Results tagged ‘ Hickory Crawdads ’

Profar Named Low-A Player of the Year

You know a player is good when he plays two levels below the team you cover and there’s a steady buzz about him all season long.  That’s the case with Hickory shortstop Jurickson Profar.

It was announced today that the 18-year-old was named the Low-A Player of the Year by Baseball America after hitting .286 with 12 home runs and 65 runs batted in.  At such a young age, it’s impressive to note that Profar walked 65 times compared to striking out 63 times.  If you take a look at the ‘Riders during the 2011 season, there wasn’t a single Frisco hitter with even 150 at-bats that had more walks than strikeouts.  The only guy who came close was Leonys Martin who walked 15 times compared to eight K’s in 135 at bats.

Defensively, Profar impressed as well.  In 114 games, all at shortstop, he committed just 22 errors giving him a .955 fielding percentage.  If you take a look at Elvis Andrus when he was 18-year-old and playing in the minors, the now Rangers’ shortstop had a combined .949 fielding percentage at the High-A level (Myrtle Beach and Bakersfield).

Think about that for a second.  We’re all impressed that Profar played as well as he did in Low-A at 18, but Andrus played at a level higher at the same age.  To be completely fair about the comparison (not that this is a fool-proof form of judgement),   Elvis managed a .938 fielding percentage in Low-A Rome in the Braves’ system at the young age of 17.

I’ve been surprised countless times, but I’d have to imagine that Profar opens up 2012 with High-A Myrtle Beach, which of course means that there’s a chance he makes his way to Frisco late in the season.  I don’t think it would shock anyone if he stayed in the Carolina League for all of next year, but you never know what can happen.

No matter where he plays, it will be a long way from home. The switch-hitter is from Willemstad, Curacao – a tiny little island off the northern coast of Brazil.  A population of slightly over 140,000, Curacao was put on the map during the 2004 Little League Baseball World Series by who else but Profar.

11-years-old at the time, Profar was the top statistical pitcher in the ’04 World Series when he went 2-0 with one save over 12.1 innings while striking out 19 studly kids.  He batted .313 (5-for-16) with one double, five runs batted in, a run scored, and two strikeouts.

He also played in the 2005 Little League Baseball World Series and posted the third-highest tournament batting average of .389 (7-for-18) to go along with five runs scored and two runs batted in. On the mound he went 1-0, 1.85 ERA over 13 innings with 26 strikeouts.

And have I mentioned that he speaks four languages?  Should be fun to watch Profar in Frisco … someday.

- AG

Photos provided by MiLB.com, ESPN.com, and Life.com

RoughRiders Clinch Playoff Berth

For the sixth time in the franchise’s nine-year history, the RoughRiders have qualified for the Texas League playoffs.

San Antonio defeated Midland 8-2 tonight to officially clinch the second-half South Division title. Because the Missions also finished at the top of the South in the first half, the ‘Riders earned a wild card berth because they will finish second in the overall division standings.

The ‘Riders and Missions will meet in the divisional round of the Texas League playoffs, which is a best-of-five series beginning Wednesday, September 7. Game 3 and, if necessary, Game 4 will be at Dr Pepper Ballpark Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10.

Frisco is 17-14 during five other trips to the postseason, which includes the RoughRiders’ 2004 Texas League championship.

San Antonio won the season series with a 19-13 mark against the ‘Riders this season. Frisco managed a split in the 16 games played between the two squads at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

The RoughRiders become the fifth Rangers affiliate to earn a postseason spot here in 2011. Triple-A Round Rock won its division for the first time since 2006. High-A Myrtle Beach and Low-A Hickory claimed first-half titles. The AZL Rangers earned a division crown, too.

Short-season Spokane, the only club in the Rangers’ minor league system that has not guaranteed a playoff berth, entered play tonight tied for the wild card spot in the Northwest League’s East. Overall, Texas’ farm system owns the best record in baseball (412-319; .564 winning percentage).

Click here for ticket information for all playoff games at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

- Brian

A Banner Year for the Rangers’ Farm

If the season ended today, every team within the Rangers’ minor league system–from Arlington to Surprise–would make the postseason. As a result, it isn’t surprising that the Rangers’ farm clubs have the best combined record in all of baseball (394-303; .565 winning percentage).

Let’s take a look at these teams’ successes in the regular season and likely journeys in the playoffs.

