Evan Grills, CBN POW, Week VI

By George Farelli
Canadian Baseball Network

In his first seven years in the minors lefty Evan Grills has inched along the Houston Astros organizational ladder.

Let’s see six stops -- the rookie-class Gulf Coast Astros, the class-A Lexington Legends, class-A Tri-City Valley Cats, class-A Quad Cities River Bandits and class-A Lancaster JetHawks -- before being promoted to double-A earlier this month.

When you think about it, it really should not have come as a surprise than Grills, 23, did so well at his highest level yet.

The lefty Grills (Whitby, Ont.) had the best game of his pro career thanks to his change up and has curve ball in his debut with the Corpus Christi Hooks -- a team named after a hurler’s best pitch.  

Grills pitched a complete-game one hitter as the Hooks blanked the Frisco RoughRiders 6-0 before 5,973 fans at Whataburger Field in the seven-inning nitecap of the doubleheader. And for his outing Grills earns Canadian Baseball Network Minor League Player of the Week honors, the best of the 64 Canucks in the minors.  

Facing lead-off man Ryan Cordell, Grills allowed a single on a ground ball to left and after that? Nada. He was a pitch away from a no-no -- the second pitch of the game. Grills needed 80 pitches (53 strikes) to get the job done.

Grills got the next hitter on a 5-4-3 double play the first of 22 hitters he faced without allowing a another base hit. He retried the final 14 in order. 

In all Grills recorded eight ground ball outs (including the double play), four on a fly balls, one on a pop up, and one on a line out as well as fanning five, including the final out of the game.

Grills hit Zach Cone with a pitch in the second and walked a runner for the only base runner after the lead-off single.

After pitching four seasons for the Canadian Junior National Team, Grills was selected in the 10th round in 2010 by Astros scout John Kosciak.

On this night Grills’ fastball was in the 88-90 MPH range. He struggled to find his slider early but had a nice changeup working and attacked hitters from the start. He kept hitters off balance and there weren’t many hard hit balls.  

“For the first few innings, it was my sinker and my changeup,” Grills said after his double-A debut. “I didn’t really have my slider until the fourth or fifth inning. Then I kind of found it in warmups.”

He had two complete games with Quad Cities in 2014. In his career Grills is now 26-17 with a 4.23 ERA in 117 games -- making 43 starts. He has walked 87 and fanned 275 in 364 2/3 innings.

Hooks 3B J.D. Davis and Grills earned Texas League Player and Pitcher of the Week. Davis, 23, a Cal State Fullerton product selected in the third round in 2014 draft he hit .400 (12-for-30) average over the last eight games with three home runs and nine RBIs.  

 

BEST  OFFENSIVE  PERFORMANCES
Player / Class / Team    AB    R    H    HR    RBI    AVG

Dustin Houle  -  A  Brevard County    18    3    8    -    3    .444
Eric Wood  -  AA  Altoona    17    6    7    2    5    .412
Dalton Pompey  -  AAA  Buffalo    23    2    9    -    3    .391
Josh Naylor  -  A  Greensboro    19    3    7    1    8    .368
Jesse Hodges  -  A  South Bend    20    3    7    -    3    .350
Sean Jamieson  -  AA  Mobile    19    3    6    -    3    .316
Kellin Deglan  -  AA  Frisco    10    1    3    1    1    .300
George Kottaras  -  AAA  Sacramento    10    2    3    -    2    .300
(Minimum 10 AB’s required)                        
 
 
BEST  PITCHING  PERFORMANCES
EVAN  GRILLS  LHP   -   AA  CORPUS  CHRISTI  HOOKS
APP IP H R ER BB K W-L SV WHIP WK  ERA

1 7.0 1 0 0 1 5 1-0 0 0.29 0.00
Evan Grills was having an excellent season with Lancaster JetHawks in the class-A California League, compiling a 3-1 won loss record with a 3.47 ERA in five starts, and this week was rewarded by the Astros with a promotion to Corpus Christi Hooks in the Double A Texas League. If there was any nervousness on his part in making his first ever start at this level, the feeling was quickly dispatched on May 13th in a 6-0 victory over the Frisco Roughriders. In the second game of a double header, he pitched a seven inning complete game shutout, gave up
only one base hit and struck out five Frisco hitters, to record his first win for the Hooks. This outing improved his overall record in six starts at two different levels to 4-1 with a 2.69 ERA.


 
CHRIS  LEROUX  RHP   -   AAA   BUFFALO  BISONS
APP IP H R ER BB K W-L SV WHIP WK ERA

1 5.0 3 0 0 1 5 1-0 0 0.80 0.00
Acquired by Toronto Blue Jays in a pre-season trade with Philadelphia Phillies and assigned to Triple A Buffalo Bisons, Chris Leroux was quite happy to get the chance to pitch in a Canadian organization. On May 14th in a 1-0 victory over Norfolk Tides he tossed five innings and gave up just three base hits and no runs while striking out five Norfolk hitters, to earn his first win of the season. This outing improved his overall record in seven appearances with the Bisons to 1-3 with a 3.00 ERA.

