The first season for the Space Cowboys was up and down but they finished the year strong. Let’s take a look at some of the best performances.
2022 Record: 73-75, Pacific Coast League East Division
The Space Cowboys got off to a tough start going 10-13 in 23 games in April. May was a struggle as well as they went 9-17 over 26 games. The Space Cowboys turned things around in June going 14-12. July was another rough month as the Space Cowboys finished just 9-15 in 24 games. The Space Cowboys had a strong month in August going 17-9 over 26 games. They finished the season strong as well going 14-10 in September. Like many of the Astros minor league teams, there were a lot of ups and downs but had some good individual performances.
Here are the team leaders (min 150 AB or 40 IP):
Hits - Corey Julks (141)
2B - David Hensley (30)
3B - David Hensley/Corey Julks (4)
HR - Corey Julks (31)
RBI - Corey Julks (89)
BA - David Hensley (.298)
SB - Pedro Leon (38)
OPS - J.J. Matijevic (.933)
wRC+ - David Hensley (130)
IP - Chad Donato (124.2)
W - Hunter Brown (9)
SV - Enoli Paredes (12)
SO - J.P. France (136)
ERA - Hunter Brown (2.55)
David Hensley, INF
Like Julks, Hensley had a solid 2021 season but also experienced a breakout 2022. The 6’6” right hander played in 104 games in Sugar Land and slashed .298/.420/.478. He also had 30 2B, 10 HR, 20 SB as he played all over the field for the Space Cowboys. His play earned him a call-up where he had a 1.027 OPS in 16 games for the Astros. He also led the Astros system with 80 walks in those 104 Triple-A games.
Hunter Brown, RHP
Brown was drafted by the Astros in the 5th round in 2019 and after a very good 2021 season, he followed that up with an even more dominating 2022. Brown spent majority of the season in Triple-A and dominated hitters. The right-hander had a system leading 2.55 ERA and struck out 134 in just 106 innings. He also cut his walks down from 4.5 BB/9 in 2021 to just 3.8 BB/9 in 2022. His performance earned him a call-up to Houston where he had a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 innings. Read more on him here.
Corey Julks, OF
Julks was solid in 2021 but had a breakout season in 2022. The 26-year-old and his new found power led the Astros system with 31 HR in 130 games, all coming in Triple-A. He also managed to hit .270 and steal 22 bases with the increased power. While Sugar Land plays in some great hitter’s parks, Julks performed better at home (.882 OPS) despite Constellation Field playing down compared to the rest of the PCL.
Yainer Diaz, C
Diaz was acquired in the trade that sent Myles Straw to Cleveland. After looking promising following the trade, the right-hander put up some gaudy numbers in 2022. He started the season in Double-A and hit .316 with 13 2B, 9 HR in 57 gamers. He was promoted to Triple-A where he had 16 HR in just 48 games. Overall he hit .306 and earned a call-up to the Astros. Look for him to get some serious time on the MLB roster next season.
J.P. France, RHP
After a breakout 2021 season, France put together another solid season in 2022. He started the year off as a starter and after a slow start, he pitched well posting a 3.20 ERA with 61 K in 50.2 innings in the middle of the season. The Astros made the decision to use him exclusively in the pen and the results were good. The right-hander posted a 1.62 ERA with 20 K in 16.2 innings in relief to finish out the season. Read more about that transition here.
Pedro Leon, OF
Leon had a strong season playing the full year in Triple-A. Despite tailing off at the end of the year, he still posted a .796 OPS with 27 2B, 17 HR, 38 SB in 115 games. He also drew 71 walks, good for a 14.1 BB%. He will have to make some more contact in the future but he was able to show off his skillset with the power/speed combination that made him such an intriguing international signing.
Korey Lee, C
Lee struggled early this season but once he got it going, the power started to show big time. The 24-year-old had 25 HR in 104 Triple-A games including 13 over a 27 game stretch in August/September. He got a call-up to the Astros and got his feet wet, preparing him for a bigger role in 2023. If he can provide homerun power and solid defense behind the plate, he will be a very valuable addition.