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On the Farm: Foltynewicz, Fontana, Garcia
03/17/2014 4:41 PM ET

Leading up to the 2014 season, cchooks.com spotlights select farmhands in the Astros system. Today, we feature RHP Mike Foltynewicz, IF Nolan Fontana and C Rene Garcia.

Mike Foltynewicz
Pitcher
BORN October 7, 1991 in Sterling, IL
OPENING DAY AGE 24
HEIGHT 6'4
WEIGHT 209
BATS Right
THROWS Right
RESIDES Minooka, IL
ACQUIRED Selected in the first round (19th overall) of the June 2010 draft

Career Highlights: 2014 - Was a non-roster invitee to big-league camp this spring. Included on MLB.com's list of top 2014 prospects: No. 62 overall and No. 6 in the Astros system. Rated by Baseball America as having the best fastball in the Houston organization, routinely hitting the 100-mph mark.

2013 - Posted a composite 6-3 record and 3.06 ERA in 30 appearances (21 starts) between Lancaster and Corpus Christi. Struck out 124 and walked 66 in 129.1 innings. His ERA stood fifth-best among Astros farmhands. A Mid and Postseason Texas League All-Star, would have led the circuit in batting average against (.207) and ranked fourth in ERA had he not missed the league qualifier by 9.0 innings. Picked by TL managers and coaches as having the best fastball and best curveball in the circuit, according to a poll conducted by Baseball America. Was second on the Hooks in strikeouts and finished fourth on the club in starts and innings pitched. Started Game 1 of the Texas League South Division Series and tossed seven innings of one-run ball. Struck out six and walked two but settled for a no-decision as the Hooks went on to beat San Antonio 2-1 in 11 innings. On August 18 in Arkansas, allowed a run in the first inning and then retired 17 of the final 18 batters he faced. Faced the Missions on July 24 at Whataburger Field and authored eight-shutout frames. Fanned eight and walked two in the winning effort. Held the opposition to two runs or less in each of his first 12 games with Corpus Christi (1.88 ERA), averaging 4.0 innings. Appeared in seven games out of the Hooks bullpen and went 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA. Was 3-for-3 in save chances, holding the circuit to a .237 batting average against. The opposition batted at a .199 clip in his 16 starts. Opened the season with the Legends before being promoted to Corpus Christi at the beginning of May. In his final five appearances with Lexington, featured a 1.71 ERA and struck out 22 against seven walks in 21.0 innings. Entered the 2013 season as Houston's No. 5 prospect according to Baseball America and No. 7 by MLB.com.

2012 - Named Houston's 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and a South Atlantic League mid- and post-season all-star. Ranked among league leaders in ERA (3.14, 4th), wins (14, T1st), starts (27, T1st), innings pitched (152.0, 2nd) and batters faced (653, 1st). Earned Legends Pitcher of the Month honors three times: April, June and August. In April, started five games and went 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA, 10 walks and 27 strikeouts in 27.1 IP. Started five June games and went 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA, 10 walks and 20 strikeouts in 33.1 IP. Started four games in August and posted a 2-0 record with 1.99 ERA, 11 walks and 25 strikeouts in 22.2 IP. In the first half, went 9-1 with a 2.13 ERA in 14 starts. Held right-handed hitters to a .233 (74-for-318) batting average. Allowed just 11 home runs in 152.0 IP. Pitched the first 6.0 innings of two combined shutouts: April 11 vs. Hagerstown and July 10 vs. Kannapolis. Struck out a career-high 10 hitters August 21 vs. Greensboro. Tabbed by BA as Houston's No. 9 prospect entering the 2012 season. Tied for most starts by a Lexington pitcher and ranked second on the club in innings pitched.

2011 - Also led Legends hurlers by inducing 19 double-play ground balls - nine more than any other pitcher on staff. Four of those double plays came in one game, May 23 at Asheville (a 7-1 Lexington win). From May 18 to June 27, went 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA over eight starts. Struck out a season-high nine batters in a 7-1 win over Savannah July 14. Held the Sand Gnats to a run on four hits and two walks over 6.0 frames. Participated in the Instructional League at Houston's training base in Kissimmee following the season.

