Astros: Class-A Advanced Fayetteville begins championship series

(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /

The Astros Class-A Advanced affiliate Fayetteville Woodpeckers are set to play for the league championship.

The success for the Astros minor league programs continues. The Class-A Advanced Fayetteville Woodpeckers won their opening playoff series to advance to the Carolina League Championship Series. They will face off against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, in a best-of-five series beginning Tuesday.

To get there, they defeated the Down East Wood Ducks 3-2 in a best-of-five series. Down East is the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Texas Rangers, bringing additional satisfaction to the team’s victory.

The series schedule was interrupted due to Hurricane Dorian, with the teams forced to play a pair of doubleheaders. Down East won Game One and Game Three, and Fayetteville continued to bounce back, winning Games Two, Four and Five.

Notable Performances

Ruben Castro was the big hitter in the series, notching a .727 batting average with three RBIs in the three games he played. The Astros 19th-round draft pick in 2014, Castro is listed as a catcher but has also played first base, second base and DH. He hit .254/.383/.358 in 24 games in the regular season for Fayetteville.

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Another big bat was outfielder Marty Costes. The 22nd-round draft pick in 2018 hit safely in every game this series, totaling a .400 batting average with three RBIs and four walks. He finished with a .247/.362/.371 batting line in 29 regular season games for the Woodpeckers.

On the pitching side, Shawn Dubin started the decisive Game Five, allowing just one unearned run in six innings. He gave up just two hits and two walks and struck out seven. The right-hander was a 13th-round draft pick in 2018 and finished with a 3.92 ERA for Fayetteville this season.

Luis Garcia got the win in Game Four after striking out 10 batters across six innings of two-run ball. The 22-year-old right-hander was signed as an international free agent in 2017 and put up a 3.02 ERA in 65.2 innings with 108 strikeouts for the Woodpeckers this season. He’s the team’s No. 29 ranked prospect.

Austin Hansen won Game Two, tossing 5.1 scoreless frames allowing four hits and one walk. He was the team’s eighth round pick in 2018 out of Oklahoma. The right-hander tallied a 3.10 ERA for Fayetteville this season across 52.1 innings with 76 strikeouts.

Shortstop Jeremy Pena hit .278 with a pair of homers and three RBIs in the series. Pena was the Astros third round draft pick in 2018 and is currently ranked as the team’s No. 9 prospect. He hit .317 in 43 regular season games for the Woodpeckers this season.

Infielder Miguelangel Sierra finished the series with a .385 batting average in four games with one homer and two RBIs. This is the definition of stepping up one’s game, as Sierra finished the regular season with a .203 batting average in 111 games played.

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Finally, the switch-hitting catcher Michael Papierski drove in a pair of runs in the team’s Game Four win and hit .250 overall for the series in the two games he played. Papierski was the team’s ninth round draft pick in 2017 out of LSU.