Thursday, January 18, 2018

Beyond the Top 30: First Base

As the old year fades away and the new season approaches, it's time to start looking at those players of interest who are beyond the Top 30. These players may not ever make a Top 30 list (or they may), but a combination of projections, actual results, incremental improvements and intangibles keep them in the mix as interesting players to watch. I am not including any players in these posts who have already made their major league debuts since, presumably, anyone reading my blog is already very familiar with those players.

Note: Many of the 2018 player rankings haven't been released yet so I will be using the MLB Pipeline postseason list, the Baseball Prospectus Top 10+ list and Baseball America's Top 10 list to denote those players who are currently considered Top 30 type players in the Astros system. Once FanGraphs weighs in, Baseball America publishes their Top 30 and MLB Pipeline posts their 2018 pre-season list, I will post a consensus top prospect list.

FIRST BASEMEN IN THE TOP 30

Yordan Alvarez - May 2017
Photo Courtesy of Rich Guill

OK, technically Alvarez spent more time in left field than at first base in 2017, but since there are a TON of outfield prospects in the Astros system and Alvarez is the only one from the current lists who spent time at first base, I'm calling him a first baseman (at least for now). Alvarez, a 20-year old Cuban who came to the Houston system in an August 2016 trade with the Dodgers for RHP Josh Fields, was ranked as the third best prospect in the Astros system by Baseball America last week (Baseball Prospectus and MLB postseason rankings have him at number 4). The reason that he is ranked so highly is because of his bat. He provides average defense at first base with an average arm and below average speed, so it was his 2017 offensive line of .304/.379/.481 in 90 games split between Quad Cities and Buies Creek that set him apart. Alvarez hits with authority to all fields and his power (17 doubles, three triples and 12 home runs) should continue to develop with more experience. His bat control and strike zone discipline have worked very well for him so far in his professional career.

FIRST BASEMEN BEYOND THE TOP 30 (in alphabetical order)

Troy Sieber - July 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Jake Adams (R/R)
Adams, drafted by the Astros in the 6th round in 2017 out of the University of Iowa, did not have a very auspicious freshman professional season (.170/.280/.388). But as a unanimous Big 10 Player of the Year and semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, he has earned the opportunity to show the Astros what he can do in the new season. The bad news? He only collected 28 hits in 48 games for short season A Tri-City in 2017. The good news? 16 of those 28 hits were for extra bases (six doubles and 10 home runs). As a matter of fact, his first professional home run was a monster 425-foot shot in his first professional at-bat. There was more good news in that Adams cut waaayyyy down on his strikeouts later in the season (a total of 24 walks to 68 strikeouts in 48 games). Adams just turned 22 in December.
Keys: Work on his plate discipline and long swing, putting more balls into play and cutting his strikeouts down to a manageable level. Also, he reportedly will need to work on his footwork at first base.

Roman Garcia (R/R)
Garcia, drafted 13 rounds lower than Adams in the 19th round out of the University of San Diego had the kind of solid first season one would have liked to see from Adams. Granted Garcia's season was with the lower level Rookie League Greeneville team, but Garcia was able to show more plate discipline and keep the strikeouts reasonably within check while putting up a .277/.342/.457 line (eight doubles, one triple and seven home runs) in his 48 games. He also finished the season very strongly with a .337/.356/.530 line in 23 games in August, plus an excellent postseason. Garcia was a solid defender at first in his inaugural season. Garcia turned 22 this past November.
Key: Keep strikeouts in check (48 strikeouts to 14 walks in 48 games in 2017) while putting the ball in play at the higher levels.

Colton Shaver (R/R)
I find Shaver, the Astros 2017 39th round draft pick out of Brigham Young, to be very intriguing. With a .215/.332/.423 batting line and 25 walks to 63 strikeouts in his first 49 professional games (between Greeneville and Tri-City), Shaver certainly has his work cut out for him when it comes to plate discipline, but he has legitimate power. Shaver peaked in July (16 games in Greeneville and five games in Tri-City), hitting .275/.420/.609 with two doubles and seven of his 10 home runs. Shaver also collected the first and second walk-off grand slams in Tri-City history in 2017. With a bat that big, you have to root for the 39th round pick! Shaver really tailed off at the end of the season as first year players sometimes do. I'll be interested to see what he can do in his sophomore season.
Key: Work on plate discipline and strikeout rate without sacrificing a ton of power.

Troy Sieber (L/R)
I am a big fan of Sieber for all of his intangibles. He is smart, a very hard worker, a good clubhouse guy and a leader on the field. He started the season at Extended Spring Training taking additional instruction, but it only took two games at short season A Tri-City to convince the Astros that he was ready for full season A Quad Cities where he spent the remaining 54 games of his season. For the season, he compiled a .289/.403/.457 batting line with 37 walks to 49 strikeouts. His power (12 doubles and seven home runs) is developing and he shows the aptitude to hit to all fields. Sieber ended the season extremely well, hitting .343/.478/.514 in 20 games in August and .333/.478/.389 in five postseason games. Sieber is a very physical player who will use his body to keep the ball in front of him, if necessary, as he works to finetune his defensive game. The 2016 24th round draft pick out of St. Leo College (FL), will be 23 in June.
Keys: Sieber is working to drive the ball more. He will need to keep making adjustments, both offensively and defensively, as he climbs the ladder and faces more polished competition at the higher levels.

Final Notes:

  • I went back and forth about 20 times as to whether or not to include Hooks 1B Dex McCall on this list. Ultimately, I decided that I needed to see more consistency from him. At 24 later this month, going into his fifth professional season, I need to see more consistency for average, power and in his on-base skills in 2018. At this point in his development, he needs to prove that he can be a major league first baseman and I don't believe that he has yet done that. I hope for him to prove me wrong in 2018!
  • I will also keep an eye on Angel Tejeda who hit .304/.398/.411 in 45 games between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. It was, however, Tejeda's third professional season and his first promotion to the U.S. Since he will be 20 later this month, any enthusiasm I have for him is somewhat tempered.

Previous Posts:
Shortstop
Second Base

Monday, January 15, 2018

Astros Farm Report: 1/15

Catching you up on the latest Astros MiLB offseason news ...

WISHING A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO

Yoanys Quiala - August 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

1-15: RHP Yoanys Quiala (24)
1-17: OF Kyle Tucker (21)
1-18: SS Osvaldo Duarte (22)

ROSTER MOVES/TRANSACTIONS

I certainly don't need to inform my readers about the big weekend trade with Pittsburgh to obtain RHP Garrit Cole in exchange for RHP Joe MusgroveRHP Michael Feliz3B Colin Moran and OF Jason Martin. Baseball America has a very good post on what the Astros gained and what they lost from a talent perspective. And J.J. Cooper of BA weighs in with some additional thoughts on Moran. MLB Pipeline has updated their 2017 postseason prospect rankings to remove Moran (#5) and Martin (#15). RHP Jairo Solis has been slotted in at #21 and OF Ronnie Dawson has been added at #30.

