Results tagged ‘ J.D. Martinez ’

Game 2: Astros break out big bats

Chris Snyder, Fernando Martinez and J.D. Martinez each homered to send the Astros past the Nationals, 10-2, on Sunday afternoon in Viera, Fla. The Astros improved to 2-0. Click here for the boxscore.

Before we get to the breakdown, be sure to check out the feature story on George Springer and Delino DeShields Jr., which includes a video interview with Springer.

Here’s the breakdown:

WHAT WENT RIGHT: You have to start with offense. The Astros broke the game open with four runs in the third inning and five runs in the fourth inning to beat the Nats for the second day in a row despite being outhit (11-8).

Catcher Chris Snyder, making his first start, hit a long solo homer down the left-field line in the third off Nats starter Stephen Strasburg. Outfielder J.D. Martinez belted a three-run homer in the third, and designated hitter Fernando Martinez – claimed off waivers from the Mets in January – hit a three-run homer in the fourth to cap a 2-for-2 day with a walk.

Fernando Martinez is trying to make the roster as an outfielder, and he’s got a shot if he stays healthy considering he swings left-handed and has power. Chris Johnson, Scott Moore, Brian Bixler and Jordan Schafer also had hits Sunday.

“We had some good at-bats in key situations,” manager Brad Mills said. “Snyder’s home run, that ball was hit. The other two might have gotten a little extra help [from the wind]. Fernando Martinez’s home run would have been in the gap anyway and would have been a double. J.D. put a good swing on a ball that was in on him. Any time you get a three-run home run, that’s a huge boost.”

It was another good day on the mound for the Astros, who walked only two batters. Starter J.A. Happ allowed three hits and one run in two innings. He was up in the zone a bit in his second inning of work, but was able to get outs at key times.

Henry Sosa, who was also up in the zone in his the second inning, worked around four hits to throw two scoreless innings. Paul Clemens made his debut and pitched a scoreless frame. The Nats didn’t appear to be seeing the ball very well off of him. Lucas Harrell allowed three hits and a run in two innings and had good life on the baseball, though his command wasn’t there. Fernando Rodriguez looked really sharp, striking out two of the three batters he faced, including Bryce Harper. David Carpenter finished it out, allowing one hit in one inning.

The Astros have yet to commit an error this spring.

Click here to hear Fernando Martinez and J.A. Happ discuss their games.

WHAT WENT WRONG: For the second day in a row, there isn’t much negative to single out. The Astros did strike out 10 times and left 13 runners on base, but let’s not get nitpicky. They did draw seven walks, after all, and had a lot of base runners.

WHAT THEY SAID: “He’s got good ride on them [fastballs]. It will ride back through the zone. That was the first time I faced him. Obviously, you hear about him, but it’s definitely live stuff. Him coming off Tommy John and day two of Spring Training games, he’s definitely got good stuff.” – catcher Chris Snyder on facing Stephen Strasburg.

WHAT’S NEXT: Jordan Lyles, who’s battling for a spot in the rotation, makes his Grapefruit League debut for the Astros when they face the Braves on Monday in Kissimmee. The game could also mark the spring debut of veteran slugger Carlos Lee, who sat out the first two games with a mild right hamstring strain.

INJURY UPDATE: Carlos Lee (mild right hamstring strain) is expected to be in the lineup Monday. … Catcher Humberto Quintero (right leg) is day-to-day. … Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (left wrist) and infielder Angel Sanchez (back) are taking batting practice against the coaching staff, but not ready to play.

Sorry, no pictures today. The Astros hit in the cages in Viera on a rainy Sunday morning, leaving me no opportunities to snap a few photos. Check back tomorrow.

Pence reacts to being honored in Houston

Despite playing for the Phillies for the final two months of the regular season, right fielder Hunter Pence was still voted as the Astros’ Most Valuable Player for 2011 by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Pence, who was traded to the Phillies on July 29, hit .308 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs in 100 games for the Astros. It’s the second consecutive year Pence has been named the team’s MVP, but this one caught him off-guard.

“Yes, that surprises me,” he said Friday after the Phillies finished working out in preparation for their National League Division Series against the Cardinals.

“Honestly, I’m very honored and humbled that they would select me for that,” he said. “It’s tough to explain. I know there’s a lot of guys that played the whole season there that had good seasons. I don’t really know what to think about that other than it makes me feel better about my accomplishments there and they recognize how I played the game. That’s cool, I guess.”

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez was named the team’s Pitcher of the Year after going 11-11 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 starts. Outfielder J.D. Martinez was named Rookie of the Year and outfielder Jason Bourgeois was named the winner of the Darryl Kile “Good Guy” Award for his community efforts and good relationship with the media.

Also winning awards as voted on by the BBWAA were Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman (Houston area Player of the Year) and long-time Astros broadcaster Bill Brown (Fred Hartman Long & Meritorious Service). All award-winners will be recognized at the Houston Baseball Dinner in January.

