Mark Appel Live-Tweeted His Day at the Zoo

Astros top pitching prospect Mark Appel went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado last week. And like any self-respecting red-blooded American, he took photos of animals. And selfies with those animals. And live-tweeted the experience from his Twitter account.

Behold the glory of Mark Appel’s Day at the Zoo.

First the photos of the animals:

And now…the selfies!

You can ask Appel about his day at the zoo on this week’s episode of Astroline with guest host Robert Ford. Tweet your questions using #Astroline. All episodes can be streamed live at Astros.com/Astroline.

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

#AstrosInJapan: Jose Altuve Shines in Japan Series

Altuve brought his big bat to Japan

Altuve brought his big bat to Japan

How good was Jose Altuve’s 2014 season? So good he set the Astros franchise record for hits in a season with 225 and won the team’s first ever batting title with a ridiculous .341 batting average. The two-time All-Star also led the AL with 56 stolen bases, becoming just the second ML player since 1946 to lead his league in batting, hits and stolen bases. We called it the “Hustle Triple Crown.”

Altuve continued his roll as a hit machine with the MLB All-Stars in Japan, hitting a team-best .429 (6×14) with two doubles, two RBI and a 1.000 OPS in the five-game series against Samurai Japan. In leading the MLB All-Stars to consecutive wins over Samurai Japan at the Tokyo Dome, Altuve had back-to-back three-hit games and also made several sparkling defensive plays at second base.

Check out the highlights here:

The MLB All-Stars ended with a 2-3 record in the official five-game series vs. Samurai Japan. The two clubs will play an exhibition game on Thursday, which will be broadcast live from Okinawa Cellular Stadium on MLB Network and MLB.TV at 3 am CT, and then re-aired at 8 pm CT on MLB Network.

No, Altuve, you the man

No, Altuve, you the man

Until next time, sayonara!

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

#AstrosInJapan: Orbit joins MLB All-Stars at Kabuki Theater in Tokyo

Konnichiwa, Astros fans. We’re back with more fun stuff from the MLB All-Star tour of Japan. And what’s today’s subject? Kabuki, the centuries-old Japanese dance-drama tradition.

We all know Orbit is a natural showman, so of course he was recruited to accompany Angels’ pitcher Hector Santiago and Nationals’ pitcher Jerry Blevins when they visited a kabuki theater in Tokyo.

Please enjoy this lovely gallery of photos from the visit. (Photos courtesy of YUKI TAGUCHI/MLB).

We’ll be back with more updates from our Astros’ adventures in Japan both on and off the field as the trip winds down this week.

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

#AstrosInJapan: Fowler, MLB All-Stars Enjoy Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony

Konichiwa, Astros fans. Checking in with you for another update on your Astros In Japan as part of the MLB All-Star Japan Series.

Yesterday in Tokyo, Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler and his lovely wife Aliya joined other MLB players including Hector Santiago of the Angels for a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo.

Please enjoy this lovely gallery of photos from the afternoon (photo credit: Yuki Taguchi/MLB Photos).

While the players are certainly enjoying Japanese culture, there is work to be done on the playing field. The MLB All-Stars have another week of baseball left in Japan.

If you’re interested in checking out baseball over the weekend, here’s the schedule:

Saturday, November 15

Game #3 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

4 am ET/3 am CT live broadcast/9 pm ET/8 pm CT re-air on MLBN

Sunday, November 16

Game #4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

4 am ET/3 am CT live broadcast/9 pm ET/8 pm CT re-air on MLBN

Sayonara, Astros fans! See you next time.

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

#AstrosInJapan: Some of our favorite photos so far

What’s the point of having a team blog if you can’t just post great photos? Here are some of our favorite photos so far from the Astros’ trip to Japan as part of the MLB All-Star Team for the 2014 Japan Series. The official Japan Series starts tonight/this morning at 4 am ET/3 pm CT but last night the team played an exhibition game against players from the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya (between Osaka and Kobe). The MLB All-Stars won the game 8-7 and Dexter Fowler provided several highlights including a solo home run and two hits.

