Minor League Monday Week 10
It’s Monday and that can only mean one thing. That’s right, everyone’s favorite – Minor League Monday. The fine folks here at Shutdown Inning will continue to be the only team around that will provide you with a weekly recap of all the Rangers affiliates while keeping you up to date with the current stats and standings. This is your one stop shop for all things Minor Leagues in the Texas Rangers organization.
Minor League Coordinator Brice Paterik will be covering the short season Spokane Indians, the High A High Desert Mavericks and the AAA Round Rock Express. Minor league writer Austin Dietz will be covering the AA Frisco RoughRiders, and prospect guru Grant Schiller will be your go to guy for the Low A Hickory Crawdads.
Click on any minor league teams logo to be taken to their team page (team page will open in a new window).
Short Season Class A
Spokane kicks off their season this week, Thursday the 18th, against defending Northwest League Champions Hillsboro Hops. The Hops swept their way to the league title last year winning both the first and second half titles and then sweeping their way through the playoffs.
Spokane started off hot last season, winning the first half title, by tiebreaker, over the Vancouver Canadians. The second half was a much different story as the Indians saw their record flip flop from 25-13 to 13-25 to finish last in the division in the second half. They were then swept in a three game series by the Canadians in the semi-final round of the Northwest League Playoffs.
The Indians roster will be headlined by Rangers first-round pick Dillon Tate whom the Rangers took fourth overall out of UC Santa Barbara. Tate is a power throwing right-hander who’s fastball can touch the mid to upper 90’s. After starting his career in the Gaucho’s bullpen, Tate successfully transitioned to a starter in 2014 and finished 2015 with an ERA of 2.26 and 111 strikeouts. The plan, as far as we know, is to use Tate as a starter full time.
Class Low A
40-22 (1st – +5.5 GB)
Hickory managed to bounce back following their first losing week of the season by going 4-2 and outscoring their opponents 23-17. Meanwhile the second place West Virginia Power had a poor week and the Rangers Low-A team now has a magic number of three for the first half division title.
The SAL All-Stars were named this week. Representatives from Hickory are pitchers Luis Ortiz, Collin Wiles, John Fasola, Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado (the latter two of which are now tandem-starting as Mendez gets stretched out), C Jose Trevino and OF Luke Tendler.
Hitter of the Week:
2014 6th-round pick Jose Trevino managed to get back on track this week. After slashing .240/.248/.300 in May the numbers in June look better – .294/.368/.588. Despite a reportedly shoddy swing, the Oral Roberts product shows good bat-to-ball ability (13.4 K%) and has some pop (eight home runs). He has doubled his walk total for the season in June as well, from four to eight. From what I have heard if the approach improves, the 22-year-old might have something.
Pitcher of the Week:
Luis Ortiz had a dominant performance in his outing this week. In six innings the 2014 1st rounder allowed just four baserunners and struck out four. Crawdads writer Mark Parker (@CrawdadsBeat) wrote a report on the outing in which he detailed the velocity jump from Ortiz at the end of his night. Normally sitting at around 92-94 mph, the right-hander ripped off 16 pitches at 96 mph or above in his last two innings and touched 98. As the season goes on pitchers tend to see an increase in velocity. He starts again on Monday and it will be interesting to see where he’s at.
Once again, Yohander Mendez had a dominant week. Five more innings of shutout ball raises his number on the year to 24.1 scoreless frames. 24.1 innings, 37 strikeouts, nine walks, seven hits, zero runs. While I have not seen him in person, I have not seen a negative report from someone who has. If he can keep his shoulder healthy the 20-year-old southpaw could make some noise.
High Desert Mavericks
Class High A (Advanced)
33-29 (3rd – 2.5 GB)
My second favorite Mavericks team finished the week with a winning record behind a few studs having stellar weeks in the batters box. One of those stellar studs was Lewis Brinson who belted three long balls this week. Brinson has reached base safely in all 10 games since his return from the DL and has hits in nine of the 10 games. He is also still playing stellar defense as seen in the lone error he has committed all season.
