Sunday, October 25, 2015

Astros Farm Report: 10/25

Probably the biggest news to come out this week is that the Astros have already announced the vast majority of their 2016 minor league coaching staff, something that they normally wait until January to make public. More about that in a moment. First let's take a look at this week's birthdays and how the growing ranks of Astros playing fall and winter ball are faring.


10-25: RHP Gabriel Valdez (20)
10-28: OF Brauly Mejia (21)
10-29: RHP Adonis Pena (22)
10-29: 3B/1B/C Tyler White (25)
10-30: SS/2B Ozziel Sanchez-Galan (18)
10-31: 2B/OF Tony Kemp (24)


Here is how the Astros players participating in fall and winter leagues have fared to date (through Saturday, the 24th):

3B J.D. Davis - .133/.188/.333 in 4 games
OF Derek Fisher - .200/.400/.267 in 5 games
IF Chan-Jong Moon - .000/.222/.000 in 2 games
1B A.J. Reed - .200/.385/.300 in 6 games
LHP Chris Cotton - 3.00 ERA/0.667 WHIP in 3 game (3.0IP)
LHP Brian Holmes - 0.00 ERA/0.800 WHIP in 2 games (5.0IP)
LHP Albert Minnis - 3.38 ERA/1.500 WHIP in 2 games (2.2IP)
RHP Keegan Yuhl - 10.13 ERA/1.500 WHIP in 3 games (2.2IP)

Holmes has had the best start by far, but the other pitchers have rebounded from poor first outings.

C Tyler Heineman - .125/.300/.125 in 5 games
1B/DH Tyler White - .333/.481/.714 in 6 games
RHP Jake Buchanan - 0.00 ERA/0.571 WHIP in 2 games (7.0IP)
LHP Reymin Guduan - 0.00 ERA/1.125 WHIP in 3 games (2.2IP)
RHP Jandel Gustave - 0.00 ERA/0.600 WHIP in 2 games (1.2IP)
RHP Angel Heredia - 13.50 ERA/2.500 WHIP in 2 games (2.0IP)
RHP Juan Minaya - 6.75 ERA/1.250 WHIP in 2 games (4.0IP)

Tyler White continues where he left off at the end of the season and is having an excellent start to his Dominican journey, hitting .333/.481/.714 with two doubles, two home runs, six walks, and six RBI in six games. Jake Buchanan has won his first two games and he, Guduan and Gustave haven't allowed an earned run yet.

IF Kristian Trompiz - 2 games as pinch runner; no at-bats (DNP last week; he is playing in the Liga Paralela)
OF Danry Vasquez - .292/.340/.479 in 13 games
RHP James Hoyt - 0.00 ERA/0.818 WHIP in 7 games (7.1IP)

Vasquez has done very nicely as a regular starter for Caracas and Hoyt has yet to allow a run, earned or otherwise in his seven appearances for Lara (one walk to 11 strikeouts).

OF Leo Heras - .400/.600/.600 in 5 games
RHP Enrique Chavez - 9.00 ERA/3.000 WHIP in 1 game (1.0IP) - DNP last week
RHP Jose Hernandez - 0.00 ERA/0.500 WHIP in 1 game (2.0IP)
RHP Juan Robles - 0.00 ERA/0.857 WHIP in 3 games (4.2IP)

Solid starts from Heras, Hernandez and Robles!

C Jake Bowey - .000/.333/.000 in 1 game
IF Jared Cruz - .077/.077/.077 in 4 games
1B Connor MacDonald - .417/.500/.750 in 4 games
IF/OF Marc Wik - .400/.538/.500 in 3 games
RHP Kevin Comer - 40.50 ERA/5.997 WHIP in 1 game (0.2IP)

MacDonald and Wik are off to great starts, but Comer needs a mulligan.


Baseball America posted their 2015 Astros draft report card yesterday and the full article is behind a paywall, but you can read part of it here. Lots of love for Alex Bregman!

