Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dallas Keuchel - Major League Winner

There was a reason that this was the first profile I did on MLBlogs The Futurists site. Glad everyone else is getting on board now!

Congratulations to Dallas Keuchel on his first major league win and complete game, the first of many I trust.

Minor League Schedule and Recaps

Saturday's Schedule


DSL Royals
DSL Astros
9:30 CST


GCL Astros
GCL Nationals
11:00 CST


Greeneville
Kingsport
4:00 Comp. of Susp. Game
5:00 CST




Tri-City
Connecticut
5:05 CST
Lexington
West Virginia
6:05 CST
Corpus Christi
Frisco
7:00 CST
MiLB.tv
Omaha
Oklahoma City
7:05 CST
MiLB.tv
Lancaster
Lake Elsinore
8:05 CST
Tri-City
Connecticut
Game 2



Fridays Results

Greeneville Astros at Kingsport Mets: Suspended
The game was suspended at 5-5 in the 5th inning because of rain. The game is to be resumed today @ 4 CST in Kingsport. This game will be followed by the regularly scheduled game.

Tri-City ValleyCats at Connecticut Tigers: Postponed
Teams will play a double header today starting @ 5 CST.

GCL Nationals 12 GCL Astros 3
Yonathan Mejia hit his first HR of the season in the 3rd inning Friday with 2 on and 2 out. These would prove the only players to tag home all night for the GCL Astros. The GCL Astros lost the lead in the 4th inning Friday and never got it back. Every pitcher except Rodney Quintero allowed at least two runs. Quintero didn't allow any runs Friday after coming on for 3 innings. He allowed 3 hits and recorded 3 strikeouts. Austin Wates went 2 for 2 in his rehab assignment from Corpus Christi.

DSL Astros 5 DSL Cardinals 6
Friday saw some hot bats for the DSL Astros. Three players (Randy Cesar, Frederick Serrano and Arturo Michelina) all had multi-hit games. Jarico Reynoso stole 2 bases (2nd and 3rd in the 1st). In the 6th Juan Delis came in to replace Johan Arias and ended up being charged with the blown save. He was pulled after only recording 1 out, allowing an inherited runner to score on a wild pitch and hitting a batter.

Lancaster JetHawks 2 Lake Elsinore Storm 6
Lancaster had a rough night on Friday. Lake Elsinore pitcher Burch Smith was perfect through 5 innings until Chris Epps broke it up in the 6th with a single. Jorge De Leon pitched 9 hits, 6 runs, 2 BB's and 1 HR over 6 innings. Coupled with the fact that no JetHawks player had an extra base hit last night and there were only 5 hits total for Lancaster, it was simply, as Jason Schwartz (voice of the JetHawks) called it, an "Almost Perfect Storm."

Lexington Legends 2 West Virginia Power 5
Delino DeShields is now 1 steal away from tying the Legends' single season steal record (48) after recording his 47th SB Friday. Matt Duffy found a way to draw walks in both of his at bats for the Legends yesterday and Mike Kvasnicka went 2 for 4 with a solo homer. Luis Ordosgoitti (1-2) picked up his second loss of the season and the 5 runs (3 ER) and 10 hits he allowed proved to be too much for the Legends. Evan Grills came on in the 7th and only ever had one base runner after issuing a walk (That base runner was caught stealing to end the inning).

Oklahoma City RedHawks 10 Nashville Sound 7
The RedHawks had a big night in Nashville Friday. Brett Wallace went 2 for 4 with 2 HR's and 3 RBI.  Scott Moore picked up his 26th double and drew two walks. Fernando Martinez picked up his 40th RBI of the season when he was hit by a pitch in the 1st inning. Brett Oberholtzer got his first win of the season with the RedHawks over 5 IP, allowing 8 hits, 5 runs (4 ER), 3 SO's and 2 HR. Hector Ambriz got his first save as well, with 1 inning of work allowing just one hit. With this win over Nashville, the RedHawks closed the season series with the Sound 13-3.

Game of the Day

Corpus Christi Hooks 13 Frisco RoughRiders 7
The Hooks apparently knew just what the doctor ordered at Dr Pepper Ballpark Friday night and they couldn't get enough of it. Corpus Christi found a way to get rid of Frisco's, always tough starting pitcher, Barret Loux after just 3 innings and sent him down with his first loss of the year. Drew Locke (3 for 5) and Chris Wallace (3 for 3) both went yard for their 4th time this season and Jonathan Villar (2 for 5) belted his 6th long ball. The trio also combined for 9 RBI's and 18 total bases. Travis Buck went hitless, but drew two walks and scored. Bobby Doran collected his first win in his first outing with Corpus Christi after being called up from Lancaster. Henry Villar got his first save too, pitching 4 innings and allowing 2 runs on 6 hits.

What went right: First, getting rid of an ace like Loux in 3 innings can never hurt your chances of winning.  Second, if your new pitcher is going hang a 5-spot on the board and the closer is going to add a couple more, what better way to support them than to throw up 13 runs of your own? Translation: run support and a lot of it.

What went wrong:  Kody Hinze and Jonathan Singleton went hitless last night (though, I doubt anyone noticed). Singleton did draw a walk in the 7th.

Bobby Doran 5IP 8H 5R 2BB 2SO 2HR
Henry Villar 4IP 6H 2R 1SO 1HR

Drew Locke 3x5 2RBI R HR
Jose Martinez 3X5 2B RBI R
Drew Muren 2X5 2B 2R SO
Andrew Simunic 2X5 RBI R 2SO
Jonathan Villar 2X5 4RBI 2R HR
Chris Wallace 3X3 2B 3RBI 4R HR

Player of the Day: Brett Wallace is the man of the day. The big guy went yard twice in Nashville and proves once again that life's not always fair for all of us; Wallace gets to be good looking and good at baseball too.

Pitcher of the Day: Bobby Doran gets the nomination for getting his first AA win Friday. Doran is a huge guy and fun to watch. It's not uncommon for a pitcher to allow five runs in a debut. It is a little uncommon to still come away with the win because your team supported you with double-digit scoring.

