Friday, June 24, 2016

Meet the GCL Astros

It's time to meet the Gulf Coast League Astros! They will begin their 2016 season on the road as they take on the Nationals at noon Eastern on Saturday.

The GCL is a complex league, which means that this team is located at the Astros' Spring Training complex in Kissimmee, Florida. However, the actual games take place on the back fields of Osceola County Stadium.

2015 was a struggle for the GCL Astros; with the youngest squad in the league, they stumbled to a 19-41 record, which was the second-worst mark in the league. Without a doubt, the GCL Astros took their lumps and went through plenty of growing pains last year.

The GCL re-aligned its divisions before the season; the Astros are now in the GCL East division with the Cardinals, Marlins, Mets, and Nationals.

The roster is a mix of Dominican Summer League players who are making their U.S. debuts; a few of these players started the 2016 season in the DSL. Some members of the 2016 draft class will make their pro debuts on the back fields of the Grapefruit League stadiums. There are also a handful of players who are returning to the GCL, as well.

And now, meet the 2016 Gulf Coast League Astros! Forrest Whitley, the Astros' 1st-round pick from this year's MLB Draft, is not listed on the roster, which I've pulled from MiLB.com, but he will begin his professional career in the GCL this season.

As always, you can learn more about these players by purchasing the 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook on Amazon. Trust me, this book definitely comes in handy, especially at the lower levels of the Astros system.

Italics - Player bats/pitches left-handed.
Asterisk - Player is a switch hitter.

Coaching Staff

Manager - Marty Malloy
Hitting Coach - Luis Mateo
Pitching Coach - Erick Abreu

Two coaches from last year's DSL Blue staff will join Marty Malloy this season. Malloy is in his 3rd season at the helm of the Kissimmee Stros.

Signed as an undrafted free agent in 1992 by the Braves, Malloy made his Major League debut in 1998 with Atlanta, appearing in 11 games. He re-appeared in the big leagues in 2002 with the Marlins, playing 28 games for them.

Luis Mateo was the DSL Blue team's hitting coach in 2015, and he will reprise that role with the GCL club in 2016. Mateo played as an outfielder from 1999-2005 in the Devil Rays organization and reached AA in his final season. He also has Texas ties, apparently, as he attended Hill College in Hillsboro.

Erick Abreu was the pitching coach for the DSL Blue team last season. Originally signed by the Yankees in 2003, he was a member of the Astros organization from 2008-12, spending the bulk of his time with Corpus Christi.

In addition, Rachel Balkovec is on the staff as the strength and conditioning coach. She is the first woman to serve as a strength and conditioning coach in professional baseball. If I'm not mistaken, she is also currently the only woman in affiliated professional baseball who is serving as a coach in any capacity.

Italics - player bats/throws left-handed.
Asterisk - player is a switch-hitter.


Pitchers

Bryan Abreu - International free agent (DR), 2013; DSL Orange
Jorge Alcala - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Blue
Dariel Aquino - International free agent (DR), 2013; DSL Blue/GCL
Chad Donato - 11th round, 2016 draft, West Virginia; pro debut, currently on DL
Junior Garcia - International free agent (DR), 2014; GCL
Jorge Guzman - International free agent (DR), 2014 - DSL Orange/DSL Blue/GCL
Ian Hardman - 36th round, 2016 draft, Seminole State College (Oklahoma); pro debut
Cristian Javier - International free agent (DR), 2015; DSL Orange/Blue
Reggie Johnson - NDFA, 2016, Hampden-Sydney College; pro debut
Enoli Paredes - International free agent (DR), 2015; pro debut
Hansel Paulino - International free agent (DR), 2014; started 3 games with DSL Orange team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
Moreno Polanco - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL/Greeneville
Jose Ramos - International free agent (Panama), 2013; appeared in 3 games with DSL Orange team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
Juan Robles - International free agent (Mexico), 2014; DSL Orange/GCL/Quad Cities
Leovanny Rodriguez - International free agent (DR), 2015; started 3 games with DSL Blue team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
César Rosado - International free agent (DR), 2014; started 3 games with DSL Orange team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
Cristhopher Santamaria - International free agent (Panama), 2012; Greeneville
Gabriel Valdez - International free agent (Panama), 2013; DSL Orange/Blue
Luis Vasquez - Minor league free agent signing, 2014; DSL Orange

Catchers

*Brandon Benavente - International free agent (VZ), 2014; DSL Orange
Oscar Campos - International free agent (VZ), 2014; DSL Blue
Jorge Martinez - 25th round, 2015 draft, Carlos Beltrán Baseball Academy (Florida, Puerto Rico); GCL
Oliver Toribio - International free agent (DR), 2012; DSL Orange
Randy Vasquez - International free agent (DR), 2015; DSL Orange

Infielders

Reiny Beltre - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Blue/GCL
Cristopher Luciano - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Blue
Jonathan Matute - International free agent (VZ), 2013; GCL
Joan Mauricio - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL
Juan Piñeda - International free agent (Panama), 2014; played in 11 games with DSL Blue team in 2016 prior to being assigned to GCL
Troy Sieber - 24th round, 2016 draft, St. Leo (Florida); pro debut
Brody Westmoreland - 30th round, 2016 draft, College of Southern Nevada; pro debut

Outfielders

Wilson Amador - International free agent (DR), 2013; DSL Blue
Edgar Lorenzo - International free agent (DR), 2013; GCL/DSL Blue
Carlos Machado - International free agent (VZ), 2014; DSL Orange
Nestor Muriel - 6th round, 2015 draft, Carlos Beltrán Baseball Academy (Florida, Puerto Rico); GCL
Andy Piñeda - International free agent (DR), 2014; DSL Blue

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