Back on top, but how will Astros stay there?


Well, the Astros and Angels are even in the loss column, but Houston has a one-game lead for the division. It’s a precarious lead to be sure, but I’ll take it.

Once again, the Astros are fighting to have a .500 month. Despite the losing streak before the All-Star game, Houston is now 11-11 in July. Kazmir takes the mound tonight against the Halos, and they finish out the month Friday night with the D-Backs in town.

 

Scheduled Analysis

As of right now, the Astros have 60 games left. Here’s the breakdown.

After the two games to end July, Houston will open August finishing the series against Arizona. Then it’s on the road for three against the Rangers, four against the A’s and two against San Francisco. The Giants series is sandwiched between a pair of off days, so that’s nice.

Then it’s 10 days at home with three against the Tigers, four against Tampa and three vs. the Dodgers. Three at the Yankees are followed by an off day and three in Minnesota. Watch for me in the stands on the 30th. The Astros finish August with the first game of a home series vs. Seattle.

Of the 28 games in August, only eight are in the division, and none are vs. the Angels. Though Houston does have an opportunity to end any hope the Rangers might have.

September starts with two more at home vs. Seattle, an off day and three at home vs. the Twins. Then it’s 10 games in 11 days on the road against the A’s (3), Angels (3) and Rangers (4). Then nine games in 10 days at home vs. those same A’s, Angels and Rangers. The Astros close out September with three games at Seattle.

So far, that’s seven games in Arlington vs. hosting the Rangers for three. Games in Yankee Stadium and Pac Bell. But home games against Detroit, Tampa and LAD without return trips to their ballparks. (We’ve already been.)

The Astros finish the season with three in Arizona.

The Angels have their own schedule problems. After leaving Houston tonight, they have six total against the Dodgers, three against the Royals, and in August face Wild Card hopefuls Baltimore (3), the White Sox (7) and Toronto (3). They end the season with four at Texas, and have fewer off days since they have two games to make up on the schedule. So that might help wear them out as well.

 

And Then What?

The trade deadline is Friday afternoon. After that, any pickups would have to clear waivers first … which means bit pieces at best.

The big rumor is the Astros are interested in Tyson Ross. I’d give up Tony Kemp and Akeem Bostick. Well, maybe not that much.

But if the Astros swing a deal, who is the odd man out in the rotation. Right now the Astros have Dallas Keuchel, Scott Kazmir, Collin McHugh and Scott Feldman with Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez in some kind of starter tandem to reduce wear and tear. So, does Luhnow sit Feldman? McHugh? Do the rookies go to the bullpen permanently as long relief?

I know, I know. When you think you have enough pitching, get more pitching. … But don’t the Astros have enough pitching? Is a two-month rental on Ross (or Andrew Cashner or Craig Kimbrel) worth it? At least Kimbrel I can understand. That’s for the bullpen.

Personally, I would prefer a bat. But tonight Houston welcomes back Jed Lowrie. Lowrie at third, MarGo at first. Makes sense. Then Houston just needs to get Springer back in about three more weeks. Is that enough offense coming back? He’d return in time either for that home series against the Dodgers or the road series against the Yankees. In other words, just when the team needs him.

 

Think This Through

1. What about that schedule? That’s some tough stretches, and September is all about the AL West. But the Angels are looking at a similar path if not worse.

2. If the Astros make another move, what do you want it to be? A starter? If so, who gets bumped from the rotation? I know it’s easy to say Feldman or McHugh based on ERA. But Feldman was lights-out his last outing and is often capable of that. And McHugh had six quality starts in his last eight outings, including some real gems (June 23, 8 IP, 2 ER vs. Angels; June 28, 8 IP, 1 ER vs Yankees). Is it the rookies who get banished? No offense, but I’d rather trot McCullers and even Velasquez out to the mound than Tyson Ross.

3. Would you rather see a bat? Do you want to throw another arm a la Kimbrel into Houston’s bullpen mix?

4. Should the Astros just stand pat and wait for Lowrie then Springer?

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178 comments on “Back on top, but how will Astros stay there?

    • Well, Quad Cities won 7-1. The 3rd baseman there with the initials N.T. [we are not supposed to mention the names of any of our ‘prospects’, our fellow bloggers have made it clear, lest we get too attached] actually went 3-4, with 2 DBLs and 3 RBI. And the pitching for that affiliate was actually quite nice! But you are correct – they did in fact commit two errors.

