Our final minor league season recap covers the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League. Greeneville is a short season Rookie League entry that features younger and recently drafted players. Greeneville finished the season with a 36-32 record, good for third place in the Appalachian League’s western division. Several of the Astros top prospects saw action in Greeneville this year. We will take a closer look at them after the jump.
The Greeneville outfield was one of the team’s strengths. Eighteen-year old Ariel Ovando showed improvement with the bat and in rightfield in his second season there, hitting .287/.350/.444 in 59 games. The left-handed hitting Dominican is rated as one of the top 20 prospects in the Astros system. He should be moving up to full season A-ball next season. Doing so at the age of 19 means he is still ahead of schedule.
D’Andre Toney, acquired from Kansas City in the Humberto Quintero trade, patrolled centerfield in Greeneville last season. He stole 15 bases in 20 attempts and showed promise defensively. Toney had a dropoff at the plate after posting outstanding numbers in 2011. He could be headed to Quad Cities for his age 21 season.
Terrell Joyce, a 12th round pick out of Jacksonville, played 39 games in leftfield and 19 at designated hitter. The 6 foot 3 inch, 230 pound Joyce led the team with seven homeruns. Joyce won’t turn 21 until the end of May and is an interesting player to keep an eye on.
Jean Batista was one of the most outstanding and versatile players on the 2012 squad. Batista hit .321/.345/.531 and played all over the diamond before being promoted to Tri City late in the season. The 21-year old Dominican is a switch-hitter and boasts a .295 batting average in 457 minor league plate appearances.
Second-sacker Brian Blasik, an undrafted Free Agent out of Dayton Ohio, was the team’s MVP in his first professional season. Blasik led the team with 43 RBIs and was second to Batista with a .318 average.
Highly touted draft picks Carlos Correa and Rio Ruiz joined the Greeneville infield late in the season. Both youngsters are top prospects but, like most Appalachian League players, won’t be arriving in the big leagues for a while. Venezuelan product Ernesto Genoves held down the catching duties at Greeneville for the second straight season. All three players could be moving up a level in 2013.
Plenty of live arms saw action with Greeneville in 2012. The team averaged an outstanding 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Jordan Jankowski led the way with 14.8 strikeouts per 9 innings out of the bullpen. But at 23 years of age his Rookie League numbers against younger opponents have to be taken with a grain of salt.
Teenagers Lance McCullers and Joe Musgrove both averaged more than 10 Ks per 9 and should continue to excel. A couple of 19-year olds to keep an eye on are Kevin Comer and Adrian Houser. Comer is a former first round pick that came over in a trade with Toronto and Houser was the Astros second round pick in 2011. One hurler whose stock has dropped is Tanner Bushue. The 21-year old was moved to the bullpen last season in hopes of reviving his career. Bushue had another rough year but a strong finish should keep him in the organization for another season.
Rookie League players typically don’t stick at the level for multiple seasons, hence the name. So expect plenty of new faces in Greeneville when the Appalachian League schedule starts next June.