In this week’s game of where on earth is Ryan Cordell playing defense, the answer is third base where he did commit three errors. Don’t kill me for saying this Jasen but I think Cordell’s best long term fit is center field. His fielding was best there and his athleticism could better compensate for his lack of experience at that position. But this is assuming these were bad errors which I would have no way of knowing since SOMEONE decided to steal Myrtle Beach from the Rangers. I’m not naming names but Theo I wish you’d ask me next time before stealing an advanced A affiliate. MiLB TV is such a blessing. Royce Bollinger is still lighting up the Cali League batting nearly .400 in his last 10 games.
Pitcher of the week:
It was a tough week for the Mav’s pitching staff, which is to say it was a week in the California League. The performance which stood out to me most this week was that of reliever Ryne Slack. In Wednesday’s outing Slack threw 3.0 innings and allowed only a single baserunner who did not score. Slack struck out a pair in that outing.
Hitter of the week:
This was the week of the long ball for Zach Cone. In four of his six games Cone accrued multiple hits. Cone hit five homers in 26 plate appearances as well as three doubles. Through 60 games this season Cone is slugging .883 even after a rough start to the season. His 28 extra-base hits are second on the team to Ryan Cordell’s 30.
Pick to click:
Had Zach Cone not lit the world on fire my last pick to click would have been player of the week which would have been two perfect picks to click. Maybe my pick to click should be me? I dare not levy that pressure on myself. Instead I will heap it on the shoulders of Kellin Deglan. Deglan feels due for a solid week, his quietness has been a little loud in my mind and I’m banking on him making noise this week.
27-35 (4th – 15 GB)
It only took one week of action for a bit of news to be more depressing than Joey Gallo moving on. It happened on an innocent play at 2nd base when Jorge Alfaro tweaked his ankle and had to be removed from the game. It was then discovered days later he would be lost for the season. An absolutely brutal and crushing blow to not only the team but also Alfaro’s development – which has been a slower process than initially anticipated. Jon Daniels admitted had he stayed healthy, a September call up was very likely as he is on the 40-man roster. Now he ends his 2015 campaign with a .253/.314/.432 slash line to go along with five homers in 49 games played. His strikeouts were up to nearly 30 percent this year. With Alfaro done for the year, the RoughRiders received JT Wise back from Round Rock but expect Pat Cantwell to get the majority of the time behind the plate the rest of the way. If Cantwell can improve his hit tool, Alfaro may have some competition. Cantwell is widely regarded as the best defensive catcher in the Rangers system.
Despite the blow, Frisco did manage 4 consecutive wins this week before a 4-0 shutout Sunday, winning their home series against SA in the process. They are playing .500 ball for the month of June. The Friday night home game was a huge success as it was Full House night with one of my favorite childhood TV personalities throwing out the first pitch in Dave Coulier. Dr Pepper Ballpark once again broke a previous attendance record set back in April with nearly 12,000 fans. As you can imagine, the Riders are far and away first in attendance this year in the Texas League. In fact, they lead all of AA edging out Birmingham which shouldn’t be that big of a surprise since they typically reign supreme in this category.
I was a week late but Drew Robinson had himself a week and the power was back on display, he clubbed two more dingers this week increasing his team-leading total to 12. The 23 year old now has an OPS of .829 to go along with 11 stolen bases. Combine that with the ability to play anywhere on the diamond and he’s been very valuable this year for Frisco. Here is something I found interesting, when Drew is ahead in the count this year, his slash line is .268/.544/.493. All 43 of his walks have come in this situation. Meaning he has not once come back from 1-2 or 0-2 to walk.
Frank Lopez came in to relieve rehabbing Martin Perez (who looked great by the way) and pitched 4 innings allowing one run and struck out four. He collected his second win for Frisco and lowered his ERA to 2.21. I imagine he begins a game next time around against Corpus and looks to keep his great stuff going. He has turned in a season to remember thus far though as it stands. Through 63 innings Lopez has exactly 63 strikeouts and an impressive 1.03 WHIP. The most impressive part of his numbers is the fact he’s only walked 12 batters. The dude can flat out command the zone.
Jake Thompson shut down San Antonio through six innings in his only start of the week and then tired a bit and got into some trouble in the 7th before departing. He struck out six, walked two, and allowed all three runs in the inning. He still was good enough as Frisco gave him plenty of runs to work with. Ho hum JT is proving to be too good for the level and looks ready for Round Rock soon. Best damn pitching prospect in the system with Chi Chi in the Bigs.
