Houston Astros Minor League Recap: 4/8/14

Kevin C. Cox

Four teams, three wins for the Astros minor leaguers on Tuesday night.

Austin Wates for No Man - Austin Wates has been described as having "near-plus" speed, but after swiping 43 bases between 2011 and 2012, he suffered a fractured forearm in 2013 and ended up missing significant time. But with the new season, he may be up to his old tricks, with three steals in Monday's game. That prompted this article by Jake Seiner, who gives Wates a lot more credit than he's due by referring - multiple times - to the "48 steals" Wates had in Corpus Christi in 2012. The problem, of course, was that Wates only had 17 in Corpus in 2012. 48 was his RBI total.

Hangin' At The Hangar - Eric L. Smith is one of the better-kept secrets in the Astros' minor league systems. Accustomed as we are to great stuff from guys like Steve Batterson in Davenport and Greg Rajan in Corpus Christi, Astros prospect-watchers have been chomping at the bit for solid beat reporting in Lancaster. Well, Eric is that beat writer... the only problem? The Antelope Valley Press sticks his material behind a paywall. But Eric told me that he intends to post the overwhelming majority of his Jethawks-related material to his blog this year, so be sure to check it out.

Org! I'm a Pirate! - Baseball Prospectus has a fascinating look at some of the most dominant minor league players who have never made it to the big leagues. Ever since I learned the concept of prospects versus organizational players, I've been fascinated by the latter group: Soldiers who give their bodies to the service of an organization  through their youth. Sacrificing for the greater good: Baseball. You'll often hear these players say things like "As long as I have a number on my back, there's a chance..." Sometimes, guys like Cody Clark will come along and give them all renewed hope. The list is worth a read, despite no Astros farmhands being on it. Much of it is behind a pay wall, but this write-up on Guilder Rodriguez (one of the most fascinating players in minor league baseball, in my opinion) is before the jump, and speaks to the heart of things:

Rodriguez is a 30-year-old Venezuelan middle infielder in the Rangers system who just started his 13th minor-league season. In those 13 seasons, he’s played in over 1000 games, made close to 4000 plate appearances, and hit one home run, back in 2009 with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders. Rodriguez has played parts of the past five seasons in Frisco; if he were any good, either the fine folks of Frisco would’ve built him a statue by now, or he would have spent more time in Triple-A. But between his makeup and his ability to play shortstop, he’s soldiered on as an organizational guy, going weeks—and in one stretch last season, well over a month—without an extra-base hit.

What Happened Was...

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA) - Before exploding for four runs in Monday's game, the New Orleans Brian Bogusevics Zephyrs (MIA) hadn't scored more than two runs in a single game all season. By the time Paul Clemens took the mound, just to be sure, the RedHawks offense gave him a three-run lead on Max Stassi's first home run of the season. It would prove to be more than enough, as Clemens pitched five scoreless innings with six strikeouts. Jake Buchanan, the tandem starter, gave up the Zephyrs' only run. Combined, the three RedHawks pitchers - Clemens, Buchanan, and Chia-Jen Lo - struck out ten Zephyrs without issuing a single walk as the RedHawks won, 8-1.

Oklahoma City: 4-2, t-1st - Pacific Coast League American Northern

  • CF Austin Wates - 2/4, 2B, R, RBI, BB
  • SS Gregorio Petit - 2/4, R, RBI, BB
  • RF George Springer - 2/5, 2B, 2 R, RBI, 2 K
  • DH Max Stassi - 2/4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB, 2 K
  • 3B Jonathan Meyer - 0/5, 2 K
  • 2B Ronny Torreyes - 2/3, R, E
  • RHP Paul Clemens - 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 53/42 Pitches/Strikes, 5/2 GO/FO
  • RHP Jake Buchanan - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 46/28 Pit/Str, 4/2 GO/FO
  • RHP Chia-Jen Lo - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 16/12 Pit/Str, 1/0 GO/FO

