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Astros winter baseball update: Arizona Fall League and more for Nov. 4 - 10

Catching up on all the Astros prospects taking part in off-season baseball

Jonathan Singleton is playing in the Puerto Rican Baseball League
Jonathan Singleton is playing in the Puerto Rican Baseball League

Arizona Fall League

November 4, 2013

Peoria Javelinas: 7-4 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions

Japhet Amador: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI
Delino DeShields: 0-for-4
Nolan Fontana: 0-for-4

SP Matthew Heidenreich: 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 K
RP Alex Sogard: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K

November 5, 2013

Peoria Javelinas: 4-0 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions

Nolan Fontana: 0-for-2, 2 BB
Delino DeShields: 0-for-3

November 6, 2013

Peoria Javelinas: 6-5 win over the Surprise Saguaros

Jonathan Meyer: 3-for-5, 2 RBI
Japhet Amador: 1-for-5, HR, RBI, R

RP Andrew Robinson: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K (win)

November 7, 2013

Peoria Javelinas: 14-5 loss to the Surprise Saguaros

Delino DeShields: 1-for-3, BB, R, 2 RBI
Nolan Fontana: 0-for-3, BB

RP Jonas Dufek: 1.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K

November 8, 2013

Peoria Javelinas: 3-1 loss to the Salt River Rafters

Japhet Amador: 1-for-4
Delino DeShields: 0-for-3, BB, SB

November 9, 2013

Peoria Javelinas: 7-2 loss to the Salt River Rafters

Jonathan Meyer: 2-for-2, 2B, RBI
Delino DeShields: 2-for-4, 3B
Japhet Amador: 0-for-2

SP Matt Heidenreich: 4.0 IP, 3 R (2 ER), 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K (loss)
RP Andrew Robinson: 1.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K
RP Alex Sogard: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K

AFL Weekly Totals

1B Japhet Amador: 4 G, 4-for-15, R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 4 K
CF Delino DeShields: 5 G, 3-for-17, R, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 1-for-1 SB
SS Nolan Fontana: 3 G, 0-for-9, 3 BB, 5 K
3B Jonathan Meyer: 2 G, 5-for-7, 2B, K, 3 RBI

RHP Jonas Dufek: 1 G, 1.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K
RHP Matt Heidenreich: 2 GS, 8.0 IP, 6 R (5 ER), 11 H, 4 BB, 4 K
RHP Andrew Robinson: 2 G, 2.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 K
LHP Alex Sogard: 2 G, 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K

AFL Season Lines

1B Japhet Amador: 16 G, .283/.286/.483, 6 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 1 BB, 14 K, 0-for-0 SB
CF Delino DeShields: 20 G, .254/.365/.333, 7 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBI, 11 BB, 19 K, 8-for-10 SB
SS Nolan Fontana: 16 G, .122/.295/.163, 7 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 11 BB, 14 K, 0-for-1 SB
3B Jonathan Meyer: 10 G, .306/.359/.444, 6 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 10 K, 0-for-0 SB

RHP Jonas Dufek: 7 G, 9.1 IP, 7 R (3 ER), 8 H, 2 BB, 12 K
RHP Matt Heidenreich: 5 GS, 17.0 IP, 6 R, (5 ER), 13 H, 9 BB, 12 K
RHP Andrew Robinson: 9 G, 10.1 IP, 13 R (5 ER), 15 H, 7 BB, 9 K
LHP Alex Sogard: 9 G (1 GS), 12.1 IP, 6 R (2 ER), 10 H, 5 BB, 10 K

South of the Border

Australian Baseball League

-> Joe Sclafani: 8 G, .393/.486/.607, 6 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 6 BB, 3 K, 3-for-3 SB

Dominican Winter League

-> Teoscar Hernandez: 7 G, .200/.200/.200, 1 R, 2 H, 4 K, 0-for-1 SB
-> Domingo Santana: 13 G, .265/.359/.529, 6 R, 9 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 12 K
-> Jonathan Villar: 14 G, .208/.316/.354, 9 R, 10 H, 3 2B, 2 3B, 5 RBI, 8 BB, 17 K, 3-for-5 SB

