Minor League Monday Week 22
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 and prospect guru Grant Schiller will be your go to guy for the Low A Hickory Crawdads and AA Frisco RoughRiders.
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
11-13 (3rd – 3.5 GB)
Spokane is ending their season as I write this – at seven games under .500, the season wasn’t an ideal finish but it was still successful. The Indians finished second in the Northwest League in attendance drawing just shy of 189,000 fans in 27 games. That was good for an average of 5,701 per night. This was the first time since at least 2005 that Spokane did not finish first in attendance in the NWL. (2005 is as far back as I can find attendance figures). Spokane also has a successful hosting of the Northwest League All-Star Game as well.
2013’s 1st rounder Travis Demeritte returned to action after a PED suspension took most of his 2015. I find the Spokane assignment interesting given he has spent a year and a half in Hickory and the Crawdads team has two of their infielders on the DL currently. Anyways, Demeritte struck out nine times in 16 at-bats so nothing new here. He has power and is a good athlete so there’s hope but a career K rate near 35% won’t cut it.
Fellow infielder Yeyson Yrizzari capped off a good campaign with a couple rough weeks. He will finish (not including the final game) at .265/.290/.339 as an 18 year old. A strong arm coupled with a decent showing at the plate have him likely headed for Hickory to start 2016, where he may spend a couple years. He’s a good one.
Another talented infielder, Ti’Quan Forbes, finished the year playing well. The numbers at the plate improved each month (.584 June OPS, .621 July, .655 August, .765 short September). In the end the numbers stand at .263/.315/.323. The 2014 2nd round pick is 19 and fairly raw, but it is not out of the realm of possibility he starts 2016 at Hickory. I will be tracking his assignment closely.
Class Low A
30-26 (2nd – 9 GB)
First Half Division Champions
One of the Rangers top pitching prospects, Luis Ortiz, will take the hill for the final Crawdads regular season game today. On the year, the team is 80-57 and with a first half division title in place, will be headed to the the South Atlantic League playoffs. A date with Pittsburgh affiliated West Virginia awaits the Crawdads in the first round.
Hickory had one of their better seasons attendance wise drawing over 145,000 fans this year. Compared to the rest of the SAL though, they struggled, drawing 235,000 LESS fans than league leader Lakewood BlueClaws who drew close to 390,000 fans.
2014 1st rounder Luis Ortiz made his return this week. Sidelined since June 15th, Ortiz made two one inning outings. Across the two, one runner crossed the plate, two got on and one went down on three strikes. On the year, across 49 innings, Ortiz had a lot of success. A 1.84 ERA, 22.8 K%, 4.6 BB%, only one home run allowed, a slight ground ball skew (36 groundouts to 32 flyouts) – there’s a lot to like in the numbers here. Expect him to start the next year in High Desert, where I would guess he doesn’t pass the 90-100 inning mark.
2015 1st rounder and top pitching prospect Dillon Tate also threw two innings of ball. One hit and one strikeout were tallied. Tate has thrown just nine innings of pro ball as Texas limits his workload after a college season in which he was transferred from UC Santa Barbara’s pen to rotation. The results have been good. At 21, Tate will start next year in Hickory in all likelihood but could move fairly quickly.
Yohander Mendez may be hitting a wall here as he is twenty innings over his career high. The 20 year old southpaw has had a very impressive – and healthy – season, posting thus far a 2.44 ERA (1.4 prior to nine runs in his last two starts). Mendez is striking out 10 per nine while walking just two. Like Ortiz, Mendez is likely High Desert bound and with past shoulder issues he may be pushed up the ladder if the success continues. The change up is said to be very advanced which will help him handle the California League.
The tandem starter with Mendez, Ariel Jurado, has had a little bit of his own struggles of late to cap off a terrific season. Seven hits and two runs in three innings this week rose his ERA to 2.45. 99 innings, 95 strikeouts and 12 walks are very impressive from the 19-year-old out of Panama.
Jairo Beras continued a strong second half with eight more hits over the past seven days. A .294/.336/.446 slashline on the year, built on a .309/.348/.465 in half two, will earn Beras a promotion to High-A after spending two full years in Hickory.
2015’s 2nd rounder Eric Jenkins saw an aggressive jump from the AZL Rangers to Hickory this week. The speedy 18 year old center fielder has held his own thus far with six hits and four strikeouts in 14 at bats. I am very interested to see if he starts the year in Hickory next year or is kept in extended Spring Training until Spokane’s year starts. I would guess the latter.
High Desert Mavericks
Class High A (Advanced)
33-23 (1st – +4 GB)
It looks like Ronald Guzman is an avid reader of MLM because he took my advice to heart and mashed more dingers. The tall Dominican smashed three homers since the last installment of Minor League Monday. For the year Guzman has accumulated 47 extra-base hits and needs to continue the torrid stretch of his second half into next season. Guzman will go only as far as his bat will take him.
