Saturday, December 28, 2013

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

A fever knocked me out of commission on Thursday, but I'm back in action! 

11/26 Games


The Cotton Growers were held to 5 singles.

Algodoneros de Guasave
RF Leo Heras: 0-3, K
1B Japhet Amador: 1-4

Gonzalo Sanudo allowed a consolation run to the Yaquis in the top of the 9th. 

Tomateros de Culiacán
RHP Gonzalo Sanudo: IP, 3 H, ER, K


This game was all Ponce as they scored the first 8 runs of the contest; the KO blow was a 6-run 2nd inning.

Gigantes de Carolina
2B Enrique Hernandez: 0-4, 2 K
C Carlos Corporan: Came on as a pinch-hitter in the 9th and flied out. 
1B Jobduan Morales: 0-3, K

11/27 Games


The club from the capital shackled the Aragua offense, holding them to 5 hits. 

Leones del Caracas
DH Jesus Guzman: 2-5, 2B, R, 2 K


Adelaide Bite
SS Joe Sclafani: 0-4, 2 K

The Heat ran away with a 5-spot in the 5th inning. 

Perth Heat
LHP Cameron Lamb: IP, BB, K


Guasave tied the game at 1 in the 3rd, but Navojoa responded with an unanswered touchdown to run away with it.

Algodoneros de Guasave
RF Leo Heras: 1-3
1B Japhet Amador: 1-2


Carolina got doubled up in the hit column (14-7), but that was alright, as they doubled up Ponce in the column that ultimately matters. Enrique Hernandez kicked things off with an RBI triple in the 1st.

Gigantes de Carolina
2B Enrique Hernandez: 1-3, 3B, RBI, R, 2 BB
DH Carlos Corporan: 1-3, 2-run single in 3rd, BB
1B Jobduan Morales: 0-4, K

Happy Birthday - 12/28

Happy Birthday to ~

C Ryan McCurdy (26)
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2010, McCurdy spent the bulk of his time in 2013 in Lancaster, also playing a handful of games in Corpus Christi. In 24 games with the JetHawks, he hit .254/.418/.282 and also caught the Mother's Day 2013 no-hitter thrown by Kyle Hallock and Luis Cruz.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Jose Sosa (died June 8, 2013 at age 60)
Signed by the Astros as a free agent from the Dominican Republic in 1970, Sosa pitched in 34 games for Houston in 1975 and 1976 with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.636 WHIP.

1B/3B Ray Knight (61)
A 10th round pick by the Reds in 1970, Knight came to Houston in a December 1981 trade which sent Cesar Cedeno to the Reds. In 391 games played for the Astros from 1982 to 1984, he hit .283/.331/.393. Knight was an All-Star for the Reds in 1980 and for Houston in 1982. The Astros traded him to the Mets in August of 1984; he was World Series MVP for New York in 1986.

IF Bill Hall (34)
Originally drafted by Milwaukee in the sixth round in 1998, Hall signed with Houston as a free agent in December 2010. In 46 games for the Astros in 2011, he hit .224/.272/.340. In 2013, Hall played in the Angels organization until his release in May 2013, after which he played for the Independent League Long Island Ducks.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy Birthday - 12/27

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Tyson Perez (24)
Drafted in the 17th round in 2011 out of Fresno Community College, Perez appeared in 37 games (12 starts) for the Advanced A Lancaster JetHawks in 2013. In 112+ innings pitched, he was 4-5 with a 5.85 ERA and a 1.647 WHIP. As a reliever, Perez had a 4.29 ERA and a 1.302 WHIP.

RHP Patrick Christensen (23)
A 2013 27th round draft pick out of LaSalle University (Philadelphia), Christensen split his first professional season between Tri-City and Quad Cities, putting up a combined 2.57 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP. He walked only three batters in 28 innings pitched while striking out 38.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

1B Norm Larker (died March 12, 2007 at 76)
Drafted from the Dodgers in the 1961 expansion draft, Larker played in 147 games for the Colt .45's in 1962, hitting .263/.358/.374. Larker was an All-Star for the Dodgers in 1960 and won a World Series with that team in 1959.