19-year old Joe Musgrove - August 2012
Photo by Jayne Hansen

What these various pundits don't weigh in on is what else the Astros fans are losing. If you are on twitter, you might have seen many tweets of praise for Joe Musgrove ...






Any fan who has ever had the opportunity to interact with Joe from the low minors all the way up to Houston will know what a special person he is, generous with his time and his heart. I first interviewed Joe when he was only 19 and I immediately fell in love with him. He was sweet and charming ... a gentle giant like my father. Every time I spoke with him from that point forward just cemented my impression of him as a really special person. He and his wonderful family will be missed. Best of luck to Joe, Michael, Colin and Jason as they continue their baseball journeys!


One additional note ... as of 1/14, the Astros 40-man roster stands at 38 with the addition of Cole and the subtraction of Musgrove, Feliz and Moran. I do not think it was a coincidence that Astros General Manager Luhnow's trade allows him much more flexibility to identify and patch holes where the team sees them as the season approaches. Had he given up top prospects not on the 40-man roster, Luhnow would still have had his hands tied with a full roster and much less room to maneuver.

The cumulative Astros offseason transaction list can be found here.

FALL AND WINTER LEAGUE UPDATES

Since most of the Astros minor leaguers are finished with winter ball, I'll only be including the active players here. For the final stats for players having participated in the Arizona Fall League, Venezuelan Winter League, Mexican Pacific Winter League and the Dominican Winter League, please visit my Farm Report from 1/1.

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE (ABL)

MiLB.com is currently down for maintenance. Therefore, I cannot currently access the specifics of Ayarza's last four games, but it appears that he continues to have a good amount of success with the Bite. The ABL regular season will conclude on January 27th.

Adelaide Bite
Rodrigo Ayarza - 32G .295/.331/.508 8-2B 6HR 13RBI 7BB:27SO 5SB:2CS

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LBPRC)

Again, I can't access the boxscores for detailed information at this time, but Sierra lowered his ERA over three points in one appearance and Castro had his first and only at-bat (so far) of his winter campaign resulting in an RBI double.

Cangrejeros de Santurce
RHP Carlos Sierra - 3G 2.1IP 7.71 ERA 3.429 WHIP 1SO:5BB
C Ruben Castro - 1G 1.000/1.000/2.000 1-2B 1RBI

NEWS AND LINKS

Baseball America gave us an early look at the Top 10 Astros prospect list as the Gerrit Cole trade loomed. Colin Moran's #9 ranking and (according to J.J. Cooper) Jason Martin's #19 ranking look to be in the upcoming BA Prospect Handbook as their press deadline came and went last week. Also according to Cooper, an Astros prospect will be gracing the cover. I will assume that player to be Forrest Whitley since they have him ranked as the top Astros prospect.

In case you missed it, I started a "Beyond the Top 30" series, looking at both those Astros players who are considered Top 30 prospects and others at each position who may not be top talents (or may grow to be), but will be interesting to watch nonetheless. So far we've looked at ...

Shortstops
Second Basemen
First Basemen - coming this week

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Beyond the Top 30: Second Basemen

As the old year fades away and the new season approaches, it's time to start looking at those players of interest who are beyond the Top 30. These players may not ever make a Top 30 list (or they may), but a combination of projections, actual results, incremental improvements and intangibles keep them in the mix as interesting players to watch. I am not including any players in these posts who have already made their major league debuts since, presumably, anyone reading my blog is already very familiar with those players.

Note: Most of the 2018 player rankings haven't been released yet so I will be using the MLB Pipeline postseason list, the Baseball Prospectus Top 10+ list and Baseball America's Top 10 list to denote those players who are currently considered Top 30 type players in the Astros system. Once FanGraphs weighs in, Baseball America publishes their Top 30 and MLB Pipeline posts their 2018 pre-season list, I will post a consensus top prospect list.

SECOND BASEMEN IN THE TOP 30 (in alphabetical order)


Yeah, there aren't any. At least no players whose primary position in 2017 was second base. Of course, when you have an MVP at the major league level, you hope you won't need another second baseman any time soon. But just in case ....

SECOND BASEMEN BEYOND THE TOP 30 (in alphabetical order)

Alex De Goti - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Ryne Birk (L/R)
Birk doesn't have any one tool that makes you say, "Wow!" But the sum of the parts seems to work well for him. Drafted in the 13th round in 2016, Birk made it to AA Corpus Christi in mid-July in his second season as a professional. Although he hit better in his 81-game stint with Buies Creek (.274/.340/.430) than he did in 37 games with Corpus Christi (.246/.286/.429), Birk was catching up with AA pitching later in the season as he compiled a .279/.311/.512 batting line in Corpus Christi. Birk does show a little power (17 doubles, five triples and 15 home runs) with the tendency being toward his pull side, and his on-base skills are generally above average. Birk is a solid defender with an average arm and decent speed. As I said, he doesn't have one tool that really stands out, so it has been his consistency that has moved him through the system more quickly than most. Birk turned 23 in November.
Key: Consistency. Continue to provide solid defense and continue to improve against hitters at the higher levels of the system.

Jeury Castillo (L/R)
I know. I know. You're going to take one look at Castillo's first season stats in the Dominican Summer League and think I'm a lunatic for including him on this list. But first please consider that he won't turn 18 until later this week and that, when he was signed for $400,000 in July of 2016, he was lauded for his offensive potential. Castillo hit only .136/.263/.235 in his first 51 professional games with a lot of ground outs, but he is expected to make good contact with a solid line-drive approach. He hit a tiny bit better as the season progressed and I fully expect his bat to improve substantially in 2018. The good news is that his defense at second base was very solid.
Key: Work on his offensive approach, getting back to the high contact rate and approach that earned him a $400,000 bonus.

Alex De Goti (R/R)
De Goti, in his second professional season, proved himself to be arguably the best defensive second baseman in the system while his bat lagged behind somewhat when it came to his first taste of High A pitching following his late May promotion to that level. However, De Goti was starting to make those adjustments at the plate by the end of the season with improving power and on-base skills. In 109 total games at Quad Cities (34), Buies Creek (70) and five fill-in games with Fresno, De Goti hit .236/.341/.356 with 18 doubles, one triple and eight home runs. De Goti played in 50 games at second, 39 games at first and 12 games at third and, although very capable at the other positions, it was his 428 errorless innings at second base that stood out. De Goti shows good leadership skills on the field to go with soft hands, good instincts and great intangibles. Drafted in the 15th round in 2016 out of Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, De Goti signed for a mere $2,000 according to Baseball America which makes him an incredible bargain. De Goti will be 23 for most of the 2018 season.
Keys: Continue to work on the bat. Although most of his power is to the pull side, he has shown a decent penchant for using the whole field and I'd like to see him hit with more authority to the opposite field. And, although De Goti did a better job of getting on base toward the end of the 2017 season, he needs to maximize his capabilities in that regard. And, lastly, he will likely need to continue working on his versatility in the field since his value as a utility player may prove to be more than that of a second baseman.

