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.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Whatever Happened To The 2004 Appy League Top 20

People get excited about the top prospect list that come out once the season is over.  They talk about which players are overrated and which are underrated.  They discuss the players who were left off the list.  One thing that most folks don't do, is go back and see how predictive the list was of future success.

I started following minor league baseball when the G-Stros came to town in 2004.  So that class has always been one of my favorites.  I spent some time over the last few days researching what happened to the Baseball American Appy League Top 20 from 2004.  Below are the results.

Here are some observations:
  • 36 players who played in the Appy in 2004 have played in the major leagues.  Only eight of those are on this list. In fairness, some of the 28 players not on the list might not have spent enough time in the league to be listed.  
  • Four players never made it to AA.  Seven players never made it to AAA.  
  • Only one player who hasn't made it to the majors is still in affiliated ball (Jordan Parraz). 
  •  Gio Gonzalez is the player with the most success.  After that, it is mostly relievers and role players.
  • Players develop, injury and teams need to promote can impact MLB debut date.  
  • Injuries and off field issues derailed several of these prospects. 
This is a reminder to not take these list too seriously.  They are not prophetic but projective. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cumulative Top Prospect List

Updated 2/6/13 to include MLB's changed list after the trade with the A's and Keith Law's list for ESPN.

I enjoy the top prospect list exercise.  It is interesting to see which players are valued by different analyst.  Every year, I try to keep up with the lists when they come out and compare them to each other.  I also like to see what the consensus thought is about players.

Below is the cumulative rankings that have been compiled thus far.  This includes the list from 14 different sources: Baseball America (top 10), Baseball Prospectus (top 10), The Crawfish Boxes (top 30), Fangraphs (top 15), MLB.com (top 20), MinorLeagueBall (top 20), Bleacher Report (top 10), Baseball Prospect Nation (top15), MLB Dirt (top 15), Scouting Book (top 20), Baseball Instinct (top 21), Perfect Game (top 10), Astros County (top 25) and Keith Law - ESPN (top 10).

I continue to tweak this process.  There are two cumulative ranking orders.  The first is the cumulative ranking based on # of list they appeared on and the average ranking. This list is the true consensus as it rewards a player for making more list and lowers a player who was highly ranked but appeared on very few list.  The second cumulative ranking is based on average ranking and then # of list the player appears on.  This rewards a high ranking regardless of how often a player was ranked.  The color shade of the name indicates how they were obtained. The key is at the bottom of the list. Here is a link to the google drive spreadsheet for those who don't want to scroll in the window.

Here are some observations about the cumulative list thus far (updated 12/31/12):  
  • There is consensus on the top 11 players on the list.  Six appear on all 14 list, and the five others appear on at least 10 list. 
  • There are a few prospects with wide disparity of ranking:
    • Jonathan Villar is ranked #6 (4x), #7, #8, #9, #11 (2x), # 12, #15, and #25. 
    • Kevin Comer is ranked #9, #14, and #20.  He was also mentioned as an "others" by John Sickels
    • Carlos Perez is ranked as high as #9 and as low as #19.  He appeared on six list. 
    • Nolan Fontana is ranked as high as #9 and as low as #19.  He appears on seven list. 
    • Joe Musgrove is ranked as high as #10 and as low as #22.  He appeared on five list.
    • Teoscar Hernandez, Jose Cisnero, Brad Peacock, and Kyle Weiland all benefit from just appearing on one list. 
  •  There are 49 players who have been included on a list at this time.  Here is the break down of how they were acquired:
    • Via Luhnow Trade -17
    • Via Draft 2012 -11
    • Via Wade Trade - 6
    • Via Draft 2011 - 3
    • Via Draft 2010 -4
    • Via Rule 5 Draft 2012 - 2
    • Via Draft 2009 - 1
    • Via Draft 2008 - 1
    • Via International Free Agency (2007,2008, 2010) -4
  •  That makes 30 out of the 49 have been acquired since Luhnow took over.
  •  12 of the players have played in Greeneville. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Former G-Stros Involved in Recent Transactions

Now that the season is over, players find out if they are in a teams plans or not.  Sometimes that means a door is opened for a new opportunity with a new team and sometimes it means a career may be over.  Here is the list of transactions that have occurred since this season ended that involve former G-Stros.  For those who have been declared a free agent, I have listed the last team they were affiliated with.

I am also including any players still on active rosters (MILB & MLB) so that you can see what results those teams have produced.

Jimmy Barthmaier - declared a free agent by the Nationals.
Juan Gutierrez - re-signed by the Royals to a minor league deal.
Jordan Parraz - re-signed a minor league deal with the Braves.
Wladimir Sutil - declared a free agent by the Dbacks.
J.R. Towles - declared a free agent by the Twins. (Update signed to minor league contract with Cardinals)

Felipe Paulino (Royals-DL) and Troy Patton (Orioles) are the last two on Major League rosters.

Koby Clemens - released by Blue Jays before end of season.
Victor Garate - released by Brewers before end of the season.
Ralph Henriquez - released by Mariners before end of season. (Signed to minor league contract with Rockies)

That leaves only Brandon Barnes left in affiliated ball from the 2005 G-Stros.

Amadeo Zazueta (Blue Jays) and Tom Vessella (Giants) were on minor league rosters at the end of the season and have not been declared free agents or released yet.  Both Barnes & Henriquez were also on this team. 

Fernando Abad - removed from the Astros 40 man roster, cleared waivers and is a free agent. (Update - signed to a minor league deal with the Nationals)
Arcenio Leon - removed from Astros 40 man roster and was claimed by the Brewers.

In addition to those two, the only player left on an active roster is Albert Cartwright (Phillies - minors).

The following players have been released by the Astros organization:
Brad Dydalewicz
Nathan Pettus
Jose Trinidad
Jay Austin (before season ended)
Kody Hinze (before season ended)

In addition to those, Jorge De Leon was removed from the 40 man roster, cleared waivers and is a free agent.

Henry Villar was declared a free agent by the Astros.

There are still seven players in the Astros system from that team (Altuve, Lyles, Urckfitz, Grimmett, L. Cruz, Seaton, R. Garcia). Also Cartwright was on this roster too.

Gabriel Garcia was released by the Astros.  There are still 12 players from this roster active in the Astros organization.

The following players have been released by the Astros organization.
Ricardo Batista
Emilio King
Rodney Quintero

There are still 14 players from this roster active in the Astros organization. 

The following players have been released by the Astros organization
Juan Mojica
Brad Propst
Garen Wright
Joshua Magee (released during the season and is now on the Alabama football roster as a walk on).
(Batista & Quintero were also on this roster)

There are 22 players from this roster active in the Astros organization. 

James Howick was released by the Astros organization.  Propst was also on this roster.  There are 39 players from this roster active in the Astros organization. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Season Recap: Outfielders

This is the last installment in the season recap for the 2012 Greeneville Astros.  Let's look at the guys who roamed the grassy spaces in Greeneville this season. It is a young bunch with Jose Monzon being the senior of the guys and he hasn't turned 21 yet.  Greeneville hasn't had an outfield with this much promise since 2004 (Parraz, Einertson & Torbert) and 2005 (Iorg, Flores & Barnes).  Each of those players made it to at least AA.  I believe the first three in this list have the potential to be better than either of those groups of outfielders.

Ariel Ovando was back for his second season.  The 18 year old showed improvement both at the plate and in the field.  His batting line jumped from .235/.283/.365 to .287/.350/.444.  The number of errors went down in the field.  He generally showed more hustle and focus this season than last, though that appeared to wane down the stretch of the season. 

