Saturday, October 16, 2010

Greeneville Astros: Euris Quezada

Euris Quezada
How did he get here?: Undrafted free agent, signed December 2008
Stats: 6'6", 210 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 21 - but will be 22 on April 6
Birthplace/Hometown: Sabana Larga de Comenador, Dominican Republic
Men of the Match: 1

2010 Overview




What happened?

Quezada spent 2009 in the GCL, where things didn't go so well - he didn't strike out a lot of guys, walked a few, hit some, and gave up a lot of hits. Somewhat surprisingly, the Astros sent him up to Greeneville, where he actually fared quite a bit better. His WHIP was down (slightly), HBPs were down, walks were down. Quezada didn't strike out many batters, but that could come with time.

What went right?

Limiting walks. This is a pretty big one, because it's a decent indicator of control. Quezada knocked his walks down from 3.0 per nine innings to 1.7 in 2010. Only five of those walks were to RHBs.

Away games. Quezada allowed a .298 BAA on the road, actually got more GBs than FBs (1.29, compared to 0.59 GB:FB ratio at home), and had an ERA over a run below his home splits.

Scoring position. Hits per nine innings w/RISP: 1.03. With runners on: 1.23. With the bases empty: 1.32.

What went wrong?

There is a site called Minor League Splits that could have given us a look into whether the high BAA was due to luck, or just throwing so few balls (as in "not strikes") that he was just getting tagged. That site is down. So we can't tell, but to throw 63.1IP and allow hitters to knock a .313 clip isn't great.

Homers. Quezada gave up eight homers - albeit six with the bases empty. He also hit seven batters and threw five wild pitches (these are all better than in 2009).

Appy Astros says: At 22 next season, I suspect he might be given a shot at Tri Cities but he might not be a starter any longer.

Quezada did show some improvement over his GCL season, and he's a big guy. He has also only played professional baseball for two seasons, so I think he may be on a longer leash, and a repeat of Greeneville may be in the cards for him.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Troy Renck: Berkman to the Rockies?

The Denver Post's Troy E. Renck has a little note on Berkman's next possible destination: Colorado.

Manager Jim Tracy was direct. Asked a few weeks ago about the Rockies' most pressing need, he blurted "an impact bat." The options range from fascinating (Victor Martinez, hello) to reclamation (Conor Jackson). Here's a name to file under intriguing: Lance Berkman.

"That's a place that I would definitely have interest in."

For his career, in 37 games at Coors Field, Berkman has hit .299/399/.526, with 24K:23BB, and eight homers.

Astros nab two of the five top 2Bs in the SAL

According to Scouting the SAL, the Astros have something special in Jose Altuve (captip to Appy Astros for the link).

First, on Jimmy Paredes (ranked #2):
The only player on this list I was unable to scout in person, sources I spoke to commented on both his projection, and just how far away his skills were from ever reaching it. With a .287/.317/.417 line which included 50 stolen bases, best case scenario leaves Paredes as a passable second baseman with a solid combination of gap power and speed. Worst case, he’s little more than a very good athlete with a baseball skill set in which the pieces just never seem to fit together.

Hm. Well, what about Jose Altuve (ranked #3):
One of the best baseball players I’ve seen at the level, Altuve’s small stature had to weigh into my rankings or he would have had a legitimate shot at the top spot. Listed at 5’5″, there’s simply very little precedent for a player of his size becoming a successful pro. However, a .301/.357/.448 line including 42 stolen bases from any 20-year old prospect deserves respect. Especially when he also stands out from a scouting perspective.

Jose "Wee Man" Altuve! He's going to be dealing with questions about his size everywhere he goes, so let's just go ahead and not worry about mentioning it again.

Greeneville Astros: Mike Foltynewicz

Mike Foltynewicz
How did he get here?: Drafted, 2010 (1st Round, 19th overall)
Stats: 6'4", 200 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 19
Birthplace/Hometown: Minooka, IL
Men of the Match: 2

2010 Overview


What happened?

Foltynewicz (whose name was on cut-and-paste for the first three weeks of the season) was the Astros second 1st-Round pick, and his high pick was met with generally good reviews:

Jim Callis: Foltynewicz gives Houston the best HS arm in Illinois two years in a row. I like how Houston takes the guys it wants, and bucks consensus.

