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Astros Minor League Notes: Week Six

Woodpeckers | Credit: Joe Dwyer

Another week of baseball is in the books. Let’s look at some news and notes. I will start with an update on Forrest Whitley and then some players who have been hot over the last week, and the list is quite long…

Forrest Whitley Update

Forrest Whitley has been rehabbing following Tommy John surgery last year. I spoke with Forrest and he gave me the following update:

“should be starting my rehab assignment pretty shortly, probably in a week or so.”

He has recently been pitching down at the Florida complex gearing up for live gameplay and the velocity is back in the mid 90s. It’s unclear where he will start his rehab but I’m very excited to see what Whitley does upon his return. Despite the setbacks he has had in his career, detailed here, he still has the makings to be a very good pitcher.

Who’s hot?

Pedro Leon – Leon, one of the Astros top prospects, had a monster week hitting .364 with 2 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI. He has quietly put up a solid year in Triple-A slashing .261/.382/.555 with 10 2B, 7 HR, 26 RBI and 10 SB. He will probably get a chance in Houston at some point this season.

Chad Stevens – Stevens was an 11th round pick in last year’s draft and after a slow start, he put up an insane week. The righty hit .500 (11-for-22) with 3 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI earning player of the week honors. He is now up to a .776 OPS in 24 games in High-A this season.

Justin Dirden – Dirden was a relative unknown going into the 2021 season but he put himself on the map posting a .934 OPS with 15 HR last season. He has been in Double-A this season and was on this list last week after hitting .455. This week was strong too hitting .400 with 3 2B, 3 RBI.

J.C. Correa – Correa got off to a slow start this season but he put up a massive week hitting .474 (9-for-19) with 3 2B and 6 RBI. This week he brought his BA from .215 to .265 and his OPS from .619 to .705. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for him as the season moves on.

Will Wagner – Wagner has put together a great season so far and this week was no different. The lefty hitting went 10-for-24 (.417 BA) with 4 RBI and 6 BB this week. Overall this year he is hitting .311 with a .450 OBP this season in High-A. He should see Double-A this season.

Nerio Rodriguez – Rodriguez is enjoying a breakout season in High-A and he continued his hot hitting this week going 10-for-21, good for a .476 BA. He also has 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI. Overall this season is hitting .323 with a 1.051 OPS in 27 games for the Tourists.

David Hensley – Hensley had a breakout 2021 season and so far this year he has proven that it wasn’t a fluke. After a week that saw him hit .360 with 2 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI and 2 SB, the 6’6″ right hander is slashing .308/.451/.487 in 33 games for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys.

J.J. Matijevic – Matijevic started the season on fire and earned a quick call-up to the majors. He has since came back down to Triple-A (due to roster construction not performance) and picked up where he left off. This week he hit .375 with 3 HR, 11 RBI. He leads the Astros system in HR.

Sugar Land Space Cowboys

The Space Cowboys went 3-3 this week putting them at 15-21 overall this season. Brandon Bielak started out the week right tossing 6 scoreless innings with 7 strikeouts. Bielak now has a 2.36 ERA this season. Hunter Brown made one start striking out 6 over 5 innings. On the season he has a 2.79 ERA with 41 K in 29 innings. Brett Conine had another good outing allowing 1 run over 6 innings while striking out 7. Enoli Paredes has been great in relief posting a 0.64 ERA in 11 outings. Overall the team has a 4.29 ERA.

The offense had a big week improving their BA from .224 to .237 in a week and hitting 7 HR in a game on Tuesday. Like mentioned above, Leon had a big week hitting .364 with 3 HR, 11 RBI. His OPS is up to .937. David Hensley continued his hot hitting as he hit .360 with 4 XBHs this week. J.J. Matijevic has been hot in Triple-A and had another good week hitting .375 with 3 HR. Korey Lee hit a few homers giving him 7 on the season. Corey Julks and Lewis Brinson both have 5 HR each. The Space Cowboys are back in action tonight at 7:05 CT.

Corpus Christi Hooks

The Hooks had a tough week going 1-5 and putting them at 12-21 this season. The pitching struggled seeing the staff ERA go from 5.64 ERA to 6.19 this week. There have been some bright spots like Jimmy Endersby who has a 2.20 ERA in 28.2 innings this season. Matt Ruppenthal has 25 K in 17.2 innings with a 2.55 ERA in relief. Misael Tamarez has struggled with his command but has a 2.91 ERA with 24 K in 21.2 innings. Jonathan Sprinkle has 13 K over his last 6.2 innings. Reinforcements will probably be on the way.

On offense, the Hooks did have some good games. Justin Dirden led the charge hitting .400 with 3 2B, 3 RBI this week. He is now hitting .305 this season. Yainer Diaz continues to drive in runs at a high clip with 24 RBI in 30 games. Luke Berryhill had a couple doubles and 5 RBI this week. Enmanuel Valdez continues to lead the way on offense hitting .333 this week. He is hitting .330 with a 1.022 OPS overall this year. Abreu (31 walks) and Adolph (28 walks) have both showed improved patience. The Hooks are back at it today at 11:05 CT.

Asheville Tourists

Asheville had their best week of the season going 5-1 and putting them at 11-21 overall. They got some good pitching performances early, like Spencer Arrighetti striking out 9 over 5 scoreless innings. He has a 3.94 ERA with 43 K in 29.2 innings. Chayce McDermott had a solid outing and continues to rack up the strikeouts with 40 K in 27.1 innings this season. Ryan Gusto made his High-A debut and tossed 3 scoreless innings with 4 K. The staff brought their ERA down from 7.00 to 6.64 this week.

The offense had some monster performance this week, as you can tell by the who’s hot part up top. J.C. Correa really got it going hitting .474 and bringing his OPS up from .619 to. 715. Michael Sandle has done nothing but hit in the Astros system and this season is no different as he is hitting .293 with a .869 OPS. Nerio Rodriguez continued his breakout hitting .476 with 2 2B, 2 HR. He has 8 2B and 7 HR this season. Chad Stevens had a breakout week hitting .500 with 3 HR, 11 RBI in 5 games. Will Wagner hit .417 this week and is hitting .311 with a .450 OBP this season. The Tourists start a new series today at 6:00 PM CT.

Fayetteville Woodpeckers

The Woodpeckers were solid this week going 3-3, good for a 12-21 overall record. They had some stellar pitching performances. Bryant Salgado went 6 scoreless innings in relief striking out 5. Edinson Batista pitched 5 innings in relief striking out 10. He has 26 K in 18.2 innings this season. Alex Santos had a good outing too tossing 5 scoreless innings with 5 strikeouts. Jacob Coats had a dominant relief outing striking out 7 over 2.2 innings in a win. The staff dropped their ERA from 4.79 ERA to 4.59 this week.

The offense has been up and down but Quincy Hamilton had another solid week hitting .333 with 3 RBI. He is hitting .297 with a .883 OPS this season. Hamilton also leads the Woodpeckers in doubles and homers this season. Joey Loperfido has also played well hitting .298 this season. The Woodpeckers are back tonight at it at 5:00 CT.

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