Saturday, November 15, 2014

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Friday, November 14, 2014 (and a couple from today)

A friendly reminder that today is the Arizona Fall League Championship game. The Salt River Rafters will face the Peoria Javelinas at 1:08 P.M. Mountain time. I believe the game will be on the MLB Network.

IBAF 21U WORLD CUP

South Korea 8, Australia 7

The Aussies held a 7-3 lead after 5 innings, but the South Koreans rallied for a walk-off win. Jared Cruz got the start at 2B for Team Australia and went 0-2 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored.

Australia finishes the Super Round Robin with a 1-4 record and will finish in 5th place at the inaugural IBAF 21U Baseball World Cup.

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE

Adelaide 3, Perth 2 in 6.5 innings

This game was called after the top of the 7th due to rain. Chan-Jong Moon finished 1-2 with a sac fly in the 5th, which put the Bite up 3-1.

The Bite will look to win the series tomorrow (this) afternoon. First pitch is at 1:00 Australian Central Time, or 8:30 P.M. tonight in Houston.

LIGA VENEZOLANA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL

Magallanes 5, Caracas 3

L.J. Hoes finished 0-5 with a strikeout as Caracas dropped its 3rd straight. They are finding November to be a struggle, as they've fallen to 4-8 this month.

Caracas now has a 4-game homestand, and in 3 of those 4, they'll play Aragua. First pitch is at 5:00 Venezuelan time.

LIDOM

Estrellas 4, Toros 3

A comeback was close, but no cigar for Toros. Teoscar Hernandez finished 0-3 with a walk, a run scored, and 2 strikeouts.

Toros will face Licey in the early game today. First pitch is at 5:00 Atlantic. More on Licey in a moment.

Gigantes 9, Águilas 8

Jandel Gustave got the win for Gigantes as he pitched 1.1 scoreless, allowing a hit. He got the final out of the 7th and pitched a scoreless 8th. For Águilas, Jonathan Villar finished 2-3 with a walk and a run scored.

Gigantes will host Escogido at 7:00 Atlantic, while in the late game, Àguilas will take on Estrellas at 7:30.

Escogido 6, Licey 5 in 11 innings

Domingo Santana entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 9th inning and drew a walk. He would eventually come around to score as Licey was able to tie the game with 2 in the top of the 9th. Santana remained in the game at LF and finished 1-1.

LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACÍFICO

Jalisco 4, Culiacán 3

Jalisco won the game despite having an equal amount of hits and errors: 3. Leo Heras went 0-2 with 2 walks and a run scored for Jalisco.

The series continues at 5:00.

LIGA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Santurce 5, San Juan 0

Santurce broke a scoreless tie with 1 in the 7th, then sealed the deal with a 4-run 9th. Delino DeShields got the start in LF for Santurce and went 1-3 with a walk.

Tonight, los Cangrejeros (the Crabbers) will take on Carolina at 7:30 Atlantic.

Happy Birthday - 11/15

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

LHP Randy Niemann (59)
A second round pick by the Yankees in 1975, Niemann came to Houston from New York in a June 1977 trade. In 48 appearances for the Astros in 1979 and 1980, he was 3-3 with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.420 WHIP. In September 1981, he was sent to the Pirates as a PTBNL in the August 1981 Phil Garner trade. He coached in the Cardinals AA minor league affiliate in 2014.

LHP Pedro Borbon (47)
Borbon came to Houston from Toronto in May of 2002 and pitched in 56 games for for the Astros that season with a 5.50 ERA and a 1.593 WHIP. I still cannot hear the name Pedro Borbon without thinking of this even though it referred to Borbon's father.

Tweet of the Day

Friday, November 14, 2014

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Thursday, November 13, 2014 (and a couple from today)

IBAF 21U WORLD CUP

Australia 9, Czech Republic 4

The Aussies bounced back from their loss to host Chinese Taipei by jumping out to an 8-0 lead on the Czechs, which was spurred by a 5-run 4th. Connor MacDonald entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 5th and finished out the game in left field, going 1-3. Jared Cruz finished 3-4 with a sac fly in the 7th, scored a run, and stole a base.

Today, Australia will take on South Korea in their final Super Round Robin game. First pitch is at 6:30 P.M. Taipei time, which corresponds to 4:30 A.M. in Houston. Apparently, the games in the opening round count towards the Super Round Robin.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Scottsdale 8, Salt River 5

Joe Sclafani went 2-4 with a double and a run scored to push his hitting streak to 11 games. Andrew Aplin finished 0-4 with a strikeout at the bottom of the lineup.

The Salt River Rafters will take on the Peoria Javelinas in the AFL Championship game tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is at 1:08 Mountain.

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE

Adelaide 5, Perth 4

Chan-Jong Moon hit a double in 4 at-bats for the Bite and stole a base.

The series continues today (or tomorrow) at 7:00 Australian Central Time, which is 2:30 A.M. in Houston. Adelaide is 16.5 hours ahead of  American Central Time.

LIGA VENEZOLANA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL

Zulia 3, Caracas 1

Caracas continues to languish in the bottom half of the LVBP standings. Rough night for L.J. Hoes, as he finished 0-3 and struck out in all 3 of his at-bats. Danry Vásquez finished 1-3 and scored Caracas' only run of the evening in the 6th. That actually tied the game at 1, but Zulia responded with a pair in the bottom half of the inning.

The capital club's roadtrip concludes with a stop in Magallanes. First pitch is at 7:30 Venezuelan time.

LIGA PARALELA

Caracas 9, Navegantes 1

Nestor Tejada finished 1-5 with a run scored for the Little Lions.

Caracas is set to take on La Guaira in a matter of minutes.

