Saturday, September 20, 2014

Happy Birthday - 9/20

Happy Birthday to ~

Astros Announcer Bill "Brownie" Brown (67)
An announcer for the Astros since 1987, Brown has become a beloved fixture in the Astros broadcast booth. He also collaborated with Mike Acosta on this great photographic history of the Astros and their journey from inception to their first World Series appearance in 2005 - Houston Astros: Deep in the Heart, and published a memoir, My Baseball Journey, in 2012.

One former Astro celebrates the day as well ~

SS Angel Sanchez (31)
Angel was originally drafted by the Royals in the 11th round in 2001 out of Puerto Rico and came to Houston in a trade with the Red Sox in July 2010. In 175 games as an Astro in 2010 and 2011, he hit .258/.310/.314. After starting the 2014 season in Independent League ball, he signed with the Dodgers in June and played in their minor league system for the rest of the season.

Tweet of the Day

Friday, September 19, 2014

Corpus Christi Hooks 2014 Season in Review

In my ongoing season reviews of the various Astros minor league teams, today we'll look at the Corpus Christi Hooks.

The team finished with a 67-73 record (.479 win percentage) and was in fourth place (out of four teams) in their division. As a team they ranked within the league as follows:

Corpus Christi Team Batting
.252 BA - 5th out of 8 teams
.337 OBP - 1st
.381 SLG - 3rd

Corpus Christi Team Pitching
3.92 ERA - 7th
1.27 WHIP - 2nd
1118 SO - 3rd
412 BB - 8th

I am still somewhat mystified as to what exactly happened with the 2014 Hooks. To start the season, they were made up largely of the 2013 JetHawks team who had dominated the California League and won both halves of the season, yet the team never really took off (even before losing players to promotion and injury). Their offensive numbers were decent and, except for their ERA, the pitching was definitely above average in the league. That they had the second best WHIP in the league and the second worst ERA, and a run differential of +31, tells me that tough luck had to have played a big factor. The other glaring stat for this team was that they were 40-30 at home and 27-43 on the road. Needless to say, I botched my prediction for this team horribly, but I'm hard pressed to explain it.

Now, on to individual achievements. Below I am indicating the player's current age as well as information as to how many years the player has been playing. Any players who were promoted to Oklahoma City prior to the end of the season will be addressed in the season recap for that team.


Tyler Heineman - 23; 3rd season
Heineman isn't quite the elite defensive catcher that Lancaster's Roberto Pena is, but he doesn't miss that high mark by much. And the switch-hitter is also solid offensively. Heineman has always been a good hitter and will likely improve upon the .242/.332/.332 batting line that he put up this season. In 78 games (70 at catcher), he hit 15 doubles, three triples and one home run with 25 RBI; walked 24 times to 37 strikeouts; and caught 46% of would-be base stealers.

Rene Garcia - 24; 7th season
I am at a loss to explain Garcia's regression at the plate this season. His .244/.279/.352 batting line was well below the mark he set last season at Corpus Christi. In 75 games (71 as catcher), the 35th round draft pick from 2008 hit 14 doubles and five home runs with 23 RBI; walked nine times while striking out 32 times; and had a 37% caught stealing rate. Garcia is also a plus defensive catcher.


1B/DH/C M.P. Cokinos (24; 3rd season) was another player whose offense fell off this season as he hit .271/.305/.320 with seven doubles, one hone run and 22 RBI in 60 games. 1B/DH Telvin Nash (23; 6th season) has improved on his plate discipline since his 198 strikeout season in 2012, but he's still going to strike out a lot. He's also going to keep hitting home runs as he did this season with 22 of them (.227/.330/.484 in 84 games). 2B/SS Nolan Fontana (23; 3rd season) gets an incomplete, having been shelved since June 19th, but he did manage to hit .262/.418/.376 in his 66 games. Utility infielder Carlos Perdomo (24; 7th season) split his time between Lancaster (36 games) and Corpus Christi (60 games), hitting a combined .277/.358/.347.

There were two players promoted to Corpus Christi during the season who had particularly good years, and one player obtained in a trade who played very well for the team in his short time there.

1B Conrad Gregor - 22; 2nd season
The 4th round 2013 draft pick had a whirlwind season: 44 games at Quad Cities, 47 games at Lancaster and 33 games at Corpus Christi. All told, he hit .311/.404/.509 with 31 doubles, five triples, 16 home runs and 86 RBI in 124 games, walking 68 times and striking out 80 times. The lefty started a little slowly at Corpus Christi after his promotion (.239/.323/.376), but was already showing improvement at the end of the season with a .270/.360/.459 batting line in August. He is also a very good defensive player.

2B Tony Kemp - 22; 2nd season
Fellow lefty infielder Kemp preceded his Vanderbilt teammate Gregor to Corpus by about a month, playing 72 games at Lancaster and 59 at Corpus Christi. Kemp had an excellent season at the plate, hitting .316/.411/.449 with 30 doubles, eight triples, eight home runs and 58 RBI. He stole 41 bases (13 caught stealing), walked 73 times and struck out 67 times. He was also a plus defender; Kemp made a fielding error in his fourth game for the Hooks and then went errorless for the remainder of the season.

3B Colin Moran - 21: 2nd season
Yet another lefty bat, Moran came into the Astros system in the Marlins trade in July. For the season (117 games with the Marlins High A affiliate and 28 games at AA Corpus Christi), he hit .296/.344/.397 with 27 doubles, seven home runs, 55 RBI and 37 walks to 76 strikeouts, and showed above average defensive abilities. In his time with the Hooks, the first round 2013 draft pick hit .304/.350/.411.


Brandon Meredith - 24; 4th season
Meredith started the season playing first base for Lancaster before hitting the DL for a month and a half. After his return, he went back to playing the outfield and he had good defensive numbers at both positions. Meredith hit .239/.346/.450 with ten doubles, two triples, 15 home runs and 44 RBI in 80 games (39 at Lancaster and 41 at Corpus Christi). He walked 41 times and struck out 70 times. In August, he was batting .257/.381/.571 and in his final game on September 1st, he hit a grand slam ... nice way to end a season.

Teoscar Hernandez - 21; 4th season
Hernandez spent his first 96 games with Lancaster and his final 23 with the Hooks, hitting .292/.362/.535 with 37 doubles, nine triples, 21 home runs, 85 RBI and 33 stolen bases (nine caught stealing), but there is the matter of the Astros system-leading 153 strikeouts (to 51 walks) that he still needs to work on. His batting average and slugging percentage at AA translated well from his time playing in the (mostly) hitter-friendly California League, but there was a significant drop off in his on-base percentage after the the promotion. He is an excellent defender in center field. Hernandez is from the Dominican Republic.

