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.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Barnes Enjoying Playing in the Outback

Brandon Barnes is playing ball this winter in Australia for the Blue Sox of the Australian Baseball League. He has had very good games lately.  It all started on Wednesday when he went 3 for 5 with two doubles.  Then Thursday, he went 3 for 5 with a double and two home runs.  The big hit being a three run homer in the top of the 9th to win the game.  Then Friday , he   again went 3 for 5 but with only one extra base hit, a two run HR, but he had four RBI on the day.  That makes him 9 for his last 15 with three doubles, three HR and a 11 RBI.

Maybe most encouraging is the fact that he has only struck out 6 times in 38 at bats.  I know it is a small sample but he struck out 111 times in 423 at bats between AA & AAA last season.  Hope this trend continues for the rest of the ABL season and into spring training.  Maybe he will need to start eating at Outback for pregame meals.

By the way, Jayne over at What the heck, Bobby? is doing a great job of tracking all the Astros farm hands off season activities.  She has cumulative stats for all of the former G-Stros posted on her site and gives daily game reports.

Altuve Wraps Up Good Season In LVBP

I saw on twitter earlier today that Jose Altuve was not going to be playing for Magallanes during the round robin playoffs in Venezuela.  By the way it look like he will be placed on the roster by Elvis Andrus.

Altuve had a very good off season in the LVBP.  He finished tied for second with an average of .339, despite fading a bit down the stretch.  He only hit .211 for his final 10 games.

He had 82 hits.  It is only the 3rd time in 28 years that some one had 82 or more hits in a LVBP season.  He hit 18 doubles which placed him third in the season rankings and his 110 total bases was good for fourth place. His 35 RBI tied him for sixth place and his 32 runs scored also put him in sixth.  Finally, the 10 stolen bases he amassed was the fourth most of any player in the LVBP. 

When you combine this performance with what he did in the minors and what he did after his big league call up; you get a .344 batting average (282 Hits in 820 AB).  2011 was indeed a very good year for Jose Altuve. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Five 2004 G-Stros on the Move this Off Season

This is a busy time of the year and if you are a baseball player, off season can often mean moving time.  Here are some moves I have tweeted about but you might not have seen so I will put them all in one place for your convenience.

We will start with today's news: J. R. Towles (2004) has signed a minor league deal with the Twins. He has been invited to spring training. 

Juan Gutierrez (2004) was signed by the KC Royals to a minor league contract.  He is still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and will not be ready for spring training.

Jordan Parraz (2004) has signed a minor league deal with the Braves.  He has been invited to spring training.

Wlad Sutil (2004) has signed a minor league deal with the D-Backs.
and not playing but still in baseball....

Beau Torbert (2004) is now the hitting coach for the Lincoln Saltdogs of the American Association (independent).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New GM and the Short Season

When I saw early this morning that the Astros had hired Jeff Luhnow to be their new GM, I was excited.  His player development experience with the Cardinals is his main calling card.  I have seen the rise in the Johnson City Cardinals over the last few years.

Maybe we can get a glimpse of what to expect by looking at the progress of the Cardinal short season teams.  The Cardinals and Astros both have three short season teams in the United States.  Both have a GCL team, as well as a team in the Appy & NYPL. 

Luhnow took over his role in player development in the fall of 2003.  So lets go back to 2004 and see how each team has fared and what kind of MLB level production has been created. (Players listed don't include rehab stints)

GCL Cards - 2007 to present
2007 - finished in 3rd place with a 24-30 record.  Players with MLB time on roster - 3 (Eduardo Sanchez, Tony Cruz, Pete Kozma).
2008 - finished 17-38 and in last place.
2009 - finished in 3rd with a 25-31 record.
2010 - finished 28-28 and in 3rd place again.
2011 - finished in 2nd with a 31-24 record.

Johnson City Cardinals - Appy League

2004 - posted a 33-35 record and finished 3rd in the Appy West.  Players with MLB time on roster - 1 (Mark Worrell)
2005 - posted a 28 -39 record and finished 5th in the west.  Players with MLB time on roster - 3 (Colby Rasmus, Bryan Anderson, & Daniel Barone.
2006 - posted a 34-34 record and finished 5th again.  Players with MLB time on roster 3 (Brandon Dickson, Luke Gregorson, Kyle McClellan).
2007 - posted a 28-40 record and finished 3rd in the west.  Players with MLB time on roster - 5 (Adron Chambers, Tony Cruz, Pete Kozma, Brian Brodrick, and Eduardo Sanchez).
2008 - posted a 36-30 record and finished 2nd.  Players with MLB time on roster - 1 (David Carpenter - yes the one on the Astros).
2009 - posted a 37-30 record and again finished 2nd.
2010 - eked out a one game lead over the E-Twins for the West pennant with a 42-24 record.
2011 - claimed back to back Appy titles with a 45-23 record.  

New Jersey Cardinals/ State College Spikes/ Batvia Muckdogs Cardinals - NYPL

2004 - finished 2nd in their division with a 41-34 record.  Players with MLB time on roster - 5 - (Joe Mather, Jarett Hoffpauir, Dennis Dove, Cory Doyne, & Mike Parisi)
2005 - finished 4th in their division with a 37-39 record.  Players with MLB time on roster - 3 (Tyler Greene, Mitchell Boggs, Blake Hawksworth).
2006 -  finished 4th in their division with a 39-36 record.  Players with MLB time on roster - 7 (David Carpenter, Allen Craig, Mark Hamilton, Brendan Ryan, Luke Gregerson, Jason Motte, Adam Ottavino & P. J. Walters)
2007 - finished 31-47 and in 5th place.  Players with MLB time - 9 (Andrew Brown, David Carpenter, Tony Cruz, Daniel Descalso, Steven Hill, Pete Kozma, Brian Broderick, Clayton Mortenson, & Jess Todd)
2008 - finished in first in their division with a 46-28 record.  Players with MLB time on roster - 1 (Lance Lynn)
2009 - finished 4th in their division with a 37-39 record.  Players with MLB time on roster - 1 (Matt Carpenter).
2010 - won their division with a 45-29 record. 
2011 - finished 4th in their division with a 37-38 record.

Since 2004, the Cardinals short season teams have produced 34 players who have seen time on MLB rosters.  Fourteen of those players are on the 40 man roster for the Cards.

During that same time frame, the Astros have produced 21 players who have donned a MLB uniform.  Nine of those players currently grace the Astros 40 man roster.

This gives some hope that he can build a farm system.  Since the Astros have just leveled their system a few years ago and have laid what appears to be a good foundation, I expect we will see results at a faster pace than his time with the Cardinals showed.  Time will tell.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jay Austin Rebounds in AFL

Jay Austin, may have just ended the most significant season of his career. The 2011 Arizona Fall League.  One year ago, Austin had finished the Arizona Fall League with a paltry .156 and a .425 OPS in 12 games (52 AB).  Granted he was 20 at the time but that was still less than impressive.  Then he started the 2011 season where he had ended 2010, in Lancaster.  His numbers were about the same but growth wasn't happening as expected.  Towards the end of the 2011 season, he was demoted.  He was sent back to low A Lexington to finish the season.  There he played his last 32 games of the season, hitting just .203.  People who follow Astros minor league baseball started hearing comments appearing to indicate Austin's bat would never develop. 

Then he showed back up in Arizona.  What a difference a year makes.  This year in 11 games (45 AB) in the Arizona Fall League, Austin hit .311.  His OPS was a solid .829.  His defense also appears to have been boosted this year, making no errors after making two in 2010. 

I know this is a small sample size.  Yet, if Austin puts up a solid 2012, we can point to the 2011 AFL as the the turning point in his career. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Former G-Stros Released

Baseball America's minor league transactions released today showed the end of Astros careers for several former G-Stros.  Those whose releases were made public today include:

Garrett Bullock - Non drafted free agent out of Wake Forrest.  Played in Greeneville in 09, 10.
Joan Belliard - Right handed reliever from the Dominican Republic pitched in Greeneville in 09.
Mark Jones- 22nd round pick in 2009 out of Lancaster, PA.  Pitched in Greeneville in 2011.
Travis Smink  - 31st round pick from 2009 out of VMI.  He pitched in Greeneville in 09, 10.
Ronald Sanchez - 16th round draft pick from 2009 out of Caguas PR.  He played in Greenville in 2011.
Miguel Arrendell- Utilitiy infielder from the Dominican Republic played in Greeneville in 2009.
Danilo Del Rio - Right handed releaver out of Cartagena, Columbia pitched in Greeneville in 2011.

