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Everystros Countdown: Chapter 5

Here’s another 15 guys that played for Houston, ranked 915-901 in our offseason-long, 121 chapter series on every player to appear with Houston.

Dean Deetz
| Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Today we take a look back at players ranked from 915 to 901 in our off-season-long Everystros countdown.

Same as yesterday, today’s feature is focused on players who racked up between six and 20 BF/PA while on Houston’s big league club. Unlike yesterday, when the players were mostly of negative yield bWAR, most of today’s players totaled 0.0, literal replacement level. The final entrant in today’s article actually finished with positive bWAR, as will most of the players in tomorrow’s story.

915. RHP Rafael Montalvo, from Rio Piedras, PR, started his professional career in 1980, at the age of 16 with the Rookie-level Lethbridge Dodgers. Five years later, LA traded him (with PTBNL German Rivera) for Enos Cabell (number 72 on our countdown, but we’ll get to him in Chapter 92).

On April 13, 1986, Montalvo made his first appearance in the majors, pitching one inning for the Astros in an 8-7 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He pitched a scoreless seventh, despite surrendering a two-out triple to Omar Moreno, then walked the first two batters he faced in the ninth, Dale Murphy and Bob Horner. Relieved at that time to Frank DiPino, only Murphy came around to score, leaving Montalvo with a 9.00 ERA. He was then sent back to the Triple-A level

As part of the Astros Tucson Toros for the rest of the year, Montalvo put down a 3.86 ERA over 77 innings of work. He floated a 3.52 in 94 23 innings the following season, then a mark of 4.40 in 116 23 innings in 1988, but he never got back to the majors.

914. OF Ty Waller was a fourth-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1977 out of San Diego City College. It was with the Cardinals for whom Waller made his first major league appearance, going one-for-12 in a five-game cup of coffee in 1980. Traded to the Chicago Cubs after the season, Waller hit .261 in 47 games for them over the next two seasons. Released to free agency, the Astros signed Waller after the 1983 season.

Waller stole 80 bases over four seasons with the Triple-A Tucson Toros, between 1984 and 1987. Near the start of the 1987 season, the Astros promoted him to the majors. Between April 23 and May 13, he appeared in 11 contests for Houston, mostly as a pinch-runner with some defensive work in left and center field. At the plate, he was one-for-six with a run, an RBI, and three strikeouts. His lone hit, a double, was collected on May 3 in a 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

913. C Frank Charles was taken in the 17th round of the 1991 draft by the San Francisco Giants. For the following nine seasons, he toiled away in the minors, first with the Giants, then with the Texas Rangers, the Giants again and the San Diego Padres. Just before Spring Training in 2000, Charles signed a free-agent deal with Houston.

Charles spent most of the season with the New Orleans Zephyrs, Houston’s Triple-A club at the time. In 84 games at the level, he hit .261/.315/.370. In September, he joined the Astros in the majors. In his first three appearances, all pinch hit opportunities, he went two-for-three with a double. In the final game of the season, a 6-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, he went one-for-four with a two-run single in the sixth inning.

912. Panama native Luis Durango is a switch-hitting centerfielder who started his professional career with the San Diego Padres in 2004. By 2009, he had made his first appearances in the majors with their parent club, hitting .305 in 37 games over two seasons. On June 29, 2011, he was plucked off waivers by the Astros.

Durango was called up to Houston on the first day of August, and played a pair of games against the Cincinnati Reds. He went one-for-six with a walk, an RBI, and a strikeout in his short look. In the field, he played 17 innings in center, fielding three balls without incident. Sent back to Triple-A soon after, Durango hit .273 in 47 games at the lower level. Just after the 2011 season the Astros granted his free agency.

Durango later signed and played minor league ball with the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago White Sox and the Reds, but he didn’t get back to the majors with any of them.

911. Switch-hitting left fielder Greg Sims was born in San Francisco in 1946, and made his first major league appearance before turning 20. In the minor leagues playing with the Batavia Pirates (PIT), the Salem Rebels (PIT), the Durham Bulls (HOU) and the rookie-level Astros/Reds, he played in 202 games between 1965 and 1966, putting up 25 home runs, 98 RBI, and an OPS above .850.

