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Astros Prospect Report: JetHawks go off again, RiverBandits keep on truckin'

Your daily look at the previous night's Minor League happenings.

Brett Phillips around the batting cages
Brett Phillips around the batting cages
Timothy De Block

AAA Fresno Grizzlies: 17-4 loss to Las Vegas (NYM)

-> Preston Tucker: 1-for-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
-> Nolan Fontana: 1-for-3, BB, R
-> Domingo Santana: 1-for-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
-> Max Stassi: 1-for-4
-> Andrew Aplin: 0-for-2, 2 BB
-> Jon Singleton: 0-for-3, BB

SP Luis Cruz: 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 2 K (loss)
RP Gonzalo Sanudo: 2.0 IP, 6 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 4 K
RP Darin Downs: 1.0 IP, 4 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 0 K
RP Jordan Jankowski: 1.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 K

Ouch. It wasn't so bad outside of that, you know, ten run seventh inning. Obligatory "Las Vegas is in the desert!" mention time.

Still, there were only two homers given up by Fresno pitching, accounting for five of the 17 runs. Five walks allowed as well. Can't all be blamed on the environment. Cruz's first start was merely decent, but this was ugly. Remember that he's on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5, and the crunch cost us Delino DeShields this year. If Cruz doesn't show something this year, it's unlikely he gets that same protection next go around.

Thank you, Preston Tucker, for giving me a silver lining to talk about. That's four bombs in nine games. Remember the end of 2013? Tucker made it to AA for the first time, and while not bad, wasn't special. Then last year he started off the year with a .261 ISO in AA and they jumped him to AAA where he was, again, certainly not bad, but not special, either. Now he's started this season off with a little homer binge. His ISO in nine games is a mere .722. Seven. Twenty. Two. And he's walking. And not striking out much. Must be getting miffed at how his yet-to-be-drafted kid brother is already getting more prospect media love than he is.

The early results for Fontana are also quite encouraging. He's off to a .310/.459/.517 start, with one each of doubles, triples and homers. He's 0-for-2 in steal attempts though, that's something he's always been puzzlingly-poor at. Not that he's a burner, but I figured he could probably turn into a 15-for-20 guy as a season total, and it's just never materialized. Oh well. If he keeps hitting well enough to post an OBP anywhere near that mark, it won't matter to anyone.

Bomb #2 on the year for Santana. He's still striking out a lot (13 in nine games), though walks and homers continue to help him maintain a solid OPS (.851). Singleton is hitting .270/.386/.541 through nine games so far. Six XBHs and a reasonable nine strike outs.

AA Corpus Christi Hooks: 2-1 loss to Springfield (STL)

-> Jiovanni Mier: 3-for-5
-> Conrad Gregor: 1-for-3, BB
-> Teoscar Hernandez: 1-for-4, R
-> Colin Moran: 1-for-4, RBI
-> Leonardo Heras: 1-for-4
-> Roberto Pena: 0-for-2, BB
-> Carlos Correa: 0-for-4, BB

SP Chris Devenski: 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K
RP Josh Hader: 3.0 IP, 2 R (0 ER), 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K (blown save, loss)
RP Tyson Perez: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 2 K

Wowzers! A big night for Mier. Could he be turning the corner? Could we finally get something out of him!?

Keep reading...

Yes, as you may noticed, the pitching staff gave up no earned runs. Both of them, surrendered by Hader in the eighth inning, came with two outs and the bases empty. A Tulsa player doubled, and then scored on the next play thanks to a Mier error. The very next play? The go-ahead run scores on a second-straight Mier error. Oh Jiovanni...

And that was it all day. Brutal loss, too, since the only run Corpus scored came in the first. So they led 1-0 from the first inning until the eighth, when they lost the lead on two errors. Brutal.

Some solace to be taken in those pitching outings, though. Devenski hasn't allowed a run through his first two outings now, and has walked just one batter while getting six outs on strikes and nine ont he ground in nine innings.

And Hader deserved better, of course. His first outing, with four walk and two runs in three innings, was highly mediocre. This was much better. Though his command is still wobbly, he's allowed just four hits in the six innings he's worked.

On the offense side, Moran has a hit in three straight games now. He's struggled initially out of the gate, but he had a walk and four hits in his last three, and he's gone hitless in just two of his nine games this year.

This is only Correa's second game to not get a hit, but thanks to the walk, he's reached base at least once via hit or walk in eight of his nine games.

A+ Lancaster JetHawks: 11-4 win over High Desert (TEX)

-> Brett Phillips: 4-for-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
-> J.D. Davis: 4-for-6, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R
-> Danry Vasquez: 3-for-6, 2 2B, 2 R
-> Jack Mayfield: 2-for-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI
-> Chase McDonald: 2-for-5, R
-> Brian Holberton: 1-for-4, BB, 2B, RBI, R
-> Ronnie Mitchell: 1-for-4, RBI
-> A.J. Reed: 1-for-5, BB, R
-> Marc Wik: 1-for-6, RBI, R

SP Adrian Houser: 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 8 K
RP Ambiorix De Leon: 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 5 BB, 0 K (win)
RP Chris Cotton: 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 7 K (save)

Kablam. The JetHawks have smashed High Desert in this series so far, winning the first three of four by a combined score of 31-15. Final game tomorrow afternoon.

