Saturday, May 13, 2017

Getting to Know Astros/Hooks OF Drew Ferguson

I caught up with Hooks OF Drew Ferguson recently in Corpus Christi, but I've had my eye on him for quite some time. Part of it is his funny and very sarcastic sense of humor on evidence in his @_drewferguson twitter account. But mostly it's been his consistency since he was drafted in the 19th round in 2015 out of Belmont University in Nashville that intrigued me. In 196 career minor league games, Ferguson has hit .305/.387/.488 with 53 doubles, four triples, 24 home runs and 48 stolen bases. He is currently in the top 10 in the Astros system in runs, hits, doubles and stolen bases for the season.

Drew Ferguson - April 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Not to take away from his accomplishments on the field, Ferguson also offers some skills outside of the game itself that help set him apart. "I'm kind of the clubhouse clown. I try to keep things a little light. The way the ebbs and flows of the season, it's nice to have somebody who's usually pretty chipper, and I consider myself well-suited for that role. I kind of have a dry sense of humor, but most of the guys seem to like it pretty good. So I'll keep that up as long as my attitude and my mood dictates that," said Ferguson. Whether it's allowing himself to be the victim of a deadlift by the much larger Jon Singleton or advising a struggling teammate during BP to "swing harder," Ferguson's sense of humor is readily on display.

But back to the baseball portion of the interview. Despite starting the new season with the same consistency that has dominated his pro career so far, Ferguson isn't necessarily satisfied. "I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I would say that I haven't met my own expectations. I think that's part of it. I expect a lot out of myself and I prepare accordingly. This year, given that it's early, I think things are going well enough."

Ferguson continued, "I know it helped me a lot this off season. I played in Puerto Rico for winter ball, just an extra 200 at-bats, or whatever it was, is helpful coming in to the season. You kind of feel like you're in midseason form a little earlier or that's the hope. I still have some things that I'm working on, working with our hitting coach Joel Chimelis a lot. He's been really, really helpful to me. It's definitely a collaborative effort from the organization. They're going to point things out to us that we can improve on and that's the goal, just to focus on that on a daily basis and hopefully, you're trending in the right direction.

"I know that I'm not old, but also I'm not 18 years old, a high school player. The more at-bats, the better. I'm trying to improve at a fast rate so that I can get to the big leagues before it's too late. So that was kind of my mind-set (for playing winter ball). I'd be happy to play again as long as my body was feeling up for it. I'm kind of surprised that more guys don't play because it's an advantage to just play the game more."

Asked to give a scouting report on himself, Ferguson told me, "If I had to typify myself, I'd say that I do everything well, but nothing extraordinarily well. I kind of pride myself in being a well-rounded player … base running, defense, at the plate. I try to help the team win in a bunch of different areas. So to improve, of course I don't have crazy tools necessarily in any category, but I guess just maximizing my upside with what I'm given. I'm a very cerebral player. I think about the game a lot. I think about development a lot. I think that puts me a leg up on a lot of players. I know what it takes to be good. It's more just a matter of being able to do it consistently. My focus is to continue to learn about the game, continue to learn about my own development and how I'm going to improve in every category, every facet of the game."

Although Ferguson has been getting regular playing time so far this season, that hasn't always necessarily been the case so the fact that he's been very successful coming off the bench lends to his versatility. "Yeah, I'd say that I'm comfortable in a couple of different roles, whether that be as a DH (I don't think that I hit much differently when I DH vs. when I play). I feel comfortable in pinch-hitting situations. That comes down to preparation. Like I said I'm a very cerebral player. I like to have a really good idea how a pitcher might attack me. I'll guess at the plate based on tendencies or what I might expect in the situation. Try to pick up anything that's going to give me the upper hand because, like I said, I'm not the most talented player but I know how to take information and hopefully use that to my advantage. That's worked so far and I intend to continue that going forward."

When asked which Hooks teammate he'd least like to face in the batter's box, Ferguson said, "I think Dean Deetz is up there. He's got awesome stuff. I would go out on a limb and say that his slider is one of the best pitches in my career that I've been able to see first hand. Nobody seems to touch it. He's kind of effectively wild, not somebody that you can really look in a particular spot because he's going to kind of shotgun spray with very, very good stuff. And all his pitches do very, very well as long as he's throwing strikes, not necessarily to a specific location, but if he's just in the zone enough, he's really tough."

As to who really stands out on the Hooks team, Ferguson said, "Deetz is up there. Rogelio Armenteros has really impressed me, his feel for all of his pitches, able to throw any pitch in any count. I think Garrett Stubbs is a stud. The thing about him that impresses me is he's got one of the best barrel-to-ball abilities that I've seen in pro ball, just consistently hitting the ball on the barrel. I guess that's just a combination of good discipline and hand-to-eye coordination that he's able to use to his advantage pretty regularly."

Since Ferguson considers himself the class clown, I wanted to know who makes him laugh. "Everybody makes me laugh. I have running inside jokes with a bunch of the guys. I would say I banter the most with (Jacob) Dorris, Andrew Thome, Stubbs is up there and, of course, can't forget my college teammate Jamie Ritchie. We have jokes dating six years old that we're still wearing out. I think overall our group gets along pretty well. We have a pretty close bond for most of the guys on the team. Like I said, I try and keep it light-hearted and I think most of the guys are on that same page. It's a pretty good clubhouse atmosphere, I'd say."

My last question for Ferguson had to do with his dislike for baseball player clichés ...

Ferguson responded, "I kind of like to pick on the baseball stereotype because it's easy to do and I'm around it so much. I think in some cases baseball players get a bad rap, people assuming that they're going to be egotistical and kind of conceited, arrogant guys. That's not always the case, but there's enough of it, that it's worth making fun of it in my mind. That's definitely one of my most consistent punch lines, just taking the baseball stereotype to the extreme."

I'll just leave things right there because I dare not risk ending this post with any baseball blogger clichés. Thanks for your time Drew.

Other Recent Interviews:
RHP Akeem Bostick
LHP Mike Freeman
3B J.D. Davis

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Friday, May 12, 2017

Not a night to remember for the offenses down on the farm. Could the pitchers hold out long enough?



Oklahoma City 5, Fresno 2

W- Justin Masterson (3-1)
L- Trent Thornton (1-1, 2-3 season)
S- Madison Younginer (2)

Fresno home runs: D.J. Fisher (8, solo in 4th)

OKC seized control with a 4-run bottom of the 4th.

Trent Thornton went 5.1 innings and allowed 4 runs on 6 hits, walked 2, and struck out 6. Ashur Tolliver struck out 4 in 1.2 innings of work; one of his victims managed to reach base and Max Stassi was charged with a passed ball. Aaron West allowed a run on 2 hits and struck out 2 in the 8th.

Tony Kemp doubled to lead off the game and then advanced to 3rd when Preston Tucker was forced out at 2nd, but D.J. Fisher managed to beat the double play. Kemp scored the first run of the game when he swiped home as part of a double steal with Fisher, who took 2nd. Fisher launched a solo homer to lead off the 4th to extend his hitting streak to 15 games.

Mike Hauschild will start game 3 of this series. He'll take on Jair Jurrjens at 7:05.

