Yesterday, Anderson Tejeda (video) started at third for the first time in the US since 2016. (He played once for Licey in the most recent Dominican Winter League.) I didn’t see anything of consequence for good or ill defensively. Tejeda is on the active roster and starting at third tonight for Texas. He’s also batting second, not the ideal spot for him. On Wednesday, he swung at a likely ball four, putting the ball in play for a flyout, and struck out swinging in his other three appearances. Thursday was better, as he drew a walk after two swinging strikes and later homered. Growth in plate discipline will determine whether he’s an average-or-better regular or an up-and-down guy. The range in outcomes still seems that broad to me.
On Wednesday, 1B Curtis Terry (video) lined a single the opposite way after rifling a fastball foul on a 3-0 count against promising Houston righty Jairo Solis. He later singled by catching just enough of a two-strike curve to earn a rare infield single. Thursday, he grounded out on the first two pitches he saw and struck out.
Lefty Brett Martin, activated today, tallied six swinging strikes on ten pitches and fanned the side in short order on Wednesday. He couldn’t have been more at ease.
Wednesday starter Hyeon-jong Yang fanned three swinging and walked one in two scoreless innings. The 33-year-old Korean featured an 88-90 MPH fastball, low-80s slider and change, and mid-70s fastball. Yang mixed his pitches well and Houston’s hitters weren't comfortable, but I don't believe his repertoire on Wednesday would fare well against an MLB lineup.
I suspect righty Spencer Patton has more to offer than what he showed Wednesday. Houston 1B Taylor Jones deposited his first pitch into left field’s second deck, and another batter tripled off the wall. Patton’s 92-94 fastball wasn't as lively as I've seen in the past, and hitters ignored his mid-80s slider until he registered a swinging strike on his final pitch. Patton spent the last four seasons in Japan with decent if walk-heavy results.
Righty Cole Uvila’s (video) control didn’t appear until midway through his second batter. After a five-pitch walk and a 2-1 count, he struck out catcher Lorenzo Quintana on a fastball. Then, CF Ronnie Dawson, who’d walked and stolen second, decided to take a nap on a popup and was doubled off by 30 feet. Uvila’s high-spin, high-zone fastball ranged from 94 to 97, and he offered an 85-86 slider and 79-81 curve, both of which were effective toward the end of the appearance. The 2018 40th-rounder hasn’t pitched above high-A but could reached the Majors this season. Keep an eye on him.
Righty Mike Matuella also produced a 1-2-3 inning despite a walk when an Astro was caught stealing after a strikeout. In 2018 in Surprise, I saw Matuella deliver 96-98 MPH fastballs, low-90s changes and low-80s curves. Wednesday, his heater topped at 92, and the breaker was an 81-83 slider. An inconsistent delivery resulted in more balls than strikes. On the other hand, the Astros drew air on three of six swings and never made firm contact.
Thursday starter Jason Bahr didn’t throw much harder than Yang (88-92, mostly 90) but earned three swinging strikeouts with it and two more on sliders in three innings. He’s comfortable working upstairs despite the lack of premium velocity and used breakers set up the fastball as his out pitch. Bahr finished 2019 in Frisco and is in the mix if (when) Texas needs to dip into the minors for starting or tandem innings.
Late in 2019, righty Joe Barlow seemed inches from his MLB debut, but his always-iffy control degraded further. After some troublesome spring 2020 appearances, Barlow never appeared on the alternate roster and was again exposed to the Rule 5 draft. On Thursday, he seemed his old self, dialing up steady 96 MPH heat and a high-depth curve at 79-80, except that he’s added an 87-88 slider. Barlow’s control and command are erratic and sometimes worrisome, but he can throw all three pitches for quality strikes.
The surprise of the two-game set was righty Jake Lemoine (video), now in his seventh season in the organization. Delayed nearly two years by injuries after the draft, Lemoine pitched effectively during his organizational climb until he reached AAA Nashville, where contact meant hits (.381/.440/.592 opposing line, .468 on balls in play). Lemoine’s early 2017 fastball was 91 and increased to 93-95 in 2019. Yesterday: 95 to 99, steadily 97. Sometimes these velocity spikes are ephemeral, so we’ll have to see how he holds up, but he’s at least making a noisier blip on the radar. Lemoine struck out his first batter on an 85 slider after two fastball strikes. Following a walk, he induced an inning-ending double play.
I’ve got more video and notes I may add later. Shot #2 has me feeling a little low.