Houston Astros News
Will cash-strapped Astros upgrade starting rotation this winter? (Laredo Morning Times)
Houston Astros: How 2024 outfield might look, plus GM meetings notes (Houston Chronicle)
AL West News
After The Confetti Fell - Everything The Rangers Have Done Since Becoming Champions (Dallas Sports Nation)
Oakland A’s fans are sending MLB owners ‘Stay In Oakland’ boxes as Las Vegas vote nears (Hawaii Tribune-Herald)
Power and glory: Here are your 2023 Silver Slugger winners tl;dr — Kyle Tucker is the only Houston player to be honored this year.
Houston Astros Birthdays
CF Scott Loucks (67)
C J.R. House (44)
RHP Charlie Morton (40)
C Randy Knorr (55)
RHP Mark Small (1967-2013)
LHP Joe Hoerner (1936-1996)
RHP Chris Devenski (33)
LHP Wade Miley (37)
C C.J. Stubbs (27)
Everystros Countdown: Chapter XVII
Today’s chapter finishes out the negative bWAR players between 21 and 100 PA/BF, and closes at replacement level.
742. Nick Tropeano is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from West Islip, NY. Born on August 27, 1990, the Astros selected him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. By 2014, he was pitching for the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks, and had a 9-5 record with a 3.03 ERA, a 0.987 WHIP, and 8.7 K/9.
That final season was strong enough to merit a look at the major league level for Tropeano, and he took four turns in the rotation through the final month of the season. On September 10, in his first career start, he pitched five innings and gave up two runs on four hits and a pair walks, striking out five and getting 45-of-80 pitches in the black in a 5-2 win over the Seattle Mariners. His second start was nearly identical resultswise. In five innings he allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks, with four strikeouts, but Houston lost to the Cleveland Indians, 4-2.
Overall, Tropeano pitched 21 2⁄3 innings and posted a 1-3 record with a 4.57 ERA, a 3.32 FIP, and a 1.292 WHIP for the 2014 Astros. After the season, the Astros traded Tropeano with Carlos Pérez to the Angels for Hank Conger.
Tropeano has since pitched for the Angels (11-11, 4.51, 195 2⁄3 IP), the Pittsburgh Pirates (1-0, 1.15, 15 2⁄3 IP), the San Francisco Giants (1-0, 1.50, six IP), and the New York Mets (4.50 in two IP). His most recent game was July 9, 2021.
741. J.C. Gutiérrez is a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Puerto La Cruz, VZ. Born on July 14, 1983, he joined the Astros organization in 2003 at their rookie level, and made it to the majors in 2007.
Most of 2007 was spent by Gutiérrez at the Triple-A level with the Round Rock Express, where he was 5-10 with a 4.15 ERA. Maybe that line didn’t turn a lot of heads, but it turned enough that Gutiérrez got the call to join Houston in mid-August. In his first appearance, on August 19, he pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out one Padre in a 5-3 loss to San Diego. On September 15, he pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth inning, allowing only a walk in an eventual 9-7 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Gutiérrez pitched 21 1⁄3 innings in seven contests for Houston, including three starts. On September 19, he tossed his first Quality Start, striking out five and allowing two runs on five hits and two walks over six innings, in a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. He struck out 16 in total, against six walks and 14 runs on 25 hits. After the season, the Astros traded Gutiérrez with Chad Qualls and Chris Burke to the Arizona DIamondbacks for Jose Valverde.
Gutiérrez has since pitched with the Diamondbacks (4-9, 4.62, 146 IP), the Kansas City Royals (0-1, 3.38, 29 1⁄3 IP), the Los Angeles Angels (1-4, 5.19, 26 IP) and the San Francisco Giants (1-2, 3.96, 63 2⁄3 IP).
740. Sid Fernandez is a six-foot-one left-handed pitcher from Honolulu, HI. He’s also the first player out of this bracket to turn in a replacement level stint with Houston. Born on October 12, 1962, Fernandez was a third-round choice in 1981 by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Kaiser HS. He got to the majors with L.A. in 1983, pitching six innings over two games.
Fernandez joined the Mets via trade during the offseason. It was with the Mets that Fernandez found the bulk of his success in the major leagues. (If I was doing an Everymets Countdown, God forbid, Fernandez would be number nine). In 250 turns in the rotation, and five relief appearances, Fernandez was 98-78 with a 3.14 ERA a 1.113 WHIP, and 8.2 K/9. He later played with the Baltimore Orioles (6-10, 5.59, 143 1⁄3 IP) and the Philadelphia Phillies (9-7, 3.38, 127 2⁄3 IP). After the 1996 season, Fernandez signed with the Astros.
Fernandez’ first start with Houston would be his final major league game. He started for the Astros on April 5, as Houston’s de facto number-five starter. In five innings, he allowed two runs on four walks and two hits, with three strikeouts for the win in a 6-2 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals.
739. Rafael Batista was a left-handed hitting and throwing first baseman from San Pedro de Macoris, DR. Born on November 25, 1945, he was a nine-season minor league veteran when he finally got to the majors. In 1973, Batista’s fourth season at Houston’s Triple-A level, he got the call to join the Astros in mid-June.
