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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Santo Luis Released By Red Sox

One of the most intimidating presences on the mound at Pioneer Park has been released by the Red Sox organization. Santo Luis pitched in Greeneville in 2006. He was 6'4" and looked like we was going to do you physical harm when he glared in from the mound. He finished the year with a 2-2 record, a 1.82 ERA and 10 saves. He was promoted on to Lexington for the 2007 season his ERA jumped to 4.66 but he still struck out 99 batters in 75 1/3 IP. After that season, he was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the AA portion of the Rule 5 draft in December. He climbed as high as AA with Chicago before being claimed by the Red Sox. He spent some time in AAA last season but was sent back to AA this year. He has had 28 strike outs in 28 1/3 IP but walked 16 and has a 5.72 ERA.

Luis is 27 years old now. It will be interesting to see if someone else picks him up. Regardless, I expect he will still pitch this winter in the Dominican Winter League.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eye Witness Report - Ordosgoitti = Wow

Last night I got to see Luis Ordosgoitti pitch. He is an impressive 18 year old (9/22/92) right handed pitcher from Venezuela. In his second start, he went 6 innings, giving up one run on just three hits and a walk. He had faced the minimum through four innings on just 30 pitches. He kept Kingsport batters swinging and grounding out. He induced nine ground balls in the first four innings. One of those sneaked through for a hit to center but the rest were gobbled up by infielders. Third baseman Darwin Rivera was busy making five assist in the first four innings.

Ordosgoitti should have gotten out of the game without a run scoring. A routine double play ball was hit to Chan Moon at second who got the force out at second by tossing to shortstop Alex Todd for the put out. However, it appeared Todd had difficulty pulling the ball out of his glove to turn the double play. The runner beat the throw. Ordosgoitti walked the next batter and the next batter singled in the run.

After the game, I heard one of the local reporters talking about how the Kingsport players and managers were raving about how Ordosgoitti's pitches had a great deal of movement on them. He left the game with a 3-1 lead. That lead grew to 5-1 but alas, Ordosgoitti got his second no decision of the season. Each time, he pitched well enough to win.

Quick Notes:

Chase Davidson's HR to center was a fly ball that barely cleared the fence. The Kingsport CF thought he had a chance to catch it and crashed into the wall pretty hard.

Garen Wrights' HR was a line shot to left that got out of the park in a hurry. It was one of three hits on the night for Wright.

Darwin Rivera was a busy man. He had six assist and made one put out. He also made the error that allowed the then go ahead run to score. He made a throw that skipped and Davidson couldn't scoop it. A more experience first baseman might make that play but a better throw gets the out. A couple of times, he double clutched before throwing making plays closer than they needed to be.

There was a batter interference call last night. In the 8th with runners at 1st & 2nd, Luis Alverez laid down a sac bunt. The ball hit him in the back one step from first base. The home plate umpire threw up his hands for a dead ball saying that Alverez was outside the first base running lane. It was very close. That play took what would have been worse case scenario 2nd & 3rd with one out or best case scenario base-loaded with no outs and made it 1st & 2nd with one out because the runners had to return to their original bases. Thankfully the Kingsport pitcher threw a pick off throw into center field and the runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd anyway.
Yep, this is rookie ball. The double steal in the 1oth was actually a pick off. Greeneville had the man on first picked off and in a run down. The runner at third broke for home and the throw home was too late. Therefore, both runners get credit for a steal.

Altuve & Hinze Lead Minors At Half Way Point of Season

Baseball American did a write up on the minor league statistical leaders at the half way point of the season. Jose Altuve and Kody Hinze got a great deal of discussion in the piece.

Altuve is leading MiLB in batting average at the half way mark. His .395 batting average leads the second place batter by .018. Here is what BA had to say about the little guy with the big stick.

Jose Altuve hit .301 at two Class A stops last season (561 plate appearances), on the heels of a cumulative .306 showing in two years in the Rookie-level Appalachian League (360 PA), so he has a clear track record of hitting for average. His crazy .395 average this year has been propped up by an otherworldly showing at home in the high Class A California League prior to his bump to Double-A. Altuve hit .464 (52-for-112) in 28 home games for Lancaster, collecting a hit slightly more than half the time he put the ball in play (50.5 percent).
This is a polite way of saying "the Lancaster effect". We say hooey on that. Let's focus on the fact that since his promotion to AA he has hit .381. We know this is a small sample size (no pun intended) but the leader in AA for average for the season is at .357. So let's quit trying to explain away his success and recognize him for being a solid hitter.

is among the leaders in HR (19 - Tied for 7th) and Slugging Percentage (.622 - 14th) but he is THE leader in On Base Percentage. Here is what BA said about the big first baseman.

