Saturday, April 8, 2017

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Friday, April 7, 2017

Fresno 6, Reno 1

W- Brady Rodgers (1-0)
L- Anthony Banda (0-1)

Fresno home runs: D.J. Fisher (2, 2-run in 4th)

After giving up 13 runs on Opening Night, Fresno's pitchers tightened the screws and suffocated the Aces offense on Friday.

Brady Rodgers went 6 innings and allowed a run on 4 hits and struck out 4. Reymin Guduan, Jordan Jankowski, and James Hoyt finished it off with a scoreless inning apiece. Guduan recorded a strikeout in a 1-2-3 7th, Jankowski worked around a hit in the 8th and struck out 2, and Hoyt fanned 2 in a 1-2-3 9th.

Max Stassi walked to lead off the 3rd and scored the first run of the evening thanks to an error.that allowed Teoscar Hernandez to reach base and advance to 2nd. D.J. Fisher, who drew a one-out walk, scored on a wild pitch/A.J. Reed walk. Tyler White and Reid Brignac followed with RBI singles. Fisher smacked a 2-run homer in the 4th for the final runs of the evening.

Brian Holmes will go up against Matt Koch in game 3 of this series. First pitch is at 7:05 Pacific.

Arkansas 6, Corpus Christi 1

W- Max Povse (1-0)
L- Kent Emanuel (0-1)

CC home runs: None.

The Hooks' offense had no answer for Max Povse, who shut them out for 7 innings.

Mott Hyde's RBI single in the 8th represented Corpus Christi's only scoring play.

Kent Emanuel went 4 innings and allowed 4 runs on 6 hits, walked 1, and struck out 5. Kyle Smith was the first man out of the Hooks bullpen, and in 3 innings, he allowed a run on a force play in the 6th, a single, walked 3, and struck out 1. In the 8th, Michael Freeman allowed a run on a bases-loaded walk, two hits, issued another walk, and struck out the side.

In the series finale, Dean Deetz will face Tyler Herb. First pitch is at 6:10.

Buies Creek 5, Winston-Salem 3

W- Justin Ferrell (1-0)
L- Kelvis Valerio (0-1)
S- Andrew Thome (1)

BC home runs: None.

The Dash put up 3 runs in the top of the 8th to take the lead, but the Astros responded with 3 runs of their own in the bottom half to regain control. Both teams had 5 hits... the Astros won in the column that counts towards the standings, though.

Buies Creek scored a run in the 3rd without recording a hit as Johnny Sewald, who drew a one-out walk, scored on a wild pitch. Jason Martin drove in a run with a sac fly in the 5th. 

Martin drew a one-out walk in the 8th and advanced to 2nd on an errant pickoff throw. Osvaldo Duarte went down on strikes for the second out, but Kyle Tucker got plunked to keep the inning going. Dex McCall put the Astros back in front with a 2-run triple and scored an insurance run on a single from Pat Porter.

Alex Winkelman turned in 5 dominant innings, allowing just 1 hit and walking 1 while striking out 9. The 9 strikeouts are a new career high. Justin Ferrell tagged in for 3 innings and allowed 3 runs (all in the 8th) on 3 hits, walked 1, and struck out 6. Andrew Thome got himself into some trouble after a walk and a double put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out in the 9th, but he struck out the final two hitters he faced to earn the save.

Matt Bower gets the start for Buies Creek in game 3. He'll face Brannon Easterling at 6:00 Eastern.

Wisconsin 1, Quad Cities 0

W- Jordan Desguin (1-0)
L- Dustin Hunt (0-1)
S- Luke Barker (1)

QC home runs: None.

There was only one run in this game, and unfortunately, it did not belong to the River Bandits.

Quad Cities was actually on the wrong end of a perfect game until Chuckie Robinson ripped a two-out double in the 6th inning. Daz Cameron walked and Stephen Wrenn singled to load the bases, but Ronnie Dawson looked at strike 3 to end the threat. Wrenn singled to lead off the 9th and stole 2nd base, but he was doubled off following a Randy César lineout to end the game.

Carson LaRue allowed 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4 over 5 shutout frames. Dustin Hunt allowed the game's only run when Monte Harrison took him deep with 2 outs in the 8th inning. He allowed 3 other hits, walked 1, and struck out 5. Edgardo Sandoval worked around a hit and a walk to throw a scoreless 9th.

These two teams will now play a 2-game series in Wisconsin. Brett Adcock will face Thomas Jankins at 4:05.

Friday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Alex Winkelman, LHP, Buies Creek
W (1-0), 5 IP, H, BB, 9 K (career-high)

Photo from MiLB.com
Carson LaRue, RHP, Quad Cities
5 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K

Fresno Grizzlies pitchers: W 6-1 vs. Reno
9 IP, 5 H, ER, 9 K
Brady Rodgers: W (1-0), 6 IP, 4 H, ER, 4 K
Reymin Guduan: IP, K
Jordan Jankowski: IP, H, 2 K
James Hoyt: IP, 2 K

Derek Fisher, OF, Fresno
2-R HR (2), 2 R

Friday, April 7, 2017

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Thursday, April 6, 2017

Minor League Baseball is back!


