Thursday, April 30, 2009

April's Last Stand

Here's my last recap of April. Round Rock was off last night and Lancaster will be off today.

Houston starter Brian Moehler got absolutely bombed in his appearance with Corpus. He gave up 11 hits and eight runs in 5 innings in his first rehab start with the Hooks. According to the game recap, he started off strong but fell apart late. Maybe he needs to be slotted into a suddenly-thin bullpen when he comes off the DL.

Drew Locke and Collin DeLome continue to mash in Corpus. Jimmy Van Ostrand and Locke both had three hits for the Hooks on Wednesday. Van Ostrand hit two home runs and raised his average to. 408 in 49 at-bats. DeLome has been hitting more line drives, which has raised his average to .289. He's got about the same numbers both at home and on the road, with a little better power in Corpus due to the short right field.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, Jason Castro pinch hit last night a day after getting hit by a pitch. He stayed in the game to catch the last half-inning, which tells me he's feeling fine. T.J. Steele did not play, but that may have just been a routine day off. Jordan Powell was effective out of the 'pen for the JetHawks, pitching a perfect ninth in the loss. Powell has struck out 13 while walking one in 17 1/3 innings this season. His BABiP is a solid .333, so this is a good baseline for his performance. At 24, he's getting old for the California League, but not so much so that he can't develop into a nice prospect.

22-year old Henry Villar struck out eight in 3 2/3 innings for Lexington in his second start of the season. The right-hander has 26 strikeouts this season in five appearances and had a game score of 57 for his start on Wednesday, even though he didn't even finish the ninth.

21-year old catcher Federico Hernandez is hitting .467 in his last four games for Lexington. He's upped his overall average to .245 and has a weighted OBA of .306, which is the third highest on the team. His BABiP is a low right now at .237, so he should get better over time, but right now he's giving Lexington the offense it dearly needs.

That's all for now, as I've got to get my defensive stats ready for tomorrow's unveiling of my Hitter, Pitcher and Defensive Players of the Month for every level of the system! Get excited!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ross Seaton Pitching Profile

First off, let's get a couple of things out of the way first. I'm using some simple metrics here, like Game Score and some more complex methods, like Pitching Runs Created. Both definitions to the methodology behind how I came up with these stats can be found at the links above. This way, I won't have to spend the rest of this post explaining what the stats themselves mean.

Before I get into the profile, here's some background on Seaton. Ross is a 19-year old right-handed pitcher from Second Baptist High School in Houston was selected in the supplemental portion of the third round in 2008. At 6-foot-4 and 190 lbs., the Sugar Land native has definitely got the frame to be a power pitcher. Plus, I just like rooting for players from my home town.

I dug up some video of him from's 2008 Draft coverage here. His arm slot is definitely overhand and from what I could tell, it didn't look like his elbow was flying forward before his hand (one sign of potential injury problems). The scouting report on him mentioned three good pitches, with the possibility of his changeup becoming an average pitch. It also mentioned that he's an intelligent kid, which he would have to be to get into a school like Tulane.

When I started out looking at this pitching profile, I didn't exactly know what I was going to put into it. I knew I wanted to start out simply, by scoring all of his starts and getting an average Game Score. His four starts got scores of 55, 66, 62 and 70 in chronological order, so his average Game Score turned out to be 63 for the month of April (I'm assuming he's not starting tomorrow's game).

Seaton has been above average in all of his starts this season and in two of them, pretty spectacular. That 70 score came from his last start, when he only struck out three but threw seven innings of shutout ball. Still, how impressive has he really been? His G/F ratio is still too high on the fly ball end, though that has been trending downward lately. He still doesn't get as many strikeouts as you'd like to see, but he's been able to get consistent outs. Still, I wanted to dig a little deeper into his numbers.

Not having pitch counts to work with, I had to look at what was available in the box score. My next task was to isolate how good the defense has been when he's on the mound and what percentage of line drives and men left on base he has. I used another stat from the Hardball Times that I've worked into my rotation for my fielding metrics, the Defense Efficiency Rate. It basically looks at just the batted ball plays and creates a ratio of successful plays by the defense. Lexington, overall, has a DER of .679, but Seaton has been very lucky in his four starts. His defense has a DER of .815, which explains his luck on balls in play. He also has avoided giving up too many line drives, having just 19.6 percent over the four starts. His high mark there was the five he gave up in seven innings on Tuesday. In both the starts before that, he only gave up one line drive total.

As for number of men he's stranded on base, that number is up to 93.8%, which is pretty incredible. Seaton has shown a knack for getting timely ground balls and for inducing double plays, as he has gotten one double play in all but one of his starts. Part of my profile meant I had to chart his games by lefty/righty matchups, essentially creating a score card of his time on the mound. Besides providing me with a wealth of information on his splits (.175 vs. lefties, .167 vs. rightys), it also gave me a chance to see just where in the field they were hitting the ball when they made contact. Seaton is a righty, so you'd expect him to be tougher on righty batters and for guys to try and pull the ball. From all the data I saw, no one really got around to pulling the ball at all on Seaton and most batters were hitting the ball either up the middle or the opposite way, which suggests he's got very good raw stuff. Probably a good to excellent fastball and some offspeed pitch like a slider to keep the hitters' timing off.

All that was a precursor to my analysis of his Pitching Runs Created. As the above article stated, this is basically a stat to show and easily compare pitchers to batters. Seaton has a RA of 1.52 this season and his PRC is 7.42. That's a little lower than it could have been, but he fell into the meaty part of the curve for the adjustment based on K/9 inn. He's just at 5.70 right now, and I'm okay with that, because at his stage of development, strikeouts are fascist. Groundballs are more democratic. Seriously, though, I'd rather him learn how to pitch, learn how to get out of jams by throwing double play balls than to try and strike everyone out. The ball's an egg, handle it with care!

So, how does his PRC compare to some of the Lexington hitters? Only one or two positional players had Runs Created over 10 and they've played in a heck of a lot more games than Seaton's four. He's been very, very good right now and one of the main reasons that Lexington isn't in the basement of the South Atlantic League, considering its offense has been so horrendous. His team has scored 6, 0, 4 and 4 runs for him in his three starts. His second best start of the season? Yeah, that's when Lexington got shut out. Just for comparison's sake, that's 3.5 runs per game of support for Seaton. The league average of runs scored per game is 4.07. Half a run can really add up over the course of a season.

So, what did we learn? Seaton is a very promising young pitcher who has great stuff. He may not miss many bats right now, but he's throwing hitters off-balance when they do make contact. He doesn't give up much hard contact, is starting to throw more ground balls and needs more run support. Not too bad for a kid who was in high school last year.

Wednesday's Rundown

Here's what happened in the Astros minor league system on Tuesday:

Bud Norris pitched a good game for Round Rock but took the loss, going 7 innings and allowing five hits and three runs, two of which were earned. He also struck out seven and walked six. Norris has a 2.28 ERA this season and has struck out 25 batters in 23 2/3 innings.

There was a messy, messy game in Lancaster, featuring eight combined errors by the two teams, five hit batters, one wild pitch, 24 combined runs and 35 combined hits. 2008 draft pick David Duncan started for the JetHawks and was bounced in the third, after giving up eight hits and eight runs, only two of which were earned. A parade of relievers including Sergio Severino, JJ Pacella and Fernando Abad also got hit hard, but that's nothing new. Only four of the JetHawks pitchers have ERAs under 4.00 and one of those hasn't even pitched in 10 innings yet (Bryan Hallberg, 6 appearances, 9 2/3 IP).

