez
Has Springer's Home Run ball landed yet?!

Monday, May 6, 2013

An Interview with Quad Cities 2B Austin "Catfish" Elkins

I caught up with Austin Elkins when I was in Quad Cities at the end of April. Elkins is described by Hitting Coach Joel Chimelis as "a solid player, makes all the plays, has a good idea at the plate." Chimelis goes on to note that Elkins is "very aggressive towards the ball, maybe to a fault" so that's something that they're working on. Elkins is aggressive out there. The night before I spoke with him, I saw him reach base on a fielding error, advance on a bad pick-off attempt, steal third and score on a ground out. In that case, his aggressiveness paid off as he created a run out of thin air. Elkins, the Astros 19th round pick from 2012, is a high energy player who plays the game with enthusiastic abandon.

Austin Elkins - April 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Here is what Elkins had to say when I talked to him (edited for brevity and clarity).

On his nickname Catfish: "The nickname … When I was about four years old, I went fishing with my best friend. I caught a little bitty perch and so when I got home my [grandfather] asked me if I caught any fish today and I told him I caught a catfish this big because that’s the only fish I knew at the time, that I caught it on my little Mickey Mouse fishing pole. The story kept getting bigger and bigger so he started calling me Catfish, and then my family started calling me Catfish, and then when I got to summer ball in high school I guess the players started hearing my parents and family calling me Catfish so they started calling me Catfish, and then it just stuck. And last year with Tri-City I think that really got it going. Now everybody’s calling me Catfish. [Do you like it?] Yeah I do. My [grandfather] passed away just over a year ago, and I guess it’s kind of a way for his legacy to live on for people to call me Catfish. So I like it a lot. The girl that I’m talking to, it would be kind of weird if she called me Catfish. I let her just stick to Austin, but for teammates and around baseball, I like it a lot."

On starting the season late: "Yeah, I got injured. I strained my oblique in Spring Training and they just wanted to get me a couple at-bats and going into Extended Spring Training, they had said probably around two weeks. I think it ended up being 12 or 13 days. I got up here as soon as I was ready and so far so good."

On being a switch-hitter: "Usually I’m more comfortable from the left side just because I think I see more righthanders than left-handers. Last year, I think my average was pretty similar but I struck out a lot more right-handed, and I think that was due to not seeing [the ball] as well and dealing with some injuries that hindered my right-handed swing, but as of right now if we were to go out and play today, I think I’d rather hit right-handed. But it’s just hit or miss each day. If I’m hitting lefty I’d probably rather be hitting right-handed and vice versa. Both swings, they feel pretty good. I think my swing's more pure from the left side but right-handed I feel like I can get it done too."

What Astros pitcher would he least like to face?: "Man, that’s a tough one. Any guy like Vince Velasquez is tough, but I feel like sometimes their strengths fit into my approach. And you might expect me to say Lance McCullers or those guys, but they’re mainly fastball/slider guys and I feel like that’s what I hit well. The changeup is what is my weakness so a guy like Brian Holmes or [Joe] Bircher who have a good changeup, those are the guys who are actually tougher but [that] you might not expect me to say right away, but probably Brian Holmes."

Who on the team makes you laugh?: "[Jesse] Wierzbicki. I can be across the room and he’s saying the most outrageous, outlandish things and he’s just got a distinct voice, but with this team basically everybody. We’ve got a great group of guys. It’s great to be around. We’ve got a good locker room mentality. Even when we lose, we're right back at it 10 minutes after the game having a good time. And I think that’s good for the course of the year to be able to bounce back from tough losses and have a good time. Bert Pena … he’s a good guy. He’s a loudmouth. He can talk with the best of them. He speaks such fast Spanish I can't understand a word he says. He’s great."

Will he ever be able to achieve the 'stache status of Michael Dimock?: "Man, I hope so. You would be surprised. This is a month. This is a whole month and it’s still … it’s better than Rio [Ruiz] and as of now it’s better than [Carlos] Correa or some of the younger guys so I’ve got them beat as of now, but I also have more time put in. Again this is just dedication. I’m going to stick with it. It might not look good now, but when I "Just for Men" it and get it a little darker, I think it’ll come around. [Are you going to dye it to make it darker?] I think so. I’m going to have to."

