Sunday, September 14, 2014

Astros Minor League Playoff Recaps

California League Championship Series: Lancaster 4, Visalia 3 in 10 innings (Lancaster leads series 2-1)

W- Andrew Walter
L- Joey Krehbiel

Lancaster home runs: Chan-Jong Moon (solo in 3rd), Chase McDonald (solo in 4th), Rio Ruiz (walk-off solo in 9th)

RIOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He sent one into the Antelope Valley night to begin the bottom of the 10th inning to give the JetHawks the lead in this Cali League Championship Series.

Vince Velasquez pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4. He pitched to 3 batters in the 7th but did not record an out. So, in came Tyler Brunnemann, who inherited a 2nd and 3rd situation with nobody out. How many runs did he allow? Zero. Brunnemann, who also got 1 out in the 8th, walked 1 and struck out 2. Jamaine Cotton got the final 2 outs of the 8th; he issued an intentional walk and struck out 1. Andrew Walter tagged in for 2 frames and walked 2 and struck out 4. So, the 3 JetHawks relievers in this game combined to throw 4 hitless and scoreless innings, walking 4 (1 intentionally) and striking out 7.

3 of the 4 JetHawks runs, as you can see, came off solo homers. Chan-Jong Moon put Lancaster on the board with his Moon-shot in the 3rd, Chase McDonald tied the game at 2 with his 4th-inning blast, and Rio won the game in the first extra frame. Moon drove in 2; after the Rawhide got 1 in the top of the 7th to take a 3-2 lead, he hit an RBI groundout that scored Danry Vásquez to re-tie the game in the bottom of the inning. McDonald (2B to go along with his homer), Danry (2B, R), Jack Mayfield (2B), and Brett Phillips all had 2-hit nights.

Now, the JetHawks have their first crack at clinching the crown. Kent Emanuel will get the start in game 4. First pitch is at 7:00. Vamos Hawks???

Happy Birthday - 9/14

No future Astros with birthdays today, but two former Astros celebrate the day ~

C Cody Clark (33)
Originally drafted by the Rangers in the 11th round in 2003, the journeyman catcher finally made his MLB debut on August 23, 2013 after spending 11 years in the minor leagues. In 16 games with Houston, he hit .105/.128/.132.

LHP Frank Carpin (76)
After pitching for Pittsburgh in 1965 (3-1, 4 saves and a 3.18 ERA), Carpin was picked up by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. He only appeared in 10 games for the Astros in 1966, compiling a 7.50 ERA and a 2.500 WHIP, and he played his last major league game on September 3, 1966.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Astros Minor League Playoff Recaps

California League Championship Series: Lancaster 3, Visalia 0 (Series tied 1-1)

W- Lance McCullers
L- John Omahen
S- Andrew Walter

Lancaster home runs: Tyler White (2-run in 6th)

The JetHawks evened things up with a shutout performance on the mound from Lance McCullers, Dan Minor, and Andrew Walter and got some key runs in a game that was rather stingy in that aspect.

McCullers allowed 7 hits, walked 1, and struck out 1 over 6 shutout innings. He induced 11 groundball outs and 3 flyouts. Minor tagged in for 2 scoreless, allowing a hit and striking out 4, and Walter struck out the side in order in the 9th to finish this one off.

After Rio Ruiz drew a walk to lead off the 6th, Tyler White broke the scoreless tie with a 2-run homer. Jack Mayfield went 2-5 and delivered a big insurance run in the form of an RBI double in the 9th.

The series now shifts to Lancaster for the final games. Vince Velasquez will get the start tonight in game 3, which will take place at 8:00. His opponent on the mound for Visalia will be Brandon Sinnery.

Happy Birthday - 9/13

No future Astros with birthdays today, but several former Astros mark the day ~

RHP Wade Miller (38)
Drafted by Houston in the 20th round in 1996, Miller pitched for the Astros from 1999 to 2004 with a record of 58-39, a 3.87 ERA and a 1.309 WHIP over 127 games (123 starts). Miller pitched in one game of the 2001 NLDS with a 2.57 ERA and 1.000 WHIP and earned a no-decision. He became a free agent in December 2004 and subsequently pitched for the Red Sox and the Cubs. In 2009, he played for the Blue Jays' AAA affiliate but was never able to mount a comeback after his final major league game in April 2007.