Nick Tanielu (R/R)
Tanielu missed virtually all of the 2017 season (two rehab appearances in the Gulf Coast League and two appearances in the Arizona Fall League) after undergoing ACL surgery in late 2016. Primarily used as a third baseman in his first two professional seasons, Tanielu moved over to second for the majority of his games in 2016 and was very, very solid at the position. His .285/.327/.409 batting line for 2016 was inflated by his production at the very hitting-friendly confines of The Hangar in Lancaster, California for the first 35 games of that season prior to his mid-May promotion to Corpus Christi. Tanielu peaked at AA in July before tailing off at the plate for the remainder of the season. Tanielu has a compact swing and uses the entire field, although most of his home run power is limited to the pull side. His power in 2016 (24 doubles, three triples and 11 home runs) plays up better at second base than at third which is likely the reason for moving him from the hot corner for the majority of his appearances. In 304 career minor league games to date, he has hit a more than respectable .297/.343/.422. Add in some very nice intangibles and Tanielu is definitely a player worth watching.
Keys: Prove himself to be healthy. The fact that he only played in two games in the AFL makes one wonder if his comeback was a bit premature. Prove himself to be able to handle higher level pitching with consistency. And prove that he is still a reliable defender at second base post-injury. Having turned 25 in September, Tanielu will need to prove all of this fairly quickly.

Enmanuel Valdez (L/R)
Valdez, who just turned 19 in December, just completed his second season in the Astros organization after signing for $450,000 in July 2015. Valdez profiles a lot like Castillo in that he was signed for a healthy bonus based more on his hitting ability than his defensive prowess and has not yet lived up to early projections. And also like Castillo, Valdez's defensive abilities have been better than advertised. The good news is that, although Valdez's .217/.321/.395 batting line for 2017 was less than impressive, it was his first season stateside as an 18-year old and he showed improvement later in the season with his strikeout rate. Also Valdez has intriguing gap power when he gets the ball out of the infield.
Key: I would like to see Valdez make adjustments at the plate in order to turn some of those many groundouts into line drives. When he uses a line-drive approach, he appears to have much more success, particularly since he's an average runner at best and needs to elevate the ball out of the infield for the best results.

Other Second Basemen of Interest (all played fewer than 20 games at the position in 2017):
Alfredo Angarita (S/R) - The 21-year old Venezuelan hit a respectable .257/.359/.327 in 41 games split between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League, ending the season on a 10-game hitting streak (.457/.525/.514) which he carried over into an excellent winter league season in Venezuela.
Ronaldo Urdaneta (S/R) - Urdaneta turned 19 in November, following his second season in the system. My note to myself after reviewing his 2017 campaign was "don't know anything about him, but bring him to the States!" In his second professional season in the Dominican Summer League in 2017 (after signing out of Venezuela in 2015), he hit a robust .312/.420/.427 with 35 walks to 44 strikeouts. Oh, and he stole 27 bases to eight caught stealing. I reiterate, "Bring him to the States!"
Marco Van Der Wijst (R/R) - I know even less about Van Der Wijst who reportedly signed in July 2017 for $17,500, but his on-base skills are quite impressive. In 35 games, he hit .273/.411/.394 with 23 walks to 20 strikeouts. He will be 20 in February.

Note: There will be additional second basemen of interest who I will be including in a later write-up on utility players.

Previous Posts:
Shortstop

Monday, January 8, 2018

Astros Farm Report: 1/8

Catching you up on the latest Astros MiLB offseason news ...

WISHING A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO

Antonio Nunez - August 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

1-10: IF Antonio Nunez (25)
1-11: 3B Randy Cesar (23)
1-11: RHP Carlos Quintero (18)
1-12: SS/3B Freudis Nova (18)
1-13: RHP Andrew Thome (25)
1-14: 2B/3B Jeury Castillo (18)
1-14: SS Yorbin Ceuta (18)

ROSTER MOVES/TRANSACTIONS

It's been all quiet on the transaction front since the end of December purge. The cumulative Astros offseason transaction list can be found here.

FALL AND WINTER LEAGUE UPDATES

Since most of the Astros minor leaguers are finished with winter ball, I'll only be including the active players here. For the final stats for players having participated in the Arizona Fall League, Venezuelan Winter League, Mexican Pacific Winter League and the Dominican Winter League, please visit my Farm Report from 1/1.

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE (ABL)

Rodrigo Ayarza started out the weekend with a nice 4-for-10 in the first two games, but was 0-fer in the next two. Overall, he was 4-for-19 with a run and a stolen base, and one walk to three strikeouts. The ABL regular season will conclude on January 27th.

Adelaide Bite
Rodrigo Ayarza - 28G .283/.325/.504 7-2B 6HR 11RBI 7BB:24SO 4SB:2CS

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LBPRC)

The Puerto Rican winter league started up an abbreviated schedule of games this past weekend. Although Ruben Castro is listed on the Santurce roster, only Carlos Sierra has played to date. Sierra's first outing on Friday consisted of 1.1 innings of relief in which he allowed two hits and one walk with one of two inherited runners scoring. His second appearance on Sunday did not go well at all. After walking three straight batters, Sierra recorded his only out of the inning on a strikeout before issuing another walk with bases loaded after which he was lifted from the game. It could have been worse; only one of the three runners he left behind were allowed to score.

Cangrejeros de Santurce
RHP Carlos Sierra - 2G 1.2IP 10.80 ERA 4.200 WHIP 1SO:5BB
C Ruben Castro

NEWS AND LINKS

In case you missed it, I started a "Beyond the Top 30" series, looking at both those Astros players who are considered Top 30 prospects and others at each position who may not be top talents (or may grow to be), but will be interesting to watch nonetheless. My first post on shortstops in the system is here. Look for a post on second basemen in the system up next.

Top baseball execs like Forrest Whitley (no big surprise since they kept trying to trade for him last season!).

And speaking of trades, Jonathan Mayo sees three former Astros as breakout candidates in 2018.

Baseball Prospectus has some love for J.B. Bukauskas and Corbin Martin with a shoutout to Joe Perez.

According to MiLB via the Fayetteville Observor, the Astros new stadium being built in Fayetteville, North Carolina is already benefiting the community.

And last but certainly not least, Astros farmhand Jack Mayfield's son Jackson says "Put me in coach! ... OK, maybe after my nap."

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Beyond the Top 30: Shortstops

As the old year fades away and the new season approaches, it's time to start looking at those players of interest who are beyond the Top 30. These players may not ever make a Top 30 list (or they may), but a combination of projections, actual results, incremental improvements and intangibles keep them in the mix as interesting players to watch. I am not including any players in these posts who have already made their major league debuts since, presumably, anyone reading my blog is already very familiar with those players.