Delino DeShields - 22; 5th season
DeShields, the 1st round pick in 2010, spent his entire season with the Hooks, hitting .236/.346/.360 with 14 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs and 57 RBI. He walked 61 times to 112 strikeouts and had a system-leading 54 stolen bases (14 caught stealing). In his first full season playing the outfield, DeShields held his own, but his defensive numbers overall were better in center field than in left field.

Leo Heras - 24; 7th season
Picked up from the Mexican League last year, Heras also spent his entire season with the Hooks, hitting .236/.354/.364 with 13 doubles, six triples, five home runs, 36 RBI, 16 stolen bases (4 caught stealing), 52 walks and 58 strikeouts. He improved his batting line to .250/.400/.375 in August, and contributed solid defense in both left and right field.


Josh Hader - 20; 3rd season
Obtained in the Bud Norris trade last year, Hader was just named the Minor League Pitcher of the Year in the Astros system. Drafted by the Orioles in the 19th round in 2012, Hader pitched his first 22 games (15 starts) in Lancaster with a 2.70 ERA, 1.103 WHIP and held batters to a .206 batting average before his promotion to Corpus Christi in early August. For the season, he had a 3.28 ERA, 1.184 WHIP and walked 54 batters while striking out a system-leading 136 batters in 27 games (19 starts) and pitched a total of 123.1 innings.

David Rollins - 24; 4th season
Rollins came to the Astros in the July 2012 mega-trade with the Blue Jays and pitched for the Hooks the entire season. In 27 games (12 starts), he had a 3.81 ERA, 1.231 WHIP and walked 22 batters while striking out 77 in 78 innings pitched. Rollins was transitioning from starter to reliever at the end of the season.

Mitch Lambson - 24; 4th season
Drafted by Houston in the 19th round in 2011, Lambson started his season with 17 bullpen appearances in Lancaster before receiving a mid-June promotion to Corpus Christi. In 40 total appearances (54.2 innings), he had a 2.14 ERA and a 1.006 WHIP, holding batters to a .229 average. In Corpus, he had a 1.36 ERA and a 0.909 WHIP and held batters to a .207 average. Lambson was extremely stingy with his walks, allowing only nine free passes all season while striking out 63 batters.


Brady Rodgers - 24 (as of 9/17); 3rd season
Rodgers' season almost serves as a microcosm of the Hooks season on the whole. His ERA was on the high side at 4.55, but his WHIP of 1.239 was better than the league average, and his up and down results were somewhat reflective of that. He walked only 20 batters in 126.2 innings and struck out 91 in 27 games (18 starts), all of which were in Corpus Christi except for one spot start in Oklahoma City. Rodgers was drafted in the third round in 2012.

Aaron West - 24; 3rd season
West is another player who gets an incomplete for the season. The 17th round 2012 draft pick was out from April 27th to July 8th and then again after July 26th. He only pitchd in 10 games (8 starts) with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.252 WHIP, striking out 19 and walking 11 in 34.1 innings of work.

There were four starters who graduated from Lancaster during the season and had varying degrees of success.

Kyle Smith - 22 (as of 9/10); 4th season
Smith, the 4th round 2011 draft pick who was obtained in the Justin Maxwell trade, was the first to be promoted in early May. In 28 games (16 starts) between the two venues, he had a 3.95 ERA, a 1.195 WHIP and held batters to a .235 batting average. He walked 37 and struck out 127 in 123 innings.

Mike Hauschild - 24; 3rd season
The Astros' 33rd round pick in 2012 was also promoted in May. In a total of 28 games (20 starts), Hauschild had a 4.32 ERA, a 1.268 WHIP and walked 34 batters while striking out 118 in 133.1 ininngs of work. He was second only to Rudy Owens in innings pitched in the Astros minor league system this season.

Chris Devenski - 23; 4th season
Devenski had a terrific bounceback season in 2014, earning his promotion to the the Hooks in early July. In 27 games (16 starts), he had a 4.04 ERA, a 1.127 WHIP and held batters to a .226 batting average. In 118 innings, he walked 33 and struck out 114. Devenski was drafted in the 25th round in 2011 and came to Houston in the Brett Myers trade with the White Sox in 2012.

Mark Appel - 23; 2nd season
Unless you've been living under a rock, you likely know of Appel's early season woes. The first overall draft pick from 2013 had a 9.74 ERA and a 1.914 WHIP in 12 starts in Lancaster. After Appel's promotion to Corpus Christi at the end of July, he appeared in seven games (six starts) with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP, holding hitters to a .236 average. For the season, he walked 24 and struck out 78 in 83.1 innings.

Jordan Jankowski - 25; 3rd season
Jankowski pitched all season for Corpus Christi, starting in relief but earning a rotation spot later on in the season. In 30 games (14 starts), Jankowski had a 3.58 ERA, a 1.074 WHIP and held batters to a .227 average. In August, he improved on that considerably; in four games (three starts), he had a 1.35 ERA and a 0.650 WHIP, walking three and striking out 33. For the season, the 34th round 2012 draft pick walked 26 and struck out 120 in 108 innings of work.

Tyson Perez - 24; 4th season
Perez, the 17th round 2011 draft pick, was moved solely to relief work this season and he thrived in that capacity. In 39 games (9 with Lancaster and 30 with Corpus Christi), Perez had a combined 3.17 ERA and 1.296 WHIP. In Corpus, he had a 2.09 ERA, 1.009 WHIP and held batters to a .187 batting average, allowing only one earned run in his last 14 appearances. For the season, Perez had 12 saves and walked 23 batters whiled striking out 44 in 54 innings.

Next up will be the Oklahoma City team (I skipped Lancaster and that will be my final review.

Earlier season reviews ~

Happy Birthday - 9/19

Happy Birthday to ~

1B Yonathan Mejia (22)
Signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, Mejia spent the 2014 season playing for the Greeneville Astros. In 50 games, he hit .235/.297/.350 with eight doubles, two triples and three home runs.

OF George Springer (25)
Houston's first round 2011 draft pick out of the University of Connecticut started his season in Oklahoma City, but soon thereafter received the call to Houston, making his major league debut on April 16th. In 78 games, he hit .231/.336/.468 with eight doubles, one triple, 20 home runs and 51 RBI before ending up on the DL in late July.

Two former Astros celebrte the day as well ~

2B Joe Morgan (71)
Originally signed by the Colt .45's as a free agent in 1962, Morgan played for the Colt 45's and Houston Astros from 1963 to 1971 and again in 1980. In 1032 games over 10 seasons for Houston, Morgan hit .261/.374/.393 and earned two of his ten All-Star Nods. Following his trade to the Reds in November of 1971, Morgan hit his stride. It was with the Reds that the future Hall of Famer earned two National League MVP awards, two World Series rings, five Gold Gloves and made his other eight All-Star appearances.

