AAA Fresno Grizzlies: Off Night
AA Corpus Christi Hooks: 5-3 win over Midland (OAK)
-> Garrett Stubbs: 3-for-4, 2B, SB, 2 R
-> J.D. Davis: 2-for-4, solo HR
-> Mott Hyde: 1-for-2, BB, 2B, SB
-> Jon Singleton: 1-for-3, BB, HR, R, 2 RBI
-> Ramon Laureano: 1-for-4, R
-> Jamie Ritchie: 0-for-2, BB, RBI
-> Antonio Nunez: 0-for-2, RBI
SP Rogelio Armenteros: 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K
RP Andrew Thome: 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K (win)
RP Michael Freeman: 2.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K (save)
Nice to see Stubbs returning strong from a layoff (13 days without playing from April 10 through 22). Four hits, a walk, and a steal since returning on Sunday.
A fourth-straight solid start for Armenteros. This was his first time giving up more than one run in an outing this year, in fact. He occasionally walks a few too many, but even that hasn't been too awful (3.3 BB/9), and a very healthy 12.6 K/9 is making up for that. Honestly, you couldn't ask for much more. In seven games in Double-A (three last year, four this year), he owns a 1.67 ERA, 2.6 BB/9 and 9.6 K/9 in 37.2 innings.
Some positive signs for Davis so far. That's his fifth long ball of the season, second-most in the Texas League. He's hitting a solid .276/.353/.513 in 19 games, and while that line, in-and-of-itself, probably qualifies only as "good but not great" for a repeat Double-A player, his walk rate is 10.6% and his strike out rate is 16.5%. Those are both notable improvements from previous years, especially the strike out rate; his lowest strike out rate in full-season ball was 24% with Quad-Cities back in his rookie year (2014). At 26.5% last year with Corpus, we're talking about a literal full 10% improvement so far. Oh, yeah, and the .237 ISO is a career-best mark so far, too, a hair higher than the .231 he posted with Lancaster two years ago. In other words, so far, huge reduction of strike outs and no subsequent drop in power output. It's early, but if that's a sign of a real, sustainable change, Davis could very quickly take off.
You like ground ball machines? Thome entered this game with a 74.2% ground ball rate against a 6.5% fly ball rate, and he got four ground outs in two innings during this outing (and zero fly balls). So that'll be a 77.1% ground ball rate so far, if my math is correct. Now throw in a solid 7.2 K/9 and it's little wonder why he's given up just four long balls in his professional career to this point. His story is a bit of an interesting one; he made Baseball America's Top 500 draft prospects but went undrafted (500 divided by 30 teams...you're talking about a decent talent there). Astros nabbed him as a free agent after the draft. He's certainly living up to BA's (moderate) pre-draft hype so far. Could be a nice relief sleeper for sure.
A+ Buies Creek Astros: Double-header vs. Winston-Salem (CHW)
Game One: 12-6 loss
-> Jason Martin: 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI
-> Dexture McCall: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, R
-> Kyle Tucker: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI
-> Anthony Hermelyn: 1-for-2, BB, 2B, RBI, R
-> Ryne Birk: 1-for-3, 2B, R
-> Anibal Sierra: 1-for-3, RBI, R
-> Johnny Sewald: 1-for-3, R
-> Myles Straw: 1-for-4
SP Alex Winkelman: 0.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 0 K
RP Sebastian Kessay: 2.2 IP, 5 R (4 ER), 4 H, 2 BB, 1 K (loss)
RP Carlos Sierra: 2.2 IP, 2 R (0 ER), 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Game Two: 5-3 win
-> Johnny Sewald: 3-for-4, RBI, 2 R, 3 2B
-> Kyle Tucker: 2-for-3, 3B, R, 3 RBI
-> Anibal Sierra: 1-for-3, 2B
-> Pat Porter: 1-for-3, R
-> Arturo Michelena: 0-for-2, BB
-> Myles Straw: 0-for-3, BB, R
SP Justin Ferrell: 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K (win)
RP Gabriel Valdez: 2.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Well, that's what I get for hyping a guy. A true meltdown for Winkelman here, though it's a testament to how good he had been previously that five earned in less than one inning left his ERA at 3.00.
Tucker's hitting streak is six games now, and he's sitting a .319/.375/.972 on the season. That .278 ISO is pretty eye-popping from such a young kid playing competition 2-4 years his senior. 12 extra-base hits already, (slightly) more than half of his 23 total. And six steals in eight attempts as well. In 162 games at his current pace, you'd be looking at 17 triples, 26 dingers, 60 doubles, and 51 stolen bases.
Ferrell's first few outings were clunky; a six earned run performance on April 13 was followed up by five walks on April 19. This was much better, though, and despite the overall numbers not wowing, he currently owns an 11.3 K/9.
After a nice five-game ride from April 12 through 16 left Martin with a .324/.422/.405 line, he's fallen off of late, and ends the night with just a .663 OPS. Most worrying, he's whiffed 14 times in his last nine games. May this two-hit game be the start of another good streak.
After 18 games, interesting sleeper Birk owns a .297/.352/.500 line; with that .203 ISO, he maintains enough pop so far to keep him on your mind. Though solid at 19.7%, the strike out rate certainly hasn't been dreamy like it was in short-season last year.
Hermelyn so far:
Pros: catcher; .388 OBP; 16.3% BB; 12.3% K; shares name with Anthony Boyer
Cons: almost no power (.098 ISO); slow (0-for-1 SB); born in Dallas
Not bad overall so far for the 2015 4th rounder.
A- Quad Cities River Bandits: 6-1 win over Peoria (STL)
-> Rodrigo Ayarza: 2-for-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI
-> Stephen Wrenn: 2-for-4, 2B, R
-> Jake Rogers: 1-for-3, BB, solo HR
-> Daz Cameron: 1-for-3, BB, 2B, R
-> Ronnie Dawson: 1-for-4, solo HR
-> Randy Cesar: 1-for-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
-> Spencer Johnson: 1-for-4, R
-> Marcos Almonte: 1-for-4
-> Alexander De Goti: 0-for-3, BB
SP Carson LaRue: 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K (win)
RP Abdiel Saldana: 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 4 K (hold)
RP Erasmo Pinales: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K
LaRue is one of those guys that gives you a good feeling, even if nothing stands out in particular. We know the Astros draft for success in college as much as anyone. He was already throwing 90 MPH in high school and popped up a bit on college. Solid slider as well. He gives me a future reliever feel, maybe a multi-inning guy (I'm not saying Devenski. Too easy. I'm resisting!) even.
After a slow start, Dawson is on a nice hot streak; he was hitting .154 after the game on April 13, and since then has gone 16-for-48 (.333) with four bombs to give him a much more encouraging .270/.329/.500. He still has issues to address and is something of a long-shot despite his tools, but Houston didn't use a second-round pick on him for nothing.
Oh hey, another homer from Rogers. That four in his last eight games. He's reached via hit or walk in 14 of his 16 games this season. Just five strike outs in his last seven games. Strike out rate is 23.2% from the guy who whiffed 30.5% of the time with QC at the end of last season. I want to believe, Scully...
Today's Scheduled Starters
AAA: Brian Holmes vs. TBD
AA: Joshua James vs. Ben Bracewell
A+: Matt Bower vs. Aron McRee
A-: TBD vs. Ljay Newsome