May 2016

Greensboro Stays Hot, Keeps Crawdads Slumping

The Greensboro Grasshoppers pushed across two runs in the top of the ninth and defeated the Hickory Crawdads 3-1 Thursday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The win was the ninth out of the last ten for Greensboro (22-25) and it also sent the Crawdads (28-19) to their seventh loss in nine games. The Grasshoppers beat Hickory for the first time in seven games this season.

What Happened?:

It was another low scoring affair during the Crawdads homestand, as Hickory and its opponents have combined for 18 runs in four games.

Both teams brought across runs in the third inning. Greensboro got its run when Zach Sullivan doubled with one out and scored on Anfernee Seymour’s single. Hickory answered in the of bottom half when LeDarious Clark ambushed a first-pitch fastball by Steven Farnworth for a homer to left.

Farnworth pitched the first six innings for Greensboro and allowed one run on five hits with two strikeouts. His counterpart Wes Benjamin countered with his lone run allowed on three hits and struck out six over five innings.

Blake Bass threw three scoreless innings for Hickory and Jeff Kinley (3-2) negotiated around three walks to log two scoreless innings.

Greensboro scored the go ahead runs in the ninth against reliever Joe Palumbo (3-2). With one out, Josh Naylor walked and stole second. One out later, Angel Reyes joined Naylor with a walk of his own. Roy Morales and Justin Twine each picked up RBI singles to right to account for the final margin.

Hickory put runners on second and third with one out against closer C.J. Robinson. But Robinson struck out Eduard Pinto and Clark to end the game and get his ninth save of the season.

The two teams will continue their series on Friday at 7 p.m.

 

Benjamin money on the mound:

Benjamin handled the Grasshoppers easily in his only other start against them on April 11 (4 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and added to that ledger on Thursday. He hurled a fastball that ranged in the 91-93 range and spotted it effectively around the plate. Of the six Ks he registered, three of those came on fastballs, two looking. The one mistake was a 93 mph up to Seymour that he smoked to center.

Changeup held in the 84-86 range with two missed bats, both for strikeouts. He sprinkled in an occasional curve, including one that fanned Isael Soto. Seymour’s double came on a curve that he went down to get.

Overall, Benjamin threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of 18 hitters and had 41 strikes out of 65 pitches.

 

Bass rebounds:

Blake had little trouble with the Grasshoppers and rebounded after allowing runs in his previous two outings. The 6-7 righty allowed two hits and struck out one over three scoreless innings.  His fastball ranged in the 91-92 with a change and it looked like just one slider, which he used the strike out Angel Reyes.

Baby Steps at the plate:

The ledger says Hickory had six hits, but the lineup squared up several pitches that went straight to fielders.

After Ibanez walked in the ninth, Tyler Sanchez roped a fastball that went straight to Sullivan in center.

Jenkins, who had struggled with fastballs during the Rome series, seemed back on track Thursday. He took a pitch deep to right in the first and lined one to right for a single in the third. His 4-3 grounder in the sixth was smoked, but right to Justin Twine at second. The walk in the eighth was arguably his best AB of the homestand as he laid off a couple of fastballs off the plate and then ignored a curve to work a walk.

There are still examples of the lineup missing fastballs on fastball counts, but on Thursday, they were too few to mention.

Moore fancy footwork at 1B:

Moore made a couple of tough plays on throws. In the fourth, a liner from Reyes was snared by Frandy De La Rosa at third. His quick throw to first caused Moore to shift feet and take the throw to the outfield side of the bag, which he held for the out.

In the sixth, a bunt by Seymour was pounced on by catcher Tyler Sanchez, who fired a bullet to first. Moore had to tap dance across the bag to catch the throw and hold the base for the out.

 

Greensboro adjusted to Clark:

After Clark jumped the first-pitch fastball in the third, he saw only two more fastballs – one lined to left in the fifth. In the final AB of the game, Robinson threw two sliders that Clark fouled off, then came back with a curveball over the inside corner for the final out of the game.

When He Was a Crawdad: Richard Bleier

It took nine minor league seasons with ten teams spanning four different organizations, plus two winter league stints in the Dominican Republic, but on May 26, 2016, former Hickory Crawdads pitcher Richard Bleier is a major league pitcher.

It comes on the day in which it is announced that 19-year-old pitching phenom Julio Urias will be called up to the Los Angeles Dodgers to make his first major league start.

Baseball is a funny game that way.  Some players just have “it” and get the fast track to the big leagues and Urias certainly has that. But when Urias was 12, Bleier seemed to be, while not on a fast track, on at least a commuter line to the Texas Rangers, or someplace where the play baseball in multi-tiered stadiums.

Bleier made only five appearances with Hickory, three of those at home. The Rangers sixth-round pick in 2008 out of Florida Gulf Coast University posted a 2-1 mark with a 1.14 ERA. He allowed just three earned runs with 17 Ks and four walks over 23.2 innings before becoming the first Texas Rangers affiliated player to get a promotion when he was called up to High-A Bakersfield in May 2009.

Bleier topped out at with four seasons at AA Frisco, though he did get a one-month stay at AAA Round Rock at the start of 2013.

After his sixth minor-league season, Bleier became a free agent and signed with the Toronto Blue Jays organization and spent much of the season at AA New Hampshire.

Again a free agent, Bleier signed with the Washington Nationals for 2015 and he split the season at AA Harrisburg and AAA Syracuse. He earned all-star recognition in the Eastern League (AA) after putting up 8-3 mark with a 2.45 ERA over 16 games (15 starts). Bleier continued his good work at AAA, going 8-2 with a 2.75 in 12 outings (11 starts).

He signed with the Yankees system in the offseason and after a DL stint to start the year he was 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA over seven starts.

Bleier is the 145th former Crawdads player to get to the majors, the third to come up in 2016, following Nomar Mazara and Cody Ege. He is the 12th member of the Crawdads 2009 squad to get to the majors.

 

Hickory Crawdads - Richard Bleier

Hickory Crawdads vs Lakewood BlueClaws 4/30/2009 (Photo by John Setzler, Jr.)

Braves Hop Over Crawdads 3-2

 

The Rome (Ga.) Braves scored three runs in the fourth to edge the Hickory Crawdads 3-2 during a Wednesday morning contest held at Hickory’s L.P. Frans Stadium.

 

What Happened?:

What had been a tough-hitting  series (14 total runs in the three games) continued on Wednesday as for the most part Rome’s Ricardo Sanchez and Hickory’s Erik Swanson held the opposing lineups in check.

Hickory (28-18) scored both of its runs in the second as Dylan Moore walked and Eduard Pinto followed with a two-run homer that just skimmed the tip of the fence in the rightfield corner.

