Minor League Monday Week 11
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
2-2 (2nd – 1 GB)
Spokane began their season splitting a four game set against the defending Northwest League Champion Hillsboro Hops. Sunday’s game was won in dramatic fashion via a two run walk off homer by Texas’ 2015 16th round pick: catcher Tyler Sanchez. Texas’ 2014 23rd rounder Darius Day picked up four singles and seven strikeouts in 11 trips to the plate this week. Ti’Quan Forbes picked up a hit and a strikeout in all three of the games he played this week. Forbes also accumulated three errors all of which occurred in Saturday’s contest.
The Lubbock born righty Blake Bass pitched a scoreless inning this week for his professional debut. Bass walked a pair and struck out one in his only appearance so far this season. Yeyson Yrizzari started his short season campaign off with a pair of multi hit games then took an 0-5 with three strikeouts in his next contest. Sunday’s starter Nick Green worked 5.0 innings and allowed only a lone run on three hits and a walk. Luis Parra after an up and down time with High Desert is now in Spokane. Para fired three total perfect innings in two appearances this week for the Indians. Though Michael Matuella is on the roster he is still shelved from his April Tommy John surgery and will not pitch this season.
Pitcher of the week:
Luke Lanphere in his opening day start fired five scoreless innings, allowing five baserunners while striking out five. Lanphere leads the baby faced Spokane staff but likely won’t be the ace of the staff once Dillon Tate begins pitching. The Rangers are monitoring Tate’s innings after he threw a career high at UCLA this past season.
Hitter of the week:
It was a big offensive week for Spokane catchers. This week Sherman Lacrus reached base in 7-12 plate appearances. Larcus has an OPS of 1.215 in those 12 plate appearances. Something about small sample sizes and things of that nature.
Pick to click:
Yeyson Yrizzari is a baller with a fantastic name and exudes swagger like no other. Any 18 year old who can hold their own playing short stop at AAA for nine games is someone you should keep your eyes on. Yey Yey, as he’s called, is in for a big week – I feel it in my baseball bones. I’m getting pretty scientific with these picks to click so I hope I don’t lose you in the technical jargon of how I’m picking them.
Class Low A
44-24 (1st – +7.5 GB)
First Half Division Champions
The Hickory Crawdads have clinched the first half division title and are going to the playoffs. After two and a half more months of regular season baseball with a playoff spot already locked up, the Crawdads will face the winner of the Northern Division in the second half. The Hickory bats came alive this week to the tune of 39 runs over six games during which the team went 4-2.
Hitter of the Week: Jairo Beras is starting to get things going at the plate. The 20-year-old (well, maybe) Cuban outfielder has rebounded nicely from a miserable May (.206/.229/.235) slashing .308/.373/.538 in June. Interestingly, despite being a right-handed batter, Beras has an OPS .137 higher against right-handed pitchers. It is good to see him start to put up some numbers as he is a very talented player that garnered a large bonus but looked very raw when I saw him this spring. Infielder Josh Morgan continues to rake, picking up another eight hits in his four games this week.
Pitcher of the Week: 2014 1st-round pick Luis Ortiz continues to roll through Low-A ball at the tender young age of 19. After a dominant one run, five inning, nine strikeout performance, the 6’-3” right-hander lowered his ERA to 1.72 on the year. With 44 punchouts to just nine walks that number is no fluke. His hit location breakdown indicates an ability to keep the ball on the outer half. Despite playing in a lower level in which hitters tend to be, for the most part, a pull-happy bunch. Ortiz’ numbers skew towards the right side of the field.
If the Rangers High-A were still in Myrtle Beach it would be easy to see Ortiz soon get a promotion. However, with the California League being a hitter’s haven there is a good chance that promotion does prospects that skip High-A altogether. This is a route the Rangers often took when the team used to be in Bakersfield.
High Desert Mavericks
Class High A (Advanced)
37-32 (2nd – 3.5 GB)
The Mavs dropped the first two games of the week by a combined score of 13-3 but then proceeded to win the next five straight to end the first half of the season. Texas boy Seth Spivey had a bit of a rough week going a combined 1-18 but drew a couple of walks. Ronald “Condor” Guzman had a couple of solid games including Saturday’s game in which he hit a three run game winning triple in the top of the 9th.