The Lancaster hitters continue to pound out base knocks. Jack Shuck followed up his perfect Monday by going 2 for 5 with a run scored and a strikeout. He's currently batting .346/.400/.423. His 27 hits leads all Houston minor leaguers....In Tuesday's game, Giants 21-year outfielder Thomas Neal hit for the cycle, going 4 for 5 with a four runs scored.

One hitter having an good season for Lexington is Albert Cartwright. The 21-year old was drafted out of Polk Community College in the 36th round of the 2007 draft as an outfielder. This season, he's playing second base and is one of the few Lexington players hitting the ball well. Cartwright is batting .293/.379/.500 in 64 plate appearances and has hit two home runs, a triple and four doubles and has been successful on all three of his stolen base attempts. Cartwright hit a home run in Tuesday's game, going 2 for 2 with two walks, two RBIs and a run scored.

Both Collin DeLome and Wladimir Sutil sat out Tuesday's game with Corpus Christi. Josh Flores started in DeLome's place and played center field. Flores missed all of 2008 with a knee injury and has struggled in his comeback this April. Currently, he's 10 for 55 with four walks and 13 strikeouts. He has managed to hit three doubles and steal three bases but he may be struggling to regain his timing.

A scary half inning for Lancaster saw both Jason Castro and T.J. Steele leave the game after being hit by pitches. No word on whether they are injured; neither started the early afternoon game today, but Castro did pinch hit late in the game....In other news, Chad Spann, the 25-year old third baseman, was called up from Corpus to Round Rock and started Tuesday's game. He was little used with the Hooks this season, appearing in seven games and accumulating 24 at-bats. He didn't hit much in his limited time, but may provide an insurance policy if the Astros are calling up Mark Saccomanno.

I'm coming back later tonight with my first-ever pitching profile. This first one will be on Ross Seaton, who picked up his third win on Tuesday, but I have more scheduled for later.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday Brieflys

I'm going to be short and sweet today, partly because I'll have an analysis of Jason Castro's hitting profile going up later tonight and partly because, well, there just wasn't that much to talk about yesterday, as Lexington had the day off and two non-prospects (Brandon Backe and Chad Wagler, a 25-year old reliever for Corpus, who incidentally played college ball at Kent State) started the other games.

The unequivocal star of the show was Jack Shuck. The 21-year old outfielder reached base on all five of his trips to the plate on Monday, going 3 for 3 with a double, two walks, two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base. He's currently batting .342/.400/.425 in 81 plate appearances with a 7/7 strikeout to walk ratio and an adjusted OPS of .790. His numbers have definitely been helped by the band box of a park he plays his home games in, but he has shown signs of being a good base stealer (6 for 6 this season) and could be a good top-of-the-order guy down the road.

Chris Hicks (3-1) also picked up his third win for Lancaster. His line (6 1/3 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 2 K, 0 BB) was mediocre for most places, but at Lancaster, this was a gem. He gave up 12 hits, but also got 10 ground ball outs and has a nice 28/15 GB/FB ratio overall. His ERA is 3.86 and his WHIP is 1.52, both could be lower, but he's also got a BABiP of .377, which means those numbers are actually a bit higher than they should be. Overall, it's been a good month of April for Hicks.

That's really all I have from last night. Wladimir Sutil's streak didn't end (because he didn't play), Collin DeLome hit his first double and Brian Pelligrini crossed the 20-strikeout mark for the season. Back with more tomorrow!

Jason Castro Hitting Profile

Jason Castro was drafted 10th overall by the Astros in the 2008 draft. The junior from Stanford led his team to the College World Series semifinals against Georgia last season before beginning his professional career with the Astros. Castro hit .275 in 39 games with the Tri-City ValleyCats in the short-season New York-Penn League.

After hitting well in spring training, Castro jumped a level and started off in the hitter's haven that is Lancaster, which is in High A's California League. Castro originally shared catching duties with the JetHawks alongside Koby Clemens. I originally thought that they had more of an even split between DH and catching duties. However, with Castro's hitting profile, I specifically looked at how well he hit behind the plate and as the designated hitter. From the box scores I've been following, I expected that he'd been at DH too much and, with Clemens moving on to Corpus, that his return behind the dish would lead to an increase in productivity. Turns out I was wrong.

Castro had only been at DH in three games this season. All his extra-base hits came when he was catching and his average as a DH is .167. The real telling split was with his home and road numbers.

At home, Castro is batting .354 in 11 games with two home runs, one triple and three doubles. On the road? .179 with a home run and two doubles. He also has struck out a ton, but over the past eight games, he's only whiffed three times. The other very interesting split in his stats was his vs. Lefty numbes. Castro bats from the left side and throws from the right. Against lefties this season, he's batting .318 in 22 at-bats.

Does that really tell us much, though? There's not really enough of a data set to make huge conclusions on, but he's had a pretty good month at home in one of the best hitter's parks in the minors. The more interesting data comes on his hit chart.

As a lefty, you expect him to hit more balls to the right side of the field (much as we saw with Collin DeLome). With Castro though, we see that he's much more adept at using the whole field for his hard hit balls. He's got good numbers to center and to left on both ground balls and line drives, but it's his fly balls that really stand out. 21 of his 28 fly balls have gone to left or center field. He's hitting for a much higher average to right (5 for 7 with three home runs and two doubles), but he's still using the whole field, which is the mark of an advanced hitter.

The biggest concern? His line drive percentage is sitting at 9%. Over a couple weeks, that's not worrisome, but with nearly a month's worth of data, it shows he's getting hits, but he's not hitting the ball well. He's also not getting anything through the right side of the infield. While DeLome hits a ton of ground balls to the right side, he is still hitting around .400 on those plays. Castro has hit 15 ground balls to the right side and only gotten one single to show for it. I'll explain this by his lack of speed compared to DeLome, but that doesn't account for all of it. DeLome isn't fast enough to turn something out of nothing in the infield. No, what I'm guessing is that DeLome hits the ball with enough authority that he can find the gaps in the defense along the foul line or in the right-side hole. Castro, while he's hitting .289 overall, is just not swinging the bat well.

I'm going to list the data I'm basing this analysis off of. I gathered all this by sifting through all of his box scores. If you have any questions, please leave a comment!