Midland 2, Corpus Christi 1

W- Ben Bracewell (1-1)
L- Dean Deetz (3-1)
S- Sam Bragg (2)

CC home runs: J.D. Davis (7, solo in 4th)

Unfortunately, the pregame sacrifice did not work.
The Hooks had plenty of chances on offense but could only settle for a J.D. Davis solo blast in the 4th inning. Ramon Laureano and Alejandro Garcia both finished with two-hit nights. Corpus went 0-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.

Dean Deetz wasn't bad, but the lack of offense meant that he was forced to take a loss. He allowed 2 runs on 6 hits (5 singles and a double) and struck out 8 in 5 innings of work. Kent Emanuel allowed 4 hits and struck out 2 over the final 4 innings.

Corpus and Midland will continue their series at 7:05 as Josh James takes on Corey Walter.

Buies Creek 2, Down East 1

W- Alex Winkelman (2-0)
L- Emerson Martinez (0-3)
S- Nick Hernandez (5)

BC home runs: Dex McCall (1, solo in 5th)

The Astros topped the Wood Ducks in the first meeting between the Astros and Rangers organizations in the Carolina League.

Alex Winkelman was excellent once again; he went 6 innings and allowed an unearned run on 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 7. Yohan Ramirez made his season debut as the first man out of the Buies Creek bullpen and pitched 2 innings, allowing 2 hits and striking out 1. Nick Hernandez got the save by striking out 2 in a 1-2-3 9th.

The Carolina Stros only scored in one inning but it turned out to be enough. Dex McCall smacked a solo homer to put them on the board in the 5th inning, and Jason Martin lashed an RBI double to put them in front. Martin (2 2B, RBI, SB) and Anthony Hermelyn had 2 hits apiece. Kyle Tucker singled and stole his 11th base of the season.

The series continues at 6:00 Eastern as Justin Ferrell goes up against Wes Benjamin.

Dayton 3, Quad Cities 1

W- Aaron Fossas (2-0)
L- Lucas Williams (0-1)
S- Brian Hunter (1)

QC home runs: None.

After both teams went scoreless in the first six innings of this contest, business picked up in the late stages. Unfortunately, the Dragons ended up getting the final say in this one as they took control with a couple of runs in the 8th.

Jorge Alcala allowed just one run on a sac fly, a couple of hits, walked 1, and struck out 7 in 6.2 innings of work. Lucas Williams got the final out of the 7th and the first two outs of the 8th. However, Dayton got to him. He allowed 2 hits, walked 3, and struck out 1. Kevin Hill recorded the final out of the 8th inning.

Randy César singled to lead off the 7th and Spencer Johnson joined him on the bases after drawing a walk. They both moved into scoring position following a wild pitch, but César was thrown out at home after Taylor Jones grounded to shortstop. Dayton made a pitching change following that play, and Daz Cameron greeted the new pitcher by ripping an RBI double. Unfortunately, he and Jones were both stranded in scoring position to end the Quad Cities half of the 7th. Johnson tripled to lead off the 5th, while Rodrigo Ayarza finished 2-4.

The Banditos will look to avoid the sweep as Ryan Hartman takes the hill. He'll take on Tony Santillán at 7:00 Eastern.

Friday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Buies Creek Astros: W 2-1 @ Down East
9 IP, 5 H, unearned run, 2 BB, 10 K
Alex Winkelman: W (2-0), 6 IP, 3 H, unearned run, 2 BB, 7 K
Yohan Ramirez (not pictured): 2 IP, 2 H, K
Nick Hernandez: Save (5), IP, 2 K

Jason Martin, OF, Buies Creek
2-5, 2 2B, RBI, SB (7)

Photo by Bryan Green
Jorge Alcala, RHP, Quad Cities
6.2 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 7 K

Dean Deetz, RHP, and Kent Emanuel, LHP, Corpus Christi
Deetz: L (3-1), 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 8 K
Emanuel: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 K

Photo from MiLB.com
Ashur Tolliver, LHP, Fresno
1.2 IP, 4 K

Friday, May 12, 2017

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fresno 5, Oklahoma City 3

W- David Martinez (1-4)
L- Fabio Castillo (1-2)
S- Jordan Jankowski (3)

Fresno home runs: None.

The Grizzlies have won the first game of a series for the first time in 2017. They entered this game 0-8 in series openers.

David Paulino threw 3 scoreless innings in his season debut, allowing a hit, walking 4, and striking out 4. David Martinez also threw 3 innings; the three runs he allowed came on three solo homers which happen to be the only hits he allowed in this outing. Martinez also walked and struck out a batter. Kevin Comer worked around a hit and a walk to throw a scoreless 7th, striking out 2, and Jordan Jankowski recorded a strikeout and threw two perfect innings to get the save.

Tyler White opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the 1st inning. Fresno struck for 3 in the 2nd with an RBI single from Tony Kemp and a 2-run single from Preston Tucker. Kemp grounded into a force out that scored Reid Brignac in the 6th. Brignac finished 3-4 and scored a couple of runs. Kemp and Teoscar Hernandez both finished with two hits on the night. It was also nice to see Teoscar back in action after that terrifying collision with Jose Altuve in Cleveland.

Trent Thornton takes the mound for game 2 of this series. He'll be opposed by Justin Masterson. First pitch is at 7:05.

Midland 3, Corpus Christi 1

W- Lou Trivino (4-0)
L- Eric Peterson (1-2)
S- Kyle Finnegan (5)

CC home runs: None.

Make that nine consecutive defeats for the Hooks. This time, the RockHounds' pitchers shackled the Corpus offense just long enough for their offense to come alive in the final two frames.

Kyle Smith allowed just 2 hits, walked 1, and struck out 6 over 6 shutout innings. Eric Peterson was the first man out of the Hooks bullpen and allowed 2 runs (1 inherited runner charged to him) on 3 hits and fanned 1. Michael Freeman got the final out of the 8th, but not before allowing two singles, one of which allowed the go-ahead run to score and a walk to load the bases. Fortunately, nothing came of that bases-loaded situation. Riley Ferrell allowed a run on a wild pitch, a single, and walked 1 in the 9th.

Alejandro Garcia opened the scoring with an RBI double in the 4th that was Corpus Christi's lone scoring play. Bobby Boyd hit a triple, while Garrett Stubbs swiped his 3rd base of the year.

Game 2 of this series will have Dean Deetz taking on Corey Walter at 7:05.

Salem 10, Buies Creek 8

W- Jordan Weems (3-1)
L- Brett Adcock (0-1, 1-1 season)
S- Bobby Poyner (2)

BC home runs: None.

Brett Adcock got a rude welcome to the Carolina League and the Astros made things a bit interesting, but their comeback bid fell short.

Adcock, who was just promoted from Quad Cities, allowed 7 runs (2 inherited runners charged to him) on 9 hits (2 solo homers), walked 1, and struck out 3 in 3.1 innings. Carlos Sierra was the first man out of the Buies Creek bullpen and threw 1.1 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, walking 1, and striking out 1. Ralph Garza Jr. stopped the bleeding by throwing 3.1 scoreless innings; he allowed 2 hits, walked 1, and fanned 5. Howie Brey struck out 2 in a 1-2-3 9th inning.

Eduardo de Oleo put Buies Creek on the board with an RBI single in the 4th inning. Later in the frame, Anthony Hermelyn drove in another run with an RBI single of his own and de Oleo scored on a passed ball.

