Hirsh making a case for promotion

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by No Worries, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    Hirsh making a case for promotion
    By BRIAN MCTAGGART
    Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

    Every time Jason Hirsh pitches a game for Round Rock, Express manager Jackie Moore believes the righthander closes the gap on being ready for the major leagues.

    Hirsh, a 6-8 righthander considered perhaps the club's top prospect, isn't having many problems in Class AAA and will carry an eight-game winning streak into his start on Wednesday against Albuquerque.

    "He's on a roll," Moore said. "He's about as consistent as a young pitcher can be. Every outing he picks up the ball he takes up where he left off. He's been real consistent."

    Hirsh (9-2, 2.42 ERA), who was chosen to play in the Futures Game on Sunday at Pittsburgh's PNC Park, is 8-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his previous 12 starts. For the season, he has struck out 92 batters and allowed just 80 hits and 44 walks in 104 1/3 innings.

    "He really didn't have a good spring training and was a little shaky to start the season," Moore said. "But he's gotten it together and he's been really very good since then. He's been outstanding, really."

    Phil Garner has taken notice of Hirsh, who didn't impress the Astros manager during spring training.

    "What we saw in spring training is he didn't locate well, he didn't have a good slider and everybody talked about him having this good downhill plane, being a good competitor, throwing strikes, and he didn't do any of that," Garner said. "I wiped the slate clean for him, and clearly his numbers suggest he is doing good."

    Hirsh is one of three Express players who will participate in the Class AAA All-Star Game on July 12 in Toledo, Ohio, joining pitcher Chris Baker and outfielder Luke Scott.

    Baker, acquired by the Express in a trade with Oklahoma earlier this year, is 8-3 with a 2.52 ERA. Scott leads the Pacific Coast League with 19 home runs and is second with 57 RBIs and will participate in the home run contest at the Class AAA All-Star Game.

    Makes 'em miss

    Corpus Christi righthander Paul Estrada, who recently inherited the closer's role for the Hooks when Jalien Peguero was promoted to Class AAA Round Rock, has eye-popping strikeout numbers.

    In 57 1/3 innings,Estrada has struck out 94 batters and allowed 19 walks and 32 hits. He is 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA. Estrada has equaled his strikeout total of 94 last year at Class A Lexington — but that was in 90 1/3 innings.

    "He's a guy that always had good stuff," Astros director of player development Ricky Bennett said. "He played in winter ball in Venezuela for (special assistant) Al Pedrique, and Al pitched him late in games as the setup guy.

    "He started to throw the ball pretty good there. We brought him to minicamp, and he did a nice job and had a good spring. He's got a good split, a good breaking ball, an average to plus fastball and he competes."

    Albers stays hot

    Matt Albers, a product of Clements High School, continues to be dominant at Class AA Corpus Christi. He allowed five hits over seven scoreless innings in Sunday's 7-0 win over Midland.

    Albers (10-2, 1.92 ERA) is 5-0 with an 0.89 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings in five starts since May 31. He has allowed only three homers while striking 79 in 98 1/3 innings overall.

    "We always knew he had the stuff," Astros director of player development Ricky Bennett said. "He's done the work between starts and this is his reward. He's throwing the ball well and putting up good numbers, and I think he's on his way to the big leagues.

    "It's been encouraging to watch him grow up and mature as a person and pitcher."

    Around the horn

    Round Rock shortstop Jesse Garcia, who broke his left hand in May, and righthander Ezequiel Astacio, who had a sprained ankle, will come off the disabled list today.

    Astacio is scheduled to follow Brandon Backe, who will make a rehab start tonight for the Express. ...

    Hooks outfielder Jorge Cortes saw his franchise-record 27-game hitting streak come to an end on Monday, but he drew a walk and has a 51-game on-base streak. Both are the longest such streaks in the minors this year. ... Midland's 9-2 win over Corpus Christi on Saturday snapped the RockHounds' 13-game losing streak to the Hooks. ...

    Tomball's Troy Patton continued his strong run on Sunday for Class A Salem, holding Wilmington to three hits in six innings to improve to 4-7. ... Salem center fielder Ervin Alcantara went 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI on Saturday. ...

