Minor League Monday

minors
Welcome back to the second edition of ShutDown Inning’s Minor League Monday’s! Here you will find a detailed report of each and every one of the Texas Rangers’ farm teams.

We will have stats, players of the week, players to watch, weekly recaps, and more! Be sure to check back every Monday for a new report so that you can be on top of your game when it comes to the up and coming Texas Rangers.

Be sure to click any affiliates team name to take you to their team website for more detailed information. (Team site will open a new browser window)

You will notice under some of the affiliates that their record has reset and they are in the second half of their season. For a complete rundown of how the minor league standings, first and second half of the season works, please follow the links to their homepage and click standings.

Spokane Indians
Short Season Class A
13-3 (+3.5)

By: Sarah Powers

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The Spokane Indians are something special this year, it would seem. They keep finding ways to win and win big. They are now 13-3 on the season, four games in the lead for the division, and winners of seven of their last ten games. The team is preparing to say goodbye to June and hello to a July that sees them competing every day except one, so the summer is officially in full throttle for Spokane. They will certainly have their work cut out for them, but this club has shown some spark already and will be fun to watch this coming month.

The offense continues to help spark this surge out of the gate and will probably be a bold, bright highlight for the club for 2014. Spivey and Tendler, previously mentioned in last week’s write up, still continue to lead the team in offense. This week, however, they’re joined by a new friend, catcher Marcus Greene. With a current slash of .300/.500/.467 (0.967 OPS) over his last 10 games, his numbers look pretty impressive in his second year at Spokane. His numbers in 2014 are already improving over 2013, so there seems to be some hope that this is his year to work up to the next level (Hickory most likely). Defensively, he’s only committed one error and has a .987 fielding percentage on the year.

Pitching has been up and down for Spokane recently, but a pen arm has caught my eye this past week. It’s time to meet reliever Adam Parks, a righty who was selected in the recent 2014 June Draft. He was selected in the 33rd round, so expectations may not be completely high for him. That being said, he has now appeared in 5.1 innings pitched, given up five hits, no runs (earned or unearned), no walks, and has also put up five strikeouts. He’s been a consistent arm from a bullpen that has had a fair share of ups and downs this season and looks to be a pitcher that is gunning to defy his draft position and establish himself in the Rangers farm system.

My pick to click for the week is infielder Juremi Profar. Yes, that’s Jurickson’s little brother, if you’re wondering. In his last 10 games, he’s slashing an impressive .371/.405/.371 (.776 OPS), with singles and walks being his preferred method of productivity in the lineup. His journey seems to finally have him fully at home in Spokane for the season, as he had started out with the Hickory squad, then got called up to Round Rock to help solve some depth issues, and then finally found home with the Indians.

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Hickory Crawdads – A (Low)
9-2 (+1.0) (Second Half)
50-30 (Overall)

By: Jasen Southward

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After starting the second half of the season with six straight wins, the Crawdads fought through a brutal two game losing streak.  All kidding aside, Hickory continues to impress and have won 22 of their last 25. Last week they split the four game series against Kannapolis and won the first two games of the series against Greenville. Hickory is in first place in the second half standings of the South Atlantic League (say that three times fast) at 9-2.

The hitter of the week is 6’4 center fielder Lewis Brinson. If you follow the Rangers minor league system, this is a name with which you’re probably familiar.  He’s fast, has great defensive instincts and a great arm. Last week he hit .375 showing off what hopefully is an improving hit tool. I promise I won’t mention that he struck out seven times in six games. As it is with any player at this level of minor league baseball, you’re looking for progress, and he appears to be making it.

The pitcher of the week is Akeem Bostick.  The tall, lanky right hander took the mound on Monday against Kannapolis and proceeded to throw five innings of two hit baseball.  He was impressive mixing in a high 95/96 mph fastball with what appears to be a nice looking curveball that confused hitters to the tune of seven strikeouts. Bostick is 4-3 on the season with a 3.75 ERA and has a nice ceiling that could lead to him being a middle of the rotation pitcher for big league club one day.

My pick to click this week is Cody Kendall. He’s been closing games for Hickory this year, seven so far, and has been impressive while doing it. He has a 1.17 ERA and has 39 strikeouts in 39.1 innings pitched. The Rangers took Kendall in the 8th round of the 2012 draft as a senior out of Fresno State. He was also selected to play in the SAL All-Star game this year.

