The Lancaster JetHawks are preparing for their shot at repeating as the California League champions. The regular season came to an end Monday night; they will face the Rangers High-A Mavericks in the first round. So the focus is certainly on the upcoming playoffs, but let’s take a look back at the season that was for the Houston Astros’ high-A affiliate.
Lancaster has seen its share of offensive prowess this year. It all has to start with first baseman A.J. Reed. The California League player of the year is now at Corpus Christi double-A. But, when he left the California League he was leading in batting average, home runs, r.b.i., walks, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS. It was a magical season for the former Golden Spikes Award winner. We should see him battle for the starting first baseman’s job with the big club in Houston in 2016.
Another mega-star that played the majority of the season for the JetHawks was former Astros farmhand, Brett Phillips. Unfortunately, Houston lost the young outfielder as the centerpiece of the deal that brought Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros. Before he left, he was arguably the best all-around player that Lancaster saw all year. A fan favorite and future MLB player for sure, Astro fans will have to root for him in a Brewer uniform. The good news for Brett is that he’ll likely get that shot at the beginning of 2016.
Jun 23, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Virginia Cavaliers outfielder Derek fisher (23) drives in two runs in the first inning against the Vanderbilt Commodores during game one of the College World Series Finals at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
While those two stars have moved on, Lancaster still has plenty of firepower for their playoff run. J.D. Davis has been with the club all season and he’ll certainly be closing out his single-A career within the next week. Destined to start 2016 in double-A, the third baseman has been electric this season with a slash line of .289/26/101 and a .889 OPS. It’s been a year of highs and lows, but Davis was as hot as anybody in August.
Derek Fisher was promoted to the JetHawks early in the season and is likely the reason that Brett Phillips was considered expendable. The young left fielder out of Virginia has posted a .275/22/87 line with 31 stolen bases in his combined 2015. He clearly provides an intriguing power and speed combination that will make him treasured to the Astros organization. The playoffs will likely be his single-A send off as well.
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One more offensive star that is destined to play at Whataburger Field in Corpus in 2016 is the “new guy”, Alex Bregman. The #1 ranked prospect in the stacked Astros system has been on fire since joining the Lancaster lineup. His average is now .319 with a .364 OBP. The guy gets on base and comes up with clutch hits, but his intangibles may be his biggest assets. A true leader, it will be interesting to see how he handles his first taste of professional playoffs.
The 2015 season has been very entertaining. With all the talent rolling through and remaining on the club, the JetHawks will be easy to root for this week. Stay tuned for updates, Astros fans.