LIDOM

Licey 8, Gigantes 6

Domingo Santana hit an RBI double in the 4th, an inning in which Licey scored 4 runs. They matched Gigantes' 3-run 1st with a 3-run 2nd of their own and took the lead with that 4-run 4th. Ruben Sosa appeared as a pinch-runner in the 8th and came around to score.

In the battle for Santo Domingo, Licey will travel to Escogido. First pitch is at 7:30 Atlantic.

LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACÍFICO

Culiacán 5, Los Mochis 3 in 11 innings

Gonzalo Sañudo was the 4th Culiacán pitcher to appear; he struck out 1 in a 1-2-3 7th inning.

Los Tomateros will spend this weekend in Guadalajara, where they'll be taking on Jalisco. First pitch is at 7:00.

Hermosillo 4, Jalisco 0

Speaking of Jalisco, they were held to 2 hits in this shutout. Leo Heras went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts.

LIGA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

San Juan 4, Carolina 0

René Garcia went 0-2 with a walk and a strikeout. Carlos Corporán pinch-hit for him in the 9th and struck out.

Carolina will return to action on Saturday when they travel to Santurce.

Mayagüez 6, Caguas 3

Roberto Peña got the start behind the plate for Caguas and went 2-4.

These two teams will play again tonight at 7:30; the only difference is a change of venue.


Happy Birthday - 11/14

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

RHP Curt Schilling (48)
Originally drafted in the second round of the 1986 draft by Boston, Schilling came to Houston in 1991 in a trade (along with Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch) with the Orioles for Glenn Davis. He only played one season in Houston, pitching in 56 games with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.559 WHIP.  He was traded to the Phillies for Jason Grimsley (sigh). He went on, of course, to be a six-time All-Star and to win three World Series. In 19 post-season starts, Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.968 WHIP. (Heavy sigh.)

RHP Kent Bottenfield (46)
A fourth round pick by the Expos in 1986, Bottenfield came to Houston as a free agent in January of 2001. In 13 games pitched for the Astros in 2001, at the end of his career, he was 2-5 with a 6.40 ERA and a 1.481 WHIP. His best season was his 1999 All-Star season when he went 18-7 for the Cardinals.

Tweet of the Day

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quick 21U World Cup update:


The top 2 teams in the Super Round Robin standings will advance to the championship game.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE


Glendale 5, Salt River 4

Mark Appel got the start for Salt River and allowed a solo homer to Scott Schebler in the 2nd. He went 5 innings and allowed 2 other hits, walked 1, and struck out 4. Tyson Perez was charged with the loss after the Desert Dogs got 2 runs off of him in the top of the 9th. Those 2 runs were unearned; Perez pitched 2 innings and allowed 3 hits.

Rio Ruiz, the only Astro batter in the Rafters lineup, hit an RBI double in the 3rd.

In the AFL season finale, the Rafters will take on Scottsdale at 12:35 Mountain. With a 17-10-4 record, the Salt River Rafters have won the East division, which means that they will be playing in Saturday afternoon's AFL Championship Game.

LIGA VENEZOLANA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL

Zulia 8, Caracas 3

Both teams ended the 1st inning in a 2-2 tie, but Zulia ended up finishing the game on a 6-1 run to get the win. L.J. Hoes got the start for Caracas in CF; he went 1-4, and that 1 hit was a double. Danry Vásquez finished 0-4 with a strikeout; he started in left field.

Both of these teams will play again tonight. First pitch is at 7:30 Venezuelan time.

LIDOM

Águilas 4, Toros 3

Jonathan Villar went 0-4 with a walk and 2 strikeouts, one night after smacking 2 homers. For Toros, Teoscar Hernandez went 0-2.

Both teams are off today; they'll both be back in action tomorrow. Toros will host Estrellas, and Águilas will take on their bitter rivals, Gigantes.

Licey 7, Gigantes 5

Ruben Sosa appeared as a pinch-runner in the 8th for Licey and scored. Jandel Gustave threw a 1-2-3 7th for Gigantes.

These two teams will play again at 7:30 Atlantic.

LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACÍFICO

Culiacán 1, Los Mochis 0

Gonzalo Sañudo faced 1 batter in the 7th and got him out.

The series finale will take place at 7:30 Mountain.

Jalisco 8, Hermosillo 5

Los Charros rallied from a 5-1 deficit by scoring the game's final 7 runs, 5 of which came in the 7th. Leo Heras finished 2-3 with an RBI single in that 5-run 7th, walked twice, and scored a run.

These two teams will wrap up their series at 7:30 Mountain.

LIGA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Santurce 2, Caguas 0

Delino DeShields went 1-4 with a run scored for Santurce.

Santurce will be back in action tomorrow when they take on San Juan in a long-standing city rivalry that has been rekindled.

Mayagüez 11, Carolina 9

Jobduan Morales got the start behind the plate for Carolina and finished 1-4 with a walk and a run scored.

Carolina is in San Juan tonight. First pitch is at 7:30 Atlantic.

Catching up with Astros RHP Jordan Jankowski

I first spoke with Astros RHP Jordan Jankowski by phone following his dominant inaugural season for Greeneville's bullpen in 2012. (That interview can be found here.) And I have continued to follow his career closely since then.

In 2013, he started as part of one of the tandem pitching rotations with Quad Cities, but eventually landed back in the bullpen to finish off the season and earned an early August promotion to Lancaster. Fast forward to the 2014 season. Jankowski started the season in the bullpen at Corpus Christi (shown below with the other Bullpen Superheroes).



By late May, he made his way back into the tandem rotation. In 30 games (14 starts) for the season, he had a 3.58 ERA and a 1.074 WHIP. But those numbers don't really tell the story of how dominant he had become by the end of the season. In his final five games (four starts) of the season in August and September, he had a 1.50 ERA, a 0.750 WHIP and 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Jankowski hadn't shown that kind of dominance since his first season. I spoke with him by phone last week and asked him about his 2014 season.