The Braves (18-28) got their rally started with one out in the fourth as a ground ball to second baseman Andy Ibanez caromed wildly to Ibanez’s right for a single. A four-pitch walk to Wigberto Nevarez and a single by Jonathan Morales loaded the bases. Swanson (3-1) issued a second four-pitch walk in the inning, this time to Justin Ellison to score the first run. Carlos Castro popped up to first, but Alejandro Salazar singled in two runs to provide what turned out to be the game’s final margin.

Sanchez (3-4) allowed just the two runs on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks over 5.2 innings. He left in the sixth due to a shoulder injury.

Oriel Caicedo finished up for the Braves, though he had to work out of a Crawdads rally in the ninth. With two outs, Ibanez and Moore singled and Pinto walked to load the bases. However, Caicedo got Yeyson Yrizarri to pop to first to end the game.

Game management the difference:

The difference in the game was the ability of the two starters to work out of their one trouble spot in the game.

Sanchez:

In the second, Sanchez was clearly affected by a 3-2 pitch to the right-handed Moore that appeared to catch the outside corner, but was called ball four. After a fastball away to the lefty Pinto, a fastball in was pulled down the line and went about 333 feet and barely cleared the 10-foot fence.

After Yrizarri flew out to center, Ti’Quan Forbes beat out an infield hit to short.

The inning seemed to affect Sanchez, as he took several trips around the mound between pitches to collect himself. It took mound visits by the shortstop Salazar, the catcher Nevarez and finally Braves pitching coach Dan Meyer to settle down the 19-year-old lefty. Sanchez then got Chuck Moorman to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Swanson:

It appeared that Swanson was a candidate for a “Maddux” after needing 30 pitches to get through three innings. After getting Ray-Patrick Didder to ground to short, the inning began to unravel as Swanson’s pinpoint control with the fastball suddenly left him.

Four straight 95 mph pitches sailed to the righty’s glove side. Morales was able to get a seeing-eye single into left to load the bases before four straight fastballs then went off the plate arm side.

Castro popped up a 2-2 fastball onto the infield and then it appeared Swanson was going to keep the lead when he started Salazar 0-2. But a slider to Salazar caught a lot of the plate and he lined it hard to left and that turned out to be the ball game.

 

Stellar play in the field:

Third baseman Frandy De La Rosa and shortstop Yrizarri make stellar plays in support of Swanson in the second. De La Rosa snapped up a tough short-hop off the bat of Ellison to get the out. Yrizarri then made a grab of a grounder deep in the hole and then made a Jeter-like jump throw on the money to first to retire the slowfooted Castro.

 

Missed hitter’s counts:

What was an blip in the game log in the second turned out to be a key play as Moorman pulled a 2-1 fastball into a double play to keep Sanchez in the game with only two runs. But other hitters missed out on hitter’s counts as well.

In the third, Jenkins laid off a pair of curveballs away, but then mistimed a fastball and popped it to third.

One inning later, Moore worked a 2-0 count as two secondary pitches missed. But he, too, missed a fastball and bounced weakly to second.

In the fifth, De La Rosa saw a 2-0 fastball and bounced it to third.

Said Crawdads manager Steve Mintz after the game, “I don’t know why we couldn’t figure that guy out. I don’t know why we were getting in counts to hit and we couldn’t square up any balls.”

Crawdads Fried Braves

(I apologize in advance for grammatical/ spelling errors. Been up since 2:45 a.m.)

 

The Hickory Crawdads put together a big first inning and made it stand up for a 3-1 victory over the Rome (Ga.) Braves in game two of a three-game series at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The win by the host Crawdads evens the series at 1-1 after the Braves took the first game on Monday. Hickory (28-17) remains one-half game behind the Hagerstown (Md.) Suns in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division chase. The Suns stayed in first by virtue of a 3-0 win at Lakewood (N.J.). Rome drops to 17-28, which is last in the Southern Division.

What Happened?:

Hickory scored all three runs in the first inning against Braves starter Max Fried. With one out, Dylan Moore and Andy Ibanez both singled and then pulled off a double steal that set up RBI singles by Tyler Sanchez and Eduard Pinto. After LeDarious Clark struck out, Ti’Quan Forbes singled in Sanchez to complete the scoring.

That turned out to be enough for a trio of Crawdads pitchers, led by starter Jonathan Hernandez (5-3). The 19-year-old right-hander allowed one run over six innings on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Matt Ball then pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two before John Werner closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

The Braves put just one runner past second and it turned into their only run in the fifth. Leudys Baez singled and moved to third on Yeudi Grullon’s double. Ray-Partrick Didder’s grounder scored Baez.

Max Fried (2-3) settled down and did not allow a hit after the second inning and struck out four with three walks.

Hernandez hurling heat:

Pretty much the bulk of the work for Hernandez came on the fastball, which hung in the 92-95 range and touched 97 as he overthrew a pair of fastballs to Lucas Herbert in walking him with two outs in the sixth. He settled down and Alejandro Salazar to bounce to third to complete his outing.

For my untrained eyes, it seems that when Hernandez is in control of his delivery, he is able to spot the fastball nearly at will at the knees. When he begins to fall to the first base side, the pitch travels to the glove side.

By my count he had eight missed bats with the fastball with most of that coming at the expense of Braves 3B prospect Austin Riley. Hernandez carved up his fellow 19-year-old as the right-handed Riley swung through a pair of fastballs and then took a 92-mph pitch on the outside corner at the knees. In the third, Riley lost on a five-pitch at-bat by swinging past a 95-mph heater. Hernandez completed the hat trick, with a slider off the plate that Riley missed and then blew two fastballs by him.

The majority of his secondaries appeared to be his slider, which didn’t have much of a bit, but was enough to work the timing of the Rome hitters. He missed badly on an 0-2 pitch that Herbert lined hard to right. Other than Juan Grullon’s double in the fifth, the Braves were unable to make solid contract against Hernandez.

Crawdads offense shines, then goes into a funk:

Manager Steve Mintz moved Dylan Moore into the second slot behind Chris Garia, who was inserted into the leadoff spot in place of Eric Jenkins. It appeared the Crawdads found the magic elixir as they pounded out five hits against Rome starter Max Fried in the first. After Moore and Ibanez picked off fastballs, Sanchez and Pinto picked off hanging curves to do damage.

Yrizarri served a curve into left to start the second and after Chris Garia fanned, Dylan Moore walked. A double steal attempt by Yrizarri and Moore blew up as Yrizarri stopped on his way to third and went back to second. However, Moore didn’t see the play ahead of him and Yrizarri was tagged out during a rundown.

As what seems to happen when the Crawdads have a blunder, the team went into a funk as the Crawdads managed only two more walks against Fried through six innings. The Crawdads finished with nine hits, but just four after the first.

