The Oklahoma City RedHawks have been one the best teams in the Pacific Coast League this season, but will they keep winning now that the Houston Astros have promoted three of their best players?
In the last two days, the Astros have recalled Jordan Lyles, the RedHawks' top pitcher, and outfielder Fernando Martinez and third baseman Brett Wallace, their two best run producers.
Lyles was 5-0 for Oklahoma City, last pitching for the RedHawks on May 24. Martinez was the RedHawks' most consistent hitter the first two months of the season, batting .319 and leading the club with 38 RBIs.
Wallace was recalled to Houston late Saturday night after helping Oklahoma City rally from a five-run deficit against the Iowa Cubs to win 11-8.
Wallace, who seemingly found his power stroke in Oklahoma City, hit a grand slam for his club-leading 10th home run Saturday night in a seven-run RedHawks' seventh inning against the Cubs.
“Everybody has been waiting for that for years with Wally,” RedHawks' manager Tony DeFrancesco said of Wallace's power serge. “He is confident right now and has got a nice approach.”
All three former RedHawks were in the starting lineup Sunday for Houston during the Astros' 5-3 victory over the Reds. Lyles was the winning pitcher, Wallace had two hits while Martinez was hitless.
DeFrancesco knew all along the Astros eventually would be breaking up his RedHawks' club, which is a season-best 11 games above .500 after Sunday's 6-5 victory over Iowa at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
“That's what it's all about in Triple-A,” DeFrancesco said. “I have been doing it for nine years and it never changes. They always are going to take the best guys and give somebody else an opportunity.
“The Houston Astros are looking for impact players and when you got a guy like Wallace and Martinez, guys like Scotty Moore and (Mike) Hessman, guys that impact the game. That's what we are looking for. It's not about hitting a single and trying to survive, you really got to do some damage at the next level and it starts here.”
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter recently said the toughest job in baseball was managing at the Triple-A level because no one was happy.