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*  – Indicates first half division winner
Myrtle Beach Pelicans – A (High)
6-4 (+0.5) (Second Half)
50-28 (Overall)

By: Sarah Powers

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The mighty birds are ten games into the second half of the season and are sporting a 6-4 record to start the half. They are only up 0.5 games in first, but they won the first half by 11 games and secured a playoff spot. The biggest issues preventing the Pelicans from getting off to a better start have resided in the pitching all around. The pitching also took a loss with the promotion of reliever Alex Claudio.

Christopher Garia is a switch hitting outfielder and has been on a nice little streak in his last 10 games. He’s mostly a singles hitter, but decided to bust out his doubles abilities in a recent game against Portland. His slash over those last 10 is a decent .302/.375/.349, considering he relies mostly on singles to contribute. He is also 25 for 33 in stolen base attempt as well. Defensively, he is contributing with only one error, two assists, and 109 putouts on the season.

In the wake of “losing” reliever Alex Claudio to the Frisco RoughRiders, Jose LeClerc has emerged as a pen arm I’ve enjoyed getting to watch. He had a rough outing on June 15, giving up 3 earned runs on 3 home runs over 1.1 innings pitched. Since that outing, he’s gone 5 innings pitched, with 1 hit, 0 runs, 5 walks, and 6 strikeouts. I like seeing that he avoided a blowout scenario with the walks in those innings and look forward to seeing him further work to decrease those walks in future innings.

Nick Williams is back and is my pick to click. His last few games have been most impressive, with him slashing .317/.364/.488 (.851 OPS). He’s still getting back into rhythm after spending time on the DL, but he announced his return with a home run and has hit another since then. For what he is doing in this short sample, he will be fun to watch the rest of the season. Defensively, he’s committed only one error, has two outfield assists, and is responsible for seventy putouts. He is definitely one to keep on your radars going forward.

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*  – Indicates first half division winner

Frisco RoughRiders – AA
4-6 (-2.0) (Second Half)
44-35 (Overall)

By: Grant Schiller

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It was a week full of roster moves for the Frisco RoughRiders, as they lost SP Luke Jackson (3.02 ERA), RP Phil Klein (0.81 ERA), 3B Ryan Rua (.300/.375/.475), and LF Jake Smolinski (.267/.349/459) to AAA Round Rock. In return, Frisco received P Alex Claudio, C Carlos Garay, and OF Ryan Strausborger from various locations. These moves left Frisco with a less talented team and down four very productive players. Due to the All-Star break, Frisco played only five games this week, going 2-3. After winning the South Division in the first half, Frisco is now 4-6 and sitting two games back in half number two.

The hitter of the week is newcomer Ryan Strausborger, recently received from AAA Round Rock. In his five games with Frisco, Strausborger is hitting .524/.524/.810 with one double, one triple, one home run, four RBI, and a stolen base. A former 16th round pick, Strausborger showed promise early in his career as a speedy, defensively-skilled outfielder, but has stalled since a repeat year at Frisco in 2013 in which he hit a paltry .217. He was slugging just .320 this year with Round Rock before his demotion to Frisco.

Jerad Eickhoff earned pitcher of the week honors this week with a stellar outing against the Arkansas Travelers. Eickhoff went deep into the game, throwing seven innings and striking out six while allowing just four baserunners and a lone run, lowering his season ERA to 4.23. Eickhoff was able to avoid the big inning late in the outing that his bit him of late. Flame-throwing relief pitcher Keone Kela deserves an honorable mention, as he had a particular dominant week with 2.1 perfect innings, including a 4-out, 4-K performance against the heart of the Northwest Arkansas lineup.

My pick to click for this week is Joey Gallo. Gallo has been working hard to make his swing more compact in order to combat the new way he is being attacked, up and in. As he adjusts to the way AA pitchers are pitching him, he should become more and more successful at the new level. He has already started to show signs of breaking out, reaching base six times over his last four games, including two home runs.

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* – Indicates first half division winner

Round Rock Express – AAA
41-40 (-1.0)

By: Austin Dietz

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It’s been a very interesting week to say the least for your Express as call-ups were happening through out the week. We had Players coming up from Frisco and others heading up to Arlington. It didn’t seem to matter one bit as Round Rock is finding their groove. They went 4-0 this week and have won 5 in a row and 8 of their last 11 games.

Among those four wins was the series win over Fresno. They took the third game 5 to 4 as Hoying and Donald provided enough support for Justin Germano, who pitched 6 innings and gave up 4 runs. The finale of the series on Tuesday saw a 4-1 win as Mr. Phil Irwin fired 7 shutout innings, and everyone’s favorite catcher, JP Arencibia, belted 2 solo homers. The opener of the Memphis series on Thursday was a big time 9-1 blowout as Hoying homered, and JPA doubled twice to carry the load offensively. (St. Louis’ uber prospect Oscar Tavares had 4 hits in this game for Memphis) On Friday, it was a big slugfest as newcomer Ryan Rua hit his first AAA homer to help lead RR in the 8-7 win.

