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, 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.

Eyewitness Report: 8/3/12 G-Stros 18 - K-Mets 2

Wow, what an offensive explosion by the Greeneville Astros!  They tied the team record for runs with 18 and broke the team record for RBI with 17.   I was at the game with some friends so I didn't take detailed notes but here are a few observations.

On The Mound:
Michael Feliz has some velocity.  One of my friends' son went and talked to the guys charting pitches and saw that Feliz had hit 95 with his fast ball a few times.  Gave up several long drives.  Some went for hits and some for outs. He only gave up three hits but one was a triple to lead off an inning and one was a one out double.  Both of those runners scored.   

Brad Propst made his first appearance after being sent down from TriCities.  He dominated with 4 Ks in two innings and got the win.   

Michael Dimock pitched three effective innings in relief which earned him a save in an 18-2 game.  Further evidence that the save stat is a joke! I am not sure what exactly he saved.  Dimock didn't allow a base runner during his three innings.

At The Plate:
Angel Ibanez has gotten hot.  He went five for six last on the game but reached all six times.  He reached on a wild pitch on the third strike in the fourth inning.  His five hits and four runs, both tied team records.   

Brian Blasik appears to have snapped out of his hitting funk.  He went three for six with a triple.  He also showed good baseball IQ reading a throw from the outfield to take an extra base. 

Jose Monzon, normally a defense first kind of player, had a solid game at the plate.  He went three for four with a walk.  He also stole two bases; his first of the season.

Mark Wik didn't have a great evening.  He made an early exit after he disagreed with the call on the third strike and used the bat to illustrate where the pitch was actually located.  His ejection moved Ariel Ovando from the first base coaches box to right field.  Ovando went one for five with three Ks.  He has now fanned eight times in his last 15 at bats.

In The Field:
The only error on the night came from Ibanez who short armed a throw to first on a routine play in the first inning. 

Monzon made an nice sliding catch of a shallow fly in left field late in the game. 

After a long rain delay, it was great to get this game in.  It was also good to see the guys bounce back from a lose with a solid all around performance to take two out of three from Kingsport.  The win, coupled with a rain out for Johnson City gave the G-Stros a full lead in the wild card race.   

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Greeneville Report- The Pitchers - July 2012

It was an interesting month for Greeneville pitchers.  Let's start with a look at the starters:

Nine different players made at least one start for Greeneville in July.  The average game score for the team during the month was 48.9. Let's look at the ones whose average game scores were above the team average. . 

Adrian Houser was skipped once in the rotation and made four starts.  Games scores of 73, 56, 58, & 53. Average game score was 60. His ERA for the month was 3.07 with 35 strike outs in 29 1/3 IP.  his 46 strike outs on the season is tied for the league lead. His 17 base on balls is tied for 7th most in the league. Despite missing a start, he still leads the league in innings pitched with 44 2/3. 

Francis Ramirez made six starts.  Games scores of 70, 62, 63, 66, 39, & 48. Average game score of 58. His July ERA was 1.97 with 39 Ks in 32 IP.  He held opponents to a .219 average. His season ERA of 2.54 is 6th best in the league. His 44 Ks ranks him 4th in the league. His 19 walks are the 5th most in the league.

Frederick Tiburcio made five starts.  Games scores of 31, 41, 74, 63, & 47. Average game score of 51.2. His July ERA was 4.50.  Walks are hurting him with 12 walks in 26 IP.  His 21 walks on the season are the 4th most in the league.   

Mike Hauschild  made one spot start of three innings.  It earned him a game score of 60.

The Pen 
Scott Zuloaga was perfect in July.  He appeared in 11 games as a lefty specialist (6 1/3 IP).  He allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out nine.  Only one run scored and it was unearned.   

Jordan Jankowski had a bit of a rough start to July, allowing earned runs in his first three outings.  He bounced back to finish the month strong and ended with a 2.51 ERA and an impressive 26 strike outs in 14 1/3 IP.  He earned his first save in July.

