Minor League Monday

minors
Welcome back to the fourth 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
24-13 (E)

By: Sarah Powers

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The Indians are about to wrap up their 1st half of play and are close to securing a spot in the playoffs. They’re one game ahead of 2nd place Vancouver and will secure a division win with a victory either Sunday night or Monday night vs. the Everett AquaSox. They did face a bad week against Boise, though, losing four of five and letting the division lead dwindle to one. If the Indians do secure the division, they will join Myrtle Beach and Frisco as Rangers affiliates who earned 1st half division wins and playoff appearances in September. That all being said – Let’s go, Indians!

Eduard Pinto is making his first appearance on this write up, and he’s due. He was signed in 2011 at age 16, out of Venezuela, and spent his first full season in the Dominican Summer Rookie League. Last season saw him stateside, getting time with the Arizona Rookie League and Spokane in short season ball. He tried his hand with Hickory to start this season, but was sent back to Spokane and is now a big part of the club’s offensive success. He had a pretty remarkable week, finding his way on base via timely singles. He may be the guy who’s singles production allows the sluggers to accrue the RBI, but he is certainly hitting an OBP stride that the club needs going forward. He also managed to steal a base this past week, making him two for three on the season.

Shane McCain, besides having the awesome luxury of having a rhyming name, happens to be pretty good at pitching baseballs so far. He was signed in 2014 as a free agent lefty from Troy University and has been productive for Spokane. In 14.2 IP, he’s allowed 12 hits, 1 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, and an amazing 21 K. The cool thing about his last 5 starts is seeing his innings work load increase and his effectiveness remain intact; he’s now reached 2.1 IP as his peak and is on an 11.2 IP scoreless streak. Effective relievers are obviously fun to see develop, but even more so when they’re a lefty. Hopefully, Shane will make some appearances on other portions of the MiLB write up over the next couple of seasons.

Zach Cone has been on a return path this season, after an Achilles injury sidelined him for most of 2013. He started the season at Myrtle Beach, but failed to produce and was sent down to Spokane to get back on track. He’s finally getting into a rhythm at the plate and has a small bit of power finally showing through, with 5 home runs to his credit in just the last 7 days. He’s the pick to click, in the interest of seeing him do even more at the plate and finally lock into some sort of consistency that will help him get back into the upper levels of the farm.

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Hickory Crawdads – A (Low)
16-15 (-5.0) (Second Half)
57-43 (Overall)

By: Jasen Southward

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The great thing about minor league baseball is that you can enjoy the player’s development without hinging your happiness on whether your favorite team wins or loses. With that in mind, the Crawdads had a miserable last week going 1-5 and gave up almost 6 runs a game while doing it.

The hitter of the week is our first repeat offender. Nomar Mazara continues to impress going 10-24 (.416) last week including a two homerun game in Hickory’s lone win of the week. After a rough 0-16 stretch at the beginning of July, he’s been on quite a tear hitting .357 in his last 10 games. The Rangers have a whole lot of power in the minor leagues, and this young outfielder is a guy to watch. When he first came to the Rangers as a 16 year old out of Dominica he had a MONSTER leg kick which he’s significantly reduced. The hit tool seems to have improved with his adjustments.

The pitcher of the week is David Ledbetter.  It’s nice to be able to say that. David Ledbetter was a third round pick in 2013. You may remember him as one of the Ledbetter twins, both of which were drafted by the Rangers and were rewarded with an interview from the infamous Jim Knox during a Rangers telecast. The 22 year old right hander had struggles mightily this year, and some have attributed that to a dip in his usual 90-93 mph fastball velocity. On Wednesday he had a very encouraging start giving up two hits in five innings and his fastball hovering around 90 with the occasional 92 on the radar gun.

The pick to click is Ryan Cordell. That may seem like an odd pick since he’s been doing some clicking all season long.  Expect more of the same. I figure it’s about time I get one of these right.  Cordell is hitting .336/.402/.543 this year and is playing a lot of centerfield now that our buddy Lewis Brinson is enjoying the sand and surf of Myrtle Beach. I look forward to telling you a lot more about him in my hitter of the week column next week. Enjoy baseball!

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Myrtle Beach Pelicans – A (High)
16-15 (-3.0) (Second Half)
60-39(Overall)

By: Sarah Powers

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The mighty birds of Myrtle Beach are struggling to get consistent at the plate and on the mound. A team that is looking for guys like Alfaro, Beck, Bostick, and Vickerson to contribute are finding themselves reliant on mostly Brinson, Williams, Garia, and now Bollinger for any consistent production at the plate. They’re in the playoff scene already, but will need more from the entire squad in order to make it through September with any success.

Nick Williams did it again this week and, while his power took a break, he still found his way on base with singles and walks. He is the reigning Carolina Player of the week and has emerged from his DL stint in a positive way. Strike outs have caught up with him over the last week, though, and those numbers will be a huge focus point for him over the remaining season. All in all, he has been one of the backbones of the Myrtle offense and will hopefully keep up his current pace and make any adjustments necessary.

Andrew Faulkner is back again and deservedly so. In a time when the Pelicans need consistency, he’s been their man on the pitching side. In his one start this past week, he went 5 IP, giving up 1 ER on 4 hits, with 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. Remarkably, he still has yet to give up a home run this season, and that’s over 99.1 innings pitched. He’s made his presence known and should continue to be the leader of the Myrtle Beach rotation.

Royce Bolinger is joining his outfield brothers in the “consistency at the plate” department this week and is the pick to click. He’s also finally clicking after coming back from a rehab stint and will be instrumental in keeping the Myrtle offense on track. Much like Nick Williams, his power wasn’t on display this week, but he found his way on base with singles and walks. He’ll also be looking to cut down on strike outs, but so are most of his teammates at this point. Here’s hoping for another good week for Royce.