C Joe Ferguson (68)
An eighth round draft pick by the Dodgers in 1968, Ferguson came to Houston in a November 1976 trade with the Cardinals. In 183 games for the Astros in 1977 and 1978, he hit .243/.375/.420

Tweet of the Day

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy Birthday - 9/18

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Ross Seaton (25)
Drafted in the third round as a compensation pick in 2008 out of Second Baptist High School in Houston, Seaton spent a large part of his 2014 season on the DL. In 16 games (7 starts) between Corpus Christi, Oklahoma City and a rehab stint in Kissimmee, he was 2-2 with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP.

1B Jon Singleton (23)
Originally drafted by the Phillies in the eighth round in 2009, Singleton came to the Astros in the Hunter Pence trade in July 2011. After spending the early part of the season in Oklahoma City, Singleton made his major league debut on June 4th. In 89 games, he is hitting .172/.292/.343.

RHP Juan Minaya (24)
Signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, Minaya spent the majority of his season at Lancaster until a late season promotion to Corpus Christi. In a total of 35 games (one start), he was 2-3 with a 4.19 ERA and a 1.453 WHIP.

Four former Astros celebrate the day as well ~

CF Tony Scott (63)
Originally drafted by Montreal in the 71st(!) round in 1969, Scott came to Houston in a June 1981 trade with the Cardinals. In 292 games played for the Astros from 1981 to 1984, he hit .249/.283/.320.

RHP Roger Mason (57)
Mason signed as a free agent with the Astros in February 1989 and pitched in only two games for the Astros that year. In one and a third innings pitched, he had a whopping 20.25 ERA and a 3.000 WHIP.

RHP Chris Holt (43)
Originally drafted by Houston in the third round in 1992, Holt pitched in 103 games (90 starts) for the Astros from 1996 to 2000 with a 21-42 record, a 4.51 ERA and a 1.456 WHIP before being traded to Detroit in December 2000.

C Mitch Meluskey (41)
A 12th round draft pick by Cleveland in 1992, Meluskey came to the Houston system in an April 1995 trade with Cleveland. He played in 135 games for the Astros from 1998 to 2000 before being included, along with fellow birthday boy Chris Holt, in a December 2000 trade to Detroit. He came back to play in 12 games for Houston again in 2003, signing as a free agent. All in all, he hit .287/.389/.465 for the Astros.

Tweets of the Day

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WTHB Presents the 2014 Bobby Awards

It's time to hand out the postseason Bobby Awards to a few deserving players and coaches for their 2014 seasons. I will start with the more serious awards and follow with the not-so-serious ones. The envelope please ...

Full Season Starting/Tandem Pitcher of the Year: LHP Tommy Shirley
RHP Nick Tropeano was under serious consideration for the honor, as was LHP Josh Hader, but in the end I was extremely impressed with what Tommy Shirley accomplished this season and I wanted to give him some special acknowledgment for that. For the first three months of the season, Shirley appeared in 17 games (13 starts) for Corpus Christi and managed a 1.88 ERA and a 0.927 WHIP in 86.1 innings pitched during his first season pitching against Texas League hitters. He held batters to a .201 batting average and walked only 17 batters while striking out 78. Once he was promoted to Oklahoma City in July, he had a tough couple of starts before settling in the rest of the way. He allowed 11 earned runs in his first two outings, but then allowed only four in the next 11. Shirley was moved to the bullpen after three starts presumably due to the fact that his previous high in innings was 75.1. He ended the season with a 2.53 ERA, a 1.099 WHIP, and 32 walks to 100 strikeouts in 117.1 innings. And in those 10 relief appearances, he stranded all but one of 11 runners he inherited! I look forward to seeing what I've heard alternatively called his "Invisiball" or "Bugs Bunny Fastball" on a major league mound in the not so distant future.

Tommy Shirley - March 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Full Season Relief Pitcher of the Year: RHP Tyler Brunnemann
This one really wasn't a hard choice at all. Brunnemann simply dominated in his time at Quad Cities and more than held his own after his promotion to Lancaster in early August. In 33 bullpen appearances between the two venues, he had a 1.90 ERA and a 0.892 WHIP in 61.2 innings of work. He walked 15 batters and struck out 69. He held batters to a .183 batting average for the season. Also, if my hand-kept records are correct, I am showing that of 25 inherited runners, only 8 went on to score. He was also named MVP for the just completed 2014 California League Championshp Series. Not bad for a 40th round draft pick! (Oh, and he wears high socks.)

Tyler Brunnemann - September 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Full Season Player of the Year: CF Brett Phillips
I am an unabashed fan of Brett Phillips as a player and as a person, but going in to the season, I never really thought that he would be in the mix for my Player of the Year, much less the winner. But what he accomplished this season showed off all his tools. He hit for average, got on base at a good clip, had excellent power numbers, exhibited speed on the basepaths and showed off his canon of an arm in centerfield. It was a truly incredible season. For the season, he hit .310/.375/.529 with 29 doubles, 14 triples (yes, you read that correctly), 17 home runs, 68 RBI, 23 stolen bases and had 17 outfield assists. Yeah, that happened. [Full Disclosure: I was somewhat torn between Phillips and Conrad Gregor and I turned to trusty co-author of WTHB, Dustin, and asked him what he thought. He gave Phillips the edge by "the thinnest possible razor-thin margin." After putting all the numbers down on paper, I definitely agreed.]

Brett Phillips - September 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Short Season Pitcher of the Year: RHP Troy Scribner
This was undoubtedly one of the hardest categories for me. Under serious consideration were the fine seasons of RHP Agapito Barrios, RHP Erasmo Pinales, RHP Elieser Hernandez and RHP Joe Musgrove. But in the end, I went with Scribner's sheer dominance. Scribner made a couple of spot appearances in Corpus in April (2-0 with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP) before returning to Extended Spring Training. He was then assigned to the Short Season A Tri-City ValleyCats where he was 7-1 with a 1.38 ERA and a 0.962 WHIP in 10 starts. Scribner was promoted to Quad Cities for his final five starts and had mixed results at the higher level, but for the season he ended with a 10-3 record, a 2.09 ERA, a 1.102 WHIP, and walked 27 batters while striking out a whopping 102 in 81.2 innings pitched.