What would he do if he couldn't play baseball: "My dream has always been to flip houses. But if I couldn’t play baseball, that would be tough. I’d love to flip houses. I’d love to do something like that. But I don’t know, that would be tough. That’s what I want to do when I’m done, hopefully when I’m 40. I could go do that after I spent some time in the big leagues but that’s a long ways away. Hopefully I get better each day and get up there [to the bigs] someday."

Something most people don't know about him: "I love hanging out with young kids, like my cousins. I enjoy spending time with them. And I feel like that’s more of my mentality and almost my maturity level so I have a lot of fun with 14-, 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds and I can really enjoy them. I feel like I connect well with them. This kind of goes back to your [last] question on what I might do if I didn’t play baseball, maybe something in youth ministry. That would be a lot of fun."

What was his major?: "Sports management … I’m graduating this December. I went the accounting route at the beginning and then I switched a couple times. Sports management is what I ended up with. I got to my second accounting class and I found out that wasn’t for me. My teacher was great too. She was a phenomenal teacher. I just couldn’t handle it. It was too much."

What does he do for fun?: "Right now, I’m living at my host family’s house. They have a pool table and a ping-pong table and they have a 14-year-old son, and I love to play ping-pong and pool with him and whoop up on him, kind of be his bigger brother. I love listening to music and just relaxing. I’m starting to read a little bit which is not really me so I wouldn’t write that down because in about two weeks, it probably won’t be true. Talking to my friends, checking up on them, see how they’re doing ... I love keeping up with my old buddies from college and seeing how they’re doing."

What does he need to work on?: "In life, I think I need to invest more in teammates, not just in the baseball sense but in life stuff, get down with them. Everybody has garbage in their life. [I need to work on being around] for that side of their lives too and not just the baseball side. As far as baseball, I’ve been working with Ralph [Dickenson], our Hitting Coordinator, and I’ve really been working on my swing, as far as just slowing down my movements in the box just so that I can see pitches better, recognize better."

On his best qualities as a ballplayer: "My roommate in spring training, Dan Gulbransen, he says that I can kind of do it all. I don’t have anything that spectacular, but I can run a little bit, I can hit a few home runs, I can hit for a little average, I can field a little bit, I have a better arm than people would guess, but I think my best quality is I’m pretty consistent. I can get things done that a lot of people don’t get done just because their mindsets not in that. I pride myself on being a good situational hitter and doing things for the team like that. I don’t have anything that really stands out. I don’t have the pop of a Carlos Correa or the arm strength of a Carlos Correa, but I think I can bring some things to the table that might not stand out, but can get jobs done. I hope that’s one of my good qualities as I move on. I can play different positions. So far I’ve only had to really play second base and a little bit of shortstop, but I’ve played outfield in college so I’m used to the outfield. I can basically do a little bit of everything so I think that’s probably my best quality."

>>>>>>><<<<<<<

Elkins does bring a little bit of everything to the baseball field, and not just in terms of baseball skills. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious. He has a lot of fun out there. I think he is simply channeling his inner 14-year old. He hasn't forgotten that baseball is a game, after all, and it should be played with youthful abandon.

Astros Minor League Recaps

Sunday's Games

Iowa over Oklahoma City 5-2 in 7 innings (Game 1)
Brett Oberholtzer allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks in three and two-thirds innings, with one of those runs coming across during Josh Zeid's watch on a bases-loaded walk. Zeid loaded the bases himself and had to be bailed out by Rhiner Cruz. The RedHawks only managed one run in the second on an Andy Simunic sac fly and one run in the fourth on a Carlos Perez home run. Jake Elmore had the only other extra-base hit, a double; Trevor Crowe had the only multi-hit game with two singles; and Marc Krauss went hitless, but drew two walks.

