Saturday, August 10, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Friday's Games

Kingsport Mets 6, Greeneville Astros 2
Greeneville didn't score outside of the third inning on Friday, allowing Kingsport to creep back and take the win in the final innings. Chris Lee pitched first for Greeneville and through four frames, allowed a run on four hits, four walks and struck out a trio. Lee pitched to two batters in the fifth before being replaced by Chris Munnelly, who threw the next three innings. Munnelly kept his scoreless and hitless, walking one, striking out five and retiring the last seven he faced in order. Krishawn Holley (3-2) picked up a loss and his third blown save after giving up five runs (3ER) on five hits and a walk through the final two innings. The Astros collected just four hits in this game and both of their runs scored when Chase McDonald (1X4 2B 2RBI 2SO) doubled in the third inning, marking his 21st and 22nd RBIs.

GCL Braves 5, GCL Astros 4 (7) -Game 1
This was the first of two games the GCL Astros played on Friday. Francis Ramirez (0-1) was on the mound first and picked up the loss after facing 19 batters in the first three and two-thirds innings. Ramirez recorded five runs, four hits, four walks and struck out four. In the fifth inning Luis Reynoso (1X2 R 2RBI BB) singled and drove in two runs with his only hit of the game. Jose Solano went two-for-three, scored a run and hit a double.

GCL Braves 2, GCL Astros 5 (7) -Game 2
The Astros scored four runs in the sixth to come back and split the doubleheader in this game. Zachary Dando pitched the first four innings, allowing two runs on two hits, walking two and striking out three. Juan Santos (2-1) closed the game out from there and took the win, keeping his frames scoreless, Santos allowed a pair of hits and struck out the same. Mesac Laguna (1X3 R 2B 2RBI SO) began the comeback in the sixth inning when he hit a double that brought home Jose Solano and Yonathan Mejia. Solano (2X2 2R 2B BB) and Mejia (2X3 R 2B) both had two hits in the game and all three players doubled.  

DSL Astros 0, DSL Red Sox 2
The DSL Astros had five hits and zero runs on Friday, getting shut out for their third loss in a row. Gerardo Juarez (2-3) picked up his third loss, working the first five innings and giving up two runs on five hits as he K-ed two. Brauly Mejia was the only Astro to hit more than once in the game, finishing two-for-four at the plate with a pair of strikeouts.

Jamestown Jammers 4, Tri-City Valley Cats 10
The Valley Cats didn't score first, but they scored more, hitting three homers in their fifth win in a row. Tyler White (2X5 2R HR 2RBI) hit a two-run homer in the third inning, his first as a member of Tri-City. Michael Martinez and Jack Mayfield both homered in the seventh inning, Martinez's (1X3 R HR 3RBI BB SO) was a three-run bomb and Mayfield's (3X4 3R 2,2B HR 2RBI SO) was a solo shot. Conrad Gregor hit three-for-five in the game with a double, run scored and walk. Chris Cotton started things off on the hill and through four frames allowed two runs on nine hits, walked one and struck out two. Charles Basford (2-0) followed Cotton and picked up the win, recording a run on a pair of hits and one K.

Clinton LumberKings 3, Quad Cities River Bandits 7
The River Bandits scored all seven of their runs by the fourth inning and rode them to the win at home on Friday. Chris Devenski (2-2) pitched the first six frames, allowing three runs on 11 hits and a walk while striking out five batters and earning the win. Jamaine Cotton picked up his second save after finishing out the game with a nearly perfect last three innings, striking out 1 (Cotton faced 9 batters, but hit one with a pitch in the seventh). Tony Kemp (2X4 2R HR 2RBI SO) hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and one batter later Carlos Correa (1X3 R HR RBI) swatted a solo long ball of his own, ending Quad Cities scoring in the game. Correa also stole a base Friday, his ninth.

Lancaster JetHawks 8, High Desert Mavericks 30
Lancaster had a rough day on the road, Friday. After the first two innings the JetHawks were down 19 runs and they closed the game 22 runs down. Starting pitcher Mike Hauschild (1-2), who took the loss, worked just two outs into the game and faced 12 batters, allowing 10 runs, (5ER). Blair Walters followed Hauschild for two outs and faced 12 batters of his own good for another ten runs, all earned. All together, Lancaster pitchers allowed five homeruns in the game, good for 12 runs, including a grand slam in the first inning. Here is a look at the pitching box before we go any further to help make sense of it:
 Delino DeShields homered on the first pitch of the game and finished two-for-four at the plate with two runs scored, the homer, three RBI and walk. Andrew Aplin went just one-for-four in the game with a walk and strikeout, but hit a big three-run homer in the third inning. Aplin finished with four RBI and is now four shy of 100. Brandon Meredith went two-for-four, swatting his 20th double of the season, scoring a run, adding an RBI and  drawing a walk.

Arkansas Travelers 2, Corpus Christi Hooks 3 (11)
Corpus Christi tied the game in the ninth and won in it extras on a bases loaded walk. After a Jonathan Meyer single to start the 11th, Matt Duffy reached on a throwing error and Erik Castro was intentionally walked to load the bases. Michael Burgess, who entered to pinch hit for Drew Muren, then worked a full count and drew a walk to push across the winning run. Ross Seaton tossed the first six and two-thirds frames, giving up two runs on seven hits and a walk while K-ing a trio. Jonas Dufek (3-0) earned the win after pitching the 10th and 11th, allowing only two hits and striking out four. Raoul Torrez (1X2 R HR RBI) began the Hooks comeback in the seventh with two-out solo shot. Max Stassi was the only player with multiple hits, batting two-for-five with a strikeout.     

Oklahoma City RedHawks 6, Las Vegas 51s 4
The RedHawks were outhit by Las Vegas eight to six, but won by two runs anyway on Friday—thanks in part to a George Springer (1X2 2R HR 3RBI 2BB) two-run knock in the fifth inning. Bobby Doran threw the first five innings and picked up the win. Doran allowed all three of his runs in the first inning and after that kept his shift scoreless, tallying six hits, two walks and three Ks. Hector Ambriz earned his second save after working the ninth, giving up a solo homer before striking out the last batter of the game. Jose Martinez batted two-for-four in the game and along with Trevor Crowe (2X5 R SO), recorded one of two multi-hit performances for Oklahoma City. Springer also swiped a bag in the game.

Player of the Day: George Springer wins it today, no contest. Friday Springer became the first minor league player since the 2009 season to record 30 steals and 30 home runs when he hit his two-run shot in the fifth.   

Andrew Aplin also earned a mention with his four RBI last night, edging him closer to 100 on the season. Wow.

Pitcher of the Day: Jamaine Cotton and Chris Munnelly are sharing the honors today. Cotton was nearly perfect in his outing Friday and Munnelly dominated. Great games, guys.

Happy Birthday - 8/10

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

OF Josh Anderson (31)
Drafted by Houston in the fourth round in 2003, Anderson made his major league debut four years later on September 2, 2007. He only played in 21 games for Houston hitting .358/.413/.403 before being traded to Atlanta for Oscar Villarreal. Anderson was second in all-time stolen bases in the Astros minor league system until he was passed by Delino DeShields last season.

RHP Brandon Lyon (34)
A 14th round pick by the Blue Jays in 1999, Lyon signed as a free agent with Houston in December 2009. It is only fitting that he was included in a 10-player trade that sent him back to the Blue Jays organization in July of 2012. In between he pitched in 131 games for the Astros with a 9-11 record, a 4.03 ERA, a 1.406 WHIP and 24 saves.

RHP Bobby Tiefenauer (died June 13, 2000)
Tiefenauer came to Houston from St. Louis prior to the 1962 season. In 43 games out of the bullpen that season, he was 2-4 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.318 WHIP.