OF Byron Browne (71)
Browne came to the Astros in a May 1968 trade with the Cubs and played in only 10 games for Houston that season, hitting .231/.412/.231, before being purchased by the Cardinals in February 1969.

CF Michael Bourn (31)
Originally drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round in 2003, Bourn came to Houston as part of the November 2007 trade that sent Brad Lidge to the Phillies. In 541 games played for the Astros from 2008 to 2011, Bourn hit .271/.337/.359 with 193 stolen bases. He won Gold Gloves in 2009 and 2010 for Houston and was an All-Star in 2010. In July 2011, he was traded to Atlanta where he earned another All-Star bid in 2012. He is currently with the Cleveland Indians.

SS Craig Reynolds (61)
A first round pick by the Pirates in 1971, Reynolds came to the Astros in a December 1978 trade with the Mariners. In 1170 games played for Houston from 1979 to 1989, he hit .252/.286/.345. Reynolds was an All-Star in 1978 for Seattle and in 1979 for Houston.

LHP Nate Bland (39)
Originally drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round in 1993, Bland was drafted by Houston from the Mets in the December 2002 rule 5 draft. In 22 appearances for the Astros in 2003, he had a 5.75 ERA and a 1.672 WHIP.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

The NBA wasn't the only professional sports league in North America to have games on Christmas Day. So, while you were (or weren't) watching James Harden, Dwight Howard, and the Rockets knock off the Spurs (hey, it was on ESPN, so everyone had a chance to tune in), the Mexican Pacific League was also in action. Only one game featured members of the Astros organization last night: 

The Cotton Growers had a 4-0 lead whittled down to 1, thanks to a 3-run bottom of the 6th for Navojoa. However, the Guasave bullpen clamped down and held los Mayos to just 2 hits and a walk over the final 3.2 innings of play to get the win.

Algodoneros de Guasave
RF Leo Heras: 1-4
1B Japhet Amador: 2-3, R, BB, HBP

Happy Birthday - 12/26

Happy Birthday to ~

LHP Darin Downs (29)
Originally drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round in 2003, Downs was claimed by the Astros off waivers from Detroit in November 2013. In 47 bullpen appearances for Detroit in 2012 and 2013, Downs was 2-3 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.321 WHIP. He held lefties to a .219 batting average in 2013.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

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Happy Birthday - 12/25

No future Astros, but several former Astros have birthdays today ~

2B Nellie Fox (died December 1, 1975 at 47)
Fox came to Houston in a Deccember 1963 trade with the White Sox and played in 154 games for the Colt .45's and the Astros in 1964 and 1965 at the end of his career, hitting .265/.317/.319. A 12-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and 1959 AL MVP, Fox was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1997.

IF Julio Gonzalez (61)
Gonzalez came to the Astros in a December 1976 trade with the Cubs and played for Houston from 1977 to 1980, hitting .235/.270/.288 in 296 games.

OF Telmanch "Ty" Gainey (53)
Drafted by the Astros in the second round in 1979, Gainey played in 57 games for Houston from 1985 to 1987, hitting .216/.293/.288.

CF Willy Taveras (32)
Taveres was drafted by Houston from Cleveland in the December 2003 Rule 5 draft and played for the Astros from 2004 to 2006, hitting .284/.329/.340. In 2005, he came in second in Rookie of the Year voting to Ryan Howard. In December of 2006, Tavares was included in a trade to the Rockies for he-who-must-not-be-named. Taveras last played in the Royals organization before his release in July 2013.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Twas the Night Before Christmas - Astros Minor League Style


'Twas the night before Christmas, when out on the field
Not a creature was stirring, all the entries were sealed.
The stockings were hung in the clubhouse with care,
In hopes that St. Luhnow soon would be there.

St. Luhnow
Original photo courtesy of Andy as updated by Ryan

The players were nestled all snug in their beds,
Dreams of major league call-ups danced in their heads.
As Rodney and Tony D. called it a night,
Bodie and Omar turned out the lights.

