Saturday, August 3, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Friday's Games

Greeneville Astros 3, Bristol White Sox 5 (7) —Game 1
Greeneville lost the first game of their doubleheader after four runs scored against them in the sixth. Enderson Franco (2-3) pitched one out into the sixth and recorded four runs on six hits, two walks and a strikeout during his shift. Chris Munnelly pitched the final two outs and gave up a solo home run to seal Greeneville's fate. Chase McDonald (2X2 R 2B RBI BB) and Tyler White (2X4 R) had two hits each in the game.  

Greeneville Astros 4, Bristol White Sox 1 (7)  —Game 2
The Astros were the ones that came back to score late in the game and win in this one, splitting the doubleheader. In the seventh, Alfredo Gonzalez (3X3 2R 2B RBI) hit an RBI double to score Angel Ibanez (1X3 R) and Ariel Ovando (1X3 R SO). The next batter, Parker Hipp (1X3 2RBI SO) hit and RBI single to score Gonzalez. Chris Lee (2-1) took the win after throwing the first six innings. Lee tallied a run, two hits a pair of walks and seven strikeouts. Gonzalo Sanudo took the hill for the last frame, striking out two of the three he faced for his eighth save of the season.  

GCL Phillies 2, GCL Astros 12 (7) —Game 1
The GCL Astros scored first and scored often in their first game of the double dip on Friday. Jose Montero pitched first for the Astros and through three innings he tallied a pair of runs, five hits (HR), three walks and three Ks. Kevin Ferguson (2-0) took the hill for the next two frames and allowed just a hit, striking one batter to pick up the win. Jason Martin was dialed in at the plate, batting three-for-three with two runs scored, three RBI and a walk. Alex Gonzalez (2X4 2R RBI) and Yoel Silfa (2X3 2R RBI) both had a pair of hits in the game. Silfa also stole his first base.

GCL Phillies 3, GCL Astros 8 (9) —Game 2
This second game was a makeup of the postponement on July 2nd and the Astros scored six in the ninth to put it away. After coming from behind to tie the game in the fifth the Astros held on for three innings before capitalizing in extras, blanking their opponent after the first frame. Samil De Los Santos took the helm for the first three and a third and in that time he recorded two runs, six hits and four strikeouts. Javier Lozano (2-0) worked the final two and two-third innings, allowing one run, two hits and K-ing three while earning the win. The Astros had seven hits in the game and Yonathan Mejia (3X5 R 2,2B 3RBI) and Jason Martin (2X3 3R RBI 2BB) combined for five of them. The pair also stole a base apiece.

DSL Indians 2, DSL Astros 1
In the bottom of the third inning, Friday, Victor Tavarez reached on a throwing error and went on to score the Astros only run of the match after a succession of wild pitches. Gerardo Juarez led off on the hill, pitching six innings and amassed one run, one walk, two hits and seven strikeouts in that time. Cristhopher Santamaria (0-1) entered to pitch the last inning and a third before picking up the loss. Santamaria gave up one run, one hit, walked one and struck out the same. Luis Payano hit two-for-four and drew a walk.

Tri-City Valley Cats 4, Aberdeen IronBirds 8
The Valley Cats came out swinging and scoring on Friday, but after dropping seven runs across the sixth and seventh inning they saw their score doubled by Aberdeen. Michael Feliz clocked in for the first five innings on the mound and allowed four hits and an unearned run in that spell. Feliz also walked one and struck out two. Andrew Thurman (1-2) followed Feliz for two innings and picked up his first blown save and the loss after giving up seven runs on seven hits (HR), walking one and striking out five. Ryan Dineen (2X4 R RBI SO), Jon Kemmer (3X4 2B) and Brett Booth 2X4 2RBI) all had multiple hit games on Friday.

Peoria Chiefs 2, Quad Cities River Bandits 5
Quad Cities didn't score first in this game but they did score more, beginning their comeback in the fourth inning to win their sixth game in a row (excluding the postponement on the 30th of last month). The 'Bandits were assisted by pitching and defense which kept the Chiefs scoreless outside of the first inning. Jobduan Morales (2X4 2B 2RBI) got the scoring started in the fourth with an RBI double that scored Jordan Scott (1X4 RBI). In the fifth, Teoscar Hernandez (2X4 R 3B HR 2RBI BB) led off with a homer to square the game. Hernandez would also hit an RBI triple in the sixth to score the last run of the game. Austin Elkins also had two hits in the game, finishing at two-for-four with a run scored and a couple strikeouts. Chris Devenski (1-2) was on the mound for the first five frames and picked up the win. Devenski recorded two runs, seven hits, a walk and a strikeout. Juan Minaya pitched the final inning, facing five batters and allowing a hit before closing it out to earn his seventh save. 

High Desert Mavericks 2, Lancaster JetHawks 11
The JetHawks scored seven runs before the Mavericks could score one and then scored four more to win decisively on Friday night. Mike Hauschild was on the mound for nearly the entire game, pitching seven and two-thirds before giving way to Travis Ballew. Hauschild (1-1) picked up the win, his first as a JetHawk, after tallying two runs, four hits, four walks and five strikeouts. Ballew gave up a pair of hits and not much else as he finished out the game. Seven JetHawks had multi-hit games and there were 16 hits in total. Five of those hits were for extra bases including Matt Duffy's first inning, two-run blast to get the scoring started. Delino DeShields stole three bases in the game and Nolan Fontana stole one as well. Here is the rest of the box, otherwise we'd be here all day:
Midland RockHounds 5, Corpus Christi Hooks 7 (10)
The Hooks got on the board in the seventh and tied the game in the bottom of the eighth. Then in the bottom of the 10th Jonathan Meyer (2X22 2R HR 3RBI) hit a giant three-run homer for the walk-off win and third Corpus Christi win in a row. Ross Seaton was on the hill for the first six innings, giving up three runs, six hits (2HR), walking two and striking out three in that time. Pat Urckfitz (5-3), who threw the final one and a third, picked up the win after giving up a run in the top of the 10th on a pair of doubles and walking one. Kiké Hernandez (2X4 R HR RBI) started the Hooks scoring off in the seventh inning with a two-out, solo shot. Then in the eighth, Domingo Santana (2X4 R HR 3RBI) tied the game with a three-run long ball. Preston Tucker also had a two hit game, hitting two-for-four with a couple runs scored and a double.
Reno Aces 6, Oklahoma City RedHawks 7
The RedHawks didn't score after the fifth inning Friday, but they didn't need to, holding on to win their eighth game in a row and sweep the series. Asher Wojciechowski (7-4) went the first seven innings on the mound and picked up the win, allowing two runs over five hits while striking out a trio. Alex Sogard recorded one out in the eighth while allowing four more runs on four hits. Jorge De Leon entered for the last one and two-thirds and picked up his first save as a RedHawk, tallying three hits and two Ks. Marwin Gonzalez hit a solo knock to lead off the fourth inning and was one of five Oklahoma City players with multiple hits. Here's a look at the rest of them:   

Player of the Day: Jonathan Meyer gets the cake today for his 10th inning, three-run, walk-off homer yesterday. Meyer came through in the clutch and now he can enjoy some cake with the Gatorade bath he took.