Reno 13, Fresno 6

W- Braden Shipley (1-0)
L- Keegan Yuhl (0-1)

Fresno home runs: Teoscar Hernandez (1, 3-run in 1st), D.J. Fisher (1, solo in 4th)

The Grizz got roughed up and Collin McHugh hit a bump in his rehab assignment.

McHugh allowed three runs on three hits, walked one, and struck out one in the first inning. He came out for the second and threw a couple of warmup pitches before signaling for the training staff, ending his night. He was pulled as a precaution.

Keegan Yuhl was the first man out of the Fresno bullpen, and in 1.2 innings, he allowed five runs on three hits, walked three, and struck out three. Aaron West was next; he allowed three runs (two inherited runners charged to him) on six hits and struck out one in 2.1 innings of work. Ashur Tolliver technically threw two scoreless innings, but the two runners that he inherited from West in the sixth both scored. Tyson Perez pitched the final two innings and allowed two runs, both in the eighth, on five hits and struck out three.

After falling behind 3-0 after the top of the first, the Grizzlies hit back with five of their own in the bottom of the inning. Tony Kemp and D.J. Fisher singled to lead off the inning, and then Teoscar Hernandez whacked a home run to tie the game. A.J. Reed and Tyler White followed with singles, and Colin Moran sent Reed home with a single of his own. Preston Tucker drove in the final run of the inning with a sac fly that turned into a double play.

Unfortunately, the Grizzlies were outscored 10-1 over the final eight innings. Their only scoring play in that span was a solo homer hit by Fisher in the fourth. Fisher, Kemp, White, and Reid Brignac all finished with two hits on the evening.

Tonight, both teams will send a Texan out onto the mound. Brady Rodgers (Richmond) will take on Anthony Banda (Sinton) at 7:05.

Corpus Christi 2, Arkansas 1

W- Cy Sneed (1-0)
L- Blake Perry (0-1)
S- Ryan Thompson (1)

CC home runs: None.

The Hooks were outhit 11-5 and trailed for a vast majority of this game, but they still found a way to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Trent Thornton allowed a run on five hits and struck out five in four innings of work. Cy Sneed and Ryan Thompson kept the Travs off the scoreboard for the last five innings. Sneed allowed three hits, walked one, and struck out two in three innings, while Thompson allowed three hits and struck out one in the final two frames. Thompson allowed a couple of hits to start the bottom of the ninth, but he was able to work his way out of that predicament to secure the win.

Bryan Muñiz hit a one-out single in the eighth inning, but Mott Hyde struck out to put the rally in jeopardy. Ramon Laureano legged out an infield single to keep the inning going and Garrett Stubbs drew a walk to load the bases for Drew Ferguson, who put the Hooks on the board and in the lead with a single.

Kent Emanuel takes on Max Povse in game two of this series. First pitch is at 7:10.

Buies Creek 5, Winston-Salem 3

W- Elieser Hernandez (1-0)
L- Aaron Bummer (0-1)
S- Riley Ferrell (1)

BC home runs: None.

Buies Creek emerged victorious in the first game in franchise history on the strength of a four-run bottom of the seventh.

Myles Straw drove in the first run in the system in 2017 with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. After the Dash got on the board in the sixth, the Astros mounted a swift response after stretch time.

Pat Porter greeted Aaron Bummer with a leadoff double and scored the go-ahead run on a Christian Correa single. Correa advanced to second base on the throw, and then Stijn van der Meer drew a walk to bring up Straw, who sent the two of them home with a double. Straw advanced to third and scored on a single from Kyle Tucker.

Correa led the way with three hits, while Straw (2 2B, 3 RBI, R) and Little Tuck (2B, RBI) finished with two hits apiece.

Akeem Bostick allowed two hits, walked two, and struck out three over five shutout frames. Elieser Hernandez tagged in for 2.1 innings and allowed three runs (one inherited runner charged to him) on four hits, walked two, and fanned three. Ralph Garza Jr. inherited two runners from Hernandez, and he allowed a double that allowed one of them to score. Fortunately, he got the final two outs of the eighth inning without incident. Riley Ferrell came on for the save in the ninth and struck out the side to earn it.

Game two of this series will start at 7:00 Eastern. Alex Winkelman will take on Zach Thompson.

Quad Cities 3, Wisconsin 0

W- Abdiel Saldaña (1-0)
L- Zack Brown (0-1)
S- Derick Velazquez (1)

QC home runs: Taylor Jones (1, solo in 4th)

The Banditos opened up 2017 with a dominant showing on the mound as four pitchers combined to strike out 15, fanning all but one batter in the Timber Rattlers lineup. Oh, they also kept Wisconsin off the scoreboard for nine innings.

Hector Perez started it off by allowing just one hit, walking three, and striking out eight over 3.2 innings. Abdiel Saldaña got Perez out of a little jam in the fourth inning and then proceeded to throw a scoreless fifth, allowing a hit and fanning one. Ryan Hartman tagged in and allowed three hits while striking out six over three scoreless, and in his first game since August 31, 2014, Derick Velazquez worked around an error to close out the win.

All three Quad Cities runs came in the fourth inning. Taylor Jones led off the frame with the first home run in the Astros' minor league system. Alex De Goti hit a one-out single and then Jake Rogers joined him on the basepaths by drawing a walk. Anibal Sierra followed with an RBI single, and Rogers scored on a wild pitch. De Goti finished 2-4, while Daz Cameron stole two bases.