Note: Most of the 2018 player rankings haven't been released yet so I will be using the MLB Pipeline postseason list and the Baseball Prospectus Top 10+ list to denote those players who are currently considered Top 30 type players in the Astros system. Once Baseball America and FanGraphs weigh in, and MLB Pipeline posts their 2018 pre-season list, I will post a consensus top prospect list.

SHORTSTOPS IN THE TOP 30 (in alphabetical order)

Jonathan Arauz - August 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Jonathan Arauz (S/R)
Arauz is currently ranked by Baseball Prospectus at number 6 and by MLB Pipeline at number 23. After missing the first 50 games of the 2017 season on the restricted list (tested positive for a methamphetamine), Arauz was sent to Quad Cities where he hit a less than robust .220/.331/.276 in 36 games and was subsequently demoted to Tri-City for the remainder of the season. He hit .264/.341/.364 at the lower level. But keep in mind that he is a solid defender who only turned 19 toward the end of the 2017 season. Look for Arauz to start the 2018 season back with Quad Cities where he will try to catch up with full season A pitching.

Freudis Nova (R/R)
The Astros were able to sign Nova in July 2016 for 1.2 million, roughly half of his projected bonus after Nova tested positive for steroid use and was thought to have a potential issue with his elbow. Nova was cited by Baseball America as being one of the top athletes in the 2016 class. In his first season with the Dominican Summer League in 2017, Nova split his time between shortstop and third base. He may very well be moved to the hot corner as he is projected to have the bat and the arm for the position. He started off the season extremely hot before cooling off in his final month of play, hitting .247/.342/.355 with six doubles, four home runs, eight stolen bases and 15 walks to 33 strikeouts in 47 games while his defense improved throughout the season. The Dominican-born Nova won't turn 18 until January 12th. Nova is currently listed as number 11 by MLB Pipeline and in the 11-20 range by Baseball Prospectus. [UPDATE: Baseball America has Nova at number 5 in the system as of 1/10/18.]

Miguelangel Sierra (R/R)
Miguelangel Sierra, however, does not currently project to move out of a middle infield position. In his third season of playing since signing for $1 million in July 2014, Sierra exhibited plus defense at short with a bat that lagged behind in his 57 games at short season A Tri-City (.178/.260/.297). He is not ranked by Baseball Prospectus and will likely fall from his current number 16 ranking by MLB Pipeline based on his regression with the bat. Having turned 20 on December 2nd, Sierra will need to show a more disciplined line drive, high contact approach at the plate in his fourth season.

SHORTSTOPS BEYOND THE TOP 30 (in alphabetical order)

Kristian Trompiz - July 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen


Cody Bohanek (R/R)
As the only signed shortstop in the 2017 Astros draft class (30th round, University of Illinois at Chicago), Bohanek impressed the front office enough with his excellent fielding at rookie level Greeneville that he was rewarded with a promotion to the Quad Cities full season A club for the last 10 games of the regular season (and the postseason). Bohanek also displayed a decent bat in his first 56 pro games, hitting .246/.353/.332 with a little pop (8 doubles and 3 home runs).
Key: Keep up the good work defensively, cut down on the strikeouts (18BB:54SO) and show enough consistency/improvement with the bat to enable the 22-year old to move quickly through the system.

Deury Carrasco (L/R)
Although Carrasco is nowhere near as polished a fielder as Bohanek, what he did at age 17 in his first professional season in the Dominican Summer League was nothing short of remarkable. In 64 games, Carrasco hit .266/.407/.319 with nine doubles and one triple. But what really stood out was his 50 walks to 48 strikeouts and his 32 stolen bases to 14 caught stealing. It is little wonder that Carrasco was given a $480,000 bonus when he signed in 2016. At that time he was lauded for his athleticism, speed and plus arm.
Key: Improve defensively and build on that initial offensive success as he moves to the more advanced levels of competition.

Yorbin Ceuta (S/R)
Ceuta, who won't be 18 until the 14th of this month, signed for a reported 1 to 1.2 million in 2016. He was ranked #11 in that signing class by Baseball America with his hit and fielding tools projected to be his best assets. He did not disappoint on either front, showing excellent fielding skills and a bat that improved as the season continued. His .248/.349/.293 batting line (with 27BB:39SO) in 60 games in the Dominican Summer League matched the scouting reports of a disciplined bat with little power projection. Although his speed was said to be average or a little lower, he managed to steal 11 bases and was caught six times.
Key: Build on his early success. At this point, he hits considerably better from the left side of the plate. Any improvements he can make as a right-handed hitter will increase his stock even more. (Note: I wouldn't be surprised to see Ceuta in Baseball America's 2018 Prospect Book.)

Kristian Trompiz (R/R)
Trompiz originally signed with the Astros in 2012 for a $320,000 bonus and just completed his fifth season in the system. However, he just turned 22 in early December and finished his 2017 season with the full season A Quad Cities squad, an appropriate level for his age. Trompiz can play (and has played) at any of the infield positions so I considered placing him on my list of utility players, but his solid defense and improving bat keeps him on this list for now, particularly considering the dearth of true shortstops at the higher level of the system. Trompiz started his 2017 season at Corpus Christi and was demoted to Tri-City after only 17 games. But he was way too advanced for short season A and ended up at Quad Cities for the final 40 games of the season where he hit a very respectable .261/.331/.310 and .258/.324/.258 in nine postseason games (.275/.340/.322 for the season as a whole). He also managed to swipe 22 bases while getting caught 8 times in only 82 games. The one thing that has eluded Trompiz has been consistency with his bat and it feels as though he had a breakthrough with that this past season. In addition, Trompiz is one of the most respected players in the system for his work ethic, selflessness and leadership by example. Those intangibles help all of his other skills play up.
Key: Going into his 6th season, time is not on Trompiz's side. He will need to show (quickly) that the improved consistency at the plate was not a fluke and he will need to be able to display that consistency at AA and possibly AAA.

Next up: Second Base

Monday, January 1, 2018

Astros Farm Report: 1/1

Happy New Year!!! Catching you up on the latest Astros MiLB offseason news ...

WISHING A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO

Dallas Keuchel - Spring Training 2013
Photo by Jayne Hansen

1-1: LHP Dallas Keuchel (30)
1-2: RHP Juan Corniel (22)
1-3: RHP Hansel Paulino (22)
1-4: RHP Valente Bellozo (18)
1-7: RHP Brendan McCurry (26)

ROSTER MOVES/TRANSACTIONS

In case you missed it, quite a few Astros minor leaguers were released last week and I did a write up with some general observations about them. Since that was posted, a few more players got their pink slips as well.

