Results tagged ‘ Hickory Crawdads ’
Okay so let’s try that again. Opening Day in North Little Rock was washed out yesterday. The other three games in the Texas League went off without a hitch, and the South Division dominated the action. All three games went the way of the south yesterday, so Frisco comes into Opening Day back a half-game of the other three members in the division. Midland, Corpus Christi and San Antonio all picked up Opening Day victories. Midland and Frisco begin the season on the road while the other two opened up their seasons at home last night.
The rotation is not expected to change today. Cody Buckel will start game one while former big leaguer Ryan Feierabend opposes the Travelers order in game two. Arkansas counters with Jarrett Grube and Mike Piazza. No, not that one.
Keep an eye on the ‘Riders twitter feed for the latest updates on action from North Little Rock, including the starting lineups for game two, but for now, here is the game one lineup. Just the same as yesterday:
2B Odubel Herrera
CF Ryan Strausborger
RF Jared Hoying
1B Brett Nicholas
3B Alex Buchholz
LF Chih-Hsien Chiang
C Zach Zaneski
SS Hanser Alberto
RHP Cody Buckel
CF Travis Witherspoon
LF Matt Long
3B Kaleb Cowart
1B C.J. Cron
DH Robbie Widlansky
RF Randal Grichuk
2B Taylor Lindsey
C Jett Bandy
SS Rolando Gomez
RHP Jarrett Grube
News, notes, thoughts, and links:
- The RoughRiders weren’t alone in having weather issues yesterday. Of the four active minor league teams in the Texas system (Spokane and the Rangers AZL and DSL teams pick up in June), only one of them got their opener in.
- That was Round Rock. The Express topped Omaha 3-1 behind five shut-out innings from soon-to-be Texas Ranger’s 5th starter Nick Tepesch. The former ‘Rider scattered five singles in his five frames and struck out five Stormchasers on the way to the victory in his Triple-A debut.
- Hickory (Class-A) and Myrtle Beach (Class-A Advanced) were both rained out yesterday. Unlike Frisco, they will not make up their games today. Hickory will play a twin bill tomorrow beginning at 4:00 CT. Myrtle Beach won’t make up their postponed game until May 25th.
- An extra long edition of the game notes today, complete with both starting pitchers is available at RidersBaseball.com
- Tonight’s doubleheader can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv.
- Frisco finishes the three game set with Arkansas in a full nine-inning contest tomorrow at 6:10 p.m. before getting back on the bus for the 194-mile trek to Springdale, Ark., home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The RoughRiders round out the weekend Sunday with the first of a three game series against NW Arkansas at 2:00 p.m.
day two of the season Opening Day! Go ‘Riders!
As we enter the final hours of the Major League Baseball Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, here is a look at how the Rangers Minor League teams, not including Frisco, have fared thus far this season and a look at how they have done recently.
Round Rock Express (AAA)
48-61 record (16 games back in the American Southern Division of the PCL)
Runs per Game: 4.82 (12th in the PCL)
Runs Allowed per Game: 5.28 (8th in the PCL)
Top 30 Prospects: 6
How the Names Have Done: The Express came into the season with a promising roster, including 2011 RoughRiders pitchers Martin Perez (#2 ranked Texas prospect) and Neil Ramirez (#5 ranked Texas prospect) and outfielder Leonys Martin (#4 ranked Texas prospect). The roster also included 2011 breakthrough players Mike Bianucci (30 home runs and 89 RBI in 2011) and Tommy Mendonca (25 home runs, 87 RBI, and an .827 OPS in 2011). Mendonca, however, struggled on the field when he was healthy and has been on the DL since June 2. Bianucci hit .280 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in 78 games before also being placed on the DL on July 12. Perez was inconsistent and then promoted to the Rangers. Neil Ramirez struggled before being sent down to Frisco. Leonys Martin played well for the Express before being promoted to the Rangers.
Lately: While the Express have struggled as a team this season, they have won five games in a row and are 7-3 in their last ten games.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A+)
58-49 record overall (22-15 record and first place in the Southern Division of the Carolina League in the second half)
Runs Per Game: 3.81 (8th in the CAR)
Runs Allowed Per Game: 3.73 (1st in the CAR)
Top 30 Prospects: 8
How the Names Have Done: Myrtle Beach has had nearly a third of the Texas Rangers top 30 prospects on their roster at some point this season led by current RoughRiders pitcher Cody Buckel (#6 ranked Texas prospect) and third baseman Christian Villanueva (#8 ranked Texas prospect). Buckel dominated the Carolina League prior to being called up as he went 5-3 with a league best 1.31 ERA over 13 starts for the Pelicans. Villanueva is currently hitting .285 with a team high ten home runs and .777 OPS in the pitcher friendly league. Odubel Herrera (#27 ranked Texas prospect) leads the team with 20 steals. Ranked pitching prospects Matt West (#10) and Luke Jackson (#18) have been with the team since mid June. Matt West, converted to pitching from the infield, has struggled to an 8.10 ERA out of the bullpen in eleven appearances. Jackson is 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA over seven starts. Like Jackson, Roman Mendez (#19 ranked Texas prospect) also has struggled, going 4-6 with a 5.34 ERA over 13 appearances (12 starts).