Ryan Cordell has another ho-hum six game hitting streak and was on base 12 times this past week. In regards to the stick, Cordell has shown he is more than ready for a promotion. With the glove however, he has 19 errors through 68 games this season. It’s tough enough moving to a new position you haven’t played since high school, but it’s even more difficult to be bounced around between several new positions throughout the year. Prospects, like all baseball players, thrive on consistency. The lack of sticking at a single position is hurting Cordell’s defensive ability. This positional experimentation has been a little rough for Cordell, but then again I’m not entirely certain since nobody actually sees these games besides fans, scouts, and the actual players. This is the main reason I am all aboard the ‘promote Ryan Cordell’ train and because I want to see this in person.
Pitcher of the week:
Richelson Pena started Wednesday’s contest and tossed a lovely six frames. The only run Pena allowed was an unearned run off of a Cordell error at third base, color me mildly surprised. Pena struck out five, walked two, and gave up three hits. Pena is currently second in the California League in WHIP with a season WHIP of 1.08.
Hitter of the week:
Welcome back to the spotlight Lewis Brinson. The 21 year old has reached base safely in all 17 of his games since his return from injury. In that time he is slashing .319/.398/.597 with a walk rate of 11.5% and a strikeout rate of 16.7%. I would be surprised if he didn’t finish the season in Frisco. Here is a spray chart of his month of June.
Pick to click:
Ronald Guzman had a few successful outings this past week but hasn’t quite had a superb start to his California League experience. The midseason break should do Guzman some good, look for him to bounce back and come out of the break with a hot bat.
28-41 (4th – 20 GB)
The Riders have really hit a rough patch in their season and prior to their walkoff win Sunday, had lost seven games in a row. And that was on the heels of a four game win streak. So perhaps the 15-inning walk-off-sac-bunt-throwing-error will be a precursor to another winning streak. You can’t win games if you don’t score runs and during the streak Frisco managed just 13 runs – six of which came in one game. Nomar Mazara and Nick Williams are a lot of fun to watch develop but there just isn’t much else to compliment those guys on a consistent basis offensively anymore.
Something that’s pretty cool is if you can get out to the park later tonight or on Wednesday you can see the rehab starts of Martin Perez and Matt Harrison who are slated to continue their treks back from injury. Perez’s initial rehab outing for Frisco went well enough as scouts thought he had stuff to get major league hitters out. A groin issue forced him to exit a bit earlier than expected but it was precautionary and he’s good to go for this evening. I may venture out to see him work. Anything Matt Harrison does positive on the mound is a success in my opinion. You can’t help but root for him.
Frank Lopez got two starts this week and went five innings in both of them. His performance on Sunday was much better than his Monday start that saw him allow five earned runs on nine base runners. However, he bounced back well enough to allow only one run on a solo shot. He did happen to walk five batters this week which isn’t overly concerning just a part of the averages evening out. An odd note is that in his last four starts he has totaled exactly four strikeouts in each of them. Frank won’t ever light up the radar gun but he has other ways to impress and get you out.
It hasn’t been such a good year offensively for Pat Cantwell who has taken over as the main catcher after Jorge Alfaro was lost for the year due to an ankle injury. While his defense may be solid enough, he came into Sunday’s affair with an OPS of .518. This is after having an inspiring 76 games for Frisco in 2014 that saw him have an OPS over .700. Hopefully he turns it around because he was a third round pick back in 2012 so the team did think highly enough of him.
Nomar Mazara homered again Sunday and now is up to eight on the season. The power is ready to be unleashed. He’s slowed down batting average wise but that’s about the only area. His dynamic buddy Williams continues to hit third in the order and seems to like that spot. Over his last 10 games, the lefty is hitting .317 with two walks and nine strikeouts. That will play.
Hitter and Pitcher of the Week
The hitter of the week goes to first baseman J.T. Wise. The slugger had a pretty nice week and appears to be filling the void left by Joey Gallo nicely in the middle of the lineup. Unfortunately, it hasn’t resulted in much team success. Still, Wise has a string of three straight multi hit games going and four total for the week. He ended up slashing .400/.482/.640 with a homer and 2 runs scored. The low runs scored obviously can be attributed to him having little in the order after he hits. Maz and Williams generally precede JT so he may score in bushels. He did rip a key double in the 8th inning to get the rally going that ultimately led to the big win Sunday. At 29, JT’s chances of making it to the big leagues are running out. He’s essentially repeated AA for four seasons now splitting between LA and TX.
