The Houston Astros have a playoff team at all four minor-league levels
If the young talent in the Astros organization will be accustomed to anything, it will be winning. Each of the four Houston Astros’ full-season minor league affiliates has clinched a 2015 playoff spot.
Despite promotions, demotions, trades and releases, each of these clubs have found success this season – a testament to the organization’s front office, coaching staff and overall talent. Here’s a look at how each club has found success this season:
Quad Cities River Bandits
The Houston Astros Class-A affiliate were the first team to clinch a playoff spot by finishing as first half champions with a 45-23 record. On the season, the River Bandits hold an 83-46 record, best in the Midwest.
The team was led in the first half by the bat of Jacob Nottingham, but lost him to Lancaster and eventually to Oakland in the Scott Kazmir deal. The team has also ridden the arms of some of the Astros’ top pitching prospects: Joe Musgrove, Francis Martes, Riley Ferrell and David Paulino to name a few. 2015 first-round pick Alex Bregman and 2014 first-round pick Derek Fisher both started the season at Quad Cities as well before joining the Lancaster JetHawks.
After a 37-33 first half, the Houston Astros Advanced Class-A affiliate came up short of clinching a playoff spot, but a solid second half led to the JetHawks clinching a spot last Friday night. The team currently holds a 71-61 overall record for the season.
The team was led by A.J. Reed early on as the slugging first baseman slashed .346/.449/.638 with 23 HRs and 81 RBIs in only 82 games before a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi. In the second half and mostly the month of August, the team has ridden the hot bat of Alex Bregman. The shortstop has posted a .336/.380/.492 line with Lancaster and is riding a current 14-game hit streak. The team has also slugged out the most home runs (165) in the hitter-friendly California League with the help of: 2014 third-round pick J.D. Davis, 2013 round 12 pick Chase McDonald, Derek Fisher as well as Brett Phillips before a promotion to Corpus Christi and a trade deadline departure.
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Corpus Christi Hooks
The Corpus Christi Hooks clinched a playoff spot in the first half, going 48-22 and currently hold an 82-49 overall record. It’s hard to believe now that Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers actually started the season at Double-A. In 29 games, Correa hit seven home runs and slashed .385/.459/.726. McCullers was arguably even more dominant, posting a 0.56 ERA in seven games as well as 48 strikeouts in 32 innings. Obviously those guys didn’t stay with the team long, but the club maintained their success throughout the year.
The Hooks have relied on the arm of Chris Devenski all season; acquired by the Astros in 2012, Devenski has posted a 2.80 ERA on the season in Corpus Christi. 22-year-old Michael Feliz started the season in Lancaster and has made a few appearances with the Astros, but has spent the bulk of the season with the Hooks, posting a 2.23 ERA.
Offensively, Tony Kemp, Andrew Aplin and Tyler White were large contributors for the club before promotions to Fresno. A.J. Reed stepped in from Lancaster and provided more than enough to help the loss, though. Reed has stayed hot with Corpus, in 44 games he is slashing .355/.421./.609 with ten home runs and 38 RBIs. Colin Moran is hitting .322 with nine home runs post All-Star break.
At 79-55, the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies won their division in the Pacific Coast League on Aug. 26. The Grizzlies roster has had constant turnover all season, with several players splitting time between Houston and Fresno or being lost to trades, but manager Tony DeFrancesco has led this team to a fantastic season. The club lost only once in the first three weeks of August.
Dan Straily has been the ace for the club despite spending some time with the Houston Astros and two back-to-back rough outings. Brett Oberholtzer and Brady Rodgers have also anchored the rotation for much of the season. The Grizzlies have also played host to most of Mark Appel‘s roller coaster season.
Domingo Santana, Preston Tucker and Correa were all offensive leaders before Santana’s trade and the promotions of Tucker and Correa. Jon Singleton, 20 HRs and 78 RBIs and Matt Duffy, 18 HRs and 101 RBIs, have been power mainstays for most of the season. Tyler White has been nothing short of a spark plug for the Grizzlies since joining the club from Corpus.
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