The Houston Astros are breeding winners down on the farm. The Fresno Grizzlies are sitting at 74-48 with a share of the best record in the Pacific Coast League after starting August by winning 15 of their first 16 games, including a current seven-game win streak.
After going nearly four months without sweeping a series, the Grizzlies have swept the Albuquerque Isotopes twice this month and are going for a sweep of the New Orleans Zephyrs on Tuesday night.
The Grizzlies are beating their opponents in all facets of the game in August.
Mark Appel is now consistently looking like the pitcher everyone expected him to be. After tossing seven innings and allowing one earned run to Albuquerque on Aug.1, Appel faced the Isotopes again last Wednesday. He pitched eight innings of four-hit baseball, allowing only one run again while striking out eight and walking one batter.
Appel is at his best when he has command of the strike zone. In his most recent outing, the righty was able to throw 62 of his 91 pitches for strikes.
Astros fans should look for Dan Straily to be a solid contributor to the pitching staff when September rolls around. He hasn’t pitched badly in his stints with the big-league club this season, and he has flat out dominated Triple-A opponents since a rough April. On Monday night, he held New Orleans to two runs over seven innings, including eight strikeouts.
Tyler White continues to scorch Triple-A pitching. In 37 games and 144 ABs at Fresno now, White is still maintaining a ridiculous slash line – .389/.486/.590. Against left-handed pitching, he is hitting .456/.492/.632.
Matt Duffy has quietly put together an impressive season in Fresno. Duffy has seen his batting average rise every month of the season and since the All-Star break, he is hitting .368/.463/.658 with seven home runs.
- Andrew Aplin is hitting .370 with a .452 OBP in August.
- Max Stassi is hitting .313/.365/.542 in August with three home runs.
- 2012 3rd round pick Brady Rodgers notched his ninth win of the season on Sunday, throwing six shutout innings while allowing only two hits.
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The Grizzlies magic number to clinch a playoff spot is at eight with a little over three weeks of baseball left to play. It will be interesting to see how the Astros approach the minor-league playoffs and September call-ups. Winning and gaining playoff experience at the professional level is a valuable experience for players, but some of their services may be required at the big-league level down the stretch next month.
L.J. Hoes, Robbie Grossman, Jonathan Villar, Jon Singleton, Stassi, Asher Wojciechowski, Straily, Brett Oberholtzer, Jake Buchanan, Kevin Chapman, and Luis Cruz are the players on the 40-man roster currently playing in Fresno.