Pinto showing strong arm:

The Crawdads left fielder made his second strong throw in as many nights and Alejandro Salazar was the victim both times. On Monday, Pinto threw out Salazar at the plate trying to score on a hit down the line in left. Pinto got him again on Tuesday when he tried to go first-and-third.

Relievers slam the door:

Matt Ball flamed a 94 mph fastball mixed in with a tight slider that goes for strikes. He gave up just one baserunner when Baez reached on an error in the eighth. Ball recovered to get the next two outs and shut the door. He completed Riley’s golden sombrero in the eighth with a slider in the dirt.

John Werner needed only eight pitches to close out the save. Fastball 94-95 with a slider. Works quickly and pounds strikes. Josh Altmann assisted the save with a diving catch of a sinking liner by Salazar.

Speed played role in big inning:

One key in defeating Fried was to figure out how to beat the lefty’s tough pickoff move. After Fried picked off two in his last start vs. Hickory – and in the process got Crawdads manager Steve Mintz tossed for arguing the legality of the move.

On Tuesday, the Crawdads were more careful with Fried’s move and were not picked off. The Crawdads were able to be patient and pick out pitches to run on. The key to the first was Ibanez’s single that put runners and first and second. As good as Fried’s pickoff move is, his deliver to the plate is slow. Ibanez/ Moore picked on a curve ball to move easily up a base on the double steal. Sanchez and Pinto collected on the RBI opportunities.

Hickory went on to steal five against Rome in the game; four of those came against Fried.

Rome Strikes (Out) for Win

The Rome Braves rallied with single runs in the eighth and ninth inning to claim a 3-2 over the Hickory Crawdads Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The loss for the Crawdads (27-17) combined with a win by Hagerstown (Md.) at Lakewood (N.J.) dropped Hickory into second place by a half-game in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division. The Crawdads have lost five of the last six games.

Although Rome (17-27) remains at the bottom of the Southern Division standings, the Braves continue to confound the Crawdads and have evened the series record at 4-4.

What Happened?:

Hickory’s Pedro Payano and Rome’s Patrick Wiegel held the opposing offenses in check for the most part, though each contributed to their own trouble in the game.

Rome used defensive miscues to get onto the scoreboard in the second. With one out, Carlos Castro singled to right and moved to second on a passed ball by Chuck Moorman. After Payano struck out Lucas Herbert, Payano’s attempted pickoff of Castro bounced into center and moved the runner to third. Leudys Baez blooped a single to left for the RBI.

Ti’Quan Forbes got Hickory even in the third with his first pro home run, a fly ball that carried over the fence in left.

Wiegel returned the favor with a miscue of his own that gave Hickory the lead in the fifth. With one out, Eduard Pinto singled. Forbes followed with a bouncer back to the mound. Wiegel turned to second for the force play, but instead bounced the ball into centerfield, which allowed Pinto to go to third. Moorman’s groundout to second scored Pinto.

Though the Braves struck out three times in the eighth, Rome used two of those whiffs to score the tying run. With one out, Blake Bass struck out Austin Riley, but the pitch bounced to the backstop and allowed Riley to reach. Riley stole second and Jonathan Morales walked to end Bass’s night. Reliever Joe Palombo struck out Justin Elliott, but Carlos Castro loaded the bases with his second hit of the night. The Crawdads appeared to be out of the inning as Herbert struck out, but his strikeout pitch went to the backstop with Riley scoring on the play.

Rome scored the go-ahead run in the ninth as Ray-Patrick got an infield hit, stole second, and scored on Austin Riley’s double with two outs.

LeDarious Clark singled and stole second with two outs, but got no further as Pinto bounced back to the mound to end it.

 

Sloppy ‘Dads Hinder Efforts:

At times Monday, Hickory looked like a team that was tired from a weeklong road trip. Alejandro Salazar hit what looked like a routine single in the first. However, when centerfielder Eric Jenkins was slow to retrieve the ball, Salazar turned it to a hustle double, sliding into second easily.

Frandy De La Rosa appeared to lose track of the count as he remained in the batter’s box to hit after a third strike was called for the out.

Chuck Moorman didn’t seem his usual steady self behind the plate as the passed ball and two wild pitches all came on breaking balls by three different pitchers.

 

Forbes Stock up or down:

Ti’Quan Forbes showed in the course of Monday’s game the inconsistent season that has played out thus far.

At the plate, Forbes took a hanging curveball from Wiegel and served it out to left. However, with runners at second and third, Forbes mistimed a first-pitch fastball from new reliever Grayson Jones and hit it into a 4-6-3 double play.

At third base, Forbes made a hard-charging, barehanded play on a bunt by Justin Ellison in the sixth. In the ninth, Forbes bobbled an easy roller to extend the inning.

 

Impatience at the plate:

Of the 33 hitters Hickory sent to the plate on Monday, 21 of them saw four or fewer pitches. Eleven of them faced 1 or 2 pitches.

 

Payano not what it seems:

Payano needed 91 pitches to get through six innings and his fastball wasn’t without control issues, but his line score looks worse than it appeared. Of the seven hits he gave up over six innings, only Castro’s liner in the second was well struck. His curveball throughout the game had good snap to it with several missed bats, including all three strikes in a five-pitch K of Castro in the fourth.

Crawdads at the Quarter Pole: Interview with Steve Mintz

The Hickory Crawdads passed the one-quarter mark of the season last weekend during the series against Rome (Ga.) Entering Thursday night’s game at West Virginia, the team is at 26-13 and sit in second place, one-half game behind Hagerstown (Md.) in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division.

The expectation entering the season was that the team would be built around a strong starting rotation that featured four returnees from last season, along with a lineup that was built for speed. For the most part, those expectations have been met. The team ERA of 3.27 is third in the SAL with the squad staying in most games because of overall strong starting pitching. On the bases, Hickory has 90 steals this season, more than the total steal attempts of any other South Atlantic League team.The 43 caught stealing attempts are more than the successful steal attempts of 10 other SAL teams.

I caught up with Crawdads manager Steve Mintz last weekend to get an overall picture of the squad in mid-May.

 

Now you’re at the quarter pole, so to speak. Standing wise you’re in a good position. Although I know you want to win and all of that, but development is the name of the game. How are things with development as a whole?

Mintz: I think it’s good. The team, they’re getting to know each other better. As far as the team meshing, we’re pretty happy with the direction that it’s going. As far as the pitching, we’ve seen really good signs, both starting and our bullpen. We have our little hiccups here and there, but things we’re able to address and fix quickly.

Defensive wise, I think we’re catching the ball and throwing it very well. There’s a few instances where we don’t get outs that we should get, maybe turning a double play when we’re too slow to the ball, or different things like that that are fixable. The main things that we’re looking for is ready position, and fielding, and angles and all those things are getting better.

Obviously from the baserunning side of it, we’re trying to understand the scoreboard, understand what we’re doing, the pitchers and catchers and what the other teams are trying to do, the times to the plate, can the catcher throw and different things like that.

