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, June 27, 2012

Eyewitness Report 6/26/12 Gville 8 Princeton 7

Greeneville Wins Again!  I had other duties tonight so I couldn't keep my detailed book but I do want to share a few observations. 

Big Game Brian
Brian Blasik is quickly becoming on of my favorite G-Stros this year.  He makes the plays in the field he is supposed to make.  He makes some he is not supposed to make.  He hits the ball hard and is agressive at the plate.  Does all this project to the majors? I don't know.  I am just a fan not a scout.  But I love watching him play. 

After the Astros were in a two run hole in the first, hit a line drive that cleared the fence in left field.  It just seemed to keep carrying.  That HR tied the game. 

In the fifth, the P-Rays had pulled with in one run at 4-3.  The Astros had greeted a new pitcher with two singles.  Blasik ropes a double to left and plates his third RBI of the night.  He later scores in the inning.

In the top of the 8th, with the tying run at third, Blasik makes a great layout dive to his left to stop, what appeared of the bat, a sure hit that would have tied the game.  He gets up from his belly and makes the throw for the third out of the inning.  He had a total of five assist tonight. 

In the eighth, he hits a hard ground ball that was through the first baseman's legs before he could react.  He moved a runner to third but couldn't push across another run.

Blasik now has a .464 average and has five doubles and a homer.  He has multi hit games in five of his first six starts.  He has 11 RBI which is tied for the league lead. He is yet to strike out after 28 at bats (he hasn't walked either) .  And he always seems to be coming through at the right time.  From now on, until he gives us cause to do otherwise, he will be known as Big Game Brian!

The Astros added three more doubles to their total tonight.  That gives them 20 in the first eight games.  That average of 2 1/2 doubles per game would be 170 over the season.  That would break the Appy League mark of 167 set by Johnson City last year.  Blasik and Ariel Ovando are tied for the league lead with five each and Terrell Joyce is tied for second with four. 

Double Ouch
D'Andre Toney get's the boo boo award tonight.  His first at bat ended after just one pitch which hit him on the foot.  His last at bat in the eighth ended with him getting plunked in what appeared to be the upper arm/back area.  Toney reached base in four of his five plate appearances. He singled, walked and had two hit by pitches. 

Baserunning Troubles
The Astros are getting on base at a good clip.  As a team they have a .303 batting average and a.377 on base percentage.  But staying on base is becoming a problem.  They are 10 for 16 in stolen bases.  And that doesn't include pick offs.  The good news is they are willing to try to take the extra base.  Hopefully we will see the successful steals increase as the great teacher experience does its work with the players.

Seven Pitchers & No 1,2,3 Innings
None of the pitchers escaped an inning unscathed.  Each allowed a base runner in every inning.  Francis Ramirez looked better from the wind up than from the stretch.  He spent a great deal of time in the stretch since the first two batters of each of his innings reached.  The lead off pair of walks in the first scored but the single and walk that lead off the second were stranded.

Christian Garcia pitched better than his line indicates.  He only gave up one hard hit ball; a double that tailed away from Toney as he tracked it down in center.  Garcia did get the first three batters out in an inning but only after the third batter had reached on a swinging bunt  The runner left before the left hander had made his move home and they were able to get a picked off /stolen base to end the inning.

Jordan Jankowski's curve ball was moving well tonight.  He fanned five in two innings and gave up one hard luck run on a ball that was slow bouncer that hit off the first baseman's glove.  It was probably the second baseman's ball and Batista should have been at the bag.  However, it was an effort mistake and also if Batista would have caught it, Jankowski was late on getting to the bag.  The double Jankowski gave up was just about six inches from being caught by Ovando in right field. 

Zach Dando had a short night of work.  He walked a batter and gave up a single and his night was done.  In came Scott Zuloaga who allowed one of the inherited runners to score limited the damage nicely.  Michael Dimock came in in the eighth and struggled.  Blasik's diving stop with a runner moving from second on the play limited the damage to just two runs scored.  Michael Hauschild came on to pitch the ninth.  Like his predecessors, he didn't have a clean inning but it was effective. 

Princeton's Two Out RBI
Princeton scored six of their seven runs with two outs.  The fact that there were two runs allowed the base runners to be off with the crack of the bat, thus allowing several runners to score from second easily on singles.  It is a good thing they were just five for 18 with runners in scoring position for the night.  

Reality Check
I will say what I said yesterday, I am excited about this team.  However, this isn't the best start in the history of the G-Stros. The 2010 version got off to a 7-2 start and then lost their next seven games to fall out of contention.  There are other teams to contend with that we won't see for a few weeks.  Greeneville has a solid +23 run differential, however Elizabethon has an amazing +48 run differential. 

There appears to be a very positive vibe about this team and I hope that they keep going about their business and we get to watch some winning baseball. I also hope that when Elizabethon comes to town on July 11th for three games, the games will have a playoff style atmosphere. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eyewitness Report: 6/25/12 Gville 5 Princeton 3

Here are my observations from the game tonight. First of all props to Astros owner Jim Crane who threw one of the best first pitches in the history of Greeneville Astros baseball. It had some zip on it. Now own to the game. 

