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Houston Astros Minor League Recap: 7/15/13

J.D. Osborne's Chin of Steel continues to dominate, Thomas Lindauer gets off the schneid, Alex Gonzalez steals all of the bases and everyone has to go home, as the Astros farm goes 4-3.

Scott Halleran

Ballew It By 'Em

When's the last time Travis Ballew caught an opening pitch thrown by a Sith lord? Why, I'm glad you asked! Turns out, it was Saturday night, and I have photographic evidence.


Unfortunately, catching that ball seems to have put some sort of Jedi curse on Ballew. Read below.

And also, because I really just can't get enough of it, here's Lancaster's giveaway from the night: KaBoom Bobble Jedi:


Double Trouble

Back in April, the Seattle Mariners' Nick Franklin and Andrew Carraway won the Pacific Coast League player and pitcher of the week, respectively. That's impressive. So impressive, in fact, that no two players from the same organization have done it since. Until now. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the July 14 PCL player and pitcher of the week: George Springer and Asher Wojciechowski of the Oklahoma City RedHawks.

That wasn't the end of the awards for Houston minor leaguers, though, as Tanner Bushue took home the pitcher of the week honors for the New York-Penn League after holding Mahoning Valley (CLE) to two hits over six innings. Congrats to all.

Appel is Very Grounded

Josh Jackson has a nice article on Mark Appel's Midwest League debut over at, which I recommend you check out. There was one quote in particular that got my attention:

"Whether the ball goes through the infield or not, that's the result I want," the California native said. "My goal is ground balls, and both hits were ground balls. If they were line drives, that's not what I was trying to accomplish and I'd have to make an adjustment for next time."

I really love everything about this quote. Here's some more goodness from Appel's start:

Fired up? Good. Now go read Exiled in St. Louis's recap of the game.

Small Sample Size Fever

It's way too early to draw any sort of inferences from this, but here's a look at the stats of two of my favorite draft prospects, who almost couldn't be any more different than one another:


What Happened Was...

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA) - All-Star Break

Oklahoma City: 51-46, 3rd (4.5 GB) - Pacific Coast League American Southern

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) - Preston Tucker has had a bit of a rough start to his Texas League career. Since being promoted, he's hitting just .188/.278/.391 -- but with a hit in yesterday's game, he's hit safely in 6 of his last 8 games, including two multi-hit games and three home runs. Unfortunately, thanks to a 1-for-7 night on July 10, he's hitting just .222/.263/.528 over that stretch. Two other guys who know about slow starts are his teammates, Max Stassi - who belted a home run - and Drew Muren, who preceded Tucker from Lancaster to Corpus Christi and snagged two hits, including a double, in Monday's game. Each had a rough beginning in Corpus Christi, but together they were responsible for much of the offense in this one. Stassi's home run put the Hooks up 1-0 on what would have been his team this season had he not been traded, the Midland RockHounds (OAK), who promptly tied things up in the bottom of the inning with a home run of their own. But a sacrifice fly by Stassi put the Hooks up again in the third, and Tucker's single brought home Muren. In the fifth inning, Muren singled, stole base, and scored on an errant throw from Stassi's replacement in Midland, David Freitas. Hooks win, 4-1.

