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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gabriel Garcia

Granted it is early in the season but something jumped out at me when I checked the Lexington stat sheet today. After 4 appearances (11 1/3 IP) Gabriel Garcia has a 0.79 ERA and 15 strike outs. Meanwhile he has only given up 5 hits, 2 walks and 1 run.

That is an impressive start for a guy who missed most of the 2010 season serving a 50 game suspension for testing positive for an anabolic steroid. When he did pitch in 2010 for Greeneville, it was an improvement over how he had pitched in 2009. In 2009, his first season in the states, he struck out 32 batters in 38 2/3 IP. Not bad, but he surrendered 69 hits and ended with an ERA of 7.91 in 10 starts. In 2010, he arrived in time to be a part of 6 games and 16.1 IP. During that time he fanned 17 but gave up 19 hits. His ERA in 2010 down to 3.86.

The opponents batting average against him has plummeted from .401 in 09, to .284 in 10 to a low .128 so far this year. His ground out to fly out ratios haven't changed much so you would assume he is simply missing more bats. That would indicate improvement in existing pitches or a new pitch he has developed. This is a pitcher I will be keeping an eye on to see if the improvements continue.

Koby Is 2 Timer & Altuve Is Being Watched

Last night in Round Rock, the former AAA affiliate of the Astros; the current affiliate, Oklahoma City, put up 9 runs in the 2nd inning. Koby Clemens contributed 4 RBIs on two home runs during the inning. Former G-Stro Doug Arguello got the win for Oklahoma City.

Clemens is hitting .317 on the season with 3 HR and 17 RBI.

Jose Altuve's hot start in Lancaster is getting some notice. John Sickles over at minorleagueball.com had this to say about Jose this morning:

Astros second base prospect Jose Altuve is one of the more unique players in baseball. He's just 5-5, 150 pounds. He's a good athlete and strong for his size, but scouts are understandably cautious about him, despite a strong track record of hitting (including .308/.364/.445 last year in Low-A). He's at High-A Lancaster this year, hitting a stunning .451/.506/.662 in 18 games, with a 9/8 BB/K in 81 PA and 11 steals in 13 attempts. Now, Lancaster is a great place to hit, and indeed he's at .528/.571/.750 in 10 contests there this year, but he's also hitting .371/.436/.571 on the road. He's a good second baseman, is just 21 years old, and should reach Double-A later this year. We'll track him closely.
Cap tip to @StreetJL for the link

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chris Wallace Is Zoned In

Let's make the understatement of the season so far: Chris Wallace had a pretty good week. From last Saturday to last night (Friday), Wallace has hit .394 with 1 double, 2 triples and 6 HR. He has knocked in 17 RBI. Two games stand out from his week. The first was Sunday's 5-6 with a double and 3 HR, where he plated 9 runs. The other was last night where he missed the cycle because he had two triples.

Granted the season is just over two weeks old but through the first 15 games, Wallace leads the South Atlantic League in HR (7), RBI (22), Total Bases (53), slugging (.914), & OPS (1.375). He is in the top 6 in the following categories: Average, Runs, Hits, Doubles, & Triples.

When you dig deeper, in his split stats, you find that his average verses lefties (22 AB) is .409 with 7 extra base hits, and his average verse righties (36AB) is .389 with 7 extra base hits. That is a very even and impressive split.

Good starts in the Sally League should always be viewed with some caution. It is a 14 team league, so it will take a while to see teams for a second time. Therefore, it might take some time to see how you handle the other teams making adjustment to your success. I am looking forward to seeing how he does when the Legends face their first repeat opponent of the year (Hagerstown, May 5th).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Repeat If Necessary

No player likes to repeat a level of the minors. I am sure when assignments were handed out earlier this month, there were some who expressed disappointment at going back to the same team they ended last year with, but proving you have improved is a great way to minimize your time there. Here is a look at a few former G'stros who are making the most of their repeats.

Jose Altuve - Lancaster - After hitting .276 in the last 31 games of the '10 season, and then tearing up the LVBP in his native Venezuela in winter ball, there were expectations Jose would be at AA. He is showing he is ready for a higher level of play with his hot start in Lancaster. Through his first 10 games, he is hitting .378 with 5 extra base hits and 5 for 6 stolen bases.

Jay Austin - Lancaster - Jay was one of the youngest players in the California League last year. He struggled some, hitting .261 and his OBP was lower than expected at .314. Through 10 games, Jay is hitting .341 and his OBP has jumped to .438. One of the most exciting things to see on his stat sheet is the 7 walks in 41 AB he has already taken this season. He only took 39 in 532 AB last season. He still won't be 21 until August so he is still relatively young for the league.