Happy Birthday - 6/23

No future Astros, but one very special former Astro celebrates today~

LHP and Broadcaster Extraordinaire Jim Deshaies (52)
Originally drafted by the Yankees in the 21st round in 1982, Deshaies came to Houston in a September 1985 trade for Joe Niekro. In 181 games pitched for the Astros from 1985 to 1991, he was 61-59 with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.255 WHIP. On September 23, 1986, he became the first pitcher in over 100 years to strike out the first eight batters he faced. He also holds another record -- the most career at-bats (373) with no extra base hits. Deshaies also campaigned for and received one Hall of Fame vote in 2001, which is one more than Howard Johnson and Andy Van Slyke. Since 1997, Deshaies has been an Astros broadcaster and is known for his often witty retorts. Courtesy of Alyson Footer, here are just a few from this season.


"Get this man some oxygen!" Deshaies, after Carlos Lee legged out a triple in the ninth.

"That pitch was up, but then most pitches are up for Altuve." Deshaies

"He has a high pitchability quotient. The HPQ. Don't look it up. I made it up." Deshaies, praising Jordan Lyles.

"If the Marlins hit a grand slam, Bea Arthur appears." Deshaies, on home run sculpture at Marlins Park.

"Jamie Moyer is baseball's version of Betty White." Jim Deshaies.

Tweet of the Day

Josh Zeid

Baseball is a test. 3 of our last four games have gone into extras, 4.5 hour bus ride got in at 430 am and do it again tonight#lovethisgame

Friday, June 22, 2012

An Interview with LHP Kevin Chapman

It appears that Jeff Luhnow should probably be arrested for Felony Theft after pulling off the spring trade with Kansas City that netted the Astros LHP Kevin Chapman and OF D'Andre Toney for Humberto Quintero and Jason Bourgeois. Upon acquisition, Chapman was immediately inserted into the number 14 spot by Jonathan Mayo in his list of Top 20 Astros prospects.

In 28 appearances with Corpus Christi in 2012, he is 4-3 with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.691 WHIP (mainly due to a high walk rate earlier in the season). Over the last ten games, he is 2-1 with a 0.93 ERA and a 1.241 WHIP.

Corpus Christi Manager Keith Bodie described him as an interesting lefty pitcher with the ability to get out righties as well with his fastball which should help keep him from being pigeonholed as a LOOGY. According to Bodie, Chapman needs to work on refining his command and needs to get in touch with his body and his release point in order to make his delivery repeatable. But he feels that he will ultimately be a great asset out of the bullpen with his fastball, "It's electric. It's down in the zone. It's got velocity and it's got life. He's very interesting."

I talked to Chapman earlier this month when I visited Corpus Christi. Here is what he had to say.

On the trade: "At first it was sort of a shock to me because we were just finishing up spring training, ready to break for the clubs and here I go, I get traded.  I got to meet a whole bunch of new guys but once I settled in it was good and I really like it over here."

On the opportunities playing for Houston vs. Kansas City: "I think both clubs are in similar situations as far as the big league club in rebuilding. I think Kansas City might be a little bit closer to that in having their group of young guys come up, but I think here they've got a good thing going and it's fun to be a part of."

On his pitch repertoire: "I throw a four-seam fastball and a slider and those are my two pitches I use most. I also do have a change up but think I've thrown it twice this year. My fastball, when I'm feeling good, usually sits around 93-94. My slider is usually low 80's. My fastball sort of runs a little bit and my slider's got a little break to the side and a little downward action too."

On how he sees himself being used: "I think there's a lot of different ways I can be used. I can be used as a late inning guy. I can be used as a match-up guy. It just depends what they need me for and depends on how I'm doing.  If I'm doing really good, then obviously the later you'll pitch in a game so it depends on all that."

On what he's accomplished this season: "I think I've come in here and shown them that I do have potential and that I do have the ability that someday I'll pitch in the big leagues. I went through a rough stretch and the shorter you can keep those rough stretches the better and the more consistent you can be, but I feel like I'm past that and I'm back on track and I just need to keep pitching."

On what he needs to improve: "I feel like everybody in the minor leagues needs to improve on consistency. The biggest difference between us and big leaguers is consistency. They do it 99 out of 100 times and we do it 94 out of 100 times. You've just got to figure out how to be more consistent. Usually our stuff that we have and the ability that we have is the same as theirs. They're just more consistent with what they do."

On which Astros pitcher he'd like to steal a pitch from: "I would have to go with Jarred Cosart's fastball."

On which Astros hitter he would least like to face: "I would say Jon Singleton, but since he's a lefty I feel like I could handle him pretty well. I don't really know him that much but I heard [Mike] Hessman in AAA can really hit pretty well so I'd probably want to stay away from him."

On which teammate makes him laugh: "Erick Abreu. He's the man. He's awesome."

On what he'd do if he couldn't play baseball: "I'd be a professional golfer. In high school I played both golf and baseball and after my sophomore year, I had to chose between the two. I chose baseball. [Any regrets?] No. Not that I regret it, but there's always that one thing inside that says what if I were to pursue that, what would have happened? [Was he good?] I was good, but I'm not good any more. I don't play any more really but if I took time, I think I could get back to where I was pretty quick."

On what he thinks about Corpus: "I really like it a lot. It's similar to where I'm from because I'm from Ft. Lauderdale and just having the water and the weather's similar. I just like it. Nice area. [The ballpark?] It's just got a lot going on. The backdrop's cool. There's a lot of stuff to do at the stadium. The fans are pretty good here, too."

Thank you for your time, Kevin. Good luck with finding the key to that consistency. I think you're already well on your way!

Minor League Schedule and Recaps

FRIDAY'S GAMES

In the interest of saving time now that there are eight teams to recap, I will start simply posting a link with the day's schedule. There are only so many hours in the day! Click on the link above to see the schedule.
Well, that didn't work. Let's try this.


DSL Cardinals
DSL Astros
9:30 am


GCL Nationals
GCL Astros
11:00 am


Greeneville
Kingsport
6:00 pm

Tri-City
Connecticut
6:05 pm


Lexington
West Virginia
6:05 pm
Corpus Christi
Frisco
7:00 pm
Oklahoma City
Nashville
7:05 pm
Lancaster
Lake Elsinore
9:05 pm


Match-up to watch - Bobby Doran will make his Corpus debut against the very tough Barrett Loux (11-0) at Frisco.

