Astros Double-A Report: Corpus Christi Hooks (June 9-15)
The Corpus Christi Hooks continued their onslaught of the Texas League this week. Despite losing top hitter, second baseman Tony Kemp, and pitcher Mike Hauschild to Triple-A, the Hooks clinched the South Division first half title with a win on June 12, when they completed a four game sweep over the Midland RockHounds. For the week, the Hooks were 6-1 on the road trip road trip against Midland and the San Antonio Missions.
The Hooks have the best record in the Texas League at 43-19, and increased their South Division lead to 12.5 games over second place Midland. Clinching the first half title guarantees Corpus Christi a post-season playoff berth for the Texas League Championship.
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Hooks fans probably had mixed emotions again this week when Kemp was promoted on June 11 to the Fresno Grizzlies in the Pacific Coast League. Kemp is following in the footsteps of former Hooks shortstop Carlos Correa who began the 2015 season in Corpus Christi, with a brief stint in Fresno before his callup to the Houston Astros.
Correa was followed two days later by standout pitcher Vincent Velasquez, who jumped from the Hooks over Triple-A and made his first big league start for the Astros on June 10 in Chicago against the White Sox.
According to the Hooks media guide, Correa was the seventh, and Velasquez the eighth Corpus Christi players to make a Major League appearance this year. The list includes Lance McCullers, Jr., Michael Feliz, Preston Tucker, and Asher Wojciechowski for the Astros; along with Delino DeShields, Jr., (Rangers), and Carlos Perez (Angels). There will surely be more to come, as the team is loaded with talent.
Lest Hooks fans begin to despair that all of the good players have moved on, they still have some great talent on the Double-A roster, including newcomer RHP Joe Musgrove who was promoted from Lancaster on June 9. Fans can expect to see additional talent moving up soon from Class-A Lancaster, as the JetHawks have California League All-Star talented players Brett Phillips, A.J. Reed, and Jack Mayfield, among other promising prospects.
Although the Hooks are dominating the Texas League, the All-Star team does not reflect their position as the league’s best. First baseman Conrad Gregor is the only Hooks position player voted as a starter (Tony Kemp would have started had he not been promoted to Triple-A), with catcher Roberto Pena, and infielder Tyler White named as reserves. Corpus Christi pitchers Travis Ballew, Chris Devenski, and Jandel Gustave will represent the Astros farm team, while Corpus Christi Manager Rodney Linares and his coaching staff will handle the South Division team.
The best offensive game of the week came on June 15 in a 15-3 beating over the San Antonio Missions. The Hooks exploded for 15 runs on 17 hits, with Leo Heras, and Conrad Gregor ripping four hits apiece, and six Hooks players with two or more hits. The worst offense this week was on June 13 in the first game of the San Antonio series, when the Hooks managed only one run on two hits.
Hooks pitchers had the best combined outing on June 9 in Midland. Mark Appel and Kyle Westwood together allowed only two runs on five hits with 11 strikeouts. The worst combined pitching effort came in the June 10 loss to Midland, when Michael Feliz, Travis Ballew, Chris Devenski, and Jandel Gustave gave up seven runs on 12 hits and six walks.
Although Tony Kemp was promoted early in the week, he still leads the Hooks and the Texas League in batting with a .358 average, and a .457 on base percentage (OBP). The Hooks as a team lead the league in runs (339), hits (583), RBI (305), stolen bases (86), OBP (.361), and average (.279).
Chris Devenski continues to lead the Texas League in wins (7), and ERA (0.65). Corpus Christi pitchers lead the league in ERA (3.11), saves (22), fewest runs allowed (204), fewest earned runs (187), fewest walks allowed (177), and lowest WHIP (1.26).
- RHP Joe Musgrove was promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi on June 9. Musgrove was 4-0, 2.40 ERA, 0.97 WHIP in six games for Lancaster. He struck out 43 and walked only one in 30 innings. Overall this season, Musgrove is 8-1 with a 1.62 ERA in 11 games (seven starts) for the Lancaster JetHawks and Low-A Quad Cities. Musgrove has 66 strikeouts and 2 walks in 55.2 innings between the two Class-A teams. His first start for the Hooks came on June 12, a win against Midland, where he pitched seven innings, allowing six hits, no walks, striking out three.
- Kemp extended his hitting streak to 13 games on June 10 in Midland. As expected, he was promoted to Triple-A Fresno on June 11.
- On June 10, Colin Moran hit a two-run double in the third inning but left the game due to an injured ankle. He was placed on the seven day disabled list.
- Infielder Chan Moon returned to the Hooks after a brief stint with Triple-A Fresno.
- RHP Kyle Westwood was removed from the inactive list.
- RHP Ruben Alaniz was assigned to Corpus Christi from extended spring training.
- At this writing, on the eve of the final game in the San Antonio series, the Hooks are just one win away from taking their 11th consecutive series.
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