Friday, July 3, 2015

A Curious Pattern that May or May Not Mean Something

This was more pronounced prior to the 12 games played yesterday (the Astros had the day off) but I noticed a curious pattern while writing the Game 81 game recap.  Game 81, of course, represents the half-way point of the season for the Astros... but a bunch of other teams haven't yet met that milestone, and won't for a while.

As at the start of today's game - Game 1 in the series against the Red Sox - the Astros have reached their half-way point of the season.  The Athletics - who played yesterday - are the only team in baseball that has played more than 81 games.  They have played 82.  The Astros and A's hit the mid-way point of the season together, and were the first two teams in baseball to do so.  The other teams that currently sit on 81 games (TB, NYY, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and San Diego) all played yesterday, so they hit the mid-way point of their season the day after the Astros and Athletics.

Some of this is doubtless due to the effects of having an indoor stadium, and being located in one of the more southernmost regions in major-league baseball.  The Astros have not had a game rained out this year - in fact, I am struggling to recall a game where a significant rain delay has occurred... I think there has been one.

Some of this is also due to the fact that the Astros are no longer in the central divisions.  The AL Central and NL Central both has the fewest total games of baseball played this year, with 387 games and 392 games played respectively in each division.  These divisions trail the AL East (401), AL West (401), NL East (401) and NL West (399) by significant margins.  This is unlikely to be by chance, as I imagine the schedulers are not keen to play up around the Great Lakes in April, or even May.

Of the teams that have played the fewest number of games for the season, one is a contender (Kansas City) and one is not (the White Sox).  The Royals have played a whopping 5 games fewer than the Astros (and six games fewer than the A's), which adds up to more doubleheaders and fewer games off.  The Astros have no double headers and nine days off after the All Star Break, including 2 days off in four days, sandwiched around a two game series against the Giants. The Royals have one double header (first day after the All Star Break, which is as good as it could be, really) and five days off after most of their team has to travel to start in the All Star Break.  What were the Royals fans thinking when they were breaking the All Star Game voting system??

This is an interesting pattern, and may or may not mean something.  But the Astros figure to have amongst the most restful schedules for the rest of the season, which could possibly help their stretch drive somewhat.

Anyhow, everyone, settle in and watch Handsome Dan Straily make his 2015 debut.

Friday Morning Hot Links

On April 9 the Astros' chances of winning the AL West were 3.5%. This morning, with a 5-game lead after 81 games, their chances of winning the World Series are 7.2%. This season has been weird.

But we still gotta go get Edinson Volquez.

*Despite backtracking on his no-trade list, a Jon Heyman source says that Cole Hamels is unlikely to approve a trade to the Astros. "He's just trying to say the right thing," A Person said.

*The Cardinals fired their Scouting Director, Chris Correa, yesterday in the wake of the hacking/cheating scandal. Within that story we are told that Correa was not the one who leaked the Astros' information to Deadspin, which means that someone else did. The FBI has apparently narrowed the culprits down to "four to five" individuals within the Cardinals' organization.

*The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz has an interesting response to the Cardinals. To cherry-pick a quote:
Fairly or unfairly, there's a deep stain on the Cardinals organization. And with the investigations continuing there could be new findings that increase the taint. DeWitt and Mozeliak need to perform a vigorous scrubbing to make sure the baseball side is clean and replenished.

*Be sure you read Not Hank Aaron's - who is a lawyer - response to this tomfoolery/douchebaggery.

*The Houston Press's John Royal - also a lawyer - has a take.

*Carlos Correa is your AL Rookie of the Month.

*The Astros signed 16-year old Dominican outfielder Gilberto Celestino to a $2.5m signing bonus. Celestino is ranked #7 on MLB.com's international prospect list.

*2nd Round pick Thomas Eshelman signed for $1.1m, $225,700 under the slot value for that pick.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cardinals Scouting Director Fired - Says Dumb Things

The St. Louis Post Dispatch dropped a bombshell today regarding the hacking scandal. Belying the notion that it was just some rogue intern, a Cardinals lawyer announced today that they have fired their scouting director, Chris Correa, over the hacking of the Astros database. This is huge news, and eliminates any possibility this will just be swept under the rug and forgotten. This isn't Bill DeWitt or John Mozeliak, but it's higher up in the organization that anyone could have imagined. 