On the mound:
Starter Richard Rodriguez got off to a very good start.  He threw 16 pitches in a 1,2,3 first but 11 of the pitches were to the third batter.  He won the battle with a fly out to left.  In the second, he threw 11 pitches and ten of the were strikes.  In the third, he gave up an unearned run due to an defensive lapse on a two out pop fly.  However that runner was on base due to a walk. In fact both of the walks Rodriguez issued tonight turned into runs. The other run came on a home run off a hung curve ball.  His curve was very effective when he kept it down in the zone.  It also looked like he used a change up with some success as well.  Unofficially, I had him at 78 pitches on the night in six innings of work.  Fifty of the pitches were for strikes, for a solid two to one strike to ball ratio. 

Michael Lambson came in to pitch the final three innings.  He faced just nine batters and only allowed one ball out of the infield.  He threw just 26 pitches (unofficially), and 21 of those were strikes.  He hides the ball very well. 

In the field: 
Ernesto Genoves looked solid behind the plate tonight.  Three of the seven strike outs required additional work as the balls were in the dirt.  In the fourth, he made a great block on a third strike that resulted in a K2-3 putout.

Brian Blasik was solid at second tonight with four assist and a caught pop fly.

De'Andre Toney made good breaks on balls hit to center.  One ball was in no man's land behind second and he made the catch easily. A sinking line drive was hit towards center in the 8th.  He broke well on the ball and easily caught the ball waist high.

Ariel Ovando did nothing spectacular in the outfield, though he was close to making a great sliding catch in front of the Astros bullpen.  Yet I mention him because he is showing improvement in the routes he is taking to balls.  He looks much more comfortable in RF than he did last year.  

The Error: It was an infield pop up that cause trouble again.  With two outs in the third and a runner at second, a high pop fly was hit in front of the plate.  Rodriguez gave way to Genoves and the corners also converged.  Angel Ibanez called for it and simply missed it.  The batter never stopped running and realized that no one was covering third.  So on the play, a runner scored from second and the batter reached third.  He was stranded there but he never should have been there.

Second time in two games I have seen communication issues on a pop up. I thought the ball should have been Genoves', however he never looked like he found the ball.  It appeared no one took charge on the play. 

At the plate: 

Ovando again is hitting the ball well.  He hit a single to left in the first to plate two runs and then ripped a double down the left field line for a double.  I don't have access to a spray chart for him but the two times I have seen him this year, his hits have been to multiple fields.  He is being very aggressive at the plate.  He saw nine pitches in four at bats.

Terrell Joyce also had two hits tonight.  He scored both times he reached.  

Genoves went 1 for 2 with a HR and two walks.  He showed good discipline.  Walking on a 3-1 count in the first. Lining to deep center in the third on a full count in the fourth. Walking on four pitches in the fifth and then homering to left center with a two ball count.  He saw 19 pitches in his four at bats.

Michael Martinez went one for four with a single and two RBI's.  His walk up music in the sixth was a great blues tune.  My favorite walk up of the year.  It also corresponds to the RBI single he hit. That single was hit on a 1-2 count after he had fouled off one other pitch.  He got an off speed pitch, kept his hands back and roped a solid line drive to left field.  It was an impressive piece of hitting to me.

Blasik's line isn't impressive one for three with a run scored but he reached on three of his four plate appearances.  He reached on an E6 when their otherwise smooth shortstop couldn't field a hard hit shot from Blasik.  That error came with two outs and started the two run first.  He was also hit by a pitch.

Jean Batista was robbed in the first.  The P-Rays first baseman was listed at 6'6" and he needed every bit of it to snatch a line drive that was headed over his head to right field. His other at bats were not remarkable. 

Overall the G-Stros walked as man times as they struck out.  So far on the year, the G-Stros have struck out 40 times in seven games.  While that is more than five Ks a game, it is the second lowest in the Appy League.

I am excited about this team. I hope this report gives you deeper insight into the box score.  I will get to see the G-Stros again tomorrow and then life gets in the way of baseball for a while.

They Played Here: Active MLB Players From Appy League Teams

One of the reasons I enjoy going to Greeneville Astros games is you never know what future major league player you might be watching on the other team.  Here is a list of other team's players who have played in the Appy League since 2004 who are were on an active MLB roster at some point this year. Astros fans might be surprised to see there are three players who didn't play for Greeneville who are current Astros.

Climbing the Ladder: A Look at the Progress of Prospects (2012 edition)

For the last several years, I have written a piece for the Greeneville Astros game day program about the minor league system.  Here is this year's edition.  It was turned in on June 1, 2012.  I am posting an updated version with updates in parentheses. 

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 2012 Major League Baseball Season, six former Greeneville Astros have worn major league uniforms this year. 

