farmstros can be reached at

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gone Fishin'

Top pick claimed again
A new affiliate in place
This poet's pen? Dry

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Astros are on the Clock

With their loss Monday night, the Astros officially clinched the first pick in the 2013 draft.  It will be the second consecutive year for Houston to have the top pick.  As Brian McTaggart and Clark Goble reported, Mike Elias and his scouting staff didn't wait for the pick to be official to start their preparations for the big day next June.

Baseball on the Banks of the Mississippi

Many thanks to the Quad Cities River Bandits for letting me use the above video. The spot was used to promote the 2012 River Bandits' season at Modern Woodmen Park. 

Fittingly for a ballpark in Iowa, Modern Woodmen Park has a real corn field growing down the left field line.  Thanks to Kirk Clark for the heads up on this fact.

It's the River Bandits

The Quad Cities River Bandits have announced that they will be the Low A affiliate of the Houston Astros beginning in 2013.  Several sources on Twitter have reported that the agreement is for two seasons.

Quad Cities River Bandits website
2013 Schedule

Links to posts I have done about the Astros' Low A affliation switch:

The River Bandits Will Choose Today

Will River Bandits Give Astros their rose?

What Will Catch the Eye of a River Bandit?

Looks Like the Legends Found Better Apples

Astros get an Early Start on AL West Rivalries

Introducing the Legends New Dance Partner

Looking for MWL information?

After 10 years away, the Astros are heading back to the Midwest League

Coming Soon to Modern Woodmen Ballpark

Lexington has provided its share of Farmstros memories

Breakdown of Player Development Agreements

Coming Soon to Modern Woodmen Park

The picture above is of Modern Woodmen Stadium in Davenport, Iowa.  It is posted with the permission of the creator of Midwest League Traveler.  He visited every stadium in the Midwest League in 2011 and is writing a book about that experience.

The quality of talent that a Major League franchise has the potential of sending its affiliates is not the only factor considered by a minor league franchise choosing a big league organization.  However, it is usually a big one.  A consistent stream of talent, leads to a better product on the field, which, as a general rule,  leads to more consistent fan interest in the affiliate's community.

Now, that Quad Cities has signed a two-year PDC with Houston, here are a few of the players who have a strong possibility of playing at Modern Woodmen Ballpark, the home of the River Bandits in Davenport, Iowa. The 2013 River Bandits home opener will be April 11 vs. Peoria(the Cardinals' affiliate).

Ages are as of April 4, 2013(Opening Day)

Travis Ballew, 21, RHP.  2012 draft pick had a 1.62 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 39 innings for Tri-City.

Jean Batista,  21, IF.  Split 2012 between Greeneville and Tri-City.  Had 31 extra-base hits and a .318 average in 63 games.

Brian Blasik, 23, IF.  2012 undrafted free agent was Greeneville's MVP with a .318 average and 43 RBI.

Kevin Comer, 20, RHP.   First-Round pick of Toronto in 2011.  Acquired via trade in 2012.

Carlos Correa, 18, SS.  The #1 pick in the draft spent the summer with the Gulf Coast Astros and Greeneville.

Tyler Heineman, 21, C.  2012 draft pick won the NYPL batting title.

Adrian Houser, 20, RHP. 2011 draft pick made 11 starts for Greeneville and struck out 54 in 58 IP.

Lance McCullers, 19, RHP. Second player the Astros took in the 2012 draft.

Daniel Minor, 22, RHP.  2012 draft pick had an 0.35 ERA for Greeneville in August and September.

Joe Musgrove, 20, RHP.  First-round  pick of Toronto in 2011. Acquired via trade in 2012.

Brady Rodgers, 22, RHP.  Third Round pick in 2012, Rodgers had a 2.82 ERA in 12 starts for Tri-City.

Rio Ruiz, 18, IF.  Fourth Round pick in 2012 draft. Finished summer with Greeneville.

Aaron West, 22, RHP.  2012 draft pick led Tri-City starters with a 2.04 ERA.

#1 pick in 2013 draft.  It's not official yet, but Houston will clinch the #1 spot in a matter of days.

The River Bandits Will Choose Today

Monday afternoon, shortly after 2 pm (Minute Maid Park Tme), the Quad Cities River Bandits are scheduled to announce which Major League team's Low A affiliate they will be in 2013.  Reportedly, three teams (Oakland, Houston, and the Los Angels Angels) are in the running for the hand of the Davenport, Iowa-based River Bandits.  The two big league teams that don't land in Quad Cities will be left with Burlington, Iowa and Beloit, Wisconsin as Class Low A options.

If you are on Twitter, you can get the latest news on today's announcement from the River Bandits' Twitter feed. You can also check the River Bandits' website.

Who can Bring the Most Wins to Quad Cities?

As the minutes count down to Quad Cities' announcement of its affiliation decision, here is a look at how the Major League teams in the running to be River Bandits in 2013 fared at the lower levels of minor league baseball during the 2012 season. The following records are for teams below Quad Cities developmentally.


Tri-City- 51-25(2nd in 14-team New York-Penn League)
Greeneville-36-32(T5th in 10-team Appalachian League)
GCL Astros- 28-31(9th in 14-team Gulf Coast League)
DSL Astros-22-47(32nd in 35-team Dominican Summer League)

Over-all- 137-135(.504)

Los Angeles Angels

AZL Angels- 23-33(10th in 13-team Arizona League)
DSL Angels-40-24(5th in 35-team Dominican Summer League)
Orem Owlz-35-41(T6th in 8-team Pioneer League)

Over-all- 98-98(.500)


Vermont Lake Monsters- 33-43(10th in 14-team New York-Penn League)
AZL A's- 37-17(1st in 13-team Arizona League)
DSL A's- 26-41(31st in 35-team Dominican Summer League)

Over-all- 96-101(.487)

Astros are Almost Officially on the Clock

As play begins Monday, the Astros need one loss or one Rockies win over the last 10 days of the season to clinch the first pick in the 2013 draft.  With nine games remaining, the Astros are 50-103.  Colorado is 58-94 with 10 games left on their schedule.  In determining draft order, a tie is broken by comparing teams' records from the previous(2011) season, so the Astros hold the tie-breaker with Colorado.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Jankowski Selected the 2012 Pitcher of the Year

In a poll that concluded Saturday night, the Farmstros Village voted Jordan Jankowski the 2012 Pitcher of the Year. Jankowski, who was selected by the Astros in the 34th Round of the 2012 draft, received 809 out of 1544 total votes.

After signing, Jankowski spent the summer with Greeneville. Coming out of the bullpen, he struck out 53 in 32 1/3 IP. He had a 2.23 ERA in 23 appearances in his professional debut.

2012 draft pick Aaron West finished second in the voting with 592 votes. Mike Hauschild(56 votes) and Mike Foltynewicz(41) were third and fourth.

Will River Bandits Give Astros Their Rose?

Heading into the final week of the affiliation shuffle, Daniel Makarewicz of has posted an informative article about the three teams vying for the hand of the Quad Cities River Bandits. The article indicates that the River Bandits could reach a decision on who to affiliate with early this week. The final candidates are the Astros, the Angels and Oakland.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What Will Catch the Eye of a River Bandit?

Everything I am reading indicates that Quad Cities is the best option of the three remaining Midwest League franchises available for affiliation.  Sorry, Beloit and Burlington.  Part of wooing the River Bandits is convincing them that they will consistently receive quality teams from their future parent club.  With that in mind, here is a look at the recent(2007-2012) Low A track records of the three AL West teams(including the Astros) in the running for Quad Cities.