In 12 games, Batista was mostly used as a pinch-hitter, although he did get some defensive work as a late-inning replacement and one start on July 2. On June 25, he got his first major league RBI and later scored his first run with a single in a 13-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds.
After another full season in Triple-A for Batista, with the Denver Bears in 1974, he opened the 1975 season on Houston’s Opening Day roster. In his first appearance of the season, as a ninth-inning pinch-hitter on April 8, he hit a double to keep the Astros alive in an eventual 2-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves. In total, he went three-for-10 in 10 games, but Houston was 0-10 in his appearances.
Out of affiliated ball in 1976, Batista played another nine seasons in the Mexican League.
738. Reggie Harris is a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from Waynesboro, VA. Born on August 12, 1968, he was a first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1987 out of Waynesboro HS. He didn’t get to the majors with Boston, making his debut in 1990 with the Oakland Athletics (1-0, 4.06, 44 1⁄3 IP), and also playing for the Red Sox (4 1⁄3 IP) and the Philadelphia Phillies (1-3, 5.30, 54 1⁄3 IP).
Harris signed with the Astros prior to Spring Training in 1998. Although he spent most of the season with the New Orleans Zephyrs, Houston’s Triple-A affiliate at the time. In 51 relief appearances, he struck out 53 in 52 2⁄3 innings and earned a 1.253 WHIP. In June, he joined the Astros, and pitched out of the bullpen six times.
On June 27, he pitched a perfect 11th inning in a 9-5 11-inning win against the Cleveland Indians. In total, he struck out two in six innings, and allowed four runs on six hits and two walks. He was granted free agency following the season. He later went on to pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers (12 innings, 11 K’s, 3.00 ERA).
737. Don Taussig is a six-foot right-handed outfielder from New York City. Born on February 19, 1932, he started his professional career in 1950 with the New York Yankees D-level team. He got to the majors for the first time in 1958 with the San Francisco Giants, where he hit .200 in 39 games.
Taussig reached the majors for a second team three years later with the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit .287/.338/.447 in 98 games. After the season, he went to the Colt 45s in the expansion draft, with the 19th overall pick.
In Taussig’s first game with Houston, he went one-for-two. In his next, he hit his first home run, a solo shot in a 4-3 win against the Cardinals. he went five-for-25 overall with Houston, with two walks and 10 strikeouts. He also hit .250 in 24 games with the Oklahoma City 89ers.
736. Henry Villar is a five-foot-11 right-handed pitcher from Bonao, DR. Born on May 24, 1987, he started his professional career with Houston at their rookie level in 2006. By 2009, he was striking out 10.9 per nine innings and racking up a 1.089 WHIP with the High-A Lexington Legends.
In September, 2010, Villar joined the Astros proper, and pitched in eight games out of the pen. Over his final two appearances, he pitched three shutout innings of one-hit ball. In total, he struck out three and allowed three runs in six innings, on five hits and three walks.
Villar played another two seasons in Houston’s system, but didn’t get back to the majors. He later spent 2014 with Broncos de Reynosa in the Mexican League.
735. José Castillo is a six-foot-one right-handed second and third baseman from Las Mercedes, VZ. Born on March 19, 1981, he made his major league debut in 2004 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In four seasons, he appeared in 465 games, and hit .256/.297/.380 with 33 home runs and 181 RBI. He played with the San Francisco Giants in 2008, appearing in 112 games and hitting .244/.290/.381 with another six homers and 35 RBI.
On August 20, 2008, Houston selected Castillo off waivers from the Giants. After joining the Astros, he appeared in 15 of their last 33 contests. On September 7, he hit a single in the second, an RBI-sacrifice in the third, drew a walk in the sixth, then singled and scored in the eighth, in a game Houston won over the Colorado Rockies, 7-5.
Castillo went nine-for-32 overall, with a double, four runs, and two RBI, with two walks versus 10 strikeouts. That was Castillo’s last time in the majors, although he continued to play professionally in Japan, Mexico, China, and Italy. On December 6, 2018, Castillo and two of his friends (along with a chauffer) were ambushed by highway robbers. The chauffer swerved to avoid them, but the vehicle overturned, killing Castillo and one of his friends.
734. Joel Kuhnel is a six-foot-five right-handed pitcher from Goldsboro, NC. Born on February 19, 1995, he was an 11th-round choice of the Cincinnati Reds out of the University of Texas at Arlington in 2016. he got to the majors with them in 2016, and in parts of four seasons with them at the major league level, pitched 74 innings and struck out 68, with a 1.432 WHIP and a 6.20 ERA.
On June 17, 2023, Kuhnel had his contract purchased by the Astros from the Reds. A month later, he pitched in a pair of games for Houston, and allowed four runs in two innings. After joining the Space Cowboys for a while, he rejoined Houston in September. It was a stark contrast to his first hitch with the team. In five games, he only gave up one run in 7 2⁄3 innings, on five hits and two walks. Kuhnel remains on Houston’s 40-man roster.
