Minor League Monday – Week 3
Welcome back to another edition of Minor League Monday. Every Monday during the 2015 season, the folks here at Shutdown Inning will provide you with the a complete rundown of the entire Rangers minor league system. We will provide you with a weekly recap, the current standings, and the current stats of all players so that you can get all of your minor league information with one stop.
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
The Indians season will start in late June. Due to the Indians not starting their season for another few months, I will save their preview for a later date when the roster becomes less nebulous.
Class Low A
13-4 (1st – +2 GB)
Hickory had a monster week, allowing no more than four runs in any game and scoring five or more in six of the eight. For the week, the Crawdads went 7-1 while outscoring their opponents from Asheville and Kannapolis 46-16. On the year the ‘Dads are now an impressive 13-4 with a two-game lead on Pittsburgh affiliated West Virginia. This just goes to show good things happen when a team runs a Spongebob promotion.
Hitter of the Week: It was another week full of big-time hitting performances for the Hickory Crawdads. Fresh off winning the South Atlantic League Hitter of the Week, OF Luke Tendler padded his numbers with two more home runs. Catcher Jose Trevino knocked five out of the park. 1B Ronald Guzman went 12-for-32 with two HRs this last week – perhaps the most exciting performance of anybody in Hickory. The best performance of the week, however, came from 2014 22nd round pick Tripp Martin out of Samford. On the week, Martin was 9-for-26 with four home runs. The 3B/LF is seeing his first professional action this year and currently boasts a slashline of .324/.410/.853.
While a large portion of the team is hitting the ball well, there is one major exception. Former first-round pick Travis Demeritte is currently striking out at a ridiculous 44.8% rate. In 58 plate appearances, the 20-year-old has struck out 26 times. He is repeating Hickory in 2015, where he struck out in 36.7% of his plate appearances a year ago. There is a lot going on in his swing and his upper half will need to quiet down if his hit tool is to develop to the point it needs to.
Pitcher of the Week: Don’t look now, but 2012 compensation round pick Collin Wiles has allowed zero runs through three starts. Over the past week, the soon to be 21-year-old put up ten scoreless innings while allowing only five hits. The strikeout numbers are still a bit worrisome (8 Ks in 16 IPs) but when put next to a .56 BB/9 it’s workable. The batted ball numbers don’t look much different than 2014 so it will be interesting to see if this success holds up.
Perhaps the single most exciting performance so far comes from relief pitcher David Perez. When the 6’5” righty was first signed he was well-known for two things: electric stuff and no control. The control problems combined with an elbow injury that cost him the majority of three seasons put Perez off the radar. Coming off a 2014 Spokane season in which Perez walked 21 in 27.2 innings, expectations weren’t high for this year. The numbers this year (in his first full-season ball, no less): 8.2 innings, one run, ONE WALK, 12 strikeouts.
Pick to Click: I’m going to say 19-year-old infielder Josh Morgan will break out this week. The 2014 3rd-round pick looked really good when I saw him this spring, and the reports only became more positive in the weeks after I left Arizona. To date Morgan is slashing .211/.270/.281. I expect this to change.
High Desert Mavericks
Class High A (Advanced)
8-10 (T-4th – 2 GB)
Both Mavericks teams of which I am a fan had less than stellar weeks. The baseball Mavs were outscored this week 43-33. In an offense heavy league the Mavs had only one game in which they allowed 10+ runs which improved on the previous week’s back to back to back 10+ run games. Few had standout performances this week quite honestly. Frank Lopez had a solid five innings in Tuesday’s contest. He punched out seven, allowed six baserunners, and two earned runs. Pat Kaminska had a fantastic three inning shutout bullpen outing in that game but in three innings of double header start Sunday he allowed three earned runs.
Evan Van Hoosier cooled off a little this week after a torrid 2nd week of the season. Lewis Brinson had a solid week smacking his first triple and second homer of the season. Ryan Cordell is still dominating California League pitchers and struggling a bit defensively. Cordell played a few games this week in center field but played the majority of his games at short stop. Cordell leads the team with seven errors. Preston Beck is still putting up solid offensive numbers including a team leading eight doubles. He’s on pace for over 40 for the season if he keeps this up. That’d be very fun but expect some of those to go over the fence at some point in the season as none have yet for the first baseman.
Hitter of the week:
This youngin only played in only one game so far this season for the Mavs but it was a good one. Edwin Garcia started Saturday’s game at second base. Garcia went 4-4 with a double and batted three runs in on the day. That’s not a bad way to make a splash.
Pitcher of the week:
Luis Parra started Wednesday’s contest and threw six splendid innings. Parra only gave up one earned run on the day. He also allowed only six baserunners and struck out seven on the day lowering his ERA to 5.93. Have I mentioned how cruel the California League is to pitchers?
5-11 (4th – 7 GB)
The Riders are in an early season funk it seems. They’ve lost six games in a row and currently sit at 5-11 on the young season. It definitely was not a good week for them as they just couldn’t do much of anything. They got a win behind Victor Payano last Sunday but since then they have been outscored 49 to 14. That is not a good six game stretch. The four game sweep at the hands of Corpus was a letdown but there isn’t much you can do when a superstar kills you. The best player on the field torched Rider’s pitching as Carlos Correa had eight hits in four games with two homers and a double. They simply couldn’t figure him out.
In some inspiring news, Joey Gallo has returned to the lineup. He DH’d on Saturday and played his first game at 3B yesterday. His day on national TV Sunday went pretty well as he scorched a ringing double off the wall against McCullers. He should be all systems go moving forward and don’t be surprised when Drew Robinson isn’t the team leader in home runs for very long.
