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Friday, August 31, 2012

Farmstros Five from the Village

NOTE:  Barring something unforeseen, the winner of this contest will receive an autographed Lance McCullers, Jr. card.

With September call-ups around the corner at Minute Maid Park, the higher ups in the Farmstros offices have approved plans for a promotion which will give members of the Village a chance to display their passion and skills on a bigger stage as well.  For the next two weeks (August 16-22 and August 23-29), followers of the blog are invited to submit their renditions of the Farmstros Five, highlighting the top performers in the system for a given week. 

All submissions will be shared with the Farmstros Village August 23 or 24(Week #20) and August 30 or 31(Week #21).  On or about August 31, the Village will be invited to vote for the best FARMSTROS FIVE FROM THE VILLAGE.  I am working on a prize for the contestant that gets the most votes, but I can't promise anything on that front at the moment.

Submissions must cover the games of August 16-22 or August 23-30, and they cannot include any player on the big league roster.  Various formats are accepted, including written, audio and video.  Themes are accepted as well, such as All short season, 2012 draft picks, ex-Farmstros.  The event will give members of the Farmstros Village to display how they are following the Astros of the Future.


To be eligible for FARMSTROS FIVE FROM THE VILLAGE, I need to receive your Farmstros Five by August 24(for week #20) and August 31(for week #21).

Please contact if you have any questions about FARMSTROS FIVE FROM THE VILLAGE.

Oberholtzer Wraps up AAA with a Flourish

Brett Oberholtzer allowed just one run in 7 1/3 IP Thursday night in what should be his final AAA start of the regular season. Oberholtzer has given Oklahoma City a good chance to win in each of last five starts. Over that span, he has pitched 35 2/3 innings, allowed 34 hits, struck out 31 and posted a 2.02 ERA. Oberholtzer has made a total of 15 AAA starts this season, posting a 4.52 ERA.

One Win Will Do it for the JetHawks, the Legends Need A lot More

The play-off scenarios for the Astros' two Class A affiliates couldn't be any different heading into the final weekend of the 2012 regular season:

In High A, the JetHawks need one win in their next four games at High Desert to clinch the top Wild Card Spot in the California League South Division..  That distinction puts them in the play-offs with home field advantage in a best of three first round series.

In Low A, things are more complicated. The Legends can make the play-offs if Asheville passes Rome to win the SALLY League South Divsion's Second Half title AND if Lexington passes Charleston and Augusta to finish the season with the Division's Second best over-all record.  In this scenario, Asheville would be the division champion of both halves and the club with the next-best over-all record(Lexington) would make the play-offs as a wild card.  Lexington is currently two games behind Charleston and 1/2 game behind Augusta as play begins today.  Asheville trails Rome by three games.

The schedule for the Labor Day weekend:

Lexington vs. Rome (5 games)
Asheville at Hagerstown (4 games)
Charleston at Augusta (4 games)

What needs to happen to put Legends in play-offs:

Lexington sweeps Rome
Asheville wins their series at least three games to one.
Augusta knocks off Charleston three games to one.

RedHawks Start Winning in DeFrancesco's Absence

The Astros have continued to accumulate defeats since the promotion of Tony DeFrancesco, who took over the Major League managerial reins on August 12.  However, Oklahoma City, the club DeFrancesco left behind, has turned around its on-field results and clawed their way back into the PCL post-season picture. 

The RedHawks knocked off Albuquerque Thursday night, 3-1.  The victory completed a four-game sweep of the division leading Isotopes and pulled the RedHawks to within 1.5 games of Albuquerque with four games remaining in the regular season.  The RedHawks host Round Rock over the next four days, while Albuquerque hosts Omaha. 

Oklahoma City has won eight of 12 games since Tom Lawless took over as their manager.  The team lost 16 of their final 22 games under Tony DeFrancesco's ledership.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Clemens to TRAVEL like a Skeeter This Time Around

It appears that congratulations are in order once again to the creators of the Tale of the Second Coming of Rojo Johnson. Roger Clemens is returning to pitch again for the Sugar Land Skeeters, only this time, he won't just be appearing in Texas. Episode Two of this Opening Day Partners Production will include a stop in York, Pennsylvania.

The Skeeters have just tweeted out that Clemens will join the club in York, Pennsylvania prior to his September 7 start, scheduled to take place at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. The York team's website indicates that Clemens will be at Sovereign Bank Stadium on September 3 and 4. There is no indication whether or not commemorative Skeeters/Clemens jerseys will be available in the gift shop or not on those dates.

The team in York is owned by Opening Day Partners, the same entity that owns the Skeeters, and three other teams in the Atlantic League. To this point in the 2012 season, York has averaged a little under 4000 in attendance per game at their 5000 seat-capacity stadium.

Following the York visit, the Skeeters are only scheduled to make one more road trip to a fellow Opening Day Partner-owned franchise. They take on the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on September 12 and 13.

Edgar Gonzalez is Making His pitch for a Trip to Houston

With his team's slim play-off chances on the line Wedesday night, Oklahoma City starting pitcher Edgar Gonzalez came through with seven scoreless innings to lead the RedHawks to a clutch victory over Albuquerque.  The effective start, which was Gonzalez's second straight since joining the RedHawks staff recently, likely increases the chance that Gonzalez, 29 will get a look in the Major League starting rotation in September. Gonzalez is in line to pitch again against Round Rock on Labor Day.

Over his career, Gonzalez has made 41 big league starts and appeared in a total of 107 games.  He began the 2012 season with Colorado Springs and also made six starts in the AAA Mexican League before signing with the Astros' organization.

Seven are Going to Arizona

Seven Astros' prospects will be participating in the Arizona Fall League this off-season.  Included on the Mesa Solar Sox roster are Jarred Cosart and Jon Singleton, two of the top prospects in the organization. 

The Arizona Fall League begins play on October 9.  The league's championship is scheduled for November 17.

The Arizona Seven:
Bobby Borchering, IF
Jarred Cosart, RHP
Chia-jen Lo, RHP
Jiovanni Mier, SS(Mier is on the Taxi Squad and will only be activated on Wednesdays and Saturdays)
Jon Singleton, 1B
Alex Sogard, LHP
George Springer, OF

September 2012 Transactions

Adam Bailey, OF, promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City. Demoted to Corpus Christi.

Carlos Corporan, C, promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston.

Enerio Del Rosario, RHP, contract purchased.  Added to 40-man roster. Promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston.

Matt Downs, IF, promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston.

Chris Epps, OF, promoted from Lexington to Lancaster.

Chuckie Fick, RHP, promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston.

Adalberto Flores, RHP, promoted from Corpus Christi to Oklahoma City.

Theron Geith, LHP, acquired from Tampa Bay as PTBNL for Ben Francisco.

Edgar Gonzalez, RHP, contract purchased.  Added to the 40-man roster. Promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston.

Mark Hamburger, RHP, outrighted to Oklahoma City.  Removed from 40-man roster.

Matt Heidenreich, RHP, demoted from Corpus Christi to Lexington.

Dallas Keuchel, LHP, promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston.

J.D. Martinez, OF, promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston.

Jose Valdez, RHP, contract purchased.  Added to the 40-man roster. Promoted from Oklahoma City to Houston.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Isotopes are in Danger of a RedHawk-Induced Meltdown

The Albuquerque Isotopes arrived in Oklahoma City three games ago with a 5.5 game lead.  However, after falling Wednesday night, 11-0, they will head into Thursday's game against the RedHawks in danger of being swept and seeing their lead in the division dwindle to 1.5 games heading into the season's last four games. 

The RedHawks came from behind to win the first two games of the series.  However, there wasn't quite as much drama in game three as Oklahoma City shut out their division rivals in convincing fashion. 

RedHawks are Keeping it Interesting

For a second straight night, Oklahoma City came from behind to knock off division-leading Albuquerque and keep their play-off hopes alive.  With the 6-5 win Tuesday night, the RedHawks moved ahead of New Orleans into second place 3.5 games behind Albuquerque in the PCL American Conference South Division.  The two teams face-off again Wednesday and Thursday in Oklahoma. 