2010 - Yielded just one earned run over his final four starts of the season with Greeneville (0.48 ERA). In those four starts, walked three and struck out 16 in 18.2 innings. During his senior season at Minooka Community High School posted a 9-1 record and 0.38 ERA. Notched 128 strikeouts over 72.2 innings, becoming the first high school pitcher from Illinois to be drafted in the first round since 2001 (Kris Honel, White Sox).

Career stat note:  Has allowed 1 HR for every 12.77 innings pitched (36 HRs in 460.0 IP), or 0.70 HR/9IP.

 
YEAR CLUB W-L ERA G GS CG SO SV IP H R ER BB K
2010 Greeneville (R) 0-3 4.03 12 12 0 0 0 44.2 46 24 20 15 39
2011 Lexington (A) 5-11 4.97 26 26 0 0 0 134.0 149 84 74 51 88
2012 Lexington (A) 14-4 3.14 27 27 0 0 0 152.0 145 65 53 62 125
2013 Lancaster (A) 1-0 3.81 7 5 0 0 0 26.0 31 16 11 14 29
  Corpus Christi (AA) 5-3 2.87 23 16 0 0 3 103.1 75 39 33 52 95
  Career Totals 25-21 3.74 95 86 0 0 3 460.0 446 228 191 194 376

Nolan Fontana
Infielder
BORN June 6, 1991 in Winter Gardens, FL
OPENING DAY AGE 22
HEIGHT 5'11
WEIGHT 190
BATS Left
THROWS Right
RESIDES Winter Gardens, FL
SCHOOL University of Florida
ACQUIRED Selected in the second round (61st overall) of the June 2012 draft  

Career Highlights: 2014 - Rated by MLB.com as Houston's No. 8 prospect and, according to Baseball America, possesses the "best strike-zone discipline" among Astros farmhands.

2013 - Tied for second in the minor leagues in walks and placed third in Advanced-A in OBP (.415). Slotted second on the JetHawks in sac bunts (5) and ranked third in runs and triples. Also tied for third on the club in steals with 16 in 21 attempts. Opened the season with a seven-game hit streak, batting .423 with eight runs, four doubles, a triple, two home runs, nine RBIs and six walks. Tabbed as Lancaster's Player of the Month for April after posting a .365 batting average and 1.078 OPS. Limited to 13 games in May due to a wrist injury. Was back at full speed during July, playing in 27 contests. For the month, coaxed 28 walks compared to 13 strikeouts, reaching base at a .409 clip. Featured a quartet of four-RBI performances, including August 13 against Inland Empire when he launched a seventh-inning grand slam. Hit .500 with the bases loaded, going 8-for-16 with two walks and 21 RBIs. Appeared in 95 games at shortstop and committed 19 errors in 391 total chances for a .951 fielding percentage, while turning 39 double plays. During the playoffs, batted .381 with three runs scored, a double, triple and three RBIs in five games.

2012 - Following the June draft, was shipped directly to the South Atlantic League. Made his pro debut on July 5 at Hagerstown, going 1-for-1 with a run, RBI and five walks. Hit .282 with 20 runs and 30 walks in 22 games for the month. Coaxed 10 free passes over the final three regular-season games.

Career Notes: Owns a .430 on-base percentage. Averages 1.16 walks per strikeout and 4.32 plate appearances per free pass.

College Notes: Was the first Gator shortstop to earn All-SEC three seasons in a row and joined outfielder Matt den Dekker (2008-10) as the only UF players to be named to the SEC All-Defensive Team three times. During his junior campaign with the Gators, hit .284 with 59 runs, 10 doubles, nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 66 games. Led the club in runs, walks (48) and stolen bases (13). Was on the watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate shortstop. Sported a .977 fielding percentage and committed one error in league play. As a freshman in 2010, became the first player in school history to be named to the Division I Rawlings Gold Glove Team and earned Freshman All-America recognition from Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.

