Astros Down but Rebuilding their Farm System- Off the Radar


The Houston Astros are the worst team in the Majors and have been obvious sellers this trade deadline. They made a complicated 10 player deal with the Blue Jays, traded Carlos Lee (which I have already posted about on here) to the Marlins, traded Brett Myers to the White Sox, and traded Wandy Rodriquez to the Pirates. In all of these deals they have gotten minor league prospects in an effort to improve the team in the future. Here I write about 3 pitchers they acquired (they aren’t necessarily more significant than other ones they acquired, they are just 3 that I watched pitch for this article) and try to give reports on what the Astros can expect from them:

Blair Walters was acquired by the Astros in the Brett Myers deal from Chicago. started the year in class A Kannapolis, and made 13 pretty good starts there with a FIP .51 points better than league average (and a SIERA .82 points better than league average). He was then promoted to high A where he made 5 solid above league average starts (3.67 FIP and 3.41 SIERA). He gets quite a bit of strikeouts (22.9% of batters since the start of 2011) and doesn’t walk hardly anyone (just 5.4% in that time), a deadly combination. He sits at about 89-92 MPH on his fastball, but the lefty’s control didn’t look very good when I saw him. His off-speed pitch (change) didn’t look very good at all and was staying high. However, it did make his fastball look faster and gave him some good speed differential. His fastball command is not very consistent, although that is expected from a pitcher at his level. He threw some pretty good ones inside to righties and then some that were extremely wild, especially outside to righties. Putting the fastball inside like that is dangerous if he doesn’t get in all the way, especially with his average velocity. His curve got him a strikeout, and he can throw it for strikes, but doesn’t always have great command of it (it stays high at times and doesn’t have sharp break). His fastball seems a little heavy, and destroyed a bat with an outside one. His best bet seems to be working backwards (throwing breaking pitches early in the count) to make his fastball look better.

Matthew Hiedenreich started the year in A + Winston-Salem and made 15 mediocre starts with a 3.90 SIERA and 4.09 FIP. He was then promoted to AA, where he made 3 starts with varying success (3.75 FIP but 4.48 SIERA). He has always had a low walk rate (walking just 4.3 % of batters from 2011-2012) and doesn’t strikeout a ton of pitchers (15.1 % in that time, for a better than average K/BB ratio). His fastball is in the low 90s and it looks like he is throwing a sinker with good drop. He is going to keep to keep the ball low for the most part besides an occasional high fastball to change the eye level. It is not a great looking fastball, pretty flat, with not great velocity (especially for a big right hander). The slider moves from right to left for the most part. Hiedenreich got some weak popups and grounders. That is his game, since he doesn’t really have swing and miss stuff. Unfortunately, he threw a lot of pitches down the middle. Also has what looks like a change that he can’t get down. He threw a lot of this pitch.

Asher Wojciechowski is not only a hard name to spell, but it is a pitcher that the Astros got from the Blue Jays in the 10 player trade. I watched him make his debut in the Astros organization for AA Corpus Christi. He is a pretty big guy at 6’4″ 235. He threw a lot of straight fastballs that were decent, but it’s not overwhelming velocity at 88-93 MPH. However, he got some whiffs even when they were down the middle. It was probably best when he threw it high, like most fastballs. His changeup gives him a bit of late movement and he can locate it. Overall, he was throwing a lot of strikes. He has relatively good command for a pitcher just up to AA but at one point absolutely lost his release point. He was able to recover and fixed it later in the outing. Asher has a pretty good curveball that he didn’t throw a lot, but it was a good looking pitch. He can get consistent whiffs with it if he locates it low. I’m not sure he will continue to get away with all the fastballs down the middle. He really likes to throw the ball to the low and away corner to right handed hitters. The good news was that he still got whiffs on his fastball late in game.