Wins in the next two games by OKC would leave them 1.5 games behind the Isotopes heading into the season's final four-game series.  The RedHawks will host Round Rock over the Labor Day weekend.  Albuquerque is scheduled to play at home against Omaha, who has already qualified for the play-offs.

Valley Cats are So Good, It's a Little Boring

It might be entertaining to see the Valley Cats play at Joe Bruno Stadium, but these days from a distance, there is little drama left in the club's regular season. Play a game, win a game, play a game, win a game seems to be the routine that Tri-City has fallen into. Stubby Clapp's squad enters play on Wednesday with 49 victories in 68 contests. Their next victory will tie them for the franchise high single season win total.

The Valley Cats, who clinched the Stedler Division title a few days ago, are even threatening to run away from Hudson Valley to clinch the best record in the entire New York-Penn League. Tri-City leads Hudson Valley by three games with eight to play.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nash Blasts JetHawks Closer to the Post-Season

Telvin Nash hit a grand slam as Lancaster knocked off Inland Empire 7-2 Tuesday night to close in on a post-season berth.  After the win, the JetHawks magic number to make the play-offs is down to four with six games to play.  It could drop to three before the night is over if Lake Elsinore falls to San Jose.  Lake Elsinore is trailing 7-3 in the seventh as I type this.

The home run was Nash's 28th of the season.  He has driven in 71 runs for the JetHawks.

Is Anybody Going from Greeneville to Tri-City?

Greeneville wraps up their season tonight and the Tri-City Valley Cats still have eight regular season games after tonight, plus the play-offs.  So, it bears mentioning that there are a few spots open on the Valley Cats' roster, which would allow the promotion of a few players for the season's final week.

There are 31 players listed on Tri-City's roster at the moment.  While only 30 can be active at any given time and only 25 can be eligible for a particular game, as many as 35 can be under team control.  Based on these numbers up to four players could be promoted, giving them the opportunity to experience a play-off run.

NOTE: Appy Astros has reported that it appears no one will be promoted from Greeneville to Tri-City.

Legends Aim to Halt Losing Skid with Foltynewicz

While Rome's pulling away from Asheville in the second half division race has all but extinguished the Legends' faint play-off hopes, Lexington is sending Mike Foltynewicz to the mound Tuesday with the goal of halting a season-long losing streak.  Entering tonight's game at Hickory, the Legends have lost 11 games in a row, seeing their over-all record fall to 67-64 with seven games to play.

Foltynewicz has been arguably the most consistent starter in the Astros' system in 2012.  In his second season with Lexington, the 20 year-old right-hander has posted a 2.67 ERA in 25 starts. He has pitched 145 innings and earned an organization-high 14 victories.  In three starts in August, Foltynewicz has not allowed an earned run while pitching 19 innings.  Based on the Legends' rotation, Foltynewicz should be in line to make his final start of the season Sunday at home against Rome.

Play-off Push Continues: JetHawks Win Another Series

Lancaster's march to the California League post-season continued Monday night as they completed another series victory over one of the teams challenging them for a South Division Wild Card spot. The JetHawks knocked off Lake Elsinore, 12-4 completing a three games to one victory in their final home series of the regular season.  Lancaster had also defeated Rancho Cucamonga three games to one before Lake Elsinore came to town.

Heading into the final seven games of the season, the JetHawks lead Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore in the race for the South Division's #1 Wild Card spot each by three games.  If Lancaster holds onto their lead, they will meet either the Quakes or the Storm in the best of three first round of the post-season.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hooks Clinch Division Title at Home, Sort of

In all likelihood, the Corpus Christi Hooks were packing up for their road trip to Frisco when they clinched the Texas League South Division's Second Half title Monday night, but they WERE still home.  Frisco fell in 13 innings at Midland.  That loss combined with a Hooks victory over San Antonio earlier in the night meant that Frisco could do no better than tie Corpus Christi in the second half standings.

According to Texas League rules, a second half title tie is first broken by the second half head-to-head records of the tied teams.  Although the Hooks do play their next four games at Frisco, they have already won 9 of 12 second half games against the Roughriders.  Thus, they have won the head-to-head match-up and subsequently the second half title.

Winning the second half title gives the Hooks the home field advantage in their upcoming five game series against Frisco, the first half division champion.  The next baseball game at Whataburger Field will be game three of the series against Frisco on Friday, September 8

Corpus Christi vs. Frisco- 1st Round Play-off Schedule:

Game 1- at Frisco, Wednesday, September 6
Game 2- at Frisco, Thursday, September 7
Game 3- at Corpus Christi, Friday, September 8
Game 4- at Corpus Christi, Saturday, September 9(If Necessary)
Game 5- at Corpus Christi, Sunday, September 10(If Necessary)

Dierker, Literacy Advance Houston are Playing Scrabble

On September 13, Literacy Advance Houston, is hosting a fundraising game of Scrabble at St. Arnold's Brewery near downtown Houston.   Larry Dierker talked to the Farmstros Village a few months ago about his involvement with and support of Literacy Advance Houston.

RedHawks' Collapse is Almost Complete

On the morning of July 27, Oklahoma City was tied for first in their division with a 61-44 record.  One month later, the RedHawks' standing has changed so drastically that they need to sweep Albuquerque in a four-game series that opens tonight in Oklahoma City just to maintain the slim chance they have of making the play-offs. 

Over the past month, the Astros' AAA affiliate has gone 10 and 20 and rapidly fallen out of the PCL American Conference South Division race.  The RedHawks lost 16 of the final 22 games in which they were managed by Tony DeFrancesco, before he was promoted to Houston.  During the month the offense has struggled averaging only 3.4 runs a game.

A four-game sweep of Albuquerque would leave the RedHawks 1.5 games behind the Isotopes heading into the season's final weekend.  Oklahoma City wraps up their season hosting Round Rock for four games, finishing on Labor Day. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Like It or Not, There's Plenty of Room on the 40-man Roster for Clemens

@Whattheheck57 tweeted an excellent opinion regarding the possibility of Roger Clemens joining the Astros in the final month of the season.  I don't have the exact tweet in front of me, but the basic point Jayne made was that she would disagree with adding Clemens if it meant the team would have to risk losing part of their future by moving a player off of the 40-man roster. 

I agree with this opinion completely, but after reading the tweet I wondered, "Is there enough room to add a player like Clemens without risking the talent that will be on the team in 2013, 2014, 2015?" Even a cursory glance at the 40-man roster reveals that like it or not, Roger Clemens could be added to Houston's 40-man roster without impacting the 2013 Astros in any meaningful manner. 

On the 40-man roster:
Fernando Abad, 26
Hector Ambriz, 28
Xavier Cedeno, 26
Carlos Corporan, 28
Jorge De Leon, 25
Matt Downs, 28
Chuckie Fick, 26
Mark Hamburger, 25
Arcenio Leon, 25
Scott Moore, 28
Fernando Rodriguez, 28
J.B. Shuck, 25

It is not difficult to envision all of these players(with a likelihood of even more) being gone from the organization by the time the Astros add Rule 5 eligible players to the 40-man roster in November in preparation for the 2013 season.  Along the same line, it is easy to see one of the 12 being cast-off to make room for the addition of Clemens if the team decides to make that scenario a reality.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Clemens Helps Pitch Hooks to the Play-offs

Paul Clemens got the victory tonight as Corpus Christi knocked off San Antonio 5-3 at Whataburger Field to clinch a spot in the Texas League play-offs.  The Hooks are the first Astros' full season affiliate to make the post-season since the 2007 Salem Avalanche of the Carolina League. 

Clemens allowed only one unearned run on three hits in six innings and picked up the play-off clinching victory.  Jason Stoffel pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to earn his 26th save of the season.  Jacob Goebbert got the scoring started for the Hooks with a two-run home run in the first inning. 

The victory assures Corpus Christi of the Texas League South Division's Wild Card spot.  The Hooks can gain home field advantage in the first round of the play-offs by holding off Frisco and winning the division's second half title.  Their magic number to accomplish that feat stands at four.

