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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In Search Of A Nickname For Altuve

Former Greeneville Astro, Jose Altuve continues to impress at the major league level with his hitting prowess.  He is, in my opinion, on the verge of a break out year.  He is hitting well, he has increased his walks, he is running the bases well, and he is making highlight level plays in the field.  Last night, he hit his first home run of the season to go with his four doubles and two triples.

The one thing he lacks is a solid nickname.  There are a few that are floating around the internet but they haven't really caught on yet.  Here is what I have heard so far:

Pocket Jesus - I am not a fan of nicknames that have religious overtones.  This nickname is too polarizing to stick.

Mighty Mouse - It has been the cartoon reference nickname for every small athlete in the last 50 years. In a brief google search, I found swimmers, basketball players and even a UCF fighter using that nickname.  Not original enough

So I sought to come up with a good nickname for Altuve.  One not to polarizing, yet original.  Here is what I came up with.

El Escorpion!

My reasons:
1. Scorpions are small creatures who pack a big wallop.  You might overlook a scorpion because of its size at first, but after you have been stung, you give it due respect.  Altuve was seen as a novelty when he first came up but not people are starting to respect his hitting (striking) ability.

2. Look at this picture of Altuve at bat.  He coils his bat and loads back like a scorpion ready to strike.

3. There is no record of a baseball player with this nickname so it is original.

What do you think?  Does it fit?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Barnes Off To Hot Start

Brandon Barnes (Greeneville Astros 05, 06) is off to a great start for the Corpus Christi Hooks (AA).  He currently leads the league in the following categories:

Average: .385
Slugging: .750
OPS: 1.157
Doubles: 10
Total Bases: 39
Hits: 20 (tie)
Runs: 12 (tie)

He is also among the league leaders in the following categories:

Home Runs: 3 (tied for 3rd)
RBI: 11 (tied for 4th)
OBP: .407 (11th)

Other former G-Stros who are off to good starts in 2012 are:

Delino DeShields Jr - his 10 stolen bases as tops in the Sally League
Mike Folteynewicz  - is 9th in ERA in the Sally (1.72).
Telvin Nash - his 7 HR leads all of minor league baseball.  His OPS (1.019) is 10th best in the California League.  His slugging average (.655) is good for 7th best. He also ranks 4th in total bases (38), tied for 10th in most walks (8), 6th in RBI's (12), and tied for 8th in runs scored (12). 
Chris Wallace - tied for 8th most doubles (4) in the Texas League.
Jose Cisnero - is tied for 6th most strikeouts with 16 in 14 2/3 IP. His 2.45 ERA is good for 9th best in the Texas League.
Jordan Lyles - his 18 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings are tied for 6th best in the PCL.
Jordan Parraz - his .368 average is 4th best in the International League. His 21 hits also tie him for 4th best. His .438 OBP is 10th best.  His 3 stolen bases tie him for 8th in the league.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Albert Cartwright: Last Man Standing

With Colin Delome's release yesterday, Albert Cartwright is the lone survivor from the 2007 Astros draft.  Cartwright was drafted in the 36th round and played in Greeneville in 2007 and 2008.  He reached AA in 2010 before he was traded to the Phillies for  reliever Sergio Escalona.

He missed all of 2011 due to an achilles tendon injury and is currently with the Clearwater Thrashers of the Florida State League.  Cartwright is old for the league at 24 but is doing well, hitting .302 through his first 10 games in 2012.  Not to bad considering the missed season last year.  I expect he will move up pretty quickly if he keeps performing well. 

Cartwright is from the Bahamas and is active on twitter @acartwright12.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Telvin Nash & Jose Altuve Show Early Signs of Increased Selectivity

Understatement of the day: Telvin Nash is hot.  Nash is enjoying the California League where in his first six games, he has already hit five home runs. Here is video of one of the two home run swings last night.

Nash is hitting .375 with nine hits in 24 at bats.  Of his nine hits, he has five home runs, one double and three singles.  All that is great but looking at his stat line there is something that excites me more than the power.  It is the selectivity he is showing at the plate so far this season.  

Nash has been a high strike out guy since he signed with the Astros.  In 2009, he carried a 28.7% strike out rate in the GCL, and a walk rate of 7.6%.  In 2010, he fanned 28.2% of the time while walking 11%.  Last season in Lexington, he struck out 32.6% of the time and walked an improved 12.7% of the time.  This season in a VERY SMALL sample size, Nash has struck out 3 times and has walked 3 times.  So his walk rate and his strike out rate are both 13%.   

I am not expecting him to cut his strike outs in half this year but if we see a reduction of strike outs along with the increased power (inflated by California League hitter friendly environment), Nash will be shooting up prospect list and moving up the ladder towards Houston.  

So enjoy watching the home runs but keep an eye on the strike outs too!  To me that is the more important developmental stat for him. 

Altuve Seeing More Pitches
Brian McTaggart reports today that the Astros have asked Jose Altuve to "to be more aggressive on pitches in the strike zone while getting him to be more patient and draw more walks"   It appears to be working, after walking just 5 times in 234 plate appearances last season.  So far in again a VERY SMALL sample size, Altuve has taken 3 walks in 18 plate appearances.  

