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...

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