The Hooks' best of five first round series is scheduled to begin Wednesday, September 5 at Frisco.  The first play-off game at Whataburger Field will take place two days later on September 7. The last play-off game in Corpus Christi was the Hooks Texas League Championship clinching victory over Wichita on September 15, 2006.

Greeneville's Magic Number is Six...with Four to Play

Greeneville's magic number to clinch the Appalachian League West Division's Wild Card Spot is six.  Unfortunately, the G'stros only have four games left to play, so they need a little help if they are to make the post-season.  

Entering Saturday's games, Johnson City(36-27) is 1.5 games ahead of Greeneville(35-29) in second place.  To make the play-offs, Greeneville needs to get some help from Johnson City's opponents.  For example, if Greeneville wins out, they will make the play-offs if Johnson City loses two of their final four games.  

The remaining schedule:

August 25- Greeneville at Danville; Johnson City at Burlington
August 26-28- Greeneville vs. Bluefield; Johnson City vs. Danville

NOTE:  Due to a rainout, Johnson City has played one less game than Greeneville.  I assume that this game will not be made up even if it could affect the play-off scenario.

Friday, August 24, 2012

For the Hooks, It's Win and You're In

After lowering their magic number to two with a victory over Midland Friday night, Corpus Christi can clinch its first play-off spot in six years with a victory over San Antonio at Whataburger Field in one of their next three games.  The Hooks, who last made the play-offs in 2006, when they won the Texas League title, can assure themselves of at least a wild card spot if they knock off the Missions Saturday, Sunday or Monday night.  If the Hooks make the play-offs, they will be the first Astros' full season affiliate to make the post-season since the Salem Avalanche of the Carolina League in 2007.

Is Clemens an Astro of the Future?

Yes, I have read the quotes from Jim Crane about being interested in having Roger Clemens return to the Astros. Yes, I realize that he has provided ample opportunities for fans, bloggers and commenters to share their opinions with the Astros' marketing department.

I understand the attempt to gain fan feedback on this issue by Mr. Crane. However, I find the team's recurring use of this tactic to gauge fan opinion tiresome, and will not be chiming in on this topic until after the Astros do what they are going to do.

Astros' Bullpen Will be on Red Alert on Saturday

The Astros' bullpen should be ready early Saturday afternoon, when the club takes on the Mets.  It has been announced that Fernando Abad will be promoted from Oklahoma City and make his first major league start.  He takes the spot vacated by Armando Galarraga, who was recently designated for assignment. 

Abad has served strictly as a reliever in the big leagues.  He hasn't started a game since 2010 with Corpus Christi.  Since the Astros decided to try Abad as a starter, he has made three starts, going a total of only 14 innings.

In a related note: Edgar Gonzalez will be the starting pitcher for Oklahoma City tonight.  He takes Abad's spot in the RedHawks' rotation.  Gonzalez is a 29-year old right-hander who most recently pitched for Monterrey of the AAA Mexican League. 

JetHawks Come Through in Series with Closest Competition

Lancaster knocked off Ranch Cucamonga 10-0 Thursday night at Clear Channel Stadium to win their series three games to one and take a three game lead over the Quakes in the race for the third best over-all record in the California League's South Division.  In addition, the series win moved the JetHawks one game ahead of Lake Elsinore in the battle for the division's second best record with only 11 games left in the regular season.  Lancaster hosts the Storm in a four game series beginning Friday night.

NOTE:  Due to the fact that High Desert has clinched the first half and second half championship of the California League South Division, the teams in the division with the second AND third best over-all records in the division both make the play-offs as wild-cards.  The wild card with the best record has the home field advantage in their first round play-off matchup.

The JetHawks bats led the way in the four game series as Lancaster scored a total of 44 runs.  Here are a few of the offensive highlights:

Delino DeShields- 5 for 16 with one double, one triple, five RBI and five stolen bases.

Jiovanni Mier- 6 for 16 with two doubles, one home run and six RBI.

Andrew Aplin- 8 for 19 with two home runs and four RBI.

Erik Castro- Two Home runs  and Six RBI.  These all came in the second game of the series.

Jonthan Meyer- 7 for 15

Grant Hogue- 6 for 11 with five RBI and a steal of home.

Drew Muren- Inside the park home run

Lancaster did not need much pitching, but they got some quality mound work as well.  Nick Tropeano pitched seven innings and didn't allow any earned runs in his start.  David Martinez wrapped up the series with seven scoreless innings of work on Thursday night. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Call-up of Oberholtzer Could Increase Saturday Traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike

The Astros have not announced who the starting pitcher will be in their game against the Mets on Saturday afternoon in New York.  If Brett Oberholtzer gets the nod, there could be an increase in traffic on the New Jersey turnpike Saturday morning.  Oberholtzer, who is currently on the Oklahoma City roster, grew up in Deleware less than 150 miles from New York city. I assume that if Oberholtzer starts in the Big Apple on Saturday, a number of people from his hometown will make the trek up the New Jersey Turnpike to cheer him on.

Oberholtzer seems to have found his groove recently for the RedHawks. In his last five starts, the left-hander has posted a 3.06 ERA.  Oberholtzer has allowed 33 hits and seven walks, while striking out 26 in 32 1/3 innings.  Oberholtzer last pitched on Monday, meaning a start on Saturday would be made on four days' rest. 

Oberholtzer is not on the 40-man roster, so a spot would need to be cleared for him if he is to pitch in the big leagues.  If Oberholtzer is added to the 40-man roster now and not sent back to the minor leagues for the remainder of the season, my understanding is that 2012 would not be counted as one of his option years.

Their are a few other candidates to make the start Saturday against R.A. Dickey.  One is Rudy Owens, acquired from Pittsburgh in the Wandy Rodriguez trade.  Owens has made six starts for Oklahoma City, most recently on Tuesday.  The other possibility is Fernando Abad, who recently switched from the bullpen to the starting rotation.  Abad has made three AAA starts, most recently on Sunday.

Farmstros Five from the Village Week #20-Tyler Heineman Edition

Following is the first Farmstros Five from the Village submission for the week of August 16-22, 2012.

 Can I get a witness...It's Heine-time! Tri-Cities #26 just ended a 41 consecutive game on base streak and leads the ENTIRE Stro's Organization in batting a mile! 6 K's in 150 AB's, defensive machine 2pb and no errors plus check out the winning percentage and pitchers ERA when the dude is behind the dish! Forget getting a witness how bout a whole Army in support of him!

Deadline for entries this week is midnight(Minute Maid Park time) Friday. Please share your Farmstros Five with the Village. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hey, Roger, I Get It

I'll admit that I was a bit cynical when I first heard about Roger Clemens returning to pitch for the Sugar Land Skeeters this weekend. My first reaction was something to the effect of "You have got to be kidding me." However, I heard part of the Skeeters' Clemens press conference on Tuesday and it made me think of the picture posted above and the comeback made a little more sense to me.

During the press conference, Clemens mentioned that he still enjoys working out and playing ball with his friends. He said that the activity is therapeutic for him. When I heard his description, I couldn't help think of myself and the hypnotic grip that summer softball has over me.

I have been playing softball on Sunday afternoons with the same team for 10 summers, counting the current one. Obviously, I am not a top class athlete and there is no chance of me parlaying a few good Sunday afternoons at the plate into a tryout for the Major League of Slo-Pitch Softball.

Still, every year, June rolls around and I find myself with a glove on my hand enduring Houston's scorching heat to play ball. It's the challenge of trying to be a defensive standout despite my lack of quickness. It's the fun of running for the car when the downpour comes. It's the kick of having my teammates watch my kids grow up. It's the hope of being able to play long enough to take the field with the goal of winning a game with my son.

My tenth season of summer softball concludes this Sunday with the play-offs. My team will be shooting for its second championship during my 10 year career. I can't speak for my teammates, but I will be playing with a better appreciation for what fun it is to be part of the team, and why Roger Clemens wants to be part of it too.

Valley Cats Lose a Game, but They Won the Title

Before Tri-City took the field at Brooklyn Wednesday evening, word came out that the Valley Cats had indeed clinched the Stedler Division title in the NYPL. The title is the fourth division championship for Tri-City in the 11-year history of the franchise.