In the story, a statement from Correa's attorney offered up his "defense" 

In a prepared statement, Correa lawyer Nicholas Williams wrote, "Mr. Correa denies any illegal conduct. The relevant inquiry should be what information did former St. Louis Cardinals employees steal from the St. Louis Cardinals organization prior to joining the Houston Astros, and who in the Houston Astros organization authorized, consented to, or benefited from that roguish behavior."
Correa has admitted hacking into a Houston Astros database but said it was only to verify whether the Astros had stolen proprietary data, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Now, I don't claim to be an expert in this area of law, but, this is really dumb. Unauthorized access to someone else's computer is a federal crime, under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. That's why the FBI is involved in this investigation. You don't get to commit a federal crime just because you think someone has wronged you. I feel like this is important advice. If the Cardinals generally, or Correa specifically, believed the Luhnow stole proprietary information, there were avenues available to them to redress that alleged wrong. Major League teams cannot sue each other, but they can bring complaints to the commissioner's office, who can investigate. Luhnow has already denied that anyone has approached him with such an inquiry. Based on the hacking timeline as we know it, with the first hack occurring in 2012, it seems unlikely the Cardinals have been sitting on this for over three years. Especially considering that the statute of limitations, under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, is three years from the discovery of the breach.

This is in no way the end of the story. Correa admitted to the accessing the database once, but has not admitted to any subsequent acts or leaking the information. Which either means he is lying, or some other rogue actors will come to light soon.



From the Office of the County Clerk - G81: Astros versus Royals

Vincent Velasquez (0-0, 3.72) versus Edinson Vólquez (8-4, 3.18)

So, loyal and undoubtedly handsome Astros County readers, I need to apologise for my recent absence.  A combination of things led to my lack of game-recap-pery - not that I will bore you all with the details - but I couldn't let a sweep of the other good team in the AL (or, alternatively, the AL All Star Team) and the midpoint of the season go without comment.

And it's a great time to be an Astros fan - best I can remember, anyhow.  I was an Astros fan from the late 1990's, when I relied on the generosity of ESPN to screen Astros games on Sunday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball.  Occasionally, the ESPN crew got bored of showing the Yankees kicking everyone's butts, and turned to the NL to watch the Astros.  I got to watch a little more as the century turned, and the Astros remained strong into the mid-2000's.  This is - in my opinion - a better team than the mid-noughties version, which despite the presence of the Killer B's, were a largely punchless outfit that relied on a bargain-basement Roger Clemens and his pitching comrades to compete.  Aside from a brief period of 2006, and again briefly in 2008, the Astros simply haven't competed.  This team is a breath of fresh air, and it is amazing to think that they could be at the start of their tenure at the top, not at the back-end of the peak like it was in 2005 and 2006.

Anyhow, all of that is a long winded way of saying that this half-season has been a blast, and that continued tonight with a sweep of the Royals.  This was the pitching matchup that favoured the Astros the least, and despite being in an early hole, they pulled ahead, lost the lead, then scored a lone vital run to take the game by a score of 6-5.  The Astros have some fresh injury worries, but they get a day off before heading out on a pre-All Star Break road trip with the AC staff in a fairly jubilant mood.  The Astros are holders of the most wins in the AL, and lead the AL West by 5 games over the second-placed Angels.

On the Mound:
Velasquez looks more and more comfortable every time he takes the mound.  This wasn't a glitzy effort, like the one where he practically shut down the Yankees until Chris Young did his Albert Pujols impersonation, like he ALWAYS does against the Astros.  However, this start did show some moxie, as well as some dominance, but ultimately Velasquez was again left without a win.  His final line of six-and-one-third, five hits and one walk against seven strikeouts, allowing 4 earned runs isn't going to get anyone to call off hounds hunting for starting pitchers, but this could represent a moment when he earns more faith in his own abilities.