Brad Dydalewicz - Lexington - He was successful here in 2009, but 2010 was rough. He struggled first at Lancaster and then struggled more after he was sent back to Lexington. Three years in the same uni is never good. Brad is trying to minimize his time in Lexington this season with two solid starts so far in 2011. His sample size is small but there is some hope there.

J. D. Martinez - Corpus Christi - J. D. jumped from Lexington to Corpus last year for the last 50 games. He made contact (.302 average) but his power dropped hitting only 13 extra base hits in that span. After some time in big league spring training, he is back with the Hooks and is showing growth. He has a hit in each of his first nine games and six of his 13 hits are of the extra base variety. He is tied for the league lead with 15 RBIs.

Jiovanni Mier - Lexington - Jio struggled with the adjustment to Lexington last year. He hit only .235 and saw his OPS drop to .637. After gaining back 20 lbs. and working on his mental approach, he is off to a solid start in Lexington this season. After hitting his first HR last night, his average is sitting at .300 and his OPS is a solid .914.

Wlad Sutil - Corpus Christi - You never want to be a player who earns the title of "First player to play in 300 games" for any minor league team. Wlad earned that title earlier this week during his 3rd season with the Hooks. He got a chance at AAA last season but ended the year back at CC. This season he is there again but he is not letting anyone ignore his play. With 17 hits in his first 9 games, he is hitting .436 and is getting on base at a .500 clip. For a player who is know for his glove first, this is an eye opening start to his season.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Photo Evidence

Here are a few photos of my Asheville trip to see the Legends. The last one is the smoking gun on the umps for not calling the game in the 5th.

Top 4 in the line up. DeShields, Mier, Wallace & Nash. Nash is a good size fellow isn't he?

Dydalewicz warming up. He pitched a good game.

Mier at the plate. He looked more comfortable than when I saw him last May.

This photo was taken during the pitching change in the 5th. Some people saw the pitching change as a stall tactic. Maybe there was an element to it but after Dydalewicz had just hit a batter in the foot to load the bases, I think a pitching change was in order. Look at the puddle, nay - pond developing between second and third. The fact that the umps let play continue with the field in this condition is unimaginable. I hope the league office addresses this. The conditions were unsafe for everyone.

One final note, notice the scoreboard in the background. Bailey's homer passed over the top left hand corner of the scoreboard. It is only 320 to the scoreboard but the scoreboard is more than 40 feet tall so It wasn't a cheap homer by any means.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rainy Night In Asheville

Well I gambled. It was the only night of the four game series I could get away to see the Legends in Asheville so Little Appy & I took the ride over the mountains to Asheville. It looked like McCormick Field had a bit of a face lift and I really like the new Tourist logos and colors.

It was the Tourist home opener and they went through the usual pageantry of introduction of players. After the manager, the largest ovation went to Rockies' 1st round pick Kyle Parker who is off to a pretty hot start for Asheville.

The wind was swirling at that start of the game. One minute to was blowing right to left; the next, it was blowing out to dead center. I was expecting to see several balls leave the small park but I only saw one.

Here is my game report:

Top 1 -
DeShields swings at the first pitch and then grounds out on the second one.
Mier takes two balls, swings and misses, looks at strike to before flying out to RF
Wallace watches two strikes go by but manages to stretch the at bat to the 8th pitch - he singled.
Nash was frozen on a breaking ball for a backwards K.

Bottom 2 -
Dydalewicz on the mound. Should have been out of the inning in 11 pitches. But it took 15 - but only 3 were balls.

After retiring the first two batters with a K & fly out, the first error of the game was made. DeShields goes into the hole to snag a rather slow bouncer. It was a pretty good play to get to the ball. He had to throw against his body to try to get the runner. The throw was slightly up the first base line towards home. Nash couldn't hold on to the bag. The official scorer reported an E4 throw. I scored it an E3 for Nash coming off the bag. I would have scored it a hit before giving the E4.

The next batter hit a routine grounder to Mier who booted it to put runners at 1st & 2nd with two outs. Mier handled his next chance so the errors didn't hurt the Legends.

2nd Inning
With two outs, Adam Bailey cranked a ball over the edge of the scoreboard in right center. It was a no doubt solo shot to give the Legends a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom half, Dydalewicz had a 13 pitch inning, with only 4 balls. He gave up two hits but a strike em out throw em out double play helped him avoid a run scoring later in the inning. Pena threw out Dickerson by a good two feet. A tourist fan sitting near me turned and said, "Your catcher has a cannon." Pretty accurate assessment. The next batter doubled but was stranded.

