Tagged: jonathan villar

Photos from Wednesday’s Hooks/Travs Game

The Corpus Christi Hooks, members of the Texas League’s South Division, play four series each year against the local Arkansas Travelers, members of the Texas League North. Two of these series are played in Corpus and two in Little Rock, but for the last several seasons, the first Little Rock series has always fallen during dates when my wife and I were out of town. When the 2012 schedules were released, I was immediately excited to see that wouldn’t be the case this year, so last night’s game was the first chance I’ve ever had to catch the Hooks in early season action. What follows is a sampling of the photos I took during the game:

Hooks CF Austin Wates leads off the game against Travs righty Matt Oye. He would single and come around to score the game’s first run.

Just back off the DL, Hooks C Chris Wallace bats in the 2nd.

And just in from Extended Spring Training, 3B Brandon Wikoff follows with a single.

Kody Hinze DH’d and hit 8th this night. After a solid 2011, he’s struggled so far this year.

Hooks starter Ross Seaton attempts a pickoff to first in the 5th. The batter is Travs SS Jean Segura, one of the Angels’ top prospects this year.

Not the best photo, but RF Andy Simunic was the star of this game. He gunned a runner down at the plate moments before this to end the 5th, then later made a heads-up steal of third that led to the winning run.

Hooks SS Jonathan Villar awaits his turn at the plate. He looked overmatched when I saw him last August, but he’s looking much better now.

Hooks 2B Jose Martinez readies for the pitch.

This, ladies & gentlemen, is the back of Brett Oberholtzer’s head. On the left in plaid is Jose Cisnero. Brett was really nice and chatted with us periodically throughout the game, but they were there to track the Hooks’ pitches, so I tried not to bother him too much.

This is Arkansas fan favorite Darwin Perez, the Travs’ own diminutive 2B. He’s listed at 5′ 10″, but that’s generous.

Astros 1B of the future Jonathan Singleton launches one deep to left center for a game-tying solo shot in the 7th. This was his first HR against a lefty in 2012.

Ultimately the Hooks won 3-2, and it was a great night. If circumstances allow, we’re hoping to make it out again for the series conclusion Friday night, with Oberholtzer on the mound.

Photos from the CC Hooks’ Friday Doubleheader

Sometimes it’s tough being an Astros fan in Arkansas. Even though our local team, the Arkansas Travelers, has been the AA affiliate of the Angels for 11 years now, the entire state is still deep Cardinals country. I’ve been in this state for 12 years now myself, and I’ve met exactly two other Astros fans here. I’ve learned to love the Travs in their own way, and Minor League Baseball in general, but my heart will always remain in Houston. The one perk I get here is that the Travs play in the Texas League alongside Houston’s AA affiliate, the Corpus Christi Hooks. The Hooks typically come to town twice a year, so I always try to make it out for at least one of their games to see the Astros of the future.

We were out of town the first time that Corpus came here this year, so this past Friday was our chosen date. It turned out to be a lucky choice for me, as Thursday’s game was rained out, so our Friday night tickets became good for a Friday afternoon doubleheader. Our seats were in the front row right behind the Travs’ dugout, and I brought our camera along to document the action.

The Travelers' outfield of Chris Pettit, Mike Trout & Angel Castillo (l to r) waits for the national anthem before Game 1 of the doubleheader.

Hooks shortstop Jonathan Villar (acquired last year in the Oswalt deal) leads off the game.

New Hooks first baseman Kody Hinze takes a throw between innings, with Villar in the background.

Hooks starter Brett Oberholtzer, acquired from Atlanta in the Michael Bourn trade, prepares to pitch in the bottom of the first.

The Angels' top prospect, Mike Trout, takes the field after the first.

Kody Hinze at the plate in the second inning. He singled here and later scored the Hooks' first run.

Hooks center fielder T.J. Steele returns to the dugout after popping up.

Hooks catcher Brian Esposito prepares to hit in the second.

Oberholtzer winds up for a pitch in the bottom of the second. After two hitless innings, he gave up two runs on two hits in the third, then was pulled after a scoreless fourth, ending up with a tough loss.