  1. Jose Altuve (2008,09) has made the most of his first time on the opening day roster.  As the everyday second baseman at the young age of 21 years old, he burst out of the gate with an impressive .360 batting average in the month of April.  Altuve was challenged by the Houston coaches to increase his walks in order to get on base more.  He has taken that challenge to heart and has seen his on base percentage increase over 50 points.  He has become a fan favorite in Houston and if he keeps playing at his current level; he could become the first former Greeneville Astro to make an appearance in the Major League All Star Game. (Altuve has continued his solid season hitting .291 so far in June.  He left last night's game with a hamstring strain. He is currently third in All Star voting) 
  2. J. D. Martinez (2009) also made his opening day debut with the Houston Astros this year as the starting left fielder. He had a solid April, hitting .282 but struggled in the month of May.  The highlight of his year so far was hitting the first home run in the new Miami Marlins’ ballpark.  J. D. grew up in Miami and was able to share the moment with several family and friends.(J.D. has hit four more home runs in June.  He is still struggling some with average. He is hitting .230.)
  3. Felipe Paulino (2004) started the year on the disabled list with the Royals missing the month of April.  In May, he had five solid starts; finishing the month with a 2.03 ERA and 34 strike outs in 31 innings pitched.  His best start of the year was his first when he pitched six innings of shut out ball against the New York Yankees. (Paulino recently was diagnosed with a tear in his UCL and will have Tommy John surgery. He is out for the rest of the year.)
  4. Fernando Abad (2007) continues his up and down relationship with the Astros.  He started the season in the majors but was sent to AAA on April 9th.  However,  after five appearances in Oklahoma City and not giving up a run, he was called back up to Houston on 4/27.  Over the next month, he pitched relatively well amassing a 2.56 ERA in 11 appearances in May before being placed on the 15 day disabled list in late May with a right intercostal (muscle in the rib cage) strain.(Abad came off the DL on 6/15 and has pitched in three games since his return without giving up a run.)
  5. Troy Patton (2004) was on the opening day roster for the first time in his career.  Through late May, Troy has already equaled his number of appearances (20) he had in 2011 out of the Baltimore Orioles bullpen.  He is 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA in 22 2/3 innings pitched.  His work as a part of the Orioles pen has helped the team to a surprising run at the lead in the American League East. (Patton has put together an impressive June with a 1.59 ERA in 11 1/3 IP).
  6. Jordan Lyles (2008) has split his time between AAA and the majors this season.  In his seven starts at AAA he is 5-0 with a 3.54 ERA.  In his four starts for Houston, he is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA.  Lyles is just 21 years old and is still developing.  As of the end of May, the only person younger than Lyles to appear in the National League is Bryce Harper.(Lyles got called back up to stay in June.  He has made four starts and has put together a 4.37 ERA in 22 2/3 IP).
A quick note on a player who was in the major leagues last season.  Juan Gutierrez (2004) who was with the Diamondbacks last season had Tommy John surgery on his elbow in the offseason.  The Diamondbacks released him and the Kansas City Royals signed him to a minor league contract.  He should miss all of the 2012 season as he recovers from the surgery.   

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)
Again this year, the AAA roster is full of players who have had at least a cup of coffee in the big leagues.  Over 70% of the roster has major league experience. Many of these players are experienced players who can be called up to Houston to fill a need.  A few are prospects who are honing their craft at the highest level of the minors.  Let’s look at a few of those:

Paul Clemens was acquired from Atlanta in the Michael Bourn trade last season.  He throws in the upper 90’s on a regular basis. He is trying to harness that power in OKC.  He had a great start to the season with a 2.04 ERA in his four stats in April.  He has not been as successful in May (10.29 ERA).  He loves pitching at home where he holds a 1.57 ERA.  On the road is a very different story (11.00 ERA). (He has had a better June with a 5.40 ERA and has lowered the road ERA to 9.95).

The opposite of Clemens is Dallas Keuchel. The lefty has climbed the Astros ladder after being the 7th round pick in the 2009 draft by the Astros.  In his wake, he has left batters frustrated. He doesn’t strike them out with blazing speed but gets them to hit his pitch using control and command.  He started the 2012 season off with seven straight starts of six innings or more pitched and three or less runs allowed.(Keuckel got called up and has made two outings.  The results have been promising - 1.29 ERA in 14 IP).

Brandon Barnes (2005, 06) was re-signed by the Astros this off season as minor league free agent.  He started 2011 in AA and hit .317 in 44 games with seven home runs.  He was called up to AAA in the last week of May and got hits in his first two games with the RedHawks.(Barnes has continued to hit in AAA in June.  He has hit .358 in 22 games this month and has only struck out 12 times in 81 at bats)

Other names to watch in AAA are Brett Wallace and Jimmy Parades who both spent significant time with the Astros last season but have returned to AAA for seasoning.(Wallace spent some time in Houston while Carlos Lee was on the DL.  He showed he is ready to be the first baseman if Lee gets traded in the coming weeks.)

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, as was seen last season by the jumps from AA by J. D Martinez and Jose Altuve.  There are several players here worth keeping an eye on. Here are a few of the Hooks to watch closely.

Jonathon Singleton was one of the prize prospects the Astros acquired from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade last season.  He is seen as the top prospect in the Astros organization and the 34th best on all of baseball according to Baseball America.  The 6’2” 235 pound, 20 year old plays first base and left field and bats from the left side of the plate.  He is hitting .313 with nine home runs in his first 49 games this season.  He could be the Astros starting first baseman as soon as next season. (He has had a rough June, hitting just .133 so far this month, Singleton will be representing the Astros in the Futures Game during All Star Weekend.)

Jonathon Villar is a shortstop who came to the Astros organization from the Phillies in the Roy Oswalt trade in 2010.  He spent half of 2011 in Corpus Christi and has shown progress in the first two months of 2012; raising his batting average 20 points, getting on base more and stealing more bases.  He just turned 21 at the beginning of May so he still has some time to develop. (He has hit .278 in June, raising his season average up to .259 - so almost 30 points from his stint at CC last year.)

