Maybe this is due to the NFL draft (stretched out over 3 looooooong days) but I thought it was time to take a quick look at what is happening at the Astros’ minor league affiliates. The NFL is taking kids who will go straight to the NFL (or go home) while the MLB teams have to carefully nurture and raise their players (year after year after year)….
I have been inspired by oldpros reports from down below and wanted to focus on the minors for one post.
So here is a quick look at each level and those who are ripening up nicely and those who may need a bit more tender loving care before picking…
OKC RedHawks (AAA)
Ready for picking – Yes, Jonathan Singleton (.290 BA / 1.028 OPS) has cooled off lately – still – he has more HRs (11) and RBIs (31) than the top two Astros leaders combined. When the Astros are looking for some bullpen help – maybe they should bring back Rhiner Cruz, who is pitching great at OKC with a 1.50 ERA and 9.8 K/ 9 IP. Michael Foltynewicz pitched poorly for a couple times out, but he has been coming on strong – including a recent 1 hit start. The 22 year old may be ready without a place to go. Also stuck at AAA awhile would be Nick Tropeano, who has an ERA under 3 and a WHIP under 1.10
Not yet ripe – Austin Wates (on the DL) was putting up a great .448 OBP before getting hurt – he might not need a lot of time back to knock on the door. Max Stassi continues to put up solid power numbers with 5 HR and 20 RBIs but is only throwing out 10% of base stealers. Domingo Santana after a slow start has 22 RBIs and a .795 OPS – he still strikes out too much, but the 21 year old is one of the y0ungest players in the league. Rudy Owens is doing a solid job bouncing back from a lost injured year in 2013 – his WHIP is better than Tropeano’s, but his ERA is over 4.
CC Hooks (AA)
Ready for picking – If either Wates or Santana get the call-up – their likely replacements will come from OFs Andrew Aplin, Preston Tucker and Delino Deshields Jr.. Deshields unfortunate meeting with a fast ball to his face has put him into the second grouping for the time being. Aplin with 21 R / 21 RBI and a .853 OPS and Tucker 21 R / 6 HR / 20 RBI and a .824 OPS are the hitters performing the best after the first 5 weeks of the season. Out on the mound the trio of Thomas Shirley (1.60 ERA / 0.832 WHIP!!!), Luis Cruz (2.72 ERA / 1.206 WHIP) and Brady Rodgers (2.52 ERA / 1.156 WHIP) are the ones pushing for a mid-season promotion.
Not yet ripe – Catcher Tyler Heineman and IF Nolan Fontana have solid BAs and OBPs in the .270s and .360s, but are showing no power so far this season. 3B Matt Duffy has a pedestrian BA (.256) and OPS (.703) but has been clutch leading the team with 23 RBIs. Backup C Rene Garcia continues to hit below average while gunning down 43% of runners and Joe Sclafani who was great last season is really scuffling early. From the pitching side – Aaron West, Matt Heidenreich and Kyle Smith (after a promo from Lancaster) are trailing the three guys mentioned above.
Lancaster JetHawks (A+)
Ready for picking – IF Tony Kemp and OF Teoscar Hernandez are killing it in the early season. Kemp’s BA (.355) and OBP (.455) are outstanding. while Hernandez’s 26 RBIs and .547 SLG really stand out. Pitchers Vincent Velasquez (2.89 ERA and 0.929 OPS) and young Josh Hader (3.03 ERA and 1.071 WHIP) have been terrific in the normally pitcher’s hell in Lancaster.
Not yet ripe – SS Carlos Correa and 3B Rio Ruiz have been very good with BAs hovering around .300 and OPS’s near .800, but it is a hitter’s league and at 19 and 20 years old – they still need some time before harvest. Pitchers Lance McCullers Jr., Kyle Westwood and Chris Devinski have all been solid with ERAs on the good side of 4. McCullers particularly needs to lower that 4.5 walks / 9 IP rate.
Quad City River Bandits (A)
Ready for picking – Among some solid hitting performances – Brett Phillips stands out due to his age of 20. Very good numbers across the board (.302 BA/.382 OBP / .848 OPS). Other numbers that stand out are the OBPs of .412 and .439 for infielders Chan Moon and Tyler White respectively though they are 23 years old. There are a number of pitchers who have been outstanding so far this season, but no one touches Gonzalo Sanudo and his 1.14 ERA and .936 WHIP. Also hitting 3.00 ERAs and under are former 3rd rounder Kent Emmanuel, Zach Morton, Andrew Walter and Christopher Lee (quite spry for a 90 year old actor). Emmanuel earned a recent promotion to Lancaster where things have not gone quite so swimmingly so far.
Not yet ripe – 1Bs Chase McDonald, Conrad Gregor and OF James Ramsay are all putting decent numbers up but are lacking power at this point. Pitchers Andrew Thurman (picked right after Mark Appel), Michael Feliz (who was great last season), Jandel Gustave and 2011 2nd rounder Adrian Houser have all been struggling and need some time to right their respective ships.
Anyways – This is just a snap shot of the first 5 weeks – I tip my hat to oldpro and ask him to continue to give us the daily updates. So what have I missed and what do you think?