HOUSTON -- It is well known how easily the ball carries in the California League, especially at the Astros' affiliate in Lancaster. Yet, that doesn't mean there are pitchers who can't succeed in that environment.
Ruben Alaniz, a 20-year-old right-hander, is 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA through his first seven starts of the season for the JetHawks. He's allowed 43 hits and nine walks in 45 innings while striking out 35 batters. The Astros signed Alaniz as a non-drafted free agent in Aug. 2009, out of Juarez-Lincoln High School in La Joya, Texas. He received a $160,000 signing bonus.
"He's a very durable guy who's pitching deep into games," said Astros director of player development Fred Nelson. "His command has been solid. He has three average to above-average pitches, he's aggressive and he's pitched very well in the California League. He's a really a bright spot for us."
Alaniz has some deception in his delivery, too, that has added to his success.