That is the difference between a 2.1% BB rate and a 16.7% BB rate.  That will create a significant improvement in his on base percentage which was .297 in Houston last year.  A 16.7% walk rate over 600 plate appearances would come to just over 100 walks.  That would be impressive but probably unrealistic.  I would be thrilled with a walk rate around 10% for 2012.  There are many other fringe benefits he will receive if that happens.  He will see better pitches.  He will be on base more.  He will steal more bases. And he will score more runs.  Isn't that what baseball is about, scoring more runs?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Former G-Stros in AA - 2012

Here are the former G-Stros who are in AA. We will first list those still in the Astros organization and then look at those outside the organization.

Those on the Corpus Christi Roster:

Jose Cisnero (Gville 2009)
Arcenio Leon (Gville 2007,08)
Ross Seaton (Gville 2008)
Henry Villar (Gville 2008)
Chris Wallace (Gville 2010)
Kody Hinze (Gville 2008)
Brandon Barnes (Gville 2005, 06)

Those in other organizations:

Koby Clemens (Gville 2005) - New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays)
Ralph Henriquez (Gville 2005,06) - Jackson Generals (Mariners)
Vlad Sutil (Gville 2004) - Mobile BayBears (Diamondbacks)
Tom Vessella (Gville 2006) - Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants)

Former G-Stros in AAA - 2012

Some guys just didn't quite make the MLB rosters of their teams.  Some never had a shot.  But all are just a phone call away from the show. 

Victor Garate - Brewers (Greeneville 2005) - Will be working out of the pen in Nashville this season.

Jordan Lyles - Astros (Greeneville 2008) - Will be refining his art in Oklahoma City for a while this year. I would expect him to be the first pitcher up this season.

Jordan Parraz - Braves (Greeneville 2004) - Will be hoping to make the short drive to Atlanta from Gwinnett after just missing the 25 man roster.

J. R. Towles - Twins (Greeneville 2004) - Will be battling for a shot back in the majors in Rochester.  They have three catchers on the roster with MLB experience.

Amedeo Zazueta - Padres (Greeneville 2006) - Still hanging in there after taking the wildest route to AAA.  

Former G'stros on Opeing Day Rosters 2012

Teams had to finalize their rosters by 4:00 yesterday.  There were four former Greeneville Astros who were listed among 750 players who can call themselves current major leaguers. 

Fernando Abad - Astros (Greeneville 2007)
Hoping to rebound from a rough 2010 season, Abad showed good stuff this spring.  He only gave up four hits and one walk in 8 2/3 innings this spring.  Meanwhile he fanned 11 during that span.  The lingering concern with Abad is the long ball.  Two of the four hits this spring were home runs.  With the Astros keeping 13 pitchers on the opening day roster, the tryout might not be over.  He will have to continue to show he belongs in Houston every time out.

Jose Altuve - Astros - (Greeneville 2008-09)
Quickly becoming a fan favorite in Houston, Altuve showed more patience at the plate this spring taking 11 walks in 68 plate appearances. That is impressive improvement when you look at last year in both the majors and the minors, he walked just 31 times in 625 plate appearances. Being more selective should lead to him getting on base more and getting better pitches to drive.  He could be primed for a break out year.

J. D. Martinez - Astros - (Greeneville 2009)
Martinez has been slotted for LF since the end of last year.  His spring numbers were not great, so we will be watching to make sure he avoids a sophomore slump. We will also be watching to see how his body, especially his knees hold up to a full season of playing the field.  In 2011, out of the 88 games he batted in Corpus Christi before the call up, he only played 72 in the field.  That meant a fair amount of time at DH.  Not an option in Houston; at least not this year.

Troy Patton - Orioles - (Greeneville 2004)
Patton has become a different pitcher since his shoulder surgery.  This spring he was effective in 10 1/3 innings allowing eight hits, four walks and one hit batter while fanning only four.  But none of the 13 base runners crossed the plate.

It also looks like Patton is taking interview tips from Tim Tebow:

"I'm excited. I am really excited. But it will be interesting to see how it works, whether they use me long or short or specifically (against) lefties. Or what the deal is. But I'm just excited to be one of the 25," Patton said.
Patton is 26 and has worked hard to get back to the major league level.  Let's hope this is the first complete year of many in the big leagues for him. 

On the DL to start the year: 

Felipe Paulino - Royals - (Greeneville 2004) 
Paulino will start 2012 on the 15 day DL with a right forearm flexor pronator strain.  He will be eligible to come off the DL on 4/11/12.  Here is the latest on his recovery from the Kansas City Star

Right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino reported no day-after problems with his sore elbow after playing catch Monday before the Royals broke their Arizona camp. Plans call for him to play catch again today, and he expects to throw from a mound in a bullpen workout before the end of the week.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/04/03/3534200/royals-notebook-reports-all-positive.html#storylink=cpy