Welcome to Appy Astros, a blog dedicated to following current & former Greeneville Astros, the Appalachian League affiliate of the Houston Astros. Here you will find reports on current G-Stros, updates on the development of former G-Stros and occasionally an update on what has happened to the guys who have hung up their spikes.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Brandon Barnes Flirts With Cycle in AFL

Yesterday, Brandon Barnes fell a double short of the cycle in Arizona Fall League action. Here is the breakdown of his at bats as taken from Gameday:

Top 1st: Popped out to second to end the inning on the second pitch of the at bat (0-1 count)

Top 4th: With a runner on first, he homered to left on the second pitch of the at bat (1-0 county).

Top 5th: With the bases loaded, he triples on a fly ball to left on the 4th pitch of the at bat (2-1 count).

Top 6th: With a men on 1st & 2nd, he singles to left on the 3rd pitch of the at bat (1-1 count), scoring the man on second. Barnes goes to 3rd on the throw & runner on first scores on a throwing error by the SS.

Top 8th: Grounds out softly to first to end the inning on the 3rd pitch of the at bat (2-0 count).

Barnes line for the day was 3 for 5, 6 RBI and 2 runs scored. For this week, he is 6 for 16 (.375) with 3 extra base hits (Dbl, Trp, HR), 6 RBI, 4 Runs, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 SB. His average for the season is now.314 in 9 total games.

Barnes hit for the cycle in Lancaster on June 10th. How did coming up to bat in the 8th with a chance to go for two cycles in one year impact him? Danny Wild of MLB.com got the answer:

"It's something you can't not think about," Barnes said. "But you try to think about it as least as possible. So, yeah, it was definitely on my mind."

I have heard of negative thinking at the plate but double negative thinking? Wow.

A quick look at other former G'Stros in the AFL:

Jay Austin had a better week going 3 for 11 raising his average to .150 from .100 to start the week.

Koby Clemens went 4 for 13 and hit his 2nd home of the season. But he struck out 5 times including 3 in Thursdays game.

Pat Urckfitz pitched in two games, throwing two no hit innings. He walked one and fanned two. He has not allowed a run or a hit in 4 of his 5 outings.

Kyle Greenwalt had his best start of the AFL on Wednesday, throwing 4 innings of shutout baseball. He allowed 3 hits but didn't walk a batter while striking out 3. He has only walked 1 batter in 10 innings pitched.

Jose Altuve sighting!

Jose is playing in the VWL Liga Paralela (developmental league) for Magallanes. He has played in 4 games thus far and is hitting a robust .417 (8 for 17) with 2 HR, 3 DBL, 4 RBI & 6 Runs Scored. He has 17 total bases in 17 AB.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beau on The Braves, Barnes Plays More & Winter Ball Stats

Beau Torbert was interviewed by the Columbus (Ga) Ledger Enquirer about his recent minor league free agent contract with the Braves.
“This is my last shot,” he said. “Because of my age and not wanting to really go back to indy league, I was thinking I would just move on. But this is one more, one last shot, and I’m going to do everything I can to take full advantage of it.”

He doesn't report any love loss for the Astros org who he says didn't give him a reason for his release. Beau is realistic about his chances to make the Mississippi Braves (AA) or Gwinnett Braves (AAA) rosters.

“It’s always a numbers game,” Torbert said. “It’s hard once you’re an independent league guy. They’ve got their guys they drafted. It’s tough because you’re always on the back burner.”...“I feel like (with the Braves) I’m getting a legitimate shot,” he said. “The outfield is a spot they’re hurting. I’m just going to keep working hard and give this my full concentration and prove I can play.”

Houston Chronicle Baseball writer Zachary Levine confirms what many of us had suspected, Brandon Barnes is off the taxi squad and playing more because Jack Shuck has a bum knee. Brandon is hitting .267 with just one extra base hit in his first 8 games.

I was going to try to find a way to keep you up to date with winter ball stats of the Greeneville Astros Alums. MLB has made it simpler than I ever could have. They have a page devoted to each MLB team that list the stats for any players in their organization playing winter ball. Here is the Astros link. There are a few guys who are with other organizations like Santo Luis or those out of affiliated ball that I will give updates on from time to time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Linares Coaching in Dominican Winter Ball

Former Greeneville Astros Manager and last year's manager in Lexington, Rodney Linares is coaching first base for the Estrellas Oreintales.