THURSDAY'S RECAPS

DSL Astros at DSL Cardinals Postponed

GCL Marlins over GCL Astros 4-0
The hard-throwing lefty Reymin Guduan got the start giving up three runs on four hits and three walks and was charged with his first loss. He was followed by none other than Jandel Gustave who won my award for being the wildest pitcher in the Astros organization last season as he had 21 wild pitches and five hit batsmen in only 19.1 innings of work. Imagine my pride as he only had one wild pitch and one hit batter (and only gave up one run) in three innings of work! Andrew Walter gave up one hit in the final two. The offense won't take long. Yonathan Mejia and Javaris Reynolds each got a single. Other than four walks, that's pretty much it.

Tri-City over Vermont 5-3
Brian Holmes got the start followed by Tommy Shirley who got the win. John Neely made things a little interesting as he gave up two runs in the eighth to bring Vermont within two, but Blake Ford kept the door shut in the ninth and was rewarded with his first save. Tri-City got on the board in the second and never gave up the lead. Chase Davidson broke his hitting drought from the prior two games by going three-for-four with a double and an RBI. Jobduan Morales got his first stolen base of the season and Andrew Aplin and Justin Gominsky each had an outfield assist.

West Virginia over Lexington 9-4
Luis Cruz (L, 5-4) got touched for five runs (four earned) in his 5.1 innings of work and Gabriel Garcia allowed four in his inning. Lexington's early lead disappeared never to be seen again. Roberto Pena has slowly and quietly gotten his batting average up to .247, having hit .303 over the last ten (which is very welcome news). Jordan Scott and Matt Duffy each had two hits. Delino DeShields stole his 46th bag of the season (stolen bases for Brandon Meredith and Chan Moon as well). And Meredith hit his second home run of the season.

San Antonio over Corpus Christi 5-3 in 11 innings
Corpus Christi is going to desperately need their All-Star break next week after having participated in four extra inning games in their last five outings. Jose Cisnero allowed three runs on five hits and three walks. Josh Zeid and Alex Sogard kept the game close to give Corpus a chance, but the Hooks couldn't find the extra inning magic this time. Erick Abreu struck out the side in the tenth inning, but the 11th was his undoing as he gave up a walk and a walk off home run. Andy Simunic was three-for-five and Kody Hinze was two-for-four with an RBI.

Nashville over Oklahoma City 2-1
Armando Galaragga only pitched one scoreless inning before giving way to Aneury Rodriguez (L, 2-7) for five innings in which he gave up two runs to get charged with the loss. Chris Hicks pitched two innings and gave up only one hit to keep the Redhawks close, but they couldn't get a run across past the first inning. Fernando Martinez was two-for-two with an RBI in his first rehab outing.

Lake Elsinore over Lancaster 14-1
This one was a heartbreaker, not for Lancaster so much, but for me personally. It is painful for me to see a player struggle. I saw an extremely talented, fearless pitcher with a slider that made hitters look silly back in April in Lexington. He rarely walked anyone and wasn't afraid to pitch to contact. That pitcher, Jason Chowning, lost something on the way to Lancaster. He didn't lose his stuff. He lost his confidence. He tweeted something last night about being afraid of failure. You can't pitch scared, but that's what he's doing. And that is a very sad thing for me to see. Now back to the recap.

Lancaster only managed four hits against Lake Elsinore so even with solid pitching, this would have been a tough game to win, but the pitching was hardly that. Tyson Perez (four runs), Jason Chowning (six runs) and Brad Dydalewicz (four runs) just weren't able to find the key to the Lake Elsinore batters. Brian Streilein pitched a clean final frame but the damage was long done by then. Ben Heath was three-for-three and scored the sole Lancaster run via the long ball, and Rafy Valenzuela was one-for-three with a walk and a stolen base. That was the sum total of the Lancaster offense. This was truly a night to forget.

GAME OF THE DAY

Greeneville over Johnson City 10-3
For the second day in a row, Greeneville made Johnson City look silly. Francis Ramirez pitched a strong five innings in his first start for the win and the bullpen kept things well under control. About that offense. Wow. When Jean Batista's five-for-six outing isn't the best outing of the night, you know something is working well for you. Ariel Ovando and Jimmy Howick both had four hits and three RBIs and Ovando was just a home run shy of the cycle. When all was said and done, Greeneville had 19 hits, but almost better than that was the fact that there were no errors.

What went right: Ten runs, 19 hits and no errors with solid pitching.

What went wrong: Not enough to even mention.

Francis Ramirez - 5IP 3H 2R 1BB 2SO
Zachary Hardoin - 2IP 1H 1R 0BB 2SO 1HR
Christian Garcia - 1IP 3H 0R 0BB 1SO
Michael Dimock - 1IP 0H 0R 1BB 1SO

Jean Batista - 5x6 RBI R
Brian Blasik - 2x6 RBI 2R
Ariel Ovando - 4x5 2-2B 3B 3RBI SO 3R
Jimmy Howick - 4x5 2B 3RBI

Pitcher of the Day: Francis Ramirez wasn't glamorous but he was effective and on a day when many of the Astros pitchers struggled, effective was a very good thing.

Player of the Day: Ariel Ovando was ridiculous (and I mean that in a good way). Look for a first-hand report from Appy Astros who attended the game.

Happy Birthday - 6/22

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

Originally drafted in the first round by the Phillies in 1971, Thomas came to Houston in a March 1977 trade with the Mariners. Thomas pitched in only four games for the Astros (6.1 innings) with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.263 WHIP.

A second round draft pick by Houston in 1968, Chiles played for the Astros in 1971 and 1972 and again in 1976. In 81 games, he hit .239/.280/.351.

Tweet of the Day

Zach Johnson

When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Roster Moves - 6/21

Oklahoma City
LHP Brett Oberholtzer was assigned from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.
OF Fernando Martinez was sent from Houston to Oklahoma City on a rehab assignment.

Corpus Christi
RHP Bobby Doran was assigned from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.

Tri-City
OF Justin Gominsky was assigned from Lexington to Tri-City.

GCL
OF Austin Wates was sent from Corpus Christi to the GCL for a rehab assignment.
RHP Lance McCullers was assigned to the GCL.


