Astros Minor League Report

added 5/13/2003 by Brian Progar

Hot and slow starts are now starting to disappear. Given that more than a month of games has been played, one can start to take more creed in the numbers. That’s not always the case, but its time to start paying keen attention to the numbers.

AAA New Orleans: 21-15

Position Players – Bruntlett (2B/SS) is still putting up nice numbers and may look like a possible utility guy for the majors. His OBP has slipped a bit over the last two weeks (.291/.366/.326), but remains acceptable. A bit of a concern is the 7 errors in 36 games. He’s a Vizcaino type player who could get the surprise call if Viz were to go down. Everett (2B/SS) put together a nice streak before being recalled by Houston and raised his average and OBP by about 30 points each (.250/.306/.360). Lane (OF/1B) has been injured for much of the last few weeks resulting in minimal playing time. Unfortunately, the time that he HAS spent in the lineup has not been productive, dropping his average and OBP by 25 points while not driving in a run (.312/.402/.430). He still leads the team in nearly every category though. I still think his contribution to the Astros this year will come in the form of trade bait for a big deal in July for SP help. John Buck (C) has started to hit the ball more (.250/.326/.336), but is no longer taking the walks he needs to in order to be effective. He’s managed to raise his average to .250, but his OBP hasn’t budged. Despite hitting only .250 and no HR, he leads the team with 22 RBI. Henri Stanley (LF) has slowly put together a good season, but the power remains elusive (.283/.374/.375, 5 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR). That power must show itself soon though, as it’s the only route to the bigs for a LF. Jason Alfaro (2B/3B) was promoted from Round Rock in line with the Everett promotion. It was a bit surprising considering his poor performance in AA. This does send two clear messages: 1) Alfaro needs to perform or he’ll likely be released/traded and 2) Burke will be at RR until June at the earliest. One last note is that Royce Huffman (1B) is hitting an getting on-base (.316/.373/.395) but not hitting for power.

Pitchers – Pitching has been drained by recent call-ups of Bland, Saarloos and Linebrink, who combined ERA at New Orleans was 1.83 in 59 IP. The knuckler, Jared Fernandez, looked fairly good at the beginning of the season (2.30 ERA just 2 weeks ago) and the walks have, as they always do, lead to runs. His ERA now stands at 3.91. Although seemingly still an acceptable ERA, this must be taken in the context of a large park in New Orleans . Jonathan Johnson’s slipping stats along with Robertson’s shelling in his first run through the rotation has made for dismal results. The one bright spot is Rodrigo Rosario. He was off to a rough start, but now has his ERA at the 2.56 mark. His 19 walks in 45.2 IP is cause for concern, but the 30 K during that same time span is a bit of a highlight. Kirk Bullenger has looked good in relief (2.75 ERA, 3 Sv, 8.7 K/9). Veterans Bob Scanlan and Ken Vining have looked pathetic in their combined 16 IP at NO: 10.13 ERA and 2.63 WHIP. AA Round Rock: 9-27

Position Players - Chris Burke (2B) continues to be the most consistent hitter on the team. The averages seem to have been in the same small band for the entire month (.367/.426/.497, 8 SB). He’s stolen 4 bags and not committed an error in the last 2 weeks. He’ll earn a mid-season promotion to AAA, probably around mid-June, when the Astros become weary of the performance of Jason Alfaro. More and more, Burke is looking to be our 2B of the future and the replacement for Biggio at the top of the lineup. Tommy Whiteman (SS) has been hitting with some power, but his average has dropped considerably- .287/.348/.427. Although it still he still sounds like the answer to the SS woes in Houston, he’s made 13 (yes 13!!!) errors in just 35 games, including 6 in the last 11, and has a 13/24 BB/K ratio. He reminds me quite a bit of Rich Aurilia, who hit well, but struggled defensively for years, before reversing the trend. A Whiteman/Burke IF for 2005 is on track. Anthony Acevedo (LF) in the last report. He continues to hit well and it looks like some of the 2B’s are starting to turn into HR (.347/.431/.534 w/ 3 HR). He currently leads the team in 2B (11) and is second in HR (3). He’s definitely one of the highlights of the organizational year at this point. With Henri Stanley in NO at LF, the Astros now have two LF prospects. John Tamargo (2B/3B) has put a nice season together, though without any power (.318/.400/.318, 2 SB).

Pitchers – Pitching just has not been very good this year. Rudy Lugo (4.60 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.6 K/9) and Dennis Houlton (5.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8.6 K/9) were off to hot starts, but have since fallen off considerably. The bright spots for both of them are K/9 ratios. Lugo’s been hurt by walks (15 in 43 IP) and Houlton by the long ball (6 in 36.2 IP). Chad Qualls has returned to form as the only starter with fair numbers (3.86 ERA, 1.34 WHIP). Mike Gallow (LHP), 26, continues to be the bright spot of a relief squad that has been pretty much pathetic otherwise (1.31 ERA, 1.11 WHIP & 10.0 K/9 ratio.