Kody Hinze, from Houston's Nimitz High, failed to come to terms with the Pirates as a 46th-round draft-and-follow selection in ’05. He twice went undrafted out of Angelina (Texas) JC before signing with Houston as a free agent that October ’07.... Hinze toiled for two years in rookie ball and has yet to advance past high Class A, but he's on to something this year with Lancaster. He's clubbed 19 homers and drawn 64 walks, the latter of which ranks second only to the Padres' Jaff Decker in the minors. Hinze's walk rate (20 percent of PAs) leads the way among this group .
Hinze may also be benefiting from "the Lancaster effect" but the numbers don't show as much difference as they do with Altuve. In fact, Hinze's home and away numbers are almost identical. At home he has a slash line of .333/.463/.620 and his away slash line is .326/.467/.636. He is having a monster June, hitting .359 /.495/.679. All this indicates, he is ready for AA. Hopefully he will get that call soon. Hinze is a bit too old for the California League and needs to move on.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Eye Witness Report - Game #6 = Loss #6

Little Appy Astros and I took in the game tonight. Sunday nights are a great time for fans to catch the G-Stros in action. They start Saturday & Sunday games at 6 so you get out a time that works for early Monday morning schedules and Sunday tickets are buy one get one free. Where else can you get two tickets for $6. On to the game....

I got a first hand look at Jose Perdomo tonight. He lead off the game with back to back called strikes. His fastball showed good pop. He then threw three balls and when he came back with a fastball, it was drilled for a line drive double. That ended up being the pattern with him. He is having no trouble throwing fastballs for strikes. It was when he would miss with the change or the breaking pitches, he would get into trouble. And he missed with the off speed stuff often. He only lasted through the third inning. Five of the seven hits he surrendered were for extra bases. He gave up two singles, three doubles, a triple and one home run. Add into that two wild pitches, a balk and a walk, and you have a rough outing. His season ERA is now very close to the 20 range. I wonder if he makes another start in G'ville or is he sent back to the GCL.

If he is sent down, I expect his spot in the rotation to be taken by Rodney Quintero. Quentero came in and pitched three shut out innings. He fanned 4 during his outing, only allowing one hit. He did hit two batters, otherwise he looked very good tonight. The one hit he allowed was a fly into shallow right that the second baseman, Magee, couldn't catch over his shoulder on the run. He got his hands on it but couldn't quite control it.

Mark Jones looked okay for two innings, but when he came out in the 9th, things unraveled for him. After that, the Astros brought in the side-arming lefty Scott Zuloaga who allowed two inherited runners to score but did get the final two outs.

At the plate, Ernesto Genoves continues to impress me. He hit a HR and a single tonight. All of his extra base hits that I have seen have been to the opposite field.

Darwin Rivera had a two for four night and made some nice plays at third. He tends to double clutch the ball but when he lets it go, it gets there in a hurry.

Jose Vargas was helped off the field after trying to break up a double play. He was not putting much weight on his left leg/foot. Garen Wright replaced him and went 1 for 1.

Ovando Update: He was in uniform again tonight and he was kind enough to sign a ball for my son but apparently not healthy enough to play.

I will be able to make it back out tomorrow to see the Astros try to get their first win against the Kingsport Mets. They too were swept by Johnson City, however, they just swept Bristol who swept the G-Stros in the first series. I hope I see Ovando play and the Astros win tomorrow night.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Eye Witness Report - Home Opener

Well the season finally opened at Pioneer Park. The Astros came in not having won yet and the Cardinals had not lost yet. Starter Richardo Batista did a nice job of pitching out of self imposed trouble. He only allowed two hits but he surrendered three walks and hit one batter. He also moved a runner from first to third with an poor pick-off throw. Yet none of those runners scored.

In the bottom of the 4th, the Astros put together a nice offensive inning. Josh Magee lined the first pitch in the center for a single. Alex Todd grounded to short but Magee was going on the play. So there was no chance for a double play. Chase Davidson then battled through several foul balls to hit a RBI single through the right side of the infield. Davidson also showed good speed stealing second and moving to third when the throw went into CF. He was stranded there to end the inning.

After Batista has retired the side in the 5th, the Astros added another run. With two outs, Jose Malzon worked a walk. He then stole second and scored when Jordan Scott singled to right field.

From that point forward, the wheels came off. Batista's shot for a win was lost after first baseman Ronald Sanchez let the ball drop out of his glove on what would have been the third out of the inning. The tying run scored on that error.

In the seventh, Ernesto Genoves, who replaced Sanchez at first in the top of the inning, tripled on a deep fly ball to right center. He scored on Jose Monzon's ground rule double. After a sharp line out by Scott, the Cards changed pitchers and that was the turning point in the game.

The brought in submariner Heath Wyatt who faced five batters and four of them fanned. Meanwhile a parade of closers by the Astros who helped the Cards by hitting three batters. There was one error and the another ball that was lost in the lights that extended innings and created a hole too deep to dig out of. The final was a 7-3 loss.

Random Observations:

Ariel Ovando was sited in uniform in the dug out but was not in the line up. There was no information available as to his status.

Davidson continues to look good at the plate. I was also impressed by Manzon and Genoves. Rivera has a unique hitch in his swing that concerns me.