Best of luck to these gentlemen.

Baseball American Ranks 3 Former G-Stros in Top 10

Baseball America released their Top 10 Astros prospects for 2011 today.  While those prospects acquired in trades make up over half of the list, former G-Stros still appear on the list. They represent three of the four players on the list drafted by the Astros.

Number eight on the list is Delino DeShields Jr..  He was also mentioned as the fastest base runner in the system.

Number nine on the list is Mike Foltyenwicz. 

Number 10 on the list is Telvin Nash. 

The list of best tools in the system included former Greeneville catcher Roberto Pena as the best defensive catcher in the system. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Summary of Progress Reports

Here is the summary of the year by year account of the progress of the players still in affiliated ball with links to the year's write up.  This numbers do not reflect any releases since the season ended.

Active Players in Affiliated Ball in 2011
2004 - 24% (9 out of 37)
2005 - 20% (7 out of 35) Tim Pupura's first draft as GM
2006 - 19% (6 out of 31)
2007 - 13% (5 out of 38)
2008 - 58% (22 out of 38) Ed Wade's first draft as GM (also Bobby Heck's first class)
2009 - 66% (22 out of 35) GCL Astros 1st season
2010 - 66% (26 out of 39)

2010 Greeneville Astros Progress Reports

This wraps up the progress reports of former G-Stros for this off season.  It's only been a year but lets look at the progress made by the 2010 G-Stros.  Thirty nine players spent time in Greeneville playing in 2010.  Twenty six of those players were playing affiliated ball in 2011 for 66%.

Let's look at how high they climbed.  They are listed by the highest level they appeared in and the percentage by each level is out of the full roster.

AA (1 - 3%)

Chris Wallace started the year in Low A Lexington but was double promoted to AA Corpus Christi to finish out the year.  With him turning 23 years of age in April and him having solid success in Lexington, it was not surprising the Astros challenged him by putting him on a fast track.  Wallace hit .244 in 36 games in AA.  he also found out that base runners were better there.  He only threw out 10% of attempted stolen bases.  Wallace spent part of the fall in instructionals.

High A (2 - 5%)

Bryce Lane  spent most of the season in Lexington but did appear in Lancaster for five games during the year.  He was hit less during his stint in Lancaster and hit .222 in 67 games in Lexington. He will be 22 when spring training begins.

Hector Rodriguez bounced around three levels this year.  He started in Lancaster, then was sent to Tri Cities and finished the year in Lexington.  He never got much consistent playing time in those stops appearing in only 35 games through the year.  He combined to hit just .163 on the season. He will be 22 when spring training rolls around.

Low A (13- 33%)

Ruben Alaniz had an inconsistent year in Lexington.  He had a rough April, sporting a 8.78 ERA after the first month of the season. However in June, he sported a solid 2.28 ERA.  Overall, he finished with a 4.44 ERA in 27 games (21 starts).  He fanned 96 batters in 115 2/3 innings pitched.  He gave up 11 home runs, with only four in the second half of the season.  He earned an invite to instructionals.  Alaniz will be 20 when he reports to spring training. 

Garrett Bullock  see 2009 write up.

Jeiler Castillo  see 2008 write up.

Delino Deshields Jr. only appeared in 16 games in 2010 for Greeneville.  However, he was impressive in those games as just a 17 year old.  This year, as he continued to make the transition to becoming a second baseman, he struggled in the first half of the year hitting just .197 before the All Star break.  DeShields had a great July (.320) and finished the second half of the season with a respectable .242 average.  His power dropped in the second half but his on base percentage climbed.  All promising signs for a young man who won't turn 20 until next August. He got a bit of extra work in this fall in instructionals.

Mike Foltynewicz appeared to run out of gas as the long Sally League season of bus trips ground to an end.  After keeping his ERA in the upper three and low four range for May, June & July; it jumped to the seven and eight range for August and September.  He was on the instructional league roster. He is still seen as a top prospect and will just be 20 when next season begins.

Gabriel Garcia pitched out of the pen in 31 games for the Legends.  Garcia struck out 68 batters in 69 1/3 innings pitched.  His ERA was 3.76 on the season.  He is pitching in his home country for Winter Ball and through his first 11 appearances in the Dominican League, he is sporting a 2.84 ERA.  He will still be 22 when next season rolls around.

Emilio King had a break out year in Lexington.  In Greeneville, he showed good defense with a great arm but very little with the bat.  In 2011, he hit .293 and 34 of his 106 hits went for extra bases.  He also had 14 outfield assist on the year.  King will be 22 at the start of spring training.

Ryan McCurdy appeared in just one game for Lexington.  He spent most of his season in TriCities.  There he hit .324 which is an impressive jump from the .148 combined between Greeneville & TriCities in 2010.  He will turn 24 in December.

Jhonny Medrano hit .203 in 60 games for the Legends this season.  He is a minor league free agent and will likely not be playing affiliated ball next season. Injuries limited his potential. 

Telvin Nash got his 2011 season of to a bang with an impressive April where he hit .310 with an OPS of .997 but then broke the hamate bone in his hand and missed all of May and almost but three games of June.  In the second half, Nash was okay but not as spectacular as his April.  He finished the year with a .269 average and a .858 OPS in Lexington. It is expected that recovery from a hamate fracture can take some time to recover hand strength so we have to take that into account.  Nash has very good power.  Of his 72 hits this season in Lexington, 30 of them were for extra bases.  Here is a video of his power stroke.  He will need to cut down on the strike outs as he continues to climb up the ladder.  He also was learning a new position this year, playing 37 games at 1st base.  He got some extra work in at instructionals. Nash will turn 21 just before spring training begins.

Marcus Nidiffer was released by the Astros and subsequently signed by the Angels organization.  They moved him back to catcher and he hit .230 for Cedar Rapids this year.  He threw out 29% of potential base stealers. He will be 25 when spring training opens.

Roberto Pena was impressive behind the plate in Lexington this season. He threw out 39% of the potential base burglars.  He wasn't as impressive at the plate, hitting just .217 but showed improvement over his numbers in Greeneville last year.  He is seen as a solid catching prospect by the Astros as evidenced by them sending him for a brief stint in the Arizona Fall League. He was also in instructionals. Pena won't turn 20 until June of next year.

Brian Streinlein appeared in 40 games for the Legends and amassed a 3.99 ERA. Streinlein will be 24 when spring training begins.

Tri Cities (6 - 15%)

Ryan Cole finished 22 of the 26 games he appeared in for the ValleyCats. He was credited with 10 saves.  He will be 24 when pitchers report to spring training.

Jermaine Cotton started 2011 in Greeneville in the bullpen. However, he was moved into the starting rotation and was solid there.  He was promoted to Tri Cities and finished the year with a 3.68 ERA in five starts for the ValleyCats.  He earned an invitation to fall instructional league.  He will be 21 when next season begins.

Euris Quezada is a big righty who when he has his control is fun to watch. for the ValleyCats this year, sometime he had it, some times he didn't.  He was shut down after just one start in August.  He finished the year with a 6.95 ERA with 24 Ks and 24 BB in 33 2/3 IP. He will turn 23 next April.

Travis Smink appeared in 23 games for the ValleyCats this season.  He amassed a 4.37 ERA in 45 1/3 IP.  He will turn 25 shortly after the 2012 season begins.

Rafael Valenzuela continues to show he can hit.  After being injured for much of the first half of the season, he reported to Tri Cities and hit .316 in 31 games for the ValleyCats.  The non drafted free agent will be 24 when spring training begins.

Bubby Williams see 2009 write up.

Greeneville (2 - 5%)

Richardo Batista the lefty returned to Greeneville for the 2011 season and showed improvement.  He finished the season strong with a 3.57 ERA for the month of August.  During that month, opponents hit just .192 off of him. During August he also struck out 20 batters in 22 1/2 innings but he also walked 18.  He was invited to instructionals.  He will still be 20 when next season begins. 