I think in a nutshell, we’re on pace exactly where we’d like to be, as far as the development side of it. Obviously, winning baseball games helps that out tremendously, being able to address things while you’re winning, instead of not.

Hickory Victory

Hickory celebrating another victory in 2016. The Crawdads are 26-13 prior to the weekend series at West Virginia. (Photo by Crystal Lin/ Hickory Crawdads)

 

I’m guessing you’re pleased with effort. If you’re in first place at this point of the season, the guys see the standings and you don’t really have to address effort very much.

Mintz: There’s different times where we’ve seen the guys go out there and battle and come back from deficits and win.  There’s other times when we get a lull there in the dugout and maybe take an at-bat to the field and different things like that. Those are things we can simply address and talk to them about. But for the most part, the effort and the work that they’re putting in before the games, and then obviously the 27 outs that we’re trying to get during the game, no real concerns there.

 

You said coming into the season that you were going to run and run and run, and you certainly have run and run and run. What are the things that you address as far as trying to teach these guys the running game?

Mintz: First and foremost, where we start at is the scoreboard. We direct every attempt and every decision that we’re making at the scoreboard. Our position is if we’re tied, we’ve got the lead, or we’re down a couple of runs, we’re staying aggressive. We want to continually put pressure on the defense. On the reverse side of that, we don’t want to run into outs.

What we’re starting to see now with the guys is they’re studying the pitchers more. They’re having an idea of their times to the plate. They understand the catcher. They’re understanding, “Do I need to get to second base or do I need to get to third base, or can I wait a couple of pitches and let (Andy) Ibanez drive me in or (Tyler) Sanchez drive me in?” All those things, you’re starting to see those come out.

We’ve still got a lot or work to do in the area. The biggest plus of it all is that they’re going. We’ve told them since the first day of spring training, “We want you to run; we want you to run and I’m not going to be the guy that’s stops you.” The guys that have the green lights; the (other team’s) managers can look at me all they want. I’m not putting on any signs over at third base. I’m watching them (his players) and seeing what they’re doing with their jumps and their leads and their secondaries and all that stuff that they’re supposed to be doing on the bases.

So far, I’m satisfied. Not that we’re where we want to be, but we’re learning. We’re taking a good look at the scoreboard and that’s my biggest thing for them to look at. Look at the scoreboard and you decide is it a time that we need to do this, or is it a time that we don’t need to do this.

Eric Jenkins steal

Eric Jenkins steals 2B in a game against Greenville (S.C.). The speedy outfielder leads the SAL with 22 steals through May 18 (Photo by Crystal Lin/ Hickory Crawdads)

 

Is that the biggest part of correction is to learn when to take those chances or not?

Mintz: The scoreboard and the pitchers. We had one stretch there that were throwing 1.2s, 1.25s to the plate and we were running. They were bang-bang, but we were still out. I’m trying to get them to understand that in those situations that we have to look for pitches. We have to maybe try to pick a 0-2 count, or if we can see a catcher’s sign and go on a breaking ball. So they’re learning things those things. So, if the pitcher gets 1.4 and over, they’re going. They’re going out and trying to get their leads and trying to get the best jump that they can get and go. That’s what we want them to do.

If they understand all those factors and they go and get thrown out, I’ll put them on the behind as they go back to the dugout. That’s what we want them to do. They have to learn how to steal bases. You’ve got Jenkins, Garia’s here now, Clark, De La Rosa, Moore – I think everybody sleeps on him, I don’t know why.  But they have to learn how to steal bases.

 

Coming into the season, you had a strong rotation – at least on paper – with (Dillon) Tate, (Brett) Martin, (Pedro) Payano. (Jonathan) Hernandez has added some nice innings for you after a little bit of a bumpy start. Benjamin and Swanson are split off for now. For the most, your starters have run out some good innings.

Mintz: And they have to. I don’t care if you’re in little league or in the big leagues. Your starting pitching is what carries you. You’re not going to win without it and it’s been proven over and over again. You can’t outhit bad pitching. They’ve given us a chance to win in most of the ballgames that we’ve had. I even talked to the guys today. There’s been two ballgames that we’ve been blown out and they were right here against Greenville. All the other games, we’ve either won them or we’ve been in them. It’s not been some runaway mess, except for the two games. Our starters are doing their job and they’re getting us into the games and giving us an opportunity to score, get leads and even come back late in ballgames. That’s all we can ask from them.

Payano 1-hitter Lin

Pedro Payano has a 1.42 ERA over seven appearances (six starts) though May 18. (Photo by Crystal Lin/ Hickory Crawdads)

The development side for them and what (pitching coach) Jose Jaimes is doing with them, learning swings and counts and pitch sequences, all are things that come with it. These kids are still learning on how to do. We’re happy to this point. They’ve each had a hiccup here and there, which is fine. We don’t expect them to go out there and have 30 outstanding starts. Where we’re at and what they’re doing, we’re happy. They’ve got more work to put in and more things to learn. It’s all a process, but we’re happy with where they’re at.

 

For you, who has taken the biggest step forward in the first six weeks?

Mintz: I’m not going to lie about it. (Jose) Almonte has been…

Now, you mentioned him before the season. I’m going to ask you about him. You look at the stats coming into this season at the DSL he didn’t hit much and then he skipped levels to come here. You said back then, “He swings the bat like a man.” Everything I saw and read, I went, “OK”. He’s really made you a prophet here.

Mintz: I might have told you or somebody else at the beginning of the year that I thought he was going to be a wildcard for us coming in. Not a lot going on to this point, but I’ve watched him in the last two or three spring trainings and some instructional league. I mean, the kid’s 18, 19 years old. What he’s been able to do for us in the bottom half of that lineup, being able to drive in runs and I think he’s got four or five home runs. He’s hitting .290, or whatever it is. It gives you that added little punch in your lineup knowing you’ve got a guy there that can hit it out and drive in runs. And he plays a great right field and has a good arm and he runs around out there good.

Maybe not so much a surprise to me. I’m happy for what he’s doing, but I guess I did say he was the wildcard of the bunch. You’ve got some of the other ones that you’ve got expectations for, but with limited expectations for him, I thought he would do what he’s doing.

Jose Almonte batting

Jose Almonte has surprised observers with a .281 average and a .753 OPS over the first 39 games of the season (Photo by Tracy Proffitt)

Martin and Tate came into the season with a checklist. How are they progressing with what you wanted to see from them?

Mintz: I’m not all the way up on what we’re trying to do with them. Obviously, quality starts and offspeed pitches for both of them was a high priority and commanding the zone with their fastballs. Martin coming back in a repeat role and maybe dominate the league for three or four starts and then see what happens.