The pitcher of the week for me is Andrew Faulkner. In a week where no-one really stood out on the mound, Faulk was good enough in his outing Tuesday going five innings (seems like everyone other than Jake Thompson just goes five) and allowing only one earned run. He struck out eight and surrendered only seven base runners. The eight K’s were a season high for him so he had some good stuff. Over his last five starts, Faulkner has an ERA of 2.20. In that span he’s hurled 28 and 2/3 innings with a K/BB ratio of 27/13. The walks are a bit high for a starting role but in his nearly 100 career innings for Frisco, he has posted a BB/9 in the mid four range.
Pick to Click
Jake Skole worked out for me decent enough last week with four hits and a home run. This week I decided to go with middle infielder Edwin Garcia. The young man has certainly seen his numbers dip since coming from the Cali League. Just another example of having to take anything done in that league with a grain of salt. However, he has hits in 4 of his last 5 games and plays solid defense up the middle. He will not wow you with power in any way. Actually he has just 5 extra base hits all year in 37 games combined between both levels. Minimal strikeout rates and average walk rates are about what youd expect from his profile. Nothing above average. Still, he’s been in the system since he was signed at 18 back in 2009 so the club must like the glove.
The Texas League named their all stars and Frisco had an impressive total of eight named to the club. Joey Gallo, Drew Robinson, Nick Williams, Nomar Mazara, Jorge Alfaro, Jake Thompson, Jesus Pirela, and David Martinez. Most of these names shouldn’t really come as a shock but the one that does is Martinez. The 27-year-old minor league journeyman has pitched 23 plus innings for Frisco posting a FIP in the mid 2.00s. Still, he has struggled mightily in the two levels above AA with Houston and Texas in his career so there isn’t much here.
Obviously, Gallo will not be attending this game as he will likely either still be with the Rangers or in AAA. Alfaro is out for the year so he also will not be participating.
I think my favorite part of this week was the tirade that Joe Mikulik blasted on the home plate umpire on a poor call in the game against Corpus on Tuesday. All I will say is that he punted his own shoes in displeasure before hitting the showers. Check out the video if you haven’t seen it.
Round Rock Express
Pacific Coast League
42-27 (1st – +6 GB)
I must begin with a message of bon voyage to Jake Smolinski. Smolinski was claimed off waivers, by who else but the A’s, and assigned to AAA. Chris Garia returned from a month long DL stint this weekend and on Sunday hit a grand slam deep to the opposite field. Michael Choice had a grand slam in Sunday’s contest as well marking the first time in Round Rock history that the Express have hit multiple grand slams in a single game.
Alec Asher had his best start in AAA on Wednesday. Asher pitched six innings and allowed only a lone unearned run. He struck out three while allowing nine baserunners. Neftali Feliz worked three appearances this week, two of those appearances were of the shutout variety. His worst outing lasted 0.2 innings on 30 pitches. He allowed two earned runs, three hits, and a walk. Feliz’s best outing was on Saturday when he needed only 21 pitched to go through 2 scoreless innings. In that outing Feliz allowed a lone single as his only baserunner.
Tomas Telis has been in a bit of a slump recently hitting .200 over his last 10 games. His average still sits at .311 so there’s no need for alarm. Brett Nicholas has been quietly putting together a solid season. His strikeout rate of 16% and his .744 OPS are both impressive, especially for a catcher. Luke Jackson worked three appearances this week for a total of 3.1 innings. Jackson allowed only one run on a wild pitch in a game his team was winning by 10 runs. In Thursday’s contest Jackson used an efficient 26 pitches to retire all six batters he faced. Spencer Patton worked three scoreless innings this week and allowed only a single. In 22 AAA innings Patton has allowed only two earned runs and is 10/10 in save opportunities and 10/10 ready for the bigs if a reliever is needed #freeSpencer.
Pitcher of the week:
Jerad Eickhoff started twice this week but only pitched eight innings. Rain shortened one of his outings in which he lasted two innings and allowed only a single. In his other start Eickhoff threw six scoreless frames. Overall this week Eick went eight innings allowing four walks, five hits, and seven strikeouts. Fairly dominating stuff outside of the walks.
Hitter of the week:
Here’s a name you haven’t heard in a long time: Michael Choice. It looks like Choice remembered some time recently that he is a talented baseball player. This week Choice posted a line of .345/.429/.731. If you expand that to the whole month of June his line is .300/.338/.471 through 72 plate appearances. This is an encouraging sign that Choice could be righting himself and become another solid right handed bat off the bench for the big league club. His offense would help in the current pennant race.
Pick to click:
Spencer Patton has been dominant in Round Rock this season while he has been on the roster and I don’t expect anything to change about that. Look for him to continue his dominance this week.