733. Grae Kessinger is a six-foot-one right-handed left-side infielder from Oxford, MS. Born on August 25, 1997, Kessinger was a 26th-round pick in 2016 for the San Diego Padres out of Oxford HS. He didn’t sign, and went on to attend the University of Mississippi. Houston took him in the second round in 2019.
Kessinger, whose grandfather played 16 seasons in the majors, played 54 games with the Sugar Land Space Cowboys in 2023, hitting .283 with six homers and 32 RBI. Kessinger also made his first major league appearances this season with Houston, starting with a start on June 7.
Kessinger picked a perfect game for his first home run, a solo shot on July 4, in a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies. He added a single. In 26 games in total, Kessinger was eight-for-40 with two doubles, three runs, and five walks with 12 strikeouts. He remains on Houston’s 40-man roster as well.
732. Dan Warthen is a six-foot switch-hitting left-handed pitcher from Omaha, NE. Born on December 1, 1952, Warthen was a second-round draftee of the Montreal Expos in 1971 out of North HS. He played three seasons with the Expos once he reached the majors, going 12-19 with a 4.37 ERA and 221 K’s in 292 2⁄3 innings.
Warthen later played with the Philadelphia Phillies (three games, 3 2⁄3 innings, 2.455 WHIP). On September 2, 1978, the Phillies traded him to the Astros for Dan Larson. Warthen appeared in five games for Houston in September, all Astros losses. On September 29, he got his first start with the team, pitching eight innings and allowing two runs on five hits and zero walks, while striking out only one. It figures that his last major league appearance would be a Quality Start.
731. Gregg Olsen is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Scribner, NE. Born on October 11, 1966, he was a first-round selection in 1988 by the Baltimore Orioles, fourth overall out of Auburn University.
Olsen had a super productive 14-season major league career, during which he pitched in 622 games for nine different teams. Before making his way to the Astros, he played for Baltimore (17-21, 2.26, 350 1⁄3 IP, one All-Star selection), the Atlanta Braves (0-2, 9.20, 14 2⁄3 IP), the Cleveland Indians (0-0, 13.50, 2 2⁄3 IP), the Kansas City Royals (7-6, 3.13, 72 IP) and the Detroit Tigers (3-0, 5.02, 43 IP). On August 26, 1996, the Astros traded minor leaguer Kevin Gallaher and Pedro Santano for Olsen’s services.
Olsen joined the Astros and collected a win in his very first game after collecting two outs in the ninth inning in a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. He pitched 9 1⁄3 innings in nine appearances for the Astros, all in relief. He struck out eight and walked seven, allowing five runs on 12 hits. After the season, Houston granted Olsen’s free agency.
Olsen kept right on keeping on after leaving the Astros. He later played for the Minnesota Twins (0-0, 18.36, 8 1⁄3 IP), the Royals, the Arizona Diamondbacks (12-8, 3.34, 129 1⁄3 IP) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (0-2, 6.80, 42 1⁄3 IP).
730. Ralph Garza is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Edinburg, TX. Born on April 6, 1994, he was Houston’s 26th-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Oklahoma.
Garza clawed his way up to the majors, bit by bit, but it took him six years. In 2018 with the Corpus Christi Hooks, he was 6-0 with a 3.31 ERA, a 1.102 WHIP, and 9.4 K/9. In 2021, he finally got a chance to play with the big boys.
On June 17, in Garza’s third appearance, he pitched a perfect ninth in a 10-2 win against the Chicago White Sox. He ended up pitching in nine games in relief for Houston, going 1-2 with a 4.09 ERA and 14 K’s in 11 innings. He allowed five earned runs on 11 hits and five walks. On August 4, the Minnesota Twins selected Garza off waivers from Houston.
Garza pitched in 18 games for Minnesota through the rest of the season, going 0-2 with a 3.26 ERA. In 2022 he got back to the bigs with the Tampa Bay Rays (2-2, 3.34, 35 IP).
Oliver played 20 seasons in the majors, appearing with nine different teams. Before finding his way to the Astros in 2004, he played in the majors for the Rangers (60-54, 4.94, 955 1⁄3 IP), the St. Louis Cardinals (13-13, 4.26, 253 1⁄3 IP), the Boston Red Sox (4-5, 4.66, 58 IP), the Colorado Rockies (13-11, 5.04, 180 1⁄3 IP), and the Florida Marlins (2-3, 6.44, 58 2⁄3 IP).
On July 22, 2004, the Marlins sold Oliver’s contract to the Astros. He pitched in nine games for the Astros, including his only win on August 5. He started against the Atlanta Braves and pitched five innings, giving up no runs on one hit and two walks while collecting six strikeouts. In his next start on August 5, he was lifted after one inning with an injury that kept him on the shelf for six weeks. Once he came back, he pitched in four more games.
In total, Oliver was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA for the Astros, with 13 strikeouts in 14 innings, along with six runs on 12 hits and four walks. He later played with the New York Mets (4-1, 3.55, 81 IP), the Los Angeles Angels (15-3, 3.10, 209 1⁄3 IP), the Rangers (again) and the Toronto Blue Jays (6-8, 2.90, 105 2⁄3 IP).