In the 6th, Ryne Birk hit a sac fly and Johnny Sewald ripped an RBI double. Kyle Tucker smacked an RBI double in the 7th. Birk doubled to lead off the 8th and scored on Hermelyn's 2nd RBI single of the game. Little Tuck tripled to begin the bottom of the 9th and came home on a Dex McCall groundout. Tucker, Birk, and Hermelyn all finished with 2 hits in the game.

The Astros are back on the road for 11 games, starting in Kinston, North Carolina against the Down East Wood Ducks. The Carolina League's two newest franchises will do battle in a 3-game series. Alex Winkelman will start the opener, and he'll be opposed by Emerson Martinez. First pitch is at 7:00 Eastern.

Dayton 5, Quad Cities 3

W- Ryan Hendrix (3-1)
L- Forrest Whitley (1-2)
S- Joel Kuhnel (6)

QC home runs: Jake Rogers (6, solo in 1st)

The Dragons got the jump on Forrest Whitley with three runs in the bottom of the 1st as they took the series opener.

To his credit, Whitley pulled himself together and finished well, even though 4 runs in 5 innings doesn't look very pretty. He allowed 7 hits (solo homer), walked 1, and struck out 6. Erasmo Pinales pitched the final 3 innings and allowed a run on a wild pitch in the 8th, a triple to lead off the 8th, walked 2, and struck out 4.

Jake Rogers launched a solo blast in the 1st to open the scoring. Chuckie Robinson doubled to lead off the 2nd and scored on a single from Taylor Jones, and Rodrigo Ayarza hit an RBI single in the 7th. Rogers and Robinson finished with 2 hits apiece. Daz Cameron stole a couple of bases, giving him 8 on the season.

Jorge Alcala will start game 2 of this series. He'll take on Andrew Jordan at 7:00 Eastern.

Thursday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Kyle Smith, RHP, Corpus Christi
6 IP, 2 H, BB, 6 K

Tony Kemp, IF, Fresno
2-5, 2 RBI, SB (5)

Jordan Jankowski, RHP, Fresno
Save (3), 2 IP, K

David Paulino, RHP, Fresno
3 IP, H, 4 BB, 4 K in season debut

Ralph Garza Jr., RHP, Buies Creek
3.1 IP, 2 H, BB, 5 K

Kyle Tucker, OF, Buies Creek
2-4, 2B, 3B, RBI, 2 R

Erasmo Pinales, RHP, Quad Cities
3 IP, H, ER, 2 BB, 4 K

Jake Rogers, C, Quad Cities
2-3, solo HR (6), SB (1)

Astros Farm Report: 5-12

A rough week for the Astros affiliates plus lots of roster moves ...

STANDINGS

Out farmhands have been scuffling this last week, going 6-20 over the last week. (My compliments and my sympathies to Dustin who keeps cranking out the recaps. Writing about losses isn't fun and is often messy. Nevertheless, he persists!)

Fresno went 2-4 over the last week, fell two games further behind in the standings and is only a half game in front of the last place team in their division. Corpus Christi's story is much worse. They are currently on a nine-game losing streak and have dropped from first place to third place. The good news is that they are still a game in front of Frisco, a Rangers affiliate. Despite going 1-5 over the last week, Buies Creek remains in first place but are only one game ahead of Myrtle Beach (Cubs). Quad Cities remains in third place, one and a half games back, just as they were this time last week, despite compiling a 2-5 record over that period.

AAA Fresno 3rd 14-20 .412 8.0GB W1
AA Corpus 3rd 15-18 .455 4.0GB L9
HiA Buies Creek 1st 20-14 .588 0.0GB L3
LoA Quad Cities 3rd 16-16 .500 1.5GB L2

ROSTER MOVES/TRANSACTIONS

Note: The Astros have been moving players back and forth to either Tri-City or Extended Spring Training as a means of managing their rosters. I won't be including those moves in this list if I believe that they are only being made on paper for roster management.

Mott Hyde - April 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

5-13: IF Colin Moran activated from the AAA Fresno disabled list
5-12: SS Alex De Goti placed on the LoA Quad Cities 7-Day DL
5-12: C Ray Henderson assigned to LoA Quad Cities from Extended Spring Training
5-12: RHP Yohan Ramirez assigned to HiA Buies Creek from Extended Spring Training
5-11: OF Teoscar Hernandez sent to AAA Fresno for a rehab assignment (optioned to Fresno 5-12)
5-11: RHP David Paulino sent to AAA Fresno for a rehab assignment (optioned to Fresno 5-12)
5-11: LHP Brett Adcock assigned to HiA Buies Creek from LoA Quad Cities
5-10: RHP Gabriel Valdez assigned to LoA Quad Cities from HiA Buies Creek
5-10: RHP Tyler Britton (Quad Cities) retired
5-10: RHP Derick Velazquez (Quad Cities) retired
5-9: IF Mott Hyde (AA Corpus) placed on the temporary inactive list (rumored to be retiring)
5-9: 3B J.D. Davis activated from the AA Corpus Christi 7-day DL
5-8: RHP Edison Frias (Fresno) released (picked up by the Rockies and assigned to their AA affiliate)
5-8: RHP Dayan Diaz optioned to AAA Fresno from Houston
5-8: IF Antonio Nunez placed on the AA Corpus Christi 7-day DL (retroactive to 5-6)
5-8: SS Kristian Trompiz assigned to AA Corpus Christi from Extended Spring Training
5-7: RHP Edgardo Sandoval (Quad Cities) placed on the 7-day DL
5-7: RHP Ronel Blanco assigned to LoA Quad Cities from HiA Buies Creek
5-7: RHP Keegan Yuhl placed on the AAA Fresno 7-day DL
5-7: RHP Kevin Hill assigned to LoA Quad Cities from Extended Spring Training
5-6: RHP Akeem Bostick placed on the AA Corpus Christi 7-day DL
5-5: LHP Ashur Tolliver activated from the AAA Fresno DL
5-5: RHP Dayan Diaz called up to Houston from AAA Fresno

In addition, these players are known to be on the DL:

RHP Angel Heredia (60-day DL)
RHP Jose Luis Hernandez
LHP Albert Minnis
RHP Brady Rodgers (TJ Surgery 5-2; out for season)
2B Nick Tanielu (60-day DL)
RHP Andrew Walter

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

My recent interviews with:
Hooks 3B J.D. Davis
Hooks LHP Mike Freeman
Hooks RHP Akeem Bostick

And keep your eye out for my interviews with Drew Ferguson and Dean Deetz coming soon!

Baseball America updated their Top 100 prospect list yesterday. The Astros are represented by:
#15: OF Kyle Tucker
#17: RHP Francis Martes
#39: RHP Franklin Perez
#66: 1B A.J. Reed
#67: RHP David Paulino

Franklin Perez moved up 15 spots from the last rankings.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The A teams were in the spotlight on Wednesday with Corpus and Fresno getting (much-needed) days off.

Fresno was off

The Grizzlies will start a 4-game series in Oklahoma City at 7:05. David Paulino will make his season debut after starting the year on the DL. He'll face Fabio Castillo.

Corpus Christi was off

Kyle Smith will start the first game of a 4-game set against Midland at 7:05. He'll be opposed by Heath Fillmyer.

Salem 7, Buies Creek 2

W- Matt Kent (2-2)
L- Hector Perez (1-1, 2-2 season)

BC home runs: None.