LHP Al Osuna (48)
Osuna was drafted by Houston in the 16th round in 1987. A September call-up in 1990, he played in 193 games for the Astros over four seasons with a 16-10 record, a 3.75 ERA and a 1.339 WHIP.

2B/SS Andy Stankiewicz (49)
Originally drafted by the Yankees in the 12th round in 1986, Stankiewicz came to Houston in a November 1993 trade and played for the Astros in the 1994 and 1995 seasons. In 80 games, he hit .189/.344/.255.

CF Chuck Carr (46)
A ninth round draft pick by the Reds in 1986, Carr signed as a free agent with Houston in June 1997. In 63 games for Houston that season, he hit .276/.333/.417. Carr led the National League in stolen bases with 58 in 1993 while playing for the Marlins.

Tweet of the Day

Was the hills have eyes filmed in Cali because it sure looks like it

Friday, August 9, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Thursday's Games

Las Vegas over Oklahoma City 12-3
Asher Wojciechowski took the loss going four and two-thirds and allowing six runs on seven hits and five walks while striking out six. Two of those runs came across under Rhiner Cruz' watch. Eric Berger allowed one run in his two and a third, but Jason Stoffel struggled in the eighth and saw five runners score in the inning. All of the Oklahoma City scoring came in the sixth inning on a three-run Brandon Laird (3x4) home run.

Northwest Arkansas over Corpus Christi 12-5
Nick Tropeano was the next victim, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks, striking out six, in his five innings. Alex Sogard gave up a pair in his outing and Theron Geith allowed five runs (three earned) in his inning. Only Cameron Lamb and Pat Urckfitz remained unscathed in the run column. Max Stassi (3x4 2B 2RBI) drove in a pair in the first and third. Domingo Santana hit his 20th long ball of the season in the eighth, driving in two. And Matt Duffy hit his first AA dinger, a solo shot in the ninth. Drew Muren was two-for-five; Preston Tucker went two-for-five with a double and two runs scored;

Modesto over Lancaster 6-2
Brady Rodgers got insult added to injury in this one, literally. After giving up two runs with no outs in the first inning, Rodgers was hit by a comebacker on the leg and was removed from the game. Another inherited run scored and he was charged with three runs on three hits, didn't record an out and took the loss. Michael Dimock pitched four innings of relief and allowed one run. Tyson Perez and Jordan Jankowski each threw two and each gave up one run. The 'Hawks scored one in the third on a Carlos Perdomo sac fly and one in the sixth on a Brandon Meredith RBI double. They were held to four hits. Joe Sclafani also had a double.

Quad Cities over Clinton 2-1
Vincent Velasquez (6IP 4H 0R 2BB 7SO) and Zach Morton (2IP 2H 1SO) had a shutout going until Juan Minaya gave up a solo shot in the ninth. Rio Ruiz (2x4 2-2B RBI) doubled in the first Bandits run in the second, and Bobby Borchering (2x4 2B RBI) drove in the other run in the eighth.

Tri-City over Williamsport 10-2
Andrew Thurman (5IP 3H 1R 1BB 6SO HR) got the win and Michael Feliz (4IP 5H 1R 6SO) got the save while Tri-City was busy putting up two five-run innings in the fourth and eighth. The fourth inning featured triples from James Ramsay and Conrad Gregor (2x3 3B BB 2RBI R) and doubles from Jack Mayfield (2x4 2B RBI 2R) and Jake Rodriguez (2x3 2B BB RBI R). Chan Moon (2x4 3B 3RBI R) also tripled and drove in two runs in the eighth. Tyler White was two-for-four with a double and two RBI, and Ronnie Mitchell was two-for-four with an RBI and scored twice.

Greeneville over Bristol 10-8 in 10 innings
Raul Rivera got the win in relief after a rough start from Enderson Franco and an even rougher relief outing from Sebastian Kessay. Ryan Connolly and Gonzalo Sanudo provided scoreless relief. The Astros three-run second featured a two-run double from Wallace Gonzalez and the four-run fifth featured home runs from Tanner Mathis and Ricky Gingras. Edwin Gomez tied things up with an RBI single in the ninth, and a sac bunt and two throwing errors helped the Astros get the go-ahead runs in the 10th. Tanner Mathis, Edwin Gomez and Rinky Gingras all had two hits in the game. Angel Ibanez was four-for-five with a double, RBI and scored twice.

GCL Blue Jays over GCL Astros 13-9
Six pitchers combined in this one and only Kent Emanuel (2IP 3H 2SO) and Jorge Perez (2.2IP 1H 4BB 3SO) allowed no runs. The other four each allowed at least three runs including Matt Heidenreich (1IP 5H 3R 1BB) in his first rehab appearance. The Astros scored four in a third inning that featured doubles from Jason Martin (2x4 2B 3B 3RBI 2R), Jean Batista (2x5 2-2B RBI 2R), and Yonathan Mejia (1x3 2B 2BB RBI). Batista doubled again in the seventh and came around to score on a wild pitch later in the inning. Not to be outdone, Martin tripled in two runs and scored on a ground out. The final run scored in the ninth on a fielding error. Ydarqui Marte went three-for-four with a double, walk and scored twice.

DSL Mariners over DSL Astros 9-2 - called early in the bottom of the seventh
This was the completion of a suspended game which ended up getting called early. Let's just say that none of the four Astros pitchers pitched well in this one and Geronimo Franzua got the loss because it would take more time than it's worth to document the overall badness and I have a flight to catch. There were no extra base hits, but three players had two hits each, Kristian Trompiz, Brian Pena and Jarico Reynoso. A second scheduled game was postponed.

Player of the Day: It might have been in a losing cause, but I've got to send props out to Jason Martin for his double, triple and three RBI. In his last 10 games, he is hitting .317/.391/.439.

Pitcher of the Day: Vincent Velasquez, come on down! After another dominant outing on Thursday, Velasquez is 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA and a 0.903 WHIP in his last 10 appearances. He has walked 13 and struck out 60 during that period.

Happy Birthday - 8/9

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Tyler Brunnemann (22)
Drafted out of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene in the 40th round in 2013, Brunnemann spent 14 games with Greeneville before receiving a promotion to Tri-City where he has made one appearance. He has a combined 4.43 ERA and 1.131 WHIP for the two venues.

Hitting Coach Luis Mateo (32)
Mateo is in his fifth season as hitting coach for the Dominican Summer League Astros. Prior to coaching for the Astros, Mateo spent several years in the Tampa Bay minor league system.

There are several former Astros with birthdays today ~

OF Roman Mejias (83)
Mejias was drafted from Pittsburgh in the 1961 expansion draft and spent the 1962 season with the Colt .45's. In 146 games, he hit .286/.326/.445 with 12 doubles, three triples and 24 home runs.

CF Tommy Agee (died January 22, 2001 at age 58)
Agee came to Houston in a November 1972 trade with the Mets and played in 83 games for the Astros before being traded to the Cardinals the following August. A two-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove winner in 1966 while with the White Sox, Agee was a shadow of his former self six years later when he hit .235/.294/.397 for Houston.

LHP Claude Osteen (74)
Osteen came to Houston as a part of the December 1973 trade that sent Jimmy Wynn to the Dodgers. In 23 games for Houston (21 starts), Osteen was 9-9 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.482 WHIP. He was a three-time All-Star with Los Angeles and was a part of the 1965 Dodgers World Series championship team.

RHP Bob Scanlan (47)
Originally drafted by the Phillies in the 25th round in 1984, Scanlan signed with Houston as a free agent prior to the 1998 season. In 27 games out of the bullpen, he had a 3.08 ERA and a 1.405 WHIP.