2007-Lexington- 59-81
2008- Lexington-45-93
2009- Lexington-68-72
2010- Lexington-71-68
2011- Lexington-59-79
2012- Lexington-69-69

2007- Kane County-63-76
2008- Kane County- 72-66(Play-offs)
2009- Kane County-76-64(Play-offs)
2010- Kane County-71-67(Play-offs)
2011- Burlington-76-62(Play-offs)
2012- Burlington-67-72(Play-offs)

2007- Cedar Rapids-78-61(Play-offs)
2008- Cedar Rapids-72-66(Play-offs)
2009- Cedar Rapids-78-60(Play-offs)
2010- Cedar Rapids-82-56(Play-offs)
2011- Cedar Rapids-61-78
2012- Cedar Rapids-53-86

Looks like the Legends Found Better Apples

It was insightful to watch the Legends' press conference announcing their new affiliation with the Kansas City Royals. Especially during Andy Shea's portion of the press conference, it is obvious that the Jeff Luhnow Kool-Aid hasn't reached Kentucky yet. Shea, the President & COO of the Legends mentions that the "level of professionalism as well as the dedication to the minor league system" of the Royals organization is "very exciting and very new" to the Lexington franchise.

Since their last play-off appearance in 2006, the Legends have had only one winning season.  In the 12-years the Legends were an Astros' affiliate, they played a total of only eight play-off games over three appearances.

2007- 59-81  (Average Home Attendance- 5754)
2008- 45-93  (5450)
2009- 68-72  (4964)
2010- 71-68  (4872)
2011- 59-79  (4880)
2012- 69-69 (4352)

I can understand the Legends desire to seek greener pastures.  If I go to my local grocery store and keep getting rotten apples year after year after year, I am going to seek another grocery store.  If I find one that sells me good apples at a fair price, I'm going there as soon as I can.

Will DeShields Steal Third Base at MMP Friday?

Delino DeShields' presence at Friday night's Astros' game at Minute Maid Park makes a unique promotional event possible. 

During the fifth inning of every Astros' home game, Chevrolet and the Houston Area Chevy Dealers sponsor a "Chevy Youth Base Stealer" promotion.  During this promotion, a randomly-selected youngster runs onto the field and "steals" third base, literally pulling it out of the ground.  The child gets to take the stolen base home as a souvenir of the event. Given that DeShields had the highest single-season stolen base in franchise history in 2012, it would be fitting if he ran to third base and "stole:" the base along with tonight's youth participant.

DeShields will be joined at tonight's contest by fellow prospect, Mike Foltynewicz.  DeShields and Foltynewicz are being honored as the organization's player and pitcher of the year in a pre-game ceremony.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

DeShields and Foltynewicz Coming to Minute Maid Park

According to Brian McTaggart, Delino DeShields and Mike Foltynewicz will be honored at Minute Maid Park before the Astros' game on Friday.  McTaggart also passes on information about the offensive player of the post-season in the New York-Penn League and the California League.

Astros Get an Early Start on AL West Rivalries

In St. Louis, the Astros are heading into the final home stretch of NL Central competition.  However, up the Mississippi River a few hundred miles, the club is getting an early start on a few of their AL West rivalries.

The Astros, Angels, and Athletics are currently in a competition for the three final affiliate spots available in the Low A Midwest League.  The available locations are Quad Cities(Davenport, IA), Burlington(IA), and Beloit(WI).  Houston is in need of a new Low A affiliate since their 12-year relationship with the Lexington Legends has ended.  Lexington announced Wednesday that they will be a Kansas City Royals' affiliate.

Quad Cities was a Cardinals' affiliate since 2005.  However, the leadership of the Peoria franchise convinced St. Louis to return.   Burlington has been Oakland's affiliate for two seasons, and there is the possibility that the A's will return to the Iowa venue.  Beloit was left behind as an affiliate by the Minnesota Twins after eight seasons.

In case you'd like to start planning to watch the Low A Astros' affiliate in 2013, here are links to the schedules of all three franchises.

Beloit Snappers

Burlington Bees

Quad Cities River Bandits

Introducing the Legends New Dance Partner

For the first time in the franchise's 12-year history, the Lexington Legends are not an affiliate of the Houston Astros. Beginning in April 2013, Whitaker Bank Ballpark will be used for the development of players on their way to Kaufman Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals. For fans of the Legends, here's a brief introduction to your new dance partner in the Major League Baseball Affiliation Dance.  

Where Will the Players Come From?

The Royals have three affiliates below Lexington, developmentally speaking. In descending order, these are the Idaho Falls Chukars of the Pioneer League, the Burlington(NC) Royals of the Appalachian League, and the Arizona League Royals based in Surprise, Arizona.

A Few Possible Legends for 2013

Humberto Arteaga, 19, SS.  Arteaga spent 2012 with Burlington.  He had a .274 batting average with 18 extra-base hits in 58 games.

Elier Hernandez, 18, OF.  Hernandez was in Idaho Falls in 2012.  He had 34 RBI in 60 games.

Bubba Starling, 20, OF.  Starling was the Royals' first round pick in 2011.  He spent 2012 in Burlington, batting .275 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI in 53 games.

Kyle Zimmer, 21, RHP.  The Royals picked Zimmer in the first round of the 2012 draft.  He finished the year at Kane County(Low A) with six starts and a 2.43 ERA.

Where Will the Players Go From Lexington?

The road to Kaufman Stadium  from Lexington includes three stops.  The Royals' High A affiliate is the Wilmington Blue Rocks in Delaware.  The Northwest Arkansas Naturals in Springdale, Arkansas are the Royals' AA destination.  The final stop before Kansas City is the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers.

How Has the Royals' Low A Affiliate Done on the Field Recently?

2012- Kane County- 68-72
2011- Kane County- 65-74(Play-off Appearance)
2010- Burlington- 46-90
2009- Burlington- 62-67( Play-off Appearance)
2008- Burlington-73-65(Midwest League Champions)
2007- Burlington-61-77 

Spring Training plans may need to be altered

The Royals carry out their Spring Training in Arizona.  Their camp is based in Surprise.

NOTE: The Royals also have an affiliate in the Domincan Summer League.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Looking for MWL Information?

Once the Astros join the Midwest League, it will take their new affiliate two years to visit all the ballparks in the new league.  However, the creator of the Midwest League Traveler has already visited every park in the Midwest League and blogged about the experience.  According to his blog, Craig Wieczorkiewicz visited every park in the league in 2011 and is writing a book about it.

After 10 years away, Astros heading Back to the Midwest League

It has been 10 years since the Astros have been affiliated with a team in the Midwest League.  However, Houston has 16 years of history in the league.  Here's a brief rundown.

1999-2002- Michigan Battle Cats(Battle Creek, MI)

Players of Note- Roy Oswalt, Johan Santana, Jason Lane, Chris Burke, Chad Qualls

1993-1998- Quad Cities River Bandits(Davenport, IA)

Players of Note- Brad Lidge, Johan Santana, Billy Wagner, Freddy Garcia, Richard Hidalgo, Craig Bjornsen(current Astros' bullpen coach)

Manager of Note- Manny Acta(1997)

1991-1992- Burlington Astros(Burlington, IA)

Player of Note- Manny Acta

1975-1976- Dubuque Packers(Dubuque, IA)

Players of Note- Bruce Bochy, Terry Puhl, Luis Pujols

1973-1974- Cedar Rapids Astros(Cedar Rapids, IA)

Players of Note- Joe Sambito, Luis Pujols

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012 Farmstros Pitcher of the Year

Following are the candidates for the 2012 Farmstros Pitcherr of the Year award and a summary of their performances.  Please note that players promoted to Houston prior to September 1 are not eligible for this award per Farmstros policy.  Play-off performances are not included in these summaries.