Minor League Schedule and Recaps

THURSDAY'S GAMES

DSL Astros at DSL Cardinals at 9:30 CST

GCL Astros at GCL Marlins at 11:00 CST

Vermont at Tri-City at 6:00 CST
Probable Pitchers: TBD

Greeneville at Johnson City at 6:00 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Francis Ramirez (0-0, -.--) and RHP Bryan Martinez (0-0, -.--)

Lexington at West Virgina at 6:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: LHP Luis Cruz (5-3, 3.49) and LHP Zach Dodson (1-5, 6.12)

Corpus Christi at San Antonio at 7:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Jose Cisnero (4-6, 3.68) and RHP Josh Geer (2-2, 5.77)
Available on MiLB.tv

Oklahoma City at Nashville at 7:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Armando Galarraga (1-0, 1.86) and RHP Marco Estrada (0-0, 0.00)
Available on MiLB.tv

Lancaster at Lake Elsinore at 9:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: TBD and RHP Matthew Andriese (4-3, 3.39)

WEDNESDAY'S RECAPS

DSL Mariners over DSL Astros 10-9
Seriously? The Mariners made seven errors and we still couldn't win? Despite getting an early lead with six runs in the first, the Astros ended up losing this one in 12 innings after allowing a big inning of their own later in the game. The Mariners played ugly in that first inning, too, as by my count the Astros scored their six runs on only two hits with help from five errors (three runners reached base on errors), two walks and a hit by pitch. Edwin Villarroel allowed four runs and Javier Saucedo allowed five (including a grand slam), and Yonquelys Martinez allowed only one run but got pegged with the loss, helping to prove that life is, indeed, not fair. Mesac Laguna (3x5, 3R), Frederick Serrano (2x5, 2B, RBI), Yoel Silfa (2x5, 2RBI), Marlon Avea (2x3, 2B, RBI), and Arturo Michelina (2x6, 2RBI) all had productive outings.

GCL Astros over GCL Marlins 4-0
Five pitchers combined on the shutout with Chia-Jen Lo getting the first inning. I was frankly very surprised to see Lo in a game since Fred Nelson was quoted as saying that the end of the season looked optimistic for his return in this article from Zachary Levine. But pitch he did! After one perfect inning from Lo, Edison Frias (W, 1-0) took over for 4.1 innings and allowed six hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Ricardo Batista, Erick Gonzalez and Ambiorix de Leon not only allowed no runs in relief, they also allowed no hits. The Astros struck early, scoring two in the first. Carlos Correa singled and was driven in by a Teoscar Hernandez double, scoring what turned out to be the winning run. Hernandez and Juan Santana were both two-for-four with a double, RBI and run scored. Brett Phillips stole two bags.

Vermont over Tri-City 7-4
Juri Perez got the start, giving up two runs (none earned) over his four innings before giving way to Travis Ballew for his two innings of scoreless relief. Jeremiah Meiners (L, 0-1) ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing three runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks without recording an out in the then tied game, before being replaced by an effective Jamaine Cotton for two innings. Brad Propst allowed another two runs during the ninth. Jobduan Morales was three-for-four with a double and a home run; Andrew Aplin was two-for-four with two RBIs; and Austin Elkins was two-for-four with one RBI and a stolen base. Errors really hurt Tri-City as Juri Perez, Emilio King (2 errors), and Jesse Wierzbicki all recorded fielding errors. Morales was charged with two passed balls as well.

Corpus Christi over San Antonio 2-1 in 12 innings
Yet another extra inning affair for Corpus Christi as they win game one of the second half. Ross Seaton pitched eight strong innings (four hits, including one solo home run) but was denied the win as the Hooks weren't able to scratch across much offense in part due to three GIDPs. Kevin Chapman, Erick Abreu (W, 8-2) and Jason Stoffel (S, 10) combined for scoreless relief. Seaton's RBI double in the fifth accounted for one of the Hooks runs and Adam Bailey's RBI single in the 12th accounted for the other.

Nashville over Oklahoma City 3-2
The Redhawks could only muster four hits on a pitching dominant night in Nashville. Brian Bass gave up two runs on three hits over five innings before being ejected, along with skipper Tony DeFranscesco, in the bottom of the fifth as he came to the plate. There was no indication in the game story as to what happened. The newest Astro, Hector Ambriz, was then pressed into service. Ambriz and Juan Abreu pitched scoreless relief, but Adalberto Flores wasn't as lucky as he gave up a walk-off home run in the ninth to get the loss. The Redhawks only scoring came as the result of an Angel Sanchez hit by pitch (he was hit in the helmet) and a Landon Powell walk followed by a J.B. Shuck triple.

GAME OF THE DAY

Greeneville over Johnson City 9-4
Richard Rodriguez had a terrific start, allowing only one earned run over five innings while striking out eight. But it took three pitchers to get through the sixth inning, with Jordan Jankowski getting Greeneville out of a jam and getting rewarded with his first win, as Greeneville posted five runs in the eighth to put them out of reach. Mitch Lambson also pitched beautifully, getting five strikeouts in the final two innings. The game was tied going into the eighth, but Greeneville played a little small ball; took advantage of a passed ball, a wild pitch and a fielding error; and added a couple more for good measure on a Jean Batista home run.

What went right: Greeneville took advantage of Johnson City's mistakes while minimizing the damage from their own mistakes.

What went wrong: Toney with one error and Ibanez with two errors.

Richard Rodriguez - 5IP 4H 2R/1ER 0BB 8SO
Zach Dando - 0.2IP 1H 2R/0ER 1BB 1SO
Scott Zuloaga (BS, 1) - 0IP 0H 0R 1BB 0SO
Jordan Jankowski - 1.1IP 2H 0R 0BB 2SO
Mitch Lambson - 2IP 1H 0R 0BB 5SO

Jean Batista - 2x5 HR 2RBI R
Marc Wik - 2x4 RBI BB 2SO 2R
Ariel Ovando - 2x5 2B 2RBI 2SO R
Jimmy Howick - 2x4 2B RBI R

Pitcher of the Day: Richard Rodriguez gets this as much for the ZERO walks as he does for his eight strikeouts.