They’ve both had spots. Tate’s coming back and he’s doing all the stuff that he needs to do to make sure that he’s 100 percent go on everything. They’re pretty close to being on track. As I said, they’re all going to have their little sideways days, but you can’t get too hung up on that. You’ve got to look at the whole body of work and what they’re trying to do. We’re happy where they’re at. There’s no red flags or anything that’s had us so, “oh gosh, we’ve made the wrong decision.”

 

How much longer does Ibanez get to stay here?

Mintz: I have no idea (laughing). I reckon he’ll be here until they call me and tell me that he needs to get on a plane. Stuff like that is out of my control. I’m just going to mess with him while he’s here and have him do the things he needs to do to be prepared to go to that next step when they ask him to.

Andy Ibanez batting

Andy Ibnanez has been among the SAL best hitters much of the season. (Photo by Tracy Proffitt)

 

When you and I talked before the season, you said there were two things he needed to do: Get used to USA ball and work on some fielding issues. Are both of those progressing as you’d hope?

Mintz: No doubt. I think playing baseball in America, he’s acclimated himself very well to that. His second base play has grown leaps and bounds. Our infield coordinator Kenny Holmberg was in Charleston (S.C.) with us. He made a couple of plays and I walked up to Kenny and I said, “He don’t that play in spring training.” And he said, “You’re right.”

His angles and reading balls off the bat and different things like that, we’re tickled to death with. Obviously, he’s swinging the bat and leading the world in doubles. Everything we’ve wanted him to do, he’s accomplished to this point.

Lovin’ the Outcome: Hickory Edges Rome 8-7

A mistake-filled game by both teams led to a see-saw affair that the Hickory Crawdads finally were able to take an 8-7 win over the Rome (Ga.) Braves on Saturday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Now at 24-11, Hickory holds the best record in the South Atlantic League and is 1 ½ games ahead of Hagerstown (Md.) in the Northern Division. Rome has dropped to 12-23 and is tied with Greensboro for the worst record in the SAL.

What Happened?:

A crowd of 3,486 at L.P. Frans – many in attendance for the post-game concert by Christian artists “Love and the Outcome” – were able to see two of the top pitching prospects in minor league baseball in Rome’s Max Fried (MLB.com’s No. 10 Braves prospect) and the Crawdads Dillon Tate (No. 4). However, neither of the hurlers was sharp as the offenses took to the attack.

Rome scored three against Tate in the third. Yeudi Grullon used a strong wind to send a liner to the wall in right for a double. One out later, Luke Dykstra singled him in and then stole second. Juan Yepez and Justin Ellison collected back-to-back doubles to account for the other two runs.

The Crawdads got one back against Fried in the fourth as Eric Jenkins tripled and scored on Andy Ibanez’s single. Hickory then took the lead with four runs in the fifth. Josh Altmann and Ti’Quan Forbes opened the inning with singles and advanced to second and third after a sacrifice bunt by Chuck Moorman. Frandy De La Rosa singled in both runners before Chris Garia homered to right.

Errors by De La Rosa at second and Garia in left set up the tying runs for the Braves in the sixth as Grullon eventually singled in both Justin Ellison and Bradley Keller.

Rome took the lead with a run in the seventh. With one out, Dykstra and Jonathan Morales each singled. A wild pitch moved the runners up and Dykstra scored when Yepez hit a sharp grounder to Forbes at third. Forbes was able to knock the ball down and keep Morales at second, though Dykstra scored. Ellison walked to load the bases, but Crawdads reliever Adam Choplick got Lucas Herbert to fly out to shallow right and then struck out Keller to keep the deficit at 6-5.

The ability to hold the Braves to one run in the seventh proved crucial as the Crawdads returned serve for a final time in the bottom of the inning against Braves reliever Taylor Lewis. Moorman worked a leadoff walk followed by De La Rosa’s single. The key play of the inning came on Garia’s sacrifice back to Lewis in front of the mound. Lewis fielded the ball and as he turned to look towards third, dropped the ball and allowed Garia to reach and load the bases. Lewis struck out Jenkins, but then walked Andy Ibanez to force in Moorman. Dylan Moore singled in both runners to break the tie and make it 8-6.

Rome got to within 8-7 in the eighth as Crawdads reliever Joe Palumbo hit Ray-Patrick Didder with a pitch after two outs. Didder came all the way around to score as Dystrka doubled into the corner in left.

The Braves threatened in the ninth as Yepez doubled to lead off the inning. However, he remained there as Palumbo struck out Ellison and then got Herbert and Keller on fly outs to end the game.

 

The Wind:

What started out as a light spring zephyr at game time (11 mph) turned into a small gale a couple of innings into the game with the flags starched blowing left to right. Its first victim was Crawdads CF Jenkins, who had settled under a fly ball just short of the track in center, only to realize too late the ball was to his left by 20 feet.

Grullon’s first hit of the game in the third likely was wind-aided as it carried behind LeDarious Clark in right and off the wall. However, the wind likely took a homer away from Juan Yepez, as what looked an easy shot over the fence banged off the wall instead.

Garia’s homer to right was well struck in the fifth, but under normal circumstance it probably doesn’t leave the park. Garia made a nice play to circle around and catch a fly off the bat of Lucas Herbert to curtail further damage during the Braves three-run third. However, he misplayed a ball along the wall in left, then dropped the catch to enable Rome to score two runs in the seventh.

But as the wind taketh, the wind also giveth, as in the crucial seventh, the wind held up a blooper off the bat of Herbert and allowed Clark to make a running catch.

Pitching duel a dud:

Neither Tate for Hickory, nor Fried for Rome had their best stuff on display in the game.

Tate’s fastball was a tick down in velocity that what we’re used to seeing, but still running 93-95, with an occasional 96. We noticed in the press box that the high leg-kick Tate usually has in his delivery wasn’t quite as high on Saturday, and perhaps that affected his control, which at times was spotty. The fastball in the early innings tended to miss badly to his glove side. A strikeout of Yepez looking in the first caught the outside corner to the right-handed hitter. However, catcher Chuck Moorman’s glove was set up on the inside corner.

Tate’s changeup took the brunt of the beating in the third as both Yepez and Ellison jumped on pitches up and over the plate. The slider didn’t appear to get much use, nor did it have the same bite we’re used to seeing. With all that said, Tate managed to keep his composure on the mound in tight spots. After the wind-aided double in the second, Tate recovered to make Brandon Keller look silly on the best slider of the game and then blow a fastball by Alejandro Salazar to complete the inning.

Fried is, in a sense, getting his sea legs back after missing much of the last two seasons from “Tommy John” surgery. He ran a fastball in the 90-92 range, topping out at 94, which missed very few bats. Only Clark and Ibanez missed the pitch, which both times resulted in strikeouts. The lefty did throw the occasional change, though not for strikes, nor did it catch anyone off balance when it caught the plate. His main secondary of choice was the curveball that did have pretty decent bite, the best of which came prior to Clark’s strikeout.

