Minor League Monday Week 7
Welcome to a very special Memorial Day Edition of Minor League Monday. Before we dive into the games from last week, let’s all take a moment to remember our Fallen Heroes and those who have served in our Military. Let’s remember those who have willingly volunteered to sacrifice their life, their families, their friends, and even their livelihood so that we didn’t have to. Please, if you will, take a few minutes and check out this video. The video is shines a light on something most of us overlook or are too busy to recognize.
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 a couple of weeks ago, which means that the Short Season Class A Indians will be kicking off their season very soon. June 18th to be exact. 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
29-14 (1st – +4 GB)
The Hickory Crawdads finally showed that they too are mortal, going 3-5 last week – their first losing week of the entire season. The pitching continued to succeed as the staff allowed just 24 runs over the eight games. However, when the offense is shut out twice and scores just one on two other occasions it is difficult to win. The Crawdads now sit at 29-14 on the year with their Northern Division lead whittled down to four after a good week from Pittsburgh-affiliated West Virginia.
Hitter of the Week: 19-year-old 2014 third rounder Josh Morgan has really started to hit the ball well of late. After a poor April saw the infielder slash .246/.293/.319, his second month of full-season action has fared much better at .312/.384/.416. Over the past seven days Morgan collected at least one hit in all but one game, going 10-for-28 with three walks, his first home run, two doubles and five stolen bases.
Morgan had a very good spring which allowed him to take the open Hickory infield spot over Ti’Quan Forbes (2014 2nd rounder) and Yeyson Yrizarri (2013 J2 signing). With Michael De Leon, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Travis Demeritte already entrenched in Hickory only one roster spot was available for the three prospects to battle out. Morgan won the spot and impressed just about anyone who stopped by Surprise in doing so. While his 56% ground ball rate needs to come down, the right-handed batter has continued to develop and has just a 15% K-rate at a very young age.
Pitcher of the Week: Every week this is a difficult choice to make as every week there are more than a couple worthy choices. Yohander Mendez, the 6’-4” lefty out of Venezuela continued his dominant start to 2015. In two outings this week, Mendez tossed a total of five innings, allowed only one hit, walked none and struck out eight. On the year, the 2011 J2 signing has 19 strikeouts in 12.2 innings. Mendez has also induced nine groundballs and five popups out of 17 balls put in play. With reports of his velocity ticking up, there are some signs of things happening for the southpaw who has been plagued by injuries.
Pick to Click: Catcher Jose Trevino started showing some signs of life after about a 10-day long slump. Over the past couple days the 2014 6th-rounder has four hits, two of them doubles. He may be on the verge of mashing again (6 HRs, .560 SLG in April).
High Desert Mavericks
Class High A (Advanced)
23-20 (2nd – 1 GB)
The greatest joy for a Rangers farm pitcher must be getting the call up out of the California League. This week Frank Lopez got that call and started Sunday’s game for Frisco but we’ll get to that later. Richelson Pena and Jefri Hernandez combined for a two hit, 10 strikeout shutout of Bakersfield on Saturday. Only three Bakersfield players reached base that day; two reached base on singles and one on a Ronald Guzman error.
Ryan Cordell played his first two professional games at third base this week. He leads the team with 22 extra base hits and is second among qualifying Mavericks players with a .928 OPS. Cordell has a .359 BABIP and an 8.9% BB rate. Also look at this beautiful heat map courtesy of MLBfarm.com.
The dude is lighting up the entire field which comes as no surprise to those who have kept up with him through the years.
Pitcher of the week:
I was going to give the award to Pena but then I noticed a performance which impressed me even more. In Thursday’s blowout loss Shane McCain and his rhyming name grabbed my eye. McCain pitched three perfect innings in a game which the Mavericks ended up losing 22-5. That’s a heck of an outing during a rough game to come through in the way he did.
Hitter of the week:
I love it when people prove me right and this week Evan Van Hoosier did so to perfection. In his six games, Van Hoosier had three three-hit games and two two-hit games as well as six extra-base hits.