Now let’s get to the photos!

 

Please enjoy this photo of @josealtuve27 with @salvadorp13 @alcides02 and local fans in Japan. #AstrosInJapan #JapanSeries

A photo posted by Houston Astros (@astrosbaseball) on

 

All five Astros' MLB All-Stars!

All five Astros’ MLB All-Stars!

 

Astros strong in the pre-game introductions

Astros strong in the pre-game introductions

 

Orbit has a special greeting for Chris Carter   Ben Platt/MLB.com

 

Jose Veras pre-game handshake

Jose Veras pre-game handshake

 

Orbit takes a selfie with a Japanese fan

Orbit takes a selfie with a Japanese fan

 

Orbit made new mascot friends!

Orbit made new mascot friends!

 

And finally, here’s Dexter Fowler’s home run as called by the Japanese broadcast. Enjoy!

 

See you again soon with more updates and photos from Japan. Follow #AstrosInJapan on Twitter and Instagram.

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

#AstrosInJapan: Four Astros Representing MLB on Japan All-Star Tour

Say "Konichiwa!"

Say “Konichiwa!”

Konichiwa, Astros fans! We’re thrilled that four of our Astros players — second baseman Jose Altuve, outfielder Dexter Fowler, DH/1B/OF Chris Carter and relief pitcher Jose Veras — as well as the MLB’s MVM (Most Valuable Mascot) Orbit have been selected to represent MLB in the Japan All-Star Series 2014. The quartet of players join All-Stars Robinson Cano, Yasiel Puig, Evan Longoria, Salvador Perez, Carlos Santana and others from around MLB. The Astros and American League champion Kansas City Royals are the only teams with four players.

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo caught up with the Astros’ representatives to talk with them before the Japan Series gets underway. You can read the full story here.

Before leaving the continental U.S. and heading to Japan, the MLB players gathered at Dodger Stadium for two days of workouts.

Dodger Stadium workout before heading to Japan

Dodger Stadium workout before heading to Japan

After traveling via charter flight for 13+ hours from Los Angeles to Osaka, the MLB stars arrived in Japan on Sunday, ready for action.

But first, let them take a selfie:

Altuve, Fowler, Cano with a Puig Photobomb

Altuve, Fowler, Cano with a Puig Photobomb

 

The games will be hosted in Osaka (Kyocera Dome), Tokyo (Tokyo Dome) and Sapporo (Sapporo Dome).  The team will also play two exhibition games in addition to the five-game series, with one game in Osaka (Koshien Stadium) and the other in Okinawa (Okinawa Cellular Stadium). If you’re a night owl or super-early riser looking to watch the action live, MLB Network will exclusively televise every game of the Japan All-Star Series here in the U.S., starting with the exhibition game on Tuesday, November 11th at 4 am ET/3 am CT.

MLB.TV subscribers can watch every game live and on-demand across supported devices, including via the MLB.com At Bat app.  The games will be called live by a rotating on-air team of MLB Network announcers that includes play-by-play by Paul Severino and analysis from Mark DeRosa and Darryl Hamilton.  Each game will re-air later the same day at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT.

Full MLBN broadcast schedule is here:

Tuesday, November 11

Exhibition Game vs. Hanshin Tigers/Yomiuri Giants at Koshien

4 am ET/3 am CT live broadcast/9 pm ET/8 pm CT re-air  

Wednesday, November 12

Game #1 at Kyocera Dome, Osaka

4 am ET/3 am CT live broadcast/9 pm ET/8 pm CT re-air  

Friday, November 14

Game #2 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

4 am ET/3 am CT live broadcast/9 pm ET/8 pm CT re-air  

Saturday, November 15

Game #3 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

4 am ET/3 am CT live broadcast/9 pm ET/8 pm CT re-air  

Sunday, November 16

Game #4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

4 am ET/3 am CT live broadcast/9 pm ET/8 pm CT re-air  

Tuesday, November 18

Game #5 at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo

5 am ET/4 am CT live broadcast/9 pm ET/8 pm CT re-air  

Thursday, November 20

Exhibiton Game vs. Team Japan, Okinawa

4 am ET/3 am CT live broadcast/9 pm ET/8 pm CT re-air  

 

During the workouts at Dodger Stadium, Astros DH Chris Carter worked on his outfielding skills (the team only has 3 outfielders, so Carter will have to play the field). Carter talked about his visit to Japan and what he looks forward to during the Japan Series.