Travis Ballew, 21, RHP, Tri-City. Ballew made 23 appearances for the ValleyCats.  He had a 1.62 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched.

Jose Cisnero, 23, RHP, Corpus Christi/Oklahoma City. Cisnero made 28 starts between AA and AAA.  He had a 3.70 ERA in 148 1/3 IP.  He struck out 148.

Jarred Cosart, 22, RHP, Corpus Christi/Oklahoma City. Cosart had a 3.30 ERA between the RedHawks and the Hooks.  He pitched a total of 114 2/3 innings.

Dayan Diaz, 23, RHP, Lexington. Diaz led the Legends with 19 saves.  He had 64 strikeouts and a 1.85 ERA in 58 1/3 innings.

Mike Foltynewicz, 20, RHP, Lexington. Foltynewicz led the organization with 14 wins.  He had a 3.14 ERA in 27 starts.

Edison Frias, 21, RHP, GCL Astros. Frias had a 2.14 ERA in 46 1/3 innings.
Mike Hauschild, 22, RHP, Greeneville. The 2012 draft pick had a 1.78 ERA with 39 strikeouts for Greeneville in 30 1/3 IP.

Jordan Jankowski, 23, RHP, Greeneville. Jankowski had 53 strikeouts in just 32 1/3 IP.  His ERA in 32 1/3 IP was 2.23.

Jeremiah Meiners, 24, LHP, Tri-City. Meiners allowed only 30 hits in 41 innings. He had a 1.98 ERA for the ValleyCats.

Carlos Quevedo, 23, RHP, Lexington/Lancaster. Quevedo walked only 16 and struck out 96 in a total of 40 appearances.  He had a 3.22 ERA in 86 2/3 innings.

Jason Stoffel, 24, RHP, Corpus Christi. Stoffel led the organization with 27 saves.  He posted a 2.33 ERA in 56 games.

Nick Tropeano, 22, RHP, Lexington/Lancaster. In a total of 27 games(26 starts), he struck out 166 and posted a 3.02 ERA in 158 innings.

Edwin Villarroel, 17, LHP, DSL Astros. Villarroel had a 2.25 ERA in 68 innings.

Aaron West, 22, RHP, Tri-City. West made 12 starts for the ValleyCats.  He had a 2.04 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.

2012 Farmstros Five- Post-Season Edition

The Astros' farm system played in 19 post-season games in 2012.  Here is the Farmstros Five based on players' performances in those contests.

Jorge DeLeon, 25, RHP, Lancaster.  DeLeon picked up a win and a save in four scoreless appearances for the JetHawks.  He allowed two hits and struck out four in 6 1/3 IP.

Delino DeShields, 20, 2B, Lancaster. DeShields scored 11 runs in 10 play-off games.  He was 14 for 44 with two doubles, one home run and four stolen bases.  DeShields was named the MVP of the California League Championship Series.

Jonathan Meyer, 21, 3B, Lancaster. Meyer was 12 for 35 in the post-season.  He drove in 11 runs and had three doubles and two home runs.

Rob Rasmussen, 23, LHP, Corpus Christi. Rasmussen pitched seven scoreless in his lone play-off start for the Hooks.  He allowed five hits and struck out two.

Pat Urckfitz, 24, LHP, Lancaster. Urckfitz made five scoreless outings in middle relief for Lancaster.  He allowed six hits and struck out seven in 5 2/3 IP.

April 4, 2013

For those of you who like to plan ahead, here is the schedule for next season's opening day for the Astros' affiliates.

April 4, 2013

Oklahoma City at Memphis
Corpus Christi vs. Springfield
Lancaster vs. High Desert
Quad Cities at Kane County

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lexington has Provided Its share of Memories the Last Five Seasons

I have not read anything official, but all indications are that when new player development agreements are made public in the next few weeks the Lexington Legends will no longer be an affiliate of the Houston Astros.  If a Low A change does indeed become a reality for the Astros, it will end a 12-year relationship between Houston and Lexington that has played a part in the development of Hunter Pence, Bud Norris, Delino DeShields, Ben Zobrist, Brian Bogusevic, John Buck and more.

Although Farmstros only started following the Legends five years ago, keeping our eyes on Lexington, Kentucky has produced its share of memories:

September 2012-  Chris Devenski's no-hitter.- The first no-hitter in Whitaker Bank Ballpark history.

April 2012- The Farmstros Village Mom visits Lexington   

May 2011- Get on the Bus with the Legends- Chris Wallace provides an insight into life on a minor league bus

July 2010- Captain Kirk sets Lexington saves record

April 2010- The Bat Guy watches the Legends- Part of the genesis of How Many Altuves

April 2009- The Lexington Pitching staff gets out of the block in a hurry.

March 2008-  Opening Day roster 

January 2001- Where it all began 

DeShields is the Farmstros Player of the Year

After a season in which he stole more than 100 bases, it is fitting to be able to say that Delino DeShields, Jr. ran away with the Farmstros 2012 Player of the Year award.  DeShields received 149 of 263 votes from the Farmstros Village in a poll that concluded Saturday night.  DeShields's closest competitors were Brian Blasik(40 votes) and George Springer(35).

DeShields,20, split 2012 between Lexington and Lancaster.  He stole 101 bases, batted .287 and scored 113 runs over-all.  The second baseman was named the MVP of the California League Championship Series.  Baseball America selected him as the Player of the Year in the Low A classification for his performance with Lexington.

Farmstros' Pitcher of the Year voting is scheduled to begin Wednesday, September 19.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yes! Yes! Yes! the JetHawks Beat The Nuts

You can hear Jason Schwartz's call of the final out of the deciding game above.

Lancaster made quick work of the Nuts Saturday night, knocking off Modesto 3-2 in a little under two and one half hours to sweep the California League Championship Series, three games to none.  The title was the first in JetHawk franchise history.

Delino DeShields, who was named the series MVP, led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run to get the JetHawks on the board.  Domingo Santana and Erik Castro each drove in a run in the third inning to extend the lead to 3-0.

Starter Colton Cain, who got the victory,  combined with Pat Urckfitz, Jorge DeLeon and Kenny Long to limit Modesto to just two runs on six hits.  Long earned the save by inducing the only batter he faced to ground out to first base with the tying run on second in the top of the ninth. 

How This Champion Was Built

The JetHawks captured the California League Championship Saturday night.  The title was the first championship by an Astros' full season affiliate since the 2006 Corpus Christ Hooks.

The short season affiliate Tri-City Valley Cats won the New York-Penn League title in 2010. 2012 JetHawk play-off participants Jorge DeLeon, Carlos Quevedo, Drew Robinson, David Martinez and Telvin Nash were a part of the 2010 ValleyCats during their play-off run as well.

