Saturday, September 24, 2016

Happy Trails, Bill!

I am not Jewish, but I love language. I love words. I've had a lifelong love affair with words. And the words that come to us from Yiddish have always held a strong appeal for me. As a zaftig woman known to shvitz on occasion, I can identify with the glory of that language. My mother's German roots came into play when she would kibitz during card games and remove shmutz from our dirty faces as she offered us a nosh. Tuches, shtik, shnoz, shmooz, bupkes, chutzpah, shlep ... those were all words we grew up with. We had no patience for schmucks and putzes and nebbishes. And we were as likely to proclaim 'Oy Vey!' as we were to acknowledge our Norwegian heritage by saying 'Uff Da!' I've even been known to kvetch on occasion, or so I've been told. What else can you expect from this shiksa?

But there was one Yiddish word that was always held back and only bestowed as the highest compliment. It was never used ironically or in jest. You only used this word when you really meant it. And that word is mensch.

Wikipedia tells us this about the word mensch ...
A "mensch" is "someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being 'a real mensch' is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous." The term is used as a high compliment, implying the rarity and value of that individual's qualities.
We, as Astros fans, have had a true mensch in our midst for the past 30 years. In addition to the above definition, I would add fair, professional, engaging, approachable, honest, intelligent, unassuming, generous and humble. And that's just off the top of my head.

Bill Brown is a mensch as well as a scholar and lover of baseball. He loves to talk baseball and he never stopped learning and growing in his role as a broadcaster. He has no ego and has been as willing to learn from me with what I have to offer with my minor league takes as he has with the many professional sources available to him. It has been my privilege and honor to get to know Brownie a little bit over the years. He is, indeed, a mensch.



As I write this, I am listening to Bill call the Astros game with the same excitement and passion as always. Thank you for your support, your kind words and your steady presence over the years, Bill. Enjoy a well-earned retirement!

The author wearing Bill's
2005 NLC ring

Jayne got the opportunity to interview Carlos Correa for Academy's FB Live video event!
She was awesome!

Check it out here:
https://www.facebook.com/Academy/videos/10155252747849377/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Astros 2016 Minor League Players of the Year

Sometimes, selecting the Astros MiLB Players of the Year is a no-brainer. That wasn't the case this year. There were far too many deserving players, and I ended up awarding a couple of ties. Having too many good players isn't a bad problem to have.

With that said, presenting WTHB's 2016 Players of the Year ...

FULL SEASON PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: OF RAMON LAUREANO

Laureano did everything well in 2016. In 116 games between High A Lancaster and AA Corpus Christi, he hit .319/.428/.528 with 28 doubles, seven triples, 15 home runs, 73 RBI, 89 runs scored and he led the Astros system with 43 stolen bases. He also played all three outfield positions and collected 12 outfield assists while making only three errors all season.

Ramon Laureano - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Honorable Mention goes to OF Drew Ferguson: .315/.408/.542 in 105 games (between High A Lancaster and AA Corpus Christi), 29 doubles, 3 triples, 17 home runs, 30 stolen bases, 84 runs scored

STARTERS OF THE YEAR: RHP BRADY RODGERS AND RHP JOSE LUIS HERNANDEZ

Rodgers and Hernandez were virtually in lock step in what they each managed to accomplish this season. Rodgers was 12-4 in 22 starts for AAA Fresno with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.152 WHIP in 132 innings. He walked only 23 batters while striking out 116. Rodgers hit only one batter all season and had zero wild pitches. He also had two complete games for the season, including one complete game shut out.

Hernandez was the only other pitcher in the system with two complete games and one complete game shut out. He was 6-5 with one save in 24 games (21 starts) between Low A Quad Cities and High A Lancaster. In 125.1 innings, he had a 2.94 ERA and a 1.189 WHIP. He walked 24 while striking out 127 batters.

Brady Rodgers - September 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

RELIEVER OF THE YEAR: RHP JAMES HOYT

Hoyt led the Astros system and the Pacific Coast League with his 29 saves in 2016. In 49 appearances for AAA Fresno, Hoyt was 4-3 with 29 saves, a 1.64 ERA and a 0.873 WHIP. He walked 19 batters and struck out 93 in 55 innings.

James Hoyt - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

CATCHER OF THE YEAR: GARRETT STUBBS

Stubbs' win of the Johnny Bench award in college wasn't a fluke and he proved that with his fine sophomore campaign. In 86 games (67 at catcher) between High A Lancaster and AA Corpus Christi, Stubbs hit .304/.391/.469 with 22 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 54 RBI, 15 stolen bases (!), and he walked 43 times while striking out 48 times. Behind the plate, he had a .997 fielding percentage and caught 51% of runners attempting to steal.

