Saturday, July 29, 2017

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Friday, July 28, 2017

Fresno with the...


Fresno 4, New Orleans 2

W- Mike Hauschild (5-1)
L- Scott Copeland (7-10)
S- Jordan Jankowski (10)
Fresno home runs: A.J. Reed (22, solo in 6th), Jack Mayfield (4, 18 season; solo in 6th), Max Stassi (12, solo in 8th)

Tacos > King Cake

The Tacos used three late homers to sweep the Baby Cakes out of the Central Valley.

Mike Hauschild turned in an outstanding start as he allowed a run on a wild pitch, a single, walked 1, and struck out 6 in his 6 innings of work. Kevin Comer struck out 1 in a 1-2-3 7th and got an out in the 8th, but ran into a little trouble after allowing a walk and a single. Reymin Guduan got the last two outs of the inning without further incident. Jordan Jankowski struck out 1 in the 9th and shook off a solo homer and a double to get the save.

A.J. Reed's solo blast in the 6th tied the game at 1. Two batters later, Jack Mayfield put the Tacos in front with his solo shot. Reed went 3-4 and added an RBI single to his ledger in the 7th. Max Stassi whacked a solo shot of his own in the 8th inning.

Rogelio Armenteros will start the first of a 4-game series in Omaha at 7:05. He'll go up against Andres Machado.

Corpus Christi 3, Midland 1

W- Franklin Perez (1-1, 5-3 season)
L- Dustin Hurlbutt (3-2)
S- Josh James (3)

CC home runs: Jon Singleton (17, 3-run in 3rd)

Sidebar: I always have to chuckle a little whenever I type out "Hurlbutt."

The Hooks only had one scoring play, but it produced more runs than Midland's scoring play.

Jon Singleton's 3-run homer in the 3rd proved to be enough offense on Friday night. Garrett Stubbs finished 2-4.

Franklin Perez got a little payback on Midland after they got to him in a doubleheader on Sunday. He went 5 innings and allowed a run on 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 5. Josh James brought it home by allowing 2 hits, walking 1, and fanning 5 over the final 4 innings.

Alex Winkelman faces A.J. Puk in game 2 of this series. First pitch is at 7:05.

Down East 5, Buies Creek 2

W- Tyler Ferguson (1-5)
L- Sean Stutzman (0-1, 1-2 season)
S- Kelvin Vasquez (1)

BC home runs: None.

The Wood Ducks scored the last 5 runs of the game to win 5-2 for the second consecutive night.

Both Buies Creek runs came in the 2nd on an Anthony Hermelyn RBI double and an RBI single from Spencer Johnson.

Brett Adcock allowed 2 runs on 7 hits and struck out 5 in 5 innings. Sean Stutzman threw a 1-2-3 6th, but the Wood Ducks got to him for 3 runs in the 7th to break a 2-2 tie. One of the runs was earned, the one hit he allowed was a 2-run double, and he recorded a strikeout. Erasmo Pinales got a strikeout in a 1-2-3 8th inning.

Hector Perez starts game 3, and he'll take on Steven Bruce at 6:00 Eastern.

Clinton 6, Quad Cities 5 in 10 innings

W- Seth Elledge (1-0)
L- Devon Carr (0-1)

QC home runs: Abraham Toro-Hernandez (2, 8 season; 2-run in 5th)

The Banditos briefly had the lead in the 5th, but the LumberKings tied it and ended up walking off with the win and the series in the first extra frame.

Cristian Javier went 2 innings and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, walked 4, and struck out 2. Dustin Hunt was the first man out of the Quad Cities bullpen and allowed 3 runs on 5 hits (2-run homer) and struck out 4. Jesús Balaguer made his Midwest League debut and threw 3 scoreless, allowing 2 hits, walking 1, and striking out 6. Clinton scored the winning run off Devon Carr with a 2-out RBI single in the bottom of the 10th. Carr allowed 3 hits, walked 1, and struck out 1.

Chuckie Robinson opened the scoring by ripping an RBI double in the 1st inning. Osvaldo Duarte walked to lead off the 2nd. He then stole 2B (9, 12 season), advanced to 3rd on the errant throw down, and scored on a wild pitch. Robinson doubled to begin the 5th and ended up scoring on a Daz Cameron groundout. Troy Sieber, who drew a 1-out walk, came home on Abraham Toro's 2-run blast.

Toro (2-R HR), Robinson (2 2B, RBI, R), and Carmen Benedetti all finished with 2 hits on the night.

Yohan Ramirez gets the start as the Banditos begin a 3-game series in Kane County at 6:30.

Tri-City 3, Staten Island 2

W- Parker Mushinski (3-0)
L- Brian Trieglaff (1-1)

TC home runs: Jake Adams (7, solo in 9th)

For a second straight night, the ValleyCats trailed 2-1 heading into the 9th inning. For a second straight night, they walked off with a victory.

Hunter Martin, Alex House, and Parker Mushinski all threw 3 innings. Martin and House both allowed a run on 3 hits; Martin struck out 3, while House had 2 strikeouts. Mushinski walked 1 and struck out 1 in his outing.

Corey Julks put Tri-City on the board with an RBI single in the 4th inning. This was their only scoring play until the 9th, when Jake Adams greeted Brian Trieglaff with a solo homer to tie the game at 2. Jonathan Arauz reached on an error and made it all the way to 3rd. Miguelangel Sierra sent everyone home happy with a walk-off RBI single. Adams went 2-4 on the night.

Kit Scheetz starts the series finale. He'll go up against Jhony Brito at 7:00 Eastern.

Greeneville and Bristol was postponed

Due to rain. A doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 6:00 Eastern.

DSL Astros Blue 5, DSL Red Sox 4

W- Jose Antonio Hernandez (2-1)
L- Andres Jimenez (5-1)
S- Jervic Chavez (2)

Blue home runs: Nerio Rodriguez (3, solo in 4th)

The Blue team had to withstand a furious 9th-inning charge from the Red Sox to escape with the win.

