Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Birthdday - 6/14

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP R.J. Alaniz (23)
Alaniz orginally signed with the Astros as a non-drafted free agent out of McAllen, Texas in 2009. In his second season with the Hooks, he only made two appearances in April, pitching five and two thirds innings, before being placed on the DL.

C Brian Pena (20)
A non-drafted free agent from the Dominican Republic, Pena hit .252/.353/.311 in 31 games for the DSL Astros in 2013. He has not yet played in a game this season.

1B Jesus Guzman (30)
Obtained from San Diego in a December 2013 trade, Guzman was first signed by the Mariners out of Venezuela in 2000. Through his first 46 games for the Astros, he is hitting .200/.288/.286.

Two former Astros mark the day as well ~

RHP Pete Munro (39)
A sixth round pick by the Red Sox in 1993, Munro came to Houston as a free agent in November of 2001. He pitched in 80 games (35 starts) from 2002 through 2004 for the Astros with a 12-16 record, a 4.49 ERA and a 1.481 WHIP.

OF John Weekly (died November 24, 1974 at 37)
Drafted in the Rule 5 draft in 1961 from the Giants, Weekly was with the Colt .45s for three seasons from 1962 to 1964, hitting .207/.293/.364 in 53 games.

Tweet of the Day

Friday, June 13, 2014

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Thursday, June 12, 2014

Salt Lake 8, Oklahoma City 5

W- Joel Piñeiro (1-1)
L- David Martinez (5-4)
S- Yoslan Herrera (1)

OKC home runs: Matt Duffy (6, 12 season; 2-run in 2nd)

The RedHawks had to settle for the split as the Bees jumped David Martinez for 7 runs through 2 innings.

Martinez lasted 4.1 innings and allowed 8 runs on 10 hits, walked 5, and struck out 5. Jorge De Leon allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 2 over 2.2 scoreless, and Jason Stoffel allowed 2 hits and walked 1 in 2 scoreless innings.

Matt Duffy capped off a big series by going 2-4 with a 2-run blast in the 2nd. He's homered in 4 of his last 5 contests; all 6 of his home runs with the RedHawks have come in this timeframe. Austin Wates hit an RBI single in the 4th, and the RedHawks got a pair in the 6th with a Gregorio Petit RBI single and a Kiké Hernandez sac fly. Petit and L.J. Hoes had 3 hits apiece at the bottom of the order. Hernandez, Duffy, and Marc Krauss had 2 hits apiece, and in his AAA debut, Preston Tucker went 1-4 with a run scored and 2 strikeouts.

The RedHawks will begin a 4-game series against Las Vegas beginning tonight at 7:05. Brett Oberholtzer will take on Logan Verrett.

Frisco 5, Corpus Christi 3

W- Edwar Cabrera (3-3)
L- Jordan Jankowski (1-2)
S- Phil Klein (8)

CC home runs: Telvin Nash (6, solo in 3rd)

The crooked number doomed the Hooks on national TV.

Nash's blast led off the 3rd and opened the scoring. The Hooks got one more in the inning on an RBI single from Andrew Aplin. Leo Heras hit an RBI double in the 7th. Tyler Heineman went 2-4 with a double and a run scored.

Jordan Jankowski was undone by a 4-run 6th from the Roughriders. He went 5.1 innings and allowed 5 runs on 9 hits (solo homer), walked 3, and struck out 5. Michael Dimock pitched 2 scoreless and allowed a hit and walked 2, and Pat Urckfitz threw 1.2 perfect innings.

Kyle Smith will take on Jerad Eickhoff at 7:10 for game 3 of this series.

Rancho Cucamonga 4, Lancaster 2

W- Tom Windle (5-4)
L- Mark Appel (0-2)

Lancaster home runs: None.

The JetHawks were shackled for almost the entire game until they mounted a 9th-inning comeback attempt.

They got a pair of singles from Conrad Gregor and Danry Vásquez in the bottom of the 9th, but they stranded runners on the corners to end it.

Mark Appel went 3 innings and allowed 4 runs on 6 hits (solo homer), walked 1, and struck out 3. Zach Morton allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 2 over 4 scoreless, and Brian Holmes struck out 2 over 2 perfect innings.

In their penultimate game before the High-A All-Star Break, Gonzalo Sañudo will take on Fabio Martinez at 6:30.

Cedar Rapids 5, Quad Cities 2

W- Ryan Eades (4-7)
L- Adrian Houser (4-2)
S- Alex Muren (1)

QC home runs: None.

Tough night for Bandits pitchers as they issued 8 walks.

Both QC runs came in the 4th on a Tyler White RBI triple and a Brian Holberton RBI single. They, along with Jose Fernandez, finished with 2 hits.

Adrian Houser allowed 3 runs (2 inherited runners charged to him) on 2 hits, walked 2, and struck out 1 in 2.1 innings pitched. Tyler Brunnemann went 2.2 innings and allowed a run, a hit, walked 2, and struck out 1. Kevin Comer pitched 2 innings and gave up a run (inherited runner charged to him) on 2 hits, walked 3, and struck out 1. And finally, Frederick Tiburcio threw a scoreless 8th, but he did allow 1 of the 3 runners he inherited from Comer to score. He walked 1 and struck out 2.

The River Bandits will take on Wisconsin in their final series before the Midwest League All-Star break. Andrew Thurman will take on Victor Diaz at 7:00.

DSL Astros Blue 8, DSL Indians 5

W- Erasmo Pinales (1-0)
L- Daniel Gomez (0-2)
S- Lachlan Madden (2)

Blue home runs: None.

The Blue team jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the 2nd. The Indians scored in 5 of the final 7 innings, but the Astros built a comfortable enough cushion to come away with the win.

Connor MacDonald opened the scoring with a 2-run single in the 1st, and then Oliver Toribio ripped a 2-run triple. Edgar Lorenzo scored on an error and Joan Mauricio hit an RBI double in the 2nd. Jonathan Matute added an RBI single in the 7th, and Marcos Almonte scored the final run of the day on a wild pitch.

Erasmo Pinales pitched 5 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits and fanned 4. Gerald Benzant allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, walked 1, and struck out 3 in 1.2 innings, and Lachlan Madden got the 2.1 inning save, allowing a run 2 hits and striking out 2.

DSL Pirates 16, DSL Astros Orange 14

W- Luis Brun (1-0)
L- Starlyng Sanchez (0-1)

Orange home runs: Cristopher Luciano (3, 3-run in 5th)

The early theme of the Orange team's season is the shootouts they've been getting into. The odd thing in this game is that they only had 2 extra-base hits: Luciano's homer, and an RBI double from Wilson Amador. They also went 9-9 on stolen bases, and everyone in the starting 9+1 scored a run.

Osvaldo Duarte went 3-6 with 5 RBI and a run scored, and 3 steals (6). Luciano continues to tear it up at the plate; he recently had a 5-game hitting streak snapped, but he's currently on a 7-game RBI streak. Frankeny Fernandez and Gabriel Bracamonte scored 3 runs apiece.

One of the pitfalls of being in these shootouts is that the pitching staff is struggling.  Abdiel Saldaña was the only Orange hurler to post a scoreless outing, allowing a hit and striking out 3 in 2.2 scoreless innings. Well, technically, he did allow the 2 runners he inherited from Starlyng Sanchez to score.

Getting to Know JetHawks OF Danry Vasquez and Teoscar Hernandez

In my final installment from my trip to Lancaster at the end of May, I bring you a "twofer." Teoscar Hernandez was a little leery about doing an interview with me because he wasn't confident that his English would be good enough (it was), so I brought along Danry Vasquez for moral support. They are both high energy and very charismatic. I really enjoyed talking with both of them throughout my weekend there.

Prior to talking with Hernandez and Vasquez, I first spoke with Manager Rodney Linares about the duo. The word "tools" came up a lot during our conversation on each of these players. They both have a lot of talent, a lot of projectability and a lot of tools, but they are both still young and still learning.

Danry Vasquez - May 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Of Vasquez, Linares said, "Good kid, brings great energy to the table. Early on, when I started working with him, he was a little bit lost. He's one of those guys who still doesn't know what type of player he wants to be. Is he a power hitter? Is he a gap to gap hitter? A base stealer? So there's a lot of growing up there and he's getting there. He's getting better. He has a lot of tools, but we've also got to remember he's young. He's got big league tools, but he needs a lot of refining."

Linares wants to see a lot of improvement from Vasquez on his defense, which he describes as tentative, "We're working on it so hopefully he progresses and by the end of the year, we see a lot of improvement. I see a lot of improvement already overall. He hits the ball. He doesn't tap into his power because he's trying to figure out a lot of stuff. There's power there. He still doesn't know what type of player he wants to be or what type of player he really is."

Hitting Coach Darryl Robinson also weighed in on Vasquez, "Right now he's chasing. He's trying to hit the pitcher's pitch. He's putting a lot of pressure on himself, trying to get hits, trying to force things and what we've talked about is that you can't force things. You can't force what's not there. He's starting to understand that."