Carson LaRue will start game two of this series. He'll face Trey Supak at 6:35.

Thursday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.



Akeem Bostick's photo from MiLB.com
Myles Straw, OF, Christian Correa, C, Akeem Bostick, RHP, and Riley Ferrell, RHP, Buies Creek
Straw: 2-3, 2 2B, 3 RBI, R
Correa: 3-4, 2B, RBI, R
Bostick: W (1-0), 5 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K
Ferrell: Save (1), IP, 3 K

Abdiel Saldaña's picture taken by Bryan Green
Quad Cities pitchers: W 3-0 vs Wisconsin
9 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 15 K
Hector Perez: 3.2 IP, H, 3 BB, 8 K
Abdiel Saldaña: W (1-0), 1.1 IP, H, K
Ryan Hartman: 3 IP, 3 H, 6 K
Derick Velazquez: Save (1), IP, 2 groundouts, 1 flyball out

D.J. Fisher, OF, Fresno
2-4, solo HR (1), 2 R

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meet the 2017 Fresno Grizzlies

The Fresno Grizzlies enter their third season as the Houston Astros' Triple-A affiliate. The Grizzlies were previously known as the Tucson Toros, which was affiliated with the Astros from 1980 to 1997. When Phoenix was awarded a Major League Baseball franchise in 1998, the Phoenix Firebirds, which was the Giants' AAA club, was forced to move, and they moved to Tucson and became a D-Backs affiliate. The Toros moved to Fresno and became a Giants farm club until 2015.


The Grizzlies play in the Northern division of the Pacific Coast League's Pacific Conference. The other teams in their division are Reno (D-Backs), Sacramento (Giants), and Tacoma (Mariners). Their home stadium, Chukchansi Park, has been in operation since 2002.

Every Tuesday home game, the Grizzlies will assume their alter ego, the Fresno Tacos. I would strongly advise that you get one of those hats. 

Tony DeFrancesco will enter his 14th season as a manager at the AAA level. He was also the Astros' interim manager in 2012, following the firing of Brad Mills. New hitting coach Darryl Robinson spent the last eight seasons with Lancaster.

Fresno has quite a few prospects who have major league experience, such as A.J. Reed, Colin Moran, and Teoscar Hernandez. Even more players are on the cusp; for example, Francis Martes is just one phone call away from Houston. Reymin Guduan and James Hoyt pack serious heat, and Jordan Jankowski has also shown to be incredibly adept at getting the strikeout. It is also a homecoming of sorts for Tyson Perez, who grew up in nearby Hanford, California and played at Fresno City College before the Astros drafted him.

Fresno will kick off its 2017 season at home against the Reno Aces. Collin McHugh will get the start in a rehab assignment. First pitch is at 7:05 Pacific.

A FEW GRIZZLIES-RELATED TWITTER ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW

Team Instagram - @instagrizz_fg
Doug Greenwald, radio play-by-play announcer - @Dougout04
Paul Braverman, Director of Media Relations - @PaulBraverman
Kiel Maddox, staff photographer - @MaddoxPics
B.J. Anteola, sportswriter for the Fresno Bee - @Banteola_TheBee
Tommy Tran, sports anchor, KFSN-TV (ABC) - @TommyTranTV

So... let's meet the 2017 Fresno Grizzlies!

Italics - player bats/throws left-handed
Asterisk - player is a switch-hitter

Oldest player: Reid Brignac (born January 16, 1986)
Youngest player: Francis Martes (born November 24, 1995)

Tallest player: James Hoyt (6'6")
Tony Kemp is the smallest man on the roster and arguably in all of professional baseball at 5'6", 165. A.J. Reed tips the scales at 275. 

STAFF

Manager: Tony DeFrancesco
Hitting Coach: Darryl Robinson
Pitching Coach: Dyar Miller
Development Coach: Aaron DelGiudice
Athletic Trainer: Lee Meyer
Strength & Conditioning: Taylor Rhoades

PITCHERS

Dayan Diaz - Minor league free agent signing, 2016; Cincinnati/Louisville (originally signed by Astros in 2005 out of Colombia)
Edison Frias - International free agent, 2011 (Dominican Republic); Fresno/Corpus
Reymin Guduan - International free agent, 2009 (Dominican Republic); Fresno/Corpus
Brian Holmes - 13th round, 2012 draft (Wake Forest); Mostly Corpus, with a rehab stint in the GCL and one start with Fresno
James Hoyt - Acquired from Braves along with Evan Gattis for Mike Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz, and Andrew Thurman, 2014; Houston/Fresno
Jordan Jankowski - 34th round, 2012 draft (Catawba); Fresno
Francis Martes - Acquired from Marlins (along with Jake Marisnick, Colin Moran, and a compensatory draft pick used to select Daz Cameron in the 2015 draft) for Kiké Hernandez, Jarred Cosart, and Austin Wates, 2014; Corpus
Collin McHugh - Waiver claim from Rockies, 2013; Houston (making rehab appearance)
Tyson Perez - 17th round, 2011 draft (Fresno City College); Tri-City/GCL (was rehabbing injury) 
Brady Rodgers - 3rd round, 2012 draft (Arizona State); Houston/Fresno
Ashur Tolliver - Waiver claim from Angels, 2016; Baltimore, and also pitched for five teams between the Orioles and Angels systems
Aaron West - 17th round, 2012 draft (Washington); Fresno/Corpus
Keegan Yuhl - 35th round, 2014 draft (Concordia University Irvine); Fresno/Corpus