Velasquez started badly.  He got two outs without incident before allowing two big extra-base hits on two consecutive pitches.  Lorenzo Cain tripled on a fastball (Springer was shaded toward RF, and was playing shallow), which he drove all the way to the base of the wall to the left-field side of Tal's Hill.  The pitch was a solid location down-and-away, and would likely have been called a strike, but perhaps it was a little straight.  The very next pitch, Kendrys Morales took an outside fastball that missed a tiny bit up, and he hit a line-drive the other way for a lefties dream into the Crawford Boxes.  Castro sprung out to converse with Velasquez, and whatever he said, it probably worked, because Sal Pérez popped out for the third out.

The next inning, the Royals were at it again.  Alex Gordon singled to right on the first pitch of the frame, then went to second on a wild pitch, and scored when Alex Rios hit a liner to right field.  At this point, it was no outs in the second, in a three run hole, but Velasquez knuckled down to set the remaining hitters of the inning down in order.

Then he dominated.  One strikeout while retiring the side in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.  He faced the minimum in the sixth, thanks largely to an around-the-horn double play after a Lorenzo Cain one-out single.  Things ended badly in the seventh - Sal Pérez walked on four pitches, then Alex Gordon struck out swinging (on a wonderful inside breaking pitch) for the first out.  Josh Fields relieved, and he allowed a one-out single to Alex Rios (just wide of shortstop) and a two-out triple (full count fastball down and away, lined into the LF-CF gap) to Jarrod Dyson to allow Velasquez's and his own runner to score, and tie the game.

The eighth was significant for Pat Neshek - in relief of Joe Thatcher, who retired Moustakas with some lefty-on-lefty violence - hitting Kendrys Morales on his ample butt with a slider.  The home plate ump - potentially concerned about a beanball war - warned both benches, but of course the irony is that the Astros had three hitters hit-by-pitches, and two scored while one struck out.  Luke Gregerson came on for the ninth, and he preserved the narrow lead in a perfect inning.  Gregerson has looked much better after a shaky month in May and some of June.

At the Plate:
The Astros threatened early, after George Springer and Jose Altuve both reached (and later completed a double-steal) in the first.  But neither scored, with both Gattis and Valbuena striking out, and Chris Carter narrowly missing a home run by driving the ball to deep CF.  Carter - who looks to have returned to how we remembered him for the second half of 2014 - was the architect of the first run of the game for the Astros when he hit a one-out home run in his next at-bat (the fourth inning).  Volquez tried to bust him inside on a 2-2 curveball, and Carter hit a high drive that hooked into the CF-side of the Crawford Boxes.  Carter drew his hands in well, and was a little tied up, but he hit it well enough, and it still got well back into the boxes.  Marwin González then homered leading off the fifth - Volquez tried to bust him inside with a fastball, but it leaked arm-side and caught too much of the plate, and González made no mistake in driving it out to RF.  That made the score 3-2, Royals.

The scoring was not done for the fifth, either.  Jason Castro, the next batter, worked a walk, then George Springer was hit by a pitch that ultimately resulted in his leaving the game.  Springer was hit very close to the right wrist, on the same side of the wrist where the little and ring fingers are (which is important, because that is the most important part of the hand for grip strength).  Still with no outs, Jose Altuve singled up the middle, and took second when Jarrod Dyson tried to gun Springer down at third base.  With two runners in scoring position, and on an 0-2 count after having been made to look very silly by Edinson Vólquez's offspeed and breaking pitches, Evan Gattis took a slider that caught too much of the strike zone, and he lined it over the second baseman's head into RF.  Gattis' at bat ended in a TOOTBLAN - trying to take second - which is a pity because there were still no outs at that stage, but all reaching base would have given him was a premiere viewing position to observe Valbeuna and Carter striking out.  Astros 5, Royals 3.

The Astros threatened again in the next frame.  Jon Singleton singled to lead off the frame, then Preston Tucker followed with another single (against a situational lefty, too).  Both hits were to straight-away RF, and both were hit hard, Singleton's on the ground, and Tuckers' in the air.  But a groundout sandwiched around two strikeouts ended the frame without the runners touching home.  González's strikeout was especially weird - he was hit on the back (right) leg while swinging for the third strike.

