Hickory Dickory KNOCK!

The Hickory (NC) Crawdads of the South Atlantic League (Low-A) are probably – no, DEFINITELY – the most exciting team among all of the Rangers’ minor league affiliates.  And that excitement can be summarized in two simple words: raw power.

The Crawdads’ roster is absolutely loaded with incredibly powerful bats, but those bats are also extremely raw.  The numbers illustrate just how amazingly powerful and unbelievably raw these young sluggers really are.

As of today, the Crawdads leads the 14-team SAL in home runs with 99.  Asheville is second in the league with 54.  A quick sliding of the abacus beads tells us Hickory has hit 45 more HR than any other SAL team – ALMOST TWICE AS MANY…WOW!

In fact, not only do the Crawdads have the most home runs in the South Atlantic League, they have the most in all of the minors’ 19 leagues – not teams, LEAGUES.  Only Stockton, of the High-A California League, is even remotely close to Hickory’s total (93).  Most of the other league leaders have posted totals in the 60s and low 70s.

But as mentioned before, where there’s power, there’s raw – and these Crawdad bats are rawer than steak tartare with a side of sushi.  Their 697 strikeouts (in 2,171 at-bats) are 130 more than any other team in in the SAL (Charleston is second with 567), and also the most of any team in all 19 of the minor leagues (Modesto, of the High-A California League, is second in MiLB with 672).

So, who among these slugging Crawdads might we see in a Rangers uniform one day (2015 or 2016 at the absolute earliest)?

Joey Gallo (3B)
DOB: 11/19/1993
6′ 5″, 205 lbs.
Bats: L / Throws: R
Newberg’s Ranger Prospect Ranking: 7
Raw: Batting just .236 with a .331 OBP and 102 strikeouts (leads league)
Power: 20 HR (leads league) with a .565 SLG (7th in league)
Random Bonus Fact: Shares last name with Ernest, Julio, and Vincent, but is not known to enjoy either wine or “The Brown Bunny.”

Ryan Rua (2B)
DOB: 3/11/1990
6’2”, 180 lbs.
Bats: R / Throws: R
Newberg’s Ranger Prospect Ranking: 60 (likely rising since this 1/1/2013 ranking)
Raw: Batting just .245
Power: 18 HR (2nd in league) with a .938 OPS (7th in league) and 54 RBI (3rd in league)
Random Bonus Fact: Could potentially become third-most famous alum of Lake Erie College, after Morris Beverage, Jr. and the late Nancy James Stillwagon.

Lewis Brinson (CF)
DOB: 5/8/1994
6’3”, 170 lbs.
Bats: R / Throws: R
Newberg’s Ranger Prospect Ranking: 4
Raw: Batting just .247 with a .327 OBP and 100 strikeouts (2nd in league)
Power: 13 HR (tied for 4th in league)
Random Bonus Fact: His middle name is Lamont, though he has never met Demond Wilson.

Nick Williams (LF)
DOB: 9/8/1993
6’3”, 195 lbs.
Bats: L / Throws: L
Newberg’s Ranger Prospect Ranking: 18
Raw: OBP is only .321 OBP – has only drawn 4 walks (not a typo)
Power: 12 HR (in just 154 ABs! – tied for 6th in league) with 40 RBI (2nd on team) and a .643 SLG (leads team)
Random Bonus Fact: Born in the same great town as yours truly (Galveston).

Jorge Alfaro (C)
DOB: 6/11/1993
6’2”, 185 lbs.
Bats: R / Throws: R
Newberg’s Ranger Prospect Ranking: 5
Raw: Batting just .252 with a .329 OBP, a .784 OPS, and a 66-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio
Power: 10 HR (5th on team)
Random Bonus Fact: His surname is also the nickname of the main character in the classic series of Spanish childrens’ shorts from the 1930s: “Los Pequeños Bribones.”

And these are just the five biggest bats at Hickory – that team also has several other exciting young prospects, including RF Nomar Mazara (ranked 6th by Newberg) and recently-promoted 1B Ronald Guzman (8th).

The Rangers future looks bright, with the bulk of that wattage emanating from a small town in North Carolina not much bigger than Mayberry or Mount Pilot.  Thankfully, we don’t have an Ernest T. Bass-type on this roster, though the way he could wing a brick seems to indicate possible closer potential.

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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