Houston Astros Minor League Recap: 8/27/13

Oklahoma City makes it a sweep, as all four full-season affiliates are now in the postseason. Meanwhile, Tri-City and Greeneville fight to hang on to their division leads.

He Ain't No Challah Back Boy

Gabe Kapler was always a very interesting player to me during his career. He came up while I was in college, and I saw him cycle through a lot of teams fairly quickly: The Tigers, Rangers, Rays, Rockies, Red Sox, Brewers. I could never quite pin down why I liked him so much, other than that - like me - he's Jewish. Unlike me, he's a physical specimen. Like or unlike me (depending on who you ask), he seemed like a very intelligent player. That's why I'm glad he's gone on to be a pretty good writer since the end of his career, and I wasn't the only one who noticed: So did Baseball Prospectus, who tabbed them for a ProGUESTus article. If you're as fascinated by minor league coaching and development as I am, it's a particularly good read, as Kapler talks about what makes a good minor league coach. Well worth your time.

In 1998, we spent the season together in the tiny, filthy clubhouse at the since deceased Wolfson Park in Jacksonville, Florida. It was in the bootleg batting cage, the nets literally collapsing on our heads, that I spent countless hours relentlessly striking balls inconsistently weighted off a tee, with Maniac Matt by my side, invisibly grimacing to support me as I fought through the sessions. "Relax your hands," Matt would tell me. "Breathe."

Matt’s intuitive comprehension of what would make him a great coach was granted by the gene genie or some higher power, not learned. It’s not his understanding of mechanics, although that certainly is a contributing factor. And it’s not his experience. It’s love.

The Springer Show

George Springer played the last game of his Texas League career on June 23rd, but that didn't stop him from being named the Texas League Player of the Year. He also joins fellow Hooks Max Stassi, Jonathan Meyer, Mike Foltynewicz, and David Martinez as Postseason All-Stars in the league. Martinez was named the league's Pitcher of the Year, and Gary Ruby was named the Mike Coolbaugh Texas League Coach of the Year.

Speaking of All-Stars

It was mentioned earlier, but Matt Duffy, MP Cokinos, and Andrew Aplin were named Cal League Postseason All-Stars, along with Manager Rodney Linares and Hitting Coach Darryl Robinson. I bring it up now because St. Mary's - Cokinos' alma mater - had a nice little article on him on their website.

Meanwhile, in the Appalachian League, no Astros were given All-Star nods, but manager Josh Bonifay was named the Manager of the Year.

Ausmus Polishing a Gem

I hate to even link to this, but Padres prospect Austin Hedges has been named a Defensive Gem by MiLB.com. Why is this relevant? Because he's being tutored by Brad Ausmus, which is always worth mentioning.

#YearlyDoseOfCoke

MP Cokinos stole a base in yesterday's Lancaster game to match his career-high total of one. In fact, here's a bit of fun about Cokinos:

2010, University of Houston: 1 SB
2011, University of Houston: 1 SB
2012, St. Mary's (TX): 1 SB
2012, Tri-City: 1 SB
2013, Lancaster: 1 SB

Now that's consistency.

Clinchin'

As MiLB.com points out, the RedHawks clinched the PCL American Southern Division, and now all four full-season affiliates are postseason-bound. The GCL and DSL squads are eliminated, but Tri-City and Greeneville both have solid chances to join Quad Cities, Lancaster, Oklahoma City, and Corpus Christi in the playoffs.

Feliz Navidad

In Jason Parks' Monday Morning Ten Pack, he singled out one of our favorite under-the-radar prospects, Michael Feliz. It's before the pay wall, but I'll let you click for the meat. (I assume he meant to refer to Feliz's frame as intimidating, as not many 6'4" bodies intimate much of anything).

The development of the changeup and the refinement of the command will decide his long-term fate, but the easy cheese that explodes from his intimating 6’4’’ frame is going to play, and in a league that lacks much impact potential, Feliz stands out as a player to pay attention to.

What Happened Was...

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA) - Oh, you mean the Division Champion Oklahoma City RedHawks? That's right. The Nashville Sounds (MIL) were in town - the perfect opponent for the RedHawks to feast on as they try to clinch a postseason berth and, sure enough, they were up to the task. Eric Berger was shockingly effective in a rare starting performance, and the offense backed him up nicely. After falling down 1-0 through three and a half innings, the RedHawks put a three-spot up in the bottom of the fourth, and added runs in the fifth and seventh. Meanwhile, the pitching staff held the Sounds to six hits by four players, and issued just two walks. A nice team win as they pull out the 5-4 victory.

Oklahoma City: 79-59, Champions - Pacific Coast League American Southern

  • CF George Springer - 2/3, 3B, R, RBI, BB
  • 3B Brandon Laird - 2/4, R, RBI
  • DH Japhet Amador - 3/4, R, RBI
  • LHP Eric Berger - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
  • RHP Jose Cisnero - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Jason Stoffel - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Jorge De Leon - 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) - Two Hooks hitters combined for three Hooks hits. One of those two (Erik Castro) also drew one of the team's two walks. He also had the only extra-base hit. Of the remaining seven hitters, only two didn't record strikeouts. David Rollins pitched well in this one, but came up on the losing end in this one. After the offense staked him to a 1-0 lead in the first, they failed to score any more for the rest of the game, and Rollins gave up a fifth-inning home run, followed by two more in the inning, to take the loss against the Frisco RoughRiders (TEX), 5-1.