SS/2B Mike Fischlin (59)
Originally drafted by the Yankees in the seventh round in 1975, Fischlin came to Houston in a June 1977 trade with New York. In 57 games for the Astros in 1977, 1978 and 1980, he hit a rather inauspicious .127/.168/.137. He was eventually sent packing to Cleveland in April of 1981.

1B Jim Obradovich (died March 3, 2012 at age 62)
Drafted by the Twins in 1967, Obradovich signed as a free agent with Houston in 1977 and eventually played in just 10 games for the Astros in 1978, hitting .176/.222/.294. According to Baseball-Reference, one of the highlights of his brief major league career was hitting a triple and driving in a run off of future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry.

RHP Billy Smith (60)
A 14th round pick for the Astros in 1977, Smith pitched in 10 games for the Astros in 1981 with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.113 WHIP.

RHP Nelson Cruz (42) - (No, not THAT Nelson Cruz)
Cruz came to Houston in a December 2000 trade with the Tigers and subsequently pitched in 109 games for the Astros in 2001 and 2002. He had a 5-9 record with a 4.31 ERA and a 1.338 WHIP. He was traded to the Rockies in December 2002.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Tri-City ValleyCats Season Recap

In my ongoing season reviews of the various Astros minor league teams, today we'll look at the Tri-City ValleyCats.

The team finished with a 48-28 record (.632 win percentage), won their division and advanced to the New York-Penn League Finals where they fell 2-1 to State College. As a team they ranked within the league as follows:

Tri-City Team Batting
.262 BA - 3rd out of 14 teams
.341 OBP - 2nd
.388 SLG - 2nd

They also led the league in walks and placed second in doubles and home runs.

Tri-City Team Pitching
3.42 ERA - 5th
1.225 WHIP - 5th
628 SO - 4th
205 BB - 10th

Below I am indicating the player's current age as well as information as to how many years the player has been playing. Any players who were promoted to Quad Cities or above prior to the end of the season will be addressed in the season recap for that team.

Although this team did lose some excellent bats to promotion (A.J. Reed, J.D. Davis, Ryan Bottger), there were still a number of very good offensive players who remained.


Jamie Ritchie - 21; 1st season
The 13th round 2014 draft pick only appeared in 27 of his 47 games as catcher as he was often used as the DH. Ritchie put up a .331/.455/.465 batting line and collected 12 doubles, two triples, a home run and 24 RBI, but it was his 29 walks to 26 strikeouts that really stood out. He was somewhat above average defensively, but will need to improve on the 24% caught stealing rate to fit in with some of the best rates in the system.

Alfredo Gonzalez - 22; 5th (in system since 2009, but did not play in 2010)
Gonzalez, on the other hand, had a very good year defensively overall and threw out 45% of would-be base stealers in his 44 games behind the dish. In a total of 46 games, he hit .246/.348/.369, walked 15 times while striking out 24 times, and had five stolen bases (and was caught stealing five times as well). In August, Gonzalez hit .271/.386/.438.


3B Nick Tanielu - 22; 1st season
Tanielu, the 14th round draft pick in 2014, had an excellent debut season. In 62 games, he hit .300/.353/.425 with 16 doubles, two triples, three home runs and a team-leading 40 RBI. On paper, his defense skews slightly below average.

SS Mott Hyde - 22; 1st season
The 26th round draft pick from 2014 had a solid freshman season, both defensively and offensively. In 70 games, he hit .254/.331/.389 with 18 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 31 RBI.

2B Alex Hernandez - 22; 1st season
Hernandez may not have had the most impressive batting line out of the group of 2014 draftees who played on the Tri-City team with his .210/.337/.278 line over 56 games, but the 40th round pick showed very good plate discipline (27 walks to 33 strikeouts) and plus defensive abilities.

1B/C Ricky Gingras - 23; 3rd season
Gingras was drafted by Houston in the 18th round in 2012 as a catcher, but in his third season, he spent more of his time at first base than behind the plate, and he excelled defensively in his new role. The lefty hit .252/.309/.361 with seven doubles and three home runs in 46 games.