Rodney Quintero returned to Greeneville for the 2011 season.  He struck out 32 batters in 28 2/3 IP out of the pen.  Even though the numbers aren't great, he was invited to fall instructional league.  He will turn 22 before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

Injury/DL (2- 5%)

Vincent Velasquez and Jonathon Merritt both spent their year rehabbing from injuries.  Velasquez was on the instructional league roster.

I expect the number of active players to drop pretty heavily next year with the large number of guys already in the 24 to 25 range in this group.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Both Rookies of the Year have Appy Ties

Both Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrell started their pro careers in the Appy League. 

Hellickson, appeared in four games for the Princeton Devil Rays in 2005 as an 18 year old.  He never came to Greeneville or faced the G-Stros.

Kimbrell, appeared in 12 games for the Danville Braves in 2008.  He faced Greeneville twice both securing saves in one run wins.  Back on June 21st, 2008, he came into the game in the 8th inning. This is from the game log on MILB.

Greeneville Bottom of the 8th
  • Pitcher Change: Craig Kimbrel replaces Junior Rojas.
  • Frank Almonte pops out to second baseman Chais Fuller.
  • Kody Hinze grounds out, third baseman Jon Gilmore to first baseman Gerardo Rodriguez.
  • Dionel Montas strikes out swinging. 
Greeneville Bottom of the 9th
  • Carlos Mojica called out on strikes.
  • Ricardo Bonfante doubles (1) on a line drive to left fielder Mike Elkerson.
  • Albert Cartwright grounds out, shortstop Shayne Moody to first baseman Gerardo Rodriguez. Ricardo Bonfante to 3rd.
  • Renzo Tello reaches on fielding error by third baseman Jon Gilmore. Ricardo Bonfante scores.
  • Devon Torrence walks. Renzo Tello to 2nd.
  • Jay Austin grounds out, second baseman Chais Fuller to first baseman Gerardo Rodriguez. 
He faced Greeneville again on June 26th.  This is the game log from that affair when he entered with two outs in the 8th. 

Greeneville Top of the 8th 
  • Pitcher Change: Craig Kimbrel replaces Matt Timms.
  • Jose Altuve walks.
  • Frank Almonte grounds out, pitcher Craig Kimbrel to first baseman Chais Fuller. 
Greeneville Top of the 9th
  • Kody Hinze walks.
  • Offensive Substitution: Pinch hitter Federico Hernandez replaces Dionel Montas.
  • Offensive Substitution: Pinch runner Albert Cartwright replaces Kody Hinze.
  • With Federico Hernandez batting, wild pitch by Craig Kimbrel, Albert Cartwright to 2nd.
  • Federico Hernandez flies out to right fielder Chris Shehan. Albert Cartwright to 3rd.
  • Renzo Tello lines into unassisted double play, third baseman Jon Gilmore. Albert Cartwright doubled off 3rd.
 Based on his minor league stats, Kimbrell was one of those rare pitchers who never started a game on his climb to the majors. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Liga Paralela - The Minor Leagues in Venezuela

In Venezuela, there isn’t just the LVBP season going on .  There is also the Liga Paralela, the Venezuelan minor leagues.  Here is an update on the former G-Stros who are playing minor league winter ball. 


Frederico Hernandez – Has started five games and is hitting .227 in 22 at bats.  He has played 1st base in most of his games.

Ernesto Genoves – Has played in four games but started just three.  In 12 at bats, he has three hits for a .250 batting average.  One of those hit was a home run.  He has put in an appearance at 3rd base in one game. 

David Martinez – Has pitched in four games, three of them as a starter.  In 14 innings pitched, he has yet to allow an earned run.  He has allowed just five hits and two walks for a 0.500 WHIP.  He has fanned 8 of the 44 batters he has faced. 

Carlos Quevedo – Has pitched in relief in six games.  He has given up five runs in nine innings pitched but only one of those runs was earned.  So he is sporting a snazzy 1.00 ERA.  He has given up seven hits and fanned three batters.


Yuri (Juri) Perez – Has pitched in five games, three of them as the starter.  In 21 innings, he has given up 20 hits and eight walks.  He has struck out 16 batters.  His ERA is 3.86


Luis Alvarez – Is hitting .282 in 12 games.  He has three doubles and a home run.  He has walked three times and has struck out only three times in 39 at bats.  He has caught four out of six base thieves.

This is all that I can locate on the rosters.  Just last year, Jose Altuve started winter ball in this league and he finished Winterball in the Venezuelan big leagues.  Maybe the same will happen for a few of these guys this year. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interview: Nine Innings with Jordan Scott

Today I had the chance to visit with Jordan Scott by phone.  Jordan is the 2011 MVP of the Greeneville Astros.  He was nice enough to give me a bit of his time to answer a few questions.   I normally have nine questions for the players, he was kind enough to go to extra innings with me.  Enjoy.

1. You had a good year in 2010 for the GCL Astros. Then you had a very good season for Greeneville and earned the team MVP award. What areas did you see yourself improve in from year one to year two?

JS: Pretty much improving in all aspects of my game.  The biggest part is getting better in the outfield; running better routes and getting better reads on the ball.  Then hitting wise, I worked with the hitting coach, Josh Bonifay.  We did a lot of early hitting. We would probably get out to the field at 1:30 to just get on the field and try to improve the mechanics and get everything consistent.

2. Those of us who follow minor league baseball hear about instructionals but have no idea what they are really like. Can you give us an idea of what instructional league is like?

JS: You take your top 40 or 50 guys out of your organization and play about 20 to 25 games during that month.  It’s basically a lot of instructional stuff and trying to get better in an aspect of your game.  It is a lot of preparation before the game and a lot of practice.  We played against the Nationals, Tigers and Braves.  

3. Were you working on anything particular during instructionals?

JS: I worked on being more consistent in the outfield.  Whether it be the route on the ball or getting my arm stronger.

4. What about for this off season? 

JS: I am preparing myself for next season by working out five or six days a week.  Getting stronger and hitting a lot.

In just two seasons, you have had the chance to play with four different pro teams in the Astros organization. Give your best and worst for each rung of the minor league ladder you have climbed:

5. GCL Astros

JS:Best - Gettting my pro career off to a good start.  I had pretty descent year that year.  I think that was the best for me, just to get a good first season under my belt.  To get some confidence to carry into the next season.

Worst - Everything happening so fast.  Signing and then going down there within two days. It was a pretty tough change for me being away from family and stuff.

6. Greeneville

JS: Best - The fans and the atmosphere.  Coming from the GCL the previous year, there are not many fans at all in the GCL.

Worst - Every other field we played at wasn’t that great.  It was a lot different on the road than at home. 

7. TriCities

JS: Best - I played two series on the road and at one stop, we stayed at a pretty sweet hotel and I could see the stadium from my hotel room. It was with in walking distance.  So it was just walk to the field and walk back.

Worst -  We went from the best park in the league to the worst park in the league.  The other bad thing was that I didn’t get to play at their home stadium.

8. Lexington

JS: Best - Everything.  From the nice apartment we stayed in to the nice facilities to the great fans to going up there on a really good baseball team. It was a really cool experience for me.

Worst - The bus trips.  They’re terrible.  All night trips where you are not very comfortable on the bus. 

9. Who is/are the pitcher(s) on Greeneville's staff this year that you were glad they were on your team so that you didn't have to try to hit off them? (please give us an idea of what pitch is particularly nasty in their arsenal)

JS: Ordisgoitti – as a lefty he throws a lot of two seamers down and away. He has a really good change up and a pretty descent slider. He has pretty good velocity.  He’s a really tough pitcher.    
Extra Innings: I assume you were a baseball fan growing up. Have you had that moment yet where you interact with someone you think of as a player on TV but they are right there on the field next to you? If, so which one stands out in your mind as most memorable.

JS:I got to face Chien Ming Wang and El Duque when I was down in extended this year.  It’s pretty awesome to know you have watched them on TV before but in reality, it’s just you against the pitcher like when you are facing everyone else.  You just have to have confidence to know you will succeed.

