Minor League Monday Week 19
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 as well as the entire Rangers Top 30 Prospect list and 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
9-9 (3rd – 1 GB)
Spokane boosted their second half record to 9-9 following a 4-2 week. This leaves them in third place and one game out of first. To make the playoffs, Spokane will need to win the second half.
The Rangers Short-Season A team is home to two of the teams premier infield prospects. Cannon-armed Yeyson Yrizzari checks in at #14 on MLB’s Rangers list while raw athlete Ti’Quan Forbes sits at #22.
The 18 year old Yrizzari continued a successful campaign with seven hits this week. The nephew of former big leaguer Deivi Cruz is now slashing .284/.312/.365 in his time in Spokane. He also held his own in a brief Triple-A stint. I heard positive reviews from a scout who viewed him during that time.
Forbes, 2014’s 2nd round pick, not surprisingly hasn’t seen Yrizzari’s success. The 18 year old is a high ceiling yet raw prospect. After going just 1-9 this week, Forbes is now hitting just .228 while his defense isn’t much better – sporting an .866 fielding percentage at third base.
Class Low A
27-22 (3rd – 7 GB)
First Half Division Champions
A 3-3 week brings Hickory to 27-22 in the second half. The ‘Dads will have a tough time winning the second half title as they currently sit seven games back with an elimination number of 15. It can be done but the hill looks pretty steep. However, the playoffs are still in Hickory’s future since they won the first half of the season.
Rangers #3 prospect and 2015 1st round draft choice Dillon Tate saw a promotion to Hickory this week. He saw an inning of work, a perfect one in which he struck out a batter. He was reportedly upper 90s with his fastball and induced three swinging strikes. Tate continues to be used in short spurts as he has already set a career high in innings pitched and the Rangers don’t want to risk an arm injury for their prized prospect.
The #11 prospect in the organization, Yohander Mendez, had yet another brilliant week. Five innings of baseball with the only run coming as unearned (3 K, 2 BB) lowered the lefthander’s ERA on the year to 1.40. It will be interesting to see if Mendez goes to High Desert or skips it altogether and heads straight to Frisco.
Second baseman Josh Morgan is #12 on MLB.com’s Rangers prospect list. Morgan continues to split time between 3rd base, shortstop and the DH role. His .288 average currently sits fourth on the team but his 45 walks and .385 OBP both lead the Crawdads this season.
Luis Ortiz is the Rangers #5 overall prospect and is still on the disabled list recovering from arm fatigue. Ortiz is the second ranked pitching prospect in the system.
#15 prospect Travis Demeritte is still serving his suspension for PEDs.
17th ranked prospect Brett Martin has struggled a bit of late in Hickory. His latest outing lasted five innings giving up three runs on six hits with four walks and just three strikeouts. Martin hasn’t had an outing of more than five innings since July 16th.
Now ranked Texas’ #19 prospect, RHP Ariel Jurado came out of relatively nowhere in the offseason to having scouts view him as a back-end rotation piece now. After five scoreless, one hit, no walk ball, Jurado is now 11-0 with a 2.08 ERA. In his 86.1 innings of work, he has 84 strikeouts and just 10 walks. According to some, he’s a dude.
Glove-first SS Michael De Leon picked up five hits in 18 at-bats this week. On the year, the #20 prospect is slashing .225/.269/.280. While those numbers are ugly, keep in mind this is an 18 year old playing full-season ball.
#24 farmhand Jairo Beras finally cooled off. Following up his 21 game hitting streak, Beras has now gone hitless in four consecutive games. Regardless, the 20-year-old’s .742 OPS is a major improvement from a year ago.
The Rangers #28 prospect also resides on the Hickory roster. Catcher Jose Trevino racked up seven hits on the week, raising his batting average to .277. His 57 RBI and 101 hits rank second on the team, both behind outfielder Luke Tendler.
High Desert Mavericks
Class High A (Advanced)
27-21 (1st – +1.5 GB)
23-26 (3rd – 10.5 GB)
The Riders faced some pretty stiff pitching competition last week when they matched up with the Dodgers and Cardinals top pitching prospects Julio Urias and Alex Reyes. The combined age for the pair is less than 40. It was Reyes who gave the Riders fits however as he went six strong innings and only surrendered one hit and one walk while striking out 10. Reyes is a big framed strikeout machine and Urias just turned 19 last week. The RoughRiders season appears to be nearing its end. They are 10.5 games out with just 21 games left to play. Unless a miraculous turnaround happens, they will miss the playoffs.
2nd ranked prospect Nomar Mazara had his eight game hitting streak snapped Thursday against Tulsa and then went hitless the rest of the week. The Urias vs Mazara matchup should happen one more time when Frisco travels to Tulsa again this week. Possibly the best left handed pitching prospect facing the best left handed hitting prospect in all of baseball. Perhaps the most over looked aspect of Maz’s game is the fact that he has 13 outfield assists this year and 40 in his career. The throwing arm is legit and should be a big time weapon in right field.
Lewis Brinson, the Rangers #4 ranked prospect, is starting to cool off since his torrid start to his AA campaign. He’s just five for his last 21 with a couple of walks and an extra base hit. However, manager Joe Mikulik has already seen enough to insert him as high as the number three slot in his batting order. That’s how good the club seems to believe he is. If Brinson sees more lefties this week, then look out. On the season, he’s slashing .481/.565/.923 against left handed pitching over 62 plate appearances.