Beau Torbert Status Update

Literally here is his most recent Facebook status update:
Beau Torbert Is an Atlanta Brave! Got a great woman, family, friends and now playing for the team grew up loving...life is good!

He will head to spring training hoping the make the AA or AAA rosters. The AAA affiliate is about 2 1/2 hours from his home town of Phenix City, Alabama.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Appy League World Series Ties

The Rangers vs. The Giants: 2010 World Series. What could possibly be the tie between the Appy League and two teams that don't have affiliates in the league? Well, there are six players on the post season rosters who spent time in the Appy. All of them on the Rangers.

You see before the Pulaski, Virginia hosted the Mariners... before they didn't host a team for one year and caused a 9 team schedule that caused a horrible fuss people are still complaining abut...before they hosted the Blue Jays...they were the Pulaski Rangers from 1997 to 2002. During that time, C. J. Wilson (2001) & Colby Lewis (1999) played home games in Calfee Park.

Lewis went 7-3 with a 1.95 ERA as a 19 year old starter. He rode the buses to games with Kevin Mench & Aaron Harang, as the P-Rangers won the Eastern Division crown.

Wilson dominated Appy batters striking out 49 in 24 innings in just 8 starts before being promoted. Riding the bus with Mr. Wilson as 2010 Houston Astro Jason Bourgeois.

That is only 2 of the 6 players. So where did the rest of them play? One famous one played in Princeton; home of the Devil Rays affiliate. Josh Hamilton was a young but very rich 18 year old, who hit .347 and knocked 10 HR in his year in Princeton, West Virginia. He shared fast food meals with Carl Crawford and had his mom following him doing his laundry. (Don't think so? There is evidence in this story It is a lengthy read but worth the time.)

The other 3 players all played for the Danville Braves. Two of them came to the Rangers in the trade with Atlanta for Mark Teixeira. Those two are Elvis Andrus (2005) and Neftali Feliz (2007). The last guy took a long route coming through Atlanta, and New York before he landed in Texas this season. Jeff Francour was a Danville Brave in 2002.

Francour hit .327 in 38 games as a just drafted 18 year old. He rode the bus with Kyle Davies and was managed by Ralph Henriquez, father of former Astro farm hand Ralphie.

Andrus made a short stop (pun fully intended)for just 6 games in 2005. He wasn't the only shortstop making cameo appearances in Danville that season, Yunell Escobar also showed up for 8 games.

Feliz made 8 appearances in 2007; seven of them were starts. He finished with a 1.98 as a 19 year old. He shared road time with Jason Hayward for 4 games during the season.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Winter Ball Update

The first week of the Winter/Fall Seasons are wrapped up for the stateside AFL & the Venezuelan Winter League (LVBP). Here is an update on how some former Greeneville Astros are doing:


Frederico Hernandez has played in two games, hitting .286 with a double and two RBI.

Gabriel Garcia has pitched in two games and has yet to give up an earned run in two innings pitched.

Wlad Sutil has appeared in one game but has not gotten a hit yet.

Antonio Noguera has appeared in three games, giving up two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched.


Brandon Barnes played in one game and went 1 for 4 (.250)

Koby Clemens has played in four games. He has four hits, four strike outs and four RBI.

Jay Austin has played in four games. He is batting just .154 with two RBI. The good news is he has more BB than K (3/2). The bad news is he has been caught stealing three out of four times.

Kyle Greenwalt made his first start and went two innings giving up two runs.

Patrick Urckfitz has appeared in two games. He has given up two runs in three innings

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jose Altuve Scouting Report

Mike over at ScoutingtheSally.com recently rated the best second basemen in the Sally League. Here is his scouting report on former Greeneville Astro Jose Altuve:
3. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

One of the best baseball players I’ve seen at the level, Altuve’s small stature had to weigh into my rankings or he would have had a legitimate shot at the top spot. Listed at 5’5″, there’s simply very little precedent for a player of his size becoming a successful pro. However, a .301/.357/.448 line including 42 stolen bases from any 20-year old prospect deserves respect. Especially when he also stands out from a scouting perspective.

Not much precedent? Ha! there have been at least 71 players out of the 10,000 or so major league ball players over time. That is a whopping 1% if you round up.

