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Houston Astros Minor League Recap: 7/9/13

Lancaster saves the Astros from an organizational sweep on a day when both George Springer (expected) and Tyler Heineman (unexpected) go yard twice.


A Flood of Floods

It turns out Quad Cities isn't the only flood in town. Greeneville decided to get in on the action with some tremendous rainfall this summer. The Astros don't have a home game until Saturday, which is supposed to be the first clear day in what seems like months, so here's hoping they're actually able to get down to playing some baseball.


Mark Appel called his professional debut "a B-minus or a B." After the game, hundreds of people famously lined up for his autograph. A few days later, Tri-City set up an autograph session for the #1-overall draft pick. And it's a good thing they did, or Tri-City fans would've missed the boat. That's right, after today's early morning start, Appel has been promoted to Quad Cities - from three cities to four. Impressive. For the record, in today's start, he threw three shutout innings, striking out five and walking none, while allowing three hits. In his five innings for the ValleyCats, he recorded six strikeouts and zero walks.

On his pitch count, in this article for, he said:

"I think by the end of the summer we're trying to get up to five or six innings, but I'm taking it day-by-day. It depends on what the coaches and front office want. I have faith in the Astros' development team, and I know they don't want to be overly aggressive or try to rush things prematurely."

Not terribly surprising here. They'll ease him into longer starts. So far, the results have been good for Mr. Appel. Here's hoping it continues in QC, where we'll get to see him in the same rotation as Lance McCullers for what is, it is to be hoped, a taste of things to come.

Speaking of debuts, Jonathan Gray is scheduled to make his today. Gray and Appel are destined to be compared to one another for a while, so settle in and get ready for it. Gray's debut will air live on with a 8:05 CT start time.

Players of the Week

The minor leagues named their players of the week for the period of July 1-7, and here's a surprise: While no Astros players were named, former Astros first round pick Mike Kvasnicka was - for the Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League (MIN). As you may remember, the Astros traded Kvasnicka to the Twins for Gonzalo Sanudo this offseason in a swap of organizational guys. Since then, Kvasnicka has hit .284/.347/.581 for his hometown team's FSL team, while Sanudo has thrown 11.2 innings between Corpus Christi and Greeneville - including a rough two-thirds of an inning in yesterday's game.

Kvasnicka - certainly on the old side for the FSL - was a home run shy of the cycle on Wednesday, but made up for it by knocking two out of the park on Friday. The last time he was named player of the week was a year ago, 7/23/12, with the Lexington Legends. Congrats, Mike!

Borchering is Back

When the Diamondbacks picked Bobby Borchering sixteenth overall in 2009, they sent him to the Missoula Osprey of the Northwest League, where he played in 22 games. The following season, he was promoted to South Bend, and he never looked back. Until, that is, this season. After taking some time off "for a personal matter" following Spring Training this season, he's found himself back in Rookie Ball, where he's playing well. This article sounds like he's taking whatever lumps the offseason brought in stride, though, so let's hope that his stop in Greeneville is a short one and he can move on with his career.

Head Westwood, Young Man

Kyle Westwood has been nothing short of fantastic in the beginning of his professional career. The 13th-rounder has a 0.49 ERA, a WHIP under 0.5, and 13 strikeouts to just 2 walks in his 18.1 innings for Tri-City.'s Ashley Marshall takes a look at his young career, which saw him pass up the Orioles to attend college at the University of North Florida.

Wojo's Mojo

Earlier this week, Brooks wrote about Asher Wojciechowksi's mojo on display against the Round Rock Express. took notice, too, with this article. A nice read on his very nice game, with Asher himself impressing with every word.

Birds of a Feather

The picture headlining this article is likely to be the only place you'll ever see Bono and Harry Canary side by side. Soak it up, Astros fans. Soak it up.

Springer Dingers

George Springer is becoming a more- and more-difficult man to comp, as he's brought his rare combination of speed, power, and strikeouts to the Pacific Coast League. In last night's game, he connected on not one but two home runs, including the bad boy below. The only person who doubted that one off of the bat was the Express center fielder.

What Happened Was...

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA) - Asher Wojciechowski held the Round Rock Express (TEX) to a grand total of zero runs on Monday. On Tuesday, they made up for it, with 11 runs on 15 hits. Manny Ramirez hit his first minor league home run since 2009, going yard in the second off of starter Wade LeBlanc. But that was a drop in the ocean compared to the six-run inning that followed in the third, with both LeBlanc and Jose Valdez getting chased from the game before the end of the inning. But hey, LeBlanc struck out six in his 3.1 innings! George Springer was a double shy of the cycle (though he made up for it by hitting an additional home run), the RedHawks couldn't pull out the win, losing 11-8 despite 4 errors by the Round Rock defense.

Oklahoma City: 49-42, 3rd (2.0 GB) - Pacific Coast League American Southern

  • LF/CF Robbie Grossman - 1/5, 2 K
  • SS Marwin Gonzalez - 3/5, 2B, 2 R
  • 3B Brandon Laird - 3/5, 3 R
  • CF/RF George Springer - 4/5, 2 HR, 3B, 2 R, 5 RBI
  • 1B Jonathan Singleton - 1/5, 2B, 2 K
  • DH (!) Che-Hsuan Lin - 0/3, K, HBP
  • LHP Wade LeBlanc - 3.1 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
  • RHP Jose Valdez - 0.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Eric Berger - 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Rhiner Cruz - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Philip Humber - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Hector Ambriz - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) - Day Off!