Player of the Day:  Ross Seaton may be a pitcher but he was responsible for the only Hooks run in the first nine innings in what could easily have been a 1-0 shutout.

Happy Birthday - 6/21

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

RHP Gene Pentz (59)
Originally drafted by Detroit in the seventh round in 1971, Pentz came to Houston in a December 1975 trade. In 91 games pitched for the Astros from 1976 through 1978, Pentz was 8-5 with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.437 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day


Nick Tropeano@PaPaTropeano
Well played Charleston, SC. You win.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Roster Moves

Oklahoma City
LHP Wes Musick was placed on the 7-day DL.
RHP Hector Ambriz was signed as a free agent and assigned to Oklahoma City.

GCL Astros
Chia-Jen Lo was assigned to the GCL Astros.

An Interview with Austin Wates

Austin Wates was a third round draft pick in 2010 out of Virginia Tech and has been the soul of consistency during his time in the minor leagues, hitting .301/.369/.411 over 201 games. He was hitting .305 for the Corpus Christi Hooks (.353 over his last 10 games) before being sidelined with a quad strain. Austin's batting average ranks fourth in the Texas League.

I sat down and talked with Austin during a recent trip to Corpus Christi. The interview was far-ranging, and I did hold back a few things for another piece I'm working on about his philosophy and approach to baseball and the art of hitting. We talked about everything from twitter (a proficient tweeter, he often shares random thoughts with his followers) to his various interests to THE CATCH, and much more. He is extremely intelligent, thoughtful and I found him to be highly engaging as we chatted for almost twenty minutes and could have talked much longer had the time allowed. Here is some of what he had to say.

On his twitter persona: "I guess I'm probably a little bit different than people might assume. It's fun to kind of create a personality on twitter. That is pretty much me in a nutshell, a more condensed version of me. [Austin proudly self identifies as a nerd on twitter.] I think me and my sisters all share that in common. We're very extroverted. All three of us are kind of nerds in our own sense. It's fun for me to interact with people. That's one of he things I don't think people take advantage of twitter enough. They say stuff but they don't respond back or they don't reply and usually, I think, unless someone's asking me for a pair of batting gloves or something, I usually reply."

On where he is and what he needs to do to get to the next level: "I think consistency is pretty much key and that's one of the things they look for when they figure out who they want to sent to the big leagues is consistency. You know what you're going to get with certain people. Hopefully I can just continue to be consistent. The type of player that I am, the big league club is going to need me to have really good at bats every time I go to the plate.  I'm a top of the order type of hitter and I need to have consistent, well put together at bats. I think I've thrown away a handful of at bats this year that I would love to have back but that's something I really need to improve on this year and that will help my overall impression at the plate.  I think that will help me get to the next level a bit quicker."


On spending a full season at Lancaster in 2011 (as the blogosphere called for his promotion): "It was actually good for me to stay out there. I was able to figure out what kind of player I was. It took me a while to get into a rhythm out there.  I didn't really fully understand the professional baseball atmosphere until about halfway through the season and then it started clicking. I was actually happy to stay out there for the whole year."

On THE CATCH: "It was an exciting 48 hours. It was a pretty exciting time. I was getting phone calls and emails for interviews and text messages and the whole shebang. But it was just exciting to be on Sports Center and hearing your name called. That was a pretty cool experience.  Hopefully, some day I'll be there again.

I knew the fence was going to be there and I knew that I was probably going to fall over it. I was just really hoping that it wouldn't hurt. [Austin went on to describe how lucky he was that he landed with his forearm flush with the ground rather than at an awkward angle.] It was kind of a freak deal that happened that nobody got hurt."

[In case you have been living in a cave somewhere and don't know about THE CATCH, or if you just want to see it again, here you go.]


On what he would do if he couldn't play baseball: "I was a psychology and sociology major at Virginia Tech and I don't think I would have done much with that field. I was unsure in college what I really wanted to do so I just picked a major that I enjoyed and stuck with it. I think I only have 18 hours left to graduate. I don't know what I'd be doing right now. I think I'd probably be back in school, maybe in an IT program or doing something that made me happy. I think making money will come for me and as long as I'm happy doing what I'm doing, I'm going to do a really good job of it, in my opinion, so I just need to make sure of that. I love music. I love cars, particularly Formula 1 cars. I love creating stuff, webpages, whatever it is."

On which Astros pitcher he would least like to face: "I think probably I would say [Jose] Cisnero. He's got one of the liveliest fastballs probably in the organization. It's not the hardest. There are a bunch of guys that throw harder than him but when he commands his fastball, he's a tough guy to hit. You can see that in his strikeout rate. It's pretty crazy so that's probably the guy I really wouldn't enjoy being in the batter's box against."

On something most people don't know about him: "I haven't swam in the ocean in almost 10 years now. I got stung by a jellyfish and I've never gone back in ever since. The furthest I've gone in is probably shin high."

Any final words?: "One of the things that I thought was really cool that I was talking [about] with Jake Buchanan the other day that shocks me still is how many people are really interested in minor league baseball out there. There's a big following in the minor leagues and it's pretty cool to be a part of. And I just want anybody out there that's reading the blog [to know] that we all really appreciate it.  It's pretty special.

I think one of the things that people that only follow major league baseball don't understand is that there's certainly no quick fix in baseball. It's one of those sports where you just can't take a couple guys and say, "Oh, well, we're good now" because there's injuries, there's a shopping list of things that you need for a team to be successful. I think the Yankees have proved that you still cannot just buy a championship. It just doesn't happen like that.  If you can be patient with guys, including myself, we're doing everything we can to help out."

Thank you for your time, Austin. I hope to see you back in the lineup soon!

