Right-hander Chris Hicks was lit up on Tuesday for Lancaster. Though it wasn't as bad as Round Rock's game, Hicks did give up eight runs (seven earned) and 10 hits in six innings. The 22-year old struck out five and walked one while giving up three home runs. If you neutralize his stats for this season, taking Clear Channel Stadium and its hitter-friendly confines out of the equation, Hicks looks like a fairly good pitcher. In 102 innings, Hicks has given up 134 hits, 15 home runs, 30 walks and struck out 78. If we take the ballpark factor out of these numbers, we see Hicks should have around 126 hits, 84 strikeouts, 31 walks and 13 home runs. His K/9 rate goes up from 6.88 to 7.40, his BAA goes down from .312 to .295 and his ERA drops from 5.50 to 4.57. Interestingly enough, his adjusted ERA is almost right in line with his FIP of 4.52.
Outfielder T.J. Steele returns from his hamstring injury with authority, going 3 for 4 with a double, a triple and two runs scored on Tuesday. Steele had missed two weeks with the injury but is still batting .327/.351/.473 in 57 plate appearances this month.
Outfielder Brandon Barnes hit his seventh home run since joining Lancaster and his fourth this month. the 23-year old former football player is 29 for 99 with nine walks, 23 runs scored, 20 RBIs, six doubles and 22 strikeouts in July, giving him a line of .293/.355/.475. On any other team, his Runs Created total of 16.4 would put him in contention for the team lead, but he's a distant fifth in Lancaster, behind Koby Clemens, Jon Gaston, Matt Weston and J.B. Shuck.
Center fielder Jay Austin went hitless again, making him 0 for his last 21 at-bats. The 18-year old has walked three times in the past two games, so he's at least getting on base, which is something he hasn't done consistently this season. In 83 games, Austin has 25 walks compared to 65 strikeouts. He doesn't strike out a ton, but does need to take a few more pitches as he learns and develops.
Shortstop Brandon Wikoff had two hits on Tuesday in his second game with Lexington. The 21-year old is now 3 for 8 with one strikeout in two games with the Legends, and, if the next paragraph's evidence is any indication, is helping stabilize the infield defense there. With the return of Albert Cartwright and the promotion of Jeff Hulett, Lexington has an all-new infield, which will hopefully help out those young pitchers, since the team has a Defense Effiency Ratio of .700 on the season.
Left-hander David Duncan pitched well in his latest outing with the Legends, allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits in seven innings but picking up his second loss. Duncan struck out six and walked one for a game score of 62, but Lexington scored just two runs for him. Duncan did hit a batter and gave up two home runs, but had a solid 8/6 G/F ratio and an excellent Defense Efficiency Ratio of .824. In fact, his FIP was high at 6.06, meaning it was the defense behind him that helped him more than anything. Still, a solid start as he tries to repair the damage done to him in Lancaster. At 23, he's young enough to be a mid-level prospect, and he skipped Lexington to start in High A ball this season, but obviously needed some more work.
First baseman/left fielder J.D. Martinez pounded out five hits on Tuesday, raising his average with Tri-City to .345/.375/.586. Martinez has hit three home runs and nine doubles in 17 games with the ValleyCats and is 51 for 135 between Greeneville and Tri-City this season with 14 doubles, one triple and eight home runs. Martinez also has a 21/9 K/BB ratio, which is fairly reasonable for a power hitter.
Right-hander Wander Alvino gave up one run and six hits in six innings on Tuesday, rebounding nicely from his first bad start back on July 22. In that one, the 22-year old gave up six runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3, registering a game score of 20 which was is his lowest total this season in seven starts. Alvino needs to miss some more bats, though, as his K/9 rate is at 5.23 in a pitcher-friendly league.
Center fielder Brian Kemp is 3 for 15 in his last four games with four runs scored, three walks and one stolen base. After beginning the season red-hot, Kemp has cooled off some but is still a solid leadoff hitter. The 20-year old is hitting .290/.394/.323 this month and .301/.415/.345 on the season with 16 walks, 19 strikeouts and 21 runs scored in 119 at-bats. Kemp has also been successful on five of eight stolen base attempts.