How was the JetHawk team built?  Here's a look:

Andrew Aplin, Draft 2012 (Brought into organization while Jeff Luhnow was GM)
Colton Cain, Trade 2012(Luhnow)
Erik Castro, Draft 2009(Ed Wade)
Jorge DeLeon, International 2006(Tim Purpura)
Delino DeShields, Draft 2010(Wade)
Brad Dydalewicz, Draft 2008(Wade)
Chris Epps, Draft 2011(Wade)
Chia-jen Lo, International 2008(Wade)
Kenny Long, Draft 2012(Luhnow)
David Martinez, International 2005(Purpura)
Jonathan Meyer, Draft 2009(Wade)
Jiovanni Mier, Draft 2009(Wade)
Telvin Nash, Draft 2009(Wade)
Roberto Pena, Draft 2010(Wade)
Carlos Perez, Trade 2012(Luhnow)
Tyson Perez, Draft 2011(Wade)
Carlos Quevedo, International 2006(Purpura)
Drew Robinson, Draft 2010(Wade)
Domingo Santana, Trade 2011(Wade)
Alex Todd, Draft 2011(Wade)
Jose Trinidad, International 2006(Purpura)
Nick Tropeano, Draft 2011(Wade)
Pat Urckfitz, Undrafted Free Agent 2008(Wade)
Rafael Valenzuela, Undrafted Free Agent 2010(Wade)
Blair Walters, Trade 2012(Luhnow)

Note: This is the club's active roster for the play-offs

Draft Picks- 14
Trade Acquistions-4
Undrafted Free Agents-2
International Signings-5

Saturday, September 15, 2012

2012 Farmstros' Play-off Central

Brought to you by Songs from Books, wherever people enjoy books and music.
All times listed are Minute Maid Park Time

Corpus Christi Hooks in Texas League Play-offs

First Round vs. Frisco(Best of Five)
RoughRiders win series, 3-0.

Game #1- September 5 at Frisco- RoughRiders-6, Hooks-5
Game #2- September 6 at Frisco- RoughRiders-3, Hooks-2
Game #3- September 7 at Corpus Christi- RoughRiders-5, Hooks-0

Lancaster JetHawks in California League Play-offs

California League Championship vs. Modesto(Best of Five)
JetHawks win the championship, 3-0.

Game #1- September 13 at Modesto- JetHawks-7, Nuts-4
Game #2- September 14 at Modesto- JetHawks-11, Nuts-2
Game #3- September 15 at Lancaster- JetHawks-3, Nuts-2

Southern Division Championship vs. High Desert(Best of Five)
JetHawks win series, 3-1.

Game #1- September 8 at High Desert- JetHawks-8, Mavericks-7(12 innings)
Game #2- Septmeber 9 at High Desert- Mavericks-16, JetHawks-3
Game #3- September 10 at Lancaster- JetHawks-10, Mavericks-5
Game #4- September 11 at Lancaster- JetHawks-9, Mavericks-6

First Round vs. Lake Elsinore(Best of Three)
JetHawks win series, 2-1.

Game #1- September 5 at Lake Elsinore- Storm-1, JetHawks-0
Game #2- September 6 at Lancaster- JetHawks-5, Storm-1
Game #3- September 7 at Lancaster- JetHawks-3, Storm-2

Tri-City Valley Cats in New York-Penn League Play-offs

New York-Penn League Championship vs. Hudson Valley(Best of Three)
Renegades win series, 2-1.

Game #1- September 11 at Tri-City- ValleyCats-5, Renegades-4(10 innings)
Game #2- September 12 at Hudson Valley- Renegades-5, ValleyCats-2
Game #3- September 13 at Hudson Valley- Renegades-8, ValleyCats-3

First Round vs. Auburn(Best of Three)
Valley Cats win series, 2-1.

Game #1- September 7 at Auburn- ValleyCats-5, Doubledays-4
Game #2- September 9 at Tri-City- Doubledays- 5, ValleyCats-2
Game #3- September 10 at Tri-City -ValleyCats-16, Doubledays-7

Welcome to the Farmstros Village, Randy Harvey

They are only one game away from the first California League championship in franchise history, and the JetHawks have something special.going on. The 2012 Lancaster baseball season so special in fact that the Astros High A affiliate has become a part of the Houston sports scene, at least for a few days. columnist Randy Harvey made the trip to Modesto for the first game of the JetHawks' series against the Nuts and posted this column  shortly before the club started game two of the league championship series. The JetHawks won the first two games of the finals on the road and need to win either Saturday, Sunday, or Monday to close out a historic championship.

2012 Farmstros Player of the Year

Following are the candidates for the 2012 Farmstros Player of the Year award and a summary of their performances.  Please note that players promoted to Houston prior to September 1 are not eligible for this award per Farmstros policy.  Play-off performances are not included in these summaries.

Jean Batista, 20, IF, Greeneville/Tri-City. In two stops during 2012, Batista batted .318.  He had 23 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 39 RBI in 63 games.

Brian Blasik, 22, IF, Greeneville. The undrafted free agent was named Greeneville's 2012 MVP.  He batted .318 with 18 extra-base hits and 43 RBI.

Erik Castro, 24, IF, Lancaster. Castro tied for the organizational leadership with 108 RBI.  He batted .285 with 27 doubles and 27 home runs.

Delino DeShields, 20, 2B, Lexington/Lancaster. DeShields swiped 101 bases for the Legends and the JetHawks in 2012.  He had a combined .287 batting average with 24 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs and 113 runs scored.

Tyler Heineman, 21, C, Tri-City. Heineman won the New York-Penn League batting title with a .358 mark.  He had 14 doulbes and 26 RBI in 55 games.

Zach Johnson, 24, IF, Lexington. Johnson drove in 108 runs to co-lead the organization in that category.  In 134 games, he 38 doubles and 15 home runs.

Domingo Santana, 20, OF, Lancaster. Santana had 97 RBI and a .302 batting average for the JetHawks.  In 119 contests, he had 26 doubles, six triples and 23 home runs.

Jon Singleton, 20, 1B, Corpus Christi. Singleton batted .284 for the Hooks.  He had 27 doubles, four triples, 21 home runs and 79 RBI in 131 games.

George Springer, 22, OF, Lancaster/Corpus Christi. Springer batted .302 between Lancaster and Corpus Christi.  He totaled 21 doubles, 10 triples, 24 home runs, 87 RBI, 109 runs scored, and 32 stolen bases.

Preston Tucker, 22, OF, Tri-City. Tucker batted .321 in 42 games for the ValleyCats.  He had seven doubles, eight home runs and 38 RBI.

Austin Wates, 24, OF, Corpus Christi. Wates had 27 extra-base hits in 95 games for Corpus Christi.  He batted .304 with 48 RBI.

Jesse Wierzbicki, 23, IF, Tri-City/Lexington. Wierzbicki played a few games with Lexington but spent most of the season with Tri-City.  He drove in 45 runs in 78 games.  He had 22 extra-base hits and batted .292.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Show us What you Got, @Subber10

@subber10 has indicated on Twitter that great news about a Player Development Agreement is coming as soon as tonight.  @subber10 is connected when it comes to front office stuff like this, so go check out his Twitter stream in the next few hours for the breaking news. 

Note: Affiliation switches can't be made until Sunday at the soonest, so it would appear any news involves a renewal of Lancaster or Lexington.  I wonder if the omni-present Jeff Luhnow will show up in the booth with Jason Schwartz in Modesto with a special revelation?

May the Schwartz be With You

Thursday night, I read that Seattle had renewed its affiliation agreement with High Desert. I had guessed that the Astros might move to High Desert instead of maintaining its affiliation with Lancaster. However, it struck me that in my speculation about where the Astros might decide to affiliate I had overlooked an obvious reason for Houston to retain their High A relationship with the JetHawks for at least another two years. 

Jason Schwartz

As the Astros continue building an atmosphere of winning in their minor league system, they are well-served to figure out a way to have Jason Schwartz calling games that involve their prospects.  Schwartz, who is currently in his first season as the JetHawks' play-by-play announcer, has a track record of calling winning professional baseball.

In 2011, Schwartz was the play-by-play announcer for the Tri-City Dust Devils of the Northwest League.  After having the worst record in the league in 2010 without Schwartz behind the mic, the 2011 Dust Devils won their division during both halves of the league's short season schedule.  The team advanced to the league championship series.