Pitcher of the Day: Mike Hauschild went a career-high seven and two-thirds yesterday and did it in style, reigning in the opponents with just four hits so the JetHawks could capitalize for the big win. The win also marked Hauschild's first win as a member of the JetHawks. Nice game.

Happy Birthday - 8/3

Happy Birthday to ~

LHP Sergio Escalona (29)
Escalona came from the Phillies in a January 2011 trade for 2B Albert Cartwright. The Venezuelan native made his mark for Houston in 2011, pitching in 49 games with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.265 WHIP. He has pitched in 12 games at Corpus Christi this season as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2012.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

1B Sid Bream (53)
A second round draft pick by the Dodgers in 1981, Bream signed with Houston as a free agent in January of 1994 and played in 46 games for Houston that year. Bream hit .344/.429/.426 in 70 plate appearances, .406 as a pinch hitter. His final game was July 27, 1994. With those stats for his final season, he definitely went out on a high note.

Tweet of the Day

Long day of travel but I'm back in Davenport! So happy to be healthy and back to help out the Banditos!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Astros Minor League Roster Moves

Corpus Christi
LHP Kyle Hallock assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi
LHP Sergio Escalona placed on the 7-day DL

LHP Colton Cain assigned from Quad Cities to Lancaster (unofficial)

I will update as any additional moves are announced.

WTHB Pitcher and Player of the Month for July

I have tallied the results of all of the WTHB Players and Pitchers of the Day for July in order to determine Player and Pitcher of the Month. A whopping 71 players received shoutouts during the month (including honorable mentions) with numerous players receiving multiple honors. With that said, here are the July winners.

Yes, it's a three-way tie as each of these Lancaster JetHawks players received three nods during the month of July. 2B Delino DeShields hit .349/.407/.500 in July with nine doubles, two triples, a home run and 19 stolen bases. OF Chris Epps, who largely flies under the radar and shouldn't, hit .314/.408/.480 in July and .410/.419/.641 in his last 10 games. Epps, a left-handed hitter, has always hit lefties very well and this year is no exception. He is hitting .368/.413/.649 off southpaws for the season. OF Brandon Meredith had a slow April, but has been making up for it ever since. Meredith hit .311/.433/.612 with eight doubles, one triple and seven home runs in July, and is hitting .438/.591/.719 in his last 10 games. Nicely done, gentleman.

Brad Peacock has been quietly going about putting up a very good season for the Oklahoma City RedHawks. In July, he was 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP. In his last 10 games, going back to June 13th, he is 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP. He has not thrown enough innings to qualify as a league leader, but his season ERA of 2.73 would put him in second place behind Asher Wojciechowski and his season WHIP of 1.101 would land him in first place, just ahead of Wojo. Not bad at all!

Nolan Fontana
Preston Tucker
Rio Ruiz
George Springer
Tyler White
Joe Sclafani
Drew Muren
Max Stassi
Vincent Velasquez
Troy Scribner
Jake Buchanan
Mike Hauschild
Zach Morton
Joselo Pinales
T.J. Geith
David Martinez

April Player of the Month - Zach Johnson
April Pitchers of the Month - Jake Buchanan, Travis Ballew and Vincent Velasquez
May Player of the Month - Andrew Aplin
May Pitcher of the Month - Jake Buchanan with honorable mention to David Martinez
June Player of the Month - M.P. Cokinos
June Pitchers of the Month - Asher Wojciechowski and Luis Cruz

Astros Minor League Recaps

Thursday's Games

Oklahoma City over Reno 3-2
Paul Clemens pitched three scoreless innings followed by two scoreless from Philip Humber. Eric Berger allowed a two-run home run in the sixth and gave way to Rhiner Cruz with one out in the seventh. Cruz, Kevin Chapman and Hector Ambriz kept the slim lead from slipping away. The Hooks collected their three runs in the second on RBI singles from Jon Singleton and Che-Hsuan Lin; Lin subsequently scored on a fielding error. Jose Martinez was two-for-four with a double, the only extra base hit of the game. Rene Garcia was one-for-four in his AAA debut. The seventh win in a row for the RedHawks has them tied for first place in the division.

Corpus Christi over Midland 5-4
Nick Tropeano threw the first six innings and allowed four runs on nine hits and a walk. He also struck out ten, including a one-pitch strikeout in which the batter received two delay of game strikes for the K. [Note: If anyone wonders why I love the minors so much, look no further. I love them because stuff like that happens. All the time.] He was followed by two perfect innings from Carlos Quevedo. Jonas Dufek converted his first save opportunity for the Hooks as he allowed one hit and struck out two in the ninth. The Hooks scored two in the first on a Preston Tucker home run, and one in the third on an Erik Castro RBI single. The two runs in the fifth came as Max Stassi (2x4) scored on a fielding error and a Jonathan Meyer (SB) drove in Domingo Santana (SB) with an RBI single, in an inning that featured three wild pitches. Ronald Torreyes was two-for-three and scored two runs.

Lancaster over Lake Elsinore 26-5 [Why I love the minors, Part II]

JetHawks beat the Storm tonight with 26 runs, 21 hits, 3 HR, 3 2B, 2 3B, 13 BB, 5 HBP, (only) 2 SO and a partridge in a pear tree.

Yeah, you read that right. It was 6-0 through three innings when I went to bed and starter Brady Rodgers had things well in hand. Chris Epps had doubled in two and Andrew Aplin singled in two in the second, and the 'Hawks scored two more in the third, one of them coming off Epps' second double of the night.

And then I wake up this morning and see a final of 26-5! What did I miss? Rodgers gave up a three-run homer in the fourth, the only blemish in an otherwise stellar performance (7IP 5H 1BB 7SO) and the 'Hawks countered with two in the bottom of the frame on an M.P. Cokinos home run, and another in the fifth as Joe Sclafani tripled and came in on an Epps sac fly. Up 9 to 3 after five.

And then the explosion came as the 'Hawks scored 17 more runs over the next three innings. In the sixth, it was RBI singles from Brandon Meredith, Sclafani and Delino DeShields and a bases-loaded walk from M.P. Cokinos. In the seventh, 12 men came to the plate starting with a lead-off double from Tyler Heineman who later scored a three-run home run in the inning. There were RBI singles from Aplin and Cokinos in the frame as well, but Lake Elsinore definitely helped the 'Hawks cause with two errors, a wild pitch and a hit batter. And it was more of the same in the eighth - hit batter, walk, walk, Aplin sac fly, fly out, hit batter, Heineman grand slam, hit batter, fly out. Phew! Lake Elsinore did come back in the top of the ninth to score two runs off Tyson Perez (2IP 4H 2R 1SO), but that's only because there was no mercy rule in effect.

Jesse Wierzbicki was one-for-five with a walk and scored two runs in his Lancaster debut. Nolan Fontana only had one hit, but walked five times and stole two bases. For the full boxscore, go here. Please. Enjoy.