16-26 (4th – 12 GB)
The Riders no longer have Josh Hamilton on their roster so I hope you took your chance to see him while he was there. Jorge Alfaro has gone through some regression this year. He isn’t making the adjustments at the plate that he did last year and is instead chasing sliders away quite frequently. Nick Williams had a lovely oppo taco in Thursday’s game. What I love even more is the 9.5% walk rate and the improved 17% K rate. I’ve said it frequently this season on twitter that Nick Williams looks like a different player. Williams has always been a balanced hitter but this year the even distribution of his hits is amazing. This, like all lovely charts, brought to you by MLBfarm.com.
Meanwhile Nomar Mazara is batting .393 on balls put in play so that’s pretty neat. Don’t worry about the lack of dingers, Mazara is focused more on being a well rounded hitter than mashing bombs. He’s doing well with that with a 20.5% K rate as a 20 year old in AA paired with a 9.5% walk rate.
Jake Thompson had a fantastic start in Wednesday’s contest. He had a host of screaming children there for support as well as myself. I screamed less than the children for most of the game except when Thompson threw that gorgeous slider. Thompson lasted 6.2 innings, struck out eight Rockhounds, and allowed three hits. His two-seamer was working that day and induced many a weak grounder. That pitch paired with his beautiful slider made him extremely difficult to conquer.
Pitcher of the week:
Frank Lopez survived nearly two months of pitching in the California League. As a result Lopez earned a call up to replace the promoted Alec Asher. In his Texas League debut Lopez pitched 6.1 scoreless innings. The only hits Lopez allowed were two singles to Trea Turner. Lopez looked impressive in his AA debut and at age 21 is still younger than the average Texas League player.
Hitter of the week:
Soon to be named the Joey Gallo award, this week Gallo was good at baseball. Gallo collected three dingers, three walks, and three doubles. His current BABIP is .480. If he weren’t striking out a third of the time, imagine the kind of damage he’d be doing. Gallo’s walk rate is an outstanding 16.7% and his OBP is a lovely .439. 67.31% of the balls Gallo puts in play for the season are either line drives or fly balls. That is outstanding.
Pick to click:
Nomar Mazara has been seeing the ball well and making solid contact this past week but with less than desirable results. Look out for Mazara to have a fantastic week.
Round Rock Express
Pacific Coast League
27-15 (1st – +6.5 GB)
This was a wet wet week all around Texas. The Express only played four of their eight scheduled games for the week due to the Seattle-like weather we’ve been having. The team went 2-2 on the shortened week. There are a couple of new faces in Round Rock: Alec Asher and J.T. Wise both got the call up from Frisco this week. Also a note on Hanser Alberto:
Hanser Alberto got a hit in both games of Round Rock’s double header today and has now hit safely in 19 of 20 games and 16 straight.
— Tepid Participation (@TepidP) May 25, 2015
That’s pretty awesome. One thing I’d noticed watching Alberto is how much better contact he makes hitting left-handed. He has an 8% line drive percentage against right handed pitchers and 18% batting against left handers according to MLBfarm.com. I also love the fact that Alberto is using the entire field this year. A sweet hitting infielder with his fielding ability that can spray hits all around the field can have a successful MLB career.
Looking at some of the numbers on Jerad Eickhoff‘s season in AAA so far one thing jumped out at me. His WHIP is a solid 1.258, his BB% is down to 6.2%, but 18 of his 37 hits allowed this season have been for extra bases. 30.2 innings isn’t a great sample size but it’s decent enough to draw reasonable conclusions. Eickhoff is just learning that AAA hitters are much better at taking advantage of mistakes than AA hitters. Chi Chi Gonzalez has a 4.15 ERA but more importantly 54% of balls put in play against him are grounders. This is why he’s only given up seven extra-base hits in 43.1 innings.
Pitcher of the week:
This week in the four games Stolmy Pimentel impressed me the most. Pimentel started the second game of a Sunday double-header and went three innings and only allowed two baserunners on walks.
Hitter of the week:
Ryan Strausborger put up a line this week of .600/.667/1.000. Strausborger caused only four outs in 12 plate appearances and also stole a base.
Pick to click:
Look for Alec Asher to enter the Pacific Coast League with a bang this week. His first PCL start should be some time this week but is yet to be announced.