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OF Todd Self (45)
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RHP Red Witt (1931-2013)
Everystros Countdown Chapter XVI
Today’s chapter is focused on players between 21 and 100 BF/PA with Houston, and between negative-0.0019 and negative-0.0012 bWAR per BF/PA.
756. Mike Ivie was a six-foot-three right-handed corner infielder / outfielder from Atlanta, GA. Born on August 8, 1952, Ivie joined the San Diego Padres farm in 1970 after getting drafted first overall out of Walker HS, and made his debut in 1971 at age 18. He ended up playing in 403 games over five seasons with the Friars, hitting .269/.320/.388 with 25 home runs and 188 RBI. He later played parts of four seasons with the San Francisco Giants, hitting .281/.340/.466 with 42 homers and 172 RBI in 336 games.
On April 20, 1981, the Giants traded Ivie to Houston for Dave Bergman and Jeffrey Leonard. On May 1, Ivie drew a walk in the second, hit a double in the sixth, hit a single in the eighth, then added a two-run double in the ninth for a 5-3 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 19 games that year, he was 10-for-42 with three doubles and six RBI, with two walks, two runs scored, and 11 strikeouts.
In 1982, Ivie opened the season on Houston’s parent club roster as a pinch hitter. In seven opportunities in Houston’s first 14 games, he was two-for-six with a walk. On April 30, the Astros released him. The Detroit Tigers signed him a week later. In 92 games over parts of two seasons with the Big Cats, Ivie hit .229/.291/.429 with 14 jacks and 45 RBI.
755. Ramón de los Santos is a six-foot right-handed pitcher from Santo Domingo, DR. Born on January 19, 1949, he joined Houston as a relief pitcher at their Triple-A level in 1972. In August, 1974, de los Santos joined Houston. On August 28, he came into a 2-2 ballgame with two out and two on in the bottom of the ninth, and got Bud Harrelson to fly out. Cliff Johnson hit a solo home run in the top of the 10th, giving de los Santos his first career major league win after facing one batter.
de los Santos pitched in a dozen of Houston’s final 40 games of the year, pitching to a 2.19 ERA. He struck out seven in 12 1⁄3 innings, allowing six runs (three earned) on 11 hits and nine walks. He spent the 1975 campaign back in Houston’s system, then spent the next two years with the St. Louis Cardinals farm. After six seasons out of affiliated ball, he joined the Oakland Athletics Triple-A team for 46 games in 1984.
754. Dave Roberts is a six-foot-three right-handed C/IF from Lebanon, OR. In 1972, he was the first overall selection of the 1972 draft out of the University of Oregon by the San Diego Padres. In six seasons with San Diego, he appeared in 509 games and slashed .240/.287/.354 with 35 home runs and 157 RBI. He followed that with two seasons for the Texas Rangers, where he slashed .245/.290/.392 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI.
After the 1980 season Roberts signed with the Astros through free agency. He played in 27 games for them through the season. From May 10 through May 30, he put together a seven-game hitting streak, going seven-for-20 with a double and a home run. Overall, he went 13-for-54 with three doubles a home run and five RBI, with three walks and six strikeouts. He did get a postseason plate appearance with Houston against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, but struck out.
Near the end of 1982 Spring Training, the Astros traded Roberts to the Philadelphia Phillies for Steve Dunnegan. Roberts appeared in 28 games for the Phils that season, hitting .182.
753. José Tolentino was a six-foot-one left-handed first baseman from Mexico. Born on June 3, 1961, he was a 36th-round choice of the San Francisco Giants in 1982 out of Seminole State College. He didn’t sign with them, and a year later was rewarded by going in the seventh round to the Oakland Athletics out of the University of Texas at Austin.
Tolentino toiled away in Oakland’s farm for five seasons, then joined the Texas Rangers farm for a bit in 1988. On June 13 of that year, the Rangers released him, and he signed on with the Astros four days later. In 1990, while playing with the Triple-A Tucson Toros, he hit .308/.389/.576 with 21 home runs and 78 RBI, with 48 walks and 44 strikeouts.
