Astros Minors: Vince Velasquez & Lance McCullers, Jr. Back With Hooks
Astros Double-A Report: Corpus Christi Hooks (August 3-9)
Vincent Velasquez and Lance McCullers, Jr. were both optioned to Corpus Christi recently, apparently to give both a chance to work with Doug Brocail, Hooks pitching coach and Astros senior pitching advisor. Both men spent time with the Astros this season, and both have struggled. A little time in Double-A with less pressure than on a big league field may be just the thing Velasquez and McCullers need to get them back on track.
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With the recent acquisition of starter Mike Fiers, along with difficult outings for Velasquez and McCullers, neither has a spot in the Houston starting rotation, at least for now. According to a Houston Chronicle story posted on August 1 by Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Velasquez could be back with the Astros as soon as August 11. The story indicated that Velasquez would work in relief for the Hooks, obviously paving the way for him to be added to the Astros bullpen when he returns.
According to Astros beat reporter Brian McTaggart, the Astros will not try Velasquez at closer (via Twitter). The 23-year-old will likely be used in long relief when he returns to the Astros, as Houston does not have a right-hander for that spot. It is not yet clear when McCullers may be recalled or what his role will be, as the Astros now have five starting pitchers.
Corpus Christi won four games in a row from August 2-5, but then lost three out of their last four as they continue to struggle to maintain position in the second half standings. As of August 9, they are in second place in the Texas League South Division, 24-20 (72-42), five games behind Midland.
The Hooks helped the Whataburger restaurant chain celebrate their 65th birthday on August 8 with this giveaway. The chain opened its first store on August 8, 1950 on Ayers Street in Corpus Christi, and has been the title sponsor of the Hooks home field since 2005.
- A.J. Reed (#6 Astros prospect) leads all Astros minor league batters in runs (94), hits (138), home runs (29), RBI (103), and On Base Percentage (.433, of players that have appeared in more than 19 games).
- 3B Colin Moran (#11 prospect) has upped his game in recent weeks. He is hitting .349 in the last ten games, with 15 hits and four home runs.
- OF Jon Kemmer is another hot hitter, batting .324 with 12 hits and two home runs in the last ten games.
- OF Teoscar Hernandez, (#18 prospect) mired in a slump for much of the season, seems to have found his stroke again, hitting .304 in the last 10 games. He leads the league in runs (76), has 14 home runs, second on the Hooks, and tied for fourth in the league.
- RHP Michael Feliz (#7 prospect), who also had a brief stint with the Astros this season, is pitching well lately. In the last 10 games, he is 5-1, with a 2.22 ERA, 16 walks, and 40 K’s in 52.5 innings.
- RHP Jandel Gustave (#29 prospect) has been lights out recently. Since July 6, he is 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA (yes, you read that correctly), four walks, 16 K’s, and three saves in 16.2 innings.
- Joseph Musgrove (#10 prospect) is undefeated in his last ten outings. He is 6-0, with a 2.13 ERA, five walks, and 47 K’s in 55 innings.
Next: Astros Prospects: The Best Outside the Top 30, Part One