I would like to think Jordan for his time today and wish him the best as he prepares for next season.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Jose Altuve is the LVBP Player of the Week

Understatement of the day: Jose Altuve had a pretty good week back in his home of Venezuela.  According to the press release, announcing the weekly award: (gotta love Google Translator)

In short, Jose Altuve during the fourth week took 23 turns in which officers discharged a dozen rockets, which included 4 doubles and a triple, to leave .522 average, in addition to charter 6 stripes and step on the plate 4 times.
Altuve has hit in nine of his last ten games and has had multiple hit games six times out of the last ten.  In fact he has had multi hit games each of the last four games. He has risen to second in the league with a .394 average.

2009 Greeneville Astros Progress Report

The 2009 G-Stros were the first bunch that were the sandwich short season team.  Below them, the new GCL Astros were playing at the spring training complex. And the ValleyCats were playing above them in the NY- Penn League. In Greeneville, the fans didn't know what to expect from the new set up in the lower minors.  What we saw was a mix of high draft pick high school players and low round/free agent college players.  This edition of the the G-Stros had just seven teenagers and all seven were still active this year.

Of the 35 players who graced the roster that year, 63% (22) were still active on an affiliated roster at some point this season.  Let's look at how high they climbed.  They are listed by the highest level they appeared in and the percentage by each level is out of the full roster.

MLB (2- 6%)

Jose Altuve - see 2008 write up

J. D. Martinez - made a brief stop in Greeneville on his rapid climb to the majors.  He hit .403 during just 14 games in Greeneville.  This year, he hist .274 in 53 games in the big leagues.  He made the fastest climb of any G-Stros position player to the majors. 

AAA ( 0 - 0%)

AA (0 - 0%)
Altuve & Martinez appeared at this level but made it the the show to end the season.

High A (6- 17%)
Miguel Arrendell - The utility man appeared at five positions for Lancaster (RF, LF, SS, 2B, 3B) while hitting .281 in 50 games.  He was moved back to Tri Cities for the last month of the season to sure up their middle infield where he hit just .219 in 18 games. Arrendell will turn 24 during spring training next season.

Grant Hogue - Hogue was a  fan favorite during his time in G'ville for his hustle and easy going nature with fans.  After playing in CF exclusively in 09 & 10, he spent time in all three outfield positions in Lancaster in 2011.  He spent 76 of the 106 games in right field, where he amassed 11 of his 15 assist.  He hit .269 on the season.  He will be 25 when he reports to spring training.

Jonathan Meyer - Meyer continues to show improvement as he climbs the ladder.  In Lancaster in 2011, he hit .264 with 14 home runs.  He had only hit 5 in his previous two seasons.  Next year will determine if the power is the result of Lancaster or his maturation as a hitter.  He will be 21 when he reports next season. 

Jio Mier - He evenly split his season between Lexington and Lancaster, playing 57 games at each stop.  He  hit .245 at Lexington, an improvement over 2010's .235, before moving to Lancaster where he hit .233.  Mier is still considered a solid SS prospect and will be 21 when next season rolls around.

Jose Cisnero  - is the pitcher from 2009 who has climbed the highest.  He pitched in Lancaster and amassed a 6.06 ERA. However, when you average 11.09 strike outs per 9 innings (152 in 123 1/3 IP), that means there is something happening good there.  Cisnero will be turn 23 next April. 

Luis Cruz  - see 2008 write up.

Low A (7 - 20%)
Garrett Bullock - the tall lefty made just three appearances in Lexington before returning to short season ball in Tri Cities.  Those three outings were not that impressive.  However, his 2.51 ERA in Tri Cities was solid.  Bullock is old for the levels he has been playing.  He will start the season at 25.

Jeiler Castillo - see 2008 write up.

Gabriel Garcia - after two seasons in G'ville, Garcia moved up to Lexington where he was solid.  In 69 1/3 IP (37 games), he had a 3.76 ERA which is lower than his ERA in either season in Greeneville.  He struck out 68 batters and had a WHIP of just 1.212 which is the lowest of his career.  He is pitching well in winter ball in Venezuela right now.  He will be 22 when spring training begins. 

Murilo Gouvea - spent most of the season in Lexington with a brief time in Tri Cities.  In Lex, he amassed a 3.98 ERA in 30 games (74 2/3 IP).  He had more than a strike out an inning with 83.  He struggled keeping the walks down.  He will be 23 when next season begins.

David Martinez - was a man in search of a role this year.  He pitched in 37 games. He started five and finished 17.  In 66 2/3 IP, he fanned 44 batters while walking 17.  He will be 24 at the beginning of spring training.

Yuri Perez - like Bullock, he had a less than memorable brief stint at Lexington. He made 15 starts for TriCities where he had a 5.48 ERA.  Perez missed most of 2010 after elbow surgery.  He is still working his way back.  We hope he can regain the form he had in 2009 for Greeneville.  He will be 21 at the start of spring training.

Carlos Quevedo - really struggled to keep the ball in the park.  He gave up 22 home runs in Lexington this season in 151 innings pitched.  That equates to 1.3 HR every nine innings.  He gave up more home runs than walks. Quevedo walked 19 batters for an average of 1.1 per nine innings pitched.  Quevedo will be 22 at the start of spring training. 

Short Season A (3 - 5%)
Bubby Williams - the catcher with the cool name,spent 2011 in the New York Penn League.  His showed power, leading the team with six home runs but struggled making consistent contact.  He hit .206 in 36 games for the ValleyCats.  He will be 22 at the start of spring training next year.

Joan Belliard - repeated the NYPenn league in 2011 but only pitched in 18 2/3 innings.  His strike out numbers are still strong but is still struggling with walks.  He will be turning 23 in March.

Travis Smink - after two seasons in G'ville, he moved to Tri Cities this season.  In 23 games, he had a 4.37 ERA.  He will turn 25 next April. 

Rookie Ball & DL (4 - 11%)
Luis Alverez - returned to Greeneville after missing 2010 with a bad knee injury.  Alverez hit .271 in 38 games.  He only struck out 19 times in 151 plate appearances.  He turns 22 just before minor leaguers report to spring training.

B J Hyatt - listed on the roster for Greeneville but never was in uniform.  Still rehabbing from surgery after the 2009 season.

Wilton Infante & Nathan Pettus - see 2008 write up.

Like the 2008 edition, the 2009 team still has 22 active players.  Unlike them, it is the position players who have climbed faster than the pitchers.  A few of the players in this group will not be back for spring training but the core of this bunch should be at AA and High A to start next year.

Former Appy Astros Who Are Now Minor League Free Agents

Baseball America released their list of the minor league free agents on Friday.  There are a great number of former G-Stros who are on the list.   Here are the ones whose careers are at a crossroads. Included are the year(s) they played in Greeneville and the organization they played in last season.

Sammy Gervacio (05 - Houston)
Brad James (05,06 - Houston)
JR Towles (04 - Houston)
Koby Clemens (05 - Houston)
Jhonny Medrano (10 - Houston)
Wlad Sutil (04 - Houston)
Victor Garate (05-  Florida)
Neil Sellers (04 - Florida)
Jordan Parraz (04 - NY Yankees)
Polin Trinidad (05,06 - Texas)
Jimmy Barthmaier (04 - Washington)

Most of the ones on the list have had their shots at the AA level or higher.  However Medrano has only been as high as Lexington (Low A).  He was on the initial roster for the 2008 G-Stros and was bringing a fair amount of buzz with him. He blew his knee out at the first practice of the season in Greeneville.  He missed all of 2008 and never fully regained his prospect status. 

Some of these players will sign with an affiliated team to fill out the upper levels rosters.  Some will choose to play in a foreign country.  Some will play indy ball.  Some of these players will hang their spikes up and walk away silently into the night. We will try to keep you informed on what happens to these players.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2008 Greeneville Astros Progress Report

What a difference a year makes.  The 2008 Greeneville Astros finished the year 30-36.  While not quite at .500, they were 13 games better than the previous year's team.  This was a young team with 18 of the 38 players still in the teen years when the season began.  Three of them were still 17 (Jay Austin, Jordan Lyles & Luis Cruz).  In 2011, 58% (22 out of 38) of the 2008 roster were still playing affiliated baseball. In fact 12 of the 18 teenagers were still active.

