While the Houston Astros‘ farm system has been deemed depleted in the eyes of major news outlets, they have something brewing in pitcher J.P. France. The right-hander was promoted to the Sugar Land Skeeters on June 22 from Double-A Corpus Christi.
France is somewhat known for his proposal to his girlfriend on the field at Tulane University, where he pitched for three seasons before transferring to Mississippi State University. The Astros drafted him in the 14th round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
While not a well-known name, J.P. France should be a dark horse candidate for rotation depth in 2022.
At 26-years-old, France is making his first stint at the Triple-A level with the Skeeters. After a 4.28 ERA through 33.2 innings with the Hooks, he got the promotion with most of the Sugar Lands’ pitching depth going back and forth to the Astros.
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With a fastball sitting low 90s, France also relies on his offspeed with a 12-6 curve ball that drops around 70 MPH. On Saturday, he took the mound in the fourth inning, as he fanned 10 over five innings and surrendering one run on three hits and a walk on 71 pitches.
Although coming out of the ‘pen, France was scheduled to piggyback off Nivaldo Rodriguez on Saturday. The Astros’ minor league rotation depth has been hit by some injuries, for example Forrest Whitley, Tyler Ivey and Kent Emanuel were all eyed as minor-league depth starting the season.
With them out, the Astros have added Ryan Hartman and Ralph Garza Jr., but their roles have been limited to about two innings in their rookie campaigns. Looking at 2022, J.P. France might not be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, but it would behoove the Astros to see what they have in France in major-league spring training in 2022.
Other hits around the farm:
The Skeeters were squashed in game one of their doubleheader 10-2 in seven-inning fashion to the Tacoma Rainiers. They swatted game two to 3-0, and are back in action on Monday at 7:05 p.m.
Entering Sunday and over his last 19 games, Jake Meyers was slashing .456 with nine home runs (15 on the season) and 23 RBI. The right-hander only had nine home runs in 2019 split between A+ and AA.
Francis Martes went 1.2 innings (39 pitches, 14 strikes) walking in two runs with the bases loaded. He fanned one, as he was reaching low 90s on his fastball and struggled with command. Martes accounted for five runs on no hits today.