Thursday, March 10, 2016

Getting to Know Astros RHP Ryan Deemes

One of the (many) reasons that I enjoy talking with ballplayers is that I often learn something about myself in addition to my subject during our conversations. As I talked with Astros 2015 36th round pick RHP Ryan Deemes over the weekend, I learned that I have reached a point in my life where I truly appreciate a good "ma'am." A word that made me feel old when I turned 40 has now segued to a badge of respect and I like it. And Deemes uses that honorific as second nature. He is a soft-spoken, deep-voiced, even-keeled confident Southern gentleman. Oh, and he's also a pretty good pitcher.

Ryan Deemes
(from MiLB.com)

Deemes more or less split his first professional season evenly between rookie level Greeneville and short season A Tri-City. He absolutely dominated at Greeneville, allowing only two runs and one walk in 24 innings of work at the lower level before earning an early August promotion to the ValleyCats. Things didn't go quite as smoothly at the higher level, but he still came out at the far end of the season with a very impressive 2.01 ERA and 0.912 WHIP in 49.1 innings of work. That WHIP was the second lowest mark in the system for a pitcher tossing a minimum of 30 innings.

Of that first pro season, Deemes told me, "It started off pretty good in Greeneville and then moving up was something I was looking for, especially with how well I was doing. Just didn't know when it was going to happen and when the time came, I was ready. (In) New York, I had a few bad outings, but that's baseball. But overall, it was a fun first season for me and I got to experience a lot of different things and got to meet a lot of really cool people as well."

One of those "cool people" was Deemes's tandem pitching partner to start the season, LHP Junior Garcia who was traded to the Diamondbacks in August. "He's a left-hander that threw mid-90's and he's just unbelievable. We became good friends with each other. Once he got traded, we talked about it. I believe he'll be making it in the big leagues in the next few years because of what I've seen. He has a great career ahead of him and I wished him all the best," said Deemes.

Deemes was drafted out of Nicholls State. He described an experience that didn't start out too smoothly. "I spent two years at Nicholls State which is in Southwest Louisiana. It was a crazy one, my first year. I was a weekday starter with relief during the weekends. That year was kind of a bumpy road. Come senior season, I just started concentrating and I was more relaxed with the atmospheres that we always played in. It really started the first weekend. We came out to play Stony Brook and I get a win there and four days later, I start against LSU for the first time and we beat them. My senior year was just a breakout year for me and I felt that helped me a lot to get drafted."

The upcoming draft was not something that Deemes focused on during that senior season. He said, "I heard a little bit from my coaches (about interest from teams), but I didn't really pay much attention to that. I know if I didn't do anything, I wouldn't be getting picked up anyway so I just stayed to what I was doing, not to let the draft or the next level get to me before I finished the season at Nicholls."

Deemes equates his early success to his simple philosophy of pitching. "First thing I always learned was throw strikes, let the hitters make the mistakes. That's really the mindset I go with. Just throw strikes and something good is going to happen for you. That's really all. Just stay through the zone, throw strikes and try not to overdo it when something happens."

And that philosophy helped him achieve one of his main goals going into his first season. Deemes said, "I feel like I showed people what I can do, being such a late rounder and coming from a small school. I wanted to get my name out there and I felt like this past year that I did that and I just need to keep doing that from here on out."

He hopes to carry that forward into the new season. "Just stick with the plan I've always had. Just throw strikes. Just do what I know I can do. Just compete. I feel like if I can compete, everything will go well for me."

That theme continued when I asked Deemes what a scout might tell me about him. "I think he'd say (that I'm) definitely a competitor. I don't give up. If times are going bad or times are going good, I always stay the same. That's what I've always learned to do is don't show your emotions. I attack the hitters. I like to throw strikes. I just compete. When I get on the mound, I don't let anything affect me and I know that I'm the top dog. If the hitter steps in the box, he's going to have a challenge coming to him."