Nerio Rodriguez made a little history on Friday: he became the first catcher in Minor League Baseball history to hit a home run and throw out 5 of 5 would-be base stealers in the same game. 

Wilyer Abreu hit an RBI single in the 3rd and added a sac fly in the 8th. Nerio added an RBI double to his ledger in the 8th. Kendy Moya went 2-3 with an RBI single in the 4th and scored twice. Ronaldo Urdaneta went 2-3 with a stolen base (18) and scored a run. 

Antonio Pujols allowed 2 hits and struck out 3 over 4 scoreless to start. Jose Antonio Hernandez was the first man out of the bullpen and went 3 innings, allowing a run on 3 hits, walking 1, and striking out 3. Jean Reyes pitched a scoreless 8th, but he hit the wall in the 9th. He ended up allowing 3 runs (2 inherited runners charged to him) on 2 hits, walking 1, and striking out 1. Jervic Chavez allowed a hit and struck out 2 to get the save after coming on for Reyes.

DSL Dodgers2 12, DSL Astros Orange 2

W- Ricardo Hernandez (3-1)
L- Yulian Frontado (1-2)

Orange home runs: None.

Team Orange broke a scoreless tie with a pair in the 6th, but the Dodgers scored the last 12 runs of the day.

Freudis Nova went 3-4 and opened the scoring with an RBI double. He'd eventually score on a Jose Carrillo sac fly. Ramiro Rodriguez went 3-4 with a double and Deury Carrasco finished 2-4.

Asael Uribe went 4 innings and allowed 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4. Wender Oberto struck out 1 in a 1-2-3 5th. After Uribe and Oberto.... it was rough sailing to the end. I'll leave it at that.

Friday's Stars

Photo from MLB Pipeline
Freudis Nova, IF, DSL Astros Orange
3-4, 2B, RBI, R
Nerio Rodriguez Jr., C, DSL Astros Blue
2-4, 2B, solo HR (3), 2 RBI; caught all 5 potential base-stealers

Corpus Christi Hooks pitchers: W 3-1 vs. Midland
9 IP, 5 H, ER, 3 BB, 10 K
Franklin Perez: W (1-1, 5-3 season), 5 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Josh James: Save (3), 4 IP, 2 H, BB, 5 K

Mike Hauschild, RHP, Fresno
W (5-1), 6 IP, H, ER, BB, 6 K

A.J. Reed, 1B, Fresno
3-4, solo HR (22), 2 RBI

Abraham Toro-Hernandez, 3B/C, and Chuckie Robinson, C, Quad Cities
Toro: 2-5, 2-R HR (2, 8 season)
Robinson: 2-4, 2 2B, RBI, R

This is his mugshot on MiLB.com.
Jesús Balaguer, RHP, Quad Cities
3 IP, 2 H, BB, 6 K in Midwest League debut

Jake Adams' photo is his mugshot on MiLB.com.
Miguelangel Sierra's photo taken by Bryan Green.
Jake Adams, 1B, and Miguelangel Sierra, SS, Tri-City
Adams: 2-4, game-tying solo HR (7) in 9th
Sierra: Walk-off RBI single

These are their mugshots on MiLB.com.
Tri-City ValleyCats pitchers: W 3-2 vs. Staten Island
9 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 6 K
Hunter Martin: 3 IP, 3 H, ER, 3 K
Alex House: 3 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 K
Parker Mushinski: W (3-0), 3 IP, BB, K

Friday, July 28, 2017

Getting to Know Quad Cities LHP Patrick Sandoval

I first met Patrick Sandoval during a trip to Greeneville in August 2016 and came away impressed by the then 19-year old lefty's poise and confidence. After speaking with him again in Quad Cities last weekend, I was doubly impressed with what I saw both on the mound and off it.

Patrick Sandoval - July 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Quad Cities Manager Russ Steinhorn first coached Sandoval in Instructional League in 2015 shortly after he was drafted by the Astros in the 11th round out of Mission Viejo High School (CA). According to Steinhorn, "I see a different guy now stuff-wise. He's got a lot more velocity behind his pitches. It looks like he's put in a whole lot of work in his two years in Extended (extended Spring Training) that he's spent there." Steinhorn credits the coaches in Extended for helping Sandoval start to realize his potential.

Sandoval sees it the same way. He is a big fan of the Astros system and has no regrets about forgoing college to start his baseball career straight out of high school, "No, (no regrets) at all. Especially with the Astros and the Player Development system that they've got going on. I've learned tons more than I could ever learn going to college. Plus there's no class to go to."

Asked for advice to players drafted out of high school, Sandoval said, "I'd say listen and retain all the information you can. That's probably the biggest thing. And not to try to do too much on the mound, just do what you've been doing all through high school. Listen to your coaches. Be respectful. For the most part, retain all the information that they give you because it's going to help you."

Things have not always gone smoothly for Sandoval. "I definitely had a slow start to my career. I think the mental side of my game has gone a lot better. We've got Jesse [Jesse Michael, Mental Skills Coordinator] back in Florida who helped us a lot in Extended Spring Training. And, obviously the Strength and Conditioning coordination is great. And the pitching development is awesome. So I'm just picking up everything and it's starting to click now. I'm really excited to see where this is going."

Sandoval throws a 88 to 91 mph 4-seam fastball, a changeup with "a bit of tail and sink," a 12-6 curveball that's a work in progress and a recently added slider that has shown early signs of success. He sees greater consistency as the key to his continued development. "I feel like I'm staying more consistent on the mound as to throwing strikes a lot more than I usually have been in the past and just staying in myself and not trying to do too much with my pitches. Just keep improving. I've got a lot more way to go. I'd say throwing even more strikes than I'm throwing now, staying more consistent with my delivery, not having those flares of 4-pitch walks ... making the adjustments right away and going after people," said Sandoval.

