Results tagged ‘ Round Rock Express ’

Preview: Game 6 of 140

Lineups

ROUGHRIDERS

2B Odubel Herrera

1B Guilder Rodriguez

3B Alex Buchholz

DH Brett Nicholas

RF Alejandro Selen

CF Ryan Strausborger

C Tomas Telis

SS Hanser Alberto

LF Teodoro Martinez

*LHP Ryan Feierabend

NATURALS

3B Angel Franco

SS Orlando Calixte

DH Rey Navarro

LF Mitch Canham

CF Yem Prades

1B Matt Fields

RF Whit Merrifield

2B Alex McClure

Juan Graterol

*LHP Noel Arguelles 

Some thoughts on the lineups:

  • First game for Selen in the field. He plays RF after three games as the DH. He is still looking for his first hit. 
  • No Chiang again. He hasn’t played since coming out of the lineup Sunday for a pinch hitter.
  • First day off for Jared Hoying. Odubel Herrera, Ryan Strausborger and Brett Nicholas are the only ‘Riders who have played every game. Strausborger came on as a pinch hitter on Sunday, thought.
  • Brett Nicholas is the DH — his first game out of first base.
  • Another new position for Guilder Rodriguez. He has played in all four infield spots now after playing the hot corner last night.
  • Telis gets the early nod as the more regular catcher. He and Zach Zaneski split the first four games. Telis though started yesterday and is going again today.

A few notes:

  • Ross Wolf has been promoted from Frisco to Triple-A Round Rock.
  • When the Travelers come to town Thursday, they will be without Jeremy Berg. He pitched in two of the three games against Frisco over the weekend was promoted the Triple-A Salt Lake.
  • Edition #6 of the game notes have been published and has great tidbits on the starters and players on the ‘Riders roster.
  • Former ‘Rider Nick Tepesch makes his debut for the Texas Rangers tonight. He will be the 97th ‘Rider to play in the majors after his time here.
  • Today’s game 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.

- Nathan

Opening Day – Take Two

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:

ROUGHRIDERS

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

 

TRAVELERS

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.

Enjoy day two of the season Opening Day! Go ‘Riders!

- Nathan

Texas Rangers Farm System Update

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

Olt Named AFL “Rising Star”

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.

Mike Olt entered 2011 as the Rangers' No. 7 Prospect (James Garner)

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.

In 66 games at third base in 2011, Olt committed just nine errors for a .954 fielding percentage (James Garner)

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.

-AG

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.

What the Manning Brothers Taught Me About the World Series

Although Rangers fans are no doubt bummed today, that was a great start to this World Series.  What did I learn from last night’s game?  That no matter what happens, I won’t be fully satisfied.

Remember when the Colts played the Giants last year and Archie Manning was interviewed about if he was cheering more for Peyton or Eli?  I’m sure that was a more difficult situation than what I’m in the middle of, but I can truthfully say that no matter who wins, there will be at least a small part of me that wishes the other team won. (If you haven’t read the blog over the last two days, let it be known that I’m from St. Louis).

  • Sure did seem like Adrian Beltre got hosed on that call in the ninth.  With his bat, you never know, the next pitch could have gone bye-bye and tied things up.  Sure did look like that ball fouled off his toe.  How about that crazy X-Ray cam that Fox threw at us.  You know that producer had been waiting all night to break that thing out.
  • I know Tim McCarver takes a lot of heat from virtually everyone, but the line of the night came when we described back-to-back swings by Beltre in the seventh:  “Those are two grown man swings.”  Loved that.
  • Thanks to ESPN Stats and Info along with Baseball Reference for this random nugget from last night’s game:  St. Louis’ Arthur Rhodes, who got through the 8th inning,  is  now oldest pitcher in baseball history to record a World Series hold (turns 42 on October 24).
  • Not sure if you caught it, but former ‘Rider Mark Hamburger made a cameo on FOX last night.  Late in the game a foul ball found its way into the Rangers’ dugout and he graciously tossed it to a young Cardinals fan.  Mark isn’t on the roster, but what a great experience for him to be there and take it all in.
  • In news outside of the World Series, Jose Ruiz has been released by the Rangers. The big, yet agile, first baseman hit .275 over 106 games in 2011 with the RoughRiders.  His 12 home runs and 54 RBIs were no doubt a disappointment given his stature (6-3, 235) and the fact that he put on some shows during batting practice.  Ruiz, who received a late-season promotion up to Triple-A Round Rock,  had a major league option in his deal.  That means the Rangers would’ve needed to put him on the 40-man roster in order to keep him.
Should be a fun Game 2 tonight.  I’ll be cheering for … someone.
-AG

2011 RoughRiders’ Awards

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!

2011 Double-A MiLB Team of the Year

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).

-AG

RoughRiders Playoff History

In case you missed it, the RoughRiders have clinched a playoff spot for the sixth time in franchise history. Frisco will square off with San Antonio in the first round beginning September 7.

How have the ‘Riders fared in the playoffs over the years? Here are the year-by-year results.

2003:
Divisional Round: Defeated Wichita 3-0
Championship Series: Lost to San Antonio 4-1
In the RoughRiders’ first season, they qualified for the playoffs and made quick work of the Wranglers in the first round. In 2003, like this season, San Antonio was an all-timer of a team. The Missions went 88-51 in the regular season and cruised past the ‘Riders for the title.

The RoughRiders celebrate their 2004 Texas League championship.

2004:
Divisional Round: Defeated Tulsa 3-0
Championship Series: Defeated Round Rock 4-1
After a third-place finish in the first half, the RoughRiders blew away the competition en route to their first and only Texas League championship. Frisco went 45-25 in the second half to punch its playoff ticket. In their three-game sweep of Tulsa, the ‘Riders scored 28 runs. In the championship series against Round Rock, Frisco’s pitching staff gave up only 20 runs. This remains the lone banner in the RoughRiders’ tenure in the Texas League.

2007:
Divisional Round: Lost to San Antonio 3-0
Following their title in 2004, the RoughRiders missed the playoffs in ’05 and ’06. They made up for lost time with a record of 85-55 during the 2007 regular season, which was ten games better than any other team in the Texas League. However, the ‘Riders did not translate their regular season success into the playoffs. The Missions outscored Frisco 19-8 in the sweep. San Antonio went on to win the TL title.

2008:
Divisional Round: Defeated San Antonio 3-0
Championship Series: Lost to Arkansas 3-2
For the second straight season, the ‘Riders posted the best record in the Texas League (84-56). This time, the ‘Riders made quick work of San Antonio in the first round. In fact, Frisco’s sweep of San Antonio was more lopsided than the Missions’ broom job in ’07, as the ‘Riders outscored the defending champs 20-5. The championship series went back and forth, with Frisco taking Game 2 and Game 4. However, the Travelers dominated the deciding Game 5 11-3 to win their first outright title since 1989.

2010:
Divisional Round: Lost to Midland 3-1
Skipper Steve Buechele led the RoughRiders to the playoffs in his first season at the helm, but the RockHounds won back-to-back games at home after the two clubs split the two games at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Midland lost to Northwest Arkansas in the championship series.

All-Time Record (Games): 17-14
All-Time Record (Series): 4-4

- Brian

A Banner Year for the Rangers’ Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Brian

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