Teoscar Hernandez with S&C Coach Mark Spadavecchia
Photo by Jayne Hansen - May 2014

Robinson and I also talked about Teoscar Hernandez, "That's my guy. He's a worker. He beats me to the cage every day. Right now, he's chasing some pitches. [We've been working on] his strike zone management, and I see him only getting better with it. He's a gamer. He comes to play every day."

Of Hernandez, Linares told me, "Teo has the highest ceiling of all the guys we've got here not named Correa." He also acknowledged that all the tools in the world are no guarantee of success, but the tools are definitely there, "He's strong. He runs well. He plays good defense. He's got a great arm. He doesn't have a good arm. He's got a great arm."

But Linares stressed that, like Vasquez, Hernandez is still young and hasn't been playing that long, "People seem to forget that. He's going to make a lot of mistakes. He's going to strike out. Same thing I said about Springer two years ago, he is going to strike out. He is getting better. His walks are up from last year. He understands that he doesn't have to hit the ball every at bat. He's getting better with pitch recognition which will only get him better. It will only benefit him."

Linares continued with his praise of Hernandez, "He always has a smile. He comes in. He plays the game hard. He's enthusiastic. He cares. He's going to make a lot of mistakes. But in my eyes, within two years, two and a half years, he'll be either in the big leagues or knocking at the door of the big leagues because he has got a chance to be something special."

Now let's hear from the dynamic duo.

Happy Birthday - 6/13

Happy Birthday to ~

LHP Evan Grills (22)
Grills was drafted in the tenth round in 2010 out of high school in Ontario. He is spending his fifth season in the organization with Quad Cities where he has gone 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.319 WHIP in 13 games (8 starts).

Tweet of the Day

Astros Minor League Roster Moves/Transactions

In addition to the promotion of OF Preston Tucker from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City being made official yesterday, the Astros also announced the trade of another RedHawks outfielder to make room for Tucker.

OF Adron Chambers was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of Gulf Coast League players. LHP Alejandro Solarte (19), a native of Venezuela, was 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.356 WHIP in nine games (three starts) for the GCL Blue Jays in 2013. 2B Will Dupont (20) was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 16th round in 2012 out of Lafayette HS in Wildwood, Missouri. In 26 games for their GCL team in 2013, he hit .262/.338/.311. They will report to the GCL Astros team.

Additionally, The Astros have not announced the official opening day roster for the Tri-City ValleyCats who start play tonight. When that information is available, I will try to post it as soon as I can.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Wednesday, June 10, 2014

Oklahoma City 7, Salt Lake 6

W- Kevin Chapman (1-0)
L- Dane De La Rosa (1-1)

OKC home runs: Matt Duffy (5, 11 season;; 2-run in 3rd), Marc Krauss (1, 5 season; 3-run in 8th)

The RedHawks rallied from a 6-3 deficit and walked off with the victory as Matt Duffy ripped an RBI double in the bottom of the 9th. Again, guys, OKC Matinee Magic is real.

It was Duffy's 2-run shot in the 3rd that put OKC on the board and in the lead (2-1). Kiké Hernandez added an RBI single in the 4th. The Bees then scored 5 unanswered runs and held a 6-3 lead in the 8th. But, with 2 outs in the 8th, Marc Krauss came on to pinch-hit and tied the game with a 3-run blast, his 1st homer since being optioned. Domingo Santana hit a 1-out single in the bottom of the 9th, and Duffy followed that up with the game-winning double. Big couple of days for Matt Duffy, who went 3-4 for the 2nd time in this 4-game set. Remember, he hit 3 homers on Monday.

Paul Clemens went 4 innings and allowed a run on 4 hits, walked 2, and struck out 1. Ross Seaton was knocked around for 4 runs on 4 hits in 3 innings; he walked and fanned 1. Alex White gave up a solo homer to Roberto Lopez in the 8th. He allowed 1 other hit, walked 1, and struck out 1. Kevin Chapman worked around a walk to preserve the 6-6 tie, striking out 1. He wound up getting the W thanks to Duffy.

In the series finale, David Martinez will take on Joel Piñeiro. First pitch is at 7:05.

Corpus Christi 7, Frisco 0

W- Tyson Perez (2-0, 2-3 season)
L- Alec Asher (6-5)

CC home runs: None.

The Hooks only scored in 1 inning, but they put up a touchdown in the bottom of the 7th. In the process, they snapped their 3-game losing streak.

Luis Cruz, making his 1st appearance since May 25, started off with 3.2 scoreless innings and allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 6. Tyson Perez allowed 5 hits and walked 2 over 3.1 scoreless, and Richard Rodriguez threw 2 scoreless to finish. He allowed a hit and fanned 2.

13 zeros were put on the board before the Hooks' outburst in the 7th. Nolan Fontana started things off with a single that knocked Frisco starter Alec Asher out of the game. He advanced to 2nd on a sac bunt from Andrew Aplin, who reached anyway due to an error. A Preston Tucker single loaded the bases for Jonathan Meyer, who promptly cleared them with a triple to break the scoreless tie. Carlos Perdomo brought Meyer home with a single, and Jio Mier followed that up with another single. They both advanced a base on M.P. Cokinos' sac bunt, and they both scored on a double from Tyler Heineman. Ruben Sosa capped off the inning with a triple to send Heineman home.

In game 2 of this series, Jordan Jankowski will face Edwar Cabrera at 7:05.

Lancaster 16, Rancho Cucamonga 3

W- Chris Devenski (4-5)
L- Jharel Cotton (1-4)

Lancaster home runs: Jack Mayfield (1, 3 season; 2-run in 2nd), Rio Ruiz (6, grand slam in 2nd), Conrad Gregor (4, 5 season; solo in 3rd), Roberto Peña (5, solo in 7th)

It's a great night for the fans at The Hangar when they get tacos by the 3rd inning. This was an absolute stomping as they were up by as much as 16-2. They've outscored the opposition 31-5 in their last 2 contests. Oh, and in the process, the JetHawks clinched the 1st-half title in the California League South, so they're the first team in the system to qualify for their league's playoffs.

Everyone had a hit except for Teoscar Hernandez, who was 0-3 with a sac fly in the 3rd. For that matter, everyone had an RBI except for Tony Kemp, who went 4-5 with a double and scored 3 runs. It was a huge night for Danry Vásquez, who went 5-5 with an RBI single and an RBI double (one of 2 doubles he hit on the night) and scored 4 times.

Believe it or not, Lancaster was actually trailing at one point. They were down 2-1 heading into the bottom of the 2nd. Well, that deficit proved to be short-lived, as Jack Mayfield hit his 1st homer as a JetHawk and Rio effectively opened up the floodgates with his slam. They got 4 in the 3rd on Conrad Gregor's solo blast, Teoscar's sac fly, Carlos Correa's RBI single (which was the Taco Run), and an RBI single from Rio. Vásquez hit an RBI single in the 4th and later in the inning, Correa drew a bases-loaded walk. Danry's RBI double came in the 5th. Peña's homer led off the 7th, and Jordan Scott capped off the scoring with an RBI single in the inning. That was Scott's first official at-bat of the night after drawing 4 walks. He also scored twice in the game.

Chris Devenski was excellent in his 6 innings; a 2-run homer to Aaron Miller in the 2nd was the only ding on his line. He allowed 2 other hits and struck out 7. Devenski is having an excellent rebound season in Lancaster after struggling mightily last year.

Matt Heidenreich allowed a hit and struck out 2 over 2 scoreless, and all good things must come to an end eventually: Dan Minor allowed a run in the 9th, which was the first run that he's surrendered in almost two months!!! He allowed 3 hits and struck out 2 in the inning.

Game 2 of this series features Mark Appel on the mound. He'll be returning to the scene of the crime; his last time out, he allowed 10 runs to the Quakes in The Hangar. His opponent will be Tom Windle. First pitch is at 6:30 Pacific.

Cedar Rapids 5, Quad Cities 4

W- Brandon Bixler (4-3)
L- Evan Grills (2-2)
S- Todd Van Steensel (6)

QC home runs: None.

A 9th-inning rally fell just short for the River Bandits.With Burlington's win, they're 1 game behind the Bees for the 2nd playoff spot in the Midwest League West. The Peoria Chiefs also have something to say, as they have a 34-31 record which puts them in a tie with QC.

Evan Grills pitched 5 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits (solo homer) and struck out 6. Edison Frias pitched 2 scoreless, but got tagged for 3 runs in the 8th. He allowed 5 hits and struck out 1.

Tyler White hit an RBI single in the 2nd. That would be the Banditos' only run until a 3-run 9th. They had the bases loaded with nobody out, but all of a sudden, they were down to their final out. Catfish Elkins, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 7th and stayed in the game to play 2B, hit a 2-run single, and Brett Phillips added an RBI single to make it a 1-run game. Unfortunately, Todd Van Steensel snuffed out the rally by getting Chan-Jong Moon to line out to end the game. Chase McDonald went 2-4 with 2 runs scored.

Adrian Houser will get the start in the rubber game of the series; he'll face Ryan Eades at 6:35.

DSL Astros Blue 10, DSL Dodgers 3

W- Gabriel Valdez (1-0)
L- Algenis Soto (0-1)

Blue home runs: None.

