Minor League Monday

minors
Welcome back to another 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
22-8 (+4)

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The Indians are on a three game winning streak, 3.5 games in first, and 6 games away from clinching their division. The team is finding ways to score all around and are not relying on only one method to achieve success. The starting pitching in particular has tightened up, which is an obvious key to sustaining this type of success.   It will be interesting to see what happens for the rest of the season, should the club find themselves in sole possession of their division in the next 2-3 weeks.

Instead of focusing on one player for this week, it’s time to shout out a trio of players who are emerging on this club. Seth Spivey (catcher/2B), Jose Trevino (catcher/3B), and Luke Tendler (OF) are three recent draftees who are adapting very well to life after college baseball. It’s hard to get a read on guys in short season ball; but, for them to come out as strong as they have is nice to see in terms of adjusting to small elements of pro ball, namely adjusting to using wooden bats (metal bats are allowed in NCAA baseball). All three may very well be on the way to punching tickets to Hickory, in the interest of seeing how they adjust over the last portion of the season.

Richelson Pena makes an appearance with the pitching line of the week: 5 IP, 3 hits, 2 unearned runs, 0 earned runs, 0 home runs, 2 walks, & 7 strikeouts. He’s been a part of the Rangers Dominican League team the last 3 years, and is doing decently for his first season stateside. He has yet to give up a home run in 27.1 innings pitched, but is susceptible to getting hit around, via singles, and having doubles come back to bite him. He does have a low walk rate, which will help improve his effectiveness once his command is established.

My pick to click starter Nick Gardewine. Nick is the owner of an odd chunk of stats – in his last 5 starts, he has a game ERA of 0, 9, 0, 9, and 0. He didn’t get the chance to go more than 2 innings on July 9, because of a line drive that came back to his torso and possibly his wrist; he’s fine, though and should make his next start. It’d be a nice outing for him to go multiple scoreless innings consecutively – preferably 5-6 innings with minimal damage happening.

Standings

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Hickory Crawdads – A (Low)
15-10 (-1) (Second Half)
56-38 (Overall)

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Hickory had a rough week losing five of seven. They were swept in a four game series against the Houston Astros affiliate the Lexington Legends. Somehow this makes it even harder to swallow. After this little rough patch the Crawdads have slipped into third place in the Southern Atlantic League Northern. Fear not Rangers fans, this report is going to be anything but depressing.

Last week the incomparable Sarah Powers took over my coverage of Hickory as I created a whole new list of life regrets while in Las Vegas. Her foresight was incredible as my hitter of the week was last week’s pick to click. The 18-20 year old (he’s from the Dominican Republic) is a high ceiling outfielder with plus power, a great outfield arm, good speed and instincts in the outfield and a developing hit tool that showed great progress last week.  He’s 6’5 and 180 pounds and if you ask people who he reminds you of, you’re going to hear a lot of Juan Gonzalez comparisons. In his last 10 games he’s slashing .400/.429/.600.

The pitcher of the week is Cole Wiper.  The 2013 10th rounder is 6’4 and 185 pounds. He’s a hard throwing righty with a fastball in the 90’s and a dirty curveball he pairs with a slider. I know what you’re thinking. He’ll get hurt as soon as he joins the Rangers. Possible, but he’s already had and recovered from Tommy John surgery.  He was an extremely highly touted high school prospect and is said to be very mature beyond his age. He’s been very good this year with a 5-2 record and a 3.62 ERA which is slightly skewed thanks to two melt down starts. Other than those two starts where he gave up six and five runs respectively he hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in any start this year.

Rather than choose a pick to click I want to congratulate future major leaguer and my future best friend Lewis Brinson on his call up to Myrtle Beach. I think this kid has the potential to be very good and will be roaming a major league ballpark’s center field at some point in the next three years.

Standings

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Myrtle Beach Pelicans – A (High)
14-11 (-1) (Second Half)
58-35 (Overall)

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The Birds went 3-4 over the last week, and remain 1 game out of first place. Friendly reminder: they are still playoff bound thanks to first half/second half standings. Pitching, save for a couple of performances, have led to the Birds losses these last 7 games, along with some up and down offense to boot. It shouldn’t matter that Joey Gallo is now in Frisco smashing home runs, but the Birds are searching for some consistent offense to seal the close games that come their way.

The one constant in the Myrtle Beach lineup is actually three constants – outfielders Chris Garia, Nick Williams, and Lewis Brinson. Since Joey Gallo is not there any longer, these three players are near the tops in leading the team in offense, at a regular pace none the less. On nights where the starting pitching has faltered, the trio has found ways to get on base and provide scoring opportunities. Kudos to this outfield. It’s not easy trying to compensate for a truly prodigious power bat leaving for the next level, yet these three have been and will be fun to watch.

Andrew Faulkner delivered for the Birds twice in the past seven days and has the pitching lines of the week. In two starts, he went a combined 10 IP (5 IP each start), with 8 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts. He’s now won four consecutive outings for Myrtle Beach, due in large part to his effective command in each appearance. He continues to make his presence in the system known and will be worth watching each time he’s on the hill.