3rd Inning
It starts to rain during this inning.

After two quick outs, Mier hits a solid line drive that is knocked down by the diving short stop. However, he can't keep it in his glove so Mier reaches on a hit. Wallace again works a deep count after falling in an early hole and is rewarded with a walk. Nash steps in and has his uniform nicked by a pitch. He begrudgingly takes his base to load the bases for Kvansnicka, who grounded to the first baseman to end the threat.

Dydalewicz throws 23 pitches in this inning. There are no called strikes or swing & miss strikes. There are 12 balls, 6 fouls and 5 balls in play.

With one out, another ball is hit in the hole. DeShields again gets to the ball but Nash has to leave the bag to keep the ball under control. Scored a hit this time. Not very different from previous situation. Dydalewicz walked the next batter on four pitches. The next batter hits a bouncer between 3rd and SS. Kvasnicka gets his glove on the ball but not enough to control it. He is given an error and the bases are loaded. The next batter hits a high fly ball for a sac fly. The unearned run ties the game at one.

4th Inning - steady rain falling

After two quick outs, Pena lines one into right center for a single. Lane smashes a ball down the 3rd base line. The Tourist 3rd baseman makes a nifty backhanded stop and throws out Lane to end the inning.

Dydalewicz regained his efficiency in the 4th. He only threw 12 pitches with 8 of them for strikes. It was his only 1,2,3 inning of the night.

5th Inning - steady rain falling - muddy track conditions

DeShields leads off with a single. In what looked like a botched hit and run, Mier swings and misses and DeShields is out on the steal attempt. After Mier strikes out, Wallace sees 6 pitches and takes his 2nd walk of the night. However, Nash is frozen again by a breaking pitch for his second backwards K of the night.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Asheville manager tells the grounds crew there are puddles forming on the field. With one out, the Tourist mount a rally. A double followed by a sharp single puts runners at the corners. During the next at bat, Dydalewicz is having trouble with his footing on the mound. The game is paused and the grounds crew comes out to put down some "diamond dry" on the mound, in the puddles developing in the baselines and around home. It was not very effective. There was still standing water between 2nd & 3rd. After Dydalewicz hit the batter with a full count, Linares made the call to the bull pen.

As Sograd was warming up, Linares had a conversation with the umps about to conditions. He could be seen pointing at the mound and the baselines. Sograd gets the first batter he faced to bounce a ball to 2nd. DeShields had trouble getting it out of his glove. The force was made at 2nd but the relay was not in time to turn the double play. The winning run scored. Sograd got the next out but the damage was done.

As Ashville came out to warm up for the 6th, the umps conferred and made the decision to call for the tarp. Linares was hot! He made several gestures pointing to the area where DeShields had fielded the ball the previous inning. He finished his retort by pointing at the home plate ump and making his final point. As he turned to go to the dug out, the home plate ump ejected Linares.

49 minutes later, as I was driving home, we heard the game had been called. The umps appeared to debate calling the game with runners on the corners and 1 out in the bottom of the 5th. They should have done so. The could have resumed the game under better conditions before they started the game tomorrow. Instead, they plowed ahead and allowed the deteriorating conditions of the mound & the infield to help determine the out come of the game.

Final Thoughts:

DeShields looked fine fielding balls, but he didn't look comfortable with the exchange and his throws.

Dydalewicz was impressive in less than ideal conditions. He didn't deserve the loss. Unofficially, he threw 82 pitches; 52 for strikes (63.4%). Of the 22 batters he faced, he started 14 with first pitch strikes. He averaged 3.7 pitches per batter faced. The radar wasn't working consistently at the park so I wasn't able to gauge his speeds.

Wallace saw 20 pitches in his 3 plate appearances. He saw 20 of the 76 pitches thrown by the starting pitcher! Wow.

Nash had some footwork trouble at first but did okay.

Outfielders handled the wind well.

Sogard was effective in relief. He got the ground ball he needed, the DP just wasn't executed.

4,5,6 hitters were combined 0 for 6.

Nash was the biggest person on the field. Kyle Parker was probably second.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

De Leon's Conversion to Pitcher

Mark Maloney does a great job covering the Legends for the Lexington Herald Leader. Today, he post a story he did on Jorge De Leon on his conversion from SS to P. Here are some of the highlights.