So, with the secondaries average and the fastball on the straight side, Hickory hitters were able to square up good contact and keep Fried in trouble. Jenkins turned on a 93 mph heater inside and rifled it into the RF corner for his triple. Garia hit a fastball hard for an out in the first, but then got to one for his homer in the fifth. Forbes two hits against Fried came on fastballs and Chuck Moorman lined a first-pitch fastball to right in the second, but for an out.

Seventh the decisive inning:

Rome missed a golden opportunity to break open the game in the seventh, as Crawdads Adam Choplick struggled with curveball command. The key at-bat came with one out in the inning after a runner had scored with Choplick facing Herbert. After seven straight balls, Choplick got a 3-0 fastball over the plate and then got Herbert to chase a curve. A fastball in on the hands resulted in a jammed pop-up that LeDarious Clark ran down as the wind blew it to him in right. Choplick then got Alejandro Salazar to strikeout on three straight pitches. Hickory made Rome pay for the missed opportunity in the bottom of the inning.

Pickoff or not?:

Mild-mannered Crawdads manager Steve Mintz got tossed between prior to the top of the fifth inning, while arguing over the legality of a pickoff move by lefty Max Fried that resulted in two pickoffs, and kept the other Crawdads runners at bay at first.

With a flamingo like stance as he began his delivery, Fried was able to hold the front leg into place long enough to entice Hickory runners to break for second and become easy pickoffs. Both Dylan Moore and Josh Altmann fell victim to the tactic in the second. The move was a key part in a double play in the third, as Ti’Quan Forbes retreated a step to first on a pitch to the plate and then was an easy out on a grounder up the middle to second.

The question by Mintz was whether or not Fried was stepping towards first on the pickoff move to first, rather than a 45-degree step that he appeared to be taking on throws to the bag.

Baserunning still a work in progress:

Pickoffs aside, there were other miscues on the bag that I’m sure will be addressed. On De La Rosa’s two-run single in the fifth, Forbes ran a stop sign but up by acting manager Marty Hagen at third. Oddly enough, Rome chose to cut the ball off, allowing Forbes to score without a throw.

Chris Garia appeared to do the same on Dylan Moore’s two-RBI single in the seventh.  On the same play, Ibanez took a wide turn around second as the ball was cut off from the outfield and was easily out during a chase in the third.

Stats not always what they seem:

My friend Scott Lucas does a minor league primer each spring during which he explains the precarious nature of earned runs. Many times, they are a tool to measure a pitcher’s effectiveness, but at times, it can be subjected to the whim of the official scorer.

Both errors committed by Hickory in the seventh were on plays I thought were 50-50 calls. I went to the error side on both calls and totally expected Rome to challenge the calls after the game (the Braves didn’t, after all). I debated in my head the Garia error against the wind factor; radio voice Aaron Cox thought the De La Rosa error was harsh. Both errors resulted in unearned runs for Jon Werner, who pitched the sixth.

Official scoring also has a minor effect on offensive stats as well. In the case above, both hitters – Ellison and Keller – had their averages nicked downward. On Garia’s sacrifice that was botched by the Rome pitcher, I had to determine whether or not Moorman should have been out at third – thereby giving Garia a time at bat – or if Garia was to be the one out – giving him a sacrifice and not charging a time at. I decided on the sacrifice. These are things that keep me awake at night.

Game Story May 12: Rome 3 Braves 0

Entering the game with the worst record in the South  Atlantic League, the Rome (Ga.) Braves shut down the Hickory Crawdads Thursday night 3-0 in front of 2.402 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Hickory entered the game with the SAL’s best record (22-11) and remains there in spite of the loss. The Crawdads are 1 ½ games ahead of Hagerstown (Md.) in the Northern Division.

What Happened?:

Rome put out one of the Atlanta Braves top prospects on the mound Thursday night in pitcher Mike Soroka. The 2015 first-round pick out of Calgary did little to disappoint as he held the Crawdads to one hit and two walks over 5.1 innings and struck out five. Trevor Belicek entered the game and gave up a double over 2.2 innings before A. J. Minter wrapped up the two-hitter with a perfect ninth.

The Braves scored an unearned run against Crawdads starter Jonathan Hernandez (4-2) in the fourth. After second baseman Andy Ibanez botched a potential inning-ending double play ball from Lucas Herbert, Alejandro Salazar later in the inning picked up the RBI with a sacrifice fly.

The lone earned run of the game came in the seventh when Herbert doubled in Juan Yepez. The final run came in the ninth as shortstop Yeyson Yrizarri’s error on another inning-ending double play ball. The Braves cashed in the miscue when Leudys Baez scored on Austin Riley’s RBi single.

The sticks:

As a group: The team had a more difficult time solving the Braves starter than in his previous start when they touched him up for six runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks over four innings. On Thursday, Soroka spotted a fastball 90-93 around the plate and then whipped out an effective curve that kept Crawdads hitters honest. There appeared to be an occasional change around 83-87 that served to break up the fastball/ curve sequence. Off the 17 outs recorded, 13 came on strikeouts or grounders.

Eric Jenkins: After nine strikeouts in 11 ABs, a day off seemed to be what Jenkins needed.  The only Crawdads hitter to solve Soroka, he showed good patience in the first before turning an inside fastball for a lined single to right. In the third, an 8-pitch AB went for a walk. Only a great play by 2B Luke Dykstra kept Jenkins off the bases for a third time. He saw 26 pitches in 4 at bats, 14 of those in the first two ABs.

Andy Ibanez: Has cooled off since a blazing April, currently at .143/.265/.250 for May. Since this was only the second home game of May – the first since May 2, there’s not a lot I can say as to what he has been or not been doing. He is seeing a good many more breaking balls than I recall him seeing in April and he is having to adjust and could be a bit impatient right now. In the first inning, he was able to lay off Soroka’s curve the first time before flailing at one low and away for a strike out.

Tyler Sanchez: A tough night at the plate as Soroka got him looking at a curve in the second. Then, as he appeared to be looking for a curve on a 2-2 count in the fourth, he was late for a fastball off the plate. Against the lefty Belicek in the seventh, it was a fastball outside looking for strike one, swinging through a similar pitch for strike two, then looking at a curve for the out.

The Mound:

Jonathan Hernandez: Didn’t pitch that poorly, but wasn’t on the same level as Soroka. Unfortunately on the stat sheet, he gets the loss. Hernandez ran out a fastball in the 94-96 mph range, but his control was iffy, especially to the catcher’s arm side. Changeup (83-85) did miss some bats, but it too was left up on occasion.

