Friday, October 7, 2016

WTHB's 2016 Awards Presentation

WTHB's Astros Minor League Pitchers and Players of the Year came out a couple of weeks ago, but there are FAR more players who deserve acknowledgment for their efforts during the 2016 season. In addition to the awards that went to Brady Rodgers, Jose Luis Hernandez, James Hoyt, Ramon Laureano, Garrett Stubbs, Stephen Wrenn, Ryne Birk, Enrique Chavez, Jheyson Caraballo, Yeremi Ceballos and Gabriel Bracamonte, here are a few of the other players who stood out in 2016.

Warning: Some of these awards and acknowledgments are serious and some ... not so much.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: PITCHER
RHP Chris Devenski earns the honors as he put up a 2.16 ERA and a 0.914 WHIP in 48 appearances for the Astros. Phenomenal season for The Dragon.



ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: POSITION PLAYER
IF Alex Bregman, the 2015 first round pick, flew through the Astros system, making his debut one year and one month after the day he signed. After collecting only one hit in his first 32 at-bats, Bregman had a .308/.355/.562 batting line the rest of the way to silence his detractors.


TWEETER OF THE YEAR
LHP Zac Person wins the honor, following in the footsteps of other lefty pitchers such as Kenny Long and Brian Holmes. Here are a few samples of the Person charm.


YOUR HIT PARADE
2B/3B Nick Tanielu led the system in hits with 145 in 130 games. OF Myles Straw collected 124 hits in only 87 games!!!

DOUBLE DIPPING
3B J.D. Davis collected a system-leading 34 doubles in his 126 games while OF Drew Ferguson collected 29 doubles in 105 games.

TRIPLE CROWN
OF Bobby Boyd earns the Astros Triple Crown by collecting 10 triples in his 105 games.

GOING, GOING, GONE!!!
3B J.D. Davis (126 games) and OF Jason Martin (110 games) tied with 23 home runs each.

THOSE EYES THO!
Yes, I made LHP Austin Nicely take off his sunglasses for this shot. Very Nicely.


COOLEST BULLPEN, PART I
The Quad Cities bullpen not only unified with mustachioed solidarity this season, they also managed a reportedly decent version of the National Anthem!
THE JAMES HOYT AWARD
RHP James Hoyt was so dominant that he should have his own award! He led the Astros system in saves (29), lowest WHIP for 50+ innings pitched (0.873), lowest ERA for 50+ innings pitched (1.64), and strikeouts per nine innings (15.2)  Show off.

BEST BASEBALL NAME
You just can't beat Carmen Benedetti for a good old school baseball name. And he wears high socks too!


STEEEEERRRRIKE!
RHP Cesar Valdez led the Astros system with 140 strikeouts in 127.1 innings. LHP Matt Bower had only four fewer striketouts (136) in his 110.1 innings of work.

BROTHERS FROM ANOTHER MOTHER
OF Jason Martin and IF Antonio Nunez appear to be kindred spirits.



ARMED AND DANGEROUS, PART I
Garrett Stubbs caught 51% of would be base stealers in his 67 games behind the plate. Carlos Canelon matched that mark for short season teams.

THE ROADRUNNER AWARD
OF Ramon Laureano was a terror on the basepaths this season, leading the Astros system with 43 in 116 games!

HE'S HOW OLD?!?!
Former Astros outfielder and current Astros minor league hitting coach Cesar Cedeno may be 65 years old, but he's still got a few moves in him.


WALK LIKE A MAN
OF Derek Fisher (129 games) and 1B Jon Singleton (124 games) each walked a whopping 83 times this season.

THAT HAIR THO, PART I
OF Frankeny Fernandez was on point.



SHUT THE DOOR!
Both RHP Brady Rodgers and RHP Jose Luis Hernandez collected complete game shutouts this season. On May 4th, Rodgers allowed 4 hits and no walks, striking out 9 on his way to a nine-inning complete game shutout. Hernandez accomplished his in a 7-inning game on August 24th, allowing 7 hits and striking out 6.

COOLEST BULLPEN, PART II
The Greeneville bullpen (RHP Devon Carr, RHP Lucas Williams, RHP Reggie Johnson and LHP Luis Ramirez) are cool, collected and ready to go!



THAT'S GONNA LEAVE A MARK
OF Drew Ferguson and OF Ramon Laureano managed to take a base the hard way 13 times each as the co-hit-by-pitch leaders in the system.

