It’s come to my attention that not everyone is catching on to why I entitled this series, “Oops! All Astros.”
For those who remember (and those who forgot I suppose), back in 1997, Cap’n Crunch introduced a new flavor, “Oops! All Berries!” This variant of the popular cereal was all Crunch Berries and none of the patented corn squares associated with the brand.
This is the 46th article in the series, so maybe this explanation is a little late. The bit was, there was an accident at the cereal packing plant, and they accidentally had All Berries instead of the normal mix. It’s like getting just the marshmallows in Lucky Charms. Thus, this is like getting only the good ballplayers in your series. Oops! All Astros is showing that my article packing machine accidentally separated out all of the non-Astros ballplayers in this series. Now you’re up to speed.
Henry Bibieca is a six-foot-one, 176 lb. right-handed reliever from San Cristobal, DR. Born on December 15, 2002, he signed with Houston on this past January 15. Five month later, he was assigned to the DSL Astros Blue. In his first game, the club’s season opener on June 6, he gave up two unearned runs on a hit, a walk, and a sacrifice fly, also striking one batter out in a 4-2 loss to the KC Glass. On July 4, he had his best game of the season, striking out two and giving up only one hit over two otherwise perfect innings as the Blues dropped to the Cleveland Reds, 8-2.
Other than those two outings, Bibieca’s first professional look was less than ideal. He pitched 7 2⁄3 innings over eight games, allowing opponents to put together a .297/.417/.568 slash line. He struck out seven, walked eight, and gave up 11 hits, including two homers and two triples. Runners trying to steal were successful on five-of-eight occasions.
Bibieca is certainly young enough to right the ship. Look for him back with DSL for the start of the 2023 campaign.
Jon Olczak is a six-foot, 180 lb. left-hander from Fayetteville, NC. Born on November 14, 1993, he was the Milwaukee Brewers 21st round selection in 2015, taken 631st overall. Players chosen at that spot in the draft have produced four major leaguers, the most prolific of whom you’re already well acquainted with. Chas McCormick (3.7 WAR) was taken at the same spot in 2017.
Olczak, out of North Carolina State, was signed by the Brewers soon afterward. Since signing, he played with the Arizona Brewers and the Helena Brewers (rookie level), the Brevard County Manatees and the Carolina Mudcats (High-A), the Biloxi Shuckers (Double-A) and the San Antonio Missions (Triple-A).
Released after the 2019 season, Olczak was signed by the Minnesota Twins, but released when the 2020 minor league season was eliminated. The Astros picked him up on May 25, 2021.
Splitting that first season in Houston’s system between the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks and the Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys, Olczak laid down a 0.917 WHIP, struck out 9.9 per nine, and walked only 10 batters over 48 innings. He was 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA.
This year, Olczak ranked third on Sugar Land with 47 games pitched, including only two starts. On July 6, in a 9-5 win against the El Paso Chihuahuas, he struck out five over two innings, surrendering only a walk. On August 20, he pitched 2 2⁄3 innings and allowed no baserunners while striking out three in a 13-5 loss to the Oklahoma City Dodgers.
Over 291 plate appearances in total, Olczak walked only 21 while striking out 77 in 65 2⁄3 frames. Opponents slashed .272/.335/.517, as Olczak’s glaring weakness was his propensity to gift the long-ball, surrendering 14. Runners trying to steal against him were successful on 10-of-11 attempts.
Olczak isn’t half bad, and in another system would probably have already made his major league debut. The Astros, however, are so thick with talent at the top it’s proved impossible for some borderline prospects to break through. If he’s retained in Houston’s system, he’ll likely be in the mix through Spring Training for a spot in the bullpen.