AB Outs H AVG 1B 2B 3B HR

GB - Left 4 3 1 0.250 1 0 0 0

GB - Center 5 2 3 0.600 3 0 0 0

GB - Right 15 14 1 0.067 1 0 0 0

GB Total 24 19 5 0.208 5 0 0 0

LD - Left 1 1 0 0.000 0 0 0 0

LD - Center 2 0 2 1.000 2 0 0 0

LD - Right 4 1 3 0.750 3 0 0 0

LD Total 7 2 5 0.714 5 0 0 0

FB - Left 10 9 1 0.100 1 0 0 0

FB - Center 11 5 6 0.545 2 3 1 0

FB - Right 7 2 5 0.714 0 2 0 3

FB Total 28 16 12 0.429 3 5 1 3

Total Left 15 13 2 0.133 2 0 0 0

Total Center 18 7 11 0.611 7 3 1 0

Total Right 26 17 9 0.346 4 2 0 3

Total Abs 76 37 22 0.289 13 5 1 3

% GB 31.58%

% LD 9.21%

% FB 36.84%

Home 51 17 4 9 6 9 3 1 2 0 1 0 1 28 0.333 0.375 0.549 0.924
Away 25 5 0 5 3 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 10 0.200 0.200 0.400 0.600
Totals 76 22 4 14 9 11 5 1 3 0 1 0 1 38 0.289 0.321 0.500 0.821

at Catcher 64 20 2 13 7 9 5 1 3 0 1 0 1 36 0.313 0.328 0.563 0.891
at DH 12 2 2 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.167 0.286 0.167 0.452

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekend Leftovers

Better late than's a rundown of the weekend's notable performers.

Corpus Christi's Mitch Einertson hit his fourth home run of the season. We've talked about him here before, but it's good to see his power coming along. He hasn't gotten consistent playing time this season as the Hooks try to find time in the outfield for Drew Locke, Collin DeLome, Einertson and Josh Flores. Still, Einertson's bat has been strong this season and he's batting .300/.378/.650 in 42 plate apperances.

Speaking of DeLome, he was involved in a very strange play this weekend. He bunted a single to the first baseman, who fielded the ball and threw it to the shortstop. Apparently, DeLome tried to take second because the shortstop threw back to the first baseman who threw to the second baseman to tag DeLome out. This is either an overthrow that was backed up by the shortstop or DeLome got caught in a rundown. Now, how you get caught in a rundown between first and second on a bunt single is beyond me. Still made for an interesting box score....DeLome also hit his first triple of the season to lead off Sunday's game.

Shortstop Wladimir Sutil has reached base safely in 12 straight games heading into Monday night's contest. He's been hitless twice during the streak, but walked both times to keep it alive. Sutil has been splitting time at shortstop with regular third baseman Jhon Florentino.

Locke came over from the Dodgers system this off-season and has hit almost since his first time in the lineup. One of the reasons the Hooks are having such a hard time finding at-bats for everyone in the outfield is that Locke is hitting the cover off the ball. He is 23 of 56 this season with three home runs, five doubles, three walks, 19 RBIs, 10 runs scored and 13 strikeouts. He's not really a prospect at 26, but he is having an excellent month of April.

Lancaster's Craig Corrado had the first four hit game in the Astros farm system this season on Friday. In the same game, Clemens the Younger hit a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th, right before his callup to Corpus Christi. Corrado is batting .227 in 66 at-bats with a slugging percentage of .333 this season. Drew Locke became the second farm hand to collect four hits in a game on Sunday for Corpus.

Lancaster pitcher Chia-Jen Lo continued his torrid strikeout pace, fanning his 20th batter of the season over the weekend. Lo has pitched 12 innings, giving up four hits, two earned runs and walking five. He has three holds and one win to his record. The Taiwanese pitcher was the first player signed by the Astros new Pacific Rim scouting team, headed by former big leaguer and Astro Glen Barker.

Jonathan Gaston has an impressive raw stat line this season, as he hit three home runs in one game earlier this month. However, his adjusted OPS is just .875, which is good but not great. He walks quite a bit, but he also strikes out a ton and his power is probably a bit of a mirage at this point.

Lexington's Kyle Miller is the first farm hand to wear the Golden Sombrero, striking out four times on Sunday.

Uber-teenager Jordan Lyles had an okay fourth start on Sunday, recording a game score of 48. His strikeouts were down from last start, but he still has 20 in 18 innings, which is tied for the best mark in the Astros system.

Jay Austin continues to hit better, as he stole his second base over weekend. Austin is batting 7 for 28 in last eight games, with an OBP of .344. The numbers are not great, but much better than his .175/.242/.211 overall line. Needless to say, he was pretty horrendous early on.

One bright spot in Lexington's order? Outfielder Russell Dixon has only struck out three times in 47 plate appearances. Granted, he's repeating the Sally League this season and is old for the level at 23, but still...

Tomorrow should be a nother two-post day, as I'm interested in doing a hitting profile on someone...maybe Jason Castro.

Who's Catching?

Mike Cameron's collision with Humberto Quintero on Friday night shook up the Astros minor league system just as much as it shook up both participants.

J.R. Towles was called up to the big leagues after Q went on the 15-day disabled list with a sore shoulder. I'm not sure what the Astros plan to do once Q is healthy, since they made numerous moves in the minor which suggest the call-up may be permanent. However, Pudge isn't one to take days off very often, and Towles needs to be playing. He only had 34 plate appearances in the minors this season and though he went 11 for 32 with a walk, three doubles and a home run, he also struck out seven times. Eventually, he'll break into the starting lineup for the Astros and hopefully provide some punch, but as long as Pudge keeps getting game-winning hits, that's not happening soon.

To replace Towles in Round Rock, 31-year old Brian Esposito got the call from Corpus. He's hit .244/.311/.415 in 41 at-bats this season and caught most of the Hooks games. I guess he's a guy that could be released to make room for Towles if the much younger backstop is sent down again. He most likely won't be sent back to Corpus since Clemens the Younger, Koby, was called up from Lancaster. I've already talked some about the talents of young Mr. Clemens, so I won't go into more detail now. I will probably have a hitting profile of him go up sometime this week.

To fill Clemens' roster spot with the JetHawks, 23-year old Jordan Comadena was called up from Lexington. The former Purdue player spent time behind the plate and in the outfield for the Boilermakers. He went undrafted after his senior season in 2007, but a chance encounter with former Astros great Jimmy Wynn last August at an alumni game provided an opportunity. It's really cool story found here and here.

Comadena didn't play much for Lexington before getting the call-up, but the Astros farm system lacks depth at catcher. They have some top-end talent in Towles, Clemens and Castro but lack those second catchers every team need. Currently, the second catcher in Corpus is a 19th round selection from the 2007 draft. The two catchers at Lexington right now? Federico Hernandez and Pedro Gonzalez, both products of the Astros Venezuelan scouting department.

So, hopefully no one else will get hurt on the big club, forcing roster shake-ups. I mean, no one decent. I'd feel bad personally if Jason Smith, Jeff Keppinger, Jason Michaels or Darin Erstad got injured, because no one wants to wish pain on another human being. For the Astros thought? A roster opening to call up some more talented kids is just what that team needs.

Speaking of talented kids, Alyson Footer of finally posted a story on Chris Johnson's injury (reported by yours truly as it happened). So, not as severe as I'd feared but it still looks like he'll be out for a little while. Maybe by August, he'll be ready for the big boys. I'll be back later today with a look at the weekend's top performers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday's Trip to the Minors

That's what greeted me the first time I logged onto today. Of the four prospects listed, two are Astros! Pretty exciting from the organization with the worst depth of any team in the majors. You know about my praise of Collin DeLome's work, and I've also mentioned Brian Pelligrini several times. Pelligrini isn't considered a legitimate prospect, but if he hits 45 home runs this season? Things might change.