I like Ovando more than most Greeneville fans. He is still very raw.  He was not ready for the Appy last year and his struggles that season have left a bad impression with some folks. 

Ovando turned 19 in September.  He will play his first full season of A ball as a teenager.  That will be a challenge for him.  In my opinion, the part of Ovando's game that needs the most work is the mental side of the game.  That includes staying focused in the outfield and not getting too down when the inevitable slump hits.  It means being more even and consistent. 

D'Andre Toney came to the Astros as the player to be named later in the Quintero/Bourgeios trade with the Royals.  He played 57 games in center and made just five errors.  He made multiple diving catches and ran down balls in the gap well.  He struggled some with balls hit to the wall.  He appeared to struggle with knowing when to play it off the wall verses trying make the highlight reel catch.  A small nit to pick there, I know. 

At the plate, Toney wasn't able to replicate the success he had in the Arizona Rookie League for the Royals in 2011.  He did show improvement in his plate discipline taking 15 walks in August alone.  He also showed some progress in stealing bases. He was 15 out of 20 in stolen base attempts for the year.  Toney will be 21 when spring training starts next season.  I expect to see him patrolling CF for Quad Cities.

Terrell Joyce manned left field in 39 games for the Astros.  He also played through an injured wrist for much of the season.  Joyce showed descent range and a solid arm in left.  He had just two errors and made three assist.  He made several nice catches coming in on balls that were slicing away from him.

At the plate, Joyce led the team with seven home runs.  He hit 14 doubles to show he has some pop in his bat.  He hit for a .273 average on the season and earned a spot on the fall instructional roster.  I can't see anyone blocking him from making his full season ball debut next spring.  He will still be 20 when spring training begins next season. 

Jose Monzon repeated Greeneville this year.  He was the utility outfielder appearing in 19 games in LF, 13 in CF and 14 in RF.  At the plate, Monzon improved his average to .214 after hitting .200 in 2011.  This was his third season in short season ball in the states.  He will be 21 when players report next year. 

Mark Wik was drafted in the 21st round this year and appeared in 18 games in LF, six in RF and made two appearances at 2B.  Wik exploded in June with a .357 average in his first nine games but cooled off finishing the season with a .235 average in 40 games. Wik took 21 walks which helped boost his OBP to .359.  In the field, he was solid but not spectacular.  He will be 20 when players report to camp. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Post Season Awards Ballot

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 opportunity to put in my two cents in post season awards the group gives out. So here are my thoughts on who deserves the  National League hardware from the 2012 season.

Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year - nominate 3)

1. Dusty Baker
2. Davey Johnson
3. Freddi Gonzalez

With all due respect to Johnson, Baker handled early season injuries to his bullpen and managed several DL trips by several key parts to lead the Reds to a 97 win season.  I believe he did more with less than any other manager this season.

Willie Mays Award (Top Rookie - nominate 3)

1. Bryce Harper
2. Wade Miley
3. Lucas Harrell

Harper gets my vote here.  Though, I would have loved to have voted for Jose Altuve if Ed Wade hadn't rushed him to the majors last year. 

Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever - nominate 3)

1. Craig Kimbrell
2. Arnoldis Chapman
3. Jason Motte

Kimbrell gets my vote for the second year in a row.  Kimbrell's 16.66 Ks per 9 is slightly ahead of Chapman and gives him the edge.

Walter Johnson Award (Top Pitcher - nominate 5)

1. R. A. Dickey
2. Clayton Kershaw
3. Gio Gonzalez
4. Johnny Cueto
5. Kris Medlin

Dickey took the mound more innings than the other top four and walked fewer batters while throwing a knuckle ball as his primary pitch.  Enough said.   Medlin is added in for his performance.  It is a shame he wasn't in the rotation all year.  If he was, the Braves might be NL East Champs.

Stan Musial Award (Top Player - nominate 10)

1. Andrew McCutchen
2. Buster Posey
3. Yadier Molina
4. Ryan Braun
5. Joey Votto
6. David Wright
7. Jason Hayward
8. Michael Bourn
9. Giancarlo Stanton
10. Chase Headley

McCutchen carried a team as much as one player can. There was no other offensive player on his team that was in the top 40 in WAR.  The Pirates faded in the end but it shouldn't diminish McCutchen's impressive season. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Who Can't Play Winterball

Each year, MLB sends a the winter leagues a list of players who are either injured or have meet certain performance thresholds and cannot play winter ball. Sometimes players on this list do play in the leagues but their play is limited by their parent club. Here is the list of the players in the Houston Astros organization who were on THE LIST

It appears that the Liga Biesbol Professional Roberto Clemente has taken exception with several of the names on the list including Houston's own George Springer. They state that Springer had just 506 At Bats instead of the 550 required for MLB teams to put a player on the list.   They also refer to him as being a native Puerto Rican player, which is interesting since he is listed as being born in Connecticut.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Season Recap: Infielders

Lets go around the diamond and look at how the infielders did in 2012 for the G-Stros.

I will start with the 2012 MVP Brian Blasik.  The Non Drafted Free Agent out of the University of Dayton had a very impressive 2012.  He appeared in 48 games at second and also put in five appearances at third and one in left field.  At second, he showed a sure glove.  He made just four errors in 212 chances for a fielding percentage of .981.

At the plate, Blasik stayed among the league leaders in average for the season and finished with a solid .318 average.  Had he not suffered an injured hand in August, he might have appeared in just about every game.  Still he batted in 55 of the G-Stros 68 games.  He only hit one home run but had 18 extra base hits out of the 69 hits collected.  He also started taking more walks as the season progressed.  He is a very aggressive hitter as well.  With Blasik's solid glove, solid bat, versatility in the field and his age; I would not be surprised to see him at high A next year. Definitely a great sign by the Astros' scouting department.

Jean Batista was another solid performer in 2012 for the G-Stros.  In the field, he played 26 games at first, 11 at second and 10 at short.  He was new to first base when the season began and made some early errors but acclimated to the position well.  He made three errors at first in 226 chances (.987 fielding %).  In the middle infield, he struggled more defensively.  He made two errors at second in 54 chances (.964 fielding %) and made five errors at short in 71 chances (.930 fielding %).  I would have like to have seen him at third some.  However, he did play four games there after his promotion to TriCities with less than stellar results.

Batista is a hitter.  Twenty seven of his 69 hits in Greeneville went for extra bases (19 doubles, two triples and six HR).  He left Greeneville with a .321/.345/.531 slash line in 51 games. Batista hit well in TriCities in a small sample size as well.

Batista lost a year of development due to age related issues surrounding his signing.  These are chronicled in the documentary Pelotero. Batista appears to be working hard to make up for lost time and will likely be in full season ball next year.  I expect you will continue to see him playing multiple positions as a means of finding ways to get his bat in the line up. 

Carlos Correa came to Greeneville late in the season and let it be known he was worthy of the first overall draft pick.  He was solid in the field making some tough plays in the hole look easy.  He did make one error in the 43 chances he has at short (.977 fielding %).  He was equally impressive at the plate where he hit .371/.450/600 over 11 games.  His baseball IQ impressed several of the folks I talked to about him. Barring an injury, I expect to see him in Quad Cities next season.

Rio Ruiz also got a late call up.  In nine games at third, he made just one error in 20 chances (.950 fielding %).  He received an AB in 15 games. he showed descent pop with five of his 11 hits going for extra bases.  Yet, overall, his numbers dropped after his promotion.  As always, caution should be used in making projections from short season numbers.  I think we will get a good look at Ruiz next spring in Quad Cities.