After celebrating the title, Tri-City fell to Brooklyn 4-1.  It was only Tri-City's 18th loss in 62 games.  The next item on the Valley Cats' agenda is clinching the over-all best record in the league.  They currently lead Hudson Valley, the McNamara Division leader, by two games.

Things Could Get Wild for the Legends

It will take some help from Asheville and, themselves, but there is a chance that Lexington could sneak into a wild-card spot in the South Atlantic League's post-season. 

At the moment, the Legends have the second-best over-all record in the SALLY League's South Division.  If Rome holds onto their three-game lead over Asheville and wins the South Division's second half title, Lexington's over-all record will be rendered a moot point.

However, if Asheville passes Rome and adds the second-half title to its first-half crown, the team with the second-best over-all record in the division(at this point Lexington) will make it into the play-offs as a wild card.  In an interesting twist, Lexington is slated to host Rome the final four games of the regular season, providing them an excellent opportunity to help Asheville, and themselves.

Hooks? JetHawks? Who Will be the First to Return?

While Tri-City could clinch a play-off berth as early as tonight, Corpus Christi and Lancaster are still at least a few days away from earning the distinction of being the first Astros' full season affiliate to reach the post-season since 2007. 

Corpus Christi has won four straight games to lower its magic number to clinch at least a wild card berth to five.  The Hooks play their next six games at Whataburger Field, so clinching at home is a distinct possibility.  The team they need to eliminate is San Antonio, who they face for three games beginning Saturday.

Lancaster has won three straight games, including the last two over their closest competitor Rancho Cucamonga, to open up a slight gap in the race for a California League wild-card spot.  With 13 games to play, the JetHawks magic number to make the play-offs is now 11.  They can reduce the number quickly in the final two games of their series against Rancho Cucamonga Wednesday and Thursday.  Lancaster has a chance to qualify as the top-seeded wild card in the South Divsion, which would give them home field advantage in the first round of the post-season.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One is Not the Loneliest Number for the Valley Cats

After their win Tuesday night's win in Brooklyn, Tri-City is one win away from clinching the NYPL Stedler Division title and a play-off spot.  The Valley Cats won the game 5-2 lead and hold a 15.5 game lead over Connecticut.  They take the field in Brooklyn again Wednesday night.

Once the division title is assured, the next challenge for Tri-City is clinching the best record in the league.  That distinction would give them home field advantage throughout the play-offs and a first-round match-up with the wild card entry.  The Valley Cats currently hold a three game advantage over their closest competitor in that race, Hudson Valley.

Seaton Joins Five Others in Hooks' Rotation

When the Hooks begin their final homestand of the season Tuesday night, they will be doing so with a six-man starting rotation.  The expanded rotation is the result of Ross Seaton's demotion from Oklahoma City.  According to the team's game notes Monday night, the club's rotation beginning Tuesday night will be Bobby Doran, Ross Seaton, Rob Rasmussen, Matt Heidenreich, Paul Clemens and Asher Wojciechowski.

Kudos to the Skeeters

Having benefited greatly the last time a right-handed flamethrower returned to the Texas baseball scene with much hoopla, I am sincerely impressed with the marketing coup that the Sugar Land Skeeters have pulled off by convincing Roger Clemens to pitch at least one game for them.  Clemens is getting an opporuntiy to do what he apparently still loves to do.  The Skeeters will see an increase in sales of...everything, and they will be the talk of the town(and the nation) even though the Texans have a pre-season game Saturday night.  What's more writers nationwide will learn that "Sugar Land" is two words.  At the moment, the return of The Rocket is scheduled to be a one-time only thing for Clemens, but the Skeeters have two more weekend home series this season.  If he makes a few more Saturday night outings, it would not surprise me at all.

Say what you will about the quality of the product on the field, as an organization the Skeeters have done a lot of things right to build and cater to their fan base.  For me personally, just providing an opportunity to play catch on the field every Sunday(offered even to fans who aren't season ticket holders) gives the Skeeters an edge over other baseball options in the area.

JetHawks Extend Lead, DeShields Breaks Record

Lancaster held off a late charge by Rancho Cucamonga Monday night to win the first game of a four game series, 14-11. With the win, the JetHawks expanded their lead over the Quakes in the battle for a California League play-off spot to two games. If the season ended today, Lancaster would qualify for the post-season as the South Division's second wild card.

During Monday night's game, Lancaster second baseman Delino DeShields stole two bases to break the Astros' minor league single season steals record with 89. The previous record holder was OF/IF Lou Frazier who stole 87 bases for Osceola in 1988. Frazier's career topped out in AAA. In 13 seasons, he had 465 stolen bases.

Monday, August 20, 2012

La Tortuga Wins Again

Erick "La Tortuga" Abreu picked up the win for Corpus Christi Monday night when the Hooks knocked off Springfield in 13 innings.  With his ninth win on the season, Abreu increased his franchise-leading victory total to 22 wins over four seasons. 

The victory dropped the Hooks' magic number(vs. San Antonio) to clinch a play-off spot as a wild card to seven. The club's magic number (vs. Frisco) to clinch the second half division title is 10.  Winning the second half title would give the Hooks home field advantage in the first round of the play-offs.

Cosart is Back with the RedHawks

In case you missed it over the weekend, right-hander Jarred Cosart is back with Oklahoma City.  He pitched two innings in relief Saturday night.  He gave up one unearned run and got the victory in Tony DeFrancesco's final game before being promoted. 

Cosart had been in Florida recovering from blister issues. Ross Seaton, who had made three straight solid starts at AAA,  was demoted to Corpus Christi to make room for Cosart. 

Play-offs?! Is he talking about Play-offs?

Shortly after introducing Tony DeFrancesco as the interim manager of the Astros Sunday, General Manager Jeff Luhnow was on the air with Milo Hamilton talking about the minor league system and its post-season possibilities.  With approximately two weeks left in the regular season, here's a breakdown to assist anyone who may be considering buying play-off tickets.

Oklahoma City- Before their manager was promoted to Minute Maid Park on Sunday, the RedHawks were on a 6 and 16 skid which has made the play-offs highly unlikely.  With 15 games left to play under Tom Lawless, Oklahoma City is in third place 5 and 1/2 games back in the PCL's American Conference, South Division.  They do have a four-game home series remaining with division-leading Albuquerque.

Corpus Christi- The Hooks continue to take strides towards returning to the Texas League play-offs for the first time since 2006. Keith Bodie's club has a magic number to clinch the second half title of 11, with 15 games to play.  A second-half title is one way that they can get into the play-offs against Frisco.

Note: If Frisco passes the Hooks to win the 2nd half title in the division, the Hooks can clinch a play-off berth by having the second-best record in the division over the entire season.  (If the same team (Frisco) wins both the first and second half, the team with the second  best over-all record is named the wild card). The Hooks' magic number to clinch this distinction (Midland is the closest competitor) is five. 

Second Note clarified by the Hooks' game notes on August 20:  San Antonio CAN knock the Hooks out of the play-offs if they are able to leap frog Frisco and Corpus Christi to win the South Division second half title.  The Missions are currently seven games back of the Hooks.  Corpus's number to eliminate San Antonio in this scenario is nine. 

Based on this information, the Hooks' number to eliminte the Missions and clinch a post-seasn berth is nine.

Lancaster- Clear Channel Stadium will host a crucial California League match-up between Lancaster and Rancho Cucamonga starting Monday night.  At the moment, the JetHawks hold a one game lead over Rancho Cucamonga for the South Divison's third-best over-all record, and a play-off spot.  The JetHawks have lost 10 of their last 16 games to let the Quakes back into the post-season picture heading into this week's four game series.

Lexington- The Legends have lost six of their last seven games, including being swept by the SALLY League South Division leading Rome Braves in three straight contests.  As a result of the skid, Houston's Low A affiliate finds themselves in 4th place 7 and 1/2 games out with 15 games to play.

