Quad Cities Half-Year Recap
By Yoni Pollak
Over the next week I’ll be recapping each Astros farm team’s season up to this point in their season. Each team is a bit past the half-way point, so I’ll be recapping some of the CURRENT players on each squad above Low-A. I’ll choose five hitters and five pitchers to discuss with a few honorable mentions if necessary. Today I’ll be recapping the Quad Cities RiverBandits.
When looking at the RiverBandits roster, it’s easy to see several future Astros on the roster. Led by Carlos Correa, the offense leads the Midwest League in walks, but they’re also second in strikeouts. The pitching staff has walked the least amount of batters in the league, and they’re also second in strikeouts. Here are the top five hitters and pitchers from the RiverBandits.
1. Carlos Correa – Correa has been hitting lights out after he struggled early on out of the gate. He currently sports a .323/.408/.457 slash line, and that’s with his .221 average in April. Correa has 5 HR and 47 RBI along with 27 doubles, 33 walks, and 49 strikeouts. On the base paths he has stolen seven bags while being caught five times. The first overall pick in the 2012 draft, Correa has only 10 errors this season in his 64 games, whereas he had 12 errors in 47 games in 2012. Correa has done his best damage with runners in scoring position, hitting .408 with a 1.071 OPS in his 78 at-bats. Correa has lived up to his #1 selection last draft (though Buxton is having a great season), and looks to be every part of the player Astros scouts believed he would be. Correa is already a top 30 prospect in all of baseball, and will continue to climb up the prospect rankings over the months/years.
2. Rio Ruiz – When the Astros gave Ruiz $1.85 million as a fourth rounder in the 2012 draft, they probably hoped Ruiz would have better numbers than he has so far. On the season, Ruiz is batting .232 with a .668 OPS. He only has 4 HR and 13 doubles, though he has stolen six stolen bases without being caught once. Things are looking up for Ruiz as he hit .269 in June, and is swinging a hot bat as of late. In his last 10 games Ruiz is hitting .325 with a .872 OPS. Another positive is that the average age (last year) for a hitter in the Midwest League was 21.6, and Ruiz just turned 19 a month ago. It’s not time to panic on Ruiz as he has the potential to man third base for the Astros for a long time.
3. Teoscar Hernandez – One of everyone’s favorite sleeper prospects, Hernandez has had a bit of a streaky season. After batting .297 in April, .222 in May, and .272 in June, he currently sports a .261 AVG along with a .320 OBP and a .399 SLG. Hernandez has hit five HR this year along with 13 doubles and six triples. The speedy leadoff hitter has also stolen 19 bases and has been caught seven times. A non-drafted free agent signed by the Astros in 2011, the 20-year old Hernandez has been a nice surprise for the Astros, and should stay in Quad Cities the rest of the year.
4. Jesse Wierzbicki – Selected in the 24th round of the 2011 draft, Wierzbicki continues to be a solid middle-of-the-lineup bat for the RiverBandits. He’s hitting .272 this year with a .778 OPS, and has knocked in 43 runs this season. His 22 extra base hits (5 HR, 2 3B, 15 2B) is third on the team, and he has hit well with runners on base (.303). The 24-year old Wierzbicki isn’t among the Astros top 20 prospects, but he’s put up good numbers throughout his career and should earn a call up to Lancaster by next season at the latest.
5. Jordan Scott – A 14th rounder from the 2010 draft, Scott isn’t known for his power. In his second full season at Low-A, Scott has improved his numbers to the tune of a .267/.382/.325 line. Scott’s 42/39 – K/BB ratio is great, and he has stolen 17 bases while being caught five times. Scott isn’t among the top 30 prospects, but could be called up to Lancaster within the next month or two.
Carlos Correa in ASG
1. Lance McCullers Jr. – The second pick of the Astros from the 2012 draft, McCullers Jr. has had a great season so far. Though he sports a 4-4 record (due to mainly bad luck), Lance has a 2.07 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and a .213 BAA in 69.2 IP. McCullers Jr. is already considered a top 50 prospect in all of baseball by some, and should continue to rise throughout the Astros system. He has not allowed a home run this season, and has the second lowest WHIP amongst RiverBandits pitchers. The 19-year old may finish the year with the RiverBandits before the Astros decide whether or not to skip Lancaster for the 2014 season.
2. Vincent Velasquez – The up and down Velasquez has had a pretty solid season overall.. Velasquez has thrown 75 innings, and has a 3.84 ERA with 88 strikeouts. After a strong April in which he had a 2.54 ERA, Velasquez struggled in May with a 5.55 ERA, but came back strong in June with a 3.60 ERA. Velasquez is one of the better pitching prospects in the Astros system, and the 2010 2nd rounder may earn a call up to Lancaster later this season.
3. Jordan Jankowski – The 34th rounder in the 2012 draft, Jankowski has had a great year and was an All-Star this season. Jankowski has a 2.90 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in his 68.1 IP. The 24-year old is old for the Midwest League and should see some time in Lancaster before the year is up.
4. Mike Hauschild – With a 3.81 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, Hauschild leads the team with his 76.1 IP. Though not much of a prospect, the 23-year old is coming off his best performance allowing no runs in a 10 strikeout performance (5 IP). Hauschild was selected by the Astros in the 33rd round of the 2012 draft and will likely finish the year with the RiverBandits.
5. Daniel Minor – A 22-year old from Dripping Springs, Texas (didn’t make that up), Minor has had a very solid season with the RiverBandits. The 9th rounder from the 2012 draft has a 3.47 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP this season. Minor has the lowest BB/9 of the staff (1.9), and has lowered his ERA each month of the season. Minor is not amongst the top 20 prospects, but should rise through the system relatively quickly.