Foltynewicz turned down a scholarship to play for the Longhorns, and signed on June 14, spending the entire season in Greeneville, resulting in a #7 ranking in Baseball America's Top 20 App League prospects.

What went right?

Pitching to righties. Foltynewicz allowed a .240 BAA to RHBs, striking out 23, and walking eight - with no homers allowed.

Home Games. Seven of his 12 starts were at home, where he allowed a 2.86 ERA/1.16 WHIP, and a .223 BAA.

Groundballs. Over the course of the season, Foltynewicz's GB:FB ratio was 2.07 - which I believe is the highest we've seen on the team so far. No matter how that ranking shakes out, getting twice as many groundballs as flyballs is a good sign.

What went wrong?

August 6. The number-killer outing of the year came at Princeton, where he allowed 7H/8ER in 2.1IP. You take that out, and he's sitting at 2.55 ERA / 1.23 WHIP. Of course, you can't just drop one start, but still, it's pretty telling. After that start, Foltynewicz finished the season with 18.2IP, 15H/1ER, 16K:3BB.

Lefties. Lefties hit .323 against him, including hitting all three homers, a 1.42 GB:FB ratio, with 21H + 7BB to 49 outs.

Appy Astros says: Folty did better than his numbers show. He had some learning opportunities (2 rough outings) but finished very strong.

Foltynewicz is all but in Lexington in 2011. Given his size, age, and stuff, Foltynewicz could be on a fast track, rejuvenating the perception of the Astros' farm system.

Houston wasn't watching the Division Series

David Barron noted that the Houston market ranked 45th out of 56 national markets for the Division Series on TBS.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

40-Man Roster Moves

Brian McTaggart just tweeted that the following players are off the 40-Man Roster:

-Wladimir Sutil
-Anderson Hernandez
-Brian Esposito

Alyson Footer adds that Sutil will be on the RedHawks roster, while Hernandez and Esposito can become free agents.

AFL: October 13 recap

The Peoria Javelinas beat Surprise 7-4 yesterday in the second day of Arizona Fall League action. Here's how your Eddie's Farmhands did:

Jack Shuck: 2x5, 2R, SB
Koby Clemens: 2x4, 2K, E
Jay Austin: 1x3, R, BB, 2RBI, SB, E
Matt Nevarez: 1IP, 1H/0ER, 1K, Save

Astros re-sign Yordany Ramirez, others

Good work by Stephen Goff to note that the Astros have re-signed (let's just pause for a quick observation: there is a huge difference between "resign" and "re-sign.") former outfielder-turned-pitcher Yordany Ramirez to a minor-league deal.

Baseball America has the list of other minor leaguers the Astros have re-signed:

RHP Bubbie Buzachero
2B Mike Affronti
OF Lee Cruz

Here's some info as to why the Cardinals traded Brett Wallace

Joe Strauss does a good Q&A every Wednesday, and he got a question about why the Cardinals traded Brett Wallace. Here's the response:

Wallace did not project with this club. That's why he was traded. My information is that Mo' challenged the drafting of Wallace before it happened in '08. Mo' wanted assurances that Wallace could play third base. The room was mixed but Jeff Luhnow sided with those who thought that, yes, Wallace could play 3B in the NL. That opinion quickly fell into disfavor, especially with the field staff. Interesting that the Oakland A's and Toronto Blue Jays quickly judged Wallace a first baseman, where he remains with the Houston Astros. Problem is, Wallace doesn't project the power typically associated with the position. Those who say Matt Holliday is now with the Cardinals because of Wallace are misguided. Holliday is with the Cardinals because they are paying him $120 million for seven years. Wallace was one of several reasons why the Cardinals landed Holliday as a rental in 2009. Despite what revisionists insist, it was a misguided pick.

We all need to pray to the Espiritu Bagwellio that the Cardinals are just stupid.

Meat Wagon updates

Brian Bogusevic had that surgery on his right foot, and Tim Byrdak is scheduled to have surgery to deal with the sports hernia today in Massachusetts.

Both are, of course, expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cooper "would be perfect" for Brewers job, says Cooper

Let's be honest, if there was ANYTHING else going on today, this wouldn't even get an eyebrow raise. But I'm on duty, and I feel like I need to post something, or The Constable will make me buy everyone a round.