Tri-City-  At this point, it's not a question of if the Valley Cats will win the NYPL Stedler Division.  It's a question of when.  Tri-City has a 15 game lead with 17 games to play.  Their magic number to clinch is three. 

Greeneville- The G'stros are in a battle for the second play-off spot in the AL West(Appalachian League).  With only nine games to play, Greeneville trails Johnson City by one-half game.  The two clubs don't have any head to head match-ups remaining. 

The End is Near- in Florida and the Dominican

The Astros' affiliates in Florida and the Dominican Republic are scheduled to wrap up their seasons this Saturday.

The Gulf Coast League Astros enter the final week of the season with a 25-27 record. With eight games remaining- they will play two rainout-necessitated doubleheaders- these Astros are in second place in the GCL East.  However, they are six games behind the division-leading Cardinals, who they only face head to head two more times.

The Dominican Astros are in last place in their division with six games to play.  The DSL Astros enter the week with a 22-43 record.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Respectfullly submitted to the church of Baseball-DSS

I had a chance this morning to attend a gathering of Houston's congregation of the church of Baseball-Decision Scientist Synod(DSS).  This week's homily was built around a point of doctrine that is holding much sway these days amongst the Houston gathering: In lieu of major league success, hang your hat on minor league victories as an indicator of improvement and future success. 

Being just a guest at the gathering, although I was intrigued by this tenet of faith, I didn't feel comfortable raising the questions that it raised in my mind.  However,  I set about testing the reliability of the doctrine once I returned home.  I am by no means a Decision Scientist of the highest order, yet even with my rudimentary tools, I was able to construct and carry out a simple piece of research, the results of which I share below with the members of the Farmstros Village.

The Question:  Does an organization's minor league win/loss record accurately predict its major league win/loss performance at a given point in the future?

The Format:  Using Baseball America's Almanacs, I compiled complete organizational rankings(based on minor league win/loss records) for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons.  Then, I computed each organization's average rank for those three years.  Next, I compared those rankings to each major league club's ranking(based on major league win/loss records) through August 17, 2012.  I

A Definition:  I decided that the rankings would be considered ACCURATE if a team's major league ranking in 2012 fell within plus or minus five slots of its 2009-2011 minor league ranking.

The Result:  Upon comparison, the 2012 rankings of only 12 of 30 major league organizations(40%) fell within plus or minus five slots of its minor league ranking for the 2009-2011 seasons.

Conclusion:  Based on this sample, which displays a result of only 40% reliability,  I cannot conclude that an organization's minor league win/loss record is a reliable way to predict its major league performance.

The Numbers(Clubs that fell within the plus or minus 5 slots category are in bold)

Team/2009-2011 MiLB ranking/2012 MLB ranking

Chicago Cubs/10.0/28
Chicago White Sox/14./7
Kansas City/21.0/25 
Los Angeles Angels/13.7/15  
Los Angeles Dodgers/9.7/10
New York Mets/16.3/18
New York Yankees/6.0/3
St. Louis/10.0/11
San Diego/13.0/26
San Francisco/3.3/8
Tampa Bay/13.3/8

Do AAA Wins Equal Major League Wins? Let's Keep an Eye on MMP

A recurring theme communicated by the Astros this season has been that their new-found success on the minor league level is indicative of future success on the big league level. This theory will be put to the test at the corner of Texas and Crawford for the next six weeks as one of the most successful managers in AAA over the past decade guides Houston's big league entry on a temporary basis. 

As of Saturday night, Tony DeFrancesco, who has been named to replace Brad Mills at the Astros' helm, was nearing completion of  his ninth season as a Pacific Coast League manager.  2012 was his second season with the Astros' AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City.   Before being called up on Sunday, he had led the RedHawks to a 67-60 and a third place standing in 2012.

Prior to his stint with the RedHawks, DeFrancesco served in the same role from 2003-10 with Sacramento, an Oakland affiliate(He was Oakland's third base coach in 2008). During his seven seasons with Sacramento, DeFrancesco's teams won six division titles and captured four PCL titles. His over-all record as a manager in the PCL is 713-564(a .558 winning percentage). 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Now, that Looks Like a #1 Draft Pick!

Heading into his game with the GCL Astros on August 8, Astros' #1 Draft pick Carlos Correa owned a paltry .217 batting average in Florida.  Things sure can change in 10 days!  Since August 8, Correa has played 11 games, including seven for Greeneville, after a promotion last week.  Correa has hit safely in 10 of the 11 contests and posted a .415 batting average(17 for 41).  He has two doubles, two triples, one home run, five runs scored, five RBI and four walks.  In one week at Greeneville, Correa is batting .458.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Minor Continues Majoring in August

Greeneville starter Daniel Minor continued his scoreless August Friday night, throwing six scoreless innings against Burlington.  Minor, selected in the ninth round of the 2012 draft out of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, lowered his over-all professional ERA to 2.94 in 10 starts.  In three scoreless starts this month, he has allowed eight hits and struck out 20 in 19 innings pitched.

The Astros' Wilka Number is 38

Heading into Friday's games, the Astros' Wilka number is 38.  Any combination of Astros losses and Rockies wins totaling 38 assures Houston the first pick in the 2013 draft.

Why the Wilka number?  According to an article referenced several months ago, Stephanie Wilka is one of the central figures in the team's draft preparations.  As the Amateur Scouting Coordinator, she gathers terabytes of information from scouts and other sources. She then makes sure that all the data is categorized and collated properly, so that the best decisions can be made on draft day.

A #1 pick in 2013 will put Ms. Wilka in the center of a hurricane again next June.  Let the countdown begin.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2012 Farmstros Five- Week #19

Here is the Farmstros Five for the week of August 9-15, 2012:

The Top Performer:

Edwin Villarroel, 17, LHP, DSL Astros. In two games, Villarroel allowed no earned runs and 11 hits in  10 innings.

The Next Three:

Daniel Minor, 21, RHP, Greeneville. Minor pitched seven innings of one-hit shutout baseball, striking out 11.

Mike Foltynewicz, 20, RHP, Lexington. Foltynewicz pitched seven scoreless, giving up four hits and striking out six.

Preston Tucker, 22, OF, Tri-City. Tucker was 10 for 19 with two doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI.

Who is the Farmstros Five #5 for Week 19

Edison Frias, 22, RHP, GCL Astros. In two outings, Frias pitched 14 1/3 innings, gave up 11 hits and two earned runs.  He struck out 11.

Frederick Tiburcio, 21, RHP, Greeneville. Tiburcio pitched seven scoreless. He surrendered four hits and struck out seven.

Robbie Grossman, 22, OF, Corpus Christi. Grossman was 9 for 23 with three doubles, one triple, one home run and three RBI.

Jon Singleton, 20, 1B, Corpus Christi. Singleton was 7 for 25 with four home runs and 11 RBI.

Carlos Correa, 17, SS, GCL Astros/Greeneville. Correa was called up to Greeneville during the week.  Over-all, he was 9 for 25 with two doubles.

Brett Oberholtzer, 23, LHP, Oklahoma City. Oberholtzer made two starts.  He pitched 14 innings, gave up 10 hits and three earned runs.  He struck out 11.

12 of 15 Prospects were in the top 30

Here is a look at the 15 prospects that the Astros added to the organization during the months of July and August.  I have listed the players' Baseball America rankings in their old organizations according to Baseball America prior to the 2012 season.

Bobby Borchering from Arizona #10
Colton Cain from Pittsburgh #13
Kevin Comer from Toronto #17
Chris Devenski from White Sox
Matt Dominguez from Miami #4
Robbie Grossman from Pittsburgh #8
Matt Heidenreich from White Sox
Marc Krauss from Arizona #6
Joe Musgrove from Toronto #20
Rudy Owens from Pittsburgh #16
Carlos Perez from Toronto #14
Rob Rasmussen from Miami #7
David Rollins from Toronto
Blair Walters from White Sox #26
Asher Wojciechowski from Toronto #10

It Looks Like Kevin Comer is the PTBNL

If a tweet from Joe Musgrove(@Musgrove23Stros), one of the players received in the recent trade with Toronto, is reliable, Kevin Comer is the Player to Be Named in that trade. The tweet in question from Musgrove this morning makes it pretty clear that he believes Comer(@kevcomer) is coming to the Astros' organization. For the time being, it can seen in the Twitter Widget on the right side of this page.

