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Houston Astros Minor League Recap: 8/8/13

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Four Astros minor leaguers - Rhiner Cruz, Brady Rodgers, Sebastian Kessay, and Jose Montero - get chased from their respective games without recording a single out. Suffice to say that there was trouble on the mound.


Utility No More

Since I posted my conversation with Joe Sclafani, and Matt Duffy's subsequent promotion, Sclafani seems to have become the de facto starter at third base on Rodney Linares' lineup card. I'm not claiming any credit for this, but it's nice to see him find a home on the diamond. Joe is as level-headed and as intelligent a player as his Dartmouth degree suggests, and it's good to see a grinder find a home.

Question Mark

And now, a few words from our ace-in-waiting. Jeff Johnson of the Cedar Rapids Gazette posted this interview with Mark Appel:'s PROSPECTive also had a few moments to ask Appel about his pitch counts.

"I guess I understand that there’s a bigger picture to everything. Right now, I might want to go out and pitch more, but the Astros have a plan for me for what’s expected from me this summer. I feel like this is a time for me to get acclimated with the Astros organization and really prepare for my first full season next year."

Staying on the subject of Appel, hop over to Perfect Game with me, to take a look at my favorite Mark Appel article of the bunch.

"I don’t see myself as the stigma or title of ‘first overall pick.’ I see myself as Mark Appel, the same guy I was when I was 10-years-old," Appel said. "I don’t want people, especially on my team, to see me as this really famous guy, just Mark."

But Mark hasn’t been ‘just Mark’ for a long time now. Not in the baseball world, at least. Perfect Game had Appel on the radar since he was discovered in 2007 at the National Underclass in Mesa, Ariz. and tagged a top prospect. The following summer he attended the National Showcase at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn., where he ran a sub-7 second 60-yard dash, threw a 92 mph fastball, and was given a perfect ’10.0’ as his PG Grade.

Sometimes, I Hate People

This is, quite possibly, the worst thing I've ever heard.


It's written from a fantasy perspective, but it's still notable that's Ashley Marshall took a look at Jonathan Singleton, even going so far as to predict that he might possibly start at first base in Houston this season.

Breaking Ground

KFOR-4, in Oklahoma City, recently aired a segment about Oklahoma City University softball players C/OF Kylee Rounsaville and P/OF Danielle Fox, who have spent their offseason becoming the first two female groundscrew members in the history of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

DeShields Are Up has an article on two Cal League youngsters: Oakland A's prospect Addison Russell, and Delino DeShields. They also have a blurb in the article, later on, about Matt "The Machine" Duffy's callup to the Texas League:

After Matt Duffy learned the Houston Astros promoted him from the Lancaster JetHawks to the Corpus Christi Hooks in the Double-A Texas League, he had a lot of joy and a lot of work to do. The team trainer gave him the itinerary, which called for a 7:55 a.m. flight from LAX to Houston and, after a 90-minute layover, a connection to Corpus Christi. "I was lucky because my grandparents and my uncle's family were finishing their 10-day vacation when I got called up," said Duffy, a native of Milton, Mass. "My family helped me pack, and they were able to take some of the cold-weather clothes back to Massachusetts." Duffy earned the advancement after hitting .323 with 19 home runs and 84 RBIs in 100 games.

The Legend of Max Stassi

KZTV-10 has a feature up about Corpus Christi Hooks catcher Max Stassi being named TOPPS Texas League Player of the Month for July.

Scouts are Saying Things About Astros

A few Houston Astros players made the Baseball Prospectus feature "What Scouts Are Saying" this week, namely Josh Hader and Lance McCullers, Jr.

Also featured - and not behind the pay wall - is former Astros Chris Johnson:

"He's not a great defender and he doesn't hit for a ton of power, but Chris Johnson battles through at-bats, squares up the ball, and hits line drives to all fields. He's not an impact 3B, but he may be a more impactful player than the guy the Braves gave up as the headliner in that deal—Martin Prado—and he may win the NL batting title."

On the two current Astros farmhands, for those of you without a BP subscription, I'll just say that one scout really likes McCullers, and another one (or maybe the same one) has nice things to say about Hader, as well as some question marks.

BP also does a rundown on the American League teams' first rounders. Again, it's behind the pay wall, but there really isn't anything there that most of you don't already know. Turns out, Appel pitched at Stanford and is kind of good.

North Correa

Steve Batterson has really been killing it all season on Quad Cities River Bandits coverage, and he's got another nice article about Carlos Correa's promotion to the three-spot in the QC lineup.

"He’s going to hit no matter where he is in the batting order,’’ River Bandits manager Omar Lopez said. "He’s one of those players who knows what he is doing at the plate, knows how to approach every at-bat. We’ve seen that all season from him.’’

A Leadoff Man is Born

Also from Steve Batterson is a great article on Teoscar Hernandez. Those of you who listen to the podcast know that Kevin Goldstein is really impressed by Hernandez, and for good reason. He may be one of those diamonds in the rough that this system - led by farm director Quentin McCracken - seem intent on finding and polishing. Stop by and read. Steve deserves the clicks.

