2021 Arizona Fall League

The Glendale Desert Dogs will feature the following Astros minor leaguers:

  • Korey Lee, C
  • Grae Kessinger, IF
  • Pedro Leon, OF
  • Chad Donato, RHP
  • R.J. Freure, RHP
  • Angel Macuare, RHP
  • Joe Record, RHP

Korey Lee and Pedro Leon aren’t much of a surprise. Those two are being groomed for near-term pro debuts, so extra reps against quality competition make sense. The rationale for sending Kessinger is not as clear–he did not have a great year with the bat at AA.

I had to look up the pitchers. My undereducated guess is that the Astros are collecting data on them to make Rule 5 protection decisions. Here are some thumbnail sketches.

Joe Record - The Astros selected Joe Record from the Twins in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft last winter. His K and BB numbers declined quite a bit from what he was doing with Minnesota’s A-ball teams in 2019. But he still put up a 3.36 ERA in AA this year.

Angel Macuare - The Astros signed Macuare out of Venezuela for $695k back in 2016. He played across three levels this season (A, A+, AA) and had mixed results. But he finished the season with a strong September at AA, where he went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA, earning him AA-Central Pitcher of the Month. He’s 21 and Rule 5 eligible.

Chad Donato - Started 2021 by kicking ass and taking names at AA (11.5 K/9, 1.35 BB/9). Moving up to AAA challenged him and over 36 innings, he strikeout rate fell to 6.75 K/9 and his ERA jumped to an even 5.00. Rule 5 eligible.

R.J. Freure - Spent the season at A+ and AA. Hard to draw many conclusions from his stat lines and there’s not much out there in terms of qualitative scouting. Looks like the jump from A+ to AA was a bit of a shock, and his first two games there are skewing that ERA a lot (his second AA game, he gave up 4 runs in 1.2 innings). He got better top-line results in the remaining 4 games, but the walk rate is a concern. Fangraphs says he’s Rule 5 eligible.


Stats below AAA (and especially below AA) don’t really mean much.

Grae Kessinger was a 2019 2nd rounder who saw significant action at Quad Cities after a fast start at Tri-City that year. He plays anywhere in the infield and hovers around #10 on various organizational prospect lists.

Joe Record was obtained from Minnesota in last years Rule 5 draft (MiLB phase). He has struggled with command and spent some time in the IL in early/mid August. He returned with 5 strong bullpen outings allowing only 2 hits and 2 walks.

Macuare may be the real deal … if he can fix his control problems. It may be worth noting, though, that with his strong AA results, his K-rate fell sharply and his walk rate actually increased. You may be spot-on with your comment about the Rule 5 decision.

Donato signed out of West Virginia and has been working his way through the system since 2017. He seemed to be having a breakout year in 2019, but missed July and August this year for injuries. He is already 26, and I doubt that he will need Rule 5 protection (at least in the MLB phase). More likely, he just needs work.

I don’t think Freure missed time this year, but he does need to work on command to keep advancing. He is 23 (pitched in college at Pitt) and has been in the system since 2018. I would be shocked if he generates any Rule 5 interest at this point, but he does have good “stuff” if he can improve command.

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The AFL All Star Game is tomorrow and Joe Record (RHP) will represent the Astros. Record , acquired during the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft last year. He has appeared in 8 Games (11 2/3 IP) allowed 3 hits, 3 walks, and 0 runs while fanning 13 batters. Opponents are hitting just .079 against him.

Here are the updates on other players:
Angel Macuare - 3 games (6 IP) 4.50 ERA, allowed just 1 hit but has walked 4 while striking out just 4. Opponents batting average .059.

Chad Donato - 5 games (16 IP) 22 hits, 5 walks, 15 Ks, 7.31 ERA

R. J. Freure - 7 games (12 2/3 IP) 13 hits, 13 walks, 11 Ks, 9.35 ERA

Kory Lee - 14 games .250/.350/.288 8BB/16K
Pedro Leon - 17 games .238/.351/.333 10BB/19K
Grae Kessinger - 16 games .276/373/.448 8BB/9K