Omarlin Lopez: Through a quirk, this was only the second time Lopez has pitched at home and I missed the first one. The righty runs a fastball in the low 90s that at times caught a lot of the plate, and the Braves were able to time for hard hit balls. However, Lopez threw a sharp curve that missed 3 bats by my count and another for a called-third strike to retire Jonathan Morales.

Blake Bass: Fastball 91-93, a couple of curves that missed bats and change. Pitched “backwards” to his first hitter Morales, getting him to swing through a pair of curves, but then left an 0-2 fastball over the plate that Morales lined to left.

Fielding:

Josh Altmann: Arriving at the clubhouse a couple of hours prior to game time, he certainly made a first impression with fans in Hickory in the opening inning. Altmann ended the first by slipping on the wet grass in right, then went back and to his right to make a lunging catch of Justin Ellison’s liner to complete the inning. In the third, Altmann showed a bullet of an arm by running down Luke Dykstra’s bloop single along the line in right, then fired a bullet to Yeyson Yrizarri at second than was easily ahead of Dykstra.

Middle infield: Errors on what should’ve been inning-ending double plays proved costly. Ibanez in the fourth was unable to make a play to his left. Yrizarri at short got to a roller up the middle in the eighth, but in his haste to make a play at second, he booted the ball.

Crawdads Alumni Report May 11

Wednesday, May 11

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: ­

Ryan Rua (’13, 2B/ Texas) 3-5, go-ahead three-run HR (2) in the eighth, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 K.

 

BIRTHDAYS:

Greg Whithelder (’03, P) turns 37.

 

TRANSACTIONS:

Jairo Beras (’14-’15, OF) was placed on the disabled list at High-A High Desert (Texas).

Jose Cardona (’15, OF) was sent to High Desert from extended spring.

 

TEXAS RANGERS:

Chicago White Sox 11 Texas 13: Zach Duke (’03, P/ Chicago) 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 K / Hanser Alberto (’12, 3B- SS/ Texas) 0-0, R; Nomar Mazara (’13-’14, OF/ Texas) 0-0, BB, R;  Rougned Odor (’12, 2B/ Texas) 3-4, 2B, R, K; Alex Claudio (’13, P/ Texas) 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, win (1-0)

Oklahoma City (LA Dodgers) 3 Round Rock (AAA) 1: Matt West (’09-’10, 3B/ Oklahoma City) 1 IP, 1 H / Jurickson Profar (’11, 15, SS) 1-3, BB; Drew Robinson (’12, 3B) 0-3, K; Luke Jackson (’11-’12, P) 2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP;  Jimmy Reyes (’11, P) 2 IP.

Midland 5 Frisco (AA) 3: Preston Beck (’13, 1B) 0-1, RBI; Lewis Brinson (’13-’14, OF) 0-3, BB, 2 K; Zach Cone (’12, 14, OF) 0-4, 2 K; Ryan Cordell (’14, OF) 1-3, BB, RBI, K; Kellin Deglan (’11-’12, ’14, C) 2-4, 3B, R, RBI, K; Ronald Guzman (’13-’15, 1B) 0-4, K; Joe Jackson (’14, C-OF) 3-4, BB, R; Isiah Kiner-Falefa (’14-’15, UT) 0-5, K; Frank Lopez (’14, P) 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, loss (3-1); Reed Garrett (’15, P) 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.

High Desert (High-A) 3 Modesto 2: Jose Cardona (’15, OF) 1-5, RBI, 3 K; Michael De Leon (’14-’15, SS) 1-4; Travis Demeritte (’14-’15, 2B) 0-2, 2 BB; Tripp Martin (’15, 3B-OF) 1-3, 2B, Sac, K; Josh Morgan (’15, 3B-SS) 0-3, BB, R; Luke Tendler (’15, OF) 0-4, 2 K; Jose Trevino (’15, C) 2-3, 2B, BB, R; Ariel Jurado (’15, P) 5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K; Felix Carvallo (’14, P) 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 K, win (3-0);  Shane McCain (’15, P) 1.2 IP, 3 K, save (1).

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

Cleveland 4 Houston 0: Rajai Davis (’02-’03, OF/ Cleveland) 0-4, K.

Oakland 5 Boston 13: Robbie Ross (’10, P/ Boston) 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.

Tampa Bay 4 Seattle 6: Steve Pearce (’06, 1B/ Tampa Bay) 2-3, solo HR in the second and fourth innings (5), BB / Luis Sardinas (’12, SS/ Seattle) 0-3, K.

Toronto 4 San Francisco 0: Jose Bautista (’02, OF/ Toronto) 0-4, K.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

Milwaukee 10 Miami 2: Alex Presley (’07, OF/ Milwaukee) 2-5, R.

Philadelphia 3 Atlanta 2: Odubel Herrera (’11/ 2B/ Philadelphia) 1-5, 2B, K

San Diego 7 Chicago Cubs 8: Justin Grimm (’11, P/ Chicago) 1/3 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.

 

MINOR LEAGUES:

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE (AAA):

Charlotte (White Sox) 3 Norfolk 2: Leury Garcia (’09-’10, SS/ Charlotte) 0-2, BB; Will Lamb (’11-’12, P/ Charlotte) 2.1 IP. 2 H, 3 K, win (1-0).

Indianapolis (Pittsburgh) 1 Syracuse 3: Wilfredo Boscan (’09, P/ Indianapolis) 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 K, win (3-3).

Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia) 1 Columbus 7: Nick Williams (’13, OF/ Lehigh Valley) 2-3, BB.

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (AAA):

Colorado Springs 0 New Orleans (Miami) 1: Tomas Telis (’11, C/ New Orleans) 1-3, K.

El Paso (San Diego) 4 Las Vegas 6: Carlos Pimentel (’09, P/ El Paso) 6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, loss (2-2).

 

MEXICAN LEAGUE (AAA):

Ciudad del Carmen 5 Campeche 6: Jose Castillo (’00, SS/ Campeche) 2-4, R.

Laguna 8 Monterrey 2: Ronny Paulino (’01, C/ Laguna) 2-2, 2 BB, R, RBI.

Oaxaca 2 Tabasco 3 (14): Rodolfo Aguirre (’08, P/ Tabasco) 1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 K.

Puebla 5 Veracruz 3: Nyjer Morgan (’04, OF/ Puebla) 2-4, 2 2B, BB, 2 R, 2 RBI.

 

EASTERN LEAGUE (AA):

Harrisburg 7 Richmond (San Francisco) 6: Steve Lerud (’05-’06, P/ Richmond) 0-2, BB, K.

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA):

Jackson 3 Birmingham (White Sox) 2: Josh Richmond (’11, OF/ Birmingham) 1-2, solo HR (2) in the fifth.

 

FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE (High A):

Daytona (Cincinnati) 2 Brevard County 0: Greg Williams (’12, P/ Daytona) 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K.