12-29: OF Renaigel Martis (DSL Orange) released
12-29: RHP Renny Ugarte (DSL Blue) released
12-29: OF Luis Coronel (DSL Blue) released
12-22: C Freddy Chirino (DSL Blue) released
12-22: RHP Jonger Ochoa (DSL Blue) released
12-22: 2B Samir Caraballo (DSL Blue/Orange) released
12-22: 1B Michael Garcia (DSL Orange) released
12-22: RHP Jesus Bernaez (DSL Orange) released

The cumulative Astros offseason transaction list can be found here.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE (AFL) - SEASON OVER

The Mesa Solar Sox ended their fall campaign with a 16-13-1 record to lead the East, but ultimately fell 8-2 to the West in the Arizona Fall League Championship game on 11/18.

RHP Dean Deetz - 8G 4.91 ERA/1.182 WHIP 11.0IP 4BB:23SO
RHP Riley Ferrell - 9G 4.66 ERA/1.552 WHIP 9.2IP 9BB:7SO
RHP Brendan McCurry - 5G 4.05 ERA/1.350 WHIP 6.2IP 3BB:5SO (last played 10/30)
LHP Framber Valdez - 6G/6ST 3.20 ERA/1.627 WHIP 19.2IP 8BB:14SO
1B Yordan Alvarez - 4G .313/.353/.438 3B 1BB:6SO (last played 10/14)
3B/2B Nick Tanielu - 2G .000/.000/.000 (last played 10/16)
OF Kyle Tucker - 22G .214/.305/.310 6-2B 3B 9RBI 9BB:22SO 2SB:0CS

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE (LVBP) - SEASON OVER

18-year old Venezuelan OF prospect Wilyer Abreu had the opportunity to play in the final two games of the season for Zulia. Although he didn't have much to show for those two games, it is a testament to his talent that he was given that opportunity after playing in only 34 games at the pro level in his first season in 2017.

In years past, the Liga Paralela (the Venezuelan version of the minor league) featured many Astros minor leaguers, but due to the current economic issues in Venezuela, the league was roughly cut in half and very few Astros players participated this year.

Aguilas de Zulia
OF Wilyer Abreu - 2G .143/.143/.143 1RBI 0BB:1SO
SS Kristian Trompiz - 10G .227/.320/.227 3BB:4SO (last played 10/28)
RHP Elieser Hernandez - 5G/5ST 2.11 ERA/0.844 WHIP 21.1IP 6BB:22SO (last played 11/6 - picked up by the Rays in the Rule 5 draft)

Bravos de Margarita
2B Alfredo Angarita - 29G .304/.396/.337 2B 3B 8RBI 13BB:27SO 4SB:3CS (last played 11/26)

Leones del Caracas
RHP Diosward Gonzalez - 2G 6.75 ERA/2.251 WHIP 1.1IP 2BB:0SO (last played 10/19 - released 12-20)
RHP Yoanys Quiala - 4G/2ST 7.45 ERA/1.448 WHIP 9.2IP 5BB:8SO (last played 10/31)
C Gabriel Bracamonte - 3G .125/.125/.125 0BB:2O (last played 10/28)

MEXICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LMP) - SEASON OVER

Caneros de los Mochis
RHP Akeem Bostick - 11G/11ST 3.43 ERA/1.357 WHIP 42IP 19BB:47SO (returned to the U.S. week of 12/17)
OF Drew Ferguson - 9G .094/.147/.125 2BB:12SO

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
RHP Jacob Dorris - 8G 8.64 ERA/2.280 WHIP 8.1IP 10BB:2SO (last played 12/7)

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE (ABL)

Rodrigo Ayarza - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Rodrigo Ayarza is the only Astro currently playing and he had a great weekend down under, going 7-for-17 with three home runs, a double, three RBI and a stolen base. He scored five runs in the four games and struck out once (no walks).

Adelaide Bite
Rodrigo Ayarza - 24G .298/.340/.564 7-2B 6HR 11RBI 6BB:21SO 3SB:1CS

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LIDOM) - SEASON OVER

Gigantes del Cibao
LHP Reymin Guduan - 5G 4.50 ERA/2.500 WHIP 2.0IP 2BB:1SO (last played 12/12)

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LBPRC)

The LBPRC has set January 6 as their target date to begin play.
NEWS AND LINKS

A post Tommy John surgery update on Astros RHP Brady Rodgers.

EXCELLENT proposition from Doug Gray of RedsMinorLeagues.com on how to raise minor league wages with little to no pain for the major league clubs.

"Sorry, wrong number!" Unique minor league team names lead to confusion.

This story on the Trenton Thunder bat dogs was originally posted in September, but I missed it and it's too cute not to share.

Congratulations to Astros C Anthony Hermelyn and former Astro Austin Kerns on earning their degrees!


And one final non-baseball link for my fellow chocoholics out there. I made this super easy recipe for a Christmas dessert and it was sinfully good!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Astros Minor League Player Releases

Quite a few Astros farmhands got coal in their stockings in the form of a pink slip this week. I'd already reported on Ryan Deemes in my last farm report, but here are the others reported by MiLB plus a few notes on some of the players ...

Devon Carr, Lucas Williams, Reggie Johnson, Luis Ramirez - August 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

With the news earlier this offseason that the Astros would no longer be fielding a team in Greeneville, it makes sense that there would be quite a few cuts in the system prior to Spring Training, particularly at the lower levels of the system, since there would be fewer roster spots available.