Minor League Schedule and Recaps

WEDNESDAY'S GAMES

DSL Astros at DSL Mariners at 9:30 CST

GCL Marlins at GCL Astros at 11:00 CST

Vermont at Tri-City at 6:00 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Andres Avila (0-0, -.--) and RHP Juri Perez (0-0, -.--)

Greeneville at Johnson City at 6:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Richard Rodriguez (0-0, -.--) and RHP Victor de Leon (0-0, -.--)

Corpus Christi at San Antonio at 7:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Ross Seaton (5-3, 4.12) and RHP Hayden Beard (4-4, 6.96)
Available on MiLB.tv

Oklahoma City at Nashville at 7:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Brian Bass (1-1, 4.57) and RHP Seth McClung (1-8, 4.75)
Available on MiLB.tv

TUESDAY'S RECAPS

Carolina League over California League 9-1
Things didn't go as well as one would hope for All-Stars Bobby Doran and George Springer. Doran gave up three runs on three hits and a walk and was tagged with the loss while Springer was hitless with a RBI groundout, a walk, a strikeout and a stolen base. Of course, that one strikeout was against 2011 fourth overall draft pick Dylan Bundy. Overall, it was a battle of pitching vs. speed as the California League stole seven bases. Pitching won. This time. (Thanks to Buca Morris for his input.)

South Atlantic League North over South Atlantic League South 3-2
The results were a little more mixed for the Legends appearing on the South team. Mike Foltynewicz did what he does in his two inning stint to start the game for the South. He gave up no hits, no runs, no walks and recorded four strikeouts. Carlos Quevedo gave up one run on two hits with two strikeouts. DH Zach Johnson was hitless in three at bats with a strikeout; 3B Matt Duffy was two-for-two; and Delino DeShields was hitless with a walk, a strikeout and two errors. Nick Tropeano didn't see any action. Matt Duffy came in second place in the Home Run Derby.

DSL Mariners over DSL Astros 7-6
Luis Abad only pitched two innings giving up three runs on two hits and four walks before giving way to Rayderson Chevalier who pitched five strong innings. Unfortunately, he was in the game for 5.2 innings. Actually he wasn't that bad but Victor Mesa who followed him was the poster boy for what not to do. Here is how to lose the lead in 14 not-so-easy steps.

  • Luis Caballero doubles (3) on a fly ball to right fielder Tomas De La Cruz.
  • With Gabriel Guerrero batting, wild pitch by Rayderson Chevalier, Luis Caballero to 3rd.
  • Gabriel Guerrero strikes out swinging, catcher Brian Pena to first baseman Mesac Laguna.
  • Estarlyn Morales out on a sacrifice fly to center fielder Jarico Reynoso. Luis Caballero scores.
  • Ismael Alcantara singles on a ground ball to third baseman Randy Cesar.
  • Pitcher Change: Victor Mesa replaces Rayderson Chevalier.
  • Hersin Martinez singles on a line drive to left fielder Frederick Serrano. Ismael Alcantara to 2nd.
  • Joshua Franco singles on a ground ball to center fielder Jarico Reynoso. Ismael Alcantara scores. Hersin Martinez to 2nd.
  • Offensive Substitution: Pinch hitter Noe Berro replaces Angel Jimenez.
  • With Noe Berro batting, Hersin Martinez advances to 3rd on a balk. Joshua Franco advances to 2nd on a balk.
  • With Noe Berro batting, wild pitch by Victor Mesa, Hersin Martinez scores. Joshua Franco to 3rd.
  • With Noe Berro batting, Joshua Franco scores on a balk.
  • Noe Berro hit by pitch.
  • Alexander Capriata grounds into a force out, shortstop Luis Reynoso to second baseman Yoel Silfa. Noe Berro out at 2nd.

That's right! Two wild pitches, two balks and a hit by pitch all in one inning. You've got to love the DSL. The Astros did actually lead this one prior to this eighth inning meltdown which resulted in four runs. Randy Cesar and Yoel Silfa were both two-for-four with an RBI and Mesac Laguna hit his second home run of the young season.

GCL Cardinals over GCL Astros 5-2
Brandon Culbreth got the loss as he allowed three runs on six hits over four innings; Agapito Barrios allowed two more runs in his three innings; and Rodney Quintero pitched an uneventful final frame. Brett Phillips was two-for-four with a triple, an RBI and and outfield assist, but also had a caught stealing. Juan Santana was one-for-three with a walk and a stolen base. The Astros had five errors - two for Culbreth, one for Carlos Correa and two for Javaris Reynolds.

Johnson City over Greeneville 4-2
Adrian Houser pitched well and got the hard luck loss in this one after giving up only one run on two hits over five innings, but there was the matter of four walks and a wild pitch and a hit batter. Zachary Hardoin, Christian Garcia and Mike Hauschild allowed one run each in their appearances out of the bullpen. Greeneville didn't get on the board until the eighth inning when Brian Blasik doubled and drove in D'Andre Toney and later scored from third on a double play. Toney and Terrell Joyce both had outfield assists. Marc Wik was two-for-four with a caught stealing.

Vermont over Tri-City 7-4
This was another game with a big ugly inning as Vermont scored five runs in the fifth, in part due to wild pitches by two different pitchers and two throwing errors. Aaron West, the starter, only went three innings but they were the only clean innings of the game. Juan Minaya got the loss as he was charged with four runs in his 1.1 innings; Tommy Shirley gave up one run over 2.2 innings and Kenny Long gave up the final two runs in the eighth. Tri-City came up with three runs in the top of the ninth but it was too little, too late. Joe Sclafini hit a two RBI double; Andrew Aplin was two-for-three; and Emilio King was two-for-four with a double and a run scored.

Oklahoma City over Nashville 10-6
Wes Musick only pitched one inning giving up two runs before giving way to Sergio Perez for four innings (two runs on four hits). Mickey Storey got the win in relief as the Redhawks lost their early lead but scored five in the final two frames to close the deal. Mike Hessman was two-for-five with a three-run home run. Jimmy Paredes was two-for-five with a two-run home run and stole his 22nd base.

GAME OF THE DAY

Corpus Christi over San Antonio 4-0
Jarred Cosart put up his strongest start of the season pitching seven scoreless innings. Cosart, Henry Villar, and Arcenio Leon (W, 2-0) combined to allow seven hits, no runs and one walk over 12 innings with 14 strikeouts. After only getting six hits and one walk in the first 11 innings, the Hooks managed three hits and three walks in the 12th. Kody Hinze drove in what proved to be the winning run in a three-for-five performance. After struggling much of the season, Hinze is hitting .296 with three home runs and eight RBIs in his last 10 games.

What went right: Excellent pitching and timely, if late, hitting.

What went wrong: Jonathan Villar's 21st error of the season and two errors on Andy Simunic which thankfully didn't lead to runs.