Comer, a 20 year-old right-handed pitcher, was drafted 57th over-all in 2011 out of high school in New Jersey.  He signed  for a reported $1.65 million on August 15, 2011, so today would mark the full year since his signing to make the trade official.  Comer was ranked as the 17th best prospect in the Toronto system by Baseball America heading into the 2011 season.

 Comer has made 10 appearances(seven starts) for Bluefield in the Appalachian League this summer. 
He has posted a 3.95 ERA in 43 1/3 innings.  In a start against the Astros' affiliate, Greeneville on July 31, Comer allowed one unearned run and seven hits in 4 and 2/3 innings.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Domingo Santana was a PTBNL

While I have been providing information about which Toronto draft picks signed when last summer, I have neglected to lay out another PTBNL scenario which is fairly common on baseball's transaction page.  Often when two teams decide to have a PTBNL as part of a trade, the two teams agree on a list of possible candidates.  After a period of time, the acquiring team picks one of the players to complete the deal. 

This genre of PTBNL was seen last summer in the Hunter Pence to Philadelphia trade.  My understanding is that the Astros had a list of players(number unknown) to consider as a fourth candidate after they received Singleton, Cosart and Zeid from the Philies.  I assume that teams use the "To Be Named Later" time to further scout the options so that they can make the best decision possible.  In the case of the Pence trade, the Astros decided on outfielder Domingo Santana, who is currently playing in Lancaster.

All the talk about PsTBNL reminds me of a story about the ultimate PTBNL

In 1984, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic named Jose Gonzalez made it to the majors with St. Louis. The player eventually decided that Gonzalez, his paternal last name, was too common in baseball.  For the sake of uniqueness, he began using his maternal surname and became Jose Uribe.  Apparently, the switch was successful as he remained Jose Uribe through the final season of his major league career- 1993 with Houston. Uribe was often referred to by teammates and others as THE player to be named later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Five Valley Cats at Season's Final All-Star Game

The final minor league all-star game of the 2012 season takes place tonight in Ohio and five members of the Tri-City Valley Cats are scheduled to be there.  The New York-Penn League All-Star Game is set to begin at 6:35(Minute Maid Park time) in Niles, Ohio, the home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. 

The Valley Cats will be represented in the contest by three pitchers, Aaron West, Blake Ford, and Brian Holmes.  Valley Cat catcher Tyler Heineman and infielder Austin Elkins will be on the National League squad as well. Outfielder Andrew Aplin and catcher Jobduan Morales were also selected to play in the game; however, they have both consequently been promoted to a higher level in the Astros' organization and will be unable to participate.

RedHawks Have Fallen Quickly in the Standings

Whatever Oklahoma City was doing on the field in July, it has not carried over into the month of August. The RedHawks had a 16-12 record last month,(they were 15-8 with five days left in July) and they entered the final full month of the season in the thick of the pennant race in the PCL's American Conference South Division.

So far in August, the Astros' AAA affiliate is 1 and 11 and has fallen to third place 7.5 games out of the division lead with only three weeks left in the regular season. In fact, with a 63-59 ledger over-all, the RedHawks are now as close to last place Round Rock as they are to first place Albuquerque.  Tony DeFrancesco's club has lost its last ten games. Going back to July 27, they have lost 15 of 17 contests.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Whataburger Field Scoreboard Gets a Workout

Corpus Christi is leaving town for a road trip after their home game Monday night.  It's a good thing too, since after Sunday night's game the Whataburger Field scoreboard will need a little time to recover. In the shadow of the USS Lexington, the Hooks brought out the heavy artillery against Springfield.  They scored a team record 20 runs in the game and 12 runs in one inning(the sixth).  The Hooks batters had 20 hits and  36 total bases. 

Seven individuals had multiple hit games.  Jon Singleton had two home runs and four RBI.  Ben Orloff had five hits and four RBI.  Austin Wates entered the contest in the top of the sixth inning and still ended up with three hits and two RBI.

If the PTBNL is a Blue Jays' 2011 Draft Pick-Revisited

12 of Toronto's draft picks in 2011 didn't sign until August last summer.  This is relevant, because it means any of these players could be the PTBNL who would complete July's trade between Houston and Toronto.

Signed on August 12, 2011

Jacob Anderson, OF, 1st Round Compensatory
Tom Robson, RHP, 4th Round
Brady Dragmire, RHP, 17th Round
Derrick Loveless, OF, 27th Round

Signed on August 14, 2011

Dwight Smith, OF- 1st Round Compensatory
John Stilson, RHP- 3rd Round
Anthony DeScalfani, RHP- 6th Round
Mark Biggs, RHP- 8th Round

Signed on August 15, 2011

Daniel Norris, LHP- 2nd Round
Christian Lopes, IF- 7th Round
Matthew Dean, 3B- 13th Round

Signed on August 17, 2011

Kevin Comer, RHP- 1st Round Compensatory

NOTE: By rule, a player cannot be traded until a full calendar year after he signs.

NOTE:  After getting these dates from the Blue Jays' website, I have realized that the signing deadline last year was August 15, so Comer had to have signed earlier. 

Elias to Replace Heck

During Saturday night's game, Jeff Luhnow announced that Bobby Heck's contract will not be renewed, and that Mike Elias will replace Heck as the team's scouting director.  Elias came to the Astros from St. Louis shortly after Luhnow, and has been serving as a special assistant to the General Manager.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Springer is Gone from Lancaster, but his Signature is Still There

As most of you have read, George Springer has been promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi.  However, thanks to the diligence of JetHawks' announcer Jason Schwartz, Springer's autograph IS on the team-signed ball that will be given away Saturday night during JOIN JASON SCWARTZ IN SAN JOSE.

You may want to study up on your JetHawks and Astros minor league trivia before Saturday night.  #JJSNSJ

Correa and Ruiz are Done in Florida

2012 Draft Picks Carlos Correa and Rio Ruiz have been promoted to Greeneville from the Gulf Coast League Astros. According to a tweet by the Greeneville Astros, the pair of prospects will be in uniform for the club's game at Princeton Saturday night. Greeneville has 17 regular season games remaining. They are currently one-half game out of a play-off spot. Correa, the first over-all pick in the June draft, was 36 for 155 in Florida. He had 11 doubles, one triple, two home runs, nine RBI and five stolen bases. Ruiz, a fourth round selection, batted .271 in the Gulf Coast League. He was 23 for 85 with eight doubles, two triples, and 11 RBI.

2012 Farmstros Five- Week #18 (Luhnow-stros Edition)

With the passing of the trade deadline, this week's Farmstros Five is focused on only those players who joined the organization under Jeff Luhnow's watch.  At the moment, there are approximately 70 Luhnow-stros competing in the minor leagues.

The Farmstros Five (Luhow-stros Edition) for the week of August 2-8, 2012:

The Top Four:

Tyler Heineman, 21, C, Tri-City.  (2012 Draft Pick). Heineman was 13 for 27 with four doubles and eight RBI.

Angel Ibanez, 21, 3B, Greeneville. (2012 Draft Pick).  Ibanez was 13 for 29 with six doubles and nine RBI.

Marc Krauss, 24, OF, Corpus Christ/Oklahoma City. (Trade). Between AA and AAA, Krauss was 11 for 29 with three home runs and 12 RBI.

Aaron West, 22, RHP, Tri-City. (2012 Draft Pick).  West made two starts for the Valley Cats.  He allowed 11 hits and one run, striking out 15 in 13 IP.

Who is the Farmstros Five #5- Week 18

Brian Blasik, 22, IF, Greeneville. (Non-Drafted Free Agent). Blasik was 11 for 28 with two triples and five RBI.

Bobby Borchering, 21, OF, Corpus Christi. (Trade).  Borchering said "Hello" to the organization with two doubles, two home runs, six RBI and seven hits in 22 at bats.