I’m not sure what was up with Jake Thompson on Thursday but he got hit pretty hard and took the loss lasting only four innings. That makes two four inning starts for him on the season as hes been a bit shaky so far in 2015 posting a 4.68 FIP but its still early. The walk numbers are about where youd hope and his home run rate should stabilize. Im not even remotely concerned yet.
Cody Buckel seems to slowly but surely improving. In his last three outings, he has posted a FIP of 4.00 with an opponent’s batting average of .154. While that still doesn’t look great, it is a farcry from what he was posting from his time suffering through the yips. He’s still only 22 years old too which is weird to think about.
Hitter and Pitchers of the Week
My hitter of the week this time goes to Drew Robinson. In his seven games this week, Robinson hit exactly .300 with an on base of .440. He clubbed two solo home runs and scored four runs as well. Really liked his patience at the plate working five walks. That brings his season total to a whopping 13 in just 15 games. He’s definitely seeing the ball well and is playing solid defense at second to go with it. He isn’t the strongest hitter but he certainly has the plate discipline to make up for it.
My pitcher of the week was a much tougher choice as the pitching was a bit scarce but I decided to go with Chad Bell. The 26 year old made one appearance but he made it count. Coming in to relieve the ineffective Jake Thompson on Thursday, Bell pitched four scoreless innings while striking out six in the process. He only allowed two base runners to reach via walk. That may not be saying much but Thompson had allowed 13 base runners and six earned runs in his four innings before him. Needless to say he shut Corpus down to at least keep Frisco in the game. After Tommy John surgery cost him all of 2013, Bell just isn’t really a prospect anymore. Still, he has a job and that’s whats important.
Pick to Click
Last week didn’t work out for me as Victor Payano had a solid first start but really pooped the bed in his second one. This time I’m going with Jorge Alfaro. The Legend is heating up at the plate right now. He was my runner up for Hitter of the Week. So far this year hes hitting .300/.349/.450. He hasn’t blasted a home run yet but the doubles are certainly there. Does six in your first 11 games work for you? Only thing that is of concern is hes currently striking out about 34 percent of the time. That’s pretty alarming. He had a very paltable 2014 percent so this just must be a blip on the radar. With the full assortment of big guns he should be seeing more chances with men on base hitting in the 5/6 spot in the order too.
Hunter Renfroe– 50, OF– The 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft for the Padres is likely their 2nd best prospect in the system after the Wisler trade. This 23 year old power hitter has plus bat speed and 60 grade raw power. He’s a 6’-1″ 220 pound corner outfielder that also has a plus arm and solid fielding skills that can allow him to play either corner spot. His one issue is his approach is a bit lacking. Can sit on fastballs and drill them for dingers but struggles with offspeed. Since being promoted to AA in 2014, he has really struggled and his numbers have fallen off. In 313 PA’s at with San Antonio he has slashed .216/.284/.329. He is off to an even worse start in 2015 with an OBP below .200. Still the Padres have high hopes that he adjust his approach and his tools project him to be a realistic average everyday OF.
Carlos Correa– 3, SS- I talked about Carlos last week and what else can you say? He just wrecked Riders’ pitching this past weekend as his torrid start to 2015 continues on. I got a chance to see him in person at BP last Thursday and he is just so massive at SS. He’s the best player on the field when he takes it and just watching him field fungoes and his arm strength is just something else. 80 grade makeup too. It would not surprise me if he is up with the Astros later this season. Unfortunately, Jed Lowrie is swinging a pretty hot bat himself at SS for Houston and Valbuena is too at 3B so hes position blocked at the moment.
Round Rock Express
Pacific Coast League
11-6 (1st – +3 GB)
This was a dominant week for the Express. The team went 6-1 the only loss coming on Wednesday at the hands of a rough bullpen outing form Juan Perez coupled with a tough offensive day. However the most inspiring game came the day before. Luke Jackson finally looked like Luke Jackson for the first time I’ve seen in AAA. He had his longest PCL outing striking out eight in 6.2 innings. He gave up two earned runs on six hits. But wait there’s MORE! He gave up as many walks and home runs as I have in the PCL: a big fat goose egg. Also Michael Choice and Jared Hoying piled on dingers in an eight run barrage. Spencer Patton worked three separate scoreless innings. Lefty bullpen man Sam Freeman worked two games for a total of two innings and still has yet to allow a run in three PCL innings this year.
Chi Chi Gonzalez worked an unspectacular six innings Thursday giving up two runs on seven baserunners and four punch outs. His command looked good but the break on his stuff wasn’t as sharp as it has been. Gonzalez still found a way to be effective as he usually does. Kyle Blanks also had a solid week, the highlight of which came in a four hit, two double contest Sunday.
Hitter of the week: Thomas Field has been lighting up opposing pitchers this past week. The infield slugger steal leads the team with now five homers, six doubles, and a .661 slugging percentage. He also had a couple of three hit games back to back this week.
Pitcher of the Week: This week’s choice for the Express was an obvious choice. Work horse Jerad Eickhoff made his Round Rock debut on Friday. Eick was two outs away from the first no hitter in Round Rock history. However Matt long made the one hit of the day count taking an Eickoff offering over the fence in right field to score one of Jerad’s two walked batters on the night. He ended the night with 11 strikeouts and 108 pitches. Most prospects aren’t stretched that far but no matter what level of play a no hitter is an incredible accomplishment. This was the most dominant I’ve ever seen Eickhoff pitch. His command was impeccable as was the break on that curveball. He also held his fastball in the mid-90s into the 9th inning. Eickhoff is definitely a dude.