The Carolina Stros were done in  by a 5-run 2nd inning from the Red Sox.

Hector Perez lasted 1.2 innings and allowed 5 runs (1 earned, 2 inherited runners charged to him), 2 hits, walked 5, and struck out 3. Sebastian Kessay was the first man out of the Buies Creek bullpen and looked to extract Perez from a bases-loaded situation, which he couldn't quite do; two of the runners that he inherited from Perez ended up scoring on a single. Kessay didn't allow any runs of his own in 2.1 innings of work; he allowed one other hit, walked 2, and struck out 3. Elieser Hernandez tagged in to throw 4.1 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits (solo homer), walking 1, and striking out 9. Howie Brey recorded the final two outs of the 9th via strikeout.

Jason Martin doubled to lead off the bottom of the 1st and scored the first run of the evening on a Kyle Tucker groundout. Ryne Birk scored the Astros' other run when Johnny Sewald got picked off and got caught in a rundown. Birk seized the opportunity to scamper home. Martin finished 2-4 and Christian Correa went 3-4 with a double.

The Astros will look to avoid the sweep at 7:00 Eastern. Buies Creek's starter is TBA; whoever he is, he'll take on Roniel Raudes.

Bowling Green 10, Quad Cities 2

W- Brock Burke (4-0)
L- Cionel Perez (1-2)

QC home runs: None.

Cionel Perez's rollercoaster introduction to American pro baseball continues. I honestly would not attempt to read too much into his early struggles. He is essentially a guy in a totally new world.

Cionel only lasted 1.2 innings and allowed 6 runs on 7 hits, walked 2, and struck out 1. Salvador Montaño was the first man out of the Quad Cities bullpen and went 3 innings, allowing 3 unearned runs (2 inherited runners charged to him) on 4 hits, walking 1, and striking out 5. Gabriel Valdez pitched the final 3.1 innings and the one run he allowed came on a 3-run homer hit by Rene Pinto in the 5th; two of those runs were charged to Montaño. Valdez allowed 4 other hits, walked 3, and struck out 3.

Stephen Wrenn led off the 2nd with a double and scored Quad Cities' first run on a single from Spencer Johnson, who finished 2-4. Randy César also went 2-4 and scored the Banditos' other run on an error in the 6th that also allowed Chuckie Robinson to reach.

Forrest Whitley will start the first of a 3-game series in Dayton which will get underway at 6:00 Eastern. He'll take on Scott Moss.

Wednesday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Spencer Johnson, 1B, Quad Cities
2-4, RBI

Elieser Hernandez, RHP, Buies Creek
4.1 IP, 3 H (solo HR allowed), 2 ER, BB, 9 K

Jason Martin, OF, Buies Creek
2-4, 2B, R

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Catching up with Astros/Hooks 3B J.D. Davis

I first talked to 3B J.D. Davis two years ago in Lancaster and was impressed with what I saw from him then. I continue to be impressed by his consistency with the bat and his defensive improvement. One particular change that I've noticed with J.D. is in his quiet disposition. He's still on the quiet side, but he's more vocal on the field and he likes talking a little smack during BP as well, projecting an attitude of quiet confidence that makes him a very appealing player to watch.

J.D. Davis - April 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

When I caught up with J.D. in the Hooks dugout in late April, I asked him what was going well for him so far this season. He responded, "I think just sticking to what I learned after the first month of April last year. Me and (then Hooks Hitting Coach Dan) Radisson or Rad Dog … something clicked with him. Just trying to stay short and delivering my back side or my back hip to the ball more. And that's actually really helped me stay short and reduce the strike outs and reduce the swing and misses. Just put the ball in play. It doesn't have to (be driven). Just put the ball in play so you have a chance of getting a base hit or getting on base. I think that's really worked out with me. And also having that same approach or that same concept of hitting, of being ready to hit, it's helped me lay off some pitches that are closer on the border line of the strike zone so that's actually helped me a lot. Being more patient as a hitter and being ready to get my pitch in the zone. I've been working on that all off season. And then going in to Spring Training and having a really good Spring, I'm really confident in what I've done and really happy with what I've done. Just try to stay consistent with what I'm doing over here."

When I asked J.D. if it was my imagination that his defense had gotten markedly better since he first started, his initial response was somewhere between a chortle and a guffaw. "Yeah, it's gotten a lot better," said Davis. "I remember the first time in Tri-City, I had 11 errors in 20 games. [It was actually 27 games if that makes you feel any better, J.D.] That was not a good start at all at third base. I've gotten a lot better. I've taken pride in it. Coming here, coming with the Astros organization, the first priority was to soften up my hands. I couldn't knock out every single priority in getting better on defense all in one year. So I just took one step at a time, softening my hands up, working with Adam Everett, Ramon Vasquez, (Morgan) Ensberg and even Rodney (Linares), working with all those guys softening up my hands. And the next step was getting my feet better. I think I made great strides last year in getting it. And then this last off season, I've always gone to a trainer, but I went to a speed guy. That really helped me with my feet and my agility. And I've actually lost 10 to 15 pounds because at the end of last year, I was 238. Right now, I'm 228, 227. I've lost quite a bit of weight and obviously, I've put on quite a bit of muscle. It's helped me be a little bit lighter on my feet, a little quicker over there, especially when it's the hot corner. All in all, I think just taking one year at a time and getting better at one aspect of defense in my game so I think that's actually helped me a lot. Instead of trying to be impatient and expect everything to work right away, to be more patient and work on things and that's actually helped out a lot."

The Astros are planning to give Davis a little time in the outfield this season to add to his versatility. When asked about that, Davis said, "Yeah, I enjoy it. I played right field in college. They put me out in left field which is a different atmosphere out there. You know you get different balls. [With] righthanders, you'll get the top spinners and [with] lefties, you'll get the slicers. In right field, you mostly get truer balls. It's a little easier out in right. Left field is a little bit more difficult but whatever it takes me to get to the big leagues, I'm OK with doing whatever the team needs. I know (Alex) Bregman, you can't really beat that guy. His defense and his bat are pretty incredible. It is what it is, so if I can help the Astros or get to the next level, by just being a plug in at left field or even at first base, I'll do it. I'm pretty comfortable out there. I've only played like two games out there so I can't really speak too much about it, but I'm not opposed to it."

What would Davis tell the 2014 version of himself, the one who was drafted in the third round out of Cal State Fullerton? "Obviously, I would tell him what I've learned this last year, year and a half of hitting, and obviously of defense, and the mindset of professional baseball … to take one game at a time, not too much pressure on every single game. College-wise it's a different atmosphere. There's 52 games as opposed to 140 games. Every game is a must win in college to get up in the rankings. Professionally, obviously, you want to win every game, but you know you're going to see some plays, you're going to see some games that you've never done before, like the other night when we threw the ball around, I think we had 4 or 5 errors … we've never been a part of that. So it is what it is. It happens. But I would say to my younger self, Be patient, continue to work hard. Never be content. Always keep working hard. Keep your head down. Keep smiling and keep enjoying the game," said Davis.

Calm, quiet, confident and always striving to be the best player that he can be. What's not to like?

Thank you for your time, J.D., and best of luck as the season continues.

Other Recent Interviews:
RHP Akeem Bostick
LHP Mike Freeman

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Colorado Springs 8, Fresno 5

W- Hiram Burgos (2-2)
L- Casey Coleman (1-1)
S- Michael Blazek (2)

Fresno home runs: None.

