Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Brieflys

A little late today, but here's the lowdown on what happened on Monday down on the Astros farm:
Reliever Evan Englebrook picked up his first victory for Round Rock, pitching a scoreless inning in relief. Englebrook has appeared in seven games, all this month, and has an ERA of 7.36 but his FIP is at 2.38. He's struck out six and walked two with a G/F ratio of 10/5. The only player with a higher BABiP this month in Round Rock is Bud Norris.

Catcher J.R. Towles has been hitting consistently since he was sent down to Round Rock last week, but Monday was his biggest game yet. Towles was 3 for 5 with a home run, four RBIs, three runs scored and a stolen base. Since his demotion, he's hitting .375/.474/.625 with a weighted OBA of .386 and a 3/1 BB/K ratio.

Third baseman Chad Spann got the start on Monday, giving Chris Johnson the night off. Spann is hitting .268 in 44 plate appearances since his callup to Round Rock, but hasn't fared as well in pinch-hit duty of late, going 1 for 10 in his last six games. Johnson, however, is off to a 3 for 9 start in his return to Triple-A, with a sacrifice fly and an RBI.

Astros starting pitcher Brandon Backe was brilliant on Monday for Corpus Christi. In his final rehab start with the Hooks, Backe went eight scoreless innings, giving up five hits and striking out five. Newly promoted reliever Danny Meszaros pitched two perfect innings in relief of Backe, striking out one in his Hooks' debut. Hooks reliever T.J. Burton was hung with the loss when he gave up one run on two hits in the top of the 12th.

The Hooks' offense is struggling this month. The team only has two players hitting over .300 in May and just three with OBPs higher than .360. First baseman Mark Ori has been consistent, hitting .316/.361/.421 but doesn't hit for enough power to be a huge impact. April's best hitter, Drew Locke, has struck out 13 times and has hit just three home runs this month. I've talked a little this month about 27-year old Drew Meyer's hitting numbers this month, which have been very good, but Collin DeLome has gone the other way, hitting just .250/.298/.519 in May. DeLome has walked just once this month while striking out a team-high 17 times.

Lancaster pitcher Leandro Cespedes started his first game of the season on Monday, in place of injured starter Jose Duran. Cespedes was hung with a loss because of a lack of run support. The 22-year old lasted six innings, giving up six hits and two earned runs while striking out six and walking one. His game score of 57 was the fourth-highest on the team this season. Cespedes was dealing with an injury early this season, but in three games since his activation, has allowed just two earned runs in 11 innings and has struck out 10 while walking five. Duran, incidentally, has not been placed on the 7-day DL and would be expected to make his next start, though neither he nor David Duncan have pitched particularly well and might get bumped to the bullpen in favor of Cespedes.

Lancaster outfielder J.B. Shuck had a six-game hit streak broken up on Monday. The 21-year old is 9 for 30 during the last seven games and has a .304/.377/.391 line in May. His 8/6 BB/K ratio has been great this month and has been successful on 11 of 12 stolen base attempts this season.

Another Lancaster outfielder, Jon Gaston, is 1 for his last 15, all road games for the JetHawks. As a team, Lancaster hasn't hit well on the road this season, and Gaston is no stranger to that. He has had some big games on the road, but has not been consistent.

Lexington starter Jordan Lyles turned in a gem on Monday. In seven scoreless innings, the 18-year old gave up three hits and two walks while striking out eight. His game score of 77 tied for the highest in the Astros minor leagues this season. Still, he didn't get a decision because the Lexington offense waited until the eighth inning to score its two runs to win the game. Lyles was particularly good against leftys in the game, going 0 for 9 against the southpaws.

After getting onto Jay Austin in a previous post, he went out and slapped together a nice 5 for 17 streak this weekend, complete with a couple stolen bases. Austin hasn't been particularly adept at swiping an extra bag yet, but has gone 4 for 6 this month. His average is at .200 on the nose for the season, while his average in May is at .210.

Third baseman Ebert Rosario went 4 for 5 on Sunday, the first four hit game in Lexington this year. Rosario isn't walking much, as he has one in 61 plate appearances this month, but has only struck out five. His line for the season is an impressive .339/.356/.513 and he's leading the Legends with 19 runs created.

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