After experiencing some arm soreness earlier in the season that hampered his consistency, Jordan was able to get back on track with help from Corpus Christi Pitching Coach Doug Brocail. According to Jankowski, "I had a little soreness here and there (and) I just wanted to tough it out. When I finally got 100%, me and Coach Brocail were working on some things in the bullpen and it kind of just clicked the last few weeks, and I finally started getting everything together."



Although Jankowski's numbers as a reliever are better than his starting stats, he has definitely more than held his own in a starting role. And he likes being seen for the flexibility of being able to handle either role. Jordan told me, "I just like that they trust me (to come in) from the bullpen later in the game and also trust me (to start). Hopefully it shows that I'm more versatile than some people think."

As to what, specifically, he was working on this past season, Jankowski said, "Working with Coach Brocail, we really worked on my fastball command, locating on both sides of the plate. Halfway through the year, I kind of lost my slider and my curveball, and we slowly worked on getting (those) back. And we finally got it to click. Also, we were working on a split change. At the end of the year, lefties were giving me a tough time because I didn't have a changeup. I actually went back to a grip I was using in high school." His college coach made him stop using the pitch, but Brocail was willing to let Jankowski work with it. Jankowski continued, "The more I threw it, the better and better it got. It actually became my best pitch to lefties. I'm going to keep working on it in the off season to get more confidence in it."

As far as what Jankowski feels he needs to do to keep making forward progress, he said, "I think just repeating my delivery on all of my pitches is one thing to work on. I need to pick up where I left off that last six weeks."

His goal is simple: stay healthy and be consistent for the whole season. If he can do that, I feel certain that he will keep moving forward and will continue to open some eyes.

Thank you for your time, Jordan, and best of luck in the 2015 season.

Astros Arizona Fall League Game 31 Eyewitness Report

This will be the last of Wallee Wright's missives for the time being, but I hope he will re-join us for next year's AFL season. I, for one, have truly enjoyed his unique voice and great humor.

Thank you, kind sir!


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Mark Appel was not dominant, but he was formidable for five innings last night, leaving the game with a 4-1 lead … Appel gave up three hits, one an absolute no-doubter bomb to right center field by Dodger farmhand Scott Schebler, struck out four, walked one, and bruised another. He appeared to have no problems from the stretch, though he had blessedly few opportunities to pitch from the stretch … apart from coming out a little cold in the second, Mark was very quick and efficient, throwing sixty-four pitches, forty-five for strikes.

Rio Ruiz was the only other Astros starter last night, going one-for-four with a double, RBI, and whiff on offense … but defensively Rio got caught on a short hop in the top of the ninth and his error allowed the tying run to reach behind Tyson Perez. A single and a base clearing triple hung the 5-4 loss on Tyson, though neither run was earned … and with that my tour of duty as your intrepid reporter on all things AFL came to a close.

I want to thank Jayne for the opportunity to write a little, and Dustin for his patience with my horning in on his turf … I hope everyone appreciates just how much Jayne and Dustin put into this gig of theirs, and how much poorer we would be without their efforts – can you imagine having to get information out of the front office, or worse yet, the Chronicle?

~ Wallee Wright ~

Happy Birthday - 11/13

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Chris Devenski (24)
Originally drafted in the 25th round by the White Sox in 2011 out of Cal State Fullerton, Devenski came to the Astros organization as the PTBNL in the 2012 Brett Myers trade. Devenski split his 2014 season between Lancaster and Corpus Christi. In 27 games (16 starts), he had a 4.04 ERA and a 1.127 WHIP. In 118 innings of work, he walked 30 while striking out 114.

LHP J.D. Osborne (24)
Drafted by Houston in the 36th round in 2013 out of Wofford College in Spartenburg, South Carolina, Osborne started his season with Lancaster, but ended it in the Gulf Coast League. In 36 bullpen appearances, he had a 7.77 ERA and a 1.986 WHIP.



Tweet of the Day

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A quick note regarding the IBAF 21U World Cup: I've been informed by Ian Madden, Lachlan Madden's father, that Australia did qualify for the super round-robin stage of the tournament, as the top 3 teams in each group in the opening round advanced. I got thrown off because it was an 11-team tournament and didn't know if the top 2 advanced or the top 3.

The tournament continues tomorrow with the Super Round Robin. Team Australia will take on the hosts, Taiwan Chinese Taipei, at 6:30 P.M. Taipei time. That's 4:30 A.M. in Houston.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Please forgive my laziness. Also, I'm in a bit of a rush this morning. Here is Mr. Wallee Wright's eyewitness report of yesterday's game, which ended in a 4-4 tie between Salt River and Peoria.

In the penultimate game of the AFL season, the Rafters will host Glendale in the late game. First pitch is at 6:35 Mountain.

LIGA VENEZOLANA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL

Caracas 4, Lara 2

The capital club got 3 in the top of the 8th to break a 1-1 tie. L.J. Hoes went 2-5 out of the leadoff spot, while Danry Vásquez finished 0-4.

Caracas will now spend the next couple of days in Maracaibo as they face Zulia. First pitch is at 7:30 Venezuelan time.

LIGA PARALELA

Caracas 9, Tampa Bay 5

Nestor Tejada got the start in LF for Caracas and finished 2-5.

The Little Lions will host Lara later this morning at 11:00 A.M. Venezuelan time.

LIDOM

Licey 4, Estrellas 1

After a bit of a slow start to the fall/winter, Domingo Santana seems to be getting back up to speed. He finished 1-4 and is now working on a modest 3-game hitting streak.

Licey will now begin a home-and-away tilt with Gigantes. The away portion is first; first pitch is at 7:30 Atlantic.