Deemes credits part of that competitive drive and aggressiveness to his days playing high school football. His mindset when he pitches is, in his words, "I don't care what's going on as long as I know that I'm better than you." When he says that, it comes across as confident, not cocky. He knows that being timid on the mound is not going to help him meet his goals.

One of those goals centers around the work he put in over the offseason in squaring up his delivery rather than pitching across his body so that he is able to stay in the zone even more effectively. With that in mind, when I asked my ubiquitous "who has a pitch you'd like to steal" question, Deemes was more interested in learning from the delivery of a certain lefty Cy Young winner. "Dallas Keuchel is a left-handed stud. Everything he's done from the videos I've watched from the last three years, how his delivery has changed so much ... that's pretty much what I'm working on right now. What he's gone through to just maintain his delivery and get it to where it needs to be (in order) to be a better pitcher, I think that's one thing I'd like to get better on delivery-wise."

Deemes's pitch repertoire consists of a 89 to 92 fastball with arm side movement, a changeup that he works off the fastball to either side of the plate and a slider that is a work in progress. "You're never not working on something. You're always trying to make it better. I think the main thing I'm working on is to get my slider to come tighter across the zone instead of a slurve action. I've worked on it a lot, changed some grips and it's started to come a long way in just the past year," said Deemes.

One of Deemes's teammates that I heard a lot about last season came up in conversation. Deemes particularly enjoyed seeing this pitcher follow him into games. He said, "Another Southland (Conference) guy that came out with me. He was an undrafted guy. Jacob Dorris. He's a little crazy arm slot guy. We faced him at Nicholls because we were in the same conference. Just watching him while he was playing at Texas A&M Corpus Christi just was like, 'Wow! That dude's pretty good.' And then, lucky enough, he was on my team for the two teams I played on (in 2015) and when he came in, it was pretty much, 'Well, we know the game's over now!' Somehow with him and his crazy arm slot, he just got people out."

With Deemes, there is nothing really surprising to report. "I feel like what I bring to the table with everybody is pretty much what you get from me. I'm not too outspoken a person. Just do what I need to do. I like to have fun with the guys, especially on the baseball field. I feel like I'm a guy you want to be around and have fun with. If someone needs to talk, we can talk. I'm just always there for everybody."

My last interview was back in December so Deemes helped me shake the rust off and start off my Spring Training. I couldn't have picked a better subject. It was an easy conversation with a polite Southerner who helped me embrace my inner ma'am.

Thank you for your time, Ryan, and best of luck in the coming season.

>>>>>>><<<<<<<

For more on Ryan and 272 other players in the Astros minor league system, buy the 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook and download it to your smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop (or all four like me!). The Handbook is both Android and Apple compatible with the free kindle app.



Monday, March 7, 2016

2016 Houston Farm System Handbook

The 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook is now available for purchase and is already drawing great reviews! When I introduced the Houston Farm System Handbook in 2015, almost all of the reviews were of the 5-star variety (one person raved that they loved it but only gave it 4 stars). Astros Announcer Bill Brown complimented me on doing "a masterful job cataloging tons of information on the Astros prospects" and really liked the portability of an e-book.

As good as that 2015 Handbook was, the 2016 version should prove to be even more valuable to prospect fans everywhere with the addition of a "Beyond the Top Prospects" depth chart. Before last season I was touting prospects such as Matt Duffy, Tyler White, Jon Kemmer and Albert Abreu, all of whom landed in Baseball America's Prospect Handbook for the first time recently. In my depth charts, I have identified a number of players who may very well debut in that publication next year, including RHP Dean Deetz, 1B Chase McDonald and many others.