3B Mike Lamb (38)
A seventh round draft pick by the Rangers in 1997, Lamb came to Houston in a March 2004 trade with the Yankees. In 487 games over four seasons (from 2004 through 2007) for the Astros, Lamb hit .281/.342/.464.

Tweet of the Day

Candy crush just rips your soul out of you

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Wednesday's Games

Oklahoma City - Off Day

Corpus Christi over Northwest Arkansas 4-2
Mike Foltynewicz (5.1IP 2H 2R 4BB 3SO HR) cruised through the first five innings before hitting a bump in the sixth. Kyle Hallock inherited bases loaded with one out from Folty and quickly induced a double play ball. Carlos Quevedo and Jonas Dufek took it the rest of the way with scoreless outings. Dufek got the win in relief; he has yet to surrender a run in his five appearances at AA. The Hooks scored their first run on Domingo Santana's 19th home run of the year in the sixth and got the go ahead runs off a three-run pinch hit Kike Hernandez bomb in the eighth. Raoul Torrez was two-for-four with two doubles.

Lancaster over Modesto 8-6
Aaron West (5H 2R 5SO) threw the first seven and was rewarded with the win to even his season record to 8-8. Blair Walters and Tyson Perez combined to allow four runs over the next one and a third innings before Kenny Long came along to save the day and get the save. Lancaster scored the first three in the third on a bases loaded walk, sac fly and ground out, one in the fourth on a Joe Sclafani homer, three more in the fifth and the final run scored on a Joe Scalfani RBI double in the eighth.

Clinton over Quad Cities 7-5
Lance McCullers (5H 2R/0ER 1BB 7SO) pitched six strong innings and got a no decision. Gera Sanchez took the loss after allowing five runs in the seventh. The River Bandits hit five doubles in the game, two from Carlos Correa (2x4 RBI R) and one each from Teoscar Hernandez, Bobby Borchering and Rio Ruiz. Tony Kemp, Danry Vasquez and Bobby Borchering were all two-for-four with an RBI and run scored. Kemp stole his first base since joining the team.

Tri-City over Williamsport 8-7
Adrian Houser went four and two-thirds and allowed two runs on five hits while striking out eight. Albert Minnis got the final out in the fifth. Tanner Bushue gave up four solo home runs in his two and a third. J.D. Osborne gave up the final run, but got the win as the 'Cats won in walk-off fashion on a two-run Conrad Gregor (2x5 2B HR 3RBI R) home run. Mike Martinez (2x4 BB) also provided two RBI via the long ball in the sixth. Jack Mayfield went two-for-three with an RBI

Greeneville over Bristol 11-10
Frederick Tiburcio (5IP 3H 2R 2BB 5SO) got the win despite some major bullpen woes. Ryan Connolly pitched two scoreless, but Christian Garcia walked the bases loaded in the ninth and Kevin Ferguson allowed those three runs to score plus another three of his own. Ferguson was charged with two more runs as Krishawn Holley allowed those runs to score when he came in with bases loaded. Holley was finally able to stop the bleeding after the eighth run of the inning had come across. Luckily Greeneville had a couple of big innings to pad their earlier lead. After Brian Holberton drove in two in the fourth via the long ball, and Darwin Rivera doubled in another in the sixth, the Astros put up two four-run frames in the seventh and eighth to give them a big enough cushion to hang on. Here's the box so you can see all of last night's offensive heroes.

I apologize that I do not have the time today to recap the final two games. Please click on the links to see those boxscores. I hope to have my schedule back to normal tomorrow.

GCL Blue Jays over GCL Astros 10-3

DSL Mariners over DSL Astros 4-3
Note that there was very strong pitching in this one from Edwin Villarroel, Cristhopher Santamaria and Yonquelys Hernandez. Angel Heredia gave up three runs in the ninth for a blown save and a loss.

Players of the Day: I'm going to award the honor to two players with big home runs. Kike Hernandez and Conrad Gregor bridged the difference between win and loss with their late-inning heroics.

Pitcher of the Day: Lance McCullers is getting a little love for a very nice outing. He retired the first nine in order before giving up his first hit in the fourth inning.

Happy Birthday - 8/8

Several former Astros with birthdays today ~

LF Jose Cruz (66)
Cheo originally signed with the Cardinals in 1966 and played five seasons in St. Louis before coming to Houston in October 1974. In 1870 games for the Astros from 1975 to 1987, he hit .292/.359/.429 with 335 doubles, 80 triples, 138 home runs, 942 RBI, 288 stolen bases and 730 walks. He was a two-time All-Star and a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner while with the Astros. He will always be remembered by those of us lucky enough to have see him for his Jose Cruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuzzz introduction, for always running out from under his hat as he fielded balls in left field and for never refusing an autograph request.

OF Ray Montgomery (44)
Drafted by Houston in the 13th round in 1990, Montgomery played for the Astros in a total of 47 games from 1996 to 1998 hitting .241/.281/.356. Once his playing days were over, Montgomery went into scouting for the Brewers organization and signed Rickie Weeks.

RHP Jack Cassel (33)
A 25th round pick by the Padres in 2000, Cassel signed as a free agent with Houston in December 2007. In nine games (three starts) for the Astros in 2008, he was 1-1 with a 5.64 ERA and a 1.516 WHIP.

2B Johnny Temple (died January 9, 1994)
Temple came from Baltimore to Houston in August 1962 and played for the Colt .45's for two seasons. In 131 games, he hit .264/.339/.314. Temple was a four time All-Star during his years with the Reds and Indians.

1B Mike Ivie (61)
Drafted by San Diego in the first round in 1970, Ivie came to Houston in a trade with the Giants in April of 1981. In 26 games for the Astros in 1981 and 1982, he hit .250/.288/.313.

RHP Mark Ross (59)
Drafted by the Astros in the seventh round in 1979, Ross pitched in only 14 games for Houston scattered over 1982, 1984 and 1985. In those games, he was 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 0.844 WHIP. After his playing days, Ross became a scout for the Astros.

RHP John Hudek (46)
Originally drafted by the White Sox in the tenth round in 1988, Hudek was claimed by Houston off waivers in July of 1993. In 116 games for Houston from 1994 to 1997, Hudek was 5-7 with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.328 WHIP. In 1994, he was second in voting for Rookie of the Year to Raul Mondesi and made his only All-Star appearance.

Astros Minor League Roster Moves

Oklahoma City
It was reported by the Corpus Christi Caller Times that RHP David Martinez has been promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City, but I did not see any team confirmation of that last night.

GCL Astros
RHP Matt Heidenreich assigned to GCL for rehab
SS Jean Estrella assigned from DSL to GCL

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Happy Birthday WTHB!!!

No, it's not my birthday personally. That was back in May. Remember I share a birthday with Jeff Bagwell which is pretty awesome for a lifelong Astros fan. Rather it's What the Heck, Bobby?'s second birthday. My baby is two years old today. And what a journey these last two years have been.

So far, I have put up 3032 posts (with help from weekend recap writer Buca Morris, of course, and from my recent collaboration with Appy Astros). By my count, I have conducted interviews with 102 individuals since I started (and multiple interviews with several of those), including 80 players, 14 coaches, four from the Astros front office, one minor league broadcaster, one minor league beat reporter (now sports editor), and prospect experts from Baseball America and

And I have racked up some miles, too. I am estimating that I have traveled 22,331 miles by air and by road in the last two years as I have taken in 38 minor league games in 11 trips to seven different ballparks in seven different states (plus Spring Training makes it eight states). I've planned three more trips before the season ends that will rack up another six games and another 6,356 miles to pad those totals to 44 games, 14 trips and 28,687 miles. When I say it's been a journey, I mean that more than metaphorically.