The decisive run of the game scored in the seventh.  Jose Altuve was hit by a pitch leading off the frame.  He was also hit on the right forearm - much closer to the elbow than Springer, and so hopefully this will have less of a lasting effect.  Regardless, Altuve doesn't need his forearms to steal bases, which is what he did three pitches later, and then he advanced to third on Evan Gattis' hard-hit liner, which got away from pitcher Kelvin Herrera.

Valbeuna then walked on four pitches to put runners on the corners with one out, which set up the double-play.  Chris Carter was the batter, and he grounded a slow roller to third.  Moustakas charged the ball and went home to try and nab Altuve, but Altuve was ruled safe.  Replays (after the appeal from Ned Yost) showed that the play was very, very close, but there was not enough evidence to overturn the call, and the go-ahead run was confirmed.

A Jason Castro double was the only action in the bottom of the eighth.  Goodness, look at Wade Davis' ERA: 0.26!  Castro had a strong night, walking once while going 1-3.  Chris Carter went 1-4, but hit a home run and scored Altuve on a fielder's choice groundout.  Also going 1-4 was Marwin González (HR), Preston Tucker, Jon Singleton and Evan Gattis (2RBI).  Jose Altuve had a standout night, going 3-4 with an RBI, stealing two bases, scoring the winning run, and reaching on a hit-by-pitch as well.  George Springer had a promising night cut short, going 1-2 with a stolen base.

Turning Point:
After Marwin González ambushed Edinson Vólquez leading off the fifth, Castro followed with a walk, then George Springer wore a pitch to the right wrist to put runners on first and second with no outs.  Singles from Altuve and Gattis resulted in three total runners scoring, and the Astros took an important 5-3 lead.  They weren't able to hold it, but I like how solid the plate appearances were after the González homer.

Man of the Match:
Jose Altuve seems to have returned from his hamstring-related rest with renewed energy.  He had a very solid 3-4 night, scoring 2 runs, stealing two bases, and wearing a pitch for the team.

Goat of the Game:
A sweep over the AL All Stars would have me prefer to not award a goat.

Up Next:
Day off tomorrow, then the Astros will meet the Red Sox at Fenway Park.  I have watched the Astros play at Fenway Park before - but that is a story for another time.  It looks like Handsome Dan Straily and his sub-90 mph fastball will make a triumphant return to the majors.  He is opposed by Justin Mastersen (3-2, 5.58).

7 Eastern, 6 Central, but remember that this game is Friday night, and Thursday is a night off.

Watch out for George Springer's progress.  It looks like the plan for Handsome Jake Marisnick was for a longer rehab assignment, but he may be activated in time to get to Boston to either start in CF, or provide cover for Springer or Rasmus.  It seems that Colby Rasmus may not have recovered from his infection in time to meet the team in Boston, either.  My pick is that Rasmus heads to Boston, and Marisnick joins the team in Cleveland, with either Singleton or Santana being optioned to make room for him.  There is a non-zero chance that Marisnick is optioned to Fresno, with Rasmus and Springer manning CF.  There is also a non-zero chance that someone heads to Fresno to make room for Jonathan Villar to come up and provide cover over multiple positions

Update: it seems that Springer may be headed to the DL.

Someone will need to be optioned for Handsome Dan Straily, who is not on the 25-man.  That space may be created by George Springer, if Rasmus is able to return immediately.  Either way, the Meat Wagon is running out of room, and the All Star Break can't arrive fast enough.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

State of the Astros: Third Base

Over the next several days/couple weeks, I'd like to take a position-by-position look at the Astros, getting a quick overview of the current starters, backups, and minor league players who could contribute this season.


Starter - Luis Valbuena

Valbuena has been one of the more polarizing players on the squad this year. He's currently leading the team in home runs with 19, which is already 3 more than his career high coming into the season. He's also carrying an absurdly low BABIP at .176 en route to a .195 average, despite being one of the top hitters in "hard-hit contact" this season. While some of those hard hit balls are carrying over the wall and, thus, don't factor into his BABIP you could make a case that he has been very unlucky on the balls he's kept inside the fence. If you plugged his career .258 BABIP (which is also low but may be his true talent level for balls in play) into this year's numbers he'd be hitting .249, same as last season. All that said, he's been an essentially league average bat when looking at his 99 wRC+. But what an extremely unusual way to get there. He's been worth .4 WAR so far and the projections suggest he'll add another 1 WAR in the second half. (Note: I started writing this a couple days ago, so some stats may be slightly different now.)