Lakeland 3 Tampa (NY Yankees) 4: Jake Skole (’11, OF/ Tampa) 3-4, walkoff RBI single.

 

SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE (Low A):

Columbia 7 Greenville (Boston) 6: Anyelo Leclerc (’14, P/ Greenville) 2 IP.

 

INDEPENDENT LEAGUES:

ATLANTIC LEAGUE:

New Britain 1 York 3: Brandon Chaves (’01-’02, New Britain) 0-4, BB, SB; Jonathan Roof (’10-’11, UT/ New Britain) 1-3, BB, K.

Southern Maryland 8 Lancaster 4: Cody Eppley (’09, P/ Southern Maryland) 1 IP, 1 H.

 

COLLEGES:

Eastern Michigan 11 Oakland (MI) 5 (20-22): John Musachio (’97, P/ Head Coach OU)

Georgetown 4 Maryland-Baltimore County 9 (24-20): Bob Mumma (’93-’93, C-1B/ Head Coach, UMBC)

Morningside (IA) 6 (43-14) Midland 5 (Great Plains Conference Tournament Championship): Brian Drent (’95, OF/ Head Coach MU)

Richmond 17 (26-20) James Madison 5: Tracy Woodson (’99. Manager/ Head Coach/ UR)

 

HIGH SCHOOLS:

Cottonwood (UT) 12 (18-5, 14-2 3-5A) Copper Hills 3: Chris Shelton (’02, 1B/ Asst. Coach, CHS)

Foothill (NV) 0 (13-17) Basic 4 (Sunrise League Playoffs): Denny Crine (’95, P/ Asst. Coach, FHS)

Lee’s Summit West (MO) 5 (17-9) Blue Springs 3: Jay Meyer (’94, P/ Head Coach, LSW)

Norte Vista 4 Hillcrest (CA) 13 (14-13, 8-6 River View): Scott Vollmer (’94, C/ Head Coach, HHS)

Crawdads Alumni Report May 10

Tuesday, May 10

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: ­

Ryan Cordell (’14, OF) 2-3, two-run HR in the second, solo HR (8) in the fifth, BB, K, CS for AA Frisco (Texas).

 

BIRTHDAYS:

Tony Alvarez (’00, OF) turns 37.

 

TRANSACTIONS:

Mike Crotta (’06-’07, P) was released by the Detroit Tigers. He was at AA Erie.

 

TEXAS RANGERS:

Chicago White Sox 8 Texas 4 (12): Zach Duke (’03, P/ Chicago) 1/3 IP / Hanser Alberto (’12, 3B- SS/ Texas) 1-2, RBI, K; Nomar Mazara (’13-’14, OF/ Texas) 0-6, 3 K; Rougned Odor (’12, 2B/ Texas) 2-6, solo HR (7) in the sixth; Ryan Rua (’13, 2B/ Texas) 0-1, K.

New Orleans (Miami) 1 Round Rock (AAA) 2: Cody Ege (’13, P/ New Orleans) 1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, loss (0-2) / Jurickson Profar (’11, 15, SS) 0-3, BB, K; Drew Robinson (’12, 3B) 1-3, K; Nick Tepesch (’11, P) 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 K, 1 HR, win (3-2); Jefri Hernandez (’15, P) 2/3 IP.

Midland 5 Frisco (AA) 6: Preston Beck (’13, 1B) 1-2, 2B, BB, HBP, R; Lewis Brinson (’13-’14, OF) 0-3, BB, SB, K; Kellin Deglan (’11-’12, ’14, C) 0-4, K; Ronald Guzman (’13-’15, 1B) 1-4, 2B, K; Isiah Kiner-Falefa (’14-’15, UT) 1-3, BB, R, RBI, K; David Perez (’15, P) 2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, win (1-0); Jose Leclerc (’13, P) 3 IP, 4 K; Jose Valdespina (’13-’14, P) 1 IP, 2 K.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

Cleveland 1 Houston 7: Rajai Davis (’02-’03, OF/ Cleveland) 1-3, R.

Kansas City 3 NY Yankees 6: Chris Young (’01-’02, P/ Kansas City) 2.2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 K, 5 HR, loss (1-5).

Toronto 3 San Francisco 1: Jose Bautista (’02, OF/ Toronto) 1-3, 2 BB, R, K.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

Milwaukee 1 Miami 4: Alex Presley (’07, OF/ Milwaukee) 0-3, BB, 3 K / Bryan Morris (’08, P/ Miami) 1/3 IP, 1 BB, 1 K, save (1).

Pittsburgh 2 Cincinnati 3: Andrew McCutchen (’06, OF/ Pittsburgh) 2-3, BB, R; Jordy Mercer (’08, SS/ Pittsburgh) 0-2, 2 BB.

 

MINOR LEAGUES:

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE (AAA):

Gwinnett (Atlanta) 3 Rochester 6: Sean Burnett (’01, P/ Gwinnett) 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 K.

Lehigh Valley 0 (Philadelphia) Columbus 2: Nick Williams (’13, OF/ Lehigh Valley) 0-3, Sac, 2 K.

Louisville 3 Toledo (Detroit) 0: Chad Bell (’10, ’14, P/ Toledo) 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K.

Pawtucket (Boston) 0 Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre 6: Roman Mendez (’11, P/ Pawtucket) 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (AAA):

Iowa (Cubs) 10 Omaha 3: CJ Edwards (’13, P/ Iowa) 1 IP, 1 H, 3 K.

Las Vegas 1 Sacramento (San Francisco) 0: Duke Welker (’08, P/ Sacramento) 2 IP, 2 H, 5 K.

Tacoma (Seattle) 3 Albuquerque 4: Joe Wieland (’09-’10, P/ Tacoma) 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.

 

EASTERN LEAGUE (AA):

Binghamton 3 Reading 5: Jorge Alfaro (’12-’13, C/ Reading) 3-4, 2B, R, RBI, K.

Harrisburg 6 Richmond (San Francisco) 4: Steve Lerud (’05-’06, P/ Richmond) 0-3.

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA):

Pensacola 3 Chattanooga (Minnesota) 12: Joe Maloney (’13-’14, C-1B/ Chattanooga) 1-5, 2 K.

 

FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE (High A):

Lakeland 5 Tampa (NY Yankees) 4: Jake Skole (’11, OF/ Tampa) 2-4, 2B, RBI, 2 K.

 

COLLEGES:

Elizabethtown (PA) 3 (25-18) Moravian 0 (Landmark Conference Tournament): Cliff Smith (’05, P/ Head Coach, EC)

Oakland (MI) 3 (20-21) Central Michigan 6: John Musachio (’97, P/ Head Coach OU)

 

HIGH SCHOOLS:

Copper Hills 4 Cottonwood (UT) 9 (17-5, 13-2 3-5A): Chris Shelton (’02, 1B/ Asst. Coach, CHS)