Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday's Trip to the Minors

With the torrential rains that have pounded the Astros farm system lately, it's a wonder that none of the prospects have been washed away yet. Greeneville hasn't played a game since Monday because of rain, Round Rock's game on Thursday was moved to a double-header on Friday because of rain and Lexington, well, Lexington just had a regularly scheduled off-day. But still, that's a lot of rain. So, we have four games to go through today. Without further ado, here's all the news and notes from around the Astros farm system:
Reliever Sammy Gervacio was called up from Round Rock on Thursday after Russ Ortiz was released. The 24-year old appeared in 35 games this season, pitching 46 2/3 innings for Round Rock and striking out 48 while walking 20. His FIP of 4.01 is significantly lower than his ERA of 5.40, mainly because his K/9 rate is at 9.26. His BB/9 rate is not as good at 3.86 but it's definitely playable in the bullpen. Gervacio's BABiP sits at .306, which means he hasn't been lucky or unlucky, so this is a good snapshot of the player the Astros are getting. He's a little like Alberto Arias, but with a livelier fastball and a funkier delivery.

Sergio Perez didn't pitch badly for Corpus on Thursday, lasting three innings while giving up five hits and three runs (two earned), striking out two and walking three. Perez only threw 66 pitches before leaving the game in Ryan McKeller's hands. McKeller, Tyler Lumsden and Evan Englebrook each made scoreless appearances, with McKeller throwing three innings and Lumsden and Englebrook putting up zeroes in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Interestingly, all three were relievers at Round Rock earlier in the season before being demoted to Corpus. Lumsden picked up his first victory as a Hook and Englebrook got his first save. No word on whether Perez' quick exit was due to an injury.

Drew Locke, Jason Castro and Wladimir Sutil each had big days at the plate. Locke went 2 for 4 with a double, a home run, two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk. Locke's home run was his 16th of the season and fourth this month. The 26-year old is now one home run shy of team leader Collin DeLome....Wladimir Sutil also got in on the hit parade, going 2 for 5 and scoring a run. Sutil's hitting .268/.349/.320 this month, but was just 1 for 12 before Thursday. The 24-year old is hitting .289/.369/.345 in 87 games.

Castro also had a multi-hit game, going 3 for 5 with two doubles and two runs scored. The 22-year old's average is up to .309 at Corpus and the doubles were his sixth and seventh since his call up from Lancaster. Since July 21, Castro has hit six of those seven doubles, adding a triple, eight RBIs and 12 runs scored. Castro is 15 for 38 over that stretch, bringing his season average up 32 points from .277. Another interesting fact: Castro also batted .309 in 56 games with Lancaster, so his total season average is also .309. Maybe he should consider wearing 30, 9 or 39 in the pros.

Ebert Rosario had his best game as a JetHawk on Thursday, going 2 for 4 with a walk, an RBI and a strikeout. The 22-year old third baseman is batting .205/.244/.256 in nine games since being called up and is hitting .265 on the season. Rosario hit second on Thursday and has batted in the top half of the order every game he's played in Lancaster.

Koby Clemens just won't quit. The 22-year old started in left field on Thursday, which is something he's been doing since T.J. Steele went on the DL about a week ago, and picked up another two hits. More impressive is that Clemens did it from the cleanup spot and the two hits were a triple and a home run. Clemens has now scored 48 runs for Lancaster and is hitting .402/.460/.821. That's an OPS of 1.281 for those counting at home. What's more, his home/road splits aren't too out of sync with his season line, as Clemens is hitting .349/.411/.651 at home and .326/.412/.567 in away games.

I'm a little shocked by this, so bear with me as we get through this together. Lancaster's starter Shane Wolf combined with reliever Jack Tilghman to pitch a nine inning...shutout! The two twirled a five-hitter and Wolf had a game score of 72 after striking out nine in six innings and allowing just four hits and one walk. Tilghman got his third save after allowing just one hit in the final three innings, striking out two and walking one. Wolf started the season in the rotation, but was ineffective and was sent to the bullpen. Lately, he's strung together some good relief appearances, so was given a chance to start on Thursday. I'd say he came through brilliantly.

Not a lot happened in Tri-City, as third baseman Erik Castro was probably the offensive star, going 1 for 3 with two runs scored and a walk. However, Castro also struck out once, was picked off once and caught stealing another time, so his production was kind of a wash. Castro is hitting .236/.374/.486 this season, thanks to 16 walks in 72 at-bats combined with six doubles and four home runs. It's safe to say the hits will come eventually. You know the difference between hitting .250 and .300? It's 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There's 6 months in a season, that's about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week - just one - a gorp... you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes... you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week... and you're in Yankee Stadium.

Starter Colton Pitkin got roughed up on Thursday, giving up eight hits and five earned runs in four innings, striking out two and walking three. Pitkin also had a bad G/F ratio of 2/6 and gave up a home run. I don't want to get into too much detail on him, because I want to do a profile later on. Suffice it to say his game score was 25 and the average is 50. Not good, my friends, not good at all.

Outfielder Telvin Nash had his best day as an Astro on Thursday, going 3 for 5 with a double and an RBI. The big 18-year old is batting .176/.247/.279 in July and .190 overall this season, but has shown a little power with six doubles and a triple. I should mention again that he's still a teenager and that we shouldn't worry too much about him struggling through his first 84 professional at-bats. Something about small sample sizes and all.

2009 sixth round pick Enrique Hernandez continues to play well, however, going 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored on Thursday. The 19-year old is hitting .298/.323/.383 in July and .304/.342/.375 in 112 at-bats this season.

That's all for now, but look for something else today, as I decide whether to do a profile of a young pitcher or to come up with something else for your reading please. Till then...

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