Second baseman Jose Altuve has one hit in his last four games, but has actually hurt his batting average over that stretch. In those four games, the 19-year old is 4 for 15 with two runs scored, three walks, three strikeouts and three stolen bases. Altuve is batting .330/.431/.536 this month and .328/.413/.493 on the season. Some have said his ability to walk stems from his height being listed as 5-foot-5 (when we know the official height it always a bit taller than reality). Still, Altuve is proving to have some pop to go with good baserunning instincts, as he's stolen 17 of 19 bases this season.
Shortstop Jiovanni Mier likes to pick up hits in bunches. In his last five games, he has multi-hit games in three of them and been o-fer in the rest. During that stretch, Mier is 8 for 19 with a home run, two doubles, four runs scored, four RBIs, five walks, two strikeouts and four steals. His averages in July have been blistering at .333/.443/.517 with nine extra base hits in 87 at-bats. His scouting report coming out of the draft focused more on his defense than his bat, but if he can continue to show good plate discipline with some pop, he will be a very valuable player.
Third baseman Jonathan Meyer continues to scuffle a bit, going 2 for his last 14 with a double, two RBIs, one walk, two runs scored and four strikeouts. Meyer hasn't gotten his bat going like right side running mate Mier, but he has at least kept taking the occasional walk. In 117 at-bats this season, Meyer has walked 19 times and struck out 32 times. He's just 18 years old, so hopefully he can continue to grow at the plate.
Center fielder Grant Hogue started late this season because of an injury, but he's shown surprising production for a player drafted in the 35th round. This month, Hogue is 23 for 71 with five doubles, a triple, seven walks, 13 strikeouts and has stolen 10 of 11 bases. He's only scored 12 runs in 21 games, but that's largely because the top two lineup positions are usually filled by Altuve and Mier. Still, Hogue gives the Astros another young, athletic outfielder to stock their system.
Right-hander Tanner Bushue has not been done enough justice in this space, which I'll rectify with a profile of him sometime soon. In the meantime, let's look at his last two starts. On the 17th, Bushue lasted five innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs while striking out four and walking two. The 18-year old went another five innings in his most recent start, giving up three hits and one earned run while striking out six and walking one. His K/9 rate over that span is 9.00 and is now 7.66 over all five of his starts. His BB/9 rate ticked up a bit to 2.01 but the most startling thing about his line thus far is he doesn't give up line drives. In three of his starts, he's given up zero line drives and has given up four total. Of course, the prevailing theory is that a pitcher can't really control how many line drives they give up, but it still means batters are not making solid contact, which means his raw stuff must be pretty good.
Right fielder Emilio King is one of the few GCL Astros hitting well this month, as he's gone 7 for 15 on his current five-game hitting streak. The 19-year old has three doubles, one triple, two RBIs, seven runs scored, two walks, one strikeout and two stolen bases over that stretch, raising his overall averages up to .293/.433/.476.
Shortstop Luis Bryan was named to the Farmstros Five this week and deserved it roundly. Over his last six games, Bryan is 10 for 26 with three doubles, one triple, eight runs scored, four RBIs and three strikeouts. Bryan has also played well in the field and has raised his season averages to .321/.330/.464. The 18-year old doesn't walk much...scratch that, AT ALL, as he doesn't have one walk in 84 at-bats this season. Still, a power-hitting middle infielder is welcome anytime in this system.
Second baseman Enrique Hernandez is also struggling to walk, and it's lowering his OBP significantly. The 19-year old has a respectable average at .281 but his OBP is at .309 this month since he's walked three times in 89 at-bats. Maybe I make too much of this, but for a player to be successfull at the higher levels (especially in the pros), he needs to walk. Just ask Jeff Francouer how well he's done by not walking. I think Hernandez is athletic enough to make an impact in the system, as his defense has been good and he's shown a little pop with five double and one triple this season. He just has to learn to take a pitch or two.
That's it for today, we'll be back tomorrow with more fun and exciting tidbits.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Wednesday's Rundown, Part II
Posted by David Coleman