Astros Triple-A Notes: Valdez, Jones, Bielak shine
Astros prospects Framber Valdez, Taylor Jones and Joshua Rojas shined for the Round Rock Express last week.
Rumor has it the Astros are in need of some help in the starting rotation following the All-Star break. In an effort to claim a spot, Framber Valdez has looked solid since being sent back to Triple-A Round Rock.
In his start on July 1, Valdez tossed 6.2 scoreless innings, striking out 10 batters. He followed that up with a start on Saturday in which he lasted just three innings and gave up two runs, but he also struck out seven. Should the Astros need to call someone up, Valdez could be the guy.
Jones Claiming Job After Reed’s Departure
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First baseman A.J. Reed being claimed on waivers by the White Sox has opened the door for Taylor Jones to cement his status as the full-time first baseman for Round Rock. He’s certainly earned that distinction, having reached base safely in each of his last nine games.
In that span, he’s hit three homers, driven in 11 runs and drawn five walks. On the season, he’s hitting .296 with 16 homers and 60 RBIs. While he’s not on the team’s top prospects list, one wonders if he could force his way on there.
Bielak’s Stock Continues to Rise
The Astros’ 11th-round draft pick from 2017 continues to turn heads. Left-hander Brandon Bielak has made seven starts in Triple-A so far and, aside from a couple of clunkers, has been solid. In his latest outing on Sunday, he gave up just one run in six innings, striking out eight.
MLB.com ranks him 12th among the team’s prospects, noting he has four solid pitches and has demonstrated good control in pro ball. The 23-year-old Notre Dame product could push for a big league call-up if he continues to have success in Round Rock.
Odds and Ends
Joe Smith is looking sharp in his rehab outings at Round Rock. In four scoreless appearances, he’s allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out five. He could return to the Astros shortly.
Infielder Joshua Rojas continues to display consistency at the plate. He’s hit safely in seven of his last nine games and has also drawn seven walks in that span. The lefty-swinging utilityman is hitting .294/.396/.559 in 37 games for the Express.
***Statistics courtesy of MiLB.com***