THE ABOVE AND BEYOND AWARD
On July 17th, Greeneville C Gabriel Bracamonte singled with one out, advanced to second on a wild pitch and then scored from second on a single from Abraham Toro. Sure, a catcher scoring from second on a single isn't that rare, but when you take into consideration that it was Bracamonte's 9th at-bat and he had caught all 20 innings of a 20-inning game, it's surprising that he could even walk!


THAT HAIR THO, PART II
SS Jonathan Arauz was on fleek.



ARMED AND DANGEROUS, PART II
Kyle Tucker (105 outfield games) and Ramon Laureano (110 outfield games) led the system in OF assists with 12 each. But Johnny Sewald (11 outfield assists in 83 outfield games) and Osvaldo Duarte (11 in only 38 games playing the outfield!) were breathing down their necks.

CUTEST COUPLES
The Bromance of OF Andrew Aplin and IF Nolan Fontana is one for the ages ...


but RHP Joe Musgrove and IF Alex Bregman tried to give them a run for their money.
TEACHER'S PET
OF Frankeny Fernandez not only learned English in one year at the Astros Dominican Academy, he is quite fluent. Doris Gonzalez, the Astros Supervisor of Language Development and Acculturation, has had many success stories but she has to be particularly proud of Frankeny.

THAT HAIR THO, PART III + ONE RIPSNORTER OF A GAME!
And Australian native 1B Connor McDonald's hair was fair dinkum! As was his second game of the season in which he hit for the cycle (yes, the triple was last and he was busting it!), and he collected a walk as well ... just for grins.


COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Sometimes there is more to a comeback than just putting up great numbers. Try coming back from Tommy John surgery and cancer. That's what LHP Ben Smith did this year.


And since I can't top that, I'll bring this post to a conclusion. Hope you enjoyed the 2016 Astros minor league season and getting to know a few of these players as much as I did.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Astros Farm Report: 10-3

It's another slow week of news as the Astros season ends and the Fall and Winter Leagues are just getting ready to crank things up ...

WISHING A HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO

10-3: C Gerry Castillo (19)
10-4: OF Vicente Sanchez (20)
10-7: OF Stephen Wrenn (22)

Stephen Wrenn - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

TRANSACTIONS/ROSTER MOVES

Jim Callis weighs in on the Astros instructional league roster. Apparently the full Astros instructional league roster is super secret. If any of my readers know where the full roster can be found, give me a heads up.

According to Jake Kaplan of the Chronicle, RHP David Paulino is still headed to the Arizona Fall League even though he's already made his major league debut.

FALL AND WINTER LEAGUES

The rosters in the Caribbean Leagues are generally slow to come out, but I'll be on the lookout for any Astros who may be playing in Venezuela when their season starts on Sunday the 9th.

Fall/Winter League Start Dates
Venezuelan Winter League (LVBP) - 10/9
Arizona Fall League (AFL) - 10/11
Mexican Pacific League (LMP) - 10/11
Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) - 10/20
Puerto Rican Winter League (LBPRC) - 10/27
Australian Baseball League (ABL) -11/7 (Exhibitions start 11/7; season starts 11/17)

NEWS AND LINKS

The Astros are still looking for a temporary home for their High A affiliate.

And the fate of the Lancaster JetHawks has now been determined.

In related news, I will be bidding a very sad adieu to Jason Schwartz, Media Relations Director and Broadcaster extraordinaire for the Lancaster JetHawks. Nothing would make me happier than to have Jason remain in the Astros fold. And not much will make me sadder than having to say goodbye to hanging out with Jason in the broadcast booth during a game and watching him work his magic. He has always been such an immense pleasure to work with. Not seeing him next summer will be downright weird. It is my fervent hope that our paths will cross again.

Old friend RHP Josh Zeid got the win for Team Israel in their qualifier and they advanced to the World Baseball Classic.

RANDOM FORMER ASTRO UPDATE

After being released by the Astros in March, RHP Jake Buchanan was picked up by the Cubs and sent to Des Moines where he spent the vast majority of the season playing for the AAA Iowa Cubs. Buchanan had a mostly solid season followed by a very good August in which he was 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.233 WHIP in 5 games (4 starts). His reward was a September 1st callup to the Cubs. After pitching only one inning through the penultimate day of September, Buchanan got a spot start for the Cubs on 9/30 and earned the win after allowing only two hits in five shutout innings.

Jake Buchanan - September 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen