Results tagged ‘ Christian Villanueva ’
Earlier today MiLB.com released its 2012 Rangers Organization All-Star Team and the RoughRiders were well-represented with six players named to the squad, more than any other team in the farm system (Round Rock, which ironically finished with the worst record of all the full-season teams, was second with five). So how did MiLB.com do with their picks? Let’s take a look at the catching and infield positions.
MiLB.com’s pick: Kellin Deglan, Hickory (92 G, .234-12-41, 25 2B, 2 3B, 46 R, .310 OBP, .438 SLG, .748 OPS, 7 E, 12 PB, 38% CS)
My pick: Deglan
Production-wise, it’s not a stellar crop to choose from but a case could be made for either one of Frisco’s catchers (Jose Felix and Zach Zaneski) and for Myrtle Beach’s Tomas Telis. Felix was arguably the best defensive catcher in the Texas League and made strides offensively while Zaneski’s batting average was over .300 for most of the year and got better behind the plate as the season went on. Telis’ offensive numbers, when observed through the hitter-unfriendly Carolina League prism, were actually fairly comparable to Deglan’s. For me, the difference came down to the numbers that were actually there, and the former first round pick Deglan swatted 12 home runs with 25 doubles, both impressive figures for a 20-year old catcher. It may all be a moot point in the long run, as Jorge Alfaro, who caught just 29 games, is probably the best prospect of the bunch. His lack of time behind the dish hurt him in this exercise, however.
MiLB.com’s pick: Chris McGuiness, Frisco (123 G, .268-23-77, 25 2B, 65 R, .366 OBP, .474 SLG, .840 OPS, 7 E)
My Pick: McGuiness
One of the newest members of the Indians organization, McGuiness had a terrific bounce back season with the ’Riders, giving Texas League hurlers a reason to throw hittable pitches to Mike Olt, who batted before the former Citadel star in Steve Buechele’s lineup. McGuiness established career-highs in home runs, doubles, runs batted in and runs scored while saving numerous throwing errors with excellent glove work at first base. Other fine seasons to consider for this spot belonged to the Round Rock combo of Mike Bianucci and Brad Nelson, Myrtle’s Brett Nicholas and the AZL Rangers’ Ronald Guzman.
MiLB.com’s pick: Yangervis Solarte, Round Rock (130 G, .288-11-54, 28 2B, 69 R, 3-4 SB, .340 OBP, .405 SLG, .745 OPS, 11 E at position)
My pick: Rougned Odor, Hickory (109 G, .259-10-47, 23 2B, 4 3B, 60 R, 19-29 SB, .313 OBP, .400 SLG, .714 OPS, 10 E at position)
My first disagreement with MiLB.com comes at the second base position. Solarte’s first season with the Rangers organization was also his first at the Triple-A level. It was his finest season to date in home runs, RBI and runs scored, but while I tend to give a little extra credit to offensive players in the Carolina League, I have to take some away from Pacific Coast Leaguers. Why? The circuit dramatically favors hitters in most years and 2012 was no exception. The PCL batting average and OPS for this past season were .278 and .775, respectively (the International League, by comparison, was .257 and .717). Solarte should certainly be congratulated for a fine season, but the 18-year-old Odor (he turns 19 this February) put up similar numbers in a less offensively-generous league while ranking among the best defensive second basemen in the South Atlantic League. His numbers did fall off in the second half of the year, but that is often the case for players in their first full season of professional ball. Added Frisco first name bonus: I’m looking forward to seeing Rougned playing for the RoughRiders, perhaps by the end of next season. Other second basemen whose seasons were worthy of note included Frisco’s Leury Garcia, Myrtle’s Odubel Herrera, Spokane’s Cam Schiller and the AZL Rangers’ Janluis Castro. So yeah, the Rangers are pretty well-stocked at this position.
MiLB.com’s pick: Mike Olt, Frisco/Texas (MiLB numbers: 95 G, .288-28-82, 17 2B, 3B, 65 R, 4-4 SB, .398 OBP, .579 SLG, .977 OPS, 11 E at position)
My pick: Olt
No brainer here, as a case could be made for Olt being the best third baseman in Minor League Baseball in 2012. After missing a good chunk of the previous season with a broken collarbone, the former UConn Husky was a one-man wrecking crew in Frisco. He looked capable of hitting the most home runs by a Texas Leaguer in more than a decade before the Rangers called him up to the big leagues in early August. He was slowed by a foot injury that he suffered just days into reaching Arlington, but that will likely become just a footnote in an otherwise solid big league career. While Olt was clearly the best at the hot corner for the Rangers, it would be remiss of me to not mention Joey Gallo, who spent time with both short-season clubs. The supplemental first rounder from this past June snapped Cody Decker’s AZL home run record with 18 long balls (he added four more with Spokane) while hitting .293 with a 1.169 OPS for the baby Rangers. Christian Villanueva, who spent most of 2012 with Myrtle before being traded to the Cubs, Hickory’s Drew Robinson and Spokane’s Ryan Rua also had noteworthy seasons.
MiLB.com’s pick: Jurickson Profar, Frisco/Texas (MiLB numbers: 126 G, .281-14-62, 26 2B, 7 3B, 76 R, 16-20 SB, .368 OBP, .452 SLG, .820 OPS, 22 E at position)
My pick: Profar
Again, you can’t shoot too many holes in picking Profar, hailed by many as the best prospect in the game at the moment. From his preternatural ability to work a count to his off-the-charts makeup, there isn’t much to say about the 19-year-old Curacaoian (my favorite learned word of 2012) that hasn’t already been said. So how about this observation, for kicks and giggles:
First game of full season ball: Home run in his first at bat of the year for Hickory vs. Asheville on April 7, 2011
First hit at Double-A: Home run at Arkansas to deepest part of the ballpark on April 8, 2012
First at bat in 2012 XM Futures All-Star Game: Home run off top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi in first inning
First MLB at bat: Home run at Cleveland on September 2, 2012
The man knows how to make an entrance, doesn’t he? With apologies to Allen Iverson, not to be forgotten at the shortstop position is Hanser “The Answer” Alberto, who put together a strong campaign between the two Single-A stops on the Minor League ladder.
Coming tomorrow: My thoughts on the outfield and pitching All-Star choices.
– Alex V.
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.