Results tagged ‘ Joey Gallo ’
If you follow the Rangers’ farm system, then it’s very likely you’ve heard of Lewis Brinson. An athletic outfielder from Coral Springs, Florida, Texas drafted Brinson in the first round (29th overall) in 2012. He played his first full season with low-A Hickory last year and was part of a Crawdads team that broke the South Atlantic League record for home runs in a single season (178). Brinson’s individual season was a bit of mixed bag: he hit .237/.322/.749 with 21 homers, 52 RBI, 24 steals and 191 strikeouts.
On Saturday, Brinson got his first taste of big league action, pinch hitting for Michael Choice in the Rangers’ wild, 16-15 spring training win over the Athletics. He doubled to center field on the first pitch he saw from 2013 Midland RockHound Ryan Dull in the seventh inning before flying out to right in the eighth.
Entering the 2014 season, ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranks Brinson as the Rangers’ fourth-best minor league prospect. The right-handed outfielder won’t turn 20 until May 8 and figures to begin the year with either Hickory or Myrtle Beach. While it’s unlikely he could reach Frisco this year, a great campaign could lead to a late season cameo with the RoughRiders. While I was out in Surprise last week, I caught up with Brinson and we talked about spring training, last season in Hickory and his goals before breaking camp.
If you’d like to listen to the audio of the interview, click here.
Alex Vispoli: Lewis, this is your second spring training; what’s been the difference from what you came in to see last year and what you’ve been going through this year?
Lewis Brinson: Last spring training I was kind of in awe a little bit. The whole spring training aspect of it with big leaguers around everywhere; guys that you grew up loving and now you’re training with them, stretching with them, hitting with them, getting to talk to them everyday. But now I’ve gotten kind of used to it and I’m just trying to win a job here. You’ve got a better idea of what you need to do to get ready for the season, so I’m just looking at it like that.
AV: Instead of being in awe of the big leaguers, are you trying this year to learn from them, watching what they do and how they go about their business?
LB: Yeah, definitely. Anytime a big leaguer stops and talks to you, you listen. I’m just watching them walk around, hitting, throwing, stretching, working out, talking. Just getting used to knowing how they go about their business. You want to be at that level one day so who cares if you copy them? They’re big leaguers, they’re there for a reason, so why not be like them?
AV: A lot of folks looked at that Hickory team that you were on last year – you had Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Ronald Guzman, Jorge Alfaro –a lot of really young guys that have had a ton of success early in their pro careers. Was it fun to be a part of that group? You guys are all about the same age, in the same boat, with the same experience level, playing together.
LB: Oh yeah, that was very fun. Everybody looked at our home runs last year [with us being] a really young group and was asking “How did they hit that many home runs? These guys must be freakishly talented or on something.” But we have a great time together. We’re all, like you said, the same age, so we love being around each other. We all have the same goals; we all have the same work ethic and want to get to the big leagues around the same time and start our big league careers together, hopefully with the Texas Rangers. We’re just out there having a good time. I love those guys.
AV: Finally Lewis, what are your goals here for the next couple of weeks before you break camp?
LB: Just to get ready. [Minor league spring] games start Thursday [March 13]. So just getting ready for the season. It’s grind time, trying to make a team and trying to get your last bit of work in. Just come here everyday with a plan, and plan to get better everyday.
AV: Well Lewis, best of luck here over the next couple of weeks. Stay healthy and hopefully at some point down the line we’ll see you in Frisco.
LB: All right, see you there.
Thanks for reading.
This week I’m taking in my first visit to Surprise, Arizona for Rangers Spring Training, and I’m bringing you with me. If you missed the recap of Day One of my trip, check it out right here.
From what I can gather, you go through a few different phases during Spring Training as a player,coach and executive.
1. There’s the initial burst of excitement over getting back to a baseball field and rediscovering your passion for the game you love. This period is great – until you grow weary of the numerous of meetings, practices, simulated situations and other minutia that, while important, is not why anyone signed up to be a part of this game. All during this time, you’re chomping at the bit to start playing something that at least resembles a game.