Austin Wates is a Virginia Tech product who was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft by the Astros.  After hitting .300 for Lancaster in 2011, he started 2012 in AA.  He can play all three outfield positions but projects best as a left fielder.  He is a line drive hitter with good speed and a little bit of power to go with it.  He is hitting .298 through 50 games this season. (Waits missed much of June with an injury.  He recently started a rehab stint in the GCL and should be back roaming the outfields of the Texas League soon)

Ross Seaton (2008) appears to be showing some of the promise that was expected when he was drafted in the 3rd round by the Astros in 2008.  The tall righty is 22 years old and in his second season in AA, he has put together solid numbers through his first ten starts (3.28 ERA).  He isn’t going to blow you away with any one pitch but he mixes them well and he doesn’t walk many batters. (He has had two great outings and two bad outings in June.  Overall, his season ERA is sitting at a respectable 3.83 for the season in AA)

Brett Oberhotzer is another player the Astros acquired via trade in 2011.  He was a part of the Michael Bourn deal with Atlanta.  The big left throws in the low 90’s and features very good control.  He is repeating AA after struggling there after the trade last year. (Has been promoted to AAA where he has made two starts.  His ERA is 6.97 since his promotion)

Jarred Cosart arrived in the Houston organization as a part of the Pence trade with the Phillies.  The right handed pitcher, who turned 22 in May, throws a fast ball in the upper 90’s and a good curve ball.  He pitched in last years’ Futures Game as a part of All Star Weekend.  He has had injury issues in the past but if he can stay healthy, he could be in Houston’s starting rotation for a long time. (He has added a solid June to his resume with a 3.48 ERA and the last two starts have been outstanding).

The AA roster has many more players worth watching including: Chris Wallace  (2010), Kody Hinze (2008), Kevin Chapman, Jason Stoffel, and Jake Buchanan.

Other former Greeneville Astros on the roster include: Jose Cisnero (2009), Arcenio Leon (2007, 08), Ryan McCurdy (2010), and Henry Villar (2008)

Lancaster JetHawks (High A)
The Astros begin their fourth season in Lancaster of the California League.  There are 18 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.

Domingo Santana was the player to be named later in the Hunter Pence trade last season.  Santana through his first 42 games at High A is hitting .275 with half of his 46 hits going for extra bases.  The tall (6’5”) right fielder is the youngest player on the JetHawks roster and won’t turn 20 until later this summer. (His June has been solid with a .288 average but his power has dipped.)

George Springer was Houston’s first round pick last season out of the University of Connecticut. He is off to a solid start in his first full season in the minors. Through his first 49 games, he is hitting .303 with eight doubles, six triples and 10 home runs. The center fielder is projected to be on a fast track to Houston, meaning it won’t be surprising to see him in Corpus Christi before the season is over. (Springer finished the first half of the season with a .303 average.)

Jonathon Meyer (2009) is quietly putting together a very strong season in Lancaster.  His average, which finished at .264 last season, is up to .284 in his first 50 games.  Meyer is still 21 years old and is developing into a solid 3rd baseman. (He has hit .273 for June thus far)

Jiovanni Meir (2009) finished the 2011 season in Lancaster.  He returned in 2012 and was showing signs of a break out season.  He was hitting .309 through 26 games when he was sidelined with a hamstring injury. (still on the DL)

Telvin Nash (2010) has some of the best power in the Astros organization.  In his first 47 games, he has already hit 14 home runs.  However, he is going to have to reduce the number of strike outs in order for his power to shine at the upper levels.  He appears to have really improved his defense this season. (Nash has hit another four home runs in June but has struck out 42 times in 64 at bats - ouch)
Ruben (R. J.) Alaniz continues to develop into a solid pitcher.  Through his first 11 starts, he has an ERA of 3.69 and has only surrendered four home runs in the hitter friendly California League.  In fact, he has not given up any home runs in his 26 innings pitched at home.  His fastball is in the low 90’s and he mixes it with a solid change up and curve.  He is the youngest pitcher on the JetHawks staff. (He has had three rough starts and one great start in June, giving him a 8.74 ERA for the month so far)
Other names to keep an eye on include: Eric Castro, Bobby Doran, Rene Garcia (2008), Tyson Perez (2011). (Doran has been promoted to AA).
Other former Greeneville Astros include: Jorge DeLeon (2008), Brad Dydalewicz (2008), Gabriel Garcia (2009,10), Zachary Grimmett (2008), David Martinez (2009), Brian Streinlein (2011), Jose Trinidad (2008), Pat Urckfitz (2008),  Ben Orloff (2009), Alex Todd (2011), and Rafael Valenzuela (2010).

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. 

Delino DeSheilds Jr (2010) is showing progress in his second season in Lexington. 
His batting average is up to .252 through 51 games.  He is leading the league in steals with 32 and has just been caught stealing four times.  DeSheilds is also showing progress in his transition to second base. (DeShields broke the Legends season record for stolen bases in just the 69th game of the year.  He now has 49 on the season.  His average is up to .268 on the season thanks to hitting .311 in June.)

Matt Duffy is a 3rd baseman out of the University of Tennessee.  He has put together a solid start to his first full season in the Astros organization.  Through the first two months, he hit .320 in 52 games with eight homeruns and 11 doubles.  With him already being 23, he might be moved up a level soon to see how he handles the next the challenge at the next level. (Duffy has hit .309 so far in June.  He has also added two more doubles and three more HR to his totals)

Jordan Scott (2011) was last years MVP for Greeneville.  He is patrolling left field for the Legends this season.  The 20 year old has seen his numbers dip slightly as he hit .266 over the first two months of the season. (Scott struggled in June hitting just .167 in 14 games thus far.  However, he has a four game hitting streak going since the All Star Break.)