The crowd was solid at 1875 and were treated to a nice fireworks display after the game.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paulino Liking New League & Return to Rotation

Since 2004 alumni Felipe Paulino was traded from the Rockies to the Royals, he has been having solid starts. In the month of June, he has an ERA of 2.78 in 4 starts (22 2/3 IP) and opponents are only hitting .224 against him. This improvement not only mirrors his move from the NL to the AL but it marks his return from the pen to the starting rotation. Paulino has always been viewed as a player with great potential, maybe this is the environment he needed to show that. We will keep watching.

Opening Night 2011

The G-Stros got blown out on opening night. The final was 13-4, with the Bristol Sox getting the win. It is interesting to not that the Astros have 13 position players born in the 1990's on their roster, where as the B-Sox just have 5. This is a young G-Stros team and they will have to grow up fast to hang with the older competition they will face.

The line up held one surprise. Jordan Scott was added to the roster from the Lexington Legends and got the start in LF. Scott was the 14th round pick out of Robinson High in Greer, South Carolina last year. He hit .301 in the GCL last year and had hit .277 in 14 games at Lexington this year.

The positives from the night include:

Chase Davidson appears to like the wood bat. He went 2 for 3 with a triple and a HR.

Ariel Ovando went 1 for 4 with a swinging bunt single and a RBI. He also had an outfield assist from RF.

The areas for improvement include the defense. Three errors were made by the middle infielders (Todd 2, Magee 1). These errors allowed 5 unearned runs to score.

The G-Stros will board the bus for Bristol again tonight to try to even the series.

Two Former G-Stros Are Home Run Derby Champs

Last night was the All Star games for the A ball teams. Both Chris Wallace (Low A Lexington) and Kody Hinze (High A Lancaster) won their All Star Game Home Run Derby.

Wallace, who started his pro career in Greeneville last season, knocked 20 long balls over the fence to claim the South Atlantic League trophy. Here is what he said to the local paper after the victory.

"It was fun," said Wallace, who was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 16th round of the 2010 first-year player draft. "I got in a little bit of a groove that continued from my first round. I don't know what happened; something got in to me the last two rounds. I was just having a lot of fun out there."..."I just felt good," Wallace said. "I felt good in batting practice today, and the guy throwing the ball was really just hanging them in there. I really need to thank him for grooving some balls in there for me."

Wallace picked up a $500 along with his trophy (pictured in link).

Meanwhile, at the California League vs. Carolina League All Star event, Kody Hinze hit 5 of his 10 dingers in the final round to win that All Star Home Run Derby.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Get To Know Your 2011 G-Stros

Tuesday is opening night. It is time you had a proper introduction to the 2011 Greeneville Astros. Here is a snippet on each of the players on the opening day roster.


Richardo Batista – LHP, 19 years old
Batista is one of the 4 returners this year. He started 12 games last season and finished with an 0-5 record and a 6.29 ERA. This is his 3rd season in the states.

Jamaine Cotton – RHP, 20 years old
Cotton appeared in 13 games for the G-Stros last season after being drafted in the 15th round out of Western Oklahoma State College. He averaged giving up two runs an inning pitched. He did strike out 15 in 14 innings pitched.

Zachary Dando – RHP, 20 years old
The 2011 32nd round pick chose to sign with the Astros rather than pitch at Southern California. He pitched for Central Arizona College in the national junior college championships this year.

Danilo Del Rio – RHP, 20 year old
The young Columbian pitcher makes the move to Greeneville from the Gulf Coast League. He made 11 starts for the GCL Astros last season and pitched two complete games.

Mark Jones – RHP, 20 years old
Jones, who stands 6’7”, spent the last two season pitching for the GCL Astros after being drafted in the 22nd round in 2009. He gave up just over a hit an inning. He also walked 29 while striking out 31.

Chris Lee – LHP, 18 years old
Lee was drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. He is the highest draft pick to arrive in Greeneville so far this season. He pitched for Santa Fe Community College in Florida this spring. He went 3-3 with a 2.85 ERA for Santa Fe.

Jeremiah Meiners – LHP, 22 years old
Meiners was the 40th round pick a year ago. He pitched in 16 games in relief for the GCL Astros. He finished with a 6.95 ERA.

Luis Ordosgoitti – RHP, 18 years old
Ordosgoitti started 5 games for the GCL Astros last year, making his pro debut. As a 17 year old, he amassed a 3.09 ERA in 23 1/3 IP.

Jose Perdomo – RHP, 19 years old
Perdomo is definitely one to watch this year. He fanned 69 batters in 59 1/3 innings last season for the GCL Astros. In 11 starts, he finished with a 1.67 ERA with a WHIP of less than 1.0.
Tyson Perez – RHP, 21 years old
Perez chose to sign a contract with the Astros instead of moving from Junior College to Division I Long Beach State. Drafted in the 17th round, he missed all of 2010 with a torn labrum and subsequent shoulder surgery.

James Propst – RHP, 22 years old
Propst, the 38th round pick this season, comes to Greeneville after putting together a 7-6 record with a 3.66 ERA for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Rodney Quintero – RHP, 21 years old
Quintero returns to Greeneville where he only appeared in 3 games and amassed 3 2/3 innings pitched after he was drafted in the 25th round in 2010.

