Minor League Spotlight: Looking at the Astros Freshman 14 Pitchers

Lance McCullers, Youngest Member of the Freshman Fourteen (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Astros signed 14 pitchers from the 2012 draft. How are the Freshman Fourteen doing? As it turns out, they are doing quite nicely, thank you very much.

A look at their composite stats tells the story. Collectively, the Freshman Fourteen are 34-12 (a .739 win percentage) with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.128 WHIP. They have a 3.68 SO/BB ratio and 8.6 SO/9. Not too shabby.

Let's take a little closer look at each of these pitchers. All stats are through Monday, August 13th.

RHP Lance McCullers - At 18, supplemental first round pick McCullers is the youngest of the group and he has yet to win his first professional game, but with a 1.42 ERA and a 1.053 WHIP, it's only a matter of time. After four starts with the GCL team, McCullers was promoted to Greeneville where he's made two additional starts. Batters are hitting only .186 against him.

RHP Brady Rodgers - Third round pick Rodgers is one of several pitchers drafted out of college to play for Tri-City. The 21-year old out of Arizona State has a 6-2 record in nine starts with a 2.32 ERA, 1.113 WHIP and a 5.75 SO/BB ratio. That Rodgers didn't make the New York-Penn League All-Star team with those numbers tells you a great deal about the level of talent on the Tri-City club.

RHP Daniel Minor - A 21-year old out of Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Minor is 1-2 in nine starts for the Greeneville Astros with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.109 WHIP. His SO/BB rate is 4.11. He was the ninth round pick.

LHP Joe Bircher - Drafted in the 10th round out of Bradley University in Illinois, the 22-year old Bircher has a 2-2 record in nine starts iwth a 4.07 ERA and a 1.619 WHIP for Tri-City.

LHP Brian Holmes - The 13th round pick out of Wake Forest, Holmes definitely earned his All-Star nod. The 21-year old is 6-1 in nine starts with a 2.33 ERA and a 0.842 WHIP for Tri-City. Holmes was one single removed from a 7-inning perfect game recently. He has a 3.46 SO/BB ratio, 8.7 SO/9 and a .159 batting average against.

RHP Erick Gonzalez - Gonzalez, a 20-year old out of Gateway Community College in Arizona, is 2-0 for the GCL Astros with a 1.64 ERA and a 1.273 WHIP with nine saves in 16 appearances out of the bullpen. He was the 15th round pick.

RHP Aaron West - Another Tri-City All-Star, the 22-year old West has been an overachiever in virtually every pitching category. A 17th round pick from the University of Washington, West has a 6-0 record in nine starts for Tri-City with an eye-popping 0.90 ERA, 0.760 WHIP and 9.8 SO/BB ratio.

LHP Kenny Long - The 23-year old 22nd rounder out of Illinois State has progressed the furthest in the system with his recent promotion to Hi-A Lancaster after pitching for Tri-City. In 19 appearances out of the bullpen, he is 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA, a 0.717 WHIP and two saves. He has a 3.67 SO/BB ratio, 12.9 SO/9 and has allowed only a .102 batting average.

RHP Travis Ballew - The 21-year old out of Texas State is another very effective bullpen arm for Tri-City. In 16 appearances, he is 4-0 with a 0.96 ERA, 0.964 WHIP and 10.6 SO/9. Ballew was the 23rd round pick.

RHP Christian Garcia - Drafted in the 29th round out of junior college in South Carolina, the 20-year old Garcia has been used frequently for long relief out of the Greeneville bullpen. He has a 1-0 record, a 4.39 ERA and a 1.312 WHIP.

RHP John Neely - The 22-year old out of Texas Tech has been used in the long relief role for Tri-City. In that capacity, he has a 3.14 ERA and a 1.535 WHIP in 14 appearances with no decisions and two saves. Neely was the 30th round pick.

RHP Mike Hauschild - The 33rd round pick out of the University of Dayton has made 14 apperaances (one start) for the Greeneville Astros with a 1-2 record, a 2.19 ERA, a 1.135 WHIP, 10.9 SO/9 and a 3.75 SO/BB ratio. The 22-year old Hauschild has shown extreme groundball tendencies with a 6.00 GO/AO rate.

RHP Jordan Jankowski - The 23-year old Jankowski was the 34th round pick out of Catawba College in North Carolina. In 18 appearances out of the bullpen for Greeneville, Jankowski is 4-0 with a 2.81 ERA, a 1.208 WHIP, a 5.38 SO/BB ratio and an absolutely ridiculous 15.1 SO/9.

RHP Michael Dimock - Drafted in the 37th round out of Wake Forest, the 22-year old Dimock is another Greeneville bullpen Arm. In 16 outings, he has a 4.74 ERA, a 1.257 WHIP, 10.6 SO/9, a 3.63 SO/BB ratio and four saves.

Several of these pitchers are having excellent starts and no one is really having a bad start. The highest ERA out of a group of 14 pitchers making their professional debuts is 4.74 and the highest WHIP is 1.619. That, to me, is astonishing. Obviously the season isn't over, but if those are the worst numbers that come out of this Freshman Fourteen, Jeff Luhnow and company have done one heckuva job.

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