SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- Houston fans averting their eyes this season may find something very likeable in their club's future.
That is, if the Texas League All-Star Game is any indication.
League home run leader George Springer and top pitcher Jake Buchanan made their farewell appearance with Double-A Corpus Christi in Tuesday's All-Star showcase at Arvest Ballpark. Outfielder Springer, the Astros' No. 3 prospect with 19 homers and 55 RBIs, and right-hander Buchanan (7-2, 2.09 ERA), are on their way to Triple-A Oklahoma City after helping the Hooks to the first-half South Division title.
"It's sad, but it's on to the next one," Springer said. "First half went great and now I'm just kind of looking forward to getting this going. It's tough, I'm going to miss those guys down there. But as a player, it's what you shoot for. I've got the opportunity and I'm going to make the best of it."
"It was a good first half for all of us, all of our pitching," Buchanan said. "We threw the ball well, hitters, we have a great team down there. Me and George are leaving them, but there are people coming up that are probably going to replace us."
Corpus Christi beat out Frisco by three games in the South first-half race to lock up its third postseason appearance since joining the Texas League in 2005.
The Hooks will be seeking their second title. They won the Texas League Championship Series, 3-1, against Wichita in 2006 and were swept by Frisco in the divisional series last year.
Right-handed batter Springer and Buchanan were instrumental to the Hooks' success this year. But they were not alone, atop the statistical charts or the All-Star roster.
Catcher Rene Garcia started along with Springer. Outfielder Domingo Santana was a reserve and right-handers Michael Foltynewicz and David Martinez (neck and neck with Buchanan at 7-2 with a 2.09 ER) made the roster.
"I can leave with a great sense of pride just to see how far the team has come," Springer said.
The Hooks didn¹t have the most all-stars selected, that honor went to Arkansas with eight on the North squad. But Astros fans have to be primed after seeing the big league team falter this year. Houston entered Tuesday with a 29-48 record and last in the American League West (15 1/2 games behind Texas) in its AL debut year (following a 55-107 finish in its National League swan song last year).
"It¹s obviously a great sign, there's a lot of young talent in this organization," Springer said. "Not just here, not just in Triple A, but in [Class A] Quad Cities on."
Derby dean: Hometown hero Matt Fields of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals won the Home Run Derby before his hometown fans at Arvest Ballpark. Fields blasted 13 to reach the final, then outdueled Tulsa's Kiel Roling, 11-6.
"It was really fun," Fields said. "I tried to make it as fun as possible and just relax. I'm very appreciative."