Carlos Correa, 17, SS, GCL Astros. (2012 Draft). Correa was 7 for 22 with one triple and two RBI.

Drew Locke, 29, OF, Corpus Christi. (Minor League Free Agent). Locke returned to the organization after being allowed to leave as a free agent in the off-season.  During the week, he was 10 for 24 with four doubles, one home run and four RBI.

Lance McCullers, 18, RHP, Greeneville. (2012 Draft Pick). In his first start after being promoted to Greeneville, McCullers allowed one hit and struck out four in four scoreless innnings.

David Rollins, 22, LHP, Lexington. (Trade).  Rollins pitched five scoreless innings.  He gave up two hits and struck out two.

Legends Leap Back into Play-off Picture

With a little more than three weeks left in the regular season, Lexington has won eight of their last 10 games to jump back into the South Atlantic League play-off race. Heading into Saturday's play, the Legends trail Rome in the 2nd Half South Division standings by 2.5 games. The Legends are one of six Astros' affiliates still in the post-season hunt.

Greeneville is a half a game out of the second play-off spot in the Appalachian League South.  The G'stros trail Johnson City heading into the final two weeks of their season.

Tri-City is running away with the NYPL Stedler Divsion.  The Valley Cats have a 14 game lead with 22 games to play. Their magic number is nine.

Lancaster, still playing in California tonight as I keyboard this sentence, is leading the race for the California League South's wild-card spot by three games over Rancho Cucamonga.

Corpus Christi is in line to take the Texas League South Division second half. They lead San Antonio by 4.5 games.

Oklahoma City's hopes are fading.  A 2-11 run has dropped them into third place in the PCL American Conference South Division.  They trail division-leading Albuquerque by five games.

Minor's August off to a Good Start

Greeneville right-hander Daniel Minor continued his solid start to the month of August Friday night.  The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi product allowed one hit and struck out 11 while pitching seven scoreless innings against Princeton.  In his most recent start on August 4, Minor allowed two hits and no runs in six innings at home against Johnson City.

Organization's Martinez Club Almost has a Quorum in OKC

With the demotion of J.D. from Houston and the promotion of Jose from Corpus Christi, half of the Martinezes in the Astros' system are now on the Oklahoma City roster.  Jose and J.D. join Fernando with the RedHawks.  The remaining members of the club are David, RHP, Lancaster; Michael, 1B, Greeneville; and Yonquelys, RHP, DSL Astros.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Longest DH Stretch of Season Unkind to RedHawks Thus Far

Oklahoma City is three-fourths of the way through their longest stretch of the season using the Designated Hitter, and the experience has not been friendly to their position in the standings.  The RedHawks have played their last 12 games against affiliates of American League teams. As a result, they have been able to use the Designated Hitter in their lineup.  However, the Astros' AAA affiliate has won only two of those 12 games.

OKC began this stretch of games neck and neck with Albuquerque for the American Conference South Division lead in the PCL.  Through Wednesday's games, the RedHawks have fallen into third place behind Albuquerque and New Orleans.  They are now 4.5 games out of the division lead with only 25 games left in the regular season.  They finish off this 16-game DH stretch with a four game home series against Sacramento(affiliated with Oakland) that begins Friday.

During the 12 game stretch, the RedHawks pitchers have given up almost six and 1/2 runs a game.(77 runs) The RedHawks' DH-enhanced offense has scored a little more than four runs a contest(50 runs total).

A breakdown of Oklahoma City's Designated Hitters-

Total- 13 for 46 (.283), four doubles, two home runs, and nine RBI.

Fernando Martinez- (five games)- 5 for 23 (.217), three doubles, one home run and five RBI

Travis Buck- (four games)- 7 for 14 (.500), one double, one RBI

Brett Wallace- (one game)- 1 for 2, one home run, three RBI

Chris Wallace- (one game)- 0 for 3

Jimmy Paredes- (one game)- 0 for 4

Three Days Until We Join Jason Schwartz in San Jose

Just a reminder that you are invited to gather around your computer and your Twitter stream on Saturday night August 11 when the Farmstros Village Joins Jason Schwartz in San Jose (#JJSNSJ). This is the third year that Farmstros will be hosting a Game Listening, Twitter Experience during a JetHawks game. The game begins at 7 pm(Minute Maid Park time) on Saturday, August 11. There will be a few prizes given away including a CC Hooks Camo hat, thanks to the Legends and the Hooks, a ball signed by the JetHawks and a JetHawks' team card set.  The last two items, thanks to the JetHawks.

Only one prize per Twitter handle will be awarded.  Prizes will be given away to the first person to correctly answer trivia questions using either #JJSNSJ and/or @farmstros in their reply.
Please join us as we #JJSNSJ.

NOTE: The trivia questions will be read on the air by Schwartz so you need to be listening to him.  I won't be tweeting out the questions.

Another "Ex-Cardinal" is in the Fold in the D.R.

Left-handed pitcher Erick Hurtado began his pro career as a member of the Astros' organization last week.  His first pitch as a DSL Astro was thrown after a detour and a delay.

Hurtado, 17 from the Dominican Republic, originally signed with St. Louis in February of 2012.  However, in March, the contract with the Cardinals was canceled when Hurtado was put on a 50-game suspension for the use of anabolic steroids.  Seeing that Hurtado took the field in the DSL Astros' 51st game of 2012, it appears that he signed between the day he received his suspension and the beginning of the Dominican Summer League season.

So You Want to Be the Astros' Roving Reporter of the Future?

If you signed up for the Astros Radio Apprentice Contest, you may be wondering if anyone on the current radio team has any advice for you as you approach Monday's interview session.  Back in April, Dave Raymond took a few minutes to talk to the Farmstros Village about being a baseball broadcaster.  If you listen to the interview, you can hear the advice Raymond gave to individuals looking to get into the broadcasting business. The whole interview is about eight minutes long and merits a listen before you head for Minute Maid Park on Monday morning.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Luhnow's Fingerprints All over the Valley Cats' All-Star Selections

Six of the Seven Tri-City players named to represent the Valley Cats in next week's New York-Penn League All-Star Game became part of the Astros organization during General Manager Jeff Luhnow's watch.  Andrew Aplin, OF; Austin Elkins, IF; Tyler Heineman, C; Aaron West, RHP and Brian Holmes, LHP were drafted by the Astros two months ago.  Luhnow acquired catcher Jobduan Morales from Miami earlier this season for Justin Ruggiano.  The only all-star who is a hold over from the previous administration is Tri-City closer Blake Ford who was drafted in the summer of 2011.

The NYPL All-Star Game is scheduled to take place in Niles, Ohio the home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Tuesday, August 14.

Looking Ahead to the 2012 Rule 5 Draft

With the end of the minor league regular season less than a month away,  here are 10 players in the organization who will be vulnerable to the Rule 5 draft in December for the first time this year. Any of these players that aren't placed on the 40-man roster by the November deadline could be lost in the draft.

Erik Castro, IF, Lancaster
Jose Cisnero, RHP, Oklahoma City
Jarred Cosart, RHP, Oklahoma City
Robbie Grossman, OF, Corpus Christi
Marc Krauss, OF, Oklahoma City
Chia-jen Lo, RHP, Lancaster
Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, Oklahoma City
Ross Seaton, RHP, Corpus Christi
Jason Stoffel, RHP, Corpus Christi
Jonathan Villar, SS, Corpus Christi

NOTE:  Lexington reliever Dayan Diaz, who has been Rule 5 previously, will be eligible for minor league free agency for the first time after this season.

NOTE #2:  Not sure why, but I had Cosart and Krauss listed as Rule 5 eligible after 2013. Thanks to @subber10 for pointing out that they should be eligible after this season.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

2012 Farmstros Five- Week #17 (The Throwback Edition)

The Farmstros Offices are closed for a few days, so the Farmstros Five for the week is a throwback edition.  Following is the first Farmstros Five I ever selected for this blog. I posted it on April 9, 2008.  The players' ages listed are from 2008.

Rob Cosby, 27, IF, Corpus Christi. The infielder hit a home run with two outs in the ninth inning Monday sending the game into extra-inning and keeping the Hooks winning streak alive. Over-all, Cosby was 9/26 with two homeruns and 10 RBIs for the week.