As for DeLome, after hitting only one line drive through last Friday, he's 3 for 4 on line drives, and has hit one to all three fields. DeLome hit his sixth home run of the season on Thursday to left field, the second time he's hit one out opposite field. He also raised his batting average on ground balls to the right side to .375. It seems like he's getting locked in. I'd be wary of pitching to him if I were Frisco this weekend.

At Round Rock, Bud Norris turned in a stellar pitching performance on Thursday. He went 7 innings with six hits, two earned runs, eight strikeouts and two walks. He also threw just 106 pitches, 67 for strikes. To say he was pounding the strike zone would be an understatement. The Astros are apparently grooming him for the closer role next season. The way Geoff Geary and LaTroy Hawkins have pitched so far, they may need him in the 'pen before too long.

Just a personal gripe here...Brian Bogusevic did not start Thursday's game for Round Rock. Instead, Yordanny Ramirez started in center and had a good day at the plate (1-3, BB, run scored). Bogey was riding a 7-game hitting streak, but the manager, Mark Bombard, chose to plug him in late as a pinch hitter. Bogey grounded out to third base, ending the streak. I know, it was only a seven gamer, but you have to respect the streak, right?

Talk about amazing...Jonathan Gaston has a .371 OBP and a .881 OPS but is batting just .224. Six of his 11 hits have been for extra bases and he's walked 12 times in 49 at-bats. Just incredible stuff right now. Teammate Jack Shuck is working on an 8-game hitting streak. The only game he hasn't gotten a hit in this season was the team's sixth. He currently has 20 hits to lead all Astros minor leaguers. Lancaster third baseman David Flores is also a statistical standout, as he's tied for the California League lead in doubles with seven.

Great job by Brad Dydalewicz, Jay Austin and Danny Meszaros in Thursday's game for Lexington. Dydalewicz (2-0) pitched 7 innings of three-hit, shutout ball while striking out five and walking one. It was the longest outing of his young career and extended his scoreless inning streak to 17. It also was the most strikeouts he's had this season. Meszaros picked up his sixth save, facing the minimum and striking out two. He hasn't appeared in a game this season without getting at least one strikeout. He's also faced the minimum in all but one of his appearances. In short, he's been...he's been...well I can't come up with suitable nickname off-hand. Dr. Monkey? The Maze? Let me work on that. Meanwhile, Jay Austin had a two-hit game with a double, pulling his average up to .196. After stinking for a solid two weeks, Austin has really pulled himself up in the past five games. Hopefully, it's a sign of things to come.

Finally, this blog would be remiss not to mention the triumphant return of third baseman Chris Johnson and centerfielder T.J. Steele to the lineup. Sure, Johnson was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and sure Steele was lifted for a pinch hitter midway through the game, but the important thing is they played. Whatever had been keeping them down is fixed now and they can go on to do stellar work. If you haven't noticed, the Astros need a third baseman. Badly. Get well soon Chris...

Former Aggies in the Minors

This is part of a Friday Doubleheader post!! Get excited! I was thinking about all the former Aggies in the minor leagues after reading an article on current Aggie catcher Kevin Gonzalez by my part-time colleague Rich Croome. So, in a bout of curiosity, I looked up all the former Aggies I could find from the past couple of seasons to see how they were doing now. Here's that roundup:

  • Jose Duran, former Aggie shortstop, already has a brother who played in the majors last season with Texas. Duran was drafted after his only season with the Aggies by the Brewers and played in 36 games at second base in the rookie-level Pioneer League in 2008. Duran hit just .221 with 38 strikeouts in 136 at-bats and is now apparently in extended spring training.
  • Parker Dalton was a second baseman for the Aggies back in 2007. He was drafted by the Dodgers in the 24th round of the 2007 draft and is currently in the Midwest League (Class A ball). He's hitting .294, but has only appeared in five games. He's repeating the level at Class A this season after hitting .231 in 83 games in 2008.
  • Kirkland Rivers was a valuable bullpen arm for the Aggies. I was glad to see the Astros drafted him in the middle rounds last season. He pitched in 19 games in 2008 with short season Tri-City Valley Cats and sported a 5.25 ERA but had 21 strikeouts and only three walks. While not currently assigned to a roster, he's most likely in extended spring training (that's code for I have no idea where he's at).
  • One of my favorite former Aggies for his fielding acumen, shortstop Brandon Hicks was picked in the third round of the 2007 draft by the Braves. In two seasons of professional ball, he's yet to hit over .240, but has played consistently for his defense alone. The Braves are hoping his bat will come around eventually, but for now he's Adam Everett-lite.
  • Left-handed pitcher Kyle Nicholson was drafted in the 7th round by the Giants in 2007. He had a strong 2008, making 11 starts with an ERA of 1.15 and a 54-3 K/BB ratio. After the season, he was named Short Season Pitcher of the Year by He's gotten rocked in his three starts this season in the Sally League.
  • Lefty David Newmann, who was picked by Tampa Bay in the fourth round of the 2007 draft, had Tommy John surgery the year before he was drafted (2006) and then tore a knee ligament in 2008 during spring training, missing the entire season. He finally pitched for Tampa Bay this season, posting a 7.07 ERA and a 12-8 K/BB ratio.
  • The Ruggiano brothers, Brian and Justin, are both playing in the minors right now. Brian was drafted in the 23rd round in 2008 by the Dodgers and hit .241 in rookie league play last season. He's currently in extended spring training. Justin, on the other hand, played in 43 major league games last season for Tampa Bay. He's currently with their Triple-A affiliate in Durham and is batting .151 in 12 games.
  • Finally, Blake Stouffer was drafted last season by the Washington Nationals. He played with both the short season team and the Low A affiliate Hagerstown last season but he's not currently on a minor league roster. Either he's injured or he's just in extended spring training, but I'm not sure which.

That's it for now...check back later this afternoon for a rundown of the Astros farm teams.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday's Rundown


Freakin' great.

How in the world do you foul a ball OFF YOUR FACE??!!!???

The Astros had two positional prospects that could help them this season: Chris Johnson and J.R. Towles.

Johnson suffered a broken hand/wrist in the second game of the season when he was hit by an errant pitch. While the Astros nor the Round Rock organization have commented on this, he hasn't played in a game since the injury. Now, Towles gets hurt after being arguably the hottest hitter in the organization through the first few weeks. Did I mention he also plays a position that the Astros would love to get more help from at the big league level? Yeah...sometimes baseball frustrates me to no end.

All I can say is that Mark Saccomanno better watch out. The 29-year old was recently shifted back to third base. I can only imagine this is to get him ready for a call-up, since his 17 RBIs rank him third in the PCL. He's definitely due for an injury...

If that wasn't bad enough, apparently I am the jinx of all jinxes. Remember how I've been singing the praises of Jason Castro? He's 0 for 12 in his last three games. Jeff Icenogle? Lasted 3 1/3 innings last night and gave up 5 runs in a 11-4 defeat. Jonathan Gaston and Brian Pelligrini? 1 for 10 and 1 for 8 respectively over the past three games. I don't think I'm getting any Christmas cards from these guys.

Jay Austin is 4 for 12 with two walks, a run scored and an RBI in his last three games. He also stole one base and was caught stealing once.

A pair of up and down starts for Jordan Lyles and Ross Seaton. Lyles (1-2) pitched 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday night, striking out six while allowing nine hits, four earned runs and a walk. His ERA sits at 4.85 right now, but his Fielding Independant Percentage is at 2.43. Basically, FIP looks just at what the pitcher controls and adjusts the ERA based on that. Coincidentally, his BABiP is at .425, which means he's been unlucky on batted balls this season.

