The Corpus Christi Hooks were the minor league team to watch last season in the Astros organization with their star studded roster of prospects. This year may challenge the hype of that team. The rotation has depth and offense carries some pop. This team will be early favorites to make a run at the post-season but also has a chance to lose some of it's luster with a few of these prospects having chances to move up rather quickly.
The rotation could be a strength for this team and it could also be one of the quickest to figure out it's traditional five man rotation. Nick Tropeano is the headliner and the biggest prospect on the pitching staff. He'll have success after conquering the difficult of Lancaster last year, but the level will depend on the development of a breaking ball. TCB Fan Favorite Runner-up, Asher Wojciechowski returns to CC after a good debut there after the trade last season with Toronto. Another trade target, Matthew Heidenreich, also returns after less success in CC after the trade. Ross Seaton had a taste of AAA last year but will return along side of Bobby Doran who split between last season between CC and Lancaster. Both showed flashes of progress last season but both need to improve their strikeout numbers. David Martinez and Ruben Alaniz earned promotions from Lancaster after pitching decently there last year. Alaniz was shut down late last season and Martinez performed better than I would have expected in Lancaster. Groundball specialist, Jake Buchanan also returns and split time between the bullpen and the rotation last year and will probably fill out the eight spots in the rotation. Jason Stoffel highlights the bullpen and is a surprise to some to return to CC. The only two lefties are Alex Sogard and Pat Urckfitz and both will be in the bullpen. Last year's bullpen anchors, Andrew Robinson and Jorge De Leon will bring their mid-90 fastballs to CC this year.
The catching corps will be very solid defensively with Carlos Perez and Rene Garcia. Ryan McCurdy also joins the group to help handle the staff after playing 29 games for the team last year. Perez is the headliner as he has a very good defensive reputation as well offers an intriguing bat, primarily for his ability to get on-base. Garcia is young but the bat lags behind and doesn't offer much.
The infield defense should also be solid with Jiovanni Mier, Jonathan Meyer, and Enrique Hernandez playing everyday. Mier is solid but not spectacular and Meyer used to have great range and a phenomenal arm. His defense will be challenged this season as he put on a lot of weight in the off-season. Offensively, this group has the potential to be challenged but could provide a little stead offense. Ben Orloff returns to CC to back this group up. Erik Castro will get the call to AA after back to back seasons in Lancaster and will provide good defense at 1B and the only source of power for the infield. Look for him to get time at DH as well.
This is the most exciting group on the team. George Springer is not only the outfield headliner, but the team's as well. He is the highest rated player on the team and returns after just a taste of AA last year. He'll man CF and look to keep his strikeout rate down while maintaining the power that we all drool over. Right field will be manned by Domingo Santana and challenges Trope as the second best prospect on the team. He has work to do with his strikeout rate but will also have to worry about showing everyone he's not a Lancaster product. Austin Wates will be return and provide a very good batting average and consistent solid at-bats while attempting to stay healthy. Michael Burgess is the final member of this group and is minor league phase Rule V draftee and has potential to provide a lot of power as well.
Carlos Perez: I think his power is going to start coming around a little bit, despite not being a major power threat. His ability to get on-base consistently will attract this front office and the fact he is a good defensive catcher only makes that more valuable. I could have gone with Erik Castro with this pick but age is on Perez's side.
Asher Wojciechowski: This may be a bit of cop-out, but the fact is that he's not considered that highly rated anymore. I still believe 100%! I think the velocity is still there and some consistency in AA can help him settle in and make a return. I'm also high on Heidenreich.
Eight Starters for tandem rotation and five man spots in parenthesis
Tropeano (1), Wojciechowski (2), Heidenreich (3), Doran (4), Alaniz (5), Seaton, Martinez, Buchanan
1. Austin Wates (LF)
2. Carlos Perez (C)
3. George Springer (CF)
4. Domingo Santana (RF)
5. Michael Burgess (DH)
6. Jonathan Meyer (3B)
7. Erik Castro (1B)
8. Jio Mier (SS)
9. Kike Hernandez (2B)
Best Hitter for Average: Austin Wates
Best Power Hitter: Domingo Santana
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Carlos Perez
Fastest Baserunner: George Springer
Best Athlete: George Springer
Best Fastball: Jorge De Leon
Best Curveball: Ruben Alaniz
Best Slider: Asher Wojciechowski
Best Changeup: Nick Tropeano
Best Control: David Martinez
Best Defensive Catcher: Rene Garcia
Best Defensive Infielder: Jio Mier
Best Infield Arm: Jonathan Meyer
Best Defensive Outfielder: George Springer
Best Outfield Arm: Domingo Santana