Reasonable end of season projection ranges

AVG - .200-.230
OBP - .290-.310
SLG - .400-.440

Backup - Jed Lowrie ? (Injured)

Given that Correa has pretty much established himself as not only the shortstop of the future, but also of the present, I'm expecting Lowrie to see a significant portion of his playing time at third base upon his return from injury. He could very well end up replacing Valbuena as the starter, as well. Barring a trade, whoever isn't the starting 3B would probably end up being a utility guy, where either figures to be an upgrade over Marwin Gonzalez and/or Villar. I won't go into Lowrie's numbers, as we just did that in the last installment

Prospect - Colin Moran

Moran, who was a 1st round draft pick by the Marlins in 2013 before coming to the Astros in the Cosart trade, is currently in Corpus Christi. He's considered a line drive contact hitter with below average power and an adequate glove at third. He was a top 100 prospect in 2014 but, despite finishing the year hitting .296 between A+ and AA ball, his lack of power development seems to have taken him off some people's radar.

Prospect - Matt Duffy

Duffy has, as far as I know, never shown up on a prospect list. He was a 20th round pick in 2011 but has put up decent numbers as he's steadily climbed the ranks. In a little over a full season at AAA he's hitting .280 with 20 HRs. I don't think he'll ever see much playing time in Houston, barring injury or some other event that leaves the Astros no choice. He's been playing some at 1B, though, which could give him a little extra value.

Prospect - JD Davis

Davis was the Astros 3rd round pick in 2014. He's currently in Lancaster where, not surprisingly, his power has been serving him well. He could move quickly but at this point he's firmly behind Moran in the pecking order. A noticeable increase in Davis' strikeout rate this year could portend a potential issue going forward, but so far it hasn't slowed him down much.

Summary

With either Valbuena or Lowrie down the stretch I'd grade the third base situation right now as a C+ to B- though where those two are performance-wise in the second half is difficult to predict right now. I'm also not overwhelmed by the prospects working their way up, though I think at least one of them should be at least an average big leaguer in the near to mid future. 

Picking your Poison: Three Starting Pitchers edition

It's July, which means it's officially Trade Month, and for the first time in a while we as fans are interested in the major league pieces that might actually be acquired this month, rather than which minor-league pieces might be coming in to help some distant Astros team that might contend. 

Johnny Cueto

The 29-year old Cueto is the youngest of the three starting pitchers we'll examine today. Depending on when the Astros trade for him, they would owe him in the $4-5m range for 2015, but he is a rental. Due to the rental status, the prospects required by the Reds wouldn't wouldn’t be as high as, say, Cole Hamels (hold on for him). 

Cueto led the National League in innings pitched (243.2), strikeouts (242), and hits/9 (6.2) in 2014.
In 2015, Cueto has thrown 96.2IP, 72H/32ER, 92K:19BB, cutting his walk rate by 0.6 BB/9 from 2014 to 2015. He’s a flyball pitcher, getting only a 41.4% groundball rate – quite a departure from what the Astros have seemingly valued in the past couple of seasons. That said, his 2.98 ERA isn’t terribly out of line from his 3.37 FIP or 3.28 xFIP. His .238 BABIP is spot-on with his 2014 (also .238) and 2013 (.236).

Jeff Samardzija

Like Cueto, the 30-year old Samardzija would be a rental player, having signed a 1-year, $9.8m deal in the offseason, meaning the Astros would owe him somewhere in the $4m range if they acquire him at the deadline. 

Samardzija has been somewhat disappointing this season, his 4.56 ERA the highest of his career in any season in which he threw over 35IP. His 123 hits allowed lead the league, but he’s the victim of some bad luck, as the ERA belies his 3.65 FIP and 3.83 xFIP, and because the White Sox are a poor defensive team, posting a -37.6 rating on FanGraphs (the Astros are rated at -8.8, but I still am not sure how FanGraphs’ accounts for extreme shifting).

