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Astros baseball: we've got uniforms and everything.



Updated: 2018-01-19T14:30:01-06:00

 



Astros Announce Minor League Managers and Staff for 2018

2018-01-19T14:30:01-06:00

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Astros set the coaching staff for 2018

With the 2018 season on the horizon, the Astros have announced the minor league managers and staff for all the minor league affiliates. Some have changed, some have moved up, and some familiar faces will be in the system.

AAA: Fresno Grizzlies

Rodney Linares was “promoted” from the Corpus Christi Hooks up to the Fresno Grizzlies for the 2018 season. He was the manager for the Hooks for the last three years and was named Texas League Manager of the Year in 2015. Dyar Miller will be the pitching coach for the third year in a row with Darryl Robinson returning as the hitting coach.

AA: Corpus Christ Hooks

Omar Lopez moves up to manage the Hooks. He has been a manager in the Astros system since 2008 and was the Buies Creek manager last season. Bill Murphy will be the Astros pitching coach after being with Greeneville and Tri-City the last two years. Troy Snitker will be the hitting coach.

A+: Buies Creek Astros

After just one season as a manager for the ValleyCats, Morgan Ensberg was been promoted to Buies Creek to manage the Astros. He has been a coach in the Astros system since 2013. Drew French will be the pitching coach and Ben Rosenthal will be the hitting coach after both helped Quad Cities to a Midwest League Title in 2017.

A: Quad Cities River Bandits

Mickey Storey will make his managerial debut with the River Bandits. Last year he was a development coach at Buies Creek. Graham Johnson will be the pitching coach coming over from Morehead State University. Dillon Lawson will be the hitting coach coming over from the University of Missouri.

A-: Tri-City ValleyCats

Jason Bell will make his professional managerial debut for the ValleyCats after being a development coach and a manager in college. Erick Abreu will be the pitching coach for Tri-City, his 5th season in the Astros system. Jeremy Barnes will return as the hitting coach.

For more on the Astros minor league staff for the GCL Astros and the DSL Astros click HERE for the Astros official release.




Diving deep into the Astros’ Gerrit Cole trade

2018-01-15T13:56:32-06:00

The Astros acquired starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pirates. Here’s everything you need to know about what the Astros got, what they gave up, and perhaps most importantly, what they didn’t give up. Saturday, the Houston Astros traded to acquire starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pirates. In return, Houston sent back four young, advanced players including pitchers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, third baseman Colin Moran, and minor league outfielder Jason Martin. What the Astros got The most easily-digestible part of this deal is Cole. The right hander just turned 27 in September, has pitched in five major league seasons, and holds a career ERA of 3.50. Cole was a first-overall pick by the Pirates in 2011 and was in the running for the National League Cy Young award in 2015 after posting a 2.60 ERA in 208 innings pitched. Cole is a starter with a five-pitch “top of rotation” arsenal that features a fastball that averages over 96 mph, a sinker of similar velocity, an 89 mph change-up, a slider that comes in at the same speed as his power change, and a back-breaking 80 mph curve ball. Most likely, the Astros will slot Cole into the 3rd spot of the rotation, with lefty Dallas Keuchel splitting up he and Justin Verlander. The back end of the season-opening starting rotation is hazy, with (traditionally) two spots left for established high-quality starters Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh, and Charlie Morton. Not to mention Brad Peacock, who pitched like an ace while providing 21 starts for the 2017 Astros during McHugh’s injury absence. But a glut of high-quality starting pitchers is not a problem, as last year showed. The Astros had exactly zero starting pitchers in 2017 who pitched enough innings for end-of-season awards. The closest? Mike Fiers, who departed as a non-tendered free agent and held a 5.22 ERA last season. The Astros ended up giving starts to eleven different pitchers last season, and forty-three of those starts were by Fiers and Musgrove. The Astros, recognizing that the five-man rotation is actually a myth, have upgraded their stable of starting pitchers with this trade, ensuring that any in-season circumstances forcing them to shelve a pitcher can be handled with minimal fuss. Early speculation prior to the trade was that the Astros were looking to add to their rotation to protect against Keuchel and Morton filing for free agency after the 2018 season. The addition of Cole does not address that issue, and instead points to the Astros recognizing that after winning the 2017 World Series, their window is seldom going to be more open than it is right now. Keuchel and Morton will still likely leave after 2018. Verlander, Cole, and McHugh could walk after 2019. The Astros apparently have confidence in their ability to maintain a strong starting rotation after this current crop leaves or becomes very expensive to retain, and have kicked that can down the road. Cole is not without risks for the Astros though. As has been well documented, not only was 2017 the worst season of his career in terms of run prevention, it would have ranked worst among all of the Astros starting pitchers listed above. Much of that is due to an abnormally high HR/FB rate, a stat which has been proven to be largely out of a good pitcher’s control, but Cole still had at best an average season in terms of performance. Cole has also had difficulty staying on the field. He has only reached 140 innings pitched during a season twice (2015 and 2017, both over 200 innings). With recurring injuries from all of the Astros’ starting pitchers save Verlander and Peacock over the last few seasons, this could become a major 2018 story line that impacts the Astros’ ability to repeat a deep playoff run. What the Astros Gave Up In return for two years of Cole, the Astros sent four players back to the Pirates. Reportedly, the Pirates favored the deal from a “quantity over quality” standpoint, but that cliché downplays what these players currently are and what they could be. Musgrove, Mo[...]