Mike Hauschild made seven appearances in July and amassed a 2.77 ERA.  He fanned 18 batters in 13 innings.  He had 20 ground outs and absolutely zero air outs for the month!

Zach Dando was effective with a 1.29 ERA in seven appearances.  He allowed just 11 hits and two walks in 14 innings. 

Euris Quezada was solid before his promotion to Lexington.  In five games (9 2/3 IP) he allowed two earned runs.  He fanned 12 during that span.  He is back with the team again to begin August.

Team Stats
As a team, Greeneville has a 3.88 ERA which is 4th best in the league.  They have pitched the most innings (366 2/3) but have give up the 4th fewest hits (330). The pitching staff has kept the ball in the yard, only surrendering 21 HR; the fewest in the league.  They have issued the third highest number of walks (152) but have fanned a league leading 390.  That is over one strike out per inning as a team!

Eyewitness Report: 8/1/12 G-Stros 7 K-Mets 4

The G-Stros were back in town last night and Little Appy and I were there to take in the game.  The game had a playoff tension to it due to the G-Stros position in the standings. Here are my observations from last night.

On The Mound:
Starter Frederick Tiburcio went four innings and was struggling with his control.  Here are his pitch counts inning by inning:
1st - 21 pitches 12 for strikes
2nd - 11 pitches seven for strikes
3rd - 20 pitches 10 for strikes
4th - 11 pitches only four for strikes

That is a combined total of 63 pitches and 33 for strikes (52%).  Ten of his first pitches to batters were for balls.  To my untrained eye, it looked like he couldn't locate his off speed pitches and batters were sitting on the fast ball.  The good news is he was mostly getting ground balls; but many of them were hard hit. He gave up three runs and two of them reached due to walks.  One of his runs was scored when he balked a runner home from third.

Mike Hauschild came in to provide two innings of relief.  He gave up one run on one hit and a hit batter.  The most impressive at bat during his time on the mound was his final batter.  He fanned a batter on the eighth pitch of the at bat. 

The run that scored was on base due to a hit batter.  The batter, Met's 2012 first round draft pick Gavin Cecchini, had an 0-2 count and Hauschild came inside and the ball hit him on the hand/wrist area.  Cecchini was writhing on the ground for some time before being replaced by a pinch runner.  The runner then went to third on a single and scored on a ground out. 

Euris Quezada shows again he can pitch well in the rookie leagues.  He pitched two innings with two strike outs and no hits.  One think I didn't like was when Quezada came off the mound after each inning, he made a slashing motion across his throat. 

Jordan Jankowski was impressive in the 9th.  He threw 12 pitches and 10 were for strikes.  He got one strike out looking and one swinging. 

So, of the four runs that scored for the K-Mets, three of the reached without the benefit of a hit.

At The Plate:
Greeneville also benefited from free passes.  They walked six times and half of those scored; all in the seventh inning. It is interesting that they earned that many walks.  as they averaged just over 3.2 pitchers per plate appearance.  Their aggressiveness was evident in the 3rd, 4th and 5th when the Kingsport starter threw a combined 26 pitches (8.7 pitches per inning) and Greeneville batters didn't get a hit.   

Angel Ibanez went three for five with two runs scored.  He hit two singles and a double.  He hit the ball hard all night.  His hardest hit ball was a line drive up the middle that was turned into a double play because the shortstop was standing one step on the third base side of second.  Kingsport shaded that way all night long.  The defensive shift worked as several balls that would have been hits up the middle turned into outs. 

Jean Batista  went two for four and extended his hitting streak to 15 games. The G-Stros record is 19, set by Jordan Scott last season.  His double in the 7th was the big blow in the game.  It was a hot shot that ate up the 3rd baseman and went into the tarp area. 

Brian Blasik  went one for two with two walks.  He was on base all for times thanks two a throwing error by the K-Met third baseman.  He was stranded in scoring position twice. 