If you’re looking to follow our players via social media during the Japan Series, Altuve and Fowler will be posting from their Instagram accounts. Here are a couple of posts from the trip so far:

 

The beginning of a dope trip #japanallstarseries

A photo posted by Dexter Fowler (@dexfowler) on

@robinsoncano @salvadorp13 @alcides02 @bracamonte85 proxima parada 🇯🇵

A photo posted by Jose Altuve (@josealtuve27) on

We’ll be sharing social content wherever on Twitter (@astros), Instagram (@astrosbaseball) and Facebook (Facebook.com/astros) and Orbit will be tweeting from @OrbitAstros using the hashtag #AstrosInJapan so follow along!

Sayonara!

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

#AskEYB Eli Young Band Twitter Q&A Recap

Eli Young Band answering fan questions for @astros Twitter Q&A

Eli Young Band answering fan questions for @astros Twitter Q&A

Hey fans — we’re excited to be hosting Eli Young Band’s House Party here at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, November 15. It should be a great time and we hope you’ll join us! (Tickets available at Astros.com/EliYoungBand).

To help get fans fired up for the big party coming to town, we had the guys from the band stop by and join us for a Twitter Q&A earlier this week. If you’re not familiar with EYB, there is nobody named “Eli Young” in the band. It’s a combination of guitarist Mike Eli and lead guitarist James Young’s names. Chris Thompson plays the drums and Jon Jones is on bass.

If you missed any of the Twitter Q&A, we’ve got a full recap for you right here. ME = Mike Eli, JY = James Young, CT = Chris Thompson and JJ = Jon Jones.

 

 

Thanks to all the fans who sent in questions! See you at Minute Maid Park for the EYB House Party on November 15!

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

 

#AskLuhnow Astros Twitter Takeover – October 15, 2014

Hi all! Earlier this afternoon, General Manager Jeff Luhnow took over @astros for a post-season/offseason Q&A. Luhnow answered questions about top prospects Carlos Correa and Mark Appel, the team’s offseason needs, new manager A.J. Hinch, Jose Altuve and even our beloved mascot, Orbit. If you missed it, we’ve got the full Twitter chat right here. Enjoy!

Carlos Correa status update:

 

Players who impressed/surprised within the Astros organization in 2014 at all levels:

 

New Astros manager A.J. Hinch:

 

Setup for the Twitter takeover:

 

Projected payroll for 2015:

 

Arizona Fall League and top pitching prospect Mark Appel:

 

Orbit’s MVM (Most Valuable Mascot) season in 2014:

 

Astros offseason needs:

 

Visiting new AAA affiliate Fresno Grizzlies:

 

On having two of top 5 picks in 2015 draft:

 

Status of new coaching staff for 2015 season:

 

Leadership principles:

 

Jose Altuve’s long-term future with the Astros:

 

George Springer’s upside:

 

Final question: on regular season vs. offseason:

 

Astros talk about Jose Altuve’s historic 2014 season

Altuve 220 photo

Any time a baseball player is mentioned in the same sentence as Ty Cobb for on the field accomplishments, you know that player is having a special season. The Astros’ 2014 season ended on September 28 and Jose Altuve’s season was historically brilliant. Altuve won the Astros’ first ever batting title with an MLB-best .341 batting average. He had an MLB-best 225 hits (25 more than second place in the AL). Those 225 hits shattered the previous club record held by Craig Biggio (210 in 1998). Altuve had 69 multi-hit games, most in the majors and 47 doubles (2nd in the AL).  He led the AL with 56 steals. The last Major League player to reach 225+ hits, 46+ doubles and 56+ steals was Ty Cobb in 1911. That’s crazy. On the final day of the season, the Houston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America named Jose Altuve the Astros 2014 MVP.