The Grizzlies were swept out of Colorado Springs. This is the second time that Fresno has been swept in a series this season and both have come on the road.

Tyler White scored the first run of the day on an error that allowed Juan Centeno to reach in the 2nd inning. Later in the frame, Andrew Aplin drew a bases-loaded walk. In the 6th, Centeno scored on an error that allowed Aplin to reach; Aplin was credited with an RBI on the play. D.J. Fisher extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI single, and Preston Tucker hit a sac fly to bring the Grizzlies to within one run.

White and Max Stassi both finished 2-5. Centeno also extended his hitting streak to 12 games on Tuesday.

Casey Coleman pitched 4.2 innings and allowed 6 runs (5 earned) on 8 hits, walked 2, and struck out 7. Aaron West got the final out of the 5th and the first out of the 6th; he allowed 2 runs, both of which were inherited runners that were charged to him, a hit, and walked 2. Ashur Tolliver and Dayan Diaz both pitched 1.1 innings; Tolliver allowed a hit, walked 2, and struck out 1, while Diaz issued a couple of walks.

The Grizzlies have Wednesday off. They'll begin a 4-game series in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

San Antonio 6, Corpus Christi 4 in 10 innings

W- Trey Wingenter (2-0)
L- Cy Sneed (1-3)
S- Adam Cimber (1)

CC home runs: Bobby Boyd (1, solo in 1st), Jon Singleton (4, solo in 2nd)

The Rockets weren't the only Houston-affiliated team to lose to a San Antonio team last night.... and now I'm mad again. Excuse me while I try to cool down a bit.

The Hooks were swept for the second straight series, extending their losing streak to 8 games. They managed to tie this game with a run in the 9th.... only to see the Missions score a pair in the first extra frame to regain control. Yeah, bad things tend to occur during prolonged runs of poor form.

Brock Dykxhoorn went 5 innings and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits, walked 1, and struck out 4. Cy Sneed tagged in for 4.2 innings and allowed 4 runs (2 earned, 2 inherited runners charged to him) on 6 hits, walked 3, and struck out 5. Jacob Dorris recorded the final out of the 10th, but an error that turned out to be the decisive play allowed the two go-ahead runs to score for San Antonio.

Bobby Boyd got the scoring started with a homer to lead off the bottom of the 1st. Jon Singleton led off the 2nd with a solo blast and scored on an error that allowed Kristian Trompiz to reach in the 4th. Alejandro Garcia led off the bottom of the 9th with a triple and scored on a single from Trompiz, who then stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on the errant throw down. Unfortunately, he was stranded 90 feet from home to end the inning. Corpus had one last-ditch rally attempt in the 10th as Garrett Stubbs walked and J.D. Davis singled, but they were both stranded to end the game.

Corpus also has Wednesday off. They'll welcome Midland to Whataburger Field for 4 games starting on Thursday.

Salem 6, Buies Creek 1

W- Travis Lakins (5-0)
L- Framber Valdez (0-2)

BC home runs: None.

Buies Creek's offense was shackled by Red Sox starter Travis Lakins, who held them to just 3 hits on the night.

Arturo Michelena led off the 6th with a double, advanced to 3rd thanks to an error on the play, and scored the Astros' only run on a Jason Martin groundout. Kyle Tucker doubled later in the inning but was left there to end the frame. Myles Straw singled and stole 2nd base in the 8th but he too was stranded to end that inning. Straw now has 8 stolen bases on the season.

Framber Valdez went 5 innings and allowed 4 runs on 4 hits, walked 3, and struck out 6. Yoanys Quiala pitched the final 4 innings and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 8.

Hector Perez will start game 2 of this series. He'll face former Aggie Matt Kent at 7:00 Eastern.

Quad Cities 7, Bowling Green 2

W- Carson LaRue (3-1)
L- J.D. Busfield (3-1)

QC home runs: None.

The Banditos removed any lingering doubts regarding the outcome of this game by tacking on 3 runs in the top of the 9th inning. Both teams scored one run in each of the innings which they scored until the River Bandits put up the only crooked number in the final frame.

Dustin Hunt pitched 4 innings and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits, walked 1, and struck out 5. Abdiel Saldaña allowed 2 hits, walked 1, and fanned 1 in a scoreless 5th. Carson LaRue finished off the game by allowing 4 hits, walking 1, and striking out 1 over 4 scoreless.

Randy César's RBI single in the 1st scored Rodrigo Ayarza and put Quad Cities on the board first. In the 2nd, Ronnie Dawson doubled and scored on an error that allowed Chuckie Robinson to reach. Robinson ripped an RBI double in the 4th while Dawson added an RBI single to his ledger in the 6th.

Dawson led off the 9th inning with a single and Robinson joined him on the bases after lashing his 2nd double of the contest. Dawson scored on a sac fly from Carmen Benedetti and Robinson came home on Ayarza's second double of the game. César capped off the scoring the way he opened it: he hit an RBI single that drove in Ayarza.

Cionel Perez will take on Brock Burke in the series finale later this morning. This game will get underway at 10:35 AM.

Tuesday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Chuckie Robinson, C, Quad Cities
3-4, 2 2B, RBI, R

Ronnie Dawson, OF, Quad Cities
3-4, 2B, RBI, 2 R

Carson LaRue, RHP, Quad Cities
W (3-1), 4 IP, 4 H, BB, K

Brock Dykxhoorn, RHP, Corpus Christi
5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K

Jon Singleton, 1B, Corpus Christi
2-5, solo HR (4), 2 R

Kristian Trompiz, IF, Corpus Christi
2-4, RBI, SB (1)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Getting to Know Astros/Hooks LHP Mike Freeman

LHP Mike Freeman was drafted by the Astros in the 7th round in 2015 out of Oklahoma State University, and he immediately made his mark in the system. After starting his first season at Low A Quad Cities, he received an early August promotion to High A Lancaster, followed by a late season promotion to AA Corpus Christi.

Mike Freeman - April 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Freeman's excellent start in the Quad Cities bullpen (1.50 ERA and 1.157 WHIP in 8 appearances) was eclipsed by his even better stint with Lancaster (0.49 ERA and 0.709 WHIP in 7 appearances) where his high ground ball out rate served him well in a park widely known as a pitcher's nightmare. That he ended his season in Corpus Christi with an overall record of 2-1, a 1.17 ERA and a 0.991 WHIP came as no surprise to anyone who saw his success that season.

Then came 2016 and things did not go quite as swimmingly for Freeman. He started to struggle early and never quite got his feet under him. At the end of the season, he was 3-4 with a 7.19 ERA and a 2.041 WHIP in 37 appearances, 56.1 innings pitched. Thankfully, he got off to a much better start this year, going 2-0 with one save, a 1.50 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP in his nine appearances in April.

I asked Freeman about his tough 2016 season and what is going better for him this year. He told me, "It's kind of like my body never really recovered. I just didn't ever feel right. I was pretty worn down after a long season (in 2015). I ended up throwing 150 innings total between college and that first half season after I signed. And I'd never thrown more than 85 innings in a season. And that year before, between college and summer ball, I threw like 45 innings, 50 innings. So I pretty much tripled what I'd done the previous year. That was an adjustment, throwing that much. I always felt worn down. So, really, I just got some time to let my body recover a little bit more this off season and I feel good. I was just real achy and just didn't feel right last season. I started second-guessing myself and why it was that way and got off a little bit mechanically. This season I got back into a groove, my body feels better and I worked on some things mechanically with my college pitching coach. I'm feeling a lot better."

