We are a few weeks into the minor league season and the Astros system hasn’t looked this good in…well gosh, I can’t remember how long its been since we’ve looked good as an organization. The overall records thus far do not reflect it as much but we have guys at the upper and lower levels who are producing early, which is very encouraging. AAA Oklahoma City has several pitchers that could be brought up if the big league club suffers an injury or if a pitcher isn’t performing well. In the recent past, we’ve generally only had one, maybe two candidates. However, with Jordan Lyles, Paul Clemens, Aneury Rodriguez and Dallas Keuchel, the Astros now have several legitimate options.
Our AAA team, the Oklahoma City RedHawks are off to an 8-3 start and tied for first place in the American Southern Division. The team has been solid both on the mound and at bat. The starting rotation, made up of Jordan Lyles, Paul Clemens, Aneury Rodriguez, Henry Sosa and Dallas Keuchel all have sub-four ERA’s while offensively, Fernando Martinez, who the Astros acquired on waivers from the Mets, is carrying the team with a .333 batting average to go along with three home runs and thirteen RBI. Brett Wallace, who is making the switch back to third base, is holding his own with a .286 batting average while clubbing one home run and driving in six runs.
Our AA team, the Corpus Christi Hooks, are 5-5 and in third place in the South Division. This team was thought to be the best of all of the Astros farm teams and likely still will be, however, they are off to a slow start. Top pitching prospect, Jarred Cosart, has missed his last two starts due to a blister on his throwing hand that he got after throwing his curveball in his first start of the year. Top hitting prospect, Jonathan Singleton, while hitting .348 thus far has yet to club a home run, although, to be fair, the team has faced several lefties early. One thing I am not a fan of is the fact that he is still playing some left field as he is splitting time at first base with Kody Hinze. Jonathan Villar is also struggling as he is hitting a mere .174 with zero home runs and only one RBI. He does have seven stolen bases and has walked five times. As these three players are arguably our top three prospects, I wouldn’t expect them to stay in this funk much longer and a few may find themselves with a ticket to Oklahoma City later this season if all goes well.
Our High-A team, the Lancaster JetHawks, are 3-8 and tied for last place in the South Division. This is largely due to the pitching, or lack thereof as Clear Channel Stadium is a launching pad. Astros 2011 first round pick, George Springer, has gotten off to a good start as has 2009 first round pick Jiovanni Mier. JetHawks first baseman, Telvin Nash, has the minor league lead in home runs now with six as he is tearing the cover off the ball. Don’t expect any good pitching stats to come from this team this year as its likely not going to happen.
Finally, our Low-A team, the Lexington Legends are 3-8 and in sixth place in the Southern Division. Not many bright spots on this team other than two of the Astros first round picks from the 2010 draft, Delino DeShields Jr. and Mike Foltynewicz. After a horrendous first start, Folty has rebounded with back to back superb performances and putting together a 1.72 ERA with eighteen strikeouts in 15.2 innings thus far. Best of all, in his start last night, he induced ten groundouts as opposed to zero fly outs which will help him greatly if and when he is promoted to High-A Lancaster. DeShields, has clubbed one home run, driven in five runs and swiped six bases while hitting .277. Both of these guys need to take a huge step forward this year and starts like this will help that cause. Hopefully both of these guys can be moved up to High A Lancaster at some point this year.
All in all, we are looking good down on the farm and should see several players promoted this year, a few top prospects may even make the big league club as a September call up, but we desperately need several of our top prospects to produce this year and/or turn the corner from where they have been the past few seasons. Things are definitely looking up!