Samardzija is also getting fewer groundballs than in recent years. His groundball rate is 39.6%, down from the 50.2% he got with the Cubs and A’s in 2014, and the 48.2% he posted in 2013.

Cole Hamels

Considered the jewel of possible trade bait, whichever team trades for Hamels is definitely not getting a rental: he is owed what is left of his $22.5m salary in 2015, and then $22.5m in each of the 2016-18 seasons, with a $19m vesting option ($6m buyout) for 2019. Or if Hamels meets 400IP in 2017-18 combined, 200IP in 2018, and is not on the DL at the end of 2018 with a shoulder or elbow injury, a $24m option automatically vests for 2019. He’s expensive, in terms of cash money and prospects.

The Phillies are in 2015 where the Astros were in 2009. Their roster is old and hurt and expensive, and their minor-league system isn’t in the best shape of its life. This can be attributed to trades and extensions made in order to stay in contention over the previous ten years. Sound familiar?

Hamels is 31 years old, so he’s under contract through his Age 34 season. But he also just may fit the Astros’ preferred profile the best of the three listed possibilities. He has a 48.6% groundball rate, and his 3.22 ERA is in line with his 3.43 FIP and 3.21 xFIP. Hamels has been a 4-5 WAR player since 2011, and is already at 2.0 WAR this season. And he’s another lefty for a rotation that only features Ace Keuchel 

But going back to the Phillies and possible trade demands, Hamels is perhaps Ruben Amaro’s only shot to restock the farm system with one trade. You thought the Astros’ haul for Hunter Pence was nice? That’s not going to get it done for Hamels, unless Jeff Luhnow turns out to be some sort of Actual Sorcerer, and Ruben Amaro is actually as dumb as we’re all led to believe. Do you like Lance McCullers? Vince Velasquez? At least one, if not both, are gone. The conversation likely starts there. Correa isn’t going anywhere, but he’s likely the only untouchable on the list. Appel, Brett Phillips, Tony Kemp, Preston Tucker Colin Moran would also be on the list. The Phillies are going to want to get better quickly by dealing the ace of their rotation. They’re not going to respond positively to your dumb fantasy trades where you offer Jed Lowrie, Chris Carter and six scrubs for Mike Trout. They don't need Chris Carter, because they have a more expensive version in Ryan Howard. 


Of course, these are just three starting pitchers to which the Astros have been linked. You can bet that the Astros have inquired on pitchers that haven’t been mentioned and, honestly, any of these would serve as a necessary upgrade to a potential playoff rotation. Pick your poison. Who do you want and, more importantly, how much are you willing to give up?

Wednesday Morning Link Dump

Well and so the Astros beat the AL All-Star team for a second straight night, with Keuchel doing Keuchel things.  At 46-34, the Astros are four games up on the Angels, with a season-high 58.6% chance of winning the division and 75.1% chance of making the postseason, according to FanGraphs.  Baseball Prospectus puts the Astros' division chances at 50.7% and the postseason chances at 68.9%.

Let's start with The Weird:
*Dallas Keuchel is the first Astros pitcher to ten wins before the All-Star Break since Roy Oswalt in 2005.

*"The Hill...it got me."
-Lorenzo Cain

*"I'm just happy to be drafted by a team that actually loves me."
-Daz Cameron, who took BP with Carlos Correa prior to Tuesday's game

*Meat Wagon Update: Scott Feldman is looking at a return this month, Colby Rasmus probably won't make the road trip to Boston, Jake Marisnick starts a rehab assignment today, Brad Peacock hopes to throw off a mound next week, and Jed Lowrie still hasn't picked up a real bat. Asher Wojciechowski or Dan Straily will make Friday's start in Oberholtzer's place.

