May 7th, 2011

Texas League Rankings

As I mentioned earlier this week, the Texas League lasts almost exactly
five months. Since the season began on April 7th, I’ll go through my
unofficial rankings after a few Facts after last night’s game.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The story of the game was Frisco starter Jake Brigham. Perfect
    through six and a third innings, Brigham allowed a one-out single to
    Jaff Decker that immediately preceded an RBI double from Kyle Blanks.
    After throwing only 69 pitches in the first six innings, Brigham
    couldn’t get through the seventh after 23 pitches, three runs and four
    hits.
  • Still, Brigham’s efforts should be applauded. For six innings,
    Brigham pitched as good, if not better, than any pitcher in the Texas
    League. Here’s a feature from the TL on Brigham’s outing
  • Offensively, the RoughRiders never got it going last night. The
    ‘Riders set a season low with only three base hits, and San Antonio’s
    pitching staff only faced three more than the minimum.
  • The bullpen continued its good work, working two and a third
    scoreless innings. The most notable effort was Fabio Castillo’s, who got
    out of a bases loaded situation in the eighth and tossed a scoreless
    ninth. Castillo’s ERA still sits at 12.79, but he has only worked six
    and a third frames. Believe it or not, Castillo has only given up runs
    in two of his five outings.

OK. Without further ado, here are the rankings.

1. San Antonio (18-10): The Missions almost lost their top spot
by dropping three of four to Frisco earlier this week, but San Antonio
was the class of the league through the first month. After starting the
season 1-3, the Missions ripped off 12 of 15 to seize first place in the
South.
HIGH POINT (April 23): The Missions crushed Midland 21-8 for their third
offensive output of 20 or more runs. It was the second of seven
victories over Midland in the season’s first month.
LOW POINT (May 5): San Antonio dropped its third straight to the
RoughRiders in Frisco. Coming into the series, the Missions had only
seven losses.
KEY STAT (.300): San Antonio’s batting average through 28 games, a Texas League high.

2. Tulsa (16-10): Before losing last night, the Drillers had
actually caught San Antonio for the TL’s best record. Tulsa limped
through the season’s first two weeks (6-7) before winning 10 of 13 to
seize a strong hold on the top spot in the North.
HIGH POINT (May 5): The Drillers won their fifth straight, 4-2 at
Springfield. After play that day, the Drillers had the best record in
the TL (16-9).
LOW POINT (April 11): At the time, no one knew about the vaunted San Antonio offense. Then, the Missions spanked Tulsa 23-10.
KEY STAT (1.88): Juan Nicasio’s earned run average over five starts. The
defending Texas League Pitcher of the Week, Nicasio is 4-1 with 40
strikeouts and only four walks.

3. Midland (14-14): Beyond the top two, the Texas League is a
mess. You could rank teams three through eight in any order, and no one
could accuse you of being totally wrong. I give this spot to the
RockHounds, though, because they are 13-7 against teams not named San
Antonio. Midland was the best team in the league during the first few
weeks.
HIGH POINT (April 26): Down by three to Corpus Christi in the ninth, the
RockHounds tied it with a pair of homers. In the tenth, Matt Sulentic’s
walk-off home run pushed Midland’s record to 12-7.
LOW POINT (May 2): The Missions swept Midland, capping it off with a
17-6 win. The RockHounds are 1-7 against San Antonio this year.
KEY STAT (77): The number of runs the RockHounds have allowed against
San Antonio. Against everyone else, Midland has surrendered only 101 in
20 games.

4. Northwest Arkansas (12-12): Even though I have the Naturals in
the top half of the league, they may be the coldest team right now.
However, the talent level remains high and Northwest got off to a great
start to earn this spot.
HIGH POINT (April 12): After four straight one-run wins, the Naturals
clubbed Corpus Christi 14-4 to start 5-1, which was best in the TL.
LOW POINT (April 15): San Antonio crushed Northwest Arkansas 26-5, which
started a rough run for the Naturals. Since April 14, Northwest is just
7-11.
KEY STAT (.282): That’s Jamie Romak’s batting average, which happens to
be the highest personal batting average of any Natural regular.

5. Springfield (12-15): Give the Cardinals some credit. In a
league that features four organizational number one prospects,
Springfield is hanging around without anyone from St. Louis’ top 20.
They certainly closed this period strongly, taking three of four from
Northwest Arkansas.
HIGH POINT (May 5): A 5-2 victory over the Naturals gave Springfield its first three-game winning streak this season.
LOW POINT (April 8): After dropping the opener, Springfield had a 6-2
lead over Frisco in the seventh. However, the ‘Riders sent the game to
extra innings and won on a throwing error in the tenth.
KEY STAT (.248): The team’s batting average, which is last in the league.

6. Frisco (12-16): Four days ago, the RoughRiders were a shoe-in
to finish last in these rankings. But, the ‘Riders took three of four
over San Antonio to jump back into the race for second place in the
South. Despite the poor record, the RoughRiders are third in the league
in hitting and fifth in ERA.
HIGH POINT (May 4): In game two of that series with the Missions, Frisco
walked off with a 3-2 victory after a Mike Bianucci sacrifice fly in
the tenth. So far this year, the ‘Riders are 4-4 against the Missions.
LOW POINT (April 26): Bianucci’s home run was overturned to a double,
Frisco went from up one to down one, and a post-game altercation cost
the RoughRiders their center fielder for ten days. It was a rough day in
San Antonio, that’s for sure.
KEY STAT (30): The number of runs the Missions have scored against the
‘Riders in eight games. In its other 20 games, San Antonio has scored
168.

7. Arkansas (10-13): The Travelers have been plagued by terrible
weather and spotty play. However, a positive sign is that the club is
10-9 after an 0-4 start. And hey, they get to watch Mike Trout,
baseball’s best prospect according to many experts.
HIGH POINT (April 18): The Travelers defeated Frisco 4-3 for their
fourth straight victory. The Travelers had recovered from that 0-4 start
to sit at 6-5.
LOW POINT (April 26): It was the Travs’ fourth straight postponement.
Arkansas has only played 23 games, which is five fewer than most teams
in the league.
KEY STAT (.310): Trout’s batting average through 23 games, which is second to Orlando Mercado on the club.

8. Corpus Christi (12-16): Houston’s farm system is down, and the
Hooks are currently tied with the RoughRiders for the league’s worst
record. Plus, Houston’s minor leaguer of the year, J.D. Martinez,
injured himself two nights ago. No word on his condition, but that’s
never good.
HIGH POINT (May 4): Corpus’ only three-game winning streak happened on this night, a 4-2 victory over the RockHounds.
LOW POINT (April 12): Believe it or not, the Hooks have only had one
three-game losing streak. The final loss came on this night at Northwest
Arkansas. At the time, the Hooks were 1-5.
KEY STAT (30): Martinez’s RBI total, which is second in the Texas League.

Thoughts? Comments? Feel free to shoot them our way. We kick off coverage tonight at 6:30 from Midland on the RBN. Enjoy!

- Brian

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