Paris Shewey – LHP, 22 years old
A non drafted free agent signed after the 2011 draft. He was the closer for Washington State gathering 10 saves in the 2011 college season.

Matison Smith – RHP, 22 years old
The old man of the bunch will turn 23 just a few days after the season opens. He was signed as a non drafted free agent last season and pitched in 19 games for the GCL Astros. He finished with an impressive 1.59 ERA in 34 IP.

Scott Zuloaga – LHP, 21 years old
Zuloaga was drafted in the 16th round in 2011 out of Scottsdale Community College. He is another closer candidate as he saved 6 games in college. He had an impressive 1.82 ERA with 43 strike outs in 39 2/3 innings pitched.


Luis Alvarez – 21 years old
Alvarez is making his second stop in Greeneville. In 2009, he had an impressive start to the season and then blew out his knee backing up first base on a ground out. He missed all of last season following the surgery.

Ernesto Genoves – 20 years old
Genoves comes to Greeneville after two seasons in the GCL. His numbers improved in the second season with his average rising from .234 to .278.

Christian Moronta – 21 years old
Moronta is making his stateside debut in Greeneville. He jumps from the Dominican Summer League where he hit .364 in only 8 games. It was his 3rd season in the DSL.


Josh McGee – 19 years old
McGee is a 2nd baseman. He was drafted in the 18th round of the 2010 draft and hit .227 for the GCL Astros last season.

Chan Moon – 20 years old
Moon was signed to a six figure signing bonus out of South Korea. He made his pro debut last year in the GCL and hit .215. He divided his defensive time between SS and 3rd. He made 19 errors.

Darwin Rivera – 19 years old
The young Dominican born third baseman is one of the prospects I am excited to see this year. He was signed for a six figure bonus in 2009. He only got into one game in 2010 and started the 2011 season in the DSL. After 12 games, apparently the Astros Player Development Department had seen enough and sent him to Greeneville. He hit .333 in the 12 games he had appeared in for the DSL Astros.

Ronald Sanchez – 19 years old
Drafted out of Puerto Rico in the 16th round in 2009, Sanchez has spent two season in the GCL putting up less than stellar numbers. He is listed as a 1st baseman.

Ruben Sosa – 20 years old
The little second baseman was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft from Oklahoma City University. He is learning to play infield after playing the outfield for Oklahoma City University, a NAIA school.

Alex Todd – 21 years old
The 27th round pick from the 2011 draft out of Sonoma State University, Todd received several awards for his play at SSU. He is a shortstop.


Chase Davidson – 21 years old
Davidson is listed on the roster as an outfielder but worked out solely at 1st at a recent practice. He was originally drafted in the 3rd round by the Astros in 2008 but he chose to go to Univ. of Georgia instead. After disappointing seasons, he was drafted in the 41st round in 2011. Jonathan Meyer was drafted as the compensation for Davidson not signing in 2008.

Jose Monzon – 19 years old
The youngster from Venezuela played for the GCL Astros last season, putting up a batting average of .250 in 35 games. He showed improvement from his 2009 DSL season.

Ariel Ovando – 17 years old
This is the kid many will come to see in 2011. He was signed to a 2.6 million dollar signing bonus last July. It will be very interesting to see how he does against advanced competition in his pro debut.

Jose Vargas – 20 years old
Vargas had been a catcher until last season when he moved to the outfield. He spent two season in the GCL before joining the Astros this season.

Garen Wright – 20 years old
Wright was the 29th round pick out of high school in 2009. The Oklahoma City native is a raw talent that the Astros have said they will be patient to watch develop. He showed progress in his first two pro season with his average rising from .185 to .231.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

First Look At 2011 G-Stros

Last night, thanks to the rain out of my son's games, we got to go check out the G-Stros first practice of the season. While you can't tell a great deal about the team from the drills and BP, it is nice to see the guys you have been hearing about live.

One of my favorite things is getting to see and hear the reactions of the players to Pioneer Park. I got to talk to Garen Wright a little and his tweat pretty much summed up his take on the park.

First Observation: Like new manager Omar Lopez. Very hands on in his instruction. While working on pick off moves, a player was struggling to get the timing down. He took the player's spot, took a throw from the 2nd baseman and ran the runner down with a swipe tag to the jersey. Players loved seeing the manager get involved that way. During infield drills, saw him with several players over to the side giving more instruction.

Second Observation: Ariel Ovando looks like a ball player. I had to leave before he took BP. All of his movements in the field look effortless. Didn't look out of place as a 17 year old hanging around a bunch of older guys.

Other Observations:

Chan Moon looks smooth at SS. He also appears to be very gregarious.

Chase Davidson hit several line drives to RF during the few rounds of BP we got to see. Hit one HR over the right center field wall. He will be working at 1B this season. He took all drills there and looked fine. I understand he hasn't played there since HS.

Darwin Rivera looks very good at third base. Smooth footwork and strong arm.

Luis Alvarez looks to be back from his knee injury. Moved well running down the line to 1st on drills with all his gear on.

