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Hooks aim to build on last season’s strong success

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It was a great 2018 for the Corpus Christi Hooks as they had the Texas League’s best record. In 2019 they’re returning the majority of last year’s roster and looking to repeat that success.

Fans should keep an eye on is Josh Rojas. The utility man hit .251 last season with Corpus Christi and plays multiple positions.

“The Astros find a lot of value in utility guys,” Rojas said. “You see guys like (former Astros and current Minnesota utility infielder) Marwin (Gonzalez) and even (Astros’ All-Star third baseman Alex) Bregman who can move around the infield so the Astros value guys who can move around.”

Veteran presence is also valued in the minor leagues. Two-year player Ryne Birk will fill that role.

“I’ll be 24, but I’m a veteran I guess,” Birk said. “But that place is awesome. A bunch of the guys here are awesome, so it’s kind of easy and kind of a show everybody the ropes.”

Birk will look to improve from last season. The former Texas A&M standout hit .216, but this is a Hooks team that builds off each teammate rather than competing against each other.

“We’re trying to help each other out and beat these players that we are playing against and be the best team in the minor leagues,” Rojas said.

The Hooks were one of the best teams in the minor leagues in 2018. They didn’t win the Texas League playoffs, but did notch the league’s best regular-season record at 82-58.

A big returner to this year’s roster is Omar Lopez, the 2018 Texas League Manager of the Year.

“He’s a player’s manager,” Astros prospect Ronnie Dawson said. “He just knows how to coach. He knows how to win and I’m very excited to play with him.”

The Hooks roster is not yet finalized, but they’ll have the complete product on the field on Opening Day on April 4, when they meet Amarillo at Whataburger Field.

Jeffrey Dubrof

Jeffrey Dubrof

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