Seaton (2-1) picked up his second win by pitching 5 2/3 innings on Wednesday afternoon. The righty from Sugar Land had his third straight start allowing only one earned run. He also struck out 6 and faced 24 batters, both season-highs. His GB/FB ratio improved some over the past two starts, but his FIP is at 4.40, off-setting his 1.62 ERA just a bit. No question, he's been very good and starts like Wednesday's will go a long way to keeping him at this high level of success.

In Seaton's victory, Daniel Meszaros picked up his fifth save of the season. Henry Villar, a 22-year old pitcher from the Dominican Republic, has also been stellar in relief for the Legends. In 9 2/3 innings, Villar has struck out 16 batters while walking four. He hasn't given up more than three hits in any of his four outings and has a solid 8/5 ground ball/fly ball ratio. Villar is listed as 5-foot-11 and 150 lbs., which is tiny compared to most of the Astros farm hands but you can't argue with his results.

Now for the highlight reel: Mitch Einertson hit his second home run for Corpus on Tuesday....Tommy Manzella had a run-scoring triple, his first of the season....Andrew Locke got his 14th RBI of the season, tops on the team....Collin DeLome hit his Texas League-leading fifth home run, and has raised his batting average to .265. The uptick is due in large part to an increase in line drives this week....A belated note on Steve Brown, outfielder for Lexington. Brown was placed on the 7-day DL last week and has not appeared in a game since. No word on what the injury was.

Tomorrow, I'll try and have a run-down of performances compared to the leagues in which they play. Till then...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts

Don't want to spend too much time on posts like this today, because it seems like I'm saying the same things over and over again. My goal is to make these daily check-ins short and sweet. I'm toying with the idea of doing a Organization Profile on each level of the minor league system, listing all of the players currently residing there, how they were acquired and what they've done. I'll also be rolling out a couple more hitting profiles in the next few weeks. Tentatively, I'm looking at Jason Castro, Brian Bogusevic, J.R. Towles, Jay Austin and possibly Tommy Manzella. We'll see how many I get to do.

For now, you'll have to content yourself with my Best of Monday's Games:

  • Two hard-luck losses, one a little harder than the other in Corpus and Lancaster on Monday. Sergio Perez gave up five runs and five hits in four innings while striking out one and walking three. When five of the eight baserunners you allow score, you're not having a good start. In the hitter's haven that is Lancaster, Jose Duran gave up three solo home runs and a single, but lost the game because his offense managed just two hits. Duran struck out three and walked one, while maintaining a great GB/FB ratio, but Monday was just not his night.
  • Lexington played two seven inning games due to a rainout on Sunday. Kyle Greenwalt pitched six scoreless in the first for his first victory of 2009 but the real story here is a guy I've been remiss in mentioning. 23-year old Daniel Meszaros pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save of the season. In 4 1/3 innings, he's struck out 8 of the 15 batters he's faced and walked just one while giving up one hit. Richard Justice wrote a blog article on him last season after he was drafted. Basically, he's a late-round college senior who the Astros took a flyer on. He's pitched well since being drafted, and Justice pondered whether he could be a key piece of the bullpen one day. He's definitely shown the strikeout prowess this season that he exhibited in the Cape Cod League last summer.
  • Boy, a couple of guys have been on a roll with the bat lately, but profile very differently. Mark Saccommano has created a little over eight runs so far for Round Rock while leading the team in hits (14) and RBIs (17). He also has seven extra-base hits and has only struck out twice. The thing whit him is he's 29 right now and has spent the past three seasons in Triple-A, which suggests his success is more a product of familiarity with the league than the possibility to be a big-league contributor. ...First baseman Mark Ori, on the other hand, is four years younger and has been doing just about everything possible to get on base. His totals (16 hits, 6 walks, 10 runs) are outstanding, as is his 1.006 adjusted OPS. He's currently batting .500 on balls in play, which is ridiculously high. Batters each have their own levels of BABiP but his will surely fall sooner or later. The big problem with Ori is he hasn't shown any power this season. His only extra-base hits are three doubles, meaning while he's the leading hitter on his team, he's only third in total bases....Lastly, centerfielder Jack Shuck has been very good in the leadoff spot for Lancaster. He's currently tied for the minor league lead with four steals and already has two triples. Shuck, a 2008 sixth-round draft pick out of Ohio State, is in his Age 21 season and is taking advantage of the hitter-friendly field in Lancaster. Still, he's seems to have good plate discipline, striking out four times in 49 plate appearances this season and 34 times in 263 at-bats last season at Tri-City. His average will probably fall as he moves up the ladder, but he definitely profiles as a speedy, top-of-the order bat.
  • I know I keep mentioning him, but centerfielder Brian Bogusevic has been good at the plate this season. He hasn't gotten many hits in relation to his number of at-bats (or as the kids call it, batting average) but has managed to walk quite a bit. In fact, his OBP is nearly 100 points higher than his batting average. That's the kind of offensive player you want leading off...asssuming he's not going to hit .230 all season.
Well, that's all for now. I'll be back on Wednesday with more minor goodness.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Standouts

Before I get into the weekend's most interesting players, I want to talk for a minute about Koby Clemens. The Astros drafted him originally because of his dad. They moved him from third to catcher, partly because they needed some organizational depth and partly because he hasn't developed the power needed for a corner infielder.

The surprising thing about Clemens is that he has one great skill as a hitter -- he walks like crazy. His first two years in the minors, he walked about thirty times a season with about 200 at-bats each season. The past two seasons, he increased his walk total to 53 and then 61. This season he's walked more times than any player in the Astros farm system.

I'm really interested in this phenomenon. Catchers who get on base are pretty valuable. With just that skill, he could play three or four years for a team as a backup catcher. I have to wonder whether his dad being such a good pitcher helped him understand the strike zone better. I know he was also a pitcher in high school, but with Clemens pitching for 20 years, some of that knowledge has to rub off, no?

Just something to think about. On to the minors!