Corpus Christi Pitching Coach Dave Borkowski said of Freeman overcoming his struggles, "I think that he had a good off season. I think he has an idea of what's expected of him. He was able to plan for it. I think he's a little more ready for what's expected, has a little bit more confident look about him. And all it is is him trusting his stuff through the zone. He gets in trouble when he tries to be fine, pitch away from contact. He's got such good movement that he doesn't have to hit the black with all his pitches."

Freeman doesn't throw heat. But the lefty can be very effective with his mid-to-high 80's fastball and slider that he throws from a low 3/4 slot, generating good movement on the pitches. He is also working on a changeup. "I've been working on the changeup this off season and mixing it in more this season just to have another pitch, especially against righties to do a little bit more damage and to keep them off the fastball. I like both (the fastball and slider) and they're both pretty effective."

As far as what's going well for him so far this season, Freeman says, "Just keeping the ball in play. Getting guys out and making aggressive pitches. Every once in a while I may get loose on a few batters here and there, but then get back in it and (limit the) damage. Keeping the ball on the ground for the most part is what I usually do and just keeping guys more off-balance and just being more aggressive with everything this year."

One thing that he knows he'll need to work on to get to the next level are the free passes. Freeman says that he needs to "throw more strikes consistently." He continues, "Every once in a while I may get a little off and walk a guy and have 4-pitch walks and that just can't happen. 4-, 5-pitch walks can't happen and just giving up free bases in general. Keeping that aggressive mentality throughout a whole game and against all hitters, and just going after guys and getting them."

When I asked Freeman about the players behind him in the field when he pitches, he was effusive in his praise of everyone on the team, "We're in AA. All these guys are really talented. There's a reason why they're here. They definitely have earned it and definitely deserve it.  I think they all deserve about as much credit as I could give them." But he did make note of two players in particular, "One thing I've been really impressed with is (Jon) Singleton. I'd never seen him play until this spring. Being as big a guy as he is, he's really athletic. And then even (Tyler) Wolfe is here right now and he's a really quality player. He's a competitor. He played at Kansas State when I was at Oklahoma State and he's a good ballplayer."

The biggest surprise to me in interviewing Freeman is how quiet and "normal" the tall lefty is, particularly after talking to dozens of lefty pitchers over the years; that breed of player has a tendency to be rather, ahem, eccentric. But Freeman seems to be the exception that proves the rule and, but for his 6'8" height, wouldn't necessarily stand out in a crowd. When asked for something about himself that some might find surprising, he told me, "I studied Biology in school. I was a Biology major. That would probably be fairly surprising to most people. I thought I might want to be a Physician Assistant one day. Hopefully, I don't ever have to do anything like that. Stay in baseball for a while. That's the plan."

That's the plan, indeed. Thank you for your time, Mike, and best of luck as your season and your career unfolds.

Other Recent Interviews:
RHP Akeem Bostick

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Monday, May 8, 2017

Swept. Again.


Colorado Springs 12, Fresno 5

W- Tyler Cravy (3-0)
L- Reymin Guduan (2-3)
S- Stephen Kohlscheen (1)

Fresno home runs: D.J. Fisher (7, 3-run in 6th), Max Stassi (1, solo in 6th)

The Sky Sox battered the Grizzlies' bullpen in the late innings to take control.

Francis Martes went 3.2 innings and allowed 4 runs on 5 hits (solo homer), walked 3, and struck out 5. Kevin Comer was the only Fresno pitcher to turn in a scoreless outing, striking out 1 in 1.1 innings. One of the batters he faced reached on an error.

Reymin Guduan threw a 1-2-3 6th but got the hook after the first two batters reached against him to start the 7th. Both of those runners scored on a 2-run single from Brett Phillips, which occurred after he left. Jordan Jankowski took ownership of the 7th and he managed to strike out the side, but he also allowed a couple of runs of his own in addition to allowing Guduan's runners to score. He also allowed 2 hits and walked 1. Tyson Perez allowed 4 runs on 6 hits in the 8th.

Max Stassi scored the game's first run on a Juan Centeno single in the 2nd inning. D.J. Fisher extended his hit streak to 13 games with a 3-run homer in the 6th, and Stassi followed by launching a solo blast. Stassi and Centeno both finished 2-4 on the evening; Centeno extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

First pitch in this game was pushed back 2 hours due to rain; the game was originally slated to start at 6:40 local time but the rain pushed it all the way back to 8:50.

Fresno will look to avoid the sweep later this morning. Casey Coleman takes on Hiram Burgos at 11:00 AM Mountain time.

San Antonio 5, Corpus Christi 3

W- Brad Wieck (2-1)
L- Andrew Thome (2-1, 2-2 season)
S- Eric Yardley (2)

CC home runs: Trent Woodward (1, 2-run in 8th)

Trent Woodward smacked a 2-run homer in the 8th to put Corpus in front 3-2.... but the Missions responded with a 3-run homer in the top of the 9th to regain the lead. The Hooks have now dropped six straight and are now under .500.

Corpus Christi's other scoring play came in the 3rd as Drew Ferguson hit an RBI single to put them on the board first. Woodward and Mott Hyde both finished 2-3 on the night.

Rogelio Armenteros allowed 3 hits, walked 1, and struck out 7 over 5 shutout innings. Carlos Hiraldo and Andrew Thome both pitched 2 innings: Hiraldo walked 3 and the one hit he allowed was a 2-run homer from Jose Rondon. Thome allowed the go-ahead 3-run homer to Alberth Martinez in the 9th; two of the runs were earned. He allowed two other hits and struck out 1.

Brock Dykxhoorn will take the mound as the Hooks look to avoid the sweep. He'll face Michael Kelly at 7:05.

Buies Creek was off

The Carolina Stros are back home and they'll start a 3-game series with Salem at 7:00 Eastern. Framber Valdez will face Dedgar Jimenez.

Bowling Green 2, Quad Cities 0

W- Ethan Clark (1-0)
L- Enoli Paredes (0-2)
S- Reimin Ramos (1)

QC home runs: None.

The Banditos' bats went MIA and a decent pitching performance went to waste.

Enoli Paredes wasn't terrible, but he didn't get any run support. He went 6 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 2, and struck out 2. Ronel Blanco allowed 2 hits and struck out 3 over the final 2 innings.

The only Quad Cities hits were singles from Alex De Goti and Randy César.

Dustin Hunt gets the start in game 2 of this series. He'll take on J.D. Busfield at 6:35.

Monday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Rogelio Armenteros, RHP, Corpus Christi
5 IP, 3 H, BB, 7 K

Trent Woodward, C, Corpus Christi
2-3, 2-R HR (1), 2 R

Juan Centeno's photo taken by Bryan Green
Max Stassi, C, and Juan Centeno C, Fresno
Stassi: 2-4, solo HR (1), 2 R
Centeno: 2-4, RBI
Centeno is currently on an 11-game hitting streak.

