Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spring Training Schedule - Game 1

Game Time:  Astros vs. Nationals at 12:05 CST
Broadcast:  KTRH 740
Starting Pitchers:  Livan Hernandez (HOU) vs. Edwin Jackson (WSN)
Record: Astros Spring Training Record 0-0

LET'S PLAY BALL!!!!

Happy Birthday - 3/3

No future Astros, only one former Astro with a birthday today ~

LHP Jack DiLauro (69)
Picked up from the Mets in the Rule 5 draft, DiLauro only spent one season with the Astros in 1970.  He went 1-3 in 42 appearances with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.515 WHIP.  In his rookie season with the Mets in 1969, he had a 2.40 ERA and a 1.068 WHIP, but did not make an appearance in the World Series for the Mets.

Tweet of the Day

Miles Hamblin

Bonus Tweet of the Day

Jonas Dufek
I have a few connections in the beef jerky industry. Should last me the season. now to pack it all...  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Jay Austin Out with Broken Hand

Just saw this in today's Chronicle.
Outfielder Jay Austin, a second-round pick in 2008, suffered a broken hand and will miss four weeks before rehab.
“We were concerned three or four days ago that it was something that might require surgery and that’s not the case right now,” director of player development Fred Nelson said.
 No explanation of what happened, but I really hate to see that kind of setback for Austin after his strong Arizona Fall League appearance. I had been looking for a breakthrough season for him this year; let's hope that this injury doesn't derail that possibility.

Happy Birthday - 3/2

RHP David Stefan "Bud" Norris (27)
At the ripe old age of 27, Bud Norris is rapidly becoming one of the grizzled veterans on the club.  His 2011 win-loss record wasn't indicative of the improvement he made on the mound as he lowered his 4.92 ERA and 1.484 WHIP from 2010 to a 3.77 ERA and a 1.328 WHIP.  The projections I have seen for Bud Norris for 2012 are (how can we say this delicately?) absolute horse hockey, IMHO of course.  I look for Bud to build on last season, pitch more innings, lower his ERA and get at least a few more wins, depending of course on what kind of run support he gets (which is the true wild card in the situation).