Corpus Christi: 38-26, 2nd (1.0 GB) - Texas League South (1st half champs)
  • LF Leonardo Heras - 0/3, BB, K
  • 2B Ronald Torreyes - 2/4, R
  • 1B Erik Castro - 1/3, 2B, RBI, BB
  • CF Drew Muren - 0/3, 2 K
  • SS Jio Mier - 0/3 (he has not had a hit since July 30)
  • LHP David Rollins - 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Lancaster Jethawks (A+) - The Jethawks entered their matchup against the Lake Elsinore Storm (SDP) with as many wins in the second half as in the first (39). After giving up a run to the Storm to lead off the first inning, Aaron West settled down - fueled, no doubt, by the profile I posted yesterday of him. Every time he needed to dig deep, I'm 100% sure that he thought of that conversation. Meanwhile, the offense responded with five runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning to give him all the cushion he'd need, as the Jethawks cruised to a 7-2 victory.

Lancaster: 40-24, Champions - California League South
  • SS Nolan Fontana - 1/2, R, 3 BB, SB
  • 1B MP Cokinos - 3/4, 2 R, K, SB
  • RF Chris Epps - 1/3, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K
  • LF Jesse Wierzbicki - 1/4, 2B, R, K
  • RHP Aaron West - 5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, BK
  • RHP Travis Ballew - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, HBP
Quad Cities River Bandits (A) - Rio Ruiz hit a grand slam in the first inning. Juan Minaya struck out nine batters in four innings. All told, the River Bandits pitchers struck out 12 Burlington Bees (LAA) and walked just one. Not a bad day's work. They still had to hold on at the end, as Burlington made a game of it, but Andrew Walter continued his flawless Midwest League career. Since being promoted from Tri-City, Walter has not been scored on in 9.1 innings, allowing just five hits and two walks to nine strikeouts.

Quad Cities: 38-25, 2nd (5.5 GB) - Midwest League Western (clinched playoffs)
  • 2B Tony Kemp - 1/3, R, K, HBP
  • SS Catfish Elkins - 0/3, R, BB, 3 K
  • CF Teoscar Hernandez - 2/4, 2B, 2 R
  • 1B Bobby Borchering - 0/4, 3 K
  • 3B Rio Ruiz - 3/4, HR, R, 4 RBI, E
  • C Jobduan Morales - 1/4, 3B, R
  • RHP Daniel Minor - 4.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
  • RHP Juan Minaya - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, HBP
  • RHP Andrew Walter - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) - Sixteen innings. I'm exhausted just writing that. It's not bad enough that the ValleyCats have a doubleheader tomorrow; they also had to go sixteen innings yesterday. At the end of a long season. Fighting for the playoffs. Against the Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM), who they'll be seeing a lot of to finish the season out. The Cyclones are also fighting for the playoffs - currently a half game behind the Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) in the McNamara Division. After J.D. Osborne got touched for a run in the bottom of the eighth, Michael Feliz's excellent start was erased as the game went into extra innings, and lots of them. The hero of the night? Charles Basford - the return on the Fernando Martinez trade - and Krishawn Holley. They went 6.2 innings between them. Though Holley earned the win, Basford had arguably the best line: 3.2 innings with no hits, no runs, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Gonzalo Sanudo - the return on the Mike Kvasnicka trade - came on to polish off the Cyclones and preserve the 5-3 victory for Tri-City.

It may bear mentioning that Jake Rodriguez was hit by a Dawrin Frias pitch and ended up leaving the game to be replaced by Brett Booth. I do not know anything beyond this. Frias did a lot of damage in this one, striking out 11 ValleyCats over six innings, in addition to knocking Rodriguez out of the game.

Tri-City: 41-26, 1st - New York-Penn League Stedler
  • CF James Ramsay - 2/7, 3B, 2 K
  • 3B Tyler White - 2/6, HR, 2 R, RBI, E, HBP
  • DH Michael Martinez - 0/5, 4 K, HBP
  • LF Jon Kemmer - 2/7, R, RBI, 3 K
  • RF Ronnie Mitchell - 3/7, 2B, RBI, K
  • RHP Michael Feliz - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, WP
  • RHP Tyler Brunnemann - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
  • LHP J.D. Osborne - 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Charles Basford - 3.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, WP, IBB
  • RHP Krishawn Holley - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, WP
  • RHP Gonzalo Sanudo - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB 3 K
Greeneville Astros (Rk) - The Bluefield Blue Jays (TOR) put a run up in the fourth, and the Astros answered right back in the bottom of the frame. It would take until the eighth for the Astros to score another run, but that ended up being plenty, as they eked out the 2-1 victory on a strong performance by Francis Ramirez, whose second outing since being promoted from the GCL went a lot better than the first. The Astros maintain their half-game grip on first place, but every single team in the Appy League West has won at least two in a row. First one to blink is out, perhaps?

Greeneville: 38-27, 1st - Appalachian League West
  • CF Brett Phillips - 0/4, 2 K
  • RF Marc Wik - 2/3, 2B, 2 R, BB
  • C Alfredo Gonzalez - 1/3, RBI, BB, SB
  • 2B Juan Santana - 1/3, 2B, RBI, K, E
  • RHP Francis Ramirez - 4.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, WP, HBP
GCL Astros (Rk) - Reymind Guduan pitched a Guduan, leaving the game after five innings with a 1-0 lead. The bullpen, on the other hand, was awful, as the GCL Tigers (DET) put up 13 runs over the final four frames to down the Astros, 13-2.

GCL Astros: 26-32, 3rd (9.0 GB) - Gulf Coast League Northeast (eliminated)
  • SS Luis Reynoso - 2/3, 2B, 2 R, RBI, CS, E
  • 2B Jose Fernandez - 3/4, 2B, RBI
  • LHP Reymin Guduan - 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
  • RHP Javier Lozano - 1.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Samil De Los Santos - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Devonte German - 1.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
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