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Everystros Countdown: Chapter XII

Another 14 Astros on the road to the top.

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels
Colin Moran
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 12th chapter of the Everystros Countdown.

We’re still in the middle of the third bracket, that of players between 21 and 100 PA/BF while with the Astros. Today’s story covers the players in that bracket between negative-0.0056 and negative-0.0048 bWAR per BA/PF.

812. Óscar Zamora is a five-foot-10 right-handed pitcher from Camaguey, Cuba. Born on September 23, 1943, Zamora got his start in the Cleveland Indians system in 1965, but never made the majors with that franchise. Released at the start of the 1969 season, Zamora signed with the Astros a month later.

Zamora spent six years in Houston’s minors, but never got to the big leagues during that time with the club. On June 17, 1974, the Chicago Cubs bought Zamora’s contract, and he debuted with them later in the season. In three seasons with Chicago he appeared in 148 games and pitched to a 13-14 record with a 4.34 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 209 23 innings. At the end of the 1977 season, he was granted free agency and signed with Houston again.

Zamora played most of the 1978 season with the Charleston Charlies, where he got into 20 contests and pitched to 1.000 WHIP over 34 innings. In the last part of May, he got back to the majors with Houston, and in five games he gave up eight earned runs in seven innings. Sent back to the minors again for six weeks, he rejoined Houston in mid-July and allowed four runs in eight innings, on 11 hits and three walks while also striking out three. Zamora did not appear at any level of organized baseball past the 1978 season.

811. Andy Mota is a five-foot-10 right-handed second baseman from Santo Domingo, DR. Born on March 4, 1966, he was a sixth-round choice of the Kansas City Royals out of Golden West College in 1985. After he decided to instead matriculate to CSU-Fullerton, the Astros chose him in the 12th round in 1987.

In 1988, Mota hit .351/.434/.461, leading the New York-Penn League with 95 hits. He repeated the trick in 1989 in the Florida State League, with 161 hits and a 319/.377/.400 line.

After playing the 1990 season at the Double-A level with the Columbus Mudcats, Mota hit .299 in 123 games for the Triple-A Tucson Toros in 1991. When the rosters expanded to 40 players, Mota joined the Astros proper. On September 4, Mota hit a single and a home run, with three RBI in an 8-3 win against the New York Mets. On September 24, he collected two singles and a double for his first three-hit game, also scoring a run in a 9-7 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Overall, he was 17-for-90 in 27 games with the team. Defensively, he provided league-average defense at second base, turning 11 double plays in 220 13 innings.

Sent back down to Tucson in 1992, Mota spent the next several years chasing that dragon, 1but coming up short of the majors. After his time with Houston, he played in the systems of the Giants, the Colorado Rockies, and the Texas Rangers.

810. Chris Jones is a six-foot-two outfielder from Utica, NY. Born on December 16, 1965, Jones was the third-round choice of the Cincinnati Reds in 1984 out of Liverpool HS. He reached the majors with the Reds seven years later, hitting .292/.304/.416 in 52 games. That doesn’t seem half bad, right? Well, Cincinnati released Jones after the season ended, not sure why. Houston signed Jones soon afterward, with Jones’ rookie status still intact.

In his year with the Astros, Jones split his time between the Tucson Toros (45 games) and Houston (54 games). He spent the first three-and-a-half months of the campaign at the major league level, getting into just over half of Houston’s first 106 contests. On April 22, Jones had his best game of the season (by WPA) when he entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning leading the San Francisco Giants by a 1-0 score. Robby Thompson tied the score with two outs in the top of the ninth to send it to extra innings, but Jones matched his theatrics with a two-run walk-off jack in the bottom of the 12th for a 3-1 victory.

The Astros gave Jones free agency after that season. Jones would end up playing at the major league level for another seven seasons, between the Colorado Rockies (107 games, .277/.309/.442), the New York Mets (54 games, .190/.271/.302), the San Diego Padres (92 games, .243/.322/.441), the Arizona Diamondbacks (20 games, .194/.265/.226), the Giants (43 games, .189/.250/.300) and the Milwaukee Brewers (12 games, .188/.235/.313.

809. Colin Moran is a six-foot-four corner infielder from Port Chester, NY. Born on October 1, 1992, Moran was a first-round choice of the Miami Marlins in 2013, with the sixth overall selection out of UNC-Chapel Hill. A year later, the Marlins traded him with Jake Marisnick, Frnacis Martes and a 2015 draft pick to the Astros for Jarred Cosart, Enrique Hernández and Austin Wates.