Lately: The Pelicans finished 36-34 in the first half, but have been playing much better and are aiming for a playoff berth. They currently are 22-15 with a 1 game lead over the first half title winner, the Winston-Salem Dash. Overall, the Pelicans have a 3.5 game lead over the Salem Red Sox in case the Dash win both halves.
Hickory Crawdads (A)
57-50 record overall (21-17 tied for first place in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League in the second half)
Runs per Game: 5.20 (4th in the SAL)
Runs Allowed per Game: 4.92 (6th in the SAL)
Top 30 Prospects: 7
How the Names Have Done: For the second straight year the Hickory Crawdads roster has featured an 18 year old middle infielder that has produced above league average with the bat. Last year it was top prospect Jurickson Profar who put his mark on the South Atlantic League. This year, second baseman Rougned Odor (#9 ranked Texas prospect) earned attention by hitting .293 with six home runs and an .838 OPS in the first half. While he has struggled in the second half, Odor is still posting above league average numbers with a .268 average, eight home runs and a .749 OPS overall. Catcher Jorge Alfaro (#7 ranked Texas prospect) is one of the highest ceiling players on the Crawdad’s roster and might be one of the highest ceiling prospects in the organization. Alfaro, 19 years old, is hitting .289 with 22 extra base hits in 48 games and an .820 OPS. In the second half, the catcher is hitting .302 with an .859 OPS. Speaking of high ceilings, some would argue that Jordan Akins (#12 ranked Texas prospect) has the highest ceiling of any position player in the organization. Whether he develops his raw tools on the field is another story. The possible five tool outfielder is batting just .192 with an atrocious 9 walk to 118 strikeout ratio. His .529 OPS is the lowest on the team. In the second half, Akins is hitting just .165 with a .435 OPS and 42 strikeouts to just two walks. It seems as though Texas just knows how to develop middle infielders. Beginning with Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, on down to Profar and Leury Garcia in Frisco, and to Odor and Luis Sardinas (#17 ranked Texas prospect) in Hickory, the Rangers have done a tremendous job developing middle infielders. Sardinas leads Hickory with a .305 batting average and 27 steals. So far in July, the switch hitting shortstop is hitting .389 with a .929 OPS.
Lately: The Crawdads finished the first half 36-33, but have gone 21-17 and are tied for the division lead in the second half. Overall their 57-50 record is the third best in the division, six games behind the Hagerstown Suns for the best overall. Over their last ten games, the Crawdads are an even 5-5. After taking three of four from the Delmarva Shorebirds, they were swept by the Augusta Greenjackets. They are currently playing the Kannapolis Intimidators at home.
Spokane Indians (SS-A)
16-28 record overall (4-2 and tied for first place in the Eastern Division of the Northwest League in the second half)
Runs per Game: 3.50 (8th in the NWL)
Runs Allowed per Game: 4.93 (7th in the NWL)
Top 30 Prospects: 1
How the Names Have Done: With the season beginning on June 15, the Spokane Indians are part of short season ball. Their roster was filled mostly with 2012 draft picks, albeit with one top prospect entering 2012. Pitcher David Perez (#26 ranked Texas prospect) entered the 2011 season as the #11 prospect in the organization. Suffering command struggles, he dropped a bit in the rankings, but remains with an extremely high ceiling. Perez only has appeared in three games (one start) for the Indians, however, and went 1-1 with a 13.00 ERA in those appearances. Catcher Patrick Cantwell (third round pick) was the highest 2012 draft pick on Spokane’s roster, and has hit .250 with a .668 OPS thus far. Fifth round pick and University of Texas-Arlington product Preston Beck is hitting just .203 with a .572 OPS for the Indians. Gabriel Roa, a 25th round pick, leads the team with a .307 batting average and is among the team leaders in OPS with a .736 OPS. Fourth round pick, pitcher Alec Asher, has done well going 1-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen. He has 24 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. Pitcher Eric Brooks, an 11th round pick, is 2-1 with a 2.52 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts).
