Minor League Monday Week 14
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
13-12 (2nd – 3 GB)
Spokane continued to improve after a poor start to the year, going 4-3 this past week. The offense posted six or more runs three times and one or less three times. Outside of Ledarious Clark, the lineup has been very up and down thus far.
Hitter of the Week:
Clark had another huge week overall, racking up eight hits including two home runs and two doubles. However, after reaching base in his first 19 games and picking up a hit in 18 straight, both streaks came to a screeching halt. Over his past three games, the 2015 12th rounder is 0-13 with eight strikeouts. Clark has been dominant, slashing .374/.438/.626 on the short year but keep in mind college kids in short-season ball often post misleading numbers. Keep this name in your head as we head into 2016, but don’t get overhyped until we see how he handles full-season ball.
2014 2nd-rounder Ti’Quan Forbes reached base seven times this week and picked up two extra-base knocks. Notable J2 signing Yeyson Yrizzari had quite a large week himself going 10-24, raising his slash line on the year to .275/.310/.350. Shortstop Dylan Moore, 2015’s 7th round pick is slashing .263/.378/.487 at the moment.
Pitcher of the Week:
Converted first baseman Blake Bass made his second start of the season and allowed just one run and three hits over four innings as he struck out four. Bass, 22, played first base at Texas Tech before transferring to Angelo State University where he became a pitcher. The 8th round pick in the 2015 draft, Bass fits the mold of tall right-handed pitchers the Rangers seemed to target this year with his 6’7”, 250 frame.
Class Low A
8-10 (T 4th – 5 GB)
First Half Division Champions
It wasn’t a great week for Hickory, as with a loss Sunday they finished the seven day span with a 2-5 record. Lucky for them being outscored 34-25 doesn’t mean much after they clinched a playoff spot with a first-half division title. I talked to a scout who saw Hickory in 2014 recently. He mentioned Michael De Leon, Travis Demeritte, Akeem Bostick (sent to Milwaukee in the Yovani Gallardo trade) and Nomar Mazara as guys he liked.
Hitter of the Week:
It was another quiet week for the Crawdads bats. Once again, middle infielder Josh Morgan was the standout of the group. My personal favorite Crawdads position player based on a spring training view, the 19-year-old continues to get on base. After 12 more trips to the basepaths the last week, Morgan now boasts a .292/.380/.366 slashline on the year despite being a year younger than the average age for the level. For comparisons sake, Jairo Beras, who is considered a very raw prospect, is older than the 2014 3rd rounder by 11 months. As he moves up the system ladder and faces more talented and sound infielders I will be following how Morgan’s average holds. His 48% groundball rate may make it difficult to sustain without remarkable speed, which as far as I know Morgan does not possess. Of course, his K-rate under 13% helps to balance that out.
Pitcher of the Week:
Hickory reliever Scott Williams tossed 2.2 scoreless innings this week. Williams is a converted catcher who the Rangers drafted in the 2014’s 11th round (a round which tends to produce better prospects than the two or three earlier ones due to the cap rules). Here is a pre-draft article detailing his move from catcher to pitcher. Crawdads beat writer Mark Parker tweeted this week Williams’ fastball was at 94 this week and noted his dominant statline of late: 13.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB and 18 Ks. At 21-years-old, the 6’2” right-hander has lowered his ERA from 9.00 last year to 2.29 in 2015 as he continues the transition. Granted I have not seen him personally, but I’m at least intrigued here.
High Desert Mavericks
Class High A (Advanced)
9-8 (2nd – 1 GB)
Pick to Click:
With the offensive upturn this week Tripp Martin flew a bit under the radar. The Samford product has an active four game hit streak and all three of his High A homers have come in the last 10 games. Look for some long balls from this right-handed long ball machine in the coming week with six of the seven scheduled games being played at home this week.
10-6 (2nd – .5 GB)
The Riders’ capped off a nice week with their fifth straight win and seem to be playing some good ball right now. They’re scoring runs and when they aren’t, like on Sunday scoring only two, they get strong pitching and only allow one run. All this despite the roster continuing to be shaken up with promotions, demotions, all star, and tournament needs but they just keep moving on. It’s possible that the Dynamic Duo don’t return for long to Frisco coming out of the Futures Game. If that happens, expect JD and company to calm us down by sending up Lewis Brinson who is pretty fun.
Frank Lopez was rocked on Monday against Arkansas only lasting 3 plus innings and allowing ten base runners and five earned runs. He really lost command in the third inning where he walked two batters, allowed a three run bomb, hit a batter, and was then removed. He also just wasn’t getting the ball down and thus not getting the ground balls he has to get. So what did he do the next time out on Sunday? He fired five scoreless innings and got four strikeouts on four hits. Pitch count kept him from getting deeper into the game but he kept the ball down getting six ground ball outs and only one fly ball out. It was an impressive way to respond to the bad outing.
Andrew Faulkner pitched in relief this week as he came in to get the final inning for Jose Leclerc. He hadn’t started since July 4th and I’m not sure when he will start again but perhaps the team is limiting his innings. He at least looked really good cranking it up on the gun and getting two strikeouts in his inning of work.
Chad Bell continues to disappoint as he allowed eleven base runners in his five innings of work while only getting two strikeouts. He may have only allowed four runs which was enough to get him a win but he simply hasn’t pitched well for about a month now and his ERA stands at 5.53. Maybe it’s time I stop providing updates on him?