At the end of July, 1991, Tolentino reached the big leagues with Houston, and played in 44 of their final 66 games of the season. On August 26, Tolentino entered in the bottom of the eighth inning with one out and one on, trailing the New York Mets, 4-2, and hit his first major league home run. The Mets scored twice in the top of the 10th to retake the lead, but Tolentino hit a one-out double in the bottom of that inning to keep hope alive. Unfortunately, Gerald Young and Craig Biggio each grounded out in the 6-4 loss. On September 3, he hit three singles in a 6-1 loss to the Mets.
Overall, Tolentino was 14-for-54 with four doubles, one homer, six runs scored and six RBI. He drew four walks and struck out nine times. Defensively, he made one error in 50 innings at first base and took four chances without a problem in eight innings of left field. The extended cup of coffee was Tolentino’s only appearance in the major leagues.
Johnstone didn’t get to the majors with the Mets, and in November 1992 was the 31st pick in the expansion draft, by the Florida Marlins. He appeared in 28 games in three seasons with the Marlins, with a 5.65 ERA and a 1.936 WHIP. Johnstone signed with the Houston Astros through free agency on December 28, 1995.
Johnstone spent the bulk of the 1996 season at Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, the Tucson Toros. In 45 games, all but one out of the pen, Johnstone was 3-3 with a 3.42 ERA and 70 K’s in 55 1⁄3 innings. The Astros called him up in mid-June. He made his first appearance for Houston on June 21, and allowed a run on two walks and a hit in an 11-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. On July 2, he earned a win after pitching a scoreless 12th inning and Bill Spiers drove home John Cangelosi for a 4-3 win against the Marlins.
Johnstone appeared in nine games in relief for Houston, with five strikeouts in 13 innings. He allowed eight runs on 17 hits and five walks, with a 1.692 WHIP and a 5.54 ERA. After the season, Houston granted his free agency.
Johnstone later pitched for the San Francisco Giants (13-15, 3.68, 194 K’s in 222 1⁄3 innings). and the Oakland Athletics (five games, 2.84 ERA, 2.211 WHIP)
751. Bruce Chen is a six-foot-two left-handed pitcher from Panama. Born on June 19, 1977, Chen joined the Atlanta Braves system in 1994, getting to the bigs in 1998. He pitched for the Braves (8-2, 4.14, 111 IP), the Philadelphia Phillies (7-9, 4.28, 180 2⁄3 IP), the New York Mets (3-2, 4.62, 60 1⁄3 IP), the Montreal Expos (2-3, 6.99, 37 1⁄3 IP), and the Cincinnati Reds (0-2, 4.31, 39 2⁄3 IP).
Midway through 2003 Spring Training, the Astros got Chen on a free-agent deal. He pitched in 11 of Houston’s first 28 games to start out the season, giving up eight runs on 14 hits and eight walks in 12 innings. He struck out eight and allowed opponents to hit .311/.421/.578. On May 7, the Boston Red Sox claimed Chen off waivers from Houston.
Chen then played for the Red Sox (0-1, 5.11, 12 1⁄3 IP), the Baltimore Orioles (15-18, 4.61, 343 2⁄3 IP), the Texas Rangers (0-0, 7.20, 10 IP), the Kansas City Royals (47-43, 4.53, 718 2⁄3 IP), and the Cleveland Indians (0-1, 12.79).
750. Anderson Hernández is a five-foot-nine middle infielder from Santo Domingo, DR. Born on October 30, 1982, Hernández initially broke in with the Detroit Tigers rookie team in 2001. In 2005 he reached the major leagues with the New York Mets (81 games, .207/.256/.306), and later played with the Washington Nationals (105 games, .272/.335/.337) and the Cleveland Indians (22 games, .246/.270/.295. Midway through the 2010 season, the Astros claimed Hernández off waivers from the Tribe.
