Houston Astros are seeing a boost in production from their minor-league arms, as right-handers Houston Astros are seeing a boost in production from their minor-league arms, as right-handers

Perusing the Prospects: Hunter Brown makes Triple-A debut

(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros are seeing a boost in production from their minor-league arms, as right-handers Hunter Brown, number three ranked prospect, and Nick Hernandez, Sugar Land Native, were both promoted to the Skeeters from the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.

These two pitchers join a Skeeters’ roster that currently has a few arms on the minor-league 60-day injured list and two others exposed to waivers. The organization made a flurry of moves on Sunday, as they placed Ryan Pressly on the paternity list and recalled Bryan Abreu from the taxi squad. With Josh James’ return on the horizon, the Astros designated Ralph Garza Jr. for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster, reinstating James an optioning him to Triple-A.

Garza Jr. still had minor-league options, as he is currently with the Skeeters in Triple-A. But with the 40-man full and James on the 60-day injured list, a corresponding move was required. Alex Bregman and Pedro Baez are expected to join the club during the next homestand starting Friday. But to put a damper on returns, Bregman was pulled from Sunday’s game due to hamstring tightness.

The Astros are making moves to bring back experienced pitchers, as Hunter Brown climbs to Triple-A.

Brown, the Astros fifth-round pick in 2019, has quickly advanced through the farm system. The 22-year-old was drafted out of college, before being assigned to the Low-A Tri-City ValleyCats in 2019. With no minor-league season in 2020, the right-hander missed an optimal year to progress, but his production in Double-A has granted him a promotion.

Over 13 games (11 starts) with the Hooks, Brown sustained a 4.20 ERA and a 1-4 record. This doesn’t look too hot on paper, but note that how inflated some minor-league divisions can be. Command hasn’t been the strongest (45 control on an 80-grade scale), but the right-hander posted a 13.9 strikeout per nine this season. In his Sunday start, Brown made his Triple-A debut with six innings of work. The right-hander fanned seven batters, while surrending one run on three hits and a walk.

While tossing all five of his pitches, Brown hit some command issues deeper into counts but sustained a quality start in his debut. The right-hander topped out at 97 MPH on his fastball, while leaving his change up and slider in the mid-to-high 80s.

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His curveball and two-seam fastball weren’t as apparent, but one of his punch outs came off his 60-grade curve. Each inning, Brown would mix in more of his arsenal, as some at-bats would consist of one pitch dominating the zone.

A balk was called on Brown early in the game, which helped score a run an at-bat later in the inning, as the El Paso Chihuahua’s drove in their only run off Brown.

Manager Mickey Storey was thrown out for arguing the call again after the run scored. In relief, Nick Hernandez made his debut as well, following Brown’s start. In two innings, Hernandez struck out one and walked three, while sitting low 90s in velocity with a tad of command worries.

In regards to the roster, outfielders Marty Costes and Norel Gonzalez were promoted to Triple-A, as reported by Francys Romero. I hinted to this being an option, when dissecting the status of Sugar Land’s outfield. The Skeeters grabbed their Sunday contest with the Chihuahuas, 3-2. They are back in action on Monday at 7:05 p.m.

Next. Updated projected win total has Astros vying for top seed. dark

The Astros lost their final contest of a three-game set on Sunday to the Giants, 5-3, as Michael Brantley left the game early with ankle discomfort. They are back in action away against the Los Angeles Dodgers at 9:10 p.m. on Tuesday. Lance McCullers Jr. will counter right-hander Walker Buehler.

In terms of the major-league draft, the Astros signed 17 of their 19 picks, leaving fourth-round pick Alex Ulloa, who was reportedly in agreement to sign, and 20th-round pick Jackson Linn heading for college. For Francis Martes, the once top prospect was sent to the Astros complex in West Palm Beach.