Ruben Sosa is short. Listed at 5'7". My son's observation, "Maybe we have another Altuve". He doesn't have the strong lower half Altuve has.

Garen Wright looks very athletic. Will be interesting to see how he develops.

It was exciting to see action on the field at Pioneer Park. I am looking forward to my first chance to see them live on Friday night.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Altuve Gets Major League Attention

I was thrilled when checking my google reader this morning to see that the Astros Director of Social Media and uber blogger Allyson Footer had Jose Altuve as the focus of a blog post. It included several nice quotes.

His amazing consistency, and cumulative .445 on-base percentage over five seasons, are just two reasons why general manager Ed Wade continues to hear from his baseball people that Altuve “has a chance to fast track to the big leagues.”

“When I saw him in Lancaster, I was ready to bring him up to the big leagues,” Wade said, smiling at the memory. “I had to have people remind me that he was only 19.”

Footer also notes that Wade hopes Altuve will be able to play in the Futures Game.

Climbing the Ladder: A look at the Progress of Prospects

(For the last few season, I have been fortunate enough to be asked by the Greeneville Astros to contribute an article for the game day program. Here is my 2011 submission.)

When you attend a game at Pioneer Park, you never know if the player you are watching today will make it to the big leagues in a few years. In the first two months of the 2011 Major League Baseball Season, six former Greeneville Astros have worn major league uniforms this year.

1. Juan Gutierrez, who pitched here in 2004, is in his third season in the bullpen for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Juan had a rough April and a better May before being placed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness.
2. Felipe Paulino (2004) was traded from Houston in the offseason to the Colorado Rockies. His time in Colorado was not effective (7.36 ERA in 18 relief outings) and he was then traded to the Kansas City Royals. Since arriving in KC, Felipe has done well. He did not give up a run in his first two outings (9 1.3 IP).
3. J. R. Towles (2004) earned one of the catching spots out of spring training. He started of the year with a hot April (.364 avg.) but struggled in May (.100 avg.). Due to the injury to Jason Castro in spring training, Towles should get plent of time to work things out at the big league level.
4. Fernando Abad (2007), broke spring training with the Astros but wasn’t very effective. He has was sent down to AAA Oklahoma City in May.
5. Troy Patton (2004) got called up for a cup of coffee with Baltimore and appeared in one game before being sent back down to AAA.
6. The most recent call up was Jordan Lyles (2008). The number one prospect in the Astros system was called up in late May to make two spot starts for Houston. He made his debut in Wrigley Field on 5/31. He pitched outstanding! He didn’t get his first MLB win but he did get his first MLB hit.

Those Still Climbing
Here is a glance team by team at the Houston Astros’ minor league system and which players there are making some noise early in the season.

Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA)
Many of the AAA leaders last year graduated to the big leagues. There are not many top prospects in AAA this year. In fact, this year’s AAA roster is dominated by players who have MLB experience. Thirteen of the 24 players on the 6/4/11 active roster have at least one game of MLB experience.

Jordan Lyles was the big name to watch here prior to his promotion. There are still a few others to keep an eye on. Some of them are familiar to Greeneville fans.

Koby Clemens (2005) is getting his first taste of AAA baseball. He had a solid April but cooled off some in May. He is one of the youngest position players on the roster, so some growing pains were expected.

Brandon Barnes (2005, 06) continues to show improvement as he climbs the minor league ladder. He started 2011 in AA but was called up to AAA at the end of April. He hit 8 HR in the month of May to take over the team lead. He was also named the teams defensive player of the month.

J. B. Shuck is the baby of the bunch in AAA. The speedy center fielder continues to make a strong impression and is definitely one to keep an eye on.

The final player to watch on this roster is Daniel Meszaros. He was drafted in the 48th round of the 2008 draft. He has quickly climbed to AAA and could be seen in the Houston bullpen before the year is out.

Other former Greeneville players on the roster include: Fernando Abad (2007), Henry Villar (2008) DL, and Douglass Arguello (2004)

Corpus Christi Hooks (AA)
Players who reach AA are very close to the majors. It is becoming more and more common for players to make the jump directly to the big leagues from AA. There are several players here worth keeping an eye on. Here are a few of the Hooks to watch closely.

Former Greeneville fan favorite, Jose Altuve (2008, 09) was promoted to AA on the 1st of June. He had dominated the California league hitting .408 over 52 games with 13 doubles, seven triples and five home runs. He got off to a solid start at AA, getting two or more hits in 6 of his first 8 games at AA. As of 6/10/11, his .412 season average and 101 hits leads all of Minor League Baseball.

Jonathon Villar is a middle infielder who came to the Astros organization from the Phillies in the Roy Oswalt trade. He and Altuve were promoted to AA together and were a solid middle infield together at Lancaster. At just 20 years old, he is very young to be in AA.

J. D. Martinez (2009) is spending his second season in AA. He was promoted here straight from Lexington last season. He is putting up solid numbers despite missing some time with a nagging hamstring pull. He had 23 RBIs in 22 games in the month of April.