Cecil Cooper thinks he'd just be perfect for the Brewers' job:

"I think I would be a perfect fit. I hope they think so, too...

...I reached out to (GM Doug Melvin) to let him know I'm interested in managing the Brewers. I'm looking to get back. I've got something to prove. I know a lot of the players in Milwaukee and a lot of the people with the club. It would be perfect. I hope to hear back from them."

Greeneville Astros: Ryan Cole

Ryan Cole
How did he get here?: Drafted, 2010 (34th Round)
Stats: 5'11", 205 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 23
Birthplace/Hometown: North Syracuse, NY
Men of the Match: 1

2010 Overview


What happened?

Cole was drafted out of St. John's, where he allowed 23 hits in 28.2IP and a .232 BAA in 2010.

He settled in to a bullpen role pretty quickly, and allowed 30 hits in 35IP, walking just eight batters all season - five of them to LHBs.

Cole steadily got better as the season progressed, allowing a .273 BAA in June, .230, BAA in July, and .192 BAA in August (though August saw a 4.05 ERA - highest of the season).

He got sent to Tri-City at the conclusion of Greeneville's season to help with the playoff push, relieving the relievers who had been taxed over the stretch.

What went right?

Pitching to righties. Cole allowed 16H/5ER, 18K:3BB and a .184 BAA against RHBs on the season (76 batters).

Walks. Obviously, only walking eight batters over the course of a season isn't bad - and four of them were intentional walks. Five walks were to LHBs, three were to RHBs. Six were at home, two on the road. Though in August, likely tiring from a long season between St. John's/Greeneville, he walked five in his final ten appearances (four in three appearances from August 3-11).

Groundballs. Cole posted a 1.88 GB:FB ratio on the season - 2.50 in August.

What went wrong?

Lefties. LHBs tagged him for 14 hits and five walks in 10.2IP for a 1.78 WHIP (0.78 WHIP vs. RHBs).

Runners in scoring position. Both of the homers he allowed (including one in Greeneville's season finale) came with RISP, and his groundball rate was at its lowest in that split (1.27).

Appy Astros says: With his age and his performance, I could see him in the pen in Lexington next season.

Agreed. Good debut season, and it's nice to have a groundball, low-walk reliever in the bullpen.

Arizona Fall League kicks off

The Peoria Javelinas got their AFL on for the first time yesterday, losing 8-6 to Surprise.

Jack Shuck: 1x5, 3B, RBI
Koby Clemens: 0x4, RBI, K
Pat Urckfitz: 1IP, 0H/0ER, K

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Berkman still wants to play

Nothing like a playoff run to charge up them batteries. Berkman told Dave Dalati that his bat problems stem from his knee injury:

Berkman says he’s figured out he wants to continue playing baseball next season and beyond. Berkman said he recently realized that most of his offensive struggles this year were due to the knee injury he suffered at spring training.

“Having that knee surgery in spring training and having that knee problem the whole year was a lot bigger deal than I initially thought it was going to be."

How much would you pay Berkman to return to Houston?

Astros sign Dominican RHP

Sports Illustrated's Melissa Segura tweeted that the Astros have signed 6'3" Dominican RHP Luis Abad for a "low, six-figure bonus." The Astros have been interested in Abad since May.

Here's what she said about Abad:
Abad's 6'3" and lanky w/ fstball in low 90s. Highly regarded prospect.

In May, MLBTR ranked Abad the 10th-best prospect eligible in the Dominican Republic:

Hitting 92 mph and weighing 160 pounds soaking wet, the 6'3" Abad is one of the most projectable pitchers you'll see.

Greeneville Astros: Jeiler Castillo

Jeiler Castillo
How did he get here?: Undrafted free agent, signed prior to 2006 season
Stats: 6'0", 155 lbs, Throws: Right
Age as of April 1, 2011: 23
Birthplace/Hometown: Barquisimeto, Venezuela
Men of the Match: 1

2010 Overview (Tri-City + Greeneville)


Career (2006-09)


What happened?

Castillo began the year in Tri-City, and threw in three games (5.2IP, 7H/3R - 2ER - 6K:3BB) before being sent to Greeneville on June 28, where he finished the season. It was his third go-round in Greeneville, and it went fairly well, I suppose. His high-water mark was on July 7, when he allowed 2H/0ER in 4.1IP of relief of Vincent Velasquez' 1IP debut.