 
YEAR CLUB AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB
2012 Lexington (A) .225 49 151 37 34 9 1 2 25 65 44 12
2013 Lancaster (A) .259 104 386 88 100 18 6 8 60 102 100 16
  Career Totals .250 153 537 125 134 27 7 10 85 167 144 28

Rene Garcia
Catcher
BORN March 21, 1990 in San Juan, PR
OPENING DAY AGE 24
HEIGHT 6'0
WEIGHT 200
BATS Right
THROWS Right
RESIDES Vega Alta, PR
ACQUIRED Selected in the 35th round of the June 2008 draft

Career Highlights: 2013 - Posted career highs in batting average (.293), runs (44), hits (108), doubles (20), home runs (5), RBIs (42) and walks (22) between Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City. A Mid Season Texas League All-Star, his average slotted fourth in the circuit and second among Double-A catchers at the time of his August 1 promotion to Triple-A. Featured the third-longest on-base streak in the TL, reaching safely in 30 consecutive games from April 11 to May 30. Started for the South Division at the Texas League All-Star Game on June 25 in Springdale, Ark., and threw out two runners trying to steal. Hit .327 with 11 runs and 11 RBIs in 24 July contests. Was the Hooks' most consistent weapon with runners in scoring position, batting .418 with a .966 OPS in 67 at-bats. During his Corpus Christi tenure, threw out 52% of runners attempting to steal and the club was 37-22 when he was behind the plate. Hit safely in six of his first seven games with the RedHawks. Did not commit an error in 125 total chances for OKC, throwing out 29% of runners attempting to steal.

2012 - Hit .285 with 14 2B and 23 RBI in 69 games between Advanced-A Lancaster and Corpus Christi. Started the season in Lancaster and April 23 vs. Rancho Cucamonga, went 4-for-4 with 3 runs, one double and 1 RBI. Hit in seven consecutive games from May 25-June 6 at .452 (14-for-31) with 6 RBIs. In June, posted a .321 batting average (18-for-56) with 10 RBIs. Promoted to Corpus Christi on July 15 and went 0-for-3 in his debut three days later. Collected first Double-A hit July 19 at Midland. Hit .381 (8-for-21) vs. right-handed pitching with Corpus Christi.   Left the Hooks' game on July 27 with a knee injury and the next day was placed on the disabled list for the remainder of the season.

2011 - Ranked among the California League's top defensive catchers, turning in a .984 fielding percentage, with just 10 errors in 608 total chances. Was involved in 10 double plays behind the plate - the most of any catcher in the circuit. Finished third among catchers in the league in assists (69) and ranked fourth in caught-stealing efficiency, throwing out 30.3 percent (36 of 119) of all would-be base stealers. On offense, hit .344 (31x90) against left-handed pitching and batted .350 in May (18 games) with four doubles, seven RBIs and eight walks (.426 OBP). Cobbled together an eight-game hitting streak (July 4-16) in which he batted .370 (10x27) with two doubles, one triple and two RBIs. Of the 17 walks he drew last season, 16 came against right-handed pitching.

2010 - Featured a .298 average in April, cracking 2 HRs with 7 RBIs in 14 games. Batted .280 in June with 11 RBIs in 21 games. Performed well in the clutch, batting .292 with runners in scoring position and .306 with RISP and two outs. On the road, hit .289 with 21 RBIs in 44 games. Top offensive performance occurred June 5 at Hickory when he went 4-for-5 with a double and 4 RBIs. Ranked third in the South Atlantic League in throwing out base stealers, turning in a caught-stealing percentage of 41% (50 of 122). Promoted to Lancaster on September 1 and recorded his first Advanced-A hit, a double, and RBI in the final game of the season (Sept. 6 vs. Rancho Cucamonga).

Career stat note:  Has thrown out base runners at a 36 percent clip (168 of 461).

 
YEAR CLUB AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB
2008 Greeneville (R) .295 18 44 4 13 1 0 1 6 3 3 0
2009 Tri-City (A) .202 52 173 9 35 6 1 1 9 12 24 2
2010 Lexington (A) .262 84 309 20 81 10 1 2 35 16 35 5
  Lancaster (A) .053 5 19 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 4 0
2011 Lancaster (A) .242 86 297 26 72 11 2 1 27 17 41 3
2012 Lancaster (A) .279 60 215 23 60 13 0 0 22 6 24 1
  Corpus Christi (AA) .333 9 27 2 9 1 0 0 1 2 3 0
2013 Corpus Christi (AA) .304 73 303 36 92 18 1 5 36 19 44 1
  Oklahoma City (AAA) .246 18 65 8 16 2 0 0 6 3 6 1
  Career Totals .261 405 1452 130 379 63 5 10 143 78 184 13

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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