PreStros Morning Report: June 30

TL;DR

*Astros affiliates go 3-5 on the day
*Brady Rodgers throws a strong start and Nolan Fontana gets three hits in a 10-5 Fresno win.
*Corpus is at the Texas League All-Star Break
*Lancaster rallied back from 7-0 down only to lose 9-8
*Quad Cities won the completion of Monday's game but dropped the 7-inning Tuesday game
*Tri-City lost 2-1 at Connecticut
*Connor Goedert went 3x4 with 4RBI and three runs scored in a Greeneville win
*The GCL Astros extended their season-opening losing skid to eight games.

Fresno (45-34, 6.0 up)

Fresno stopped a four-game losing streak by going up 8-0 with the help of a 5-run 6th inning and then holding off El Paso for a 10-5 win. Brady Rodgers threw 6.2IP, 5H/3ER, 5K:0BB; Mitch Lambson hit a batter in 1.1 scoreless/hitless IP; and Tyson Perez allowed 3H/2ER, 0K:1BB in 1IP.

Nolan Fontana was 3x4 with a walk and and RBI; Robbie Grossman was 2x3 with three walks and a stolen base; Tony Kemp (2B, RBI),  Matt Duffy (RBI), Jonathan Villar, Tyler Heineman (2RBI), and Andrew Aplin (BB, 2RBI) all had two hits each.

Man of the Match: Robbie Grossman

Corpus (51-25, clinched playoff berth)

Texas League All-Star Game. Conrad Gregor was 0x3, Tyler White was 0x2, and Roberto Pena was 0x1 as the North defeated the South 9-4. Chris Devenski threw 2IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:0BB; Travis Ballew allowed 2H/0ER in 0.2IP, Jandel Gustave struck out one and walked three, allowing 3ER; and Aaron West got the final two outs of the game.

Lancaster (40-35 overall, 3-2 in 2nd Half, 1.0 GB)

Down 7-0 by the middle of the 3rd inning, Lancaster started a comeback that would result in a 7-7 tie heading into the 9th, but allowing two runs in the top of the 9th, the rally fell short as the JetHawks fell to Inland Empire 9-8. Troy Scribner allowed 9H/7ER, 5K:5BB in 6IP; Andrew Walter allowed 1H/0ER, 1K:0BB in the 7th, and Reymin Guduan allowed 3H/2ER, 1K:1BB in 2IP.

Chase McDonald was 2x5 with a double and a 9th inning solo homer; James Ramsay also had two hits, a stolen base, and an RBI. Derek Fisher and J.D. Davis drove in two runs each. Mott Hyde and Jack Mayfield had a hit and a walk; A.J. Reed was 0x3 with 2BB.

Man of the Match: Chase McDonald

Quad Cities (49-25, clinched playoff berth)

Game 1: Quad Cities and Beloit finished Game 1 due to Monday's cancellation, but Game 1 went 12 innings with Quad Cities prevailing, 2-1. Brandon McNitt threw 3.1IP, 2H/0ER, 1K:2BB; Michael Freeman threw 2.2IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:0BB; Riley Ferrell made his professional debut, allowing two hits and the tying run with 1K:0BB in the 7th to send it to extras; Angel Heredia threw 4IP, 0H/0ER, 5K:2BB and Jordan Mills got the win with a perfect 12th.

Nick Tanielu was 3x6; Ramon Laureano was 2x5; Ryan Bottger was 1x4 with two walks and your lone RBI; Jamie Ritchie, Alex Bregman, Alex Hernandez, and Bobby Boyd each had a hit and drew a walk.

Man of the Match: Angel Heredia

Game 2: Beloit put up three runs in the 2nd, which was all they'd need in what would be a 4-1 Quad Cities loss. David Paulino allowed 7H/3R (2ER), 4K:1BB in 4IP; Eric Peterson threw 2IP, 3H/1ER, 1K:2BB; Ryan Thompson allowed 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB in 1IP.

Ramon Laureano was 2x3 with the only run scored and two stolen bases; Sean McMullen was 0x0 with two walks and an RBI sac fly scoring Laureano. Other than that it was a big buncha nothin.

Man of the Match: Ramon Laureano

Tri-City (5-7, 5.0 GB)

Tri-City struck first with a run in the 2nd, but Connecticut got it done with a 2-1 win. Trent Thornton threw 4IP, 6H/1ER, 6K:0BB; Scott Weatherby allowed 4H/1ER, 1K:1BB in 2.1IP, and Steve Naemark retired all five batters he faced.