Astros Top Three Second Base Prospects For 2018

2018-01-15T10:30:02-06:00

The top prospects at the second base position We continue our look at the top three prospects at each position moving to the second base position this week. Top Three Prospects By Position: Catcher First Base 1. Ryne Birk (AA) Birk was the 13th round pick out of Texas A&M in 2016. In Birk’s junior year he hit .310 with 7 HR and 29 BB/34 K in 65 games. The lefty hit .293 in his first taste of professional baseball in 2016. This year Birk started out with Buies Creek and hit .274 with 8 HR, 47 RBI in 81 games. He was promoted to AA and hit just .246 but had 7 more homers, though he had just a .247 BABIP. This was Birk’s first full season and he finished with a .266 BA and 15 HR in 118 games. Overall he had a 111 wRC+ as a 22 year old between High-A and Double-A. He did a good job keeping the strikeouts down with a 17.2 K%. 2017 Stats: 118 G, .266 BA/.325 OBP/.430 SLG, 17 2B, 5 3B, 15 HR, 71 RBI, 6 SB, 36 BB/84 SO 2. Enmanuel Valdez (Rookie) The Astros signed Valdez for $450,000 in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic. Scouts noted his line drive, contact approach at the plate and that showed this season. He had a solid debut in 2016 with a .784 OPS with 22 2B, 7 HR, 45 RBI and 42 BB/45 K in 76 games. The 18 year old made his stateside debut playing with GCL and Greeneville hitting a combined .217 with a .252 BABIP but had 23 BB/36 SO. Even with this lower BA he had a 106 wRC+. Valdez definitely has the highest potential of any of the second base prospects but he is still a long ways away. 2017 Stats: 45 G, .217 BA/.321 OBP/.395 SLG, 10 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 4 SB, 23 BB/36 SO 3. Jack Mayfield (AAA) The Astros signed Mayfield as an UDFA following the 2013 draft and he had defied the odds to this point. He bounced around the minors for a few years and had a very good 2015 but struggled in 2016. He responded in a big way in 2017 putting up his best pro season, though at 26 years old. Mayfield started the season with Corpus and .289 with 14 HR in 70 games. Mayfield was then promoted to AAA where he hit .273 with 6 HR. He played shorstop, second base, and third base for both squads. Overall he had a 121 wRC+ and showed solid power with the .500 SLG. 2017 Stats: 112 G, .283 BA/.327 OBP/.500 SLG, 28 2B, 20 HR, 67 RBI, 10 SB, 27 BB/87 SO Other Notables: Rodrigo Ayarza (A+): Ayarza is an unknown in the system but put up some solid numbers this year between Low-A and High-A. Overall he hit .273 and showed off some power with the 20 doubles and 8 homers, despite the smaller frame (5’8″, 145 lbs). While he doesn’t walk much, he does a good job putting the bat on the ball. [...]