Let's look at this group based on the highest level they played at this year.  The percentage is of the 2008 full roster.

MLB 2 (5%)

Jose Altuve  - Started in Lancaster and hit .408 prior to being moved to Corpus Christ where he hit .361. Then he was promoted to Houston.  In the big leagues, he hit a respectable .276 in 221 at bats in 57 games.  He appears to have locked down the starting 2nd base position for 2012 at the ripe age of 22.

Jordan Lyles -  While Altuve's sudden climb was a bit of a surprise to some, Lyles ascendance was expected.  He was sent to AAA to start the year after a solid spring training but was called up to the quickly to the majors and spent most of the season there.  He started 15 games before being moved to the pen to keep his inning count down.  He finished with a 2-8 record and a 5. 36 ERA.  He has locked up a rotation position for 2012 at age 21.

AAA 2 (5%)
 Patrick Urckfitz - Urckfitz bounced around earning frequent flier miles this year.  He was in AA to start the season.  Then got some brief time in at  AAA before heading back to AA. Next came a short time in hi A before return to AA to wrap up the season.  In four games at AAA he amassed a 17.47 ERA.  In AA 5.08 in 31 games. In hi A, he appeared in 10 games with a 2.02 ERA.  Gotta love a NDFA reaching this level.  he will be 23 at the start of next season.

Henry Villar - Started the season in AAA but was moved to AA in June.  In AAA, he made 7 starts but that experiment ended and he spent the rest of the year in the pen.  Pitched just 76 innings worth of ball between the two for a combined 5.45 ERA. Villar had a brief appearance in the big leagues in 2010. He will be 24 at the start of next season. 

AA  5 (13%)
Kody Hinze  - Had a break out year.  He started in Lancaster, where he hit .323 with 22 HR. He was promoted to CC where he hit 281 with 7 HR.  He is getting extra at bats in the Arizona Fall League right now.  Another solid Non Drafted Free Agent (NDFA) signing. He will be 24 in spring training.

Federico Hernandez - It was a rough year for Freddy.  He struggled at the plate both at AA and at High A after he was sent down to Lancaster.  In both stops he hit less than .200.  He will turn 24 just before pitchers and catchers report.

Ross Seaton - Spent the year in Corpus Christi, 4-9 with a  5.23 in 28 starts He continues to climb a level a year even thought the results aren't spectacular. He will just be 22 when spring training starts.

Kyle Greenwalt & Arcenio Leon  see the 2007 write up.

Hi A  7 (18%)
Jay Austin - The former 2nd round draft pick repeated Lancaster to start the season.  After not showing much progress over last season, he was sent to Lexington to finish the year and he continued to struggle.  He is getting more at bats int the Arizona Fall League right now.  He will be just 21 when the 2012 minor league players report to camp.

Rene Garcia  - The 35th round pick from 2008 spent this season in the California league where he hit hit .242 with only 41 K in 326 AB.  He threw out 30% of base stealers. He will turn 22 during spring training next year.

Luis Cruz - The 9th round pick in 2008 made 4 starts in Lancaster where he got shelled (ERA over 14).  But found moderate success back in Lexington where he went 5-4 with a 4.45 era.  He had 92 strike outs in 91 IP in Lex but gave up 15 HR. He will still be 21 when next season ends!

Colton Pitkin - see the 2007 write up

Zachary Grimmett - He split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen this year in Lancaster.  As a starter 7.35 ERA in 18 games (85 2/3 IP) as a reliever 5.34 in 12 games (32 IP). He will turn 22 before he reports to spring training.

Jose Trinidad  - Season shorted to just 10 games due to an injury. He will start the season on the DL at age 24.

Wander Alvino  - Had 73 K in 73 IP (46 games).  His 4.19 ERA isn't bad when you consider the location. His walks per 9 jumped from 2.8 in Lex in 10 to 6.3 in Lancaster.  Alvino will turn 25 before he reports this spring.

Low A 3 (8%)
Jorge De Leon - The former shortstop now converted to pitcher went 6-4 with a 3.42 ERA in 43 games (55 1/3 IP).  He struck out 51 to just 13 walks while giving up 5 long balls. He will be 24 next season. 

Brad Dydalewicz - The 8th round pick of the 2008 draft had a rough season.  In  only 29 2/3 innings pitched between GCL & Lexington, he amassed a 10.86 ERA.  He will turn 22 during spring training next season. 

Jeiler Castillo - After being drafted by the A's in the rule 5 draft; Castillo started in the Midwest league (Low A) but was sent back to Vermont (SS A) for his 4th season in short season ball.  He was released after the season.

Short Season 1 (3%)
Wilton Infante  - The former outfielder tried to make the move to pitcher.  After six outings in the GCL, he was released

DL/Rehab 2 (5%)
Albert Cartwright - see the 2007 write up.

Nathan Pettus - The former 27th round pick of the 2008 draft spent most of 2011 on the DL.  He appeared in 5 games at the GCL Astros rehabbing his way back from an injury.  He will be 23 when the new season starts. 

We would expect the number of active players to continue to rise while we look at more recent teams but the jump from five to 22 in one year tells us that something changed in the Astros farm system in 2008.  Oh yeah, Bobby Heck joined the Astros staff in October of 2007.  You think that change made a difference?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

2006 & 2007 Greeneville Astros Progress Reports

Yesterday, we went back to 2005 to see who was still hanging around.  Today we will cover two years.  We are covering two years because, well..., there aren't many players left from these two teams.

There were 31 players on the 2006 roster.  Six of those players were still in affiliated ball during the 2011 season (19%). We have already covered half of these guys in the 2005 post (so click here to read about them). Those from the 2005 team who were also on the 2006 team include:
Brandon Barnes
Ralph Henriquez
Polin Trinidad

Other players who were active in 2011 were:

Tom Vessella - the 11th round pick in 2006 was released by the Astros after the 2008 season.  He played two years in indy ball and was signed by the Giants this year.  He started the season in AA, was sent down to the Sally League (A), was promoted to the Cal League (A+), before ending the year with one appearance in AAA Fresno.  Over those four stops, he amassed 5.50 ERA in 38 games (72 IP).  He started eight games and also finished 8 games.  He will be 26 years old when spring training starts next year. 

Armadeo Zazueta - the utility infielder from Mexico only appeared in 28 games and had just 57 plate appearances in Greeneville.  He was released after that season.  In 2008, he appeared back in the states playing indy ball.  He was signed by the Braves in 2010 and played in Myrtle Beach (A+) and Mississippi (AA).  He also suspended for PED use.  Then late this season, he showed up with the Padres' AA team in San Antonio.  In 15 games he hit .283 with his best games coming against the Corpus Christi Hooks.  Over a three game series, Zazueta went six for 13 with three singles, a double, a triple and a HR.  He will be 26 next season.

Reid Kelly - Kelly was the 33 round pick in 2005 but didn't sign until 2006.  He pitched in Greeneville in 2006.  He spent 07 & 08 in Lexington before finishing his time with the Astros organization in 2009 in Lancaster.  He was out of baseball for 2010 but was signed in 2011 by the White Sox.  He appeared in 18 games for Kannapolis of the Sally League (A) but was released in August.  In his time in the Sally, he put together a 3.72 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 19 1/3 IP.

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." - Thumper (Bambi 1942)
This is going to be very, very short.  Of the 38 players that appeared on the roster in 2007, only five players are still active in affiliated ball (13%).  Sixty three percent (24) of the players were out of affiliated baseball at the start of the 2009 season.  Let those awful stats sink in for a moment and then let's say the nice things about the survivors.

Fernando Abad - The big righty made it to the bigs in 2010 appearing in 22 games out of the Houston bullpen.  He had a solid 2.84 ERA and looked primed to be an important part of the 2011 pen.  However, he wasn't effective in 29 games (19 2/3 IP) and was sent down to the minors in early July.  He made two rehab appearance in the Gulf Coast League before heading to AAA.  There he got 30 innings of work in with a 4.50 ERA.  Abad is currently on the 40 man roster, so he should be competing for a bullpen slot again this coming spring at age 26.

