Minor League Monday – Week 5
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
21-8 (1st – +5 GB)
Yet again, the Hickory Crawdads had a very successful week. A 5-1 mark since the last report raises the ‘Dads record to 21-8 and extends their division lead to five games. A month into the season, roster moves are starting to take place. This week Hickory received pitchers Joe Filomeno, Scott Williams, Austin Pettibone and catcher Marcus Greene from extended Spring Training. On to High-A High Desert are 1B Ronald Guzman (.309/.346/.433) and flame-throwing RP Jefri Hernandez (4.50). Brought off the DL this week was OF Jairo Beras.
Hitter of the Week: This was not a particularly successful week for the Hickory batters despite the 5-1 record. Over six games the team scored just 17 runs. Out of a weak crop of candidates, INF Travis Demeritte had the best week. The 2013 first-rounder reached base 10 times in 26 plate appearances. The Georgia product is repeating Low-A this year after a very boom-or-bust 2014 in which he smashed 25 home runs yet hit just .211 due to a 36.7% K-rate. To this point the story has been much of the same in 2015, as Demeritte has struck out in 35.6% of his plate appearances and is hitting just .216. The raw tools are there and the makeup is plus but it would be nice to see him cut that rate down, especially given he is repeating the level.
Pitcher of the Week: While the bats were a bit cold over the past seven days, the pitchers were far from it. Only 13 runs scored on the Hickory staff in 63 innings. Three starters failed to allow a run – Luis Ortiz, Collin Wiles and Ariel Jurado. Out of the three, the 19-year-old Jurado had the most impressive outing. In seven innings of work, 11 batters went down on strikes while only five reached base. Jurado was able to lower his ERA to 2.79 and now has a K:BB ratio of 28:3 – a very impressive number for a pitcher his age. The 6’-1″ righty had success in his state-side debut in 2014 as well, posting a 1.63 ERA in 38.2 innings of Rookie ball work.
Pick to Click: In general I like to highlight a lesser known but intriguing player in this portion of the write-up. This week that player is relief pitcher John Fasola. The Rangers 31st round pick in the 2014 draft, Fasola has done nothing but impress. In 2014, the righty put up a 2.05 ERA in Short-Season Spokane. So far in 2015, he has allowed just nine baserunners in 9.2 innings. Fasola has struck out 57 and walked just seven in his professional career.
High Desert Mavericks
Class High A (Advanced)
14-16 (T-4th – 3.5 GB)
The Mavericks had an interesting week. High Desert had some newcomers Ronald Guzman, Jose Monegro, and Jefri Hernandez. Guzman had a solid debut week, going 3-12 with one of those hits being a triple. Welcome to the California League Condor. The Mavericks also lost lefty reliever Cody Ege to a promotion to Frisco.
Ryan Cordell has hit a little cold streak. His average has dipped to .288 GASP! Cordell with be fine, he’s also still playing center field while Lewis Brinson nurses a lingering injury. Also out of the lineup for the whole week with an annoyingly persistent injury was super utility man Evan Van Hoosier. High Desert had Wednesday’s game postponed due to wind. I have never seen that phenomenon before but I suppose it’s more common in the California league than in the MLB.
Pitcher of the week:
This pitcher showed Sunday why pitcher records matter so little. Richelson Pena pitched 7.2 innings, allowed two runs, and was saddled with the loss. As a previous manager would say “that’s the way baseball go.” Pena allowed only four hits and didn’t walk a single batter.
Hitter of the week:
Zach Cone now has a higher batting average and on base percentage than Ryan Cordell. I couldn’t say I saw that coming a week ago. Cone picked up at least one hit in every game but Sunday last week. Cone also stole a couple of bases. The former first round pick appears to have turned it on of late and that’s rather pleasant to see.
Ryan Cordell won’t remain cold for too much longer. I expect him to break out from this slump in the coming week. Hopefully Brinson will return this week and Cordell can get back to his comfortable position of short stop.
12-18 (4th – 6 GB)
Well it seemed like the Riders were turning the corner last week and beginning to come out of the early season lull. They were scoring runs and pitching well. Yea, it doesn’t seem like it now. Frisco lost again on Sunday and through 30 games they sit at 12-18 and have lost six of their last seven this week. One loss included the big time beating at the hands of Midland where they lost 23-8. Usually when a team scores eight runs you don’t figure to be on the wrong end of a blowout but that’s how it went. Even Mother Nature seemed to be making things worse by forcing two different games to be stopped midway through and delayed to the next day. It just was not the Riders’ week. The run differential of this week was a miserable -41. Meaning they were outscored by 41 runs in a week. That is pretty hard to do. Still, it wasn’t all bad times as Friday night at Dr. Pepper Ballpark saw a record attendance of 11,915 fans. That was a complete sell out and it actually outdrew the estimated total at the Rangers and Rays game at Tropicana Field by a few hundred fans. Needless to say, the message seemed to have gotten out that this still remains a very exciting club to come see. Well done, Mr. Greenberg.