IF Kristian Trompiz - 18; 2nd season (1st in U.S.)
Trompiz played in 19 games with the Gulf Coast League, 30 with Greeneville and ended up at Tri-City for the final three regular season games. Over those three venues, the young Venezuelan hit .285/.360/.400 with 16 doubles, a home run and 22 RBI. His defense shows some promise, but is currently a work in progress.

IF Juan Santana - 20; 4th season
The Dominican-born Santana split his season between Greeneville (21 games) and Tri-City (27 games), hitting .302/.330/.402 with 12 doubles and two home runs. In being converted from playing solely at second base, he has had some defensive struggles at the other positions. Santana last played on August 24th and it is my understanding that off-field issues ended his season early.


Derek Fisher - 21; 1st season
The first round 2014 draft pick had a very nice season at the plate, as the lefty hit .303/.378/.408 with four doubles, three triples, two home runs and 18 RBI in 42 games. He also had very good success on the base paths as he stole 17 bases while getting caught only four times. His defensive numbers skew above average. In the post-season, Fisher hit .375/.474/.625 in five games.

Jason Martin - 19; 2nd season
Martin, the 8th round 2013 draft pick, also had success in the post-season as the lefty hit .353/.421/.412 in five games. He split his regular season between Greeneville and Tri-City, hitting .274/.363/.414 in his 42 games at Greeneville prior to his promotion. For the season, Martin hit .257/.338/.384 with 14 doubles, seven triples, a home run and 23 RBI in 63 games. He walked 31 times while striking out 43 times and stole 13 bases and was caught stealing nine times. Martin has shown plus defensive abilities.

Terrell Joyce - 22; 3nd season
After a sub-par season at the plate in 2013, Joyce rebounded and put up some excellent power numbers in 2014. The 12th round 2012 draft pick hit .231/.309/.495 with 13 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs and 32 RBI in 53 games. In August, he hit .256/.365/.610. Defensively, he is difficult to characterize as his defensive numbers are a bit of a mixed bag.


Bryan Radziewski - 22; 1st season
The Astros ninth round pick in 2014, Radziewski had a 2-0 record with one save, a 3.04 ERA and a 1.162 WHIP in 15 appearances (one start). He walked 13 batters and struck out 29 in 26.2 innings. He did not allow a run in his final six appearances.

Zach Davis - 22; 1st season
Davis, the 25th round 2014 draft pick, did not fare nearly so well after his promotion to Tri-City as he did prior to the move. In 13 bullpen appearances in Greeneville, he had a 2-0 record with four saves, a 2.04 ERA and a 1.132 WHIP. He finished the season with a 3.98 ERA and a 1.377 WHIP in 20.1 innings. He walked only six batters and struck out 26.

Junior Garcia - 18; 2nd season (1st in U.S.)
Garcia spent the majority of his season with the Gulf Coast League Astros and only appeared with Tri-City at the end of the season, pitching two almost perfect innings. In a total of 13 games (eight starts), Garcia had a 2.89 ERA and a 1.534 WHIP. That WHIP is admittedly on the high side, but since Garcia will only be turning 19 on October 1st, he may be an interesting player to watch if he can start missing a few more bats. In 43.2 innings, he walked 19 batters and struck out 28. He is from the Dominican Republic.


Joe Musgrove - 21; 4th season
Musgrove, a Blue Jays first round pick who came to the Astros system in the July 2012 mega-trade with that team, had a breakout season this year showing what he can do when completely healthy. In 15 games (13 starts), he was 7-1 with a 2.81 ERA and a 0.961 WHIP. In 77 innings of work, he walked 10 batters while striking out 67. In the post-season, he was 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA and a 0.769 WHIP in two starts (nine hits, one walk and 15 strikeouts in 13 innings). Musgrove was just named a Short Season A All-Star by Baseball America today.

Austin Chrismon - 21; 2nd season
The 26th round 2013 draft pick had a solid season at Tri-City. In his 16 games (13 starts), he was 6-3 with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP, walking 15 batters and striking out 49 over 68.1 innings.

Robert Kahana - 21; 1st season
Kahana split his season between Greeneville and Tri-City and ended with a combined 3.58 ERA and a 1.212 WHIP in 14 games (eight starts). He walked 12 batters and struck out 37 in 50.1 innings of work.