 

NICK  PIVETTA   RHP   -   AA  READING  FIGHTIN’  PHILS
APP IP H R ER BB K W-L SV WHIP WK  ERA

2 13.0 5 1 1 4 13 2-0 0 0.69 0.69
Nick Pivetta is beginning to establish himself as a front line starter in the Double A Eastern League with Reading, and this past week had another pair of excellent outings. On May 11th in a 9-6 win over Binghamton Mets he pitched six innings, surrendered three base hits and one earned run, while striking out seven Mets hitters to earn the win. Then on May 17th in a 9-1 win over the Bowie Bay Sox he tossed seven innings, gave up only two base hits and no runs while striking out six Bowie batters to secure his second win of the week. These two starts improved his record to 4-2 with a 3.27 ERA. 

 

BROCK  DYKXHOORN  RHP   -   A   LANCASTER  JETHAWKS
APP IP H R ER BB K W-L SV WHIP WK ERA

1 6.0 2 1 1 1 3 1-0 0 0.50 1.50
Seeing fellow Canadian teammate Evan Grills getting promoted by the Astros this week may have provided some incentive for Brock Dykxhoorn in his start on May 13th, a 2-1 victory over the Lake Elsinore Storm. He pitched six strong innings, gave up only two base hits and one earned run, while striking out three Storm hitters to earn his second win of the season. This outing improved his record in six starts with Lancaster in the Single A California League to 2-1 with a 3.64 ERA. 

 

ANDREW ALBERS   LHP   -   AAA  ROCHESTER  RED  WINGS
APP IP H R ER BB K W-L SV WHIP WK  ERA

2 15.0 13 4 4 2 9 2-0 0 1.00 2.40
When the Minnesota Twins acquired his contract two weeks ago from Lancaster Barnstormers in the IND Atlantic League and assigned him to the Triple A Rochester Red Wings, Andrew Albers was given another opportunity with an affiliated team. It appears that his performance thus far proves the Twins made a wise decision. He made two starts for the Red Wings this week, the first was on May 11th in a 7-1 win over Gwinnett Braves in which he pitched a nine inning complete game, gave up just three base hits and one earned run, while striking out six Braves hitters, to earn the win. He followed that up on May 17th in a 9-3 victory over the Charlotte Knights when he tossed six innings, surrendered 10 base hits but just three earned runs, while striking out three Knights batters, to pick up his second win of the week. His overall record in four starts with Rochester now stands at 2-0 with a 3.76 ERA.


 
MIKE  SOROKA   RHP   -   A   ROME  BRAVES
APP IP H R ER BB K W-L SV WHIP WK ERA

2 11.2 6 3 3 2 9 1-1 0 0.71 2.41
Everyone would agree, attaining your first win as professional Pitcher is a big deal, and this week Atlanta Braves prospect Mike Soroka achieved that milestone. On May 12th in a 3-0 victory over Hickory Crawdads he pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, gave up just one base hit striking out five Hickory batters, to earn his first win of the season. On May 17th in a 3-1 loss to Columbia Fireflies he made another strong start, but did not get the result he wanted. He tossed six innings and surrendered five base hits and three earned runs while striking out four Columbia hitters, but was saddled with the loss. His overall record with Rome Braves in the Single A South Atlantic League now stands at 1-4 with a 2.32 ERA.
 
 

 

PLAYER  MOVEMENTS AND TRANSACTIONS
LHP Evan Grills (Whitby, Ont.)  -  Moved by Houston Astros to Double A Corpus Christi Hooks, from Single A Lancaster JetHawks.
 
C Jordan Procyshen (Calgary, Alta.)  -  Activated from Disabled List by Boston Red Sox at Single A Salem Red Sox.
 
INF Joey Hawkins  (Whitby, Ont.)  -  Activated by the St. Louis Cardinals at Single A Palm Beach Cardinals, appeared in two games and then moved to the Johnson City Cardinals roster in Rookie Class Appalachian League.
 
 
INF Carter Bell  (Courtenay, BC)  -  Free Agent re signs with Joliet Slammers IND Frontier League.
 
RHP Jon Fitzsimmons  (London, Ont.)  -  Free Agent re signs with Quebec Capitales IND Can Am League.
 
C Robert Tavone  (Whitby, Ont.)  -  Free Agent signs with Quebec Capitales IND Can Am League.
 
RHP Guillaume Leduc  (Montreal, Que.)  -  Free Agent signs with Quebec Capitales IND Can Am League.
 
OF Tyson Gillies  (Vancouver, BC)  -  Placed on the Disabled List by Sugar Land Skeeters IND Atlantic League.
 

RHP Steven Inch  (Edmonton, Alta.)  -  Released by Quebec Capitales IND Can Am League.
 
C Justin Marra  (Toronto, Ont.)  -  Released by Winnipeg Goldeyes IND American Association.
 
OF John Stephens  (Surrey, BC)  -  Released by Alpine Cowboys IND Pecos League.