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Observations on the Oklahoma City Redhawks, 7/31/14

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A gorgeous Thursday night in Round Rock turned into a loss for the OKC Redhawks, but there were a lot of Astros prospects to talk about

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Around 3 p.m. CST on Thursday, I found myself refreshing Twitter every two minutes, sending texts in a group message I'm a part of with my fantasy baseball-playing friends, and feeling the excitement of getting back a few new players in the organization. A few hours later, I was driving up a traffic-packed I-35 toward Round Rock; since moving to Austin two years ago, it has been a tradition of mine to get a few friends together when the Redhawks come to town to see the Astros farmhands. Though the roster isn't as exciting with the graduation of George Springer and Jon Singleton, there were still a few intriguing players on the roster.

Alex White

The once highly-regarded righty started for OKC with pretty disastrous results. White gave up four earned runs in 1.2 innings of work, and drew a lot of hard contact from the Express hitters. You know what White's stat line looked like from the boxscore, but it wasn't pretty in person either. White sat 89-91 mph with his fastball and touched 92 a couple of times and showed a breaking ball that was pretty inconsistent. Brent Lillibridge scorched one of White's hanging breaking balls for a double into the LCF gap early in the game, one of the hardest hit balls of the night. I understand that White is still working his way back from an extended injury, so no one should be expecting him to dominate. But his stuff certainly didn't show up on Thursday.

Domingo Santana

This was my first time watching Domingo play in person; the guy is HUGE. He simply looks like a big leaguer. However, he has a lot of work to do in tuning up all that talent. Domingo hit two doubles to LCF in his first two at-bats; both were hard hit balls and well-earned extra base hits. What plagued Domingo in his first trip to Houston last month were his strikeouts, and those were on display last night as well. He has an incredibly long swing and didn't seem to shorten it up in his third AB of the game. He was fooled on two low breaking balls and still swung for the fences. I'm excited about Santana's MLB prospects, but I think he still needs some seasoning in AAA before he's ready to really contribute this season. He was called up two days ago, but with Springer and Fowler nearing a return he may only see limited time in the majors.

Ronny Torreyes

The most interesting development of the night was Torreyes playing center field for the Redhawks. (Also, he was announced as "Ronny" instead of "Ronald"). First, imagine Jose Altuve playing center...and that's exactly how Torreyes looked out there. I was skeptical about his arm at first, until he threw a guy out at the plate on a hit to center so maybe it's better than advertised, but still can't be much better than average. He has some speed but he's so short that he really has to hustle to get to balls in the gap. Luckily, the Astros promoted Andrew Aplin to OKC t, so the Redhawks now have a center fielder of some defensive value. I mentioned him our TCB e-mail thread a few nights ago, and lo and behold one of our awesome MILB writers recorded some slow-mo footage of Torreyes' swing. Look for that to drop on the site sometime today.

Preston Tucker

Tucker didn't do anything of note offensively, but he did something that took me off guard on the defensive end. Early in the game, Tucker nearly threw a runner out at home on a sac fly. The ball was hit to medium-deep left field, and from the vanilla reports on Tucker's defense I thought he had no chance to get him. Tucker heaved a throw home that arrived on one hop that just missed the sliding runner by about a half-step. It was a really good throw and one that I thought could definitely play at the MLB level.

Jio Mier

As I started talking about Mier's defensive exploits (which I'm a fan of) a friend of mine at the game stopped me in my tracks; there's no reason why I should get my hopes up about Mier becoming a big leaguer without a bat. However, I couldn't help but dream on a guy who can play both middle infield positions and third base, all with at least average ability. Mier played at the hot corner on Thursday, and looked really smooth in the field. His arm wasn't great there but he made the routine plays. If his bat could even improve a little bit, Mier could be a useful big leaguer with his defensive ability.

Carlos Perez

The catcher situation in OKC is really interesting; you have Max Stassi, who was promoted straight from Corpus last season but hasn't done much offensively this season. Then you have Carlos Perez, who's been a solid but unspectacular guy offensively. Who's first on the depth chart in case a major league catcher gets injured? Are any of these guys trade bait? Stassi and Perez didn't do anything worth mentioning with the bat, but Perez (playing catcher) showed off his arm on a stolen base attempt that almost got the Express runner. It was a really strong throw, and I'm glad I got to see it because that's the kind of stuff (along with Tucker's throw) that doesn't show up in a box score.

Joe Sclafani

The Dartmouth grad started last night at 2B. He didn't show a lot of range there, though he did have three hits (one was a weakly hit ball of the infield variety). I'm frankly not sure what to make of him, but he's hit pretty well so far through the minors with a .308 average in 2014 to go along with solid walk rates. He could also cameo in a bench role for MLB team someday if he keeps up hits ability to hit.

It was a pretty forgettable night for Oklahoma City, and one of almost converting a spectacular play on the defensive side into an out. The defense wasn't great and the pitching gave up a lot of hard contact, but it was a lot of fun to watch some of these guys in person. Minor league baseball is like a treasure chest from years of following many players of the game and it brings back many memories for lifetime baseball fans; Carlos Pena hit a home run off White (then struck out later, of course); Derek Holland, on a rehab assignment, popped his head out of the dugout a couple of times. Round Rock is one of the better environments to watch a baseball game at any level in the entire country; those of us in Central Texas are lucky to have that organization and I personally would be very excited if the Ryan family negotiates them back into an affiliation with the Astros in the near future. In the meantime, I'll take a few games against the Oklahoma City Redhawks every season for a chance to see the Astros farmhands.