CATCHERS

Juan Centeno - Minor league free agent signing, 2016; Minnesota/Rochester
Max Stassi - Acquired from A's along with Chris Carter and Brad Peacock for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez, 2013; Houston/Fresno

INFIELDERS

Reid Brignac - Minor league free agent signing, 2016; Atlanta/Gwinnett
Tony Kemp - 5th round, 2013 draft (Vanderbilt); Houston/Fresno
Colin Moran - See Francis Martes for details on how the Astros acquired him; Houston/Fresno
A.J. Reed - 2nd round, 2014 draft (Kentucky); Houston/Fresno
Tyler White - 33rd round, 2013 draft (Western Carolina); Houston/Fresno

OUTFIELDERS

Andrew Aplin - 5th round, 2012 draft (Arizona State); Fresno
D.J. Fisher - Competitive balance round A, 2014 draft (Virginia); Fresno/Corpus
Teoscar Hernandez - International free agent, 2011 (Dominican Republic); Houston/Fresno/Corpus
Jon Kemmer - 21st round, 2013 draft (Brewton-Parker College); Fresno
Preston Tucker - 7th round, 2012 draft (Florida); Houston/Fresno/rehab in Corpus

Meet the 2017 Corpus Christi Hooks

Corpus Christi has played host to Minor League Baseball since 2005, when the Round Rock Express, then a Double-A club, relocated to the Coastal Bend.


The Hooks call Whataburger Field, one of the most picturesque venues in all of Minor League Baseball, their home. In right-center field, the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge looms over the horizon. Of course, there is a Whataburger on-site.

Corpus plays in the Texas League South division with Frisco (Rangers), San Antonio (Padres), and Midland (A's). They will start the season in Little Rock, where they'll take on the Arkansas Travelers, now a Mariners affiliate, at 7:10. Trent Thornton is listed as the starter for game one.

Rodney Linares returns to the helm for a third season. Dave Borkowski is back as the pitching coach, while Joel Chimelis begins his second stint as the Hooks' hitting coach; he was the hitting coach in 2012 before spending the next four years with Quad Cities.

Garrett Stubbs is back with the Hooks to begin 2017. Unfortunately for J.D. Davis and Jon Singleton, the glut of corner infielders in Fresno has forced the two of them back to the Texas League. Ramon Laureano is looking to build on a breakout 2016 that saw him lead all of Minor League Baseball with a .428 on-base percentage and an organization-leading 43 stolen bases across two levels. He'll comprise one-third of an intriguing outfield along with Drew Ferguson and Alejandro Garcia, who can both roll themselves.

Jacob Dorris returns to Corpus Christi, this time as a professional. The Weatherford native played four years at Texas A&M—Corpus Christi before landing with the Astros. Cy Sneed, Rogelio Armenteros, and Trent Thornton headline what should be a solid rotation. 

A FEW HOOKS-RELATED TWITTER ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW

Team - @cchooks
Michael Coffin, radio play-by-play announcer, Director of Broadcasting - @CoffinMJC
Sam Levitt, radio color commentary, Hooks TV host, Communications Coordinator - @SammyLev
Gene Kasprzyk, radio color commentary - @Gehrig1B
George Vondracek, reporter, Corpus Christi Caller-Times - @Caller_GeorgeV
Rodney Linares, manager - @RondeyLinares 
Ian Steele, sports anchor, KIII-TV - @IanSteeleKIII

And now.... your 2017 Corpus Christi Hooks!

Oldest player on roster: Jack Mayfield (born September 30, 1990)
Youngest player on roster: Ramon Laureano (born July 15, 1994)

Brock Dykxhoorn is the largest man on the roster; he is listed at 6'8", 250. He just edges out Michael Freeman, who is 6'8", 235. On the other hand, Tony Nuñez, who checks in at 5'9", 165, is the smallest man on the squad. But... by now, you know that old adage about size not mattering.

Italics - player bats/throws left-handed
Asterisk - player is a switch-hitter

STAFF

Manager: Rodney Linares
Hitting Coach: Joel Chimelis
Pitching Coach: Dave Borkowski
Development Coach: Tommy Kawamura
Athletic Trainer: Grant Hufford
Strength & Conditioning: Dwayne Peterson

PITCHERS

Rogelio Armenteros - International free agent, 2014 (Cuba); Played at Corpus, Lancaster, and Quad Cities in 2016
Kevin Comer - Acquired from Blue Jays (along with six other players) for J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, and David Carpenter, 2012; CC/Lancaster
Dean Deetz - 11th round, 2014 draft (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M); CC/Lancaster
Jacob Dorris - Undrafted free agent, 2015 (Texas A&M—Corpus Christi); CC/Lancaster/Quad Cities
Brock Dykxhoorn - 6th round, 2014 draft (Central Arizona College); Lancaster
Kent Emanuel - 3rd round, 2013 draft (North Carolina); Corpus
Michael Freeman - 7th round, 2015 draft (Oklahoma State); Corpus
Josh James - 34th round, 2014 draft (Western Oklahoma State); Lancaster
Eric Peterson - 37th round, 2014 draft (North Carolina State); CC/Lancaster
Kyle Smith - Acquired from Royals for Justin Maxwell, 2013; Corpus
Cy Sneed - Acquired from Brewers for Jonathan Villar, 2015; Corpus
Ryan Thompson - 23rd round, 2014 draft (Campbell); CC/Lancaster
Trent Thornton - 5th round, 2015 draft (North Carolina); CC/Lancaster

