Under the Radar

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Fresno’s Opening Day Promo for the 2015 season.
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A Corpus Christi Hooks promo ad

Along with their Major League Baseball team, the Houston Astros organization has 8 minor league affiliates. 1 Triple-A, Double-A, Single-A, and Short Season league teams and 4 Rookie League teams. Minor league teams are used for organizations to train and improve younger players who aren’t ready for the bigs without giving them up to other ball clubs. There is a perception that once a player gets drafted or joins an organization that they are automatically on the Major League team. Even though there are some that do, this is not true for most. Since Major League teams are only allowed to have 25 players on the team at any given time, it is necessary to have active players readily available in case of an injury. Most “call ups” are brought in from the two top tier teams of the organization: The Fresno Grizzlies and the Corpus Christi Hooks. These two have produced numerous key essentials to current Astros lineup, including Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

The Fresno Grizzlies (AAA) reside in Fresno, California and compete in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division along with affiliates of the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, and San Francisco Giants. Even though they were third in the division, the Grizzlies finished with a .510-win percentage.

The Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) reside in Corpus Christi, Texas and compete in the Texas League South Division along with affiliates of the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, and San Diego Padres. The Hooks were explosive this season winning over 60 percent of their matches.

If you ever wondered what it is like to watch a minor league game, I encourage you go and see one next season. 2 years ago I got to a Hooks game and it has the mixture of a college and major league feel. I would compare it to a college all-star game if they had one. If you click on the pictures above, they will take you to their team’s respective websites. I encourage you to research some of the other minor league teams around the area and catch a game or two.

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Farewell to Tal’s Hill

Tal’s Hill has seen its last games from centerfield in 2016. Those who have either seen a game at Minute Maid Park or just on TV would recognize the famous hill that sits 436 feet away from home plate; furthest centerfield fence in the MLB. Not just any hill, Tal’s included an in-play flag pole that made few but significant effects on all players having to deal with it. Seemingly enough, highlight videos have even been made to applaud all the spectacular plays made on and by Tal’s Hill. Astros’ owner, Jim Crane, believes the new centerfield will allow for fans to add to their experience of watching a live major league baseball game: either close down by the field or up high overlooking downtown Houston through the glass windows. The new centerfield will be completed in time for the 2017 season. Some of the pieces of the outfield padding, flag poles and the dirt from Tal’s Hill are going into an auction for fans to buy as keepsakes. From the park’s opening in 2000, the Astros have made many changes and upgrades in the past couple of years: The Diamond Club behind home plate, the club level and the home clubhouse. While Tal’s Hill will be missed, there is a lot of excitement for the new and improved replacement.

Hope For Next Year

As we enter October baseball, the Astros have the luxury of sitting at home and watching the playoffs on television. Already with slim chances at the wild card, Houston couldn’t pull off the two sweeps they needed. The 2015-16 season showed promise for the future of the ball club bringing in rookies Yulieski Gurriel and Alex Bregman that made huge additions to its offense; Tyler White and A.J. Reed didn’t have great starts to their careers. Chris Devenski also made his debut out of the bullpen and was possibly the most consistent reliever throughout the season. Along with the new pieces added, George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa shined just as much as expected. Houston’s “big 3” batted 1st, 3rd, and 4th for a majority of the year with a .291 batting average collectively. Together they had 542 hits, 300 total runs, and 274 RBI’s; leading the team in all three categories. With these three continuing to progress in their still very young careers and using their leadership to grow their teammates, the Astros’ future look very promising. Altuve won his second consecutive batting title or the American League along with being named the team’s MVP for the third time in four years. Devenski was named the team’s Pitcher of the Year and Rookie of the Year. Collin McHugh received the Darryl Kile Award, which is given to the player who best portrays professionalism and likeability with teammates, fans, and the media. Houston finished the season in third place of the American League West with a record of 84-78. 2017 looks to be full of excitement as the Astros will start at home in April. The schedule is posted and tickets will be available.

End of Season Relay

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With the regular season coming to a close, the final battle for a wild card spot is tighter than ever before. Successfully beating the Los Angeles Angels on September 25, 2016, the Houston Astros are now only three games behind the Baltimore Orioles, who hold the second wild card. There are currently two other teams that stand between the Astros and a playoff appearance: Detroit and Seattle. While Detroit’s fate is solely in their own hands having match-ups with Cleveland and Atlanta, Houston will have a chance to knock off one of their competitors in a 3 game series with the Mariners. A hopeful sweep could exemplify their spirit going into the final series against the Angels and better their chance of making a run in the playoffs throughout October. If your TV provider happens to have the Root Sports channel, plan to tune in at 7:10 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday and at 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday to see then take on Seattle for their last home series. A couple of noticeable names to look out for: #1 SS Carlos Correa, #27 2B Jose Altuve, and #4 RF George Springer. If you’re lucky, you may get to see the Astros mascot, Orbit during the broadcast.

If you would like to find out more information on the Astros, you can go to http://houston.astros.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=hou to see their schedule, roster, and all antics available.

Intro Post

For the Word Press assignments, I chose the Houston Astros to talk about. I felt this would be something easy for me to talk about frequently considering I am from the Houston area and grew up going to their games. Also, I play baseball and an avid baseball fan so my lingo is up to date. If you don’t keep up with professional baseball, then you may not know that they are currently closing on the regular season still trying to make the playoffs so I am sure there will be much to talk about. I hope you all enjoy what I have to say about the Houston Astros.