Evan Van Hoosier finally saw his hit streak snapped at 16 games. To respond he simply gathered 11 hits and two walks in his next eight games. Van Hoosier reached base safely in all 28 of the August games in which he played. This week Van Hoosier smashed doubles number 18 and 19 on the season as well as triple number 10. With one game left in the regular season Van Hoosier has a current slash line of 325/.369/.486. It appears the super utility man will likely see Frisco early next season.
27-28 (3rd – 11.5 GB)
What an incredible year for Chuck Greenberg and the entire Frisco management. After purchasing the team last offseason and having just a few months of time for renovations, the RoughRiders led the league in attendance just as they always have. Frisco has led the Texas League in attendance every year since 2005 and quite frankly, it’s not even close. With tonight’s game, the RoughRiders will lead second place Tulsa by more than 100,000 fans in overall attendance and could very well eclipse the 7,000 per game average. Frisco won’t set any team records for overall or per game averages but according to Greenberg, they have set the top three, four of five and seven of ten largest crowds in the Ballparks history. Very well done, guys!
As far as the season goes, the RoughRiders have one game left in the regular season and it’s tonight at Dr. Pepper Ballpark. In order to help with the Round Rock playoff roster several prospects were brought up from Frisco. Lewis Brinson was one of them even after only 28 games in AA the gazelle-like center fielder clearly dominated AA. Brinson put up a line at Frisco of .291/.328/.545.
Ryan Cordell has now been playing more consistently at third base with 32 games there on the year. Cordell hasn’t quite been the same out of the offensive haven that is High Desert. His line with the Mavericks was .311/.376/.528 where with Frisco it sits at .218/.264/.338. The superb athlete’s combination of speed and power has been on display all year with 44 extra-base hits and 20 steals. If Cordell can hit two home runs tonight he can be the organization’s only 20 homer 20 steal player.
After the six no-hit inning outing Connor Sadzeck has had a rough stretch. In three starts since that outing Sadzeck has yet to outlast nine outs. In 8.2 innings during that stretch he has walked 10, allowed 12 hits, and 13 runs. His increased velo has been one of the encouraging signs during his recovery but Tommy John recovery is a grueling process.
Round Rock Express
Pacific Coast League
68-54 (1st – +6 GB)
The Express will finish second in the Pacific Coast League in attendance for the third straight year after leading the league in back to back years. With tonight’s regular season finale, the Express might get to 600,000 fans but it’s likely they will fall just short. Round Rock has finished first or second in attendance every year since 2005, with the exception of 2006 when they finished third.
Round Rock clinched the division earlier this week and will be going to the playoffs. The Express will start a best of five series against Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs beginning Wednesday. Should they win the series the Express will play either the Padres’ affiliate El Paso or the Astros’ affiliate Fresno in the PCL Championship starting September 15th.
Triple A is supposed to be difficult. The two most difficult jumps in the minors are from High A to AA and from AA to AAA. Lewis Brinson cares not for what challenges mere mortals. My jaw hit the floor when I saw his monster blast of a first AAA home run and yours will too. Also a big thank you to Scott Lucas of the Newberg report who recorded Brinson’s at bats from Saturday’s game and put them on youtube for all to see. Brinson was promoted August 31st and in seven games he’s put up a Ruthian line of .423/.545/.577. In 116 AA plate appearances Brinson drew six walks. It took him 33 AAA plate appearances to draw seven walks. Brinson is 21 until next May and I quite honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he challenged for an opening day roster spot next season. It’s highly likely that I’m getting ahead of myself but regardless of next year’s performance Lewis Brinson’s 2015 performance has been incredibly fun to watch. It’s more likely that Brinson starts the 2016 season in Round Rock or if the front office isn’t as sold on the small sample size that Brinson starts 2016 in Frisco.
If you happen to see Nomar Mazara please do not remind him that baseball is hard and that he should be struggling. The 20 year old is making a mockery of the AAA level by how well he is doing. Through 19 games he is putting up a line of .351/.405/.442. Also check out Mazara’s first AAA dinger, she’s a beauty. Nomar Mazara can’t legally purchase alcohol in the United States for another half a year and he was intentionally walked in a AAA game.
Hey there Nick Martinez. In his last two starts Martinez has pitched 12 innings and allowed only one run. He’s also limited opponents to three walks and 10 hits during that stretch.
This past week has been a kickstarter for Ryan Rua. In his last 10 games Rua is batting .304 with a couple of long balls including this grand slam. The grand slam only just cleared the wall but sometimes that’s the kind of break a hitter needs to get them out of a funk.
Also Chi Chi Gonzalez has pitched a total of 18 innings in his last three starts. During that time Gonzalez allowed three runs, six walks, and 18 strikeouts. That last part is very key. The young right hander looks poised for a dominant playoff run.