Friday, June 22, 2018

An Embarrassment of Riches

From Saturday through Tuesday, the Fresno Grizzlies made themselves at home in Round Rock, Texas, sweeping the Express and putting on a show of dominant starting pitching. And when I made the following statement during my trip to see the Grizzlies (in what we all hope will be their new digs next season), I was only being slightly hyperbolic.

Let's leave to the side for a moment that 3B J.D. Davis (.362/.425/.568 in 46 games), OF Derek Fisher (.286/.408/.540 in 17 games) and a newly rejuvenated 1B A.J. Reed (.267/.378/.551 in 68 games) who is walking more and striking out less all have at least some MLB experience and should only improve at the higher level with their next opportunities. Also leave to the side that OF Kyle Tucker, the Astros #2 prospect (.306/.375/.506 in 66 games) is in the groove with a 10-game hitting streak and OF Myles Straw, another top prospect, is hitting .435/.480/.565 with 6 stolen bases in his first five games after being promoted to the level (and leads all affiliated teams with 40 steals). Let's just put all of that to the side for a moment and just talk starting pitching.

Brock Dykxhoorn - June 2018
Photo by Jayne Hansen

So far in June, the Grizzlies starting pitchers are a combined 11-2 in 18 starts with a 1.61 ERA and a 0.949 WHIP. RHP Trent Thornton (1.71 ERA/0.762 WHIP in June) tossed 7.2 no-hit innings on Saturday (ending with one hit over eight innings) and was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for last week. RHP Cy Sneed (1.33 ERA/0.836 WHIP in June) threw the first 9-inning complete game and shut-out of his career on Thursday (with six no-hit innings to start it). RHP Josh James (0.95 ERA/0.789 WHIP in June) and RHP Brock Dykxhoorn (1.74 ERA/0.532 WHIP in June) have both dominated since their May promotions to Fresno. RHP Rogelio Armenteros (1.93 ERA/1.571 WHIP in June, including three innings of a suspended game on the 3rd) and RHP Mike Hauschild (2.16 ERA/1.500 WHIP in June) round out the group with five wins in the five completed games they've pitched in thus far this month. My "bold statement" was based in large part on this great work from the rotation.

But this brings me to the next topic of discussion. The Grizzlies rotation is stacked with MLB-ready and near-ready starters. In AA, you have five top-30 prospect starters chomping at the bit to get to AAA (RHP Forrest Whitley, LHP Cionel Perez, RHP Jorge AlcalaRHP Corbin Martin and LHP Framber Valdez). RHP Brady Rodgers is on a rehab assignment and will soon be ready to rejoin the Grizzlies. And that doesn't even touch on RHP Francis Martes and RHP David Paulino who are currently on the DL. Phew!! That's a lot of moving parts. Obviously, there are way too few roster spots moving forward to stash all of these starting pitchers. Don't be surprised to see several of them leave the Astros fold by the end of July via trade. Others will be given the opportunity to work out of the bullpen (as has been the case with LHP Kent Emanuel who started the Grizzlies season in the rotation but was moved to the bullpen in early May). And one or more may very well be lost to the Rule 5 draft in December.

This is what they call "an embarrassment of riches." Honestly, I'm glad that I'm not the one who has to sort this all out. I wish each and every one of these players the best of luck as they battle to break through the logjam and achieve their dreams.


  1. Can't wait to see them play again. Two road trips planned. To Sacramento next weekend and vs Isotopes in Fresno in August.