Jarred Cosart - 7IP 5H 0R 1BB 8SO
Henry Villar - 3IP 2H 0R 0BB 4SO
Arcenio Leon - 2IP 0H 0R 0BB 2SO

Jonathan Villar - 1x5 2RBI BB 2SO
Jose Martinez - 2x6
Kody Hinze - 3x5 RBI SO R

Pitcher of the Day: Jarred Cosart without a second thought - simply terrific outing.

Player of the Day: Mike Hessman hit his 20th home run of the season - that's enough for me.

Happy Birthday - 6/20

RHP Tanner Bushue (21)
Bushue was drafted in the 2nd round in 2009 out of high school in Illinois. Saying that Bushue did not start out the 2012 season well is a vast understatement. In six games (three starts) he gave up 23 earned runs in only 11 innings. He was sent back to extended Spring Training in late April and he will be getting a bit of a do-over as he pitches for the Greeneville Astros as they start their season this week. Bushue has battled injuries but appeared to be putting things together in Lexington in 2011. I'm hoping that Greeneville will get his career jump started and he can live up to his early promise.

LF/1B Carlos Lee (36)
Signed as a NDFA out of Panama by the White Sox, Carlos Lee came to Houston as a free agent signing in November of 2006. In six seasons with the Astros, Lee has hit .287/.339/.489 with 180 doubles, 8 triples, and 132 home runs. Lee was an All-Star from 2005 to 2007 and won Silver Sluggers in 2005 and 2007. He has recorded five 30 home run seasons and six 100 RBI seasons in his career.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

SS Dickie Thon (54)
Originally signed by the Angels as a NDFA in 1975, Thon came to Houston in an April 1981 trade for RHP Ken Forsch. In seven seasons for the Astros, he hit .270/.329/.395 with his best season being his All-Star 1983 season as he hit .286/.341/.457 and won the Silver Slugger. In early 1984, Thon was hit in the eye by a Mike Torrez pitch threatening his career just as he was hitting his stride. Although he eventually was able to be effective at the plate again, most Astros fans who saw him in 1983 were left to wonder what if. In 1983, Thon led the National League in WAR at 7.2. Rumor has it that Blogger Astros County has erected a shrine to Thon in his home which his wife is forcing him to dismantle for nursery space as they await the birth of their first child this summer, a girl named Thonella.

C Paul Bako (40)
A fifth round pick by the Reds in 1993, Bako came to Houston in a January 1999 trade. In 74 games with Houston in 1999 and 2000, he hit .253/.329/.355.

Tweet of the Day


Mike Foltynewicz@Folty25

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Minor League Schedule and Recaps

TUESDAY'S GAMES

DSL Mariners at DSL Astros at 9:30 CST

GCL Astros at GCL Cardinals at 11:00 CST

Greeneville at Johnson City at 6:00 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Adrian Houser (0-0, -.--) and TBD

Tri-City at Vermont at 6:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Aaron West (0-0, -.--) and LHP Chris Lamb (0-0, -.--)

Corpus Christi at San Antonio at 7:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: RHP Jarred Cosart (3-4, 4.50) and LHP Andrew Werner (1-8, 4.26)
Available on MiLB.tv

Oklahoma City at Nashville at 7:05 CST
Probable Pitchers: LHP Wes Musick (1-2, 3.14) and RHP Claudio Vargas (2-0, 4.21)
Available on MiLB.tv

MONDAY'S RECAPS

DSL Athletics over DSL Astros 7-4
Samil de los Santos got the start and gave up two runs on three hits followed by a spectacular meltdown by Elieser Hernandez who only managed to get one out while allowing four runs on five hits. He wasn't helped by his three wild pitches either. Geronimo Franzua walked five batters, including a bases loaded walk. Only Frangy Colon had a good outing as he pitched the final 3.2 innings and allowed only two hits with no runs, no walks and five strikeouts. Frederick Serrano was two-for-five; Randy Cesar had two RBIs; and Pedro Coa had two walks.

GCL Astros over GCL Cardinals 1-0 in 13 innings
Carlos Correa may have gotten a hit in his first at bat (and stolen a base), but it was one of only six hits that the Astros got in a ridiculously long 13-inning pitcher's duel. The Cardinals only managed six hits as well. Michael Feliz went five innings and gave up only two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. The bullpen quite ably consisted of Ambiorix de Leon (1.2IP 1H 1SO), Alan Abreu (2.2IP 3H 2BB) in his professional debut, Juan Mojica (2.2IP 2SO) and Jose Montero (1IP 0H) for the win. Teoscar Hernandez, someone that I had watched closely in last year's DSL, made his stateside professional debut with two hits, a double and an outfield assist. Brett Phillips, Darwin Rivera and the 17-year old Juan Santana (another DSL alumni that I like) got the remaining hits. Carlos Correa also had a walk and a fielding error.

San Antonio over Corpus Christi 10-1
Corpus Christi led this one for about a nanosecond. But after 2.2 innings, Jake Buchanan was gone and 10 runs were recorded against him. Granted two of the runs were inherited runs that Alex Sogard allowed to score, but ugly nonetheless. Sogard and Josh Zeid handled cleanup quite ably allowing no additional runs and striking out four each. The Hooks were held to five hits, all singles. Three of those belonged to Andy Simunic. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

GAME OF THE DAY

Tri-City over Vermont 10-2
2010 2nd round draft pick Vincent Velasquez got his first start since his recovery from Tommy John surgery and it was a good one as he threw five scoreless innings. There were several good offensive performances, but Austin Elkins three-run home run really set the tone. Up 1-0 through four innings, Tri-City scored seven runs in the next two innings to put the game out of reach for Vermont and to get Velasquez his first win since 2010.

What went right: Velasquez' start and some potent offense.

What went wrong: Chase Davidson had an 0-fer with 2 strikeouts and Elkins and Ryan Dineen both had fielding errors.

