Friday, October 14, 2016

An Interview with IF Antonio Nunez

After an uninspiring April in Low A Quad Cities, IF Antonio Nunez started heating up with the bat in May and never looked back, receiving two promotions on the season and ending the season in AA Corpus Christi after a late July call-up. Nunez has always been effective at getting on base, but he really ramped up his running game as well in 2016, collecting 21 stolen bases and 62 walks in 106 games. In his final 23 games of the season with Corpus Christi, the 18th round 2014 draft pick hit .304/.402/.319. I caught up with Nunez by email toward the end of the season and asked him about his season.

Antonio Nunez - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

JH: You've really had a breakout season with the bat this year. What do you feel has made the difference for you?

AN: Preparation has been the biggest key. I have been taking a different approach at the plate this year, just being patient, getting comfortable with every AB, and taking it one at-bat at a time with the help of my coaching staff and my father, who also happens to be my first coach and continues to support me.

JH: What, aside from your increased offensive output, have you accomplished this season?

AN: This has been a roller coaster season for me having been called up twice to face better pitching and better ball players with higher IQs of the game. Just being around these guys makes me feel like I'm accomplishing a lot soaking up as much baseball knowledge as I can while I'm here. I told my family, hitting coach and my trainer back home in Santiago, Dominican Republic that this year with GOD in front I will finish in AA. Also staying healthy was my #1 goal and thank GOD I've done that this year.

JH: What do you feel like you need to accomplish to get to the next level developmentally?

AN: I feel like as long as I put my team first and continue seeking advice from my coaching staff, surround myself with ball players that are just as hungry for success, all the pieces will fall right in place. I'm never content with my level of play; I always see different tools I can sharpen in my game. As long as I'm not complacent I think I should do just fine.

JH: Can you give me a scouting report on yourself as far as your intangibles go?

AN: Well as for as my intangibles go I'd have to say my IQ for the game of baseball has definitely improved. Also the level of confidence I have in myself has also increased and all have come as a result of the constant support from teammates and coaching staff. Another intangible would be that I play with a lot of heart and at times it shows when I'm out there being super animated for my teammates when they score a run or steal a base. I just really wear my emotions on my sleeve and with a chip on my shoulder because I feel like I have something to prove to those who doubted me and said I couldn't but also to those who root for me and support me.

JH: Who was your favorite player growing up and why?

AN: My favorite player growing up has always been Jose Reyes! He's from my hometown (Santiago, DR) hahaha and because of the spark he brings to a team and the energy he brings. Also he can change the game real quick and can get something started, can make something happen in many ways. He's explosive, energetic, fast, live arm and just a player that keeps you out of your seat. However right now it's Starlin Castro I love the way he plays, hard and aggressive!!

JH: What Astros minor league pitcher would you least like to face in the batter's box?

AN: Definitely Guduan!!!! hahaha [That would be hard-throwing lefty Reymin Guduan.]

JH: What has been your most memorable experience so far in your pro career?

AN: Umm a pinch hit base hit to win the game this year in Lancaster. I had the day off and came in to hit in the bottom of the 9th and hit a line drive to win the game.

JH: Yes, I remember that well! I was at that game and got a shot of you breaking out of the box after the hit!



JH: Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?

AN: Well if I go out to eat with my family and friends, my mom orders my food for me because I get shy.

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

I will leave it there, particularly because that last tidbit is VERY surprising for anyone who has spent time around the very outgoing Nunez! Thank you for your time, Antonio, and the best of luck as your journey continues!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Tuesday, October 11, 2016

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Scottsdale 9, Glendale 6

W- Corey Oswalt (1-0)
L- Austin Voth (0-1)
S- J.P. Feyereisen (1)

Glendale home runs: Garrett Stubbs (1, solo in 2nd)

Garrett Stubbs served as the DH, and his solo shot in the 2nd inning was the first homer of the Arizona Fall League season. Rogelio Armenteros was the first man out of the Desert Dogs bullpen, and in 1.1 innings, he allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, one of which was a solo homer, and walked 1.

Glendale will face Mesa at 12:35 Mountain.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Astros Farm Report: 10-10

I dusted off the soapbox to talk about minor league pay, but first things first.

