With the minor league playoffs winding down, we’re ready to start our series of season recaps for the Astros farm teams. We will dedicate a post to each and every team in the Astros system. Each article will cover the season that was, as well as players to keep an eye on and what to expect going forward. I’ll get things started with a look at the AAA Oklahoma City RedHawks.
The Astros highest level farm club put together a 78-65 record this season, narrowly missing the Pacific Coast League playoffs. Oklahoma City finished only 1 & 1/2 games behind Albuquerque in the American Southern Division. It was a nice turnaround for the RedHawks who posted a 68-75 record in 2011, the first year of a two-year player development agreement with the Houston Astros. On Tuesday the Astros announced a two-year extension that will keep their AAA affiliate in OKC through the 2014 season.
As is often the case with AAA ballclubs, the Oklahoma City team consisted of an interesting group of players. A handful of veterans with big league experience meshed nicely with a large group of up-and-coming prospects. The veterans included 34-year old Mike Hessman who led the league with 35 homers, and SS Angel Sanchez who hit .320 in 107 games.
Prospects Brandon Barnes (.323/.383/.477), Fernando Martinez (.314/.367/.507), and Brett Wallace (.300/.379/.506) were all called up to the majors late in the season. The RedHawks slumped shortly after Wallace was called up, losing ten straight games and falling out of first place. Other key contributors on offense included Jimmy Paredes (318, 37 SB), Scott Moore (.318, 54 RBI in 73 games), Brad Snyder (.304/.375/.550) and veteran catcher Landon Powell. The RedHawks posted a .282/.349/.434 slash line as a team in the hitter-friendly PCL.
The pitchers didn’t fare quite as well. Paul Clemens led the staff with eight wins but was demoted to AA late in the year with a 6.73 ERA. Reliever Mickey Storey picked up seven wins prior to being promoted to Houston in early August. Jose Valdez led the team with 21 saves and earned a September call up. Rudy Owens posted a 1.25 WHIP in eight starts after being acquired from Pittsburgh in the Wandy Rodriguez trade.
With OKC serving as a revolving door for players moving back-and-forth to the majors it’s hard to say what next year’s team might look like. Many of the regulars may have permanently graduated to the big leagues. At least, the Astros would like to think so. One exception could be Brandon Barnes, who could return to OKC for 2013.
Brandon Barnes (Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE)
Jonathan Singleton should be ready to move up from AA and take over at first base. Newcomer Marc Krauss struggled after being acquired from the Arizona organization and promoted from AA. But Krauss is still an interesting prospect that could provide some power to the RedHawks lineup.
Rudy Owens could be the next member of the RedHawks rotation to be headed to Houston. That could happen as early as Opening Day. It’s anyone’s guess where Dallas Keuchel starts the year. The rotation should be a strong one, regardless. Brett Oberholtzer, Jarred Cosart, and Jose Cisnero should all be ready to excel at the AAA level and Paul Clemens is a candidate to bounce back.
Jason Stoffel (27 saves) and lefty Kevin Chapman (6-3, 2.64 ERA) had good showings out of the bullpen at AA Corpus Christi and could be ready to make the jump to OKC. Both averaged about a strikeout per inning. Josh Zeid is another candidate to move up from to OKC from the Corpu Christi bullpen. Next up: Brian takes a look at the Hooks.