Mike Foltyenwicz (2010) is another prospect repeating the South Atlantic League.  He is showing he is ready to move on to another challenge.  In the first two months of 2012, he was dominating; putting together a 6-1 record and a 2.27 ERA in 11 starts. (Is looking like he is ready for the next step.  In June, he has made three starts and lowered his season ERA to 2.13.  His record now stands at 9-1 on the year.)

Luis Cruz (2008/09) is putting together an impressive start to the 2012 season.  In his third year at Lexington, the 21 year old made six starts in the month of May with an era of 1.85 in 39 innings pitched. (June has not been kind to Cruz who has allowed 14 earned runs in 17 1/3 IP. His season ERA has risen to 3.70)

Other names to watch on the Legends roster include: John Hinson, Mike Kvasnicka, Nicholas Tropeano, Evan Grills, and Luis Ordosgotti (2011).

Other former G-Stros who are on the roster include: Chan Moon (2011), Jesse Wierzbicki (2011), Roberto Pena (2010), Carlos Quevedo (2009), Murilo Gouvea (2009), Nathan Pettus (2009), and Euris Quezada (2010) (Jay Austin (2008) has been added to the team as he works his way back from a broken hand.  Wierzbicki has been moved down to Tri Cities).

Short Season Teams
The Astros operate a facility in the Dominican Republic to host the Dominican Summer League Astros.  This facility will help prepare young foreign born 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.

Former Greeneville Players Now Playing In Other Organizations

Sometimes the climb up the ladder requires you make a detour.  You move from one organizations ladder to another organizations ladder.  Sometimes these moves come as a result of a trade and sometimes it comes when a player becomes a free agent and signs with a different organization.  Here is a list of former G-Stros along with their new organization and the level they were playing at on June 1, 2012.

Albert Cartwright  (2007/08) High A -  Clearwater (Phillies) (has gotten hot in June hitting .333 for the month)
Koby Clemens (2005) Short Season A - Vancouver (Toronto) (Moved up to High A Dunedin as a catcher)
Victor Garate (2005) AAA – Nashville (Brewers) (7.15 ERA in 26 games)
Sammy Gervacio (2005) AAA – Aguascalientes (Mexican League) (15 saves in 22 games)
Ralph Henriquez (2005/06) AAA – Tacoma (Mariners) (Moved back down to AA Jackson of the Southern League)
Jordan Parraz (2004) AAA – Gwinnett (Braves) (On the DL since a broken hand on 5/7)
Wlad Sutil (2004) AA – Mobile (Diamondbacks) (hitting .225 on the season)
J. R. Towles (2004) AAA – Rochester (Twins) (Struggling at the plate with a .205 average for the season)
Tom Vessella (2006) AA – Richmond (Giants) (2.94 ERA in 23 games of relief)
Amandeo Zazueta (2006) AAA – Tuscon (Padres) (hitting .174 on the year)

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 2012, 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.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Eyewitness Report: 6/21/12 Gville 10, Johnson City 3

Tonight, my son & I took in the game at Johnson City.  The game was never really in doubt for Greeneville as they put up five runs in the first and forced Greeneville starter Francis Ramirez to return to the bull pen to throw to stay loose.  The G-Stros sent nine men to the plate in the first.  They tacked on single runs in the second, third & fourth innings before putting up a zero on the board.  They added two more in the seventh to wrap up the scoring. 

In The Field
Defensively, the Astros played error free ball.  They bobbled a few balls on the infield but were able to stay with them and still get outs.  Most of the bounces went their way tonight.  One example of the gracious bounces of the ball tonight is found in the ninth.  MILB described the play this way:
Dutch Deol flies into a force out, right fielder Ariel Ovando to shortstop James Howick. Gerwuins Velazco out at 2nd. Dutch Deol to 1st.
Here is what really happened.  Deol hit a high pop in the grass in shallow right field.  Ovando is coming in and Blasik is going out.  Second baseman Brian Blasik appears to have a bead on the ball but hears Ovando calling him off.  Ovando is right behind Blasik and appears he has decided to give way the the second baseman. Both gave up at the same time and the ball dropped off of Ovando's glove.  The runner at first had frozen on the fly and had no chance to get to second on the play.  So that accounts for the unusual 9-6 put out on the fielders choice.

The Astros also benefited from a botched run down and a bad throw to start a double play that pulled the SS off second and allowed both runners to be safe.  So Johnson City helped.  

On The Mound
Pitching wise, Francis Ramirez had a solid start.  My unofficial pitch count for him was 85 pitches in five innings.  The only really hard hit ball off of him was the double hit by Schaffer.  Everything else were dinks and dunks.  The bullpen came in and threw strikes.  Zachary Hardoin gave up a lead off HR Schaffer but settled down nicely after that.  In his two innings, he threw 27 pitches; with 17 of those counting as strkes.  The next pitcher, Christian Garcia was all around the plate as well, maybe too much as three singles loaded the bases. However he worked his way out of the game.  Garcia came in as a substitution was made at catcher.  I was reminded that it is early in the season as there were several visits between Christian Moronta and Garcia to confer about being on the same page.  Michael Dimock closed it out with a solid ninth.

At The Plate
At the plate the G-Stros were hitting hard line drives all over the field. 

Jean Batista went five for six.  All of his hits were singles but four of the five were hard hit balls. 