Short Season Relief Pitcher of the Year: RHP Derick Velazquez
There were also a number of fine seasons amongst the relief corps. In particular, RHP Aaron Vaughn and RHP Josue Uribe stood out. And RHP Eric Peterson's final month of the season was ridiculous (in a good way). But the hands-down winner was Velazquez. In 18 games for Tri-City, he was 2-1 with four saves, a 1.57 ERA and a 0.870 WHIP in 23 innings pitched. Only one base was stolen on his watch and he stranded 11 of the 14 runners he inherited. Oh, yeah, and he only walked two batters for his season while striking out 24.

Short Season Player of the Year: 1B A.J. Reed
Reed, the Astros 2nd round pick from 2014, hit the ground running in his first professional season. In 34 games at Tri-City, he hit .306/.420/.516 in 34 games and was promptly promoted to Quad Cities at the end of July where he played in an additional 34 games, hitting .272/.326/.528. In those 68 total games, he scored 43 runs; hit 20 doubles, one triple and 12 home runs; drove in 54 runs; stole two bases; and walked 30 times while striking out 54 times. In addition, he is an excellent defensive player! Unfortunately, I just missed Reed in my whirlwind tour of the Astros minor league ballparks this summer, but by all accounts, he is a truly special player. Another player under serious consideration for this award was a 17-year old Dominican player who earned a late promotion from the DSL to the GCL. 2B Frankeny Fernandez is still a bit rough around the edges, but what he was able to accomplish in his first season of professional ball was remarkable.

Defensive Catcher of the Year: Roberto Peña
Just put Peña down as a given to win this every year until he graduates to the major leagues. In 93 games catching in Lancaster this season, he had a .996 fielding percentage, 9.02 range factor and he caught 57% of would be base-stealers (that is not a typo). He is the most elite of elite catchers.

Offensive Catcher of the Year: Jamie Ritchie
Ritchie was actually on my short list for Short Season Player of the Year, but he was edged out since he didn't play in as many games as Reed. In 47 games for Tri-City, the 13th round 2014 draft pick hit .331/.455/.465 with 12 doubles, two triples and a home run. He even stole five bases, an uncommon occurrence for most catchers. And he walked (29 times) more than he struck out (26 times), an uncommon occurrence for most hitters regardless of position.

Postseason MVP (Player): 1B Tyler White and DH Chase McDonald
I was going to jokingly award this to Tyler McDonald or Chase White because I simply couldn't decide between the two. They had the two most potent bats in the JetHawks line-up in the post-season. Between the two players, they scored 10 runs, collected eight doubles and four home runs and drove in 12 runs in eight post-season games.

Postseason MVP (Pitcher): RHP Tyler Brunnemann
Until the final game of the California League Championship Series on Monday, I was leaning toward awarding this to Joe Musgrove for his fine work in the New York-Penn League series, but Brunnemann was named the MVP of the Cal League Finals for a reason. Coming into the fifth inning of Monday's game with two runners on and no outs, Brunnemann retired the next three batters without allowing a run across. And he went on to pitch a total of three hitless innings with six strikeouts to earn the win. All told, Brunnemann appeared in five games with a 1.35 ERA and a 0.750 WHIP and stranded all eight runners that he inherited. Case closed.

Comeback/Breakthrough Pitcher of the Year: RHP Chris Devenski
To say that Devenski had a tough year in 2013 is a bit of an understatement. He struggled mightily at Lancaster (7.88 ERA and 1.819 WHIP) and was demoted to Quad Cities where he started to figure things out again, but still ended the season with a 6.60 ERA and a 1.592 WHIP. Fast forward a season and his success at Lancaster (4.11 ERA and 1.070 WHIP) led to his promotion to Corpus Christi in early July. There he put up a 3.92 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP in his final 10 appearances. Quite the turnaround!

Comeback/Breakthrough Player of the Year: 1B/DH Chase McDonald
For McDonald, the 2014 improvements represented a nice breakthrough for the 2013 12th round pick. McDonald had a solid season in 2013 (.245/.341/.413), but you just knew that he was capable of much more than that. In 2014, he showed that he was, indeed, capable of more as he put up a very nice .279/.363/.481 batting line with 25 doubles, 16 home runs and 67 RBI in 102 games at Quad Cities. He was rewarded with a promotion to Lancaster for the last game of the season and had a very nice postseason campaign.

Manager of the Year: Lancaster's Rodney Linares
Linares managed his team to a first half Championship, dealt adeptly with the loss of one Astros top prospect to injury and with the highly public struggles of another top prospect, had a revolving door installed in the clubhouse because of promotions, injuries and one retirement, and then went on to win his second California League Championship title in three years with a team that had only a handful of players who started the season there.

Hitting Coach of the Year: Joel Chimelis of Quad Cities
Chimelis took a team largely comprised of players from the 2013 Tri-City team that had a batting line of .246/.322/.345 (as well as from the weak-hitting 2013 Greeneville team) and ended up coaching them to a .261/.340/.362 line in 2014. He oversaw great improvements from Brett Phillips, Jon Kemmer, Chase McDonald and others and ended up with a dozen or so of his players successfully graduating to the next level before the season was over.

Pitching Coach of the Year: Corpus Christi's Doug Brocail
Brocail was supposed to be a Special Assistant to the General Manager this season. And he was, but he also ended up taking on the Pitching Coach duties of the Hooks team when Gary Ruby fell ill. He gets this award not only for doing double duty, but because of the way he handled four pitchers who have not been considered top prospects in the system. Brocail recognized what Tommy Shirley had accomplished in Lancaster the prior year and built on that beautifully, resulting in Shirley's success and eventual promotion. He was able to coax from Jordan Jankowski the absolute dominance that emerged by season's end. And he successfully continued the development (started by Lancaster Pitching Coach Don Alexander earlier in the season) of Chris Devenski and Tyson Perez, each of whom opened some eyes by the end of the season. And, as he told me, he really had fun doing it (but don't tell his wife!).

Team of the Year: Lancaster JetHawks
California League Champions, Baby!!! 'Nuff said.

Now for some of the not-so-serious awards ~

Funniest Tweeter: Brian Holmes
Holmes is not quite as prolific a tweeter as Kenny Long (who I still miss for his frequent Tweets of the Day), but what he lacks in quantity, he makes up for in quality.

Best Twitter Handle: Chris Cotton
Cotton is the reigning champion with his @58percentCotton handle.

Best Name in the Astros System: Frankeny Fernandez
I still miss Geronimo Franzua and Rayderson Chevalier, but Fernandez is a Frankenstein nickname waiting to happen!

Best Nickname in the Astros System: Ramon Laureano
In a nod to Ramen (Ramon/Ramen, get it?), the very serious looking Laureano has been christened "Noodles" by his teammates.