Albert Cartwright - Cartwright was drafted in the 36rd round of the 2007 draft.  He didn't get much playing time in 2007 due to some paperwork related issues but returned to Greeneville in 2008 where he shared time at 2B with Jose Altuve.  He then climbed the ladder all the way to AA in 2010 before he was traded last off season. He was traded to the Phillies for Sergio Escalona.  Cartwight injured his Achilles during spring training and missed the whole season.  He reported on his twitter feed that he was able to return to the field for instructional league games.

Kyle Greenwalt- He was drafted in the 20th round of the 2007 draft.  He repeated Greeneville in 2008 and was the MVP that season.  After stops in Lexington (09) and Lancaster (10), he spent the fall of 2010 in the Arizona Fall League.  He started 2011 in Corpus Christi and struggled.  After nine starts, he was moved to the bull pen and then in late July, he was sent back to Lancaster.  In Lancaster, the notorious hitters park, Greenwalt was extremely effective.  He pitched in 12 games (24 1/3 IP) amassing a 1.85 ERA.  Greenwalkt will be 23 at the start of next season where I expect he will take another shot at AA.

Arcenio Leon - The hard throwing Venezuelan spent the first of his two seasons in Greeneville during the 2007 campaign.  After a solid but unspectacular 2009 in Lexington, he returned there and was outstanding.  In 26 games (54 IP) he struck out 60 batters and had a 2.33 ERA.  He was moved all the way up to AA Corpus Christi to finish that year and predictably he didn't fare as well.  His strike out numbers stayed good at 23 in 23 IP but he also walked 22 batters.  He returned to Corpus Christi in 2011 and struck out 73 batters in 64 2/3 IP.  But he still walked too many batters (48).  He did get moved up to Oklahoma City at the season for one brief appearance.  He will be 25 when next spring rolls around.  I look for him to be at AAA next season.  He is on the 40 man roster and has some promise if he can learn the control to match his velocity. 

Colton Pitkin - Pitkin was drafted in the 41st round of the 2007 draft.  He came with a tired shoulder so he was eased in to pro ball in 2007 only pitching 7 2/3 innings.  He returned to Greeneville in 2008 and struck out 45 batters in 44 innings out of the bullpen.  After a stint in 2009 as a starter for Tri Cities, he moved back to the pen in Lexington in 2010.  He stayed in the pen in Lancaster in 2011 where he got off to a great start with a 3.82 ERA in the first half.  However, after the all star break, he struggled and finished with a 6.45 ERA overall.  Pitkin will be 22 when he heads to Florida this spring, he will likely be in Lancaster but he might be in Corpus Christi. 

So there you have it.  2008 can only look better since we know there will be at least four of these players returning to the roster.  We will look at their outcomes soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Appy League Ties to the World Series

Josh Hamilton photo from SP Times story "Greener than grass".  Tells of Josh Hamilton's first season - a great read!

Every year, during the World Series, I go back and look at who from the two rosters might have played in the Appy League.  This year, there are ten players who wore an Appy League uniform. 

Cardinals - 

Yadier Molina - 2001 Johnson City Cardinals
Rafael Furcal - 1998 Danville Braves
Arthur Rhodes - 1988 Bluefield Orioles


Elvis Andrus - 2005 Danville Braves (only for 6 games)
Josh Hamilton - 1999 Princeton Devil Rays
Endy Chavez - 1997 & 1998 Kingsport Mets
Matt Harrison - 2004 Danville Braves
Colby Lewis - 1999 Pulaski Rangers
C.J. Wilson  -2001 Pulaski Rangers
Neftali Feliz - 2007 Danville Braves

The interesting thing is that there is only one former Johnson City Cardinal on the rosters.  Meanwhile there are four former Danville Braves (looks like the Rangers won that Texeira trade - Feliz, Harrison & Andrus were all part of that trade).

Only three of the players might have played at Pioneer park - Andrus, Harrison & Feliz.

2005 Greeneville Astros Progress Report

A few weeks back, we looked at the 2004 team and who was still active. Today, let's look back at the 2005 edition of the G-Stros and see who is still around and how they fared in 2011.

There are seven players who are still in affiliated ball from the 35 players who appeared on the 2005 Greeneville Astros roster. That means 20% were still in affiliated ball in 2011.  Most of these aren't the names I would have listed after the 2005 season.  The Baseball America 2005 top 20 Appy League prospects had four members of the 2005 G-Stros on the list.  The only one still playing affliiated ball today is Koby Clemens (16).  Those who were on the list that aren't around any more are Josh Flores (8), Eli Iorg (14), and Ryan Mitchell (19). 

Koby Clemens - Clemens was the big name of the 2005 draft class.  Some said he was drafted as a favor to his father Roger Clemens but Koby quickly let it be known that he was a decent ball player in his own right.  This was the year the senior Clemens was only traveling with the Houston Astros when he was pitching.  Therefore there were several sightings of Roger Clemens at Pioneer Park and the local Wal Mart.  2005 was Clemens only season in Greeneville.  He moved up the ladder showing progress and working to find a position that worked for him.  He started at 3rd, moved to Catcher and LF before finally landing at 1st.  He found the thin air of the California league to his liking and had a break out year in 2009.   His average dropped almost .100 points in the move from the Cal League to the Texas League in 2010 but he still hit 26 HR on the season.  That warranted a move to AAA for 2011.  There he hit .234 with 16 home runs.

He will turn 25 in the off season.  He is still working on his versatility in the field which is more important with Brett Wallace ahead of him on the depth chart and Kody Hinze and Jonathon Singleton behind him at 1st base. 

Ralph Henriquez - Ralphie (as he was known then) was the Astros' 2nd round pick in  2005.  He spent the first of two years in Greeneville in 2005.  He was a fan favorite because of his willingness to spend time with kids.  After the 2007 season, he was traded for to the Mets for a minor league pitcher, Josh Appell.  After two seasons with the Mets organization, he signed as a free agent with the Mariners organization.  This appears to have been a good move for Henriquez as he got his first taste of AA ball in 2010.  In 2011, he spent time at three different levels, though he only spent one game at high A High Desert before going to the Jackson Generals of the Southern League.  In Jackson, Ralph hit just .196 and threw out 24% of base stealers in 39 games.  In late June, he moved up to AAA Tacoma of the PCL.  His found more success there. He hit a respectable .256 and threw out 30% of base stealers in 37 games.

Henriquez will turn 25 right at the start of the 2012 season.  He is showing improvement despite a slow start that saw him in short season ball for at least part of every season from 2005 to 2009. He is currently looking like a career organizational player but you never know.  Many folks thought he would be out of affiliated ball by now.

Since we are talking about Ralph, you can't mention his career with out the including the classic at bat in 2008 against Pat Venditte.  Switch hitter verses switch pitcher.

Brandon Barnes - Barnes was the 6th round pick in 2005. He like Henriquez spent two season in Greeneville.  Barnes took up baseball late and was primarily a football player in High School.  He was seen as someone with good athleticism and power but very raw.  He had a bit of a break out year in 2007 at Tri Cities where he was named the team MVP.  After spending 2008 in Lexington, he made three different stops in 2009.  He especially enjoyed Lancaster.  During the 2009 and 2010 season, he combined for 39 HR.  That is more than half of his career total of 77 round trippers.  After 2010, he spent some tie in the Arizona Fall League.  This year, he started in Corpus Christi (AA)  but was quickly moved to AAA Oklahoma City.  He didn't fare well there and was sent back to Corpus Christi in July. In Corpus Christiy, he played all three outfield positions and also played three games at second base.   He hit .286 with an OPS of .788 while on the Texas coast. At AAA Oklahoma City, he hit 197 with an OPS of .696.  He played almost exclusively in CF for the RedHawks.

Barnes will be 25 for another month when the season starts next year. I expect he will be in AAA to start the 2012 season.