Michael Martinez played 42 games at first. He played a solid first base, making just two errors.  The 22 year old from Florida International batted in 48 games.  He hit a solid .277 for the season. He finished strong with a .292 average for August with a equally strong .391 OBP.  His power dropped as the year went on but his strike outs did too.  He fanned just eight times in August (72 AB) after striking out 18 times in July (62 AB). He walked 11 times in August after walking 11 times in June & July combined.  Solid production from the 36th round draft choice.

Angel Ibanez showed improvement over the season.  He played 53 games at third and added in four appearances at first and a cameo in left for one game.  At third, he made 11 errors in 118 chances (.907 fielding %).  There is no game log for errors so I can't verify this but my memory is that most of those were in the first part of the season.   At the plate, Ibanez didn't show much pop but he did handle the bat fairly well. He hit .264 over 60 games.  

Jimmy Howick made his pro debut in Lexington this year after missing all of 2011 after being drafted in the 21st round.  After starting the season in Lexington, he was brought down to Greeneville where he played a great deal of short to start the season.  He played 39 games at short, and five games at second this season. He made seven errors at short in 149 chances for a .953 fielding percentage.  At the plate, he got off to a descent start with a .278 average in 10 games in June but fell off from there.  He finished with a .121 August in 11 games that brought his season average down to .201.

Jose Fernandez also moved down from Lexington to Greeneville during the season. He played in eight games at short, two games at second and one game at first.  The sample sizes are really too small to know what to make of Fernandez at the plate but he appeared to struggle making contact.  He won't turn 20 until next May, so he is still very young.

On a side note,Josh Magee, who was released early in the season has walked on at Alabama and is listed on their roster as a wide receiver.  He is #88 and has not made a catch yet. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Season Recap: Catchers

There were four players who wore the "tools of ignorance" for the G-Stros this season.  We will look at those and summarize their season with Greeneville.

Ernesto Genoves was behind the plate for 45 games this year.  He started the season in Lexington but after just one game he was sent back to Extended Spring Training and landed at Greeneville for the second season. One source said that he was sent back to Greeneville so that he could catch everyday.   He was solid behind the plate showing significant improvement from 2011 in his receiving skills. In 27 games in 2011, he made four errors and allowed nine pass balls.  This season, in many more games behind the plate, he again made four errors but allowed just three passed balls. His caught stealing rate dropped slightly from 31% (10 out of 32) to 25% (11 out of 44).  While the rate decreased, it doesn't look like opponents were eager to steal on him as the attempt rate is not that high.

In the batter's box, Genoves looked like he took a step back in 2012.  However, more advanced stats tell us that his BABIP for 2011, when he hit .280 was .337.  This season, when he hit for a .235 average, his BABIP was .235. His strike out rate also decreased from 20.1% to 15.8%.

Genoves turned 21 shortly before the Greeneville season.  He appears ready for the next step and it appears Greeneville will have seen the last of Genoves.

Ricky Gingras was the 18th round pick in the 2012 draft out of Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego, CA).  He appeared in 22 games as the catcher. He was good behind the mask with only one error and two passed balls. He nabbed nine of 38 base stealers.

At the plate, Gingras hit just .190 but appeared to suffer some bad luck with a .200 BABIP.  I expect he will be in extended spring training again next season awaiting assignment. 

The other two catchers were Luis Alvarez and Christian Moronta who appeared in four and five games respectively.  Both were bounced between affiliates some and were mostly used as bullpen catchers. I would be surprised if either is in the organization next year.

Next we will moved to the corner infield positions. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

16 former G-Stros on Instructional Roster

Brian McTaggart just released the Astros roster for the fall instructional league. This year, 16 former G-Stros will be spending a few extra weeks in Kissimmee honing their skills.  Here are the former G-Stros based on when they played here:

Zach Grimmett - appeared in 23 games for Lancaster.  Ten of them as a starter and 13 as a reliever. Finished the year with an 8.21 ERA.

Jonathon Meyer - Hit .272 in his second year in Lancaster.

Telvin Nash - Hit .224 with 29 HR and 198 strikeouts in 106 games in Lancaster.

Delino DeShields - Had a break out year.  Started in Lexington and finished the year in Lancaster.  Stole a combined 101 bases on the season.  He raised his slash line from .220/.305/.322 to .287/.389/.428.  Just turned 20 in August.

Roberto Pena - He also started the year in Lexington but moved up to Lancaster to finish the season.  Pena caught 33% of the base stealers (26 out of 78) in Lexington.  His bat showed some improvement but his glove and arm are what have earned him the invite to instructionals.

Three of the players on this list also played in Greeneville in 2011 but we will group them with their most recent cohort.

Ariel Ovando - He showed significant improvement between 2011 (.235/.283/.365) and 2012 (.287/.350/.444).  All the physical tools are present but he is still learning how to get them to do what they need to do.  He turns 19 later this week so we need to have some patience.

Chris Lee - He started the season in the Appy but was sent down to the GCL where he didn't pitch.  So the instructs will give him a chance to get some work in he missed during the season.  He was also on the team in 2011.

Frances Ramirez - He is the other player who was also on the 2011 roster.  He made four starts in '11 verses the 13 he made in 2012.  You can find more of my thoughts on him at my post Season Recap - Starting Pitcher. You can also use that link to get my thoughts on two other 2012 pitchers invited, Michael Feliz & Lance McCullers Jr.

Kevin Comer and Joe Musgrove were acquired during the year and didn't get many chances to pitch which is why they are heading to Florida for the fall.

The other four players are position players who were drafted this year: Carlos Correa, Rio Ruiz, Terrell Joyce, and Angel Ibanez. Of those four, Ibanez is a bit of a surprise due to his low draft slot but he showed a solid bat during the season and 3rd base is a shallow spot in the Astros organization.  
Overall, former Greeneville players made up almost half (16 out of 33) of the players invited.

Former G-Stro Levi Romero Pitching In Japan

Levi Romero, who was a solid part of the pitching staff in 2004 for the Greeneville Astros, is pitching in the Japan in the NPB for the SoftBank Hawks.  He has pitched both in major league games and in the developmental league games.  I am unsure of his status but it appears he is with the big club.

Season Recap - Relief Pitchers

The 2012 edition of the Greeneville Astros had a strong bullpen.  Let's take a look at some of the guys who came in to  hold onto leads and cleanup other player's messes during the season. 

My expectations for relief pitchers is to:  not let inherited runners score, not let any runners score, throw strikes and keep the ball in the yard.  I have put together a chart of the stats that are meaningful to me from the 2012 season for the eight relievers who appeared in the most games for the G-Stros this year.  This chart looks at the following data:
Relief Games - Simply the number of times they took the ball in relief.
Innings Pitched - Gives you an idea if they were a long reliever (Garcia) or a one batter specialist (Zuloaga).
Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched (WHIP) - How many batters did they allow to reach base per inning pitched.  In other words, did they throw gas on the fire.
Runners Left on Base % (LOB %) - How many guys did someone from the dugout have to bring them their glove.  That is a lovely sight for a reliever.  The league average for major league pitchers according to fangraphs is 70% to 72%.  Thanks to fangraphs for providing this stat for minor league pitchers.
Strikeouts - Best way to avoid further damage is to get an out without the ball being put in play.
Strikeouts/Walks (K/BB) - Some pitchers with high strike outs also tend to walk batters. 
Home Runs Allowed - All pitchers are supposed to keep the ball in the yard.