The Blue team got themselves out of the offensive rut they were in by posting a 10-spot. They jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the 1st and weren't seriously threatened.

Wander Franco kicked things off with an RBI single in the 1st. He also added an RBI double and drew a bases loaded walk. Joan Mauricio added an RBI single and Connor MacDonald scored on the ensuing error. Nestor Tejada finished 3-5 with a triple and a run scored. Olivier Toribio, Juan Fuentes, and Marcos Almonte had 2 hits apiece.

Albert Abreu went 4 innings and allowed 2 unearned runs on 2 hits, walked 3, and struck out 2. Gabriel Valdez allowed a run on 3 hits and struck out 4, and Ramon Rodriguez, who was added to the roster on Monday, struck out 2 over 2 perfect innings.

DSL Cubs 16, DSL Astros Orange 8

W- Santiago Rodriguez (2-0)
L- Juan Hernandez (0-1)

Orange home runs: None.

The Orange team's 3-game winning streak came to a halt as the Cubs scored the game's first 16 runs. However, they were 50% on the way to completing a comeback. Bright side here.

All 8 of the Orange team's runs came in the top of the 9th inning. Jesus Bermejo drew a bases-loaded walk to finally put them on the board. Gabriel Bracamonte went 3-4 and followed that with an RBI single. Osvaldo Duarte went 2-5 with a 2-run double, and Rodrigo Ayarza followed Duarte's double with a 2-run single. He'd score on a Luis Vasquez triple. Cristopher Luciano had an RBI groundout which turned out to be the final run of the day.

Juan Hernandez pitched 2.1 innings and allowed 5 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits and struck out 3. Adonis Peña allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 2. Starlyn Taveras got 2 outs in the 6th, but was KOed by a bases-clearing triple, which was the only hit he gave up. Hansel Paulino failed to get the final out of the inning. Let's leave it at that. Bryan Abreu pitched 2.1 scoreless and walked 3 while striking out 3.

Astros Minor League Snapshot

The minor league season is now ten weeks old. Let's take a look at where things stand.


1st   36-31   .537   -.-GB   W1

The RedHawks sneaked into first place in the American Northern Division, a half game up on Omaha and one game up on Iowa. They are up 2-1 in their current 4-game series with Salt Lake and will try to take that series tonight before hosting Las Vegas (38-38) for four starting Friday. Las Vegas is in first place in the Pacific Southern Division. On Tuesday, the 'Hawks will hit the road for four against Reno. Reno has a 37-29 record and are in second place in the Pacific Northern Division. It will be the first time that Oklahoma City will face the two teams this season.

Here are some of the RedHawks who are league leaders in various categories:

Domingo Santana
T7th in Hits (72)
T7th in 2B (17)
T13th in HR (10)
14th in RBI (39)
T14th in BB (28)
T4th in SO (77)

Austin Wates
T4th in SB (15)

Nick Tropeano
3rd in ERA (2.31)
4th in WHIP (0.96)
14th in SO (59)

Mike Foltynewicz
11th in ERA (3.32)
T13th in WHIP (1.20)
8th in SO (63)

Jake Buchanan
13th in ERA (3.38)
T13th in WHIP (1.20)

David Martinez
17th in ERA (3.76)
11th in WHIP (1.18)

Rudy Owens
19th in WHIP (1.25)

Jon Singleton is still a league leader in several categories but has since been called up to Houston.


4th   32-33   .492   6.5GB   W1

The Hooks have continued to scuffle and remain in fourth place in their four-team division, trailing third place San Antonio by one game. However, they did win the first game in a four-game series against first place Frisco (38-26) last night; they are now 5-9 in that season series. On Sunday they will travel to San Antonio (33-32) for four games. The Hooks are 7-5 against them for the season.

The Texas League All-Star game will take place on Tuesday, June 24th in North Little Rock. 3B Matt Duffy (who was recently promoted to AAA Oklahoma City) and SS Nolan Fontana were named as starters. RHP Andrew Robinson and LHP Tommy Shirley were selected as reserves.

Here are some of the Hooks who are league leaders in various categories:

Preston Tucker (just called up to OKC today)
18th in BA (.276)
16th in OBP (.348)
3rd in SLG (.536)
T1st in Runs (41)
2nd in Hits (72)
3rd in 2B (17)
1st in HR (17)
1st in RBI (43)
T9th in BB (26)
T19th in SO (46)

Nolan Fontana
1st in OBP (.423)
T13th in Runs (31)
T19th in Hits (54)
2nd in 2B (19)
1st in BB (55)
T5th in SO (53)

Andrew Aplin
6th in OBP (.377)
T15th in Runs (30)
T10th in Hits (59)
9th in RBI (33)
2nd in BB (39)

Delino DeShields
T11th in Runs (32)
2nd in SB (25)

Leo Hera
1st in 3B (5)
T13th in BB (25)

Tommy Shirley
2nd in ERA (1.92)
2nd in WHIP (0.88)
6th in SO (62)

Brady Rodgers
14th in WHIP (1.33)
T14th in SO (48)

Matt Duffy is still a league leader in several categories but has since been promoted to Oklahoma City.


1st    38-23   .623   -.-GB   W4

Lancaster went 5-1 over the last week and won the South Division first half last night, ensuring that they will be in the playoffs in early September. They are four games ahead of second place Lake Elsinore for the season. The 'Hawks will play three more games against Rancho Cucamonga (30-37) against whom they lead the season series 7-5 before heading into the All-Star break.

As a reminder, the All-Star game between the California League All-Stars and the Carolina League All-Stars will take place in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday, June 17th and the JetHawks will have five representatives. 2B Tony Kemp and OF Teoscar Hernandez will be starters; LHP Josh Hader, SS Carlos Correa and C Roberto Pena will be reserves.

Here are some of the JetHawks who are league leaders in various categories:

Tony Kemp
4th in BA (.340)
1st in OBP (.439)
19th in SLG (.481)
1st in Runs (73)
2nd in Hits (89)
T10th in 2B (17)
T11th in 3B (4)
5th in BB (41)

Carlos Correa
5th in BA (.335)
2nd in OBP (.426)
14th in SLG (.513)
T8th in Runs (45)
T7th in Hits (77)
T18th in 2B (16)
T5th in 3B (5)
T3rd in RBI (54)
10th in BB (34)

Rio Ruiz
18th in BA (.300)
T10th in OBP (.392)
T11th in Hits (75)
T10th in 2B (17)
T12th in RBI (43)
T6th in BB (39)

Teoscar Hernandez
20th in BA (.298)
17th in OBP (.379)
5th in SLG (.567)
4th in Runs (51)
T17th in Hits (73)
T18th in 2B (16)
1st in 3B (7)
T7th in HR (12)
T3rd in RBI (54)
T12th in BB (32)
T2nd in SO (83)

Danry Vasquez
T10th in 2B (17)

Jordan Scott
T5th in 3B (5)

Dan Gulbransen
T16th in BB (30)

Josh Hader
2nd in ERA (2.34)
3rd in WHIP (1.01)
2nd in SO (75)

Kyle Westwood
3rd in ERA (2.75)
5th in WHIP (1.09)

Chris Devenski
15th in ERA (4.15)
6th in WHIP (1.14)
9th in SO (65)

Lance McCullers
19th in ERA (4.58)
T20th in WHIP (1.49)
T7th in SO (66)


T3rd    34-31    .523    9.5GB    L1

Quad Cities is tied with Peoria for third place in the division, nine and a half games behind Kane County, but only one game behind second place Burlington and only one game ahead of Wisconsin. Kane County has already won the first half, but Quad Cities, Peoria, Burlington and Wisconsin are all jockeying for position trying to win the first half wild card which would ensure a playoff berth. The River Bandits will try to win the currently tied series with Cedar Rapids (29-37) on the road tonight (6-2 for the season series) before heading home to host Wisconsin (33-32) for three.  The season series between those two teams is knotted. That will be followed by the All-Star break.

As a reminder, the All-Star game will be Tuesday, June 17th in Comstock, Michigan. OF Brett Phillips was named as a starter; IF Chan-Jong Moon and RHP Tyler Brunnemann were named as reserves. Manager Omar Lopez, Pitching Coach Dave Borkowski, Hitting Coach Joel Chimelis and Company will serve as coaching staff for the Western Division All-Stars.

Brett Phillips
12th in BA (.305)
18th in OBP (.365)
9th in SLG (.478)
T6th in Runs (43)
12th in Hits (69)
2nd in 3B (10)

Tyler White
16th in BA (.297)
8th in OBP (.398)
16th in SLG (.459)

James Ramsay
T10th in 2B (16)
9th in BB (35)
T15th in SB (16)

Chan Moon
T3rd in 3B (7)
4th in SB (24)

Ronnie Mitchell
T4th in HR (9)

Evan Grills
13th in ERA (3.12)

Andrew Thurman
11th in SO (56)

Conrad Gregor is still a league leader in several categories and has since been promoted to Lancaster.


Tri-City will get started tomorrow. (Official rosters have yet to be released.) The ValleyCats start the season at home with three against Connecticut and two against Lowell before heading to Vermont next Wednesday for another two-game series.


