Minor League Opening Day Recap: April 4, 2013

Bob Levey

From Lancaster, California, to Davenport, Iowa, Astros prospects took the field for first time in 2013.

Yesterday was Opening Day for the Astros' minor league affiliates - a day of rebirth. Of hope and excitement. Of... rainouts. That was the case down in Oklahoma City, anyway, as their season opener against the Memphis Redbirds got washed out. But let me tell you: If anything is better than Opening Day, it's an Opening Day doubleheader!! And that's exactly what the Redhawks and Redbirds will have today: Two seven-inning games, beginning at 5:05 PM local time.

The downside? The rain gave Cardinals uberprospect Oscar Taveras time to get back from the Dominican Republic, where he had gone on personal business. Oh, and it gave the Cardinals the chance to begin negotiations to buy the Redbirds.

Nolan Fontana Hates Running

In 2012, Nolan Fontana stepped into the batters box 222 times. 65 of those times, he drew a walk, good for a 29.3% walk rate. Last night, Fontana was 1-for-1, with two walks, a HBP, and a 2-run home run through his first 4 plate appearances. When he doesn't walk, he trots. He ended the night 2-for-2 with 2 walks, a BHP, a 2-run home run, and a stolen base.

A Dubious Honor

As the Texas League's two second-half champs took the field on Thursday night, Ross Seaton got his 54th start for the Corpus Christi Hooks, which puts him only five starts away from the record. For bonus points, can you name the only pitcher who started more games for the Hooks than Ross Seaton has? Answer at the end of the article.

We Are The Champions, My Friend

The Lancaster-High Desert matchup lasted until well into the night - nearly a four-hour affair - but it started even before the first pitch, when the Jethawks passed out their 2012 California League Championship rings. It was the first championship for the franchise since they moved to Lancaster in 1996

Correan War

Top overall draft pick Carlos Correa began his first full-season game by slapping a Pierce Johnson curveball into the outfield for a two-run double. He spent the majority of the offseason working on his hitting - primarily his pitch recognition - and in the first game of the season, at least, it certainly seemed to pay off. Johnson, meanwhile, is the Cubs' #7 prospect (MLB.com), and was chased by the bat-heavy River Bandits after just 2-1/3 innings.

What Happened Was...

For those who followed me at my old blog ("A Misplaced Astros Fan"), there was a fairly popular section called "What Happened Was..." in which I recounted the action down on the farm. Now, with pride, I unveil it here at The Crawfish Boxes. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA) - I'll tell you what happened: Nothing. Nothing but rain, that is. Taveras, Wong, and Wacha wait.

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) - While the Triple-A team waited to take on a Cardinals affiliate, the Hooks jumped right into things against the Springfield Cardinals. The Cardinals, perhaps still tired from celebrating their 2012 Texas League Championship, made a mistake on their roster and accidentally added Ruben Gotay to it. It worked out just fine for them, though, as Gotay stole home on a delayed double steal to tie the game after George Springer hit a home run that was, quite possibly, physically impossible to hit. No matter; the Hooks pitchers held the fort while the offense took advantage of Carlos Martinez's visa status and scored on a wild pitch. They won the game 3-2.
  • George Springer CF - 1/4, HR, 1 R, 2 RBI
  • Domingo Santana RF - 2/4, 2B
  • Rene Garcia C - 3/3, 2 2B, 2 R

Lancaster Jethawks (A+) - The Jethawks scored 2 in the bottom of the 8th and Travis Ballew pitched an imperfect ninth to record the save, beating High Desert (SEA) 10-9. There was a lot of offense in this one, including triples by Drew Muren and Delino DeShields, home runs by Fontana and Matt Duffy, and a two-run sacrifice fly off the bat of Preston Tucker. The Hangar is already in midseason form, as neither starting pitcher - Trevor "Don't call me Trever" Miller and Mike Foltynewicz - was able to make it into the fourth inning, and Alex "Are You Sure This Isn't Colorado?" Gillingham blew the first save of his professional career. They say you never forget the first one!

  • Delino DeShields 2B - 2/5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 1 RBI
  • Nolan Fontana SS - 2/2, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB
  • Zachary Johnson 1B - 2/4, 2B, 1 R, 1 BB
  • Preston Tucker LF - 0/4, 3 RBI
  • Tyler Heineman C - 3/5, 2B
  • Matt Duffy 3B - 2/4, HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB
  • Drew Muren RF - 1/3, 3B, 1 R, 1 BB

Quad Cities River Bandits (A) - With two outs in the second inning, the River Bandits pounced. Poor Kane County (CHC) didn't stand a chance, surrendering five runs before getting into the third. The River Bandits finished with a 7-2 win on the bats of C Roberto Pena and SS Carlos Correa, who provided the only one of QC's 9 hits to go for extra bases - a 3-run double.

  • Carlos Correa SS - 2/5, 2B, 3 RBI
  • Jesse Wierzbicki 1B - 1/3, 2 R, 2 BB
  • Roberto Pena C - 2/5, R, 2 RBI
  • Vincent Velasquez - 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (W)
  • Joe Bircher - 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (SV)

So, in case you didn't notice, every single full-season team in the Astros organization - including the major league squad - has started the season with a win so far. No pressure, Oklahoma City!

Trivia Answer

Chance Douglass started 59 games for the Hooks between 2006-08. Seaton is five wins away from tying Douglass for the record.

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