CATCHERS

Jamie Ritchie - 13th round, 2014 draft (Belmont); Lancaster
Garrett Stubbs - 8th round, 2015 draft (Southern California); CC/Lancaster
Trent Woodward* - 20th round, 2014 draft (Fresno State); CC/Lancaster

INFIELDERS

J.D. Davis - 3rd round, 2014 draft (Cal State Fullerton); Corpus
Mott Hyde - 26th round, 2014 draft (Georgia Tech); Corpus
Jack Mayfield - Undrafted free agent, 2013 (Oklahoma); Fresno/CC
Bryan Muñiz - 22nd round, 2014 draft (Southeastern [Florida]); Lancaster
Antonio Nuñez - 18th round, 2014 draft (Western Oklahoma State); CC/Lancaster/Quad Cities
Jon Singleton - Acquired from Phillies (along with Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid) for Hunter Pence, 2011; Fresno

OUTFIELDERS

Drew Ferguson - 19th round, 2015 draft (Belmont); CC/Lancaster
Alejandro Garcia - International free agent, 2015 (Cuba); Fresno/CC/Lancaster
Ramon Laureano - 16th round, 2014 draft (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M); CC/Lancaster

Astros MiLB: Play Ball!

Happy MiLB Opening Day!!! Tonight the Astros minor league counterparts will take the field for the first time in the 2017 season. Dustin has already posted some great info on the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Buies Creek Astros, and his preview of the Fresno Grizzlies and Corpus Christi Hooks will post shortly.

Greeneville Astros - August 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen


This will be my seventh season covering the Astros minor league teams and, although I've come close to hanging it up a couple of times over the years, I keep plugging away. Why? Sometimes it's a hug from a player who made it to the bigs and wants to thank me for my support. Sometimes it's the excitement of a player who sees his interview posted. Sometimes it's just the smiles and laughter of the players in the pre-game dugout mugging for the camera. Sometimes it's the gratitude I receive from a mom or dad who appreciates my attention to their son, particularly if their son isn't one of those top prospects and is flying under the radar. Sometimes it's my readers, simply thanking me for keeping them abreast of things. Sometimes it's a former player who I watch go on to succeed as a coach or playing for another franchise.

But most of all, it's just getting to know some of these players. Before I started doing this, I was in awe of those star players I would see on the field from my seats in the stand. But then I started getting to know them, Knowing what really good, kind and mostly assuming people they are. They may be stars, but now I just see them as "my guys." They are, by turn, funny, smart, silly, outgoing, serious, quiet, studious, outrageous or even a little crazy. They are just like you and me; they're just really good at what they do.

So I will keep on keeping on for now. Because I know how much I've enjoyed getting to know these players, their WAGs and their families, and I don't want to miss the opportunity to meet the next generation of Astros minor-leaguers as they make their way through the maze of life and this crazy game we all love.

PLAY BALL!!!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

An AstrosTwitter PSA & Catfish Hunt

Opening day brought a little more excitement than Astros Twitter was expecting. Outside the excitement of a new Astros season, you may have missed that another #AstrosCatfish emerged, and this one is big enough to feed a family of 50.

PSA
Before this story gets told, please remember that there are very real dangers on the internet. The Astros Twitter community is, in my opinion, a great place to make friends, talk about the Stros,and have a good laugh. Unfortunately, it is also another place where you can’t completely let your guard down. As we reflect on some of this, please take these few tips to protect yourself and others in the community:
• If someone raises a red flag about someone else, listen to them;
• Be suspicious of someone who is too friendly too quickly;
• Unless you know the person, be wary of new, especially anonymous, accounts;
• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is;
• If you agree to meet someone, do it in a public place;
• If someone keeps giving excuses as to why they can’t meet, be even more suspicious;
• Trust your gut.
In general, just lookout for other people and try to keep this environment a good one for everyone.
Let’s Go Catfishing
First, let’s reflect on what has brought us here. Many of you may be familiar with the Twitter account, @McCullersManiac. Some of you may have seen this person as an online friend or a foe during the recent #AstrosTwitterMadness and #AstrosTwitterNIT. These contests are actually where the unravelling began so we’ll start from there.
During #AstrosTwitterMadness, @McCullersManiac was very vocal in his solicitation for votes. He offered prizes such as a signed ball from Lance McCullers and tickets to opening day. The winner of the opening day tickets turned out to be Julia DeBerry (@jbvdeberry – go follow her, she’s cool). When her husband, Dustin (@dkdeberry – follow at your own risk), went to arrange for the tickets to be picked up, he was met with:

And then on Monday, Opening Day

Well, this is odd. Telling someone they won tickets and then completely sketching out on them. Not unheard of, but deleting your account as well? That seems excessive. Why take such extreme measures just for overpromising?
Once this was posted, the floodgates seemed to open up about this character. Just some of the claims made by this person include:
• offering these same tickets to other people within Astros Twitter;
• offering suite access;
• claiming to be a season ticket holder;
• making excuses multiple times when people have tried to meet up with him; and
• claiming his house burned down.
Although sketchy, none of this really warrants more than just ignoring someone and moving on. As things started to progress throughout the day, some more disturbing claims began to trickle out.
Interactions with the person behind @McCullersManiac were exposed by multiple people, mostly female, within the Astros Twitter community. Some of these interactions includedattempts to manipulate women, becoming prematurely intimate through text and DM’s, arranging dates then “ghosting,” and solicitation of nude pictures.
Here’s where things started to take a distinctly weird turn. While discussing these interactions, it was noted that @McCullersManiac was a late 20’s male and presented the following pictures as himself:



Good looking dude, amirite? Well, someone is but it isn’t @McCullersManiac. A reverse image search of these images shows that they were used in a previous dating website scam. The original source of these images hasn’t been discovered, but there is a pretty high confidence level that it isn’t him.
Also, @McCullersManiac has been many accounts before. There may be more out there, but here is a list of the Twitter Accounts that have been connected to this person:
• McCullersManiac
• AstrosTwittaNIT
• WinAstrosWin
• CrushCityDoc
• Seasonticketguy
• ChrisRyanComedy
• ChrisBiggio
Now you’re probably wondering at this point, who is @McCullersManiac? And that is a good question. He told multiple people that his name was “Chris,” some that it was “Mike, and others that it was “Shane.”
@McCullersManiac is actually a mid-40’s male that lives in SE Texas named Chris S. (The decision was made not to publish his last name, but we’ve independently verified the information we found with information he provided himself, and a matching Facebook profile was found.)
So where do we go from here and what do we do with this information? Well, for starters, we need to be on the lookout for any future accounts this individual may try to create. He has been active in Astros and other Houston sports related Twitter communities for at least 2 years. In general, it’s good to be cautious of any followers that are familiar with inside jokes despite being a new account and anyone that claims to be highly connected with tickets or inside access.
It should also be noted that everyone involved feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of this individual’s actions. Please don’t hesitate to share your experiences and shine a light on this person.
In conclusion:
To Chris: Stop doing this. You’re playing with fire and it wasn’t hard to figure out who you are.
To Astros and Houston Sports Twitter: Let’s take care of each other. We’ve come together around teams that we love on a platform that allows us to interact freely and openly. Let’s be vigilant but not let one idiot ruin it.

--FDSP 4/eva

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Meet the 2017 Buies Creek Astros

The Astros are back in the Carolina League for the first time since 2008. For the next two seasons, their Class A Advanced affiliate will be located in Buies Creek, North Carolina before moving permanently to Fayetteville in 2019.

Also their Twitter avatar

The Buies Creek Astros will play their games at Jim Perry Stadium on the campus of Campbell University. They will play in the Carolina League's Southern division with Carolina (Brewers), Winston-Salem (White Sox), Myrtle Beach (Cubs), and Down East (Rangers).

Omar Lopez will move up from Quad Cities to manage the new club. Also moving up from Quad Cities is pitching coach Chris Holt. Hitting coach Troy Snitker is the son of Braves manager Brian Snitker. Former Astro Mickey Storey will serve as the development coach

Kyle Tucker and Franklin Perez are the two marquee names on this squad. Myles Straw is a speedster who slashed .358/.423/.454 across both A levels last season. Riley Ferrell is looking to get himself back on track after spending most of 2016 on the disabled list, while Framber Valdez had a fine season across four levels.

Buies Creek will host Winston-Salem to open 2017. First pitch is at 7:00 Eastern.

A FEW BUIES CREEK-RELATED TWITTER ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW

Team - @bcreekastros
Fayetteville Astros, placeholder account for when they move in 2019 - @FayAstros

Let's meet the 2017 Buies Creek Astros!

Oldest player on roster: Andrew Thome (born January 13, 1993)
Youngest player on roster: Franklin Perez (born December 6, 1997)

Tallest: Justin Ferrell (6'7")
Shortest: Osvaldo Duarte (5'9")

Duarte is the smallest guy on the team, at 5'9", 160. Yoanys Quiala is the heaviest, checking in at 235 on his 6'3" frame.

Italics - Player bats/throws left-handed
Asterisk - Player is a switch-hitter

STAFF

Manager: Omar Lopez
Hitting Coach: Troy Snitker
Pitching Coach: Chris Holt
Development Coach: Mickey Storey
Athletic Trainer: John Gregorich
Strength & Conditioning: Mark Spadavecchia