  • At Lexington, Robert Bono threw six shutout innings on Saturday. Bono had two strikeouts and allowed five hits but has a great 19-8 GB/FB ratio. Two starts in, Bono has certainly looked just as promising as his fellow rotation-mates. Brad Dydalewicz gave up his first two hits of the season, but threw another five shutout innings. The left-hander struck out two and allowed two hits while walking two walks. The only downside is that Dydalewicz has BABiP of .071, so he has been EXTREMELY lucky. I like what's happening with Lexington's pitching staff, as McTaggert praised in his latest blog post, but as I said with Ross Seaton last week, they've been pretty lucky so far. These guys either have to start striking out more batters or expect to have their ERAs increase....Outfielder Jay Austin went 3 for 9 over weekend with a steal and a double. I was dogging him in my last post, but he looked better since then. I don't know if this is a trend or an abberation yet, but he definitely needs to learn when to run. This season? 1 for 5 on stolen base attempts. One good thing is he's only struck out four times in 34 at-bats. At least he's making contact.
  • Lancaster has been hell on pitchers. Only two pitchers with starts have sub-3 ERAs -- Jose Duran and Jeff Icenogle. Duran has made one good start and got blown up in his other relief appearance. How has he been successful? Duran has a great GB/FB ratio. Icenogle went the other way, striking out everyone (14 in 9 innings). Either way, with a park factor of 1.06 for hits, the best thing to do in Lancaster is keep the ball on the ground or in the catcher's glove....Jason Castro is still hitting the cover off ball, but he broke a six game hitting streak on Sunday. While he's been great with the bat so far, he's also struck out 11 times, so he still need some work. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if he's called up to Corpus by the end of the month.
  • Brad James had a bounce-back start for Corpus Christi, picking up a his win of 2009 by pitching 6 innings with four hits, two earned runs, three strikeouts and three walks. He doesn't get many strikeouts as a rule, but he does have a knack for getting ground balls. When he's able to do that (whether it's a sinker or just his style, I'm not sure), he's great. When he's not, he doesn't last five innings.... Mitch Einertson was drafted out of high school in 2004. He burst onto the scene by hitting a ton of home runs in his first 1+ seasons in the minors. Since then, he's been inconsistent in the power department, but has made steady progress up the system. Over the weekend, Einertson hit his first home run of 2009. He's shown good range in the outfield and a pretty good arm in right field. He's still young, so it'll be interesting to see what his stats look like at the end of this season.
  • The biggest goings-on in Round Rock was Felipe Paulino getting called up to the Big Time and pitching five scoreless innings before Geoff Geary blew the game for him. Paulino missed all last season with an arm injury, but should stay with the Astros for at least a while longer....Yordanny Ramirez cooled off this weekend, with a couple 0-fers and four strikeouts....Reggie Abercrombie has been good at the plate this season, posting one of the higher weighted OBPs in the minors. The downside? He's tied with three others with 11 strikeouts. I talked about this last season, because his strikeouts drive me crazy. Looks like he's back to torment me some more.... Good news for Eli Iorg, as he made his 2009 debut, going 1 for 5 with a double over the weekend. Iorg had been inactive since spring training with an injury, but the Sutton trade opened up a roster spot for him.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Collin DeLome Hitting Profile

I'll admit, it's a tad early in the season to glean ANY information about Mr. Collin DeLome from his hitting profile. He's only got 29 at-bats! That's a tiny, tiny sample size. However, I'm here at the paper, I'm a little bored and I need something to do. So, without further ado, here's a look at Mr. DeLome's hitting profile for 2009.

DeLome is a 23-year old outfielder from Buna, Texas. I have not met Mr. DeLome, nor have I ever spoken to him. However, since I grew up in the Golden Triangle, anyone from that area automatically gets some goodwill from me. Even if he doesn't love crawfish, I still give him credit. The 6-foot-2, 195 pound outfielder starred for Lamar University, starting 116 games his sophomore and junior seasons and played so well the Astros took him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. You may remember that as the Train Wreck of All Train Wrecks, where our home town nine didn't have a first or second round pick and failed to sign their third and fourth round picks. That left DeLome as the highest player drafted in 2007 who is actually playing in the Houston organization. Luckily, he's got some talent, which is why Baseball America tabbed him as Houston's ninth-best prospect heading into the 2009 season.

DeLome mainly starts in left field for Corpus this season, but has played center field in the past and occassionaly has gotten the start there in 2009. He has shown pretty good range in the outfield since I started tracking that this season, but those numbers definitely need time to refine.

What doesn't need time is my hitting profile. Similar to what I ginned up for Matt Cusick, I looked at his batted balls to see what percentage were line drives, etc. Here is the raw data as of Friday's game.

AB Outs H AVG 1B 2B 3B HR
GB - Left 3 3 0 0.000 0 0 0 0
GB - Ctr. 1 1 0 0.000 0 0 0 0
GB - Right 8 7 1 0.125 1 0 0 0
GB Total 12 11 1 0.083 1 0 0 0

LD - Left 0 0 0 #DIV/0! 0 0 0 0
LD - Ctr. 1 0 1 1.000 1 0 0 0
LD - Right 0 0 0 #DIV/0! 0 0 0 0
LD Total 1 0 1 1.000 1 0 0 0

FB - Left 1 0 1 1.000 0 0 0 1
FB - Ctr. 3 3 0 0.000 0 0 0 0
FB - Right 4 0 4 1.000 1 0 0 3
FB Total 8 3 5 0.625 1 0 0 4

Total Left 4 3 1 0.250 0 0 0 1
Total Ctr. 5 4 1 0.200 1 0 0 0
Total Rgt. 12 7 5 0.417 2 0 0 3
Total ABs 29 14 7 0.241 3 0 0 4

% GB 41.38%
% LD 3.45%
% FB 27.59%

Like I said, there's not much data here to look at. DeLome bats from the left side, which is apparent from his tendencies. Twelve of his 21 batted balls have been to the right side of the field. He's pretty good pulling the ball, putting up a .417 average on balls hit to the right side. All four of his home runs in the first week were on fly balls, which is not surprising, but does show that he's got plenty of power. What I was most impressed with was that he hit four fly balls to right field and all of them were hits (3 HR, 1 1B). The dude can apparently pull the ball with authority.

The other thing that's readily apparent is that his batting average (.241) is suffering primarily due to a lack of line drive hits. It looks like he's still struggling to make good contact with the ball. Once he finds a groove, his batting average and line drive percentage should shoot up.

The other data I looked at so far were his home-road splits. Since the Hooks had only played two road games, it was a pretty lopsided data set. Still, he's got a higher OPS on the road due to two walks in two games. He's already hit a home run in his two road contests, but his past power history definitely suggests he's not a hitter made by a home ballpark.

So what do we know? DeLome is a legitimate power hitter who can hammer pitches to right field. It's too early to tell if he consistently go to the opposite field, but his batting average will definitely start perking up once he squares up on the ball. If Brian Bogusevic or any of the other Round Rock outfielders get called up, expect to see DeLome in Triple A right behind them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Past Three Days

Since it's a rainy Friday, I thought I'd devote this post to a little more lengthy narrative. Let's talk about young pitchers. The Astros really shied away from drafting high school players in the mid-2000's. With a few notable exceptions (Troy Patton, Matt Albers), most of their prospects came from the junior colleges or four-year colleges. Guys like Tampa Bay shortstop Ben Zobrist did well, but didn't have much upside because they were old for their league. When they did take high school guys, often the ownership wouldn't pay the money to keep them. Players like Texas outfielder Drew Stubbs or either of the top two guys from our disastrous 2007 draft could have been signed for more than their slot price. However, when Drayton refused, the Astros were left with pretty bare cupboards.

The main difference I saw last season was a willingness to take young talent. Three of their top four picks were high school kids. So far, teenage starting pitchers Jordan Lyles, Ross Seaton and Brad Dydalewicz have been great at Lexington. However, there's a big difference between Lexington and Houston. It's probably going to take these kids three to four years to get there...and that's a good thing. The biggest risk with young pitchers is a catastrophic injury. Tommy John surgery has been made very accessible and pitchers do come back from it at nearly full-strength. The problem is it takes them 18 months, which is a lot of lost development time.

