Series Preview: Greensboro at Hickory July 14-16

The Hickory Crawdads (52-34 overall, 8-10 second half) entertain the Greensboro Grasshoppers (34-53, 5-13) for the second time and final time this season at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Probables (Greensboro/ Hickory):

Tuesday: Enderson Franco (RH, 0-0, 1.50 ERA) and Nick Gardewine (RH, 4-6, 4.50)

Wednesday: Tyler Kolek (RH, 4-6, 4.69) and Cody Buckel (RH, 0-3, 2.65)

Thursday: Luis Castillo (RH, 4-3, 2.93) and Brett Martin (LH, 3-4, 3.39)

Recent Series History:

Hickory is 8-2 against the Grasshoppers in 2015, which includes a 3-0 series sweep at home back in May. Since the Texas Rangers- Crawdads affiliation began in 2009, the Greensboro holds a 50-48 lead in the series with the Crawdads having a 25-22 advantage at home.

Entering the Series – Hickory:

The Crawdads limp home after losing five of six to cap a season-high, nine-game road trip. Four of the losses came in a five-game series at Lakewood, N.J. During the 1-5 stretch, the opposition banged out 50 hits and scored 32 runs.

Hickory owns the South Atlantic League’s best record and the best home record (28-15).

The Crawdads lead the SAL with a 2.90 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and have given up the fewest hits, runs and earned runs in the league.

At the plate, Hickory holds the top spot in the SAL with 63 home runs. They are third in slugging pct. (.383) and total bases.

In the field, the Crawdads remain at the top of the SAL in fielding pct, having committed the fewest errors and turning the most double plays.

Entering the Series – Greensboro:

After losing three of four to Hickory last weekend, the Grasshoppers dropped three of five to West Virginia to close out a nine-game home stand. Greensboro has the worst overall record in the SAL, as well as the worst road record (13-31). The Grasshoppers have won back-to-back road games just three times this season and won just two series on the road

On the mound, the Grasshoppers are last in the SAL in ERA (4.22) and WHIP 1.42.

At the plate, Greensboro is last in the SAL in batting avg. (224), OBP (.304), OPS (.651), runs scored, hits, triples and RBI. The Grasshoppers are next to last in walks and 12th out of 14 teams in total bases.

Players to watch- Hickory:

SP Nick Gardewine: Has been roughed up in his three starts since the all-star break (7.04 ERA). The Grasshoppers touched him for three homers in his last start a week ago. SAL hitters are batting .310 against him as a starter and he has lasted past five innings just once.

SP Cody Buckel: The roller-coaster ride continues for the hurler this season. After a three-hitter over six shutout innings against Greenville, he walked four and allowed four hits in five innings at Lakewood. The strikeouts, though, have begun to pile up with 12 over his last 11 innings.

SP Brett Martin: Had his shortest outing of the season in his last start at Lakewood (1.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB).

RP Scott Williams: Has become more viable in the late innings in recent weeks. Since June 6, Williams has give up two runs (both solo homers) on nine base runners and struck out 18 over 13.1 innings. After six walks over his first four outings, he has given up just two in ten games since.

OF Luke Tendler: Continues to rake in the 17 games since the all-star break. Posting a slash line of 328/.373/.590, Tendler has three 3-hit games in that stretch. In SAL top-ten rankings, he is fifth in total bases, tied for seventh in RBI and doubles, and tied for eighth with 8 homers.

OF Jose Cardona: Has hits in four straight games and multi-hit games in three straight. Is currently the lone player in the lineup with double-digits in steals with 16 of the team’s 57 for the season.

2B Carlos Arroyo: Arguably the most-consistent hitter in the lineup at the moment, Arroyo has reached base in eight straight and 12 of the last 13 games. He has not put up back-to-back hitless games since his first two games upon joining the Crawdads. Arroyo has 13 multi-hit games in his last 27 outings.

Players to watch- Greensboro:

SP Enderson Franco: Acquired by the Marlins in June as part of a bonus-slot deal with Tampa Bay. He was 5-6 with a 3.89 ERA at the Rays’ low-A affiliate at Bowling Green, Ky. Franco allowed a run on three hits over six innings against West Virginia.

SP Tyler Kolek: The Marlins first-round pick (second overall) in 2014 is currently the club’s top prospect and the 8th best right-handed pitching prospect in the minors. He has struggled in his first full season (4.69 ERA/ 1.48 WHIP), especially with control. Kolek has 32 walk and hit seven batters in 71 innings with only 45 Ks. Hickory roughed him up for four earned runs on seven hits over four innings on July 4.

LF Austen Smith: One of three players to start for the Northern Division in the SAL All-Star Game, he has been tough on Hickory pitching (.280/.419/.640) this season. Against the league, he is second in homers (13), eighth in walks and 10th in slugging (.460). Smith is also susceptible to the strikeouts with 90 in 301 plate appearances.

1B KJ Woods: The starting DH in the All-Star game has also been a thorn in the side of the Crawdads, hitting .324 with five extra base hits. The Ft. Mill, S.C. native is batting .241 in July, but has homered twice against the Crawdads. He is sixth in the SAL in slugging (.469)

C Arturo Rodriguez: The starting catcher for the Northern Division has three homers in ten games against the Crawdads.

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