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      • EH pitched 6.2 shutout innings there. Did you notice that Trompiz’s error was his 26th of the year? That is too much to fathom. What is in store for him next year when he get’s to Lancaster and the ball jumps off the bat, the wind is howling, and the infield is like concrete. DDJ had 24 errors at 2B there one year.
        The guy who shut out Corpus Christi last night was Sean Manaea, who came over to the A’s for Zobrist this week.

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      • OK, you two turkeys. You can use the “prospect’s full name” with the caveat provided you do NOT become “attached” to them.

        A mouse will kick an elephant if he can just get him down.

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  1. Will the Astros be able to offer Gomez a qualifying offer at the end of 2016? If so, this trade does bring that option to get draft pick consideration if/when he leaves via free agency. Luhnow has a strong track record with the draft so this could help with replacing some of the players lost.

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  2. oops forgot the quote lol. The newer system, which is now in its third year, allows teams to make qualifying offers to a player that has spent the entire season with that organization (i.e. players traded midseason are ineligible). That offer is set at the average salary of baseball’s 125 highest-paid players.Nov 10, 2014

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  3. One of the best things about Gomez being with us now is that his performance for the remainder of 2015 and 2016 will determine how big a big contract he signs for 2017 and beyond. And it likely will not be with Houston. Heck, by then, we’ll have other options for the outfield. We might even have an in house option by the trade deadline next year. And if that kind of scenario presents itself, we get a chance to reload the system by moving him a year from now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This, plus the qualifying offer option, makes the trade more palatable. Thanks, RJ, for the research. Luhnow has a strong history in the draft. Heck, he found Maverick in the 6th round, I believe. If the Astros are in contention, as expected, this time next year and Gomez is performing they can hang onto him, give him the qualifying offer and recoup the sandwich pick.

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      • The downside of that is that he can accept the QO and Is on the team for the year for around $15.5 mil. The Astros will have to think hard about it. No draft pick and a player on the payroll for that amount, may not be what Dr. Luhnow was planning on.

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      • Agreed, OP, but Gomez will only be 30 and, if he performs like he has, will most assuredly reject the QO looking for his last chance at a sizable, multi-year contract. If by some off chance he accepts I can think of worse things than giving a 5-tool CFer $15.5M for one year.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Okay Dave, you have me scrambling. The cupboard is pretty dang bare. I am trying to figure out who in the world we have left in the system that might be ready to be an ‘in house option’ in the OF by the trade deadline next year. The only one we have left, assuming we let him settle in the OF, and don’t trade him or let him go Rule 5, is the guy presently at Fresno with the initials T.K., who gets no more respect than J.S. Everybody else I can think of who might have had half a chance is with the Brewers organization now – at least until 2017 or 2018 when J.M. [presently at QC] and DC [who just got drafted a few weeks ago]. Other than that it’s D. Fisher? Hoes? Grossman? Presley? Or are youtalking about JK?

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      • And we will probably lose Colby Rasmus next year, so I suspect Luhnow will be back looking for an OF by trade or FA signing in the off-season. No help in sight from the farm.

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      • I am not giving up on Teoscar Hernandez. Yes, he had a rough year, but he is still very young and has all the tools. I am curious if he plays winter ball to try and get back on track. He was a highly touted prospect at one time and he may be flaming out, but at his age I am going to give it more time before I remove him as a top prospect.

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      • That can happen to highly touted prospects. Remember how everyone thought M.S. should be the starting catcher this year? How did that one work out?

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  4. The game I saw last night was one where the D’backs played the Astros game. They hung around and hung around and pounded a couple home runs late to snag the win. We have been spoiled this year (except for Villar) with near perfection on defense and out of the bullpen. Last night, the lack of perfection let us down.

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    • If the Astros wouldn’t have been in that funky extreme outfield shift, Rasmus would have been under that ball and Gomez would have been just backing him up. Both the outfield and infield shifts backfired on us last night because Zona beat the shift several times by design.

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  5. OP1, that last post of mine did not come off as intended. When I said, “he was there” I meant that he had reached the ball, in spite of the shifts. I did not mean it in a flippant way. Hope I did not offend. But indeed, lot’s of balls through the shifted infield last night. I’m not convinced their hitters are good enough to exploit the shifts, but if they do the same tonight, I might get convinced.