Vincent Velasquez - 5IP 2H 0R 0BB 6SO
John Neely - 1IP 1H 2R/1ER 1BB 1SO
Jamaine Cotton - 2IP 3H 0R 0BB 2BB
Blake Ford - 1IP 1H 0R 1BB 0SO

CF Andrew Aplin - 2x4 BB 2R SB
2B Austin Elkins - 2x5 HR 3RBI SO 2R SB
RF Emilio King - 2x5 2B 3SO 2R
3B Ryan Dineen - 2x4 BB R
C Jobduan Morales - 2x4 2B 2RBI SO R

Pitcher of the Day: Vincent Velasquez is my man. I'm thrilled to see the 20-year old come back so strongly from TJ surgery.

Player of the Day: Austin Elkins, in his first professional game, hit a three-run home run. That's pretty darn cool!

Happy Birthday - 6/19

No future Astros, only former Astros with birthdays today ~

3B Bob Aspromonte (74)
Aspro the Astro was one of the original Colt .45s and Astros players, having been obtained in the expansion draft in October of 1961. In seven seasons with the Astros, Aspromonte hit .258/.313/.345 with his best season being 1967 when he hit .294/.354/.401. He was traded in December 1968 to Atlanta for utility player Marty Martinez. He led the National League in fielding percentage in 1964 and 1971.

LHP Jerry Reuss (63)
A second round pick by the Cardinals in 1967, Reuss came to Houston in a trade in April 1972, was traded away in October of 1973 and came back to Houston as a free agent 17 years later in 1990 toward the end of a 22-year major league career (but didn't pitch for Houston again at the major league level). In 1972 and 1973, Reuss was 25-26 in 74 games for the Astros with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.375 WHIP. He won 18 games in three different seasons and was an All-Star in two of those, in 1975 for the Pirates and in 1980 for the Dodgers. He came in second in Cy Young voting in 1980 to Steve Carlton.

2B Craig Smajstrla (50)
Originally drafted in the fourth round in 1981 by the White Sox, Smajstrla (can I buy a vowel?) came to Houston as a free agent in November of 1987. His eight games for the Astros in 1988 constituted his entire major league career. Used mostly as a pinch runner, he scored two runs but never got a hit in his three at bats.

LHP Bruce Chen (35)
Atlanta signed Chen as a free agent out of Panama in 1993. He came to Houston as a free agent in March of 2003 and only pitched in 11 games before being placed on waivers. In 12 innings, he had an ERA of 6.00 and a WHIP of 1.833. He is currently pitching for the Kansas City Royals.

Tweet of the Day

Zach Johnson

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Home Run Derby on the USS Yorktown. Matt Duffy advanced to the next round with three others.

Monday, June 18, 2012

An Interview with OF Jake Goebbert

The 24-year old lefty hitting Jake Goebbert was a 13th round pick by the Astros out of Northwestern in 2009. He plays the corner outfield positions with good doubles, on base and defensive skills and projects as a solid fourth or fifth outfielder on a major league club. At Corpus Christi this season, he hit .279/.354/.438. I interviewed him on the afternoon of Friday, June 8th. He went three-for-four that night and was promoted to Oklahoma City the next day. His coaches described Geobbert as a smart player, a solid player. He's definitely quite smart, thoughtful and well-spoken. Here's what Jake had to say to me.

On his season so far: "There's a lot of room for improvement right now. I feel like I've had spurts of really good at bats and quality swings and spurts of not-so-great ones but overall I feel like I've hit the ball hard. I've hit the ball well. I'm increasing my walks and lowering my strikeout to walk ratio by a lot which is something signficant that I've wanted to do this year. As a team, we're playing a lot better. We're taking strides in the right direction and we're looking forward to the second half because I feel like we really kind of gave it away in the first half. We had a nine-game losing streak and a couple four or five game losing streaks that really hurt us that we could have minimized and we'd be right in the thick of things right now if that wasn't the case."


On the Arizona Fall League: "I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience. Numbers wise, it was after a long season so my numbers were not where I wanted them to be but the experience itself being on a championship team was incredible. Getting to know some of those guys on other teams was a new experience for me in professional baseball. And being able to talk to them and look at how they're doing on line and actually have friends in other organizations now is a pretty neat thing to have. There's a lot of camaraderie in the game."

On his defense: "Defense is something that I feel like I can really control. It's more of a controlled environment. You can't necessarily control the pitches you get in an at bat or what you do with the pitch you do get. You always try to give yourself the best opportunity you can. But defensively, I try to just go hard all the time. And if I can do that, I feel like I'll make fewer mistakes and be in a better position to succeed."

On his success vs. lefties in 2012 (hitting over .400): "It's something that I'm trying to figure out, to be honest. I think my career average is probably .260 against lefties and probably .310 against righties, approximately, so I don't really understand. Right now I think it's kind of having less of an expectation at the plate against a lefty and just relaxing more and against a righty maybe expecting too much out of myself and trying to do too much. So I'm trying to find a little bit more of a balance between both of them and keep hitting well against lefties, but kind of bring that same approach to the plate when I face righties."

On the competition in the Texas league: "It's very good competition. It's the best I've ever played against. Quality pitching every night. There's really no free days. There's no days when you go in and say, 'Man I'm going to go in and get four hits tonight.' It's the attitude I always want to have but you have to be ready for every at bat and there's a lot of good players, a lot of good pitchers and just good quality teams."

On which Astros organization pitcher he would least like to face: "I would probably not want to face Oberholtzer because being left-handed and he's kind of a power left-handed pitcher. He'd probably be the one for me personally that I wouldn't want to face."

On Corpus: "Love Corpus. I absolutely love Corpus. It's a great set up, good fans, great stadium, great people, the nice breeze off the water. It's been an excellent experience."

On something most people don't know about him: "I'm married. I've been married for a year and a half. I grew up on a pumpkin farm about an hour west of Chicago in a small town called Hampshire, Illinois where my family does a big agritainment business in the fall. In the spring we do flowers. I grew up a farm boy in a real small town."

On what he would do if he didn't play baseball: "I went to school for Psychology and Pre-Med but most likely I would work on the family farm. You don't realize how much you love it until you leave it."

Any final words? "Keep up with the Astros. We're coming. We're coming fast. It's going to be a fun couple of years. I'm excited and hope that I can be a part of it. It's been a great year. We've obviously seen a lot of change. Just keep with us and look foward to the future because there's a bright future for this organization."

Thank you for your time, Jake. Good Luck in Oklahoma City!