Tweet of the Day

Jordan Comadena
I'm not scared to go to bed at 8:40 pm...need to recharge for tomorrow. 
~~~~~ 
Dinner at 4:00 and bed at 8:00 - you'll fit right in with the Florida crowd! (Just kidding, Funky!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spring Training Games on MLB Network

I just noticed on the Astros schedule that there are several Spring Training games that will be airing on MLB Network, some on a delay and some not.  The first game is Sunday's game against the Nationals.  The game is at 12:05 CST and MLBN's schedule shows it airing at 3:00 CST.  If you subscribe to MLB.tv, it will be available live on Sunday.

Tweet of the Day

Zach Johnson@Zach_Johnson3
Howdy Florida...

Colt 45's Trivia

There are no future Astros or former Astros with birthdays today, so I thought I would provide you with a little Colt 45's trivia in place of the daily birthday wish.

The only pitcher in Houston franchise history to lose 20 games was Turk Farrell who lost 20 games with the 1962 Colt 45's expansion team.  He lost 20 despite having a very respectable 3.02 ERA and the lowest WHIP since 1917 of any 20-game loser (1.097).

Phil Niekro lost 20 games for Atlanta ... twice.  In 1977, he was 16-20 and in 1979, he was 21-20.  There has only been one 20-game loser since 1980 ~ Mike Maroth was 9-21 for Detroit in 2003.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Non-Prospect Prospects to Watch - Part 2

Since everyone was coming up with lists of top prospects, I decided to dig a bit deeper and find a few players who don't appear on any top prospect list anywhere, but whose upside could land them there eventually.  In case you missed it, I covered the position players in Part 1 here.  This week I will be looking at the pitchers.

LHP MITCHELL LAMBSON
In 22 games with Tri-City, the 6'1" 198 lb. lefty went 2-6 with 2 saves, a 4.33 ERA, a 1.160 WHIP and a .248 batting average against with 39 strikeouts and 8 walks in 35.1 innings pitched.  What first caught my notice with Lambson was his 9.9 SO/9 and his 4.88 SO:BB ratio so I decided to dig a little further.

He was projected by Baseball Prospect Report to work mostly around 86-88 with the ability to bump 90, but it wasn't his fastball that they wanted to talk about:
"The seperator for Lambson is the above-average change-up, CHG in shorthand, though some scouts might write OMG. I had it at 72-74 and I’m sold on the arm slot repetition. These lefties with the change-up need to have a fearless side to them, the willingness to throw it any time in the count ...  He won’t be an overpowering guy so the change , the moxie and the downhill fastball movement will punch the ticket."
And Baseball Draft Report agreed:
"Lambson’s change is so good and he relies on it so heavily, there really is no other way to talk about him without first mentioning the pitch ... a funky lefthander with the chance to put up surprising results in an unconventional manner. In other words, don’t sleep on Lambson."
They go on to mention his plus command and plus control.

Finally, I looked at his splits.  He had a 2.25 ERA and a 1.167 WHIP against lefties and a 5.40 ERA and a 1.157 WHIP vs. right-handed hitters.  Of his 8 walks and 4 home runs allowed, all were against right-handed batters, and although he struck out right-handed batters at a higher rate and kept them to a lower batting average, those walks and home runs came back to hurt him.  He will have to find consistency against right-handed batters to avoid being pigeonholed as a LOOGY, but if he continues to miss bats at his current high rate, I will keep watching this 21-year old.

RHP LUIS ORDOSGOITTI
Ordosgoitti spent most of his 2011 season at Greeneville where he was 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.227 WHIP in 9 appearances (7 starts) over 44 innings pitched.  The then 18-year old also had an 8.6 SO/9 and a 6.00 SO/BB ratio for Greeneville.  If that's not enough reason to watch him, Orodosgoitti will be 19 for the entire 2012 season and at 6'4" 180 lbs. has plenty of room to fill out and increase velocity.

There's not a great deal of information out there on the big Venezuelan right-hander.  Nathaniel Stoltz of Seedlings to Stars calls him "a really intriguing sleeper arm" who he wouldn't be shocked to see on some top 100 lists next year.  I asked Jeff Luhnow about Ordosgoitti.  He wasn't familiar with him, but after looking him up, said that "reports are very positive as are his numbers," and went on to cite a good fastball, developing curveball and change-up ... "a possible major league starter."

Luis is another pitcher that will miss a lot of bats.  His biggest problem in 2011 were his road numbers.  While he had a 1.59 ERA at home for Greeneville, his road ERA was 6.33.  If he can get his road numbers under control and continues to fill out that 6'4" frame, Ordosgoitti could be going places quickly.  I look forward to seeing what he can do in 2012.

LHP REYMIN GUDUAN
Guduan wasn't on my original list of three until I saw a tweet from Jeff Luhnow when he was in the Dominican Republic that Guduan had an "impressive arm" and "was up to 97 in fall."  And he might still not be on my short list had I not delved a little more deeply on his numbers.

Guduan was definitely on my "watch list" with his 2.16 ERA and 12 SO/9 for the DSL in 13 starts, but there was the matter of 42 walks to go with 61 strikeouts and the 13 wild pitches and the 4 hit batters that gave me pause.  But hitting 97 on the radar gun will get you a little more leeway, particularly for a 6'4" 185 lb. lefty who still has time to fill out since he doesn't turn 20 for a couple of weeks.

So I looked for improvement and I found it.  In 2010, he had a 0.61 SO/BB ratio and 8.40 SO/9.  Here is how he fared last summer:
June   3.24 ERA   1.740 WHIP   0.95 SO/BB   9.72 SO/9   10.26 BB/9
July   1.47 ERA   1.582 WHIP   2.08 SO/BB   13.25 SO/9   6.38 BB/9
Aug   0.93 ERA   1.138 WHIP  2.50 SO/BB   13.97 SO/9   5.59 BB/9

Sure, I'd still like to see less wildness, but "effectively wild" can work too.  Did I mention that he's a lefty that can throw 97?  Yeah, that will get you on the short list every time.

HONORABLE MENTION

LHP GABRIEL GARCIA

  • Why he could have made the list - 8.8 SO/9 and 4.25 SO/BB ratio for Lexington, a very strong winter in Venezuela and this (about 1:08 in - dude has moves!)
  • Why he didn't make the list - edged out by LHP's Lambson and Guduan

RHP RYAN COLE

  • Why he could have made the list - 10 saves, 2.33 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 4.17 SO/BB ratio for Tri-City, intangibles and pure gut feeling
  • Why he didn't make the list - I ran out of room

RHP JASON CHOWNING

  • Why he could have made the list - terrific numbers (2.45 ERA, 1.261 WHIP and 9.2 SO/9 in 35 appearances for Lexington) before he got hurt
  • Why he didn't make the list - he got hurt; we'll have to see how he bounces back

Happy Birthday - 2/29

There are no future Astros or former Astros with birthdays today which comes as no great surprise since only 11 MLB players in history were born on Leap Day.  Of those 11, the most well known is 3B Al "Flip" Rosen who turns 88 today.  Rosen spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians, playing for them from 1947 to 1956 with four All-Star appearances and an MVP nod in 1953 when he hit .336 while leading the league with a .613 SLG, 1.034 OPS, 43 home runs, 145 RBI's and 115 runs scored.  And Rosen does have a Houston connection as well, having served as the Astros' General Manager from 1980 to 1985.

Tweet of the Day

Evan Grills
Florida bound in the challenger  2012 a big year LETS GO!
~~~~~~~

Long drive. Stopped in tennesse . Be in fla tommoro

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

An Interview with 3B Matthew Duffy

Matthew Duffy was drafted in the 20th round in 2011 out of the University of Tennessee and was a New York-Penn League Mid-Season All-Star.  Duffy had a very solid season at Tri-City, hitting .298/.370/.417/.787 with 20 doubles, one triple and two home runs over 63 games.  On to the questions ...