His K/9 rate dropped off significantly (5.8 in 2010, after a 9.1 in 2009) for his lowest K/9 rate since 2007. Meanwhile, though, his BB/9 rate dropped for the third straight year.

What went right?

Home games. In eleven appearances at Pioneer Park, Castillo allowed 20H/7ER in 23IP for a 2.74 ERA and a right-side-up GB:FB rate (1.14), holding opponents to a .238 BAA.

July. Castillo made ten appearances - including one start - in July, and in 24IP, allowed 16H/6ER, with 14K:4BB, with opponents hitting .193.

What went wrong?

August. Castillo allowed the same number of hits (20) in 10.1 August IPs as he did in June and July combined (26IP). In 10.1IP, he allowed 20H/10ER, 5K:5BB for an 8.71 ERA and a .408 BAA. Given the 1.17 GB:FB ratio, there was some adverse luck involved, but still. Also, nine of those earned runs came over four consecutive appearances.

Away games. Above we talked about how great he pitched at home. The flip-side of that are the away games, in which his road BAA was 101 points higher (.339) than his home BAa (.238), allowing 20H in 13.1IP.

Given the relative improvement - and how his season numbers came undone over the course of ten days in August, Castillo may still be in the organization come 2011, and probably in Lexington.

Cooper to interview with Seattle

Well, well. So Cecil Cooper must be bored. After being linked to the Brewers' managerial opening, Cooper will interview today with Seattle.

The Mariners will also interview John Gibbons, while Eric Wedge and Bobby Valentine are considered candidates.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Matt Nevarez will be blogging

Not for us. That'd be cool, though. However, he will be blogging for MLBlogs during the AFL season, which starts tomorrow.

I can't wait. Their MiLB player pages are going to feature lines and splits from these games, rather than from the regular season. Thus, the In Review posts are going to be seriously screwed up.

From his first post:
I was sent here to work on mechanical issues I had struggled with this past season. I am hoping to work those problems out and get back to pitching strong.

Season Ticket Holder negatively affected by the Press Box change

I love the comments section. Regarding the Richard Justice post, in which he lambasted the Astros' decision to shrink the Press Box, we were able to get a comment from a season-ticket holder, who is directly affected by the move. Here it is, reprinted in it's entirety:

To sort of validate Peanut's thoughts - I'm one of the people who are negatively affected by this particular change.

My season tickets are in section 120, a few rows in front of the writers booth. I love the civility of the section, the lack of distractions, and hearing the official scorer's booth announcements. That will all be gone next year with the change to a "members only" club at my back. I will be letting my season tickets go because of it, and I'm absolutely sick about this change. Honestly - it's all but ruined the off-season for me.

At Fan Fest next season, I'll have to "test-sit" a few other places for season tickets and hope they are available for purchase.

Way to go, Astros. Alienate the press. Alienate the Season Ticket Holders. All in one land-grab move.

More minor-league free agents

Another big cap-tip to Farmstros, who found that Josh Banks, Yorman Bazardo, and Chris Sampson have filed for minor-league free agency.

Qs, As with David Carpenter

So we continue our Fantastic Off-Season of Asking Questions to Anybody Who Will Answer Them today with this post: Qs, As with Lancaster pitcher David Carpenter.

AC: You began your career as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization, drafted as a catcher in the 12th Round in 2006. Can you talk about your career - both in college and the minors - up until 2008?

DC: I signed early with (West Virginia University) my senior year in high school and played in half of the games my freshman year. My sophomore year I was the starting catcher and was made the All Big East 3rd team. Made the All-Big East 1st team my junior year and was drafted that June. I was known more as a defensive catcher until my junior year when I put up some offensive numbers. After the draft I was sent to short season ball in State College, PA. The following spring during the final days
of Spring Training I broke the hamate bone in my left hand and wasn't able to join the team in Low A Quad Cities. I rehabbed and spent July and August in short season again. The following year, 2008, I was invited to big league camp and started the year in Quad Cities and played really well before earning a promotion to High A Palm Beach. Later that year I was informed that I would be making the transition
from catcher to pitcher.

AC: The Cardinals shifted you from behind the plate to throwing at it beginning with the 2008 season. What was the reasoning for their decision, and how did you take it?