I think the strategy the Mariners took with Felix Hernandez has been very instructive. They kept him on strict pitch counts in the minors, they did not let him throw a slider AT ALL, and they brought him along slowly. I'm not sure I agree completely with Tom Verducci's theory that any pitcher who jumps up more than 30 innings over the previous seasons total is an injury risk. I do think the organization that invested in these players needs to take all the precautions it can to avoid injury.

While the Single A boxscores don't list numbers of pitches, you can tell by the number of batters faced and the number of innings pitched that the Astros are trying to limit the exposure of their young arms. In his second start, Lyles couldn't get out of the fourth inning. It wasn't that he was ineffective. He just struck out quite a few batters and gave up some hits, so I'm sure his pitch count was getting close to 90. The team pulled him to avoid overtaxing his arm (or so it would seem). That's the kind of protection you don't mind seeing.

Is it fool-proof? No, because these kids are also learning how to be pitchers. For instance, Seaton has pitched well, but gives up a few too many fly balls. That's led to him giving up a home run in each of his two starts, including one last game which ended up hanging him with a 1-0 loss. He's also got a inordinately low Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABiP) at .129. While this number varies for hitters, a pitcher's BABiP should normalize at .300. If it's below that, it means he's been lucky so far. If it's above, he's been pretty unlucky. Dealing with adversity is just part of becoming a great pitcher. So far, I think the Astros are handling them well. So far.

Onto the rest of the minor leagues:

  • At Round Rock, Jose Capellan got rocked...for the second straight start. So far this season, Capellan has given up 9 and 10 hits in starts of 5 and 3 1/3 innings. Needless to say, he lost out to Russ Ortiz for that roster spot for a good reason....On the other hand, Felipe Paulino looked great again. He's struck out a batter per inning in his two starts and is being considered to start Sunday's game with the Reds. In his two starts, he's got a BABiP of .212 and 21 ground ball with 3 fly ball outs, which means he's been lucky so far. Let's hope his luck continues....I was kinda bummed to hear that Drew Sutton was the player completing the Jeff Keppinger trade Sutton has been good if not great for the Express so far and ultimately has more value than Keppinger did, simply because he's younger. But, I guess Ed Wade doesn't mind spending Drayton's money....Yordanny Ramirez has been on a killer roll with the bat lately. Primarily playing right field, the 24-year old is hitting .714 in last four games. He's got a little pop in his bat and has stolen two bases so far. Watch out, Michael Bourn.
  • Down south in Corpus Christi, T.J. Burton is doing fine work in the setup role. In five innings, Burton has given up one earned run and four hits, striking out four and walking none. He throws a large percentage of strikes (74.2%), which definitely is a part of his success and has good strikeout rates. His BABiP is a little under .300, so his performance has been pretty true to talent so far....Shortstop Wladimir Sutil has reached base four times on errors this season. He's also committed four errors in the field. Maybe we should start calling him Even Steven instead of Wladimir....Collin DeLome hit his fourth home run on Thursday. While Lancaster's Brian Pelligrini has one more home run than him, DeLome leads all farm hands in runs scored with 8. He's also struck out six times in 29 plate appearances. If he keeps walking some and hitting for that kind of power, he'll make a nice addition to the Astros lineup.... Highest number of runs created in Corpus? First baseman Mark Ori holds the honor, with 7.15 so far. He just got his first RBIs last night, but they came in bunches of 5. He's 10 for 24 with three doubles and six walks this season....Starting pitchers Polin Trinidad and Sergio Perez have both been effective for the Hooks. Perez has won both his starts and holds the lowest ERA on the team but has only two strikeouts. Trinidad is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA but has 11 strikeouts to 1 walk in two starts.
  • The main difference between moving from Salem to Lancaster? There were not many three home run games last season in the minors for the Astros. On Wednesday night, Lancaster had TWO players hit three home runs. What's more, one of those players, Brian Pelligrini, has seven hits this season, five of which have been home runs....2008 first-round draft pick Jason Castro has 12 hits in 34 at-bats with four doubles, one triple and one home run. I doubt he will be long for Lancaster, especially since Corpus Christi's main catcher is 31-year old Brian Esposito, who is perfect for demotion or release once Castro is ready to be called up....The starting pitching has not been kind for the JetHawks this season. 25-year old Jeff Icenogle has been the best so far, going 9 innings over two starts with 14 strikeouts and two walks. Icenogle was hurt at the beginning of last season, but is repeating High A ball again this season.... Another reliever who has been solid for the farm teams is 23-year old Taiwanese pitcher Chia-Jen Lo. Signed in November of 2008 by Astros director of Pacific Rim scouting Glen Barker, Lo has pitched in three games, allowing three hits and one earned run while striking out 10 and walking three. He has a good GB/FB ratio and looks like he could ascend the system quickly.
  • We already covered the young guns at Lexington, so let's quickly trip through the hitters....It's been a rough first week for 18-year old centerfielder Jay Austin. After being picked in the second round of last year's draft, Austin hit just .198 in 212 at-bats with Greenville. This season, he has two hits in 23 at-bats but has played respectable defense. Sometimes, it takes young guys a little while for their bat to develop. I'm sure the organization will give Austin the time to do just that....A prime example of that is 23-year old Brandon Barnes. I wrote about him some last season, and he looks to be putting it together in 2009. Barnes was a former football player who was transitioning back to baseball. He didn't hit much last season, but has gone 9 for 22 to open the season with two doubles....
Well, that about does it for this Friday. I'm going to compile some defensive stats this weekend and also do a couple hitting profiles on Collin DeLome and Jason Castro, so be looking for that on Monday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts from Monday's games:

  • Collin DeLome hit his second home run of the season, his only hit in five at-bats. DeLome also struck out for the fifth time in 18 plate appearances, but that's a pretty small sample size.
  • The big news out of Round Rock (that I forgot to mention last night) was Chris Johnson's apparent wrist injury. While batting in the second game on Friday, Johnson was hit in the hand by a pitch in the fourth inning. He left the game and hasn't played since. There was no story about it on the website, so I'm not sure whether he's hurt badly or just day-to-day. For now, the Express are going with Matt Kata at third with Edwin Maysonet picking up the occasional start.
  • Round Rock's Tommy Manzella and Drew Sutton, however, continue to be a great double play combination. Sutton has already turned six double plays and four of those were with Manzella. Each has shown a knack for being the pivot man, and could make a nice duo with the Astros later this season.
  • Big blow-up in the 9th inning in Corpus got manager Luis Pujols, pitcher Chris Salamida and catcher Brian Esposito all ejected. From the Northwest Arkansas Natural's website:
With one out, Hooks' reliever Chris Salamida plunked Jordan Parraz, his former teammate last season with the Salem Avalanche. Parraz, who had a run-in with Hooks' backstop Brian Esposito an inning earlier, came to the Royals' organization in a trade for Tyler Lumsden last December. As Parraz took first base Esposito was ejected by home plate umpire Brad Myers. An ensuing protest from Corpus Christi manager Luis Pujols also led to his departure as well as the ejection of Salamida.
  • Maysonet has played more frequently in the past five games, alternating between second and third base. He's been very good defensively, making 15 plays in 21 1/3 innings without an error. Maysonet still hasn't come around at the plate, however, going 1 for 11 so far.
  • Didn't get to the Lexington box today, but Jason Castro had another solid day at the plate and threw out one base stealer at second. Castro hit two doubles, giving him five extra-base hits on the season. Starting pitcher David Duncan did not fare as well, giving up 10 hits and 8 earned runs in two innings.
That's all for today. I'm in Austin tomorrow for a class and then back here for a baby doctor's appointment (FYI, the appointment is for the baby, the doctor is not a baby). I'll try to look at the boxes tomorrow, but it may be Thursday before I get to another post.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Leftovers