    Salem righthander Ronnie Martinez has a 1.76 ERA over his past eight starts. ... Brian Bogusevic, last year's first-round pick who has battled injuries and poor results, is scheduled to return to the rotation at Class A Lexington this week after spending time at the organization's Tri-City affiliate.


    brian.mctaggart@chron.com
     
  2. OldManBernie

    OldManBernie Member

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    Now that Hirsh is having such a great year, I hope he is now untouchable. At least I wouldn't trade him unless I'm getting a top pitcher in return (e.g. Dontrelle Willis). The Astros will be in a world of hurt without Clemens and Pettite, considering Wandy and Buckholtz are playing the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde game. Hirsh looks like he can be a top of the rotation guy, and these guys come pretty rarely. While the farm systems has other quality pitchers like Troy Patton and Matt Albers (C-HIGH! *C = Clements*), Hirsh is looking more likely that he can eventually be an MLB ace.

    In fact, I hope they call him up soon to try him out, just so he can qualify for the post-season roster. If he happens to be hot, he can be a nice weapon in the post-season.
     
  3. Gene the PIG

    Gene the PIG Member

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    I read this a few days ago. Yep, it's nice to hear about him doing so well. I LOVE the fact that he is 6'8

    I'd be willing to bet he's way way way better than Magic Wandy will EVER be, but whatever. Fact of the matter is, if we pick up a big bat ... one that we DESPERATELY NEED, the first guy people are gonna want, is Hirsh. :(


    & we just may have to pull that trigger. Our offense is inept. I don't care if we won 4 in a row. We'll hit the skids again, most likely. If they're serious about winning big, a trade must be made for more offense.

    But what do you do in a case like Carlos Lee for example? (Who I would LOVE to get!)

    ???

    That's getting us into another possible Beltran scenerio. A major improvement offensively, but do we lose him after this season in exchange for one of our brightest younglings?

    Meaning that Lee could bolt after the season via free agency.


    I always hate that crap, but you can't get something for nothing. :confused:
     
  4. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    Hirsh appears to be the best Astro pitching prospect since Oswalt. It would be great to see him in the mix, heading toward the playoffs.
     
  5. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member

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    Actually this scares me a little bit. The last 2 "big time" pitching prospects that the Astros had that were 6'8" were Scott Elarton and Jeff Juden. :(

    I'm not comparing Hirsh to either of them, but the track record for so called can't miss prospects that were 6' 8" isn't too good.
     
  6. CrazyJoeDavola

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    Elarton was a puss thrower and Juden was a head case.
     
  7. OldManBernie

    OldManBernie Member

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    Juden is TERRIBLE. He has a loooong delivery where baserunners can walk to the next base. I still remember that one game where he pitched for the expos against the stros, I swore we must've stolen 6 or 7 bases on him.

    Elarton is hardly a puss thrower. He threw in the low 90s with good movement and he had good breaking pitches. However, he does try to pitch like a power pitcher when he really isn't one and he challenges too many batters. His earlier career reminds me of Jose Lima. He has actually learned to pitch now, but he no longer has the "stuff" to back it.
     
  8. Harrisment

    Harrisment Contributing Member

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    Don't expect Hirsh to come up anytime soon. The Astros will just wait until he's in his late 20's like the do every other top prospect for some ungodly reason.
     
  9. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Elarton had dominant stuff... until Dierker decided to throw him nearly every single day out of the bullpen from 98-99, and he started developing arm problems.

    That's probably why the Astros don't put future starters in that role anymore. Oswalt was only there at the start of his career simply to get "used" to big-league pitching. Once it was clear that he was so much better than our starters, he was given the nod.
     
  10. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    No... he'll be 25 whene he's up here next year... just one year older than Roy was.

    Would you rather our pitchers turn out like Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, or any other MLB pitcher that threw a ton of innings early in their careers? (ie - they're all turning up lame now).
     
  11. Major

    Major Member

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    Yup. Well, except for Oswalt, Wade Miller, Tim Redding, Carlos Hernandez, Berkman, Burke, Abreu, and Hidalgo. Which top prospects are you referring to?
     
  12. bobrek

    bobrek Vamos Los Astros

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    So who are all these top prospects the Astros have waited on until they are 27+ years old before calling them up?
     
  13. Gene the PIG

    Gene the PIG Member

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    You guys wanna know another Astro pitcher that was 6'8?


    One JAMES RODNEY RICHARD! :D

    I think.

    That would be "sweeeeeeeet."

    [​IMG]
     
  14. BigCountry132

    BigCountry132 Contributing Member

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    Ben Zobrist is one-the guy is batting .336 with OBS of .440, very nice numbers. Offensively he's already better than AE and and probably better bruntlett, but somehow remains in AA even though he is already 25. "Top" prospects arn't still in AA at the age of 25- either hes not that good and is just another run in the mill minor leaguer or astros management is dumb. I know charlie pallio has been wanting this guy brought up for weeks, along with Pence.
    Also, catcher JR House is someone worth paying attention to, he seems to be excelling at corpus- batting .348 with 57 rbi and .404 OBP. I dont expect to see him up anytime soon though, I believe he just came back to baseball and might need more time than usual-hes 26.
     