D'Andre Toney went one for four with a walk but he did a good job as the lead off man of seeing pitches.  Leading off the first, he saw six pitches before lining out to left.  In the second he singled on the fifth pitch scoring the G-Stros first run of the game.  The fifth, he flied out on the second pitch.  In the seventh, he struck out looking on the fifth pitch.  In the 8th, he walked on the sixth pitch of the at bat. That is a total of 24 pitches seen in five plate appearances for an average of 4.8 pitches seen.  He did make a big gaff on the bases in the 2nd when he ran through a stop sign at third and was tagged out at home for the final out in the inning. 

Ricky Gingras went one for three with a walk and scored each time he was on base. He hit the ball hard tonight. 

In The Field:
Blasik made a solid play to get the first out in the second inning.  He charged a ball headed towards the hole and threw across his body for the out.

Ibanez made a great catch on a high pop foul ball in the fourth. The wind blew the ball back toward to field and he stayed with it and made a nice grab.  He also started a nice 5-4-3 double play to limit the damage in the third inning. 

Other Observations
The K-Mets are now 1-18 on the road.

The G-Stros move to 13-6 at home and are still six games back of Elizabethon for the West Division lead but added a game over Johnson City for the wild card spot. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Greeneville Report -The HItters - July 2012

The road is rough.  The Greeneville Astros played 14 of the last 17 games of July on the road.  That can wear on you.  They went 8-9 over that stretch and three of the wins were the home games.

Very few players maintained their hot starts from June.  However, the G-Stros finished July 1/2 game ahead of Johnson City for the wild card spot.  Let's look at the team leaders:

Jean Batista has been hot as of late.  He goes into August riding a 14 game hitting streak.  During July, he hit .309 with nine doubles, a triple and three HR. 

His 50 hits and 78 total bases on the season place him in the league lead.  He is tied for the league lead in doubles with 13.  His 26 RBI tie him for 6th best.  his .547 slugging percentage is good for 4th best, as is his .333 average.  His .902 OPS is the 8th best.

D'Andre Toney is one of the few G-Stros who saw his numbers increase during July.  After hitting just .200 in nine games in June, he has hit a solid .298 in 26 games in July. 

He has scored 28 runs which places him tied for 7th in the Appy.  His 39 hits place him at 8th best and his eight stolen bases ties him for fourth most in the league. 

Brian Blasik has been struggling lately.  (To tell you the truth I feel somewhat responsible for this.  Since I posted my story on Brian on 7/19, he has hit just .178.  Brian - let me know if I need to kill a chicken, take you to lunch, anything the shake things up).  Yet for the month, he hit .286 and still is among the league leaders in several categories.

His 42 hits are good for 5th best in the league.  His 11 doubles tie him for 4th best in that category.  He is tied with Batista at 26 RBI which is the most on the team and 7th most in the league.  His .313 average for the season is 7th best in the Appy. 

Ariel Ovando also saw an average dip during July. After hitting .364 in his first 11 games, he hit just .284 in the 27 games of July.  He did how ever hit four home runs during the month to go along with the four doubles he hit. 

His 45 hits are good for 3rd overall in the league.  His 23 RBIs place him in a tie for 10th most.  The 68 total bases he has amassed are good enough for 6th best, and his .308 average is good enough for a tie for 8th. 

Other Greeneville Astros among league leaders include:

Ernesto Genoves'
11 doubles ties him for 4th most.

And in the not so great category:

Terrell Joyce is tied for 7th most Ks with 41.  Ovando's 40 place him 9th.  Marc Wik has been caught stealing six times for second most in the league. 

As a team, their .268 average is still the second best in the league.  They have the second most hits (377), the third most doubles (77), and the second most total bases (543).  They are in the middle of the pack in most other categories.  The do bring up the rear in fewest triples (4) and have the second most caught stealings at 18.  The good news is that they were only caught stealing four times in July. 

Appy Astros Alumni of the Month: July 2012

A bunch of G-Stros players have been on the month this month. We have several players earning Alumni of the month designation for teams they are either no longer on or just arrived on.  Let's take a look at former Greeneville Astros who had a strong July.