Garrett Stubbs - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

SHORT SEASON PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

PLAYERS OF THE YEAR: OF STEPHEN WRENN AND 2B RYNE BIRK

Sixth-rounder Wrenn provided more than a little pop, collecting 15 doubles, five triples and 12 home runs over his 71 games (.260/.324/.471) between Short Season A Tri-City and Low A Quad Cities. He also swiped 15 bags, scored 46 times and drove in 39.

Birk, drafted by the Astros in the 13th round this year, missed some time this season on the DL, but what he accomplished in his 43 games with Tri-City and Quad Cities was nothing short of remarkable. Hitting .293/.385/.455 with 13 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 31 RBI, 30 runs scored, and five stolen bases, he also managed to walk 21 times while striking out only 16 times in those 43 games.

Stephen Wrenn - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Ryne Birk - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

STARTERS OF THE YEAR: RHP ENRIQUE CHAVEZ AND RHP JHEYSON CARABALLO

Chavez started his season with Short Season A Tri-City and ended it with Low A Quad Cities. Between the two venues, he was 3-4 with one save, a 2.89 ERA and a 0.995 WHIP in 62.1 innings of work (14 games/10 starts). Chavez walked 15, struck out 51 and held hitters to a .205 batting average.

Caraballo toiled for the Dominican Summer League Astros Blue team this summer. In 13 games (8 starts), he compiled a 3-0 record with three saves, a 2.85 ERA and a 0.913 WHIP. Caraballo walked 11 and struck out 46 in 53.2 innings, holding hitters to a .199 average.

Enrique Chavez - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

RELIEVER OF THE YEAR: LHP YEREMI CEBALLOS

This 17-year old Dominican lefty shone in his first professional season, playing for the Dominican Summer League Astros Blue team. In 19 appearances (34 innings), Ceballos was 2-1 with one save, a 0.79 ERA and a 1.147 WHIP. He held batters to a .183 average.

CATCHER OF THE YEAR: GABRIEL BRACAMONTE

Bracamonte (no relation to Astros bullpen catcher Javier) split his season between Rookie League Greeneville and Short Season A Tri-City. In 28 games (all of them behind the plate), he hit .278/.362/.367 with six doubles and a triple. He walked 11 times, struck out 13 and even managed to steal a couple of bags. Defensively, he played errorless ball and caught 43% of would-be stolen base runners.

Gabriel Bracamonte - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Congratulations, gentlemen! Fine jobs from all.

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

I'm still working on my not-so-serious awards presentations so check back soon for a giggle or two.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Astros Farm Report: 9-19

Fall and Winter Leagues start in a few weeks, but first things first ...

WISHING A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO

9-19: IF/OF Ronny Jimenez (22)
9-19: OF George Springer (27)
9-20: RHP Ken Giles (26)
9-21: RHP Devin Raftery (24)
9-21: 3B Tyler Wolfe (23)
9-22: SS Carlos Correa (22)
9-24: RHP Harlen Florencio (21)

George Springer - May 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

ROSTER MOVES/TRANSACTIONS

In addition to Friday's recall of 3B Colin Moran to Houston, the Astros also signed Cuban LHP Cionel Perez.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

The Houston Astros contingent participating in the Arizona Fall League was announced late last month and includes RHP Francis Martes, RHP David Paulino, RHP Jacob Dorris, C Garrett Stubbs, 2B/3B Nick Tanielu, OF Ramon Laureano and OF Jason Martin. Paulino was subsequently promoted to the Astros and doesn't currently appear on the Glendale Desert Dogs roster with the other players. If Paulino is pulled from the AFL roster, the Astros will have to send another pitcher in his place. Also, longtime Astros Hitting Coach Darryl Robinson (Lancaster) will serve as the Desert Dogs Hitting Coach.

The first AFL game will take place on October 11th and the regular season will conclude on November 17th. The Fall Stars game will be on November 5th and the Championship game will take place on November 19th.

WINTER LEAGUES

The various winter league clubs, including the Dominican winter league (LIDOM), will also start play next month. Those clubs don't usually publish rosters until much closer to starting day, but the LIDOM did have their draft last week and the results can be found here. Several Astros farmhands were drafted, including RHP Albert Abreu, IF Antonio Nunez and others.

RANDOM FORMER ASTROS UPDATE

RHP Juan Minaya was claimed off waivers by the White Sox on June 22nd. After 17 appearances for the White Sox AAA affiliate in Charlotte, Minaya made his major league debut on September 1st. In five appearances (5.2 innings), he 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 1.059 WHIP. He turned 26 on Sunday.

Juan Minaya - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

ICYMI

In case you missed it, here are the recent interviews I did with a few Greeneville Astros, representing the Dominican Republic, United States, the Netherlands and Australia ...

Frankeny Fernandez
Ben Smith
Stijn van der Meer
Connor MacDonald