This year promises to be an interesting one in Astros minor league baseball. The farm behind one of the more ambitious rebuilding efforts in baseball history will be under close scrutiny from fans and the media, another #1 overall pick will be entering the fray over the summer, and the new tandem rotations add a new component to the Astros' grand experiment. It's natural to expect a decline in excitement from day 1 to day 2 of the minor league season, but there was plenty of excitement down on the farm on Friday to help distract from the slow start of the major league club.
McCullers, pen hold down Kane County
Lance McCullers, Jr. showed well after being drafted last year, but few had him pegged as a fast riser. However, yesterday's outing, where he posted 5 scoreless innings with a 5/0 K/BB ratio, suggests that he might be polished beyond his years. McCullers has a maxed out frame and big-league ready stuff, and it shouldn't be a surprise if he pitches at a level higher than Quad Cities later this year. Piggybacking on Lance's strong start, Daniel Minor was knocked out after allowing five hits in two and a third innings, handing a 4-1 lead to the bullpen. Kyle Hallock and John Neely recorded the last five outs, pushing the Bandits' record to 2-0.
Slugfest at the Hangar
In true California League style, the JetHawks found themselves locked in an offensive shootout with High Desert on Friday. The two teams combined for 22 hits and 10 runs, With Brady Rodgers taking the loss after failing to finish four frames. There were some positives in the loss, however. Preston Tucker hit what should be the first of many home runs this year in a 2 for 4 performance, and popular sleeper pick Brandon Meredith also recorded two hits.
Following in their Footsteps
The Astros' strikeout woes have been well-documented in the early going, and on Friday night the Corpus Christi club didn't fare much better. George Springer, Domingo Santana, Jonathan Meyer and Erik Castro fanned three times each, with Jiovanni Mier chipping in with one more K, giving the team a total of 13 for the night in a 2-0 loss. Nick Tropeano, making his AA debut, was the hard-luck loser in a 2-0 loss.
Let's Play Two
After rain delayed the RedHawks' season opener on Thursday, the club was forced to play a doubleheader on the first day of their season, headlined by starts by Jordan Lyles and Paul Clemens. After overcoming a mediocre start by Clemens and a Wes Musick implosion in game 1 to win 8-7, OKC was thumped 8-0 in the nightcap to split the twin bill. Brandon Laird starred for the RedHawks, combining to go 3 for 5 with a home run.
Oklahoma City (AAA) Game 1
Robbie Grossman- 1 for 3, BB, played CF
Brandon Laird- 1 for 2, HR, 2 SF
Jimmy Paredes- 2 for 3, BB, K
Cody Clark- 2 for 3, 2B
Paul Clemens- 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K
Oklahoma City (AAA) Game 2
Robbie Grossman- 1 for 2, BB
Brandon Laird- 2 for 3, K
Jimmy Paredes- 1 for 2, 2B, BB
Jordan Lyles- 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 2 K
Josh Zeid- 1 IP, BB, 3 K
Corpus Christi (AA)
Austin Wates- 1 for 2, 2 BB, SB, Outfield assist
George Springer- 0 for 4, 3 K
Domingo Santana- 0 for 4, 3 K, Outfield assist
Jiovanni Mier- 0 for 3, BB, K
Carlos Perez- 0 for 3
Nick Tropeano- 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K (Run came on solo home run)
Delino DeShields, Jr.- 1 for 5, K
Nolan Fontana- 1 for 5, 2 K
Preston Tucker- 2 for 4, HR
Brandon Meredith- 2 for 3, K, SB
Tyler Heineman- 0 for 4
Brady Rodgers- 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HRA
Chris Devenski- 3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Quad Cities (A)
Teoscar Hernandez- 0 for 3, 2 K
Carlos Correa- 0 for 3, BB, K
Rio Ruiz- 2 for 4, 2B
Ariel Ovando- 2 for 4, 2B, K, Outfield assist
Lance McCullers, Jr. - 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K