The Astros’ Tuesday trade of former Hook Wilton Lopez to Colorado netted right-handed pitchers Alex White and Alex Gillingham. White is slated to be a part of Houston’s 2013 starting rotation while Gillingham is a possible candidate to land in Corpus Christi some time next season.
Gillingham, 23, was selected by the Rockies in the 11th round of the 2011 draft out of Loyola Marymount. Over two seasons of pro ball, the California native is 9-13 with a 4.29 ERA in 31 starts (32 appearances). He has struck out 133 batters against 44 walks and features an impressive 3.29 ground out-to-air out ratio.
Gillingham made 19 starts last year for the Asheville Tourists, who went on to win the South Atlantic League Championship. He posted a 6-8 record and 3.66 ERA, holding the circuit to a .260 batting average. One of those victories was a complete game against Augusta on June 1. Gillingham struck out eight and did not issue a walk, limiting the GreenJackets to one unearned run on five hits. He excelled as the season progressed, notching a 2.82 ERA in 10 starts following the all-star break.
Gillingham made his professional debut with Casper in 2011 and was the only pitcher in the Pioneer League to toss a perfect game.
Lopez, the Hooks’ pitcher of the year in 2009, was 6-3 with a 2.17 ERA and career-high 10 saves in 64 relief appearances for the Astros last season. The 29-year-old out of Nicaragua posted the lowest walks-per-nine-innings ratio among all National League relievers (1.09) in 2012, beginning the year by facing 78 batters without issuing a free pass. Lopez established the franchise record in 2010 by handing out only five walks in 67 innings pitched. He was acquired by Houston as a waiver claim from San Diego in April 2009.
Houston is now looking at internal and external possibilities to fill its void at closer, including highly-touted prospect and Corpus Christi alum Jarred Cosart.