WISHING A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO

10-11: 3B Wander Franco (20)
10-12: RHP Jandel Gustave (24)
10-13: LHP Zac Person (24)
10-14: 2B/OF Aaron Mizell (23)
10-14: OF Ronny Rafael (19)
10-15: OF Teoscar Hernandez (24)
10-15: IF Arturo Michelena (22)
10-16: RHP Jheyson Caraballo (21)
10-17: OF Myles Straw (22)

Zac Person - May 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

ROSTER MOVES/TRANSACTIONS

10-3: Fresno IF Danny Worth elected free agency

FALL AND WINTER LEAGUES

The Venezuelan winter league (LVBP) started on Sunday with only a couple of Astros players and one minor league manager listed on the rosters. With the current situation in Venezuela (massive food and supply shortages throughout the country), there may very well be fewer U.S. players playing there as have played there in past years.

Aguilas de Zulia
C Oscar Campos
SS Kristian Trompiz

Caribes de Anzoategui
Manager Omar Lopez

The Arizona Fall League will start tomorrow. As a reminder, the Astros on the Glendale Desert Dogs roster are the following:

Hitting Coach Darryl Robinson
RHP Rogelio Armenteros
RHP Jacob Dorris
RHP Francis Martes
RHP David Paulino
C Garrett Stubbs
IF Nick Tanielu
OF Ramon Laureano
OF Jason Martin

The Mexican Pacific Leagues start tomorrow as well, but the rosters haven't been posted yet.

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

LEAGUE TOP PROSPECTS

Baseball America has been rolling out their League by League Top 20 prospects. Of the leagues that have been posted thus far, the following Astros minor leaguers have made the cut.

RHP Franklin Perez - May 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Gulf Coast League
#20: RHP Lupe Chavez

Appalachian League
#14: SS Miguelangel Sierra

New York-Penn League
#19: OF Daz Cameron

Midwest League
#4: OF Kyle Tucker
#10: RHP Franklin Perez
#14: RHP Albert Abreu

California League
#20: OF Ramon Laureano

Still to come: Texas League and Pacific Coast League

THE MILBYS

Voting for the annual MiLBy Awards is open through October 5th. Vote early and vote often!!! You can vote for the Astros system, the Hooks, the JetHawks, James Hoyt, Alex Bregman and Joe Musgrove in various categories. Old WTHB friends Brett Phillips and Josh Hader are also in the mix.

MINOR LEAGUE PAY

And let's end this post with a subject that's near and dear to my heart ... minor league pay (or the lack thereof). Ben Badler of Baseball America quantified what anyone involved with minor league baseball, from minor league players to coaches to office staff to broadcasters and pretty much everyone in between, already knew. Baseball players aren't paid enough and the argument that signing bonuses make up the difference is pure horse hockey for a really large chunk of players. So Rob Manfred needs to just shut it. That argument doesn't hold water. I agree that paying an hourly wage would probably be far too difficult and unwieldy to work.

But, with pay reportedly starting at $1,100 a month at the lower levels, a significant increase in monthly pay is in order. Let's say that a player averages a minimum of 10 hours a day, from the time that they are required to report to the ballpark, through strength and conditioning work, other early work, batting practice, bullpens, required team meetings, pre-game activities, the actual game and any post-game activities. And that doesn't even include travel time. Then factor in playing an average of 28 games every month. 28 days of work x 10 hours a day = 280 hours a month (not including travel). At $1,100 a month, that works out to around $3.93 an hour. And a 10-hour day is generally the MINIMUM. Long travel, double-headers, extra innings, community events, and other factors can easily push that day to 12 hours and longer.

$3.93 an hour and the player is still required to supply their own bats, gloves and cleats. On top of all that, they also have to pay clubhouse dues. And they don't get paid anything in the off-season, but are expected to adhere to a given workout regimen and are often given other requirements they must fulfill as well. And, unless something has changed, they aren't paid for fall instructional league or spring training. Yes, some of the lower levels provide housing, but by the time you hit Low A, you are completely on your own. And, yes, the players are provided with a pre-game spread. I've seen those spreads and, generally speaking, the teams spend as little as possible on the food that they put out. I don't blame the minor league franchises. They work on a shoestring. I blame MLB for deciding that a player who is willing to sign for a $1,000 bonus to follow his dream isn't deserving of being paid any better than a factory worker in a third world country. I blame MLB for doing that because they can get away with it. It is reprehensible. It is unconscionable. It is indefensible. It is wrong.

$3.93 an hour. At best.