2012 Fish Watch: Houston Astros Final Update

The first thing you need to know about The Fish Watch is that it’s not a list of sleepers. It is instead a list of players at various points in their respective minor league journeys that for one reason or another have piqued my interest enough that I am watching their development more closely than the bulk of prospects out there. To read more about this project, check out the introduction and master list.

Obviously since the season is over and some teams have had two updates, some have only had one and the NL West teams have had zero coverage thus far, this project did not work out as I had planned on many levels. Undeterred I’m going to sally forth and finish off this round of updates and call it good. Next season if I attempt this again I’m going to have to make some major changes to the structure, plan and concept of this series.

Feel free to check out the category archive to read previous installments of the series.

Houston Astros (S2S 2012 Astros Team Prospect List)

3B/C – Mike Kvasnicka (23) – Astros 2010 Supplemental Pick

2011 – Lexington (A): 0.260/.328/.368, 32 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 5 SB, 46 BB and 106 SO in 536 PA
2012 – Lexington: 0.232/.275/.412, 15 2B, 1 3B, 15 HR, 1 SB, 19 BB and 86 SO in 367 PA

Kvasnicka improved his slash stats across the board as he moved from the NYPL in 2010 to the South Atlantic in 2011. He did so while playing 3B full time after spending time at 3B, RF and C with Tri-City. Heading into 2012, the Astros planned to move him back behind the plate and sent him back to Lexington to help aid in that transition.

He got off to a woeful start hitting 0.118/.167/.191 in 18 games during April and then 0.229/.281/.422 in 21 May contests. Instead of focusing on work behind the plate, Kvasnicka was again pressed into playing multiple positions and actually wound up more in RF (38 G) than C (26 G) but interestingly enough did not make a single appearance at 3B. His bat started to show signs of life as he hit better than 0.270 in both June and July and slugged 0.506 and 0.481 in each of those respective months. Unfortunately he was limited to just two games after August 1st due to injury and he heads into 2013 with a multitude of of questions surrounding his future as a prospect.

OF – Javaris Reynolds (19) – Astros 2011 7th Round Pick

2011 – GCL Astros (Rk): 0.228/.354/.247, 3 2B, 15 SB, 19 BB and 40 SO in 194 PA
2012 – GCL Astros (Rk): 0.214/.333/.214, 0 XBH, 1 SB, 4 BB and 7 SO in 33 PA

At the time he was drafted out of high school Reynolds was viewed as a plus athlete but was raw as a baseball player. While his 2011 GCL performance didn’t really wow anyone, I was intrigued by the fact that he drew a walk in 10% of his plate appearances. Sent back to the GCL to open 2012, I was expecting he would improve significantly on last year’s slash stats and take a step forward.

Reynolds started the season off 3-9 with 2 BB in his first 3 games but then went 3-19 in his next 8. July 13th was the last the day he saw game action on the season and I can’t find any information on why he was shut down. Regardless, 2012 was a lost season for the young outfielder.

RHP – Jonas Dufek (24) – Astros 2011 9th Round Pick

2011 – Tri-City (A-): 3.71 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 55 H, 16 BB and 37 SO in 51.0 IP
2012 – Lexington: 5.47 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 147 H, 37 BB and 117 SO in 126.2 IP

The jump in ERA is obvious and if you’re judging his season solely by that statistic Dufek was consistently in the mediocre to poor range of the performance spectrum. Looking at the monthly splits, his best month ERA-wise was June when he wound up with a 4.39 mark over 5 outings and 26.1 innings pitched. In every month Dufek also allowed more hits than innings pitched and finished the season with a 10.4 H/9 which was up slightly from his 9.7 H/9 in the NYPL last year.

If you’re sensing a “but” on it’s way, you’re quite on point. While the ERA and hit rate were up compared to his time with Tri-City, Dufek did show improvement in both his walk and strikeout rates. The former showed a modest gain from a 2.8 BB/9 to a 2.6 BB/9 while the latter showed a much more impressive and relevant spike going from 6.5 to 8.3 SO/9. Going back to his monthly splits we can also find that between June and July he managed to rack up a 51-8 SO-to-BB in 51.2 IP.

At 6’5″ and 215 pounds, Dufek has good size and the improvement in his walk and strikeout rates are both positive signs. He obviously needs to work to limit the damage done to him when contact is made. His BABIP has been 0.331 and 0.344 in his first two pro seasons and his LD% sits at 21.4%. In his days at Creighton he was a fastball-slider pitcher and had a good deal of success with that two pitch mix so a move to a relief role may be in his future. While he might be better off returning to Lexington to start next season, he turned 24 in June and the organization may elect to move him up to High-A. With Lancaster standing as the next rung in the Astros minor-league ladder 2013 could turn out to be a long season.

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For more on the Houston Astros, check out Climbing Tal’s Hill!

Topics: GCL Astros, Houston Astros, Javaris Reynolds, Jonas Dufek, Lexington Legends, Mike Kvasnicka

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