Ronel Blanco's photo tweeted out by the DPL's (Dominican Prospect League) Twitter account
Enoli Paredes' photo taken by Bryan Green
Enoli Paredes, RHP, and Ronel Blanco, RHP, Quad Cities
Paredes: L (0-2), 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Blanco: 2 IP, H, 3 K

Monday, May 8, 2017

Getting to Know Astros/Hooks RHP Akeem Bostick

Akeem Bostick's 6'6" frame and his smooth baritone voice immediately set him apart. But it was his presence on the mound last Saturday in his first AA appearance that had fans and scouts alike taking note. Despite allowing a lead off home run to Frisco's Scott Heineman, Bostick also impressed Pitching Coach Dave Borkowski, "I thought it was a great first impression. He gives up that first home run to lead off the game. You like how he reacted after that. He continued to pound the zone, continued to be efficient, used all his pitches. It was nice to see."

Akeem Bostick - April 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Bostick has a very robust pitch repertoire, featuring a 4-seam fastball, 2-seam fastball, cutter, slider and curveball. He even mixes in the occasional changeup and splitter. But it is his mid 90's fastball and his cutter that he likes best. And he definitely throws them all for strikes. In his first five appearances this season, Bostick threw almost 65% of his pitches for strikes.

Bostick, a barely 22-year old righty who came into the Astros system from the Rangers in the January 2015 Carlos Corporan trade, was finally able to break through the High A ceiling after spending parts of the prior two seasons with High A Lancaster. This season Bostick made a statement in his first four appearances with the Astros current High A affiliate in Buies Creek by going 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA and a 0.828 WHIP.

Lancaster, located in California's High Desert, is not the most conducive of environments for a young pitcher, but Bostick took it in stride. "Out there in Lancaster, I felt like I played pretty solid for the most part. I had a couple of rough games in the two seasons that I played there, but for the most part I think I played well. The way the ball carries out there is ridiculous. Numbers look kind of off, but mentally I know I pitched pretty well," said Bostick.

And, although the environment at Buies Creek is much more welcoming for pitchers than Lancaster, the atmosphere is still a little different, particularly since the Astros will only reside at the Campbell University stadium for two seasons while the new Fayetteville, NC venue is being constructed. I asked Bostick about the atmosphere there, "Out there, we don't have many fans. It's right there on the college campus so college students will come. You'll have others that work around there .. they'll come out there. But for the most part, it's not too big of a fan base, but the guys that actually do come, you can hear them in the stands."

So Bostick's AA debut was a long time in coming. He made the most of it, and not just by collecting the win. "Last night, it was a little overwhelming just being promoted to AA for the first time and having a packed house like it was last night. But really, I was more happy that I got to beat my former teammates, guys that I played with when I was over with the Rangers. That was pretty fun," said Bostick.

When quizzed about his season thus far, Bostick told me, "It just goes back to executing pitches. I think I've been able to command my pitches very well, make the pitches necessary to get quick outs." As far as what he'll need to improve upon, he said, "Really just focusing right now on all my pitches coming out of the same tunnel, out of the hand so that hitters can't recognize it as early. Sometimes I get open and I want to throw my curveball from behind me and it's just a big loopy one, and other times I get out in front, same tunnel and it's got good bite to it."

I had one final question for Bostick. What would 2017 Bostick tell 2013 Bostick, freshly drafted out of West Florence High School in Florence, SC in the second round. "Just keep working, man. Right now I feel like I'm pretty close. Just keep the same mentality. Just keep on focusing on executing my pitches. I think I'll get there in no time."

Unfortunately, Bostick was pulled from his next appearance for the Hooks this past Friday with an injury (after throwing only 17 pitches), possibly a "hand issue," that landed him on the 7-day DL. I'm hoping for his swift return to the rotation and his chance to beat many more of his former Rangers teammates in the coming months and years to follow.

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Sunday, May 7, 2017

Colorado Springs 7, Fresno 3

W- Brandon Woodruff (5-0)
L- Edison Frias (1-3)

Fresno home runs: Preston Tucker (6, solo in 8th)

The Grizzlies were done in by a couple of big innings from the Sky Sox offense and a lackluster offensive showing on their end.

Fresno didn't get on the board until the 8th when Jon Kemmer hit a sac fly and Preston Tucker launched a solo homer. Jack Mayfield finished 3-4 with a couple of doubles; he led off the 8th with one and scored on Kemmer's sac fly and drove in a run with the second double in the 9th inning. D.J. Fisher singled to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Reid Brignac finished 2-4.

Edison Frias and Brian Holmes both pitched 4 innings with dramatically different results. Frias allowed 7 runs on 9 hits (2 solos and a 2-run homer), walked 3, and struck out 3. On the other hand, Holmes allowed a hit, walked 2, struck out 5, and kept Colorado Springs off the scoreboard.

Francis Martes returns after getting his last start skipped. He'll face Josh Hader at 6:40 Mountain.

San Antonio 7, Corpus Christi 1

W- Kyle Lloyd (3-3)
L- Josh James (2-1)

CC home runs: None.

The Hooks dropped their sixth straight to fall to .500. They were in this same situation last year and managed to right the ship and win the first half.

Mott Hyde opened the scoring with an RBI infield single in the 2nd. Unfortunately, that was Corpus Christi's only scoring play of the afternoon.

Josh James went 4 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 2. Riley Ferrell was the first man out of the Corpus bullpen and allowed 3 runs on 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 1 in the 5th. Michael Freeman pitched 2.1 innings and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, walked 1, and struck out 1. Jacob Dorris struck out 3 over 1.2 perfect innings.

The series continues at 7:05 as Rogelio Armenteros faces Barry Enright.

Buies Creek 12, Myrtle Beach 6

W- Matt Bower (2-0)
L- Ryan Kellogg (1-2)

BC home runs: Jason Martin 3 (5; solo in 1st, 3-run in 2nd, solo in 4th), Kyle Tucker 2 (8; solo in 2nd, 2-run in 6th), Anibal Sierra (1, 3-run in 1st), Pat Porter (3, solo in 6th)

Sunday Funday for Buies Creek as they lit up Myrtle Beach's pitchers to the tune of seven home runs. All 12 of their runs scored on those big flies.

Jason Martin wasted little time in getting things started as he sent one out to start the game. Later in the 1st, Anibal Sierra whacked a 3-run homer. Martin launched a 3-run homer in the 2nd to give him two in as many innings. Kyle Tucker followed by cranking a solo shot later in the frame. Martin led off the 4th inning with his 3rd homer of the day, his second solo blast. Little Tuck turned in a second consecutive multi-homer game when he smacked a 2-run homer in the 6th. Pat Porter followed up that dinger by clubbing a solo homer. Porter and Martin both finished with 3 hits on the day. Tucker and Dex McCall both finished 2-4 at the plate.

Matt Bower allowed 4 runs on 7 hits, walked 1, and struck out 3 in 5 innings. Ryan Deemes and Nick Hernandez pitched 2 innings apiece out of the bullpen. Deemes allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and fanned 4, while Hernandez struck out one over a pair of spotless frames.

Buies Creek has Monday off. They'll return to action on Tuesday to start a 3-game series with the Salem Red Sox. Framber Valdez will face Dedgar Jimenez at 7:00 Eastern.

Lake County 3, Quad Cities 1

W- Tanner Tully (1-1)
L- Ryan Hartman (3-1)
S- Ryder Ryan (1)

QC home runs: None.

