Four members of the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Houston Astros Double-A affiliate, were in uniform for the mid-season Texas League All-Star game, which saw the South Division triumph against the North 3-2. Xavier Cedeno did not get a chance to play for the former, but Dallas Keuchel, J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes all did.
Martinez started the game in left field and went 1-4, Paredes pinch-hit and stayed in the game in the eighth, doubling off reliever Joe Torres. Keuchel put in one of the night's best performances, hurling two scoreless innings, striking out three batters and working out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. He struck out Mike Trout, the second highest rated prospect according to Baseball America, and then Tim Wheeler to end the inning.
Now, with the All-Star Game gone, all possible excuses against moving minor league players up a level is gone. Martinez, who has put up great numbers despite nagging injuries, has now spent close to a year at Corpus Christi, having been bumped up from Lexington mid-way through last season. He has continued to hit for average, but his ISO (isolated power) is up to .153 from .106 last year at AA. The 23-year-old is currently looking like one of the steals of the 2009 draft, taken in the 20th round.
More after the jump.
Paredes' situation is more complex, since he has been playing third base since Jose Altuve was called up. The 5' 5'' second baseman has surely passed Paredes in the organisational depth charts (he was acquired along with Mark Melancon in the Lance Berkman trade to the Yankees). I haven't the foggiest what the front office plans for either of them but we will see.
Keuchel's pitching performance last night was the icing on the cake for his first half to 2011, as the left hander has only gotten better and better as the season has progressed. His strikeout numbers have been low, and there are questions about whether his pure stuff would be underwhelming at the major league level, but his 2.72 ERA speaks for itself. In his last four starts he has 28 innings pitched, and has allowed just three runs and has 20 strikeouts.