WTH:  You played at the University of Vermont until they discontinued their baseball program and ended up playing for the University of Tennessee Vols.  Can you tell me a little about that process, how it affected you personally, how it affected your development as a ballplayer, etc.?

MD:  When I found out that the University of Vermont was dropping their baseball program I was pretty shocked.  It's something that doesn’t happen very often in the world of NCAA athletics.  It was two weeks before our first game my sophomore year and they said that there will be no more team after the upcoming season.  It was really crazy for the next couple of months because I was trying to play my season and also go through the recruiting process with other schools.  Luckily I had a really good season and it opened the eyes of many schools.  One of the schools was the University of Tennessee.  I took a trip down to Knoxville to watch a game, meet the coaches, and take a look around.  It was on Easter Sunday because that’s the only day we at Vermont didn’t have a game. I really enjoyed myself, the facilities were great, and I thought it would be a great fit for me.  Tennessee was a step up in competition from the University of Vermont as far as baseball goes, so it definitely helped me develop as a player.  I was exposed to a lot more scouts and much better pitching.  The transition from Vermont to Tennessee ultimately made me more prepared for professional baseball.

WTH:  You had played SS earlier in college but were moved to 3B.  Can you tell me a little about that transition and how you feel you have developed defensively over time?

MD:  The transition from shortstop to third base was fairly smooth.  I played in the Cape Cod league the summer after my sophomore year at Vermont and played the whole summer at third base.  So when I got to Tennessee I was much more familiar with the position.  I also sort of outgrew the position as  well.  I got to college at 6’1 190, and left at 6’3 230. Defensively, playing shortstop helped me ultimately become a better defender because your range is tested and you have to have good footwork.  Its a lot easier going from shortstop to third base, than third base to shortstop. Hopefully I can continue to improve at third.  

WTH:  In looking at your offensive numbers, I was struck by your consistency.  You hit lefties & righties, home & away, day games & night games and across the season.  The worst split I could find for you was .252 BA with bases empty which you more than made up for with a .352 BA with RISP.  What is your approach at the plate?

MD:  At the plate my approach is pretty simple.  It changes from pitcher to pitcher and depending on the situation of the game. But ultimately I’m just looking for a pitch that I can drive. I try to use the middle of the field and hit line drives.

WTH:  The Astros minor league system currently lacks depth at 3B.  And with the recent move of 2010 supplemental first round pick Mike Kvasnicka from 3B back to Catcher, the opportunities for that position have increased.  What can you do (or are you doing) to take advantage of those opportunities?

MD:  I am honestly just trying to make myself the best player that I can be with what tools I have been given.  I don’t really know a lot about other third basemen in the organization, I can only control what I do, and worry about how I can make myself more valuable to this organization.  

WTH:  You hit a lot of doubles in 2011 at Tri-City, but not a lot of home runs.  Do you think your stroke lends itself to developing more home run power?

MD:  I hope so, but I really don’t want to change too much. I think more than my swing, the lack of home runs could be just lack of experience hitting with wood bats.  But I honestly don’t know.  I will continue to hit like I always have until someone tells me otherwise.  Home runs are obviously a big part of the game and being a third baseman you are expected to produce offensively, so I hope I can help whatever team I am on win games with whatever it is they need.  

WTH:  You made 12 errors for Tri-City in 2011, 11 in roughly the first half of your games and 1 in roughly the second half of your games.  What adjustments did you make that helped you cut down on the errors?

MD:  Mostly I think I just relaxed and settled down.  I think most of the errors were throwing errors, and I was just rushing when I didn’t have to.  I like to think that I can be a plus defender at third base, and I’m going to continue to work at it.  But I also think that the help of Stubby Clapp, our manager and infield coach, helped me a lot.  He would work with us quite a bit, and really helped us understand the positions we played. 

WTH:  What was the biggest surprise for you about life in the minor leagues?

MD:  The biggest surprise to me, which wasn’t really a surprise but more of an adjustment, was the day in and day out routine of playing everyday.  In college you usually play four games a week and sometimes five.  So mentally preparing yourself to play every day was the biggest surprise/adjustment that you make when playing in the minor leagues.  

WTH:  What pitcher (of your Tri-City teammates) would you least like to face as a batter?