As a side note, two players and three members of the coaching staff will be inducted into the Lancaster Hall of Fame before tonight's game. Jose Altuve was the 100th former JetHawk to reach the big leagues, only two months after leaving Lancaster. Carlos Gonzalez played for Lancaster in 2006 as a member of the Diamondbacks organization and is one of the most successful former JetHawks currently playing. Finally, Manager Rodney Linares, Hitting Coach Darryl Robinson and Pitching Coach Don Alexander are being honored for bringing Lancaster their first California League Championship in 2012, a feat we all hope they can repeat.

Quad Cities over Peoria 5-3 in 7 innings (Game 1)
Lance McCullers got his sixth win of the season as he gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven over six innings. Jordan Jankowski pitched the seventh for his fourth save. Quad Cities got on the board in the second on Rio Ruiz' (2x3) eighth home run of the season and added on three in the fifth on a Teoscar Hernandez (2x4 2RBI R) RBI triple and RBI singles from Danry Vasquez and Dan Gulbransen. Hernandez drove in the final run with a single in the sixth.

Quad Cities over Peoria 2-1 in 7 innings (Game 2)
Vincent Velasquez cruised to his eighth win of the season, striking out seven batters in six innings and allowing only one run on three hits. Juan Minaya pitched the seventh inning to earn his sixth save. One run came across in the third as Austin Elkins tripled and was driven in by a Danry Vasquez single, with the second coming in the sixth as Dan Gulbransen drove in Carlos Correa on back-to-back doubles. Rio Ruiz also doubled in the game.

State College over Tri-City 4-1
The ValleyCats are officially in a slump, having now lost seven in a row, and have now dropped into a tie for first place in their division with Lowell. The 'Cats scored in the first as Tony Kemp tripled and was driven in by Jack Mayfield, but only collected five hits the rest of the way, four singles and a Mike Martinez double. Tanner Bushue kept State College scoreless until the fifth inning when he allowed three runs and was charged with the loss. Patrick Christensen pitched a perfect sixth and was followed by Adrian Houser who allowed one final run on three hits in his two innings of work.

Greeneville at Bristol - Postponed due to rain

GCL Pirates over GCL Astros 5-0
Austin Nicely is getting stretched out slowly and put up four scoreless innings today - two hits, one walk, two strikeouts. Erick Gonzalez allowed one run over the next two and a third, with Jorge Perez finishing off the seventh without incident. The eighth did not go so well. Devonte German, in his professional debut, allowed four runs on two hits and three walks in only two-thirds of an inning. The runs came on a bases-clearing triple and a wild pitch. Reymin Guduan came in to get the final out of the inning. The Astros got some hits, including two doubles from Jacob Nottingham and a triple from Mesac Laguna, but just couldn't string enough hits together. Ydarqui Marte doubled in the game as well.

DSL Astros over DSL Rays 4-2
Edwin Villarroel threw the first five and two-thirds innings and allowed the only Rays runs via a two-run home run in the fourth. Juan Hernandez and Starlyng Sanchez took it the rest of the way with scoreless outings. The Astros put up two in the third on a Jarico Reynoso RBI single and a Kristian Trompiz (2x4 2-2B) RBI double and two more in the fourth on a two-run Marlon Avea home run. Jean Estrella was two-for-three and is hitting .313/.395/.347 for the season and .378/.452/.432 in his last 10 games.

Player of the Day: Three-for-four with a double, two home runs, two walks, seven RBI and five runs scored? Yeah, that's going to be hard to top! Tyler Heineman is the man ... and then some.

Pitcher of the Day: I'm going to go with Vincent Velasquez. Velasquez is having a very nice run, going 4-2 with a 2.06 ERA and a 0.896 WHIP in his last ten games.

Happy Birthday - 8/2

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

C Humberto Quintero (34)
Originally signed by the White Sox out of Venezuela in 1997, Quintero came to Houston in a March 2005 trade with San Diego for Tim Redding. In 344 games from 2005 through 2011, he hit .234/.266/.319. He was sent to Kansas City, along with Jason Bourgeois, in a March 2012 trade that netted the Astros LHP Kevin Chapman and OF D'Andre Toney. He recently signed with Seattle. My favorite memory of Q will always be this one:

Tweet of the Day

There's no logical reason that your twitter handle isn't TheBigAppel

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Astros Minor League Roster Moves

Oklahoma City
RHP Bobby Doran assigned from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City
C Rene Garcia assigned from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City

Corpus Christi
LHP David Rollins assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi
C Ryan McCurdy assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi

RHP Kyle Smith obtained in trade with Kansas City and assigned to Lancaster
[UPDATED] C Luis Alvarez assigned from Quad Cities to Lancaster

Quad Cities
LHP Josh Hader obtained in trade with Baltimore and assigned to Quad Cities

A Look at the Corpus Christi Hooks

This week I'm taking a late season look at the full season Astros minor league affiliates, how their 2013 campaigns have played out and some individual accomplishments. So far, I've looked at the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Lancaster JetHawks. Today, it's the Corpus Christi Hooks turn. Coming in to today, the Hooks are 65-45 with a 3.73 ERA, a 1.290 WHIP and a cumulative batting line of .254/.332/.414.

The Hooks currently lead the Astros minor league franchises with their 65 wins and are slightly ahead of last year's pace as they didn't hit that mark until August 4th in 2012. The team's pitching stats are somewhat better than last year's, while the hitting stats are slightly below the 2012 team (except for slugging percentage which is roughly equivalent).

Out of eight teams in the Texas League, the Hooks offense ranks first in slugging percentage, third in on-base percentage and fourth in batting average. Notably, they rank first in home runs with 122, 17 more than the second ranked team, and second in doubles. And, although they are respectably third in walks, they are first in strikeouts with Domingo Santana's 118 K's and George Springer's 96 leading the way. Much like Lancaster, the top 20 lists for the Texas League are littered with Hooks players.

OF George Springer, who has been in Oklahoma City for the last 32 games, is still in the top 20 in batting average (6th), OBP (4th), SLG (1st), Runs (10th), 2B (T15th), home runs (4th), RBI (5th), Walks (T12th), and stolen bases (T4th).

Current Hooks players in the top 20:

C Rene Garcia - BA (4th), OBP (14th), Hits (20th)
3B Jonathan Meyer - BA (15th), OBP (20th), SLG (20th), Runs (15th), Hits (10th), 2B (T12th), HR (T16th), RBI (8th), BB (T20th)
1B Erik Castro - BA (20th), OBP (10th), SLG (10th), Runs (14th), 2B (T15th), HR (T12th), RBI (T15th), BB (T15th)
OF Domingo Santana - OBP (17th), SLG (11th), Runs (12th), 2B (T19th), HR (T7th), RBI (T15th), BB (T17th)
SS Jio Mier - BB (T12th)

If Max Stassi had enough at-bats to qualify, he would rank in the top 10 in batting average, in the top 20 in on-base percentage and would be second only to George Springer in slugging percentage with a .573 mark.

Now, let's look at the pitching. The team as a whole ranks third in ERA and fourth in WHIP. The good news/bad news is that they have issued the fewest free passes, but they have also struck out the fewest batters.

On an individual level, two current Hooks stand out on the Top 10 list in the Texas League. RHP David Martinez leads the league in wins, ERA and WHIP. RHP Bobby Doran is tied for sixth in the league in wins, and is also sixth in ERA and WHIP.

