Minor League Monday Week 6
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
Spokane announced that their individual game tickets went on sale last week which means that the Short Season Class A Indians will be kicking off their season very soon. Their first game is just about a month away now, June 18th. If you are in the greater Spokane area, or will be visiting at any point during the summer/early fall grab some tickets and check out Avista Stadium.
The Indians will open up at home on an eight game home-stand. They do have a few names on the roster so far that you can check out here, but most of the roster will be filled out after the Amateur Draft in a couple of weeks. Jurickson Profar‘s brother, Juremi will be there.
I think his shoulder works.
Class Low A
26-9 (1st – +6.5 GB)
Another week, another winning record for the Hickory Crawdads. A 5-1 mark raises the season record to 26-9, 6.5 games better than the next best in the Northern Division. The magic number is already all the way down to 29 in mid-May. This has been a dominant team in the South Atlantic League. Hickory is second in runs scored with 162 (4.6 per game) and first by a wide margin in runs allowed with 110 (3.1 per game) despite playing in a hitter-friendly stadium. Over the past week the run differential was a now normal line of 30-17.
Hitter of the Week: For a second straight week Travis Demeritte performed the best of any Crawdad at the plate. The former first-round pick went 7-for-19 with two doubles and a home run, good for a slashline of .368/.400/.632. Over the past couple of weeks Demeritte has gotten it going after a rough April and has raised his AVG/OBP by .023/.041 since the start of the month. Unfortunately, out of the 12 outs the third baseman made this week, nine were via the punchout. His K-rate is now even higher than it was in 2014 at 37.1%. This is not a number anyone was looking to see from the 20-year-old repeating Low-A.
Pitcher of the Week: 2014 4th-round pick Brett Martin made this an easy decision this week. The 6’4” lefty tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing only three baserunners while striking out six. Martin received positive reviews from those who viewed him in Spring Training and so far he has continued to look good and pitch well in the regular season. Martin’s ERA was lowered to 2.01 in his sixth start and he is walking only 1.7/9 at 20 years old. Nearly 54% of balls put in play this far have been grounders. Those two numbers are a recipe for success.
Pick to Click: Luis Ortiz has a 0.40 ERA in 22.1 innings this year, yet has not been Pitcher of the Week once. This highlights just how dominant the Hickory staff has been. It is, however, time for “LuLu” to get some run suppoert. Ortiz has only walked three batters all year, has struck out 22, and most importantly has been working hard on his changeup. It’s really great to see a 19-year-old understand the importance of a good change. Look for Ortiz to continue his success, but more importantly continue his development as he improves his third pitch.
High Desert Mavericks
Class High A (Advanced)
18-18 (2nd – 5 GB)
High Desert did some heavy hitting this week, scoring 10+ runs more times than they had all season. Preston Beck is now in Frisco but Royce Bolinger made the long trip west to replace him. The Mavericks now have four of the top thirteen OPS leaders in the California League. Zach Cone is now 13th in the California League in OPS. It has been an impressive turnaround for the former first rounder who now has an OPS of .850 and is slugging over .500. Cone also has three homers in his last two games. Alex Burg sits atop the Cali League OPS lead with 1.129. Burg is having an explosive offensive season but is still a 27 year old below AA.
Evan Van Hoosier returned from injury on the 12th and went 2-22. The bright spot is that Van Hoosier only struck out three times in that stretch and walked five times. Unfortunately Lewis Brinson’s hamstring is still plaguing him. This is a little worrisome as Brinson had a similar injury last season around the same time that kept him out almost a month. Last year he went on an absolute tear once he returned so hopefully that pattern can continue. Brinson has only played 17 games this season, his last coming on April 26. Texas boy Seth Spivey currently has a seven game hit streak so that’s nice if you like that sort of thing.
Pitcher of the week:
I try not to give these to the same player back to back weeks but Richelson Pena had another fantastic start. Pena lasted seven innings and didn’t walk a batter in this week’s start. He also struck out seven and allowed only three hits. Pena’s ERA now sits at a respectable 4.41.
Hitter of the week:
You’d think Zach Cone, with three dingers in a week would win it, but Ryan Cordell started doing Ryan Cordell things again. In every game this week except one, Cordell had a multi-hit game, and he’s reached base at least twice in his last seven games. Cordell drew five walks and hit two homers this week. Another nugget to note: Cordell has not played short stop since Lewis Brinson’s injury. He has played center field the entire month of May and then a few more games.
Pick to click:
Evan Van Hoosier from what I’ve gathered has been seeing the ball well since his return from injury. The super utility man should have a big week at the plate coming up.
12-24 (4th – 12 GB)
For whatever reason, this Frisco team just cannot seem to get it going this year. They have lost 11 games in a row now and sit a disappointing 12 games under .500. This club had some lofty expectations with so many big time prospects in the organization in the lineup but when you allow 198 earned runs in 219 innings you understand the root of the problem. The club’s pitching has just not been very good. The ERA for the team sits at 5.58 while the club is only averaging about four runs a game. When the team OPS is about .698, it simply can’t carry a pitching staff that is that bad. The updated run differential stands at -82. Just think about that for a minute. The next closest team is Springfield with a -53. Both of those teams sit dead last in their divisions so that tells you what you need to know. Still, it is still just the middle of May and there is time to turn things around. The goal is to develop but winning sure is fun too.