In addition to some Astros front office reshuffling as it pertains to the minor leagues, the Astros also announced the 2016 minor league coaching staff last week. In case you missed the post from Thursday, here is the full Astros press release regarding minor league staffing and here are a few items of note:
  • The list is incomplete at this point, notably the rookie level Appy League Greeneville Manager position is currently open with 2015 Greeneville Manager Lamarr Rodgers taking the helm of the Short Season A Tri-City team. Rodgers led the 2015 Appy Astros team to a League Championship and he will be replacing Ed Romero who was non-renewed following the 2015 season.
  • Dyar Miller will be taking over as Pitching Coach for the AAA Fresno Grizzlies as 2015 Grizzlies Pitching Coach Ace Adams moves to Tri-City in Troy, New York, bringing the Massachusetts native much closer to his home turf. Adams will be taking over for 2015 Tri-City Pitching Coach Chris Holt as Holt moves to that position for Greeneville. Josh Miller, the 2015 Greeneville Pitching Coach, will be moved to a coordinator position.
  • Michael Burns, a former Astros relief pitcher and a rehab coach in the Astros system for the last two seasons, is taking over as Pitching Coach for the High A Lancaster JetHawks team, a position that was formerly held by Don Alexander, a long time Astros minor league coach who was non-renewed after the 2015 season. We wish him luck in handling one of the hardest coaching positions in the Astros system!
  • Erik Abreu, a former Astros minor leaguer who was well respected by his peers, coaches and managers during his playing days, moves from coaching in the Dominican Summer League and will become the Pitching Coach for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Astros team.
  • Dave Borkowski (Quad Cities) and Doug Brocail (Corpus Christi) are the only two domestic pitching coaches who will remain with their 2015 teams. However, it was reported earlier this week that Brocail is being considered by Detroit Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus as a candidate for Pitching Coach for that team.
  • Other than the Manager changes for Tri-City and Greeneville, the other managers (at least for the domestic teams) will remain in place as will the Hitting Coaches at all but the Gulf Coast League team.
  • Also of note is that Wladimir Sutil will be back working with Josh Bonifay as he joins the Quad Cities coaching staff after a season with the Gulf Coast League team. Sutil, a former Astros minor leaguer, coached under Bonifay with the 2014 Greeneville Astros team. It appears from the outside that Bonifay is mentoring Sutil as the Astros groom him to be a possible internal minor league manager candidate at some point.
  • And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the creation of a new position to be manned by Astros minor league coach Morgan Ensberg, that of "mindset coach." It is just the latest example of the Astros front office thinking outside the box. I will be interested in seeing how the position plays out. If it works out, perhaps the Astros front office will finally consider my suggestion from a while back of hiring me as the minor league player ombudsman. I won't hold my breath, though.
But that brings me to my thoughts on this next story that came out this week ...

For every top draft pick that gets a big payday, there are dozens and dozens of minor league players who get very little when they sign. And they get even less going forward as they are paid well below minimum wage as the trade-off for chasing their dreams. A lawsuit filed by former minor league players in February 2014 with respect to the minor league wage structure received a boost this week as a District Court in San Francisco ruled that the suit could be certified as a class action suit and would be open to current and former minor league players.

The concept that minor league baseball should be unpaid or paid only far below minimum wage as an internship or apprenticeship belies the fact that the players have to find a roof over their heads, transportation to the ballpark and the funds to eat healthy, nutritional meals that will help them perform at a high level. Imagine making the low end $1100 a month and having to do all of that (and, oh, by the way, don't forget to pay your clubhouse dues out of that amount). And if you come from a poor family who can't help support you and/or if you don't even speak the language ... oh well.

Yes, there are many players who love the game so much that they would play for free just to get the chance to make it professionally. And, yes, major league baseball will continue to take advantage of those players and that mindset. But just because the powers that be can take advantage of that fact doesn't mean that it's a morally sound business practice. There is enough money being made in baseball to throw a crumb to the minor league players (and NOT at the expense of the minor league team ownership). And if the players made just a tiny bit more, they probably wouldn't need a minor league ombudsman. Just sayin'.

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