When out in the park there arose such a clatter,
The clubby arose to see what was the matter.
Away to the windows the Managers sped,
And looked out to find what had roused them from bed.

The moon hit the crest of the newly raked mound,
Amid glittering dewdrops which shone all around.
When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a rocket-ship sleigh, and eight strapping reindeer.

Once spying this wondrous carriage on high,
They knew in a moment St. Jeff was nearby.
More rapid than fastballs his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Springer! now, Vincent! McCullers and Rio!
On, Aplin! On, Carlos! On Folty and Lino!
Over the top deck and over the eye!
All my young rookies are learning to fly!"

Just as quickly as Singleton hits the ball out,
When a fastball meanders along the wrong route,
So up to the nose-bleeds the coursers they flew,
With a sleigh full of Prospects, and St. Luhnow too.

Then I heard high above o'er the upper deck seats
The clicking and clacking of copious cleats.
The Managers stood in awe and dismay
As St. Luhnow slowly arose from his sleigh.

He wore orange and blue and a bright shining star,
And his clothing was smudged with field dirt and pine tar.
Myriad scouting reports bulged from his pack,
With advanced analytics, stack after stack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his smile pearly white!
An affable nod told you all would be right!
His hair was all peppered with silver and gray.
An impression of confidence, he did convey.

A multi-function calculator held tight in his grip,
And a smart phone holstered alongside his hip.
He had a nice face and was fit as a fiddle,
After time in the gym (I'd say more than a little). 

He was calm and collected, in total control,
And all were encouraged, inspired by his goal! 
In the blink of an eye, to the clubhouse he sprang.
He drew towards the lockers where stockings did hang.

Stuffing them quickly with promise and dreams,
Success in the future and victorious teams.
St. Luhnow then suddenly bade us goodbye
As the home run spectacular flashed 'cross the sky.

He leapt in his sleigh, "Oye¡ Vamos! Let's go!"
And away they did fly o'er the field far below. 
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Eight weeks 'til Spring Training! Oh, what a delight!"


A Happy Holiday Season,
a Very Merry Christmas, and a 
Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year to All!!!

Astros Fall and Winter League Recap

Puerto Rico was the only league in action on Monday night, and in the only game featuring players from the Astros organization:

Carolina was outhit 11-6, but they got the win by scoring 6 unanswered between the 6th and 8th innings and withstanding a 2-run top of the 9th from Caguas which cut their lead to 2.  

Gigantes de Carolina
2B Enrique Hernandez: 0-4, RBI groundout in 6th
1B Jobduan Morales: 1-2, R, BB

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Astros Winter League Cumulative Stats

The cumulative stats for all Astros (minor league and major league) players who either are participating or have participated in fall and winter league ball follow. Free agents are noted with an asterisk. Stats are through Sunday's games. Following the charts, I have included a quick look at the Astros standouts in the Liga Paralela and the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, both of whom have concluded their regular seasons.


In the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, no one stood out quite like LHP Rudy Owens. Owens led the LIDOM in WHIP and in strikeouts and was fifth in ERA. He held batters to a .191 batting average in his 10 starts. Owens needed the extra work as a foot injury (and subsequent surgery) derailed the bulk of his 2013 season. He appears to be fully healed and ready to compete for a job in Spring Training.

Another lefty, the recently acquired Raul Valdes, also shone in the regular season and figures to play a big role for the Toros del Este in the round robin playoffs which begin on Friday. Valdes was 7th in both ERA and WHIP in the LIDOM. The 36-year old Cuban was picked off the waiver wire from the Phillies in October.

Righties Jose Cisnero, Rhiner Cruz and Jorge de Leon all pitched in a handful of relief appearances, but none of them really stood out in their very limited work.

OF Domingo Santana and OF/IF Jonathan Villar both played a limited number of games early in the season and had decent winter numbers. Villar, in particular, came on strong toward the end of his playing time, putting up a .310/.429/.379 batting line in his final 10 games. Villar was also tied for third in stolen bases in the league despite not having played since November 20th.

