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, May 31, 2013

Lance McCullers Talks About Getting First Pro Win

The Quad Cities paper continues to put out good features on current River Bandits.  The most recent was on former Greeneville Astro Lance McCullers.  They talked to McCullers the day after he earned his first professional win.  Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
“It’s good to have one. Now I’ll try to get another," McCullers said. “It’s been a little different. I’ve had nights where I felt like I’ve pitched well enough to get one and didn’t. And I’ve had a lot of nights where I haven’t gotten the win, but the team did and that’s really what matters to me."
Manager Omar Lopez on McCullers
“He competes," Lopez said. “I like the way he goes about his business, his work ethic. He understands that the work he puts in now will only help him later on."
On the adjustment from high school ball to pro ball:
“I learned to understand this as a team game, much more so than it was in high school," McCullers said. “All of the guys here are getting paid to compete, and even when you don’t have your best, you still have to find ways to get outs.
"I learned to adjust on that night when I wasn’t going to strike nine guys out. I learned to not think about an at-bat when it was over, that you have to move on."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Correa Hot Coming Off DL

Since he returned to action on 5/10 from a hand injury, Carlos Correa has had a base hit in eight of his first nine games back. In fact the only game he hasn't gotten a hit in was the very first game back; so he has an eight game hitting streak going on right now. He finished April hitting just .221/.384/.397. Since he has returned from the DL, he is hitting .382/.477/.412. He has had multiple hits in four of his last five games.

Carlos Correa at Spring Training 2013 (Photo property of AppyAstros)
 It may be that he is finally adjusting to the better pitching but I am curious if he is taking a more aggressive approach at the plate. In April, in 18 games (86 PA), he had 15 walks and 23 strike outs. In the nine games (39 PA) he has played in May, he has just four walks and five strike outs.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Barnes Exceeding Previous Season's Numbers

Brandon Barnes runs the bases at Spring Training 2013 (photo property of AppyAstros)

Last year, Brandon Barnes was called up on August 7th.  He appeared in 43 games the rest of the season and had 105 plate appearances.  This season, he started the season on the roster and so far, out of the 41 games the Astros have played, he has appeared in 27 of those with 68 plate appearances.  Yet, in just 65% of the plate appearances, Barnes is meeting or exceeding his offensive production numbers from last season.  Here is the break down:

2012 26 HOU NL 43 105 98 8 20 3 0 1 7 1 1 5 29 .204 .250 .265 .515 26 1 1
2013 27 HOU AL 27 68 59 9 19 3 0 2 9 4 1 6 20 .322 .403 .475 .878 28 2 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/16/2013.

He already has more runs, RBI, HR, stolen bases, walks and total bases in less games than he played last season. He is one hit away from equaling his hit total from last season.

Digging deeper into his stats, you can't dispute the platoon system where he is playing against lefties.  He is hitting .400 in 36 plate appearances against lefties compared to .241 in 32 plate appearances against right handed pitchers.  All of his extra base hits have come against lefties.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Nash Changes Tune On Strike Outs

Telvin Nash hit two home runs last night for the Lancaster Jethawks. That is a good nights work for any player. However, what I got excited about wasn't his 3 for 6 night with 7 RBIs. It was this quote in the game write up:
"I'm [ticked off]," he said. "I'm very upset with myself. It's cool to hit home runs, but nobody wants to have three strikeouts. That kills my day. The Astros have expectations for me and I have a lot to prove to my organization. Having three strikeouts doesn't help my cause at all. That's not what my hitting coach and the Astros are teaching me to do. I'm not happy with that at all."
Just over a year ago, during a twitter takeover on the Jethawks twitter feed, Nash had this to say:

This is a HUGE attitude shift and shows some growth many of us have been looking for in Nash.  In his first 20 games last year, Nash fanned 28 times and walked 11.  He was hitting .247 with nine HR.  This year through his first 18 games,  he has fanned 22 times and walked 12. He is hitting .328 with five HR.  This is early progress.