T3rd    5-5    .500    1.0GB    W1

The Blue Team went 2-4 for the week, dropping them from first place to a tie for third in the six-team division.


T7th    3-7    .300    5.0GB    L1

After a tough start to the season, the Orange team has righted the ship, going 3-3 over this last week. They are no longer in the cellar. That honor is held by the Phillies team which has won only one game this season.

League leaders in several categories from each of the DSL teams:

Cristopher Luciano
9th in BA (.421)
6th in OBP (.532)
5th in SLG (.711)
T7th in Runs (11)
T6th in Hits (16)
5th in RBI (13)
T10th in BB (9)

Rodrigo Ayarza
14th in BA (.414)
5th in OBP (.541)

Wander Franco
12th in OBP (.500)
T8th in 2B (4)
T8th in RBI (11)
T2nd in BB (14)

Bryan de la Cruz
19th in OBP (.486)
T10th in Runs (10)
T7th in BB (10)

Vicente Sanchez
7th in SLG (.686)
2nd in Runs (16)
T2nd in HR (3)
T8th in RBI (11)
T10th in BB (9)

Frankeny Fernandez
T10th in Runs (10)

Osvaldo Duarte
T14th in Hits (14)

Luis Vasquez
T14th in Hits (14)
T11th in SB (5)

Marcos Almonte
T8th in 2B (4)

Joan Mauricio
T1st in 3B (4)

Joel Pinales
9th in WHIP (0.55)

Erasmo Pinales
14th in WHIP (0.64)

Salvador Montano
T2nd in SO (15)

Albert Abreu
T14th in SO (12)

Astros Minor League Roster Moves/Transactions

I somehow missed this and am probably the last person in the world to know this, but it appears that the Astros released Rhiner Cruz on June 2nd. Other moves ~

Keith Bodie told the CC Caller Times last night that OF Preston Tucker has been promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.

***UPDATE***OF Adron Chambers traded to Toronto for IF Will Dupont and LHP Alejandro Solarte

LHP Luis Cruz activated from the DL on 6/11

Happy Birthday - 6/12

No future Astros or former Astros with birthdays today, but I would like to wish a happy day to WTHB Social Media Director DeAnna Williamson. Happy Birthday, De!

De and Jayne

[UPDATE: It has come to the attention of this office that another birthday greeting is in order. WTHB wishes Drew Shirley, sports producer for KHOUtv (or so he says) A Very Happy Birthday!!! Just don't call him Shirley.]

Tweet of the Day

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An Interview with JetHawks LHP Mitch Lambson

LHP Mitch Lambson has long intrigued me, but it wasn't until the end of May on my recent trip to Lancaster that I finally spoke with him more than briefly. Lambson has always had a terrific strikeout to walk ratio, but this season it's even more impressive than in years past. He currently has 27 strikeouts to 4 walks in 20.2 innings pitched or a 6.75 SO/BB rate.

Mitch Lambson - May 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Lancaster Pitching Coach Don Alexander weighed in on Lambson, "Mitch does what he does. He's a left-handed pitcher that works on the plate, changes speed extremely well, is not afraid to challenge hitters. He commands his fastball on both sides of the plate and he changes speeds. And if you can do that, you have a chance to be successful."

The first question I had for Lambson was regarding his pitch repertoire, "I don't really know my velocity because I don't throw too hard so I try not to look at them. I throw a 4-seam fastball, a change up and a slider, breaking ball, whatever you want to call it. That's it. That's all I've got."

I also wanted to know to what he attributed his reverse splits (lefties have always hit better off of him than righties), "I think my change up is my best off-speed pitch and it works well against right-handed hitters [but] I'm still learning how to throw it to the lefties. And my breaking ball is hit or miss sometimes. I just hang it, leave it up a little bit [sometimes]."

With the draft still approaching when I spoke with Lambson, I was curious about his draft experience back in 2011, "I was actually in the weight room working out. I had my phone with me because at some point during the day I was expecting to get a call and that's when I got it. I was pretty excited. The Astros guy called me and told me they were going to take me 19th round and it was emotional. It was special. That's what I've always wanted since I was a little kid."

In response to my question about changes in the Astros minor league system since he came aboard, he replied, "It's different. At least on the minor league side we're winning a lot of games so there's a different atmosphere. There's a winning atmosphere. There's a good attitude around the clubhouse. At Spring Training and all the teams I've been with have good attitudes. We're playing to get better individually and to win games as a team."

What is he working on this season? Lambson responded, "Like we were just talking about, getting the left-handed hitters out. I've got to work on that. I think that's just my breaking ball, working to get that better." Of what he's accomplished so far this season, he said, "I think I got off to a decent start, but there's a lot of baseball left to be played. It's a long year so I've just got to keep working every day and try to get better every day. It's such a long season that if you inch forward every day, by the end of the year you realize that, 'Oh, I got way better through that whole year,' but day to day it doesn't seem like much."

Who in the Astros system has a pitch he'd like to steal? "I'd like to steal a lot of guys velocity. That would be nice. I'd say Lance McCullers has a good breaking ball so that would be nice if I could pick up that. There's a lot of guys with a lot of talent in our system. It would be nice to steal a lot of pitches."

Who would Lambson least like to face in the batter's box? "I'd say obviously Carlos Correa is a really good player. He's a really good hitter. His approach at the plate is ... he's tough to get out. You have to really fool him and make good pitches. He's not going to get himself out. But we have a lot of hitters like that. Teoscar's [Teoscar Hernandez] got great power at the plate. It would be tough to face him because if you make a mistake, he'll make you pay. I'd say overall a lot of our hitters have really good approaches at the plate."

Noting that Carlos Correa is a standout in the field as well, I asked Lambson if there was anyone else he really liked to have playing behind him in the field, "I'd say Tony Kemp. At the end of last year and this year, he's a great defender at second base. Rio playing third is great. Our outfield ... there's a lot of good players out there like Teoscar. [If] you give him a chance to throw somebody out, he's going to throw him out. And actually, I've been really lucky the last two years to have Roberto Pena behind the plate. And Jobduan Morales too behind the plate. Those guys defensively are some of the best I've ever thrown to."

Since Lambson played with Andrew Aplin at Arizona State, I asked him for his take on Aplin, "I haven't played with him yet here with the Astros, but in college ... just a good person to be around, a good clubhouse guy, great attitude. Defensively, he's one of the best outfielders and he can hit a little bit too." Although Lambson is originally from Oregon, his family now lives is Arizona where his brother Mark also pitched for Arizona State.

On what he would do if he couldn't play baseball, "I really love the game so hopefully coach or give lessons to stay around the game if I could. I'd go back to school and get my degree and see where that took me. I've always liked Motocross so if I could just pick a sport besides baseball to be really good at, it would probably be that, but that's a dangerous sport. It doesn't mix with baseball."

Lambson was a workhorse out of the bullpen in 2013 for Quad Cities, making 41 appearances for a total of 71+ innings. I asked him about his durability and he noted, "My first Spring Training I dealt with a little bit of injury at the beginning of Spring Training, but other than that, I've fortunately been healthy. I think that has a lot to do with the trainers and the strength coaches we have. They have us on programs that keep us strong and healthy and at the same time don't overdo it so we get fatigued. I think that's definitely why."

Mitch Lambson - May 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen


I really enjoyed talking with Mitch and found him to be a breath of fresh air. I don't know whether it comes across in his answers or not, but he is someone who is very comfortable in his own skin. He's able to poke a little fun at himself and at the same time is generous with his praise of others. He doesn't ever seem too high or too low. All of which brings me to one final statement from Don Alexander who praised Lambson for his mindset and his approach, "We always talk about how you go about your business. He goes about his business extremely well."

Thank you for your time, Mitch, and best of luck as the season continues.

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This week, the recaps will be a little shorter than what you would normally get from me. I'm usually out and about by 10:30 up in Canada.

Salt Lake 4, Oklahoma City 0

W- Jeremy Berg (2-2)
L- Bobby Doran (1-4)

OKC home runs: None.

The RedHawks were held to just 4 hits as they got blanked in the 2nd game of this series.

Gregorio Petit had 2 of the 4 hits; Austin Wates' double was their only extra-base hit.

Bobby Doran was charged with the L despite a solid outing. He went 6 innings and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits (solo homer), walked 2, and struck out 5. Jorge De Leon walked 2, but threw 2 scoreless innings, and Jason Stoffel allowed 2 unearned runs on 3 hits and struck out 1.

Game 3 has Brett Oberholtzer taking on Justin Thomas at 11:05 A.M.

San Antonio 15, Corpus Christi 14

W- Jerry Sullivan (3-2)
L- Andrew Robinson (4-2)
S- Frank Garces (2)

CC home runs: Jonathan Meyer (1, 3 season; 3-run in 5th), Preston Tucker 2 (17, solo in 2nd, solo in 8th)

Well, the Hooks dropped the series, but they sure gave the 5336 in attendance at Minute Maid Park their money's worth. Especially Preston Tucker.