Jose LeClerc is flat out dealing from the Pelicans bullpen lately and has become a closer type as of late. In his 3 outings this past week, he went 3.1 IP, with 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, and 4 strike outs. He also happens to be carrying a 9.1 scoreless innings streak with him and has also cut down on his walks allowed. He’s the pick to click because watching this kind of success is just plain fun and it’ll be interesting to see how much further his scoreless streak goes from here.

Standings

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Frisco RoughRiders – AA
12-10 (-2) (Second Half)
52-39 (Overall)

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Frisco was the home of rehabbing Geovany Soto, Engel Beltre and Jim Adduci this week. Adduci has played one game so far, going 2-for-3 while playing first base—a position he will likely take from Carlos Pena when ready for big league action. Beltre went 2-for-4 in his only game, but had his rehab halted so he could work on agility. There were reports of him not moving well, so this comes as no surprise. Soto went 3-for-7 with a double and two walks, but had an eventful week as he was arrested for marijuana possession Wednesday night. A 3-3 week brought the Riders to 11-10 on the back half of 2014, leaving them 3 games back of the first place Midland Rockhounds. However, no matter the results of the second half, Frisco is in the Texas League playoffs, having won the South division in half number one.

Nobody stood out at the plate this week. The best hitter for the week, Drew Robinson, has a .257/.275/.543 slashline over his past 10 games. Therefore, this week’s hitter of the week will be given out based on defensive play, where recently-promoted SS Hanser Alberto earns the honors. Hitting just .154/.185/.154 in seven games since his call-up, Alberto has more than made up for his poor hitting with his play in the field. With plays ranging from deep in the hole to well up the middle, Alberto was able to get to baseballs few shortstops can and saved multiple hits in the process. At just 21 years of age, this is Alberto’s second stint with Frisco, where he hit .213/.253/.287 in 100 games last season.

Jerad Eickhoff had two very solid outings for the RoughRiders this week (6 IP, 3 R and 7 IP, 2 R), throwing 13 innings, posting a 3.46 ERA, striking out 13 and permitting just 12 baserunners on 11 hits and a walk. Eickhoff has had a good season thus far, with a 4.06 ERA over 102 innings, following a rough welcome to Double-A in 2013 where he had an ERA of 7.45 over six late-season starts. Infielder Guilder Rodriguez pitched the 9th inning of a 12-4 loss, getting two quick outs before a walk and two hits brought a run home.

My pick to click for this week is relief pitcher Keone Kela. With a 1.25 ERA in 21.2 innings since his promotion to AA, the flame-throwing righty has been dominant despite walking 16 in his first 18.1 frames. However, over his last three outings he has been hitting his spots and has not issued a single walk. If his control and command can continue to play at this level, Double-A hitters won’t stand a chance against Kela, and his performance will continue to impress.

Standings

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Round Rock Express – AAA
48-47  (-1.5)

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It’s been a tough stretch for Round Rock lately as they suffered through a 2-5 record this week and dropped to .500 on the season. They sit at 47-77 right now still 2.5 games behind Nashville for first. It could be all the different moves the parent club is making that’s causing the slide or they may just be in your typical season lull. However, with a good chunk of talent here now (YAY), I see no reason why they cant get right back into the swing of things.

The moves this past week were once again a plenty. Jake Smolinski and Roman Mendez were called up Monday and Michael Choice sent down. The move to send Choice here was long overdue as he struggled mightily for Texas. Mr. Phil Irwin was also called up to start for Texas Monday as well as Nick Martinez went on the DL. Three days later the Rangers sent Irwin back down and called Matt West up. The very next day Texas signed Jerome Williams to a minor league deal and assigned him to RR for depth purposes and Engel Beltre was sent to Frisco to finish his rehab and remain close to Arlington. Finally, Ryan Feierabend was called up and Aaron Poreda sent back down.

My Hitter of the week is JP Arencibia. He may struggle at the major league level but he can hit in the minors. JP just may be the classic AAAA player. He had at least one hit in every game this week and went 13 for 30 overall with 3 homers, 3 doubles, and 12 RBI. He didn’t walk and struck out 6 times. He was playing at 1st, Catcher, and even DH. Over his last 10 games he’s slashing .317/.349/.610. With Soto due back soon and Chirinos playing so well, it may not matter how well JPA hits here. I don’t see him coming back up until Round Rock’s season is over.

My Pitcher of the week was a tough call as Round Rock didn’t really pitch that well this week but I’m going with Nate Adcock. The former fifth round pick appeared in 2 games this week and pitched 5 innings. He gave up four hits, two walks, two runs, and struck out six.  Honorable mention goes to LuJax who pitched 5 innings in his start against the Sky Sox. He gave up 4 hits and walked 1 while striking out 8. He’s getting settled in you guys.

Pick to click this week is going to be Luis Sardinas. The Rangers sent Sardy down a few weeks ago and he’s hitting leadoff and playing well for Round Rock so far hitting .263 with 10 runs scored. He saves runs with his glove and can create them with his speed on the bases.

Standings

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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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