Francis Ramirez - 22; 6th season
Ramirez had a solid, if unremarkable season, in 2014 (3.62 ERA and 1.329 WHIP), but ended it on a high note with a 1.74 ERA and a 1.065 WHIP in his final six appearances (three starts) in August.

There were several strong relievers from the 2014 draft class as well. In particular, Derick Velazquez (20; 7th round) had an excellent inaugural season: 2-1 with 4 saves, a 1.57 ERA and a 0.870 WHIP in 18 appearances. He walked two while striking out 24 in 23 innings. Also, Ryan Thompson (22; 23rd round) had a great season, converting 12 saves in 23 appearances and ending with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.274 WHIP. Brandon McNitt (22; 27th round) did have three starts, but was more effective in his nine relief outings, putting up a 1.25 ERA and a 0.877 WHIP.

Vince Wheeland (22; 24th round) had a tough start to his season, but finished it off well with a 1.15 ERA and a 0.833 WHIP in his final five appearances in August. Daniel Mengden (21; 4th round) didn't see a lot of action between the GCL and Tri-City, but his one walk to 17 strikeouts over 11 innings was impressive.

Angel Heredia, 22, is in his third season as a pitcher and split his season between Greeneville and Tri-City, with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.096 WHIP in 20 appearances. And last, but not least, Chris Munnelly, 23, in his second season with the organization, went 2-0 with 4 saves, a 3.38 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP in 15 bullpen appearances. He walked 8 batters and struck out 31 in 26.2 innings.

[UPDATE] I'm not sure how I managed to do this, but I inadvertently left off 2014 NDFA Aaron Vaughn, 22, who had a terrific first pro season out of the bullpen. In 22 appearances combined between the GCL (7 games), Quad Cities (1 game) and Tri-City (14 games), Vaughn had a 1.69 ERA and a 0.938 WHIP. He walked six batters and struck out 23 in 26.2 innings of work.

Next up will be the Quad Cities team.

Earlier season reviews ~
Dominican Summer League offensive standouts
Dominican Summer League Pitching Standouts
Gulf Coast League Astros
Rookie League Greeneville Astros

Astros Minor League Playoff Recaps

California League Championship Series: Visalia 3, Lancaster 2 (Visalia leads 1-0)

The JetHawks began the California League Championship Series in Visalia, where the Rawhide drew first blood by walking off with a 3-2 victory.

W- Enrique Burgos
L- Tyler Brunnemann

Lancaster home runs: None.

Both JetHawks runs were driven in by Tyler White, who opened up the scoring with an RBI double in the 1st and added a sac fly in the 6th. Rio Ruiz went 2-4 and scored the game's first run.

Brian Holmes went 5 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits (solo homer), walked 1, and struck out 9. Zach Morton was the first man out; he allowed a hit and struck out 3 over 2 scoreless innings. Morton pitched to 1 batter in the 8th and did not retire him. Chris Cotton recorded the first out of the 8th. Tyler Brunnemann got the final 2 outs of the inning, and got 1 out in the 9th. He induced a force out from Kevin Medrano, but Breland Almadova just barely beat the throw home, giving Visalia the win.

Game 2 of this series is tonight at 9:00. Lance McCullers will take on John Omahen.

Happy Birthday - 9/12

Happy Birthday to ~

RHP Kyle Weiland (28)
Drafted by Boston in the third round in 2008, Weiland came to Houston in a December 2011 trade along with Jed Lowrie for Mark Melancon. Weiland only pitched in three games for Houston at the beginning of 2012 before having surgery on his right shoulder, reportedly to clean out an infection. After being banished to Weiland Island (the rumored habitat for broken Astros players) for over two years, Weiland finally resurfaced in a rehab assignment in the minor leagues in late June. In 14 games (two starts), Weiland put up a 4.76 ERA and a 1.412 WHIP before being placed on the DL toward the end of the season. Let's hope that his banishment to Weiland Island doesn't become a recurrence.

SS Pat Listach (47)
Originally drafted by the Brewers in the fifth round in 1988, Listach spent five seasons with Milwaukee, where he won Rookie of the Year in 1992, before signing with the Astros as a free agent in 1997. He played 52 games with the Astros that season, putting up a .182 BA and .247 OBP, before being released July 1, 1997. He did not play another major league game. Listach is currently in his first season as the third base coach for the Astros.

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