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Frisco RoughRiders – AA
15-14 (-4.0) (Second Half)
55-43 (Overall)

By: Grant Schiller

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The offense went cold for Frisco with four games of three or less runs leading to a 3-4 record on the week. An up-and-down offense has been the only consistent thing with the Frisco bats to this point in June, as they have scored three or less in just under half their games. There are no signs of this stopping as the lineup took a hit this week with highly productive C Tomas Telis getting the call-up to AAA Round Rock. The Riders now sit at 14-14 and five games back of the first-place Midland Rockhounds on the second half after clinching a playoff berth with a first half division title.

2B Odubel “Doobie” Herrera had yet another big week, tallying four multi-hit games and a fifth game where he picked up two walks. Doobie went 10-for-29 over the week, raising his batting average to .340. After an unsuccessful stint in Frisco in 2013, the 22-year-old second baseman has greatly improved his plate discipline, which has led to a jump in BB% and an almost 100 point jump in OBP. Herrera has jumped onto the prospect radar this year.

2013 1st round pick Chi-Chi Gonzalez has been Frisco’s best pitcher over the past week. Gonzalez posted two scoreless starts of five innings, allowing 11 baserunners and striking out eight. The ten scoreless innings lowers his ERA to 2.55 over eight starts since his early-June promotion to AA. He has moved through the system quickly, as most early-round college pitchers do, and has had success at every stop. After a 3.80 ERA over 42.2 innings between Spokane and Myrtle Beach in 2013, the 23-year-old has a 2.59 ERA between Myrtle and Frisco this year.

My pick to click for the next week is starting pitcher Edwar Cabrera. The former Colorado Rockies pitcher has done nothing but succeed over the 2014 season with a 2.99 ERA, but has been particularly dominant of late. Over his past five starts, he has allowed more than one earned run just once and has walked more than one batter just once.

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Round Rock Express – AAA
49-50 (-2.5)

By: Austin Dietz

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The All-Star break has come and gone here in the PCL making it a short week for Round Rock. Once again the Rangers were making moves and players were coming up and down. I suppose we should expect it to be a recurring theme at this point. Still the Express chug along and their recent slide continues as they lost three of four this week. The three losses came at the hands of the Cubs super squad from Iowa. They got a firsthand look at uber-prospects Javy Baez and Kris Bryant’s raw power as the duo homered in the first two games of this series to help the lead way for Iowa. Express fans also got a look at former MLB superstar Manny Ramirez who’s acting as a player manager/mentor type for Iowa.

That drops them to 48-50 and last place again. However, they remain 3.5 games back of first place Nashville as the entire division is all hovering around .500 baseball. The Express will try to get it together this week as they finish up their series with Iowa, start a four game series with OKC, and then the weekend against the Skysox will be a five game set as Saturday will include a makeup game from April.

Round Rock sent a few players to the AAA All Star game including outfielder Jared Hoying and newly acquired relief pitcher Spencer Patton. Hoying was actually named the Rangers Minor League player of the month for June. Hoying hit .346 with 6 homers, 6 doubles, 3 triples, and 23 runs scored over 26 games. His torrid month has really seen his season numbers come up after his brutal start to the year. So this is really good to see for the 25 year old Ohio native. Patton was just received in a trade from KC for pitcher Jason Frasor. He was a 24th round pick by KC in 2011 out of Southern Illinois. Initially a starter, he’s found his niche coming strictly out of the pen for KC racking up huge strikeout totals. He likely will join the Rangers sometime later this year.

The few roster moves Texas made were acquiring Patton, designating Carlos Pena for assignment (who has accepted an assignment to come back and play here), reinstating Geovany Soto from the disabled list, and the call up of everyone’s whipping boy J.P. Arencibia. I believe I wrote last week that I was stuck with him and Texas wouldn’t recall him until the end of the minor league season. I guess when Pena is the only other option they figured they would help my writing sanity and help their cause in acquiring the number one pick next year. JPA hit pretty well while he was here so perhaps he made some adjustments for the major league level, we shall see.

My offensive player of the week is Brett Nicholas. The former Mizzou Tiger has hit well in just about every league he’s been in since Texas drafted him in 2010. This week he went 7 for 11 with a homer and 2 RBI while handling the pitching staff from behind the plate. Over his last 10 games, Brett is slashing .405/.436/.541. On the season he hasn’t hit for much power as his isolated slugging is .114. (under .120 is considered below average) so the recent surge is good to see.

My pitcher of the week is Phil Klein. The beat goes on with this big guy. Klein’s mastery of the minor leagues has been something to behold. In 44 innings this season split between Frisco and Round Rock he’s given up three earned runs. This week he pitched in two games and tossed three innings. He struck out 5, walked 0, allowed 1 hit, and 0 runs. Phil was a 30th round pick out of Youngstown State in 2011. The last two seasons ERA numbers have been- 2.41 and 1.73. Klein is a very large man at 6 foot 7 so he gets so much leverage and downhill action that it makes his 92-95 FB look more like 94-98 to hitters. Mix that in with a good slider and he could be a diamond in the rough that makes some impact in a big league bullpen.

I haven’t had much success in the old predictions to click department but this week I’m taking Michael Choice. In 8 games since the demotion he’s slashed .273/.351/.455- not too shabby. Texas hopes for bigger things from him but it’s going to take some patience. He just needs to relax, get his mind right, and hit down here until September. Just have to hope he can do that and work on those outfield routes/angles.

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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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