One thing that was fun was Josh Hamilton appearing in a AA game for the first time since 2011 when he was on a rehab assignment for a few games with Frisco. Well he hasn’t homered yet in any of his rehab games but he is driving the ball. I watched him drill a double with his signature sweet swing Sunday against Corpus left hander Josh Hader who is no slouch. He’s a pretty good prospect in Houston’s system. Honestly, I feel he could be activated and play Tuesday if Daniels knew who he wanted to send down. I just personally feel he doesn’t know yet so he’s keeping him there for now. Some other good news is the big boys Joey Gallo, Nick Williams, and Nomar Mazara continue to flat out rake. Their OPS’s respectively sit at 1.048, .877, and .800. Williams’ development especially is something to behold. The kid finally looks like he has a plate approach as he has 13 walks 36 games. He had 15 in 95 games back at Hickory in 2013.
Hitter and Pitcher of the Week
My hitter of the week is the aforementioned Nick Williams and deservingly so. The dude has been rolling lately and he reached base safely multiple times in every game this week. He slashed .346/.419/1.000. Yes that slugging percentage is no mistake. He had three dingers, two doubles, and two triples. He also only struck out four times. That’s about 13 percent which has brought his season percentage down to about 15. Why is that a big deal? Because like Gallo, the strikeouts have been an issue for Williams in years past. He has really cleaned up and changed his approach. I spoke with him on Media Day and he said he was only making a minor adjustment, this is a MAJOR change. Kudos Mr. Williams, keep it up.
My pitcher of the week is Andrew Faulkner. Once again, choosing this was pretty tough as the options were limited but Faulkner tossed a “Quality Start” May 14th against Corpus going 6 innings allowing two runs while striking out six. He lowered his ERA to 4.91 in the process as the lefty will look to build on this effort when he faces Midland this week. The 14th round pick has been hurt by walks this year as his BB/9 is 4.64. He seems to be trending downward as he had much better results in about the same amount of innings late in 2014 for Frisco last year. Let’s hope this latest start is a step in the positive direction.
Pick to Click
Last week’s pick was a wash as Jose Leclerc’s issues just won’t go away. He did pitch five innings Sunday and only allowed two runs. It was his finest game of the year striking out six and allowing only five base runners. This week I decided to go with another two start pitcher in Alec Asher. The right hander will start tonight against Midland and then likely later on this week against San Antonio. Last time out against Midland was probably one of his worst so I feel he’s got a chip on his shoulder to mow down Olson’s bunch this time around. His FIP so far in 2015 actually is only about 3.78 because he’s averaging a strikeout per inning. (9.00 in K/9).
Note- I have decided to update this section and not be so repetitive. I will include other top guys that may not be top 101 but appear on other top lists or just miss out.
Trea Turner– SS, Unranked– Turner may not be ranked on the BP list but he is 65th on the Baseball America rankings. The former 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft has something unique about him and it may not be his talent. He may currently be playing for the Padres’ AA team but his rights belong to Washington. He was involved in the Wil Myers’ trade last November as a player to be named later. So while Washington owns him, he cannot be officially named in the deal until June 13th because players cant officially be traded until a year after signing. This rule has since been altered so Trea gets his own rule. He’s still a good SS who has a .890 OPS for San Antonio this year at age 21. Scouts put his speed grade at a minimum of a 70 since his leg injuries but 80 was certainly in play before that. He plays good enough defense and has an average arm. The Nats may extend Desmond or they could find a stopgap until Turner is ready in a few years.
Round Rock Express
Pacific Coast League
25-13 (1st – +5.5 GB)
This week was filled with change for the Express. Spencer Patton and Roman Mendez are back after some time spent in Arlington. Ross Ohlendorf and his quirky delivery are in the Ranger’s pen, as is Tanner Scheppers who looked fantastic in his first outing back yesterday. Tyler Pastornicky was called up from Frisco and Chi Chi Gonzalez is back after some time in Arizona after a scratched start.
Guilder Rodriguez is now in Frisco which frustrates me because I think he should be in Round Rock primarily to help freshly demoted Rougned Odor right the proverbial ship but Odor will be fine. Trever Adams was also demoted which came as little surprise after his rough start to AAA. Adams had a line of .216/.174/.365 before his demotion Friday, which is only slightly worse than Michael Choice. The feared slugger Thomas Field is now in Arlington so PCL pitchers can relax. Field smacked 14 extra base hits in 28 Round Rock games.
Josh Hamilton spent a little time with the Express but wasn’t nearly as dominant as he was in Frisco. Rougned Odor was sent down to remove him from the distractions of major league baseball. The results have been encouraging so far. Through seven games Odor has a slash line of .318/.464/.818. He also has three homers, two doubles, and most importantly five walks. Odor has looked like the more patient hitter the Rangers hoped he would become.
Pitcher of the week:
Jimmy Reyes out of the bullpen had a phenomenal week. Reyes had three appearances of 2.1, 3.0, and 4.0 innings. In those appearances Reyes allowed six runs, no walks, and one earned run.
Hitter of the week:
Freshly demoted Jake Smolinski looked very much like a big leaguer against PCL pitching this week. Through six games Smolinski put up a line of .524/.583/.952. So a 1.500 plus OPS sure ain’t bad. Smolinksi has reached base at least three times in half of his games in Round Rock this year. Smolinksi also struck out in 17% of his plate appearances for the week.
Pick to click:
As good as Odor was this past week, I expect him to be even better next week. Rougned Odor won’t be in Round Rock for much longer.