RHP Mike Foltynewicz would be in the top five in ERA and in the top 10 in WHIP if he had enough innings to qualify. RHP Nick Tropeano is ninth in the league in strikeouts. RHP Asher Wojciechowski and RHP Jake Buchanan both had incredibly good numbers prior to their promotions to Oklahoma City.

Out of the 'pen, LHP Pat Urckfitz leads the way with 36 appearances and seven saves. RHP Andrew Robinson is coming on strong; in 11 appearances in July, he has a 1.46 ERA and a 0.909 WHIP. And Jonas Dufek, newly promoted from Lancaster, has only appeared twice, but has been perfect in three and two-thirds innings while striking out five.

Corpus Christi is guaranteed a playoff berth, having won the first half of the season. They have the best overall record in the Texas League and are 2.5 games ahead of San Antonio in the overall standings. In the second half, they are in second place with a 23-17 record and trail San Antonio by one game. The playoff picture will be highly dependent on all of the promotions and changes that occur during this final full month of play. The promotion today of LHP David Rollins should help the team greatly as they currently have no lefty starting pitchers. However, if David Martinez and Max Stassi get promoted, which I find to be highly likely, those will be some very large cleats to fill. The good news is that with the current depth in the Astros minor league system, the reinforcements shouldn't derail any playoff hopes.

For my earlier take on the short season teams ~
DSL Astros
GCL Astros
Greeneville Astros
Tri-City ValleyCats

Astros Minor League Recaps

Wednesday's Games

Oklahoma City over Reno 4-3
Wade LeBlanc had a solid start, going six and a third innings and giving up two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out eight, before giving way to scoreless outings from Jorge de Leon and Alex Sogard. Jason Stoffel allowed the final run across in the ninth and was charged with a blown save, but he also got the win as the RedHawks came back and scored in the bottom of the frame on a Brandon Laird RBI single. The rehabbing Trevor Crowe was three-for-four with an RBI single; Carlos Perez was three-for-three with a sac fly RBI and scored a run. The win was OKC's sixth in a row and took them into a tie for second place in their division.

Corpus Christi over San Antonio 4-3
David Martinez got the start and allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts over seven and a third innings to earn his 13th win of the season. Pat Urckfitz took it the rest of the way with scoreless relief and earned the save. The Hooks put up two in the second on RBI singles from Michael Burgess and Kike Hernandez and the final two in the fifth on a two-run home run from Max Stassi (3x4 3B HR 2RBI 2R), his fifth in the last eight games and his 11th in the month of July. Jonathan Meyer was two-for-three and scored a run, and Ronald Torreyes was two-for-five.

Lake Elsinore over Lancaster 15-10
Despite striking out 14 batters, the pitching staff was, to put it mildly, rather ineffective. Aaron West gave up seven runs in only two and a third innings, Michael Dimock (1.2IP) watched two two-run home runs leave the yard, Kenny Long (3IP) added two more to the total and Cameron Lamb (2IP) was responsible for the final two. The 'Hawks drew first blood with a big five-run second inning, with runs scored on a Matt Duffy home run, a Nolan Fontana single (3x4 BB HR 4RBI 2R), an Andrew Aplin bases-loaded hit by pitch and a two-RBI single from M.P. Cokinos. Two more came across in the fourth on RBI singles from Tyler Heineman and Aplin, and the final three in the eighth on a three-run Fontana dinger. Delino DeShields was two-for-five with a double and scored a run. Chris Epps and Joe Sclafani also doubled in the game.

Quad Cities over Peoria 4-3
Mark Appel had a strong start, pitching four and two-thirds and allowing only one run on six hits and no walks. He struck out three. Appel was followed by Gera Sanchez who gave up two runs (one earned) in his outing before giving way to a scoreless appearance from Mitch Lambson. Lambson got the win in relief as Quad Cities came back with three in the ninth for a walk-off win. The first run came across in the seventh as Terrell Joyce scored on a fielding error. With the team down 3-1, Austin Elkins reached in the ninth on a hit by pitch and was driven in with a home run from new teammate Danry Vasquez (3x5). Carlos Correa then doubled and was driven in with a Bobby Borchering (2x5 SB) single.

State College over Tri-City 7-4
Six pitchers combined in this one for Tri-City, presumably just to annoy me as I try to write the recaps. Evan Grills (6H 3R/2ER 2SO) started and went three innings, and was followed by a scoreless inning from Charles Basford. Kevin Comer was charged with the loss as he allowed two unearned runs, Andrew Walter was charged with a blown save, J.D. Osborne gave up two more runs without recording an out, and Richard Rodriguez pitched an uneventful eighth. Jake Rodriguez was one-for-four with three RBI, and Jon Kemmer recorded the only extra base hit, a double.

Greeneville over Burlington 3-1
Great pitching all around as the staff combined to allow only four hits and one walk in this game. Frederick Tiburcio (2H 1BB 2SO) provided five scoreless innings and Krishawn Holley (1H 3SO) followed with two more. Raul Rivera (1H 1R 1SO) gave up the only Burlington run on a solo home run in the eighth and was followed by a perfect ninth from Gonzalo Sanudo who recorded his seventh save. Tyler White was three-for-four with a double. Tanner Mathis, Ariel Ovando and Thomas Lindauer were all credited with RBIs.

GCL Astros over GCL Pirates 18-6 in 5 innings
I did actually look to see if this game was called on some sort of mercy rule after the Astros put up 11 runs in the fifth inning, but nope, it was called for rain. Yonathan Mejia and Jacob Nottingham got things started in the first, driving in the first two runs on a single and a ground out. Two more runs came across in the third as Nottingham and Jose Solano drove in runs on force outs. In the fourth, Jason Martin tripled and then scored on a passed ball and was followed later in the inning by a Luis Reynoso RBI single, and just to shake things up a bit, Nottingham drove in his third run of the game with a sac fly this time. And then came the fifth inning, where a lot of things happened, including Mejia's fourth single and second RBI of the game, Nottingham's fourth and fifth RBI of the game and home runs from Jose Solano (3-run home run), Ydarqui Marte and Yoel Silfa (two-run home run). Luis Ordosgoitti got his first start of the season and allowed only one hit and struck out two in his two innings. Javier Lozano pitched one scoreless inning before giving way to Joe Musgrove who was victimized by two errors and a bit of wildness on his part. In two innings, he gave up six runs (two earned) on four hits and struck out one.

DSL Astros over DSL Rays 8-7
Harold Arauz tossed the first six and allowed only one unearned run on three hits on his way to his second win of the season. Junior Garcia and Victor Mesa gave up six runs between them over the next two and a third innings before Angel Heredia came in to put out the fire with a scoreless outing. The Astros scored one in the second on a Marlon Avea RBI double and two in the eighth on a Hector Roa (2x4 2R) home run and a Luis Payano (2x4 2-2B RBI) sac fly, but it was the big five-run sixth inning that made the difference in this game, featuring a bases-loaded walk by Brauly Mejia, a bases clearing double from Jean Estrella (2x3 2B BB 3RBI 2R) and another RBI double from Avea.

