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Astros Minor League Review: Oklahoma City Redhawks Pitching

Jeff Gross - Getty Images

Yesterday Tim got TCB's review of the Oklahoma City Redhawks season started by taking a look at the Redhawks offense, and today we are going to keep that going by looking back over the Redhawks pitching this season. It was a revolving door of sorts all season long for the Redhawks as a total of twenty different pitchers’ started a game for the team, and another sixteen threw at least one inning of relief.

Ideally you would like your triple-A team to play the dual role of being the last line of development and polish for prospects before graduating them to the show, while also serving as insurance plan for the major league team in case of injury or ineffectiveness.

This year’s Redhawks club did just that and sent Jordan Lyles, Dallas Keuchel, Armando Galarraga, Edgar Gonzalez, Xavier Cedeno, Hector Ambriz, Mickey Storey, and others to the Astros for help, while also graduating young prospects like Jared Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Ross Seaton, and Jose Cisnero to the triple-A level. Here’s a look at how the Redhawks pitching staff fared this season.

The Redhawks play in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) which is known as a hitter-friendly league. However, the Redhawks home stadium Chickasaw Bricktown plays pretty neutral. This was evidenced by several of the young Redhawks pitchers having much better home ERA’s than road ERA’s. Still as a whole the Redhawks were below league average in most of the statistical categories of the Pacific Coast League.

Below is a look at where the Redhawks pitching staff ranked out of the 16 team PCL league:

Team ERA: 4.89, ranked 11th

Strikeouts: 975, ranked 7th

Walks allowed: 457, ranked 8th

Hits allowed: 1441, ranked 14th

Homeruns Allowed: 144, ranked 13th

Walks and hits allowed per innings pitched: 1.51, ranked 13th

The team's 2011 pitching line was also slightly better than this year's line.

2011: 4.63 ERA, 606 Walks, 984 Strikeouts

2012: 4.89 ERA, 457 Walks, 974 Strikeouts

The most noticeable difference between the two seasons is that Redhawks pitchers were able to reduce their walks allowed by a substantial margin while posting a similar ERA and about the same amount of strikeouts.

Starting Pitching

Oklahoma opened the season with a starting rotation that featured Paul Clemens, Jordan Lyles, Dallas Keuchel, Aneury Rodriguez, and Henry Sosa. When the Redhawks season ended only Dallas Keuchel was still in that rotation, and even he saw significant time with the Astros this year. There were a lot of interesting guys to single out here and talk about individually, but we don’t have the time for that so I picked two in particular to discuss. Jared Cosart and Rudy Owens weren't discussed here as they will be hit in detail later this week, as will Ross Seaton and Paul Clemens when we look at the Hooks season. After the jump we will get things started with Brett Oberholtzer.

Brett Oberholtzer

The 23-yr old Oberholtzer started the season in Corpus, and got off to a slow start before coming on strong towards the end of the first half. He was promoted to Oklahoma City for the second half and once again got off to a slow start. For the year he finished with a combined ERA of 4.37 while throwing 166.2 innings. He had a strikeout rate of 7.4 K/9, and a walk rate of 2.2 BB/9. While he was in Corpus he was generating groundball outs 53% of the time, which is well above his career average. This number dropped to 40% when he was promoted to Oklahoma City.

In his 89.2 innings at Oklahoma City Oberholtzer only allowed 4.9% BB/PA, so control was the name of his game this year. He’s one of the pitcher’s that showed huge home/road splits for the Redhawks and posted an ERA of 2.12 at home in 46.2 innings while posting an ERA of 7.12 in 43 innings on the road. He finished out the season strong with the Redhawks and only allowed more than three earned runs in a game once in his final eight starts.

Oberholtzer will most likely be returning to Oklahoma’s rotation next year to start the season, but it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that he could compete for a spot on the Astros roster next spring.

Jose Cisnero

Cisnero rebounded from a disappointing 2011 season in Lancaster where he struggled with consistency. He started the season in Corpus and struggled out of the gate with his command, but got into a nice groove after his initial struggles. He finished Corpus with a 116 strikeouts in 108 innings pitched and a 3.34 FIP. His walk rate also improved to 3.81 BB/9. This earned him a promotion to Oklahoma City where he logged another 39.2 innings. The results weren't as good as his time in Corpus, but they were still decent. His strikeout rate fell to 7.26 K/9 while his walk rate rose to 4.08 BB/9. His ERA ended up being 4.54, but his FIP was a much shinier 3.50.

The Bullpen

David got the player reviews started with his look at Jose Valdez yesterday, and he was one of the most impressive arms in the Redhawks pen this season. Mickey Storey is another one that had a very impressive season with the Redhawks, but we've already got a decent look at him this season with the Astros. Instead I decided to take a look at an interesting arm that didn't have a lot of success with the Redhawks this season but given that he has decent stuff and bullpen arms are fickle he could play a role with the club somewhere down the line.

Mark Hamburger

From 2009-2011 Hamburger was solid in relief moving through the Rangers system. He pitched at least 65 innings in each season and he totaled 90.1 innings in 2011 primarily in relief. This season was a different story however as he struggled out of the gate and for most of his time with the Rangers which led to him being DFA'd and claimed by the Padres. His time in the Padres system was brief and he was claimed off of waivers by the Orioles, and from there made his way to the Astros.

He pitched a total of 21 innings with the Redhawks and posted an FIP of 4.87. Control was an issue as his walk rate was at 5.14 BB/9, and his strikeout rate was also low for at 6.43 K/9. As far as stuff goes we have an extreme small sample of data on him from his 8 innings pitched with the Rangers last year. According to Fangraphs he threw both a two-seam and four seam fastball. The two-seam averaged 93 MPH while the four-seam averaged 89.9 MPH. He also features a slider and a change-up.

All in all Redhawks pitcher's got off to a good start, but then struggled for most of the season. Still it's good to see the Astros triple-A affiliate start to have actual prospects filling out the roster, and next season figures to see more of this with guys like Jared Cosart, Ross Seaton, Brett Oberholtzer, Kevin Chapman, Jason Stoffel and more filling out the pitching staff.