Corpus Christi: 12-12, 2nd (3.5 GB) - Texas League South

  • SS Kike Hernandez - 0/4, 2 K
  • C Fernando Rodriguez Max Stassi - 1/3, HR, R, 2 RBI
  • LF Preston Tucker - 1/4, RBI
  • RF Domingo Santana - 1/4, K, SB
  • 2B Raoul Torrez - 1/3, R, 2 K
  • CF Drew Muren - 2/3, 2B, 2 R, SB
  • RHP Bobby Doran - 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Chia-Jen Lo - 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Pat Urckfitz - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Jorge De Leon - 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Lancaster Jethawks (A+) - The MP Cokinos show added a new chapter as Cokinos began the game in left field. It's not entirely unprecedented, as it's the third time he's played there this season, but Rodney Linares keeps finding interesting ways to get the hot bat into his lineup. With Telvin Nash getting a start at first base and going 2-for-4 with a home run and zero strikeouts, Cokinos moved to left, with Brandon Meredith in right field and Chris Epps in center. Cooler heads prevailed, as eventually Andrew Aplin was brought in to play center, Epps moved to right, Meredith to left, and Cokinos to first. But none of it mattered as the defending Cal League North champion Modesto Nuts (COL) were ready to play some ball. They got up 1-0 before the Jethawks ever even batted, with David Rollins putting together mixed results over six innings. But the Lancaster offense was strong, putting up seven runs of their own through the first five innings. That's when Rollins faltered, allowing two runs in the sixth. But with a 7-3 lead and two outs in the eighth inning, Travis Ballew came into the game and the effects of Darth Maul were seen firsthand. Ballew promptly allowed a runner on a wild pitch, but no matter. The guy would've scored anyway, as Will Swanner then took him deep on a two-run shot. Still clinging to a one-run lead in the ninth, defensive substitutions were made, but the night still got even worse for Ballew, as the first five batters of the inning reached on a HBP, a double, and three singles. Michael Dimock didn't have much better luck as the Nuts batted around in the ninth and put up a six spot to beat the Jethawks, 12-7.

Lancaster: 17-9, 1st - California League South

  • 2B Delino DeShields - 0/4, R, BB
  • RF/LF Brandon Meredith - 2/4, 2B, R, BB, K
  • SS Nolan Fontana - 0/3, R, 2 BB, K, SB
  • LF/1B MP Cokinos - 1/4, HR, R, 3 RBI
  • CF/RF Chris Epps - 2/4, 2 R
  • 1B Telvin Nash - 2/4, HR, R, 2 RBI
  • RHP Brandon Lyon David Rollins - 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
  • RHP Jonas Dufek - 1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Travis Ballew - 0.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Michael Dimock - 1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
Quad Cities River Bandits (A) - The River Bandits got on the board in the fourth inning as Rio Ruiz drove in a run on a double play. The run would prove to be enough... until the eighth inning, when Juan Minaya ran into trouble, allowing five runs (three earned) as the Dayton Dragons pulled out the victory, 5-1.
  • CF Jordan Scott - 0/3, 2 K
  • LF Jesse Wierzbicki - 2/3, 2B, R, BB
  • 3B Rio Ruiz - 2/4
  • LHP Colton Cain - 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HBP
  • RHP Juan Minaya - 0.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Juri Perez - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
    Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) - Thomas Lindauer got on the board with his first professional home run - immediately after teammate Jon Kemmer hit his second professional home run, a two-run shot - to put Tri-City up 3-0 on the Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) in the second inning. But Batavia battled back, putting up a three-spot of their own in the fourth and adding a run in the fifth to move ahead, 4-3. From there, though, it was all Tri-City, as an Ernesto Genoves double brought home three more runs in the seventh. In the ninth, Genoves singled home another run after James Ramsay brought in Chan Moon. Tri-City completes the sweep and extends their winning streak to 6 by topping the Muckdogs, 8-4.

    Tri-City: 20-9, 1st - New York-Penn League Stedler
    • 2B Tony Kemp - 2/4, R, BB, CS
    • CF James Ramsay - 2/4, R, RBI, HBP, SB
    • DH Michael Martinez - 1/3, R, 2 K, 2 HBP
    • C Ernesto Genoves - 3/5, 2B, 4 RBI
    • LF Jon Kemmer - 1/3, HR, R, 2 RBI, HBP
    • SS Thomas Lindauer - 1/2, HR, R, RBI, K
    • SS Chan Moon - 1/2, R, SB
    • RHP JA Happ Kevin Comer - 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
    • RHP Fernando Martinez Charles Basford - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, WP
    • LHP Evan Grills - 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
    Greeneville Astros (Rk) - They said it couldn't be done. That the mighty Greeneville Astros were nothing. That they were worthless. That they were unfit to scrape the gum off the shoes of the Astros minor league system. They said the Minnesota Twins farm system was the superior machine. They said a lot of things, my friends, but that was before. Before the Astros swept the Elizabethton Twins (MIN) to extend their winning streak to five games and claim sole possession of the top position in the Appalachian League West standings. There were no Twins equal to the task of taming Tyler White, recently promoted after slashing .365/.474/.556 in the Gulf Coast League and not letting up in his first Appy League start. Neither did any single Twin solve the puzzle of J.D. Osborne and his chin, who pitched two scoreless innings to extend his streak to 14 shutout innings to begin his career. Despite no extra base hits, the Astros pulled this one out, 3-1.

