Minor League Monday

minors
Welcome back to 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 logo 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 – A (Short Season)
4-9 (-3.0) (Second Half)
29-22 (Overall)

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  The Spokane club spent most of this week trying to find the consistent offense that they have normally carried for most of the season. They went 3-4 during the week, with very little to show from a starting pitching perspective. This also serves as a reminder that pitching baseballs is extremely difficult and “pitching slumps” can occur as well. They are currently last in their division, but are only 3 games out of 1st place and can easily make a turn around to win the 2nd half title and secure an overall division title at the end of the season.

Jose Trevino had his doubles power on display this past week and is the hitter of the week. He hit 5 doubles, 1 home run, and also managed to cut down on strike outs significantly, with only 5 K in 34 plate appearances and no multi-strike out games. That last part is the most important thing he can work on going forward in his path to the majors. He’s got a slugger’s bat, which is impressive at this level, but if he can also add in some more patience at the plate, he’ll be a fantastic offensive piece in a lineup. Another small adjustment is for him to improve against left handed pitching – .245 AVG/.265 OBP/.422 SLG – again, patience at the plate will help him out here as well. He’s been playing a lot of 3B, but is also catching some, so it’ll be fun to see where his bat ends up profiling going forward.

Shane McCain is still riding his scoreless innings streak and has the pitching line of the week. He appeared in 2 games this week and both were multiple inning outings – 2.0 innings on July 27, and 3.0 innings on July 31. In that span, he allowed a combined 2 hits, 0 runs/earned runs, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts. He hasn’t allowed a run, earned or unearned, since July 9, or 11.1 innings pitched. Oh, and he’s only walked one batter in 21.2 innings pitched and allowed 0 home runs in that same time frame. He will be a big component of the pitching situation for Spokane as they march towards the playoffs.

The pick to click for the next week of play is the starting pitching. They’re due to tighten things up and keep the team involved in each game. We’ll check in with the rotation next week, and see how things shaped up. That component, as it is at every level of baseball, will be the most important part of their lead up to the post season, and the quicker they get back in sync, the better.

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* – denotes first half division winner

Hickory Crawdads – A (Low)
24-19 (-3.0) (Second Half)
65-47 (Overall)

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The Crawdads are 3 back of 1st in their division and are looking to close the gap and win out. If they do find a way to do so, they’ll join Spokane, Myrtle Beach, and Frisco in the playoff picture. They went 5-2 in play this past week—the two losses coming in both games of a weather induced double-header on Saturday, August 2. The pitching was solid for the majority of the week until an 8-0 thrashing on Saturday brought that to a halt.

Offense was not scarce this week for Hickory, and the hitter of the week is young Travis Demeritte, 2013 draftee and 2B. Travy D flipped the power switch on this week, with 2 doubles and 4 home runs for the club. He doesn’t walk much, but still came up with timely singles to supplement his power surge. He’s only 19, in his second year of professional ball, and managed to yield good enough numbers to stick in Hickory instead of getting relegated back down to short season ball. He’s a part of the plethora of middle infielders that the Rangers have laid claim to, but he’s a young kid who will be fun to watch as he continues up the farm ranks.

Hickory got some great relief pitching from Ryne Slack this week. He appeared in 2 games, pitching 5.0 innings in relief. In those innings, he gave up only 3 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and 7 strike outs. Walks have been problematic for him this season, but in the month of July, he’s managed to cut back on his rate and produce more clean innings. He will be an important piece out of the bullpen, if the Crawdads wish to reach the post season, and his decreased walk rate will hopefully stick with him and fuel his success for Hickory.

Catcher Joe Jackson is starting in on his own little groove at the plate and is the pick to click for the week. He’s not a slugging catcher by any means, but he still finds ways on base, and this week featured a mix of singles, 2 doubles, and a triple. It’ll be fun to see if he can keep this up and maybe find his own bit of power. Time to turn on the #microwave, Joe! Oh, and if his name sounds familiar, he is a great-nephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson.

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* – denotes first half division winner

Myrtle Beach Pelicans – A (High)
23-21 (-1.0) (Second Half)
67-45 (Overall)

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The bats came alive for Myrtle Beach this past week. They managed to sweep the Potomac Nationals in 3 games and outscore them 29-14. They then had an off day and have lost the first 2 of a weekend series to the Salem Red Sox. They remain 1 game behind 1st place Winston-Salem, as they pursue a second half division victory, which would also give them a complete division victory at season’s end.

There are co-hitters of the week to acknowledge – middle infielder Christopher Bostick & outfielder Royce Bolinger. Bostick’s big game came on July 30, when he went 4-8 in a multi-hit game, 3 of those hits were doubles. Bolinger also has put his doubles power on display, with 3 of them in the last 4 games. He also has a triple & home run thrown in there for good measure. Both guys are still finding other ways to get work done at the plate, with singles and the occasional walk as well. Seeing these two burst out of offensive funks has been a big part of what helped propel Myrtle Beach into a victorious week.

