Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday's Rundown

Hi everyone, welcome to Wednesday's edition of Astros farm system news and notes. I realize that I haven't done anything out of the ordinary roundups in quite a while, and those can probably get boring for you, the reader. So, it is my mission to either complete the long anticipated Players of the Month for June, to do an updated pitching profile on Jordan Lyles or Ross Seaton, or maybe a hitting profile on one of the draft picks. You will get something today, though, so never fear! In the meantime, you may have noticed a new addition to the side of the blog. I collected all the non-notebook style posts and put them in an easy to find list on the side of the blog. With that, let's get to all the news and notes from the Astros' minors (except Round Rock and Lancaster, since they were both off):

Our Gold Star Performer of the Day is Jay Austin, Lexington outfielder: Another day, another three hits for Jay Austin. That's his fourth straight game with a hit and this month, Austin has a hit in 11 of his 12 games. Over that stretch, he's got eight multi-hit games, including four three-hit games. All this has raised his average up to .284 on the season, which is almost 100 points better than it was at the end of May. Austin also hit a double on Tuesday and drove in two runs. The 18-year old has 24 RBIs this season with seven of them coming this month. Austin also has 22 extra-base hits this season, seven of which have come in July. Suffice it to say there's a reason I've been talking about him so much lately.

Third baseman Jhon Florentino has been very good this month, hitting .364/.378/.500 after going 3 for 4 with a home run and a double on Tuesday. The 25-year old is 16 for 44 with a walk, three doubles and one home run this month, but has grounded into three double plays. He's second on the team in Slugging Percentage and On-Base Percentage to Collin DeLome, but leads in weighted OBA at .366. Though Florentino has only walked once in July, he's also only struck out three times and has just 33 strikeouts in 240 at-bats this season.

DeLome also had a multi-hit game on Tuesday, going 2 for 4 with two doubles, one run scored, one RBI and a walk. The 22-year old hit in the leadoff spot for the first time this month and is now batting .333/.400/.578 in July. I keep mentioning him for a reason; DeLome is one of the best power prospects the Astros have, and I can see him making a fast ascent to the majors.

Reliever Chia-Jen Lo threw a scoreless inning of relief in his first appearance since picking up the victory in the Futures Game. Lo has made three scoreless appearances this month, allowing just one hit in three innings while striking out four and walking none. Unfortunately, he also had another appearance this month, giving up four runs and four hits in an inning of work. Lo also gave up a home run and struck out one.

Lexington's Brad Dydalewicz was hung with a loss after lasting just four innings on Tuesday. Dydalewicz gave up four hits and three earned runs while striking out four and walking two. Interestingly, Dydalewicz gave up just one line drive in his third straight game. He was followed by relievers Brian Wabick, Henry Villar and Kyle Godfrey. Of the three, Godfrey had the best game, throwing a scoreless inning in the ninth, giving up a hit and striking out one. The 23-year old gave up two runs in his first appearance with Lexington, but hasn't given up one in his last two.

Former Arkansas lefty Dallas Keuchel extended his scoreless inning streak to seven on Tuesday, starting the game and lasting four innings, giving up four hits. Keuchel struck out five and walked none. He's been a solid addition coming off the College World Series, but I imagine his innings will be minimized for the rest of the season.

First baseman/designated hitter J.D. Martinez is 2 for 7 in his last two games for Tri-City. The recently-promoted 21-year old has hit a double and struck out once in 10 plate appearances with the ValleyCats after absolutely destroying the Appalachian League.

Third baseman Erik Castro struggled at the beginning of July, going five straight games without a hit. In his last three, though, the 21-year old is 4 for 7 with a run scored, three RBIs, a double and two home runs. The former San Diego State catcher has a line of .171/.326/.400 this season.

19-year old catcher Rene Garcia also had a big game on Tuesday, going 2 for 4 with a double and a triple. Garcia is batting .259/.310/.370 this month in 29 plate appearances and has walked twice and struck out five times. Garcia has a BABiP of .318, which is higher than his batting average, but not enough so to suggest a drop-off is imminent.

Outfielder Grant Hogue is playing well enough to lead off for most teams. Unfortunately for him, he's on the same team as Jose Altuve (who we'll discuss in a minute). Hogue is 13 for 36 this month with nine runs scored, four RBIs, three walks, four doubles and a triple. His line of .361/.425/.528 is not much different from his weighted OBA of .362. Hogue is fourth on the team in Runs Created with eight and has a BABiP of .448. His speed has been his best asset, stealing six bases in eight attempts.

Second baseman Jose Altuve has been the best player on the ValleyCats roster. With 16.9 runs created and a line of .370/.517/.609, Altuve has been as good a leadoff hitter as you can ask for. The 19-year old has stolen nine bases in 11 attempts and scored 21 runs. Altuve has also hit three doubles, one triple and two home runs, which is very impressive for someone listed as 5-foot-5 and 148 pounds. The best part? He still hasn't struck out this month in 61 plate appearances. That's Albert Pujols-type plate discipline.

Third baseman Jonathan Meyer hasn't hit for much power, but boy, does he have good plate discipline. Meyer is 12 for 42 this month with six runs scored and six RBIs, but has just one double. He's also struck out 12 times but has walked 12 times, giving him a line of .286/.444/.310. With that ability to get walks, Meyer definitely has one big league tool, but we may have to wait until next season to see more from him. Still, he is having a better start to his professional career than Austin did, and look where he is now.

Shortstop Jiovanni Mier has also been a revelation to this point. His defense has been solid, but his bat has also been excellent. When he was drafted, the scouting reports said it was as much for his defense as for his bat. This July, Mier is 17 for 46 with 10 runs scored, 11 RBIs, eight walks and 10 strikeouts. The 18-year old also has one double, three triples and one home run, stealing three bases in four attempts. His bat still has a ways to go, but it's very encouraging for him to be hitting this well from the get-go.

I'm still working on catching up with the Gulf Coast League Astros, but I should have a bunch of updates on that team tomorrow. Until then...

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