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    • Oh, he missed the ball, he was there I think he panicked at the last second when he saw Rasmus so close. But if Rasmus hadn’t been so shallow and close to the line he would have gotten to the ball easily and called Gomez off, because that ball was in Rasmus’s normal range had he been where he should have been instead of the place they had him.
      Dave, we are cool.

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  6. Another home run for our wonderful short stop…….I don’t care what kind of slap happy dance these guys do in the dugout. As long as they are getting hits and knocking the ball outta the park, they can do whatever they want. These guys are just big kids locked in a grown man’s body. Now…….has anyone seen our fearless leader? Not that Dan and Brian aren’t doing an excellent job, I’m just curious about where Chip is. Angels lost again today….Clayton Kershaw did his “thang” this afternoon!

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    • Well, I’m guessing you have not spent any time in the opposing dugout. But we agree on one thing. Concern for Chip. Chip, are you ok? Dan, Brian, any input?

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      • You know what dave….I don’t give a crap what the opposing dug out thinks. These are OUR guys and they believe in themselves……so no, I don’t care. I’m glad they are finding joy again.

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    • I’ve been critical of him, but he has one thing going for him that our precious backup catchers lacked: he knows which end of the bat to find the barrel. Watching Quintero and Corporan hit frustrated me…they just looked like they had never swung a bat before reaching professional baseball. Also, I’d take Bostick over Tropeano right now … so I better stop complaining about that Luhnow trade.

      Liked by 1 person

    • those two guys are why luhnow would trade phillips. and getting gomez for two years. and as others have pointed out already, getting either a compensation pick or trading him and getting back some prospects.

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  7. Mark Appel- 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 10 strikeouts, 0 walks. Here’s the best part!
    The three hits were all by Wilin Rosario, who has a career .275 MLB Batting Average and was sent down 2 weeks ago by Colorado after 5 straight seasons in the majors.
    Rosario has 18 hits in his last 30 at bats in AAA. Yes, you read that right!
    Appel ran into Rosario’s buzzsaw. But totally dominated every other hitter in that lineup. Fresno leads 5-1 in the 8th

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    • And Kevin Chapman just blew Appels game by giving up 5 runs in the 8th inning, including a grand slam by, you guessed it, Wilin Rosario.

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      • That’s a problem. Sipp is the only lefty we’ve got in the system deemed effective enough to be a reliever at the ML level. And there are real questions about his effectiveness.

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    • Great outing! I wonder if there was much interest in Appel as the trade deadline approached, of if he was considered as one of the untouchables by Luhnow?

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    • Had to add him within 72 hours. Sad to see VV go down, but he threw a lot of pitches last night and will clearly be in the mix for an Oct roster spot if he doesn’t burn too many innings before then.

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      • I think we will go into the playoffs with 4 starting pitchers and eight relievers, some of whom will be starting pitchers converted. I don’t have a clue what we are going to do about lefty relievers. Right now, we don’t have any other than sip and he has not pitched well.

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  8. What a difference a day makes (actually 3 years). We are now looking to see who “has to” be sent down because we have a team of “players.” I am sure most remember looking in the minors to see who could we possibly “call up.”

    I was noting a quick shot of the dugout last night and standing there was McHugh, Kazmir, McCullers, & Feldman. And my thought was – “I will take any one of them to start the next game.” Then V V comes in from the bullpen and seals the deal. We now have one good outfielder being forced to sit on the bench. (Just as an example and not ridiculing any player – but don’t you know players like Villar or Mier are sick knowing they probably will never make it to Houston. Another town maybe, but they can not crack the current team. Plus Carter is not hitting, yet Singleton missed his chance for at least another year – if ever)

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    • 45, Villar was given every chance to have Marwins job. Far more talent and versatility. He just couldn’t get it done. Mier though, I think he’s a minor league lifer.