PITCHERS


Framber Valdez - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Akeem Bostick - Acquired from Rangers for Carlos Corporán, 2015; played with Lancaster and Tri-City in 2016
Matt Bower - 23rd round, 2015 draft (Washington State); Lancaster/Quad Cities
Justin Ferrell - 36th round, 2014 draft (Connors State College); Quad Cities
Riley Ferrell - 3rd round, 2015 draft (TCU); Lancaster
Ralph Garza Jr. - 26th round, 2015 draft (Oklahoma); Lancaster/Quad Cities
Elieser Hernandez - International free agent, 2011 (Venezuela); Lancaster/Quad Cities
Jose Luis Hernandez - International free agent, 2015 (Mexico); Lancaster/Quad Cities
Nick Hernandez - 8th round, 2016 draft (Houston); Quad Cities/Tri-City
Sebastian Kessay - 22nd round, 2013 draft (Scottsdale Community College); Quad Cities/Tri-City
Franklin Perez - International free agent, 2014 (Venezuela); Quad Cities
Yoanys Quiala - International free agent, 2015 (Cuba); Quad Cities
Andrew Thome - Undrafted free agent, 2015 (North Dakota); Lancaster/Quad Cities
Framber Valdez - International free agent, 2015 (Dominican Republic); Greeneville/Tri-City/Quad Cities/Lancaster
Alex Winkelman - 21st round, 2015 draft (Southeast Missouri State); Lancaster/Quad Cities/Tri-City/GCL

CATCHERS

Christian Correa - Undrafted free agent, 2015 (Nicholls State); Lancaster/Quad Cities
Eduardo de Oleo - Rule 5 draft selection (Minor league phase), 2016; Mobile/Kane County/AZL (D-Backs)
Anthony Hermelyn - 4th round, 2015 (Oklahoma); Quad Cities

INFIELDERS


Osvaldo Duarte - May 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Ryne Birk - 13th round, 2016 draft (Texas A&M); Quad Cities/Tri-City
Osvaldo Duarte - International free agent, 2013 (Dominican Republic); Lancaster/Quad Cities
Dexture McCall - 31st round, 2014 draft (Hillsborough Community College); Quad Cities
Arturo Michelena - International free agent, 2011 (Venezuela); Quad Cities
Stijn van der Meer - 34th round, 2016 draft (Lamar); Greeneville/GCL

OUTFIELDERS


Kyle Tucker - May 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Jason Martin - 8th round, 2013 draft (Orange Lutheran High School, Orange, California); Lancaster
Pat Porter - 15th round, 2015 draft (Ohio State); Quad Cities
Johnny Sewald - 14th round, 2015 draft (Arizona State); Lancaster/Quad Cities
Myles Straw - 12th round, 2015 draft (St. John's River State College); Lancaster/Quad Cities
Kyle Tucker - 1st round, 2015 draft (Plant High School, Tampa); Lancaster/Quad Cities

Meet the 2017 Quad Cities River Bandits

2017 marks the fifth season of the Quad Cities River Bandits' second stint as a minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros.


The Quad Cities River Bandits play at Modern Woodmen Park, located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa. Davenport is the largest of the four cities that make up the Quad Cities region, which spans Iowa and Illinois. The other three cities that make up the Quad Cities are Bettendorf (Iowa), Moline, and Rock Island (both in Illinois).

One of the iconic features of Modern Woodmen Park is its Ferris wheel. The ballpark also provides a stunning view of the Centennial Bridge, which connects Rock Island and Davenport.

The Banditos play in the Midwest League's Western division, which they share with Beloit (A's), Burlington (Angels), Cedar Rapids (Twins), Clinton (Mariners), Kane County (D-Backs), Peoria (Cardinals), and Wisconsin (Brewers).

Russ Steinhorn will be at the helm of the River Bandits. He's back in America after his journey overseas to serve as the manager of the Astros' DSL Blue team in 2016. Ben Rosenthal will serve as the hitting coach, and Drew French is the pitching coach.

2016 first-rounder Forrest Whitley will headline an intriguing pitching staff that also features fireballer Jorge Alcala and a rising arm in Hector Perez.

Derick Velazquez, a seventh-round pick in 2014, has resurfaced after missing two years due to multiple arm surgeries. Tyler Britton and Ryan Hartman are two 2016 draftees who had solid professional debuts and are looking to build on that momentum.

Daz Cameron will return for a second shot at the Midwest League. He'll be joined in the outfield by 2016 second-round pick Ronnie Dawson and Stephen Wrenn, who took the New York-Penn League by storm before cooling off a little after getting promoted to Quad Cities. There will be some power in this lineup; Taylor Jones swatted eight home runs with Tri-City, and Spencer Johnson clubbed ten across three levels after leading Division I with 24 home runs at Missouri State. Wrenn and Dawson are power threats themselves. Anibal Sierra makes his way stateside after spending his debut season in the Dominican Summer League.

Quad Cities opens at home against Wisconsin on Thursday at 6:35.

A FEW RIVER BANDITS-RELATED TWITTER ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW

Team - @QCRiverBandits
Russ Steinhorn, manager - @Russ_Steinhorn
Craig Wieczorkiewicz, Midwest League Traveler - @MWLTraveler
Rich Guill, team photographer - @QCBanditPhotog
Steve Batterson, sportswriter for the Quad-City Times - @sbatt79
Jake Levy, play-by-play announcer - @JakeLevyVoice

So... without further ado, here are your 2017 Quad Cities River Bandits!

Italics - player bats/throws left-handed
Asterisk - player is a switch hitter

Oldest player on roster: Spencer Johnson (born November 1, 1993)
Youngest player on roster: Forrest Whitley (born September 15, 1997)

The youngest guy on the roster is also the largest guy on the roster. Whitley is 6'7", 240, which just beats out Taylor Jones, who is also 6'7", but weighs 225.

Randy César, who was signed in 2011, is the longest-tenured player on the team.