Sims got to the bigs with the Astros on April 15, and appeared in seven games over the next five weeks. He never started a game, appearing as a pinch hitter six times and as a defensive replacement once. He was one-for-six at the plate with a walk and three strikeouts, and made one error in two chances in left field. Sent back to the minors, Sims remained with the Astros organization until he was 27, but his final MLB appearance was also before he turned 20.

910. LHP Ryan Hartman was a ninth-round choice of Houston in 2016 out of Tennessee Wesleyan University. A native on Anaheim, although Houston never held it against him, Hartman On his way up through the minors, he made a particularly nice impression at Double-A with the Corpus Christi Hooks in 2018, going 11-4 with a 2.69 ERA and a 1.077 WHIP along with 143 strikeouts in 120 23 innings.

Despite that strong showing, Hartman’s progress was undoubtedly derailed by the 2020 minor league stoppage in play. Even so, he did eventually ascend to the majors with the Astros on June 30, 2021. On that day, he relieved Cristian Javier with a runner on and two out in the seventh, trailing the Baltimore Orioles 4-2. Hartman lasted for the rest of the game, pitching 2 13 innings and striking out two while allowing one run on three hits and zero walks. He put 29-of-46 pitches in the black, but it was his final look at the majors (to date).

909. RHP Carlos Sanabria, from La Victoria, VZ, joined the Astros’ system in 2014 at the age of 17. As he rose through the minors, he went from starting about half the time to appearing exclusively out of the bullpen. It’s here where Sanabria found his specialty. Between 2018 and 2019, between the Buies Creek Astros, the Quad Cities River Bandits, the Corpus Christi Hooks and the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Sanabria pitched to a 9-4 record and a 3.35 ERA and 11.7 K/9 in a not-small sample size of 122 innings.

Although the 2020 minor league system was summarily cancelled, Sanabria did make appearances with the Astros in the asterisked campaign. He finished two games, pitching two innings in August, allowing a pair of runs on three hits and three walks. He struck out two, but his 3.000 WHIP in a very small sample size would be the figure he remains stuck with to this day. Sanabria pitched in the Kansas City Royals system in 2021, and currently resides in the American Association with the Kansas City Monarchs.

908. Outfielder Charles Gipson, from Orange, CA, was a 63rd-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 1991. It took him a while, but Gipson got to the majors with Seattle seven years later, and played in 331 games over five seasons at the big league club. Not much of a power stroke, this guy, with a slashline of .236/.312/.331 with zero home runs.

Gipson then spent time in the majors and minors with the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In 2005, he signed on with Houston, and spent most of the year at Triple-A with Round Rock Express. In 110 contests, he hit .303. As August came to a close, Gipson joined the Astros.

Although Gipson appeared in 19 games for Houston, he only started in two of them, appearing mostly as a pinch runner or defensive replacement. He went two-for-11 at the plate with on double, two runs and an RBI. He drew a walk and struck out three times, stealing one base in two attempts. In 36 innings in the outfield, he took six chances and made zero errors. After the 2005 season came to a close, the Astros released him.

907. Jacob Wilson was taken in the 10th round back in 2012 by the St. Louis Cardinals, then became a journeyman in the most literal sense of the word. After six seasons in the Cards system, playing up and down every minor league level, he joined the Washington Nationals for a similar experience in 2018 and 2019. Also in 2019, Wilson appeared in the KBO with the Lotte Marines and in the Dominican Winter League.

At the age of 30, Wilson made his long-overdue major league debut with the Oakland Athletics, going one-for-seven with a run scored in six appearances in July. Waived immediately afterward, he was claimed by Houston and joined the parent club. He appeared in six games for the Astros as well. He started 0-for-9 at the dish before hitting a double and a triple with an RBI with two runs scored in a 15-1 blasting of the Mariners.

906. RHP Dean Deetz of Nixa, MO was Houston’s 11th-round pick, in 2014 out of NW Oklahoma A&M College. After posting solid but pedestrian strikeout numbers through his first four minor league seasons, Deetz ramped up to a 13.9 K/9 in 40 23 innings in 2018. He also had a 0.89 ERA. That was success spread across Houston’s top three minor league levels, and I guess the Astros thought they unlocked something.