Ariel Ovando is crushing the ball.  He went 4 for 5 with two doubles and a triple.He hit the ball to all fields.  He hit a hard line drive down the right field line for a double, a ball off the left field wall for a double and a ball to deep center for a triple.  His strike out late in the game was due to some very hard swings at balls low in the zone.  I think he was going for the home run to complete the cycle. That concerns me a little but I am enjoying seeing the power.  Last year, he had 15 extra base hits in 44 games.  This year, he already has four in the first three games.   

James Howick went 4 for 5 with a double.  He hit a few balls hard but also had some that found holes.  Every good hitter has the ability to find the holes. 

The Astros won the opening series over the Cardinals and now head to Kingport for the weekend. Kingsport is young but talent rich due to the fact they have no Gulf Coast League team this season.  It will be interesting to see how that series goes. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Getting to Know Your 2012 Greeneville Astros

The players are in town and the first roster has been tweeted out so let's get to know your 2012 Greeneville Astros.


Tanner Bushue - RHP - 20 (will turn 21 on 6/21)
He is in his 4th season after being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft.  Yet he has never appeared at Pioneer Park.  He has pitched in the GCL and the Sally with mixed results. This year he had a rough start in Lexington and was sent down after six appearances. 

Zachary Dando - RHP -21 
Appeared in 19 games for Greeneville last season out of the pen.   

Michael Dimock - RHP  - 22
He was the closer at Wake Forest before being drafted in the 37th round by the Astros this year. 

Christian Garcia - RHP - 20 
Drafted in the 29th round this year from Florence - Darlington Tech in South Carolina. 

Zachary Hardoin - LHP - 23
Drafted in the 47th round in 2011 out of Missiouri, he spent 2011 with the GCL Astros where he made 16 appearances and carried a 4.70 ERA. 

Mike Hauschild - RHP - 22
Drafted in the 33rd round out of University of Dayton. He will be playing with a former teammate - more on that below. 

Adrian Houser - RHP - 19
Houser was the 2nd round pick in 2011 out of high school in Oklahoma.  He started in the GCL but finished 2011 in Greeneville.  In six starts with the G-Stros last year, he was 1 -2 with a 4.56 ERA.  

Jordan Jankowski - RHP - 23
Drafted in the 34th round out of Catawba which means he has pitched in Pioneer Park before but will be sitting in the first base dugout for the first time.  He was the conference Co- Pitcher of the year. 

Mitchell Lambson - LHP - 21
Lambson was drafted in 2011 in the 19th round.  He pitched for Tri Cities last season amassing a 4.33 ERA in 22 appearances out of the bullpen. 

Christopher Lee - RHP - 19 
Lee returns to Greeneville where he showed progress during the year last season where he fanned 47 batters in 48 2/3 IP. He was drafted in 2011 in the 4th round. 

Daniel Minor - RHP - 21
Drafted in the 9th round out of Texas A&M Corpus Christi. 

Francis Ramirez  - RHP - 20 
Ramirez finished strong in Greenville after a late call up from the GCL.  In four starts (18 1/3 IP) he had a 2.89 ERA and held opponents to a .182 average.   

Richard Rodriguez - RHP - 22
Is starting his third year in the organization and has just pitched 24 2/3 innings thus far.  Made one three inning start in Lexington earlier this year. 

Paris Shewey - LHP - 23
Another returner from the 2011 bullpen. He made 20 appearances with a 9.82 ERA after signing as a non drafted free agent in 2011 out of Washington State. 

Frederick Tiburcio - RHP - 21
Comes to Greeneville after two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and one season in the GCL. Last year he made 10 starts and two relief appearances for the GCL Astros with an ERA of 4.47.  His numbers suggest he is a ground ball pitcher.  In 112 pro innings, he has given up just two home runs.  

Scott Zuloaga - LHP - 22
Pitched in Greeneville last season after being drafted in the 16th round.  He was often used just to face a batter or two as a lefty specialist.  He has a extreme side arm delivery.   

Ernesto Genoves -21
I am surprised to see him return for a second year.  He made a brief appearance in Lexington earlier in the month but will be on the roster for Greeneville's opening day.  He hit .280 with 4 HR last season and showed improvement in his receiving skills. 

Ricky Gingras - 21
Drafted in the 18th round this year, he bats left and throws right.   

Cristian Moronta - 22
Repeating in Greeneville.  Last season he appeared in just 13 games but made an impact on the team.  He was honored with the Oscar Pedron award, which is given for leadership and character.  

Jean Batista - 20 - SS/2B
Batista made a late appearance in Greeneville last season and I look forward to seeing him more this year.  He has a smooth glove and showed some pop.  He hit two home runs in his 13 games in Greeneville last year.  He is one of the players profiled in the recent documentary Pelotero.  

Brian Blasik - 22 - SS
Signed as a non drafted free agent out of the University of Dayton. He appears to be the baseball equivalent of a gym rat.  He has been a teammate of Astros draft pick Michael Hauschild for two years of summer ball in High School and then their careers in Dayton.  Hauschild was reported heading to Greeneville but his name isn't on the roster yet. 

Angel Ibanez - 21- 3B
Drafted in the 28th round out of University of Texas - Pan American this year.   

Joshua Magee - 20 - 2B
Another player I am surprised to see back.  He got very hot at the end of the year last year.  So hot he got hits in 12 straight at bats.   He was drafted in the 18th round in 2010 out of Hoover High in Alabama.