    Greeneville: 15-10, 1st - Appalachian League West
    • 1B Tyler White - 3/4, RBI, BB, SB
    • 2B Juan Santana - 1/2, 2 R, 2 BB
    • RHP Jandel Gustave - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
    • RHP Gerardo Ramirez - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
    • LHP J.D. Osborne - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
    • RHP Mike Kvasnicka Gonzalo Sanudo - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
    GCL Astros (Rk) - Alex Gonzalez is not a nice man, and if you don't believe me, ask Daniel Arribas and Cesilio Pimentel, the catcher and pitcher from the GCL Pirates (PIT) from whom he stole three bases in yesterday's game. It wasn't even your standard "Hey, I'm going to go out and steal three bases" kind of a day. See, in the very first inning, with Jason Martin already on base, Arribas allowed a passed ball, which got Martin to second. Then Alex Gonzalez struck out. Except it was a wild pitch, and the man ran to first and was safe. To paraphrase Dante Hicks, he wasn't even supposed to be there today. He advanced to second on a Jacob Nottingham single, stole third, and scored on a Luis Reynoso groundout. But he wasn't done. In the top of the third, Gonzalez singled, stole second, and stole third again before scoring on a Brett Booth triple. Meanwhile, Troy Scribner was striking out six over three scoreless innings, Jose Solano was hitting a home run, and Yonathan Mejia was continuing to rake the ball. Add it all up, and you end up with a 9-4 Astros victory.

    GCL Astros: 11-8, 2nd (1.5 GB) - Gulf Coast League Northwest
    • CF Jason Martin - 1/5, R, 2 K
    • 3B Alex Gonzalez - 2/5, 2 R, 2 K, 3 SB
    • C Jacob Nottingham - 1/3, 3 R, RBI, 2 BB, K, SB
    • 1B Yonathan Mejia - 2/5, R, K
    • DH Brett Booth - 2/3, 3B, 4 RBI, HBP
    • 2B Jose Solano - 2/5, HR, R, 3 RBI
    • LHP Ambiorix De Leon - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
    • RHP Evan Scribner - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
    • RHP Raul Rivera - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
    • RHP Jorge Perez - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
    DSL Astros (Rk) - The DSL Rays (TBR) knocked the Astros pitchers for 12 hits in this one, which is mostly remarkable because none of them were scored as errors. Meanwhile, the Astros offense struggled until the eighth inning. Down 4-0, they rallied. With two singles to start the inning, Luis Payano drew a walk to load the bases. A Jean Estrella sacrifice fly scored one, followed by an Arturo Michelena triple. With the tying run at third and just one out, though, Hector Roa and Randy Cesar were unable to score Michelena. The Rays put up two more runs in the bottom of the frame to pull off the victory, 6-3.

    DSL Astros: 19-15, 3rd (3.5 GB) - Dominican Summer League Boca Chica Northwest
    • 3B Arturo Michelena - 1/4, 3B, 2 RBI
    • C Marlon Avea - 0/2, 2 RBI
    • DH Alexander Melendez - 2/4, R, K
    • RF Jarico Reynoso - 1/3, R
    • LHP Edwin Villarroel - 1.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
    • RHP Gerardo Juarez - 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, HBP
    • RHP Rauldison Rodriguez - 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
    • RHP Yonquelys Martinez - 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, WP