The Banditos' bats were silenced in the series finale. Both teams scored a run in the 5th inning, but the Captains quickly broke the tie with a couple of runs in the 6th.

Taylor Jones' sac fly in the 5th was Quad Cities' only scoring play. Stephen Wrenn, who scored that run, went 2-3 with a double.

Ryan Hartman went 5 innings and allowed 3 runs (2 inherited runners charged to him) on 5 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4. Lucas Williams didn't allow any runs that were charged to him in his 3 innings of work, but he allowed the two runners he inherited from Hartman to score in the 6th. Williams also allowed 2 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4. Kevin Hill worked around a hit and a walk to throw a scoreless 9th, striking out 2.

The River Bandits will be on the road this week to take on a couple of Eastern Division clubs. Their first stop is Bowling Green, Kentucky, where they'll begin a 3-game set with the Hot Rods at 6:35. Enoli Paredes will start game 1.

Sunday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Jason Martin, OF, Buies Creek
3-5, 3 HR (5), 5 RBI
1st career 3-HR game

Kyle Tucker, OF, Buies Creek
2-4, 2 HR (8), 3 RBI, 3 R
2nd straight multi-HR game

Pat Porter, OF/1B, Buies Creek
3-5, solo HR (3), 2 R

Nick Hernandez, RHP, Buies Creek
2 IP, K

Jacob Dorris, RHP, Corpus Christi
1.2 IP, 3 K

Jack Mayfield, IF, Fresno
3-4, 2 2B, RBI, R

Brian Holmes, LHP, Fresno
4 IP, H, 2 BB, 5 K

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Saturday, May 6, 2017

Swept.


Colorado Springs 19, Fresno 7

W- Tim Dillard (1-0)
L- Mike Hauschild (0-1)

Fresno home runs: Jon Kemmer (3, solo in 1st)

This game was surely one to forget for the Fresno Grizzlies. Once again, they lost a series opener.

Mike Hauschild and Keegan Yuhl both had tough nights on the mound, and I think I'll leave it at that. Sean Stutzman allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 1, and struck out 1 in 2.1 innings. Aaron West allowed a hit and fanned 2 over 1.1 scoreless, and Andrew Aplin worked around a hit and a walk to throw a scoreless 8th.

Jon Kemmer opened the scoring by whacking a solo homer in the 1st inning. This would be the Grizzlies' last scoring play until the 5th; in the meantime, the Sky Sox scored 18 unanswered.

Max Stassi walked to lead off the 5th. Aplin doubled, and Jack Mayfield drove them in with a double. Mayfield came around to score on a single from Derek Fisher. A.J. Reed walked to lead off the 6th and Stassi drove him in with a double. Stassi advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on an Aplin single. Aplin eventually scored on a Tony Kemp groundout.

Stassi and Aplin both went 2-3; both of Stassi's hits were doubles. Fisher and Kemmer finished 2-5; Fisher extended his hit streak to 11 games.

Edison Frias will take on Brandon Woodruff in game 2 of this series. First pitch is at 1:30 Mountain.

San Antonio 3, Corpus Christi 2

W- Brett Kennedy (2-1)
L- Kent Emanuel (1-2)
S- Trey Wingenter (1)

CC home runs: Tyler Wolfe (1, 2-run in 8th)

A two-run homer jolted the Hooks back to life but they couldn't push across the tying run in the 9th and dropped their fifth in a row.

Tyler Wolfe was the one who smacked a 2-run homer in the 8th that put Corpus on the board and suddenly made this a one-run game. Garrett Stubbs drew a walk in the bottom of the 9th and managed to advance to 2nd, but he was stranded there to end the game. Drew Ferguson went 2-4 with a double.

Kent Emanuel went 5 innings and allowed 3 runs (all in the 4th) on 6 hits, walked 2, and struck out 2. Dean Deetz turned in 4 scoreless frames, allowing 2 hits, walking 3, and fanning 4.

Josh James starts game 2 of this series. He'll face Kyle Lloyd at 2:05.

Myrtle Beach 8, Buies Creek 4

W- Oscar de la Cruz (2-2)
L- Justin Ferrell (2-2)
S- Kyle Miller (1)

BC home runs: Kyle Tucker 2 (6; solo in 4th, solo in 9th), Christian Correa (1, solo in 8th)

A big inning from the Pelicans doomed the Carolina Stros for the second straight contest.

Kyle Tucker launched a pair of solo shots to turn in the first multi-homer game of his career. Christian Correa smacked a solo homer of his own in the 8th inning. After Little Tuck's second homer in the 9th, Ryne Birk drew a one-out walk and scored on a double from Pat Porter. Tucker and Porter both finished 2-4 on the evening.

Justin Ferrell went 4.1 innings and allowed 4 runs (2 inherited runners charged to him) on 7 hits, walked 1, and struck out 2. Ralph Garza Jr. got the final two outs of the 5th, one via strikeout, but both of the runners he inherited from Ferrell scored on a 3-run homer that he served up to Eddy Martinez. Garza also allowed a 2-run homer to Matt Rose in that 5th inning for Myrtle Beach. Alex Winkelman allowed an unearned run, 2 hits, and struck out 6 in 3 innings; the run scored on a force out in the 6th.

Matt Bower will take on Ryan Kellogg in the series finale. First pitch is at 3:05 Eastern.

Lake County 13, Quad Cities 3

W- Justin Garza (1-0)
L- Forrest Whitley (1-1)

QC home runs: None.

The Banditos fell behind 10-0 after 3.5 innings and Forrest Whitley hit the first speed bump of his young career.

Whitley did strike out the side in each of the two innings that he worked, but he got tagged for 4 runs on 5 hits (3-run homer) in the 1st inning. Reggie Johnson was the first man out of the Quad Cities bullpen and allowed 5 runs on 4 hits while walking 2 in the 3rd inning. Jorge Alcala allowed a run in the 4th, his first inning of work, but he managed to stop the bleeding. Alcala ended up going 4.2 innings and also allowed 4 hits, walked 2, and struck out 7. Salvador Montaño recorded the last 4 outs, all via strikeout. He also allowed 3 runs (all of which came in the 9th) on 4 hits and walked 1.

All three Quad Cities runs came in the 4th inning: Randy César ripped a 2-run double and came around to score on a single from Rodrigo Ayarza. Stephen Wrenn finished 3-4 with a pair of doubles while Ayarza finished 2-4.

Ryan Hartman gets the start as the River Bandits and Captains wrap up their series at 1:15. He'll be opposed by Juan Hillman.

Saturday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Photo by Bryan Green
Kyle Tucker, OF, Buies Creek
2-4, 2 solo HR (6); first career multi-HR game

Photo by Bryan Green
Jorge Alcala, RHP, Quad Cities
4.2 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BB, 7 K

Photo by Rich Guill
Alex Winkelman, LHP, Buies Creek
3 IP, 2 H, unearned run, 6 K

Stephen Wrenn, OF, Quad Cities
3-4, 2 2B

Dean Deetz, RHP, Corpus Christi
4 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 4 K

Max Stassi, C, Fresno
2-3, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R

Andrew Aplin, OF/LHP, Fresno
2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 R; IP, H, BB

Derek Fisher, OF, Fresno
2-5, RBI
Has a hit in 11 consecutive games

Jon Kemmer, OF, Fresno
2-5, solo HR (3)