Results tagged ‘ Myrtle Beach Pelicans ’
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
Like Justin Grimm gave the Texas Rangers a lift with his promotion from Frisco to Texas, the Frisco RoughRiders hope that right handed pitcher Cody Buckel can give them a lift after his promotion from Myrtle Beach. The just turned 20 year old (June 18) makes his Double-A debut this evening at Dr Pepper Ballpark against the Corpus Christi Hooks.
Buckel, taken in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft, has taken a bit of the fast track to Frisco. In his first full professional season he went 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.14 WHIP for the low-A Hickory Crawdads. He posted an 11.2 strikeout per nine ratio (120 strikeouts) and walked just 25 batters in 96.2 innings. Among starters with at least 15 starts, his 4.44 K/BB ratio was 5th in the South Atlantic League.
The Simi Valley, California native has improved his prospect status even more in 2012, however, as he had a break through first half with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Buckel went 5-3 with a miniscule 1.31 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 13 starts. It took five starts before Buckel gave up more than two hits in a start and overall he gave up three or less hits in nine of the starts. He struck out at least eight batters in six starts, including a season high eleven batters on May 17 against the Winston-Salem Dash. That was arguably his best start of the season as he gave up just three hits and one walk over eight shutout innings. Buckel was named to the Carolina League All-Star team and was named the Carolina League pitcher of the week three different times this season.
Drafted out of high school, Cody Buckel doesn’t have a big frame, but it’s hard to argue with the results that come out of it. Rated the #6 prospect in the Texas Ranger’s organization entering 2012, Baseball America’s scouting report of Cody Buckel read as:
“The Rangers haven’t been afraid of taking undersized pitchers in recent drafts, including the 6-foot Buckel. He opted to forego a Pepperdine commitment to sign for $590,000 as a second-round pick in 2010. He opened his first full season in extended spring training and then the Hickory bullpen before going 7-2, 2.04 with a 104-19 K-BB ratio in 17 starts. Buckel’s intelligence, mechanics, and quirkiness are reminiscent of those of his best friend—Trevor Bauer, the No. 3 overall choice in the 2011 draft and his offseason workout partner. As with Bauer, Buckel’s unorthodox and torque-heavy delivery creates deception. While he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, he has a deep four-pitch mix, outstanding pitchability and a fiercely competitive nature. Buckel’s fastball sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94 with armside run. He also throws a plus changeup, an average curveball with big break that he learned from Barry Zito and a short cutter/slider that induces grounders. Some scouts still worry about his size and durability, though his athleticism should help him. Buckel doesn’t have incredible upside, but he has a low floor and could become a solid No. 3 starter. He’ll headline Myrtle Beach’s 2012 rotation and may move quickly because of his advanced feel for pitching.”
In the process he becomes the highest rated pitching prospect in the Ranger’s organization to pitch to date for the RoughRiders. He will be opposed tonight by the Corpus Christi Hooks (and Houston Astros) own top pitching prospect in Jarred Cosart. Here’s a sneak peek at Buckel’s pre-game bullpen session.
Memorial Day is a day for remembering fallen soldiers and men and women in the armed forces serving our country. Several baseball players have served in the military over the years. Two of them who were killed in action were Eddie Grant and Elmer Gedeon. Eddie Grant played for the Phillies, Reds, and Giants in the early 1910s. He enlisted in the Army and was killed in Friance in 1918. Elmer Gedeon played for the Washington Senators for five games in 1939 and was then drafted into the Army. He was killed in France in 1944.
Current RoughRiders first baseman Chris McGuiness went to college at The Citadel, a military school in South Carolina. While going to school there, he was a normal cadet. There is no service time required after graduation although some people go there for the military training.
Many teams plan special uniforms or special events in honor of Memorial Day. The Texas Rangers are wearing ball caps with camouflage inside the letter T for their game against the Seattle Mariners. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans will be wearing red, white, and blue jerseys with stars and stripes on them for their game against the Potomac Nationals.