RHP Jose Cisnero: 2 G, 1.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 2 K
RHP Jorge De Leon: 1 G, 1.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 K
LHP Rudy Owens: 3 GS, 15.0 IP, 8 ER, 12 H, 5 BB, 15 K
Raul Valdes: 2 GS, 8.2 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 9 H, 2 BB, 8 K

Mexican Pacific League

-> Leonardo Heras: 11 G, .353/.477/.441, 6 R, 12 H, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 9 BB, 6 K, 2-for-2 SB

RHP Gonzalo Sanudo: 5 G, 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K

Puerto Rican Baseball League

-> Rene Garcia: 1 G, .667/.667/1.000, 2 H, 1 2B
-> Enrique Hernandez: 3 G, .111/.273/.222, 1 H, 1 2B, 1 BB
-> Roberto Pena: 1 G, .000/.000/.000, 2 K
-> Jonathan Singleton: 7 G, .250/.444/.450, 3 R, 5 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 7 BB, 5 K
-> Austin Wates: 7 G, .222/.300/.333, 3 R, 6 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 2-for-3 SB

LHP Luis Cruz: 1 GS, 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 3 K
RHP Juan Santos: 2 G, 2.1 IP, 2 ER, 0 H, 5 BB, 2 K

Venezuelan League

-> J.D. Martinez: 2 G, .625/.667/1.750, 3 R, 5 H, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
-> Carlos Perez: 12 G, .359/.372/.513, 7 R, 14 H, 6 2B, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
-> Eric Thames: 1 G, .200/.333/.200, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K

LHP Eric Berger: 5 G (4 GS), 19.1 IP, 7 R (5 ER), 17 H, 6 BB, 12 K

Scouting: Peoria vs. Salt River, Nov. 9

Delino DeShields - OF, RHB

In his first at bat, he went down quickly and quietly; after taking an inside pitch for a strike, he flailed at one on the outside edge for strike two, and then again watched the same pitch called a strike on the inside.

DeShields was more competitive in his second trip to the plate, taking a couple of balls, fouling off pitches on the edge of the zone and only looking bad on a swing and miss to a sharp little backdoor slider. He flew out to right on the seventh pitch he saw, a fastball on the lower inside corner of the zone.

With two outs and the bases cleared thanks to a preceding double play, DeShields showed bunt to start his third at bat, but took the first pitch for a strike. On the second pitch, a fastball down and a bit in but still in the zone, he smoked it the other way for a stand-up triple that didn't come down until the warning track; he didn't miss a solo opposite-field bomb by much. The speed has not been over-hyped; the boy can run.

In his fourth at bat, he got a steady diet of fastballs, slashing the third one the other way for a single. None had much heat or life to them, but it was still a solid hit. With a man already on and a lefty on the mound, he didn't get a chance to do any running.

In the bottom of the fifth, someone finally hit it out to center so I could see him on defense. He got a decent jump on it but had to run way back into the right-center gap and dive, and was still short. It wasn't a bad play though, the ball was just very well struck, it would have taken an elite defender making a great play to get an out on it. He hit the ground pretty hard and, despite getting up and getting the ball back into the infield in good order, was clearly a bit shaken up after the play. His throwing arm is, frankly, not special, as advertised. He also got a much more routine out in the bottom of the seventh.

Japhet Amador - 1B, RHB

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's hard to tell on TV, but Amador didn't look like the whale he's been made out to be. He's a big guy, no doubt, but he didn't strike me as being that much bigger than, say, Miguel Cabrera, and without seeing them side by side, I'd say Prince Fielder looks bigger. His first at bat was disappointingly short, as his check swing ended up making contact with a high pitch and sending it out to the second baseman.

He didn't do much in his second attempt, getting in an 0-2 hole and then chasing a slider that was way up. He was pinch-hit for the next time his spot came up. Not a good day for Jabba the Phet (sorry, won't happen again).

Jonathan Meyer - 3B, RHB

Meyer was the guy who ended up surprising me with his size; he's thicker than I'd expected him to be, enough to where his body struck me as more of a corner outfield/first base type. His first time at bat left a good impression, as he laid off a couple of balls and then shot a pitch down and a bit on the outside part of the plate the other way with some authority, getting a ground-ruled double as reward for the effort.