The * after the LOB% is to reflect that Bushue & Hauschild both had one start and there was no way to separate that outing from their relief appearances in that stat. 

With those numbers in mind, let's review the production of these eight guys.

Jordan Jankowski  was a strike out machine with his slider.  He struck out 53 batters in 32 1/3 IP.  To put that in perspective, in 2011, the team lead for strikeouts was 49 by a starter!   He stranded 80.9% of runners on base.  At 23, he is clearly ready for another challenge.  It will be interesting to see which full season team he breaks camp with next year. 

Mike Hauschild didn't have the strikeout numbers of Jankowski but he was almost as solid out of the pen.  He left 82.9% of runners on base to end innings.  He also had a solid 1.061 WHIP as a reliever and didn't allow a home run. At 22, Hauschild is also ready for a higher level of play.  I expect he will be in full season ball next year. 

Andrew Walter was repeating short season ball in 2012 and joined Greeneville in time to make 13 appearances.  He stranded an amazing 93.3% of runners. He struggled some with walks in Greeneville.  He gave up three HR but they were all solo shots. He will be 22 when players report next spring.

Scott Zuloaga was the lone lefty in the pen for much of this year.  The sidewinder was repeating this year and was used in mostly match up situations.  He left 75% of runners on base.  He had five scoreless outings after his promotion to Tri Cities late in the season.  He will be 23 when camp starts next season.

Christian Garcia pitched the most innings out of the pen, averaging almost two innings each outing.  While he stranded 75.5% of base runners, he also allowed a great many as well with a 1.398 WHIP.  He was just 20 this season, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in Greeneville or in TriCities next season. 

Zach Dando was in Greeneville for his second season.  He pitched one more inning than last year but allowed six less earned runs.  He appeared to be working on pitching to contact more often.  He left 68.3% of runners on base to end innings.  He will be 22 when spring training comes around.

Michael Dimock struck out 36 batters in 30 innings pitched and struck out four batters for every one batter he walked.  His stranded rate wasn't great at 57.1% but I am going to go out on a limb and say he was unlucky.  His fielding independent pitching (FIP) was 1.70 which is significantly lower than his season ERA of 4.21.   He will be 23 when spring training begins next March.

And finally, I want to talk about a guy I have heard more than a few folks write off as a lost cause.  Tanner Bushue was drafted in the 2nd round in 2009 out of high school.  He has bounced between GCL and Lexington for much of the last two years.  When he got off to a rough start in Lexington this year he was sent to Greeneville to figure it out.  It took two months but it looks like he has figured something out.  For the month of August, he appeared in 7 games, pitching 15 2/3 innings.  In those outings, he fanned 23 batters and only walked five. He had a WHIP under one for the month and an ERA of 0.57.  The curve ball was breaking off and he was throwing it for strikes.  He may not be the prospect he was when drafted, but I am not ready to throw him on the junk pile of used pitchers yet either.  Let's give him another year.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him more out of the pen in the future as well. 

Next we will recap the catchers for the year.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Season Recap - Starting Pitchers

Let's start our look at the 2012 Greeneville Astros by looking at the starting pitchers.  Twelve different pitchers started a game for the G-Stros.  We will take a look at the six who made the most starts.

We will look at them using my Appy Astros Adjusted Scoring System (3A2S).  This system takes the best outing game score and the worst outing game score and discards them.  The resulting starts will give us a truer picture of the real performance of the starters. For more information on the game score read this.

Francis Ramirez made 13 starts on the season.  His highest game score was a 70 on 7/1/12 and his worst game score was a 28 on 8/2/12.  His average game score across all starts was a 50.62.

His season ERA was a 4.05 and his WHIP was 1.46.
His 3A2S ERA was 4.53 and his WHIP was 1.43.

So his ERA goes up a half point but his WHIP stays basically the same.

The 20 year old showed flashes of promise with a great July but faded in August.  I look for him to be in short season ball again next season, likely in Tri Cities.

Daniel Minor was one of three pitchers who made 11 starts on the season.  His highest game score was an impressive 85 on 8/10/12. He lowest game score was a 21 on 7/30/12.  His average game score was 55.36 over his 11 starts.

His season ERA was 2.75 and his WHIP was 1.03.
His 3A2S ERA was 2.29 and his WHIP was 1.00.

His ERA drops by almost a half point when adjusted and his WHIP is maintained.

The 21 year old out of Texas A&M Corpus Christi made strong impression in 2012.  What is more impressive is that he had already pitched 110 1/3 innings in college before the draft.  He added 59 more innings for Greeneville and finished strong with a 0.35 ERA over his last four starts. He showed he is ready for the next step up the ladder.  I fully expect to see Minor in Lexington next season and would not be surprised if he made the jump to Lancaster. 

Adrian Houser also made 11 starts.  His high game score was 73 on 7/6/12 and his low was a dismal 4 on 8/6/12.  His average game score for the season was 49. 36.

His season ERA was 4.19 and his WHIP was 1.31
His 3A2S ERA was 3.86 and his WHIP was 1.35

His ERA drops .33 points and his WHIP is basically unchanged.

The 19 year old Houser experienced a pretty consistent season.  He had two great starts (games scores of 73 & 74) and two horrible starts (game scores of 4 & 11). The other seven scores ranged from 46 to 58.  With four of them being a score of 56.  What that tells me is that he was challenged at this level and that he responded fairly well.  I don't expect him to return to Greeneville again.  I expect him to be challenged in Lexington next year. It will be a very good test for him.

Fredrick Tiburcio was the third pitcher to make 11 starts. His first appearance of the year was out of the pen but he was a starter after that.  His highest game score was 74 on 7/14/12.  His lowest game score was on 7/2/12 and was a 31.  His average game score was a 51 but six of his starts scored below a 50. 

His season ERA as a starter was 4.08 and his WHIP was 1.29
His 3A2S ERA was 4.18 and his WHIP a 1.23.

The change in dropping the best and worst starts made only a negligible change. that would seem to indicate that his numbers are pretty accurate. 

The 21 year old Tiburcio showed brief flashes of quality stuff with two starts scoring a game score over 70 and claimed the two seven inning complete games this year.  But he was either on or off.  I don't know what to expect from Tiburcio next year,  If forced to project, I think he will start the year in extended spring training again. 

Michael Feliz made six starts after his promotion from the GCL Astros.  Feliz' worst game score came in his Appy League debut on 7/29/12.  His best outing was his last one of the season when he put up a game score of 66 on 8/28/12.  His average game score over his six starts was 46.16.

Six outings is really too small of a sample to evaluate. Feliz will turn 19  and has been invited to instructional league starting up next week.  How he does there will probably impact his placement next year.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in Greeneville in 2013.

Lance McCullers Jr. made four late season starts after his promotion from the GCL.  His game scores ranged from a low of 39 in his final start to a high of 60 in his first start.  His average game score was 47.75.  McCullars struggled some in moving up to the Appy League.  Not too much can be made from this sample size as well.  The last two starts were tainted by errors that lead to unearned runs.  It also caused him to have to use more pitches which limited his outings.  The one thing I will be watching in the future from McCullers is how he does with runners on base.  He didn't appear very comfortable with runners on base at times this year. 

McCullers appears to have a very strong work ethic and will take the feedback from the staff in Greeneville and what he hears in instructional league and will work on those things in the off season.  I expect he will break spring training in Lexington next season.