It’s been an honor and a privilege to watch Altuve play every day on his way to history. And I figured that his Astros’ teammates might have some things to say about what it’s like to watch Altuve every day. So I asked them. And here’s what they had to say:

OF Dexter Fowler: “Unbelievable. I was either on deck or on base to see it. It’s been awesome to see the heart and determination.”

LHP Dallas Keuchel: “Altuve has been pretty spectacular. It’s kind of flown under the radar because of our team. I feel if it was the Tigers or Cardinals it would be getting more national attention and he deserves it. He’s worked his butt off to get where he is and deserves all the attention and respect.”

OF Jake Marisnick: “Altuve’s 211th hit to break the record [was my favorite moment of the season]. That was pretty special.”

RHP Josh Zeid: “I was lucky to be able to work out at MMP last winter and when Altuve came back to Houston to work out in January, there was a different edge to him. He was ready to go and prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. And I’d say he did just that. He didn’t let anyone stand in his way. He took what pitchers gave him and made them pay. If it wasn’t an extra base hit, then it was a single that he’d turn into a double or even a triple- all season long and he never slowed down. He was the catalyst to our team turn around this year and I can’t wait to see what he brings next year.”

OF Alex Presley: “Altuve just the whole year in general, just whatever he’s been doing has been absurd to watch. We would have all been shocked if he didn’t break [the record].”

C Jason Castro: “What Altuve has done for us night after night…what can you even say at this point?”

OF Robbie Grossman: “Just watching Altuve is unbelievable. We probably won’t see anything like that for another 20 plus years.”

Petit congratulates Altuve after hit 211

Petit congratulates Altuve after hit 211

IF Gregorio Petit: “He’s amazing.”

RHP Collin McHugh: “Watching Altuve do his thing has been nothing short of amazing.”

OF George Springer: “Jose. Altuve. Just what he has done is incredible to me.”

LHP Tony Sipp: “Altuve and his single season record is the most exciting thing I’ve seen in my career. By far the most exciting and memorable thing.”

RHP Chad Qualls: “Pretty cool I have to say. If I had to sum it up one word, I’d say magical. Every time he got his bat on the ball with one strike, two strikes it didn’t matter.”

1B Jon Singleton: “It’s been crazy. He’s an exiting player he plays the game like anything can happen out there. Getting hits. Stealing bases. Driving in runs. Making great plays. He does it all. SPECTACULAR.”

C Carlos Corporan: “Perseverance and dedication.”

DH/1B Chris Carter: “Altuve is our favorite moment every day. He is our bright spot every day no matter what.

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

 

Covering the Bases: Q&A with Astros pitcher Mike Foltynewicz

Folty brought the heat in his MLB debut on August 2

Folty brought the heat in his MLB debut on August 2

Hi there and welcome back to Mission Control. As promised, we’re going to be bringing you some fun, quick Q&As with some of our newer players so you can get to know them a little better off the field. Our next subject is Mike Foltynewicz (aka Folty).  The 23-year old  (as of today — happy birthday, Folty!) who grew up in Illinois joined the team on August 1 after being promoted from Triple-A OKC. He hits 100 MPH on his fastball regularly and came out of the bullpen during the final two months of the 2014 season.

In his best performance in his young MLB career, Folty struck out four Cleveland Indians in 1.1 innings of work. That’s pretty good.

 

Let’s get to the interview. Enjoy!

Mission Control: What posters did you have on your wall growing up? 

Mike Foltynewicz: I had quite a few, actually. Vince Carter was one of them back when he won the dunk contest in a Raptors uniform. He was one of my favorite players back then. Mark McGwire was always up there.  My family is St. Louis fans and my mom’s brother was a Cubs fan so he liked Sammy Sosa and we liked Mark McGwire so we had a couple of those competitions going around.  And I had WCW wrestling guys like Sting and Goldberg. Me and my dad always used to watch them when it was on, so those were most of the sports posters up on my wall.