The real question is the sustainability.  Last year, Nash struck out 198 times in 449 PA (44% of his PA).  That was up from 31.6% in Lexington in 2011.  He walked 47 times or 10.5% of plate appearances in 2012; down from 12% in 2011.

To put this in perspective, Adam Dunn who is known as an all or nothing guy in the bigs never struck out more than 19% in one of his four minor league seasons.  He struck out 101 times (18.8%) in 2000 for Dayton (Low A) but also walked 100 times (18.7%) in 538 plate appearances. He then struck out 82 times (19%) in 422 PA between AA & AAA in 2001.

Nash has great raw power, but people have stopped getting excited about multi home games because they are out numbered by multi K games.  Last season, he had five games with four strikeouts, and 29 more with three strike outs.  That is 34 games out of 106 of his games (32%) with three or more strike outs.  Last night was his first three strike out performance of this season.  Again, an early sign of progress.

This quote along with very early results makes me hopeful that we will see growth out of Nash this season with his plate discipline.  If he doesn't, I am afraid time might be running out on him as a prospect. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Correa Ready To Be Healthy & Warm

Though I mourned the move or the class A affiliate from Lexington, the Quad Cities newspaper has been a pleasant surprise.  The continually put out solid features on River Bandit players. That is something I haven't seen since the Avalanche left Salem and went to Lancaster to be the Jethawks.

Today's feature is on 2012 G-Stro Carlos Correa.  In the feature we learned that Carlos Correa has struggled with staying healthy this season.
A back injury suffered while making a diving stop a little over a week into the season kept him off the field for a couple of days in mid-April, but he is now sidelined by a bone bruise suffered when he was struck by a pitch near his right wrist during an April 30 game against Great Lakes.
“It’s been a tough start, not being able to compete,’’ Correa said. “Just when I felt like things were starting to get better, then I was hit by the pitch and now I’m out again. That has been tough.’’
 I would encourage you to check out the rest of the piece as there is much more good stuff there.

He was also featured in a piece on MILB.com today.  Amoung other things, he talks about experiencing real cold for the first time.
"I've never experienced the cold," Correa said of his early struggles. "I'm trying to work as hard as I can and do the best I can for my team. It's been very challenging, but I know I have to fight through adversity."

Transaction News
Rio Ruiz has been activated off the DL in Quad Cities and Jamaine Cotton has been assigned to QC from extended spring training.   

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Appy Astros Alumni of the Month - April 2013

The first month of the season is in the books.  Let's check on the progress of the former G-Stros both in and out of the Houston organization and recognize those who put up good numbers this month.  We will look at a hitter and a pitcher at all levels.

Quad Cities: 

Hitter of the Month: 
Roberto Pena hit .365 in 13 games for the River Bandits.  Of his 19 hits, he had two HR and three doubles.  The 20 year old is starting the season in low A for the third time.  He is doing his best to show he is ready for a new challenge. 

Honorable Mention: Jesse Wierzbicki, who hit .261 for the month but had eight extra base hits and is tied for fourth in the league with 20 RBI. 

Pitcher of the Month: 
Vincent Velasquez finished the month on a rough note last night giving up four earned runs in 2 2/3 IP, yet that only raised his ERA for the month to 2.45.  He has struck out 31 batters in 25 2/3 IP.  His 31 Ks tie him for the league lead.

Honorable Mention: Lance McCullers Jr., who in five appearances amassed a 1.93 ERA with 19 K in 18 2/3 IP.


Hitter of the Month:
The options for hitter here are slim as there are just three former G-Stros position players on the Lancaster roster.  Delino DeShields gets the nod this month despite a bit of a slump towards the end of the month.  In April, he hit .250 with three doubles and three triples.  He made just two errors in 63 chances at second base during the month. 

Honorable Mention: Telvin Nash joined the team late in the month after rehabbing an injury in extended spring training.  In the seven games since he joined the team, Nash is hitting .346 with a double and two home runs.  He has taken four walks against six strikeouts.  If he can put those numbers up over a whole month, he will be a shoo in for Alumni of the month.