12-22: C Freddy Chirino (DSL Blue) - signed out of Venezuela in 2016
12-22: RHP Jonger Ochoa (DSL Blue) - signed out of Venezuela in 2016
12-22: 2B Samir Caraballo (DSL Blue/Orange) - signed out of Colombia in 2015
12-22: 1B Michael Garcia (DSL Orange) - signed out of the Dominican Republic, most likely in 2016
12-22: RHP Jesus Bernaez (DSL Orange) - signed out of Venezuela, most likely in 2016
12-21: RHP Devin Raftery (Buies Creek/GCL) - NDFA 2016
12-20: LHP Carlos Perdomo (DSL Orange) - signed out of the Dominican Republic (in 2016?)
12-20: OF Euclides Chavez (DSL Orange) - signed out of Venezuela (in 2016?)
12-20: RHP Nathanael Ventura (DSL Blue) - signed out of the Dominican Republic (in 2017?)
12-20: OF Fildex Perfecto (DSL Orange) - signed out of Venezuela (in 2017?)
12-20: 1B Anthony Rodriguez (DSL Blue) - signed February 2015 out of the Dominican Republic
12-20: RHP Kilvio Peralta (DSL Blue) - signed out of the Dominican Republic (in 2016?)
12-20: RHP Jean Reyes (DSL Blue)  - signed out of Venezuela (in 2016?)
12-20: RHP Christopher Javier (DSL Blue) - signed June 2016 out of the Dominican Republic
12-20: RHP Angel Matos (DSL Blue) - signed May 2016 out of the Dominican Republic
12-20: RHP Mauricio Santana (DSL Orange) - signed July 2015 out of the Dominican Republic for $17,000
12-20: RHP Yulian Frontado (DSL Orange) - signed March 2016 out of Venezuela
12-20: RHP Miguel Matos (DSL Orange) - signed December 2015 out of the Dominican Republic
12-20: RHP Gustavo Almonte (DSL Orange) - signed June 2017 out of the Dominican Republic
12-20: RHP Diosward Gonzalez (GCL) - signed in 2015 out of Venezuela
12-20: RHP Carlos Pimentel (GCL) - NDFA 2017; Pimentel was placed on the restricted list 11-17
12-20: RHP Saul Martinez (GCL) - signed May 2014 out of the Dominican Republic
12-20: OF Vicente Sanchez (GCL) - signed July 2014 out of the Dominican Republic for $62,500
12-20: LHP Austin Kerns (GCL)- NDFA 2017
12-20: C Ihan Bernal (GCL) - signed July 2014 out of Panama for $155,000
12-20: RHP Johsson Arias (Greeneville) - signed out of the Dominican Republic (in 2016?)
12-20: OF Frankeny Fernandez (Greeneville) - signed July 2013 out of the Dominican Republic for $200,000
12-20: SS Joan Mauricio (Greeneville) - signed July 2013 out of the Dominican Republic for $600,000
12-20: RHP Jheyson Caraballo (Greeneville) - signed November 2015 out of Venezuela
12-20: OF/DH Reid Russell (Greeneville) - 33rd round 2017
12-20: LHP Yhoan Acosta (Greeneville) -signed June 2013 out of the Dominican Republic
12-20: RHP Reggie Johnson (Quad Cities/Tri-City) - NDFA 2016
12-20: LHP Ben Smith (Tri-City) - 7th round 2014
12-20: C Bernardo Heras (Tri-City/GCL) - signed September 2015 out of Mexico
12-20: LHP Luis Ramirez (Tri-City) - signed July 2014 out of Venezuela
12-20: RHP Diogenes Almengo (Tri-City) - signed June 2014 out of the Dominican Republic
12-20: RHP Ricardo Castro (Tri-City) - signed April 2015 out of Mexico
12-20: LHP Devon Carr (Buies Creek/Quad Cities) - NDFA 2016
12-20: RHP Enrique Chavez (DNP in 2017) - signed June 2014 out of Mexico
12-20: RHP Lucas Williams (Quad Cities) - 40th round 2016

A few of these players, such as Joan Mauricio, Frankeny Fernandez and Ihan Bernal, were international prospects who have been in the system for several years and have never quite lived up to early expectations. Mauricio was the top signing in 2013, but his bat never helped him break out of the lower levels of the system.

Two additional international players who were released were 21-year old Mexican right-handed pitchers who each showed early promise, but missed significant time (presumably on the DL) in 2017: Enrique Chavez and Ricardo Castro. I really had high hopes for both of those players and will look for them to appear on another affiliate's rosters.

There was one other pitcher, Diosward Gonzalez, who I would have liked to see another season's worth of work from. He had a very solid season and exhibited excellent control, but (at 22) he needed to be challenged to higher levels of competition and I had hoped that would be the case in 2018.

Ben Smith was drafted in the 17th round in 2014 and, although 2017 was technically his fourth professional season, it was only his second year of competition due to TJ surgery and a battle with Burkitt lymphoma. Having overcome all that, I would not count the lefty out. Here is my 2016 interview with Smith if you'd like to know more about his experiences.

Reid Russell was a 33rd round pick by the Astros in 2017 out of Lamar University in Beaumont. He struggled mightily in his debut season. Lucas Williams was another late round pick in 2016 who struggled with a dead arm in his first pro season, but was showing some promise and finding more success with a sharper slider in his second year. His season was uneven, but I still had my eye on him and I wish him well.

There is one final category of players that I always pull for, but for whom the deck is always a little stacked. Players who are non-drafted free agents have the toughest time making it up the food chain in the minors. Baseball is a business after all and those NDFA's normally represent a tiny financial investment on the part of the team. Players like Devin Raftery and Reggie Johnson had some success, but aren't necessarily given the opportunities to prove themselves at the higher levels because they are blocked by prospects who represent more of an investment to the team. I will be watching out for Johnson in particular to get more opportunities following his All-Star appearance in 2017 and his phenomenal end to the season in which he compiled a 0.00 ERA and a 0.457 WHIP in his final nine appearances of the season. He walked two while striking out 20 and held batters to a .102 batting average. I think that earned him a look at the higher levels, but the Astros didn't ask me. WTHB wishes him the best of luck going forward.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Astros Farm Report: 12/20

Catching you up on the latest Astros MiLB offseason news ...

WISHING A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO

Ray Henderson - July 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

12-20: 3B/C Abraham Toro-Hernandez (21)
12-21: LHP Yeremi Ceballos (19)
12-22: LHP Denilson Lugo (20)
12-22: 3B Richard Slenker (23)
12-22: RHP Jairo Solis (18)
12-23: 1B Jake Adams (22)
12-26: LHP Noel Pinto (22)
12-27: C Ray Henderson (22)
12-28: RHP Corbin Martin (22)
12-28: 2B Enmanuel Valdez (19)
12-29: RHP Yulian Frontado (20)
12-30: 2B Kyle Davis (22)
12-30: RHP Nick Hernandez (23)

ROSTER MOVES/TRANSACTIONS

In case you missed it, I did a write up last week about the outcome of the Rule 5 Draft. The only other move I've seen is that RHP Ryan Deemes was released on Monday according to his twitter. Deemes was a 36th round pick in 2015 out of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana who had terrific early success for the Astros in 2015 and 2016 before an injury derailed his 2017 season in early May. On a personal note, I really enjoyed getting to know Ryan a little bit and getting "ma'am"ed by him in that Louisiana accent of his. We at WTHB wish him the best of luck!!

Ryan Deemes - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

The cumulative Astros offseason transaction list can be found here.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE (AFL) - SEASON OVER

The Mesa Solar Sox ended their fall campaign with a 16-13-1 record to lead the East, but ultimately fell 8-2 to the West in the Arizona Fall League Championship game on 11/18.

RHP Dean Deetz - 8G 4.91 ERA/1.182 WHIP 11.0IP 4BB:23SO
RHP Riley Ferrell - 9G 4.66 ERA/1.552 WHIP 9.2IP 9BB:7SO
RHP Brendan McCurry - 5G 4.05 ERA/1.350 WHIP 6.2IP 3BB:5SO (last played 10/30)
LHP Framber Valdez - 6G/6ST 3.20 ERA/1.627 WHIP 19.2IP 8BB:14SO
1B Yordan Alvarez - 4G .313/.353/.438 3B 1BB:6SO (last played 10/14)
3B/2B Nick Tanielu - 2G .000/.000/.000 (last played 10/16)
OF Kyle Tucker - 22G .214/.305/.310 6-2B 3B 9RBI 9BB:22SO 2SB:0CS

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE (LVBP)

No active Astros players played over the last week.