Astros Hot Stove: An Insider’s Look at the Cole Trade

2018-01-13T21:16:15-06:00

We revisit Jeff Luhnow and the Astros with a true look at what actually happened. Copper conduits gleamed, twisting and winding around each other, flashing in the busy light of blue electricity arcing from the Tesla coils that sat behind soundproof walls of transparent aluminum. The sterilized air hummed with the rumblings of machinery—subdued but ever-present. Giant copper valves with handles like those on submarine bulkhead doors ejected white steam in billowy clouds that wreathed the pipe works. It was like a steampunk’s dreamland. It was all for show, of course: the coils, the valves, and the steam. The half-inch core fiber optic lines connecting Deep Thunk’s nerve center with the rest of Union Station didn’t need copper piping either. But cable trays and server boxes just didn’t have the grandeur that was due the world’s most powerful electronic brain. Jeff breathed deeply of the .003 micron-filtered air and felt contentment. In the months since his Astros conquered the sports world and the city was re-named from Houston to Luhnowburg, he had found that the computer core, located five miles beneath the un-lamented remains of Tal’s Hill, was the one location where he could find peace and quiet. His communicator implant beeped, a pleasant unobtrusive assertion that nonetheless managed to catch his attention. “HUD,” he sub-vocalized. A muted display of his personal destkop sprung into life, a holograph that only his eyes could see. Flicking his eyes, he opened the incoming message. The “Agent Smith” avatar of his head of security greeted him. “We have a situation, your Luhnowness.” Jeff sighed. With glory, unfortunately, came adulation, which could become tiring. “Call me Jeff,” he said. “What is the situ?” “Yes sir, your Jeffness. We have a media report confirming that your manipulation of the Pirates’ front office has come to an unfavorable conclusion. Morosi, sir.” Jeff’s eyes narrowed. “Not accurate. But that hits too close to home.” “Yes, sir. We have a mole.” “Find him fast. Also, spread word in the usual places that this is an invented rumor by the player’s agents to drive up the cost.” “Already done sir. The Yankees are outraged and have already pulled out.” “Excellent,” said Jeff. “I need to get to work immediately to take advantage of this situation.” “By the way, sir. The mole is awaiting punishment.” “I am on my way.” Jeff vocalized the command to minimize his desktop to the periphery of his vision and then walked briskly back along the expanded metal gratings that floored the suspended catwalks among the conduits. As he passed, the glowing lights behind him winked out, conserving energy. The Wonakavator took him to Minute Maid Park (gotta get that silly name fixed now that we’re champions, he thought), where he seated himself in the Luhnow Box. “OK, Google,” he said. “Call the Bucs.” Within moments, a pleasantly midwestern-sounding receptionist placed him on hold. As he listened to the Reggae/Japanoise rendition of A Girl from Ipanema, the scene below unfolded. The mole was shoved onto the field from an outfield door, which was slammed behind him. He stood alone under the cloudless sky, with no spectators in the stands save for Jeff and a few bleacher sweepers. A beep in his implant told him the spectacle was ready. “Do it.” The mid-afternoon stillness was suddenly jarred by the thunderous sounds of moving gears. A giant trap door slid open, moving aside the pitcher’s mound. From inside, the frustrated roar of a great beast sounded. “Hey, Jeff,” said a voice on the line. “Neal here. Can you believe that Morosi story? What a joke. It didn’t come from us, you can be sure.” “I hear the Yankees are out,” said Jeff. “That changes the nature of our discussions, I’m sorry to say.” Jeff hated doing this to Neal. Neal was good people, and the Pirates were far more stimulating to engage with than, say, the fo[...]



Astros trade for Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole

2018-01-13T18:05:27-06:00

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Astros cash in depth for another strong starter.

The Houston Astros have added another front-line starter on Saturday from the Pittsburgh Pirates, right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole. It the official move was first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown.

Yesterday, Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs had this to say about Cole’s potential for adaptation and course-correction. One can’t help but dream on the possibilities if Cole were to get to spend time working with Brent Strom and picking the brain of Justin Verlander.

For his career, Cole is 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA. More interestingly, in this writer’s estimation, his career FIP and xFIP marks are 3.27 and 3.47, respectively, and he has logged an 8.44 K/9 career mark against a 2.34 career BB/9 mark.




