Help Is On The Way – The Tri-City ValleyCats

This morning my friend @AstrosCounty  tweeted this little fact:

Astros CountyAstros County@AstrosCounty

At 35-70, the Astros have the exact same record as 2011. Run Differential, 2012: -126; 2011: -121

Which is, of course, depressing as heck, but which got me to looking at the Astros minor league system. In 2011, the cumulative run differential for all Astros minor league affiliates was -761. Yes, a negative 761. It is not hard to understand why the cumulative win percentage of those eight minor league affiliates was 30th of the 30 organizations. In 2012, the cumulative run differential thus far is +126. That is an 887 run swing between last year and this. Just let that sink in for a moment. It is also not hard to understand why the cumulative win percentage this year has been at the top or hovering near the top of the 30 organizations.

Then one stat popped off the Baseball-Reference page and my reaction was, quite literally, Yowzah!!! The run differential for the Tri-City short season A team was +100 as of Wednesday morning. The Tri-City pitching staff has allowed 133 runs while the team has scored 233 runs. I knew the team was good. How good? They have a .714 win percentage, the best in the New York-Penn League and lead their division by 10 games. When a team is that dominant, it has to be a team effort with contributions from all. But there are still a few player performances that go above and beyond.

RHP Aaron West – West already has a league leading five wins (5-0) in seven starts with the second lowest ERA in the league (0.97) and the lowest WHIP (0.703). In 37 innings pitched, he has struck out 34 and walked only four.

Three other Tri-City pitchers already have four wins each: LHP Brian Holmes (4-1, 2.55 ERA, 0.934 WHIP), RHP Brady Rodgers (4-2, 2.52 ERA, 1.195 WHIP) and Vincent Velasquez (4-1, 2.97 ERA, 1.156 WHIP). Holmes also has the distinction of taking a perfect game into the 7th inning last week. He ultimately allowed one single and no walks in the 7-inning complete game shutout.

RHP Blake Ford – Ford leads the New York-Penn League in saves with 11. He has a 1.89 ERA and a 1.057 WHIP in 17 appearances.

Ford has very good company in the bullpen with RHP Travis Ballew (1.17 ERA, 0.913 WHIP) and RHP Jamaine Cotton (1.47 ERA, 1.091 WHIP) standing out in particular.

CF Andrew Aplin – Aplin is practically a one-man wrecking crew. He leads the league in average and OPS with a batting line of .370/.470/.570/1.040. Additionally, he leads the league in stolen bases and is tied for first in runs scored with teammate 1B Jesse Wierzbicki.

SS Austin Elkins (.338/.397/.486) follows Aplin closely in many categories, C Tyler Heineman is hitting .337/.434/.410, and newly signed OF Preston Tucker is hitting .324/.405/.432 through his 10 games.

So as I contemplate yet another loss by the Astros, I can take solace in knowing that my minor league Astros will one day be my major league Astros. Help is on the way. Yowzah!!!

For more on the Astros farm system, visit What The Heck, Bobby? or follow me on twitter @whattheheck57.

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