Lately: After going just 12-26 in the first half, the Indians are 4-2 early on in the second half. They are 6-4 in their last ten games with a series win (2 out of 3) over the Yakima Bears most recently.
Arizona League Rangers (Rookie)
19-13 overall (First place in the Western Division of the Arizona League)
Runs per Game: 6.56 (4th in the AZL)
Runs Allowed per Game: 5.41 (4th in the AZL)
Top 30 Prospects: 2
How the Names Have Done: When you’re talking about the Arizona League and the Rangers, the first name that will pop up when looking at draft status, prospect status, and a stat sheet is 2012 first round supplemental pick Joey Gallo. Drafted out of Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada, Gallo has gotten off to a tremendous professional start. Gallo is hitting .321 with 14 home runs and 35 RBI in 32 games. He has hit over half of the team’s home runs and has hit more home runs by himself than four other teams in the league have as a team. He also has twice as many home runs as the next closest in the league. The third baseman isn’t just hitting home runs, however, as Gallo also has walked an impressive 28 times in 32 games. It should be noted that none of those were intentional walks either. First round pick Lewis Brinson, an outfielder, has also gotten off to a good start with a .302 batting average and an .881 OPS. He has hit seven triples in 32 games and stolen eight bases in nine attempts. Ronald Guzman (#13 ranked Texas prospect) is hitting .283 with ten extra base hits in 28 games. Nomar Mazara (#30 ranked Texas prospect) is struggling with a .231 batting average, but has walked 23 times and hit 13 extra base hits in 31 games to help him to a .787 OPS.
Lately: The AZL Rangers are currently on a four game winning streak and have won six of their last seven games. They won six in a row from June 29 to July 5, but followed that streak with a five game losing streak. Overall, they are 19-13 and hold a one game lead over the AZL Mariners.
Written By: Michael Damman
What a span of four days it was for the Texas Rangers organization. In a matter of days, three different minor league teams for the Texas Rangers flirted with a no-hitter. Only one, however, came away with it. On Saturday, when the Frisco RoughRiders were four outs short of their first no-hitter of the season, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans completed theirs against the Wilmington Blue Rocks in a 3-0 victory.
If I had given you two pitching lines of their previous starts before the most recent one, the prediction for a no-hitter from Myrtle Beach probably would have been Cody Buckel (5 IP 2 H 1 R 4 BB 7 K) over Nick Tepesch (4.2 IP 13 H 7 R 2 BB 6 K). But baseball can be a funny game some times.
Tepesch (2-3 4.06 ERA) started the game for Myrtle Beach on the road in Wilmington and he was as good as he’s ever been. The right handed pitcher retired the first eleven batters he faced and later had a span of nine consecutive retired. In all, Tepesch pitched 7 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks. His nine strikeouts were a season high and one short of matching his career best, ten strikeouts.
The most trouble that Nick got himself into was in the 8th inning when he walked Roman Hernandez and Kevin David to open the inning. He got the third batter, Juan Graterol, to strikeout. Tepesch was then pulled and Jimmy Reyes was brought in to replace him. Reyes ended the threat by getting Alex McClure to ground into a double play.
Jimmy Reyes pitched the ninth inning as well. The southpaw got Whit Merrifield to pop out to shortstop Edwin Garcia and Geulin Beltre to strikeout. At which point the Wilmington Blue Rocks play-by-play announcer, John Sadak, had this call:
The Pelicans pitchers got all of the support they needed from Brett Nicholas, who went 1 for 2 with a double, two RBI, and two walks. Tomas Telis also went 3 for 4 in the game with two doubles and scored two of the three runs.
Frisco was attempting to become the second Ranger’s affiliate with a no-hitter on the day, but came up just short. Chad Bell made his first start of the year for Frisco and pitched four innings of no-hit ball. Carlos Pimentel came in for his fifth relief appearance of the season and pitched three effectively wild innings without allowing a hit. After retiring the first two hitters, reliever Corey Young gave up a double to Jeudy Valdez in the eighth inning. Young finished the inning and Joseph Ortiz came in to pitch the ninth in Frisco’s 13-0, 2-hit bruising of the San Antonio Missions.
Like Frisco, the Hickory Crawdads also came within four outs of a no-hitter on Monday as the team gave up one hit, a home run, in a 5-1 seven inning victory over the Kannapolis Intimidators in game one of a double header. Hickory had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before Mark Haddow homered with two outs in the 6th inning. Luke Jackson started the game for Hickory and gave up the one hit over 6 2/3 innings with three walks and nine strikeouts.