  15. thacabbage

    thacabbage Contributing Member

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    My friend said he went to Round Rock and watched Hirsh pitch and his fastball tops out at 88...? :confused:
     
  16. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    He's gained speed in his fastball in his years in the minors... and at the end of last year, he was throwing 92-94 tops.

    They expect that to get a little better... but not much. Also, he's likely sacraficing a little speed for a lot more control (if you read the article, he's had problems w/ that). Thankfully, in the NL, control is just about as valuable as "pure stuff".
     
  17. Major

    Major Member

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    ?? He joined the organization in middle of 2004. Spent 2005 in various levels of A ball, and a half-season now in AA. How is the organization holding him back? :confused:
     
  18. thacabbage

    thacabbage Contributing Member

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    This was just a month or two ago though... :confused:

    EDIT: you're right. he was probably sacrificing for control.
     
  19. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member

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    It was already posted to these forums several months back, but in case anybody missed it, here is the Baseball America description of Hirsh. They had him rated as the Astro's #1 prospect, btw.

    [rquoter]
    1. Jason Hirsh

    Background:
    Despite his size, Hirsh drew little interest out of high school because he threw just 86-88 mph. He went undrafted, and no NCAA Division I programs wanted him, so he wound up at Division III Cal Lutheran. Hirsh blossomed with the Kingsmen, setting school records for career wins (26) and single-game strikeouts (18), but the number that got him noticed was his improved velocity. By his junior season in 2003, his fastball repeatedly touched 97 mph and his slider was peaking in the mid-80s. The Astros lacked a first-round pick that June after signing Jeff Kent as a free agent, and they made Hirsh their top pick as a second-rounder, signing him for $625,000. He blew away short-season New York-Penn League hitters in his debut but struggled at high Class A Salem in his first full season in 2004. Assigned the task of improving his secondary pitches, Hirsh struggled to do so and lost the edge on his fastball. Undeterred, Houston promoted him to Double-A Corpus Christi in 2005 and he responded by becoming Texas League pitcher of the year. A good year got even better for Hirsh when the Astros drafted and signed his brother Matt, another Cal Lutheran righty, in the 30th round. Matt went 1-2, 5.61 as a swingman at Rookie-level Greeneville.

    Strengths:
    Hirsh’s metamorphosis from 2004 to 2005 was astounding. A year after looking like he might not be more than a set-up man, he became a potential frontline starter. He has an intimidating frame at 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, and he’s athletic for his size. That allows him to repeat his delivery and his arm slot, which helped him gain the feel of a hard 80-86 mph slider that’s much more consistent than it was in the past. Managers rated it the best breaking ball in the Texas League. Hirsh also has improved the sink on his fastball, opting for a two-seamer that sits at 91-93 mph. He can still reach the mid-90s when needed, but he’s more concerned with the location and movement on his fastball. His changeup made strides as well, and is an average pitch. He’s not afraid to pitch inside and throws strikes to both sides of the plate. As one scout with an American League club said, “To make that much progress in one year tells you about his makeup and aptitude.”

    Weaknesses:
    Having gone from owning no reliable pitch to now possessing three of them, Hirsh just needs to do some fine-tuning. He can still improve his command, which is average now but should become a plus with more experience. Likewise, his changeup can get better and is the least trustworthy of his three offerings.

    The Future:
    If Hirsh pitches as well at Triple-A Round Rock as he did in Double-A, he’ll get called up to Houston in short order. Should Roger Clemens decide to retire, Hirsh could get an opportunity to make the big league rotation in spring training. It’s also possible that he could break into the majors as a middle reliever should the Astros develop a need in their bullpen. Hirsh’s fastball-slider combination could allow him to excel in that role, but his long-term future is as a No. 2 or 3 starter.

    [/rquoter]
     
  20. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    Or, he could have just had some problems getting lose that night. For whatever reason, that happens to pitchers sometimes.

    You'll see Roy throw 91-92 some games... and 95-96 in others. Andy tends to hover around the high 80's, but then you see him in last year's game 5 throwin his fastball 94.

    Adrenaline also adds a couple of miles to these young kids' fastballs when they reach the majors. I'm pretty convinced that his numbers at AAA aren't a fluke, and he should be a dependable MLB starter... thus, as long as he continues what he's doing in his development, he should be alright.
     
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