DC: Part of the reason was Yadi Molina had signed a big contract and none of the catchers below him were going to be moving anytime soon. They felt that it would be a good career move. The Cardinals had success with a friend of mine, Jason Motte, converting him from a catcher to a pitcher and we shared similar characteristics. At first I didn't take it very well at all. I was lucky enough to spend time with
Chris Carpenter, Josh Kinney, and Jason Isringhausen during my conversion and they really helped me through the process. They were with me on a daily basis and they helped me learn the ins and outs of pitching and just being a professional in general.

AC: Back in August, the Cardinals traded you for Pedro Feliz. Describe the circumstances regarding the trade, and how you heard about it, initial reactions, etc.

DC: I really had no idea that anything like that was going to happen. I was getting ready to get something to eat before heading to the field and I started getting text messages from friends saying congrats. I didn't know what they were about until someone from the Cardinals front office called and informed me of the trade. I was then contacted by Ricky Bennett who welcomed me to the Astros organization.

AC: We all know that Lancaster is rough on pitchers, but how did your mindset change - going from the Florida State League to the California League?

DC: My mindset really didn't change. I just tried to continue to do the things that made me successful the whole year. Work down in the zone, spot my fastball, use my slider as a put away pitch and just compete. I felt that was the best way to approach the challenge of pitching in the California League.

AC: How was the interaction in the clubhouse when you joined the JetHawks?

The guys really welcomed me with open arms. I couldn't have asked to be placed with a better group of guys.

AC: What are your plans for the off-season?

DC: My plans for the offseason are to go to WVU football and basketball games and spend time with my family once Instructs are over.

Big thanks to David for taking the time to answer questions. As with the other interviews, we'll try to check back in with David closer to Spring Training.

Astros County's Connie Mack ballot

You're probably thinking, "Okay, yeah, the Crawfish Boxes had a Manager of the Year post this morning. Way to gravy train it, Astros County." And we could see how you would think that. However, it's not true. I mean, yes, the Crawfish Boxes did have an identical post this morning, but there's a different story to why we're doing it today. As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, we are to vote on major awards, and the deadline for the Manager of the Year voting is tomorrow. So, in the absence of any real Astros news from the last 24 hours, we'll take this opportunity to put our votes forward today.

Each ballot must have three names, so you'll see the voting and rationale below. Quick disclaimer: This award is ridiculous. We hate it. Our old friend Anonymous can write in telling us how stupid we are and make a good case.

American League

3rd Place: Terry Francona - Boston

Francona dealt with an astounding number of injuries throughout the season, and while the Red Sox were never really in the hunt for a playoff spot - thanks to their divisional competition - their 89-73 record was quite impressive.

2nd Place: Ron Gardenhire - Minnesota

The Twins did what the Twins do, and that's win the AL Central and go to the playoffs with a fairly low payroll.

1st Place: Ron Washington - Texas

Not 15 months ago Ron Washington was snorting coke after a game. Now he's managing the Rangers in the playoffs for the first time this decade, having destroyed AL West competition! No team won their division by a wider margin than the Rangers' nine-ame cushion.

National League

3rd Place: Dusty Baker - Cincinnati

Basically everybody put the Magic Number for the Cardinals at 162 from Opening Day. So when the Reds got swept by the Cardinals in August, but finished the month 19-8, anyway, it showed their resilience. With the mixture of veterans and youth, and the emergence of Joey Votto as a superstar, Baker stood at the helm.

2nd Place: Bobby Cox - Atlanta

Cox will likely get votes based on his Last Season, and all that, but it's pretty well-deserved. The Braves went toe-to-toe with the Phillies all season, and still made the playoffs despite losing Chipper Jones (in Houston. Sorry, Larry Wayne) and a number of others to injury.

1st Place: Bud Black - San Diego

This is a team that was paying its players $2.13/hour + tips, and if it hadn't been for a 10-game losing streak late in the season, would be in the playoffs getting the crap kicked out of them by the Phillies. Bud Black took a team of Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell, and 23 Other Guys from a 75-87 record to the brink of the postseason.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Luis Cruz playing for Puerto Rico

Astros pitching prospect Luis Cruz will be representing Puerto Rico in the Pan Am Games.

Says FanHouse:
Cruz went 8-5 with a 3.61 ERA in low Single-A due in large part to a good feel for pitching and a strong changeup.