Toros 8, Águilas 5

5 Águilas errors doomed them in this one. I never played baseball, but... if your team's run and error totals are the same, then that's usually not a good sign.

Big night for Jonathan Villar, as he finished 3-4 with 2 solo homers and 3 runs scored for Águilas. Those 2 blasts are his first of the LIDOM campaign.

For Toros, Teoscar Hernandez entered the game as a pinch-runner for Tommy Medica in the 8th and came around to score. He remained in the game at LF and did not appear at the plate.

Change of venue; Toros will host Águilas at 7:30 Atlantic.

LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACÍFICO

Jalisco 11, Hermosillo 2

Leo Heras absolutely wrecked Hermosillo pitching with a 3-homer night, his 2nd multi-homer game of the LMP season. He opened up the scoring with a solo shot in the 4th and then proceeded to club a 3-run homer in the 7th, and he topped off his outstanding performance with a 2nd solo shot in the 9th. The 3 homers give him 7 on the year, putting him in 2nd place behind Japhet Amador's 9 blasts.

Jalisco and Hermosillo will play again at 7:30 Mountain.

LIGA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Santurce 4, Mayagüez 1

Delino DeShields finished 2-3 for Santurce as they got 2 runs in the 3rd and 4th innings to top Mayagüez.

Tonight, Santurce will play host to Caguas. First pitch is at 7:30 Atlantic.

San Juan 5, Carolina 4 in 10 innings

For Carolina, Carlos Corporán finished 1-4 before he was lifted for a pinch-runner, Jobduan Morales, in the 6th. Morales, who remained in the game as the DH, went 0-1.

Nolan Fontana was San Juan's DH and finished 0-3 with a sac fly in the 2nd.

San Juan will return to action tomorrow when they host Carolina again. Carolina, on the other hand, will be in Mayagüez tonight for a game at 7:30 Atlantic.

Astros Arizona Fall League Game 30 Eyewitness Report

As Wallee Wright witnesses, the Joe Sclafani show continues in the AFL, as "Super Joe" evolves from a Taxi Squad player to one of the stars of the league!

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For the fourth time in 30 games, and the second time versus the Peoria Javelinas, the Salt River Rafters played to an eleven-inning tie Tuesday afternoon … the 4-4 tie was not the only oddity today, however, as I’m still searching for the last instance of a right fielder falling over a bullpen fence – facilitating an inside-the-park home run for the Rafters’ shortstop batting in the nine-hole today.

Yesterday I said that Joe Sclafani was only average in the outfield … my bad. The games leadoff batter, Mark Appel’s personal nemesis, Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor, smoked a shot down the left field line for a sure-fire double … Sclafani fielded the ball and threw a perfect strike a second baseman Trevor Story who made an outstanding play of his own to nail Lindor sliding into the bag – Story allowed the ball to come to his glove at the bag rather than reaching out for it and then trying for a swipe tag on Lindor. A splendid job all around on the play … except, perhaps, on Lindor’s part.

First batter of the second inning Rio Ruiz, starting at third today, laid out to his glove side to flag down a shot from Tampa Bay’s Patrick Leonard then scrambled to his feet to throw the not overly speedy first baseman out at first … Rio demonstrating far more energy early than in his last outing. Ruiz continues to be in a horrid slump, going hitless again today … but in the fifth Rio smoked a fly ball all the way to the left center field warning track, the best hit ball from Ruiz’ bat in several days.

After two entertaining innings the Rafters made a pitching change that became a game changer as well … the Twinkies Taylor Rogers was replaced by Colorado’s Nelson Gonzalez who promptly sucked all the life out of the Salt River squad. For an inning and two-thirds that felt more like a millennium Gonzalez slowly, tediously, and deliberately delivered thirty-five pitches good for five hits and three runs … and nearly a thousand slumbering baseball fans. Clearly, at some point in his career a pitching coach told him to slow down his delivery … perhaps the intent was lost in the translation for the hard-throwing Dominican.

Finally the Rafter management had seen enough and went to the ‘pen for relief … Mitch Lambson came on and shut down the Javelinas on just 33 pitches over the next two and a third innings, striking out three, and resuscitating not only the Rafters but the slumbering fans as well.

For four and two-third innings the Rafters sleep walked through at bats against Cleveland’s Dylan Baker … Max Kepler finally broke up the no hitter with a solid single, followed by a Ryan Casteel walk and Rio Ruiz’ long fly to left center field to close the inning. Baker was sterling today, throwing 68 pitches over five innings, giving up just the one hit and two walks. In the bottom of the seventh the Rafters finally awakened from their slumber and pulled ahead, scoring four runs on a pair of doubles, a single and the inside-the-park homer from light-hitting Justin Bohn … only to have the Javs come back in the top of the eighth to tie on a double and single.

In the bottom of the eighth inning Joe Sclafani stroked a double, moved to third on an out and then was stranded there following a pitching change … but then in the bottom of the eleventh Joe led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and following a strikeout went to third on a fly ball out to center. But once again Joe died at third as Ryan Casteel struck out to end the game … Sclafani is now slashing .357/.426/.524 with only 42 at bats, at least five fewer than would be required to be eligible for the batting crown but tops on the Salt River Rafters – including Eddie Rosario’s .348, which leads the league.

~ Wallee Wright ~

Happy Birthday - 11/12

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

LHP Joe Hoerner (died October 4, 1996 at age 59)
Drafted from the White Sox in the 1961 minor league expansion draft, Hoerner pitched only 14 innings over eight games for the Colt 45's in 1963 and 1964 before being picked up by the Cardinals in the Rule 5 draft in 1965.  Hoerner was later involved in the Curt Flood trade which led eventually to overturning the reserve clause and expanding free agency. His best years were with St. Louis in the late 60's (4 seasons with a 2.10 ERA and a 1.019 WHIP in 206 appearances), but he also had strong seasons with Philadelphia leading to his only All-Star appearance in 1970.

