Dodgers and Astros and … ValleyCats

6 former Tri-City players on World Series rosters
Houston Astros star Jose Altuve as a Tri-City ValleyCat in 2009.
Houston Astros star Jose Altuve as a Tri-City ValleyCat in 2009.

This World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros features a third team whose season ended more than a month ago: The Tri-City ValleyCats

Six alumni of the short-season Class A affiliate of the Astros are on the World Series rosters, including one for the Dodgers. Here they are (the year they played in Troy is in parentheses).

Los Angeles Dodgers

Kikè Hernandez (2010): Enrique “Kikè” Hernández, was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 Makor League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Astros, out of the American Military Academy in Puerto Rico. At just 18 years old, Hernandez played his first full season with the Astros’ Gulf Coast League team. In 2010, he was assigned to the ValleyCats, where he played 60 games, most of them at second base, and hit .280 over 246 at bats. He hit three home runs that season, and drove in 33 runs.

On Aug. 15, he hit a walk-off home run vs. the Staten Island Yankees with his family from Puerto Rico watching in the stands. The ValleyCats went on to win the New York-Penn League championship that year; Hernandez went 6-for-21 with 3 doubles and 2 RBI, and was one of the emotional leaders in the clubhouse.

Houston Astros

Jose Altuve (2009): Altuve, a native of Maracay, Venezuela, was signed by the Astros as an international free agent in 2009 for $15,000. Listed at 5-foot-6, Altuve played 21 games after being called up in August from rookie level Greeneville. In 76 at-bats with the V’Cats, Altuve batted .250 with five doubles, 7 RBI, and 7 stolen bases. Each of his starts came at second base.

Dallas Keuchel (2009): Then clean-shaven, Dallas Keuchel was drafted in the seventh round out of the University of Arkansas. He made his professional debut for the ValleyCats on July 8 in Lowell. He went on to start 10 games for the ’Cats that season, finishing with a 2-3 record and 2.70 ERA. In 56.2 innings, Keuchel allowed 17 earned runs on 52 hits. He struck out 44 and walked just nine. This past season, Keuchel returned to the ValleyCats for a rehab start in Lowell on July 22. He earned the victory in the same place he made his pro debut.

George Springer (2011): Born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, Springer was the first-round draft pick of the Astros in 2011 (11th overall), out of the University of Connecticut. He began his professional career with the ValleyCats after he officially signed with Houston in August. Springer played in just eight games that year, going 5-for-28 with 1 HR and 3 RBI. However, he showed tremendous pop with the bat, and flashed his speed with four stolen bases.

Derek Fisher (2014): The Astros selected Fisher in the first round (37th overall) out of the University of Virginia. He played in 41 of the 76 ValleyCats games that year, hitting .303 with 2 HR and 16 RBI. He also stole 17 bases, while being caught four times. Fisher started all but two games in left field, helping the ’Cats finish first in the Stedler Division. He was named a New York-Penn League All-Star, and in the playoffs that year batted .375 (6-for-16) with 1 HR and 3 RBI.

Joe Musgrove (2014): Born in the San Diego area, Joe Musgrove was drafted out of high school in 2011 by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round (46th overall). He was traded to Houston in 2012, and was a key member of the ValleyCats in 2014. That year, he was named a Baseball America Short Season All-Star after ranking tied for second in the NYPL in strikeouts (67), third in innings (77) and WHIP (0.96), and eighth in ERA (2.81), while going 7-1 in 15 games. He was named the ValleyCats team MVP in a season that saw the ‘Cats capture their third straight Stedler Division title.

Categories: Sports

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