MD:  The last pitcher that I would want to face on Tri-City would probably be Nick Tropeano.  He throws any pitch in any count, so he will keep you guessing all game. 

WTH:  What expectations do you have going into your first spring training?  What will you be working on?

MD:  I am looking forward to spring training.  My expectations are that it is going to be a lot warmer than Boston, and a lot better weather to play baseball.  The time spent at spring training will definitely help get me ready to go for this season. I don’t know where I will be playing, but regardless of that, I hope I can help my team win games and continue to improve to become a better baseball player.   

WTH:  Can you tell me one thing about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?

MD:  I played hockey growing up and wanted to play in the NHL. 

Well, the NHL's loss is the Astros' gain.  Thank you for your time and good luck in 2012!!!

Happy Birthday - 2/28

C Luis Alvarez (22)
A NDFA from Venezuela, Alvarez first played in the VSL in 2007.  After sitting out 2010, Alvarez hit .271/.353/.376/.729 for the 2011 season at Greeneville with his batting average increasing as the season progressed.  In the Liga Paralela (the Venezuelan minor leagues) this winter, he batted .300/.352/.440/.792 in 17 games.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

RHP Ricky Stone (37)
Stone appeared in 165 games for Houston from 2001 to 2004, going 10-8 with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.401 WHIP over 187 innings.  Stone was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2008 and his wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011.  This follow-up from December 30, 2011 finds them both to be cancer free.  This will undoubtedly be a particularly happy birthday for Ricky.

Tweet of the Day

Rafael Valenzuela
Need to eat as much home made food as possible cause mom ain't coming with me to spring training

Monday, February 27, 2012

WTH 25-Man Roster - Final Relief Pitcher

As posted over the weekend, the 22nd player added to the WTH 25-Man Roster was Designated Hitter Chase Davidson.  Also receiving votes were Telvin Nash, Kody Hinze, Matt Duffy, Jimmy VanOstrand and Tyler Burnett.  For more information on the WTH Roster, go here.

This week we're going to pick our 6th and final relief pitcher.  This list is compiled of those who received at least one vote in the last round of voting for relief pitchers.  Jack Armstrong, with his mid to high-90's fastball, probably has the upper hand in winning this one as he was actually tied for the lead during the last round of voting.  But you should probably at least consider Jorge de Leon with the stingiest WHIP and batting average allowed of the group (plus his 16 saves), Jason Chowning with his 2.45 ERA, Jason Stoffel with his 10.69 SO/9 and Mitchell Lambson with his 4.88 SO/BB.

With all that said, here are the 2011 stats for the players.  Look them over and vote.

Happy Birthday - 2/27

No future Astros and only one former Astro with a birthday today ~

OF Carl Warwick (75)
Obtained in a trade with the Cardinals for LHP Bobby Shantz, Warwick appeared in 280 games for the Colt 45's in 1962 and 1963 with a batting line of .257/.315/.373/.689.  He was traded to the Cardinals in February of 1964 for 1B/OF Jim Beauchamp and RHP Chuck Taylor and was used as a pinch hitter in that year's World Series, going 3 for 4 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored as the Cardinals beat the Yankees 4-3 to win the series.

Tweet of the Day

Jordan Comadena
Great day today...hit until my hands bled. Can't wait to do it all again tomorrow. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

WTH 25-Man Roster

The 22nd player selected for the What the Heck 25-Man Roster was DH Chase Davidson.  We had another case of "stuffing the ballot box" with Davidson, but since he was essentially tied with Telvin Nash before the ballot stuffing began, I will let the results stand.  However, just like Miss America, if for any reason Chase Davidson can't fulfill his duties, Telvin Nash will be called on to DH for him.  Also receiving votes were Kody Hinze, Matt Duffy, Jimmy VanOstrand and Tyler Burnett.  (For more information on the WTH 25-Man Roster, go here.)

Coming Monday - Let's pick our final Relief Pitcher

Happy Birthday - 2/26

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

3B Steve Hertz (67)
Hertz appeared in 5 games for the Colt 45's in 1964 and those 5 games constituted his entire major league career.  He was unable to get that elusive hit in the majors.  Thankfully, he went on to have a very successful career coaching for Miami Dade College.  As an interesting side note, in 2007 he managed the Tel Aviv Lightning in the Israel Baseball League.

RHP Don Lee (78)
Acquired in a trade with the Angels for OF Al Spangler, Lee pitched for the Astros in 1965 and 1966.  In 16 games, he was 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP.

RHP Gary Majewski (32)
A Houston native, Majewski only appeared in 2 games for Houston at the end of his career.  Since it's his birthday, I will be charitable and not post the results of those 2 appearances.  Majewski had his most effective season in 2005 for the Nationals, going 4-4 in 79 appearances with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.360 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

Brandon Culbreth
Ill pay someone to pack for me

No Announced Roster Moves Today