Dallas Kuechel has registered a quality start in 6 of his first 9 starts of 2011. The 7th round pick from the 2009 draft might not blow anyone away with his fastball but he knows how to get batters out.

Pat Urckfitz (2008) raised some eyebrows with his performance in both the Arizona Fall League and in the Astros’ spring training where he was one of the final cuts. He has had ups and downs this year in the bullpen but is definitely worth watching.

The AA roster has many more players worth watching they include: J. T. Steele , Xavier Cedeno, Ross Seaton (2008) , Jimmy Parades, Jacob Goebbert, and Kyle Greenwalt (2007, 08).

Other former Greeneville Astros on the roster include: Wlad Sutil (2004), Arcenio Leon (2007, 08), Federico Hernandez (2008), and Sammy Gervacio (2005- rehab from shoulder injury). Brad James (2004, 05) is on their disabled list but at last report was still rehabbing in extended spring training.

Lancaster JetHawks (High A)
The Astros begin their third season in Lancaster of the California League. There are 13 former Greeneville players are with the JetHawks this season. Lancaster is known as a hitters paradise and as such is tough on pitchers. Here are a few players to watch.

Jay Austin (2008) is repeating Lancaster this season. Through 47 games, he is hitting .261 with 12 doubles, three triples and two homers.

Kody Hinze (2008) has put his name out to be watched by virtue of his power bat. The big 1st baseman, who was signed as a non drafted free agent, is leading the California League with 14 HR. His .328 batting average in 53 games is nothing to sneeze at either.

Austin Wates was the 3rd round pick of the 2010 draft out of Virginia Tech. He jumped from Tri Cities to Lancaster this season and has shown it was a wise move. The 22 year old OF is hitting .303 on the season.

Jose Thompson was signed by the Astros this offseason. The Cuban defector is slightly old for the league at 23 but is playing a solid infield and could move quickly up the ladder.

Jonathon Meyer (2009) is the youngest player on the roster. He continues to show improvement in the field as well as at the plate.

Jake Buchanan is a 21 year old right handed pitcher who played college ball at North Carolina State. Through two months of the season, he has a 3.15 ERA in the California League, which is 5th best. He pitched a complete game shutout earlier this year.

Other names to keep an eye on include: Rene Garcia (2008), Grant Hogue (2009), Ben Heath, Jose Cisnero ( 2009), Zachary Grimmett (2008) and Colton Pitkin (2007, 08).
Other former Greeneville Astros include: Miguel Arrendell (2009), Bryce Lane (2010), Hector Rodriguez (2010), Wander Alvino (2008), and Jose Trinidad (2008).

Lexington Legends (Low A)

Lexington is the first stop where players have to adjust to a full season of baseball. This tests a player’s mental and physical toughness as well as giving them a better level of competition. This is a very young team this year. Here are a few guys who started the year 20 or younger and are growing up in the South Atlantic League.

Jiovanni Meir (2009) is spending his second season in Lexington. His numbers are up, especially his power numbers. His defense has improved and he was named a Sally League All Star.

Delino DeSheilds Jr (2010) is learning 2nd base this year in Lexington. He has struggled to make contact, hitting just .219 on the year through the first week in June. However when he makes contact, he is showing some power. He has hit 5 HR and has a total of 17 extra base hits out of 44 hits. Overall, not bad results for one of the youngest players in the league.

Mike Foltyenwicz (2010) is another teen who is growing up in the South Atlantic League. His May statistics indicate some of the progress he is making. During that month, he went 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA.

Tanner Bushue, who will turn 20 this season, was the 2nd round pick in 2009. He is leading the team with 6 wins through his first start in June. He is repeating Lexington this year and is showing solid progress.

Greeneville’s MVP last year, Telvin Nash (2009), was showing great improvement from his solid 2010 season. His season was interrupted by a hand injury after hitting .310 in his first 15 games. He was slated to miss 4 to 6 weeks and it will be interesting to see how he does when he returns to Lexington.

One older guys to pull for is former Greeneville Astro Jorge De Leon (2008). He was here as a shortstop and is now in Lexington as a pitcher. He has acted as the closer for much of the season. He has 7 saves and 21 strike outs in 23 1/3 IP. It is reported that his fastball is in the upper 90’s.

Other names to watch on the Legends roster include: Chris Wallace (2010), Mike Kvasnicka, Carlos Quevedo, and Juan Minaya.

Other former G-Stros who are on the roster include: Luis Cruz, Gabriel Garcia, Ruben Alaniz, David Martinez, Brian Streinlein, Murilo Gouvea, Garrett Bullock, Brad Dydalewicz, Juri Perez, Emilio King, Ben Orloff, Bryce Lane, Roberto Pena, Jhonny Medrano, and Ryan McCurdy.

Short Season Teams
The Astros have opened a new facility last year in the Dominican Republic to host the Dominican Summer League Astros. This facility will help prepare young players for life moving up the ladder both on and off the field. The Gulf Coast League Astros play their games at the Astros’ spring training complex in Kissimmee and will be the first stop for many young draftees and those coming to the United States from the Dominican Academy. The Greeneville Astros as a result, should get players with a little more seasoning. The Tri Cities ValleyCats of the NY Penn League will continue to be the top rung of the short season team ladder.