Oklahoma City over Iowa 4-3 in 10 innings (Game 2)
What should have been another 7-inning game ended up going to extras as Iowa tied things up in the sixth and again in the ninth on blown saves from Kevin Chapman and Jose Valdez, but all was well as the RedHawks came back in the top of the 10th to score, and Eric Berger converted his first save of the season in the bottom of the frame. Kyle Hallock went four innings to start this one, allowing one run on four hits and two walks and was followed by one and two-thirds perfect innings from Jason Stoffel. OKC got on the board in the second on a Brett Wallace (3x5) solo homer and a Cody Clark (2x4 R) RBI single and didn't score again until the ninth when Wallace added on a second solo home run to re-take the lead. The final winning run came via a Che-Hsuan Lin RBI single. Jimmy Paredes was two-for-four with a double and a walk. Trevor Crowe stole his 11th base of the season and Jake Elmore stole his 7th.

Corpus Christi over San Antonio 7-3
Bobby Doran cruised to his fourth win of the season on a five-inning outing in which he allowed two runs via the long ball while striking out four. Nick Tropeano followed with four innings in which the only run he allowed was also on a home run. Corpus Christi took an early on Jio Mier's two-run home run in the second, but gave the runs back in the bottom of the frame. They added another one in the third as J.D. Martinez drove in George Springer on a ground out. Martinez drove in three more with a fifth inning home run. In the seventh, Springer also participated in the home run derby with a solo shot. Kiké Hernandez was two-for-three with a double, walk and run scored. Springer stole his sixth and seventh bases of the season.

Lancaster over High Desert 4-1
Blair Walters put up a very good start (5IP 2H 1R 2BB 4SO), but the win went to Aaron West as the JetHawks didn't score until late. West pitched a strong four scoreless innings with three hits, no walks and five strikeouts. Lancaster waited to do all of their scoring in the seventh as they took advantage of two High Desert errors to put up a couple of runs before M.P. Cokinos capped off the inning with a two-run home run. Nolan Fontana was two-for-five with a triple; Telvin Nash was two-for-three with a walk and scored a run; and Tyler Heineman was two-for-four with a double and scored a run. Brandon Meredith had an RBI single.

Quad Cities over West Michigan 5-4
Lance McCuller's first win continues to elude him despite putting up his best outing of the season on Sunday. In five innings, he allowed two hits and a walk and struck out nine batters, including striking out the side in his final inning of work. A 4-1 Quad Cities lead evaporated quickly with three runs scored off Daniel Minor and Michael Dimock in the sixth and seventh innings knotting things up. But Quad Cities re-took the lead in the top of the eighth on an Austin Elkins sacrifice bunt scoring Brian Blasik, a lead ultimately preserved by Mitch Lambson and John Neely (S, 5) despite a little bases-loaded drama in the ninth. Teoscar Hernandez was two-for-four with a double, walk and two runs scored; Joe Sclafani was two-for-four with an RBI double and a walk; and Terrell Joyce was one-for-three with an RBI single and two walks. The River Bandits drew a total of 12 walks, with Jesse Wierzbicki drawing four walks and Ariel Ovando drawing two walks, including a bases loaded walk.

Player of the Day: Brett Wallace gets the nod for going three-for-five with two solo home runs. He is hitting .320/.414/.620 in seven games with OKC. I think we need to blindfold him and tell him that MMP is really Chicasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

Pitcher of the Day:  Much WTHB love goes to Lance McCullers for his terrific performance. It's just a shame that 9 strikeouts and a 100-mph fastball couldn't get him a W. Tandem pitching strikes again.

Happy Birthday - 5/6

Happy Birthday to ~

2B Jose Altuve (23)
Altuve was first signed by the Astros as a free agent out of Venezuela in 2007 and played on the Astros Venezuelan Summer League team that year. After starting in Greeneville in 2008, Altuve rapidly moved up the ranks until his major league debut in July of 2011. In his first full season for the Astros in 2012, Altuve earned his first All-Star nod. Over his first 31 games of 2013, Altuve is hitting .331/.373/.431 for Houston.

RHP Tomas Lopez (19)
The Astros signed Lopez in January 2012 and he was slated to play in the Dominican Summer League last season, but did not appear in any games.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

RHP Larry Andersen (60)
Originally drafted by Cleveland in the seventh round in 1971, Andersen came to Houston as a free agent in 1986. In five seasons with the Astros, he pitched in 268 games going 22-16 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.211 WHIP. Andersen was known for his sense of humor and his Steven Wright style one-liners. According to this post, Andersen was the instigator of the SNL-inspired conehead masks sported by Andersen, Charley Kerfeld and Dave Smith. Andersen is best known (and loved) by Astros fans for being part of the most lopsided trade in baseball history as he was traded to the Red Sox for future Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell.

