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Astros Prospect Report: Games of June 15, 2017

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

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners
Teoscar Hernandez blasted a pair of home runs - including a ninth inning go-ahead homer - but it still wasn’t enough for Fresno’s pitching
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

AAA Fresno Grizzlies: 12-11 loss to Albuquerque (COL)

This game had a little bit of everything. Some good defense, some (a very little bit) good pitching, and all kinds of offense.

For the Grizzlies, two different players (Teoscar Hernandez and Reid Brignac) each had a pair of home runs. Tyler White and Jon Kemmer each added one of their own. Weirdly, the six home runs were the only extra base hits of any kind for Fresno this night.

In addition to his home run, Tyler White had three singles. Teoscar Hernandez added a single to his pair of four-baggers, and AJ Reed added an RBI single.

Speaking of Reed, a quick aside about him and the kind-of-weird season he’s having...he’s only carrying a 107 wRC+ overall on the season right now and his wOBA is a decent (but not great) .349, while his K% is higher than it’s ever been in the minors before (28.6%, compared to 22.6% in 2016 in Triple-A) and his .331 BABIP squashes any idea that he might just be getting unlucky on batted balls in play.

There are some positives, though. For instance, this past weekend he not only homered in three straight games...he also didn’t strike out once in the series. Additionally, and far more importantly, he has maintained one of the highest (and currently the highest, among qualified batters) Line Drive % in the entire Pacific Coast League - which is a good offensive league. One would surmise that he’s been hitting the ball well pretty frequently, and he’s still drawing walks and showing strike zone disciple (11.3% BB rate in Triple-A this year, which is more or less right in line with his career numbers)...he just isn’t having a lot of good results to back it up, at least not consistently yet. One hopes that he might be starting to pull out of the funk a bit, as his recent performance has improved, but it certainly still appears far too early to write him off entirely.

And now, a quick blurb about the pitching contributions:

Aaron West pitched a scoreless eighth inning with two strikeouts.

...okay, on to the next game.

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AA Corpus Christi Hooks: 11-3 win over Midland (OAK)

Hey, the Astros minor league system can put runs up. If you hadn’t heard.

Cy Sneed and Ryan Thompson combined to handle all nine innings themselves, with aplomb. Sneed allowed eight hits and three runs (all earned) with a walk and a pair of strikeouts in his six innings of work, and Thompson took the final three innings and allowed a pair of hits and a pair of walks to accompany a pair of strikeouts. He held the RockHounds scoreless to earn a save (his third) of the three-inning variety.

On the offensive side of the ball, Kyle Tucker had a pair of singles and one more batted ball that landed in a fielder’s glove on the warning track in the outfield...he’s still adjusting to Double-A, obviously, but he continues to show an excellent ability to adjust his hands in the course of the plate appearance to get the thick part of his bat to the baseball.

Trent Woodward notched a three hit day, including two doubles and a walk. Drew Ferguson and JD Davis and Jack Mayfield each added their own doubles, and otherwise all the hits for the Hooks were singles. Reader’s Digest version, Grant Holmes’ day for Midland looked like the Bugs Bunny .gif of the Gas-House Gorillas and their conga line around the bases.

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A+ Buies Creek Astros: 4-1 win over Winston-Salem (CHA)

A trio of Myles Straw singles and a pair of stolen bases (his sixteenth and seventeenth stolen bases already of the season) set the pace offensively in this one...yet another outstanding showing for Straw, who now has an .852 OPS primarily as a leadoff hitter in 59 games this season for the Buies Creek Astros. With a 141 wRC+ on the season for him, despite being almost exclusively a singles hitter who draws walks well, it might be nearly time for a new challenge for him.

The real story of this game, however, was the left-handed pitching. A pair of southpaws took the mound in this contest, and they did not disappoint.

Matt Bower, one on a short list of breakout players from a year ago from this writer’s perspective, rose above a hit-or-miss beginning of the season in this contest. He twirled four hitless innings with five strike outs and no walks, and was relieved by Framber Valdez. Valdez tossed five innings, allowing four hits (three doubles and a single) while walking one and striking out seven.

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A- Quad Cities River Bandits: 5-4 win over Cedar Rapids (MIN)

Yordan. Alvarez.

He can’t stop. Won’t stop.

First things first, Gabriel Valdez started on the bump for this one and did quite well, tossing six innings and allowing two earned runs on seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts.

Taylor Jones had a pair of hits - one of which was his fifth home run of the season - and Daz Cameron had his twelfth double of the season.

Yordan Alvarez, meanwhile, continues to look like a man among gerbils for the River Bandits. Ho hum, just another two for three day with a walk and a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. He is now slashing .380/.476/.650 after twenty nine games and, out of batters with at least 100 plate appearances, is sixth in the Midwest League in BB% with a 16.0% walk rate, he’s second in batting average, first in OBP, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS, second in ISO, first in wOBA (.488), and first in wRC+ with a 209 mark in that regard...that all comes with a .477 BABIP, which is probably a little too high to last, but probably won’t fall as much as one might expect. Alvarez also has the fifth-highest Line Drive % in the Midwest League at 27.9% and is second in the league in HR/FB% with a hilarious 29.2% rate. Basically, he hits the ball really hard, and that tends to correlate to a higher BABIP...especially in the low minors, where the defenders are not as polished.

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