Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday Brieflys

Longer post today, but I got a lot of good, meaty stuff in there about the Memorial Day weekend. I know it's a little late to the presses tonight, but between another pre-baby doctor's visit and work stuff taking over the rest of the day, blogging got put on hold. Nevertheless, here's all the news and notes from the past four days*:

*Incidentally, if you haven't checked out the first Minor League Notebook column that the Chronicle published today, here it is. Zachary Levine takes over for the recently-departed Brian McTaggart, who left to be the beat reporter for Astros.com. Levine is a statistics nut, so hopefully we should get some good info in his columns. Of note in this one is Ricky Bennett not wanting to rush the young pitchers to Lancaster, since it's such a hitter's haven. Imagine that...if only someone had been saying that for the past two months...

Round Rock's Jose Capellan was sent to the bullpen recently and made his first appearance over the weekend in relief of Josh Johnson, who took Capellan's rotation spot. This tactic reminds me of how the big league club starts Mike Hampton and brings in Russ Ortiz as the reliever every time.

Round Rock reliever Sammy Gervacio's ERA isn't very good right now at 6.85, but he's gone 9 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run. In that stretch, he's allowed five hits while striking out seven and walking four. His BABiP of .306 this month means this might be his baseline. I'd expect his ERA to settle in around 4-4.50.

Another Round Rock reliever, Tyler Lumsden, returned from the DL on Saturday, pitching a scoreless ninth to close out a Brandon Backe start. In his first appearance this season for the Express, Backe gave up 11 hits and four runs in six innings and was hung with a loss. Corpus Christi reliever Andy Van Hekken found himself back with the Hooks after Lumsden was activated.

Corpus outfielder Josh Flores went 3 for 3 with a walk on Memorial Day, raising his May average to .288/.358/.452. He's also stolen three bases in five attempts with five doubles, two triples and a home run. His 19 strikeouts are second on the team to Collin DeLome (23), and his BABiP is very high at .377, but with his speed, he's an excellent candidate to make that number higher legitimately. Basically, the theory is that pitchers have no control over their own BABiP, but that batters do. For instance, Flores can beat out a slowly hit grounder to third for a hit, whereas the pitcher has no control over whether the third baseman can actually throw him out. Flores has also created 12 runs this month, which is third on the team behind the two Drews (Locke and Meyer).

As the 2009 draft nears, it's fitting that 2008 10th overall pick Jason Castro is 6 for 14 in his last four games.The 22-year old from Stanford went 3 for 3 day on Saturday with one walk, two doubles and two RBIs. This month, Castro has driven in 20 run, scored nine times and walked a team-high 17 times. His .286/.423/.464 line is a little skewed by the ballpark he plays in, but it doesn't affect walks, which is the most encouraging part of Castro's line. Right now, he's still profiling as exactly the player the Astros selected last June: a polished hitter with gap power and good defense behind the plate.

Jack Shuck isn't hitting for a high average this month with a .283/.377/.364 split, but he's only been hitless in five of 24 games this month, which is exactly what a leadoff hitter should do. I like his K/BB ratio (13/9) and his speed (11 of 13 in stolen base attempts). Shuck hits a ton of ground balls, but his BABiP this month is down a bit, which probably is why his batting average is also down. He's still got the third-highest Runs Created this month at 15.

Lancaster's hitter of the month for April Jon Gaston has been by far the best hitter in May as well. He's 31 of 88 with 20 runs scored and 21 RBIs with seven doubles, three triples, six home runs, two stolen bases, 12 walks and 21 strikeouts. He's filling up the stat sheet in every possible category and, at 22, he's still young enough to be considered a prospect. The problem is there aren't any spots open in the outfield in Corpus right now, so Gaston may spend the entire year in Lancaster. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but we won't be able to get a good read on his talent level until we see him in a non-bandbox park.

Robert Bono (5-1) picked up his fifth victory of the season for Lexington on Friday, pitching five innings and allowing six hits and two earned runs while striking out two and walking one. He also had a very nice 9/4 G/F ratio. Bono's game score wasn't great, mainly because he only went five and he didn't strike out many batters. Still, his 17 strikeouts this month is second only to Jordan Lyles.

I talked briefly about Marquis Williams in a previous post, so I won't delve into his background again, but the speedy outfielder was 6 for 6 on Friday and Saturday, with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs.

Former Aggie Kirkland Rivers made his 2009 debut on Sunday, pitching a scoreless inning of relief to earn his first hold of the season. Rivers, 23, gave up a hit and walked one. Another Lexington reliever putting on quite a show is Ashton Mowdy, who has appeared in ten games this month and only given up a single run over 12 1/3 innings. Mowdy has struck out 11 while walking three.

Jordan Lyles (2-4) put up a sub-par game on Sunday...for him. He gave up four hits and one earned run in six innings to earn his second victory of the season, but his strikeout total (4) was his lowest in six starts. Lyles lowered his FIP to 2.19 this month and he has a BABiP of .292, meaning this success is for real. His season FIP is 2.69, a shade lower than his ERA of 3.14, which explains why his expected winning percentage (.626) is much higher than his actual winning percentage (.333).

0, 2, 3, 3, 1. That's how many hits Brad Dydalewicz (3-0) has given up in his five starts this season, including his five scoreless innings on Monday. Only one of those lasted fewer than 5 innings, and that was his first start back after spending a month on the DL. Dydalewicz doesn't miss many bats, striking out only 12 in 24 innings and his BABiP is absurdly low right now. Something in his delivery or his pitches is just damn tough to hit. Baseball America said that his delivery has many moving parts, making the ball tough to pick up and his 1-7 curveball is also tough on hitters. So, I guess the answer could be both.

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