2. You eventually do move into this phase, but they’re not real games (granted, Spring Training games are not really like real games, but at least it’s somewhat close); they’re more like scrimmages that you play against the same people you’ve been practicing against for the last week or two.
3. Just when you get to the point where you’re mentally over the idea of facing the same opponent day after day, you start games against other organizations, which is a major refresher for the mind.
4. Then, you just get sick and tired of being in Arizona for up to two months and playing the role of “human sunny-side up egg” in the roasting desert sun. You want to get the season underway and start playing games that count (with real stats too).
The big leaguers are in the midst of Phase 3, while the minor leaguers have just gotten to Phase 2, which I watched begin in earnest on Monday morning at the Rangers’ Spring Training complex in Surprise. Along the way, I witnessed the start of a comeback, a rebirth, the long-term future and the bizarre before finishing the day with a Hall of Famer.
7:45 a.m. - As I alluded to at the end of yesterday’s post, I was not going to play the role of fool two days in a row (at least in this specific respect) and get microwaved by the southwest sun once again. Upon the recommendation of the helpful hotel lobby person, I headed over the nearby “99 ¢ Only Store” (because dollar stores are considered too bourgeoisie here) to purchase some sunscreen. Now, I was just as suspicious as you probably are reading this about buying 99-cent sunscreen. “Wouldn’t splashing a layer of water on your skin be at least equally effective?” Yeah, that ran through my head, but my faith in “Hypoderm Sunscreen” (Note to anyone who thought, “Why didn’t I think of an amazing name like that?”: it’s not a registered trademark, apparently) was rewarded. My burns from Sunday were reasonably contained and my skin did not start falling off at any point. And I feel like a true bargain hunter after spotting this attempt on eBay to charge some poor sap $12.99+shipping for three of these babies. The whole episode felt a little like hitting a three-point bank shot that you didn’t call.
8:15 a.m. - Things are still fairly quiet by the time I reach the complex, probably due to the fact that fans won’t be let into the facility until 10 a.m. There are a few hitters getting some early work in and some of the big leaguers are trickling in for the day. The Rangers clubhouse is divided into two sides: one for the major leaguers and one for the minor leaguers. The minor league clubhouse is a lot bigger, but more crowded because there are so many more players in that camp. I am a bit surprised at how nice the minor league clubhouse is, however. I wasn’t necessarily expecting Bull Durham or some high school level accommodations, but I wasn’t expecting it to be nearly equal in many respects to the big league side. The lockers are made of wood (like the major leaguers) and are certainly an acceptable size, the flood is nicely carpeted and it has a welcoming tone to it. It’s much better than many road stadium clubhouses (and some home ones too) I’ve seen in my baseball travels.
On this particular morning, I meet Alex “Chi-Chi” Gonzalez in the clubhouse and we talk about his outing in the big league “A” game the day before. He allowed three of the four men he faced to reach base before being removed after hitting his 20-pitch limit. A pair of meekly-hit grounders were able to sneak through for hits, so he isn’t overly negative about his performance even though all three men came home to score later in the inning. As for his nickname (which he prefers to go by, by the way), Chi-Chi says it was given to him by his grandfather’s brother; he nicknamed Gonzalez’ two older sisters Nina and Nene, so Chi-Chi seemed to fit the bill for Alex.
9 a.m. - Pockets of minor league hitters are taking batting practice out on the back fields (the big leaguers practice on the two fields closest to the stadium/clubhouse). I stumble upon the BP group that folks who love prospects dream about: Joey Gallo, Nick Williams, Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara. Like many, I’ve heard a lot about these players but have never seen them in person (Ronald Guzman and Jorge Alfaro are also among the super-prospects who are super-young and populated Hickory’s Avengers-like squad last season). Like many, I am impressed at first glance. I didn’t realize how big they all were. At 6’3″, Brinson is the shrimp of the group. The others are either 6’4″ or 6’5″ and aren’t just tall rods with pine tar on their batting gloves. They’re built like stallions and we may see one or two gallop to Frisco by the end of 2014 if things go well.