Once again in 2012, Schwartz took over the broadcast duties for a team that was coming off of a worst in its league finish, the Lancaster JetHawks.  Feeling the Schwartz?, the 2012 JetHawks shared a first half division title and made the play-offs as a wild card.  After Thursday night's win in the opener of the California League Championship Series, Schwartz is two victories away from calling the first league championship in JetHawks' history.

Feel the Schwartz here as he calls the next JetHawks play-off game Friday night at 9:05(Minute Maid Park time).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

ValleyCats Fall One Game Short

Tri-City's New York-Penn League Championship drive ended one win before completion Thursday night as the ValleyCats fell to Hudson Valley, 8-3.  The ValleyCats lost the League Championship to the Renegades two games to one.  Tri-City was 51-25 in regular season, winning the Stedler Division title. They knocked off Auburn in the first round of the post-season.

Well, I Was Wrong About High Desert

Minor League Source has posted a link to a press release announcing that the Mariners have reupped with High Desert.   Needless to say, my guess about the Astros ending up in High Desert in 2013 was incorrect.  With the High Desert annoucment the number of available affiliate options in High A is down to three:  Ft. Myers, Inland Empire and Lancaster. 

The Astros have yet to settle on a Low A affiliate for 2013 as well. My information indicates that there are eight options remaining in Low A in addition to Lexington where the Astros have been affiliated since 2001. The remaining Low A options are Beloit, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Ft. Wayne, Hagerstown, Kane County, Lexington, Peoria and Quad Cities.

All Roads Lead to Wappingers Falls

Win or lose, the ValleyCats season will end this evening(weather permitting) in Wappingers Falls, New York. Tri-City and the Hudson Valley Renegades will face off in third and deciding game of the New York-Penn League championship at Dutchess Stadium.

Tri-City won Game One at home, 5-4 in 10 innings.  Hudson Valley evened the series with a 5-2 win Wednesday night in Wappingers Falls.  The series finale, which can be heard here, is scheduled to begin at 5:05 (Minute Maid Park time).

How Did the JetHawks do Against Modesto in the Regular Season?

Lancaster begins the California League Championship Series on the road against Modesto Thursday evening.  The JetHawks won four of six games against the Nuts during the regular season. The following links are to the JetHawks' head-to-head stats. against Modesto in those six contests.  The data only includes those players currently with Lancaster.

JetHawks' regular season pitching vs. Modesto

JetHawks' regular season hitting vs. Modesto

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wilka Number Hits Single Digits

With the loss to the Cubs Wednesday night, the Astros Wilka number dropped to nine.  Any combination of Astros' losses and Cubs' wins totaling nine will assure the Astros of the worst record in baseball for the 2012 season. At this point, the soonest the Astros can clinch the #1 pick and officially go on the clock for the 2013 draft is Monday, September 18 at St. Louis. 

I'm Guessing Quad Cities and High Desert

When the Astros High A and Low A player development agreements for 2013-14 are announced sometime next week, my guess is that they will be affiliated with High Desert(California) and Quad Cities(Midwest).

What we know?  

Lexington and Houston have had no discussions about renewing their affiliation.  Yesterday was the deadline for Major League teams to submit their intention to renew agreements with their current affiliate. The combination of these facts seems to portend the end of the Astros' time in Lexington.

According to this report, the Cardinals are not likely to renew with Quad Cities(in Davenport, Iowa) who have been their affiliate since 2005. 

In his previous role with the Cardinals, Luhnow undoubtedly interacted on a regular basis with the staff of the Quad Cities baseball team.  One may even theorize from the timeline that he had a hand in negotiating at least two of  the Cardinals' affiliation agreements with the River Bandits franchise.  Luhnow hasn't hesitated to bring people to Houston who he worked with in St. Louis.  I think that tendency will be in play here.

The Astros appear to be stuck in the California League.  If the club is looking to get out of Lancaster, their options are limited.  Two Florida State League teams and three other California League teams are unattached to my knowledge.  The FSL openings are very likely to still be renewed from what I have read.

High Desert, one of the available California League affiliates, is owned by the same two men who own the Quad Cities franchise.  Main Street Baseball owns both of these teams. Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt bought the Quad Cities franchise in 2007, and they would have worked with Luhnow from then until he left St. Louis to join the Astros.  They purchased the High Desert franchise in 2010.

Putting all these pieces together, I think that when new affiliations start being announced next week, residents of the Farmstros Village will be well-advised to link to two new websites just in case: River Bandits; Mavericks.

One factor that did not enter into my reasoning is the Astros' history in Quad Cities. From 1993-1998, Houston prospects like Billy Wagner, Richard Hidalgo, Julio Lugo, Freddy Garcia, Brad Lidge and Johan Santana all played at the stadium in Davenport, Iowa now known as Modern Woodmen Park.

What the Heck, Bobby's Q&A Collection

If you need a break from all the JetHawk and ValleyCat play-off excitement, here is a link to the Q&A's that Jayne has posted over the course of the season at What the Heck, Bobby? 

Does Winning in the Minors Result in Winning at Higher Levels? Let's ask the 2010 ValleyCats

The advance of the JetHawks into the California League Championship Series Tuesday night supports the Astros' theory that winning begets winning.  Five players on board the current JetHawks' post-season juggernaut were also members of the Tri-City ValleyCats in 2010 when they captured the New York-Penn League Championship. 

Carlos Quevedo made two post-season starts for the ValleyCats and was the winning pitcher in the championship clinching game two years ago.  Jorge DeLeon, Drew Robinson, Telvin Nash and David Martinez were also part of the championship celebration in upstate New York.  The ValleyCat success was seen elsewhere in the system as another five members of the 2010 squad also played for the Hooks during the 2012 play-offs.

Would You Rather Face the Blaze or the Nuts?

Lancaster's opponent in the California League Championship Series, which begins Thursday, will be the Bakersfield Blaze or the Modesto Nuts.  Those two teams face off in Game Five tonight in Modesto, with the winner advancing to face the JetHawks.

Lancaster won the season series over Modesto, five games to four.  However, Bakersfield knocked off the JetHawks in four of their six meetings in 2012.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Astros AAA Affiliate to Start 2013 in Tennessee

If you are looking for Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart and maybe even George Springer during the first week of the 2013 baseball season, going to Tennessee will provide you with your best chance of finding them. Tuesday, the Astros announced that they have extended their player development agreement with Oklahoma City through the 2014 season

According to the RedHawks' website, the club will open their 2013 schedule on April 4 in Memphis. They will play their first home game on April 12 also against Memphis.  Based on previous schedules, it appears that the first eight games of the season for the RedHawks will take place in The Volunteer State- April 4-7 at Memphis; April 8-11(Monday-Thursday) at Nashville.

The extension of the Oklahoma City agreement leaves only the affiliate status of Lancaster and Lexington in limbo for the next two seasons.

How Did the ValleyCats do Against Hudson Valley in the Regular Season?

Tri-City faced Hudson Valley, their NYPL Championship Series opponent, six times during the 2012 regular season.  The clubs split the six games, each winning three.

ValleyCats' Regular Season pitching versus Hudson Valley

ValleyCats' Regular Season batting versus Hudson Valley

NOTE: The statistics at these links only include those players currently on the Tri-City roster.

Monday, September 10, 2012

ValleyCats Spread the Offense around in First Round

10 different players drove in runs and nine different ones scored runs for Tri-City as they knocked off Auburn two games to one in the first round of the New York-Penn League play-offs.  The ValleyCats scored a total of 23 runs over the three-game series.  Tri-City begins play in the NYPL Championship Series against Hudson Valley on Tuesday night.