Hitter and Pitcher of the Week
My hitter of the week is an absolute no brainer this time. It’s Nick Williams in a landslide victory and he was a terror in the three games he appeared in. The kid reached base ten times and capped off a seven hit (eight times on base) day double header on Friday with a long home run. He scored five runs and had a triple. Oh if you’re wondering how the important percentages are going? He’s only striking out 18 percent of the time and walking about eight percent. Earlier this week , Baseball Prospectus answered my prayers and have ranked Nick Williams 21st on their updated Midseason Top 50 Prospect Rankings.
My pitcher of the week goes to Jose Leclerc. He pitched the nightcap of the Friday double header and boy did he have it going on. He twirled an absolute gem going six innings of shutout ball and probably could have finished the game (you only play seven innings in minor league double headers) as he was only at an efficient 77 pitches. He struck out six and only walked ONE batter. He was getting ahead of hitters and getting weak ground outs. Over Leclerc’s last four starts, he’s putting together a nice little run. In 21 and 1/3 innings he has 22 strikeouts and has only allowed five earned runs. If he is figuring out how to harness his stuff, this will be someone to really monitor.
Pick to Click
My pick to click is unofficial closer David Martinez. Seeing as how the team is starting to win some games we might see him a bit more now and he’s been up to the task. You don’t really have closers on minor league teams but Martinez has been pitching the ninth innings for Frisco a bunch and now has 11 saves in 30 plus innings and actually has a FIP in the mid 2.00s. He may struggle above this level but he sure dominates dudes at AA.
Sunday marked the 2015 Annual MLB Futures Game and one of the best days of the baseball year basically for us prospect nuts. As you know, Texas sent the dynamic duo to Cincy (Nomar Mazara and Nick Williams) and they both came into the game and each had a single. Mazara’s single in the 5th inning came off Astro’s top pitching prospect Mark Appel. Obviously, as Appel has been in the Texas League for a period of time, Maz was very familiar with him and thus smoked a single to right field. Williams’ single came off of Chicago’s fireballer Frankie Montas. That dude was touching 101 and the RBI single from Williams was a line drive up the middle that likely had an exit velocity of 500 mph. (Baseball Prospectus writer Tucker Blair tweeted “99 up the middle. Nick Williams can hit.) If you recall last year, Gallo put on a show during batting practice, well Williams didn’t duplicate that display but he did hit the longest home run to dead center in BP of the day. It turned some heads for sure.
Jake Thompson is not with the Riders at the moment as he pitches in the Pan American games in Toronto. He hasn’t pitched yet in the USA’s first two games but I imagine he will get a game in soon and when he does they will be introduced to his slider.
Round Rock Express
Pacific Coast League
52-37 (1st – +5 GB)
In case you missed the news Joey Gallo is in Round Rock. Be wary PCL pitchers because this could happen to you. Apart from his two glorious bombs, Gallo’s introduction to the PCL was not nearly as exciting as his Texas League introduction last year. Through 49 plate appearances Gallo has a line of .186/.286/.465. His strikeout rate of 28.6 isn’t quite where Texas would like it to be but his walk rate of 12.3% is highly encouraging. Gallo has played mostly left field so far in Round Rock with a bit of time at third base. Apart from his brief major league stint this is the most consistent outfield playing time Gallo has seen in his pro career.
There are other studs in Round Rock besides Joey Gallo though so have no fear! Nick Martinez made his AAA debut on free Slurpee day and fired four innings allowing one run on four hits and no walks. PCL umpires are more kind to 24-year-olds than Angel Hernandez. Jerad Eickhoff took over for Martinez as the “second starter” in Saturday’s game and threw 4.1 innings while allowing the same number of runs and hits.
Before his big league call up this week Roman Mendez pitched two scoreless outings for Round Rock lasting 1.1 and 1.0 innings respectively. Mendez proved to be a solid piece in the bullpen last year with a 2.18 ERA in 30 major league appearances. In other bullpen news tall Ohio man Phil Klein has only allowed runs in one of his eight bull pen appearances this year. His first appearance on April 19 Klein allowed two earned runs in two innings. In his seven appearances since Klein has thrown 12.1 scoreless innings with a .973 WHIP and lowered his BAA 107 points. Klein has been pretty solid this year but that’s none of my business.
— Brice Paterik (@80GradeWhitt) July 13, 2015
Good news on the injury front: Martin Perez is ready for big league action. He threw 79 pitches to go 6.0 innings on Wednesday then fired 96 pitches five days later. I look forward to seeing him overtake a rotation spot after the much needed All-Star break.
Hitter of the Week:
In his return trip the the PCL Hanser Alberto picked up right where he left off by extending his active AAA hitting streak to now eight games. In his seven game this week Alberto picked up 12 hits to go along with a pair of walks and only two strikeouts.
Pitcher of the Week:
Eager to right himself after a rough MLB start, Chi Chi Gonzalez threw five shutout innings against New Orleans last Wednesday. Gonzalez walked a pair and gave up three hits. He also only struck out two which is one of the primary facets of his game that needs refining in AAA. In order to make it make to The Show, Gonzalez must find the bite on his slider which made it so devastating even a few months ago. But a zero on the scoreboard looks nice no matter how you get it.
Pick to Click:
Catcher Brett Nicholas has an active four-game hitting streak and is hitting .436 in his last 10 games. Look for the offensive minded backstop to continue his hot hitting ways this upcoming week.