[Jayne here. Dustin didn't have time to finish up so let me weigh in on the Corpus game. None of the Hooks players would admit it, but I think there were a few jitters in playing at Minute Maid Park, particularly amongst the pitchers on both sides ... hence a score of 15-14. Mike Hauschild actually had a nice start until he got into a little trouble in the fifth and ended up with four runs charged against him; two of those were from runners on base when he left the game. The relief staff in the guise of Alex Sogard, Travis Ballew and Andrew Robinson had very, very uncharacteristic struggles. Let's just leave it at that. Patrick Urckfitz played fireman and doused the flames by retiring the final two batters in the ninth.

The offense had a much better time of it, highlighted by two Preston Tucker home runs, one of which was an absolute bomb. Jonathan Meyer also went deep, driving in three. Jio Mier (2B) and Rene Garcia each collected three hits; M.P. Cokinos (2B) and Telvin Nash had two hits apiece.

It was very much a back-and-forth affair and could easily have gone to the Hooks, but Preston Tucker ran out of magic dust for his bat, lining out and leaving the bases loaded to end the game.

Now back to your regular programming, i.e, Dustin.]

Lancaster was off

The JetHawks will open up a 4-game series against Rancho Cucamonga tonight at 6:30 Pacific. Chris Devenski will face Julio Urias in the opener.

Quad Cities 6, Cedar Rapids 2

W- Michael Feliz (2-1)
L- Aaron Slegers (5-3)

QC home runs: None.

With the win, the River Bandits move into a tie with Burlington for the 2nd playoff spot in the Midwest League West.

Brett Phillips had a huge night at the top of the order as he went 4-5 with a triple and 3 runs scored. Chase McDonald was 2-4 with a couple of RBI singles coming in the 1st and the 5th, and Brett Booth hit a 2-run triple in the 4th. The 2 runs that weren't batted in came courtesy of Phillips, who scored on an error in the 1st and another error in the 7th, after he stole 3rd (11).

Jandel Gustave pitched 4 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits and struck out 5. Michael Feliz allowed 2 hits and struck out 4 over 4 scoreless, and Chris Cotton finished with a 1-2-3 9th.

Evan Grills will face Fernando Romero in the middle game of this series. First pitch is at 6:35.

DSL Dodgers 3, DSL Astros Blue 0

W- Miguel Urena (1-0)
L- Salvador Montaño (1-1)
S- Gregor Mora (2)

Blue home runs: None.

The Blue team was shut out for a 2nd straight game, as they only had 2 hits. Joan Mauricio hit a triple and Juan Fuentes singles.

Salvador Montaño went 5 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, walked 1, and struck out 9. Gabriel Pirela pitched 2 innings, allowing a run on 2 hits and striking out 3. Josue Uribe walked 1 over 1.2 scoreless.

DSL Astros Orange 14, DSL Cubs 9

W- Joel Belboder (1-1)
L- Aneuris Rosario (0-1)

Orange home runs: Cristopher Luciano (2, solo in 5th), Vicente Sanchez (3, solo in 8th)

After losing their first 6 contests, the Orange team has won 3 in a row. They've also been on an absolute tear as of late, scoring double-digit runs in 5 straight.

Cristopher Luciano (2x5 HR 3RBI SO 2R) is on a 5-game hitting streak. All 5 of those games are multi-hit games and he's had 1 hit in every game except 1 this year. Info on him is probably privy to Oz Ocampo and company, so I can only assume that he signed for a smaller amount.

[Hi, Jayne back again. Vincente Sanchez is another player that Ocampo told us to watch. We can see why as he went 4-for-4 and scored four times. Luis Vasquez went 3-for-3, scored twice and stole a bag (and was caught once). Osvaldo Duarte also had a three-hit game, going 3-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored. He also stole a base and had one caught stealing. Frankeny Fernandez, who drove in three (two by way of sac flies), was also running rampant on the base paths as he stole two for the day.

Edwin Villarroel got the start and went four innings, allowing four runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk while striking out two. He was followed by four from Joel Belboder (3H 4R/4ER 3BB 2SO HR) who earned his first win of the season.

End of Jayne. End of recaps.]

Happy Birthday - 6/11

No future Astros with birthdays today, but two former Astros mark the day ~

1B Frank Thomas (85)
No, not that Frank Thomas, but this one was good in his own right. Thomas was purchased from the Phillies and played part of only one of his 16 major league seasons for Houston in 1965, playing in 23 games before getting shipped out to the Milwaukee Braves. He was a three time All-Star for Pittsburgh in the 1950's and arguably his biggest claim to fame was getting the last put out at the Polo Grounds in September 1957.

PH/UT Jimmy Stewart (died November 12, 2012 at age 73)
No, not that Jimmy Stewart. Stewart was obtained from the Reds as a part of the Joe Morgan - Lee May trade in November of 1971 and played in 129 games for Houston in 1972 and 1973, hitting .207/.273/.262.

Tweet of the Day

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Getting to Know JetHawks 2B Tony Kemp

I once had a "conversation" with Tony Kemp's brother Corey on twitter. I remember him saying that people have always underestimated Tony. It's easy to see why. Much like another diminutive second baseman with whom Astros fans are quite familiar, Kemp is of small stature, but he makes up for that in a lot of ways.

Lancaster Hitting Coach Darryl Robinson first saw Kemp last fall, "I remember in instructional ball thinking, 'Who's this little guy? Where'd this little guy come from?' Sure enough, he starts swinging the bat and I'm like, 'OK, that's who this little guy is.'"

Manager Rodney Linares got his first look at Kemp in Spring Training and wasn't convinced at all, asserting that if you judge Kemp by watching him in practice you will be sorely disappointed, "You cannot watch him in practice. There's a saying that my Dad always used to tell me that the only thing that does not apply in baseball is the rule that you cannot make a first impression twice. In baseball, you can." Even when Kemp first got to Lancaster, Linares was still leery for the first couple of days, "This guy's gonna be my lead off hitter? Woof!"

But minor league Managers Omar Lopez and Ed Romero, as well as Astros Player Development's Quinton McCracken and Allen Rowin all assured Linares that Kemp would be a gamer for him and Linares admitted, "He's been as good as advertised. He works the counts. He's not afraid to hit with two strikes and that's, for me, his biggest tool is that he's not afraid. Not only to hit with two strikes, he's not afraid to try anything new. He's not afraid to experiment. We're working on shifts [so] now I have him, in order to get his arm stronger because he has to make longer throws, I have him taking ground balls at short early in the day and he's doing a throwing program with Donnie [Pitching Coach Don Alexander]. So there's a lot of things he's doing to get better, but he is not afraid to do it. He's going to make the adjustments necessary to find a way to play in the big leagues."

Robinson told me that Kemp knows who he is as a hitter, "He's a lead off guy. That's who he is. And he's going to do everything he needs to do to get on base whether it's a walk [or] a hit by pitch. He's going to get his base hits. He's going to steal bags. Kemp is one of those guys who's going to spread the ball all over the field. He's going to be that little gnat. He's going to wear you out. He's going to wear you down. He's going to bunt. He's going to hit doubles. He's going to hit some triples. Of course, he's going to get some base hits every where. He's going to move runners when he has to. He's just an exciting player." Linares added, "And he has some surprising power. For a little guy, when you look at him, his home runs have been legit. The home runs that he's hit, they've been bombs. They haven't been cheap 'Lancaster home runs.'"

According to Linares, Kemp's defense still needs some work and noted, "He could be a lot better, but he is making the necessary adjustments to get better." Robinson has noticed how hard Kemp works to get better, "I watch him in BP all the time and he works on running and sliding, catching a ground ball coming towards first base. He does it every day at least once a BP. [In a recent game] a ball was hit and, sure enough, he does the little slide, comes up and throws to first base. I see him doing little things like that which is going to pay off for him in the long run. I love working with him."

I talked to Kemp at the end of May and one of the things we spoke about was his Vanderbilt teammate 1B Conrad Gregor who, not surprisingly, was promoted from Quad Cities to Lancaster shortly after this video was recorded. The two Vandy guys have now been reunited and are both tearing up the California League. [I apologize for the audio; I tried to clean it up as much as possible. The Lancaster wind strikes again!]

In one final note, I mentioned to Robinson how smart Kemp is and he quickly agreed and noted that Kemp's intelligence and talent together make for a "deadly combination." I think the California League pitchers would agree with that assertion, and I think they will agree that one underestimates Kemp at one's own peril. [For more on Kemp, here is my July 2013 interview with him.]

Astros Minor League Recaps

I went off to the Great White North, and forgot to tell Jayne that I needed some backup again. So, as a result, this recap will cover 2 days' worth of games.

Results for Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tight games here. All of them, except for Quad Cities' twinbill (which were both 2-run affairs), were 1-run games. Because I have a full slate of Monday games to report, I'll keep this section short and sweet.

Oklahoma City 4, Omaha 3

W- Jake Buchanan (5-4)
L- Bruce Chen (0-1)
S- Josh Zeid (7)

OKC home runs: Matt Duffy (1, 7 season; 2-run in 2nd) (7 home runs at the time)

The RedHawks earned the split as everyone in the lineup recorded a hit. Matt Duffy's 2-run blast proved to be the difference in a 1-run game. Domingo Santana opened the scoring with an RBI single in the 1st, and Joe Sclafani had an RBI single of his own in the 4th.

