June 2018

Series Preview: Greensboro Grasshoppers at Hickory Crawdads June 30-July 3

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Miami Marlins) (39-38 overall, 5-3 second-half 3rd SAL North), at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (34-42, 4-4 5th SAL North)

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Saturday 7 p.m., Sunday 5 p.m., Monday 7 p.m., Tuesday 7 p.m..

 

PROMOTIONS:

Saturday – Drawstring Bag Giveaway (first 1,000 fans), Crawdads Carnival Night

Sunday – Church Bulletin Sunday

Monday – Make a Difference Monday, Fact or Fiction Night

Tuesday – Independence Day Post-Game Fireworks

 

TICKETS: $9 dollars for regular seats, $14 for VIP section. July 3: $17 for VIP, $13 for regular seats

WHERE IS IT?: Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

CONCESSIONS: L.P. Frans Stadium has two main concession areas plus the Crawdads Café. The concession stands have your basic ballpark food: Hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwich, BBQ, etc. Here is that menu http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20130627&content_id=51970362&sid=t448&vkey=team4

The Crawdad Café has a menu that features more diverse items, including the Mac & Crawdog, Banana Foster Bites, Fried Pickles, Sloppy Burger, and more. Click here for the menu http://www.milb.com/documents/3/3/4/185907334/cafe_menu_6eeko6n2.pdf

 

PROBABLES (Greensboro/ Hickory)

Saturday: RHP Edward Cabrera vs. RHP Tyree Thompson

Sunday: LHP Trevor Rogers vs. RHP Alex Eubanks

Monday: LHP Scott Sebald vs. RHP Tyler Phillips

Tuesday: RHP Brandon Miller vs. RHP Noah Bremer

 

Recent Series History:

Greensboro leads the overall season series 7-5, including a 2-1 series win at Hickory back in April. Since the Crawdads began the affiliation, Hickory holds a 38-36 edge at L.P. Frans, but the Grasshoppers are 83-77 overall.

About the Crawdads:

Hickory lost 2 of 3 at West Virginia and now come home for this series against Greensboro before going on the road again. The Crawdads won the final three games of the last homestand against Augusta to pull to .500 (20-20) at home… A win on Saturday would give Hickory its first winning month of the season. The Crawdads enter Saturday’s game at 14-14. They went 8-14 in April and 12-15 in May… The team batting average of .240 is 13th out of 14 SAL teams and the June avg. of .237 is tied for 13th. However, Hickory has powered up this month. The Crawdads have hit 23 homers in June, the third most in the SAL. They’ve hit 65 this season, also third in the SAL. On the bases, the team has had a decent steal ratio compared to the rest of the league. Their 70 steals are tied for fourth with Greensboro, but the Crawdads have been caught just 21 times, the third fewest …The team ERA of 4.48 in June is last in the SAL. Overall they lead the league in walks issued… Defensively, the Crawdads are third in the SAL in fielding pct. (.975)

Prospects to watch- Hickory (rankings are by MLB.com):

OF Bubba Thompson (No. 6): 2018 stats: .248/.310/.393, 8 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 12 BB, 47 K, 8 SB. This season vs. Greensboro: 3-for-7, HR, 2 K. Last series vs. West Virginia: 2-for-8, BB, 2 K, SB. First-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of McGill-Toolen High, Mobile, AL.

OF Pedro Gonzalez (No. 9) 2018 stats: .239/.299/.423, 12 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 16 BB, 64 K, 6 SB, 2 CS. This season vs. Greensboro: 7-for-42 2B, HR, 2 BB, 18 K. Last series vs. West Virginia: 3-for-10, 2B, HR, 3 BB, 3 K. Obtained by the Rangers in 2017 from the Colorado Rockies for Jonathan Lucroy. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R.

RHP AJ Alexy (No. 16): 2018 stats: 13 games (11 starts), 57.2 IP, 47 H, 36 R (30 ER), 3 HR, 7 HB, 37 BB, 74 K, 4.68 ERA, .225 OBA, 1.46 WHIP. This season vs. Greensboro: 2 games (1 start) 8.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R (5 ER), 1 HR, 7 BB, 10 K. Last start vs. West Virginia 6/29: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 4 K. Joined the Crawdads after a trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Originally 11th round pick of Dodgers out of Twin Valley HS, Elverson, Pa. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 2nd walks, T-4th losses (7), 6th hit batters.

RF Miguel Aparicio (No. 17): 2018 stats: .209/.270/.310, 3 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 BB, 32 K. This season vs. Greensboro: 7-for-22, 2B, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 CS. Last series vs. West Virginia: 1-for-4, CS. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2015. Native of San Carlos, Venezuela. Assigned to Hickory 6/29 after a two-weak stint at short-season Spokane.

