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Houston Astros Minor League Recap: 7/18/13

Austin Nicely throws a nice pro debut, but that's not the only nice pitching performance, as Jordan Mills, Thomas Shirley, and Andrew Thurman all have good outings.


Broccoli Missed the Cut

Over at, they're holding a contest to determine the best minor league mascots.

Cooper, Rusty, KaBoom, Rascal, South Paw, and Tennessee Tess are all there in their respective divisions, but I also want to give a shout out to Celery, the mascot of the Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons have taken their name more in the direction of Buffalo wings, with bleu cheese and celery "co-mascots," and Celery is the perennial loser of their nightly Chicken Wing race.

Houston Astros fans certainly like to root for the underdog, so consider casting your International League vote for Celery.

Catch It

Chris Blake wrote a nice article at about Hooks catchers Rene Garcia and Max Stassi that you should check out.

My Oh Mier

For Corpus Christi Caller subscribers, this article takes a look at 2009 first-rounder Jio Mier. The author, Joel Roza, paints a pretty bleak picture, summed up in this quote:

At a time when the field is wide open for a guy like Mier, he is still failing to capitalize on what may very well be his final opportunity in the Astros organization. That certainly doesn’t mean that he can’t eventually polish his game up and reach Triple-A or even the Majors, but after four seasons and thus far in his fifth, with Villar banging on the door and Correa established as the future at short in Houston, Mier’s time with the Astros may be coming to a close soon.

Roza certainly isn't the only one down on Mier, but TCB writer CRPerry13 has a valid rebuttal:

He's 22 years old (young for the league), plays good defense, and has peripheral stats that translate to the majors (high walk rate, low strikeout rate). He has an okay contact rate 76%. His BABIP is a minscule .258, so far below his career rate that it indicates terrible luck. He's also still adjusting to a new level.

Even if Mier turns into a decent defensive replacement and spot starter and no better, he still will have beaten the odds.

He goes on to say:
I'd like to point out, the majors are rife with guys who don't get it put together until their mid twenties. It was no secret that Mier was incredibly raw (read: inept) with the bat when he was drafted. I'd say, given that, we should be applauding him for holding a 10%+ BB rate and a sub-20% strikeout rate through all levels of the minors. It shows adjustment, and that he's not overmatched by advanced pitching. If I were a betting guy, I'd say Mier will probably have a good career, with the ceiling of a starter on a 2nd-division team.

Marco... Polo!

Any of you who've listened to Marco LaNave call River Bandits games might be interested in this article from QC Online. One quote stood out to me:

"I noticed, listening to some of the broadcasts I did last year, that the broadcast was suffering a little bit at the end of the day, I was stumbling over things, and I had to realize that just like the players, I had to be physically ready and mentally ready for the broadcast."

The grind of a professional baseball season is very real. We feel it as fans, bloggers, and broadcasters. Players certainly feel it. While they - or even we - can go into a bit of a slump and have our "teammates" pick up up, a broadcaster is out there all alone. We've been spoiled by voices like Jason Schwartz in Lancaster, but this is a reminder that the minor leagues are the minor leagues for just about everyone, from the players to the umps to the broadcasters.

Hitting His Mark

Another nice Mark Appel article on, this one by Curt Rallo. This quote on his innings limit is a particularly nice one:

"It's a little contrary to my nature," Appel said. "I've always wanted to keep on going, but I understand that my goal isn't to have a great Minor League season this year. Obviously, I want to, but my goal is to be a Major League pitcher for a very long time. There are some sacrifices that you're going to have to make in order to achieve that goal.

"Throwing 106 innings in college… I don't think the Astros want me to come out here and throw another 100 innings. It doesn't make sense. I'm using this time to work on some things that I needed to work on on the field but also to acclimate myself to the Astros organization, how it's run, to learning how to pitch every fifth day, to really understanding the differences between college baseball and professional baseball."

What Happened Was...

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA) - Postponed - Rain

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) - Postponed - Wet Grounds

Lancaster Jethawks (A+) - Thomas Shirley pitched well, becoming the first Jethawks starter to go seven full innings and hit a triple-digit pitch count, all while giving up just one run. By the time the Inland Empire 66ers (LAA) put up that run - in the fifth inning - the Jethawks had already built a four-run lead on 66ers starter Tommy Hanson (yes, that Tommy Hanson) and reliever Jairo Diaz. Only one Lancaster starter - Tyler Heineman - didn't collect a hit as Lancaster strolled to a 6-3 victory.

Lancaster: 19-9, 1st - California League South

  • 2B Delino DeShields - 1/4, 2 RBI, 2 K, SB
  • SS Nolan Fontana - 1/2, 2 R, 3 BB, K
  • CF Andrew Aplin - 2/5, 2B, R, 2 RBI, K, SB
  • LF/1B MP Cokinos - 2/5, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K
  • 1B Telvin Nash - 1/3, BB, 2 K
  • DH Joe Sclafani - 1/4, 2B, R
  • LHP Thomas Shirley - 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
  • RHP Jonas Dufek - 1.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Travis Ballew - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Quad Cities River Bandits (A) - Carlos Correa scored Teoscar Hernandez with a single in the first inning to put the River Bandits up 1-0 against the Ft. Wayne TinCaps (SDP), but in the bottom of the frame, the TinCaps tied things up. Bobby Borchering homered to lead off the second, but it was all TinCaps from there, as Max Fried shut down the offense and Vincent Velasquez struggled. River Bandits lose, 8-3.