Some people are under the misconception that I am either employed by the Astros or that they in some way help me out with expenses for my trips. That is not the case. I am getting close to making a whole $100 from ads (after putting ads on the site almost 10 months ago), but that's not even enough to cover one night in a hotel for most of the places I have stayed. Believe me, I'll never get rich off this gig.

So why do I do it? Why do I spend my own money to travel to the minor league venues? Why do I get up at 5:00 most mornings to write recaps? Why do I spend hours every weekend transcribing interviews, writing articles, uploading and labeling photos and video? There are many reasons.

Mainly, I do this out of love for the Astros and my desire to see the team back in perennial contention with a strong minor league system. Partly, I do this out of a love of travel and meeting new people, particularly people who love baseball as much as I do. And those people are everywhere. Not just the fans, but photographers, camera operators, ushers, broadcasters, in-game entertainment crew, mascots, grounds crew, waitstaff, vendors. They all love the game. I have made so many new friends; I couldn't possibly name every person who has made a special impact in my life over the last two years, but you know who you are. Especially you. Yes, I'm talking about you.

But mostly, I do it for the players. I would have wearied of (dare I say it?) "the grind" long ago if not for the players themselves. I love getting to know the players and their stories. I love seeing their drive, determination, ambition and hard work. And I love pulling for them, particularly the underdogs. They have kept me young and relevant and have connected me to something bigger than myself.

Let me share two stories that will act as bookends for this past year. On August 7, 2012 (precisely one year after I started this blog), Brandon Barnes made his major league debut. I got to the ballpark early that night to talk with his former host family from Corpus Christi who had driven in for the occasion. They were sitting behind the Astros dugout and introduced me to Brandon's wife and beautiful baby girl. We were all talking and, at one point, Brandon approached the dugout and looked in our direction. Suddenly, I realized that he was not looking at his friends from Corpus or at his wife and daughter. He was looking at me. I had never met Brandon or spoken with him in person, but I had done an email interview with him and written an article urging his promotion to the bigs. In that split second, I saw an unmistakable 'thank you' in his eyes and in the upturned corner of his mouth, a 'thank you' for believing in him and for pleading his case.

Fast forward almost a year. I was at the game on Monday night for one reason and for one reason only. I went to see Brett Oberholtzer make his first start at Minute Maid Park. I met Brett briefly when he was still in Corpus last year, and interviewed him by phone later that summer. Brett was only on the periphery of my consciousness until we talked, but once we had that first conversation, I viewed him differently. I was so impressed by his work etchic, drive and determination that I became a big supporter. I could not envision a world in which he wouldn't succeed because he couldn't envision such a world. I spoke with him again in June when I was in Oklahoma City and my view of him remained unchanged.

On Monday night, Brett didn't dominate. He didn't need to. He pitched a good game, kept the ball down in the zone for the most part, and mixed his pitches well. Then came the seventh inning. A lead-off double followed by a sac fly and Brett was looking at a man on third with only one out. He hadn't struck out a batter in the first six, but Brett reached back and found that extra something to strike out the next two. Failure was not an option. I knew he could do it, but I sweated Every Single Pitch with him and I tweeted out something to that effect. A reply came from one of the minor league player's mothers, "Like a momma." Yes, exactly like a momma.

Players like Brandon and Brett keep me going. I want them to succeed individually and I want them to help my team succeed. I want to see a major league roster filled with men like Brandon and Brett who will give it everything they have every single day. And I want to tell you their stories so you'll love them as much as I do. Just like a momma.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support. Thank you for coming into my life and making it richer. This was one of the greatest memories I'll carry with me from this past year.

I can't wait to see what memories this next year will bring. I hope that you will continue to follow me on the journey.


Astros Minor League Recaps

Tuesday's Games

Oklahoma City over Colorado Springs 6-3
The RedHawks have now won 12 in a row and lead the second place Albuquerque team by four games. They also have the best record in the PCL. Paul Clemens allowed only two hits in his five innings and was followed by one and a third innings from Philip Humber in which Humber allowed three runs to score. Alex Sogard and Kevin Chapman provided scoreless relief. Oklahoma City did all of their scoring in the third inning, starting with RBI doubles from Jimmy Paredes and Brandon Laird and punctuated by a three-run home run from Jose Martinez (3x4 2-2B HR 3RBI R). Trevor Crowe went two-for-four with a double and a run scored.

Corpus Christi over Northwest Arkansas 7-3
Corpus Christi also has the best record in its league for the season and is tied with the Missions for best record in the second half. And that is due in no small part to David Martinez who cruised to his team record 14th win last night. Martinez (8H 0BB 7SO) gave up two solo home runs last night over eight and a third innings. Andrew Robinson recorded the final two outs, but also allowed a solo homer for the third NWA run. The Hooks led the whole way, getting one in the first on Max Stassi's 16th home run of the season, and two in the second on a Ronald Torreyes (1x5 2B 3RBI) RBI double. They played add on with Preston Tucker's eighth AA home run in the fifth and put up the final three in the eighth inning. Matt Duffy went two-for-four with an RBI and a run scored in his AA debut. Jonathan Meyer was two-for-three with a walk and scored twice.

Modesto over Lancaster 2-1
Lancaster has the best record in the second half and only trails San Jose by a half game for the best overall record in the California League. With a 2-1 score, you know this one wasn't played at The Hangar. Luis Cruz threw the first six and gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out seven. Jordan Jankowski pitched two scoreless frames for his Hi-A debut. The 'Hawks actually outhit the Nuts 6-4, but only managed to get one run across. Dan Gulbransen went two-for-four with a double and scored the one 'Hawks run in his Hi-A debut, but he also made the fielding error that led to Modesto's second run. Jesse Wierzbicki was two-for-four and Joe Sclafani doubled.

Quad Cities over Cedar Rapids 7-2
The River Bandits have now scratched and clawed their way into second place in the overall standings and (drumroll please) just took first place in the second half standings last night with last night's win. Starter Mark Appel (5IP 2H 2R/0ER 1BB 2SO) earned his first professional win and received outstanding support from Patrick Christensen (3IP 1H 5SO) in his Quad Cities debut. Mitch Lambson (1IP 1H 3SO) pitched a very effective ninth. Quad Cities put up a three-spot in the first on a Danry Vasquez sac fly and a Bobby Borchering two-run homer. Brian Blasik (2x3 2B HR 2RBI 2R) then added a sac fly RBI in the third and a solo dinger in the fifth. The final runs came on a Carlos Correa (2x4 2-2B RBI R) RBI double and a Jordan Scott RBI single in the eighth and ninth innings. Roberto Pena was two-for-four with two doubles and scored twice.

Tri-City over Williamsport 10-2
Tri-City is in a virtual tie with Lowell in their division, but they lag slightly statistically-speaking due to the number of games played. Kevin Comer (5H 2R/1ER 3SO HR) went the first three and was followed by a scoreless frame from Randall Fant. Evan Grills then tossed four no-hit innings (1BB 6SO). Tyler Brunnemann pitched a perfect ninth in his Tri-City debut. I was lamenting Tri-City's offense yesterday in a discussion with one of my twitter friends ... nothing like pounding out 14 hits with four doubles and a home run to make me look silly for worrying. I'm going to cheat and put up the boxscore. Otherwise this could take a while.