Hitter and Pitcher of the Week
The hitter of the week is pretty obvious. Joey Gallo went 7-19 with six walks. That’s good for a .368/.520/.750 slash line. You knew the home run power was going to begin soon with how hard he was hitting the ball. So he responds with three bombs in four games. That’s not quite Bryce Harper esque but hey he’s a unicorn so whatever. The strikeouts are still piling up. He had eight of those in his 25 PA’s so the concern for future production remains the same. Still, it appears that he is figuring out AA pitching nicely after last season hitting .232. Enjoy him while he’s here.
The pitcher of the week would have been Jake Thompson with even an average outing on Saturday after what he did on May 4th when he struck out 12 in seven innings but alas he follows it up with a big time stinker. No matter, his FIP still sits around 3.80 despite the inflated ERA. So with limited options to pick from (we gave up a lot of runs this week) I go with Jesus Pirela. The 26 year old Venezuelan was one of the very few Riders’ pitchers that did not allow a run this week. He appeared three times and recorded 3 1/3 innings with three strikeouts, one hit allowed, and zero walks. I still have the image of when he pitched in the exhibition against the Mets this season and served up a game tying Grand Slam to Anthony Recker but hey that was just an exhibition. Pirela currently has as a sparkling FIP below two and has 20 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings.
Pick to Click
I think I pretty much nailed it last week with my selection of Gobbles. The Vegas boy cranked out not only his first dinger of the year but slugged three in four games. This week I’m taking Jose Leclerc because he needs it. The 21 year old still has no idea where his pitches are going as the walks continue to pile up on him but he has posted back to back starts of four plus innings allowing only one earned run. His latest outing against San Antonio was probably his best when he went 4 2/3 innings and struck out five tying his season high. He allowed seven base runners but was still able to limit the damage. So you have to say his two May outings are cause for celebration. Still, when you have walked more batters than you have innings pitched, one can reasonably say you have some issues.
Carlos Correa, SS, #3– Jeffrey Luhnow has stated that Correa will be promoted to AAA in the coming weeks. He has absolutely destroyed the competition at this level and is ready for the next challenge. If he is still with Corpus later on this week when they come back to Frisco, I suggest going out to see him because the next opportunity will be when he is wearing an Astros uniform unless you take an Oklahoma road trip.
Mark Appel, SP- #35– Appel will likely make his 7th start of the season and 3rd against Frisco this weekend. Another Thompson/Appel matchup for anyone? It could happen depending on how Corpus wants to take advantage of their off day. Last time out against San Antonio, the right hander went five innings and didn’t allow a run. He surrendered eight hits and one walk while striking out just one. Like Thompson, Appel continues to work on and fine tune his developing changeup. I like the ground ball percentage floating near 60 percent for him. He was around 46 last year at this level so he is keeping the ball down.
Matt Olson, 1B– Unranked- The big man just continues to take the Dewey Cox approach and walk hard. You can certainly see the appeal from Billy Beane’s regime as his BB% sits over 22 right now. He has at least one walk in eight of his last nine games. In his Saturday appearance against Frisco pitching, Olson collected three hits, a walk, two runs, and three RBI. His current OPS sits at .951 through 29 games.
Round Rock Express
Pacific Coast League
18-12 (1st – +2 GB)
This past week was a rough one for the Express, finishing the week with a 2-5 record. The Express had a couple of rehabbing guests with them for the weekend series. Mitch Moreland over two games went 0-7 with a walk and Josh Hamilton in one game went 1-3 with a single off of Barry Zito. In sad news of the week Luke Jackson has lost his spot in the rotation to Phil Klein. Jackson is now a bullpen arm which will likely speed his arrival in the majors. Jackson has a power fastball in the upper 90s with movement so the bullpen could be a good home for him. In his two relief appearances so far Jackson has yet to allow a run. His first appearance was a perfect inning in which Jackson struck out one. In his second appearance, on Sunday, Jackson walked two and struck out one in a scoreless appearance.
Hanser Alberto’s bat has cooled off a bit since its fiery start to the season. He currently has a slash line of .260/.274/.308. This is a solid line for a guy that plays short stop as well as him. Tomas Telis is still lighting the world on fire with his bat slashing .349/.384/.453.
Pitcher of the week:
Chi Chi Gonzalez had the dominant performance many were searching for on Saturday. Gonzalez worked five shutout innings, allowing two hits along with two walks and five strikeouts. The bullpen behind him held up the shutout and the 1-0 victory ended up being half of Round Rock’s wins for the week.
Hitter of the week:
Jared Hoying has been lighting it up of late. This week Hoying smacked three homers and is now tied with Thomas Field for the team lead. Hoying also swiped three bases and worked his first four walks of the year.
Pick to click:
After a few rough starts last week from Jerad Eickhoff I expect him to bounce back this week. The long ball plagued Eickhoff in his Sunday start with three dingers. Look for him to bounce back tenaciously this week.