Texas Rangers (74-56; 3.5 game lead in the A.L. West)
MAGIC NUMBER: 30
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The Los Angeles Angels, who have won five in a row to pull within three and a half games. The Rangers and Angels meet this weekend in Arlington.
LIKELY PLAYOFF OPPONENT: With the American League wild card likely going to the second-place team in the East, the Rangers will get either the Yankees or the Red Sox. The two teams are tied for first in the division. New York has the better offense, while Boston has the better pitching staff, so it is a “pick-em” situation.
FUN FACT: The Rangers have shut out their opponent 15 times this year, which is good for 11% of the Rangers’ games.

The Express celebrated their division crown last night (photo courtesy of Round Rock's Facebook page).

Round Rock Express (79-52; 14.0 game lead in the PCL’s American Southern)
MAGIC NUMBER: 0
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Getting to playoff baseball healthy and intact. The Express clinched its first division title since 2006 last night after a win over New Orleans and an Albuquerque loss to Memphis.
LIKELY PLAYOFF OPPONENT: The two American Conference division winners will square off in a best-of-five semifinal series. Entering play Wednesday, the Omaha Storm Chasers lead that division, with the Memphis Redbirds four games back. The Express is 9-3 against Omaha in 2011.
FUN FACT: Round Rock joined Columbus (81-51) as the earliest playoff qualifiers at the Triple-A level. Both clubs clinched last night.

Frisco RoughRiders (70-57/30-27; 14.0 game lead in TL’s South wild card)
MAGIC NUMBER: 6
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Rooting for the first-place San Antonio Missions. Frisco’s magic number to clinch the wild card spot is also San Antonio’s magic number to clinch the second-half title. Only Midland (eight games back) can prevent the ‘Riders from going to the postseason for the fifth time in franchise history, and it would take a miracle for that to happen.
LIKELY PLAYOFF OPPONENT: As discussed yesterday, it will be the Missions, who own the best record in full-season minor league baseball (86-41). The ‘Riders are 11-18 against San Antonio this year.
FUN FACT: The ‘Riders have now won 70 or more games in eight of the nine seasons as a franchise. Frisco is the only Texas League team with at least 70 wins every year since 2006.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (67-59/27-30; first-half champion in CL’s Southern)
MAGIC NUMBER: 0
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Turning things around after a stellar first half. The Pelicans are three games below .500 in the second half, which puts them four games back of first place. Fortunately, a key piece is back in action–Mike Olt is back from his broken collarbone, and he is 4-for-10 with four RBIs in three games.
LIKELY PLAYOFF OPPONENT: Kinston currently leads the second half at 31-26, a game and a half better than Winston-Salem. It will go down to the wire, but Kinston is the sentimental favorite because the franchise is moving after the 2011 season.
FUN FACT: According to the Pelicans’ web site, Myrtle Beach owns a walk-off win against every Carolina League team this season.

Hickory Crawdads (71-52/31-24; first-half champion in SAL’s Northern)
MAGIC NUMBER: 0
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The Kannapolis Intimidators, who currently lead the second-half standings. It is looking like a Kannapolis-Hickory semifinal series in the South Atlantic League.
LIKELY PLAYOFF OPPONENT: Well, the Intimidators. So far this season, the ‘Dads are 10-5 against Kannapolis.
FUN FACT: The Crawdads beat Stephen Strasburg and the Hagerstown Suns Monday. It was just the third minor league loss in Strasburg’s career.

Spokane Indians (32-34/12-16; 3.0 game lead in NWL’s East wild card)
MAGIC NUMBER: 7
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The Boise Hawks, who trail the Indians by three games in the wild card standings. The Indians finish with five at Eugene and three at home against Everett.
LIKELY PLAYOFF OPPONENT: The Tri-City Dust Devils, who have led this division most of the season. Tri-City is tied with Eugene for the best overall mark in the Northwest League at 39-27.
FUN FACT: Spokane leads the NWL in attendance with an average of 4,828 fans per game.

Surprise Rangers (33-18; champion in AZL West)
MAGIC NUMBER: 0
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: At this point, nothing other than waking up early for baseball in warm temperatures out there in Arizona.
LIKELY PLAYOFF OPPONENT: The AZL Rangers have the second best record in the league, which means they will likely face the worst division winner. At this point, that is the AZL Dodgers.
FUN FACT: Five players who have played in at least 27 games have a batting average above .300.

- Brian

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