When asked which fellow Quad Cities pitcher has a pitch he'd like to add to his arsenal, Sandoval told me, "[Robert] Corniel's fastball. If I could throw a pitch that hard, I don't think I'd be hittable. That dude's impressive. That's Bobby C right there. Big dude, throws hard. Usually throws strikes too." And the one Astro minor-leaguer he'd just as soon not face in the batter's box would be a familiar one, "Definitely [Kyle] Tucker. That dude just does not get out. He's pretty good [laughs], pretty good player."

I tried to find out more about Sandoval off the field with limited success. During the season, he told me that he spends most of his down time catching up on his sleep. In the off-season, it's mostly workouts and helping out at his old high school. Sandoval said, "I have no talents other than throwing a baseball. I can't sing. I can't dance. I can't play an instrument. I can play the recorder. I can play Hot Cross Buns on the recorder pretty well. I do dabble in a little bit of Spanish. I picked up some Spanish while being here."

But I saw Sandoval display one particular talent that should serve him well. He relates well to others. He finds common ground, whether it's kidding around with C Gabriel Bracamonte in his limited Spanish or, as I saw last year in Greeneville, coaxing a smile out of a sullen teammate who was having a bad day. He has a calm, steady, confident, good-natured presence. Combined with his desire to learn and grow as a player, that will make him a great teammate and a coach's dream.

Thank you for the time, Patrick, and best of luck as the season continues.

Recent Interviews:
Marcos Almonte and Abdiel Saldana

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Thursday, July 27, 2017

Let's play two in Clinton!

Fresno 8, New Orleans 5

W- Jacob Dorris (2-0, 3-2 season)
L- Kelvin Marte (1-5)
S- James Hoyt (2)

Fresno home runs: None.

The Grizzlies seized control with a 6-run 5th to turn a 5-2 deficit into what turned out to be the final score.

Alejandro Garcia's RBI single in the 2nd put Fresno on the board first. Juan Centeno added a sac fly in the 3rd inning.

Fresno loaded the bases to start off the 5th and eventually got their 6 runs. Jack Mayfield and Centeno singled, while Max Stassi walked. Garcia got plunked to bring Mayfield home. Centeno scored on a botched force out attempt. J.D. Davis added a sac fly. Preston Tucker drew a walk to bring Stassi in. Kemp scored on a passed ball, and Centeno hit an RBI single in his second plate appearance of the inning. Centeno finished 3-3 and accounted for half of the Grizzlies' hits in this game.

Dean Deetz allowed 4 runs on 3 hits, walked 4, and struck out 1 in 3.1 innings. Jacob Dorris was the first man out of the Fresno bullpen and the one run he allowed in his 2.1 innings came on a solo homer. He allowed one other hit and fanned 2. Ashur Tolliver got the last out of the 6th inning via fly ball. Dayan Diaz allowed 4 hits over 2 scoreless, and James Hoyt worked around a hit to close out the game, striking out 1.

Mike Hauschild takes on William Cuevas in the finale. First pitch is at 7:05 Pacific. Tonight is the first night of Fresno's biggest promotion of the year: Taco Truck Throwdown.

Corpus Christi 4, Midland 2

W- Cy Sneed (8-5)
L- Joel Seddon (3-4)
S- Andrew Thome (7, 8 season)

CC home runs: None.

Both teams scored in two innings. The Hooks won because they scored two in each of the innings in which they scored, whereas the Hounds scored one in their two scoring innings.

Corpus opened it up with a pair in the 1st on an RBI double from Drew Ferguson, who wound up scoring all the way from 2B on a wild pitch. They got two more in the 5th on a Kyle Tucker RBI double and a Garrett Stubbs RBI single. Ramon Laureano went 2-4 and scored twice.

Cy Sneed went 7 innings and allowed Midland's two runs on a pair of solo homers. He also allowed 3 other hits and struck out 8. Andrew Thome walked 1 and struck out 1 over the last two innings to get the save.

Franklin Perez will look to get even with Midland in his second Texas League start; the Hounds knocked him around a bit in a doubleheader on Sunday. He'll face Dustin Hurlbutt at 7:05.

Down East 5, Buies Creek 2

W- Richelson Peña (8-4)
L- Forrest Whitley (2-1, 4-4 season)
S- Adam Choplick (1)

BC home runs: Taylor Jones (2, 7 season; solo in 2nd)

Forrest Whitley hit a rare speed bump in Kinston.

Elieser Hernandez started it off by allowing 2 hits, walking 2, and striking out 4 over 5 shutout innings. The Wood Ducks got to Whitley in his 3 innings; he allowed 5 runs on 7 hits (6 singles and a 2-run homer), walked 1, and struck out 6. Whitley now has 104 strikeouts in a mere 68.2 innings this year.

Taylor Jones opened the scoring with a homer to lead off the 2nd inning. Stephen Wrenn smacked an RBI triple in the 5th to bring in Buies Creek's other run. Jones and Alex De Goti had 2 hits each.

Brett Adcock faces Jonathan Hernandez in game 2 of this series. First pitch is at 7:00 Eastern.

Game 1: Clinton 4, Quad Cities 3


W- Ljay Newsome (6-8)
L- Carson LaRue (10-4)
S- Wyatt Mills (1)

QC home runs: Carmen Benedetti (4, 3-run in 5th)

Carmen Benedetti's blast put the Banditos right back in it, but they couldn't push the tying run across in the first game of the twinbill.

The 3-run homer was Benedetti's 4th of the season. He and Ronnie Dawson both finished 2-4 from the top two spots in the lineup.

Carson LaRue and Robert Corniel pitched 3 innings apiece with different results. LaRue allowed 4 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits, walked 2, and struck out 3. Corniel allowed 3 hits and fanned 2.

Game 2: Quad Cities 6, Clinton 1

W- Salvador Montaño (3-2)
L- Michael Koval (2-6)

QC home runs: Abraham Toro-Hernandez (1, 7 season; solo in 3rd)

The LumberKings probably felt like they did enough to force extra innings when they scored a run in the 6th to tie the game... and then the Banditos seized control with 5 in the top of the 7th.

