Mills, Wade heading to Arizona Fall League
New Astros manager Brad Mills will head to the Arizona Fall League this week for a get-to-know-you-better-meeting with general manager Ed Wade and members of his coaching staff, including third-base coach Dave Clark and hitting coach Sean Berry.
“Ed was real good about allowing us to bring in the coaching staff and sit and talk and have some meetings and get to know each other as a group No. 1, and talk individually about things about the ballclub,” Mills said. “We’ll learn about the ballclub and learn about a lot of the players we have in the organization and watch the fall league games.”
Here’s an update on each of the Astros’ prospects are doing in the AFL while playing for the Peoria Saguaros (through Sunday):
RHP Evan Englebrook: The 6-foot-8 reliever has a 5.87 ERA in six games. In 7 2/3 innings, he’s allowed 11 hits and struck out eight batters. Englebrook split time between Triple-A Round Rock and Double-A Corpus Christi and was 3-1 with a 4.25 ERA this year.
Assistant GM Ricky Bennett says: “He continues to improve. The one thing we like about him is his ability to throw down hill. He creates a good arm angle. He’s velocity has been up. He’s been sitting at 92 to 97 [mph], which is good. He’s a big, tall guy and his mechanics can get out of whack, but he’s showing more consistency and more velocity. He’s a late-bloomer.”
RHP Chia-Jen Lo: The Taiwan native was 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA in six games in relief before having to return to Taiwan to complete some paperwork. He pitched 10 1/3 innings and allowed seven hits, two walks and struck out 12 batters. Lo split this year between Class A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi and was 1-2 with a 2.10 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.
Assistant GM Ricky Bennett says: “He did pretty well. Our reports were all good. He continues to throw the ball well and pitch well. He’s really focused on using his breaking ball a lot more and has made progress with it. It’s not where it needs to be, but he’s starting to show more confidence and the ability to throw it for strikes. If he continues that focus, hopefully he comes into camp ready to pick up where he left off.”
RHP Wilton Lopez: After appearing in eight games with the Astros near the end of the season, including two starts, Lopez has pitched in three games in Arizona (two starts) and is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA. He threw four innings in relief in his most recent outing Thursday and allowed no runs and one hit.
Assistant GM Ricky Bennett says: “He’s starting to become a lot more consistent with his arm slot and his breaking ball is more consistent, and that’s due to a higher arm slot. That’s something we’ve worked on since we signed him. He continues to work hard and make adjustments. It’s just a matter of getting him some mound time.”
RHP Danny Meszaros: Coming off a solid split season between Class A Salem (0-0, 0.71 ERA) and Double-A Corpus Christi (3-3, 3.36 ERA), Meszaros has struggled in the desert. He’s pitched six games in relief and is 0-0 with a 9.53 ERA, allowing six hits and six runs in 5 2/3 innings. He’s also struck out eight.
Assistant GM Ricky Bennett says: “We’re not necessarily working on anything in particular in terms of mecanics. We just are trying to get him to have better command more than anything else. He pitches late in games and needs to get his command of his fastball down more consistently and use his breaking ball the same way.”
C Jason Castro: Last year’s first-round pick and catcher of the future is hitting .171 with a .286 on-base percentage and .257 slugging percentage in 35 at-bats. He has six hits, including one home run, and was walked five times and struck out eight times. But remember, this has been a long year for Castro, who endured his first full season of pro ball and then played for the U.S. in an international tournament in September.
Assistant GM Ricky Bennett says: “He’s doing fine. He’s not tearing it up numbers-wise by any means, but he continues to work well with pitchers. I got a reporter from David Bell, the manager, who said he’s receiving the ball well and could improvely slightly on fastballs down in teh zone. He has an excellent idea of calling a game and is throwing well and understands how to play the game the right way.”
2B Jose Vallejo: The infielder acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Ivan Rodriguez trade, Vallejo is hitting .135 with one RBI in 24 at-bats and six games. He has three hits, all singles, and has struck out six times.
Assistant GM Ricky Bennett says: “He’s doing OK. He’s staying on the ball better and his defense has been solid. He has good range, soft hands and an accurate arm. He’s a second baseman, but has had to play a little third base because of the makeup of the roster. He’s very athletic and plays hard. He’s been pulling off the ball, but lately he’s been trying to stay on the ball and use the whole field.”
OF Jon Gaston: Gaston, whose AFL Twitter updates can be followed by clicking here, is hitting .244 (11-for-45) with a double, four triples, one home runs and 10 RBIs. He has 10 walks and 20 strikeouts for an on-base percentage of .393 and a slugging percentage of .511. He hit .278 with 31 doubles, 15 triples, 35 homers and 100 RBIs at Class A Lancaster this year.
Assistant GM Ricky Bennett says: “He got off to a little bit of a slow start, and a lot of it is just timing. He had timing issues during the season and would get in longer slumps. He wouldn’t be aggressive and we kind of saw that when he first went out there. It took him some time to get his feet under him, but he has been swinging the bat better lately. He hit a grand slam a few games ago and that got him back on track. He’s hitting for power and takin ghis walks, but he still strikes out a little too much for us, and that’s something we have to address. He can play all three outfield position and is a gamer.”