Greeneville over Bristol 2-1
Greeneville leads its division by four games and has the third best record in the Appy League. This was a pitcher's duel all the way. Edison Frias (5IP 5H 1R 2BB 8SO) allowed the only Bristol run in the first inning and was followed by four no-hit innings from Chris Munnelly (2IP 2BB 4SO), Raul Rivera (1IP 1BB 2SO) and Gonzalo Sanudo (1IP 2SO). It was Sanudo's ninth save. The Astros were held to four hits; two of those belonged to Brian Holberton, a double and a solo home run. Holberton scored the second run as he doubled, stole third base and scored on a wild pitch.

GCL Astros over GCL Yankees1 6-2
Luis Ordosgoitti got charged with two runs over three and two thirds and was followed by scoreless outings from Joe Musgrove and Erick Gonzalez. Jean Batista was two-for-four with a walk and an RBI in his first rehab appearance in almost a month. Yonathan Mejia was two-for-five and scored a run; Jose Solano was three-for-four and scored twice; Alex Gonzalez was one-for-four with a double and drove in two; and Ydarqui Marte was two-for-three with a walk and two RBI.

DSL Astros over DSL Athletics 6-4
Harold Arauz (3H 2BB 2SO) pitched five and a third and was charged with three runs (two earned), two of those coming across under Victor Mesa's watch. Mesa added on a run of his own. Juan Hernandez earned his first win with his two innings of relief. The Astros had only scored one run (a second inning Hector Roa home run) before putting up five in the eighth inning, an inning in which they were gifted with two walks and two hit batters to help their cause. Randy Cesar was two-for-four and scored a run. Jean Estrella and Arturo Michelena were each credited with two RBI.

Player of the Day: Jose Martinez gets the honors for a second day in a row for his excellent night at the plate.

Pitcher of the Day: Evan Grills is getting a little WTHB love today for his four no-hit innings. I have been intrigued by Grills since I met him last season in Lexington. It is great to see the 21-year old lefty putting it together this season. He is 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.184 WHIP in 10 appearances (four starts).

Happy Birthday - 8/7

Happy Birthday to ~

LHP Wade LeBlanc (29)
If you were on vacation in June, you might have missed this guy completely. Originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the second round in 2006, LeBlanc was claimed off waivers from Miami on June 8th, pitched in three games (3.2IP with a 9.82 ERA and a 1.909 WHIP) and was DFA'd on June 24th. He is currently plying his wares in Oklahoma City. In nine games (seven starts), he is 3-1 with a 4.89 ERA and a 1.448 WHIP.

IF/OF Andy Simunic (28)
Drafted by Houston in the 17th round in 2008 out of the University of Tennessee, Simunic has a batting line of .278/.346/.299 in 44 games for Oklahoma City this season. The ultimate utility player, Simunic has done everything in his minor league career except catch. I found him to be one of the more entertaining interviews I've conducted this year. You can read my June interview with him here.

LHP Ambiorix de Leon (22)
A NDFA out of the Dominican Republic, de Leon is in his fourth season in the Astros organization and his second season with the GCL Astros. In five games (three starts), he is 1-0 with a 2.82 ERA and a 1.209 WHIP.

MGR Rodney Linares (36)
Linares is in his seventh season managing in the Astros minor league system. He managed the Greeneville Astros from 2007 to 2009, Lexington from 2010 to 2011 and is now in his second season managing the Hi-A Lancaster club in the California League. He guided the team to its first California League Championship and has already assured a return to the playoffs in 2013.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

RHP Don Larsen (84)
Larsen came to Houston from the Giants and pitched in 30 games for the Colt .45's in 1964 and in one game for the Astros in 1965 before being traded to Baltimore. In those 31 games (11 starts), he was 4-8 with a 2.40 ERA and a 1.132 WHIP. In 1956, he pitched a perfect game in the World Series for the Yankees, an accomplishment that I personally find to be one of the greatest single accomplishments in the history of baseball.

Tweets of the Day

Had the best dream that literally turned into the worst dream in about .25 seconds.

Embedded image permalink

Any of my followers ever been shark diving?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Checking in with Lancaster 2B Delino DeShields

As you may recall, Delino DeShields has agreed to check in from time-to-time throughout the season. It's been way too long since our last chat, but I talked to him over the weekend about The Futures Game, commuters and how his season is going.

WTH: Tell me a little about your Futures Game experience.

DD: It was a great opportunity for me and it was something that you dream of. It was one of my big goals coming up through the minor leagues. To be selected for that, it's a great honor and I was real blessed. It just showed how all the hard work paid off and I went up there and had fun. It was my first time visiting New York. I enjoyed the two days I was there. It was fun.

WTH: I don't think most minor league fans understand how tough "commuters" are, those out-of-town trips deemed too short for an overnight hotel stay. Now that you've experienced almost a full season with Lancaster, what do you think about commuters?

DD: They're terrible. You get on the bus every day and drive an hour and a half on a hot bus, getting home at 2:00 [in the morning] and have to get back on a bus at 2:00 in the afternoon. Getting home at 2:00 in the morning and having to shut it down, [and then] wake up and do it all over again. It's tough, man. It's really tough, but everybody has to go through it at some point so you just wear it.

WTH: You recently went through a 26-day stretch with no days off. How do you get through something like that?

DD: That was a long stretch, but we did the best we could to stay healthy. Our Manager did a great job of keeping our bodies fresh and not wearing us out. That was a long stretch, but we got through it and it was all good.

WTH: You had an extraordinary month in July (.349/.407/.500 with 19 stolen bases). What has been the key to that terrific stretch? [Note: DeShields has carried that over into August, hitting .556/.600/.944 with three doubles, two triples and three stolen bases in the first four games of the month.]

DD: I don't know. I guess I figured some stuff out. I'm seeing the ball really well, being more aggressive at the plate and on the bases, probably putting a bit more pressure on defense. I'm just continuing to go out there and have fun and enjoy the game that I love to play and not worrying about what the outcome will be at the end of the day. Just going out there and [playing] hard. Play hard and things will work in your favor. That's all. It's the same game as it was yesterday or 10 years ago or 60 years ago. It's the same game. You've just got to be consistent. Go out there, enjoy yourself and great things will come. Great things will happen.

I have no doubt that we will continue to see many great things from Delino before the season ends. Thank you for your time, Delino, and the best of luck as you head toward the playoffs.

Astros Minor League Recaps

Monday's Games

Oklahoma City over Colorado Springs 6-2
Oklahoma City broke its own record of 10 games by winning its 11th straight game. Wade LeBlanc got the start and the win by pitching a solid six innings (5H 1R 4BB 5SO). Jorge de Leon and Eric Berger kept it scoreless over the next two innings before Hector Ambriz gave up one run in the ninth. The RedHawks scored two on a Jon Singleton (2x4 2-2B 2RBI) double and another on a Jose Martinez sac fly in the fourth; Martinez singled in another run in the sixth. In the eighth, Marwin Gonzalez (2x4 2B 2R) doubled and was driven in by Martinez with his third RBI of the night. Martinez later came in to score on a wild pitch for the final 'Hawks run of the night. George Springer was 0-fer, but walked twice, stole a base and scored.

And in honor of OKC's 11th straight win ...

Corpus Christi - Off Day

Lancaster - Off Day

Quad Cities over Cedar Rapids 6-2
The River Bandits have now scratched their way back to second place overall for the season and are only a half a game behind Cedar Rapids in the second half standings. Josh Hader pitched a beauty in his first start as an Astro, going six innings and allowing only one hit and striking out a pair. Jamaine Cotton (3H 2R/1ER HR) got the three-inning save. QC got off to a good start with three in the first inning off RBI singles from Rio Ruiz (2x5 2RBI) and Jobduan Morales (2x4 RBI R), got another in the second on a Carlos Correa (3x4 BB RBI 2R) RBI single and one in the third as Jobduan Morales and Catfish Elkins executed a double steal with Morales stealing home. The final run scored in the ninth. Tony Kemp was two-for-four with a double, walk and run scored in his Quad Cities debut.