OF Teoscar Hernandez and IF/OF Ruben Sosa were frequently used as pinch runners and defensive replacements and did not get regular playing time.


It was an adventure attempting to follow the Liga Paralela online between delayed and incorrect boxscores. Nonetheless, after reading the boxscores day in and day out, a couple of lesser known players emerged in my conciousness because of their skills at the plate. IF Alex Gonzalez, a minor league free agent picked up from the Rangers after the 2012 season, always seemed to be in the middle of the action with his great on-base skills and decent speed and power. He was tied for second in triples and was first in walks in the league. It is worth noting that Gonzalez is on the older side for the level at which he has played, having turned 22 in July and spending last season with the GCL Astros.

Another standout at the plate was the 20-year old C Marlon Avea. Avea hit for average, got on base at a good clip and showed some power. He was 10th in batting average and 4th in RBI in the Liga Paralela. Unfortunately, his work behind the plate needs a little help (he led the league in stolen bases allowed and was one of the leaders in passed balls).

OF Brett Phillips was just getting in a groove and was being considered for a chance to play on one of the Venezuelan big league clubs before he had to come home for a family matter. IF Carlos Perdomo and C/DH Luis Alvarez (currently a free agent) had very good winters as well.

On the pitching side of things, I'm going to single out two pitchers that Jeff Luhnow talked about in our interview from last month, RHP Jamaine Cotton and LHP Junior Garcia. Cotton definitely set himself apart in his 15 relief outings, walking only five batters and striking out 22 in his 18 innings. Other than Garcia's minuscule ERA, his numbers may not blow your socks off, but considering that he only turned 18 in October and he managed to get Luhnow's attention on his trip to Venezuela, I definitely think he will bear watching in 2014. RHP Gerardo Juarez also had a good winter campaign, building on his standout 2013 regular season with the DSL and GCL teams.

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Sunday, December 22


Adelaide 5, Brisbane 1

The Bite came out on top as they got the series split.

Adelaide Bite
SS Joe Sclafani: 1-3, 2B, 2 R, BB, K

Canberra 4, Perth 3

Perth Heat
LHP Cameron Lamb: IP, unearned run


Obregón 3, Guasave 1

Guasave couldn't get anything going on offense as they were held to 3 singles.

Algodoneros de Guasave
RF Leo Heras: 1-4, 2 K
1B Japhet Amador: 0-2, R, BB

Culiacán 6, Mazatlán 1

The Tomato Growers stormed out of the gate with a 5-0 lead after 2 innings and were in control for the entire game. Gonzalo Sanudo tossed a scoreless 6th.

Tomateros de Culiacán
RHP Gonzalo Sanudo: IP, H, K


Águilas 3, Toros 0

Teoscar Hernandez's pinch-hit double was one of only 4 hits for the Bulls of the East.

Toros del Este
LF Teoscar Hernandez: Coming on as a pinch-hitter in the 8th, he hit a double, then remained in the game as the left fielder.


Caguas 3, Carolina 1

Carolina tied the game at 1 in the top of the 6th, but Caguas re-took the lead in the bottom of the inning and got an insurance run in the 8th, courtesy of a Roberto Peña RBI double, to take this one. Raul Rivera threw 5 strong innings for Carolina, as he only got tagged with an unearned run.

Gigantes de Carolina
2B Enrique Hernandez: 0-5, K
DH Carlos Corporan: 0-1, BB
1B Jobduan Morales: 2-3, 2B, K
C Rene Garcia: 0-3, K

RHP Raul Rivera: 5 IP, 3 H, unearned run, BB, 4 K

Criollos de Caguas
C Roberto Peña: 1-4, RBI double in 8th

Happy Birthday - 12/23

No future Astros are celebrating, but these former Astros have birthdays today ~

RHP Al "Bozo" Cicotte (died November 29, 1982 at 52)
Purchased from the Cardinals in October 1961, Cicotte pitched in five games for the Colt 45's in 1962 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.929 WHIP.