Jake Buchanan pitched 7 innings and allowed 3 runs on 9 hits and struck out 2. Alex White gave up 2 hits in the 8th, but nothing came of them as he worked a scoreless inning, striking out 1. Josh Zeid closed it out by working around a walk in the 9th inning, striking out 1 in the frame.

San Antonio 6, Corpus Christi 5

W- John Hussey (2-3)
L- Richard Rodriguez (0-1, 1-1 season)
S- John Barbato (16)

CC home runs: None.

The Hooks got 5 in the 5th to take a 5-1 lead, but that lead would be short-lived, as the Missions finished the game by scoring 5 unanswered. This game also featured an epic Keith Bodie ejection. Bodie argued that the Missions catcher, Jason Hagerty, blocked the plate illegally in the 8th inning as he tagged out Jio Mier, who was trying to score to turn Andrew Aplin's flyout into a sac fly. This is the play in question:

Corpus Christi's 5 in the 5th came in the form of a Ruben Sosa single, a Jonathan Meyer sac fly, a Preston Tucker 2-run double, and a Carlos Perdomo single. Perdomo went 3-4, Sosa was 2-5 with 3 steals (19 season), and Nolan Fontana did Nolan Fontana things, going 0-2 with a run scored and 3 walks.

Tommy Shirley went 6 innings and allowed 4 runs on 6 hits (solo homer) and struck out 6. Richard Rodriguez pitched the final 3 innings and gave up 2 runs on 4 hits while striking out 2.

Visalia 6, Lancaster 5 in 10 innings

W- Kyle Schepel (2-0)
L- Juan Minaya (1-2)

Lancaster home runs: None.

The JetHawks walked off with the loss thanks to a Raul Navarro RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning for the Rawhide. This loss snapped a 7-game win streak, which spanned all of last week.

Lancaster opened the scoring in the 1st thanks to a pair of RBI doubles from Teoscar Hernandez and Jobduan Morales. Hernandez added an RBI single in the 2nd. Morales scored on a double play in the 6th and drew a bases-loaded walk that tied the game at 5 in the 7th. Tanner Mathis went 1-3 with 2 walks and a run scored in his Lancaster debut.

Lance McCullers gave up 5 runs (4 earned) on 10 hits (2-run homer), walked 1, and struck out 4. Kent Emanuel tagged in to throw 4 scoreless, allowing 5 hits, walking 1, and striking out 3. Juan Minaya got 2 outs in the 10th, but he and Mitchell Lambson couldn't extend the game. Lambson allowed the winning hit, and Minaya was charged with the run. Minaya pitched 1.2 innings and allowed 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 2. 

Game 1: Quad Cities 3, Peoria 1

W- Andrew Walter (3-2)
L- Kevin Herget (3-3)
S- Frederick Tiburcio (3)

QC home runs: None.

After the Chiefs tied the game at 1 in the top of the 6th, the River Bandits promptly untied it with a pair in the bottom of the inning.

Tyler White kicked things off with an RBI double in the 2nd. Peoria pitcher Kevin Herget didn't have it in this game and the Banditos took full advantage. A Brett Booth walk loaded the bases and knocked him out of the game. Thomas Lindauer proceeded to greet the new pitcher, Steven Sabatino, with a 2-run double that gave QC the lead.

Kevin Comer pitched 3.1 innings and allowed 2 hits, wakled 4, and struck out 3. Andrew Walter pitched 2.2 innings and allowed a run on 2 hits and struck out 2, and Frederick Tiburcio struck out 1 in a 1-2-3 7th. 

What did game 2 have in store for the Bandits?

Game 2: Quad Cities 4, Peoria 2

W- Andrew Thurman (3-3)
L- Blake McKnight (1-6)
S- Tyler Brunnemann (2)

QC home runs: None.

The River Bandits swept the twinbill as another big 6th inning proved to be the difference.

Andrew Thurman went 6 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 2, and Tyler Brunnemann struck out 2 in a 1-2-3 7th to finish off the sweep.

Jon Kemmer hit a 1-out triple in the 4th and scored the first QC run of game 2 when he came home on a Jose Fernandez single. Fernandez, who was playing his 1st game of the season after finishing his 50-game suspension, which was imposed after a positive drug test last August, added a 2-run single in the 6th and scored later in the inning on Thomas Lindauer's single. Fernandez and Kemmer had 2 hits apiece.

Results for Monday, June 9, 2014

Oklahoma City 6, Salt Lake 2

W- Nick Tropeano (4-4)
L- Anthony Lerew (0-3)

OKC home runs: Matt Duffy 3 (4, 10 season; solo in 2nd, 4th, and 8th), Domingo Santana (10, solo in 3rd)

In their first game against a team from the Pacific League of the PCL, the RedHawks battered Anthony Lerew as they took the series opener from the Bees.

Nick Tropeano got dinged by a 2-run homer from Grant Green in the 1st, but he shut the Salt Lake offense down after that. He went 7 innings and allowed 3 other hits, walked 1, and struck out 7. Ross Seaton worked around a hit to throw a scoreless 8th, and Kevin Chapman did so as well in the 9th.

Matt Duffy had himself a night... he swatted 3 solo shots, giving him his 3rd career multi-homer game and his first career 3-homer game. His last multi-homer game occurred on August 16 last year, when he was with Corpus. He put OKC on the board with his first of the evening, which came off Lerew in the 2nd. Domingo Santana joined in with a solo shot of his own (10) in the 3rd. Duffy gave the RedHawks the lead with home run #2 of the night, and in the 5th, Gregorio Petit reached on an error that allowed Santana to score and L.J. Hoes hit an RBI single. Petit was credited with an RBI on the play. Duffy capped it off by taking Brandon Sisk deep in the 8th with his 3rd blast of the evening. He and Hoes had 3 hits apiece, while Domingo went 2-4.

In game 2 of this series, Bobby Doran will take on TBA at 7:05.

San Antonio 7, Corpus Christi 2

W- Frank Garces (2-1)
L- Brady Rodgers (1-8)

CC home runs: Preston Tucker (15, solo in 6th)

The Hooks faltered late as they've dropped the last 2 after taking the opener on Friday.

Tucker finished 3-4 and scored both Hooks runs; he scored the 1st when Tyler Heineman reached on an error in the 2nd and scored himself with his solo blast in the 6th. Ruben Sosa went 2-5.

David Rollins went 5 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 4. Brady Rodgers pitched 3 innings and gave up 5 runs (3 earned) on 5 hits, walked 1, and fanned 1. Pat Urckfitz allowed 2 hits and struck out 1 in the 9th.

In the series finale, Mike Hauschild will take on Josh Geer at 6:10. I don't know if you know this, but this game will be taking place at Minute Maid Park.

Lancaster 15, Visalia 2

W- Josh Hader (6-0)
L- Jesse Darrah (3-3)

Lancaster home runs: Conrad Gregor (3, 4 season; 2-run in 3rd), Teoscar Hernandez (12, 2-run in 7th)

The JetHawks won the series in impressive fashion, as everybody's bats came alive in a total and absolute blowout.

Everyone had a multi-hit game except for Jordan Scott, who hit a 1-out triple in the 7th and an RBI groundout in the 4th. Everyone scored except for Dan Gulbransen, and everyone had an RBI except for Carlos Correa (didn't see that coming) and Roberto Peña, who led the team with 4 runs scored. Words can't really express a game like this, so I will leave you with the box score.

Josh Hader's only blemish was a 2-run homer to Brandon Jacobs in the 5th. He went 7 innings and allowed 3 other hits, walked 1, and struck out 3. J.D. Osborne finished with 2 scoreless and hit a batter, walked 1, and struck out 1.

The JetHawks have today off. They'll begin a 4-game series against Rancho Cucamonga at 6:30 Pacific.

Peoria 8, Quad Cities 4

W- Artie Reyes (4-3)
L- Chris Lee (2-4)

QC home runs: Ronnie Mitchell (9, solo in 3rd)

The River Bandits couldn't complete the sweep as Chris Lee struggled in this one.

Lee went 4 innings and allowed 5 runs (1 inherited runner charged to him) on 6 hits and walked 5. Albert Minnis pitched 3 innings and gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and walked 1. Pat Christensen allowed a run on 3 hits and struck out 2.

Mitchell's blast led off the 3rd. Brett Phillips led off the 7th with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. Brian Holberton added an RBI groundout, and Mitchell ripped an RBI double.

The Banditos will begin a 3-game set in Cedar Rapids. Jandel Gustave will take on Aaron Slegers in the opener at 6:35.

DSL Athletics 5, DSL Astros Blue 0

W- Jose Trejo (1-0)
L- Joselo Pinales (1-1)
S- Alejandro Vargas (2)

Blue home runs: None.

Jonathan Matute had 2 of the Blue team's 4 hits.