Abdiel Saldaña went 5.2 innings and allowed a run on 5 hits, walked 3, and struck out 4. Salvador Montaño got him out of a little jam in the 6th by getting the final out of the inning. He subsequently worked around a walk to throw a scoreless 7th, striking out 1.

Abraham Toro-Hernandez led off the 3rd inning and smacked a home run in his first Midwest League plate appearance. Quad Cities scored 5 in the 7th because they capitalized on a bases-loaded, one out situation.

After Carmen Benedetti struck out and got tossed to start the inning, Chuckie Robinson doubled. Josh Rojas walked and Daz Cameron got plunked to load 'em up for Ronnie Dawson, who came through with a 2-run single. Toro walked to re-load the bases, and then Daz came home on a wild pitch. Marcos Almonte drove in another run with a sac fly, and Toro scored the final run of the evening on Ray Henderson's single.

Cristian Javier gets the start as Quad Cities wraps up their series with the LumberKings. He'll take on Nick Wells at 6:30.

Tri-City 5, Staten Island 2

W- Reggie Johnson (3-0)
L- Greg Weissert (1-2)

TC home runs: Colton Shaver (1, 7 season; walk-off grand slam)

Another newcomer makes an impact in his first game as a ValleyCat.

J.J. Matijevic opened the scoring with a sac fly in the 3rd inning. The Yankees tied the game with a run in the 5th and took the lead with another one in the 9th.

Mike Papierski led off the bottom of the 9th with a double and Miguelangel Sierra came on to run for him. Sierra was thrown out at 3rd on a Jonathan Arauz fielder's choice. Kyle Davis kept things going with a single, and Connor MacDonald walked to bring up Colton Shaver, who sent the crowd at The Joe home ecstatic with a grand slam. Shaver went 2-4 on the evening.

Matt Ruppenthal went 4.2 innings and allowed a run on 5 hits, walked 1, and struck out 6. Nathan Thompson was the first man out of the Tri-City bullpen and allowed a run on 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 6 in 4 innings. Reggie Johnson struck out the only man he faced for the last out of the 9th.

Hunter Martin will start game 2, and he'll go up against Jio Orozco at 7:00 Eastern.

Greeneville 2, Bristol 0

W- Bryan Abreu (1-2)
L- Ryan Valdes (0-1)
S- Adam Bleday (1)

Greeneville home runs: Patrick Mathis (2, solo in 6th)

The Appy Astros got fantastic performances on the mound to kick off a new series.

Bryan Abreu allowed 4 hits and struck out 8 in 5 innings of work and Adam Bleday completed the shutout by allowing 2 hits and striking out 4 in the last 4 innings.

After both teams put up 10 zeroes on the scoreboard, Patrick Mathis kicked off the 6th with a homer to break up the monotony a little. Frankeny Fernandez singled to lead off the 9th, advanced to 2nd on a sac bunt, and scored Greeneville's other run on an error. Mathis and Cody Bohanek had 2 hits apiece.

Gerardo Bojorquez will start game 2 of this series. First pitch is at 7:00 Eastern.

GCL Marlins 5, GCL Astros 4

W- Brady Puckett (3-0)
L- Maikel Sepulveda (2-3)
S- Bryce Howe (1)

GCL home runs: Wander Franco (1, 6 season; solo in 4th)

The Palm Beach Stros mounted a 9th-inning rally that fell just short.

Maikel Sepulveda went 5 innings and allowed 3 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits, walked 1, and struck out 4. Chad Donato was the first man out of the bullpen and went 3.2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, walking 1, and striking out 5. Austin Kerns got the last out of the 9th with a strikeout.

Wander Franco put the Palm Beach Stros on the board with a solo homer in the 4th inning. Ozziel Sanchez-Galan smacked a triple in the 6th and scored on a Richard Slenker single. They loaded the bases on three separate occasions in the 9th and got two runs on a Franco sac fly and a wild pitch that allowed Carlos Machado to score, but Ihan Bernal struck out with the bases loaded to end the game.

DSL Indians 14, DSL Astros Orange 4

W- Hector Figueroa (2-1)
L- Ernesto Jaquez (0-1)

Orange home runs: None.

Team Orange had a rough day in the field with 5 errors, which led to only 4 of the Indians' 14 runs being earned.

Fildex Perfecto ripped a 2-run double in the 3rd and scored on a Luis Barajas groundout. Perfecto reached on a botched force out attempt that allowed Kelvin Perez to score. Jose Alvarez went 2-4 and scored a run.

Ernesto Jaquez allowed 6 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits (solo homer), walked 1, and struck out 4 in 2 innings. Cristofer Melendez struck out 2 in a 1-2-3 3rd inning. Carlos Perdomo was next, and he allowed 5 runs (3 earned, 2 inherited runners charged to him), a hit, and walked 3 in 1.1 innings. Jose Betances came on but failed to record an out; he allowed 3 unearned runs (all inherited runners charged to him), a hit, and walked 1. Hecduar Barcenas went 1.2 innings and allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 4. Fredy Medina allowed 2 hits and struck out 1 over 2 scoreless.

Thursday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Bryan Abreu's photo taken by Bryan Green.
Adam Bleday's photo is his mugshot on MiLB.com.
Greeneville Astros pitchers: W 2-0 @ Bristol
9 IP, 6 H, 12 K
Bryan Abreu: W (1-2), 5 IP, 4 H, 8 K
Adam Bleday: Save (1), 4 IP, 2 H, 4 K

This is his mugshot on MiLB.com.
Patrick Mathis, OF, Greeneville
2-3, solo HR (2)

This is his mugshot on MiLB.com.
Colton Shaver, 1B, Tri-City
2-4, walk-off grand slam (1, 7 season)

Carmen Benedetti, OF, Quad Cities
2-4, 3-R HR (4) in game 1 of doubleheader

Elieser Hernandez, RHP, Buies Creek
5 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K

Corpus Christi Hooks pitchers: W 4-2 vs. Midland
9 IP, 5 H (2 solo HRs allowed), 2 ER, BB, 9 K
Cy Sneed: W (8-5), 7 IP, 5 H (2 solo HRs allowed), 2 ER, 8 K
Andrew Thome: Save (7, 8 season), 2 IP, BB, K

Quad Cities River Bandits pitchers: W 6-1 vs. Clinton in game 2 of doubleheader
Abdiel Saldaña: 5.2 IP, 5 H, ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Salvador Montaño: W (3-2), 1.1 IP, BB, K
ICYMI, here's Jayne's interview with Saldaña and Marcos Almonte.

