Minor League Notes, August 31st, 2011

HOUSTON - AUGUST 17: J.B. Shuck #8 of the Houston Astros singles on a line drive to center field in the first inning at Minute Maid Park on August 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Minor League Notes, August 31st, 2011

**Houston Astros outfielder J.B. Shuck was sent back to the minors last week after hitting .250/.340/.295 with six walks in 16 games, 44 at-bats for the Astros. He went 1-for-3 for Triple-A Oklahoma City yesterday with two walks, and 2-for-5 with a double the day before. Overall, he's hitting .297/.398/.367 this year for the Redhawks, with 11 walks, seven triples, zero homers, 56 walks, and just 30 strikeouts in 354 at-bats. He's stolen 20 bases but been caught 11 times.

A sixth-round pick from Ohio State in 2008, Shuck has plenty of speed and shows a good eye at the plate. He draws walks and doesn't strike out very often, but his extreme lack of power makes him very reliant on a high batting average and BABIP to maintain offensive value. He understands the need to get on base, although once there his baserunning instincts aren't the best and he tends to rely too much on his pure speed and is not a refined stealer. His arm has below average strength, but is accurate enough that he picks up a good share of baserunner kills. He can play all three positions but fits best in left.

If it sounds like I'm describing a future fourth/fifth outfielder, you would be correct

**Connor Crumbliss of the High-A Stockton Ports hit for the cycle against Modesto last night, going 4-for-6 with two RBI and three runs scored. Overall, the Oakland prospect is hitting .273/.406/.388 on the season, with 18 doubles, seven homers, 91 walks, 80 strikeouts, and 21 steals in 28 attempts over 407 at-bats.

A 28th round draft pick by the Athletics in 2009 from Emporia State University in Kansas, Crumbliss is a small guy (5-8, 175), but is a decent athlete. He has a very polished hitting approach from the left side, draws walks, and doesn't try to do too much. He doesn't fall into the trap of trying to hit home runs, but instead lashes line drives from gap to gap and will pick up some doubles and triples that way. His running speed is a tick above average but he's good at using it. He splits his time between second base and center field. He's got a decent glove at second and isn't terrible in the outfield, showing good fundamentals and some polish that help his average arm and range play  up. Crumbliss has good makeup and has already exceeded expectations, but we need to see what he can do in Double-A next year. He's already 24.

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