clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2017 Buies Creek Astros Season In Review

New, 1 comment

Taking a look back on the inaugural season of Houston’s new Carolina League affiliate

MLB: All Star Game-Futures Game
Kyle Tucker launched himself to national renown thanks to his performance with Buies Creek
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a solid start to the month in April and a great July. Buies Creek struggled with mediocrity for most of the season, and was unable to secure a playoff spot in either half of the year. Notably, after winning 20 games in July, they faded down the stretch in August, losing 18 of their final 26 games, and ultimately finished just half a game out of a playoff spot.

Pitching

The pitching held up their end, posting the league's second-best ERA at 3.56, as well as the second-best WHIP at 1.22.

10 players through the year made at least seven starts and compiled at least 50 innings as members of the rotation, and six of those players (Yoanys Quiala, Framber Valdez, Franklin Perez, Elieser Hernandez, Hector Perez, and Jorge Alcala) posted ERAs below 4.00.

Starter of the Year: Hector Perez

Posted a 3.63 ERA in 89.1 innings, second-most on the team. He struck out 104 batters (10.5 K/9), 15th most in the league. He was the only pitcher in the league to strike out at least 100 while pitching in less than 100 innings.

Runners up: Jorge Alcala (3.45 ERA, 78.1 IP), Framber Valdez (2.79 ERA, 61.1 IP)

In the bullpen, a trio of relievers (Nick Hernandez, Sean Stutzman, and Kevin Hill) posted ERAs under 2.00 during 30 or more innings each. Carlos Sierra contributed 48 innings out of the pen with a strong 3.00 during his trips to the mound. Sebastian Kessay was a key piece as well; he spent the entire season with the club and posted 50.1 solid innings (3.58 ERA) of relief, the most of any pitcher who didn't make at least seven starts.

Reliever of the Year: Kevin Hill

While Kessay had him in innings, the 25th round selection from the 2016 draft was simply far more dominant. In 34.1 innings with the club, he posted a sparkling 1.05 ERA while striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings and walking just 2.1 per nine.

Runners up: Sean Stutzman (1.10 ERA, 32.2 IP), Nick Hernandez (1.59 ERA, 34.0 IP)

Batting

The offense wasn't as hot at the pitching this year; as a team, Buies Creek plated 585 runs, just the sixth-most in their 10-team league. Unlike the Big League Astros, this group of baby 'Stros hit just 86 long balls, second-to-last in the league. During their collapse that occurred in the final 26 games, the offense averaged just 3.2 runs per game. Drawing walks was a silver lining; they took 531 free passes, the best total of the 10 teams.

Buies Creek served as a launching pad for several players, who played well in their time with the club and saw their stocks rise dramatically. Kyle Tucker played his first 48 games with BC and posted a .932 OPS, the only man on the club to post one .900 or better, regardless even of playing time. Jason Martin continued his steady rise through the system, and after posting an .848 OPS (third-best on the club) in 46 games, moved on to Corpus Christi. Jake Rogers saw his stock rise significantly, as he answered questions about his bat with an .814 OPS in 83 games, making him enticing enough that the Tigers nabbed him as part of the Justin Verlander deal.

Hitter of the Year: Myles Straw

Scream for Tucker all you want, but Straw was the man for BC this year. He led the team in games, at-bats, runs, hits, triples, total bases, walks, stolen bases, and OBP. He led the entire league in OBP, in fact, was second in batting average, tied for third in triples, and was fourth in stolen bases. He was the only man in the league with at least 50 walks (he had 87) and fewer than 100 strike outs (just 70!), and was the only man with 30 or more steals (36) and an OBP better than .360 (his was .412, the only man in the league to post a .400 or better mark). Of course he's the hitter of the year for the team; he was 8th in the league in OPS and hit just one homer all year (all 12 of the other top 13 OPS hitters had 11 or more long balls).

Runners Up: Jake Rogers (.814 OPS, 12 HR), Ryne Birk (.770 OPS, 8 HR)

Top Prospect Tracker

Kyle Tucker: posted a .939 OPS in April and a .926 OPS in May to earn a call up to AA Corpus Christi.

Yordan Alvarez: steadily improved after being promoted from A Quad Cities. Hit .303/.339/.422 in September.

Jason Martin: Ripped the league up in June with a 1.010 OPS. Fell off in July but rebounded in August (.773 OPS) enough to earn the call to Corpus.

Forrest Whitley: shredded Carolina League hitters with a 14.4 K/9 in 31.1 innings. Promoted to Corpus and continued to dominate there. Arguably the best prospect in the system.

Hector Perez: showed flashes of potential with 10.5 K/9, but command/control issues (6.8 BB/9) remained an obstacle.

Cionel Perez: roller coaster of a first full season ended with 13 forgettable innings (5.54 ERA) with BC. Give him a pass and some more time as a recent Cuban import.

Framber Valdez: excellent work with BC (2.79 ERA, 10.7 K/9) didn't translate well to Corpus at the end (5.88 ERA there). A tad old but talent is there for MLB value.

Jorge Alcala: great numbers from QC translated to good ones (3.45 ERA) in BC. Needs more polish (1.8 K/BB ratio) but solid reliever floor.

Don't Forget About...

Brett Adcock: fell off a bit post-promotion after tearing up the Midwest League, but was solid overall. His 3.90 xFIP looks a lot better than the 4.71 ERA. Curve remains a weapon, solid fastball, further change-up improvement will be key. Command has improved from college but needs more work to avoid a LOOGY outcome (though there's value even in that, of course). Solid mid-rotation ceiling, back-end starter much more likely without multiple steps forward in certain areas.