The Hickory Crawdads begin the final homestand of the first-half with a three-game series against the Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs at L.P. Frans Stadium.
Tuesday: Luis Cedeno (RH, 3-5, 2.85 ERA) and Luis Ortiz (RH, 2-1, 2.00)
Wednesday: Matt Wotherspoon (RH, 0-0, 6.23) and Cody Buckel (RH, 0-1, 1.80)
Thursday: Matt Marsh (RH, 0-0, 4.50) and Collin Wiles (6-2, 1.92)
Recent Series History: The RiverDogs took three of four from the Crawdads in early May. Last year, Hickory edged Charleston 7-6 and was 5-2 at L.P. Frans. The Crawdads are 40-35 vs. the RiverDogs since the Rangers affiliation began in 2009.
Entering the Series:
Hickory (36-20) split a four-game series at Lakewood N.J. over the weekend before an off day on Monday. The Crawdads are 19-8 at home this seaon, but have won just one of the last three series played at L.P. Frans Stadium (6-4). Hickory leads second place West Virginia by 2 ½ games in the first-half Northern Division chase with 13 games left to play. The Power begin a three-game series at home against the Savannah (Ga.) Sand Gnats.
Charleston is just 5-5 in its last 10 games, but has picked up two games in that span and now trails first place Greenville by three games in the Southern Division chase. The top five teams in that division are separated by four games. The Sand Gnats are a game out, followed by Charleston, then Augusta at 3 ½ out and Rome four out in fifth place. Augusta travels to Greenville, while Rome is at Asheville.
Players to watch – Hickory:
IF Carlos Arroyo: With Travis Demeritte out due to a suspension and Michael De Leon nursing a quad strain, the 21-year-old native of Valencia, Venezuela was sent to Hickory from AAA Round Rock to fill the gap. He’s now played in ten games at three separate levels posting a .286/.333/.500 slash. He’ll be looked at to provide some speed as he has 11 triples and 25 steals in 131 pro games.
OF Jairo Beras: The Rangers had hoped that Beras would springboard off a strong finish to the 2014 season, but injuries (quad, back) and discipline issues (running out a pop up) have curtailed his season. He returned on Thursday at Lakewood and went 3-for-7 with a couple of walks, but went hitless in the final two games.
SP Luis Ortiz: He held the Hagerstown (Md.) Suns hitless until the fifth before they got to him with two walks, three hits and two runs that cost him the game in a 2-0 loss. After posting a 0.66 ERA in his first six starts, Ortiz has allowed seven earned runs in 13.2 innings with five walks.
SP Cody Buckel: Strong early on in his last start, Buckel walked five of the last 11 batters he faced. In what is expected to be the hottest day of the early summer, Buckel’s control issues could be key to not taxing the bullpen too early, and keeping the defense active in the hot sun.
RP John Fasola: Moreso for what could be his absence after throwing 3.1 innings to close out the Crawdads 5-3 win Sunday at Lakewood. The SAL all-star selection leads the league with 11 saves.
RP Yohander Mendez: Has yet to give up a run in nine relief outings (19.1 innings) with 14 baserunners allowed and 30 strikeouts.
Players to watch – Charleston:
SS Jorge Mateo: The solo top-30 Yankees prospect (no. 3 by Baseball America and mlb.com) on the roster. Has had marginal success getting on base (.268/.322/.371) but when he does, his speed is a factor. He leads the SAL with 38 steals and has scored a team-high 25 runs.
CF Dustin Fowler: Activated from the disabled list today, Fowler went 5-for-16 against Hickory last month with a homer and five RBI.
1B Connor Spencer: The Yankees 8th round pick out of UC Irvine is the RiverDogs lone all-star selection. He leads Charleston with 23 RBI and a .394 OBP.
C Collin Slaybaugh: Just called up from extended spring, the 26th round pick in 2014 out of Washington State went 8-for-8 in his first two games (June 3-4) against Augusta. He is 10-for-15 with three RBI, a walk and two steals.
SP Luis Cedeno: Has lost his last five starts. Facing lineups the second time through the order has been his downfall. Opponents are hitting .115 in the first inning and .200 in the second, but it just to .345 in the third and .400 in the fifth. He has given up eight runs and walked eight in his last 16.1 innings.
SP Matt Wotherspoon: The Pittsburgh (34th round 2014) product is in his second start with Charleston after pitching for AA Trenton and High-A Tampa. He allowed three runs on five hits in 4.1 in his first start against Augusta.
SP Matt Marsh: Demoted from Tampa, Marsh – teammates with Crawdads pitcher Adam Parks at Liberty Univ. – game up two earned runs on five hits in four innings last week against Asheville.