Moran, who bats lefty and throws righty, joined the Corpus Christi Hooks at Double-A for the rest of the 2014 season, and hit .304 in 28 contests. The 2015 season would see Moran hit .306/.381/.459 in 96 games with the Hooks. In 2016, he started the year at Triple-A for the first time, with the Fresno Grizzlies, and hit .259 in 117 games.

Also in 2016, Moran made his major league debut with the Astros on May 18. On May 27, he collected his first hit, going two-for-four with two RBI in a 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Unfortunately, the two hits he collected in that game represented 23 of his output through his nine-game cup of coffee with the team. He ended up three-for-23 with a walk, a run, a double, and eight strikeouts.

In 2017, Moran played most of the year back with Fresno, hitting .308/.373/.543 in 79 games at Triple-A. In July, Moran went three-for-six in two games. In one of those games, July 21, he hit a triple and a home run with two RBI in an 8-7 win against the Baltimore Orioles. At the very end of the season, he returned to Houston and played in five of their last seven games of the year, going one-for-six with a run and an RBI.

On January 13, 2018, the Astros traded Moran with Michael Feliz, Jason Martin and Joe Musgrove to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gerrit Cole. Moran appeared in 444 games for the Bucs, hitting .269/.331//.419 with 124 RBI. He spent the 2022 season with the Cincinnati Reds, and hit .211 in 42 games.

808. Mike Stanton is a six-foot-two, switch-hitting right-handed pitcher from St. Louis, MO. Born on September 25, 1952, he was drafted four times, the last time by the Houston Astros in the first round in 1973 out of Miami-Dade College.

Stanton pitched to a 1.64 ERA in 1973 between the Rookie-level Covington Astros and the Single-A level Columbus Astros. He also collected 129 strikeouts in 104 innings, and 11.2 K/9 which wasn’t as common in the early 70s as it is today. In 1974, Stanton played a whole season at the Double-A level with Columbus. In 27 turns of the rotation, he was 11-15 with a 3.07 ERA and 146 K’s in 179 innings.

In 1975, Stanton split his minor league time between Columbus and the Triple-A Iowa Oaks, going a combined 5-11 with a 4.12 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 146 innings. On July 9, he made his major league debut, walking three in the final 13 of an inning but holding on to a 4-3 win against the Montreal Expos. On July 26, he struck out one over a perfect inning of relief in a 9-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants. On September 12, he struck out two over two hitless scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres.

In seven appearances in total, Stanton struck out 16 in 17 13 innings, but also walked 20 and allowed 20 hits for 14 runs. He was 0-2 with one save. Stanton didn’t return to the majors with Houston. They sold his rights to the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of Spring Training in 1978.

Stanton did get back to the majors later on. He played two seasons with the Cleveland Indians starting in 1980 (4-6, 5.09, seven saves), four seasons with the Seattle Mariners starting in 1982 (9-13, 3.90, 23 saves), and the last part of 1985 with the Chicago White Sox (0-1, 9.26).

807. Brock Davis is a five-foot-10 centerfielder from Oakland, CA. Born on October 18, 1943, Davis started his pro career with the 1963 Houston Colt .45s at the age of 19, and played in 33 of their first 76 games through the end of June. On May 9, he got his first hit, a double in a 13-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. On June 12, he got his first two-hit game with a pair of singles in a 9-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Overall, he was 10-for-50 with a double, a solo home run, and four walks with nine strikeouts.

Davis reported to the San Antonio Bullets, the Colt .45s Double-A affiliate, and hit .196 in 62 games after his time with the Colts. He joined the big league team on September 27 and went one-for-five with an RBI, only his second of the season.

In 1964, Davis spent the entire season less one game back with the Bullets, where he hit .250. He joined the Colts for game number 162, and went 0-for-3 with a walk in an 11-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Davis played all season in 1965 for the Double-A Amarillo Sonics, Houston’s new Double-A affiliate. In 102 games he hit .270 with 27 RBI. The 1966 season was mostly as part of the Oklahoma City 89ers, where he had a .261 average in 125 games. He was again called up to Houston, now known as the Astros, in September to play in 10 of Houston’s final 17 games. He went four-for-27 with a double, an RBI, and two runs, with five walks and four strikeouts.

Davis played another two seasons in Houston’s farm system between Double- and Triple-A, and later reached the majors with the Chicago Cubs (112 games, .253, six home runs, 35 RBI) and the Milwaukee Brewers (85 games, .318, 12 RBI).

806. Red Witt was a six-foot-three, right-handed pitcher from Long Beach, CA. Born on November 9, 1931, Witt made his first inroads into professional ball with the Brooklyn Dodgers C-level units in 1950, the Greenwood Dodgers and the Trois-Rivieres Royals, where he was 6-5 with a 2.86 ERA between the two. After the 1954 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Witt in the minor league draft, because that was a thing.

