Astros Prospect Jon Kemmer Stepping Up, Hooks Continue Winning


Astros Double-A Report: Corpus Christi Hooks (June 23-29)

Corpus Christi outfielder Jon Kemmer has become the new hitting leader as the Hooks continue to be the best in the Texas League. Kemmer’s .323 average and nine home runs leads the team that is rolling along with a 51-25 record.

The Hooks added another potentially potent bat on June 24 when Astros prospect Brett Phillips, 2014 Astros’ Minor League Player of the Year, made the jump to Double-A. The eagerly anticipated arrival is good news for Hooks fans, as the team was beginning to show some cracks in the armor, not scoring enough runs lately. The 21-year-old former Astros’ sixth round draft pick out of Seminole high school in Seminole, Florida should help the Hooks.

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Since losing All-Star second baseman and league leading hitter Tony Kemp on June 11, the Hooks are 12-7. That is good enough to maintain a huge South Division lead, however they scored only six total runs in the three consecutive losses from June 21-23. It was the first time since early May that the Hooks lost three in a row, and matches the longest losing streak of the season.

Kemmer has a hot bat, with a seven game hitting streak (he did not play on June 28), batting .429 in the last ten games to raise his average well above his three-year Minor League mark to lead the Hooks. This is exactly what the team needed after Kemp and Andrew Aplin went to Triple-A. With Phillips beginning to contribute, the Hooks are looking to maintain their position as the best in the Texas League and among the best in MiLB.

On the other hand, Hooks outfielders Teoscar Hernandez (.206/7 HR/22 RBI, .211 last 10 games) and Danry Vasquez (.165/0 HR/3 RBI, .229 last 10 games) both need to step up their game, as one is going to sit with outfielder Brett Phillips in the lineup for Corpus. Unless these guys pick up the pace, at least one could be going back to Lancaster – probably Vasquez, who hit .315 in 40 games with the JetHawks earlier this season but is having difficulty handling Double-A pitching.

Phillips made his first Double-A appearance on June 25, when the Hooks hosted the Frisco RoughRiders. He was in the lineup in center field, batting second, in front of slugger Jon Kemmer. Phillips went 0-3, reaching base once when he was hit by a pitch. The newest Hook got his first Double-A hit on June 26, when he ripped a two-run triple to right field, and then scored on a wild pitch. He made a great, diving catch in the June 28 win over Frisco.

The Hooks are still on top of the Texas League in wins (51), team average (.276), runs (392), hits (692), RBI (353), stolen bases (102), and on base percentage (.357). For team pitching, Corpus still has a large lead in ERA (3.04 with second place Tulsa at 3.58), saves (25), fewest runs allowed (246), fewest earned runs (224), second fewest in home runs allowed (48), lowest in walks allowed (203), and first in WHIP (1.23).

Former Hooks second baseman Tony Kemp still leads the Texas League in average (.358) and OBP (.457). Teoscar Hernandez is second in runs (50). Chris Devenski is in a four-way tie for the league lead in wins (7), is second in ERA (1.16) and WHIP (0.91). Jandel Gustave maintained his saves lead (9).

After the June 30 Texas League All-Star game, the Hooks leave on July 2 for a six game road trip. They play three in Tulsa, and three in Springfield before returning home to play six games against the same two teams.

Other notes:

  • OF Brett Maverick Phillips was promoted on June 24 to Corpus. The California League All-Star outfielder was hitting .320 with 15 HR and 53 RBI at Lancaster.
  • As mentioned last week, many observers expect Phillips’ Lancaster teammates and fellow California League All-Stars A.J. Reed and Jack Mayfield to soon be promoted to Double-A.
  • RHP Mark Appel was promoted on June 24 to Triple-A Fresno. Appel was 5-1 with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 13 games at Corpus Christi. If he pitches well, he won’t be in Fresno for long. Moving up to the Astros will require a roster move, as Appel is not yet on Houston’s 40-man roster.
  • Appel and Kemp were named on June 25 to represent the Houston Astros on the US Team in the 2015 Future’s Game, which will be played on July 12 at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark.
  • The Astros recalled Michael Feliz on June 27, to replace Brett Oberholtzer who was optioned to AAA Fresno after a disappointing 1.1 inning outing against the Yankees.
  • 3B-DH Tyler White will represent the Hooks in the Double-A Home Run Derby Tuesday at Whataburger Field.
  • RHP Chris Devenski was named the South Division’s starting pitcher in the Double-A All-Star game.

Next: Quad Cities Clinches Title, Top Astros Pick Bregman Reports

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