Other Astros minor leaguers may be and likely are still with the teams and working out with them even if they aren't getting any playing time. In years past, the Liga Paralela (the Venezuelan version of the minor league) featured many Astros minor leaguers, but due to the current economic issues in Venezuela, the league was roughly cut in half and very few Astros players are participating this year.

Aguilas de Zulia
SS Kristian Trompiz - 10G .227/.320/.227 3BB:4SO (last played 10/28)
RHP Elieser Hernandez - 5G/5ST 2.11 ERA/0.844 WHIP 21.1IP 6BB:22SO (last played 11/6)

Bravos de Margarita
2B Alfredo Angarita - 29G .304/.396/.337 2B 3B 8RBI 13BB:27SO 4SB:3CS (last played 11/26)

Leones del Caracas
RHP Diosward Gonzalez - 2G 6.75 ERA/2.251 WHIP 1.1IP 2BB:0SO (last played 10/19)
RHP Yoanys Quiala - 4G/2ST 7.45 ERA/1.448 WHIP 9.2IP 5BB:8SO (last played 10/31)
C Gabriel Bracamonte - 3G .125/.125/.125 0BB:2O (last played 10/28)

MEXICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LMP)

Akeem Bostick - April 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Akeem Bostick's last start on Thursday of last week was, unfortunately, not his best. Lead-off home runs in both the first and second innings, a couple walks and an error blew up his modest ERA for his winter campaign, and also led to his ouster in the second inning of his final game prior to returning to the States. But, overall, Bostick had a very strong season with Los Mochis and now he can enjoy his five minutes of offseason.

Drew Ferguson has continued to scuffle since my last post, going 1-for-9 with a walk and three strikeouts in his last three games.

Caneros de los Mochis
RHP Akeem Bostick - 11G/11ST 3.43 ERA/1.357 WHIP 42IP 19BB:47SO (returned to the U.S. week of 12/17)
OF Drew Ferguson - 8G .100/.156/.133 2BB:11SO

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
RHP Jacob Dorris - 8G 8.64 ERA/2.280 WHIP 8.1IP 10BB:2SO (last played 12/7)

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE (ABL)

Rodrigo Ayarza - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Utility switch-hitter Rodrigo Ayarza had a nice weekend's worth of games this past weekend. He was 4-for-13 with three RBI via a three-run home, and he scored three times, stole a base and walked twice while striking out three times in four games.

Adelaide Bite
Rodrigo Ayarza - 20G .273/.325/.468 6-2B 3HR 8RBI 6BB:20SO 2SB:1CS

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LIDOM)

There has been no Astros-related action in the LIDOM since my last post.

Gigantes del Cibao
LHP Reymin Guduan - 5G 4.50 ERA/2.500 WHIP 2.0IP 2BB:1SO (last played 12/12)

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LBPRC)

The LBPRC has set January 6 as their target date to begin play.
NEWS AND LINKS

The Astros aren't the only team giving a post-Harvey community a lift.

"Prove them wrong. Always take the high road but prove them wrong." Watch out guys, we're taking over!

We're taking over, Part II ... case in point. h/t to Astros County

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Astros Transactions: Hot Stove and Rule 5

A few more Astros transactions to report ...

On Wednesday, the Astros agreed to a two-year deal with RHP Joe Smith. (Deadspin weighs in on his uncommonly common name here.) The Astros were looking for a veteran bullpen arm and with 11 seasons worth of experience in MLB for five different teams, Smith qualifies. In 698 games over the years, he has a 44-28 record with 30 saves, a 2.97 ERA and a 1.185 WHIP. In 2017, he appeared in 59 games (54IP) with a 3.33 ERA, a 1.037 WHIP and 10 walks to 71 strikeouts.

In today's Rule 5 Draft, the Astros picked up LHP Anthony Gose from the Rangers. Wait. What?! I thought he was an OF! Well, he was. That was until he wasn't. It seems that when you can throw 100 mph as a lefty, you get the attention of a team looking for lefty bullpen pitching like the Astros. He's only pitched in 11 games competitively, all in the High-A Florida State League. Two rough outings blew up his ERA to 7.59, but he held batters to a .189 batting average in his 10.2 innings of work. Keeping Gose on the 25-man roster for the 2018 season isn't going to be easy, but there is some exceptional upside if he can pull off this whole pitching gig. Gose may sound familiar to you. He was an Astro for a nanosecond in 2010. Baseball is a crazy world.

Elieser Hernandez - August 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

On the other side of the coin, the Astros lost RHP Elieser Hernandez to the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft. The baby-faced 22-year old Venezuelan has never pitched above High-A and has been quite inconsistent at times, but (according to my notes from 2016) has a lively low to mid-90's fastball and a solid changeup to work with. He missed almost two months of the 2017 season, but when he made it back to Buies Creek in the latter part of July, he put up a very strong 2.67 ERA and 1.069 WHIP in his final eight games of the season there. In four starts in Venezuela this winter, he had a 2.20 ERA and a 0.918 WHIP in a very competitive league. If Hernandez can show consistency with the Marlins, he could potentially stick with that team.

In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Astros selected LHP Chris Nunn from the Cubs. After sitting out all of 2016, Nunn appeared in one game for the Independent League Evansville Otters in 2017 before being scooped up by the Cubs and sent to their AA club. In four starts for the Tennessee Smokies, he had a 4.76 ERA and a 1.353 WHIP. Nunn can reportedly throw in the range of 97-98. He was first drafted by the Padres in the 24th round in 2012 out of Lipscomb University and was 27 in October. As a reminder, in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the player basically becomes the property of the selecting team so there will be no need to offer Nunn back to the Cubs if he doesn't work out.

Also of interest to some of the long-time Astros minor league fans out there, RHP Drew Muren is on the move again. Drafted by the Astros as an outfielder in the 22nd round in 2011, Muren reinvented himself as a pitcher in 2015. After spending time in the Diamondbacks organization, he found himself picked up by the Giants in August. Muren was selected from the Giants by the Blue Jays in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft today.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Astros Farm Report: 12-13

Better late than never with the latest Astros offseason news ...

WISHING A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO

Chuckie Robinson - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

12-13: RHP Luis Garcia (21)
12-14: OF Wilson Amador (21)
12-14: C Carlos Canelon (23)
12-14: RHP Hunter Martin (23)
12-14: OF/IF Kendy Moya (19)
12-14: C Chuckie Robinson (23)
12-15: DH/C Freddy Chirino (18)
12-15: RHP Nathanael Ventura (22)
12-16: 1B/OF Jose Benjamin (22)
12-16: OF Bryan de la Cruz (21)

ROSTER MOVES/TRANSACTIONS

The Astros started the winter meeting off quietly by signing two players to minor league contracts with invitations to Spring Training.