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  9. After years and years of misery those of us who have stayed loyal to this team and the plan are reaping the rewards. It is a great time to be an Astros fan again and, if the plan continues as advertised, it should be a great time for many years to come. Yes, injuries or misevaluations of players could occur, but it appears we are set up for a nice 5-year+ run. I am hopin we become the St. Louis Cardinals of the A.L., but without the cheating. 🙂

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    • Tim, I’m with you on this. The Astros have so many options for the coming years. Tyler White is going to be a big option next year to share IB with Singleton. I really think he is the kind of offensive player Luhnow has been waiting for at 1B and JA Reed can spend 2016 trying to complete his minor league career. White is completely ignored by everybody, but look at those career numbers.
      Kemp did not get traded. I repeat: Kemp is still in the mix and he is not Rule V eligible. He could spend all of 2016 in AAA getting better.
      I miss Phillips. I have said all along you would not see Springer, Singleton and Santana together as fixtures in a Luhnow lineup because of the strikeouts.
      But with Gomez here for 2016, Vasquez, and Teoscar have a chance to stay the course in AA and AAA and grow into outfielders.
      I have great hopes for Moran at 3B and Lowrie is Moran’s best friend. Lowrie and Valbuena take the pressure off of Moran and will allow him to grow into the 3B role with Davis right behind him.
      Fisher seems like Luhnow’s long range plan for LF, as I see it now. He has a lot of things to work on, like strikeouts and stealing bases vs getting thrown out. But he hits and I think is tailor made for LF in MMP.
      We have a ton of young pitchers in the minors and we need Appel to flash and a couple of big arms to go into the bullpen in 2016.

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      • Those are just ‘prospects’, OP1. They are invisible to Luhnow – and to most of this blog. I am, therefore, not even letting myself think on those lines any more.

        I doubt with this GM we will ever see either Tucker or Reed at DH, White at 1B, or Kemp anywhere. Unless a pick comes from the 1st round or from one of his trades, Luhnow just doesn’t seem to care how well they perform – all they are is just so much trade fodder to him. They make him no reputation. They do not feed his ego. So to see a Preston Tucker, an A.J. Reed, a Tyler White, or a Tony Kemp get a real chance – absent an injury [which is how Preston Tucker got his shot] Luhnow would have to do what to him appears unthinakable – i.e. cut ties with his pride and joy acquisitions – Evan Gattis, Chris Carter, and Jake Marisnick. I’ll believe that when I see it.

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      • Mr. Bill,

        Your comment is condescending, to say the least, but that doesn’t bother me. You’re a prospect hoarding lover all the while the Astros are having their greatest season in 10 years. You can continue to question Luhnow’s trades, but he hasn’t traded Springer or Correa, who are vital to the future of the Astros. If the Astros win the World Series, but Brett Philiips turns into an All-Star you will continue to question Luhnow. Oh well, that can lead to an unhappy life. I will enjoy this season and the many successful years ahead, with much of it due to Luhnow’s plan.

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      • Bill – you are almost sounding like you are auditioning for a part on a 24 hour news network, like you are fighting for reading ratings. It’s easy to overstate others opinions to try and make your point – but you are wrong. Tim nor I either one have ever said having prospects is a bad thing, only that you don’t always know. We have both consistently for a very long time on this blog praised the likes of Correa and Springer – when they were in the minors. We have joined in the untouchable club that is McCullers and VV, Heck, most people probably think I have a mancrush on VV. Both of us have written highly of Reed and Phillips. I like Kemp, even if he doesn’t have a position to play in Houston.

        At one point people thought highly of Ariel Ovando, Telvin Nash, etc.

        Its just fact that some people thought Eric Anthony was the next great superstar, and noone saw Dallas Keuchel coming. They aren’t all going to be great. Some won’t even make it. It is what it is.

        I think for me, I don’t really need daily updates of AJ Reed, Kemp, Fontana, etc. I’ll check in on them from time to time. Until then, I’ll enjoy the ASTROS and if it costs me Phillips and Santana to get Gomez (BTW, I am not sold on that trade as I am no fan of Carlos Gomez), so be it. Gomez helps you right now, and right now we are in first place.

        Wasn’t it you that wanted to jump ship a few weeks ago when we fell out of first place for the first time – something like now that dream is over we can move on to more important things, like prospects? Yet here we are. You take your shots when you get them. No matter how good, or young, or talented a team is, it can always find itself 10 games out at the all star break. That talent down there marinating, it maybe great one day, like 2018, and still find itself 10 games out because of uncontrollable and unpredictable things. Take your shot, its right there.