The overall goal of any player is to traverse the many challenges they face in the minor leagues resulting in a Major League career. The players will push themselves to climb as high as they can to achieve their dreams of playing Major League baseball. In 2011, sit back and enjoy a season of players learning, growing, and hopefully winning as they chase their dreams and reach for the next rung on the ladder.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Altuve To AA

This morning, I read on twitter that Jose Altuve had been called up from Lancaster to AA Corpus Christi. That was exciting news to read. Many have been wondering what else he had to prove in high A ball. After all, he entered today leading all of MILB in batting average and hits. Many minor league experts dismiss some of the results because he plays in Lancaster and the Cal. League. Now that he is in the Texas League, his numbers will be taken more at face value.

Brian McTaggart blogged
about the move today. He had this great quote from Fred Nelson, the Astros director of player development.
“Altuve is a guy that has come onto our radar screen,” Nelson said. “He’s continues to play well. He’s not a very big kid in stature, but he plays like a man and knows how to play the game and he’s a guy that’s a baseball player. There comes a point in time when we have to take notice of that and we certainly have.”
In other moves, Hector Rodriguez who was a fan favorite in Greeneville, was promoted to Lancaster from extended spring training. He could often be heard whistling to teammates from the bench or in the field during games. His piercing birdlike whistle often followed a good play or a good pitch (especially if the umpire didn't call it the Astros way). I expect he will see some time at SS since he makes the third 3rd baseman on the roster.

Rodriguez's move also indicates that they are not quiet ready to bring Jio Mier up to Lancaster yet. He is having a better season in Lexington this go around. The McTaggart blog also had a quote from Nelson about Mier's development.
“He’s really matured and is playing really, really sound defense,” Nelson said. “We really like what we’ve seen there. I think he’s right on track. I think he’s matured as a player, he’s not as hard on himself and understands the season’s long and there’s going to be ups and downs and you have to be able to deal with both. I’m really impressed with how he’s conducted himself and how sound he’s been on defense.”

Jordan Lyles Makes Ten

With Jordan Lyles solid debut for the Astros last night, he marked the 10th Greeneville Astro to get called up to the majors since the franchise moved to Greeneville in 2004. Here is the list of the other former G-Stros who have made the big time.

#1 RHP Juan Gutierrez
Greeneville Astros: 2004
MLB Debut: 8/19/2007 with Houston Astros

#2 LHP Troy Patton
Greeneville Astros: 2004
MLB Debut: 8/25/2007 with Houston Astros

#3 RHP Felipe Paulino
Greeneville Astros: 2004
MLB Debut: 9/5/2007 with Houston Astros

#4 C J.R. Towles
Greeneville Astros: 2004
MLB Debut: 9/5/2007 with Houston Astros

#5 RHP Jimmy Barthmaier
Greeneville Astros: 2004
MLB Debut: 6/27/2008 with Pittsburgh Pirates

#6 RHP Sammy Gervacio
Greeneville Astros: 2005
MLB Debut: 8/14/2009 with Houston Astros

#7 LHP Victor Garate
Greeneville Astros: 2005
MLB Debut: 9/5/2009 with Washington Nationals

#8 LHP Fernando Abad
Greeneville Astros: 2007
MLB Debut: 7/28/2010 with Houston Astros

#9 RHP Henry Villar
Greeneville Astros: 2008
MLB Debut: 9/10/2010 with Houston Astros

#10 RHP Jordan Lyles

Greeneville Astros: 2008
MLB Debut: 5/31/11 with Houston Astros

May AppyAstros Alumni of the Month

It has been a busy month. Unfortunately my business interfered with my hobby of writing about the former Greeneville Astros. So to get me caught up and the start fresh for June, let's look back at the month of May and decide who are the G-Stro Alumni who had a strong May. This month's report is brought to you by the letters D & L.


Alumni Hitter of the Month:
This time last month, we were talking about the exploits of Chris Wallace and Telvin Nash. Well, Wallace hit only .221 in May to bring his average down to the low .300's. Nash broke the hamate bone in his hand/wrist and had to have surgery. He missed most of the month on the DL. The man for the month of May was Emilio King. Yes, the guy who only hit .210 in 63 games for the G-Stros last year has made a splash in Lexington. He broke out with a huge debut game, going 3 for 4 and falling a 3B short of the cycle. He has continued his hot streak, hitting in 15 of the 21 games he has played. He has had 9 multi hit games after only having 12 total last year. He has dropped is K rate from once every three times at bat to once every six times at bat. Meanwhile, he has only walked twice which is way down from the 1 in 16 plate appearances last year. I know that drop will concern some folks but when your average is .400 and your OBP is .438; I will let you swing the bat.

Alumni Pitcher of the Month: This month's award goes to Mike Foltyenwicz. He earned not just his first but also his second career win. After a rough start to the month, he bounced back with three solid outings. In his last three outings, he went a combined 18 IP, giving up just two earned runs, while striking out 12.

