Next up in our season in review is the Astros AA affiliate, the Corpus Christi Hooks. The Hooks had their best season in franchise history, compiling a record 81 wins on their way toward the Texas League South Division second-half championship. Manager Keith Bodie was also named the Texas League manager of the year. His first year on the job as Hooks manager and he wins Texas League manager of the year. I’d say he’s off to a good start. CF, Brandon Barnes, began the season at AA Corpus but was promoted to AAA OKC and is now in the majors with the Astros. The Hooks also made the playoffs for the first time in quite some time, but ultimately were swept in the first round by the Frisco Rough Riders (Texas Rangers AA affiliate).
The Hooks saw most of our top prospects stop through at some point this season. Guys like Jonathan Singleton (Team MVP with a .284 Avg/ 21 HR/ 79 RBI), Kevin Chapman (6-3, 2.64 ERA), Josh Zeid (2-0, 66 K’s, )and Jason Stoffel (27 saves) were pillars for the club for the entire season and all figure to begin next season at AAA Oklahoma City as they had nice seasons deserving of a promotion. Other prospects such as George Springer (.302 Avg/24 HR/ 87 RBI), Jarred Cosart (6-7, 3.30 ERA), and Austin Wates (.304 Avg/ 7 HR/48 RBI) spent parts of their season as members of the Hooks.
Corpus Christi was also the “safe haven” for prospects acquired in trades this season. When the big league club traded away veterans Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Chris Johnson, almost all of the prospects acquired in those trades saw time at Corpus Christi with the Hooks. Guys like Asher Wojciechowski (9-5 3.09 ERA), Rob Rasmussen (8-11 4.25 ERA), Robbie Grossman (.266 Avg/10 HR/47 RBI), Bobby Borchering (.236 Avg/24HR/86 RBI) and Marc Krauss (.271 Avg/20 HR/79 RBI) are some of the prospects that made their way to Corpus Christi via trade.
The pitching, defense and offense at Corpus this year was all good and was certainly better than we had been accustomed to seeing in an Astros minor league team. The whole organization, mainly Corpus, was re-stocked throughout the year with trades, promotions and draft picks which definitely helped with the success of the team.
All was not good though as SP’s, Paul Clemens and Brett Oberholtzer, were both demoted to AA Corpus Christi from AAA Oklahoma City at different points this season due to subpar play. Oberholtzer pitched well for the Hooks and was promoted back to AAA, where he will begin next season barring a trade. Clemens, however, had a very bad and disappointing season, thus earning him our Most Disappointing Player Award. He came into Spring Training as a dark horse to win a big league rotation spot but was ultimately optioned to AAA where he compiled an 8-8 record with a 6.73 ERA. He was optioned to AA late in the year and pitched better to the tune of a 3-2 record with a 3.46 ERA. Hopefully both will have nice bounce back seasons next year.
As I said earlier, guys like Singleton, Stoffel, Chapman and maybe Zeid will begin next season with AAA. Wojciechowski and Grossman also could but will likely begin with the Hooks and see a promotion to AAA later in the season. The team will also see some newcomers as OF, Domingo Santana, SP, Nick Tropeano and C, Carlos Perez will probably begin the year with the Hooks while others such as 2B, Delino DeShields Jr., SP, Michael Foltynewicz and OF, Andrew Aplin could see promotions at some point during the 2013 season with strong campaigns.
It’s definitely an exciting time for the future of Houston Astros baseball as our farm system continues to get stronger and our major league club will end up reaping the rewards of strong drafting, quality trades and international free agent signings. Greg is back at it next, with a look at the 2012 season of the Class High-A Lancaster JetHawks.