A+ Salem: 16-18

Note: HOU did not have a high A team for the last few years, which many attribute to the slow progression of players like John Buck, Tommy Whiteman and Chris Burke

Position Players - Brandon Caraway (OF-RF) continues to hit well, although his BB/K ratio has fallen off of late (11/23) lower his OBP to substandard levels (.279/.329/.380). Caraway has stolen 10 bases in just 33 games without being caught once. If he learns to take more pitches, he can steal more and move into a “prospect” type category. That plate discipline might lead to a late-season promotion to Round Rock. He's a bit old for this league, so moving him up isn't that bad of an idea. Hector Giminez (C) has finally started to adjust and the quickness of which he’s rebounded is astounding. After hitting in the .220 range for most of the month, he is now .272/.324/.398 Although still not great, he’s now beginning to hit for average and some power, while taking pitches as well. Giminez has also stolen 2 bases this year without being caught Charlton Jimerson (OF) is hasn’t played in two weeks and is on the DL. I cannot find any information about him though, but should have something by the next report. Trevor Mote (3B) has not been able to sustain the production that keyed him in as a possible breakout candidate. His average has tumbled 48 points in two weeks (.267/.348/.353). The good news is that he hasn’t flailed away at balls trying to get the average back and has kept the OBP respectable. He still hasn’t shown any power yet though. Mote also leads the team with 7 errors in 30 G. Mike Rodriguez (OF-CF) has come on with a strong performance of late (.299/.386/.448). He has 8 2B, 3 3B and 2 HR in 134 AB while going 10 for 13 on the base paths.

Pitchers – Jimmy Barrett’s early success had an underlying concern of a 1.67 WHIP. It finally caught up with him during the last report and he’s continuing to get shelled (9.68 ERA, 2.28 WHIP). Don’t be surprised if he is demoted by the end of May. Anthony Pluta continues to follow up on his disappointing 2002 season. Brian Rodaway is struggling a bit but is working to show that 2002 wasn't a fluke. His ERA has ballooned to 4.46 after a few bad games. The next month is very important for Rodaway, who is already 24. Brandon Roberson, who is also 24, has come on of late and now posts numbers worth of recognition (3.08 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). Jared Gothreaux, whose relief appearances garnered him mention in previous reports, has pitched so well that he’s been moved to the rotation (1.89 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 11 G, 4 GS). Phillip Barzilla has performed well over the year as well, but his walks have drifted up substantially over the last two weeks. On the roster front, Mark Hamilton, LHP, was promoted from Lexington. In just 8 outings, he has posted a 4.95 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP after a tremendous showing in the Sally League with a sub 1 ERA. The long ball (3 in 20 IP) has been his nemesis, but look for better performances in the future. Remember, Hamilton is coverted OF’er who is also a lefty.

A Lexington: 16-21

Position Players - Checkerfield (OF) is hitting for power, but again that K rate is a killer. He has drawn more walks of late though (.241/.326/.491 w/ 7 HR). Justin Humphries (C/1B/DH) continues to have some nice stats (.275/.370/.449). He's young (20) so he's got some time to develop as well and has shown it, building on every year. John Fagan (1B) is clearly the best power hitter on the team right now (.290/.367/.505) given his 7 HR and 22 RBI. Like Checkerfield, his K rate is dangerously high though. Pat Peavy (3B) just continues to play well, plain and simple (..304/.392/.536 with a 9/12 K/BB ratio). Ryan Kochen (3B) is getting most of the playing time, but if Peavy continues to hit well, that may change, especially with 6 errors in 28 games.

Pitchers – The Pitching has been outstanding this year. Corey Doyne has really pitching well this year (2.68 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 8.3 K/9). If he continues with his current K/9 ratio, he could certainly become a prospect to keep track of for the future. The walks have climbed on him lately, moving his WHIP and ERA up slightly. Derrick Grigsby is showing why he was the Astros #1 selection last year in the amateur draft (2.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.2 K/9). Fernando Nieve is performing well early (3.29 ERA, 1.41 WHIP). He's got great velocity and movement (9.9 K/9), but needs to develop some secondary pitches and control the walks (19 in 41 IP). One last SP that has shown something this year is Jailen Peguero, a 20 yr. old non-drafted FA who was a reliever with Tri-City last year, is throwing well in his starting bid (3.02 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 6.9 K/9). His walks are a little high, similar to Nieve, but he hasn’t allowed many hits. Daniel Freeman, a young 20 year old RHP reliever selected in 2002 during the 17th round, is posting great numbers (1.31 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 10.9 K/9). Jesse Carlson has also been great in relief (3.86 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 14.5 K/9) although the WHIP is concerning.

A- Tri-City

First game - June 17th

R Martinsville

First game - June 16th

Send this story to a friend