C-1B Sam Huff (No. 24): 2018 stats: .250/.309/.429, 13 2B, 9 HR, 12 BB, 68 K, 3 SB. This season vs. Greensboro: 8-for-34, 2B, 2 HR, BB, 9 K. Last series vs. West Virginia: 3-for-12, 4 K. Seventh round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia HS (Phoenix, Ariz.). Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

RHP Tyler Phillips (No. 29): 2018 stats: 13 games (13 starts) 76 IP, 80 H, 33 R (30 ER), 3 HR, 2 HB, 8 BB, 65 K, 3.55 ERA, .269 OBA, 1.16 WHIP. This season vs. Greensboro: 2 starts: 10.2 IP, 11 H, 6 R (6 ER), 1 HR, 2 BB, 8 K. Last start 6/26 vs. Augusta: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 HB, 1 BB, 4 K. Sixteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Bishop Eustace HS, Pennsauken, N.J. Native of Lumberton N.J. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st walks-per-9-inning ratio among starters (0.95). Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

RHP Tyree Thompson: 2018 stats: 13 games (12 starts), 63.2 IP, 69 H, 40 R (31 ER), 9 HR, 3 HB, 21 BB, 37 K, 4.38 ERA, .275 OBA, 1.41 WHIP. Last start 6/24 vs. Augusta: 5 IP, 9 H, 7 R (5 ER), 2 HR, 1 BB, 4 K. This season vs. Greensboro: 2 games (1 start), 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K. Twenty-sixth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Edna Karr HS, New Orleans. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-10th HR allowed.

RHP Alex Eubanks: 2018 stats: 13 games (12 starts), 66.1 IP, 81 H, 48 R (47 ER), 11 HR, 4 HB, 18 BB, 72 K, 6.38 ERA, .300 OBA, 1.49 WHIP. Last game vs. Augusta: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), BB, 3 K. This season vs. Greensboro: 3 starts: 15.1 IP, 23 H, 18 R (18 ER), 4 HR, 1 HP, 3 BB, 16 K. Fourteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Clemson. Attended Byrnes High in Moore, S.C. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 3rd earned runs allowed, 6th runs allowed, 6th home runs allowed, 10th hits allowed.

RHP Noah Bremer: 2018 stats: 7 games (7 starts), 29.1 IP, 36 H, 18 R (15 ER), 2 HR, 8 BB, 30 K, 4.60 ERA, .303 OBA, 1.50 WHIP. Last game vs. West Virginia 6/27: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 8 K. This season vs. Greensboro: 2 starts, 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 HR, 3 BB, 8 K. Sixth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of the Univ. of Washington. Attended Berkeley (Calif.) HS.

RHP DeMarcus Evans: 2018 stats: 18 games, 1 save, 28.2 IP, 18 H, 9 R (9 ER), 1 HR, 21 BB, 51 K, 2.83 ERA, .184 OBA, 1.36 WHIP. Last game vs. West Virginia 6/28: 2 IP, 6 K. This season vs. Greensboro: 2 games 4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 HR, 5 BB, 8 K. Twenty-fifth round pick of the Rangers in 2015 out of Petal HS (MS).

C Yohel Pozo: 2018 stats: .255/.302/.395, 11 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 16 BB, 32 K. Last series vs. West Virginia: 4-for-11, BB, 2 K. This season vs. Greensboro: 12-for-38, 2B, HR, 9 K. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2013. A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela. Named to the SAL All-Star Game. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 5th plate appearance to strikeout ratio (8.19).

IF Ryan Dorow: 2018 stats: .299/.362/.455, 9 2B, 8 HR, 19 BB, 62 K, 3 SB, 2 CS. Last series vs. West Virginia: 3-for-12, 5 K, SB. This season vs. Greensboro: 12-for-28, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 7 K, SB. Reached base in 19 straight games. Thirtieth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Adrian College (MI). Attended South Haven (MI) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 10th batting avg.

About the Grasshoppers:

Managed by Todd Pratt in his second season (114-99)… Greensboro split a six-game homestand, though it lost 2 of 3 to Delmarva. The Grasshoppers have a winning record on the road in 2018, currently at 19-15. They have won five in a row on the road stretching back to the first half. Greensboro swept three at Kannapolis to close out the first half and spoil the Intimidators hopes of winning the first-half Northern Division title. They opened the second half on the road by winning two at Hagerstown… The Grasshoppers are in the middle of the SAL pack in the three slash categories (.248/.314/.377)… The team ERA of 4.03 is 9th in the SAL. It’s a club that challenges hitters. They are last in walks issued but third in hits allowed.