Photo by Bryan Green
Juan Centeno, C, Fresno
3-3, 2 RBI, R

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Getting to Know Quad Cities Marcos Almonte and Abdiel Saldana

If you're new to WTHB?, you may not know that I now make it a habit to reach out to Doris Gonzalez, the Astros Supervisor of Education and Acculturation, in order to find out which of her Latin American students in the Astros organization are ready for the challenge of an English-language interview. It's a win-win. The students get to practice their English and I get the opportunity to get to know them just a little bit better. On my recent trip to Quad Cities, my victims interviewees were Utility Player Marcos Almonte and RHP Abdiel Saldana. First a little background ...

Marcos Almonte - July 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Almonte signed with the Astros in February 2014 and quickly emerged as a Super Utility player with his ability to play multiple positions, hit for power and steal the occasional base. He has cooled off since his hot start to the season (.314/.344/.529 in April and May), but playing for his first full season team, he is still learning to refine his approach at the plate. According to Quad Cities Manager Russ Steinhorn, "He's learning and he's learning a lot. He's still having success. It's good to see him take in the information, learn the information, learn about the opposing pitching. He sees where he needs improvements. It's good to see him ... honing in on what he needs to do to continue to go through the organization." Personality-wise, Almonte is very outgoing, "a ball of energy ... smiling and bouncing around," and is eager to interact with the American players and show off his new English skills after classes.

Abdiel Saldana - July 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Saldana, who signed with the Astros out of Panama in October of 2013, has had the opposite trajectory to his season. After mostly forgettable results through early May, he has exhibited nothing short of excellence since. In his 15 appearances starting May 9th, he is 4-2 with a save, a 1.52 ERA and a 1.183 WHIP over 47.1 innings of work. Steinhorn thinks the cool weather to start the season may have been a factor in Saldana's early struggles, but he noted, "As soon as the chill left, he's been phenomenal. He moved into the rotation and he's been great." Saldana has also been a great help to Quad Cities Pitching Coach Drew French, helping him communicate with the large number of Spanish-speaking pitchers on the staff, many of whom aren't as advanced as Saldana in their English skills. "Saldana's been really, really good. He's held a lot of roles and he's shown a lot of leadership," said Steinhorn.



Marcos and Abdiel, thank you for your time and thank you for being willing to talk with me! Best of luck to both of you as the season continues.

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Let's finish up one game and play another in the Gulf Coast League.

Fresno 6, New Orleans 4

W- Brendan McCurry (4-0)
L- Brandon Cunniff (2-3)
S- Jordan Jankowski (9)

Fresno home runs: Tony Kemp (8, solo in 1st), Jack Mayfield (3, 17 season; 2-run in 8th)

The Grizzlies scored in fewer innings but made sure that they put up a crooked number in each of them.

Kent Emanuel went 4.2 innings and allowed 4 runs on 7 hits (2 solo homers) and struck out 4. The bullpen followed with 4.1 scoreless to close it out. Kevin Comer was first and he issued a walk and struck out 1 in 1.1 innings. Reymin Guduan worked around a hit and a walk to throw a scoreless 7th. Brendan McCurry struck out 1 in a scoreless 8th, and Jordan Jankowski worked around a hit to close out the game, striking out 2 in the 9th.

Tony Kemp opened the scoring by leading off the bottom of the 1st with a homer. Max Stassi, Preston Tucker, and A.J. Reed all followed with singles to load the bases and they got two more runs out of that. J.D. Davis hit a sac fly and Reid Brignac added an RBI single. Brignac's RBI single would be the Grizzlies' last scoring play until the 8th; in the meantime, New Orleans scored a run in each of the next four innings to take the lead.

Reed walked with two outs in the 8th and Jon Kemmer came on to run for him. Kemmer advanced on a wild pitch and scored the tying run on a Davis double. One batter later, Jack Mayfield whacked a 2-run homer to put Fresno back in front. No one in the lineup had a multi-hit game, but Davis and Mayfield drove in 2 apiece.

Dean Deetz faces William Cuevas in game 3 of this series. First pitch is at 7:05 Pacific.

Corpus Christi 11, San Antonio 3

W- Framber Valdez (4-2, 6-5 season)
L- Eric Lauer (2-2)

CC home runs: Tyler Wolfe (2, grand slam in 2nd)

The Hooks battered the Missions to avoid a sweep.

They turned a bases-loaded, no out situation in the 2nd inning into 5 runs, which swung the momentum their way. Arturo Michelena put Corpus on the board with an RBI single and Tyler Wolfe sent everyone home with a grand slam. Jon Singleton ripped an RBI double in the 3rd and Kyle Tucker added an RBI single in the 4th.

Dex McCall scored the first run of the 8th on an error that saw Jason Martin reach safely. Little Tuck followed with a 2-run double, and Martin scored the Hooks' final run of the evening on a Drew Ferguson groundout. Wolfe finished 3-4. Michelena (RBI, 2 R), McCall (2 R), and Tucker (2B, 3 RBI) all went 2-4.

Framber Valdez allowed 2 runs on 8 hits (solo homer), walked 2, and struck out 7 in 6.2 innings of work. Ryan Thompson threw the last 2.1 innings, allowing a run on 3 hits and fanning 1.

Midland is rolling into Whataburger Field to start a 4-game series. Cy Sneed takes on Joel Seddon in game 1, which starts at 7:05.