Player of the Day: Welcome to the Astros, Danry Vasquez! Nothing like going three-for-five and tying up the game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth to make a good first impression. Honorable mention goes to Jacob Nottingham for accomplishing the unusual feat of driving in five runs despite recording only one single in the game.

Pitcher of the Day: David Martinez gets the nod for his Lucky 13th win. He has a 2.01 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP, 20 walks to 79 strikeouts and he definitely does not get the attention that he deserves!!!

Happy Birthday - 8/1

RHP Kevin Comer (21)
Originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round in 2011, Comer came to Houston in August 2012 as the player to be named later in the 10-player July trade between Toronto and Houston. In 9 appearances with Tri-City this season, he is 2-4 with a 5.46 ERA and a 1.382 WHIP.

No future Astros with birthdays today, only former Astros ~

OF Greg Gross (61)
Drafted in the fourth round by Houston in 1970, Gross played for the Astros from 1973 to 1976 and again in 1989 at the end of his career. Gross only played in a handful of games in 1973 and was thus eligible for Rookie of the Year consideration in 1974; he came in second to Bake McBride as he hit .314/.393/.377 with 21 doubles and eight triples that season. In five seasons for the Astros he hit .293/.376/.351 in 490 games. He won a World Series with Philadelphia in 1980.

C Milt May (63)
Originally drafted by the Pirates in the 11th round in 1968, May came to Houston in an October 1973 trade with Pittsburgh. In 238 games for the Astros in 1974 and 1975, he hit .265/.319/.360 with a caught stealing percentage that averaged around 40%. May was first in the National League in fielding percentage as a catcher in 1974, and was first in both caught stealing and assists as a catcher in 1975.

RHP Travis Driskill (42)
A fourth round pick by Cleveland in 1993, Driskill came to Houston as a free agent. He only pitched in three games for Houston at the major league level, one in 2005 and two in 2007. In seven innings, he was 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.714 WHIP. He was a pitching coach in the Astros system through 2011.

Tweet of the Day

Also thanks to the Astros for the new opportunity and thanks to all the Astros fans for the warm welcome and making me feel at home

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trade Deadline Deals

Since I don't have time to post anything right now about the players the Astros acquired today in the trade deadline deals, I will point you to these Baseball America articles that outline what the team will be getting.

Justin Maxwell Trade

Bud Norris Trade

A Look at the Lancaster JetHawks

This week I'm taking a late season look at the full season Astros minor league affiliates, how their 2013 campaigns have played out and some individual accomplishments. Yesterday, I looked at the Quad Cities River Bandits. Today it is the Advanced A Lancaster JetHawks turn. Coming in to today, the JetHawks are 63-46 with a 5.07 ERA, a 1.440 WHIP and a cumulative batting line of .291/.385/.474.

Lancaster was the first Astros affiliate to 60 wins in 2013. They got there on July 23rd, a full two and a half weeks before they achieved that feat in 2012. This year's team is roughly equivalent to last year's in terms of pitching stats, but the 2013 offense is clearly ahead of the 2012 team's cumulative batting line of .283/.353/.448. And the difference is the depth of talent. The California League top 20 list for offensive categories is littered with JetHawks players.

OF Preston Tucker, who has been in Corpus Christi for the last 31 games, is still in the top 20 in batting average (3rd), OBP (14th), SLG (6th), home runs (17th), and RBI (5th), but once he falls off the list, there will be plenty of JetHawks to take his place:

3B Matt Duffy - BA (4th), OBP (9th), SLG (7th), Runs (5th), Hits (7th), HR (T10th), RBI (T2nd)
DH M.P. Cokinos - BA (8th), OBP (8th), SLG (16th), 2B (T7th), RBI (T7th)
OF Chris Epps - BA (10th), OBP (10th), SLG (4th), 2B (T4th), HR (T20th), RBI (20th), BB (T9th)
2B Delino DeShields - BA (11th), OBP (12th), Runs (9th), Hits (19th), 3B (T5th), BB (13th), SB (2nd)
OF Brandon Meredith - BA (20th), OBP (6th), SLG (9th), Runs (14th), HR (T18th), BB (T9th)
SS Nolan Fontana - OBP (3rd), Runs (6th), BB (1st)
OF Andrew Aplin - OBP (16th), Runs (1st), Hits (6th), 2B (T2nd), 3B (T20th), RBI (1st), BB (2nd), SB (T14th)
1B Telvin Nash - HR (T15th)
IF Joe Sclafani - BB (T15th)

In addition, if Joe Sclafani had enough at-bats to qualify, he would rank fourth in the league in batting average and second in on-base percentage. Ridiculous, huh? An embarrassment of riches. The team leads the league in every single offensive category except triples (fifth out of 10), home runs (second) and stolen bases (fifth). One of the best stats? The JetHawks have drawn a total of 519 walks, 116 more than the next highest team total.

Yes, some of the hitters don't fare as well away from the hitter-friendly confines of The Hangar, but Duffy and DeShields, in particular, have very good home/road splits and Nolan Fontana and M.P. Cokinos actually do better away from The 'Caster.

Now, let's look at the pitching. The staff as a whole ranks tenth out of ten teams in ERA, seventh in WHIP and sixth in strikeouts. On the good side, they have issued the fewest free passes of any team in the league. Overall, the staff hasn't been bad at all, but many of the pitchers have struggled for consistency. A good example of this would be LHP Luis Cruz who has been simply brilliant at times, including participating in a tandem no-hitter in May, but looking at his ERA by month from April through July (3.47, 9.28, 1.97, 8.14), you can see that he has lacked consistency. But his 1.365 WHIP ranks 14th in the very tough California League, and he is third in the league in strikeouts with 114 in just over 100 innings.

Other pitchers who rank in the top 20 in the league are LHP David Rollins, and RHP Brady Rodgers. Rollins has been the breakout star of the starting rotation this season. His 3.98 ERA ranks sixth in the league and his 1.161 WHIP ranks fourth. Rodgers is 15th in WHIP (1.431). RHP Aaron West lacks enough innings to qualify, but would be in the top 20 in both ERA and WHIP if he did have the innings.

Relievers LHP T.J. Geith and RHP Jonas Dufek both recently graduated to Corpus Christi. In his return to Lancaster, LHP Kenny Long (1.59 ERA/0.618WHIP in 10 games) is showing a return to his 2012 and early 2013 form. RHP Michael Dimock and Cameron Lamb have done solid work out of the 'pen as well. Travis Ballew is second in the league in saves, but has struggled during July.

Two others of note are LHP Tommy Shirley and LHP Blair Walters. Shirley has really come on strong in his last 10 outings with a 2.53 ERA and a 1.125 WHIP. He has been used as both a reliever and a starter and has thrived in the starting role. Unfortunately, he left the game last night after two innings with what was characterized as arm discomfort. I am hoping that he will bounce back quickly. Walters has a 2.53 ERA and a 0.938 WHIP in his last seven appearances out of the bullpen.

New to the staff is RHP Mike Hauschild who, after struggling in his first outing, was terrific in his next two. I look forward to seeing what the extreme ground ball pitcher can do in a ballpark for which he was made.