RHP Mark Small (died October 22, 2013 at 45)
A 17th round draft pick by Houston in 1989, he pitched in 10 games for Houston in 1996 with a 5.92 ERA and a 1.890 WHIP. That was his only major league experience.

C Randy Knorr (46)
Originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the 10th round in 1986, Knorr was purchased by Houston from the Blue Jays in May of 1996. In 54 games played for the Astros in 1996, 1997 and 1999, he hit .200/.241/.296. He has been the bench coach for the Washington Nationals since 2012.

Tweet of the Day

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Monday, November 10, 2014

IBAF 21U WORLD CUP

Australia 14, Venezuela 1 in 7 innings

W- Aaron Thompson (1-0)
L- Francisco Chaparro (0-1)

Australia HRs by Astros players: None.

The Aussies run-ruled Venezuela to finish 2-2 in the opening round. Connor MacDonald and Jared Cruz both appeared as pinch-hitters; MacDonald singled and scored, while Cruz flied out in the 6th. Lachlan Madden struck out 1 in a 1-2-3 7th to close it out.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like they qualified for the Super Round Robin portion of the tournament.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Salt River 8, Scottsdale 4

W- Christian Bergman (2-0)
L- Tom Harlan (0-4)
S- Enrique Burgos (4)

Salt River HRs by Astros players: None.

The Rafters led wire-to-wire and put up 4 in the bottom of the 8th for a little insurance. You never know... the Scorpions scored 3 in the top of the 9th.

Joe Sclafani finished 2-3 with a couple of RBI singles, a walk, and 2 runs scored. He's now on a 9-game hitting streak, which has now pushed his average to .351.

The Rafters will host Peoria this afternoon at 2:35 Mountain.

LIDOM

Toros 15, Escogido 2

Teoscar Hernandez entered the game as a defensive replacement in the 7th and struck out in his only at-bat.

Toros will take on Águilas tonight at 7:30 Atlantic.

Águilas 6, Licey 4

For Licey, Domingo Santana finished 1-4 with an RBI single in the top of the 9th. Jonathan Villar was 0-4 with a strikeout at the bottom of the Águilas lineup.

Licey will travel east to take on Estrellas at 7:30 Atlantic.

LIGA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Santurce 10, San Juan 1

All Santurce as they busted open what was a 1-1 game wide open with 5 in the 4th and 4 more in the 8th.

Delino DeShields got the start in LF for Santurce and while he did go 0-3, he still found a way to make an impact on the proceedings as he walked twice, stole 2 bases (2), and scored a run.

Santurce is in Mayagüez for a game at 7:30 Atlantic.

Caguas 6, Carolina 5

Caguas scored 4 in the bottom of the 9th to walk off with the victory as they took full advantage of having the bases loaded. Rey Navarro delivered with the game-winning RBI single to score former Astro Angel Sanchez.

Carlos Corporán had a double in 4 at-bats for Caguas.

Caguas will be back in action tomorrow evening as they take on Santurce.

Astros Arizona Fall League Game 29 Eyewitness Report

Wallee is back with his thoughts on your Astros in the Arizona Fall League and his man crush for Joe Sclafani is getting stronger!

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Joe Sclafani was instrumental today in the Salt River Rafters’ clinching of the Arizona Fall League East crown … Joe went two-for-three, scored two, drove in two and had a walk and a whiff in the Rafters’ 8-4 win over the hapless Scottsdale Scorpions. The Mesa Solar Sox did their part in the clinching process by losing their third game in a row and will have to settle for second place … the Scottsdale squad, loaded with Yankees’, Mets’, Phillies’, Pirates’ and World Champion San Francisco Giant prospects are on their way to a twenty loss campaign in a thirty game league – what ever happened to East Coast baseball that they can’t buy a championship any more?

Sclafani, hitting eighth and DHing this afternoon, is now hitting .351 for his 42 appearances in ten games this fall … you’ll recall he was a ‘taxi squad’ member of the Rafter roster, eligible to suit up Wednesdays and Saturdays only – but Tyler Heineman’s eye infection cleared the way, apparently, for Joe to assume a regular roster spot. His DH role today might indicate that Miami Manager Andy Haines may be intent upon allowing Joe to accumulate sufficient At Bats to qualify for the batting title … then again, Joe’s presence might simply be a reminder to the other middle infielders on the roster that there’s always someone who can take your place – they did display some slick work with the leather today, until the ninth inning that is. Joe was the only Astro to make it onto the field today … Andrew Aplin was a last minute scratch from the leadoff position.

The Peoria Javelinas come to Salt River Field tomorrow … the Rafters are only 3-2 versus the Javelinas this fall. Peoria, Surprise and Glendale are locked in a virtual dead heat coming to the final three games of the fall … Peoria has a half-game lead on Surprise, and a two-game lead on Glendale, who visit Salt River Wednesday evening. Our Rafters can most likely hand the AFL West title to Surprise, against whom we’re 4-1-1 this fall, by beating both Peoria and Glendale.

The Rafters will be in the televised AFL Championship game this Saturday from Scottsdale Stadium … since it is impossible to get to Scottsdale Stadium early enough to secure a parking place within a half-mile of the stadium I’ll be watching the televised version with the rest of y’all - with any kind of luck, an Astro may even participate in the contest, though it will not be Mark Appel who is throwing Wednesday night. The highly touted top D-back prospect, Archie Bradley, who has been slapped around a bit, should throw on Thursday leaving the Championship game to Miami’s Anthony DeSclafani, who truly deserves the honor … but as we have seen previously with the Fall Star selections, worthiness is not a requisite for selection in MLB land.