Michael Martinez - 21 - 1B
Drafted in the 36th round in 2012 out of Florida International.  A former walk on who went on to set several school records.   

Ruben Sosa - 21 - 2B
Sosa spent half the season in Greeneville last year before moving on up to Lexington. He is listed as 1.03 Altuves. He also spent some time in CF last year for Greeneville. He played 20 games at 2B and 16 in CF.  So don't be surprised to see him ranging out in the outfield

Terrell Joyce - 20 - OF
Drafted in the 12th round out of Florida State College (not to be confused with FSU).  He passed up playing college ball at Virginia Tech to sign with the Astros. 

Jose Monzon  -20 - CF
Monzon appeared in 53 games for the G-Stros last season.  He sent most of his time in center but put a little bit of time in the corner outfield spots as well.  

Ariel Ovando - 18 - OF
To be just 18 and repeating the Appy gives you some indication of what the Astros think about Ovando. He was challenged last year as a young teen and his raw talent peaked through some but there was great deal of work to be done.  He is back this year to see if he can live up to the expectations that come with signing a contract worth more than 2 million dollars.  He will spend most of his time in right field.  

D'Andre Toney - 20 - OF 
Recently acquired from the Royals as the player to be named later in a trade that happened right before the start of the baseball season.  Tony showed promise in the Arizona League last year.  He hit .340 in 43 games with 12 doubles, five triples and five home runs.  He is expected to patrol center for Greeneville.  

Marc Wik - 19 - OF
Wik was drafted in the 21st round out of Chabot College. Chabot may sound familiar to G-Stros fans, that is where former G-Stro Andrew Darnell attended prior to being drafted.  

Breakdown & Observations:
We have 10 players who were drafted or signed this season.  
We have six players who have atleast a year of pro ball but have never played in Greeneville.  
We have 13 players who played for Greeneville part or all of last season, compared to three we had on the roster last year. 
We only have four teenagers on the roster compared to 13 we had on the roster last year.  

So that is a skeleton of the team.  I look forward to helping to put some skin on the skeleton as the year goes on and we see what we have. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The New Players Guide to Greeneville

I am very excited for opening day for the short season being less than a week away.  Today, the players are supposed to be rolling in to town and getting settled before the season begins. For those players who are making their first trip to the Greeneville, I thought I would give you an inside look at the town, the fans and some unsolicited advice about your time in Greeneville.

The first thing you need to know is the big E is important here.  Locals take pride that we are the only city in the country to have the e between the n and the v.  That is because it is named for a person not the color.  The person the town is named after is the revolutionary war hero Nathanael Greene.  There is also a nuclear submarine named after the town, the USS Greeneville - it was the one that hit the fishing boat a few years ago if you remember the controversy

Several big names have called Greeneville home and you will hear folks talk about them.

Davy Crockett was born in Greene County.  There is a state park on this birthplace site in the east end of the county.

The 17th President Andrew Johnson moved here and started his political career here.  There is a national historic site here.  It is a great place to send your parents when they come visit while you are at practice.

There are other cool history geeky kind of things to do and see in Greeneville. My favorite is the cannon ball church. Actually it is Cumberland Presbyterian Church on the corner of Church and Main.  But because it has a civil war cannon ball stuck in its front wall, everyone just calls it the cannon ball church. 

For baseball history, check out the little museum outside the front offices at the stadium.  You get a flavor of baseball in Greeneville.  You will learn about Greeneville's major leaguers Dale Alexander, who hit .331 over five seasons with the Tigers and the Red Sox, and about Rance Pless

The latest big name to hail from Greeneville is the Country Pop group The Band Perry.  

Let's Eat
Greeneville is not a very big town but there are plenty of places to eat, unfortunately most of them are not open after the games.  Here are your options after games:  Applebee's, Waffle House, fast food drive through (McD's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, DQ, etc) and Tipton's Cafe

If your folks or girlfriend are in town and they are looking for good lunch spots.  Let me recommend some local flavor - The Sandwich House (best burgers), Salsa's (best mexican), The Bean Barn, Top Choice BBQ, and Peggy Ann's Bakery.  There are other local places that are good too (Amy's Kitchen & Aunt Bea's) and it is a shame many players don't get eat at these places because they don't fit the ball players schedules but most are with in a mile or two of the hotel where the players stay.

For something nicer, Brumley's inside the historic General Morgan Inn in has a great lunch and weekend brunch. The General Morgan Inn is also a great place for parents to stay when they come into town.  A bit pricey but beautiful. 

The Fans
Greeneville has won the league attendance title every year since the team arrived in 2004.  There are season ticket holders who know there baseball and there are folks who go just one time a year when someone they know is going to be on the field before the game.  Most of the regular attenders are very friendly and will strike up a conversation with you.  Some might even invite you over for a home cooked meal.

A little unsolicited advice
There are some players who are still revered in Greeneville, not because they were great players but because they were kind and respectful. There are some players who are Behave in such a way as you will be remembered positively now matter how well you perform on the field. 

If you are the guy who is warming up the right fielder and collects the balls from the guys warming up, please don't throw a ball to the kids.  They are like stray cats.  Feed them once and they never go away.  Kids will be hanging around the dug out bothering the whole game if you do it one time.  Foul balls are different, I don't know why but they don't tend to draw the attention of ball beggars as much.  So feel free to throw foul balls up to kids.