Witt appeared in 53 games for the Bucs between 1957 and 1961, putting up a 10-13 record and a 3.93 ERA, with 113 walks and 136 strikeouts in 203 23 innings combined. After the 1961 season, the Los Angeles Angels purchased Witt’s contract from Pittsburgh. In five games he was 1-1 with an 8-10 ERA, and LA sent Witt back to the Pirates. On May 15, the Colt .45s purchased his deal.

Witt joined the brand spanking new Houston Colt .45s organization right at the parent club level, making a start just four days after joining the team. He lasted 2 13 innings and allowed four runs in a 10-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. In his second start four days later, he gave up two earned runs on six hits over 4 13 innings in another loss, a 5-0 setback to the Cincinnati Reds.

Shuttled off to the bullpen, Witt had a few good outings after his starts. Four of his next five appearances were scoreless, including a perfect seventh inning on May 27, in a 7-2 loss to the Pirates. In eight games overall, Witt gave up 14 runs (12 earned) on 20 hits and nine walks in 15 13 innings. He struck out 10. He spent the rest of the year with the Triple-A Oklahoma City 89ers, going 6-5 with a 2.79 ERA. He played for the 89ers for a bit the following seasons, eventually ending up with the Milwaukee Braves Triple-A Denver Bears. It was the last organized baseball Witt was party to.

805. Charlie Hayes is a six-foot corner infielder from Hattiesburg, MS. Born on May 29, 1965, the San Francisco Giants made him a fourth-round choice in 1983 out of Forrest County Agricultural HS. He reached the Giants in the majors in 1988, and appeared in a grand total of 10 games with them, going two-for-16 over parts of two seasons.

Hayes later appeared with the Philadelphia Phillies (378 games, .256/.296/.376, 30 home runs, 153 RBI), the New York Yankees (142 games, .257/.297/.409, 18 homers, 66 RBI), the Colorado Rockies (270 games, .298/.352/.484, 35 homers, 148 RBI), the Phillies again (141 games, .276/.340/.406, 11 homers, 85 RBI), the Pittsburgh Pirates (128 games, .248/.301/.368, 10 homers, 62 RBI), the Yankees again (120 games, .263/.320/.402, 13 homers, 66 RBI), the Giants again (206 games, .246/.320/.366, 18 homers, 110 RBI), and the Milwaukee Brewers (121 games, .251/.348/.370, nine homers, 46 RBI.

Hayes signed with the Astros after all of that, on January 2, 2001. Although Hayes was a shell of his previous incarnation as a masher, he still had his moments with Houston. On June 6, he hit a pinch-RBI-double in the eighth to make a 9-3 deficit a 9-4 deficit, then added an RBI-single in the ninth to make it 9-8, but the Astros came up just short when Craig Biggio grounded out with Hayes on first (and Vinny Castilla on second).

In 31 games for Houston, Hayes was 10-for-50 with two doubles, four runs scored, and four RBI. He drew seven walks and struck out 16 times. The Astros were the last team that Hayes played for.

804. Asher Wojciechowski is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Pensacola, FL. Born on December 21, 1988, he was a first-round pick in 2010 for the Toronto Blue Jays, 41st overall out of The Citadel. Near the 2012 trade deadline, the Astros acquired Wojciechowski in a nine-player deal.

Wojciechowski made his major league debut with Houston on April 9, 2015. In his second game on April 13, he pitched the final four innings, keeping the Oakland A’s scoreless on two hits while striking out four in an 8-1 loss. In five appearances through the season, including three starts, Wojciechowski allowed 13 runs on 23 hits and seven walks, striking out 16 in 16 13 innings.

On May 24, 2016, the Miami Marlins claimed Wojciechowski off waivers from Houston. He later reached the majors with the Cincinnati Reds (4-3, 6.50), the Baltimore Orioles (5-11, 5.51), and the New York Yankees (0-0, 4.50).

803. David Martínez is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Cumana, VZ. Born on August 4, 1987, the Astros signed him through free agency in 2005 when he was still 17. Martínez grinded away in Houston’s system for eight seasons before finding his way to the majors, making his debut in 2013.

Martínez appeared in four contests in relief for the Astros in August and September. In his debut, he pitched 2 23 innings and allowed an unearned run on one hit in a 5-4 loss to the Texas Rangers. In his next appearance, he blew a save but earned a win in a 10-8 victory against the Chicago White Sox. Overall though, his first season’s numbers were bad although in a very small sample size. Martínez allowed nine earned runs in 11 13 innings on 16 hits and three walks, with six strikeouts.