I have a nice conversation about Cody Buckel with rehab pitching coordinator Keith Comstock, who says that Buckel is throwing the ball as well as he ever has. Buckel, the Rangers’ 2012 Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year, suffered a bad case of the yips last season and spent most of the campaign rewiring himself mentally and mechanically. I hadn’t heard much about Cody since the end of the season and am excited to see him pitch later in the day.
9:30 a.m. - The pitchers meet as a group with new farm director Mike Daly right next to the tall observation structure pictured at the start of the blog entry and it’s not long before Daly is about to give another talk to the hitters. It’s recommended that I join the group if I want a cool history lesson. Daly proceeds to educate the players about notable players from the 1966 MLB draft. The first overall pick was Steve Chilcott by the Mets – a seven-year minor leaguer who never reached the show. The second pick did slightly better. His name is Reggie Jackson. Daly tells the group about Reggie’s career and his epic performances in the World Series before finishing up by talking about the sixth overall pick from that draft: none other than Tom Grieve. I later speak with Daly and we talk about his history lesson. He’s concerned about the relative lack of knowledge many young players have about players who came before them, so he makes it a point to relay some history during camp through his own lessons and visits from legends like Pudge Rodriguez and others. Hopefully Texas’ minor leaguers can avoid the fate of Josh Hart.
10 a.m. - After the meetings wrap up, it’s more practice time on the back fields. The four fields are filled with defensive drills, bunt plays and batting practice. I’ll see infield work before games throughout the season, but never 20-30 minutes’ worth with every pitcher also taking part in these simulated situations. These are the minor leagues, and the minors are all about development. We see that over the course of the season, but the foundation is laid right here.
11:30 a.m. - Most of the big leaguers have left the practice fields to get ready for that afternoon’s game against the Reds, but not everyone has headed back to the clubhouse. On the infield-only field, Greg Maddux is hitting ground balls back to Matt Harrison, Nick Tepesch and Tommy Hanson. So not only the minor league guys work on fielding, and what better mound defender to learn from than Maddux, who only racked up a record 18 Gold Gloves during his Hall of Fame career. With not a whole lot else going on, a crush of fans flock to get in prime autograph position for when the session is over (for Tepesch, obviously).
On my way back to the big league side, I have a short chat with Rangers manager Ron Washington who is about to drive his golf back to the clubhouse. I wish him luck this season at the end of our conversation, to which he responds, “Well thank you baby!” and drives off.
12 noon - I meet Brandon Boyd, who is one of the Rangers’ clubhouse managers and also a former RoughRiders employee. Brandon oversaw the ‘Riders clubhouse from 2005-09 before moving on to Arlington. He takes me into the big league clubhouse, where I catch up with several familiar faces: Mitch Moreland, a RoughRider in 2009 and a rehabber in 2012 & ’13; Ryan Feierbend, a 2013 ‘Rider who would throw a scoreless inning in relief of Yu Darvish later in the day; and Brett Nicholas, Frisco’s best offensive player in 2013. Nicholas has been with the big club for the spring, mostly as a catcher after spending nearly all of last year at first base. Most of the clubhouse is vacant, but that is probably because it is when media is allowed in for interviews (nobody likes the media, especially radio guys).
On my way back to the minor leaguers, I stop to talk to Harrison, who I met during his rehab stint with Frisco last summer. Harrison will pitch for the first time in Tuesday’s game and says he feels completely healthy for the first time in a very long time. He says 2013 was agonizing, but feels like he is in great shape and is ready to get back to what made him an All-Star in 2012.