Preseason Draft Profile: Greyson Jenista, 1B/OF, Wichita State

2018-01-09T15:30:02-06:00

At 6’4” with strength and a Cape Cod League MVP under his belt, the powerful Jenista has the look of a first-round lock entering 2018. Measureables Height: 6’4” Weight: 240 lbs. 60 yd.: 7.08 (2015, recorded by Perfect Game) Primary position: 1B (projected RF in pros) Bats: L Player Summary A rising Junior at Wichita State, Greyson Jenista was rated as the #1 prep prospect in Kansas in 2015 by Perfect Game, playing primarily first base for De Soto HS, with whom he won a state title during his junior season. Not a highly touted draft prospect at that point, he stayed in-state to join the Wichita State Shockers for college ball, and hit the ground running. As a freshman, he hit .326 with 14 extra base hits playing primarily first base, and posted similar numbers as a sophomore, making 58 starts. While his NCAA performance has been plenty impressive, Jenista really put himself on the map as a high level draft prospect with his performance on the Cape in 2017. He led the Cotuit Kettleers with nine long balls in 164 at-bats, and hit .310 with a strong 25/18 K/BB ratio hitting with wood. CCBL coaches raved about his makeup: Paul Suellentrop with Kansas.com gathered quotes on the Shockers star in an August article, with managers noting his grit and enthusiasm for the game, and recalling a situation in which he ran a routine ground ball out hard, forcing an error and eventually reaching third on the play. Makeup can be crucial to success, and in Jenista’s case, it’s paired with serious tools. Jenista isn’t an explosive athlete- he’s more “baseball athletic,” as players like Nolan Arenado are. While not straight-line fast, he shows instincts that allow his speed to play up in the field and on the basepaths. He doesn’t have much projection left in his frame, but has great present power that should translate into games more readily as he refines his hitting skills. At the plate he employs a medium-sized leg kick and a very smooth, level cut that he uses to barrel balls. Given his arm strength, I predict he’ll have little trouble moving to right field full time in pro ball, which will improve his value overall. Heading into 2018, there’s very little that Jenista needs to improve on to solidify himself as a first-round pick. Given his combination of offensive tools, makeup, size, strength and performance in NCAA and CCBL play, he’ll be an easy sell to front offices that focus on scouting and analytics alike. He projects as a regular in right field who will be a difference maker with left-handed power and hustle plays. MLB Comparison Jenista reminds me a lot of a young Jay Bruce. Like Bruce, he will have some swing and miss to his game because of his power-oriented cut, but he will walk at a solid clip, provide some surprisingly good base running for his size, and produce with left-handed power. Projected Draft Round At the moment, Jenista projects as a late first rounder, but could push his way into the mid-teens with a strong campaign. He may not have the explosive athleticism to push into top ten discussion, but nothing would shock me (no pun intended), as he’s a polished bat who brings a ton to the table without playing a premium defensive position and I would not bet against his success. Does he fit with Houston? I think the Astros would be thrilled to see a player like this fall to them at the end of the first round, and he very much fits their M.O. He is one of my early favorites for their selection at this point, but I’ve been so impressed with him that I’ve really begun to doubt he will be on the board. Video src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cIhjaV3UuC8?rel=0&start=61" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KVqtJmERvbg?rel=0&" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" all[...]



Astros Top First Base Prospects For 2018

2018-01-08T22:30:01-06:00

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The top three prospects at the first base position.

We continue our look at the top three prospects at each position moving to the first base position this week.

Top Three Prospects By Position:

Catcher


1. Yordan Alvarez (A+)

Alvarez was originally signed by the Dodgers out of Cuba for $2 million and the Astros snagged him in the trade that sent Fields to Los Angeles. Alvarez was seen as a raw prospect coming into this year but he turned heads crushing the ball in Quad Cities with a 207 wRC+ in 32 games. He was promoted to Buies Creek and was solid there as well cutting down on his strikeout rate and driving in 36 in 58 games. He played some in the outfield but should start moving up the ranks as a first base prospect. Overall he had a 139 wRC+ as a 20 year old between A/A+. Alvarez has as much upside with the bat as anyone in the Astros system. 2018 could be a big year for him.

2017 Stats: 90 G, .304 BA/.379 OBP/.481 SLG, 17 2B, 12 HR, 69 RBI, 8 SB, 42 BB/77 SO

2. Troy Sieber (A)

Sieber was a 24th round pick by the Astros in the 2016 draft. He had a very good junior year at Saint Leo hitting .457 with 16 HR. After the draft he spent time between GCL and Greeneville and hit .253 in 52 games. In 2017 he put together a very solid season hitting .289 with a .403 OBP. That also came with a 16.1 BB% and 20.4 K% good for an .862 OPS. Overall Sieber had a 146 wRC+ as a 22 year old in full season ball. While he might not have a ton of power, he is the prototypical Luhnow pick as a guy who gets on base.

2017 Stats: 57 G, .289 BA/.403 OBP/.457 SLG, 12 2B, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 37 BB/49 SO

3. Jake Adams (A-)

Adams was the Astros 6th round pick in the 2017 draft. Adams came with the promise of huge power as he hit 29 HR in 61 games at Iowa his junior season. Unfortunately his debut season didn’t go as well as he struggled to make contact striking out 68 times in 48 games. Adams did have 10 HR in 48 games but overall the season was not a good one. Adams is only 21 so he will still have time to turn it around.

2017 Stats: 48 G, .170 BA/.280 OBP/.388 SLG, 6 2B, 10 HR, 21 RBI, 24 BB/68 SO


Other Notables:

Dexture McCall (AA): McCall was a solid performer last year with Quad Cities hitting .286 in 108 games. His numbers were down a bit this year hitting .231 in 54 games for Buies Creek. He was eventually promoted to Corpus Christi where he hit .242 with 6 HR in 37 games. Overall he had a combined .707 OPS. He will be 24 for the 2018 season.