In July, 2014, Martínez got another crack at the bigs. On July 6, he struck out four over three relief innings, holding the Los Angeles Angels to one run on two hits in a 7-5 loss. On July 11, he threw the final three innings of an 8-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox allowing only a walk and striking out a pair. Over seven innings spread between three games, he allowed five hits and two walks, striking out six and allowing four runs. Martínez hasn’t made it back to the majors since.

802. Tyler Clippard is a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Lexington, KY. A two-time All-Star, Clippard was at times during his tenure with the Washington Nationals an absolute stud. In 2013 for example, the man pitched 71 innings with a WHIP of 0.859, and he wasn’t even the closer! Just nasty stuff this guy, good for 9.9 K/9 over 872 13 innings across 16 seasons.

Clippard, born on Valentine’s Day, 1985, got his start with the New York Yankees, getting taken in the ninth round of the 2003 draft out of J.W. Mitchell HS. Aside from the Yankees (6-9, 4.67), Clippard also played for the Nats (34-24, 2.72), the Oakland Athletics (1-3, 2.79), the New York Mets (4-1, 3.06), the Arizona Diamondbacks (3-4, 3.86) and the Chicago White Sox (1-1, 1.80) before joining Houston. On August 13, 2017, he joined the Astros for cash.

Between August 14 and September 13, Clippard pitched in 11 games for the Astros. In nine innings, he allowed 10 runs on 11 hits and six walks. Although he struck out 11, this is not the Clippard that we thought we were getting.

Although Clippard straightened out before the end of the regular season. In his final five appearances, covering five innings, Clippard allowed a walk. That’s it. He also struck out seven during that time. He was not included on Houston’s postseason roster, although he remained on the 40-man and earned a full share of the World Series. Houston released him to free agency after the campaign.

Clippard later played for the Toronto Blue Jays (4-3, 3.67), the Cleveland Indians (1-0, 2.90), the Minnesota Twins (2-1, 2.77), the Diamondbacks again, and the Nationals to close out his career in 2022.

801. Didja forget that Dwight Gooden played for the Astros? Yeah! He pitched one game! Dr. K signed with the Astros as a free agent prior to 2000 Spring Training, then started on April 8, presumably as Houston’s number five starter. In four innings, he gave up four runs on six hits and three walks, striking out one before getting relieved. The Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in that game, 8-5, although Gooden received no decision.

On April 13, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays purchased Gooden’s contract. Over the course of his 16 season career, Gooden’s time with the Astros was by far the shortest stop. He also played for the New York Mets (157-85, 3.10), the New York Yankees (24-14, 4.67), the Cleveland Indians (11-10, 4.92) and the Rays (2-3, 6.63).

800. Barry Wesson

“Other” Barry, a six-foot-two outfielder from Tupelo, MS, was born on April 6, 1977. The Astros selected him in the 14th round of the 1995 draft out of Brandon HS. He took seven years, but he reached the bigs with the Astros in 2002.

Did he set the world on fire? Not really, but he didn’t embarrass himself either. He got into 15 games between July 15 and August 4, going four-for-20 with a run and a triple. Wesson was selected by the Anaheim Angels off waivers later in the season. In 2003, he went two-for-11 in 10 games for them in September. After going 0-for-7 through the first nine, he hit a single and a solo home run, his first in his final MLB game. The Angels defeated the Texas Rangers in that one, 4-1.

799. Tom Funk is a six-foot-two left-handed pitcher from Kansas City, MO. Born on March 13, 1962, Funk was a 23rd round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1980 out of Winnetonka HS, then a 28th-round pick of the Houston Astros in 1983, out of Northwest Missouri State University.

Funk spent a total of six seasons in Houston’s system, pitching a total of 429 minor league innings and putting up a 37-18 record with 41 saves and 358 strikeouts. In 1986, he joined the Houston Astros for four weeks starting in late-July.

Funk had seven average-to-good appearances, holding his opponents to one run twice and to no runs the other five times. All of Funk’s bad luck was concentrated in one outing. On August 23, in a 7-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, Funk gave up four runs on four hits and a walk in the eighth inning. Although the Astros were already down, 3-1, Funk’s outing put a fork in Houston that night.

Well, thank you all for reading today. Check back tomorrow for the Boil and Chapter XIII in the Everystros Countdown. We’re still in the bracket of all players between 21 and 100 PA/BF while with the franchise. Tomorrow’s group of 14 are between negative-0.0048 and negative-0.0038 bWAR per PA/BF.

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