So there you have my feedback on the primarily starters in Greeneville.  I hope this gives you some food for thought as you look forward to next spring. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Eyewitness Report 8/28/12: Gville 5 - Bluefield 2

The season finale always has some excitement tied to it.  Sometimes it is the excitement of the players as they prepare to head back home to loved ones.  There was some of that in the air last night.  But there was also a felling of pride in a job well done and a season that was enjoyed by the fans.  It was nice to see a competitive team that won more than it lost.  This team is just the third team in Greeneville Astros history to finish above .500 and they finished with the second best record in franchise history.  Greeneville fans also claimed the attendance title for the 8th consecutive year.

The evening began with the two team awards being handed out.  Jose Monzon was named the recipient of the Oscar Pedron Award for leadership and character.  Previous reciepients of the award include: 2005 - P Brad James,  2006 - P Polin Trinidad, 2007 - C/1B Kyle Miller, 2008 - C Pedro Gonzalez, 2009 - CF Grant Hogue, 2010 - 1B Marcus Nidiffer,  and 2011 - C Cristian Moronta.

Brian Blasik was named the team MVP.  He lead the team in hits, triples, RBIs, and finished with an impressive .318 average.  In the field, he only made four errors in 48 games at second base.  He also showed his versatility playing five games at third and one game in left. Instead of a trophy, Blasik received a framed road jersey.  A nice touch by the front office.

On to the game observations:

On The Mound
Michael Feliz was dealing.  He allowed just three hits in five innings of work.  He didn't walk anyone.  He was efficient, using just 61 pitches in five innings. I was really surprised when he didn't return for the sixth.  Some balls were hit hard off of him but they tended to be right at folks.

Christian Garcia allowed a lead off single but then got a fielders choice and a double play to face just three batters in his one inning.  Brad Propst pitched around a lead off double in one scoreless inning of work.  Zach Dando didn't have his best stuff.  He gave up three doubles and Bluefield's only two runs.  

Jordan Jankowski came into the game and did what he has done most of the year.  In 1 1/3 IP, he fanned three batters.  That brings his total to 53 strike outs in 32 1/3 IP.  He finished six strikeouts behind team leader Francis Ramirez despite pitching 21 less innings! 

At The Plate
The Astros jumped all over Bluefield starter Justin James.  They scored in the first three innings to give the G-Stros an early 5-0 lead. 

Angel Ibanez continued his good work at the plate going three for four.  He hit .305 in the month of August to raise his season average to .264. 

Brian Blasik added a single and a double to his hit total for the season.  Ernesto Genoves and Ricky Gingras both added two hit nights as well. 

Rio Ruiz's triple was a very close play at third.  He showed good hustle on the play.  

Jose Fernandez hit the ball hard but had nothing to show for hit.  He lined out to center once and was robbed on a line drive to short.  

In The Field
D'Andre Toney continues to make plays in center.  He chased a ball hit deep to center with ease in the second inning.  

Genoves threw out yet another base runner on a strike em out throw em out double play to erase a lead off hit in the third.  That is three base stealers caught in the last two games.  

Monzon makes things look easy in RF.  That can't be said for all the guys who have played out there this year.  

Overall Observations: 
It was a great way to wrap up the season.  Good pitching, good fielding and good hitting.  

We are also getting another view of the new front office way of doing things.  There are no expected promotions to teams after the season.  That has been the norm in the past. 

I was also told that only four players are heading to instructional league: Rio Ruiz, Lance McCullers, Carlos Correa and  Terrell Joyce. That is a smaller number than I would have expected.  It will be interesting to see who is joining them from other affiliates. 

Eyewitness Report 8/27/12: G-Stros 2, Bluefield 5

Let's take a look at the next to last game of the season for the G-Stros.  Here are my first hand observations. 

On The Mound:
Francis Ramirez got the start and wasn't sharp but he battled well.  He twice stranded runners at third to end innings.  He hit two batters and walked two more.  He threw 75 pitches with 48 of those coming in the first two innings.

Michael Dimock  pitched one inning in relief.  He was inconsistent as he had two three pitch strike outs and a four pitch walk.     The run he allowed was on base due to a triple down the line.

Joe Musgrove came in and pitched the next inning.  His 1,2,3 6th inning was aided by great defense by D'Andre Toney in center and Angel Ibanez at third.  He came out to pitch in the seventh and got roughed up.  He gave up a ground rule double that would have been a triple had the ball not rolled under the padding of the gate in RF.  That was followed by a triple.  During the next at bat, he unleashed a wild pitch that resulted in a play at the plate.  Genoves' throw was low and Musgrove attempted to tag the runners hand while still standing up.  He thought he tagged him, the ump disagreed and called the runner safe.  Musgrove said something as he walked by the ump and he was tossed. 

Tanner Bushue came in to pitch with a 2-1 count on the batter.  The batter ended up walking but that walk was charged to Musgrove since the count was in the batters favor when Bushue entered.  He then proceeded to pitch 2 2/3 innings of 1 hit ball with five strike outs. 

I know folks are frustrated at the lack of development in Bushue since he was drafted in the 2nd round in 2009.  However, what he has shown in August gives me hope that something has clicked.  He appeared in seven games this month (15 2/3 IP) and gave up just nine hits, five walks and one earned run; while striking out 23 batters.  Had he gone to college, he would have been draft eligible this year.  That makes me cautiously optimistic.

At The Plate
The G-Stros managed to get 11 base runners despite only getting four hits.  They took five walks, had one hit batsman and reached on one error. 

Brian Blasik had two of the teams four hits.  He also stole a base and scored a run. 

Ariel Ovando didn't get a hit but took two walks.  One was a four pitch walk from a new pitcher.  The other was a full count walk. 

Jose Monzon hit a solid double for the best hit of the night. However, he earned my ire earlier in the game for getting picked of first by going back to the bag standing.  Get your uniform dirty son!

In The Field
There was a bit of fruit basket turnover in the field after Mark Wik hit the wall chasing down the first triple of the game.  When he left, Blasik moved from 2nd to LF and Jimmy Howick came in to play second. 

Toney did an excellent job of tracking down a ball in deep left center.

Ibanez made a great play behind the bag at third and gunned the runner at first.

Ernesto Genoves threw out two base runners and did a nice job of dealing with a bunch of balls in the dirt.

Jimmy Howick did the little things well at second.  A ground ball was hit to first that Martinez pulled up on to quickly.  It would have been an error but Howick was moving on the play and Dimock was covering for the rare 4-1 ground out.   

Overall Observations
It wasn't the best game I had seen them play.  The team appeared to lack some energy at times.  This is to be somewhat expected after being eliminated from the playoffs the night before.  It was nice to see them battle back late in the game for some runs and even have the tying run at the plate in the 8th.  One more game to go. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 Defense - Best Yet

Defense wins championships. It is an old maxim yet it there is a great deal of truth to it.  This year's edition of the Greeneville Astros has been very good on defense.  I didn't realize how good until I started looking at the records of previous teams.  Below is a spread sheet that list the errors by position of each Greeneville Astros team. I have bolded the leaders. 

Here are some observations (with five games to go)

-  The 2012 G-Stros have made 28 fewer errors than any other team in Greeneville Astros history. 
-  The2012 edition either has the record or is tied for the fewest errors in five of the seven positions.
-  The two positions where they don't hold the record, they have made just one more error than the record holders.
- The biggest gains have been at the middle infield positions. 

Impressive glove work by the 2012 Greeneville Astros!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Eyewitness Report: 8/19/12 Gville 4 - B-Royals 8

The G-Stros couldn't complete the sweep last night.  Here are my observations from the game.