Bobby Wernes was 2x3 with a walk and an RBI; Dexture McCall was 1x3 with a walk; Cesar Carrasco and Antonio Nunez had your other hits.

Man of the Match: Trent Thornton

Greeneville (5-3, tied for 1st)

Princeton took a 2-0 lead in the first, but Greeneville responded with six unanswered runs on their way to a 10-6 win. Yhoan Acosta allowed 4H/5R (3ER), 3K:1BB in 3.1IP; Juan Delis allowed 2H/0ER, 2K:2BB in 1IP; Cristhopher (not a typo) Santamaria faced one batter and got two out; Zac Grotz threw 2IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:1BB and Jacob Dorris allowed 0H/1ER, 3K:2BB.

Connor Goedert had a weird day, going 3x4 with a homer, 4RBI, three runs scored, a stolen base, and an error. Randy Cesar was 2x5 with a grand slam in the 3rd. Kevin Martir went 3x4 with a walk and 2RBI; Aaron Mizell was 2x4 with a walk, and Luis Payano was 2x4 with a double.

Man of the Match: Connor Goedert

GCL Astros (0-8)

Game 1: The GCL Astros lost 2-1 to the GCL Phillies. Jose Rosario allowed 5H/2ER, 3K:0BB; Edgardo Sandoval allowed 1H/0ER, 1K:0BB in 4IP; Carlos Hiraldo threw two hitless/scoreless innings, and Adonis Pena allowed a hit in 1IP. Bryan De La Cruz was 2x4; Frankeny Fernandez was 1x3 with a triple and a walk; Reiny Beltre was 1x3 with a walk; Vicente Sanchez was 0x1 with three walks. Kyle Tucker went 0x4 with 3K.

Man of the Match: Edgardo Sandoval

Game 2: The GCL Phillies extended the GCL Astros' losing streak to open the season to eight games with a walk-off 1-0 win. Diogenes Almengo threw 5IP, 3H/0ER, 3K:0BB and Enrique Chavez allowed 3H/1ER, 2K:2BB in 2.1IP. Wander Franco was 2x3, Ruben Castro (SB) and Jared Cruz had your other hits.

Man of the Match: Diogenes Almengo

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Morning Link Dump

Gotta get right to it...

*ESPN: Lance McCuller's emergence shows difference between Astros and Royals

*MLB: McCullers continues to impress

*Hinch: "We've been confident long before we were given credit."

*The Astros are expected to introduce Daz Cameron today

*Colby Rasmus was apparently bitten by a spider on his left wrist, which then got infected, and he hasn't played since Saturday.

*Luke Gregerson is relying more on his sinker this year

*1-2 pick Alex Bregman is ready for things to calm down. He says "ready to work" three times in one interview.

*The Angels and Orioles are interested in trading for L.J. Hoes

*Here's the New York Times, on Tal's Hill

*Jameis Winston was at Sunday's Astros/Yankees game, and made a kid's day

Monday, June 29, 2015

Daz Cameron Agrees to Deal

Earlier today, Mark Berman reported Daz Cameron was in Houston to sign his deal. Later, Jim Callis reported that, as expected, Cameron had agreed to a 4 million dollar deal, 2.3 million over slot.

This leaves only Eshelman as unsigned in the first 10 rounds, and he reportedly has a verbal deal and is expected to sign this week. This news effectively brings the Astros 2015 draft to a close. They had $17,289,800 to spend in the draft, and, assuming Eshelman gets close to slot, will have used almost all of it. The end result is an unheard of three player in the Baseball America's top 10, with some depth behind, including several advanced pitchers who could help sooner rather than later. 

They can still go to $18,154,290.00, 5% over slot, without losing a future draft pick. They could still make a run at one of the unsignables, including their 11th round pick Patrick Sandoval, who is committed to USC. Longer shots include Cole Sands, a FSU commit, and Luken Baker, a TCU commit. It remains to be seen how willing they will be to incur the monetary penalties associated with going over slot to sign those players. From round 11 on, any amount over $100,000 goes against the bonus pool.