Tri Cities ValleyCats

Jessie Wierzbicki hit .299 in 27 games in July. I was surprised by the speed numbers. He hit two triples and was successful in nine out of 10 stolen base attempts.

Jarmaine Cotton appeared in seven games out of the Tri Cities bullpen. He was almost perfect for the month, allowing just one earned run in 10 1/3 innings pitched.  He fanned 10 batters while only allowing six hits and four walks. 

Honorable Mentions: Vincent Velasquez, Jeremiah Meiners

Lexington Legends

Delino DeShields Jr was dominate in July.  He hit .380 for the month in 27 games.  He showed impressive pop, hitting seven doubles, a triple and four home runs.  On the base paths, he added 20 stolen bases to his team record total, bringing him to 77 on the season.  You have to wonder if he will be eligible for alumni of the month on another team in August.

Honorable Mention: Ruben Sosa

Mitchell Lambson almost let this recognition slip away last night.  Prior to last night, he had been dominate since his promotion from Greeneville in late June.  Lambson gave up four of the eight earned runs for the month last night.  His ERA jumped to 3.48 for the month after that outing.  Yet he still fanned 22 batters in just 20 2/3 innings pitched and opponents hit just .215 off of him.  

Lancaster JetHawks

It wasn't a great month for former Greeneville players at the plate in Lancaster.  So, I am going with Ben Orloff, who was promoted in the middle of July to AA.  Prior to his promotion, he hit .344 with only three strike outs in 40 plate appearances.

Carlos Quevedo is doing well since his promotion to Lancaster in early July.  In seven outings, he has given up just two earned runs in 15 1/3 innings pitched.  He struck out nineteen while walking just four batters.  Last night he gave up two walks.  It was his first multi walk outing since early May.

Honorable Mention: Patrick Urckfitz, David Martinez

Corpus Christi Hooks 

Even though he was promoted, Chris Wallace's numbers for July in Corpus Christi deserve recognition.  In 11 games before his promotion, he hit .467 (14 for 34).  Since his promotion, he has hit a very respectable .333 in OKC. 

The pitcher of the month also goes to a promoted player.  Jose Cisnero made four starts in CC before moving to OKC.  In those starts, he had a 2.75 ERA and struck out 28 batters in 26 2/3 innings pitched.  He pitched a complete nine inning game on 7/22. 

Oklahoma City RedHawks


Brandon Barnes continues to be a solid producer at the plate. He hit .333 for July in 25 games.  I continue to be impressed with his improved plate discipline.  He took 13 walks in July which helped his OBP rise to .417 for the month.  

Pitcher: there was no former G-Stro pitcher on the roster for much of July.  Fernando Abad was optioned there from Houston at the end of the month and made one forgettable appearance.


Jose Altuve hit .282 for the month of July. His average is down a bit but OBP up due to taking 10 walks in the month. He also added seven stolen bases in eight attempts for the month.

Troy Patton continues to be a significant part of the Baltimore bullpen. Patton appeared in 13 games for the Os in July amassing 10 innings pitched.  During that stretch, he allowed just two earned runs, both off home runs. Both home runs came in the first outing of the month. Since then he has not allowed a run to score. It does look like he played with fire a bit with opponents hitting .302 against him for the month and a surprising 1.60 WHIP.  

MILB outside of organization

Ralph Henriquez is hitting .314 in 10 games for AA Jackson (Mariners).  It is nice to see Henriquez having some success.  He will always be a fan favorite in Greeneville. 

Jimmy Barthmaier gets the nod this month.  He is recovering from injury and started his year in High A, where he put up a 1.84 ERA in 14 outings before earning a promotion to AA late this month. He is in the Nationals organization. 

Lets look at where those in the organization are at the end of July:

Tri Cities -7 (-1 from last month).
Lexington - 14 (-2 from last month)
Lancaster - 17 (unchanged)
Corpus Christi - 7 (+1 from last month)
Oklahoma City - 1 (+3 from last month)
Houston -3 (-1 from last month)