The Mavericks have been getting pounded by THE Maverick. Phillips has three straight multi-hit games, with nine hits in this set with High Desert so far. Tonight was his first dinger of the season. Five game hitting streak.

Davis' hitting streak is seven games now, during which time he has 14 hits. He's also limited himself to a reasonable eight whiffs in his nine games. Most of us had him ranked a bit lower than Reed heading into this season, but this is a nice start for him.

Meanwhile, Reed has really scuffled out of the gate. Four strike outs tonight, despite reaching base twice, for 13 total punch outs on the season. He's been a walk machine, though, and has two homers in this series, so it's not all bad. It's really noticeable that he's hitting under .200 in the cleanup spot while surrounded by four other guys hitting over .320, though. Hopefully he cranks things up soon. Remember that he's less than a year away from splitting his time between hitting and pitching, so a few bumps along the road wouldn't be shocking.

McDonald, like Davis, is on a seven game hitting streak. He has seven extra-base hits already, with an OPS well over 1.000. And I'd be remiss not to mention Vasquez, a guy with some tools who just hasn't put enough together to get some real love. Well, he's hitting .323/.417/.484 in eight games so far. He's walked five times and struck out just four during that run.

The California League is being a bit rough in it's welcoming of Houser. The eight strike outs are huge though, since he's been more of a ground ball machine than a strike out artist so far in his career. I should point out that High Desert is an even worse environment for pitchers than Lancaster is, right up there with Albuquerque as one of the worst probably on the planet. Of course, that applies for our hitters, too.

Chris Perry probably isn't our only LSU fan out there, right? You guy's boy Chris Cotton is looking good out of the pen so far. In his 7.1 innings of work this year, he owns a 2.45 ERA and a 14.0 K/BB ratio. Yes, 14 strike outs and just one walk in 7.1.

A- Quad Cities River Bandits: 2-1 win over Kane County (ARZ)

-> Jamie Ritchie: 2-for-2, 2 BB
-> Thomas Lindauer: 1-for-2, BB
-> Kristian Trompiz: 1-for-3, solo HR
-> Ryan Bottger: 1-for-3, BB, 2B
-> Sean McMullen: 1-for-4, 2B, SB, R
-> Derek Fisher: 1-for-4
-> Jacob Nottingham: 0-for-4, RBI

SP Joshua James: 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 K
RP Keegan Yuhl: 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K (win)
RP Jose Montero: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 K (save)

In this week's minor league discussion, Corpus won a landslide vote victory in the poll about which team people are most excited for. Clearly QC doesn't have their star power, and Lancaster's offense is flash, and Fresno has some big, nearly-MLB-ready names on it. But QC is 8-2 so far, are leading the 16-team Midwest League in team OPS, and the pitching staff is fourth in ERA and second in WHIP.

A good contributor to that pitching staff so far has been Joshua James. Who? Yeah, our 34th-round pick from last year and about as unheralded as you can get. He had a very nice debut with Greeneville last year though (2.66 FIP, 3.4 BB/9, 10.2 K/9) and he's carried that right into full season ball so far. Brooks noted some command issues he had in college, so the walk rate will be something to watch; he's allowed four free passes in nine innings so far this year.

With the Astros' very next pick, they nabbed Keegan Yuhl. He has a five pitch arsenal and also had a solid debut last year, tearing up the Appy League before getting some time in with QC (14.2 innings, to be exact, during which he posted a 3.01 FIP). He's listed at six feet tall even, and 220 pounds, so not the standard, ideal pitcher's body. Could be a reason he was available so late. That's not to say he's a big-time sleeper, but he's done nothing but succeed so far. We'll see.

Ritchie appears to be a first baseman now, which kind of hurts since I liked his bat potential a lot as a catcher. That said, he's hitting .400/.571/.440 in eight games so far. Of course, small sample size and even if it wasn't, no one is projecting him to do that. But Conrad Gregor is still a solid prospect, and could Ritchie another version of him?

Helping me feel better about Ritchie not being a catcher anymore is Nottingham's start. I full expect him to struggle at some point or points, but things are going smoothly right now. He's hitting .250/.344/.571 with five XBHs already. Just six strike outs, too.

Seven game hitting streak underway for The Shark. Fisher has failed to get a hit in just one of his first ten games this year. He's hitting .316/.395/.605 so far, with a pair of doubles and three bombs. What a steal he could turn out to be.

Today's Scheduled Starters

AAA: Brady Rodgers vs. Rafael Montero
AA: Lance McCullers vs. Matt Shelton
A+: Blaine Sims vs. TBD
A-: Brock Dykxhoorn vs. Brent Jones