Baseball players go through cycles and when things are clicking for them, special things can happen. This past weekend was almost a very special one for three affiliates of the Texas Rangers.
For Myrtle Beach, however, the very special moment happened.
Written By: Michael Damman
It’s finally starting to feel like fall here in Frisco and although hot stove league talk might be a bit premature, there are plenty of things going on right now affecting the RoughRiders and Rangers:
- After winning his third-career Gold Glove on Tuesday, Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre has just won his third ever Silver Slugger Award. Beltre was also honored by the award in 2004 (Los Angeles) and 2010 (Boston), as he becomes just the sixth player (both leagues) since the award’s inception in 1980 to win three times as a third baseman. The only other Texas third baseman to win a Silver Slugger Award was Buddy Bell in 1984.
- According to the Chicago Sun-Times, two names “at or near the top” of Theo Epstein and the Cubs’ list for a new
manager are Rangers’ pitching coach Mike Maddux and one-time Milwaukee interim manager Dale Sveum, who interviewed for the Boston Red Sox vacancy on Wednesday. Maddux is also reportedly in the mix for consideration by Boston. (We all remember when the Rangers won the pennant in 2010, the club lost hitting coach Clint Hurdle months later when took over as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The unfortunate cost of winning).
- In minor league news, it’s no surprise that the San Antonio Missions have been named Minor League Team of the Year and Double-A Team of the Year by MiLB.com. The Missions recorded the best record in all of the minors at 94-46 while winning both the first and second halves. Their 94 victories were the most in the league since the advent of the 140-game schedule in 1961 and were the second-most in franchise history, just one less than the 95 victories by the 1908 club. The Missions registered 100 overall wins after going 6-1 in the post-season on their way to capturing the franchise’s 12th Texas League Championship.
- On July 19, Northwest Arkansas’ Will Smith and Kelvin Herrera combined for the Naturals’ first-ever no-hitter. To make things even better, the no-no was helped out by a sixth-inning 5-4-3 triple play. The Naturals edged the Arkansas Travelers 1-0 and, as a result, have also won Double-A Game of the Year from MiLB.com.
- It was announced yesterday that Hickory shortstop, and the Rangers’ No. 2 prospect, Jurickson Profar, has won the Minor League Baseball Yearly Award for Class A Full Season Hitter of the Year. Only 18-years-old, Profar was previously named 2011 Low Class A Player of the Year by Baseball America to go along with winning the South Atlantic League MVP Award and being named to the SAL Annual All-Star Team this past season. I guess this kid is pretty good.
- Starting Friday at 10 a.m., The RoughRiders Foundation will be auctioning off game-used items and autographed memorabilia. Items start at their low reserve price and are open for bidding through November 18, 2011 at 5 p.m. Notable items include game-worn jerseys by Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz during their rehab assignments in Frisco this season. Questions? Contact Michael Davidow at 972-334-1978 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first round of off-season awards are beginning to come in for the RoughRiders. Yesterday we talked about Jurickson Profar being named Low-A Player of the Year by Baseball America, and while the ‘Riders don’t have anything of quite that prestigious, there are certainly some awards of note.
Best Texas League Visiting Clubhouse
We all know there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in minor league baseball, but there might not be a pair of guys that work harder than C.J. Allen and Philip Fleitman, the ‘Riders Clubhouse Managers. Thanks to their efforts, the RoughRiders won Best Texas Visiting Clubhouse for the second-straight season. These are the two guys that make sure both teams are fed both before and after all home games, do all the laundry, and a LOT more. Congrats to C.J. and Philip. Here’s a pic of the two of them taking some batting practice after the season was over. I’m pretty sure photo credit goes to ‘Riders lefty, Corey Young.
Best Cheap Seats in Dallas
The Dallas Observer recently announced it’s 2011 “Best of” awards, and the RoughRiders won the award for “Best Cheap Seats” in Dallas. They loved how inexpensive our tickets were compared to the local competition (Rangers, Cowboys, Mavs, etc.), and they really loved the swimming pool!
The ‘Riders need your help to win this one. Click here to vote for the ‘Riders as the 2011 Double-A MiLB Team of the Year. The other teams nominated are San Antonio, Harrisburg, Mobile, New Hampshire, and Tennessee. Interestingly enough there are two other Rangers’ affiliates that have been nominated for “Team of the Year” in their respective class. You can vote for Triple-A Round Rock who finished with the all-time best record for a Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate (87-57). You can also vote for the Hickory Crawdads for the best Low-A team in 2011. The ‘Dads finished the year tied for the most wins in the South Atlantic League (79-58).
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.
Photos provided by MiLB.com, ESPN.com, and Life.com
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.
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.
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.