AAA Fresno Grizzlies: 9-5 win over Sacramento (SFG)
-> Max Stassi: 2-for-3, BB, RBI, 2 2B, 2 R
-> Jack Mayfield: 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI
-> Tony Kemp: 2-for-5, R
-> A.J. Reed: 1-for-3, BB, HR, R, 3 RBI
-> Jon Kemmer: 1-for-3, BB, R
-> Derek Fisher: 1-for-4, R
-> Andrew Aplin: 1-for-4, R
-> Preston Tucker: 1-for-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI
-> Tyler White: 0-for-4, BB, R
SP Casey Coleman: 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 4 K (win)
RP Aaron West: 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 K
RP Keegan Yuhl: 2.0 IP, 1 R (0 ER), 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K
Fourth bomb this season for Reed. On his now-six-game hitting streak, he's 12-for-22 (.546) with four extra-base knocks, six walks, and just three strike outs. That last part is the part that grabs my attention; it was the final missing piece so far. It's six games, but if he can cut down those whiffs long-term, I don't think we'll have to worry about him. Fortunately, we have plenty of time to let him continue to adjust and build confidence in Fresno (bless you, Yuli).
What to do with Tucker? The sample continues to grow, and he continues to hit. You could pick nits about the walk rate, but he's raking. He still has enough youth and contract control that some team out there would want him. Is he a secondary piece in a deal for a pitcher at some point? Jose Quintana? Marcus Stroman? Jeff Samardjiza? Who knows. But he's quickly re-establishing his value, and it's a great problem for Houston to have.
They must be feeding the catchers in this organization something amazing. Evan Gattis and Brian McCann are both doing very well in the Majors, Stubbs and Ritchie are both showing off in Double-A (keep reading for that)...and hey, look what Stassi is doing so far. .313/.411/.417, 12.5% walk rate, 19.6% strike out rate. Houston must have hired a new CCO (Coach of Catcher Offense) this off-season.
Yuhl had allowed 26 earned runs in his first 17.1 innings so...that ERA will take a while to come down, yeah. Hey, progress.
And congrats to David Coleman's younger brother, who signed with Houston to help fill in after the Francis Martes delay (no, not really, silly).
AA Corpus Christi Hooks: 12-3 loss to Midland (OAK)
-> Jamie Ritchie: 2-for-4
-> Jon Singleton: 1-for-3, BB, HR, R, 3 RBI
-> Drew Ferguson: 1-for-4, SB, R
-> Alejandro Garcia: 1-for-4
-> Ramon Laureano: 0-for-2, BB, R
-> Bryan Muniz: 0-for-3, BB
-> Antonio Nunez: 0-for-3, BB
SP Brock Dykxhoorn: 2.2 IP, 7 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 4 K (loss)
RP Michael Freeman: 2.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 K
RP Jacob Dorris: 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 K
Dumpster Fiers pitching in this one; Midland knocked five long balls off of the three Corpus pitchers.
Ritchie stays hot, which is good, since mostly no one else on the club is hitting much aside from Garrett Stubbs. Ritchie has hit .343 over his last 10 games, and has a .868 OPS on the season. He's walked 10 times and struck out just five times. His walk and strike out rates are 18.2% and 9.1%, respectively. Uh, that'll work. Ritchie has been interesting for a long time, and while the same size here is a mere 14 games, success of this kind at the Double-A level would transform him from "interesting" into a very, very real MLB prospect.
Freeman had kind of quietly posted a 1.29 ERA up to this point; after allowing three earned runs today, he's now allowed five total on the year. But maybe it was a long time coming; he'd walked 12 in 14 innings coming into this game, and walked another pair. A 7.7 BB/9 is, uh, not ideal, obviously. His career mark is now 5.3 BB/9, so it's not completely unusual, either. He doesn't really even miss a lot of bats to make up for it, so you have to wonder what they see in him. Maybe it will become apparent in time.
A+ Buies Creek Astros: 3-0 loss to Carolina (MIL)
-> Christian Correa: 1-for-2, BB, 2B
-> Myles Straw: 1-for-3, BB, 2B
-> Dexture McCall: 1-for-3, BB, SB
-> Ryne Birk: 0-for-2, BB
-> Kyle Tucker: 0-for-3, BB, 2 SB
SP Yoanys Quiala: 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K (loss)
RP Framber Valdez: 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 4 K
Tucker has reached on a hit or walk in 23 of his 26 games now, and you have to go back to April 19 for the last time it happened. He's reached on a hit or walk two or more times in a game 12 times. He ends the day at .295/.367/.568 with 15 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases. Another month like this and it's hard to imagine he won't be in Corpus before July.
Quiala continues to be one of the system's biggest risers early on. The 2.38 ERA looks good, but better still is the 6.75 K/BB ratio. He's done that with a 10.7 K/9 and a 1.6 BB/9. He's struck out at least one batter per inning in each of his starts, and three of his four walks on the season came in one outing (he tossed six shutout frames despite them). A huge turnaround could be in the works after a terrible 2016 for the Cuban import.
Valdez needs to work on his command (5.2 BB/9) but he does miss some bats to make up for it (10.9 K/9). He has a solid fastball that can touch 94 MPH, but the curve is his true weapon, a legit 60 pitch that explains many of the whiffs. Also of note is his ground ball tendencies; he was at 62.2% coming into this game, and based on his history, that's no mirage. In fact, at various levels last season, his GB% ranged from 61.4% to 78.3%. I can't find cumulative stats but based on sample sizes, I'd say the total across four levels last year would be around 68-70%. Massive, and incredibly interesting when you consider the strike outs, too. So we're talking about a lefty who can hit the mid 90's, and gets a huge portion of his outs on strikes and ground balls. SO far they're still using him in the piggyback starting system, but if they decide to just focus on the heater and curve and move him to the pen, he could skyrocket through the system. The MLB club could certainly use a solid left-handed reliever. He gets overshadowed by several other arms in the system, but make no mistake, Valdez here is a legit prospect worth your attention.
A- Quad Cities River Bandits: 4-0 loss to Fort Wayne (SDP)
-> Alexander De Goti: 2-for-4
-> Ronnie Dawson: 1-for-2, BB
-> Chuckie Robinson: 1-for-3
SP Carson LaRue: 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K (loss)
RP Dustin Hunt: 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 3 K
RP Edgardo Sandoval: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 2 K
First rough outing for LaRue. Half of those runs came on one long ball, so with a different pitch, perhaps things turn out better. The peripherals are nice, regardless. He hadn't had a walkless outing yet, and it all leaves him with solid numbers to this point; 2.16 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 9.4 K/9.
LaRue was the Astros' 14th round pick last year. Selected immediately after him was De Goti. Is he someone of note? I'm not convinced yet, but I said the same thing a couple years ago when Ramon Laureano was in the low minors. Why that name? We'll, they're are some similarities, aside from just their selection place in the draft (16th round for Laureano). Both right handed, both showing a bit of hitting talent, an eye and willingness for walking, and a little pop. De Goti doesn't appear to be the base-stealing threat that Laureano is, but he plays a decent shortstop and has a little OPS potential in the bat. I'll be keeping an eye on him as long as he keeps producing.
Today's Scheduled Starters
AAA: David Martinez vs. Dan Slania
AA: Cy Sneed vs. Heath Fillmyer
A+: Hector Perez vs. Thomas Hatch
A-: Brett Adcock vs. Jerry Keel