Ramon "Noodles" Laureano - July 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Name Most Likely to be Misspelled: RHP Brock Dykxhoorn
Dykxhoorn's name is also probably the most likely to be mispronounced as well, but he's Canadian so he'll always be gracious about any gaffes.

Most Likely to Give Up Baseball for a Career in Modeling: Lance McCullers
That is one photogenic young man!

Lance McCullers - September 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen

The Bridesmaid Award: OF Tanner Mathis
Last season, Mathis was a late addition at Lancaster prior to the postseason, but he never got into a game. This season he ended up on the DL in late August and had to watch the postseason from the dugout again. Next year, we hope that Tanner is finally a bride.

Best Mustache: Delino DeShields
This bushy caterpillar from DeShields just edges out Mike Hauschild's Fu Manchu.

Most Likely to be Misidentified as Amish: Brett Phillips
Seriously, take a look at his playoff beard in his picture at the top. Doesn't he look like he's out on Rumspringa?

Player Most Likely to Cause Road Closings: Chase McDonald
Since both of McDonald's postseason home runs at Lancaster landed on Avenue I, the City of Lancaster might need to put traffic controls in place when McDonald presumably returns there next season.

The Joey Tribbiani Award: Bryan Muniz
Just look at this picture. "How YOU doin'?"

Bryan Muniz - July 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen

The "Wild Thing" Award: RHP Gerald Benzant
With 15 hit batters and 18 wild pitches in 37.2 innings, Benzant reminds me of another pitcher who had a similar season a couple years back. Jandel Gustave, had 5 wild pitches and 21 hit batters in only 19.1 innings in 2011. Now he is one of the most exciting heat-throwing prospects in the Astros system. Let's see if Benzant can follow in his footsteps.

Best Overheard Conversation of 2014: Lancaster Pitching Staff
During early work one day in May, I was out taking pictures and overheard a very animated conversation among the Lancaster pitching staff regarding the existence of mermaids, Bigfoot and aliens. I won't out anyone, but one particular college-educated player was adamantly in the pro-mermaid camp.

Best Photobomb: Devonte German

Being Photobombed by Devonte German
July 2014 - Photo by Jayne Hansen

The Alleve Award: Tyler White
After holding the crown for two years, Matt Duffy finally stepped down as the hit-by-pitch leader in the Astros minor leagues. This year the "honors" go to Tyler White who was plunked 19 times. Duffy faded to fifth place with 12.

Armed and Dangerous, Part I: C Roberto Peña
Pena led the Astros system, by far, with his 57% caught stealing rate.

Armed and Dangerous, Part II: CF Brett Phillips
Phillips led the Astros minors in outfield assists with 17 in 130 games.

Armed and Dangerous, Part III: LHP Kent Emanuel
Emanuel picked off 12 baserunners this season.

The Workhorse Award, Part I: LHP Rudy Owens
Owens, after missing most of last season due to injury, pitched the most innings of any Astros minor leaguer in 2014 at 135. And he pitched another 5.2 at the major league level!

The Workhorse Award, Part II: RHP Jason Stoffel
Stoffel led the Astros minors in bullpen appearances ... by far! He pitched 64.2 innings in 54 outings.

The Winner Winner Chicken Dinner Award: Josh Hader, Chris Devenski and Troy Scribner
This trio tied with 10 wins each to lead the Astros minors.

The Mighty Mouse Award: Jamaine Cotton, Tyson Perez, Andrew Walter and Ryan Thompson
These four pitchers are all tied atop the Astros minor league leaderboard for most saves in a season with 12 each. Most impressive from this list is Ryan Thompson who accomplished the feat in 14 to 17 fewer games than the other three! And for those who don't get the Mighty Mouse reference, go here.

The Fireman Award: Kevin Chapman, Josue Uribe, Mitch Lambson, Jordan Mills and Jason Stoffel
Although Kevin Chapman led this list by stranding a whopping 79% of inherited runners, the other four were close behind. All five of these relief pitchers stranded 72% or more of the runners they inherited.

Most Likely to Outrun a Coyote: OF Delino DeShields
DeShields is definitely a roadrunner and is a three-time winner in this category with 54 stolen bases. Meep meep!

Walk Like a Man Award: 3B Rio Ruiz
Ruiz led the Astros system with 82 walks in 130 games.

The Wizard of Oz Award: OF Preston Tucker
There's no place like home and that's precisely where this wizard sent 94 players as he led the organization in RBI.

One for the Money: 2B Tony Kemp
Kemp led the Astros minor leagues in hits with 167.

Two for the Show: 3B Rio Ruiz and OF Teoscar Hernandez
This duo tied for most doubles in the system with 37 each.

Three to Get Ready: OF Brett Phillips
Phillips' 14 triples led the organization.

Go, Cat, Go: OF Preston Tucker
Tucker's organization-leading 24 home runs earn him a pair of blue suede shoes.

The Cyborg Award: RHP Jordan Jankowski
At the end of the season, Jankowski was relentless, striking out 38 batters in his last five outings (24 innings pitched), leading some to believe that Jankowski really is a Cyborg.

Most Remarkable Feat: IF Ronald Torreyes
Torreyes played in 27 straight games from August 1st through August 29th before finally striking out on August 30th. Wow.


I wish I could have given an award to every player in the system after such a terrific year, but, alas, I finally ran out of time and ideas.

Happy Birthday 9/17

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Brady Rodgers (24)
Drafted by Houston in the third round in 2012 out of Arizona State, Rodgers made all but one of his 2014 starts at Corpus Christi (with one excellent spot start in Oklahoma City as well). In 27 appearances (18 starts), Rodgers had a 4.55 ERA and a 1.239 WHIP. In 126.2 innings pitched, he walked 20 batters and struck out 91.

Three former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Jim Umbricht (died April 4, 1964 at age 33)
Umbricht was drafted from the Pirates as the 35th pick in the 1961 expansion draft and played for the Colt 45's for two seasons in 1962 and 1963. In 69 appearances for the Colt 45's, he was 8-3 with a 2.33 ERA and a 0.986 WHIP. From Wikipedia:

"Umbricht underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his leg in March 1963 but was able to return to the Colt .45s to post a 4-3 won/loss record and a solid 2.61 earned run average in 35 games that season."

He played his final game on September 26, 1963 and died less than seven months later. His uniform number - 32 - was retired immediately.

Pinch Runner Alonzo "Candy" Harris (67)
Harris didn't get much of a chance. Used primarily as a pinch runner for the Astros in 1967, he only got one AB in 6 games and he struck out. And that, at the ripe old age of 19, was the extent of his major league career.