Deetz joined the Astros after the close of the minor league season when the major league roster expanded. Over the final four weeks of the season, he appeared in four games out of the pen for Houston. He threw 64 percent of his offerings for strikes, but also allowed two runs in 3 13 innings. He struck out three and walked one, allowing four hits.

Back in the minors for the 2019 campaign, Deetz’ WHIP ballooned to 1.921 in 38 innings, and that’s the last he’s pitched in any affiliated baseball.

905. 2B Mike Richardt, out of North Hollywood, CA was drafted in the first round of the 1978 June draft by the Texas Rangers, with the 10th overall pick. By 1980, he had started to make his presence known at the major league level, and by 1982 he was Texas’ regular at second base. In 169 games at the lesser of the two Texas-based ballclubs, Richardt hit .225/.259/.274, with a paltry .049 ISO. On May 25, 1984, Richardt was traded to the Astros for Alan Bannister (our number 796 Astros player).

When Richardt rejoined the majors in early August, the Astros used him exclusively in pinch hitting opportunities, finding 16 such chances through the rest of the season. He was four-for-15 with a double and a pair of RBI, with zero walks and only one strikeout. Nevertheless, it was Richardt’s final appearance in the majors.

904. Luis Rivera carved out a successful 11-season run in the major leagues, between the Montreal Expos, the Boston Red Sox, the New York Mets, the Kansas City Royals, and for seven games in 1997, the Houston Astros.

An infield utilityman, Rivera specialized at second base and shortstop. The Cidra, PR native, a right-hander, had accumulated a .232 batting average in 732 big-league games through 1994. After spending the majority of three seasons in the minor leagues once more, Rivera came up to join the Astros in September, 1997.

Rivera only started two times for Houston, totaling 34 innings at shortstop and another six at second base, putting up a collective .900 fielding percentage. He went three-for-13 as a hitter, with a triple, three RBI and a pair of runs scored. In June 1998, the Royals purchased his contract from Houston.

903. Switch-hitter Paul Householder, from Columbus, OH, was a second-round pick for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 draft. He got to the majors with them in 1980, and played in 452 games between the Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers through the 1986 season. He had a .237/.304/.365 line, with 29 home runs and 36 stolen bases (but with 29 CS, so take that with a grain of salt).

Finding himself without a baseball home in May, 1987, Householder was offered a free agent deal with Houston. Immediately joining the parent club, Houstholder went just one-for-12 in 16 plate appearances over 14 games, but drew four walks for a decent .313 OBP. His only hit was an RBI double, and he made three putouts in 18 13 clean outfield innings. Sent down to Triple-A near the end of June, he hit .273 in 100 games for the Tucson Toros.

902. Óscar Henriquez was a right-handed pitcher out of La Guaira, VZ. He joined Houston at the A-level in 1993 at age 19, and by September, 1997 found himself in the major leagues. He pitched in four games for Houston at the end of that season, and didn’t allow a hit until the final one. On September 16, he pitched a perfect eighth in a 15-3 win over the San Diego Padres, striking out two. On September 26, he was used in a high leverage situation, and held the Pittsburgh Pirates scoreless despite allowing two eighth-inning walks in a 2-0 Astros win. In his final appearance with Houston, Henriquez took the loss in 11 innings, allowing a pair of earned runs on two hits and a walk over an inning of work.

After the 1997 season, Houston traded Henriquez to the Florida Marlins in a deal that netted the Astros one Moises Alou. I’d say we won that one. Henriquez pitched another 48 innings between the 1998 Marlins and the 2002 Detroit Tigers.

901. 2B/3B Keith Ginter, from Norwalk, CA, was Houston’s 10th-round selection in the draft of 1998 out of Texas Tech. He’s the first player in the six-to-20 PA/BF bracket to finish his time with the Astros at positive bWAR. It’s hard to believe, but he appeared in the majors for Houston in three seasons, totaling only 19 plate appearances. He was three-for-14 with three walks and four strikeouts. Ginter hit one home run with three RBI., and made one error in 20 chances as part of Houston’s infield.

In September 2002, the Astros sent Ginter to the Milwaukee Brewers, netting Mark Loretta in return. Ginter went on to appear in another 312 games for the Brewers and later with the Oakland A’s.

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