MC:  What is your hidden talent — something that you can do that maybe not everyone knows that you can do?

MF:  It might not be hidden. I’ve told quite a few people I drum as a hobby. I was in a band back in the day. I was drumming since I was about 12 years old; just took a couple lessons and other than that just trying to run off music and just try to do it all myself.

MC:  What is one of your favorite songs to air drum to?

MF:  I’m into kind of heavy metal music, so, not many people know that. That music gets me pumped up and I like to air drum to that.

MC:  What is your pump-up music to get yourself ready?

MF:  Heavy metal music is the top on the list when I’m going to get ready to pitch. A couple bands to toss out there is A Day to Remember, Five Finger Death Punch; I’m going to try to get my walk-up music to Limp Bizkit Rollin’.  A lot of people might know that around here– that’s a good song to get pumped up to, especially if you’re coming out of the bullpen in a close-game situation.  That’s kind of my music in that area.

MC:  What is your guilty pleasure song on your iPod?

MF:  Michael Bublé Haven’t Met You Yet. You know, that’s a good jam that a lot of people kind of like, and other people are like what is this stuff? But that was a good song that was a little on the girly side, but that was a good song five-six years ago that I still like.

MC: It’s no secret that your last name is a bit complicated. What are some of the most hilarious mispronunciations you’ve had of your last name? [Pronounced Folta-NEHVICH – switch the “y” with an “a” and the “w” with a “v”]

Folty: Full-tuh-nay-which is what they always do. And there’s a lot of people that, when they call the house they just start, they just go with Folty, and then after that they just say full-tuh…full-tuh…something kind of like that. They can’t even get it out loud. I’ve heard a lot of different names but, they still can’t pronounce it.  After they get past Folty I have no idea what’s going to happen after that.

Chad Qualls had a pretty good guess how to spell Folty's last name

Chad Qualls had a pretty good guess how to spell Folty’s last name

MC:  What are some of the craziest spellings you’ve seen? 

MF:  Qualls actually had a pretty good one the other day for my name tag [above his locker — spelled FULTYNEVICHZ].  It’s actually, he spelled it how you actually pronounce it. People don’t know how to pronounce it; that’s how you would spell it and pronounce it.  They kind of – they don’t even get Folty right. They just go like F-a-l-t-y, you know, n-e-h-z-i-c.  I’ve seen a lot of c’s at the end and h’s at the end, so, you might as well just put a bunch of letters up there and get something close.  A lot of people do.

MC:  How many points is your last name worth in Scrabble?

MF:  It would be pretty far up there, I think.  You might take the lead in a close game if you get up there with my name. [For the record it’s 31 points with no double or triple letter or word score bonuses]

MC:  So, obviously your nickname is just Folty. Is there another nickname that you have that is not necessarily related to your name?

MF: I mean there’s been Folty my whole life.  You know, the guys kind of joking around in the minor leagues they always called me Big Dog for some reason. I don’t know how that started, but [Jake] Buchanan got that kind of going, you know, last two years and it’s just guys, not up here, don’t know it yet because Buch and a couple other guys down below know.  Just Folty is what they stick with.

MC: And what’s the 25 in your twitter handle (@Folty25) for?

MF: That’s been my favorite number.  Like I said, it would go back to the Mark McGuire poster.  He was 25, and, you know, I really liked Barry Bonds when he was playing too, so 25 really stuck with me.  I’ve had that number ever since, even in playing basketball, and baseball; all the leagues I’ve played in:  Pony ball and all that’s been 25 until Double-A and Martinez got it.  So he’s kind of been taking it away from me the last couple years.  I even had it when I got drafted when I came out here and [Jose] Cruz was actually up there when I got to go up in the press box Cruz was giving me a little…he’s like “hey, you’ve got my number, huh?”  I had no idea, so, I was kind of making a little joke about that, so that was fun.

 

- Amanda
@amandarykoff

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