In his second look, Meyer got down in the count 1-2 thanks to a nasty 11-4 hook, but he hung in and made solid enough contact for an infield RBI single. The ball took a bit of a bad hop on the second baseman and ended up ricocheting off towards short, and if the play was made he'd have been out easily at first, but it was ruled a hit.

Matthew Heidenreich - RHP

In the first inning, he got in a hole early, throwing some flat and poorly-located two-seamers (87-89 MPH) that he first missed outside with and then left up and in the zone for a solid single. He got a shallow fly out to second from the next batter, who did him a favor by swinging at a flat breaking ball that was inside on his hands. He got another out with a pair of change-ups, one with good movement down that set up another up and in on the left-handed batter's hands. His change was right around 80 MPH, 10-12 off his four-seamer.

Command continued to be spotty, missing down and away with a heater and up and in with a change to the cleanup man, before evening the count with a called strike inside and a well-spotted curve hitting the top of the zone, though the curve still lacked real tight movement. He lost the batter after hitting him in the hand with a wild fastball. He continued to miss in and out, up and down with the fastball to the next batter, only able to get a strike with the change-up it seemed, but once he got into a two-strike count, he threw his first slider of the day, and it was a good one, 83 MPH with good break down and away for an ugly, lunging swing and miss.

The command struggles persisted in the second inning as he lost the first batter on a walk and allowed a sharp single on another flat two-seamer thrown up in the zone to the second batter. His change continued to be the saving grace as the third batter bit on a good one and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. He walked the next batter, appearing to have little idea where the two-seamer was headed and having his curveball spit on. The final pitch of the inning was a hung curveball that the batter smashed for a line drive, but it was hit right to Meyer at third base for the final out.

He looked a bit better in the third, thanks, it seemed, to mixing in a four-seamer for the first time. He got mostly weak contact when he threw that pitch, 91-92 MPH, though one out came on another hot liner hit to third that Meyer snagged. He also gave up a double, but seemed a little more in control, and despite still having some trouble locating his pitches, didn't beat himself with walks.

Things caught up with Heidenreich in the fourth inning as more hitters got their second look at him. Command problems were still obvious, getting in a hole to the first batter and allowing a single, followed by a three ball count to the second hitter, who tagged him for an RBI double. He punched out the next batter on a rare slider (he should have thrown it more, it looked pretty good when he broke it out), but the fourth man of the inning smoked another single off him, driving in another run, and the right fielder whiffed on the ball, allowing it to roll and the batter to make it to third. He tried a curve to the next batter, but it hung and was smacked for yet another RBI base hit. He managed to get out of the inning without allowing any more damage.

Mechanically, Heidenreich is a mixed bag at this point. Through the first part of his motion, he looks strikingly like Justin Verlander, though he holds his glove lower, around his chest. He appears to be well-balanced to this point. However, once he begins to drive towards home, he noticeably leans back towards first, and so he has to whip his upper body around harder to release the ball properly. Whether it's a result of this whip or not I can't tell, but he jerks his head just before releasing the ball, and by the time it's leaving his head, he's looking at the ground over towards first base. His arm also seems to be slightly behind the hard whip, so I can't say that he's really doing it to throw more with his body and less with just his arm; if anything, he seems to have to pick up his arm speed a bit in order to release the ball on time.

There are some definite issues that yet need to be ironed out, but I like the potential I see. If I'm coaching him, I have him watch video of Verlander to see the way he stays straight and balanced and drives home with his lower half better; Heidenreich plants with his left foot earlier than he could doesn't generate as much forward momentum as I'd like to see from someone who has such a strong pitchers frame. Getting up to the top of his delivery looks clean and repeatable; tightening up the second-half of his motion could improve command significantly.

Overall, I was decidedly underwhelmed by him. Initially I thought his mechanical issues could lead to some command problems, but they seemed more severe than I'd imagined, especially considering really solid walk rates in the lower levels. The AFL isn't a lower level though, and against better competition, he looked like he was surviving, rather than really competing most of the time. His four-seam fastball and his slider (really, it might be more of a slurve and he's just inconsistent with it, he seemed to do better when throwing it harder) worked much better for him than the two-seamer and change-up, but he threw them much less often; it's possible his coach's orders were to use those more heavily to work on them.