It's a little bit hard to get a handle on this pitching staff. There are a lot of moving parts and most of them are moving in different directions with one player doing well while another struggles. Most of the pitchers on the staff have performed extremely well at one point or another. The talent is there. The consistency of that talent remains the question mark.

Lancaster is guaranteed a playoff berth, having won the first half of the season. They have the best record in the South Division at 63-46 as compared to the North Division leader San Jose who has a 64-45 record. Lancaster also leads the South Division in the second half of the season, two games ahead of second place team Inland Empire. Both the offense and the pitching on this club have been streaky at times. If they can get into a groove during this last few weeks of the season, it will go a long way toward getting them back to the California League Finals and a chance at back-to-back rings. The talent is definitely there. As Morgan Ensberg would say, "They are really good players."

For my earlier take on the short season teams ~
DSL Astros
GCL Astros
Greeneville Astros
Tri-City ValleyCats

Astros Minor League Recaps

Tuesday's Games

Oklahoma City over Reno 4-2
The RedHawks had put up three small ball runs by the time Reno scored its only two runs off Jake Buchanan  (7IP 6H 2R 1BB 3SO) in the sixth inning, with a little help from a wild pitch and the only walk issued by Buchanan. The RedHawks only scraped together five hits (all singles), but walked six times. Jose Martinez and Carlos Perez drove in runs with RBI singles and George Springer was credited with an RBI on a ground out.

San Antonio over Corpus Christi 4-1
Mike Foltynewicz went five, giving up three runs on four hits and five walks on his way to his second Hooks loss. He also struck out five. T.J. Geith (1.2IP 1H 2BB 4SO) and Andrew Robinson (1.1IP 2H 1R/0ER) shared the bullpen duties. The Hooks only managed one run in the third as Jio Mier scored on a Ronald Torreyes single. The Hooks were held to five singles and two walks.

Lancaster over Lake Elsinore 10-4
Tommy Shirley (1H 1BB 1SO) pitched the first two innings before coming out of the game with what was characterized as arm discomfort. Blair Walters (4IP 2H 2R 2BB 5SO) picked up where Shirley left off and got the win with a lot of help from his offense. Cameron Lamb and Tyson Perez allowed the last two runs to score in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. The 'Hawks got the party started early with Matt Duffy's (2x4 3RBI) 17th home run of the season, a two run shot in the second. The good guys went on to score two more in the second; three in the third on a Chris Epps RBI single and a Brandon Meredith (4x4) two-run homer; one in the sixth on a Chris Epps sac fly scoring M.P. Cokinos; one in the seventh on Meredith's second home run of the night and 14th of the season; and a final run in the eighth as Tyler Heineman (3x5) singled in Andrew Aplin. The team hit six doubles - two from Tyler Heineman, and one each from Nolan Fontana, Andrew Aplin, Matt Duffy and Brandon Meredith. Aplin and Fontana each swiped a bag as well.

Peoria at Quad Cities - Postponed

State College over Tri-City 6-2
Tri-City got on the board first with one in the third on a Conrad Gregor (3x4) solo home run, but State College countered in the bottom of the frame with four runs off starter Randall Fant whose night was done after that inning. He was followed with two innings from Patrick Christensen who gave up only one hit and struck out three. Zach Morton took the mound for the next two innings and allowed two runs on three hits before giving way to a scoreless eighth from Albert Minnis. The ValleyCats scored an additional run in the top of the eighth, but it was too little, too late.

Burlington over Greeneville 7-6
Greeneville made a valiant effort to come back, scoring five runs in their last two frames but fell just short. Starter Edison Frias put up six solid innings, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out two, but the bullpen struggled as Tyler Brunnemann and Ryan Connolly allowed five runs between them in the last three innings. Greeneville only put up one run on an Angel Ibanez RBI single in the fourth before they started the scoring in earnest in the eighth inning as Ariel Ovando (2x4) doubled in two runs and later scored on a ground out. Ricky Gingras (2x4 BB 2R) singled in the final two runs of the game in the ninth. Marc Wik was three-for-five and scored a run; and Juan Santana was two-for-five with a double and scored a run.

GCL Astros over GCL Yankees 6-3
Six pitchers took the mound with the first three, Agapito Barrios (4IP 2BB 5SO), Jorge Perez (1IP) and Juan Santos (1IP 1BB) posting zeroes. According to Jacob Nottingham, Santos was hitting 99 on the radar gun during the game.  [Note: I misunderstood Nottingham's tweet. It was actually Guduan who hit 99, which makes a whole lot more sense!] Reymin Guduan (1IP 1H 2R/0ER 1BB 1SO), Kevin Ferguson (1IP 1BB 1SO) and Zach Dando (1IP 2H 1R 2BB) took it the rest of the way. The Astros got their first run in the third as Javaris Reynolds (2x5) tripled in a run, and scored another in the fourth. After a Jason Martin RBI single in the seventh, the Astros led 3-2 going in to the ninth when three runs came across on another Martin single and a Yonathan Mejia two-RBI single. Jose Fernandez went two-for-five, stole a base and scored a run.

DSL Astros over DSL Dodgers 8-2
Elieser Hernandez pitched the first four, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and three walks, before giving way to Yonquelys Martinez who earned his first win of the season with three scoreless innings. Angel Heredia and Starlyng Sanchez each pitched a scoreless frame in relief as well. The team brought their big boy bats to the game yesterday, banging out twelve hits, including four doubles and a bases clearing triple from Luis Payano. Payano ended the day going three-for-five with a double, triple, four RBI and scored two runs. Kristian Trompiz was two-for-five with a double and a run scored; and Jean Estrella went three-for-five with a double, stolen base and two runs.

Player of the Day: It's not even a contest. Brandon Meredith went four-for-four with a double, two home runs, three RBI and scored three runs. That performance is deserving of the WTHB honors any day. Luis Payano gets honorable mention for his four RBI day.

Pitcher of the Day: Jake Buchanan has only made six starts and he has already collected his third win. On Tuesday, he only allowed six singles and one walk. He has a 3.08 ERA and a 1.132 WHIP since joining OKC.

Happy Birthday - 7/31

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Gordie Pladson (57)
Signed by the Astros as an amateur free agent in 1973, Pladson pitched in 20 games scattered over the four years from 1979 to 1982 with a 6.04 ERA and a 1.757 WHIP.

LF Jay Schlueter (died May 13, 2010 at 60)
A second round draft pick in 1967, Schlueter's entire major league career consisted of seven games and only three at bats in 1971. He got one hit, scored one run and retired with a .333 major league batting average and a 1.000 fielding percentage.

Tweet of the Day

Comment of the day: Today is Tuesday, does that mean tomorrow is Wednesday?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Astros Minor League Roster Moves

In addition to the MUCH reported moves that brought RHP Josh Zeid and RHP Chia-Jen Lo up to the Astros and sent Hector Ambriz to Oklahoma City, there are a couple of other minor league moves to report.