On The Mound: 
Lance McCullers made his third start of the season for Greeneville.  He got off to a great start striking out the first three batters.  The defense was not as crisp behind him and it resulted in extra pitches in innings and that along with his lack of control caused him to just make it through three innings.  I heard a report that McCuller's fast ball was hitting 96 during the game.  

Brad Propst pitched a solid inning in relief.

Kevin Comer came in and pitched three innings for his G-Stro debut.  He got out of a first and second with no on out in the fifth.  He also pitched out of a bases loaded one out situation in the sixth.  He had a clean seventh.  He surrendered one home run to lead off the sixth. 

Richard Rodriguez was okay in the eight but was hit hard in the ninth inning.  Michael Dimock came in to stop the bleeding to get the last out.

In The Field: 
I was surprised to see Marc Wik at second tonight.  He was charged with an error in the second that lead to two unearned runs scoring. 

Ariel Ovando caught my eye again in a negative way.  McCullers attempted to pick off a runner and Michael Martinez was charged with the error on a missed catch.  The ball went up the first base line towards the bullpen area.  Ovando in right field was very late in coming over to back up the play.  The runner advanced from first to third on the error.  In the debate of lack of effort or lack of focus; I am starting to lean towards lack of focus. 

Rio Ruiz continues to impress at third. He made one very nice stop on a ball to his right. 

D'Andre Toney has played a solid center all season and covers a great deal of ground in the outfield.  On back to back nights, he has chased balls to the wall that he couldn't quite catch. The balls have bounced off the wall and he has had to go back and chase them down.  Last night, the result was a triple. I am not sure if this is a case where he should read wall balls better or if it is a case where the corner outfielders are getting over to back up but it wasn't pretty. 

At The Plate: 
Greeneville was no hit until the fifth when Terrell Joyce  smacked a HR to lead off the fifth.  Joyce had his third straight two hit night. 

Ernesto Genoves hit a home run and Jose Fernandez had two hits. 

Ovando hit a double down the right field line.  I was excited that Mike Newman from fangraphs was at the park and was able to get video of Ovando.  The fans here accuse Ovando of not hustling down the line.  I have had that feeling some but I also feel that Ovando's large frame takes a while to get going.  I hope Mike is able to pull a home to first time off the video and will share that will us. 

The Astros were not fond of the home play umps strike zone.  Both Ruiz and Ovando gave dirty looks after called third strikes.  Five of the 10 strike outs were looking. 

Other Observations:
It was reported to me that Brian Blasik took some infield today and is close to being ready to play again. His defense plus his bat have been missed. 

Eyewitness Report: 8/18/12 Gville 2 - B-Royals 0

It was a great night at the ball park.  I had the pleasure of watching the game with several Astros bloggers. It was nice to put faces with names.  We had such a good time we talked for over an hour after the game ended. 

The game itself was also a pleasure.  It was a good pitching, good defense kind of game that was played in under two hours!  Let's get to my observations.

On The Mound:
Adrian Houser took the mound and pitched pretty well.  Most notably, it was the first time in eight starts that he didn't walk a batter.  There were some hard hit balls off of him but they were at people and the Greeneville defense was solid.  He was pulled after five innings.  My unofficial pitch count for him at that time was 59 pitches.

Tanner Bushue came in and bounced back from a rough outing last time out, with a solid outing. He allowed just one hit in two innings and struck out three batters.  His August ERA is 0.84.   

Zach Dando earned his first save of the season with his mom and dad in the stands.  He struck out four over two innings.  His August ERA is a healthy 0.96. 

In The Field:
There were some outstanding plays in the field.  The best was by Carlos Correa who made a diving snag of a line drive by Bubba Starling to start a double play.  Correa dove to his left and caught the ball inches off the ground.  The runner on first was easily doubled off 1st because every one in the park expected that ball to get through.

The other good play was by Terrell Joyce. In the top of the second, Burlington's DH hit a double down the line with two outs.  The Royal's manager chose to insert a pinch runner (IN THE SECOND INNING!).  The next hitter singled on a ground ball to left field.  Joyce was aggressive in fielding the ball on the run and came up throwing.  His throw was perfect and catcher Ernesto Genoves did a nice job of not reacting to the throw until the last minute.  The made the catch and the tag and the shutout was still intact. 

At The Plate:
Correa continues to show he can hit.  His two for four night moved his average since his promotion to .458.  Again, I noticed how well he lets the ball travel in the zone.  He was called on to sac bunt in this game and he did so effectively.  He appears very fundamentally sound.

Angel Ibanez  and Joyce had two hit nights as well.  Ibanez scored both runs for the G-Stros.

Other Observations: 
Ariel Ovando was held out of the line up for the second night in a row.  This follows poor fielding performances on Wednesday and Thursday.  I am not sure that is a coincidence.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Eyewitness Report: 8/16/12 Gville 2 - B-Sox 3

Other things at the park kept me from taking detailed notes on this game.  I will share with you that the box score doesn't tell the whole story on a disappointing loss.

The whole game turned on the fifth inning.  Michael Feliz had cruised through the first four innings.  He had seven strike out of the first 12 outs.  In the fifth, with a 2-0 lead, Feliz walked the bases loaded.  Three walks in an inning will hurt you every time.  BUT! He should have been out of the inning.  The triple that cleared the bases was a fairly routine line drive to right.  Ariel Ovando was there for the ball, he was just about three feet too far in to field it.  It simply was misjudged.  I am not sure if it was a bad read of the bat or if it was a lack of focus but it was a very poor play. He makes that play, Greeneville wins.  I have said several times that Ovando has looked much better in the field this year.  However last night, he looked like the Ovando from last season.

If ifs and buts, were candy and nuts......

There were other aspects of the game that could have gone better, such as getting at least one hit with runners in scoring position (0-8).  And there were some positive plays, pitches and at bats.  Yet when your team is fighting for a playoff spot, you have to beat teams that have 13-35 records.  Greeneville let one get away last night.

Other Notes:
Brian Blasik was hit on the hand while attempting to bunt Thursday night.  He was sporting two finger splints on right hand.

Blogger Invasion
I am thrilled to get to meet some folks that I have gotten to know on the interwebs this weekend.  Jayne from What The Heck Bobby, Mike Newman from FanGraphs, and Tim and Brooks from The Crawfish Boxes  are all going to catch at least one game at Pioneer Park this weekend. I look forward to meeting them and getting their observations on this team.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Patton On The DL and other transactions

I normally don't do much posting about transactions because they are too numerous for me to keep up with but there have been several over the last few days that are worth noting.

In A Garage....Really?
Troy Patton (2004) was placed on the DL by Baltimore after spraining his ankle walking in the garage of the hotel where he stays.

"I was walking in the garage where I stay and caught it on the edge of the curb, at angle, and just turned it quick," he said. "I didn't think it was very bad until I woke up the next day, and it was very, very swollen. I thought it was just a little tweak, no problem."..."It's just a sprain. I'll be back in 14 days, since it's retroactive. I'll be back as soon as I'm allowed to be back, and I'll be ready to go."
Former G'Stros Released
Two former 2nd round picks by the Astros have been released recently.  Earlier this week, Ralphie Henriquez (2005, 2006) was released by the Mariners.  He made it as high as AAA.

Yesterday Jay Austin (2008) was released by the Astros. He never made it higher than Hi A ball.