LHP John Franco (54)
Franco spent his final season (out of 21 total) pitching for the Astros out of the bullpen in 2005, compiling a 7.20 ERA and a 2.133 WHIP before being released on July 2, 2005. His career as a whole makes a much better story though. Franco was 90-87 with 424 saves, a career ERA of 2.89 and a career WHIP of 1.333 (1.88 ERA and 0.977 WHIP in 15 post-season games). He spent six seasons with the Reds and 14 seasons with the Mets, leading the league in saves for three seasons and getting an All-Star nod four times. Currently, at 1119 appearances, he trails only two pitchers in games played.

Tweet of the Day

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Astros Minor League Playoff Recaps

California League Championship Series: Lancaster 10, Visalia 2 (Lancaster wins series 3-2)

W- Tyler Brunnemann
L- Blake Perry

Lancaster home runs: None.

For the 2nd time in the last 3 seasons, the Lancaster JetHawks are the kings of the California League.

The JetHawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 2 innings, and then the Rawhide put up 2 in the top of the 3rd to cut the lead to 1. After that, though, it was all Lancaster as they wrapped it up with 7 unanswered.

Brett Phillips led off the bottom of the 1st with a double, advanced to 3rd on an error, and scored the game's first run on a Jack Mayfield sac fly. Phillips was back at it again in the 2nd when he poked a ball through the right side of the infield to drive in 2. In the 4th, Rio Ruiz hit an RBI single, and then Danry Vásquez added an RBI base hit of his own in the 5th.

The JetHawks opened up the floodgates as they put up 5 in the bottom of the 6th. Mayfield hit an RBI single, Ronnie Mitchell drove in 2 with a single, Tyler White scored on a fielder's choice/error, and then Roberto Peña hit an RBI single for what turned out to be the final run of the evening.

Brett (2B, 2 RBI, 3 R) and Rio (2B, RBI, R) both finished 3-4. Mitchell, Peña, and Chase McDonald all had 2-hit nights.

Kyle Westwood went 4 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 8 hits, walked 2, and struck out 5. He pitched to 2 batters in the 5th but did not retire either of them. Tyler Brunnemann, who was named series MVP, tagged in and proceeded to throw 3 perfect innings, striking out 6. Dan Minor finished it off with 2 scoreless as he allowed 3 hits and struck out Socrates Brito for the final out of the series.

And so ends another season in the Houston Astros minor league system. Next up on the docket is instructional league and the Fall and Winter Leagues. I, Dustin Nguyen, your humble servant, will be right with you the whole way during this time.

Happy Birthday - 9/16

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Cristofer Melendez (17)
Signed by the Astros during the International Signing Period in July, Melendez has not yet made his professional debut.

RHP Austin Chrismon (22)
Drafted by Houston in the 26th round in 2013 out of East Carolina University (Greenville, NC), Chrismon spent his second professional season with the Tri-City ValleyCats. In 16 games (13 starts), he was 6-3 with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP. He walked 15 batters and struck out 49 in 68.1 innings pitched.

OF Robbie Grossman (25)
Originally drafted by the Pirates in the sixth round in 2008, Grossman came to the Astros in the July 2012 trade for Wandy Rodriguez. Grossman has currently played in 92 games in Houston this season, hitting .223/.327/.333 with 13 doubles, two triples and six home runs.

Two former Astros celebrate the day as well ~

SS Hector Torres (69)
The native of Mexico played for Houston from 1968 to 1970 and again in 1973. He was a starter in 1968, but then was relegated to bench duties in his latter three seasons with the Astros. He had a .206 BA and a .244 OBP in 666 AB's. In October of 1970, he was traded to the Cubs for Roger Metzger.

RHP Chad Harville (38)
Originally drafted by Oakland in the second round in 1997, Harville came to Houston in an April 2004 trade with the A's for Kirk Saarloos. Harville spent parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons with Houston and in 93 regular season appearances, he was 3-4 with a 4.63 ERA and a 1.533 WHIP. In 4 post-season appearances (in the NLDS and NLCS in 2004), he had an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 2.000. He played his final major league game with Tampa Bay August 12, 2006.

Tweet of the Day

There are probably a hundred tweets that I could pick from tonight with the JetHawks winning the California League Championship, but this response I got from Tyler Brunnemann's dad really touched me. Brunnemann, the 40th round (out of 40 rounds) draft pick from 2013 has had an amazing season. It culminated in his winning the MVP trophy for the California League Championship Series last night. Before the game was even over, his father said this to me ...

Well, this time it happened to yours. Well done, Tyler, well done.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Astros Minor League Playoff Recaps

California League Championship Series Game 4: Visalia 11, Lancaster 3 (Series tied 2-2)

W- Spencer Arroyo
L- Kent Emanuel

Lancaster home runs: Tyler White (solo in 2nd), Jack Mayfield (solo in 8th)

The wheels completely fell off for the JetHawks in Game 4 as the Rawhide used a 10-1 run from the 6th-8th innings to completely turn the tide of this game in their favor.

Tyler White scored 2 of the 3 Lancaster runs; he hit a solo shot in the 2nd that put them on the board and tied the game at 1. He scored on a Chase McDonald double in the 4th, and in the 8th inning, Jack Mayfield hit a solo homer. Chan-Jong Moon went 2-3 at the bottom of the order.

Kent Emanuel pitched 6 innings and allowed 4 runs (2 earned, 1 inherited runner charged to him) on 5 hits (a solo homer to Raul Navarro that led off the game) and struck out 3. He pitched to 1 batter in the 7th. The bullpen.... failed. Gonzalo Sañudo allowed a run on 2 hits and struck out 1 in the 7th and also allowed the runner he inherited from Emanuel to score. Zach Morton got 2 outs in the 8th, both via strikeout, but in the process, he allowed 4 runs (1 inherited runner charged to him) on 3 hits (3-run homer) and walked 1. Evan Grills got the final out of the 8th, but not before he allowed the runner he inherited from Morton to score, and then he allowed a 2-run homer to Tyler Baker. Chris Cotton struck out 2 in a 1-2-3 9th, but the damage had already been done.

In the deciding game 5, Kyle Westwood will take on Blake Perry at 8:30.

Quad Cities River Bandits Season in Review

In my ongoing season reviews of the various Astros minor league teams, today we'll look at the Quad City River Bandits.

The team finished with a 70-69 record (.504 win percentage) and fell just short of getting a playoff berth. As a team they ranked within the league as follows:

Quad Cities Team Batting
.261 BA - 3rd out of 16 teams
.340 OBP - 1st
.408 SLG - 1st

They also led the league in doubles and walks, and were tied for second in home runs.