C Tim Federowicz was originally drafted by the Red Sox in the 7th round in 2008 out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was later traded to the Dodgers in 2011 and then to the Padres in 2014 and spent the last two seasons in the Cubs and Giants organizations, signing with those two teams as a free agent. Federowicz turned 30 in August and has played in 119 major league games scattered over six seasons, hitting a combined .196/.245/.313 and catching 34% of would be base stealers. In 77 games for the AAA Sacramento River Cats in 2017, he hit .300/.366/.463 with a 30% caught stealing rate.

RHP Matt Ramsey, who turned 28 in September, was drafted by the Rays in the 19th round in 2011 out of the University of Tennessee, was traded to the Marlins in 2014 and then was picked up by the Brewers in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft last December. He has no major league service time. Ramsey spent the vast majority of his 2017 season with AA Biloxi, compiling a 3-3 record with 27 saves, a 3.65 ERA, a 1.353 WHIP and 18 walks to 58 strikeouts in 44.1 innings of work. He appeared in five games with the AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox in July with mostly forgettable results.

The cumulative Astros offseason transaction list can be found here.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE (AFL) - SEASON OVER

The Mesa Solar Sox ended their fall campaign with a 16-13-1 record to lead the East, but ultimately fell 8-2 to the West in the Arizona Fall League Championship game on 11/18.

RHP Dean Deetz - 8G 4.91 ERA/1.182 WHIP 11.0IP 4BB:23SO
RHP Riley Ferrell - 9G 4.66 ERA/1.552 WHIP 9.2IP 9BB:7SO
RHP Brendan McCurry - 5G 4.05 ERA/1.350 WHIP 6.2IP 3BB:5SO (last played 10/30)
LHP Framber Valdez - 6G/6ST 3.20 ERA/1.627 WHIP 19.2IP 8BB:14SO
1B Yordan Alvarez - 4G .313/.353/.438 3B 1BB:6SO (last played 10/14)
3B/2B Nick Tanielu - 2G .000/.000/.000 (last played 10/16)
OF Kyle Tucker - 22G .214/.305/.310 6-2B 3B 9RBI 9BB:22SO 2SB:0CS

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE (LVBP)

No active Astros players played over the last week.

Other Astros minor leaguers may be and likely are still with the teams and working out with them even if they aren't getting any playing time. In years past, the Liga Paralela (the Venezuelan version of the minor league) featured many Astros minor leaguers, but due to the current economic issues in Venezuela, the league was roughly cut in half and very few Astros players are participating this year.

Aguilas de Zulia
SS Kristian Trompiz - 10G .227/.320/.227 3BB:4SO (last played 10/28)
RHP Elieser Hernandez - 5G/5ST 2.11 ERA/0.844 WHIP 21.1IP 6BB:22SO (last played 11/6)

Bravos de Margarita
2B Alfredo Angarita - 29G .304/.396/.337 2B 3B 8RBI 13BB:27SO 4SB:3CS (last played 11/26)

Leones del Caracas
RHP Diosward Gonzalez - 2G 6.75 ERA/2.251 WHIP 1.1IP 2BB:0SO (last played 10/19)
RHP Yoanys Quiala - 4G/2ST 7.45 ERA/1.448 WHIP 9.2IP 5BB:8SO (last played 10/31)
C Gabriel Bracamonte - 3G .125/.125/.125 0BB:2O (last played 10/28)

MEXICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LMP)

Akeem Bostick - April 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Akeem Bostick's last start on Friday was not his best. After dominating in his previous start, he allowed two runs on four hits and five (!) walks in only three innings of work. He only managed to throw 36 of his 68 pitches for strikes, a far cry from the 57 strikes in 78 pitches in his last start.

Jacob Dorris only appeared once since my last post, on last Thursday. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning, but still gave up two walks. Walks have definitely been an issue for Dorris this winter. In this particular game, he threw 16 pitches, only six of which were strikes.

But it's not all bad news in the LMP. After a dreadful start to his fall campaign and after sitting out for about two and a half weeks, Drew Ferguson got the start in right field last night and went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. And he didn't strike out! Baby steps!

Caneros de la Mochis (20-34 8th place)
RHP Akeem Bostick - 10G/10ST 2.85 ERA/1.244 WHIP 41IP 17BB:45SO
OF Drew Ferguson - 5G .095/.136/.143 1BB:8SO

Naranjeros de Hermosillo (28-26 5th place)
RHP Jacob Dorris - 8G 8.64 ERA/2.280 WHIP 8.1IP 10BB:2SO

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE (ABL)

Rodrigo Ayarza - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Utility switch-hitter Rodrigo Ayarza has definitely tailed off since his great start for Adelaide, but he's still contributing. In his last four games, he was 4-for-17 with a double, RBI, four runs scored and a stolen base. He struck out twice to zero walks.

Adelaide Bite (3-13 6th place)
Rodrigo Ayarza - 16G .266/.309/.453 6-2B 2HR 5RBI 4BB:17SO

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LIDOM)

Reymin Guduan has made three appearances since my last post, allowing only one hit (a double) and stranding all three of the runners he inherited. His first outing of the season wasn't pretty, but he's managed to lower his ERA by nine points this week. Again, baby steps!

Reymin Guduan - June 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Gigantes del Cibao (23-20 2nd place)
LHP Reymin Guduan - 5G 4.50 ERA/2.500 WHIP 2.0IP 2BB:1SO

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE (LBPRC)

The LBPRC has set January 6 as their target date to begin play.
NEWS AND LINKS

The Rule 5 Draft will be tomorrow at 8:00 CST and will be audio streamed live on MLB. With Jeff Luhnow indicating recently that he may be looking for a Christmas (or Hanukkah) bargain, here are the top available Rule 5 prospects (from Jonathan Mayo) he may be considering. Baseball America also has a list of their top five Rule 5 prospects here. Happy Shopping! And here is the info on the Astros that could be taken in the draft.

I supported the Justin Verlander trade wholeheartedly at the time and I still do, but do yourself a favor and bottle up that World Series feeling. You may need it in the future when these three players make their marks in the MLB.

BP came out with their Top 10 Astros prospect list (plus 11 more to watch) last week.

FORMER ASTROS UPDATE

Abraham Toro-Hernandez and Jorge Guzman - August 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

As you may or may not remember, flamethrowing RHP Jorge Guzman was traded to the Yankees as a part of the November 2016 deal bringing C Brian McCann to Houston. Guzman pitched for Short Season A Staten Island in 2017, compiling a 5-3 record with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.035 WHIP in 13 starts. He walked 18 while striking out 88 in 66.2 innings. Guzman is on the move again, this time included in this week's Marlins-Yankees trade for OF Giancarlo Stanton. Guzman has been assigned (initially) to the Batavia Muckdogs, but I expect to see him make his full season debut in 2018. He will be 22 in January. Watch this space.