Trio Promoted
Three 2012 G-Stros have been promoted to Tri Cities.  Pitchers Euris Quezada and Scott Zuloaga were moved up along with Jean Batsita. Batista leaves Greeneville with 19 doubles meaning the doubles record of 20 by Jose Altuve &  Ronald Ramirez will be safe for another year. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eyewitness Report: 8/14/12 Gville 10 - B-Sox 0

Some observations from tonight's game.  I didn't keep a book because I didn't get in the park until the bottom of the first due to giving blood.  When I got in the park, my son had struck a conversation with some folks from out of town and we spent a fair amount of time talking.  So my observations won't be as detailed.

On The Mound
Fredrick Tiburcio pitched a good game.  He walked a tight rope a few times but he stranded all eight base runners he allowed.  There was only two hard hit balls that I recall. One went for a double and the other was a single that Brian Blasik laid out for and almost caught.  His game score for the night was 72.

The bullpen did their job with Brad Propst pitching the eighth inning and fanning two and Andrew Walter pitching the ninth; striking out the side.

At The Plate
This was my first look at Carlos Correa and Rio Ruiz.  They impressed me.  They didn't do anything that was amazing but both did little things well.  Correa's hit on the night came on a full count.  He let the ball travel deep in the zone and roped it down the first base line.  He also reached once on a fielders choice that would have been a double play had he not given good effort and hustled down the base line.  That play scored a run, that wouldn't have scored if had had not hustled.  It was also a play where I saw a little thing from Ruiz that impressed me. 

He was on first and was forced out at second on the play. When he saw that Correa had beat out the throw, he clapped his hands celebrating his team scoring, popped up and hustled off the field.  He was glad the team scored despite being forced out on the play.  Ruiz's double was a well hit ball in the first that got the scoring started.  He did take a while to leave the batters box after a called third strike.

 This was a strong lineup.  When the two guys tied for the fifth best average in the league are hitting fifth and sixth, you have a deep line up.  Ernesto Genoves had a good night going two for three with a double and a sac fly.  Each position in the line up got on base at least one time.

In The Field
Nothing spectacular happened in the field.  Ruiz handled things well at third and made several tough plays.  Correa didn't see much action at short.  Blasik continued his solid and gritty infield play and Martinez did a nice job at first.  The outfield only saw seven balls all evening.  

It was a night where the little things created big results.  Blasik stealing second and being able to advance to third on an errant throw by the catcher.  Correa hustling down the line to prevent a double play.  Genoves & Monzon producing sac flies to produce runs.  Positive chatter in the dugout.  This team appears to know that it is in the midst of a playoff race and each game counts.  

Abad Moving Back to Starter?

Yesterday, Brian McTaggart posted his minor league notebook, where he talked about Delino DeShields Jr. success this season and a few other things.  The bit that caught my eye was the decision to move Fernando Abad back to the starter role. 
"We're trying to look at what might be best," said Astros director of player development Fred Nelson. "He's pitched well in the Dominican Republic as a starter, and we've vacillated back and forth between what is best for him, and I think we're going to take a look and see what he can do in a starting role and see if he can filter in to be a guy that might end up starting for us."
Abad has had several good seasons playing winter ball in the Dominican but hasn't been a starter in the states very much at all.  He has never started more than four games in a minor league season since he came to the states.  In looking at his numbers, it appears he does better when he pitches to more batters than he has this past year as a lefty specialist.  Hope this experiment goes well for Fernando.  I would expect he won't be fully stretch out until the season ends and we will be watching winter ball stats again for further indication of his move to a starter.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Barnes Makes #13

Here is the list of former Greeneville Astros who have made it to the big leagues

#1 RHP Juan Gutierrez
Greeneville Astros: 2004
MLB Debut: 8/19/2007 with Houston Astros
Currently on DL in KC Royals Minor Leagues

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

#3 RHP Felipe Paulino
Greeneville Astros: 2004
MLB Debut: 9/5/2007 with Houston Astros
Currently on KC Royals DL

#4 C J.R. Towles
Greeneville Astros: 2004
MLB Debut: 9/5/2007 with Houston Astros
Currently in AAA in Twins system.

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

#6 RHP Sammy Gervacio
Greeneville Astros: 2005
MLB Debut: 8/14/2009 with Houston Astros
Currently in Mexican League (AAA - Unaffiliated)

#7 LHP Victor Garate
Greeneville Astros: 2005
MLB Debut: 9/5/2009 with Washington Nationals
Recently released by Brewers from AAA

#8 LHP Fernando Abad
Greeneville Astros: 2007
MLB Debut: 7/28/2010 with Houston Astros
Currently in Oklahoma City (AAA - Astros)

#9 RHP Henry Villar
Greeneville Astros: 2008
MLB Debut: 9/10/2010 with Houston Astros
Currently in Corpus Christi (AA- Astros)

#10 RHP Jordan Lyles
Greeneville Astros: 2008
MLB Debut: 5/31/11 with Houston Astros - Current

#11 2nd Jose Altuve
Greeneville Astros: 2008-09
MLB Debut: 7/20/11 with Houston Astros -Current

#12 LF J. D. Martinez
Greeneville Astros: 2009
MLB Debut: 7/30/11 with Houston Astros - Current

#13 OF Brandon Barnes
Greeneville Astros: 2005-06
MLB Debut: 8/7/12 with Houston Astros

Brandon Barnes Gets The Call

Reports out of Houston today indicate that Brandon Barnes will be the 13th Greeneville Astro alumni to make his Major League debut.   Barnes was drafted in the sixth round of the 2005 draft.  He is the third signed player from that draft to make it to the bigs.  The other two are Brian Bogusevic and Tommy Manzella. 

Barnes spent 2005 and 2006 in Greeneville and was a raw ball player.  He had been primarily a football player in high school with dreams of playing in the NFL.  However that changed and after one year at Cypress College as a walk on, he was drafted. He improved during his two years in Greeneville but then really started growing as he moved up the ladder.  His progress was slow and steady.  In 2009 and 2010 both saw him appear in three levels of the system.  He did enough in the 2011 year to have the Astros re-sign him to a minor league free agent deal with an invite to spring training as a non roster invitee.  He appeared in 14 spring training games and hit .267 in 15 at bats.  He has played well at Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City this season. 

Personal Side:
It is always exciting when a former Greeneville Astro gets the call up to the major leagues but it is even more exciting when you have a personally connection with the player.  So excuse me as I share a personal story. 

Our family was fortunate enough to get to know Brandon during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.  He was very generous with his time and was great to my kids.  There is no way to make me a big fan than to treat my kids well. 

Here is my favorite Brandon Barnes story:

We were sitting around the table during lunch and my son, who 6 at the time was talking baseball with Brandon and Ralphie Henriquez.  The topic turned to Vlad Guerrero.  My son stated, "What I don't understand is he is there best player and they have him playing right field.  That is where you put your worst player."  Ralphie dies laughing because if you check Brandon's stats from his time in Greeneville, you will find he played 30 games in RF in 2006 for the G-Stros.  Brandon educated my son on why you need your best arm in right field and why that is an important position.  Ralphie just agreed with my son that the worst player plays in RF.  The irony is my son has spent a fair amount of time in RF as he has gotten older as well due to his arm.

I have enjoyed following Brandon's career not just because of his growth as a baseball player but his growth as a man, a husband and father.  I have also enjoyed watching the growth of his faith as well. 

Good luck Brandon.  We are still pulling for you!

More Than Stats: 
There is something else in this promotion story for those of us who follow minor league baseball.  Don't get too caught up in short season stats.  Brandon hit .200 his first year and .220 his second year.  He was a work in progress.  He is a reminder to show some patience with these young men who are developing.  Those who make personnel decisions in pro ball look at more than a stat line. They call it player development for a reason. 