Winston-Salem 5, Buies Creek 0

W- Dane Dunning (4-5)
L- Matt Bower (4-5)

BC home runs: None.

The Carolina Stros' 6-game winning streak came to an end as the Dash silenced their bats.

On the bright side, Will Harris looked not bad in his rehab appearance as he struck out 2 in a 1-2-3 1st inning. Okay, he threw more balls than strikes, but he didn't allow anyone to reach base. Matt Bower went 4.1 innings and allowed 5 runs (1 inherited runner charged to him) on 8 hits (3-run homer) and struck out 3. Kevin Hill allowed a hit and struck out 5 in 3.2 innings of work.

Stephen Wrenn and Anibal Sierra both went 2-3 at the plate.

Buies Creek will head down east to Kinston to start a 4-game weekend series with the Wood Ducks. Forrest Whitley will go up against Richelson Peña in game 1, which begins at 7:00 Eastern.

Quad Cities and Clinton was postponed

Due to rain. A doubleheader will begin at 5:00.

Tri-City was off

The ValleyCats will begin a 3-game series with Staten Island at 7:00 Eastern.

Greeneville 6, Princeton 4

W- Johsson Arias (1-2, 1-3 season)
L- Ryan Askew (2-2)
S- Tim Hardy (1)

Greeneville home runs: None.

The Appy Astros took the series as they took control with 3 runs in the 5th and 2 more in the 6th. They also had to withstand a late rally from the Rays but were able to secure the win.

Leovanny Rodriguez went 4 innings and the two runs he allowed came on a homer hit by Devin Davis in the 4th; one of the runs was unearned. He allowed 6 other hits and struck out 2. Johsson Arias allowed a hit and struck out 2 in 2 scoreless innings of relief, and Tim Hardy went 3 innings, allowing 2 runs on a single and a sac fly in the 9th. He also walked 2 and struck out 1.

Joan Mauricio singled to lead off the 5th and scored Greeneville's first run on an error that allowed Cody Bohanek to reach. Gilberto Celestino tied the game with an RBI single and Colton Shaver put the Appy Astros in front with a sac fly. Patrick Mathis ripped a double to start the 6th and scored on an error following a Ruben Castro sacrifice bunt. Castro scored on a Wilson Amador single. Mathis doubled again to start off the 8th and scored Greeneville's final run on a Mauricio groundout. Celestino, Amador, and Mathis all finished with 3 hits on the night. Amador also stole his 10th base of the season.

Bryan Abreu will start the first game of a 3-game series in Bristol at 7:00 Eastern.

From July 21: GCL Astros 8, GCL Cardinals 5

W- Jairo Solis (1-0, 2-1 season)
L- Junior Gonzalez (1-1)
S- Brendan Feldmann (1)

GCL home runs: Nathan Perry (1, solo in 6th)

It was all GCLstros after play resumed. This game originally started on July 21 but was suspended due to rain.

Nathan Perry drove in the first run after play resumed with a sac fly that saw Jonathan Matute score from 2B. Perry struck again in the 6th when he launched his first homer as a pro. Carlos Machado tripled in the 7th and scored on a Hector Martinez single. Perry capped it off with a 2-run single. He and Martinez both finished with 3 hits on the day. Juan Piñeda had a couple of RBI doubles before play stopped. Ozziel Sanchez-Galan (RBI, 2 R), Orlando Marquez, and Matute (2B, R) had 2 hits apiece.

Jairo Solis originally started this game and he came back on after play resumed. He went 7.2 innings and allowed 5 runs (2 earned, all of which came on July 21) on 9 hits, walked 2, and struck out 6. Brendan Feldmann struck out 1 in 1.1 innings to get the save.

GCL Astros 8, GCL Cardinals 6

W- Carlos Pimentel (1-0)
L- Jim Voyles (0-1)

GCL home runs: None.

The Palm Beach Stros came out on top in the regularly scheduled game, as well. A 6-run 3rd inning did the trick, but they also had to weather a rally from the Cardinals, who scored in each of the last four innings of this contest.

Carlos Diaz tripled to start this game and scored on a single from Sanchez-Galan. Wander Franco, who was recently suspended from Quad Cities and appears to be serving his penance in Palm Beach, drove in the first run of that big 3rd inning with a double. Hector Martinez ripped an RBI double of his own, and then Carlos Machado scored on a passed ball. Martinez would up scoring on an error that allowed Angel Tejeda to reach. Tejeda scored on a wild pitch, and Sanchez-Galan capped off the inning with an RBI single. Franco ripped another RBI double in the 5th. Sanchez-Galan went 3-4 in this game.

Javier Navas, Carlos Pimentel, and Devin Raftery appeared on the mound for the Palm Beach Stros and they all allowed 2 runs in their time on the mound. Navas allowed 2 hits and walked 4 in 3.1 innings. Pimentel went 2.2 innings, allowing 3 hits (solo homer), walking 2, and striking out 4, and Raftery allowed 3 hits, walked 2, and struck out 2 in the 7th.

The DSL teams were also in action, but their games were halted due to rain. The Blue team was all over the Dodgers 1 10-0 in the 3rd inning, while the Orange team and the Indians are tied at 2 heading into the 6th.