Hernández appeared in 32 games through the second half of the season for the Astros. On August 26, he collected a pair of base hits and an RBI in a 5-1 win against the Philadelphia Phillies. Overall, he was nine-for-48 with two doubles, seven runs, one RBI, two stolen bases, eight walks and 10 strikeouts. It was the last time Hernández got to the majors. After the 2010 season, the Astros signed Hernández to a deal through free agency as organizational depth.
749. Jack Lamabe was a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from Farmingdale, NY. Born on October 3, 1936, he got to the majors in 1962 with the Pittsburgh Pirates (3-1, 2.88, 78 IP), later playing with the Boston Red Sox (16-20, 4.88, 354 IP). On September 14, 1965, the Sox traded Lamabe to the Astros for Darrell Brandon.
Lamabe only pitched in three games for Houston, starting twice and relieving once. In his first start, on September 19, he allowed four runs on 10 hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out three in a 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. In his second start, 10 days later, he gave up five runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks, striking out two in 3 2⁄3 innings in a 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Braves. His only really solid performance was his last, when he came out and pitched two perfect innings with one strikeout against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 6-3 loss.
After the season, the Astros sent Lamabe with minor leaguer Raymond Cordeiro to the Chicago White Sox for Bill Heath and Dave Nicholson. Lamabe pitched for the White Sox (8-9, 3.85, 126 1⁄3 IP), the New York Mets (0-3, 3.98, 31 2⁄3 IP), the Cardinals (3-4, 2.83, 47 2⁄3 IP), then finished with the Chicago Cubs (3-2, 4.30, 60 2⁄3 IP). SABR Bio
748. J.J. Matijevic is a six-foot lefty-batting righty-throwing first baseman from Latrobe, PA. Born on November 14, 1995, he was a 22nd-round choice of the Boston Red Sox in 2014 out of Norwin HS, then later, a second-round pick of the Astros in 2017 out of the University of Arizona.
Matijevic has appeared in 529 minor league games in Houston’s system over the past six seasons (seven years). He’s hit .256 with 97 home runs overall, along with 335 RBI and 56 stolen bases. In 2022, got his first opportunity to play with the soon-to-be World Champions.
On June 25, in a scoreless tie in the seventh inning, Matijevic got Houston on the board with a solo home run off Gerrit Cole in a game the Astros would eventually win over the New York Yankees, 3-0. On July 21, pinch-hitting with two outs and the bases loaded, Matijevic drove home Alex Bregman to defeat the Yankees once more, 3-2. In 32 games in total, Matijevic went 14-for-67 with two doubles, two home runs, five RBI, seven runs scored, one stolen base, two walks, and 25 strikeouts. After another season in the minors in 2023, Houston granted his free agency three days ago.
747. Steve Pearce is a five-foot-11 right-handed first baseman/corner outfielder from Lakeland, FL. Born on April 13, 1983, Pearce was drafted three times in total. Most recently, he was taken in the eighth round of the 2005 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the University of South Carolina.
Pearce got to the majors with the Bucs in 2007, and played in parts of five seasons with them (185 games, .232/.302/.366) before joining the Baltimore Orioles (291 games, .255/.337/.473). On July 28, 2012, the Astros claimed Pearce off waivers from Baltimore. On August 11, Pearce hit a first-inning two-run single, a third-inning RBI-triple, a fifth-inning single, and drew a 10th-inning walk in a 6-5 win against the Milwaukee Brewers.
One day short of a month after joining the Astros, Pearce’s contract was purchased by the New York Yankees. In his time with the Astros, he appeared in 21 games and hit .254/.347/.349 with eight RBI. After playing with the Bombers (12 games, .160/.300/.280), he later played with the Orioles once again, the Tampa Bay Rays (60 games, .309/.388/.520), the Toronto Blue Jays (118 games, .260/.325/.454) and the Boston Red Sox (79 games, .240/.338/.409).
746. Dan Straily is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Redlands, CA. Born on December 1, 1988, he was a 24th-round selection of the Oakland Athletics in the 2009 draft out of Marshall University.