 

With Hinze on way to Double-A, Corpus Christi loading up

With Kody Hinze on his way to Double-A later this week to play first base for the Hooks, those who are waiting for the next crop of young Astros prospects to reach the Major Leagues have to like what’s taking place at Corpus Christi.

Hinze, who is hitting .326 with 22 homers and 69 RBIs at Class A Lancaster, will join a promising infield at Corpus Christi: Jose Altuve at second base, Jimmy Paredes at third base and Jonathan Villar at shortstop. Altuve and Villar were promoted on June 1. Hinze is 23 years old.

“Kody’s obviously sung the bat very well in what we know is an offensive environment, but the thing that’s impressive about Kody is he leads the league in walks [70 walks, 73 strikeouts] and has a good on-base percentage,” Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said. “Some of the peripheral things in the offensive ranks are real high, and I think that equates to pitch select and command of strike zone and the ablity to take pitches an put the ball in play. He’s got the ability and tools to strive there [in Double-A].”

Altuve, who will represent the Astros at the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game in Phoenix next month, is hitting .371 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 30 games at Corpus Christi. Paredes is hitting .273 with six homers and 26 RBIs.

Catcher Chris Wallace was promoted to Double-A last month and is off to a quick start, hitting .313 with 2 homers and 10 RBIs in 10 games. Wallace and outfielder J.D. Martinez each hit a grand slam in Sunday’s 16-3 over Northwest Arkansas.

“We’ve had some kids that have gone from real nice offensive years and not duplicated them in Double-A out of Lancaster, but we just think [Hinze is] is one of those guys, along with Altuve and Villar, that should hold their own and make progress,” Nelson said.

Martinez, who appears to have worked his way back from a nagging hamstring injury, is hitting .331 with seven homers and 52 RBIs in 65 games and could be getting a call to Triple-A Oklahoma City later this year if he stays healthy.

There are some positive happens on the mound, too.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel threw his fifth consecutive quality start Sunday to improve to 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts. He’s thrown seven innings each of his last five starts, going 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA. He leads the Texas League in ERA.

Left-hander Xavier Cedeno (4-5), who struck out 14 batters last Monday, was scheduled to start tonight’s game against Frisco.

A quick look at who’s hot in the Minors

By now you’ve probably heard Astros farmhands Telvin Nash, an outfielder, and Chris Wallace, a catcher, each homered three times in the same Sunday for Class A Lexington in n 18-9 win. The entire story, including player reaction, can be found by clicking here.

Both Nash, who was the designated hitter on Sunday, and Wallace went 5-for-6 with four runs scored. Wallace had a club-record nine RBIs, which was one shy of the South Atlantic League record of 10. Nash finished with four RBIs. Both players tallied 15 total bases in the game, which was also one shy of the SAL record of 16.

Nash and Wallace are the first set of teammates ever to hit three home runs in the same game in Lexington franchise his­tory.

Here’s what else is going on around the minors:

OF J.D. Martinez, the Astros Minor League player of the Year in 2010, is hitting .368 in 10 games at Double-A Corpus Christi with two home runs, 16 RBIs, a .422 on-base pct. and a .658 slugging pct. His RBI total is tops in the Texas League. Last season, Martinez, 23, hit a combined .341 at Class A Lexington and Corpus Christi with 18 home runs and 89 RBIs. Martinez has a .344 career minor league average with 32 home runs and 161 RBIs (.405 OBP, .558 SLG) since being selected by the Astros in the 20th round of the 2009 June Draft.

At Triple -A Oklahoma City, OF J.B. Shuck is hitting .353 and OF Brian Bogusevic is batting .324 with a homer and six RBIs. … 1B Koby Clemens is hitting .346 in eight games with two home runs and nine RBIs. … SS Tommy Manzella is hitting .314 with a homer and eight RBIs.

At Double-A Corpus Christi, SS Wladimir Sutil leads the Texas League in hits (20), is second in batting (.455) and is fourth in on-base percentage (.510). … IF Jimmy Paredes (seven), OF T.J. Steele (six) and Sutil (five) are first, second and third in the Texas League in stolen bases.

At Class A Lancaster, 20-year-old IF Jose Altuve ranks seventh in the California League with a.390 average and is tied for first in the league in triples (two). … RHP Jake Buchanan (1-1) is seventh in the California League in ERA with a 1.20 mark after two starts, and 21-year-old  RHP Jose Cisnero has the best strikeouts-per-nine-innings ration (17.47) in the Minor Leagues with 22 strikeouts in just 11 2/3 innings of work.

At Class A Lexington, 20-year-old SS Jiovanni Mier, the Astros’ first pick in the 2009 June Draft, is hitting .343 in 10 games with a .477 on-base pct. … 3B Michael Kvasnicka, 22, is hitting .353 in nine games at Lexington with seven RBIs. … Kvasnicka was selected by the Astros in the supplemental first round (No. 33 overall) of the 2010 June Draft. … RHP Tanner Bushue, 19, is 2-0 in two starts with a 2.57 ERA. He was selected in the second round fo the 2009 June Draft.