Wednesday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Tyler Wolfe, IF, and Kyle Tucker, OF, Corpus Christi
Wolfe: 3-4, 2B, Grand Slam (2), 3 R
Tucker: 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI

Kevin Hill, RHP, Buies Creek
3.2 IP, H, 5 K
Nathan Perry, C, GCL Astros
3-3, solo HR (1), 4 RBI, 2 R; game started on July 21

Fresno Grizzlies bullpen
4.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K
Kevin Comer: 1.1 IP, BB, K
Reymin Guduan: IP, H, BB
Brendan McCurry: W (4-0), IP, K
Jordan Jankowski: Save (9), IP, H, 2 K

Jack Mayfield, IF, Fresno
Go-ahead 2-R HR (3, 17 season) in 8th

This is his mugshot on MiLB.com.
Johsson Arias, RHP, Greeneville
W (1-2, 1-3 season), 2 IP, H, 2 K

Gilberto Celestino's and Wilson Amador's photos taken by Bryan Green.
Patrick Mathis's photo is his mugshot on MiLB.com.
Greeneville Astros outfielders
9-11, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R, SB
Gilberto Celestino: 3-4, RBI
Wilson Amador: 3-3, RBI, R, SB (10)
Patrick Mathis: 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Tuesday, June 25, 2017

Fresno 10, New Orleans 3

W- Brendan McCurry (3-0)
L- Tayron Guerrero (0-1)

Fresno home runs: J.D. Davis 2 (3, 24 season; solo in 2nd, grand slam in 8th), Jack Mayfield (2, 16 season; 2-run in 2nd)

The difference in this one was a 7-run 8th from Fresno that broke a 3-3 tie.

J.D. Davis opened the scoring with his first home run of the game, a solo shot in the 2nd inning. After Jon Kemmer went down on strikes, Reid Brignac singled, then Jack Mayfield smacked a 2-run homer to extend the Tacos' lead.

Kemmer led off the big 8th with a single. He moved over to 2nd on a sac bunt from Brignac and scored on Mayfield's double. Juan Centeno walked, then Mayfield advanced to 3rd on a flyball out and scored on an error that allowed Max Stassi to reach. Preston Tucker walked to load the bases for A.J. Reed, who walked to bring Centeno in. Davis capped off the evening with his grand slam. He and Mayfield finished with 2 hits apiece, while Centeno went 3-3 and scored a run from the #9 spot in the order.

Trent Thornton went 6.2 innings and allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits (solo homer) and struck out 3. Brendan McCurry allowed a hit and struck out 1 in 1.1 innings, and Dayan Diaz struck out 1 in a 1-2-3 9th inning.

Kent Emanuel goes up against Justin Nicolino in game 2 of this series. First pitch is at 7:05 Pacific.

San Antonio 6, Corpus Christi 5


W- Brett Kennedy (10-5)
L- Yoanys Quiala (2-3, 7-4 season)
S- Trey Wingenter (14)

CC home runs: Ryne Birk (1, 9 season; 2-run in 2nd), Drew Ferguson (8, solo in 3rd), Kyle Tucker (9, 18 season; 2-run in 9th)

The Hooks made things interesting in the 9th, but they couldn't complete the comeback.

The three home runs accounted for all of their offensive production. Ryne Birk connected for his first Texas League homer in the 2nd inning to put Corpus on the board. Drew Ferguson smacked a solo homer in the 3rd, and Kyle Tucker launched a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 9th to cut the Hooks' deficit to one run. Ferguson finished 2-5 and scored twice.

Yoanys Quiala only lasted 2.1 innings and allowed 6 runs (3 earned, 1 inherited runner charged to him) on 6 hits and walked 1. Riley Ferrell allowed a hit and struck out 1 in 1.2 innings, and Brock Dykxhoorn walked 1 and struck out 3 in 5 innings of work.

Framber Valdez takes on Eric Lauer in the series finale. First pitch is at 7:05.

Buies Creek 3, Winston-Salem 1

W- Jorge Alcala (4-3, 6-3 season)
L- Alec Hansen (1-3)
S- Carlos Sierra (1)

BC home runs: None.

The Carolina Stros only had 2 hits, but they still managed to score more runs than the Dash and that's what matters most.

Jorge Alcala turned in yet another fine outing as he allowed a run on 2 hits and struck out 5 over 6.1 innings. Carlos Sierra finished it off by allowing a hit, walking 1, and striking out 3 in 2.2 innings.

Myles Straw was involved in all of Buies Creek's scoring plays. He tripled to lead off the bottom of the 1st and scored the first run of the evening on a Yordan Alvarez sac fly. Straw walked in the 3rd, moved to 2nd base on a passed ball, stole 3rd (29) and scored on the errant throw down. Straw hit an RBI single in the 5th. He went 2-2, scored twice, and stole 2 bases, giving him 30 on the year.

Buies Creek and Winston-Salem will wrap up their series at 7:00 Eastern as Matt Bower faces Dane Dunning.

Quad Cities was off

The Banditos start a 3-game series in Clinton at 6:30.

Vermont 11, Tri-City 3

W- Wyatt Marks (1-0)
L- Carlos Hiraldo (0-4)

TC home runs: Adrian Tovalin (3, 7 season; solo in 7th), Abraham Toro-Hernandez (6, solo in 9th), Mike Papierski (1, solo in 9th)

The ValleyCats launched 3 homers, but they fell behind early and ended up getting denied in their bid to sweep the series.

Adrian Tovalin smacked a solo homer in the 7th inning, giving him 3 in his first two games with Tri-City. Abraham Toro-Hernandez and Mike Papierski hit solo shots in the 9th; Papierski went deep for the first time as a pro.

Carlos Hiraldo and Luis Ramirez both threw 2 innings with radically different results. Hiraldo allowed 6 runs (5 earned) on 6 hits, walked 1, and struck out 3, while Ramirez allowed a hit, walked 1, and struck out 1 in a scoreless outing. Tyler Ivey went 3 innings and allowed 5 runs on 7 hits, walked 1, and struck out 3. Diogenes Almengo worked around a couple of walks to throw a scoreless 9th.

After a day off, the ValleyCats will start a 3-game series with Staten Island on Thursday.

Greeneville 15, Princeton 2

W- Humberto Castellanos (2-0, 4-0 season)
L- Phoenix Sanders (1-2)

Greeneville home runs: Colton Shaver (6, 2-run in 6th)

As the old saying goes... turnabout is fair play. After being on the wrong end of an 8-run inning on Monday, the Appy Astros turned the tables on the Rays and put up 10 in the 6th in response to Princeton tying the game at 2 in the top of the 6th. They added 3 more in the 8th for good measure.

