Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Getting to Know Astros/Hooks OF Myles Straw

The day that I got to Corpus Christi on my recent trip just so happened to be the same day that OF Myles Straw arrived following his promotion from Buies Creek. I had tried to catch up with him a couple of times to interview him, but Straw is not someone who is easy to catch. Just ask the opposing batterymates who watched him steal 38 bases off them in 2017.

Myles Straw - August 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Straw just completed his third season in the organization, having been drafted in the 12th round in 2015 out of St. Johns River Community College in Palatka, Florida. In addition to the 38 steals (a top mark for the Astros system), Straw ended his season with a .290/.405/.360 batting line and scored 90 runs (the second most in the system). His walk total of 94 was also the second highest mark in the system; he struck out only 79 times.

At the time we spoke, Straw had 36 steals, but he was definitely trying for more. "I'm pushing for at least four more. Hopefully more. I always liked stealing, but in college we didn't run too much. We had a pretty offensive hitting team and didn't steal much, but I've always liked stealing. The last few years, I stole a decent amount, but I definitely should have stolen more. This year, it's improved a little bit and I'm happy for that." As he should be. Straw didn't reach his goal of 40, but I wouldn't bet against him to get there next season as he becomes even more confident and aggressive on the base paths.

Asked what he thought a scout would say about him, he told me, "I hope he'd say I'm a good player. I'm pretty scrappy. Good defender. I'm always going to run hard, bust my butt. They say, speed doesn't slump much. That's the biggest part of my game whether it's in the field or offensively. My speed can help me turn singles into doubles, doubles into triples, and things like that. Someone that plays hard. I'm not a good power guy. Play hard, throw well, good defense -- that's something that plays every day."

Of his accomplishments for the season, Straw said, "You're always going to want more. If you don't, you're not playing hard enough. I feel like I've had a pretty good year. I know this last year I've definitely found out what kind of player I am. I know my job is to get on base and steal bases and stuff. The thing I like most about this year is I've walked a lot more than last year. My on-base percentage is still there -- just walking more than I strike out, getting on base. My average isn't where it was last year, but as long as the on-base percentage is there for me, in my opinion, that's what makes me an offensive threat."

Straw is a fan of the Astros system. "Man, I love it. We have fields like this [Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi], unbelievable coaches. I've had so much support. I can go to these coaches for anything -- family problems, advice, anything in life, not just the game. It's a bunch of brothers, all the players and everything. It's awesome. We have fields like this in Texas and I wouldn't want to be at any other field honestly," said Straw.

However, the field at Buies Creek was another matter. "It was very different. I've never played on a full turf field, turf batter's box and everything." But the rest of the experience was good for him, "Going into it, I was really excited. Really good coaching staff, fun team to be around. North Carolina's pretty nice for the most part. A new league for us -- it's fun to go around places, playing with new guys. We started off really strong there. It was a good season."

Since Straw had literally been in Corpus Christi for only two days when I talked with him, I asked for first impressions. "I feel like I'm on vacation. It's kind of like my home town [Bradenton, Florida]. It's got the water, the gulf there. It's pretty much the same temperature. It's really close to the same thing as my house, so it's awesome."

At this point in our conversation, Forrest Whitley walked up. Whitley and Straw had been roommates in Buies Creek and were excited to be reunited. When asked for his thoughts on Whitley, Straw told me (a bit sarcastically), "He's an alright dude. He's not that good at darts. He did give me his glove so I'll give him that. It's probably going to go on Ebay here after the season."

With an exaggerated affect, Whitley returned the favor, telling me, "Straw is one of those all-around great guys. He became a pretty good friend of mine towards the later half of the season. We kicked it off pretty well. He showed me into his house in Buies. He fed me. He cared for me. I can't say enough good things about Mr. Myles Straw."

Forrest Whitley and Myles Straw - August 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

And with that, Straw laughed, promised me another interview, "Give me more playing time and I'll give you more stuff. Next year I'll be ready for another one!" And he was gone. The interview started quickly, ended quickly and was over in a flash ... just like one of those Myles Straw stolen bases.

Thank you for your time, Myles. Enjoy the offseason!

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The gang over at the Lima Time Time podcast with help from Timothy de Block of Crawfish Boxes fame will be putting on a 24-hour podcast/livecast to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief. They already have a ton of announced guests lined up and some unannounced ones as well (as in yours truly). They will be broadcasting from 7 pm CST Friday the 8th until 7 pm CST Saturday the 9th. (Personally, I'd tune in around 4:00 am when James and Patrick start getting delirious.) The details can be found here. And you can start the donations rolling ahead of time by clicking on the link below.



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