Some quick thoughts on the weekend games:
  • The picture to lead the blog is of shortstop Tommy Manzella, my player of the weekend. Manzella has the most hits of any Astros farmhand through Sunday, going 8 for 18 over four games. His defense has always been good, and so far this season has been pretty solid. I still need to look at his last two games, but if Miguel Tejada does get traded this season, he'll be a solid fill-in choice.
  • 22-year old Chris Hicks made his first start for Lancaster, picking up his first win of the season by going 5 innings. Hicks allowed four hits and two earned runs while striking out six and walking one. The right-hander also had a 7/2 ground ball/fly ball ratio, which is encouraging.
  • Two more teenagers won their first game with Lexington. Ross Seaton, 19, and Brad Dydalewicz, 18, both picked up victories. Seaton struck out two and walked two in five innings, giving three hits and one earned run. One of those hits, however, was a solo home run and his GB/FB ratio was a little fly ball-heavy for my tates. Still, a very positive outing. Dydalewicz pitched five innings of no-hit ball but walked four and only struck out one. He also gave up 8 flyball outs, which might play well in a slight pitcher's park like Applebee's Park now, but could cause trouble later on in his career.
  • The second Lexington game was postponed by rain, but in the three outings they did have, the Legends have won fairly handily. With Seaton, Dydalewicz and Jordan Lyles, it looks like they have a very nice rotation shaping up.
  • A pair of catchers are off to good starts in Lancaster. Koby Clemens and Jason Castro have both hit well. Clemens has started twice, once at catcher and once at designated hitter, while Castro has played in all four of the Jethawks' games. Clemens has walked in both of his starts and has three hits, all for extra bases. Castro hasn't walked yet, but has made good contact with a double. Neither have had many opportunities to show off their defensive skills, but I'll keep updating on that as info rolls in.
  • Castro and Lexington second baseman Craig Corrado are tied with the most total bases with 10. Unfortunately, they're both second in the system behind Ebert Rosario, who has 11. Rosario had two three-hit games over the weekend, starting at third base in all three games.
  • Other notable players around the system: last year's Futures Game participant Jimmy Van Ostrand (right) has started out strong in limited action, leading the team with a .667 batting average. The Canadian is blocked a little in the Hooks' outfield by Mitch Einertson, Josh Flores and Collin DeLome, all of whom are better defensively but may not have quite the bat. In Round Rock, Brian Bogusevic continues to play good if not outstanding ball in center field. He's gone 5 for 17 at the plate heading into Monday's game, with a home run and three walks. Teammate Yordanny Ramirez is one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, so the team is pinning hopes on Bogey by moving Ramirez over to right field.
That's all for now, but I'll come back tomorrow with some thoughts on five day's worth of defensive data.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Minor League Opening Day Thoughts

Okay, after parsing through all four box scores and crunching the numbers in my super-cool database, I've come up with some observations on Thursday's games.

First, the best hitters of the day? Round Rock's J.R. Towles and Lexington's Ebert Rosario. I'm assuming most Astros fans are familiar with Towles, but may not know who Rosario is. I sure didn't till I looked it up! Rosario is a product of the Astros Venezuelan Academy and had played in the Venezuelan Summer League for two years before debuting with rookie league Greenville last season.

Rosario is a 22-year old third baseman, but showed excellent range last night. Of all the infielders I looked at, he had the most assists. He also picked up three hits in four at-bats and hit a double and a triple. Pretty nice opening day line. Now, considering his manager batted him sixth, he may not actually have that kind of bat. His VSL numbers suggest a good contact hitter but not much power. However, VSL power numbers have been pretty depressed, from what I can tell.

Towles also had two extra-base hits, including a home run. If he can keep his bat going, he may be back up with the big league team just in time for Pudge's June swoon.

The other big performance from last night was 18-year old Jordan Lyles making his first Low A start. In five innings, he struck out three, allowed five hits and two earned runs with one walk. He had an 8 to 4 ground ball/flyball ratio, which is a very good sign. You'd like to see his strikeout numbers higher, but his defense picked him up and it looked like he was pitching to contact. He got his first Low A win for his efforts, which is a job well done.

Other thoughts: Josh Flores didn't disappoint in his big-league return, going 2 for 4 with a double and a stolen base. He also picked up an outfield assist by throwing out a runner at home. .... Collin DeLome homered for the first time in Corpus. The Lamar product hit 22 homers last season and looks to continue that pace in 2009. ... My new defensive metrics have been very interesting so far. It looks like the Low A outfielders need some work. Last year's second round pick Jay Austin twice let runners advance on a single with a runner at second. On the other side, guys like Craig Corrado put together a strong first game at second. After switching to the position in May of last season, Corrado has been solid. ... My team Defensive Efficiency Percentage for the first game were pretty solid. Round Rock and Corpus Christi both had pretty good nights, while Lancaster was just horrible. Hopefully, that's an abberation and not a trend.

Well, that's all for today. We'll try to get back sometime this weekend with more Minor League Roundup!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why are you returning the jacket?...Spite

Yep, A&M baseball coach Rob Childress did it just to spite me. He sent Alex Wilson out for the eighth last weekend against Tech, even though he finished the seventh at 99 pitches with 9 strikeouts. He sent him out for the eighth, Wilson got up to 115 pitches (a season high) and my theory about their usage patterns is blown. Wilson still displayed his usual control, walking one with his 10 punchouts. Still, he gave up five runs in a barnburner of a game that featured gusting winds.

So, since my theory was put to the test, let's look at A&M's other phenom, Brooks Raley. The dude plays right field when he's not pitching on Friday nights. He's good. But, I'm interested to see how Childress maintains his workload this season. Let's look at his starts so far.

1st game: 6 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 79 pitches
2nd game: 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts, 82 pitches
3rd game: 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, 84 pitches
4th game: 8 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, 115 pitches
5th game: 7 IP, 7 hits, 2 ER, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts, 114 pitches
6th game: 7 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts, 111 pitches
7th game: 6 IP, 6 hits, 0 ER, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 96 pitches

Early in the season, Childress was clearly using him sparingly. Raley didn't get out of the sixth inning until his fourth start. Coincidentally, that was also the first start when the weather started getting warmer. The next few games show that Childress had no qualms about throwing Raley out there after he's close to 100 pitches. He's like Wilson in that he doesn't walk many batters, which I'm guessing means Childress wouldn't mind running him out there because he knows his pitch count can't jump up too much.

I just don't know what to make of his strikeout totals. Last season, Raley pitched 92 innings and only struck out 68 batters. He still only walked 2.64 batters per 9 innings, but his low strikeout totals suggests that he doesn't have overpowering stuff when he's on. He may be able to get hitters fooled from time to time, and judging by his total this year, may be learning to be a pitcher instead of a thrower. Still, of the two, Wilson probably has the best pure stuff. I'll definitely get a look at both of them before too long (possibly this weekend) and have a better idea of how they compare.