Quad Cities Team Pitching
3.79 ERA - 10th
1.33 WHIP - 10th
1064 SO - 10th
399 BB - 15th

For each of the full season teams, I made bold predictions in my season preview. [Note to self: Quit making bold predictions.] I was woefully wrong on my prediction of the Quad Cities team which I predicted to have a much better finish. I completely underestimated the offense (and the number of players who would be promoted!) and completely overestimated the pitching. The starting pitching was uneven at times, and it is probably a given that they were not exactly helped out by the inordinate number of postponements and make-up doubleheaders that the team experienced. Mother Nature was not a friend to the 2014 River Bandits.

Now, on to individual achievements. Below I am indicating the player's current age as well as information as to how many years the player has been playing. Any players who were promoted to Lancaster or above prior to the end of the season will be addressed in the season recap for that team.


Brian Holberton - 22; 2nd season
The 9th round 2013 draft pick appeared in 85 games (66 as catcher), hitting .253/.330/.380 with 18 doubles, one triple, six home runs and 34 RBI. The lefty walked 33 times while striking out 42 times. His defense behind the plate can be characterized as average which is actually a good thing considering that he was not a catcher in college and is still learning the nuances of his trade. He caught 23% of would-be base stealers.

Brett Booth - 23; 2nd season
Booth played in 56 games (38 as catcher) and the 34th round 2013 draft pick shows plus defensive abilities and managed a very nice 40% caught stealing rate. He put up a .242/.322/.390 batting line with ten doubles, a triple and five home runs (.271/.333/.438 in August).


1B A.J. Reed - 21; 1st season
Reed, the Astros 2014 second round pick, split his season evenly between Tri-City and Quad Cities (34 games each). In the two venues combined, he hit .289/.375/.522 with 20 doubles, a triple, 12 home runs and 54 RBI and displayed plus defense at his position. He is a left-handed hitter.

3B J.D. Davis - 21; 1st season
The 3rd round draft pick from 2014 had an excellent freshman season, splitting his time between Tri-City (30 games) and Quad Cities (43 games) and hitting .293/.371/.508 with 16 doubles, a triple, 13 home runs and 52 RBI. On paper, his defense skews slightly below average.

There were two players who played both infield and outfield for the River Bandits who had very nice seasons at the plate:

2B/OF Jose Fernandez - 21; 5th season
In 40 games, Fernandez hit .279/.363/.434 with seven doubles, two triples and 21 RBI. He stole nine bases and was caught stealing four times. His defense at second base is passable, but his outfield defense will need improvement if he continues to split his time. He is from the Dominican Republic.

IF/OF Marc Wik - 22; 3rd season
The lefty-hitting Wik was drafted by Houston in the 21st round in 2012. He played in a total of 75 games: two at Corpus Christi; two at Lancaster; 12 at Tri-City and 59 at Quad Cities. He played 2B (26 games); 3B (17 games); SS (2 games); RF (9 games); LF (14 games); and CF (10 games). He was solid defensively at all of the positions he played. His combined batting line for all venues was .252/.343/.408 with 17 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 33 RBI and 15 stolen bases (10 caught stealing). Wik's versatility will likely take him a long way.


Brauly Mejia - 19; 3rd season
Mejia spent the vast majority (49 of 54 games) in the GCL, earning a promotion to Quad Cities for the final five games of the season. In total, he hit .263/.377/.406 with seven doubles, six triples, two home runs and 26 RBI. He stole nine bases, but was caught 10 times. His defense in left field was somewhat below average for the season.

Ryan Bottger - 21; 1st season
Bottger, the 12th round 2014 draft pick, spent his first 27 games at Tri-City, hitting .313/.395/.495 before his promotion. In a total of 61 games, he hit .266/.333/.372 with eight doubles, five home runs, 25 RBI and eight stolen bases (five caught stealing). He walked 18 times while striking out 38 times. His numbers are indicative of more or less average defensive abilities. He is a switch hitter.

Bobby Boyd - 21; 1st season
The 8th round 2014 draft pick played his first 42 games with Tri-City before receiving his promotion to Quad Cities for his final 20 games. A left-handed hitter, Boyd hit .333/.404/.371 at Tri-City and .297/.368/.332 with six doubles, one triple and 24 walks to 33 strikeouts for the season. Boyd stole 19 bases and was caught six times. His defensive numbers skew above average.


Chris Lee - 22; 4th season
The Astros fourth round pick in 2011 had a bit of a mixed bag of a season, but ended it on a high note, compiling a 2.66 ERA and a 1.394 WHIP in six games (three starts) in August. For the season, he had a 3.66 ERA and a 1.513 WHIP in 28 games (16 starts). He walked 51 batters while striking out 75 in his 113 innings of work.

Blaine Sims - 25; 5th season
You may not be buying it when I tell you that a 25-year old in Low A with a 1.677 WHIP had a very successful season, but all the rules go out the window for the lefty knuckleballer. His 3.31 ERA and 1.677 WHIP are a huge improvement over his 2013 numbers (8.44 ERA and 2.044 WHIP) and seem to indicate that he is having better success in learning the nuances of the knuckleball. Sims, picked up from Atlanta in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft in December 2013, appeared in 17 games (12 starts) between Tri-City and Quad Cities. He walked 47 batters and struck out 60 in 73.1 innings pitched.

Albert Minnis - 22; 2nd season
Drafted by Houston in the 25th round in 2013, Minnis had a tough start to his season and ended it with a 4.18 ERA and a 1.585 WHIP in 27 games. However, things came together for him in his final 12 games in July and August; he had a 2.10 ERA and a 1.208 WHIP in his final 25.2 innings. Minnis walked nine and struck out 25 during that period (15 walks to 42 stikeouts in 47.1 innings for the season).

Jordan Mills - 22; 2nd season
Mills spent the majority of his season with Tri-City before his promotion to Quad Cities for his final seven appearances. In 31.2 innings, he had a 2.84 ERA and a 1.295 WHIP. He walked 14 batters and struck out 39. Mills was drafted in the 28th round in 2013.


Several of the right-handed starters on the team had uneven seasons. Andrew Thurman (22; 2nd round pick 2013) is certainly capable of better results than the 5.38 ERA and 1.405 WHIP that he put up for the season. Likewise, Edison Frias (23; 4th season) had an up-and-down season before hitting the DL in early August (4.82 ERA, 1.326 WHIP, 15BB:60SO in 74.2IP).

Two of the tandem starters fared much better in relief. Kevin Comer (22; 3rd season) had a 4.24 ERA and a 1.389 WHIP for the season, but when he was on the relief side of the tandem, that improved to a 1.41 ERA and a 1.031 WHIP. And Jandel Gustave (21; 5th season) had a 5.01 ERA and a 1.557 WHIP for his overall season, but a 0.78 ERA and a 0.870 WHIP as a reliever. Gustave's overall numbers may have been impacted by injury, though, as he spent over a month on the DL.