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) - Quick: Which one of these players do you think had a stolen base in this one?: Delino DeShields, Nolan Fontana, Andrew Aplin, MP Cokinos... okay, I'm sure you guessed. It was Cokinos. Aaron West got roughed up a little, giving up three runs in the bottom of the first and another in the third before he was lifted with two outs in the fourth inning against the Springfield Cardinals (STL). The Hooks' offense would rally with five runs of their own in the top of the ninth, though, to pull ahead 5-4. Heading into the bottom of the ninth, starting third baseman Joe Sclafani was lifted for Jio Mier. The Cardinals would score a run to send the game into extra innings, but that move would still pay off, as Mier blasted his first home run of the season to put the Hooks ahead in the eleventh inning. Travis Ballew shut the Cardinals down in the bottom of the inning to preserve Corpus Christi's 7-6 win.

Corpus Christi: 5-1, 1st - Texas League South

  • CF Delino DeShields - 2/6, 2B, R, RBI
  • SS Nolan Fontana - 0/6, 4 K
  • DH Andrew Aplin - 1/3, R, 3 BB, PO
  • RF Preston Tucker - 1/5, 2B, R, RBI, K
  • 2B Kike Hernandez - 3/5, 2B, R, 2 RBI
  • 1B MP Cokinos - 2/4, R, RBI, BB, SB
  • 3B Jiovanni Mier - 1/1, HR, R, RBI
  • RHP Aaron West - 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 71/42 Pit/Str, 5/5 GO/FO
  • LHP Alex Sogard - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 16/8 Pit/Str, 0/5 GO/FO
  • RHP David Rollins - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 48/33 Pit/Str, 1/4 GO/FO

Lancaster Jethawks (A+) - Dan Gulbransen drew a walk in the bottom of the second inning - that's worth mentioning only because it was the last walk the Jethawks would draw in the game, to go along with six strikeout. Starter Kyle Smith, on the other hand, got off to a rough start by walking the first batter he faced. He would end up walking three more batters in the inning to go along with a single and a stolen base, allowing the San Jose Giants (SFG) to go ahead, 2-0. Lancaster would fight back, partially on the strength of Brandon Meredith's second home run of the season, which came in the second inning with no runners. Two runs in the bottom of the fifth and another in the sixth put the Jethawks up 4-2, and Mitchell Lambson, Lance McCullers, and Jamaine Cotton combined to shut the Giants offense down the rest of the way, preserving the 4-2 win.

Lancaster: 4-2, t-1st - California League South

  • 2B Tony Kemp - 3/4, R, CS
  • SS Carlos Correa - 0/4, 2 K (trade him!)
  • 1B Brandon Meredith - 2/4, HR, 2 R, RBI
  • DH Dan Gulbransen - 2/3, RBI, BB, K, CS
  • LF Jordan Scott - 2/3, R
  • RHP Kyle Smith - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 1 K, 3/5 GO/FO
  • RHP Lance McCullers - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, HBP, 4 K, 3/1 GO/FO

Quad Cities River Bandits (A) - To commemorate the anniversary of Dickie Thon's beaning, the Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) batted his son, Dickie Joe Thon, leadoff against the River Bandits. Quad Cities starter Chris Lee started the game off strong, throwing four and a third innings of shutout ball before being lifted with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Chris Cotton came on in relief, got Ian Parmley to ground into a forceout at home. He followed up by getting Thon to line out. Andrew Thurman, on the other hand, didn't fare so well after coming on as the piggyback starter. He allowed a home run to the first batter he faced, and allowed three more runs before being pulled with just two outs in the inning. The River Bandits would rally to tie it up in the top of the eighth, but Andrew Walter walked the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth, with none other than Thon slapping a single to right field to give the Lugnuts a walk-off win, 5-4.

Quad Cities: 2-3, t-5th - Midwest League Western (1.0 GB)

  • RF James Ramsay - 2/5, R, 2 SB
  • SS Jack Mayfield - 2/3, 2B, R, RBI, 2 BB
  • C Jobduan Morales - 2/3, RBI, BB
  • LF Tanner Mathis - 0/2, 2 BB
  • LHP Chris Lee - 4.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 7/2 GO/FO
  • RHP Andrew Thurman - 0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, WP, 0/0 GO/FO
  • RHP Andrew Walter - 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GO/FO
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