After parts of three seasons with the A’s (13-11, 4.11, 230 IP), Straily joined the Chicago Cubs (0-1, 11.85, 13 2⁄3 IP). Before 2015 Spring Training, the Cubs traded Straily with Luis Valbuena to the Astros for Dexter Fowler. Straily’s output with the Astros was limited to three starts and one relief appearance. In his second start, on July 8, he earned a Quality Start, lasting six innings and allowing two runs on three hits and two walks, along with four strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
At the end of 2016 Spring Training, the Astros traded Straily to the San Diego Padres for Erik Kratz. San Diego waived him four days later, and the Cincinnati Reds claimed him. After his time with the Reds (14-8, 3.76, 191 1⁄3 IP), Straily played with the Miami Marlins (15-15, 4.20, 304 IP) and the Baltimore Orioles (2-4, 9.82, 47 2⁄3 IP).
745. Nivaldo Rodríguez is a si-foot-one right-handed pitcher from Naguanagua, VZ. Born on April 16, 1997, he first joined Houston’s organization in 2016 in the DSL. In 2019, between Single-A and High-A, he struck out 114 in 105 innings while keeping his WHIP at 0.990 and his ERA to 2.40.
With literally nowhere else to play in 2020, Rodríguez joined Houston at the start of the season and appeared in four of their first 14 games. In July 28 he pitched two scoreless innings of relief in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Later, he pitched four innings in the final game of the regular season, striking out five and allowing two runs in four innings in an 8-4 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Rodríguez joined Houston a couple times in 2021, and pitched in extremely low-leverage situations. He totaled 7 1⁄3 innings of work between four games, and gave up two runs on four walks and four hits. He struck out three and hit three batters. In August, the Detroit Tigers claimed Rodríguez off waivers, but he hasn’t reached the majors again (yet).
744. Phil Plantier is a six-foot left-handed batting and righty-throwing left fielder from Manchester, NH. Born on January 27, 1969, Plantier was picked in the 11th round of the 1987 draft by the Boston Red Sox out of Poway HS. He reached the majors with them in 1990.
Plantier played three seasons with the Red Sox (175 games, .268/.358/.430 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI) before joining the San Diego Padres (298 games, .235/.323/.462, 57 home runs, 160 RBI. On December 28, 1994, the Padres sent him to Houston as part of a 12-player deal that cost us Ken Caminiti.
On July 7 Plantier doubled and scored in the sixth against San Diego, but Houston ended up losing 3-2. He played 22 games for Houston, hitting .250/.349/.456 with four home runs and 15 RBI, with 11 walks and 19 strikeouts. On July 19, Houston traded him back to the Padres for Rich Loiselle and Jeff Tabaka.
Plantier later also played with the Oakland Athletics (73 games, .212/.304/.346) and the St. Louis Cardinals (42 games, .257/.333/.460)
743. Mike Foltynewicz is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Sterling, IL. Born on October 7, 1991, Houston made him a first round choice in 2010, 19th overall out of Minooka Community HS.
In 2014 Foltynewicz got to Houston for his first major league appearances in August, and remained with them through the end of the campaign. His best showing was probably August 24, when he struck out four in 1 1⁄3 innings of relief against the Cleveland Indians. In 16 appearances in total, he struck out 14 in 18 2⁄3 innings, with a 5.30 ERA and a 1.607 WHIP.
During the offseason, the Astros traded Foltynewicz to the Atlanta Braves with Andrew Thurman and minor leaguer Rio Ruiz for Evan Gattis and James Hoyt.
Foltynewicz played six seasons with the Braves (44-41, 4.30, 667 1⁄3 IP, one All-Star selection). He later appeared in 28 games with the Texas Rangers (2-12, 5.44, 139 IP).
For those of you counting, that’s 232 Astros down and 743 to go. Tomorrow is our last day at 14 players per article. It will again focus on players between 21 and 100 PA/BF with the Astros, this time between negative-0.0011 bWAR per BF/PA and replacement level.