Injuries have plagued the Hooks to open the year with pitching depth running slim in a tie game this past week.
Last Thursday, the Houston Astros‘ Double-A affiliate — Corpus Christi Hooks — sent catcher Jose Alvarez to the mound in a 5-5 game for the eighth and ninth innings. Alvarez allowed six runs on six hits and two walks in an 11-8 loss to the San Antonio Missions.
The Hooks’ bullpen day started rough with only one of the five pitchers not allowing a run in their respective appearance, but what lead Corpus Christi to send a 21-year-old catcher to the mound in a tie contest?
As of May 9, the Hooks have two pitchers — Nolan Riggs and Willy Collado — on the 60-day injured list and two pitchers — Cody Deason and Michael Horrell — on the 7-day injured list. Starting pitchers aren’t going deep, and with experienced prospects on the shelf, bullpens games have become more common in the first two months of play.
Injuries affect the Hooks beyond the mound, too, with Joe Perez (oblique), Matthew Barefoot and Scott Schreiber all sitting on the shelf. Perez started a game in right field, prior to hitting the shelf, while the outfield is missing two starters in Barefoot and Schreiber.
The move to the outfield could also be a position addition for Perez, who mainly plays the corner infield positions.
Right-handed starter Jose Bravo also hit the injured list in April, adding to the lack of depth the Hooks face in the first two months of the season. Triple-A reliever Nick Hernandez was sent to Double-A in late April to ease the stress, throwing 4.1 no-hit innings in three appearances.
Hernandez is back in Sugar Land, and as of Monday, two High-A prospects were promoted to Corpus Christi. Righty Derek West, the Astros’ 2019 15th-round pick, joined the group Sunday, following a 2.25 ERA over eight innings with the Asheville Tourists.
Astros Future reported Monday Adrian Chaidez was also promoted to Double-A, after only six starts with the Tourists. Chaidez sported a 2.53 ERA over 21.1 innings with 30 strikeouts to six walks, while a 15th-round pick last summer.
The depth is on its way, and while these two stays could be short, their success would open doors to permanent stays — although shortly tenured prospects. Minor-league records don’t attest to future major-league products, but for now, the Hooks sit at 11-16 with the most prospects on the injured list of the four affiliates.