Insert Mama Klump’s “Hercules, Hercules, Hercules” chant here. Insert John Bender’s celebratory fist pump here. Cody Buckel has the pitching line of the week and it’s a wonderful feeling to speak of him on here. His line for the week (2 outings) – 8.1 innings pitched, 5 hits, 1 run, 0 home runs, 4 walks, and 8 strike outs. Most importantly, he hit 0 batters and threw 0 wild pitches. This seems to suggest positive steps in a return for Buckel to being just physically comfortable manipulating a baseball again. He appears to be the long man for Myrtle’s rotation, and if his continued control improvement gets him to an acceptable point, that role may be the path he is asked to pursue for the rest of his career. Regardless, these two outings are worth celebrating, not only in the interest of him doing well for the club, but for him as an athlete who is trying to accomplish a rough comeback.

Jorge Alfaro is the Myrtle Beach pick to click for the coming week. He’s on a 7-game hitting streak now, with a multi-hit game on July 30 against Potomac. He’s also managed 3 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs in the past week. It’d be nifty if he could burst loose and keep the groove going, maybe even have more multi-hit games to his credit.

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* – denotes first half division winner

Frisco RoughRiders – AA
26-18 (-1.0) (Second Half)
66-47 (Overall)

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The Roughriders had a very successful week for themselves, gaining series wins over rivals San Antonio and Midland during the week, and have at least guaranteed themselves a split series against San Antonio this weekend. They are 1.5 games behind Midland for 1st place, and a 2nd half win would give them a complete season win in the Texas League South Division. The rotation is filled with legit pitching prospects to watch, the lineup has fun bats to watch, Joey Gallo hit a grand slam, and another HR ball that bounced off the iron fencing that surrounds the ballpark… It’s a good time to be a fan in Frisco right now!

Trever Adams, 1B for Frisco, has been on something of a tear at the plate these past few games and is the hitter of the week. He had 3 multi-hit games, has hit 4 doubles and a home run, and has managed to only strike out twice at the plate. He’s not apt to take many walks, though, and simply finds ways to put the ball in play in the majority of his at bats. There’s speculation as to where he will end up and whether he’ll get major league time with a team; however, it’s fun to see him build up some stock this season with Frisco.

Keone Kela (Kee-own-ee Kell-uh) had a boring week this week as Frisco’s closer – 4 appearances, 4 innings pitched, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 home runs, 1 walk, 6 strike outs. Kela is actually one of the pen arms to zero in on as a name to watch for, especially as the Rangers look to build up a successful bullpen. He is 21 years old and is doing big things for Frisco; next step may be the reward of some exposure to either AAA hitters or even the big leagues at some point in September. The interesting thing about him is that his goal is to specifically be a closer, and that may very well be the big factor that influences his future with the club.

The pick to click will return next week. Instead, Andrew Faulkner gets special kudos for having 2 stellar starts in this debut week for Frisco. He went a combined 11 innings, with 9 hits, 4 runs, 0 home runs, 1 walk and 15 strike outs. Ponder that last bit for a second… 15 K in 11 innings. He’s pretty good at hurling baseballs for a living. Go see him and his rotation mates if you can. Kudos again to Andrew for having a great first week in AA baseball.

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* – denotes first half division winner

Round Rock Express – AAA
59-56 (-2.5)

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Round Rock is only 2.5 games back of 1st place Nashville, and the playoff rules more closely mirror the MLB at the AAA level. To ensure a playoff appearance, they need to win the division outright; there are no first half/second half winners to consider. Getting any kind of solid, consistent play at this level is also very tricky, given that the nature of AAA is to serve as a holding ground for players blocked in the Majors, a rehab facility, and everything in-between. It’d be fun to see the Express emerge with a division, though. They, along with Hickory, are the only affiliates not guaranteed a postseason appearance yet, by the way.

Brett Nicholas is back on the rise thanks to a pretty good week at the plate. Over the last week, he’s had 4 multi-hit games, he’s mostly reached base via singles and a couple of extra base hits, and only struck out 4 times. If you’re inclined to look to a hitter’s splits against pitching, you’ll be interested to know that his righty/lefty splits are only separated by 0.02 points. He could be an interesting option, along with the soon to be mentioned Tomas Telis, as an inexpensive catching probable for the Rangers going forward. Keep your eyes on Mr. Nicholas for the rest of the season.

Cue the previously mentioned John Bender fist pump. Robbie Ross Jr. appears here with the pitching line of the week, and it’s a good one. He made two starts and has looked the best he has since his demotion to Round Rock. His two starts combined – 16 innings, 12 hits, 2 runs, 0 home runs, 0 walks, and 7 strike outs. This is very exciting to see from him, for many reasons. It remains to be seen if he’ll be called upon to be a starter next year or if he’ll be candidate to be the Rangers long relief arm. All that matters now is that Ross is starting to have his pitching come back into a sharper focus, and this week is a great foundation to keep building on. The lead up to September will be huge for him; here’s hoping he keeps this up.

Tomas Telis is the pick to click and has done very well since his call up to Round Rock. He is the other half of the catching tandem and is responding well to this new level of pitching. He’s consistently getting on base via singles, with his power coming via occasional doubles. He’s also got a small bit of ability to steal a base—he’s 8 for 9 overall this season. He will almost assuredly be in contention for a job with the club in Spring Training; the only thing stopping him would be if Soto & Chirinos are brought back as the undisputed tandem for the Rangers.

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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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