Last months Alumni of the Month, Gabriel Garcia, had a rough outing to start the month and then landed on the DL. Since his return, he is back to his dominate ways out of the pen. He is give up just three hits and no runs in his four outings (5 2/3 IP) since his return. He now has 26 K in 23 IP.

Honorable Mention was going to Jorge DeLeon who has moved into the closer role in Lexington. He was slated finished the month with four saves and a 0.90 ERA in 6 appearances. But he blew his save tonight giving up three runs in one inning pitched.


Alumni Hitter of the Month:
Anyone who has a fleeting interest in Astros minor league baseball can tell where this award is heading. Jose Altuve is leading all of Minor League Baseball with a .408 average and 87 hits. His seven triples also leads the California League. And just so you don't think he rode his hot April to get here, for the month of May, he hit .388/.424/.570. He has finished the month very hot, hitting .488 in his last 10 games.

Honorable Mention: These guys had a good month of May, they just happened to have the misfortune of being on Jose Altuve's team. Grant Hogue got consistent playing time and hit .360 for the month. He also got on base at a .443 clip. Rene Garcia saw his bat heat up in May. He hit .350 for the month. His OBP was .426 for May. His average at the end of May is .284. It was .214 at the end of April. Kody Hinze also deserves some recognition. The slugging first baseman hit .319 for the month, with 5 HR and 8 doubles. He also took 25 walks to bring home a healthy . 472 OBP for the month.

Alumni Pitcher of the Month: The DL has played a prominent role in this months report. That continues as the AppyAstros Alumni of the month for Lancaster is Colton Pitkin, who ended the month on the DL. The big lefty made 10 appearances in the month of May. In the first nine, he only allowed 1 run over 13 1/3 IP. The last outing of the month, he gave up three runs in 2/3 of an inning and promptly went on the DL.

Keeping an eye on: Jose Cisnero continues to be consistently inconsistent. He he went 2-2 for the month of May with a 3.90 ERA. He had three great starts combining for 21 2/3 IP, 8 hits, 3 ER, 7 BB and 27 strike outs. In his other three starts, he went a combined 10 2/3 IP, 14 hits, 11ER, 10 BB and 7 strike outs.

Corpus Christi

Alumni Hitter of the Month: There are not that many former G-Stro batters on the roster of the Hooks at this time. With Brandon Barnes promotion to Oklahoma City; that just leaves J.D. Martinez, Wlad Sutil & Frederico Hernandez. Of those three, J. D. Martinez had the best month, despite spending about half of it on the DL with a hamstring issue. He hit .275 for May with just two extra base hits in 14 games. He did walk (10) more than he struck out (8) for the month.

Alumni Pitcher of the Month: May wasn't kind to the former G-Stros pitching for the hooks. Greenwalt took a trip back to extended spring training. Leon, Urckfitz and Seaton all saw their numbers rise. The only highlight was the return of Slinging Sammy Gervacio from the an injury that ended his season early last year. He has made two appearances in late May going 3 IP and allowing 1 run.

Oklahoma City

Alumni Hitter of the Month: Again there are not many former G-Stros on the AAA roster. Only Brandon Barnes and Koby Clemens are representing the G. Barnes had a solid month. He hit just over .240 but 20 of his 27 hits were for extra bases. He hit 7 home runs and took the team lead in that category despite arriving in late April.

Alumni Pitcher of the Month: Jordan Lyles has settled down and had a solid May for OKC. Four of his five starts were deemed quality starts (6 or more IP with 3 or less runs allowed). His ERA for May was 2.81. He earned a call up to get two starts in the place of the injured Wandy Rodriguez who was placed on the 15 day DL.

Outside the Astros Organization

Alumni Hitter of the Month: Marcus Nidiffer got the call up to Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League. Since his call up in the middle of the month, he has hit .310.

Alumni Pitcher of the Month: As good as Victor Garate was in April, he was just a little better in May. He appeared in 10 games, throwing in 14 1/3 innings. He allowed just 8 hits and walked 7 batters but fanned 18. All the while, just allowing one earned run. He has only allowed two this season in 27 1/3 IP. This gives him a season ERA of 0.66


Alumni of the Month: Since there is only one position player in the bigs who played in Greeneville (Towles); we will combine the award for the major league level. Based on his performance tonight, we announce that Jordan Lyles is also the Alumni for the Month in the MLB division. He pitched well in his debut at Wrigley tonight; going 7 innings and allowing just one earned run. He also was 1 for 3 at the plate.

Besides the Lyles debut, there was one other call up during the month of May. Troy Patton was called up briefly by the Orioles. When he was sent back down, he was taken off the 40 man roster. He cleared waivers and is back in Norfolk waiting another call back up. He had a 2.57 ERA in Norfolk this May. He also spent part of the month on the DL.

In other alumni news, Felipe Paulino was traded from the Rockies to the Royals. He has made one relief appearance for the Royals and will make his first start for them on tonight against the Angels.