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Astros Prospect Report: Games of April 19, 2017

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

MLB: Houston Astros-Media Day
Brady Rodgers is off to a strong start for Fresno
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

AAA Fresno Grizzlies: 1-0 win over Las Vegas (NYM)

-> Preston Tucker: 1-for-2

-> Andrew Aplin: 1-for-2

-> Colin Moran: 1-for-3, BB, RBI

-> Reid Brignac: 1-for-3

-> Derek Fisher: 1-for-4

-> Jon Kemmer: 0-for-1, BB, R

SP Brady Rodgers: 4.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 4 K

RP Aaron West: 1.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K

RP Kevin Comer: 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 K

RP Dayan Diaz: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (win)

Rodgers is doing his best right-handed Keuchel impersonation right now. He's walked just one batter in 16.1 innings this season, so despite a middling strike out rate (6.1 K/9) his K/BB ratio is an impressive 11-to-1. He's limited damage as well, and thanks to not getting hit around, his WHIP is a strong 0.918. The other part of the Keuchelian equation are the grounders; he's always been strong in that department, but through three games this year, Rodgers has a 60.4% ground ball rate. You can't predict he'll be another Keuchel, but the profile is notably similar if he can maintain all those rates.

I continue to be interested in Comer. Last season they finally gave up on him as a starter, and while the results weren't so hot, his strike out rate did jump; it was just 7.6 per nine during 2012-2015 as a starter, and last year popped up to 11.3 coming out of the pen exclusively. So far this year he owns a 0.889 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9 and 10.0 K/9 in nine innings. Of further note is that four of his five outings have been for two innings each. A former starter, converted to the bullpen, numbers popping up a lot, pitching multiple innings in each outing...it's hard not to think of Chris Devenski and wonder. After all, Comer, as a Compensation Round A pick of the Blue Jays, was always a lot more of a "name" prospect than Devenski ever was.

AA Corpus Christi Hooks: Off Day

A+ Buies Creek Astros: 4-3 win over Myrtle Beach (CHC)

-> Dexture McCall: 3-for-4

-> Myles Straw: 2-for-5, 3B, RBI, R

-> Eduardo de Oleo: 1-for-3, BB, 3B, RBI

-> Christian Correa: 1-for-4, 2B, 2 R

-> Osvaldo Duarte: 1-for-4, SB, RBI

-> Ryne Birk: 0-for-3, BB

SP Justin Ferrell: 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 5 BB, 4 K

RP Ralph Garza: 1.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 3 K (win)

RP Nick Hernandez: 2.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K (hold)

RP Ryan Deemes: 1.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K

So far so good for Straw. It looks like he'll never have any power, but he continues to hit decently, draw walks, and limit strike outs. He's sitting at .279/.373/.372 in the early going and is 4-for-5 in stolen base attempts. You don't have to squint too hard to see a potential Major League bench guy.

Hernandez looks to be on the fast track, after getting a cup of coffee with Quad Cities last year and then jumping right ahead to A+ to begin this one. Performance has been there early; 2.16 is the ERA and he continues to strike out more than one per inning (11.9 K/9). Of his five outings, four have been more more than three outs, so it will be interesting to see not only how fast he jumps to Corpus, but how they end up using him consistently.

Birk has reached via hit or walk in 11 of his 12 games this season. His peripherals haven't been as pretty as they were last year (walks are down and strike outs are way up so far), but the power has been impressive, with three doubles, two triples, and a long ball so far. That's been good for a .238 ISO, up from .162 last year. I doubt he maintains it, but there certainly seems to be at least some pop in the bat, unlike Straw.

A- Quad Cities River Bandits: 7-2 win over Burlington (LAA)

-> Spencer Johnson: 2-for-3, BB, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

-> Randy Cesar: 2-for-3, BB, R

-> Chuckie Robinson: 2-for-4, RBI

-> Stephen Wrenn: 1-for-3, BB, 2B, RBI, R

-> Marcos Almonte: 1-for-4, HR, R, 2 RBI

-> Ray Henderson-Lozano: 1-for-4

-> Ronnie Dawson: 1-for-5, 2B

-> Alexander De Goti: 0-for-4, BB, R

SP Ryan Hartman: 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 1 K (win)

RP Erasmo Pinales: 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K (save)

Pretty odd pitching lines tonight, a lot of success with almost no strike outs. And the two runs they allowed were both solo homers.

A full week of rest didn't seem to hurt Hartman at all. Though he didn't miss bats, he was efficient (75 pitches in six innings). He now owns a 1.29 ERA in his first three starts, and has walked just one batter this season. Both runs he's allowed this year have been on solo homers. This "Very Luhnow" pitcher hasn't done anything to make Houston regret spending their 9th round selection on him; he's shown the same kind of strong peripherals he posted in college that made them tag him in the first place.

Johnson is an interesting case. So far, he's hitting .296 with a 1.011 OPS, thanks to two long balls and three other extra-base hits in just seveng games. It's been good for a massive .371 ISO. Power is perhaps the single most coveted tool in baseball, and it's Johnson's calling card. He knocked 12 homers in 60 games last year as a rookie, and so far looks even better in a tiny sample this year. Time will tell if he can actually hit at higher levels, but if so, he could be a real sleeper.

Aside from some strike outs (12 in 11 games), Wrenn is off to a nice start this season. He's now hitting .289/.413/.526. With eight walks and four extra-base hits (two homers), the beefy OPS makes sense.

Today's Scheduled Starters

AAA: Edison Frias vs. Wilfredo Boscan

AA: Kent Emanuel vs. Yohander Mendez

A+: Franklin Perez vs. Cody Ponce

A-: Carson LaRue vs. Tim Viehoff