Other Rangers’ affiliates playing today are the Hickory Crawdads that will take on the Delmarva Shorebirds and the Round Rock Express that will play the Nashville Sounds while the RoughRiders will play the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in the series finale today.
The RoughRiders would like to thank all of the servicemen and women and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our country.
Written by: Jarah Wright
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
Baseball America recently released their list of the top 10 prospects in the Rangers organization. Three players on this list spent time in Frisco with the Roughriders — Neil Ramirez, Leonys Martin and Martin Perez. Several others should make their Frisco debut in 2012.
10) Rougned Odor, SS: The almost eighteen-year-old Venezuelan spent the 2011 season with the Spokane Indians of the Northwest League. Odor ended his first minor league season with a .262 batting average and .966 fielding percentage at shortstop. There is speculation that Odor will switch to second base this season. Odor’s uncle, Rouglas, is returning this season as one of the coaches for the Akron Aeros, the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
9) Christian Villanueva, 3B: Villanueva spent the 2011 season with the Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League posting a .278 batting average and a .942 fielding percentage at third base. Villanueva spent the 2009 season with the Dominican Summer League Rangers 2 and the 2010 season with the Arizona League Rangers.
8) Jorge Alfaro, C: The Colombian was just 16 when the Rangers offered him a contract in early 2010. With Spokane this past season, Alfaro had a .300 batting average with a .481 slugging percentage.
7) Cody Buckel, RHP: The Rangers signed Buckel in the second round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft. Like Villanueva, Buckel spent the 2011 season with Hickory. In 101.2 innings of work, Buckel struck out 120 batters with an ERA of 2.61.
6) Neil Ramirez, RHP: The Rangers drafted Ramirez in the first round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft. He has steadily risen through the minor league ranks playing for Spokane and Hickory in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Last season, Ramirez split time with three different teams — the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Frisco RoughRiders and the Round Rock Express. During his time with Frisco, Ramirez had an ERA of 1.89 and opponent batting average of .194. He is currently on the Texas Rangers 40-man roster and will probably spend the season in Round Rock.
5) Leonys Martin, OF: Martin had a whirlwind season climbing the ranks to the major league level within the span of a year. He was signed by the Rangers in May 2011 with a contract over $15 million. After a short stint with the Arizona League Rangers, he was promoted to Frisco where he played 29 games.
During his time with Frisco, Martin had a .348 batting average and a .571 slugging percentage. Martin then spent 40 games with Round Rock before being promoted to the Bigs. He played eight games at the major league level with a .375 batting average and .500 slugging percentage. He is listed on the Rangers 40-man roster and will probably remain at the major league level this season.
4) Mike Olt, 3B: Drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft, Olt spent last season with the Arizona League Rangers for four games before making the transition to Myrtle Beach where he spent the remainder of the season. The third baseman has had strong numbers in Myrtle Beach including a .482 slugging percentage and a .954 fielding percentage. He’s jumped two levels in the course of the past season and could be promoted sometime this season.
3) Martin Perez, LHP: The Rangers signed the Venezuelan as a non-drafted free agent in 2007. Since then he has been working his way up through the minor league system. From 2008 to 2011, Perez has spent time playing for Spokane, Hickory and the RoughRiders. During the 2010 season with the ‘Riders, Perez struck out 101 batters in 99.2 innings of work. He ended the 2011 season playing in Round Rock with a record of four wins and four losses. He was a Futures Game Selection this past season and is currently on the Texas Rangers 40-man roster.
2) Jurickson Profar, SS: Profar was signed by the Rangers in 2009 and spent 2010 with Spokane and 2011 with Hickory. Between the two seasons, he has had fielding percentages over .950. Last season, he hit .286 with 12 home runs and 23 stolen bases leading him to be named the South Atlantic League Most Valuable Player. He was one of the Rangers representatives in the Futures Game this year.
1) Yu Darvish, RHP: The recent Rangers acquisition came at a price of a six-year $60 million contract which isn’t including the record-breaking $51.7 million posting fee. Darvish was drafted in the 2004 Nippon Professional Baseball amateur draft by the Nipponham Fighters and has remained with Nipponham throughout his career.