~ Wallee Wright ~

Happy Birthday - 11/11

Happy Birthday to ~

LHP Tommy Shirley (26)
Originally from Pennsylvania, Shirley was drafted in the ninth round in 2010 out of Xavier University. Shirley had a breakout season in 2014, starting the year in AA Corpus Christi and ending it in AAA Oklahoma City. In 30 games (16 starts), he had a 2.53 ERA and a 1.099 WHIP. He walked 32 and struck out 100 in 117.1 innings of work.

OF Andy Pineda (18)
An international signing out of the Dominican Republic, Pineda played his first professional season with the Dominican Summer League team, hitting .279/.384/.312 in 65 games.

Bullpen Catcher Javier Bracamonte (45)
Bracamonte has been a bullpen catcher for the Astros since 2001 and is genuinely one of the nicest, friendliest people you would ever want to know.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

CF Scott Loucks (58)
A fifth round pick by Houston in 1977, Loucks played in 69 games scattered over 1980 to 1983 hitting .260/.308/.288. In July 1984, he was traded to the Montreal Expos for Brad Mills (yes, that Brad Mills).

C/1B J. R. House (35)
Originally drafted by the Pirates in the fifth round in 1999, House came to Houston as a free agent in 2006 and again in 2008. In four games in 2006 and three games in 2008 for the Astros, he never got a hit. However, in 12 seasons of minor league and independent ball, he hit .300/.361/.470. After believing his baseball career to be over due to injuries, he enrolled in West Virginia University and played football for a season in 2005 before coming back to baseball in 2006. In 2012, he became a hitting coach in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system and managed their Short Season A team in 2014.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Saturday, November 8, 2014

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Peoria 7, Salt River 4

W- Nick Maronde (1-1)
L- Reid Redman (2-1)
S- Sam Tuivailala (5)

Salt River HRs by Astros players: None.

The Rafters came undone late in the game as they surrendered 3 in the top of the 7th and lost the lead by allowing the Javelinas to follow that up with a 4-run 8th.

Rio Ruiz opened up the scoring with an RBI single in the 1st. Joe Sclafani went 2-3 with a double and 2 runs scored, while Andrew Aplin finished 0-2 with a walk.

LIGA VENEZOLANA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL

Caracas 13, La Guaira 7

W- Victor Larez (3-1)
L- Arlett Mavare (1-2)
S- Kyler Newby (1)

Caracas HRs by Astros players: None.

Caracas busted out for a 12-4 lead after 4 innings in this one. L.J. Hoes had a bases-loaded walk in the 2nd and added a 2-run single in the 4th, which turned out to be his only hit of the evening.

LIDOM

Licey 8, Estrellas 1

W- Gabriel Arias (1-1)
L- Stolmy Pimentel (0-1)

Asher Wojciechowski made his first appearance for Licey in a week, and started off the game by allowing a hit and striking out 1 over 2 scoreless.

Águilas 7, Escogido 0

W- Angel Castro (2-1)
L- Rafael Montero (0-1)

Águilas HRs by Astros players: None.

Jonathan Villar went 1-2 with a walk and a run scored as Águilas got the shutout win.

Toros 3, Gigantes 2

W- Dylan Axelrod (3-0)
L- Brooks Raley (0-3)
S- Jose Valverde (3)

Toros HRs by Astros players: None.

Teoscar Hernandez drew a walk and struck out in both of his at-bats.

LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACÍFICO

Jalisco 4, Mexicali 3

W- Hugo Castellanos (1-1)
L- Mario Meza (1-1)
S- Brian Broderick (8)

Jalisco HRs by Astros players: None.

Leo Heras went 1-5 for Jalisco, who broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the 7th.

LIGA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Caguas 14, San Juan 3

W- Eddy Ramos (1-0)
L- Eddie Camacho (0-1)

Caguas HRs by Astros players: None.
San Juan HRs by Astros players: None.

Caguas erased a 3-2 deficit in the last third of the game by running absolutely wild with 12 unanswered in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. Roberto Peña entered the game as a defensive replacement in the 7th and went 0-2 with a run scored. For San Juan, Nolan Fontana was 1-3 with a walk.

Carolina 9, Mayagüez 2

W- Giancarlo Alvarado (1-1)
L- Jesse Biddle (0-1)

Carolina HRs by Astros players: None.

Carolina opened up with 5 runs in the 1st and never looked back.

René Garcia smacked a 2-run double in that 1st inning, and Carlos Corporán brought him home with a single. Garcia also scored 2 runs and drew a walk.

Results for Sunday, November 9, 2014

LVBP

La Guaira 6, Caracas 0

W- Edgmer Escalona (2-1)
L- Victor Sanchez (2-1)

Caracas HRs by Astros players: None.

This loss was the final straw for Astros hitting coach Dave Hudgens, who was relieved of his duties as Caracas manager. L.J. Hoes went 1-4.

After a day off, Caracas will kick off a road trip. The first stop is Barquisimeto, where they will take on the Cardinals of Lara tomorrow.

LIDOM

Águilas 7, Licey 5

W- Tony Peña (1-1)
L- John Lannan (1-2)
S- Matt Ramsey (4)

Águilas HRs by Astros players: None.
Licey HRs by Astros players: None.

3 in the 2nd and 2 in the 3rd was the difference for Águilas. Jonathan Villar went 1-4. Domingo Santana finished 3-4 with 2 triples and a run scored for Licey.

Both teams will play again; the only difference is a change of venue. First pitch is at 5:00 Atlantic.

Escogido 8, Toros 7

W- Carlos Pimentel (2-1)
L- Jose Valverde (0-1)
S- Enny Romero (1)

Toros HRs by Astros players: None.