"Putting him in the leadoff position here is giving him a chance to recognize pitches and develop his eyes as he hits and allows us to take advantage of his speed as he develops his base-running skills,’’ Lopez said. "He’s got the power and speed in his swing. It’s a matter of continuing to work at it.’’

What Happened Was...

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA) - Twelve-game homestand, twelve-game winning streak. One game into a road trip, and it's all erased. Asher Wojciechowski walked five and struck out six Las Vegas 51s (NYM) through 4.2 innings, Rhiner Cruz walked the only three batters, he faced, and Jason Stoffel gave up five earned runs in a single inning of work. Meanwhile, the offense struck out ten times, walked just twice, and failed to capitalize on eight hits, except for a three-run opposite-field blast by Brandon Laird. RedHawks fall, 12-3. Also - Tim Byrdak sighting. He walked the only batter he faced, Jon Singleton.

Oklahoma City: 68-51, 1st - Pacific Coast League American Southern

  • LF Trevor Crowe - 1/4, R, 2 K
  • LF Che-Hsuan Lin - 1/1, 2B
  • RF Jimmy Paredes - 0/5, R
  • CF George Springer - 0/4, 3 K, HBP
  • 3B Brandon Laird - 3/4, HR, R, 3 RBI
  • 2B Jose Martinez - 2/4
  • RHP Asher Wojciechowski - 4.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 6 K
  • RHP Rhiner Cruz - 0.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Eric Berger - 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
  • RHP Jason Stoffel - 1.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) - Nick Tropeano did not strike anyone out on one pitch. In fact, he didn't strike anyone out on any fewer than three pitches. In fact, he struggled out of the gate against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (KCR). Despite ten hits and five runs from his offense, including Domingo Santana's twentieth of the season and Matt Duffy's first since being called up to Corpus Christi, NiTro earned the loss after allowing the first five of NW Arkansas' twelve runs. After a hellish 5-run top of the eighth inning, the Hooks rallied to put up three of their own over the final two frames, but it was ultimately too little, too late, as they fell 12-5.

Corpus Christi: 28-19, 2nd - Texas League South

  • CF Drew Muren - 2/5, K
  • RF Preston Tucker - 2/5, 2B, 3 R, K
  • C Max Stassi - 3/4, 2B, 2 RBI
  • DH Domingo Santana - 1/4, HR, R, 2 RBI, 3 K
  • 3B Matt Duffy - 1/4, HR, R, RBI, K
  • 2B Raoul Torrez - 0/4, 4 K
  • RHP Nick Tropeano - 5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
  • LHP Alex Sogard - 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Theron Geith - 1.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Lancaster Jethawks (A+) - The Jethawks had the task of taking on the Modesto Nuts' (COL) Jonathan Gray, the #3 pick in the 2013 draft, and wouldn't you know it, they drew the first walk of his Cal League career. No, it wasn't Fontana. It was Chris Epps. After retiring the first seven batters he faced (though Carlos Perdomo reached on a passed ball,) he allowed a hit, a walk, and a reached-on-error on a sacrifice hit to start the third inning. Meanwhile, Brady Rodgers didn't fare so well. Rodgers allowed a single, a home run, and another single before exiting the game before recording a single out, but after taking a line drive off of his shin. The 3-0 deficit that Lancaster fell into in the third inning would prove to be too much to overcome as they fell, 6-2.

Lancaster: 29-18, 1st - California League South

  • SS Nolan Fontana - 0/4, BB, 3 K, SH
  • 3B Joe Sclafani - 1/3, 2B, BB
  • LF Brandon Meredith - 1/4, 2B, RBI, 2 K
  • DH Dan Gulbransen - 1/4, R, 2 K
  • RF Chris Epps - 0/3, BB, 3 K
  • RHP Brady Rodgers - 0.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Michael Dimock - 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Quad Cities River Bandits (A) - The Clinton LumberKings (SEA) drove an hour down U.S. Hwy 67 to Davenport and settled in for the beginning of their three-game set against Quad Cities, and it was a nailbiter. Only three River Bandits got hits in this one - Bobby Borchering and the red-hot Rio Ruiz each had two, and Brian Blasik had one. Of their five hits, though, three were doubles - including both of Ruiz's hits. Meanwhile, Vincent Velasquez was on his game, striking out seven over six inning. Zach Morton pitched two scoreless frames in relief after being promoted from Tri-City, where he had a 1.93 ERA over 32.2 innings - and a 4.46 GO/AO. Quad Cities pulls out the win in this one, 2-1.