Tweet of the Day

Lance McCullers Jr.
Awesome picture given to me by a fan today
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Saturday's Games

Quad Cities River Bandits 4, West Michigan Whitecaps 7
Quad Cities fell behind early and came back in the fourth inning only to fall behind again after a four-run fifth inning sealed their fate. Vincent Velasquez started on the mound for the River bandits and pitched four innings, allowing three runs on four hits, walking two and striking out four. Cameron Lamb (1-1) took the loss, throwing for the next two outs after Velasquez and allowing four runs on three hits, walking one and K-ing the same. Joe Bircher came on for the final three frames of work and recorded 1-2-3 innings in the eighth and ninth. Bircher also struck out three. Joe Sclafani hit well Saturday, batting two-for-four with a double and his eighth RBI of the season. Jordan Scott hit one-for-two with a run scored and drew two walks. 

Lancaster JetHawks 3, High Desert Mavericks 5
Lancaster got out to an early lead while Thomas Shirley (4IP H SO) and Theron Geith (1IP H BB SO) combined for five innings of shutout ball. Luis Cruz came on in the sixth inning and allowed five runs on six hits while walking two and striking out the same. Cruz (1-2) ended up with the blown save (2) and the loss after being on the hill for one and two thirds. At the plate, Delino DeShields had a productive day, hitting two-for-four with a double, triple, RBI and run scored. Tyler Heineman also had a good game offensively, hitting two-for-two with an RBI double in the sixth and drawing two walks. Nolan Fontana went hitless in the game, but walked once and collected his 22nd RBI of the season.

Corpus Christi Hooks 2, San Antonio Missions 6
The Hooks offense was stifled on the road in San Antonio on Saturday. Carlos Quevedo (1-2) was the first pitcher in the tandem and pitched four and a third before leaving with the loss. Quevedo allowed six runs (4ER) on seven hits, walked one and struck out two on the day. Jake Buchanan, who finished out the game without allowing a hit, followed Quevedo, striking out one and retiring all 11 batters he faced in order. Rene Garcia and Jonathan Meyer both hit two-for-four Saturday with runs scored and a double each. Meyer also recorded and RBI after scoring Garcia in the fifth on a single.

Oklahoma City RedHawks, Iowa Cubs
-Game postponed due to weather


Player of the Day: Delino DeShields is the man today. Anytime a guy gets two hits in a game for five total bases, he’s doing something right. Saturday, that guy was Delino DeShields.

Pitcher of the Day: Jake Buchanan takes the cake today. Buchanan came into the game behind on Saturday and still managed to buckle down and retire all 11 batters he faced in order. Not only that, Buchanan threw 23 pitches in the game, meaning he averaged two pitches per batter and 18 of those pitches were strikes.  

Happy Birthday - 5/5

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

LF Bob Cerv (88)
Cerv was a three-time Yankee who played only 19 games for the Colt .45's at the end of his career in 1962.  A career .276 hitter, Cerv played in three World Series for the Yankees in 1955, 1956 and 1960 and was a one-time All Star for Kansas City in 1958.

SS Don Buddin (died June 30, 2011 at 77)
Buddin was another early Colt .45 player. In 1962, the .241 career hitter played in 40 games for Houston  hitting .163.

2B Tommy Helms (72)
Helms was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1966, a two-time All Star and a two-time Gold Glove winner during his time playing for the Reds.  According to Baseball-Reference, here is how he came to and left Houston:
November 29, 1971: Traded by the Cincinnati Reds with Lee May and Jimmy Stewart to the Houston Astros for Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke and Joe Morgan.
December 12, 1975: Traded by the Houston Astros to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later. The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Art Howe (January 6, 1976) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade.
In the intervening four seasons, Helms played in 486 games for Houston, hitting .269/.306./.348.

2B/3B Keith Ginter (37)
Drafted by Houston in the 10th round in 1998, Ginter played in only 13 games for Houston over three seasons (2000-2002) before being traded to Milwaukee for Mark Loretta.

Tweet of the Day

mike Hauschild
So who knew they had rooms in the basement of a holiday inn.