Toros took the lead with a 6-run 5th, but Escogido saved their big inning for the 9th as they put up 4 to re-take the lead.

Teoscar Hernandez entered the game in the 8th as a defensive substitution and went 0-1.

Again, both teams will play each other at 5:00 Atlantic.

Gigantes 5, Estrellas 4

W- Ramon Ramirez (2-0)
L- Ramon Benjamin (0-1)

Jandel Gustave was the 3rd Gigantes pitcher to appear. He pitched an inning, getting the final out of the 5th and the first 2 outs of the 6th. Gustave allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 2.

And yes... both of these teams will play each other at 5:00 Atlantic.

LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACÍFICO

Mexicali 8, Jalisco 1

W- Javier Solano (4-0)
L- Ben Kozlowski (0-2)

Jalisco HRs by Astros players: None.

Leo Heras scored Jalisco's first and only run of the game in the top of the 9th to spoil the Mexicali shutout.

After getting today off, Jalisco will travel to Hermosillo for 3 games starting tomorrow.

Culiacán 2, Mazatlán 0

W- Marco Camarena (1-0)
L- Walter Silva (3-1)

Gonzalo Sañudo was the first man out of the Culiacán bullpen; he allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 3 over 1.1 scoreless.

Culiacán will begin a 3-game set with Los Mochis tomorrow.

LIGA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Carolina 8, Santurce 2

W- Mario Santiago (1-0)
L- Joel Piñeiro (0-1)

Carolina HRs by Astros players: None.
Santurce HRs by Astros players: None.

Carolina outscored Santurce 4-2 in the 5th to go along with their 2-run 2nd and 9th innings. René Garcia went 0-4, while Jobduan Morales finished 2-4 with a double and 2 runs scored for Carolina.

Delino DeShields was 0-4 with a strikeout and an outfield assist for Santurce.

Tonight, Carolina will travel to take on Caguas at 7:30 Atlantic, while Santurce will take on San Juan in a city rivalry rekindled. First pitch for that game is 8:30 Atlantic.


Updated Rule 5 Draft Info

It's time for an update on the Rule 5 Draft situation for the Astros. As it stands right now, the Astros 40-man roster consists of 38 players. Here are the players who are subject to being taken in the Rule 5 draft (as best I can determine) if they are not protected on the 40-man roster by November 20th. [Note that there are a few players that I think are minor league free agents, but they haven't been designated as such by Baseball America or MiLB.com.]

UPDATE: The players that I thought might be free agents are not. With that said, Jason Stoffel should be added to the list of relief pitchers who would be attractive targets in the Rule 5 draft. In addition, I've been told that Gonzalo Sanudo is NOT Rule 5 eligible this year.

AAA Position Players
3B Matt Duffy
IF Jio Mier
IF/OF Ruben Sosa
2B Ronald Torreyes

AAA Pitchers
RHP Richard Rodriguez
LHP Tommy Shirley
RHP Jason Stoffel (Free Agent?)

AA Position Players
OF Delino DeShields
1B/OF Brandon Meredith
3B Jonathan Meyer
1B Telvin Nash

AA Pitchers
RHP R.J. Alaniz (On Restricted List)
LHP Colton Cain
RHP Chris Devenski
LHP Mitch Lambson
RHP Tyson Perez
LHP David Rollins
RHP Kyle Weiland

Position Players at High A or lower
2B Jose Fernandez
C Alfredo Gonzalez (not on list posted by Brian McTaggart)
OF Ydarqui Marte
SS Chan Moon
C Jobduan Morales (Free Agent?)
OF Ariel Ovando
C Roberto Pena
OF Jordan Scott
OF Jose Solano
OF Danry Vasquez

Pitchers at High A or lower
RHP Agapito Barrios
RHP Jamaine Cotton
LHP Ambiorix de Leon
RHP Michael Feliz
RHP Edison Frias
LHP Evan Grills
LHP Reymin Guduan
RHP Jandel Gustave
RHP Angel Heredia
RHP Krishawn Holley
RHP Juan Minaya (Free Agent?)
RHP Jose Montero
RHP Francis Ramirez (Free Agent?)
RHP Gonzalo Sanudo
LHP Blaine Sims
RHP Frederick Tiburcio (Free Agent?)
RHP Vincent Velasquez
RHP Andrew Walter

DL
RHP Jonas Dufek

In addition, these minor league free agents will be out of the system if not re-signed by the Astros.

Minor League Free Agents
RHP Jose Cisnero
RHP Paul Clemens
C Rene Garcia
RHP Murilo Gouvea
RHP David Martinez
LHP Rudy Owens
IF Carlos Perdomo
RHP Ross Seaton
LHP Patrick Urckfitz

If I were in the Astros front office, I would do everything in my power to protect two players, RHP Vince Velasquez and LHP Tommy Shirley.

Shirley is the closest to being ready for prime time, having dominated at AA Corpus Christi before his promotion to AAA Oklahoma City in mid-July. After a couple of tough starts at the latter level, Shirley was moved to the bullpen to control his innings and dominated in that role as well.

Velasquez is not quite as ready for the main stage, but his top of the rotation potential is not something with which I would take a chance. Had he not missed significant time to a groin injury in 2014, he would certainly have been promoted to Corpus Christi during the year. If he stays healthy, he will likely start the season at Corpus Christi, receive an in-season promotion to AAA Fresno and be in the mix for a September call-up in 2015. That's close enough that it warrants his protection on the 40-man roster.

RHP Michael Feliz will likely be considered for protection as well, but he is a little further off from being major-league ready. I would be more concerned with losing relief pitchers RHP Tyson Perez and LHP Mitch Lambson since relief pitchers are much easier to keep on a 40-man roster for a season than position players and starting pitchers. Also both pitchers are currently being showcased in the Arizona Fall League and are comporting themselves admirably.