M.P. Cokinos- one run, three RBI
Austin Elkins- four runs, two RBI
Dan Gulbransen- two runs, one RBI
Tyler Heineman- two runs, three RBI
Neiko Johnson- one run, three RBI
Emilio King- three runs
Jarrod McKinney- three runs, two RBI
Joe Sclafani- one run, four RBI
Preston Tucker- two runs, one RBI
Jesse Wierzbicki- four runs, three RBI

2012 Farmstros August/September Player of the Month

Who is the 2012 August/September Player of the Month?

Here are the candidates and a summary of their August/September performances:

Brian Blasik, 22, IF, Greeneville.  For the month, Blasik was 27 for 83 with three doubles, two triples and 17 RBI.

Erik Castro, 24, IF, Lancaster. Castro drove in 33 runs while the JetHawks made their final push for the post-season.  He was 34 for 121 with six doubles and 10 home runs.

Carlos Correa, 17, SS, GCL Astros/Greeneville. Between Florida and Tennessee, Correa was 23 for 69 with six extra-base hits and seven RBI.

Jacob Goebbert, 24, OF, Corpus Christi.  Gobbert was 32 for 82 with seven doubles, one triple, three home runs and 14 RBI.

Tyler Heineman, 21, C, Tri-City. The NYPL batting champion, Heineman was 41 for 110 on the "month".  He had eight doubles and 13 RBI.

Luis Reynoso, 18, SS, DSL Astros. Reynoso was 24 for 66 with seven doubles, nine RBI and four stolen bases.

Angel Sanchez, 28, SS, Oklahoma City. Sanchez was 27 for 74 with three extra-base hits and eight RBI.

Domingo Santana, 20, OF, Lancaster.  Santana hit 14 extra-base hits for the JetHawks.  He was 39 for 117 with 18 RBI.

Preston Tucker, 22, OF, Tri-City. Tucker was 41 for 128 with six doubles, seven home runs and 29 RBI.

2012 Farmstros August/September Pitcher of the Month

Who is the August/September Pitcher of the Month?

Here are the candidates and a summary of their performances:

Mitchell Lambson, 22, LHP, Lexington.  In August and September, Lambson made nine appearances and posted a 1.88 ERA.  He gave up 13 hits and struck out 18 in 14 1/3 IP.

Chia-jen Lo, 26, RHP, Lancaster.  Lo made eight appearances and struck out 14 in 14 innings.  He allowed 12 hits and posted 1.29 ERA.

Jeremiah Meiners, 24, LHP, Tri-City. Meiners struck out 20 batters in 10 relief appearances for the ValleyCats.  He gave up 16 hits and had a 1.31 ERA in 20 2/3 IP.

Daniel Minor, 21, RHP, Greeneville.  Minor's ERA in August/September was almost invisible.  He gave up one earned run in 26 innings.  He allowed 12 hits and struck out 25 over four starts.

Brett Oberholtzer, 23, LHP, Oklahoma City. Over six starts, Oberholtzer posted a 2.68 ERA.  He allowed 42 hits and struck out 34 in 40 1/3 IP.

Raul Rivera, 21, RHP, GCL Astros.  The 2009 draft pick put up numbers indicating that he is healthy.  He had 1.96 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 23 IP.

Ross Seaton, 22, RHP, Corpus Christi/Oklahoma City.  Seaton registered a combined 2.31 ERA between AA and AAA.  He allowed just 36 hits in 39 IP.

Nick Tropeano, 22, RHP, Lancaster. Tropeano made six starts for the JetHawks.  He allowed 35 hits and nine earned runs in 37 2/3 IP- a 2.15 ERA. 

Edwin Villarroel, 17, LHP, DSL Astros.  The youngest candidate on the listt, Villarroel made four appearances in the Dominican.  He allowed 17 hits in 17 IP and compiled a 0.53 ERA.

Asher Wojciechowski, 23, RHP, Corpus Christi. Wojciechowski started six times for the play-off bound Hooks.  He struck out 23 and allowed allowed 23 hits while allowing a 1.99 ERA over 31 2/3 IP.

This Story Has a Happy Ending for ValleyCats

That'll teach me to read with my kids at bedtime!

The ValleyCats were trailing Auburn 6-5 heading to the bottom of the 7th inning of their series-deciding play-off game when I last checked the computer and headed to my kids' rooms Monday night. By the time, the children in my home were adequately tucked in, Tri-City had sent 20 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs over two innings. 

The Valley Cats won the game 16-7 and moved onto the New York-Penn League Championship Series. Game 1 of that best of three series against Hudson Valley begins Tuesday night in Troy, New York.

Luhnow-stros Will be in majority at Fall Instructional Camp

According to the Astros Fall Instructional League roster posted by Zachary Levine Monday afternoon, a majority of the players hitting the field in Kissimmee starting September 19 have been added to the organization since Jeff Luhnow became the team's general manager.  Ten of  the 33 players were drafted in Luhnow's first draft.  Eight more were acquired via trade in 2012. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Going Deeper into the Crevasse

Given the unpredictable nature of holes, being a hole expert can be a challenging vocation.  Indeed, getting  out of a hole is often a quick and simple process.  Usually, the damage of the fall is minimal and little or no attention is generated.

However, sometimes, for a variety of reasons, overcoming a hole can be a much more formidable task.  It is not commonly seen, but on occasion, entire organizations have been swallowed up by a Mammoth-cave like opening.  Needless to say, such an event draws its share of attention.

While it may be tempting for the swallowed-up organization to try to climb directly out of the hole. Perhaps, it is more prudent to heed the words of Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock and Go deeper into the crevasse.  Indeed, it may be best to join Terri Schlather over at Tales from the Juice Box and enjoy the approach of the Astros' inevitable descent.

Certainly, the Astros' continuing journey into darkness goes against every natural instinct that fans of the team might have.  Truth be told, there is no guarantee that the advice of an NBC sitcom will lead to the success of a Major League baseball team. However, if Jack Donaghy's word does prove  true, whenever the Astros get out of their current chasm and return to the base camp of American League play-off contention, it will be clear that the leadership that sent the club deeper into the crevasse actually saved the franchise.

Rule 5 Eligibles

These 38 players are vulnerable to the 2012 Rule 5 draft.  Players in bold are vulnerable for the first time.

Luis Alvarez, C(2012 Team(s)- Greeneville/Lexington)
Erik Castro, IF(Lancaster)
Trevor Crowe, OF(Akron/Columbus/Salt Lake City)
Luis Cruz, LHP(Lexington)
Luis DeLa Rosa, IF(GCL Astros) 
Sergio Escalona, LHP(DNP)
Chuckie Fick, RHP(Memphis/OKC/St. Louis/Houston)
Rene Garcia, C(Lancaster/CC)
Ernesto Genoves, C(Greeneville/Lexington)
Jacob Goebbert, OF(CC/OKC)  
Alfredo Gonzalez, C(GCL Astros)
Edgar Gonzalez, RHP(Colorado Springs, Monterey, OKC, Houston)
Murilo Gouvea, RHP(Lexington)
Zachary Grimmett, RHP(Lancaster)
Mark Hamburger, RHP(RR/Tucson/OKC)
Angel Heredia, RHP(DNP)
Grant Hogue, OF(Lancaster)
Marc Krauss, OF(Mobile/CC/OKC)
David Martinez, RHP(Lancaster)
Jose Martinez, 2B(CC/OKC)
Dan Meszaros, RHP(DNP-Injured)
Jose Monzon, OF(Greeneville)
Cristian Moronta, C(GCL Astros/Greeneville/Tri-City/Lexington)
Wes Musick, LHP(Lancaster/CC/OKC)
Ben Orloff, IF(Lancaster/CC)
Carlos Perez, C(Lansing/Lancaster)
Juri Perez, RHP(Tri-City/Lexington)
Carlos Quevedo, RHP(Lexington/Lancaster)
Euris Quezada, RHP(Greeneville/Tri-City/Lexington)
Darwin Rivera, IF(GCL Astros)
Andrew Simunic, IF(CC/OKC)
Jason Stoffel, RHP(CC)
Frederick Tiburcio, RHP(Greeneville)
Pat Urckfitz, LHP(Lancaster)