Joselo Pinales allowed a run on 4 hits and struck out 1 over 6 innings. Carlos Hiraldo pitched 2 innings and allowed a run, a hit, walked 2, and struck out 1. Lachlan Madden got 2 outs in the 9th, but allowed 3 runs on 4 hits in the process. Carlos Sanabria got the last out of the inning.

They're currently playing the Dodgers.

DSL Astros Orange 14, DSL Mets2 2

W- Cristhopher Santamaria (1-1)
L- Enmanuel Berihuete (2-1)
S- Juan Cuevas (1)

Orange home runs: None.

The Orange team entered the 9th inning with a 1-run lead. So naturally, they were looking for some insurance runs. They got 11, which turned out to be just enough.

Everyone who had a plate appearance had a hit and scored. Jesus Bermejo, who entered as a defensive substitute, did not appear at the plate.

Here's what happened in the 9th, if you were wondering:

Cristhopher Santamaria pitched 7 innings and allowed 2 unearned runs on 5 hits and struck out 6. Juan Cuevas got the save because he entered the game when the Orange team still had a 3-2 lead. He allowed 2 hits over 2 innings. 

The Orange team is currently playing the Cubs.

Happy Birthday - 6/10

Happy Birthday to ~

C Brian Holberton (22)
Drafted by Houston in the 9th round in 2013, Holberton is spending his first full season in the organization with Quad Cities. In 37 games, Holberton is hitting .323/.372/.519 with 12 doubles, one triple and four home runs. He also just so happens to have hit for the cycle last month.

Two former Astros celebrate the day as well ~

Edwards came to Houston in a trade with St. Louis in October 1968 and spent six seasons with the Astros from 1969 to 1974. In 634 games, he hit .237/.310/.336. His career caught stealing percentage was 39%. Edwards' best years were with Cincinnati where he made three All-Star appearances and won two Gold Gloves.

A first round pick by Houston in 1976, Bannister only pitched in 52 games (39 starts) for the Astros in 1977 and 1978, going 11-18 with a 4.38 ERA and a 1.538 WHIP, before being traded to Seattle for SS Craig Reynolds. He went on to have a solid career pitching for six different teams over 15 seasons. He made one All-Star appearance in 1982 for Seattle, the same season that he led the American League in strikeouts with 209.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Getting to Know JetHawks LHP Josh Hader

I'm not sure what I expected when I talked to Lancaster JetHawks LHP Josh Hader recently, but it wasn't what I got. The 20-year old lefty is a study in contrasts. He is as easygoing and laid back off the mound as he is fiercely competitive on it.

Josh Hader - May 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen

I first spoke with Lancaster Pitching Coach Don Alexander about Hader to get his take, "He's still a pup, but on the mound, he's extremely mature. Excellent mound presence. Competes very, very well and he's got filthy stuff ... the slot that he throws from plus an above average fastball with life and movement. The big thing with him right now is the secondary package and getting consistent with the slider and the change up." Alexander started to say that Hader was holding his own at the level, but corrected himself, "He's competing extremely well at this level right now."

And that is a fact. In 13 appearances (eight starts), Hader is 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA (second in the league) and a 1.086 WHIP (third in the league). He has 72 strikeouts to 21 walks in 58+ innings of work. Plus he pitched the first six innings of a combined no-hitter last month. And he just turned 20 in April.

Hader is a young man of few words and most of those words came out in a slow, Maryland drawl. The first question I asked him was about his pitch repertoire. He responded, "I throw a two-seam probably around 87 to 93, a slider that's probably about 73, 76 maybe and a change up." His out pitch depends somewhat on the batter, but he will generally go to the slider.

In asking what he's accomplished so far this season, he said, "I feel like I accomplished a lot. I came into the season, working on my change up a lot. It's [developed] into a good pitch for me, getting in the zone and also getting outs and swing and misses with it. That's one of my big accomplishments."

How does the Orioles system (from which he was acquired in the Bud Norris trade) compare to the Astros system? Hader answered, "They're kind of the same. They go about their business a little bit differently. Like the piggyback here, that's a little different from the Orioles." But in the end, it's basically the same thing as both organizations are focused on developing players.

His responses to many of my questions were short and to the point. Who has a pitch he would like to steal? "Vince Velasquez' change up. I wouldn't mind stealing that." Who would he least like to face in the batter's box? "I'd say Carlos [Correa] or Teo [Teoscar Hernandez]." Who on the team makes you laugh? "I'd have to say Tony [Kemp] or Tyson [Perez (since promoted to Corpus)]."

In asking what he'd do if he couldn't play baseball, "Not really sure. Never really thought about that. Probably go into sports medicine or something like that. Stay in sports at least." In response to a query as to what people might not know about him, "I think a lot of people know it, but I like Country [music] and sweet tea. If you didn't know that, now you do."

The one question I posed to him which drew a more animated response was in asking what he thinks he brings to the mound, "I compete a lot when I get on the mound. I'm not going up there to be anybody's friend. I'm straight murdering them, basically. Not really, but figuratively. Not letting anything get to me or anything like that."

Drawling about sweet tea and then punctuating the conversation with a statement as to his murderous intent on the mound ... like I said, a study in contrasts. Personally, I'm glad that I only have to face Josh the person and not Josh the pitcher.

Astros Minor League Player and Pitchers of the Week: Week Ten

It's time to look back at Week Ten and acknowledge some winning performances for the week commencing Sunday, June 1st and continuing through Saturday, June 7th.


First my honorable mentions for the week! Those go to Oklahoma City's Kike Hernandez (.308/.308/.538); Corpus Christi's Nolan Fontana (.263/.481/.421); Quad Cities' Brett Phillips (.316/.350/.474); and Lancaster's Rio Ruiz (.333/.448/.500), Teoscar Hernandez (.323/.417/.645) and Tony Kemp .286/.444/.500). Also of particular note, Australian 1B Connor MacDonald has been thriving in June for the DSL Astros Blue team, hitting .318/.464/.500.

Looking at the numbers put up by Ruiz, Teo Hernandez and Kemp, and then adding in our two runners-up and our winner, it should be really easy to see why the Lancaster team won seven straight games to start the month. Here are my two runners-up:

1B Conrad Gregor (Lancaster)
11R 2-2B 2HR 5BB 1SO 8RBI SF

SS Carlos Correa (Lancaster)
11R 2-2B 2-3B 4RBI 13BB 4SO 6SB 1CS

Many might argue that Correa should be my winner with his eye-popping numbers, but one thing sets this next player apart ... hitting for the cycle gets you a leg up in the competition every time.

DH/OF Dan Gulbransen (Lancaster)
5R 2-2B 3B HR 9RBI 3BB 4SO
Hit for the cycle on 6/5/14.


Dan Gulbransen's Grand Slam from 5/26/14
Photo by Jayne Hansen



I literally have nine different guys that I could have picked for this and most have something that sets them apart from the others so this is probably the most subjective of my picks so far this season. I can't even decide on a runner-up so I'm going with eight honorable mentions and one winner. Honorable mentions go to Oklahoma City's Nick Tropeano and David Martinez; Corpus Christi's Kyle Smith and Tommy Shirley; Lancaster's Kyle Westwood; Quad Cities' Edison Frias; and the DSL Blue team's Joselo Pinales and Erasmo Pinales.

Our winner started the season in the bullpen and has stepped up extremely ably to fill in for those on the DL. On Friday, he pitched deep into a game for the first time this season with excellent results. For the season he has a 3.21 ERA and a 1.071 WHIP; in his four starts, he has a 2.33 ERA and a 0.983 WHIP.

RHP Jordan Jankowski (Corpus Christi) - Win
0.00 ERA/.0.545 WHIP
7.1IP 3H 1BB 7SO


Jordan Jankowski - April 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen



This category was a little more clear cut for me, but still several honorable mentions: Oklahoma City's Josh Zeid and Kevin Chapman; Corpus Christi's Alex Sogard and Richard Rodriguez; Lancaster's Jamaine Cotton, Daniel Minor and Juan Minaya; Quad Cities' Chris Cotton; and DSL Astros Blue team's Abdiel Saldana. I also want to send a special shoutout to Tyson Perez who is transitioning from Lancaster to Corpus Christi very nicely.

My runner-up is another Aussie playing for the DSL Blue team:

RHP Lachlan Madden (DSL Blue) - Save
0.00 ERA/0.429 WHIP
2.1IP (2 games) 1H 1BB 3SO
3 inherited runners/0 scored

My winner has shone all season long (and really should be at Oklahoma City, but nobody listens to me). For the season, he is 1-1 with a 1.57 ERA and a 1.174 WHIP in 18 appearances.

LHP Patrick Urckfitz (Corpus Christi) - Save
0.00 ERA/0.375 WHIP
2.2IP (2 games) 1H 0BB 3SO CS
3 inherited runners/0 scored


Patrick Urckfitz- April 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Happy Birthday - 6/9

No future Astros with birthdays today, but three former Astros mark the day ~

RHP Tom Edens (53)
Originally drafted by Kansas City in the 14th round in 1983, Edens was obtained in a trade with the Marlins in November 1992 and left for the Phillies in July of 1994. In between, he pitched in 77 games for Houston, going 5-2 with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.394 WHIP.

