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Oops! All Astros: Jesus Fernandez & Julio Robaina

Jesus Fernandez & Julio Robaina are featured in today’s review.

We’re reviewing the 2022 campaign of each player in the Astros system.

Jesus Fernandez

Jesus Fernandez is a six-foot, 150 lb. infielder from Maracaibo, VZ. Born on August 26, 2003, he signed with the Astros on his 16th birthday, in 2019. He was assigned to the DSL Astros rookie team for the 2021 season. He hit .241/.346/.269 in his first professional action through 50 games that season, with eight stolen bases in 11 attempts.

For the 2022 season, Fernandez was assigned to the DSL Astros Blue squad, and led the team with 58 appearances and 13 stolen bases in 18 attempts. He also ranked second on the club with 31 walks in 189 plate appearances, a 16 percent base-on-balls rate. Unfortunately, he slashed a .139/.293/.205 line, excusable only because Fernandez is still not yet 20-years-old.

Defensively, Fernandez got playing time at each of the four infield positions for the Blues, logging 175 23 frames at third base (.921 fielding percentage in 38 chances), 95 13 innings at second base (.980, 49), 79 innings at first base (.958, 71), and 33 innings at shortstop (.882, 17).

Fernandez also took to the hill four times, pitching 2 23 innings and giving up five runs on seven hits. I would look for Fernandez to open the 2023 campaign back with DSL or maybe with one of the stateside rookie FCL clubs. Looking at his fielding stats, hopefully he can learn to man second base for an extended duration.

Julio Robaina

Julio Robaina is a five-foot-11, 170 lb. left-handed pitcher from San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba. Born on March 23, 2001, he signed with the Astros on September 22, 2017 for a $220,000 bonus.

From joining the organization through the 2021 season, Robaina appeared with several Astros affiliates, including the GCL Astros at the rookie-level, the Low-A Tri-City Valleycats and Fayetteville Woodpeckers, the A-level Quad Cities River Bandits, and the High-A Asheville Tourists. For the 2022 season, he was assigned to the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, where he remained for the duration of the season.

On April 22, Robaina struck out four over four shutout two-hit innings in a 3-2 loss to the Arkansas Travelers. On June 9, he whiffed seven against three singles and an intentional walk over four relief innings in a 7-4 victory over the San Antonio Missions. On June 26, in a 7-0 win against the Amarillo Sod Poodles, he started and lasted five innings, striking out six against three singles and a walk.

Despite the very solid high-points to Robaina’s season, most of the time he struggle to find his stuff. Opponents slashed .291/.417/.441 over 391 plate appearances, with Robaina striking out 84 of them and walking 61. He finished the season with a 1.909 WHIP.

Robaina was three-and-a-half years younger than the “average” player in the Texas League, which leads me to believe the Astros will give him at least another season or two to find his niche in Houston’s baseball ecosystem. Look for him back with the Hooks again next season.