Three right-handed starters stood out from the rest.

Adrian Houser - 21; 4th season
Houser, drafted in the second round in 2011, had a 4.14 ERA and a 1.252 WHIP in 25 games (17 starts). In August, that improved to a 3.00 ERA and a 1.074 WHIP in six games (three starts). He had four walks to 26 strikeouts in August (27IP), as compared to 37 walks and 93 strikeouts over 108.2 innings pitched for the season.

Michael Feliz - 21; 5th season
Feliz did not dominate in 2014 as he did in 2013, but he still had a solid season and still showed (several) flashes of what he can ultimately become (which is really, really good). In 25 games (19 starts), he had a 4.03 ERA and a 1.373 WHIP. He walked 37 batters and struck out 111 in 102.2 innings of work. In August, he had a 2.89 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP in five starts.

Troy Scribner - 23; 2nd season
Scribner got a couple of spot appearances in Corpus Christi early in the season before taking Tri-City by storm. He ended the season with five games (three starts) at Quad Cities. All told, he ended the season with a 2.09 ERA, a 1.102 WHIP and 27 walks to 103 strikeouts in 81.2 innings pitched. Not bad for a non-drafted free agent!

Of those who weren't promoted to the next level (which was darn near every reliever at Quad Cities!), these three right-handed relievers stood out.

Frederick Tiburcio - 23; 6th season
Tiburcio appeared in 28 games, including a spot appearance at Oklahoma City, and ended his season with a 2.91 ERA and a 1.154 WHIP and seven saves. He walked 17 batters and struck out 48 in 43.1 innings of work. He is from the Dominican Republic.

Raul Rivera - 23; 5th season (DNP in 2011)
Rivera, the 37th round pick in 2009, spent the majority of his season with Tri-City, earning a late August promotion to Quad Cities. In 22 bullpen appearances, he had a 2.97 ERA and a 1.277 WHIP (1.65 ERA and 0.980 WHIP in 8 games in August). He walked 12 batters and struck out 38 for the season (36.1IP); in August that ratio improved to three walks to 20 strikeouts (16.1IP).

Keegan Yuhl - 22; 1st season
Yuhl was drafted in the 35th round in 2014 and started his season at Greeneville, appearing in nine games (two starts), before leap-frogging Tri-City and receiving a promotion directly to Quad Cities in early August. For the season, he put up a 1.98 ERA and a 1.073 WHIP and walked eight batters while striking out 33 in 36.1IP

Next up will be the Corpus Christi team (I am skipping Lancaster for the moment because I didn't want to do their write-up before their season was finished. That will happen tonight as they play Game 5 in the best of 5 California League Championship Series).

Earlier season reviews ~
Dominican Summer League offensive standouts
Dominican Summer League Pitching Standouts
Gulf Coast League Astros
Rookie League Greeneville Astros

Happy Birthday - 9/15

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Murilo Gouvea (26)
Obtained in a 2009 trade with the White Sox for future considerations, the Brazilian-born Gouvea was a workhorse out of the Lexington bullpen in 2012. In 50 appearances, he was 2-7 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP. He went on to pitch successfully for Team Brazil in the World Baseball Classic during the 2012/2013 off-season, but ended up on the DL to start 2013 and has now missed two seasons. The last I heard was that he was a member of Team Rehab in Kissimmee.

OF Ariel Ovando (21)
Signed by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic as a NDFA in 2010 (for a ginormous $2.6 million dollar signing bonus), Ovando played his 2014 season on the Tri-City team, hitting .237/.287/.289 in 58 games.

RHP Jason Stoffel (26)
Originally drafted by the Giants in the fourth round in 2009, Stoffel was obtained (along with Henry Sosa) in the Jeff Keppinger trade in July 2011. Stoffel pitched the entire season for Oklahoma City with a 5-4 record, 11 saves, a 3.20 ERA and a 1.485 WHIP in 54 appearances (and led the Astros system in number of appearances). He walked 28 batters (six intentional walks) while striking out 68 in 64.3 innings pitched.

Tweet of the Day

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Astros Minor League Playoff Recaps

California League Championship Series: Lancaster 4, Visalia 3 in 10 innings (Lancaster leads series 2-1)

W- Andrew Walter
L- Joey Krehbiel

Lancaster home runs: Chan-Jong Moon (solo in 3rd), Chase McDonald (solo in 4th), Rio Ruiz (walk-off solo in 9th)

RIOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He sent one into the Antelope Valley night to begin the bottom of the 10th inning to give the JetHawks the lead in this Cali League Championship Series.

Vince Velasquez pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4. He pitched to 3 batters in the 7th but did not record an out. So, in came Tyler Brunnemann, who inherited a 2nd and 3rd situation with nobody out. How many runs did he allow? Zero. Brunnemann, who also got 1 out in the 8th, walked 1 and struck out 2. Jamaine Cotton got the final 2 outs of the 8th; he issued an intentional walk and struck out 1. Andrew Walter tagged in for 2 frames and walked 2 and struck out 4. So, the 3 JetHawks relievers in this game combined to throw 4 hitless and scoreless innings, walking 4 (1 intentionally) and striking out 7.

3 of the 4 JetHawks runs, as you can see, came off solo homers. Chan-Jong Moon put Lancaster on the board with his Moon-shot in the 3rd, Chase McDonald tied the game at 2 with his 4th-inning blast, and Rio won the game in the first extra frame. Moon drove in 2; after the Rawhide got 1 in the top of the 7th to take a 3-2 lead, he hit an RBI groundout that scored Danry Vásquez to re-tie the game in the bottom of the inning. McDonald (2B to go along with his homer), Danry (2B, R), Jack Mayfield (2B), and Brett Phillips all had 2-hit nights.

Now, the JetHawks have their first crack at clinching the crown. Kent Emanuel will get the start in game 4. First pitch is at 7:00. Vamos Hawks???

Happy Birthday - 9/14

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

C Cody Clark (33)
Originally drafted by the Rangers in the 11th round in 2003, the journeyman catcher finally made his MLB debut on August 23, 2013 after spending 11 years in the minor leagues. In 16 games with Houston, he hit .105/.128/.132.

LHP Frank Carpin (76)
After pitching for Pittsburgh in 1965 (3-1, 4 saves and a 3.18 ERA), Carpin was picked up by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. He only appeared in 10 games for the Astros in 1966, compiling a 7.50 ERA and a 2.500 WHIP, and he played his last major league game on September 3, 1966.

Tweet of the Day