On autographs, the first manager in Greeneville, Tim Bogar, told his players, "Sign every autograph you can, one day, no one will want your autograph." While this is good advice, I want to add to it.  Sign the autographs that will make the other persons day the most.  Kids first and guys with a duffle bag of stuff last.  For many kids, they only come to a few games and you have just made their day with an autograph. 

Again, welcome to Greeneville! The next two and a half  months will be a whirlwind.  I wish you the best of luck.  See you at the park!

PS that little town you drove through when you got of of I-81 Moshiem is pronounced Moss Hiem not Mo Shium (I learned that when I moved here about 10 years ago).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Appy Astros Alumni of the Month: May 2012

Well, I have let June slip up on me and I haven't gotten the highlights from May wrapped up.  Better late than never.  We have two months of full season ball under our belts now, let's see who put up solid months in May.

Lexington Legends: 
Hitter of the Month-
Last month, we gave the award to Alex Todd, he has absconded to Lancaster.  In May, we are going to Delino DeShields Jr..  I know he only hit .252 in May but 1/3 of his hits went for extra bases.  But it is more about what happened when he got on base.  He stole 16 bases in 20 attempts in May.  He had 32 total stolen bases in 36 attempts this season.

Honorable Mention: Chan Moon hit .283 in his first 13 games with Lexington and Jordan Scott who hit .270 for the month with nine doubles and two triples. 

Pitcher of the Month-
Last month, the honor went the Mike Foltynewicz.  He had another good month (3-0 with a 2.84 ERA) but Luis Cruz was better.  He made five quality starts in the month and finished with a 1.85 ERA in 39 innings pitched.  The little lefty looks like he is putting together a quality year in his third season in Lexington.

Honorable Mention: Folty and Carlos Quevedo who made nine appearances out of the pen (19 1/3 IP) and allowed just 3 earned runs (1.40 ERA).  Also worth of a mention is Murilo Gouvea who made 11 relief appearances (16 IP) and struck out 19 batters while amassing a 2.25 ERA.  

Lancaster JetHawks
Hitter of the Month 
Jonathan Meyer cooled off in May hitting just .265 and Telvin Nash hit a rough patch seeing his average plummet while his strike outs continued to climb.  So this month, the Almni hitter of the month is Ben Orloff who hit .287 for May.  He also had more walks than strike outs. 

Honorable Mentions: Rafael Valenzuela who in limited playing time, hit .270 with eight of his 20 hits going for extra bases.

Pitcher of the Month
This month, we are going to the bullpen to give the award to Jose Trinidad. Trinidad pitched in 10 games in May.  Eight were in relief and two were starts.  In those appearances, he covered 22 1/3 innings pitched and only allowed 6 earned runs for an ERA of 2.42 for the month.

Honorable Mention to RJ Alaniz and Tyson Perez  who both had good starts in May but also had a few where the game got away from them.  But there was more good than bad.

Corpus Christi Hooks
Hitter of the Month
Here we have another situation where the incumbent, Brandon Barnes, was promoted to the next level during the subsequent month; so he was not here to defend his stats as alumni of the month.   There is not much to write home about with the remaining Greeneville alumni on the roster.  However, in limited action, Chris Wallace put together a .273 average in seven games (8 at bats).  With the struggles of other former G-Stros Hinze and McCurdy; Wallace is the best chose this month.

Pitcher of the Month 
Ross Seaton was very good this May.  In six starts, he pitched six plus innings in five of them and in those five, he did not give up more than three runs.  His ERA for the month was 2.70.  When you consider he was charged with four earned runs in his first start of the month; his solid ERA at the end of the month is more impressive.

Oklahoma City RedHawks
Hitter of the Month
Brandon Barnes brought his hitting with him to OKC.  In the four games after he arrived late in the month, he hit .333 with five singles in fifteen at bats.  

Pitcher of the Month 

Jordan Lyles made three starts in OKC in May.  His ERA over those starts was 3.68.  It has been announced that he is in Houston to stay for the foreseeable future so this may be his last shot at AppyAstros Alumni of the month in AAA for a while.

Outside of the System - Minors

Hitter of the Month - Vacant
This section might be called dishonorable mention.  No one stood out.  Jordan Parraz went 0 for 16 in May before landing on the DL with a broken hand.   Ralph Henriquez was promoted to AAA Tacoma after hitting .228 in AA.  J R Towles hit .231 for the month.  Wlad Sutil hit .224 for May.  Albert Cartwright couldn't get above .188 for the month.  Amandeo Zazueta hit just .148.  Koby Clemens was sent down to high A ball and then further down to a short season roster as the work with him on possible returning to catcher. 

Pitcher of the Month
Sammy Gervacio appeared on the roster of the Rieleros de Aguascalientes of the Mexican league in May.  He appeared in nine games (10 IP) and maintained an ERA of just 1.80 and struck out 12 batters.  The Mexican League is AAA but it is unaffiliated.  It will be interesting to see if his pitching catches the attention of an affiliated team in the near future. 

Major League
Hitter of the Month - Jose Altuve
El Escorpion continues his solid performance at the plate.  He hit a solid .283 with six more walks.  While this is down from April.  It is still worthy of recognition.  

Pitcher of the Month - Troy Patton
Patton repeats as Pitcher of the Month.  He was called on 11 times out of the Oriole bullpen and he responded with a 3.55 ERA and also started striking batters out more.  After striking out just four in 10 innings in April, Patton fanned 16 in 12 2/3 innings pitched in May.