RHP Brad "Lights Out" Lidge (37)
A first round draft pick by Houston in 1998, Lidge played for the Astros from 2002 to 2007 with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.197 WHIP and 123 saves in 378 games. He was an All-Star for Houston in 2005 when he had 42 saves in 70 games. Lidge was traded, along with Eric Bruntlett, to the Phillies for Mike Costanzo, Michael Bourn and Geoff Geary in November of 2007. In 2008 he was on the All-Star team for the Phillies and won a World Series with them. He retired at the end of 2012 after last pitching for the Washington Nationals.

RHP Shawn Chacon (36)
Originally drafted by the Rockies in the third round in 1996, Chacon started 15 games for Houston in 2008, going 2-3 with a 5.04 ERA and a 1.506 WHIP. He was an All-Star for the Rockies in 2003. For some reason, I can't help but get choked up whenever I think of Chacon.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Saturday, December 21


Caracas 7, La Guaira 2

For the 2nd time in 3 nights, Jesus Guzman went deep. The 2-run homer in the 3rd extended his hitting streak to 6 games.

Leones del Caracas
DH Jesus Guzman: 1-5, 2-R HR (6), K


Joe Sclafani and the Adelaide Bite faced off against the Brisbane Bandits in a twinbill.

Game 1: Adelaide 4, Brisbane 1

The Bite put up 4 in the 3rd and got solid pitching to take the first game. 

Adelaide Bite
SS Joe Sclafani: 0-2, RBI BB, R, 2 K

Game 2: Brisbane 3, Adelaide 1

The Bandits got the split by putting up 1 in the first 3 innings, while Adelaide was held to 3 hits. Sclafani also started this game at short; he was 0-3 with a walk and a run scored.


Guasave 5, Obregón 2 in 14 innings

The Cotton Growers tied the game with a run in the 9th, and they took control with a 3-run homer from Zelous Wheeler before the 2nd 7th-inning stretch. Japhet Amador put them on the board with an RBI single in the 6th.

Algodoneros de Guasave
RF Leo Heras: 2-6, 2B, R, BB, 2 K
1B Japhet Amador: 1-3, RBI single in 6th, BB


Licey 4, Toros 0

Tigres del Licey
LF Ruben Sosa: 0-1; entered game as a defensive replacement in the 6th.

Escogido 2, Gigantes 0

Escogido broke a scoreless tie with their 2 runs in the top of the 9th. Jose Cisnero threw a scoreless 7th.

Gigantes del Cibao
RHP Jose Cisnero: IP, BB, K


Santurce 6, Carolina 4

Santurce's 6-2 lead after 4 innings withstood 2 in the 9th from Carolina.

Cangrejeros de Santurce
1B Jonathan Singleton: 1-3, BB, R

Gigantes de Carolina
2B Enrique Hernandez: 1-4; Hernandez is currently on a 7-game hitting streak.
1B Jobduan Morales: 1-3, K

Happy Birthday - 12/22

No future Astros have birthdays today, but these former Astros celebrate ~

RF Glenn Wilson (55)
Originally drafted in the first round in 1980 by the Tigers, Wilson came to Houston in an August 1980 trade that sent Billy Hatcher to Pittsburgh. In 146 games for the Astros in 1989 and 1990, he hit .238/.284/.357. His best season was his All-Star season for the Phillies in 1985 when he hit 39 doubles and drove in 102 runs.

RHP Michael Jackson (49)
A second round pick by the Phillies in 1984, Jackson signed with the Astros as a free agent in December 2000. In 67 games for Houston in 2001, he had a 4.70 ERA and a 1.304 WHIP. In 1998, he saved 40 games for Cleveland with a 1.55 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP.

OF Jason Lane (37)
Drafted by the Astros in the sixth round in 1999, Lane played in 494 games for Houston from 2002 to 2007, hitting .241/.315/.458. He re-invented himself in 2011 as a left-handed pitcher with a little help from the Diamondbacks organization. After his release in May 2012 by Arizona, Lane pitched for the Independent Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012 and 2013 before being picked up by the Padres organization in July 2013. He re-signed with San Diego as a free agent in November.

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