added 9/13/2010 by Mike Tauser
Mike Tauser writes Farmstros.com, a blog that tracks minor leaguers in the Astros farm system. He has provided monthly columns this season to keep Astros Daily readers updated on progress in the minors.
The first thing I need to do is offer my apologies to the Tri-City Valley Cats. A little over a month ago in this space, I announced that no Houston Astros' affiliate would be playing in the 2010 playoffs. Apparently, the Valley Cats weren't quite ready to get out the golf clubs. The team went 20-14 during August and September and clinched the Stedler Division on the final day of the season then proceeded to win three of their first four playoff games.
As I write this, the club is one win away from the New York-Penn League Championship. The team got solid pitching down the stretch from the entire rotation. Also, the offense got contributions up and down the order on a regular basis. Whatever happens in the championship series for Tri-City, it has been nice to have a minor league team in the post-season for the first time since 2007.
Where Will Lyles and Shuck play in 2011?
With the way Jordan Lyles and J.B. Shuck have rocketed up the Astros minor league ladder, I won't be surprised to see both of them in a Houston uniform at some point in 2011. However, they will likely spend a good portion of the season at AAA. This raises the question: What uniform will they wear when they are in AAA? After 11 seasons as an affiliate of Houston, the Round Rock Express are, by all accounts, preparing to become the AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
This move leaves the Astros looking for a home to develop AAA players like Shuck and Lyles. The affiliation shuffle should shake out in the next week or two. Most reports have the Astros going to either Nashville (which is currently a Milwaukee affiliate) or the Rangers old AAA home, Oklahoma City. For readers in Central Texas who would like to be able to keep up with Houston's prospects, Oklahoma City and Nashville are each scheduled to play eight games at Dell Diamond in 2011. Also, the Corpus Christi Hooks, owned by the same group who owns the Express, will continue to be affiliated with the Astros through 2014.
What can I say about J.D. Martinez?
In a season that saw numerous players move up the chain more quickly than has been the norm in the Astros' organization, outfielder J.D. Martinez adjusted the most rapidly to his promotion. Martinez was the top hitter in the South Atlantic League before being promoted to Corpus Christi mid-season.
His performance for Lexington was impressive enough that he won the league batting title and the league MVP despite only being there for 88 contests. By the end of the Texas League season, Martinez was batting .302 for the Hooks with nine doubles, three home runs and 25 RBI in 50 AA games.
Mier Closes with a Flourish
Since I recounted Lexington shortstop Jio Mier's struggles here every month, I am happy to report that his August and September revealed some promise for 2011. During the home stretch of the season, Mier, the Astros' 2009 1st round draft pick, was 39-for-135 (.289) with 28 runs scored, seven doubles, 12 RBIs and seven stolen bases.
He Might be a Pitcher
After several seasons as an infielder in the Astros’ system, Ebert Rosario made the switch to pitching during this season. After a rough first outing for the Gulf Coast League Astros, Rosario had a 1.74 ERA in six outings, striking out eleven in 10-1/3rd IP. Perhaps Rosario can get some pointers from Tri-City’s Jorge DeLeon. In his first season as a professional pitcher (after converting from shortstop), DeLeon was one of the stalwarts of the Valley Cat bullpen. He ended the regular season with an 0.64 ERA, six saves and 29 strikeouts in 28 IP.
They've Been Pitchers All Along
While Rosario and DeLeon have been slow to make it to the mound, two pitchers toiling in the lower levels of the system made themselves comfortable on the mound from the word "go". Jose Perdomo spent his first season in the United States, pitching in the Gulf Coast League. He made eleven starts and struck out 69 batters in 59-1/3rd IP. His ERA was 1.67 for the season. Francisco Xavier Baso came out of the bullpen 16 times this season for the Dominican Astros. He pitched 40-2/3rd innings and posted a 1.33 ERA.
Jose Altuve- Do Big Things Come in Small Packages?
It is difficult to find a report on Altuve that doesn't mention how short he is (5'5") (see? this one does it too) However, Altuve seems to think that size doesn’t matter. In 94 games for Lexington, he batted .308 with 11 home runs, 75 runs scored and 45 RBIs. His performance for the Legends earned him a call-up to Lancaster, where he batted .276 with 22 RBIs in a little more than a month.
The Absent All-Stars
Two Greeneville Astros made the Appalachian League All-Star team this season. However, neither of them was around to receive the award. Marcus Nidiffer's and Chris Wallace's all-star numbers had led them to be promoted to Tri-City by the time the all-star plaques arrived in Greeneville. In 47 games for Greeneville, Wallace batted .310 with six doubles, eight home runs and 32 RBIs. Nidiffer had ten doubles and eleven home runs to go with his .303 Greeneville batting average.
Lexington has a new RBI Champion
Once J.D Martinez got called up to Corpus Christi, the Lexington single season RBI record appeared to be safe. However, Jake Goebbert went on a surge in August and September (36 RBIs) to end the season with a record 98 RBIs. Goebbert was challenged for the title by teammate Kody Hinze, who tied the old club record with 97 RBIs.
Early in the 2010 season, one of the biggest questions to me was would the Astros be willing to give up on the season and truly start building for the future. I was surprised that they did so in such an extreme manner. Some of my favorite Astros memories involve Roy Oswalt, so I was especially saddened to see him go. Yet, at the same time, the moves give me hope that the future will continue to be worth following.
Thanks for following the Astros of the Future with me this season.