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.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Who Can't Play Winterball

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

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

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Season Recap: Infielders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, September 24, 2012

Season Recap: Catchers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next we will moved to the corner infield positions. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

16 former G-Stros on Instructional Roster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former G-Stro Levi Romero Pitching In Japan

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

Season Recap - Relief Pitchers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next we will recap the catchers for the year.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Season Recap - Starting Pitchers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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