Wanted to take a moment to introduce a new writer for the team. I'm sure many of the regular commentors are familiar with kyuss94 particularly in regards to prospects. He's a regular on this site as well as regular on Minor League ball. He'll be helping Brooks out with the Minor League coverage and we're excited to have him. --Tim
Free Agency and the Blue Jays/Marlins trade are dominating most baseball talk these days (as they should), but the AFL is still in full swing and some significant Astros-affiliated players are also getting playing time in the Domincan, Venezuelan and Roberto Clemente winter leagues. Here's a rundown of their performance over last week (games played between November 4th and 10th).
Dominican Winter League
Jonathan Villar- 1/2, R
Rhiner Cruz- 1.2, H, BB, 2 K
Jimmy Paredes- 8/30, 2B, HR, BB, 4 K
Jimmy Paredes is the only player really getting significant burn in the DWL this year, with Villar, Cruz and Jose Cisnero (who is yet to appear in a game) fighting for scraps. Paredes started this week on a tear, putting up 3 consecutive multi-hit games in the first 3 contests which included both of his extra-base hits.
His week is a pretty good representation of the hitter that Jimmy P has become- he shows good contact ability, he strikes out at a manageable rate and has some juice in his bat. However, his impatience at the plate keeps his walk totals dismally low, and his winter ball stint hasn't done anything to assuage the worries about his on-base skills.
Perhaps he can overcome the OBP issues to make an impact with contact and modest pop at a premium defensive position, much like Josh Rutledge did, but as it stands he remains an incomplete player.
Roberto Clemente League
Carlos Corporan- 1/4, K, RBI
Rene Garcia- 1/3
Carlos Correa- 1/7, 3 K
Enrique Hernandez- 2/6, 2B, BB, K
The Clemente league is rife with Astros backstops, as Jobduan Morales is also rostered but failed to appear in a game last week. Correa is the big name but is playing alongside players old enough to be his father, so his stats can largely be ignored at this stage.
Enrique Hernandez, a player who has modest success as a minor leaguer stateside and has a shot to be a big leaguer, is playing well south of the border and is a guy to keep an eye on through the rest of the winter season and into 2013.
Venezuelan Winter League
Marwin Gonzalez- 0/6, 2 BB, K
Brandon Barnes- 9/21, 2B, 2 3B, HR, 2 BB, 4 K
Jose Altuve- 6/13, 2B, 3B, 2 BB, K
On the biggest Latin American stage, some familiar names put up big lines last week. Marwin Gonzalez, struggling with the bat has been used primarily as a defensive replacement and isn't showing a lot of offensive progression to this point, but it's tough to get in a groove when you aren't in the starting lineup day-in, day-out.
Brandon Barnes erupted for two 3-hit efforts and a 2-hit game this week with 4 extra base hits. Barnes is a player who is easy to root for with his center field heroics last year and his unquestionable work ethic, and he's making a good case to join the big club full time next year.
Jose Altuve's three appearances last week were his first in the VWL, and he performed as a MLB all star in that environment should. His supreme contact ability and speed showing in full force, it looks like Altuve is primed for another successful campaign.
Arizona Fall League
Jarred Cosart- 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, BB, 6 K (1 start)
Chia-Jen Lo- 3 IP, 6 H, 5 K (3 appearances)
Alex Sogard- 2 IP, 2 H, K (2 appearances)
Nick Tropeano- 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 HRA), 2 BB, 4 K (2 appearances)
Jiovanni Mier- 2/12, 2B, 5 K
Jonathan Singleton- 2/13, HR, 3 BB, 3 K
George Springer- 6/14, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 2 K, SB
The AFL is obviously the main attraction this time of year, and the Astros' prospects did not disappoint. Jarred Cosart's start should be seen as a huge positive given the 6/1 K/BB ratio- the same can be said for Lo's week with his 5/0 mark.
Alex Sogard survived this week, but is in the midst of a dismal AFL showing. Nick Tropeano had a mediocre week out of the pen, but has otherwise been quite impressive, especially considering his lack of high minors experience. Mier has predictably struggled and isn't doing anything to shake his reputation as a glove-only prospect. Jonathan Singleton opened the week with a dreamy line, going 1/1 with a homer and three walks before having three blah games.
George Springer is the star of the week with little contest- he closed the week with two mammoth lines, a 3/3, 2 HR, 2 BB, SB game backed up with another 3 hit effort in 5 at bats, including a double and a triple. Springer makes it tough not to love him with performances like those, but he's still exhibiting the same contact woes that have rightfully slowed down his hype train.