July 23rd, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, Stephen Harmon took a look at some of the highest ranked Rangers prospects coming into the season. Today, he takes a look at some farmhands who have helped their stock in one way or another.
Round Rock Express (Triple-A):
Pedro Strop: Strop has been one of the Express’ most consistent arms out of the bullpen. The Dominican native posted a 1.93 ERA in the month of July, lowering his ERA to 3.55 on the season. Strop has spent parts of the last three seasons in Arlington, compiling a 3.72 ERA for the Rangers in 9.2 innings of work this season. Originally signed as a shortstop by the Colorado Rockies in 2002, the 26-year-old still has time to earn a regular role in the Rangers’ bullpen.
Chad Tracy: While, Chris Davis is capturing most of the attention with his uncanny home run numbers (24 bombs in 47 games), Tracy has quietly been building arguably the best season of his career. Despite hitting a meager .230 in June, the Pepperdine product still boasts a .262 average on the season. However, his 20 home runs through July 22 offsets some skepticism regarding his ability to hit.
Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A):
Mike Bianucci: After a hot start offensively, Bianucci’s batting average has dropped off a bit since the All-Star break. However, his power numbers have been steady. Heading into the home stand, the Auburn University alum leads the ‘Riders with 22 home runs and has 69 RBI – both rank among the Texas League leaders. The most impressive split for Bianucci is his .316 batting average with runners on base compared to a .207 average with the bases empty.
Jake Brigham: Despite initially struggling after being moved to the bullpen, Brigham has strung together 12.1 consecutive scoreless innings of work. Primarily a starter throughout his career, Brigham now finds himself as a key piece in one of the most dependable bullpens in the Texas League. Through the month of July, the Orlando native is holding hitters to a .152 batting average.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High-A):
Ryan Strausborger: Strausborger has come out of nowhere to emerge as a true prospect for the Rangers. The speedy outfielder is now batting third in the lineup for the Pelicans and is leads the team in RBIs, and is second in almost every other offensive category. Additionally, the Indiana State University product has accumulated 27 steals through July 22.
Zach Zaneski: Backstop Zach Zaneski has quietly been putting together back-to-back .300 seasons in the minors. This is the Rhode Island native’s first season in AA, and he has already earned Carolina League All Star recognitions. Currently, Zaneski is splitting time evenly with Vincent DiFazio. Each is alternating behind the dish every night. However if, Zaneski continues to hit at his current pace (.333 in July) he will make a viable case to become the everyday catcher.
Hickory Crawdads (Low-A):
Tomas Telis: The Venezuelan import is enjoying his first season in the South Atlantic League. Telis has never batted below .300 while playing in the States and 2011 looks like another .300+ season. Perhaps most encouraging to scouts is his surge in power. Through 80 games, Telis has tallied eight long balls. Being just 20 years old, his body should mature even more, which could lead to more home run power.
Christian Villanueva: Villanueva is one of the best power/speed combos in Ranger’s system. Hailing from Mexico, Vilanueva has swiped 23 bags and belted 11 home runs while hitting cleanup for Hickory. He had three walk-off hits in the span of eight days for the Crawdads earlier this season.
Spokane Indians (short season):
Brett Nicholas: The former University of Missouri catcher is either first or second in every major offensive category for Spokane. Through his first 15 games in July, Nicholas was batting an impressive .396 with two home runs. A sound defensive catcher who can hit is hard to come by, so don’t expect Nicholas to stay in Spokane past this season, especially with Hickory catcher Kellin Deglan batting just .226.