Astros position breakdown: outfield

OUTFIELD

2010 Opening Day starters: LF Carlos Lee, CF Michael Bourn, RF Hunter Pence.

2010 end-of-season starters: LF Carlos Lee, CF Michael Bourn, RF Hunter Pence.

Others who were in the mix: Brian Bogusevic (LF-CF-RF), Jason Bourgeois (LF-CF-RF), Jason Michaels (LF-CF-RF, Cory Sullivan (LF-RF-CF).

Combined 2010 stats of Astros outfielders: .261 BA/.317 OBP/.401 SLG, 93 doubles, 51 homers, 217 RBIs, 156 walks, 316 strikeouts, 1,917 at-bats.

Free agents: None.

Arbitration eligible: Bourn and Pence.

What happened: The Astros went into last season feeling good about what they had in the outfield with Carlos Lee returning in left, Michael Bourn returning in center and Hunter Pence returning in right. Lee had averaged 30 homers and 100 RBIs in his first three seasons with Houston, Bourn was named the team’s MVP in 2009 and won a Gold Glove and Pence was coming off his first All-Star appearance. The three held down the starting duties, but not without some road bumps.

Lee, who started 133 games in left field, struggled out of the gate and hit .183 in April with no home runs. He had only five homers at the end of May and wound up hitting .240 in the first half with 12 homer and 45 RBIs, helping put the Astros in a hole. He came around in the second half with a .254 average to go along with 12 homers and 44 RBIs to finish with 24 homers and 89 RBIs, his lowest totals with Houston. He split time before left field and first base in September as the Astros wanted to get a look at him at first defensively.

Bourn, who started 133 games in center, picked up where he left off in 2009 and got off to a quick start, hitting .311 in April. His average slowly began dipping as the season wore on. He hit .245 in May, .252 in June and .185 in July with an on-base percentage of .271. Bourn was enjoying a great finish – he hit .229 in his final 17 games – before his season ended two weeks early with an oblique strain. He hit .265/.341/.356 with 52 stolen bases and had another Gold Glove-caliber season in center field.

Pence, who started 155 games in right, joined Lee in getting off to a slow start. He hit around .230 with two homers and seven RBIs in April before coming around in May, batting .302 with six homers and 16 RBIs. After hitting .263 before the All-Star break, Pence hit .302 in the second half and finished with 25 homers for the third year in a row and 91 RBIs to lead the team. He was up and down defensively.

Jason Michaels, the fourth outfielder, had a solid year in a backup role and parlayed that into his option being picked up for 2011. He hit .253/.310/.468 with eight homers and 26 RBIs while playing all three outfield spots. He had two pinch-hit home runs. Jason Bourgeois, a speedster who doesn’t hit for a high average, got the bulk of the playing time in center in the final two weeks with Bourn on the shelf. The Astros got an abbreviated look at former No. 1 pick Brian Bogusevic, the pitcher-turned-outfielder who made his Major League debut. Cory Sullivan began the year as the fifth outfielder but was let go in the middle of the season.

What’s next: Lee, Bourn and Pence are all back in 2011, barring a trade. Lee will be in the fifth year of his six-year, $100-million contract (he has a limited no-trade clause this year) and Bourn and Pence are eligible for arbitration. But not all three could return as starters in the outfield. The Astros are going to give Lee another look at first base in Spring Training next year, with the hopes Brett Wallace – acquired in the Roy Oswalt trade – does enough to warrant winning the first base job and keeping Lee in left field.

If the Astros deem Wallace needs more time in the Minor Leagues, they will stick Lee at first base. That’s why they’re on the lookout this winter for a left-handed hitting left fielder they could use in a platoon situation with Michaels. The decision on which player opens at first base won’t unfold until later in Spring Training.

The Astros are banking on Bourn and Pence to pick up where they left off at the end of last year and have the best offensive seasons of their careers. Lee had a down season in 2010 and would certainly give the club a boost if he can return to his 2007-09 form as a reliable run producer. Bogusevic and Bourgeois will get a look as backup outfielders, but don’t be surprised to see a Minor League player make a push during the spring.

Who’s on the farm: The Astros are starting to see the fruits of their last several drafts pay off in the outfield, where an impressive group of young outfielders is emerging.  The club is high on Jack Shuck, who had a bang-up season for Double-A Corpus Christi before finishing the year at Triple-A Round Rock. T.J. Steele had turned some heads before injuries slowed him down last season, and players like Jon Gaston, Jay Austin and J.D. Martinez could be ready for the Majors soon. Martinez was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year after he hit .341 with 40 doubles, 18 homers and 89 RBIs combined between Class A Lexington and Double-A Corpus Christi, where he finished the season. He was named the South Atlantic League’s Most Valuable Player and was a midseason and postseason All-Star.

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