Quad Cities: 14-11, 3rd (3.5 GB) - Midwest League Western

  • SS Carlos Correa - 2/4, 2B, 2 RBI
  • 1B Bobby Borchering - 1/4, HR, R, RBI, K
  • DH Luis Alvarez - 0/4, 3 K
  • 3B Brian Blasik - 0/2, 2 BB
  • RHP Vincent Velasquez - 5.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, WP, 2 HBP
  • RHP Gerardo Sanchez - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Jamaine Cotton - 1.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) - Through his first five professional starts, Andrew Thurman struck out eleven batters over thirteen innings, walking just three. Things were working for him in this one, where he struck out six over five innings and allowed just one run (on a home run), with six hits and a walk. The offense was clicking behind him, as well, blowing the game open with a four-run second inning, which began with a Jake Rodriguez double and back-to-back triples by Tony Kemp and D'Andre Toney. Tri-City wins this one, 9-3, over the Auburn Doubledays (WSN).

Tri-City: 21-10, 1st - New York-Penn League Stedler

  • 2B Tony Kemp - 1/4, 3B, R, RBI, BB
  • RF D'Andre Toney - 3/5, 3B, 3 R, RBI, SB
  • 1B Conrad Gregor - 2/4, RBI, 2 K, CS
  • DH Michael Martinez - 2/4, 2B, RBI
  • 3B Ryan Dineen - 3/5, 2 R
  • C Jake Rodriguez - 3/4, 2 2B, R
  • CF James Ramsay - 2/4, R, RBI
  • SS Thomas Lindauer - 1/4, 2B, R, RBI, E
  • RHP Andrew Thurman - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
  • RHP Michael Feliz - 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
  • RHP Andrew Walter - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Greeneville Astros (Rk) - The Princeton Rays (TBR) haven't been very good this year. It's still early, but 25 games into the season, they still haven't hit double-digit wins. The Greeneville Astros, on the other hand, are the surprise of the Houston farm system. Game 1 of the doubleheader was a perfect example of why. Four Astros hitters - Chase McDonald, Ricky Gringas, Edwin Gomez, and Angel Ibanez - had multi-hit games, including a home run from Gringas. Together, Gringas and McDonald put together an incredible 7 RBI. Meanwhile, Edison Frias was lights out, with 5 innings of scoreless ball in the start, allowing just two hits and walking just one. Ryan Connolly was just as good in relief, with no hits and a single walk over the final two innings as the Astros win, 10-0.

  • CF Marc Wik - 0/1, R, 3 BB
  • C Brian Holberton - 0/1, 2 R, 2 BB, HBP
  • LF Edwin Gomez - 2/3, 2B, 2 R, BB
  • 1B Chase McDonald - 2/4, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
  • DH Ricky Gringas - 2/3, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB
  • RF Wallace Gonzalez - 0/4, 2 K
  • 3B Angel Ibanez - 2/4, 2B, K
  • RHP Edison Frias - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, WP
  • RHP Ryan Connolly - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Jordan Mills, the 28th-round pick left-hander out of St. Mary's College, took the mound for his third start in Game Two of the doubleheader. The Princeton Rays (TBR) couldn't touch him - over four innings, he struck out five and didn't allow a single baserunner. Through his first twenty innings, Mills has an ERA of 0.90, a WHIP of 0.95, a 9.45 K/9, and a 4.57 GO/AO, and hitters are just .194 against him. Though he didn't last long enough to get a decision, Krishawn Holley would earn that honor after pitching two scoreless innings of his own as the Astros win to sweep the doubleheader, 4-0.

Greeneville: 17-10, 1st - Appalachian League West
  • LF Tanner Mathis - 0/1, 2 R, 2 BB
  • CF Brett Phillips - 1/1, 2 RBI, BB, SB
  • SS Jack Mayfield - 1/1, R, BB
  • LHP Jordan Mills - 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
  • RHP Krishawn Holley - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Raul Rivera - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
GCL Astros (Rk) - Austin Nicely, the Astros' 10th-round pick, made his professional debut in this one, going two innings without allowing any hits or runs, and walking a single batter. Once he'd left the game, though, things didn't go quite so well, with the GCL Phillies (PHI) dropping a 6-spot on the Astros in the third inning, all on Reymin Guduan, including two home runs. I think it's safe to say Guduan had a Baduan in thisuan. They'd put up four more runs through the next two innings, and took a 10-2 lead into the ninth inning, where they scored another four runs on a Wilmer Oberto grand slam. Astros lose, 14-2.

GCL Astros: 12-11, 2nd (2.5 GB) - Gulf Coast League Northeast
  • CF Jason Martin - 1/3, BB
  • 1B Yonathan Mejia - 2/4, 2 2B, R
  • DH Brett Booth - 2/4, HR, R, 2 RBI, K
  • RF Ydarqui Marte - 1/4, 2B
  • LHP Austin Nicely - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Reymin Guduan - 0.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, WP
  • RHP Brandon Culbreth - 1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
  • RHP Jorge Perez - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, WP
  • RHP Samil De Los Santos - 3.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
DSL Astros (Rk) - The Astros split the twinbill with the DSL Athletics (OAK), as they won the first game 6-4 and lost the second, 3-1.

Game 1
  • 1B Hector Roa - 2/5, 3B, 2 R, RBI
  • 3B Randy Cesar - 2/4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, K
  • C Brian Pena - 2/4, K
  • DH Dariel Aquino - 2/4, R, RBI, SB
  • RHP Juan Hernandez - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, WP
  • LHP Junior Garcia - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Juan Delis - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, WP
  • RHP Victor Mesa - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, HBP
Game 2
  • CF Luis Payano - 1/3, 2B
  • 2B Jean Estrella - 0/1, R, 2 BB
  • 3B Arturo Michelena - 2/3, 2B, RBI
  • RHP Elieser Hernandez - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
  • LHP Javier Saucedo - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HBP
  • RHP Yonquelys Martinez - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K