Tri-City - Off Day

Greeneville - Off Day

GCL Yankees1 over GCL Astros 3-1
The offense was stagnant in the loss as the Astros only scraped together five singles, one walk and an Alex Gonzalez double. Yoel Silfa singled, stole a base, advanced on a ground out and scored on a Javaris Reynolds single for the only Astros score of the game. Agapito Barrios (5IP 5H 2R/1ER 1BB 2SO) took the loss and was followed by Zach Dando (2.1IP 3H 1R/0ER 1BB 2SO) and Juan Santos (1.2IP 1H 2SO).

DSL Astros over DSL Athletics 2-1
Elieser Hernandez (5IP 5H 1R 1BB 2SO) got his fourth win and was followed by two scoreless innings from Starlyng Sanchez and Yonquelys Martinez. Angel Heredia got a two-inning save, his eighth save of the season, allowing two hits and striking out three. The Astros got all the runs they needed in the fifth as Arturo Michelena scored on a fielding error and Marlon Avea came across on a double play grounder. The Astros only collected three hits in the game.

Player of the Day: Jose Martinez was all over the Oklahoma City win, driving in half of their runs. He gets today's nod, but Jobduan Morales gets honorable mention. Stealing home should always merit at least an honorable mention.

Pitcher of the Day: Josh Hader made an excellent first impression in his first start since coming to the Astros in the Bud Norris trade. Nicely done, sir!

Happy Birthday - 8/6

Happy Birthday to ~

LHP Starlyng Sanchez (19)
Sanchez is a recent addition to the DSL team. He has made four appearances out of the bullpen and has not allowed a run in four and a third innings.

LHP Kyle Hallock (25)
A 10th round draft pick by the Astros out of Kent State in 2011, Hallock missed most of the 2012 season after he had surgery to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow. In 2013, he has been bounced around the system. A lot. Starting the season at Quad Cities, Hallock went first to AAA Oklahoma City, then to Hi-A Lancaster, then to AA Corpus Christi, then back to Lancaster and now is back with Corpus Christi once more. His season record to date is 5-4 with a 5.80 ERA and a 1.475 WHIP in 27 games (10 starts).

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

2B Jim Pankovits (58)
A fourth round pick by Houston in 1976, Pankovits played in 316 games for Houston from 1984 to 1988, hitting .250/.307/.349. After his playing days, he managed in the minor leagues including a stint as the manager for the 2010 New York-Penn League Champion Tri-City team in 2010.

Tweet of the Day

Iowa traffic is so much worse than California traffic....

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Look at the Oklahoma City RedHawks

Last week, I started taking a late season look at the full season Astros minor league affiliates, how their 2013 campaigns have played out and some individual accomplishments. Click on the links to see my take on the Quad Cities River Bandits, the Lancaster JetHawks, and the Corpus Christi Hooks. The final team I will be looking at is the Oklahoma City RedHawks. Coming in to today, the RedHawks are 66-50 with a 4.10 ERA, a 1.391 WHIP and a cumulative batting line of .275/.350/.409.

The RedHawks didn't get to 66 wins last season until August 17th. The team's pitching stats are considerably better than last season's when the RedHawks ended the year with a 4.89 ERA and a 1.508 WHIP. As to offense, this year's team has an almost identical on-base percentage, but lags slightly in batting average and slugging percentage.

The team ranks seventh in batting average in the league (out of 16 teams) and 10th in slugging, but their OBP is tied for fifth which is reflective of their fifth place ranking in walks (they are 14th in strikeouts). The team is toward the very bottom of the rankings in doubles and home runs while they are in the middle of the pack in triples. The only category in which they are in first place is stolen bases.

No RedHawks players are currently in the top 20 in average, on-base percentage or slugging percentage, but that is only because many of the players don't have enough at-bats to qualify as league leaders. OF George Springer (.336/.434/.656) and 1B Brett Wallace (.326/.398/.554) would both be in the top 10 in the league if they qualified. And OF Jimmy Paredes ranks at or near the top 10 with his .319/.375/.504 batting line.

Other top 20 worthy players include IF Ruben Sosa (BA), OF Trevor Crowe (BA and OBP), OF Austin Wates (BA), IF Jake Elmore (BA, OBP, SB), OF Marc Krauss (OBP, SLG), OF Robbie Grossman (OBP, BB), IF Brandon Laird (HR, RBI) and OF Che-Hsuan Lin (BB, SB). Brandon Laird is tied for third in the league in doubles, and SS Jonathan Villar is second in stolen bases and tied for sixth in the league in triples.

Now, let's look at the pitching. The team as a whole ranks sixth in ERA and fourth in WHIP. One of the things that has hurt the team are the walks issued. They have issued the third most walks in the league while ranking 14th in strikeouts.

On an individual level, two RedHawks pitchers stand out as leaders in the Pacific Coast League. RHP Asher Wojciechowski is ranked first in the league in WHIP with a 1.079 mark and his 2.81 ERA is second. RHP Jarred Cosart ranks fourth in ERA (3.29) and 12th in WHIP (1.333). Cosart is also 14th in strikeouts, but is tied for fifth in walks allowed, something he was working to improve prior to his callup.

Two other pitchers would be in the top five in the PCL if they had enough innngs to qualify. RHP Brad Peacock's 2.73 ERA would put him in second place in the league ahead of Asher Wojciechowski and RHP Jake Buchanan's 3.00 ERA would land him in the top five. Peacock's 1.101 WHIP and Buchanan's 1.156 WHIP would rank second and third in the league.

Also of particular note is RHP Jason Stoffel's 2.22 ERA and 1.130 WHIP in 34 appearances out of the bullpen. His stats are actually better than the recently promoted RHP Josh Zeid, although Zeid is tied for eighth in the league in saves, despite moving into the closer role later in the season.

Oklahoma City is making a strong, late push for a division title and playoff berth. A ten-game win streak has pushed them into first place in the division with a three-game lead over Albuquerque. How the RedHawks will do for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs will depend greatly on how the team fares after the recent callups of so many of their players and who else may be called up in September.

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

Astros Minor League Roster Moves

Apparently, there are a number of roster moves coming down today. I will update this post as I find out more information. Here is what I know right now.

Corpus Christi
3B Matt Duffy assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi
LHP Sergio Escalona placed on the restricted list (suspended for 50 games for violating MLB's Drug program)
1B Zach Johnson released
IF Raoul Torrez assigned from Oklahoma City to Corpus Christi
SS Jio Mier placed on the 7-day DL

RHP Jordan Jankowski assigned from Quad Cities to Lancaster
OF Dan Gulbransen assigned from Quad Cities to Lancaster

Quad Cities
RHP Juri Perez released
RHP Patrick Christensen assigned from Tri-City to Quad Cities
2B Tony Kemp assigned from Tri-City to Quad Cities
RHP Zach Morton assigned from Tri-City to Quad Cities

3B/1B Tyler White assigned from Greeneville to Tri-City
RHP Tyler Brunnemann assigned from Greeneville to Tri-City
RHP Troy Scribner assigned from Greeneville to Tri-City

LHP Kevin Ferguson assigned from GCL to Greeneville

Astros Minor League Recaps

Sunday's Games

Oklahoma City over Colorado Springs 5-2
Jake Buchanan (W, 4-2) went the first seven, allowing two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out four, and was followed by perfection from Jason Stoffel and Kevin Chapman out of the bullpen. OKC got on the board early with a George Springer (2x4 RBI R) single driving in Trevor Crowe (3x3 2R) in the first, and put two more up on a Brandon Laird (2x4) two-run double. Rene Garcia (1x4) singled in the final two runs in the sixth. Ruben Sosa was two-for-two.