As to position players, there are two players in particular that may be of interest to other teams, 1B/3B Matt Duffy and C Roberto Peña.

Duffy has largely flown under the radar, but he has always hit very consistently throughout his career (.293/.367/.468 over his career). His defense at third base has improved considerably over the years and after his late May promotion to AAA Oklahoma City, he played significant time at first base adding to his versatility.

Although Peña has not progressed beyond High A, he is an elite defensive catcher. He will be in the major leagues one day. His hitting will determine whether he is a front-line catcher or the back up. In one of my interviews with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, he told me that catchers are really never a target in the Rule 5 draft so Peña will likely be protected on the 38-man AAA reserve list, but not on the 40-man roster.

A case could be made for several other players, including Delino DeShields, Danry Vasquez, Jandel Gustave, Reymin Guduan, Richard Rodriguez and others, but there are only so many roster spots and, at the end of the day, it is very difficult to keep a player who has never played in the major leagues on a 40-man roster for an entire season. Only a handful of players have managed to "stick" with the drafting team over the last few years.

This post explains in more detail how the Rule 5 Draft works, including the minor league phases of the draft. The actual draft will take place on December 11th.

Happy Birthday - 11/10

No future Astros with birthdays today, but one former Astro celebrates the day ~

C Matt Pagnozzi (32)
Originally drafted by the Cardinals in the eighth round in 2003, Pagnozzi was purchased from Atlanta in September 2013 and appeared in nine games for the Astros that month, hitting .143/.182/.143. In 2014, he played for the Brewers AAA affiliate.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Astros Arizona Fall League Game 28 Eyewitness Report

Our intrepid Arizona correspondent, Wallee Wright, filed this brief last night after witnessing a rocky outing by the Salt River Rafters on Saturday afternoon ~

This past Monday the Salt River Rafters sat atop the Arizona Fall League East with a 15-5-3 record and a five game lead over the Mesa Solar Sox … with their 7-4 loss this afternoon to the Peoria Javelinas, the Rafters have lost four of five, three in a row, and could have only a 1.5 game lead over Mesa if they win their evening start [Note from Jayne: Mesa lost and the Rafters retain a 2.5 game lead.]

It’s not the losses that are so amazing, it’s the manner in which the Rafters lost … to wit: on Tuesday Vincent Velasquez injures himself in the first inning and gives up three runs in a 3-1 loss where the Rafters out hit Mesa 7-5; on Wednesday Christian Bergman could go only two outs while giving up four runs but the bullpen went the final 8.1 giving up just two hits in an 8-4 win; Thursday Mark Appel went five scoreless, giving up just a seeing eye ground ball hit, but the bullpen gave up four runs to lose two leads and the game 4-2 in ten; Friday Archie Bradley gave up three runs in four innings but the Rafters came back to tie in the top of the ninth only to lose in the bottom, 5-4; and, today, Anthony DeSclafani went five, giving up only two hits, and left with a 4-0 lead only to see the ‘pen give up seven runs on seven hits in the seventh and eighth to lose the game 7-4.

On a positive note, Joe Sclafani was at second today and, as is his custom when playing second base, Joe was spectacular … getting an ovation from the crowd for a spectacular save of a Ryan Casteel muff to nip Hunter Dozier at first base – an absolutely brilliant play. In addition to that play, Joe was in the middle of two more double plays and on offense went 2-for-3 with a double, drew a walk, and scored two runs and is now hitting .324. It is a damn shame his route to The Show as an Astro at second base is blocked by that Venezuelan fella Jose Altuve because, though Joe can play the outfield, he is just average out in the pasture and something very special at the keystone sack … but you bank on this, Joe will be going to The Show very soon.

Andrew Aplin has become a ball magnet at the plate … he took another one for the team in the bottom of the sixth – then promptly got himself thrown out at second for the fifth time in nine attempts. The HBP and a walk were Andrew’s only base-running opportunities for the day and his batting average has now fallen to .286 … and he has fallen from the top three to seventh in the batting order as a consequence of that production slump.

Rio Ruiz simply looked gassed today … he did get a hit on a ball dumped down the right field line that will frequently go for two bags then held up at first. But it was on defense that Rio seemed out of sync today … Ruiz had four different balls hit through, past, or off him that earlier this year he would have snagged – on the other hand he did initiate two double plays on a very busy day at the hot corner. Rio is in a very deep slump even with his base hit today … he is now below .200.

Were it not for Joe Sclafani the park attendants would have found me this evening in the third base bleachers, face down in my suds … thank you Joe.

~ WalleeWright ~

Happy Birthday - 11/9

Happy Birthday to ~

LHP Christian Perdomo (21)
Perdomo is in his second professional season, having played his first in the Red Sox organization. It appears that he was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of ASA College in Brooklyn. In 17 bullpen appearances for the GCL Astros in 2014, he had a 6.75 ERA and a 1.929 WHIP.

Three former Astros also mark the day ~

RHP Red Witt (died January 30, 2013 at 81)
Witt came to Houston from the Pirates in May 1962 and pitched in eight games for the Colt 45's that season with a 7.04 ERA and a 1.891 WHIP. Witt's major league career was delayed by military service as he served in the Korean War. His best season was for the Pirates in 1958 when he was 9-2 in 18 appearances (15 starts) with a 1.61 ERA and a 1.292 WHIP.

RHP Rick Williams (62)
Signed by Houston as an amateur free agent in 1972, Williams pitched in 48 games (17 starts) for the Astros in 1978 and 1979 with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.314 WHIP.

OF Todd Self (36)
Drafted by Houston in the 15th round in 2000, Self's entire major league career consisted of 21 games played for the Astros in 2005 in which he hit .200/.250/.311.

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