This is Lance. He works for the Travs' front office now, but he's a fellow Houston native and the second of those two Astros fans I mentioned above.

Crime Dog McGruff was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the second game. Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff was nowhere to be found.

Injured Hooks infielder Jimmy Van Ostrand (#25) is seen here on the field between games. #4 is Hooks outfielder Jon Gaston.

This is Shelly, the Arkansas Travelers' mascot. He ran down a kid in left field shortly after this photo was taken.

Adam Bailey makes his Hooks debut in the first inning of the second game, after being called up from Lancaster. He struck out here, but finished the night 2-for-3 with two doubles.

And immediately following Bailey's debut, Jose Carlos Thompson likewise makes his Hooks debut.

Hooks shortstop Brandon Wikoff drives the ball to right field in the second inning of Game 2.

Hooks left fielder Brandon Barnes looks up after taking a ball in the second.

Mike Trout takes a swing in Game 2. He would walk, but wouldn't score.

Trout on first after walking. Hinze & Trout - two future MLB All-Stars?

Hinze at the plate again, in the third inning of Game 2. He flew out here, but finished 1-for-3.

Before leaving, I had to stop by the gift shop to pick up the 2011 Texas League Top Prospects baseball card set. It included these three familiar faces (though now all former Hooks).

Unfortunately for the Hooks, they lost both games this night – Game 1 4-2 in a pre-determined seven innings, and Game 2 6-2 after a sudden thunderstorm ended the game at five. Growing up with the Astrodome, this was my first live experience with a rain delay or a rainout, but it was a fun day at the ballpark regardless. Dickey-Stephens Park (named in part for Hall of Fame catcher and Arkansas native Bill Dickey) sits on the north bank of the Arkansas River, and it’s a great place to see a ballgame.

Roy is gone

It’s not officially official, but by all accounts, Roy Oswalt is a Phillie. Or he’s still an Astro, but he’ll be playing for the Philadelphia Astros. Instead of the Houston Phillies. EDIT: Never mind, it IS official now – Bob Garber says so.

The Astros reportedly got back LHP J.A. Happ and a pair of 19-year-old A-ball kids: OF Anthony Gose & SS Jonathan Villar. My initial reaction is disappointment – “that’s really the best they could do?” But the stats on the two young kids don’t tell the whole story, we’re told, and it will be a few years before we can fairly evaluate this trade. EDIT 2: Still evolving… now Gose is being flipped to Toronto? For whom? Ah, Ed, you’re a busy man today… EDIT 3: Brett Wallace! THAT changes things, if it’s true. I don’t mind missing out on Jonathan Singleton, in that case. I think that Alyson Footer knows things
I like Happ. I do. And I really do think it was Phillies-or-bust for trading Oswalt, based on all that we were hearing. And I’m still of the opinion that Roy needed to be traded, somewhere, anywhere, because he obviously isn’t going to help the team win anything this year, and he more than likely wouldn’t have been able to contribute to any more winning seasons here before his career is done. So in that sense, getting anything at all in return for Roy, anyone that even might be able to help this team win in the future, is a smarter move than holding onto him. (Of course, the same could be said for Lance Berkman, Brett Myers or others, but that’s another argument for another day.) I’m willing to believe, due to all the obstacles, that this really is the best deal that Ed & Drayton could get for Roy. So from that perspective, I’ll accept it, and I’ll withhold final judgment on the deal until we see how Gose & Villar (and Happ, for that matter) pan out. I just wish there was more to get excited about up front.
Happ and Roy were both scheduled to start tomorrow, so I’m guessing we’ll see Happ’s Houston debut tomorrow night, instead of Roy’s final attempt to tie Joe Niekro. Or else we’ll see Wandy tomorrow on his normal rest and push Happ back to Saturday or Sunday. Attention now turns to who else will or won’t be with the club come Saturday night’s game.
So long, Roy. I wish you well, though I wish more that it hadn’t had to end this way. Good luck in Philly; tell Brad Lidge howdy for us. J.A. Happ? You and the teens are under the microscope now after being traded for a Houston icon. Good luck.