Ryan Cordell, #7 in the Rangers top 30, is often considered the bat without a position. He’s not great at any position but decent at several. He did make some pretty nice plays at the hot corner Tuesday against Tulsa though. Cordell has struggled recently with just four hits in his last 28 at bats. His averaged has dropped 10 points during his recent slide.
#21 Jose Leclerc was placed on the temporary inactive list after getting lit up in his last two starts. Six total innings, 13 runs, 14 hits, two home runs, five walks and five strikeouts. He threw a combined 134 pitches and 84 were for strikes. His ERA jumped more than a run from 4.18 to 5.20.
When #26 ranked Frank Lopez was promoted to Frisco back in May, he looked to be one of the fastest rising players in the system after posting an ERA under 3.00 in the Cal League but it hasn’t translated into success in AA. His ERA after 72 innings is now up to 4.50. His line against a very meh Tulsa team doesn’t look awful but 11 base runners in five innings isn’t something to write home about. If it weren’t for two pickoffs (the kid does have a nice move) it may have been worse.
The “rehab” for Tanner Scheppers finally got underway this week and Tuesday against Tulsa he gave up two hits and an earned run without any strikeouts. His command was of course leaving something to be desired but he was getting groundballs which would be great if he wasn’t a reliever. He also pitched Sunday and gave up an unearned run while striking out two. Riders’ play by play man Alex Vispoli tweeted “he was sitting 94 with his fastball and had good movement on his breaking ball. However, he was leaving pitches up.” Needless to say, he will likely be back up in September but he should no longer be pitching any high leverage situations.
Kellin Deglan had an eight game hitting streak for High Desert before his promotion to Frisco last week. He’s hit safely in his first four Frisco starts and now has a 12 game hitting streak to his credit. It’s a big chance for the once highly thought of catcher to get an extended look at an upper level. Even in the hitter friendly confines at HD his OBP was below .300. The odd thing with Deglan is that he has some reverse splits this year- he’s hitting .309 vs lefties and only .214 off right handers. It was just about even in 2014 with Hickory. This former first round pick is running out of time to avoid the bust label.
On a sad note, The club promoted lefty, and 13th ranked prospect, Andrew Faulkner to Round Rock after he was shoving as a reliever the past month. The team is losing fun players every week now it seems and that makes me sad.
Round Rock Express
Pacific Coast League
68-54 (1st – +6 GB)
Round Rock this week played a peculiar six game series against Colorado Springs in order to make up some May rain outs including back to back double headers. The Express took three of the four double header games and completed with six game series with bookend losses. Round Rock still holds a six game lead and their magic number to win the division is now at 17.
This was a week much like the others for #1 ranked prospect Joey Gallo. Gallo hit a homer, walked twice, and struck out 11 times while playing in all eight games this week. From what I’ve seen nothing looks that wrong with him. A very large portion of Gallo’s strikeouts have been looking at very close pitches. AAA strike zones are more variant than MLB strike zones so make of his K’s what you will. They aren’t vanishing completely but I’m seeing him take significantly fewer wild hacks and take closer borderline pitches. He will be fine and back in the bigs at some point this year.
#6 Rangers prospect Chi Chi Gonzalez got recalled to the big club last week and didn’t pitch for the Express this week.
Luke Jackson, #9 on the Rangers top 30, is back in Round Rock without so much as a Major League appearance to his name. He will get one once Rosters expand in September, I’m sure of it. This week Jackson gave up one and three runs respectively in his two appearances. In Friday’s performance after Jackson gave up those three runs he settled down and struck out the next three batters in order. Since switching to the bullpen, Jackson has a very nice 13.2 K/9 rate to compliment his decent 3.86 ERA.
This week the aforementioned #13 ranked Andrew Faulkner got the call up from Frisco to Round Rock. Faulkner has made two appearances, throwing 3.1 perfect innings with five strikeouts. Not a bad way to greet AAA.
18th ranked Hanser Alberto saw his seven game hit streak snapped with an 0-4 Sunday. This week Alberto collected nine hits this week, three of which went for extra bases. Despite the hit streak, Alberto’s average took a small six point dip to .314. He could be back up in September when rosters expand.
Lisalverto Bonilla, who sits at the backend of the Top 30, continues to his DL stint with right elbow issues.
Rehabbing Derek Holland pitched again this week in Round Rock and threw a solid five innings on 89 pitches while throwing 10 more in the bullpen. In that start Holland struck out eight, walked one, and allowed two runs on four hits. Holland has said that he feels confident that he is ready to return to the majors and if all goes well, he could be a candidate to start Wednesday against Seattle pushing Martin Perez back a day.
This week Leonys Martin only played in four games but didn’t hit quite as well as he did his first week back in the minors. Martin had two hits, two strikeouts, two stolen bases, and three walks this week in 16 plate appearances. It also appears that Martin may have broken a bone in his wrist. If this is the case, Martin will require surgery and will likely be out for the season which would be a big blow in the depth of the Ranger’s playoff roster capabilities.