How is the Cabbage Growing Down on the Farm?

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?

33 comments on “How is the Cabbage Growing Down on the Farm?

    • We have plenty of luck Astro 45 – but it is all on the bad side. I mean they have 2 outs in the 9th and nobody on and the guy hits the ball so softly and poorly that it turns into a base hit. Yikes.


    • It is weird – they are starting to get consistent starting pitching that is decent. The bats are beginning to wake up. But the bullpen cannot hold a lead.


  1. Marwin made the dumbest latest baserunning mistake last night. Altuve almost let him off the hook, but the pen did not cooperate. How many times can one club make baserunning mistakes, without the manager finaly taking the fall?

    Dan, I remember having spirited conversations about the value of a closer on the earlier Chip Bailey blog. A fair amount of folks insisted the conceot of a closer was overrated and overpaid. And most of them also said that not having a capable closer was no big deal on a crappy team. This present crappy club has demontrated over and over again just how nice it would be to have an honest to goodness closer.

    Something has got to give soon. If the Astros don’t get a win today and don’t play sharp ball against the Rangers this week, Bo could go.


    • daveb
      This club loses so many runners on the base paths – some times it is the players making brain dead decisions and some times it is Porter sending a guy into a sure strike em out throw em out. It makes a big difference this season – they are in a lot more close games.
      The club has blown 8 of 14 save opportunities – so they are worse than last season so far running at a little over 40% on save situations. If they were only 70% which is an OK save % they would have 4 more wins plus they would not have the psychological downer of blowing so many games. It becomes contagious.
      In the last blog – I said I thought they would (but not should) stick with Porter the rest of the season – but hey, something has to give some time with this team.


  2. Happy Mday to everyone’s Moms and Becky. I was out last night came home turned on the game and boom double, walk off win. So I had 1 minute of viewing to see the same ol same ol, Hey good news Lunsnow was scouting Rodon pitch. Whew!

    Feeling confident today 55-107


  3. In keeping with the theme, it’s good to see Austin Wates back in action. If he keeps getting on base, how long to we wait before replacing the current guys playing left field? Presley has a .228 OBP (I had to look at that stat twice) and Hoes a .271. Wates is at .451 in OKC.

    And not to take oldpros gig from him, but Carlos Correa went 5 for 6 last night. He’s hitting .322. Meanwhile, Jiovanni Mier is hitting .236 at this point with a .257 OBP and a .596 OPS. How soon does Correa take over shortstop in Corpus?


      • Yes he has great stats and as old pro recently pointed out he has been very clutch also.
        Suddenly middle infield is looking like an organizational strength.


      • Sending Kemp to Corpus would take time away from Fontana, who is actually having a pretty good season at the plate to date. But until Fontana is deemed ready for OKC, Kemp is going to have to keep doing his job and being patient. At some point, we’ll end up trading a second base prospect.


  4. Last night, the top 3 in Lancaster’s batting order were 12 for 17, with 8 RBI’s 7 runs scored, 1 BB and 2 K’s. Correa had 5 hits and 6 RBI’s. They won easily although the tandem combo was terrible. Our minor league pitching performances have to be so disappointing.


    • oldpro when I was looking through the pitching stats it seemed like some folks are thriving and some not – almost a 50/50 split. So maybe it is a disappointment with some pitchers and not with others?
      Boy I’d love to get some of that offense up here….


  5. If I was Jesse Crain, I’d ride this DL as looooooong as I could. He sees what’s going on with this club, and probably wishes he had been smart enough to sign with another team over the winter winter.
    Dan…..if Singelton is “cooked”, bring him up…..because I’m done with having first base being a carousel. Carlos Correa will probably be in Coupus by the middle of June and that’s exactly where he needs to be! Cut dead weight, and bring anyone you can up to help this team………it’s already too late.
    Thank you fellas for the happy mothers day wishes! I took an ugly spill outside my house yesterday, and I feel like I’ve been in a car wreck……so we will have to celebrate later this week, Give ALL of your Mom’s and wives an extra hug today,for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry about the injury Becky – be careful and stop playing rugby in the front yard.
      Part of the problem Becky as daveb points out above is that there is not that much deadwood at the minor league level – so they have to be able to call people off or trade people off to make room at some positions.


  6. I think it’s time to trade away some surplus for good, controllable bullpen pieces. For example, I’m a huge Aplin fan, but where is he going to play? He doesn’t have the power for a corner outfield spot, and either Springer or DeShields will have center for the foreseeable future. And we’ve got a long list of potential left fielders.

    Him and Rudy Owens would make a good package deal.


    • My concern is that we would trade for an established guy whose best years are behind him. Luhnow either needs to transition a starter to closer or pull the trigger on such a trade within the next year or two though.


    • I can’t see trading Aplin and Owens for a reliever – I think they need to try and get a couple of their relievers off DL and see who internally steps up.


  7. Would it surprise any of us, that Luhnow would call up Singelton while we are playing the Rangers this week? Look………I’m REALLY over the circus at first base.
    Watch Porter over use Sipp next week, and Porter needs to hand Qualls the ball to close out games. Albers might be out for another 2 weeks, and the “closer by committee” is getting on my last DANG nerve. JUST DO IT.


    • I don’t know when they will pull the trigger on Singleton. Krauss had a big double last night in the ninth and huge homer today against a lefty that gave the bullpen breathing room. Go fIgure.
      And after game after game of bullpen failure – Sipp and Qualls were good today. The Astros win !


  8. Do Krauss or Guzman have options left? I know Carter ain’t going anywhere, but there could be a spot for Singelton if Krauss had options left. *sigh*. Losing is getting to me. A ball hit Austin Wates in the face this afternoon, hopefully he’s not hurt too bad. The Astros games will be on FSN this week……just turn the sound off and try to listen to the radio guys.


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