In our Bizzaro World, the Hooks have all the power.
Power hitting has eluded the Astros for most of the season, so much that until Clint Barmes knocked one into the left field bleachers at Wrigley Field on Sunday, the Astros were mired in a string of 27 straight hits that counted for nothing more than singles.
Such a drought of both extra-base hits and wins can cause a blogger’s mind, on the 101st game of the season, to drift. Sunday’s game with the Cubs seemed as good as any to check out of what was happening at Wrigley and in on the Astros’ farm system, starting with Corpus Christi, where a huge contingent of true prospects have been residing for the better part of six weeks. (As I write this, Carlos Lee just put an end to my constant whining to my BFF Brian McTaggart about the Astros’ seeming inability to hit home runs with a timely two-run dinger in the eighth.)
Turns out, the Double-A club is the Bizzaro World counterpart of your Astros — as the season progresses, more and more Hooks players are tearing the cover off the ball. And they’re winning some games, too.
After starting the season 25-47, Corpus Christi picked up the pace a bit, going .500 (14-14) since June 24. This is partly due to improved pitching, but the infusion of several hitting prospects who could be on the fast track to the big leagues (including Jose Altuve, who was called up to the big leagues last week) helps as well.
Through Saturday’s game, the Hooks had homered in 18 of their past 21 games, hitting 33 home runs over that stretch. On Friday, four Hooks players homered — Jimmy Paredes, Kody Hinze, Chris Wallace and Jonathan Villar. The next night, Villar and Hinze homered again.
Hinze, who was promoted from High-A Lancaster to Corpus a couple of weeks ago, has hit .370 over 15 games for the Hooks. Eight of the first baseman’s 20 hits were for extra bases — four doubles and four homers.
Left fielder J.D. Martinez continues to maintain a very steady batting average, hitting .332 with 11 homers and 65 RBIs for the Hooks. Despite going 0-for-4 on both Friday and Saturday, Martinez is batting .314 (11-for-35) with nine RBIs in his past 10 games.
Jacob Goebbert — that outfielder that insiders in Corpus feel isn’t getting enough attention by those of us in Houston — continues to hit as well. Overall, he’s batting .314, and in his last 10 games, he’s compiled a .361 average, logging 13 hits in 36 at-bats.
On the pitching side, I’m intrigued by right-hander Henry Sosa, one of the pitchers the Astros acquired from the Giants in the Jeff Keppinger trade. In his first appearance after the trade for the Hooks, he threw seven shutout innings in a 6-0 win over Midland.
After picking the brain of a spy or two out in the Bay Area, I’m thinking he might have a chance to eventually help the Astros. Sosa was once one of the brightest young prospects in the Giants’ system, but an array of injury problems — chest, elbow, etc. — slowed his development.
Sosa apparently behaved erratically at times and it is believe he didn’t always see eye-to-eye with his teammates. The feeling is this might be a perfect change-of-scenery scenario for Sosa, who might respond favorably to a new organization and a clean slate.
There are no guarantees, of course, but Sosa, who, according to one Giants observer “throws the heck out of the ball,” might be one to keep an eye on as the Astros move forward.
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