Pitcher of the Month: 
Likewise, there are only three options to choose from for Appy Astros Alumni of the Month among the pitchers in Lancaster.  Luis Cruz is the choice based on his three starts in the tandem pitching rotation.  In his three starts, he has a 0.61 ERA with 19 strike outs in 14 2/3 IP.  He has not fared as well coming in as the second half of the tandem but overall he finishes April with a 3.47 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings pitched.  He is tied for 8th among league leaders in strikeouts. 

Honorable Mention: Michael Foltynewicz got off to a rough start but has rebounded with several strong outings later in the month. 

Corpus Christi:

Hitter of the Month
This was one of the toughest calls of the month.  Ben Orloff gets the nod with a .322 average in 20 games this month. He struck out just four times in 59 at bats.  That is one K every 15 at bats!  He also took eight walks on the month.  He has also moved around the diamond this month.  He has played five games each at 1B,  2B, and SS while adding three games at 3B and one game as DH.

Honorable Mention: Rene Garcia made this a tough call.  He has only appeared in 13 games but when he has gotten his chances, he has hit the ball.  He hit .333 with four doubles and a HR to his credit for the month.  He has gunned down 50% of would be base burglars so far this season as well.

Pitcher of the Month
David Martinez has quietly put up solid numbers in his AA debut. In 22 2/3 innings pitched, he has allowed just 15 hits and five walks for a WHIP of 0.88 (3rd best in the Texas League).  He has not given up an earned run in his past 13 2/3 innings pitched. 

Honorable Mention: Carlos Quevedo started the month in Lancaster but was quickly promoted to Corpus Christi.  Since arriving he has appeared in six games with one of those being a start.  In 16 2/3 IP, he has a 1.62 ERA with 14 strikeouts.

Oklahoma City

Hitter of the Month - No former G-Stro qualified for the award this month.  Only two former players have appeared in games for OKC this season.  Ruben Sosa was sent down to EST after just two games and Chris Wallace was traded after limited action. 

Pitcher of the Month 
Jordan Lyles gets the nod here.  He had one rough outing that inflates his numbers but he heads to Houston to join the big league Astros after completing April with a 5.32 ERA.

Minors- Other Affiliations

Hitter of the Month
Albert Cartwright is off to a hot start with Reading (AA-Phillies).  The second baseman is hitting .326 with three doubles, a triple and a HR.  He is tearing up lefties with eight hits and 16 at bats.

Honorable Mention: Chris Wallace was traded to the Indians organization during the month.  He played in eight games for Akron hitting ,.367 before being promoted to Columbus (AAA).  Since arriving back in AAA, he went 5 for 7 in his first game in a Clippers uniform.

Pitcher of the Month
Fernando Abad started off the year with eight straight scoreless outings. Despite giving up a run in his last two outings of the month, he still ended April with a 1.93 ERA.  He is pitching for Syracuse (AAA- Washington). 

Honorable Mention: Tom Vessella appeared in nine games for the Richmond Flying Squirrles (AA- Giants). The lefty finished April with a 1.08 ERA in 16 2/3 innings pitched.


Hitter of the Month
It is very hard to select anyone but Jose Altuve. Altuve continues to show he belongs in the big leagues.  He hit .330 in April and finished the month with 37 hits which ties him for the league lead.  He also continues to make impressive plays in the field

Honorable Mention: Brandon Barnes has come to the plate in 15 games so far this year and has reached base in 14 of those games.

Pitcher of the Month
Jose Cisnero came up from OKC to give the bullpen a fresh arm and he has shown he belongs in the bigs.  The 14th G-Stro to make the show has appeared in three games since his call up allowing just one earned run in 7 2/3 innings pitched out of the Astros' bullpen.  He has allowed just five hits and one walk while striking out five opponents. 

Honorable Mention: Troy Patton has appeared in 11 games out of the Baltimore bullpen. He is holding opponents to a measly .220 batting average.

Overall not a bad showing by the alumni of the Greeneville Astros!  Can't wait to see who shines in May.