Eli Iorg, 25, OF, Corpus Christi. The Hooks' new centerfielder doubled the pleasure of fans in South Texas this week. Iorg had walk-off RBI singles in two extra-inning victories for the Hooks, including one on opening night. Over-all, he was 8 for 23 with four RBIs.
Nick Moresi, 23, OF, Lexington. The outfielder hit a grand-slam on opening night to tie the Legends' game in the seventh inning.

Fernando Nieve, 25, RHP, Round Rock.The Express righthander looked sharp in his first start of the season. He pitched five innings and gave up just one hit, while striking out five. If he stays healthy, he may not be in Round Rock long.

Bud Norris, 23, RHP, Corpus Christi. The right-hander burst onto the Texas League scene with five shutout innings and eight strikeouts in his Whataburger Field debut.

NOTE: I will post the Farmstros Five for Week #18 on August 9.  That edition will focus on the performances of the Luhnow-stros, those players who have joined the organization during the time Jeff Luhnow has been the General Manager.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July 2012 Farmstros Pitcher of the Month

Who is the July 2012 Pitcher of the Month?

Here are the performances of the 11 candidates for the July 2012 Pitcher of the Month. Please note that the statistics for players with Tri-City, Greeneville, and the GCL Astros include those games played in June.

Travis Ballew, 21, RHP, Tri-City.  Ballew pitched in 12 games for the Valley Cats.  He posted a 1.17 ERA in 23 IP.  He struck out 28 and gave up 11 hits.

Kevin Chapman, 24, LHP, Corpus Christi.  Chapman allowed just six hits in 11 2/3 innings out of the Hooks' bullpen.  He posted a 1.54 ERA with nine strikeouts and two saves.

Jose Cisnero, 23, RHP, Corpus Christi/Oklahoma City.  In five starts between AA and AAA, Cisnero struck out 31 batters in 33 2/3 IP.  He gave up 25 hits and posted an over-all ERA of 2.41.

Zachary Dando, 22, RHP, Greeneville.  Dando made 11 appearances for the G'stros.  He posted a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 IP. 

Blake Ford, 24, RHP, Tri-City.  Ford recorded 11 saves for the Valley Cats.  He had 18 strikeouts in 19 IP and finished July with a 1.89 ERA.

Erick Gonzalez, 20, RHP, GCL Astros.  Gonzalez was in Ford's rear-view mirror with nine saves.  He had an 0.96 ERA in 14 appearances.

Chia-jen Lo, 26, RHP, GCL Astros/Lancaster.  Most of Lo's month was spent rehabbing with the Astros' GCL entry.  Between that stint and his time with Lancaster, Lo made 11 appearances, allowing seven hits and one earned run while striking out 17 over 16 innings.

Carlos Quevedo, 22, RHP, Lexington/Lancaster.  Quevedo made a total of eight appearances on the month.  Over 20 IP, he struck out 22, allowed 13 hits and posted a 1.80 ERA.

Javier Saucedo, 18, LHP, DSL Astros.  In seven appearances, Saucedo allowed 10 hits and three earned runs.  He struck out 13, posting a 1.72 ERA.

Mickey Storey, 26, RHP, Oklahoma City.  Storey made 13 appearances for the RedHawks.  He posted a 1.93 ERA and struck out 24 batters in 18 2/3 IP.

Aaron West, 22, RHP, Tri-City.  The 2012 draft pick made seven starts for Tri-City.  He allowed just 22 hits in 37 innings and posted an 0.97 ERA.

July 2012 Farmstros Player of the Month

Who is the Player of the Month for July 2012?

Here are the performances of the candidates for the July 2012 Farmstros Player of the Month. Please note that the statistics for players with Tri-City, Greeneville, and the GCL Astros include those games played in June.

Andrew Aplin, 21, OF, Tri-City.  The 2012 draft pick was 50 for 135 for the Valley Cats.  He had seven doubles, four triples, four home runs, 19 RBI, 31 runs scored and 17 stolen bases.

Brandon Barnes, 26, OF, Oklahoma City.  Barnes was 31 for 93 in July.  He had eight doubles, one triple, two home runs and 19 RBI.

Jean Batista, 20, IF, Greeneville.  Batista batted .333(50 for 150).  He had 20 extra-base hits, 26 RBI and 20 runs scored.

Delino DeShields, 19, 2B, Lexington.  DeShields was 41 for 108 on the month.  He had seven doubles, four home runs, 28 runs scored and 20 stolen bases.

Austin Elkins, 21, IF, Tri-City.  Elkins was 48 for 142 in his New York-Penn League debut.  He had eight doubles, two triples, three home runs and 19 RBI.

Drew Locke, 29, OF, Corpus Christi.  Locke batted .371(36 for 97).  He had seven doubles and 19 RBI.

Jimmy Paredes, 23, IF/OF, Oklahoma City.  Paredes keeps hitting in OKC.  He was 36 for 103 in July.  He had 11 extra-base hits, including five home runs and 19 runs scored.

Jarico Reynoso, 19, OF, DSL Astros.  Reynoso was 24 for 78 with two doubles and six RBI.

Darwin Rivera, 20, IF, GCL Astros.  Rivera had 22 RBI on the month.  He had 11 doubles and three home runs, while batting .336.

Domingo Santana, 19, OF, Lancaster.  Santana drove in 29 JetHawk teammates in July.  He was 29 for 101 with seven home runs and four doubles.

Jon Singleton, 20, 1B, Corpus Christi.  Singleton bounced back from a rough June, batting .347(33 for 95) in July.  He had nine doubles, two triples, three home runs and 14 RBI.

Georger Springer, 22, OF, Lancaster.  Springer was 42 for 108 in the month.  He had seven doubles, two triples, three home runs, 24 RBI, 27 runs scored and nine stolen bases.

Astros AAA affiliate is in the Pacific Northwest

The RedHawks start a series in Tacoma, Washington Wednesday night. The last time an Astros' affiliate played in the Pacific Northwest was in August 2010, when Round Rock traveled to Tacoma and Portland.  At that time, noted blogger/Tweeter Lee Stree(@streetJL) made the trip from Portland to Tacoma to see Jordan Lyles' second AAA start.  When the Express made it to Portland, Street did a few interviews for Farmstros.  Here's a look back at some of the coverage he provided:

Pictures of Lyles on the Mound

Interview with J.B. Shuck

Shuck and Lyles Talk, Maybe Loux Should Listen

Lyles Interview, Part I

Lyles Interview, Part II

Seven play-off teams are a Possibility

Now that July has ended, the minor league seasons are heading into their home stretch.  As of August 1, seven of the Astros' affiliates are still in the running to qualifty for their league's post-season. 

Here's  a rundown of the contenders:

Oklahoma City- With 34 games remaining on their Pacific Coast League schedule, the RedHawks are 1 and 1/2 games behind Albuquerque in the American Conference South Division.  Only the division winner makes the play-offs.

Corpus Christi- The Hooks have opened up a six game lead over San Antonio in the second half Texas League South Divsion race.  With 32 games to go, the Hooks are on a course to meet first-half division champion Frisco in the play-offs.

Lancaster- Through Tuesday night's games, the JetHawks are four games ahead of Rancho Cucamonga for third place in over-all record in the California League's South Division.  Lancaster could still move up the standings and win the second half division title .   If they don't, the wild-card slot(given to the best over-all record of a non-division winner) will be their best bet.

Lexington- The Legends are in fourth place in the South Atlantic League South Division so far in the second half.  They are five behind division-leading Asheville with 31 games to play.

Tri-City- The Valley Cats lead the Stedler Division of the New York-Penn League by 10 games.

Greeneville- These Astros are one-half game ahead of Johnson City in the battle for the Appalachian League West Division's second play-off spot.

GCL Astros- The Florida entry is a long shot, but they still have a chance.  The GCL Astros are in second place, eight games behind the GCL Cardinals in that league's East Division.  As I type this, the Astros are in fifth place in the wild-card standings, four games behind the front-running Yankees.