The Houston Astros California League entry, Lancaster JetHawks, made the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
The Lancaster JetHawks, with Houston Astros #2 Prospect Kyle Tucker and #29 Jason Martin, are one of only two Astros minor league teams to make the 2016 post-season. The JetHawks finished first in the California League’s (Advanced-A) South Division. They were four games ahead of first-half division winner High Desert Mavericks (Rangers). Lancaster opens the playoffs on September 7 on the road against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers).
The JetHawks lost several top hitters to promotion earlier this season, including Ramon Laureano, Drew Ferguson, Garrett Stubbs, and Bobby Boyd. The good news is Lancaster still has equally capable talent in Tucker, Martin, Myles Straw, Johnny Sewald, Jamie Ritchie, and Bryan Muniz.
Other key JetHawks are infielder Aaron Mizell (.351 in his last ten games), catchers Trent Woodward (.424 in last ten), and Ritchie (.324, last ten). Martin, the team leader in home runs (23), and RBI (75) is batting .355 with four home runs in the last ten games. Tucker is hitting .339/.435/.661 in the 15 contests since his promotion to Lancaster. Straw is at .303/.393/.395 with his first professional home run, in 18 games since he moved up from Quad Cities.
Although Lancaster pitchers are last in the California League in ERA and WHIP, they won 77 games overall. This is just five short of league-leading High Desert. Brock Dykxhoorn, the 6’8″ right-hander from Canada, led the team in wins (10), innings pitched (123.2), and games started (21). He is followed by nine-game winner Joshua James, the team leader in strikeouts (121), and seven game winner Trent Thornton, the team WHIP leader (1.19) among hurlers pitching more than 24 innings.
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Reliever Ryan Deemes has a 1.35 ERA in his last 20 innings, while team saves leader Jacob Dorris (10), has a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 recent frames. Astros #8 Prospect Albert Abreu is 1-2, 2.38 ERA in his last ten appearances, and 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA since his promotion to the JetHawks. Starter Dean Deetz is 4-1, 3.14 ERA in his last ten outings, and Thornton is 6-1, with a 2.60 ERA in his last 65.2 innings.
Lancaster finished out the regular season on September 5 with an 8-4 loss at home against the last place Inland Empire 66ers (Angels). Lancaster’s 42-28 second half record is best in the league. Their second half, 21-15 road record tops the league, and their 21-14 home record is tied with High Desert for the league lead.
The South Division playoffs open with the best two of three series between Lancaster and the Wild Card Quakes. Also, the first half winner Mavericks receiving a bye. The North Division pits the second half winner Bakersfield Blaze (Mariners) at the San Jose Giants, with first half champion Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks) getting the bye.
The winner of each opening series will play the first half winner from their division (best of five) to determine the teams in the Championship Series.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference and MLB.com**