Jose Valdez, RHP(OKC/Houston)
Kyle Weiland, RHP(Houston)
Brandon Wikoff, IF(CC)
Josh Zeid, RHP(CC) 

NOTE: Edwin Gomez was drafted by Detroit in 2009.  He joined the Astros mid-season of 2012.  All reports that I have read indicate that the Astros signed Gomez as a free agent.  Such a transaction could only have occurred if the Tigers first released Gomez.  If Gomez had stayed with the Tigers, he wouldn't have been Rule 5 eligible until 2013.  However, when a player is released by his original club, he becomes eligible beginning with the next Rule 5 Draft.  To the best of my understanding, Gomez is still with the organization, and he should Rule 5 eligible.  However...

More on Gomez, two sources who understand who is Rule 5 eligible and who is not have confirmed that Edwin Gomez is not Rule 5 eligible.  I can't explain this fact, but I defer to the experts on what is reality in this circumstance.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

JetHawks Arms Come Through Big in Play-off Win

Everybody who predicted that the JetHawks would advance past the first round of the play-offs largely on the strength of their pitching can go ahead and take a bow.  Over the course of the regular season, Lancaster's pitchers allowed five earned runs per nine innings, the second worst total in the 10-team California League. However, the arms came through in the three game series against Lake Elsinore, when the bats plated a total of only eight runs. 

The club's three starters, Tyson Perez, Nick Tropeano, and David Martinez, pitched a total of 19 innings and allowed one earned run each, keeping the contests close until the late innings.  Six relievers pitched a total of seven innings and allowed only six hits and one run.  Kenny Long pitched in each of the three games and struck out two in two hit-less frames. 

Jorge DeLeon only retired one batter in the series, but it was a big one.  DeLeon induced a foul pop up with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning of Friday's night 3-2, series clinching win.

Play-offs Stretch from Coast to Coast

Even though only two Astros' affiliates are still alive in the post-season, the team's representation is still as nationwide as it can be.

On the East Coast, Tri-City looks to end its best of three series with Auburn tonight at 6 p.m.(Minute Maid Park time) at home in Troy, New York.  Brady Rodgers is slated to take the hill as the ValleyCats shoot for a two-game sweep of the Doubledays. A win in the series would put Tri-City in the New York-Penn League Championship Series.  You can listen to the broadcast through Tri-City's website.

Almost 3000 miles to the west in Adelanto, California, the JetHawks will open a best of five South Division Championship Series against High Desert at 9:05 p.m.  The Mavericks will host the first two games of the series.  You can listen to Lancaster's broadcast through their website.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Astros, ValleyCats extend Affiliation Agreement

Jeff Luhnow liked sending his players to Tri-City and seeing them win 51 games so much this season that he is going to send them there again for at least the next two summers. The Astros and ValleyCats have extended their player development agreement through 2014. Tri-City has been an Astros' affiliate since 2002.

The status of three Astros' affiliates(Oklahoma City, Lancaster, and Lexington) for the 2013 season is still in limbo after the extension with Tri-City.  You can keep track of the Player Development Agreement shuffle here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Skeeters taking Father/Son Catch on the Field to a Whole New Level on Friday

Photo Courtesy of the Sugar Land Skeeters

I'm glad to see that the Clemens family will finally get in on the Catch on the Field fun at Constellation Field Friday night.

I've been able to participate in this Skeeter promotion with my son a few times during the 2012 season, and doing so has been one of the highlights of the season.  Actually, thanks to Drew Locke's generosity, one time, I was able to play catch with my son and my dad at the same time!

I won't be at Constellation  Field on Friday when Roger gets to play catch with Koby.  However, I know that when I hear about the event on the 10 o'clock news, I'll be thinking about my son crashing into the outfield fence to make an Austin Wates-like acrobatic snag when we played catch on the field before a Skeeters' game.

2012 Farmstros Five- Week #22

Last night marked the conclusion of the 2012 regular season, so here is the Farmstros Five for the week of August 30- September 5, 2012.

Oklahoma City- The starting rotation.  The RedHawks fell short in their final push to qualify for the post-season.  However, the starting rotation did everything they could to make the play-offs a reality.  Brett Oberholtzer, Rudy Owens, Jarred Cosart, Jose Cisnero and Dallas Keuchel combined to post a 1.91 ERA in 28 1/3 IP over the team's final five contests.

Corpus Christi- Asher Wojciechowski, 23, RHP. Wojciechowski made the most of his final outing before the play-offs.  He pitched five scoreless innings on Sunday, allowing only one hit and striking out six.

Lancaster- Rafael Valenzuela, 24, IF. Valenzuela was 11 for 21 on the week. He had two doubles, two home runs and eight RBI.

Lexington- Chris Devenski, 21, RHP.  Devenski made an impression in his final start of the season.  Devenski threw the first no-hitter in the history of Whitaker Bank Ballpark.  He struck out sixteen and allowed only one base-runner, on a walk.

Tri-City- Brian Holmes, 21, LHP.  In his final appearance before the play-offs, Holmes pitched seven no-hit  innings and struck out seven.

Heineman Wins Batting Title

The ValleyCats fell one game short of the best record in the New York-Penn League; however, Tri-City catcher Tyler Heineman wrapped up the regular season Wednesday night with the best batting average in the league.  Heineman, drafted out of UCLA in the eighth round in June, finished the season with a .358 average(69 for 193).  He had 14 doubles and 26 RBI.  The runner-up in the batting race, Auburn's Shawn Pleffner, finished with a .329 average.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

NYPL Play-off Picture comes down to Final Day

The New York-Penn League play-offs don't begin until Friday, but the post-season atmosphere will be in full force Wednesday night as the regular season draws to a close.  The results of five games in four cities will play a factor in deciding the league's play-off picture.  Most notably for the Farmstros Village, Astros' affiliate Tri-City hosts Hudson Valley, with the best over-all record on the line.  The winner of the game earns home field advantage throughout the play-offs and the right to play the wild card entry in the first round of the play-offs.

Heading into the final day of play, Auburn(46-29) and Batavia(44-30) are still in the running for the Pinckney Division title.  Auburn leads Batavia by 1.5 games.  Auburn is at Williamsport, while Batavia will play Williamsport in a rainout-caused doubleheader.  The winner of the Pinckney Division will face the loser of the Tri-City/Hudson Valley match-up in the first round of the post-season.

The Pinckney Divsion runner-up will need to finish ahead of Brooklyn(45-30) in the standings to make the play-offs as a wild card.  Brooklyn is hosting the Lowell in season finale.  The wild card entry will face the Tri-City/Hudson Valley winner in the first round of the play-offs.

Big Thanks to the Farmstros Village

This past Sunday, my family and I had the privilege of celebrating my parent's 50th wedding anniversary with them while watching the Astros play Cincinnati at Minute Maid Park.  My parents provided the tickets to the game. However, supper afterwards was made possible by the members of the Farmstros Village, so I wanted to thank you all.

