Last season the Houston Astros finished with the worst record in Major League Baseball at 55-107. Despite Houston's disappointing year their Triple-A affiliate, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, had a successful 2012 campaign. The RedHawks finished the year with 78 wins and only one and a half games back of the Albuquerque Isotopes for the American Southern Division crown.
Powering Oklahoma City towards the top of their division was first baseman Mike Hessman. In his 17th season the longtime veteran led the PCL in home runs with 35. Hessman now has 370 home runs in his minor league career. The Redhawks would like to have the slugger's mighty bat in the lineup for the upcoming season, but he is currently a free agent.
Possibly replacing Hessman at first base is the Astros top prospect Jonathon Singleton. In 131 games with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, the power hitting lefty had 21 home runs and batted in 79 runs. Singleton would add some pop to Okalahoma City's lineup, but during the offseason the first baseman was suspended fifty games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The incident marked his second positive test in his young career. Singleton came to the Astros in 2011, when he was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Hunter Pence.
Also coming to Houston in the Pence deal was pitcher Jared Cosart. Cosart was Singleton's teammate for the beginning of the year before being called up to Triple-A. The right-hander only started six games for the RedHawks and could see time with the team before making his Major League debut. Between the two levels Cosart won six games, compiled a 3.30 ERA, and struck out 92 batters.
Another pitching prospect who was acquired in a recent trade is Brad Peacock. Peacock was traded in the offseason from the Oakland A's for infielder Jed Lowrie. Peacock made his Major League debut with the Washington Nationals in 2011 and made an instant impact before being traded to the A's before the 2012 season. In his brief stint with Oakland, Peacock pitched in 12 innings and only allowed one run. The 25-year old was poised to make the Athletics' rotation in 2012, but struggled in Triple-A with the Sacramento Rivercats. In 25 starts with Sacramento he won 12 games, but had a 6.01 ERA.
The RedHawks will need strong pitching from Cosart, Peacock, and the rest of their staff if they want to repeat their successful year. Last season Oklahoma City used several solid pitching performances to win three out of four against the Sky Sox. In the first game of their four-game series, pitcher Wes Musick threw six innings of six-hit ball and only allowed two runs in the victory. They went on to win the next two games by a combined score of 16-9. The Sox were able to prevent the sweep by winning the second game of their May 24 double-header, 9-2. Sox righty Guillermo Moscoso pitched brilliantly for Colorado Springs, only allowing one run in six innings.
This year the two teams will face-off in August, in what could be a crucial stretch for both teams. The four-game series, at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, begins on August 3 and ends on August 6.
Next Tuesday the Sky Sox series, "Previewing the PCL", will take a look at the American Southern Division champions the Albuquerque Isotopes. The Isotopes finished 2012 with 80 wins, but lost in the first round to the Omaha Storm Chasers three games to one in their best out of five playoff series.
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