1B Jesse Wierzbicki assigned from Quad Cities to Lancaster
1B Telvin Nash placed on the 7-day DL

Quad Cities
OF Danry Vasquez assigned to Quad Cities

RHP Luis Ordosgoitti assigned to the GCL (Ordosgoitti started the season on the DL)

A Look at the Quad Cities River Bandits

This week I will be taking a late season look at the full season Astros minor league affiliates, how their 2013 campaigns have played out and some individual accomplishments. Today it is the Quad Cities River Bandits turn. Coming in to today, the Quad Cities team is 58-46 with a 3.83 ERA, a 1.346 WHIP and a cumulative batting line of .245/.340/.352.

In comparing them to the Lexington Legends full season A level team from last season, this Quad Cities squad has slightly better pitching numbers and lags ever so slightly in offense from their 2012 counterparts. The 2012 Lexington team ended the season with a .500 record. The River Bandits only need 13 more wins out of 36 remaining games to surpass that mark.

The team ERA (8th out of 16 teams) and WHIP (7th) rank in the middle of the pack in the league; however, only one team has walked fewer batters and they rank third in strikeouts.

There has been a lot of flux in the membership of the pitching staff due to promotions and injuries and even one retirement (RHP John Neely), but there are four names that populate the top 20 list of Midwest League leaders among the pitching staff. Among those with enough innings to qualify, RHP Jordan Jankowski ranks fourth in ERA (2.67), second in WHIP (1.061) and 14th in strikeouts (80 in 87.2IP). RHP Lance McCullers is 11th in ERA (3.05), 20th in WHIP (1.320) and third in strikeouts (101 in 88.2IP). RHP Vincent Velasquez is 17th in ERA (3.49), fifth in WHIP (1.133) and first in strikeouts (109 strikeouts in 98IP). And finally, RHP Mike Hauschild, who has since graduated to Lancaster, was seventh in the league in both ERA (2.92) and WHIP (1.140) while he was with Quad Cities.

LHP Colton Cain is not in the league rankings, but that is largely because of a disastrous April. Since April, Cain has a 2.61 ERA and a 1.258 WHIP. Also of note, both LHP Joe Bircher (1.164) and LHP Brian Holmes (1.211) have very good WHIP, but both are just making their way back from injury and have missed much of the season. At 10.2 SO/9, reliever RHP Gera Sanchez has the highest strikeout rate of anyone on the team not named Lance McCullers.

Now for the offense. The team ranks in the lowest third of the league in many of the offensive categories (BA, SLG, doubles, triples, home runs), but there are a few notable exceptions. The River Bandits rank third in OBP which is directly related to the fact that they rank first in drawing walks. They are also fourth in the league in stolen bases.

The one true standout on the team offensively is SS Carlos Correa. He ranks sixth in batting average, eighth in on base percentage, 13th in RBI and 17th in slugging percentage in the league. Other top 20 players in the league are OF Teoscar Hernandez (first in runs scored and tied for 17th in stolen bases), OF Jordan Scott (tied for 12th in stolen bases, 18th in walks and 20th in OBP), 1B Jesse Wierzbicki (18th in RBI), and 2B Austin Elkins (sixth in walks). In a bit of a good news/bad news scenario, Teoscar Hernandez leads the team in outfield assists with nine, but also ranks ninth in the league with strikeouts (98 in 90 games).

Two additional players who are recent additions to the team have definitely helped to boost the offense. In 12 games C Luis Alvarez is hitting .319/.347/.511 with three doubles and two home runs and in 19 games, OF Dan Gulbransen is hitting .299/.405/.418 with six doubles and a triple. Rio Ruiz has made incremental improvements at the plate all season long and is hitting .280/.351/.476 with five doubles, a triple and three home runs in July. As a final note, C Roberto Peña boasts a very impressive caught stealing percentage of 54%. He has caught 37 of 69 base runners.

The Quad Cities team is in third place overall for the season, seven games back, but just made its way to second place in the second half standings after last night's game. They are well poised for, at a minimum, a wild card berth in the playoffs. The improvements by players like Colton Cain and Rio Ruiz, the return of Joe Bircher and, potentially, Brian Holmes and the addition of the offense of Luis Alvarez and Dan Gulbransen will all go a long way toward helping the team get to that goal.

For my earlier take on the short season teams ~
DSL Astros
GCL Astros
Greeneville Astros
Tri-City ValleyCats

Astros Minor League Recaps

Monday's Games

Burlington Royals 3, Greeneville Astros 4 (11)
Greeneville came from behind to tie this game and eventually won it in extras on a walk-off walk. Juan Santana hit a solo shot with two outs in the ninth to tie the game and force extra innings. Santana finished one-for-two at the plate with a pair of runs scored, the homer and RBI. In the 11th, Edwin Gomez (0X0 RBI BB) drew a bases-loaded walk to push across the winning run. Thomas Lindauer was the only Greeneville player who hit for multiples, closing out his day at two-for-five with an RBI and strikeout. Austin Chrismon began the game on the mound and went five innings, giving up three hits, walking one and K-ing two. Raul Rivera (2-0) clocked in for the 11th and faced four batters, allowing a hit to one and striking out two to earn the win.

GCL Yankees2 1, GCL Astros 6  
The Astros took this one at home to stop their losing skid on Monday. Brian Holmes started and threw four and a third innings, giving up a pair of hits, a pair of walks and struck out eight. Holmes retired the first nine batters he faced in order, striking the first five out consecutively. Holmes left an out into the fifth inning with runners on the corners and Juan Santos entered. Santos (1-1) forced the only batter he faced to fly into a double play and picked up the win. Yonathan Mejia (2X3 R RBI) and Jose Solano (2X4 R 2B SO) had two hits each in the game.

DSL Astros 3, DSL Dodgers 10
The Astros were in this game until the Dodgers scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth. Rayderson Chevalier (4-2) took the loss after pitching three and a third, allowing four runs (HR), five hits, walking two and striking out a trio. Joselo Pinales came in to finish the fourth inning and struck out the last two batters. In the fifth however, Pinales faced six batters, allowed six runs, four hits and walked two without recording an out. Brauly Mejia was the only player for the DSL Astros with more than one hit, batting two-for-four in the game, with a run scored and a triple. 

Connecticut Tigers 2, Tri-City Valley Cats 0
Tri-City was shut out for the third day in a row to extend their losing streak to four games. Chris Cotton (3-2) started and took the hill for five innings, recording a single run in the third, seven hits and two Ks. Chan Moon and Jack Mayfield both went two-for-three at the plate. Moon drew a walk in the seventh and Mayfield stole his first base of the season in the fifth.

Quad Cities River Bandits 4, Beloit Snappers 1
The River Bandits scored all four of their runs before Beloit could muster anything and Quad Cities would go on to win, taking the series. Colton Cain (5-5) earned the win on the mound after throwing the first five innings, tallying five hits, a run, two walks and five strikeouts. Juan Minaya earned his fifth save after closing out the ninth. Teoscar Hernandez went one-for-three at the plate, with two runs scored, a walk, a strikeout and his 21st stolen base of the year. Terrell Joyce went two-for-three at the dish with two runs scored of his own.

