Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday's Rundown

Let's start off our week together with some links I've found from the past five days. This article discusses the use of DNA testing with players from the Dominican Republic. There really are some scary implications by this DNA testing, and it's even more worrisome that some teams have been doing this for years now. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, it's definitely an understandable circumstance for these poor families to fake a birth certificate to, basically, win the lottery.

That's not to say it's justified, it's just understandable. Still, what's to stop a team from testing for susceptibility for injuries along with identities? Is it fair to penalize a player by not signing him because he's prone to knee injuries when a similar State-born player with the same exact propensity would be taken in the first round? There are some definite ethical questions here and if history has taught us anything, it's that large corporations and baseball owners aren't the most ethical. Remember all those collusion cases back in the 1980's?

The second thought-provoking article was this one on how to promote a prospect. The article itself raises more questions than answers, but occasionally it is good to ask them. Are the Astros hurting Jordan Lyles and Jason Castro by leaving them in the minors for another year or two? Are they good enough right now to compete in the majors better than some of the players they have now? The new regime is certainly more aggressive with the younger guys than Purpurra and Hunsicker were. The really telling sign will be where they start out the young guys next season. Will the high school guys have to apprentice in High A ball or will they be challenged with a jump to Double-A? These are questions worth asking, so start discussing amongst yourself. Meanwhile, here's a short look at the news and notes from the Astros minor league system:

Without question, the Gold Star Performer of the Last Five Days is Jon Gaston. He's been mentioned in the Farmstros Weekly Five, by Zachary Levine on, by Baseball America and I'm sure by his family and friends. Gaston has been great, both this month and this season, and while some of the commenters have tried to put his power in the context of his park and his league. Gaston's OPS+ this month is at 205 but since his adjusted OPS is 1.095, his adjusted OPS+ is 184.

For the season, those numbers are 179 and 1.007 with his adjusted OPS+ at 163. Both of those numbers are excellent, and Gaston is undoubtedly having an enormous season, leading all the minors in home runs with 27 at the tender age of 22. The adjustment to his OPS directly hurts only his slugging percentage. His OBP drops a point from .397 to .396 for the season but his SLG drops from .676 to .611. As I mentioned on Friday, the park factor for Lancaster's games is pretty ridiculous, sitting at 1.04 on doubles and 1.17 on home runs. Gaston will have to prove himself at a higher level before being considered one of the organization's top 10 prospects.

Equally impressive this month have been Matt Weston and Koby Clemens. Both Clemens and Weston are still batting over .330 while Clemens has an OPS of 1.130 and an adjusted OPS of 1.068. It's a dead heat to see which of the three is having the better month, as Clemens has the edge in weighted OBA at .434, compared to Gaston at .391 and Weston at .383. Gaston leads the team in Runs Created with 25.6 to Clemens' 23.3 and Weston's 20.8. (Sidenote: Gaston leads the Astros system in Runs Created with 103 this season, by far the most I've seen at this point in the process). Clemens also lead the pack in BABiP at a comically high .512, followed by Weston's .489 and Gaston's .350. So, expect Clemens and Weston's batting averages to fall back to earth, while Gaston should maintain his pace right around .300.

Ross Seaton's (7-8) start on Friday was below average overall but got him a victory as the Legends scored eight runs in support of the righthander. It was the most runs the team had scored in a game Seaton started since his fifth start back in April. Seaton struck out four and walked two in 5 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and three runs (one earned).

Of course Jordan Lyles got blown up in his start on Sunday (after I'd written the profile update on him but before it went live on the site). In four innings, Lyes gave up six hits and five runs, striking out three and walking a season-high six batters. Lyles had a game score of 27, his lowest of the season and had his highest FIP since his fourth start of the season. Not good times.

Brad Dydalewicz, on the other hand, posted his best start in two months on Monday. The lefty lasted 7 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking three. Dydalewicz gave up four hits and two earned runs while hitting one batter. His game score of 66 was the best he's had since his fourth start back in April. That April start was the last one before he pulled his oblique and missed about a month of time. Dydalewicz continues to give up hardly any line drives and has surrendered just one in each of his past four starts. His G/F ratio has also trended pretty strongly to the ground ball side for his last eight starts.

Jay Austin's wild ride finally came to a halt over the weekend, when he went 1 for 14. His batting average dropped to .368/.400/.566 this month, though his adjusted OPS is a bit higher than that at 1.000. His BABiP is still at .443, so he may drop some more. Austin did steal another base over the weekend, though, giving him seven this month and 19 this season.
I wish I had time for more today, but that should whet your appetites. See you tomorrow.

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