Corpus Christi over Midland 2-1 in 10 innings
It was a terrific AA debut by David Rollins as he pitched five and two-thirds innings, allowing only one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jonas Dufek and Pat Urckfitz pitched the final four and a third scoreless innings. The Hooks took advantage of an error and a walk to score their first run in the bottom of the eighth to tie things up. Max Stassi (2x5 2B R) hit a ground rule double in the 10th and scored on a Domingo Santana single for the walk off win. Kike Hernandez was two-for-four, and both Erik Castro and Michael Burgess doubled in the game.

Lancaster over High Desert 6-5
The Heart Attack 'Hawks are back with another come-from-behind win. Down 5-1 going into the fifth, the JetHawks put up five unanswered runs while starter Colton Cain (6.1IP 11H 5R/2ER 0BB 2SO HR) and the bullpen (Michael Dimock, Travis Ballew and Kenny Long) kept High Desert off the scoreboard for the final five innings. Luis Alvarez' solo shot in the third accounted for Lancaster's first run. They scored three more in the fifth with help from High Desert's two errors, a walk and a wild pitch, and two more in the seventh as High Desert loaded the bases with no outs by way of two walks and a hit batter. Because of the High Desert miscues, Lancaster scored its six runs on only seven hits, six of them singles. Matt Duffy was one-for-four with two RBI.

Cedar Rapids over Quad Cities 3-2
Brian Holmes got his first start for Quad Cities since completing his rehab assignment with the GCL and did a nice job. He threw six innings (2H 2BB 3SO) with only one run coming across in the first inning as a lead-off triple came around to score in the frame. Daniel Minor pitched two scoreless innings before giving way to Juan Minaya who gave up two runs (one earned) to give Cedar Rapids the walk off-win. Quad Cities drew first blood in the first inning with a bases-loaded walk, but didn't score again until the ninth inning when Teoscar Hernandez doubled and was driven in by a Carlos Correa (3x5) single. Danry Vasquez was two-for-five and scored a run, and Dan Gulbransen drew three walks in the game.

Tri-City over Aberdeen 9-3
Zach Morton (5.2IP 3H 2R 1BB) got the start and the much-needed win. Andrew Walter did a great job with a perfect two and a third innings and four strikeouts. J.D. Osborne gave up the final Aberdeen run in the ninth. Tri-City had the lead from the third inning on, but it was a slim 3-2 lead going in to the eighth. Six runs scored in the final two innings gave the 'pen all the breathing room they needed to end the losing streak at nine games. The first runs came in the third on a Brett Booth sac fly and a Conrad Gregor RBI double, and another in the fourth as Ronnie Mitchell (3x5 2B 3R) doubled and was driven in by a Ryan Dineen single. The 'Cats got four runs across in the eighth on only two singles, thanks to four walks, five wild pitches from two different pitchers and a throwing error. The final two came in the ninth on a Jon Kemmer RBI double and a Ryan Dineen sac fly. James Ramsay went two-for-five with a double and stole a base.

As a side note, congratulations are due to LHP Chris Cotton, RHP Michael Feliz and SS Chan Moon as they were named to the New York-Penn League All-Star squad.

Greeneville over Kingsport 17-1
See Appy Astros Eyewitness report of the game here.

Player of the Day: Marc Wik went four-for-five with a triple, drove in three and scored three in the huge Greeneville win. Wik was injured when I saw him in Greeneville last season, but he is obviously healthy now. He has hit .389/.488/.444 in his last 10 games.

Pitcher of the Day: Jordan Mills' start for Greeneville was simply terrific - only two hits and no walks allowed in five innings and striking out seven for the win.

Eyewitness Report: 8/4/13 G-Stros 17, K-Mets 1

It only counts as one win in the standings but it was a solid statement.  Greeneville stretched its two game lead to three with an all around dominate performance.  Here are the highlights:

The night got off to a good night when Little Appy and I got our Jose Altuve give away t-shirts when we walked in the gate.

On The Mound
When a team scores 17 runs in a game, it can be tempting to overlook the pitching but that would be a mistake.  Jordan Mills started the game for the G-Stros and pitched five solid innings facing just one batter over the minimum. His line read: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K.

Unofficially, I had him at 58 pitches with 43 of them for strikes!  Of the seven strikeouts, five were swinging and two were looking.  The two hits were both doubles.  One was a ball that bounded over third baseman Tyler White down the left field line.  The other was another ball down the left field line.   

Austin Chrismon relieved Mills and pitched the next three innings.  The first pitch he delivered was deposited over the wall for a solo HR.  After that, he settled down allowing just one more hit.  He struck out three and walked one.  He threw several very nice curves on the night.

Tyler Brunnemann finished off the game with a rather eventful ninth.  After striking out the first batter, he walked the next batter on four pitches.  He the gave up a double down the right field line that luckily went under the gate for a ground rule double. Otherwise it is a run scoring triple.  He walked the next batter on a full count pitch to load the bases before getting a visit from the pitching coach.  The very next pitch went for a 4-6-3 double play to wrap up the game.

At The Plate

15 hits. 6 BB. 1 HBP and 1 reached on a drop third strike. That is 23 base runners on the night and 17 scored.   The team was 7-10 with runners in scoring position.  Every Astro who played scored a run.  Even Angle Ibanez who struck out in his only at bat.  He reached when the third strike got by the catcher and he reached first safely.  It was just one of those nights.

Marc Wik went 4 for 5 with three singles and a bases clearing stand up triple to the gap in right center. Wik scored three runs on the night to lead the team. 

Tyler White was 2 for 4 with a two run homer before leaving the game in the seventh.

Chase McDonald went 3 for 4 - all singles - plus a walk.  The one time he got out required a nice play by the shortstop.  McDonald hit the ball toward left field.  The SS dove to his right and threw from his knees to nab McDonald or he perfect night.

Juan Santana only had one hit but it was a big hit.  A three run HR to left field.  He also had a sac fly to plate the final run of the game.

Ariel Ovando went 2 for 4 on the night and led the team with five RBI.  He had three run HR to RF that got out in a hurry.  He latter had a hustle double on a ball hit in shallow center.  He rounded first and realized that both the shortstop and the second baseman had gone out to try to catch the ball and 2nd was unattended.  He cruised in for a stand up double on a ball that was just out of the reach of the second baseman.  He later walked in the game with the bases loaded for his final RBI of the night.

Brian Holberton was 2 for 4 with both of his hits coming in the seven run third inning.  He lead off the inning with a single to left and then added a double down the right field line later in the inning.  He added a walk in the ninth. 

The game was out of hand in the ninth but the K-Mets couldn't get the Astros out so they resorted to bringing in their closer who got a double play ball with the bases loaded to put an end to the massacre.

In The Field

Tyler White made several nice plays at third.  He made a leaping grab of a line drive and a nice play ranging to his left in the third.  He added another good play to his left in the fourth.  He also applied a tag to catch a runner attempting stealing third in the first.   The runner was out by two feet thanks to a great throw by Brian Holberton.

The other play I have circled in my score book as a 3-6-1 double play to end the seventh.  First baseman McDonald fielded the ball moving to his right.  He made the throw to the SS Thomas Lindauer who threw back to pitcher Austin Chrismon covering first.  Just like you work on in in PFPs.

