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.