Tony Kemp and Andrew Aplin
Two of the 273 players featured in the
2016 Houston Farm System Handbook
Photo by Jayne Hansen

The Handbook is a minor league media guide on steroids, including:

  • Basic information and profiles on 273 players currently in the Astros system
  • Stats on those players, including stats currently unavailable in any other minor league resource (including inherited and bequeathed runners scored, percentage of pitches thrown for strikes, strikeouts swinging/strikeouts looking for pitchers, extra base hit percentage, stolen base percentage and more)
  • Advanced metrics including BABIP for all the players for each season they've played and FIP for all of the pitchers for each season, as well as wOBA and WRC+ for selected players
  • Comparative stats showing the best (and sometimes worst) players in the system in dozens of categories, from outfield assists and caught stealing rates to walks per nine innings and ground out/air out ratios and everything in between
  • Comparative defensive stats showing every player in the organization who played at least 20 games at a given position and how each player compared against his peers
  • Interactive links to the player's Baseball Reference page, twitter handle, as well as photos, video and interviews from dozens of players
  • A narrative section on each player describing his strengths and weaknesses, often with inside analysis from Astros minor league coaches, managers and others (including Astros Director of International Oz Ocampo)
  • The aforementioned depth charts
  • A section on notable player departures in the past year
  • Minor league coaching staffs
  • Minor league ballpark information
The obvious advantages of having all of this information available as an e-book include:
  • Portable - You can carry 896 pages of information on your smart phone, tablet or laptop
  • Searchable - Look up "save conversions" to see that new Astro Brendan McCurry converted 27 of 28 saves in 2015 or look up "Panama" to see that six pitchers and eight position players currently in the Astros minor league system, including top prospect SS Jonathan Arauz, were born in Panama; those are just two of the many ways the book can be used
The 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook is available for Android or Apple and can be read on your smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. It can be downloaded or read in the cloud via Amazon's Kindle Cloud Reader. Buy yours today! Click on the link below for a free preview.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Astros Farm Report: 3/6

If you've been missing my regular posts, you can easily remedy that by buying my book and you will be inundated with enough good stuff to last you for months!!! With that said, things will start picking up this week when I'll be bringing you an interview with a below-the-radar pitcher and a few other things to whet your appetite for the minor league season to come. Also, listen for me on the Talking Stros broadcast this week at 7:00 on Tuesday!

WISHING A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO

3-8: RHP Joshua James (23)
3-8: RHP Eric Peterson (23)
3-10: 2B/SS Mott Hyde (24)
3-12: DH/1B Jose Hernandez (20)
3-12: C Orlando Marquez (20)

Josh James - August 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen


TWEET OF THE WEEK
NEWS AND LINKS

With only three games under their belts this spring, it's a wee bit early to even say who's having a good or bad spring yet, but Andrew Aplin got off to a nice start (2-for-5 2B R in 3 games) at the plate. And RHP Chris Devenski had a nice two-inning outing on Saturday (2H 0R 0BB 4SO).

In case you missed it, I compiled this consensus listing of the Top 24 Prospects in the Astros organization. That was after MLB Pipeline rolled out its Top 30 Astros Prospect List and declared the Astros to be the 10th best farm system in baseball.

Astros MLB beat writer Brian McTaggart takes a look at 3B prospect Colin Moran.

Following Baseball America's ranking of A.J. Reed in the top spot among first basemen last week, this week they looked at second base, shortstop, third base, center field, and left/right field. See how Tony Kemp, Alex Bregman, Nolan Fontana, Colin Moran, J.D. Davis, Daz Cameron, Kyle Tucker, Derek Fisher and Jon Kemmer stack up against their peers.

MiLB.com has the Astros at number 13 (of 30 organizations) when it comes to pitching depth. Hmmm. Wonder how many spots they would have jumped if Vince Velasquez was still in the system?

(Some of the Chronicle links are premium, but worth getting a subscription for!)

Jose de Jesus Ortiz cuts to the chase with the 10 questions that will need to be answered in Spring Training.

The Stassi Brothers enjoyed their reunion even though they were in opposing dugouts.

Joe Musgrove's command is no longer a secret.

Tyler White's bat is garnering some attention.

Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez do a solid for the newbies.

James Hoyt gets some love.

>>>>>>><<<<<<<

For tons more on the Astros minor league system, the 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook is an indispensible reference book with player profiles, stats, depth charts, photos, links to video and interviews, comparative stats and more!!! Buy yours today!