Eyewitness Report: 8/6/12 Double Header Loss to Johnson City

It was a tough night at Pioneer Park last night.  The G-Stros were swept by the Johnson City Cardinals.  Here are a few observations: 

GAME ONE: Cards 8 - Gville 2

On The Mound:
Adrian Houser got the start in game one.  He didn't pitch as badly as the line indicates. Two of the doubles were not hit hard but were placed right down the opposite field line.  Batters appeared to have been fooled on the pitch.  The triple that was hit to lead off the second was aided by a bad line to the ball by Ariel Ovando.  

Houser's poise was good until the fifth when you could see the frustration in his body language on the mound.

Mike Hauschild relieved Houser with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth.  He allowed a single, a walk, and a fielders choice to allow all the inherited runners to score.  The ground ball was a slow roller that couldn't be turned for a run saving double play.  He pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

Andrew Walter finished the game for Greeneville.  He pitched around three hits for a scoreless seventh.

At The Plate:
Not much to write about here.  The G-Stros only mustered three runs off of Cardinal pitching.  Angel Ibanez had a two RBI double  D'Andre Toney also had a double and Ricky Gingras has a single.  Ovando took a four pitch walk and showed better pitch recognition in all at bats.  He already has four walks in August.  It appears the scouting report is don't throw him strikes and he has made some adjustment.

In The Field:
Ricky Gingras did a nice job behind the plate blocking balls.  His caught stealing was on a ball that got away from him and he corralled it and made a good throw to third.

Other than Ovando's bad route, the only other misplay was by Toney who ran past a ball on the ground in an error that was possibly due to lack of focus late in a blow out game.  It did not result in additional runs but it did give up an extra base to two runners.

GAME TWO: Cards 5 - Gville 1 

On the Mound: 
There was a buzz in the air before game two.  It was the Greeneville debut of 1st round supplemental draft pick Lance McCullers.  Part of the buzz was created by his pre game warm up routine that included long tossing a neon yellow softball.  It was the first time I had seen that in a pitchers pre game routine.

Once he took the mound, he showed good poise and solid pitching.  The first inning was an adventure as he got the first two outs and then walked the bases loaded. Two of those walks came on full counts.  After a pitching visit, he settled down and got the final out on a strike out.    I sat near a scout so I could peek at his radar gun.  It was reading 91-93 on fastballs and 80-84 on his breaking ball.  Those numbers stayed consistent throughout his start.

After his 26 pitch first inning, McCullers settled down and pitched very well.  He allowed one hit and one walk in his next three innings of work while striking out three more batters.  An impressive first showing for Mr. McCullers

He was relieved by Joe Musgrove.  The scout didn't have his gun out for him so I can't give you numbers but he appeared to be throwing harder.  However, they were being hit and hit hard.  He lasted an 1 2/3 innings and was helped by defense.

Euris Quezada came in and put out a fire in the sixth and then was pulled with two outs in the seventh in favor of a lefty.  Hindsight being 20/20, I wish he would have been left in.

Scott Zuloaga came in to face Bruce Caldwell who was pulled for a pitch hitter who hit a line drive that should have been out #3 but was a three base error instead.

After one batter, Michael Dimock came in to finish the game. 

At The Plate:
The Astros hitters were baffled by slight Stalyn Lopez.  He pitched a complete game four hitter and fanned eight G-Stros.  He got better as the game went along.  He was throwing mid 80's at the start of the game and hit 90 in the sixth inning.

Angel Ibanez had the big hit again with another RBI double. He was responsible for knocking in all of Greenville's runs last night. He now has a seven game hitting streak and in his last five games, he is 9 for 20 (.450) with four doubles and eight RBI.

Jean Batista hit a double, and Toney and Jose Monzon added singles to complete the G-Stros hit totals. 

In The Field: 
It a mixed bag for Ariel Ovando.
The Good: With a runner on second, he caught a fly ball in right field.  He runner went back to tag and Ovando unleashed a throw that the third baseman caught head high.  It was slightly off line but the throw created a buzz in the park.
The Bad: He hot dogged one catch in right.  It was a high fly ball on the warning track and he caught the ball about bell high on his right side.  He had plenty of time to catch it in a fundamentally sound way.  He also misplayed a line drive that got by him and was the difference in the game.  

Jose Monzon also had a mixed result.  He nailed the potential tying run at the plate in the fifth with a great throw.  He later let a throw slip out of his hand that almost ended up in the seats behind third.

Angel Ibanez had a solid game at third; making several plays coming in towards the grass.

D'Andre Toney made a diving attempt in each game on balls in front of him.  He failed to come up with either one but you have to like the effort.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Eyewitness Report: 8/4/12 Greeneville 3 Johnson City 2

What a difference one day makes. From a blow out to a nail biter.  Greeneville rode solid starting pitching and did just enough at the plate to earn a 3-2 win in 10 innings.  Here are my observations:

On The Mound: 
Daniel Minor did an outstanding job in this game!  He battled out of a rough first to retire 17 batters in a row before leaving the game.  In the first, he struck out the first batter, then gave up two singles. He fanned the next two and then became very efficient having five straight 1,2,3 innings.

I don't think he was done either.  His pitch count wasn't too high and he appeared to be cruising when the final batter in the sixth lined a pitch back up the middle that caught Minor on the foot/ankle. He stayed with the play and made the out but then limped off the field.  He tried to return in the seventh but made just one warm up pitch before being replaced. 

Zach Dando retired the next five batters in a row before walking a runner with two outs in the eighth inning.  He was then replaced by Jordan Jankowski. 

Jankowski  gave up a single that I felt 3rd baseman Ibanez should have handled but it was a hot shot.  He then fanned the next batter to end the threat in the eighth.

In the nineth, Jankowski gave up a single on a slow roller up the middle before surrendering his first home run ball of the year.  That tied the game up.  The G-Stros manager stayed with Jankowski and he retired the next batter on a pop fly before surrendering back to back singles on flairs to right field.  Jankowski was more unlucky than bad.

Big Euris Quezada came in to relieve Jankowski and got a double play ball to end the inning.  In the 10th, he struck out the side while mixing in a single.  He ended up with the win in relief.

At The Plate:
Ariel Ovando had the big game at the plate. His day didn't start off great. He grounded to short in his first at bat.  The shortstop made a solid play but Ovando didn't hustle down the line. I believe it would have been a close play had he hustled.  He then launched a high fly ball that almost cleared the fence but bounced off for a triple.  Ovando was running full out on that play.  Makes me wonder if he didn't get some feedback on his effort from the previous at bat. 

After another ground out, he got the big hit in the 10th.  With two outs and runners at first and second, he showed good bat control and took a ball the opposite way for a walk off single.  He also took a walk during the game, giving him three walks in his last four games.

Jean Batista, stayed hot, going two for four with a walk.  The double he hit, didn't get past the outfielders. It was a shot in the gap and he hustled it into a double.

Terrell Joyce had two hits also.  He finished July in a bit of a funk, striking out 11 out of his last 21 at bats in the month.  Since the calendar has turned to August, he only has one strike out in his first 14 at bats this month.

 In The Field: 
Greeneville played error free ball.  The middle infield of Batista and Brian Blasik took care of nine of the 11 ground outs in the field.  They turned a double play in a key spot as well.  Batista had six assist and one put out.  Blasik had four assist and one put out.

Other Observations:
The buzz around the field was the arrival of Lance McCullers Jr. who is slated to start Monday night.  He was busy signing a lot of autographs after he finished his running before the game. 

There was also a report that Joe Musgrove will make his Astros debut on Monday as well in relief.