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
2-4 (-2.0) (Second Half)
27-17 (Overall)

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Congratulations are in order for the Indians squad. They will join their brothers in Myrtle Beach and Frisco during post-season play in September. They are 2 games back of 1st place Vancouver to start the new half, however, and are looking for their big bats to break out of some collective slumps and lead them into this second half of play. Regardless, they earned their ticket to the post-season; so again, congratulations to them.

The Northwest League All-Star Game is Tuesday, August 5th, and five Indians sluggers will represent the club as starters for the game. The infield will consist of catcher Marcus Greene, second baseman Seth Spivey, third baseman Jose Trevino, and outfielders Luke Tendler and Eduard Pinto. As previously mentioned, Spivey-Trevino-Tendler are the trio from the draft class of 2014 who have started their pro-ball careers on very bright notes. Greene and Pinto are in their second year of pro-ball and both have made great strides in breaking through for the club.

Three Indians pitchers were also selected to join in the festivities in August. Richelson Pena is the lone Spokane starter to make the ASG roster, and he has done extremely well in his first season stateside. He’s sporting a 2.89 ERA, has only allowed 14 earned runs 44.1 innings pitched, and remarkably, no home runs (so far) this season. The bullpen will feature Spokane relievers John Fasola and Shane McCain. Fasola came in the 31st round in 2014, out of Kent State, and McCain went undrafted out of Troy, and was picked up by Texas shortly after the draft ended. They’re opposites, yet are on a similar track this season – Fasola (RHP) has yielded only 3 ER in 16.1 IP, 1 BB, 26 K and McCain (LHP) has yielded only 1 ER in 16.2 IP, 1 BB, 23 K. Congrats to these young hurlers.

We here at SDI believe in looking to any and all positives for this season, and congratulations are in order for outfielder Zach Cone. He was just promoted back to Hickory, as he is on a comeback mission this season. As I mentioned last week, he was finally hitting an important stride at the plate and has very much earned this chance to join an emerging Hickory outfield. I have sincere hope that he continues on this path back towards the majors and continues to reestablish his presence as a name to watch.

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Hickory Crawdads – A (Low)
21-16 (-3.0) (Second Half)
62-44 (Overall)

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Hey! After a miserable week last week, including a four game losing streak, the mighty Crawdads of Hickory bounced back and won four of the six games they played last week. They’re now only 3.0 games back of 1st place in the second half standings.  Last week also marked my favorite of all minor league promotions, Star Wars night! They promptly went out and lost 1-6 to West Virginia although, second baseman Michael De Leon went 2-3 with a walk. Speaking of Mr. De Leon…

The hitter of the week is 17 year old Michael De Leon. You heard me correctly, 17 years old. The Rangers signed the lanky middle infielder to a $550,000 contract last summer and asked the Dominican to come play baseball for the Texas Rangers organization.  He’s incredibly raw as you’d expect a 17 year old kid to be but has really been impressive in the last week. He went 10-23 (.435) all 10 hits singles and only struck out twice. He’s 160 pounds and probably can’t remember the last home run he hit but his approach has been most encouraging. Also…17.

The pitcher of the week is Ricardo Rodriguez. He’s a 21 year old Venezuelan who throws hard and really seems to enjoy watching hitters walk back to the dugout after a strikeout.  He’s primarily a bullpen piece but was a starter on Wednesday against West Virginia and was more than serviceable. He pitched 5 innings and didn’t give up any earned runs while striking out two. Rodriguez could eventually contribute to a major league bullpen if he continues to strike people out while maintaining control.

The pick to click this week is the Hickory offense. They’ve been very good in July scoring almost 5 runs a game and they have some really scary hitters scattered throughout the order. Mazara, Beras, and Demeritte are enough to make any young pitcher a little nervous on the mound. If my form holds, we’ll see a week’s worth of pitching duels instead.

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Myrtle Beach Pelicans – A (High)
19-19 (-0.5) (Second Half)
63-43(Overall)

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Myrtle Beach is now .500 for the second half (19-19 record) and 0.5 games back of 1st place Carolina. They’re aiming to add to their 1st half victory by winning the division outright over the entire season; but, a second half victory will be a challenge and will require some bats to wake up and some pitchers to bear down and prepare for their foray into the post-season.

The Birds have been trying to find consistent offense over the last week of play. Multi-hit games were rare, with Lewis Brinson going 2-3 in one game, Jorge Alfaro, Christopher Bostick, and Royce Bollinger each going 2-4 in only one game each, in addition to Luis Mendez going 3-4 in one game, and Chris Garia managing one 3-5 night. Clearly, only having six players with multi-hit games can be detrimental to success; but, hitting is hard. Hopefully the Birds offense can find a way back from this current slump and get prepared for the last few weeks of the season.

Victor Payano delivered the pitching line of the week, going six innings against the Frederick Keys. He gave up 1 earned run, 4 hits, 1 home run, 3 walks, and 1 strike out. That may not seem like much, especially since his teammate Andrew Faulkner pitched in the same week; however, this is Payano’s best outing of the season. If anything, it was a single night to see him go far into a game and keep his team in position to go for the win (they didn’t, though).

I hope this is the last time Andrew Faulkner ends up on my portion of the recaps. After spending 2 consecutive, and frankly mediocre, years in Hickory, he has emerged this season for Myrtle Beach and is now property of the Frisco Roughriders. He’s already exceeded his career K numbers (84) with 100 K in 104.1 innings pitched in 2014. His home run numbers are also the lowest they’ve ever been, with a lowly 1 so far in 2014. He has earned the praise and the buzz, and more importantly, the promotion to Frisco (he joins an already exciting rotation there). Here’s hoping he continues his hot season and gives AA fans something to talk about.

