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Houston Astros Minor League Recap: 4/29/14

The tandem rotation of Lance McCullers and Kyle Smith sets a club record in the desert as the Corpus Christi bullpen implodes. Meanwhile, Brandon Meredith continues to try to hit his way out of Lancaster, Joe Sclafani does a 2013 Nolan Fontana impersonation, and Gregorio Petit flashes some power.

Bob Levey

More Like LindPOWER, amirite? - Thomas Lindauer, the Astros' 2013 23rd-round pick out of the University of Illinois, wasted no time dominating in the Midwest League. Maybe it's the home cooking, but when the shortstop joined the Quad Cities River Bandits last week, he hit a double and a single in his debut, following that up by going 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI. For the week, he hit .346/.346/.654 over six games, going 9-for-26 with a pair of doubles, a pair of runs, 8 RBI, four runs, and three strikeouts, earning him Midwest League Player of the Week honors.

Lance, A Lot - Say what you want about the Astros' fifth-ranked prospect, Lance McCullers, the man is a true team player. In this writeup about his career-high ten-strikeout game last night (more on that later), he gave a pretty great quote to Josh Jackson:

"Now we're engraved in JetHawks history until somebody else from our pitching staff breaks [the record] this year."

I absolutely love every bit of this quote.

What Happened Was...

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA) vs. Round Rock Express (TEX-AAA)

Opposing Pitcher: Justin Germano (former San Diego Padre, Cincinnati Red, Cleveland Indian, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cub, and Toronto Blue Jay.)

After Robbie Grossman led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, Gregorio Petit hit a home run to put the RedHawks up 2-0. It would prove to be the only scoring in the entire game. In fact, only two more RedHawks would reach base - Ronny Torreyes on a single in the sixth and Max Stassi with a single in the seventh - as Germano was able to shut them down the rest of the way. But the Oklahoma City pitching, led by starter Mike Foltynewicz, was equal to the task. Folty walked four and struck out three, allowing just two hits and no runs through four innings of work, but at the piggyback limit of 75 pitches, he was pulled for Rhiner Cruz entering the fifth. Cruz would pitch two scoreless innings of his own, earning the win because pitcher wins are stupid. Chia-Jen Lo and Josh Zeid provided three perfect innings at the end to seal the RedHawks victory, 2-0.

Oklahoma City: 15-11, 2nd - Pacific Coast League American Northern (0.5 GB)

  • CF Robbie Grossman - 0/3, R, BB, K
  • 2B Ronny Torreyes - 1/3
  • SS Gregorio Petit - 1/3, HR, R, 2 RBI, K
  • LF Domingo Santana - 0/3, 2 K
  • DH Max Stassi - 1/3
  • RHP Michael Foltynewicz - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
  • RHP Rhiner Cruz - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
  • RHP Chia-Jen Lo - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Josh Zeid - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) @ Midland RockHounds (OAK-AA)

Opposing Pitcher: Andrew Werner (former San Diego Padre)

After giving up a run in the bottom of the first inning, Corpus Christi battled back in the second inning, exploding for seven runs of their own. Seven. Midland fought back in the bottom of the frame for a run of their own. Three more in the bottom of the sixth brought them within striking distance, but Corpus Christi added a run in the top of the ninth, entering the bottom of the final inning up 8-5. That's when Jorge De Leon took the mound. And that's also when things got ugly. De Leon led the inning off with a walk before getting Chad Oberacker to fly out to center field. That was the last out he'd get, as he allowed singles to the next two batters, followed by a double, two more walks, and finally a walk-off single as the Hooks lost, 9-8. Yes, they lost. After having a seven-run inning.

Corpus Christi: 14-11, 3rd - Texas League South (2.0 GB)

  • DH Chris Epps - 1/5, HR, R, 3 RBI, K
  • 2B Joe Sclafani - 0/2, 3 BB
  • CF Andrew Aplin - 2/5, 2B, R, RBI, 2 K, 2 E
  • 3B Matt Duffy - 2/4, 2B, R, RBI, 2 K, E
  • RF Preston Tucker - 1/3, R, BB, K, CS
  • LF Leo Heras - 0/3, R, BB
  • C Tyler Heineman - 1/3, 2B, R, 3 RBI, HBP
  • 1B MP Cokinos - 2/4, R
  • SS Jiovanni Mier - 1/3, R
  • RHP Matt Heidenreich - 4.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Jordan Jankowski - 1.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
  • RHP Travis Ballew - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Jorge De Leon - 0.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 K

Lancaster Jethawks (A+) vs. High Desert Mavericks (SEA-A+)

Opposing Pitcher: Scott DeCecco, 21st Round 2012

Of all the piggyback pairings, there's probably none I love more than Lance McCullers and Kyle Smith. With two wildly-divergent styles, it must give opposing hitters fits to make the adjustment when the pair switches off in the sixth inning. McCullers pitched a beauty in this one, striking out ten batters over five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk. When it was Smith's turn to come in, he recorded seven strikeouts of his own over 3.2 innings, without issuing a walk. All told, that makes seventeen strikeouts and just one walk. Very impressive. Meanwhile, the offense - still missing Carlos Correa - combined for twelve hits, including multi-hit games from Brandon Meredith, the red-hot Carlos Perdomo, and the previously not-at-all-hot Jake Rodriguez - to wrap up the win, 5-3, hanging on at the very end after High Desert mounted a rally and put up three runs in the final two frames.

Lancaster: 15-11, t-1st - California League South

  • 1B Brandon Meredith - 3/4, HR, 2 R, RBI
  • LF Dan Gulbransen - 1/4, 2B, R, RBI, 2 K
  • SS Carlos Perdomo - 2/3, R, RBI
  • C Jake Rodriguez - 2/4, R, RBI
  • RHP Lance McCullers, Jr. - 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, HBP
  • RHP Kyle Smith - 3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, WP
  • RHP Jamaine Cotton - 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Quad Cities River Bandits (A) vs. Clinton LumberKings (SEA-A)

Postponed: Wet Grounds

Quad Cities: 10-12, t-5th - Midwest League Western (6.5 GB)