        But please stop trying to define our positions for us – we do love having a top 5 farm system.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I think I would be doing Fresno a disservice if I didn’t finish my report. In the ninth inning Tyler White hit a sac fly to tie the game at 6-6. James Hoyt held Albewhatever scoreless for two innings but Stoffel gave up a run in the twelfth. Albawhatever was out of pitchers so their 3B gave up homers to Duffy and Stassi and Fresno won 9-7.

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    • Hoyt is quietly having a very good season after that horrible start. His ERA is down to 4.50. Considering it was above 8 early I like the improvement.

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  11. Arizona is throwing a lefty today. The Astros could easily fill out a lineup with eight righties and one lefty to start, but three of our righties are switch hitters and can turn around later in the game. Almost nobody on our team has ever faced this guy.
    Suddenly, with Lowrie back and Conger and Marwin hitting the ball, our switch hitters matter.

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    • Lowrie was a big part of the A’s strong start last year, and their swoon started when he went down. Just having him back and healthy makes me feel 100% better about our lineup.

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  12. With all the roster changes the last week, the Astros have only one player on their entire 25-man roster with a negative WAR. That man leads the team in triples and RBIs.
    Carlos Correa caught Springer yesterday for the position player with the highest accumulated WAR at 2.6. Keuchel has the highest WAR on the team at 4.7.

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    • And Castro despite hitting lefty exclusively hits LHP better than Conger. Today my show if they need to do a reverse platoon since Conger is SO much better hitting left handed.

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    • My guess is the lineup card has less to do about which catcher hits better in that spot and more to do with what catcher the manager is comfortable with catching that pitcher that day.

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  13. Before we get started on the game I wanted to point out that the Astros have 5 starting RHP who throw in the mid 90’s and have come through the system and have minimal usage on their arms:
    Appel-24
    Velasquez-23
    Feliz-22
    Musgrove-22
    McCullers-21
    Every one of these are very high prospects who have been in the Astros top 10 prospects and all of them have no major league time to speak of in their past that dims their prospects. There is no club out there with 5 young starting pitchers in their system like this. Above that, all of these guys are performing right now.
    Behind them, in Lancaster, the Astros have three pitchers who throw in the HIGH nineties, are all starting and who have moved onto the prospect list this summer and are 21 years old or younger: Paulino, Martes, Bostick.
    The future for the Astros on the mound looks real promising.

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    • Yes! There is a Fanpost up on The Crawfish Boxes posted by Snake Diggity from a couple of days ago. He lists the Rule V eligible players in 3 categories, High risk losses, Medium risk and Low risk. The entire article is based on his views but it is a good list of eligible players.

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  14. Six days ago The Lost Angels of No City had a two game lead in the division.
    And as it has happened so many times before in history, they will probably take their anger out on the poor Indians.

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  15. When is MLB going to look into the Royals. This is the fourth different time against four different teams that they have been involved in throwing at batters this season.

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    • Yep…volquez and company were at it today, and I don’t blame the blue Jays for retalitating. They hit Tulo in the elbow and nearly took Josh Donaldson’s head off.
      The commisinor needs to look into it. ASAP before someone gets killed.

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    • And have you noticed its not platoon catchers that get thrown at but the stars of the opponents? Springer, Donaldson, Tulo. And at least with Springer and Donaldson Volquez is the common denominator. Perhaps they should change their names from K C Royals to K C Chickensh*%#.

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    • The umpire handled that about as poorly as possible. That’s comments were BS. They weren’t diving into the plate on those inside pitches. Either he is complicit in the head hunting or the staff has no respect for their skipper. I would suspend Yost for 5 games the next time his team is clearly throwing at people. Enough is enough.

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      • Agree 100% if the manager doesn’t stop it, he should be fined, and the pitchers involved should miss their next three starts.

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  16. I’ve got a new pitcher we need to keep an eye on! His name is Brock Dykxhoorn, and he’s a right handed pitch for Quad City River Bandits. Fellas…..he’s 6’8 and has three
    Devestating pitches. You need to put him on your radar, because he is gonna be special!! The second baseman we got in June, Alex
    Bregman…..has been promoted AGAIN , he’s in Lancaster now. This guy, if he stays on this course will be getting an invite to next year’s spring training.
    Remember this name: Brock Dykxhoorn
    And yes drbill14 the Royals are getting a bad reputation…..and a couple of their pitchers ARE jerks.

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