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Frisco RoughRiders – AA
21-16 (-2.0) (Second Half)
61-45(Overall)

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It was an exciting week of roster moves for the Frisco RoughRiders, adding two pitching prospects to the roster. RHP Jake Thompson (3.06 ERA between Hi-A and AA this year) was put in Frisco after being acquired in the Joakim Soria trade and will debut Tuesday night. LHP Andrew Faulkner (2.07 ERA in 104 Hi-A innings) was also added to the roster after earning a promotion from Myrtle Beach, most likely bumping Alex Claudio to the bullpen.  To make room for Thompson and Faulkner, LHP Edwar Cabrera (2.99 ERA) was promoted to AAA Round Rock and side-arming RHP Brodie Downs (7.56 ERA) was released. Joseph Ortiz is currently rehabbing in Frisco and Derek Holland is set to start a rehab stint with the Riders on Wednesday.  Get out to Dr. Pepper Ballpark soon.

With a successful week on the field, the Riders moved into second place and sit just two games back of the first-place Midland Rockhounds. The Riders went 6-2 over the last seven days, made possible by a double-header while visiting Midland. Over the course of the entire 2014 season, Frisco has scored the third most runs in the Texas League while allowing the third least, leading to a +62 run differential.

The hitter of the week is a name that comes as no surprise. All Joey Gallo does is hit home runs. Challenge him with a flame-thrower? Home run. Challenge him with a seasoned veteran? Home run. Challenge him with an off-speed reliant pitcher? Home run. With 35 home runs on the season, Gallo has made the picture very clear. Throw a pitch in the zone to him and there’s a good chance it gets hit out of the park. The Rangers top prospect added four more to that total this past week and has an OPS of 1.086 over his past 10 games, which is actually lower than his season total.

Alec Asher had a spectacular week, a pleasant sight after four consecutive outings in which he allowed four runs or more. In two starts, Asher tallied 14.1 innings and allowed one run. He allowed just 11 men to reach base and struck out the same number. Asher’s dominant week lowered his ERA on the year to 3.63 and raised his innings total to 121.1, leaving him just 12 short of his career high. It would not be a surprise to see his spot in the rotation skipped soon in an effort to limit his innings.

My pick to click for the week is C Pat Cantwell. He has had a better batting average every month this year, starting at .146 in April and following that with averages of .259, .277 and .298. He has adjusted his swing to lessen the effort and focus on putting his bat on the ball more often. The adjustment has paid off to the tune of a .414 July OBP. With the best glove of any catcher in the Rangers system, an increased ability to hit the ball has the chance to be big news if he is able to keep his recent success going for the next month.

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Round Rock Express – AAA
55-52 (-2.0)

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It was a full slate of games this week for Round Rock as they try to close out July strong. They played 8 games this week due to an earlier makeup resulting in a double header with Colorado Springs. The results were about as good as you could hope for as they went 6-2 (7-3 in their last ten). It moves them up to third place again at 54-52 now on the season. They remain 3 games back of first place Nashville but only a half game behind second place Memphis. Safe to say this division will remain this tight the rest of the season. I don’t foresee any team running away with first. This coming week they’ll finish up the five game set with Colorado Springs and then start a four gamer with Oklahoma City and then Memphis comes into town after that.

Once again it was another week with plenty of roster transactions made by the big club impacting your Express. First was Texas activating Jim Aducci and optioning Matt West back down. They then made a huge trade as we all know that brought former Longhorn great Corey Knebel to Round Rock. Talk about playing for your home town team. I look forward to seeing what he can do out of this bullpen the rest of the way. The following day Texas recalled Nate Adcock to add to their bullpen for Soria’s vacancy. They also purchased Jerome Williams’ contract and called him up to start against Oakland on Friday. Just another week in the life of the minor league club with 20 plus players on the disabled list.

My offensive player of the week is the life of the party Mr. Sardy Luis Sardinas. Sardy is leading off for Round Rock and basically playing every day (that’s why he’s here) at shortstop. This week the bat was hot as he went 12 for 35 with 5 runs scored, 3 RBI, and 1 walk. He also stole 2 bases without getting caught. The big week raised his Round Rock average from .250 to .273. Odd that all 12 hits were for singles but that’s the life of a minimal power hitting shortstop. We know that’s not his game. I would like to see his walk rate climb a bit but hopefully that will come as he matures.

My pitcher of the week this week is not the great Phil Klein again (although it could be as he threw 5 more perfect innings). No, I thought I would change it up and go with Robbie Ross, Jr. Mr. Ross had 2 starts this week and went at least 6 innings in both of them. In total he pitched 13 innings, allowed 3 runs, 15 hits, 2 walks, 0 homers, and he struck out 8. This week he showed some real improvement as he has struggled with command all season. That makes three impressive starts in a row now for him as he had one against Iowa on the 17th. This good stretch has lowered his AAA ERA to 5.79 (2.37 in those last 3 starts). Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come as he tries to regain his form.

My pick to click once again didn’t work out as Choice had a pretty mediocre week only hitting .243 without any homers and slugged an anemic .297. This week I’m taking another hitter and going with the Venezuelan fireplug (Kudos to @TepidP for that moniker) Tomas Telis. Over his first 10 games with the Express, The C/1B/DH (we seem to like these types of players)is hitting .310 with a .429 slugging percentage. The switch hitting Telis is putting together a nice season combined with his Frisco numbers as he has a .746 OPS. He was signed back in 2009 so that means he will need to crack the 40 man roster after this year if Texas wants to keep him or risk him being lost in the Rule 5.

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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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