Beau Torbert Honored By Baseball America

Beau Torbert (Greeneville Astro 2004), won his second American Association MVP title this season. His near miss at hitting .400 for the season earned him the Baseball America's Independent League Player of the Year Honors.

In the article, Beau says he has relaxed more since he was released from the Astros organization in 2007.
"Before I was let go by Houston I put a lot of stress on myself to perform," Torbert said. "When I got to independent ball, I took a mindset that I'm in indy ball now, I can get back to basic baseball and having fun. Ever since I took that approach I try to not let too much good stuff or bad stuff go to my head."

His manager in Sioux Falls had this to say about Beau:
"The thing with Beau that has to be maddening for the opposition is that he'll hit anything," Shirley said. "He's a very difficult guy to pitch to.

"He understands his role is to drive in runs. He'll expand his strike zone because he knows he's up there to drive in a run. I know there are times in the other dugout where they had to wonder how he hit that, because we're wondering it. And he didn't just hit it but rocketed it off the scoreboard."

As for next seasons plans, as the article points out
After all, if .394-24-100 won't get him a contract with an affiliated team, it's hard to see what he can do to change scouts' minds next year.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2005 Greeneville Astros - Who is still around?

Last week, we looked at the 2004 Greeneville Astros and what has happened to their baseball careers. Today, we will pull up the roster from the 2005 season.

The 2005 season was a season of hope. A bunch of high draft picks were sent to Greeneville: Eli Iorg (1st round Supplemental), Ralphie Henriquez (2nd round), Josh Flores (4th round), Brandon Barnes (6th round), Timmy Johnson (7th round), Koby Clemens (8th round) and Allen Langdon (10th round). Iorg was the son & nephew of major league players and had played college ball at nearby Tennessee. Koby's dad spent a great deal of time at the park and kept the buzz going all year long. One night, you had Eli's dad, Koby's dad & Frank Viola, whose son was on the Bristol White Sox, all in the park on one night.

Add to those guys two pitchers who made some noise, Ryan Mitchell who made the BA top 20 that season and Matt Hirsh whose older brother was a top prospect in the system at the time. It was an exciting year. Let's see what has happened in the five years since then. Was the buzz warranted?

First of all there were 35 players on the roster in 2005. Four of those players were repeats from 2004. Those repeaters were Brad James, Antonio Garcia, David Katy, & Ryan Reed. Of the 35 players who were on the roster at some point in 2005, eight of them are still current. That comes to 23% still active in affiliated ball. That is a lower percentage of players in affiliated ball than the 2004 team (28%) and the 2004 team has played one more year of ball.

Here is a list of the eight players and the level & system with which they finished 2010. Those in bold have seen MLB time.

Brandon Barnes - AAA (Hou)
Koby Clemens - AA (Hou)
Jhon Florintino - AA (Hou)
Ralphie Henriquez - High A (Seattle)
Victor Garate - AAA (Wash)
Sammy Gervacio - AAA (Hou)

Brad James - AA(DL) (Hou)
Polin Trinadad - AA (Hou)

Here are some nuggets on the rest of the guys. Eighteen of the 35 (52%) never made it higher than Lexington (Low A ball). By comparison the 2004 squad had 17 out of 36 (47%) whose careers stalled at Low A.

As you can see above, two guys made it for a cup of coffee in the big leagues, compared to five from 2004. Four others made it as far as AAA (Iorg, Trinidad, Barnes, & Henriquez)as the high point in their career, which is the same number as 2004.

For a class that started out full of hope, there has been some significant disappointments. Significant injuries played a part in some of them (Iorg, Flores & Jose Lopez) not making it further up the ladder. There have also been rumblings of personality issues that lead to some of the lack of success.But you can't take all the blame away from those who scouted and drafted the players. As we look back at this next year, I expect the 2005 class of Greeneville Astros will have fallen even further behind the 2004 class.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Felipe Paulino's Thoughts About Winter Ball

I continue to be impressed with the extensive coverage of Venezuelan baseball by the Spanish language site www.comandantedelbeisbol.net. Today, I was catching up reading his latest reports through goggle translator and found this piece on former Greeneville Astro and current Houston Astro Felipe Paulino. In the piece we learned that Houston has granted permission for Paulino to pitch as a starter:

Henry Tobias Carrero, VP of Bravos de Margarita, "We already have permission the Houston Astros gave us in writing. Felipe will come with a mission to perform in the role of opener "