Victor Garate  - Garate showed promise in Greeneville. He struck out 53 batters in 32 1/3 IP out of the pen but walked more batters (26) than he allowed on base via hits (21).  The questions could he learn control.  He made huge progress in 2006 in Tri Cities where his ERA dropped to 0.92.  Yet he struggled with walks again in Lexington and was sent back to Tri Cities to finish in 2007.  He was left off a AA or AAA roster in the offs eason and the Dodgers nabbed him in the minor league section of the rule 5 draft.He made solid progress for them and was traded to the Nationals in 2009 out of AA as a player to be named later in the Ronnie Belliard trade.  Washington brought him right to the big leagues and he made four appearances in the end of the 2009 season.  He didn't wow anyone with his performance and spent 2010 between AA and AAA in the Washington organization.  In 2011, he signed with the Marlins and had an impressive campaign with the New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA).  He appeared in 43 games (56 1/3 IP) and had a 2.72 ERA.  During the year, he struck out 59 batters, walked 34 and allowed 44 hits and five home runs.

I was a bit surprised he didn't get a September call up based on the numbers he put up.  He will be 27 when the season begins and if he continues to do the quality of work he did last season, he should be getting another shot a the majors.

Sammy Gervacio - Gervacio or "Slingin' Sammy" as I like to call him, was the closer for the 2005 G-Stros.  He collected eight saves that season.  He spent 2006 in Lexington before climbing two levels a year in 2007 and 2008.  He ended 2009 with a late season call up to Houston.  He took advantage of his opprotunity and had a solid 2.14 ERA over 29 games (21 IP).  He started 2010 in the Astros bullpen but rotator cuff surgery ended his 2010 season and cut into his 2011 season.  This year he started his climb back to the majors in Corpus Christi in May.  In 8 games there (13 IP) he put up a 1.38 ERA and was promoted to AAA to finish the year.  In Oklahoma City, he appeared in 28 games with a 4.01 ERA. 

Gervacio will be 27 when the season starts next year.  Shoulder injuries often drop velocity and make pitchers have to learn to pitch differently.  Gervacio is playing winter ball for Licey in the Dominican. How he does there might impact where he starts 2012.

Brad James  - Yes was still on a roster this year.  Brad James spent two summers in Greeneville.  He then rode his sinking fast ball on a fast track to AA in 2007.  He spent 2008 and 2009 there.  He missed all of 2010 with a shoulder injury and made a brief comeback this season.  He was shut down in July.  At 27, James time is running out.  I would be surprised if he is on a roster next spring. 

Polin Trinidad - Trinidad spent both 05 and 06 in Greeneville as well.  He think climbed the Astros ladder and was at AAA in 2010 when he was released.  The Cubs picked him up  in the off season but released him in early 2011.  He was picked up by the A's and finished the year at AA Midland where he amassed a 6.91 ERA in 18 games/9 starts.  Trinidad will be 27 when next season begins.  Being a lefty, he might make it on someones roster.  He is playing winter ball in the Dominican for Estrellas de Oriente.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Insult to Injury? Juan Gutierrez Released By Diamond Backs After Tommy John Surgery

Juan Gutierrez, who played in Greeneville in 2004, was released yesterday by the Arizona Diamondbacks.  He left the Astros organization in the Jose Valverde trade.  Gutierrez missed most of the season with shoulder injuries and then during his come back suffered elbow trouble.  This resulted in him undergoing Tommy John surgery in early September.  While I was shocked by this move, this move was not surprising to those who followed the D-Backs. Here is what was reported after the diagnosis

“It’s the last thing you want to hear from the doctor,” Gutierrez said. “The only thing I can guarantee you is that I’m going to work hard to get back healthy.”
Gutierrez normally goes back to Venezuela in the off-season but said he’ll remain in Phoenix to rehab this winter.
His future is up in the air. He’ll be arbitration eligible in the winter, meaning he’ll probably be non-tendered, but he sounded as if he wants to remain in the organization, even with a minor-league deal.
We wish Juan a speedy recovery and a complete comeback.

Towles & Sutil Becoming Free Agents Removes All 2004 G-Stros from Houston Org

J. R. Towles, one of the most popular players to ever wear the GreenEville Astros uniform was removed from the Houston Astros 40 man roster yesterday.  He will become a free agent as soon as the World Series ends. Towles could resign with the Astros as a non roster invitee to spring training but I would expect he would test other teams interest before that occurs.

That transaction means that, along with Wlad Sutil's pending minor league free agency, that no members for the 2004 GreenEville Astros remain in the Astros organization.   

Here are the 2004 players who remained in affiliated ball this year:

Jordan Parraz - AAA for the NY Yankees - hit .289 with an OPS of .802.Left Astros organization via trade with the Royals for Tyler Lumsden.

Neil Sellers - AA for the Marlins - hit .176 in just 59 games for New Orleans.  At age 29, his dream of making the big leagues might be about out.  Left the Astros in the 2007 Rule 5 draft.

Wlad Sutil - AA/AAA for Houston - hit combined .269 for the year.  His .284 average and solid glove in AA earned him a promotion to AAA where he hit just .222. Doubled his career HR total with two round trippers this year. Will be a free agent after the World Series.

J. R. Towles - AAA/MLB for Houston - hit .276 in 35 games in the minors, but just hit .184 in 54 games in the majors.  Will be a free agent after the World Series.

Douglas Arguello - AAA for Houston and Texas - Arguello was released by Houston after amassing a 3.67 ERA in 31 games. Texas picked him up for two appearances in September.

Jimmy Barthmaier - AA for the Pirates - was 5-3 with a 5.05 ERA in 39 games.  Had 69 strikeouts in 67 2/3 IP.  Marked the first time he had more K's than IP in his pro career.  Was signed by the Pirates after Houston released him following the 2007 season.

Juan Gutierrez - MLB for D-Backs - Missed most of the season with shoulder trouble.  He was released yesterday by the D-Backs. He left the Houston organization as a part of the Valverde trade in 2007.

Troy Patton - AAA/MLB for Baltimore - bounced back and forth between AAA & the Baltimore pen.  He had a 1.83 ERA in Norfolk and a 3.00 ERA in Baltimore. He was a part of the Miguel Tejada trade after the 2007 season.

Felipe Paulino - MLB for Colorado & Kansas City - He has a rough start to 2011 in Colorado.  He was 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA in his first 18 games.  After a trade to Kansas City, he had a solid showing.  For the Royals, he was 4-6 with a respectable 4.11 ERA. He was traded to Colorado prior to the 2011 season for Clint Barmes.  

So nine players from the 2004 G-Stros were still playing affiliated baseball this year.  Looking at the reason for leaving, most were a part of a trade to help the big club.  This serves as a reminder that prospects can help the club in more ways than in making it to the big club. 

BA says Santo Luis "had maybe the best arm in independent ball"

Former G-Stro Santo Luis was released by the Red Sox this season and latched on to Lincoln of the American Association.  Baseball American had this to say about the big righty in their write up of those indy players who might get a shot at affiliated  ball next season. 

(Luis) had maybe the best arm in independent ball....Luis has a true plus fastball. It consistently sits at 92-94 mph, and he pairs it with a short slider and a split. His delivery has a lot of effort to it, which explains why he's had trouble with consistency throughout his affiliated minor league career. But at his best, Luis can be dominating, and he's struck out 11.3 batters per nine innings for his minor league career.
At 27, Luis' career chances are getting shorter but here's hoping he can get a look in spring training with an affiliated team and maybe a chance to get a call up for some major league time. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Nidiffer Re-Signs with Angles

Marcus Nidiffer who played in Greeneville in 2010, has resigned with the Angles.  He hit .230 for the Cedar Rapids Kernels of the Midwest League (Low A). While in G'ville, Marcus played 1st; in Cedar Rapids he returned to the position he played in college, catcher.  He appeared in 68 games as a catcher.  He threw out 29% of potential base stealers. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jordan Lyles Season According to John Sickles

John Sickles over at MinorLeagueBall.com has reviewed his top 50 pitching prospects from the start of the 2011 season. Here is how he captured Jordan Lyles year. Lyles was #17 on the list to start the year.

Jordan Lyles, RHP, Houston Astros, Grade B+: 3.61 ERA, 42/17 K/BB in 62 Triple-A innings. Went 2-8, 5.36 in 94 major league innings with 67/26 K/BB and 107 hits allowed. Remains on the Brad Radke career track.
Really, Brad Radke? Would we be okay if Jordan Lyles ended up pitching 12 seasons with a 4.22 ERA and a record of 148-139? Vote on your feelings about this comparison in the poll below.

survey service

MLB Post Season Awards

Normally, I keep my post to the Greeneville Astros, their alumni and the Astros farm system.  However, as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I get the opprotunity to put in my two cents in post season awards the group gives out.  So here are my thoughts on who deserves the hardware from the 2011 season. Not going into justifications, just putting the names out there. (edit - 10/7/11 - was just told I needed to change my ballot to make it NL only - which made it much tougher but here they are.)

