Astros Minors: #16 Prospect Franklin Perez Improving
By Larry Manch
Astros Class-A Report: Quad Cities River Bandits (June 12-18)
Astros #16 Prospect Franklin Perez has had several good outings recently for the River Bandits. The 18-year-old right-hander from Venezuela has lowered his ERA significantly over his six mound appearances, sitting at 2.36 after a solid five-inning start on June 17.
Perez was signed in 2014 as an International Free Agent and given a $1 million bonus. His professional career began in 2015 with the Astros Orange squad in the Dominican Summer League (Rookie), and in 35 innings, he compiled a 1-2 record with a 4.37 ERA.
Perez walked 11 and struck out 44 in nine starts and two relief outings before moving to the Gulf Coast League Astros. In Florida, he went 0-2, 4.80 in 15 innings primarily in relief, walking three and striking out 17. Despite an opponent average of .292, the Astros moved him up to Quad Cities on May 18, 2016, and so far, his performances show he is maturing and improving.
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With the River Bandits, Perez started four games with two relief appearances and is 1-1 with a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings. His opponent average is still high, at .262, however with his 91-93 mph fastball, and improving curveball and changeup, that number should drop as he gains experience. Although he has given up 27 hits, he has allowed only seven earned runs, no more than two in any one game.
The young pitcher has a lot to live up to, coming from the same hometown as Felix Hernandez, and the Astros are counting on Perez to grow into a mid-rotation starter in the future.
- The shuttle between Quad Cities and Astros Extended Spring Training continued, with Austin Nicely and Juan Santos swapping spots. Nicely, after his disappointing outing on June 11, headed back to EST, and Santos returned to Iowa. Some Astros minor leaguers who were at EST, including Nicely and Daz Cameron, were assigned to Tri-City for the start of their season on June 17.
- Osvaldo Duarte had two consecutive three-hit games, June 11-12, bringing his hitting streak to seven games. The versatile 20-year-old Dominican Republic native was at shortstop in the first game, moving to center field in the next.
- #10 prospect Albert Abreu had been having a difficult time on the mound, but he came through on June 13. He threw four innings in relief, allowing only one hit, no runs, walking three, and striking out six to earn his second save of the season. Justin Ferrell was the winning pitcher for Quad Cities, pitching five innings and giving up three hits and one walk.
- The River Bandits had another great game that night, collecting 16 hits and 12 runs, holding Wisconsin to four hits and no runs.
- Jose Hernandez put in one of the best pitching performances of the season on July 14. The 21-year-old from Mexico threw seven superb innings, allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out a season-high 12. Unfortunately, he did not get the win when Makay Nelson blew the save, gave up three runs, and took the loss.
- Catcher Marlon Avea is back in Quad Cities as of June 16. He was with the River Bandits for six games in 2015, and one game earlier in 2016.
- LHP Sebastian Kessay was sent on June 17 to Tri-City as their season began.
- Arturo Michelena struck out five times in the June 17, 14-inning loss to Cedar Rapids. He collected one hit in the game. The River Bandits struck out 18 times, left 20 runners on base, and managed only five hits. Kristian Trompiz was the lone QC batter who did not strike out, knocking two hits and walking once.
- Abreu had another excellent outing on June 18. He threw seven innings, allowing three hits, three walks, one earned run and struck out three. Abreu did not get the win as reliever Dave Schmidt blew the save in the eighth, then took the win when Duarte scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly. Abreu is still having control issues with 43 balls in 99 pitches. However, his progress is encouraging.
Next: Houston Astros: Corpus Christi Player Spotlight – Teoscar Hernandez
Quad Cities went 4-3 this week, gaining one game on seventh place Wisconsin, but remaining in last place (30-38). Next week, (June 19-25), the River Bandits finish a homestand with one game against Cedar Rapids. The Midwest League All-Star break begins on June 20, with the game taking place on June 21 at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, IA. The schedule resumes on June 23, with Quad Cities playing the first of four games at Wisconsin.
**Statistics provided by MiLB.com and MLB Pipeline, MLB.com**