Last season Darvish had a record of 18 wins and 6 losses, an ERA of 1.44, and 276 strikeouts. Expectations are high for him as he plays his first season with the Rangers who see Darvish as one of their five starters.
By Jarah Wright, Media Relations Intern
Yesterday I wrote about the success lefty Miguel De Los Santos is having in the prospect laden Arizona Fall League. Hours after my posting, the AFL released the rosters for the annual Rising Stars Game played this Saturday at Surprise Stadium at 1 p.m. CST.
Among the 50 prospects that will be on display, the lone Rangers’ farm-hand selected was third baseman Mike Olt. In 16 AFL games, Olt is tied for the league lead with six home runs. His 22 runs batted in are the second-most. Some great power numbers over a small sample size while hitting .309.
You might remember Olt had a bit of an abbreviated 2011 season due to a home plate collision in early June that caused him to suffer a broken left collarbone. The injury resulted in Olt essentially playing the equivalent of a short-season schedule: 69 games. In that time the former supplemental first round pick out of Connecticut hit .267/14-HR/42-RBI.
The log-jam at third base from top to bottom in the Rangers’ system is a good problem for Texas to have and should be interesting to watch develop in 2012 and beyond.
RoughRiders’ fans are well aware of the abilities of 2011 RoughRiders’ third baseman, Tommy Mendonca. Tommy was a Midseason Texas League All-Star and had a incredible month of June when he hit .375 and was named the Rangers Minor League Player of the Month. Mendo would be the first to say he struggled down the stretch, primarily with strikeouts. Nevertheless, Mendonca played well defensively, proved to be a force in the ‘Riders lineup, and was a second-round draft pick.
Not to look too far up the ladder, but it is interesting to note that at the major league level, first-year Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre received his third career Gold Glove last night. In January the Rangers inked the former Dodger, Mariner, and Red Sox to a six-year, $96 million contract.
So much for him only playing well in a contract year.
Does Mendonca open up 2012 in Round Rock and Olt in Frisco? We’ll have to wait until April to find out.
P.S. A big thanks to RoughRiders’ team photographer James Garner for the pics in today’s blog. He is somehow everywhere, including Surprise, Ariz. to take in some AFL baseball.
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.
By now, we’ve all seen how roster moves change the makeup of a minor league ball club. As strange, and quite frankly disappointing, as it is to see Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland wearing the Black and Gold of San Antonio, the one silver lining is that the vacated roster spots have allowed the Rangers to promote 22-year-old left-hander Robbie Ross to Frisco from Myrtle Beach.
Ranked by Baseball America as the Rangers’ No. 19 prospect, Ross was the club’s 2008 second round pick and will start tonight in the deciding game of the current three game series with the Midland RockHounds. For the Kentucky native, it’s not his first trip to Midland. Late last season Ross took the roster spot of injured Travis Chick and pitched the final game of the playoffs for Frisco in a losing effort to the ‘Hounds.
Ross arrives in Frisco with an impressive résumé. In 21 games (20 starts) with Myrtle Beach, he compiled a 9-4 record and a 2.26 ERA while holding batters to a .227 average. However, maybe the most impressive figure is that Ross allowed just one home run against 491 batters faced in the Carolina League.
A graduate of Lexington Christian Academy in Kentucky, Ross originally signed a letter of content to play at the University of Kentucky. However, the opportunity to play professionally, and a $1.575 million signing bonus offered by the Rangers, changed his mind. After being named the Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year during his senior season of high school, he was tabbed as the 10th-best high school pitching prospect in the 2008 draft (Baseball America). Following his high school graduation, Ross was taken 57th overall by Texas.
Ross is coming off a monster month of July where he went 1-2, 1.38 ERA over six starts with the Pelicans. In that time we walked seven and struck out 30, holding opponents to a stingy .209 average.
If you’re into Twitter, you can follow Ross here. First pitch tonight from Midland is at 7:00, Brian and Aaron will be on with the pre-game show at 6:30. I’ll be on the Extra Bases Chat starting at 6:45. Enjoy the game!