Corpus Christi Hooks 3, San Antonio Missions 4
This game came down to the wire for the Hooks. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Max Stassi was tagged out at home to end the game, trying to score what would have been the tying run. Bobby Doran took the hill to start for the Hooks and pitched six innings. Doran allowed all ten hits (HR), three runs and walked two. Sergio Escalona (1-2) worked the eighth and picked up the loss after allowing another run to score without recording a hit. Escalona hit the leadoff batter of the inning with a pitch, the runner later advanced on a wild pitch, then a balk and came around to score on a groundout. Max Stassi was on fire at the plate yesterday, hitting four-four with a run scored, two doubles, a two run homer in the third for two RBI and a walk. Rene Garcia and Preston Tucker both went two-for-five batting. Garcia also scored a run on Stassi's home run and struck out once.
Iowa Cubs 3, Oklahoma City RedHawks 4
The RedHawks won Monday to sweep the Cubs in this series at home. After coming out to an early lead, Oklahoma City lost the lead in the top of the eighth and came back to win in bottom of the ninth. George Springer led of the bottom half of the last inning with a triple and with the next batter, Brandon Laird (0X3), batting, Iowa's pitcher threw a wild pitch and Springer came around to score the walk off run. Springer finished two-for-four on the day with that run scored, a double, the triple, a walk and two strikeouts. Brad Peacock threw the first seven innings and allowed a run, six hits (HR), walked one and struck out a trio. Kevin Chapman earned his second blown save of the season after recording a couple of runs in the eighth on two hits and one walk. Jason Stoffel (5-1) came on to finish the eighth and finished the game to earn the win.

Player of the Day: Without a doubt, Max Stassi gets the honor today. He may have been the final, disappointing out of the game yesterday for Corpus Christi, but Stassi did anything but disappoint. Stassi reached base every trip to the plate and finished four-for-four. Great job.

Pitcher of the Day: Brian Holmes gets the nod today for his superb start yesterday. Holmes struck out eight all day and five in a row to start the game, not allowing a base runner until the fourth—talk about intimidation. Nice work.

Happy Birthday - 7/30

RHP Jorge Perez (20)
Drafted by Houston in the 30th round in 2013 out of Seminole State College in Seminole, Oklahoma, Perez has pitched in eight games (10.2 innings) with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.686 WHIP.

Greeneville Manager Josh Bonifay (35)
Josh Bonifay was drafted by the Pirates in 1999, but ended his minor league career with the Houston organization. After serving as Hitting Coach for Greeneville in 2011 and Lexington in 2012, Bonifay got his first Manager assignment with the Rookie level Greeneville Astros team this season.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

3B Doug "The Red Rooster" Rader (69)
Rader was signed by Houston as an amateur free agent in 1965 and played for the Astros for nine seasons, from 1967 to 1975. In 1178 games, he hit .250/.318/.402 with 197 doubles, 20 triples, 128 home runs and 600 RBI. He won Gold Gloves five seasons straight from 1970 to 1974.

C Gus Triandos (died March 28, 2013 at age 82)
Triandos came to Houston from Philadelphia in June 1965 and played in only 24 games for the Astros at the end of his career, hitting .181/.244/.292. Triandos was a three-time All Star for Baltimore with a lifetime caught stealing percentage of 47%.

Tweet of the Day

Clothing is selfish. Im always waiting for them to get clean, but they never wait to get dirty

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Look at the Tri-City ValleyCats

Last week, I took a closer look at the DSL Astros, the GCL Astros , and the Greeneville Astros to see how their seasons have been unfolding and what players have stood out. Today, it's the Tri-City ValleyCats turn. Coming in to today, the Tri-City team is 26-15 with a 2.63 ERA, a 1.045 WHIP, and a cumulative batting line of .244/.321/.342.

The 2013 team compares very favorably to the 2012 team in terms of pitching, but the offense lags behind their 2012 counterparts considerably. This year's team is allowing .25 runs per game less than last year's, but they are scoring 1.30 runs per game less as well. Pitching is definitely the strength of this team.

The team ERA and WHIP rank first (out of 14 teams) in the league. The walks allowed rank dead last while strikeouts rank third. The pitching staff has allowed 68 free passes while striking out 310, leading the Astros minor league system with a 4.56 SO/BB rate.

Two pitchers stand out among the league leaders. Among pitchers with enough innings to qualify, RHP Michael Feliz ranks second in the league in ERA (1.49), third in WHIP (0.936) and fourth in strikeouts (42 in 36.1 innings). And did I mention that Feliz is still only 19? RHP Tanner Bushue ranks first in the league in WHIP (0.802) and 14th in ERA (2.94).

There are quite a few more who fall short of the innings requirement, but who have excellent numbers:

LHP Evan Grills - 31IP  2.61 ERA  1.226 WHIP
RHP Adrian Houser - 29.2IP  2.43 ERA  1.281 WHIP
LHP Randall Fant - 27.1IP  2.63 ERA  1.134 WHIP
RHP Andrew Thurman - 25.1IP  2.84 ERA  1.263 WHIP
RHP Zach Morton - 25.1IP  1.07 ERA  0.671 WHIP
RHP Kyle Westwood - 24IP  1.12 ERA  0.708 WHIP
LHP Chris Cotton - 17.2IP  0.51 ERA  0.566 WHIP

Of those who have been used exclusively from the bullpen, there are two pitchers worth noting in particular. In 11 appearances (14.2IP) by RHP Richard Rodriguez, he has a 1.23 ERA and a 0.818 WHIP. He has walked one and struck out 16. The other, RHP Patrick Christensen, has a 4.35 ERA in nine appearances (10.1IP), but has a 0.871 WHIP. He has not walked a batter this season and has struck out 12.

Now for the offense. The team batting average, OBP and SLG all rank fifth out of 14th in the league. They are dead last in doubles, but rank first in home runs. They are third in walks drawn and 13th in strikeouts. Only one player on the ValleyCats team shows up as a league leader in numerous categories. 2B Tony Kemp is second in stolen bases, fifth in hits and walks, 12th in runs scored and is tied for 21st in OBP and is tied for 22nd in batting average.

Others showing up in the top 20 in the league are DH/1B Mike Martinez (tied for seventh in home runs and 20th in RBI), 1B Conrad Gregor (second in walks) and OF James Ramsay (tied for 19th in walks).

A couple of good hitters graduated from the team and were promoted to Quad Cities. C Luis Alvarez was .303/.395/.485 in 12 games and OF Dan Gulbransen was .397/.426/.638 in 15 games. Two recent promotions who may help fill the void are SS Jack Mayfield, who showed decent power in his stint at Greeneville, and C Brett Booth, who tore it up in the GCL and is hitting .400/.455/.600 in his first three games with Tri-City.

Also of note on the team are SS Chan Moon (.303/.361/.355) and OF Ronnie Mitchell, whose .384 slugging percentage is the highest of anyone on the team having a minimum of 100 at bats.

The Tri-City team is currently in first place in the Stedler Division, leading second place Lowell by three games. They currently rank second in the league in win percentage (.634) behind the the Jamestown Jammers (.641) in the Pinckney Division. They are going to need to keep the strong stretch of pitching going and/or pick up the offense. Nine of their 15 losses have been when the offense scored either zero or one run. They are 8-3 in games decided by one run. If the pitching staff starts to struggle, the offense will have to pick them up.