Wayne Phillips covers the Greeneville Astros for the Greeneville Sun. Astros County asked him some questions, he answered those very same questions...
AC: What type of ballpark is Pioneer Park?
WP: Pioneer Park, located on the campus of Tusculum College, is widely regarded by many scouts, including Astros front office people, as one of the best minor league parks anywhere. It could handle a Class A team quite comfortably. I'm not sure if it can be classified as a hitters' park, but there are plenty of homers hit out. It's 330 down the lines and 400 to straight center, and it takes quite a poke to hit one out to dead center.
AC: Can you tell us more about 1st Round pick Jiovanni Mier? What is his approach to the game (when he plays, we've heard about the bone bruise - and how serious is it?)
WP: Jiovanni Mier is the real deal. He's the best pure shortstop I've seen come through here on any team. I'm sure his bat has not been what Houston would like at this point, but he's truly a pleasure to watch play his position. He's made some plays to his right and comes up leaping with arm good enough to get an out at first base. Playing defense is just effortless for him.
He missed over a week with the bone bruise, but he was back in the lineup Sunday for a doubleheader with Bristol. The team is just much better with him in the lineup, and I'm sure (Astros manager) Linares would tell you the same thing. Mier is a real fan favorite and has been very approachable, both by the media and the fans. He signs autographs daily and seems to enjoy it.
AC: Who do you look forward to seeing play on a daily basis?
WP: Mier. I love to watch him play defense and see him cover all the ground.
AC: Who has surprised you this season?
WP: The biggest surprise by far has been Jose Altuve, the second baseman who has become a crowd favorite with his hustle. He's batted lead-off most of the year and gets on base regularly. He leads the team in hitting, and is among the league leaders in stolen bases, runs scored and triples. He was here last year and we never figured he would make it. I think they list him 5'8" on the roster, but he seems smaller than that. He has some pop in his bat for a little guy, and he's a solid defensive second baseman.
AC: We held a poll where we adopted a minor-league player. Aaron Bray won convincingly, so what can you tell us about Bray? Good choice?
WP: Linares has used several players at first base this year. Aaron Bray may be the best there. He's played in 30 of 46 games thus far and inconsistency with the bat probably keeps him from being the regular there. He's batting .219 and has no homers and only 11 RBIs. Kyle Miller, a second year guy, has been used a lot at first base lately but he's batting only .172.
Thanks to Wayne for answering those questions, and czech out the Greeneville Sun for game recaps of Gastros games.