IF Julio Gotay (died July 4, 2008 at 69)
Gotay came to Houston in a June 1966 trade with the California Angels and played in 202 games for Houston at the major league level between 1966 and 1969, hitting .264/.305/.328.

MGR Bill Virdon (83)
Bill Virdon managed the Astros from 1975 to 1982, compiling a 544-522 record. Under his watch, the Astros won their first National League West division title in 1980.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Astros Minor League Recaps

Dustin is taking a well-deserved day off. I'll try my best to fill in.

Oklahoma City 5, Omaha 2

W- Mike Foltynewicz (5-3)
L- Sugar Ray (!) Marimom (4-3)
S- Josh Zeid (6)

OKC home runs: None

The RedHawks ended a three-game losing streak and crept to only a half-game behind first place Omaha on the strength of some quality pitching and one crooked number inning.

Mike Foltynewicz kept the Omaha bats quiet, allowing only two hits over the first six innings before a lead-off triple from Justin Maxwell and a Whit Merrifield triple ended his night. He left the game, having allowed two runs on four hits, while walking three and striking out eight. Bobby Doran and Josh Zeid combined to allow only one additional hit and one walk the rest of the way.

Carlos Perez, with three hits for the night, started things off in the second by tripling and scoring on a Matt Duffy single. Oklahoma City then put up four runs in the third with singles from Ronny Torreyes, Kike Hernandez, Marc Krauss and Carlos Perez, and a nicely timed L.J. Hoes two RBI double inserted into the mix.

Oklahoma City will try to salvage a split in Game 4 of this series which is scheduled to start at 2:05 CST with Jake Buchanan taking the mound against TBD. The RedHawks will then hop on a bus for the long ride home. The ride will be shorter if Buchanan can get his fifth win today.

Corpus Christi 3, San Antonio 2 (13 innings)

W- Tyson Perez (1-0)
L- Jerry Sullivan (2-2)

CC home runs: None.

The Hooks got off to a good start taking the first of four from San Antonio, but it took them a while -- 3 hours and 46 minutes to be exact.

Corpus drew first blood as newly promoted Ruben Sosa hit a lead-off double, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on an Andrew Aplin single in the first. Carlos Perdomo singled in the fourth, stole second, advanced on third on a Rene Garcia sac bunt and scored on a Jio Mier sac fly.

Hooks starter Kyle Smith (5.2IP 5H 2R/1ER 2BB 4SO HR) kept the Missions off the board until he gave up a solo home run to start the fifth. A single, pick off error by Smith and another single later, the score was tied. And that's where it stood for the next seven innings as the two teams' bullpens traded zeroes. Finally, in the 13th inning, Nolan Fontana doubled and was driven in by an Aplin single.

Michael Dimock, Travis Ballew and Andrew Robinson combined to allow five hits and two walks, striking out four, over five and a third innings. Tyson Perez did not allow a hit in his two innings of work and struck out four while walking one. Andrew Aplin had the only multi-hit night, going 3-for-6 with two RBI.

The Hooks will face San Antonio at 6:10 CST for the second game in the 4-game series. Tommy Shirley is set to take the mound against TBD.

Lancaster 7, Visalia 2

W- Kyle Westwood (5-3)
L- Spencer Arroyo (1-2)

Lancaster home runs: None.

The JetHawks have now won seven in a row and their magic number to clinch the first half is down to four.

Kyle Westwood pitched five shutout innings, allowing only a one-out double in the first and retiring the next 14 batters he faced (six strikeouts). Visalia didn't get on the board until the sixth, scoring one run off of Gonzalo Sanudo in that frame and another in the eighth. Jamaine Cotton closed it out with one and a third hitless innings.

The 'Hawks boxscore resembled a picket fence with two slats missing; the only frames in which they didn't score one run were the fourth and the eighth. Tony Kemp, Jordan Scott and Carlos Correa all had multi-hit nights with Kemp and Scott each recording a double. The trio also swiped a few bags, Correa and Scott with one each and Kemp with two. As a matter of fact, one of Kemp's stolen bases was also a run scored as he stole home in the sixth on a pick off throw to first.

Game 3 of this 4-game series pits Lance McCullers against Aaron Blair. First pitch is at 3:00 CST.

Peoria at Quad Cities - Postponed due to rain

A doubleheader is scheduled for Sunday with the first game starting at 1:15 CST. According to the River Bandits' website:
It will be the sixth doubleheader of the season for both the River Bandits and Chiefs. Game 1 will feature River Bandits right-hander Kevin Comer (0-0) against Chiefs left-hander Rob Kaminsky (1-1). Game 2 is scheduled to have River Bandits right-hander Andrew Thurman (2-3) against Chiefs right-hander Blake McKnight (1-5).
DSL Athletics 4, DSL Astros Blue 3

W- Reynaldo Hoyos (1-0)
L- Gabriel Pirela (0-1)
S- Alejandro Vargas (1)

Blue home runs: None.

The Blue team actually led this one through five on the strength of a Connor McDonald RBI single scoring Marcus Almonte in the first and a Jonathan Matute sac bunt scoring Nestor Tejada in the third, but the Astros were held to four total hits. Their final score came in the 9th on an Edgar Lorenzo RBI double that brought Matute home.

The Athletics scored one in the third off starter Erasmo Pinales and another unearned run in the sixth to tie it. Gabriel Pinela came in to pitch the final two innings and gave up the go-ahead run and an insurance run in the seventh.

The DSL has Sunday off.

DSL Astros Orange 12, DSL Mets2 11

W- Adonis Pena (1-0)
L- Carlos Hernandez (0-1)

Orange home runs: Victor Sanchez 2 (1-R in 6th; Grand Slam in 9th)

The Orange team finally got off the schneid with their first win of the season. They tried to give it away, but managed to come from behind thanks in large part to a pair of home runs by Victor Sanchez.

Dustin has more patience than I do in trying to describe some of these crazy DSL games. Here's a Jayne short version:

The good guys put up two runs in the first and held a 2-1 lead after five. Then a lot of pitching messiness happened in the 6th and 7th innings, and despite a solo home run from Vincent Sanchez in the bottom of the 6th, the good guys ended up in an 11-3 hole after seven.

But this is the DSL and the Mets came up with their own pitching messiness allowing 3 runs in the eighth and five in the ninth (thanks in large part to Sanchez' second home run of the day -- a grand slam) before Jesus Bermejo scored the sixth run of the inning, a game-winner on a Frankeny Fernandez walk-off single to seal the deal.

Yhoan Acosta pitched five innings allowing only one run and Adonis (my new favorite player name) Pena pitched the final two scoreless innings. The two pitchers in between gave up 11 runs (6 earned); it's better not to talk about it.

In addition to Sanchez, Rodrigo Ayarza (3-for-5 2B RBI 3R SB), Luis Vasquez (2-for-4 2-2B 2RBI 3R) and Cristopher Luciano (2-for-3 RBI 2BB 2R SB) all had fine days.

The DSL has Sunday off.

You're only getting two stars from me today (sorry, Dustin).

Pitcher of the Day: Kyle Westwood (Lancaster)

Kyle Westwood - W (5-3) 5IP 1H 0R 6SO
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Player of the Day: Vincent Sanchez (DSL Orange)

Vincent Sanchez led the Orange team to their first win!
3-for-4, Solo HR, Grand Slam, 5RBI, BB, SO, 2R

Happy Birthday - 6/8

Happy Birthday to ~

C Roberto Pena (22)
Pena was drafted by Houston in the seventh round in 2010 out of Puerto Rico. Consistently named as the best defensive catcher in the Astros system, Pena started his 2014 season with the High A Lancaster team. He is hitting .248/.306/.378 for the season, but those numbers are impacted by his slow start to the season. He's shown consistent improvement at the plate and is hitting .270/.326/.459 over his last 10 games (through the 6th). In his first 43 games he has a 58% caught stealing percentage.

GM Jeff Luhnow (48)
Jeff Luhnow became the 12th General Manager in franchise history on December 7, 2011 (a day which will not live in infamy) after spending nine seasons in the Cardinals organization. Luhnow has Bachelor degrees in Economics and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Northwestern. He was born and raised in Mexico City. His parents, U.S. Citizens, relocated from New York to Mexico to run a publishing business. Luhnow attended an American school, holds a dual nationality and is naturally fluent in Spanish.

Two former Astros mark the day as well ~

LHP George Brunet (Died October 25, 1991 at 56)
Brunet came to Houston in a trade with the Milwaukee Braves. In 22 games for the Colt .45's in 1962 and 1963, he was 2-7 with a 5.00 ERA and a 1.695 WHIP. He spent six seasons with the California Angels where he was 54-69 with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.202 WHIP. After his major league career was over, he played in the Mexican League for 13 years, finally retiring at 50.

RHP Dave Mlicki (46)

A 17th round pick by Cleveland in 1990, Mlicki came to Houston in June of 2001 in a trade with the Tigers for Jose Lima. He spent the final two years of his career pitching in 41 games in Houston, going 11-13 with a 5.21 ERA and a 1.465 WHIP.

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