Quad Cities: 28-17, t-1st - Midwest League Western

  • 1B Bobby Borchering - 2/4, 2B, R, RBI, K
  • 3B Rio Ruiz - 2/4, 2 2B, RBI, K
  • RHP Zach Morton - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Juan Minaya - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Tri-City ValleyCats (A-) - Andrew Thurman and Michael Feliz each struck out six Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) batters. Thurman did it in five innings; Feliz in four. Meanwhile, the ValleyCats offense exploded, with multi-hit games from six different players - Tyler White, Conrad Gregor, Ronnie Mitchell, Jack Mayfield, Jake Rodriguez, and Chan Moon. Six of the fourteen total hits were of the extra-base variety, with White and Mayfield picking up their first doubles of the year to go along with Rodriguez's fourth double of the year, and Gregor, Ramsay, and Moon all getting triples. ValleyCats win, 10-2.

Tri-City: 30-21, 1st - New York-Penn League Stedler
  • 3B Tyler White - 2/5, 2B, R, 2 RBI
  • 1B Conrad Gregor - 2/3, 3B, 2 RBI, BB, SF
  • RF Ronnie Mitchell - 2/4, 2 R, RBI
  • 2B Jack Mayfield - 2/4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, K
  • C Jake Rodriguez - 2/3, 2B, R, RBI, BB, K
  • SS Chan Moon - 2/4, 3B, R, 3 RBI
  • RHP Andrew Thurman - 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
  • RHP Michael Feliz - 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
Greeneville Astros (Rk) - The Bristol White Sox (CWS) put a three spot on Enderson Franco in the bottom of the first, but the Greeneville offense got all three runs back the following inning. A four-run fifth got erased in the bottom of the seventh, and Greeneville entered the ninth inning trailing by a run. Three singles and a hit batsman later, they'd tied it to send it into extra innings, where an Alex Powers error on a sacrifice bunt scored Angel Ibanez, and a Jeffry Santos error scored Cristian Moronta. Gonzalo Sanudo - the return on the Mike Kvasnicka trade - pitched a flawless ninth inning, with two strikeouts, to earn his tenth save of the season, 10-8.

Greeneville: 31-15, 1st - Appalachian League West
  • CF Tanner Mathis - 2/3, HR, R, RBI, BB, CS
  • LF Edwin Gomez - 2/5, RBI
  • DH Ricky Gringas - 2/5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, K
  • 1B Angel Ibanez - 4/5, 2B, 2 R, RBI, K
  • RF Wallace Gonzalez - 1/4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, 2 K
  • RHP Enderson Franco - 5.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
  • RHP Ryan Connolly - 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Sebastian Kessay - 0.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Raul Rivera - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
  • RHP Gonzalo Sanudo - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
GCL Astros (Rk) - A day after his ten-game on-base streak ended, Jason Martin started a new one, going 2/5 with a double, a triple, and 3 RBI. Did I mention he's still only seventeen? Meanwhile, between DMing everyone on Twitter about a new Women's Health diet, Jean Batista found time to belt two doubles, and Ydarqui Marte strung together three hits. Unfortunately, the offense wasn't all Astros, as the GCL Blue Jays (TOR) exploded for seventeen hits and thirteen runs of their own, including three off of three different Astros pitchers. Astros lose, 13-9. The good news? Kent Emanuel extended his career-beginning scoreless streak to four games.

GCL Astros: 20-21, 3rd (5.0 GB) - Gulf Coast League Northeast
  • CF Jason Martin - 2/5, 2B, 3B, R, 3 RBI
  • DH Jean Batista - 2/5, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI
  • 1B Yonathan Mejia - 1/3, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, K
  • RF Ydarqui Marte - 3/4, 2B, 2 R, BB
  • LHP Kent Emanuel - 2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Matthew Heidenreich - 1.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, BK
  • RHP Jose Montero - 0.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, HBP
  • RHP Erick Gonzalez - 2.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 WP
  • RHP Jorge Perez - 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, WP
  • RHP Javier Lozano - 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
DSL Astros (Rk) - Finishing up a rain-suspended game, the Astros took on the DSL Mariners (SEA). A pair of big innings from the Mariners , along with a grand total of zero extra-base hits by the Astros, was enough to down the Astros, 9-2. Here's a very DSL log of the Mariners' fifth inning:
  • Walk.
  • Steal 2nd base.
  • Walk.
  • Walk. Runner to 3rd. Runner to 2nd.
  • Walk. Runner scores. Runner to 3rd. Runner to 2nd.
  • Pitching Change.
  • Wild pitch, runner scores. Runner to 3rd. Runner to 2nd.
  • Walk.
  • Walk. Runner scores. Runner to 3rd. Runner to 2nd.
  • Pops out to catcher in foul territory.
  • Sacrifice double play, center fielder to shortstop to second baseman. Runner scores. Runner out at 3rd on the throw.
That's how you score four runs without a single hit... and it turns out that Mariners can walk off the island. Because they're Mariners.

DSL Astros: 30-27, 3rd (6.0 GB) - Dominican Summer League Boca Chica Northwest
  • SS Kristian Trompiz - 2/2, RBI
  • C Brian Pena - 2/3, PB
  • RF Jarico Reynoso - 2/3, R, K
  • LHP Geronimo Franzua - 2.1 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
  • RHP Juan Delis - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Carlos Vasquez - 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 2 WP