Connie Mack Award (top manager): I get to nominate three guys here.
1. Kirk Gibson
2. Ron Roenicke
3. Clint Hurdle

Willie Mays Award (top rookie): I get to nominate three here as well.
1. Craig Kimbrell
2. Freddie Freeman
3. Dillon Gee

Goose Gossage Award (top reliever): once again three names.
1. Craig Kimbrell
2.  John Axford
3.  Johnny Venters
Walter Johnson Award (top pitcher): I get to expand to five names here
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Roy Halladay
3. Ian Kennedy
4. Cliff Lee
5. Craig Kimbrell
Stan Musial Award (top player): I get to put 10 names up here.
1. Matt Kemp
2. Ryan Braun
3. Joey Votto
4. Justin Upton
5. Prince Fielder
6. Troy Tulowitzki
7. Jose Reyes
8. Lance Berkman
9. Hunter Pence
10. Michael Morse

Astros Minor League Affiliates Lose the Most Games

Baseball America has posted it's listing of the combined records of all affiliates for each Major League team.  After climbing to 29th place in 2010.  The Astros affiliates fall back to 30th after finishing the season a combined 138 games under .500.  While it appears at first glance the Astros affiliates were 70 games back from the nearest MLB team, the Brewers.  It's not quite that bad. The Astros are one of eight teams that have seven affiliates instead of the normal six.  So when you divide the games back by number of affiliates, the Astros average 19.7 games back per affiliate.  The Brewers average 11.3 games back per affiliate..... Okay, so maybe it is as bad as it looks.

2011 DSL Astro Kelvin Santana Suspended

Baseball America is reporting that former Astros Minor Leaguer Kevlin Santana has been suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug.  He is a free agent. His suspension would start next season if he signs with a team.  That would be unlikely because he would miss most of the the next season if were to play for a short season team and the leap to a full season team would be a big one.

Santana had pitched in 08 & 09 in the Orioles affiliate in the Dominican.  He didn't pitch professionally in 2010 but was signed by the Astros for the 2011 season.  He pitched well. In 20 1/3 IP, allowed just 11 hits and no earned runs.  He fanned 31 while walking 13.  He was old for the league at 21.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

J. D Martinez named Astros 2011 Rookie of the Year

Zachary Levine reports that the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America have named J. D. Martinez the 2011 Houston Astros Rookie of the Year.  He hit .274 in 53 games with 13 doubles and six home runs.  He patrolled LF well earning a fielding percentage of .990 and showing he can throw some by adding five outfield assist. 

Martinez played 19 games for Greeneville in 2009 after being drafted in the 20th round that year.  He is the third former G-Stros position player to play in the majors following J. R. Towles and Jose Altuve.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Don't Run On.... Outfield Assist Leaders

I just posted a link to video of Emilio King's throw from RF that was nominated for the MILB.com Play of the Year.  That got me thinking which of the Astros minor leaguers threw out the most runners from the outfield.  According to Baseball Reference stat page for each team, where are the young guns who patrol the OF.

(Couldn't resist the cheesy movie reference - sorry)

Daniel Adamson - the 23rd round draft pick from 2010 threw out 13 in Lexington, seven in Lancaster and added one more during his time in Corpus Christi for a total of 21 outfield assist. Last year in Tri Cities, Adamson threw out 7 batters.

Grant Hogue - the 35th round draft pick from 2009 threw out 15 runners in Lancaster.  He did it from all over the outfield.  He threw out two from LF, two from CF and 11 from RF.  In 2010, Hogue threw out nine from CF in Lexington.

Emilio King - The former catcher from the Dominican Repubic the threw out 14 runners in Lexington in a down year for him.  Last year, he threw out 14 in just 57 games in RF for Greeneville.  Before that he threw out nine in the GCL in 41 games.  Maybe word is getting around, don't run on King.

Andrew Muren - the 22nd round pick of 2011 put on a sharp shooting show in Tri Cities. He gunned down 14 runners in just 66 games.  Ten of those came from RF and four came from CF.

Honorable Mentions
Other full season outfielders who hit the double digit mark in outfield assist were: Jake Goebbert (12), J. B. Shuck (11) and Jon Gaston  (10).

Top short season arms to watch include: Teoscar Hernandez (7 in 59 games), Ariel Ovando (6 in 39 games), and Jerrod McKinney (5 in 30 games).

Emilio King up for MILB Play of the Year Award

Folks in Greeneville know Emilio King has to have a permit to carry his right arm.  It is a weapon.  Folks in the South Atlantic League learned that fact this season.  One of his 14 outfield assist is up for the MILB.com Play of the Year.  You can view the throw and vote here

Three G-Stros up for MILB Game of the Year Awards

MILB let's fans vote on a number of awards every year.  They currently have the ballots up for "Best Game of the Year" at each level.  Three former G-Stros are mentioned in these awards.  Here is your chance to show your support for these outstanding performances.

First of all we have Chris Wallace & Telvin Nash sending balls out of McCormick field in Asheville like they were candy canes at a Christmas parade.  Back in April Telvin & Chris each went 5-for-6 with three homers, a double and four runs scored. You can read more about the game here. And  vote for them here.

Later in the season, Josh Magee had an amazing run of getting a hit in 12 straight at bats for Greeneville. I know the award is for "Best Game" but Magee's outstanding performance stretched over three games.  He went 5-5 and 4-4 in back to back games and then got three hits in the next game before striking out going for hit number 13.  You can read about the streak here and vote here.  

Let's support our former G-Stros - Vote early & often!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Last Night Good for 2004 G-Stros Patton & Paulino

Checking box scores this morning, I saw that two former Greeneville Astros got wins in the MLB yesterday.  First, Felipe Paulino continues his good pitching for Kansas City.  He fanned 9 batters in his start against the Twins. He went six innings allowing three runs on six hits with two walks to earn his fourth win of the year. 

Meanwhile, back on the east coast, the Orioles were facing the Red Sox.  After five innings, the Sox were up 2-1.  Baltimore turned to Troy Patton who retired the only five batters he faced.  While he was one the mound, the Orioles took the lead and gave Patton his second win of the season.  It also lowered his ERA on the season to 3.25 and for the month of September his ERA is down to 0.98.  He is making the case to start the season in the Majors for the first time and maybe even in the back end of the bull pen.  Dave Regan of foxsports says this:

...reportedly the Orioles are looking to move him (current closer Jim Johnson) to the rotation given the struggles of starters like Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman. Troy Patton and Pedro Strop are potential sleepers, but it's possible the team's 2012 closer is not yet on the roster.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Instructional Roster Released

Thanks to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle for releasing the Instructional League roster.  Here are the former G-Stros who are going to be spending part of their fall in Florida.  I will include the number of players who have played in Greeneville out of the total number at each position as well as they year(s) the player was in Greeneville in parentheses.

Pitchers:(9 out of 22 on roster)
Ruben Alaniz (10)
Ricardo Batista (10, 11)
Jamaine Cotton (10,11)
Michael Foltynewicz   (10)
Christopher Lee (11)
Luis Ordosgoitti (11)
Rodney Quintero (10,11)

Francis Ramirez
Vincent Velasquez (10)

Catchers: (3 out of 6)
Ernesto Genoves (11)
Roberto Pena (10)
Chris Wallace (10)
Infielders: (5 out of 10)
Jean Carlos Batista (11)
Delino DeShields Jr. (10)
Jonathan Meyer (09)
Jiovanni Mier (09)
Telvin Nash (10)

Outfielders: (2 out of 8)
Ariel Ovando (11)
Jordan Scott (11)

Of the  44 players who are on the non rehab roster, here is where they finished the 2011 season.

GCL: 7
Greeneville: 8
TriCities: 8
Lexington: 10
Lancaster: 4
Corpus Christi: 4
No Roster/DL: 3