Corpus Christi: 9-9, 2nd (2.0 GB) - Texas League South

Lancaster Jethawks (A+) - Tyler Heineman showed George Springer what's up by belting two of his own home runs. No, seriously. I re-read the press release three times. Tyler Heineman hit two home runs. Tyler Heineman. Two of 'em. Right out of the park. That makes seven - seven! - on the year. Which is impossible. Also, less impossibly, Delino DeShields did what he's been known to do: Reached base via a walk in the ninth, took second on a pickoff error, stole third, and stole home as the High Desert Mavericks (SEA) were trying to intentionally walk M.P. Cokinos to load the bases. Which is rude, and defeats the purpose of intentionally walking a guy to load the bases. Which, come to think of it, may have been DeShields' plan all along. At any rate, it was an insurance run the Jethawks didn't need as they pulled it out, 7-5.

Lancaster: 15-5, 1st - California League South

  • 2B Delino DeShields - 0/2, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SB
  • SS Nolan Fontana - 1/2, R, 3 BB
  • CF Andrew Aplin - 0/5, 3 K
  • 1B M.P. Cokinos - 1/4, 2B, 2 RBI, K
  • C Tyler Heineman - 2/2, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB
  • RHP David Rollins - 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
  • RHP Jonas Dufek - 0.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER (3 R), 2 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Michael Dimock - 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Travis Ballew - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Quad Cities River Bandits (A) - Off day!

Quad Cities: 12-5, 2nd (0.5 GB) - Midwest League Western

Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) - Remember when we were all, "Man, the ValleyCats may never lose a game!"? Yeah. Well. Guess what? In the month of July, they've gone 3-6. Mark Appel took the mound for three strong innings and Tri-City pulled ahead 2-0 in the fourth, but the Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) pulled even with two of their own in the seventh. The game went into the tenth, but in the top of that frame, Aberdeen batted around with a six-run inning, bookended by two Jared Breen groundouts. Tri-City loses, 8-2.

Tri-City: 14-9, 1st - New York-Penn League Stedler
  • LF D'Andre Toney - 0/5, 2 K
  • DH Michael Martinez - 1/4, HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 K
  • SS Chan Moon - 1/2, BB, SB
  • RHP Mark Appel - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
  • LHP Evan Grills - 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Kevin Comer - 3.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
  • RHP Patrick Christensen - 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Greeneville Astros (Rk) - A seesaw battle with the Kingsport Mets (NYM) mixed some good with some bad. Chase McDonald, fresh off two home runs in two games, stayed hot with a multi-hit game while Bobby Borchering picked up his 12th hit in 10 games, raising his slash line to .364/.447/.667 over that stretch. Ultimately, though, the Mets picked up a win, walkoff style, with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth. Astros lose, 3-2.

Greeneville: 10-9, 3rd (2.5 GB) - Appalachian League West
  • CF Brett Phillips - 0/5, 3 K
  • 3B Darwin Rivera - 1/4, R, 2 K
  • DH Chase McDonald - 2/4, K
  • 1B Bobby Borchering - 1/2, RBI
  • LHP Chris Lee - 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
  • RHP Tyler Brunnemann - 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
  • RHP Gerardo Ramirez - 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Gonzalo Sanudo - 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
GCL Astros (Rk) - For the first time in the month of July, the GCL Astros played complete nine-inning games on consecutive days. With a flurry of rainouts and seven-inning makeup games peppering their schedule since June 29, you can almost forgive them for being a little rusty as they took on the GCL Braves (ATL) yesterday. They made the additional innings count, though, as they put up a run in the top of the eighth to tie the game at 4. Unfortunately, the Braves took advantage as well, putting up two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame to beat the Astros, 6-4.

GCL Astros: 8-6. 2nd (2.5 GB) - Gulf Coast League Northeast
  • CF Jason Martin - 2/4, RBI, K
  • C Brett Booth - 1/3, 2B, RBI, BB
  • RF Ydarqui Marte - 2/4, 2B, 2 R
  • LHP Ambiorix De Leon - 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
  • RHP Raul Rivera - 0.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Juan Santos - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Erick Gonzalez - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
DSL Astros (Rk) - Second verse, same as the first. Like their cohorts in the Gulf Coast League, the DSL Astros hadn't managed to complete two full-length games on consecutive days in the month of July, either. Until yesterday, when they squared off against the DSL Royals (KCR). They made it last, though, ultimately needing 11 innings before the Royals' Jose Torres doubled home Alberto Saez to give them a one-run lead, which they held through the bottom of the frame to win 3-2.

DSL Astros: 18-12, 3rd (2.0 GB) - Dominican Summer League Boca Chica Northwest
  • 3B Arturo Michelena - 2/4, 2B, RBI
  • SS Jean Estrella - 3/4
  • LHP Edwin Villaroel - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Gerardo Juarez - 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
  • RHP Yonquelys Martinez - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K