The Astros finally got back Round Rock as their AAA affiliate. Here is a review of the season Round Rock’s 2019 season.
2019 Record: 84-56, PCL American Southern Division Winner
Round Rock got off to a decent start in 2019 going 13-10 during the month of April. Round Rock had a packed month of May playing 32 games, but came out of the month 20-12. The Express continued playing well going 15-12 in June and 4-4 in July, finishing the first half with a record of 52-38.
The Express started the second half well going 16-10 in July. Rouck Rock went 19-11 in August and 1-1 in September to finish 84-56 on the season. They played in the PCL semifinals against Iowa and won the series 3-2. They moved on to the PCL Championship Series but unfortunately were swept by Sacramento, ending their season.
The Express had some standout players this season and also funneled talent up to Houston again. The best performance was from Astros rookie phenom, Yordan Alvarez. Yordan played in just 56 games before being promoted to Houston, but he had a huge impact. In those games he hit .343 with 1.184 OPS and 23 HR, 71 RBI. Myles Straw was another contributor who made his way to Houston. He played in 66 games and hit .321 with .391 OBP. Kyle Tucker also had another solid season in AAA posting a .909 OPS with 34 HR, 30 SB in 125 games.
Round Rock also got great performances from the “veterans” on the team like Taylor Jones, Nick Tanielu and Jack Mayfield. Jones hit .291 with 22 HR, 84 RBI in 125 games. Tanielu hit .295 with 39 2B, 19 HR in 125 games. Mayfield slugged 26 HR while hitting .287. He also spent some time in Houston when the Astros faced injuries. Drew Ferguson, Alex De Goti also played well for the Express in 2019. The offense has an overall .863 OPS.
Unfortunately, the pitching struggled a bit. While they struck out 9.3 batters per 9, they also had a combined 5.24 ERA. Forrest Whitley started with the Express but struggled in 2019 posting a 12.21 ERA in 24.1 innings. Emanuel was a mainstay for the Express staff posting a 3.90 ERA in 101.2 innings. Framber Valdez pitched well striking out 69 in 44.1 innings before earning more time with Houston. Bielak’s overall ERA wasn’t great (4.41) but he pitched better than it showed. More on his later. Here are the team leaders (min 200 AB or 50 IP):
Hits - Nick Tanielu (134)
Doubles - Nick Tanielu (39)
Triples - Drew Ferguson (6)
Home Runs - Kyle Tucker (34)
Runs Batted In - Kyle Tucker (97)
Average - Yordan Alvarez (.343)
Stolen Bases - Kyle Tucker (30)
OPS - Yordan Alvarez (1.184)
wRC+ - Yordan Alvarez (170)
Innings Pitched - Ryan Hartman (115.2)
Wins - Bielak, Emanuel, Garza (8)
Saves - Felipe Paulino (7)
Strikeouts - Ryan Hartman (117)
Earned Run Average - Kent Emanuel (3.90) - minimum 50 IP
Yordan Alvarez, OF
Alvarez had one of the most dominant season I saw from a minor league player. He opened the season hitting .354 with 12 HR, 30 RBI in 22 games in April. He followed that up with a .360 BA in May. He “struggled” in June hitting just .288 with 1.113. He was eventually promoted to the Astros, and is now pretty much guaranteed to win AL ROY.
Brandon Bielak, RHP
Bielak started the season in Corpus Christi but was quickly promoted to Round Rock. He struggled his first couple outings but ended up posting a 3.04 ERA with 73 K in 74 innings over his final 12 games. This came in a league that set unreal records for homers too. He struck out 25 over 19 innings with a 0.95 ERA over his final 3 starts.
Jose Urquidy, RHP
Urquidy has flown under the radar throughout his career but started making waves in 2019. While his ERA with the Express wasn’t great (4.63) he posted great peripherals with 16 BB/94 K in 70 innings. He was promoted to Houston where he had a 3.95 ERA in 41.0 innings.
Nick Tanielu, INF
Tanielu had a great spring, and followed that up with a very good 2019 season. Overall he hit .295 with 39 2B, 19 HR, 84 RBI in 125 games while playing all over the infield. While he is a bit older than the typical prospect, he is a great depth piece and should get his chance eventually.