"I've had the fortune of having De Leon since he walked into the (Astros') academy in the Dominican," Rodney Linares said. "He's always had a great arm, but he profiled better as a shortstop. Down the road, his hitting didn't come along, but his arm was still there. ... A guy who can throw anywhere from 94 to 99 mph is a pretty special arm."

Linares goes on to praise the improvements De Leon has made in his slider.

De Leon says he has improved his ability to locate his fastball and has added another pitch to his arsenal.

"I throw my change-up now — it's good for me," De Leon said. "My change-up. My slider. Everything."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Towles Goes Deep

J. R. Towles hit his first home run of the season last night. This lead Chronicle columnist Richard Justice to pen the following about J.R.:

...there’s something special about a guy who keeps peeling himself off the canvas and getting up to try again. For three straight seasons, Towles has been summoned to the manager’s office and told he wasn’t good enough.

He must really love baseball if he’s willing to keep starting over in the minor leagues. Somewhere deep inside him, there must be both an inner-toughness and an inner-confidence.

Don’t you root for guys like that? Aren’t guys like J.R. Towles the ones we talk about when we try to define character and fight and resilience in professional sports?

This is exactly why I pull for J.R. and other players like him. Let's hope this year is his year.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Outside the System - Farm & Bigs

Yesterday was the opening day of the Minor League Season. It was the second opening day of the baseball season. The third opening day, short season opening day, is the one I am anxiously awaiting now.

For yesterday's action, Subber10 over at The Crawfish Boxes and some citizen of Astros County have done fine recaps so no sense in repeating their hard work. So let's check on those former Greeneville Astros who are no longer in the Houston farm system. I will list who is where and any reports on their opening day results.

Jimmy Barthmaier is in AA Harrisburg of the Nationals organization.

Albert Cartwright is in AA Reading of the Phillies organization.

Jieller Castillo is at Low A Burlington in the A's Organization.

Victor Garate is in AAA New Orleans of the Marlins organization.

Ralphie Henriquez is in A-Advanced High Desert of the Mariners organization. He played in Thursday's game against Lancaster and went 1 for 4 with 2 of the Maverick's strike outs. Opening day was Ralphie's 24th birthday. (His MILB page now list him as Ralph but he will always be Ralphie to me.)

Santo Luis
is in AA Portland of the Red Sox organization.

Jordan Parraz is in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the Yankees organization. He went 2 for 3 on opening night with a triple, a run scored and a RBI.

Troy Patton is in AAA Norfolk with the Orioles organization.

Neil Sellers is in AA Jacksonville of the Marlins organization.

Major League Update:
Let's also check on the former G-Stros who play for other MLB teams besides Houston.

Juan Gutierrez
- has made 3 appearances for the D-Backs in relief this year so far. He has yet to surrender an earned run, though he has given up 2 unearned runs. He has fanned 5 in 2 2/3 IP.

Felipe Paulino has made 2 appearances for the Rockies out of the pen so far. He has yet to surrender a run in those appearances which span 2 innings of work.

There have been a few transactions involving former G-Stros over the last few weeks. The following players were released out of spring training this year.

Robert Bono released by the Marlins.

Beau Torbert released by the Braves.

Polin Trinidad
released by the Cubs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rosters - Where are the former G-Stros

Rosters were released yesterday for the Houston farm teams. Level by level, here is where the former Greeneville Astros are playing.

AAA - Oklahoma City

Pitchers: Jordan Lyles, Douglas Arguello, Henry Villar (all starters)

Infielders: Koby Clemens

AA - Corpus Christi

Pitchers: Starters - Ross Seaton, Kyle Greenwalt; Relievers - Arcenio Leon, Pat Urckfitz

Catchers: Freddy Hernandez

Infield: Wlad Sutil

Outfield: Brandon Barnes, J.D. Martinez

High A - Lancaster

Pitchers: Starter - Jose Cisnero, Relievers - Wander Alvino, Zack Grimmett, Colton Pitkin, Jose Trinidad

Catchers: Rene Garcia

Infielders: Kody Hinze, Jose Altuve, Jonathon Meyer, Miguel Arrendell

Outfielders: Jay Austin, Grant Hogue

Low A - Lexington

Pitchers: Mike Foltynewicz, Brad Dydalewicz, Carlos Quevedo; Relievers - Ruben Alaniz, Jorge De Leon, Gabriel Garcia, Murilo Guevea, David Martinez, Brian Streinlein

Catchers: Roberto Pena, Chris Wallace

Infielders: Telvin Nash, Jhonny Medrano, Lino Deshields Jr. , Jio Mier

Outfielders: Bryce Lane