12:15 p.m. - I return to the back fields to watch the three intersquad games being played (the start of Phase 2 of Spring Training). Basically, all of the players in camp are mixed into random teams and pitted against one another for games that would last approximately five innings. This is once of the coolest parts of the day. On Field 5 I see Jorge Alfaro lace a Kevin Pucetas knuckleball to right-center for a triple. Pucetas is reinventing himself as a knuckleball pitcher after toying with the pitch in Frisco last season. Despite the Alfaro three-bagger, the knucklers dance enough that Pucetas does not allow another baserunner.
When I turn to Field 4, I watch Alex Claudio end an inning with a pickoff at second base with Juremi Profar batting and later Jon Edwards hits 98 on the radar gun. It is tough to keep up with all three games at once, so I miss some action but thoroughly enjoy what I did see. And the players seem to enjoy playing in games for the first time since last season. The minor league guys will play intersquad games on Tuesday and Wednesday before squaring off against other organizations beginning Thursday.
Soon enough, it’s Buckel’s turn to pitch and I am not disappointed. Cody looks a lot like the 2012 Cody; the one who struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings and displayed impeccable control. Buckel gets a strikeout and ultimately retires three of the four men he faces. Afterwards, he tells me that it felt good to finally pitch in his first game action since a pair of early-August AZL contests. He says he didn’t attack the strike zone the way he has in recent bullpens, but chalks that up to the long delay in facing live batters.
As an aside, I don’t want to make Buckel’s outing out to be more than it was. It was a good step in the right direction after a nightmare 2013, not a guarantee that he will never struggle again on the mound in the minors. I hope that he can string outings like this together and get his career back to where it was, and then beyond. Monday was not a definitive answer to anything, but it certainly was encouraging to see.
2 p.m. - Following the intersquad games, I head back to Surprise Stadium, where the Rangers and Reds are well underway. But before I can enter the stadium through the team offices, I encounter an obstacle I just am not expecting: bees. Lots of them. A stone column that sits between the office and the stadium concourse apparently gathered an enormous mass of bees over the span of an hour. There was no hive there previously; they just all swarmed to that spot and just stayed. I’m told it’s probably not safe to walk past them and that pest control is on its way. I agree that missing an inning or so of a Spring Training game in exchange for avoiding hundreds of simultaneous bee stings is probably a fair trade. It isn’t long before a group of close to a dozen people (including Rangers special assistant and former pitcher Darren Oliver) join me to watch the extermination.
A photo essay of the kill:
2:15 p.m. - The Rangers and Reds are in the fifth inning by the time I get past the bees and into the stadium. Yu Darvish is finishing up his outing and both teams get ready to send in position players that 95% of the stadium has never heard of. Now 11 years old, Billy Parker Field at Surprise Stadium holds up very well and seems to be an enjoyable place to watch a game. There’s a big Monday crowd on hand; hopefully most of them do not leave with bee stings.
3:15 p.m. - Because I did not get the chance to see him on Sunday, I make a stop by the Rangers’ broadcast booth to see Eric
Nadel. I’ve met Eric a few times at Rangers games and he has always been kind to me. Rangers fans are lucky to have had him for so long and I wasn’t the only one who was very happy for his Hall of Fame election this past off-season. I don’t want to take too much of his and Matt Hicks’ time during the game, but I congratulate Eric on the honor during an inning break and then scoot out of the booth. In the radio booth right next door, fellow Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman is broadcasting for the Reds’ radio network. Eric calls Marty one of his career mentors.
3:40 p.m. - The Rangers wrap up an 8-2 win over Cincinnati as former RoughRiders Neftali Feliz and Nicholas form the game-ending battery. It’s Texas’ first win since Thursday against San Diego and the last game I’ll see at Surprise Stadium during my stay in Arizona. The team heads to Camelback Ranch in Glendale to play the White Sox on Tuesday and I’ll be there for at least some of it as I hit the home stretch of my stay in the desert.
As always thanks for reading,
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.
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