Felipe Tejada allowed a run on 2 hits, walked 2, and struck out 3 in 5 innings of work. Humberto Castellanos finished the game and allowed 2 hits, one of which was a solo homer hit by Trey Hair. Castellanos struck out 7 in his 4 innings.

Gilberto Celestino put Greeneville on the board with an RBI double in the 4th. He came around to score on an error that allowed Brody Westmoreland to reach.

Celestino singled to lead off the 6th, then stole 2nd. He wound up scoring on Colton Shaver's home run. Roman Garcia and Westmoreland walked and then Oscar Campos singled to load the bases for Cody Bohanek. A balk allowed Garcia to score, and then Bohanek got plunked to re-load the bases. Joan Mauricio kept it going with a 2-run single, and Jose Benjamin followed with an RBI single. Mauricio scored on a wild pitch, then Wilson Amador and Celestino scored on an error after Shaver hit into a fielder's choice. Shaver scored the 10th and final run of the 6th as Westmoreland reached on another Princeton blunder.

In the 8th, Shaver ripped an RBI double and Ruben Castro whacked a 2-run triple. Celestino went 3-4 with a double, a stolen base (6), and scored 4 times. Shaver (2B, 2-R HR, 4 RBI, 3 R) and Jose Benjamin both had 2 hits.

Leovanny Rodriguez will start the series finale. First pitch is at 7:00 Eastern.

GCL Nationals 8, GCL Astros 6

W- Nector Ramirez (2-1)
L- Nivaldo Rodriguez (0-1, 3-1 season)

GCL home runs: Carlos Machado (2, 2-run in 4th)

The Palm Beach Stros mounted a late rally against their complex mates that fell short.

Carlos Machado tripled to lead off the 2nd and scored the GCLstros' first run on a Vicente Sanchez sac fly. Machado smacked a 2-run homer in the 4th. They turned a bases-loaded, no out situation to start the 9th into 3 runs, but they needed a couple more. Ozziel Sanchez-Galan and Bernardo Heras hit RBI singles and Andres Santana beat out a double play which allowed Sanchez-Galan to score. Machado finished a double shy of the cycle, while Angel Tejeda, Sanchez-Galan, and Heras all finished with 2 hits on the day.

Juan Pablo Lopez went 3.2 innings and allowed 3 runs on 4 hits (solo homer), walked 1, and struck out 4. Nivaldo Rodriguez pitched 4.1 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits and struck out 3. Saul Martinez allowed 3 hits in the 9th, one of which was a 3-run homer, and walked 1.

DSL Astros Blue 7, DSL Braves 1

W- Angel Macuare (2-2)
L- Estarlin Rodriguez (1-1)
S- Angel Matos (1)

Blue home runs: None.

Everyone in Team Blue's lineup recorded a hit as they cruised to a win on Tuesday. Ronaldo Urdaneta finished 3-5 with an RBI and scored a run, while Nerio Rodriguez and Anthony Rodriguez both finished with 2 hits and an RBI.

Freylin Garcia allowed 2 hits and struck out 7 over 4 scoreless. Angel Macuare allowed a run on 6 hits, walked 2, and struck out 1 in 3.2 innings, and Angel Matos walked 2 over 1.1 scoreless.

DSL Astros Orange 5, DSL Indians/Brewers 0

W- Miguel Matos (1-2)
L- Daritzon Feliz (0-5)

Orange home runs: None.

Three Orange team pitchers combined on a 2-hit shutout.

Fabricio Reina and Miguel Matos both threw 4 innings and they both allowed a hit. Reina also walked 4 and struck out 3, while Matos struck out 2. Ronny Garcia walked 1 and struck out 1 in a scoreless 9th.

Jose Carrillo scored the first run of the day when he stole home as part of a double steal with Sean Mendoza in the 2nd inning. Mendoza advanced to 3rd on the errant throw down to 2nd base and subsequently scored on a wild pitch. Renaigel Martis tripled to lead off the 4th and scored on a Deury Carrasco sac fly. Mendoza hit a sac fly in the 7th and Luis Barajas drew a bases-loaded walk. Martis and Carrillo both went 2-4.

Tuesday's Stars

All photos are from Jayne unless stated otherwise.

Freylin Garcia, RHP, DSL Astros Blue: 4 IP, 2 H, 7 K

DSL Astros Orange pitchers: W 5-0 vs. DSL Indians/Brewers
9 IP, 2 H, 5 BB, 6 K
Fabricio Reina: 4 IP, H, 4 BB, 3 K
Miguel Matos: W (1-2), 4 IP, H, 2 K
Ronny Garcia: IP, BB, K

J.D. Davis, 3B, and Jack Mayfield, IF, Fresno
Davis: 2-5, 2 HR (3, 24 season), 5 RBI; one of the home runs was a grand slam.
Mayfield: 2-3, 2B, 2-R HR (2, 16 season), 3 RBI, 2 R

Jorge Alcala's photo taken by Bryan Green.
Buies Creek Astros pitchers: W 3-1 vs. Winston-Salem
9 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 8 K
Jorge Alcala: W (4-3, 6-3 season), 6.1 IP, 2 H, ER, 5 K
Carlos Sierra: Save (1), 2.2 IP, H, BB, 3 K

Myles Straw, OF, Buies Creek
2-2, 3B, RBI, 2 R, 2 SB (30)

Gilberto Celestino's photo taken by Bryan Green.
Colton Shaver's photo is his mugshot on MiLB.com.
Gilberto Celestino, OF, and Colton Shaver, 1B, Greeneville
Celestino: 3-4, 2B, RBI, 4 R, SB (6)
Shaver: 2-5, 2B, 2-R HR (6), 4 RBI, 3 R

Carlos Machado, OF, GCL Astros
3-4, 3B, 2-R HR (2), 3 R

Corpus Christi Hooks bullpen
6.2 IP, H, BB, 4 K
Riley Ferrell: 1.2 IP, H, K
Brock Dykxhoorn: 5 IP, BB, 3 K