The report on him is a four-pitch mix, but I could swear he threw five different pitches; if he really only has four, then that breaking ball is wildly inconsistent, with a full 7-8 MPH difference in speed between the fastest and slowest. Based on this outing (and it was, of course, just one outing), I see zero future for him as a member of a Major League rotation. Middle relief, scrapping the two-seamer and change in favor of the heater and the breaker, is the ceiling I'd peg him for without further improvement.

Brooks Parker watched the game as well and has some thoughts on Heidenreich:

The dip part of the drop and drive is better but he still is lacking with the drive aspect of it. That over-the-top delivery is definitely something that hasn't been adjusted and is achieved by extreme spine tilt that is very inconsistent. The inconsistencies are to the extremes of true over-the-top arm slot to high 3/4's at times and an occasional mid-high 3/4's. He also has inconsistent trunk rotation velocities and hip-shoulder separation. The inconsistencies are much worse from the stretch. When his spine tilt is wavering heavily (like the 2nd inning), his control is awful.

The good news is that he has decent posture early in his delivery before losing it with all that spine tilt. He also has good balance during his "dip/drop" which is typically something a lot of drop and drive pitchers struggle with. Despite his height/leg length, he still doesn't have great stride length.

Pitch wise, his off-speed pitches don't have much crispness to them and he's struggling with a consistent release point. His breaking ball just isn't very sharp and doesn't have a lot of break to them. Although, all of that usually comes with making big changes to a delivery. I did see a few nice changeups, so there is some hope there. Velocity is up from the beginning of the AFL which was low 80's. But still upper 80's. Although he did hit 92 at least once.

Andrew Robinson - RHP

The former starter, drafted in the 12th round of the 2010 draft, was converted to a full-time reliever following the 2011 season, and came out to pitch the bottom of the sixth inning. He featured a fastball that sat 90-92, and he seemed to be able to locate it on the corners pretty well. He punched out the first batter he faced with a very nice 12-6 curveball in the dirt. After giving up a single to the next man, he used the curveball twice to the third hitter to get a called strike and then a weak grounder to short. 72-75 on the overhand curve, and it certainly struck me as a solid out pitch.

He allowed an infield single after that, and though the curve continued to get strikes, he stopped being able to locate the fastball after that and walked the next batter to load the bases. He continued to be unable to find the zone with the heater, and got behind the next batter, who eventually smashed a fastball past the right fielder for a three-RBI triple. After continuing to jerk the fastball down into the dirt, he used a breaking ball to get the next batter to ground out to third to end the inning.

I didn't see anything of major concern with his mechanics. He pitches exclusively out of the stretch now that he's a reliever, and aside from not using his lower half as much as I'd like (seems a bit stiff on his plant leg, not much of a stride), he looked pretty well balanced and in control of his body. I didn't see anything that made me worry about any significant command issues, though he utterly lost command of his fastball part of the way through his outing. It just suddenly left him. The curveball was great though, and he didn't seem to have any trouble hitting the sides, top or bottom of the zone, or burying it in the dirt, simply at will. If he can get a consistent handle on the fastball, I like his chances of being a decent Major League bullpen piece at some point.

Alex Sogard - LHP

Eric's brother came in for the bottom of the seventh, and I think I liked what I saw from him the best of the three pitchers. He has pretty solid heat (91-94 MPH) for a lefty, and a curveball that bordered on Wandy Rodriguez territory at times. With his past command issues and his age, I was wondering what it is that he had that was keeping the Astros from cutting him lose; now I know. Mid-seventies 10-4 power curve, and it was effective when the location was on. Got a weak check swing strikeout for the final out of the inning with it. Command with both pitches was spotty though, as it apparently has been for the majority of his career.

Nothing special to note about his mechanics, though his glove-side arm looked a little sloppy at times on the follow through. He doesn't have the extreme side-arm action you expect from some LOOGY types, and the curve is wicked enough when he finds his command of it that he shouldn't have a problem competing against right-handed batters at the Major League level if all goes well. Definite Major League middle relief upside with further command refinement.

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