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MiLB Recap- July 13th, 2013

The legend of Chris Cotton grew and Asher Wojciechowski kept mowing down hitters in Saturday's minor league action

CJ Nitkowski once stated in his Twitter description "thank god for making me [left handed]"- a sentiment likely shared by Astros' 14th round pick Chris Cotton, who possesses a number of traits that could easily have prevented him from ever having a significant college career, let alone a professional one. A hurler who stands just 5'10" with a slight frame and just average athleticism, Cotton is not the type of player that typically draws interest from major college programs; and initially, he didn't. Cotton walked on at LSU throwing in just the mid-to-high 80s but impressed enough with his command and bevy of offspeed offerings to earn a spot on the club. From there he managed to work his way into the closer role, and as a senior he was arguably the most dominant closer in the country, posting a 1.16 ERA and stellar 47/3 K/BB ratio as a senior.

As nondescript as Cotton is physically, and though his fastball tops out around 88, the Astros liked him enough to spend a 14th round selection on him and immediately send him to Tri-City. So far, he's risen to the challenge and Saturday's start was his finest moment yet as a pro. 22 year old lefty fired five perfect innings while fanning five to lower his young ERA to 0.96, and brought his K/BB mark to 7/0. Cotton wins with his combination of elite command and plus changeup, which is by far his best pitch. He rarely throws his fastball over the plate and pitches within himself, understanding that he lacks the overpowering stuff to attack hitters. Instead, he dances around the plate and then drops in changeups with hard bite to draw some swings and misses, while also occasionally dropping in a big breaking ball to freeze hitters. Cotton isn't the kind of prospect who will ever grade out higher than C or C+. He'll never crack a top 100, and he may not draw any attention on the national scale until if and when he makes it to the big leagues, but he's already a favorite of mine, and I'm excited to watch his journey through the minor leagues.

With three of the Astros' top prospects prepping for the Futures Game in New York, there wasn't a lot going on in the minor leagues on Saturday. Robert Stephenson carved up the River Bandits and the Hooks fell in 11 innings, while Lancaster accumulated hits to post a 10 spot and beat Modesto. Outside of the stellar day from Cotton, the most impressive performance on the farm yesterday came from right handed pitching prospect Asher Wojciechowski, whose knocks on the door to the big leagues have been getting progressively louder. Wojo's breaking ball has shown a lot of improvement this season and he's proven up to the challenges that come with the jump to Triple-A. Last night the 24 year old fired six one-run innings while allowing just five hits and two walks while striking out three to bring his ERA down to 2.95, and one has to wonder how much longer it can reasonably be before he makes his big league debut.

Notable Lines

GCL Astros (Rk.)

Tyler White- 1 for 5, K

Jacob Nottingham- 2 for 5, K

Joe Bircher- 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 9 K

Brandon Culbreth- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 1 K

Kevin Ferguson- 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K

Greeneville Astros (Rk.)

Brett Phillips- 1 for 4, 3B, K

Chase McDonald- 0 for 3

Wallace Gonzalez- 0 for 3

Ariel Ovando- 1 for 3, K

Enderson Franco- 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K

Krishawn Holley- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (ERA now 0.66)

Gonzalo Sanudo- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

Tri-City ValleyCats (SS)

Tony Kemp- 2 for 4, K, CS

James Ramsay- 0 for 4

Conrad Gregor- 2 for 4

Chris Cotton- 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K

Kyle Westwood- 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 3 K (1 HRA)

Quad Cities River Bandits (A)

Rio Ruiz- 0 for 4, K

Dan Gulbransen- 3 for 4, 2B

Bobby Borchering- 0 for 3, BB, 2 K

Jordan Jankowski- 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K

Lancaster JetHawks (A+)

Nolan Fontana- 1 for 4, K

Andrew Aplin- 1 for 4, BB, K

MP Cokinos- 1 for 4, BB, K

Matt Duffy- 2 for 4, K

Brady Rogers- 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 6 K

Theron Geith- 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA)

Rene Garcia- 2 for 5, K

Jonathan Meyer- 2 for 5, HR, K

Max Stassi- 0 for 5

Domingo Santana- 3 for 5, K

Jiovanni Mier- 1 for 5

David Martinez- 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA)

Robbie Grossman- 0 for 4, K

Jimmy Paredes- 2 for 3, BB, SB

Jonathan Singleton- 0 for 3, BB, K

Carlos Perez- 1 for 3

Asher Wojciechowski- 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K

Josh Zeid- 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HRA