Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday's Rundown

I wish I had more to give you today, but a notes column is about all I have time for. My profile of Jack Shuck is coming along nicely, but yesterday's setback was too much to overcome in a day. I'll try to update at some point with my impressions of Wrigley Field. Until then, dear readers...

The Round Rock everyday lineup was a bit different on Wednesday as utility infielder Matt Kata led off. Since Brian Bogusevic has been dropped to third in the order, Reggie Abercrombie, Kata and Yordany Ramirez have all manned the top spot, with varying degrees of success. Abercrombie has the speed to succeed in that spot, but his 29 strikeouts in 119 at-bats hurt. Ramirez is too hot right now to put anywhere but the middle of the order and Kata is a nice player, but not really leadoff material. I'll be interested to see if they try Tommy Manzella in that spot, as he's batting 17 for 53 this May with seven walks.

Catcher J.R. Towles returned to the Express lineup, going 1 for 3 with a walk, two RBIs a sacrifice hit and a double. In four games with the Astros, Towles was 2 for 11 with an RBI and four strikeouts. Hopefully, all that time on the bench helped his game-calling skills while not impacting his hitting much.

Josh Muecke was hit and hit hard on Wednesday. In three innings, the 27-year old righthander gave up 12 hits and 11 runs, including four home runs. Sammy Gervacio pitched well in his 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief work, allowing one hit and striking out three. Gervacio is prone to giving up the big inning, as his ERA sits at 9.28 for the season, but his underlying numbers aren't bad. He has a WHIP of 1.59 and a K/9 rate of 10.12. His FIP is at 4.70, so the defense hasn't done him any favors.

In Corpus, Brandon Backe made his fourth rehab start and did fairly well. He got hit a bit in his last inning, but has a 2.00 ERA in those four starts. He may be back in Houston by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Corpus Christi's Collin DeLome hit his 10th home run of the season on Wednesday. The 22-year old outfielder has continued to hit to all fields, but is absolutely great at pulling the ball. DeLome has hit 46 balls to the right side of the field and 23 have fallen for a hit. He's 8 for 10 on fly balls hit to right, with five of those clearning the fence for home runs. His power is definitely legitimate as he's also hit five home runs to the opposite field.

Teammate Jimmy Van Ostrand snapped an 0 for 16 slump in May with a three-run home run on Wednesday. The 24-year old is batting .059 in May after hitting .426 in April.

I forgot to mention on Wednesday that third baseman Chris Johnson made his debut with Lancaster in his return from a broken finger. Johnson was 1 for 3 with a double and two RBIs on Tuesday and went 2 for 4 with two doubles, a run scored and two RBIs on Wednesday. He also had a throwing error on Tuesday, so he's still shaking the rust off, but he's hitting High A pitching like he should and hopefully, he'll be back in Round Rock by next week.

Lancaster's Jose Duran also got touched up yesterday. In two innings, he gave up three hits and three runs before turning the ball over to 22-year old Leandro Cespedes, who pitched three shutout innings to pick up his first victory of the season. Cespedes was rehabbing an injury and made his 2009 debut earlier this week. In five scoreless innings, he's allowed four hits and struck out four while walking four.

Lexington avoided getting no-hit on Wednesday night when Ronald Ramirez hit a solo home run with one out in the ninth inning. Lexington managed just three baserunners, as Jay Austin and Andrew Simunic reached on walks. Have I mentioned how disappointing the Lexington offense has been this season? The Legends now have five players with at least 20 at-bats hitting under .200 and two more hitting under .250.

The anemic Legends offense wasted a good start by Jordan Lyles (1-4), who got a game score of 58 by going five innings while allowing four hits and two runs. The 18-year old struck out nine and walked two, but was hung with the loss. His expected winning percentage based on his pitching stats is .515, meaning he should have two or three more wins than he does now. The nine strikeouts were a season-high for him and the most anyone in the Astros farm system have recorded in 2009. Lyles has 44 strikeouts and eight walks this season.

Ashton Mowdy gave up his first run of the season in the ninth inning of Lexington's game on Wednesday. The 22-year old reliever has pitched in five games this season, striking out six, allowing six hits and walking one in eight innings.

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