The one error of the night was charged to Lindauer on a ball that was hit up the middle.  He got to the ball in time but couldn't field it cleanly to make the throw.  It would have been a very nice play had he pulled it off. He made a similar play later in the game. 

Happy Birthday - 8/5

Happy Birthday ~

RF Domingo Santana (21)
First signed by the Phillies as a NDFA out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, Santana came to the Astros organization as the PTBNL in the July 2011 Hunter Pence trade. In his first season at AA Corpus Christi this year, he is hitting .244/.334/.459 with 19 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs and 52 RBI. In his last 10 games he is hitting .300/.300/.650 with a triple, four home runs and 10 RBI.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

OF Jesus de la Rosa (60)
An NDFA signing by Houston from the Dominican Republic in 1969, de la Rosa's entire career consisted of three pinch hit appearances for the Astros in August 1975. His cup of coffee would give him a .333/.333/.667 batting line as his only hit happened to be a double. He also scored a run.

Tweet of the Day

Great series win for the !!! Now enjoying our first off day in 26 days. you guys are the best!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Astros Minor League Recaps

Saturday's Games

Greeneville Astros 3, Bristol White Sox 4 
Greeneville scored three runs before Bristol answered back Saturday and once they did Greeneville fell behind. Troy Scribner took the start for the Astros and threw four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks as he struck out four. Krishawn Holley (3-1) tossed the final six outs and earned his second blown save and the loss. Holley gave up two runs on two hits, walked one and struck out one. Chase McDonald (1X4 R HR RBI SO) scored Greeneville's last run of the game when he hit a solo knock in the sixth inning. Tanner Mathis went nothing-for-one at the plate but scored a run in the fifth after drawing a walk, one of three he drew in the game.

GCL Astros 7, GCL Phillies 8
The Astros held a seven to two lead entering the ninth inning and allowed six runs to score in the bottom of the ninth, resulting in a loss. Jorge Perez and Joe Musgrove both pitched in the ninth inning and only Perez (.1 IP 2H 4ER 2BB) recorded an out. Together they allowed six runs on six hits and two walks. Musgrove (0-3), who allowed the final two runs, picked up the loss and his first blown save. Yonathan Mejia (2X5 R 2B HR 2RBI SO) began the scoring in the first inning with a two-run shot that scored Javaris Reynolds (2X3 2R 2BB SO). Jose Solano and Joel Silfa both went two-for-four in the game with a run scored. Solano also picked up his 21st RBI of the season.

DSL Astros 7, DSL Indians 2
The DSL Astros nearly shut out their opponent on Saturday before giving up a pair of runs in the ninth inning. Joselo Pinales (2-0) picked up the win, going the first five innings on the mound and giving up just a hit and walk while he was there. Pinales struck out six. Luis Payano closed out at one-for-four batting with a couple walks, a strike out and a pair of RBI and run scored. Payano hit a triple in the fourth that plated the first two runs for Astros. Kristian Trompiz also hit one-for-four, but collected three RBI and a walk in the game. Payano and Trompiz accounted for six of their team’s seven runs on the day.

Tri-City Valley Cats 2, Aberdeen IronBirds 6
The Valley Cats scored first and last, but at one run an installment it was not enough for the win. It might have been had Tri-City not committed three errors which led to four unearned runs in the game. Chris Cotton strode to the hill first and worked four and a third, recording five runs (2ER) on seven hits (HR) and four Ks. Cotton (3-3) would take the loss.  Brett Booth and James Ramsay split four of Tri-City’s seven hits, both going two-for-four. Ramsay scored a run and hit a triple while Booth hit a two-bagger and struck out once.

Quad Cities River Bandits 5, Cedar Rapids Kernels 2
Starting pitcher Joe Bircher went seven innings on Saturday allowing just a run on a pair of hits and essentially slowed the Kernels offense down to just a trickle. Bircher (3-1) also struck out two on route to the win. While Bircher was working his magic the Quad Cities bats were busy. The River Bandits had 11 hits in the game and Carlos Correa and Austin "Catfish" Elkins were responsible for seven of them. Correa finished at four-for-five batting with a pair of RBIs and a strikeout while Elkins went three-for-four with two runs scored and an RBI, ending up a double short of cycling. Saturday's win is Quad Cities' seventh consecutive and moves them to half a game back in the second half standings (behind the Kernels).

High Desert Mavericks 9, Lancaster JetHawks 12
The JetHawks were down nine to three headed into the fifth inning. Through the fifth and sixth Lancaster scored nine uncontested runs and rode that rally to the win, marking their sixth double-digit score in a row. MP Cokinos (1X2 R HR 2RBI 2BB) and Luis Alvarez (2X3 2R 3B HR 2RBI BB) helped with the comeback, both hitting two-run homers in the sixth inning. Andrew Aplin (2X3 3R 2B 3RBI 2BB) also helped, batting in a run in the fifth and two in the sixth. Aplin stole a base too. Delino DeShields didn't have any RBIs but managed to keep himself in scoring position, hitting four-for-five in the game with three doubles and a triple, scoring three runs and striking out once. Kyle Smith, in his debut with the Houston organization, made it only two outs into the game, allowing four runs on four hits (HR) and walking a trio. Tyson Perez, who pitched the fifth through eighth, picked up the win, tallying three hits and a walk in his four innings of work. Travis Ballew earned his 18th save after completing the ninth with one hit, a walk and a K.

Midland RockHounds 8, Corpus Christi Hooks 1
The Hooks had two hits and one run in their loss at home on Saturday. The run came by way of a two out, Preston Tucker (1X2 R HR RBI BB) solo shot in the fourth inning. Ronald Torreyes (1X4) singled in the sixth inning for the only other hit of the game. Tucker also drew the only Hooks walk of the game. Kyle Hallock, who took the loss, (0-1) pitched the first four and a third, recording five runs, four hits (HR), four walks and four Ks.

Colorado Springs Sky Sox 5, Oklahoma City RedHawks 24
Sometimes the best offense is not a good defense. Sometimes the best offense is simply having tons of offense. The latter is certainly the strategy the RedHawks employed on Saturday at home as they won their ninth game in a row. Bobby Doran started on the mound and worked four and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, a pair of walks, while striking out three. Eric Berger (4-3) clocked in for the next one and a third, keeping it scoreless, allowing a hit, walking one and striking out three to pick up the win. Jon Singleton hit a grand slam in the first inning and Brandon Laird followed in the second with a three-run knock. Seven players had multiple hits for Oklahoma City and three had more than four RBI. There were 20 hits all told and they scored no less than three runs in five separate innings. Only one RedHawk struck out the game. Here's a look at the box score chronicling the RedHawks Saturday slug fest:

Player of the Day: The baseball gods shone on the Astros farm Saturday and so WTHB will shine as well. There were several outstanding performances yesterday and that means five guys are going to have to share the honor today.

First, Jon Singleton for his Grand Salami—a guarantee of the honors any day.

Next there is Brandon Laird who hit a three run homer and collected seven RBI on the day. That is rare and slightly intimidating.

Third, we have Carlos Correa, who was on fire, batting four-for-five Saturday to bring his RBI total to 63—pretty sweet.

Fourth is Mr. Delino DeShields. DeShields hit three doubles and a triple Saturday! How is that not honor worthy?

Last, but certainly not least, is "Catfish" Elkins who came up a double short of hitting for the cycle—another solid game.

So, in summation, if you think any of these guys doesn't deserve the honors today take it up with him. Just remember, they all know how to swing a bat.

Pitcher of the Day: Joe Bircher personified the expression "to be in the driver's seat" Saturday. For seven innings he slowed Cedar Rapids to a crawl and allowed his team get out ahead for the win. Nicely done.