Hitter and Pitcher of the Week
My co hitters of the week are the Dynamic Duo of Nick Williams and Nomar Mazara. They were both outstanding and I couldn’t choose between the two so they both get it. My boy Williams had not one but TWO four hit games back to back, which would be the first time he’s ever done that. He may never do it again it’s so rare. For the week Williams slashed .434/.500/.608 and scored seven runs. Over his last ten games, Nick is hitting an even .400 so hes raised his average over 20 points to nearly an even .300. Oh yea, with his two walks on the 10th, he now has a new career high 24 and has nearly a half of season to go.
Maz may not have had a few four hit games but he did hit a few dingers! He has a hit in nine of his last ten games hitting .351 in the span. For the week he slashed .500/.583/.1.100. So yea, that is a slugging percentage over 1.000. Three homers, five runs scored, and an impressive 12 runs batted in. Perhaps Maz shouldn’t be sharing the weekly honors afterall. A case can firmly be made the Maz has progressed into a Top 5 prospect in all of minor league baseball with all of the graduations league wide. He is certainly the top rangers prospect now. Oh yea, he still cannot consume alcohol legally for another ten plus months.
My pitcher of the week was Chad Bell once again. What a roll Bell has been on the past few starts and this week against Midland he turned in his finest of the season. It was an absolute gem where he went seven innings and didn’t allow a run. He struck out eight and only surrendered four base runners. Even more impressive was he only needed 86 pitches to do so. On May 16th, Bell’s ERA was 5.82 and since then he has lowered that all the way to 4.48. Bell will try to keep it going next time out on the road at Corpus.
Pick to Click
My pick to click is the former first round pick Jake Skole. Now getting some playing time in the outfield with the Dynamic Duo, Skole is hitting .273 in his last ten games upping his season average to .222. He walked five times this past week and appears to be seeing the ball well. Since his fine 2011 season for Hickory, Skole has been a disappointing top draft choice that may never see big league action with a career Minor League OPS of .662 in over 1700 plate appearances.
Round Rock Express
Pacific Coast League
37-25 (1st – +4 GB)
Though the Express only won two games this week I saw something absolutely incredible on two separate occasions this week: Matt Harrison pitching. Harrison has had two different back surgeries that by themselves could have ended his career but instead he is back on the mound pitching. Harrison is close to being back to big league form, my guess is another couple of starts before he’s called back up to Arlington. I’m not sure in what capacity he will be used but I know that he will certainly help a club fighting for a division lead with an intrastate rival.
Luke Jackson worked a couple of outings and allowed his first homer as a reliever. It was only a solo shot and the only run Jackson allowed in 2.2 innings this week. In a dozen appearances as a reliever Jackson has pitched 14.1 innings. In that time he has allowed 11 hits, walked 10, and struck out a fantastic 20 batters. During that period Jackson has an ERA of pi so that’s awesome in several ways. Rougned Odor saw his eight game multi-hit streak snapped Friday. Odor is slashing .352/.426/.639 and I honestly don’t know what else the young man needs to do to come back to The Show. Tomas Telis only played in four games this week and went 2-17. His average is now down to .317 so you see he’s just fine.
Rock Shoulders, whose best tool is his ++ name, played a pair of games for the Express and picked up as many hits and half as many homers as games played.
Pitcher of the week:
Alec Asher gave up only a pair of runs all on one swing in 6.0 innings of work in Friday’s game. Asher struck out three and walked two on 91 pitches in what has been his best AAA outing so far.
Hitter of the week:
One of the many reason I do not make the personnel decisions for the Texas Rangers is because I would call up Yeyson Yrizzari right now. Through nine games Yrizzari has a slash line of .273/.294/.364. Yrizzari is 18 and only up in AAA because a body was needed and Yrizzari was available. This is similar to the Michael De Leon situation in Frisco last year but Yrizzari swings a bigger stick and has slightly less smooth of a glove. Yrizzari will likely be in Spokane once his placeholder status is revoked. I love seeing young guys thrust into situations like this succeed because it can do nothing but good things for their development. Yrizzari’s best tool could be his swagger, graded by most scouts around 70, but his name is an easy scale topper 80 grade. It is pronounce YAY-son ear-ih-ZAH-ree.
Pick to click:
Jerad Eickhoff had a decent outing this week and I expect his slow steady improvement to take a noticeable upturn in this week’s start.