STAFF

Manager: Russ Steinhorn
Hitting Coach: Ben Rosenthal
Pitching Coach: Drew French
Development Coach: Jason Bell
Athletic Trainer: Elliot Diehl
Strength & Conditioning: Hazael Wessin

PITCHERS


Forrest Whitley - August 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Brett Adcock - 4th round, 2016 draft (Michigan); played at Tri-City in 2016
Jorge Alcala - International free agent, 2014 (Dominican Republic); GCL/Greeneville/Tri-City
Tyler Britton - 21st round, 2016 draft (High Point); Greeneville/Tri-City/Quad Cities
Ryan Hartman - 9th round, 2016 draft (Tennessee Wesleyan); Tri-City
Dustin Hunt - 10th round, 2016 draft (Northeastern); Tri-City
Carson LaRue - 14th round, 2016 draft (Cowley Community College); GCL/Greeneville
Hector Perez - International free agent, 2014 (Dominican Republic); Tri-City/Quad Cities
Erasmo Pinales - International free agent, 2012 (Dominican Republic); Tri-City
Abdiel Saldaña - International free agent, 2013 (Panama); Greeneville/Tri-City/Quad Cities
Edgardo Sandoval - International free agent, 2014 (Panama); Tri-City, with cameos in Lancaster and Corpus Christi
Carlos Sierra - International free agent, 2016 (left Cuba legally, pitched in Spain after leaving); Tri-City/Quad Cities
Derick Velazquez - 7th round, 2014 draft (Fresno State); last played in 2014 with Tri-City
Forrest Whitley - 1st round, 2016 draft (Alamo Heights HS, San Antonio); GCL/Greeneville

CATCHERS


Chuckie Robinson - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Ray Henderson-Lozano - 22nd round, 2016 draft (Grayson College); Greeneville
Jake Rogers - 3rd round, 2016 draft (Tulane); Tri-City/Quad Cities
Chuckie Robinson - 21st round, 2016 draft (Southern Miss); Tri-City

INFIELDERS


Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Rodrigo Ayarza - Minor league free agent, 2014; Tri-City with a cameo in Corpus Christi
Randy César - International free agent, 2011; Tri-City/Quad Cities
Alex De Goti - 15th round, 2016 draft (Barry); Tri-City
Taylor Jones - 19th round, 2016 draft (Gonzaga); Tri-City
Spencer Johnson - 16th round, 2016 draft (Missouri State); Greeneville/Tri-City/Quad Cities
Anibal Sierra - International free agent, 2016 (defected from Cuba); DSL Blue

Why is Jonathan Arauz not here? Well....
OUTFIELDERS

Carmen Benedetti - 12th round, 2016 draft (Michigan); Tri-City
Daz Cameron - Competitive balance round A, 2015 draft (Eagle's Landing Christian Academy, McDonough, Georgia); Quad Cities/Tri-City
Ronnie Dawson - 2nd round, 2016 draft (Ohio State); Tri-City
Stephen Wrenn - 6th round, 2016 draft (Georgia); Tri-City/Quad Cities

Monday, April 3, 2017

Astros Opening Day

It's Astros Opening Day, a day that should be declared an official national holiday and would be if it was up to me. (Maybe I should run for office on that platform!) Alas, I will have to work today, but I'll get to Minute Maid Park as soon as I can, and I will definitely be in my seat for the first pitch with a frosty beverage in hand.



Coming into the season, I find myself looking back more than forward. Looking back to all of the Opening Days over the years when hope springs eternal and a 162-0 record is a theoretical possibility. Looking back nostalgically as I think about my favorite players over the years.

But also looking back to the not-so-good times of 2011 to 2013 when the Astros lost an astonishing 324 games. That was a lot of losing and it wasn't fun. Well, it mostly wasn't fun. For those Astros diehards who went to the games then (like me and my sister), we enjoyed the cheap parking and having the run of the stadium. No long lines for concessions!

One amazing thing that came out of those dark times was the emergence of #AstrosTwitter as a force to be reckoned with. Astros Twitter was funny, neurotic, angry, imaginative, hilarious, smart, profane, impassioned and generally outraged and outrageous. We kept each other sane through laughter and that shared outrage.

But we (mostly) never felt sorry for ourselves. We (mostly) got it. We (mostly) understood the how and why of the re-build. We (mostly) bought into it even when we didn't like some of the individual moves.

And we bided our time. We took the insults heaped upon us by other team's fan bases and delighted when we could beat them, loving the win and throwing their insults back at them (aka James of Astros County doing "The Thing.") We also delighted in throwing back the insults from certain unnamed pundits. It became a badge of honor to be blocked on twitter by a few of the more miserable twits.

After the 2012 season, I started writing a post called, "Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold." Like many other projects I've started, it went by the wayside due to lack of time or energy. But something tells me this is the year. Not necessarily that the Astros will win the World Series this year (although that would be awfully sweet), but that this is the year that the Astros will become a perennial postseason contender. This is the year that opposing fan bases will no longer be able to point and laugh without making themselves look like complete morons. This is the year that will start a new era in Astros baseball.

And I won't mind (too much) the bandwagon fans who weren't there in the bad years. I'll stand in the concession lines with them and compete with them for parking spaces. And I will be happy to see full houses in games that matter.

It's Astros Opening Day. And hope springs eternal. And 162-0 is possible, at least in theory.