Last week, the Farmstros offices received its second check from Google.  It doesn't amount to much, but when you come to this site and look at the ads, a little bit of money is credited to the Farmstros account.  The most recent check brought our all time total to a little over $200.  Thanks to you, the members of the Farmstros Village for adding a delicious Japanese meal to a great day of baseball and celebrating.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Post-Season Awards Schedule

As the minor league season winds down and the play-offs get rolling, here's a schedule of the awards planned for the Farmstros Village in the next few weeks.

September 6- Farmstros Five for Week #22 posted

September 7-10- Voting for August/September Pitcher and Player of the Month

September 12-15- Voting for Player of the Year

September 19-22- Voting for Pitcher of the Year

TBA- Farmstros Five- Special Play-off Edition

Only Five Didn't Make It

The promotions of Carlos Corporan, Chuckie Fick, Dallas Keuchel, and J.D. Martinez brought the Astros active roster to a count of 33. With the additions, only five players on the 40-man roster won't be finishing the season in the big leagues.  Jed Lowrie and Francisco Cordero are currently on the disabled list.

The Five who didn't make it:

Paul Clemens, 24, RHP, currently on Corpus Christi roster
Jorge DeLeon, 25, RHP, currently on Lancaster roster
Arcenio Leon, 25, RHP, currently on Corpus Christi roster
Rudy Owens, 24, LHP, currently on Oklahoma City roster
J.B. Shuck, 25, OF, currently on Oklahoma City roster

Monday, September 3, 2012

Will the JetHawks face the Quakes or the Storm?

The JetHawks will definitely play in the first round of the California League play-offs this week.  However, their opponent is yet to be determined. Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore enter play on the final day of the season tied for the third best over-all record in the South Division and the play-off spot that goes with it. 

Rancho Cucamonga finishes the season Monday afternoon at Bakersfield, while Lake Elsinore is scheduled to host Inland Empire.  My understanding of the California League play-off procedures is that a tie between the two teams would be broken on the field Tuesday. 

Valley Cats, Hudson Valley Facing Off for Home Field Advantage

Home Field advantage throughout the New York-Penn League play-offs will be decided over the next three days in Troy, New York.  The Stedler Divsion champion Valley Cats will host the McNamara Division champion Hudson Valley Renegades in a regular season-ending three-game series that runs through Wednesday. 

The two teams enter the three-game set with identical 50-23 records.  In addition to earning home field advantage though out the play-offs, the winner of the series will play the wild card in the first round of the post-season rather than the Pinckney Division champion, Auburn or Batavia.

Four More Coming up According to Tony D

Monday morning, Brett Dolan tweeted that according to Tony DeFrancesco four more players will be coming up to the Astros from the minors after the regular season concludes today. 

Here are eight likely candidates for promotion:

Jose Cisnero, RHP(not on 40-man roster)
Carlos Corporan, C
Charlie Fick, RHP
Mark Hamburger, RHP
Dallas Keuchel, LHP
J.D. Martinez, OF
Brett Oberholtzer, LHP(not on 40-man roster)
Rudy Owens, LHP

Sunday, September 2, 2012

RedHawks' Hopes Don't Make it to the Final Day

Oklahoma City did what it needed to do Sunday to keep its play-off hopes alive. However later in the evening, Albuquerque scored a run in the bottom of the eighth inning then held on to knock off Omaha, clinching the PCL American South Division title.

The RedHawks knocked off Round Rock 9-6 to reduce the Isotopes lead to one game.  To win the division in comeback fashion, Oklahoma City needed to beat Round Rock again on Monday and have Albuquerque lose Sunday and Monday to Omaha.  Albuquerque's win made Monday's games moot.

The RedHawks had trailed the division leaders by 5.5 games with eight games left in the season. Oklahoma City made the final weekend of the season interesting by sweeping the Isotopes in a four-game series to lower the margin to 1.5 games. The RedHawks enter Monday's season finale with a 77-65 record.

Clemens to Open the Play-offs for the Hooks

According to the team's game notes, Paul Clemens will get the start when Corpus Christi returns to the play-offs on Wednesday night.  After pitching a majority of the season with AAA Oklahoma City, Clemens is 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA in seven starts for the Hooks. 

The Hooks will begin the first round of the play-offs on September 5 at Frisco.  Rob Rasmussen will get the start in game two of the series, also at Frisco.  Rasmussen posted a 4.80 ERA in 54 1/3 IP for Corpus since being acquired from Miami for Carlos Lee. 

Ross Seaton is slated to go in game three of the series, Friday at Whataburger Field. Seaton made 25 starts for the Hooks and posted a 4.07 ERA.

The Bus to Houston Will Need to Wait One More Day

Thanks to Omaha's victory over Albuquerque Saturday night, Oklahoma City's slim play-off chances have survived for one more day. The RedHawks gave up five runs in the ninth inning Saturday night, falling to Round Rock 6-3, so an Albuquerque victory would have eliminated them from the race for the post-season. However, Omaha defeated the Isotopes, 14-10, and the RedHawks are still alive. If Oklahoma City and Omaha finish their season with two wins (over Round Rock and Albuquerque respectively), the RedHawks will finish the regular season atop the PCL American South Divsion standings.

The remainder of the Astros' September call-ups are contingent on the end of the RedHawks' run at the play-offs. Matt Downs and Jose Valdez were promoted on Saturday.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Devenksi Throws no hitter in Final Start of Season

Saturday night, in only his fifth start for Lexington, Chris Devenski threw the first no-hitter in the history of Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Devenski, who was acquired from the White Sox in the Brett Myers trade, struck out 16, while facing only one over the minimum.

He retired the first 13 batters he faced before surrendering a one out walk in the fifth inning. After the walk, he retired the final 14 Rome Brave batters in order. Lexington won the game, 10-0.

Ironically, Tri-City, the Astros' affiliate in the New York-Penn League, was no-hit by three Vermont pitchers on Saturday night as well.

Cosart, Cisnero, Keuchel Central to September Drama

If there is a story written about the RedHawks improbably coming from behind in the 2012 season's final weekend to win the division, there is a good chance that the tale will begin with the performances of three of the Houston organization's young pitchers.  With Oklahoma City trailing Albuquerque by 1.5 games in the PCL American South Division, Tom Lawless will be sending Jarred Cosart, Jose Cisnero, and Dallas Keuchel to the mound against Round Rock with hopes of ending the season in first place. 

If the plans being carried out a Minute Maid Park come to successful fruition, these three pitchers could be part of a similar story in an OCTOBER in the not too distant future.  However, this season the drama is being written in September.

Farmstros Five from the Village Has a Winner

Congratulations to Steve who is the winner of the Farmstros Five from the Village promotion.  You can read his Farmstros Five here. Steve will be receiving an autographed Lance McCullers, Jr. card.

The JetHawks Make it Three

Lancaster kicked off the final weekend of the 2012 regular season by becoming the third Astros' affiliate to qualify for the post-season.  The JetHawks knocked off Inland Empire 11-1 and is assured of the second-best over-all record in the California League's South Division.  As the #2 seed in the play-offs, Lancaster will face either Rancho Cucamonga or Lake Elsinore.  The JetHawks will host games two and three(if necessary) of a best of three first round series, which will begin next week.

Lancaster joins Corpus Christi and Tri-City, the other two affiliates who will be participating in the post-season.  Oklahoma City has a chance to make that number four this weekend. The RedHawks trail Albuquerque by 1.5 games heading into the final three games of the Pacific Coast League regular season.