The surge has pushed them up to 3rd in the division at 41-40, trailing 1st place New Orleans by only a game and 2nd place Nashville by a half game. Last place Memphis losing 4 in a row has helped, too. One could say the Express have flown by the Redbirds. The 4 games this week may seem odd, and it is. We had a scheduled off day and Mother Nature postponed the last two games of the Memphis series of the weekend. As of now, no make-up dates are set for the two games.

To recap all the movement that went on this week: Carlos Pena was called up Monday as the Rangers DFA’d Brad Snyder (who elected for Free Agency). Ryan Rua, Phil Klein, Jake Smolinski, and Luke Jackson were all promoted from Frisco on Wednesday. Ryan Strausborger was sent down to Frisco. Daniel McCutchen was released. Also, Engel Beltre began his rehab assignment Thursday. Finally, following their Sunday loss, the Rangers sent down Luis Sardinas and called up Adam Rosales. Luis didn’t do anything wrong while with Texas. Just with the Rangers fading and Roogie nailing down a full time 2nd base gig, it makes sense for Luis to play and develop everyday down here. Now that we got all that cleared up, HOORAY! Lu-Jax is here! Unfortunately, my first take on the flame throwing right hander will have to wait as his scheduled start was rained out.

My pitcher of the week goes to The Strike Zone Hunter (see what I did there?) Phil Irwin. He pitched Tuesday and went 7 innings. He gave up just 4 hits, walked none, and struck out a career high 11. The 6’3 27-year-old may have found something, as he has really been good since Texas acquired him earlier this year on waivers from the Pirates. In 6 games this month, Phil is 4-1 with a 2.89 FIP, 10.8 K/9 (strikeouts per 9 innings), and his opponent’s batting average is .230. The walks are high at a 4.45 per 9 inning clip but as his past start showed, he’s getting those under control. Phil was a 27th round pick back in 2009 for Pittsburgh out of Ole Miss. Time will tell if these numbers sustain. However, if tragedy strikes the Rangers rotation again before the Dutch Oven returns, we may just see Phil at the ballpark.

The hitter of the week is… JP Arencibia. I know, if you feel like you must skip this paragraph then feel free to do so. Now then, if you’re still with me, JPA saw his power stroke this week come to form. We know what his one skill is, and its hitting homers. He belted 3 in these 4 games and went 6 for 16 overall with a walk, 5 runs scored, 6 RBI, 2 doubles, and struck out just 3 times. On the year now for RR, Arencibia is slashing .258/.298/.500. With Chirinos playing so well defensively and Soto due back this month, JP should get nice and cozy down here.

Some players who caught my eye are Jared Hoying (this guy is red hot), Nefty Feliz, and of course, Big Ryan Rua. First, Mr. Hoying went 6 for 13 with 5 walks, 2 homers, a triple, and a steal. The Ohio native has been doing it all for Round Rock and just got moved up to the 3rd spot in the batting order. With Michael Choice’s big time struggles, does Jared get a chance soon? Second, Feliz pitched in 2 games this week and earned a save in both. He threw 2 innings and allowed just 1 hit while striking out 2. You could say he’s feeling much more confident on the mound. He’s coming soon to a ballpark near you. Last but not least, after playing in the Texas League All-Star game the night before, Ryan Rua made his AAA debut Thursday against Memphis playing 3rd base and went 1 for 5. The former 17th rounder from 2011 followed that up Friday by swatting a 3-run go-ahead homer to dead center in the 8th inning. He finished 2 for 4 with an RBI single in his other AB. His road to get to this point has been an interesting one. He’s certainly put in a lot of work. Look forward to him finishing the year out strong, readers.

My pick to click this week has to be Luke Jackson. The 22 year old should make 2 starts this week against New Orleans and Nashville. His fastball can be overpowering, but Texas wants to see him continue to develop those breaking pitches. In 83 innings at Frisco this year, Luke had a 2.84 FIP and nearly 9 strikeouts per 9 innings.

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SDI Minor Leagues
The SDI Minor League Staff is led by Minor League Coordinator Grant Schiller who covers Spokane, High Desert, and Frisco. Minor league enthusiast Travis Smith covers the Hickory Crawdads and Round Rock Express. Occasional contributions are courtesy of Billy Casey.

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