Prospects to watch-Greensboro (rankings by MLB.com):

LHP Trevor Rogers (No. 5): 2018 stats: 6 games (6 starts) 20.2 IP, 33 H, 21 R (21 ER), 3 HR, 2 HB, 8 BB, 24 K, 9.15 ERA, .363 OBA, 1.98 WHIP. Last start 6/26 vs. Kannapolis: 3.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R (7 ER), 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K. First-round pick (13th overall) of the Marlins in 2017 out of Carlsbad (NM) HS. Made pro debut on May 22.

RHP Edward Cabrera (No. 11): 2018 stats: 13 games (13 starts) 68.1 IP, 64 H, 32 R (26 ER), 6 HR, 6 HB, 26 BB, 50 K, 3.42 ERA, .250 OBA, 1.32 WHIP. Last start 6/23 at Hagerstown (Md.): 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. Has not faced Hickory in 2018. Native of Santiago, D.R., signed with Marlins in 2015. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-1st wild pitches (13), T-7th hit batters, T-9th losses (6).

SS Jose Devers (No. 21): 2018 stats: .288/.324/.367, 11 2B, 4 3B, 11 BB, 38 K, 9 SB, 5 CS. Last series vs. Delmarva (Md.): 3-for-12, 2B, 2 K, SB. This season vs. Hickory:7-for-32, 3 2B, BB, 5 K, 2 SB. Obtained by the Marlins from the New York Yankees as part of a deal the sent Giancarlo Stanton to New York. A native of Samana, D.R. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-10 triples.

RHP Colton Hock (No. 24): 2018 stats: 19 games (2 starts), 45.2 IP, 41 H, 17 R (15 ER), 4 HR, 4 HR, 13 BB, 45 K, 2.96 ERA, .243 OBA, 1.18 WHIP. Last game vs. Kannapolis 6/26: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 3 K. This season vs. Hickory: 3 games (2 starts), 9.2 IP, 11 H, 5 R (5 ER), 1 HR, 4 BB, 8 K. Fourth-round pick of the Marlins in 2017 out of Stanford Univ. Attended Bloomsburg (PA) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-1st wins (7), T-1st balks (3).

CF Thomas Jones (No. 25): 2018 stats: .245/.298/.415, 8 2B, 8 HR, 11 BB, 70 K, 12 SB, 3 CS. Last series vs. Delmarva: 1-for-8, 4 K, CS. This season vs. Hickory: 3-for-21, HR, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 SB. Third-round pick of the Marlins in 2016 out of Laurens (HS) S.C.

OF Isael Soto (No. 26): 2018 stats: .194/.272/.350, 9 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 15 BB, 42 K. Last series vs. Delmarva: 1-for-8, K. This season vs. Hickory: 10-for-36, 2 2B, 3 HR, 3 BB, 12 K. Signed with Marlins as an international free agent in 2013. Native of Bani, D.R.

 

Others to watch-Greensboro:

LHP Scott Sebald: 2018 stats with Greensboro: 1 start, 3 IP, 7 H, 6 R (6 ER), 2 HR, 1 HB, 1 BB, 1 K. Signed free agent contract with the Marlins on June 1. Originally signed as a pro with the Rangers in 2016 and pitched for the AZL Rangers and Spokane. Pitched in college for Lindsay Wilson College (Columbia, KY). Attended Colerain HS, Cincinnati, Ohio.

RHP Brandon Miller: 2018 stats: 15 games (15 starts): 83 IP, 106 H, 59 R (55 ER), 15 HR, 5 HB, 21 BB, 65 K, 5.96 ERA, .312 OBA, 1.53 WHIP. Last start vs. Delmarva 6/28: 5.2 IP, 9 H, 8 R (7 ER), 2 HR, 2 BB, 4 K. This season vs. Hickory: 3 starts, 15.1 IP, 21 H, 11 R (11 ER), 3 HR, 2 HB, 6 BB, 14 K. Obtained by the Marlins from the Seattle Mariners organization in 2017 for RHP David Phelps. Originally sixth-round pick of the Mariners in 2016 out of Millersville (PA) Univ. Attended Ephrata (PA) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st hits allowed, 1st runs allowed, 1st earned runs allowed, 1st home runs allowed, 4th innings pitched, T-4th losses (7).

Series Preview: Hickory at West Virginia June 27-29

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (33-41, 3-3 T-4th SAL North) at West Virginia Power (Pittsburgh Pirates) (41-30, 4-1 T-1st SAL North), Appalachian Power Park, Charleston, WV.

 

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Wednesday – Friday 7:05 p.m.

 

Promotions:

Wednesday –  Pets in the Park

Thursday – Thirsty THursday

Friday – Postgame Fireworks

 

TICKETS: Advance tickets: General Admission $6, Box Seats $8. Game Day: Friday & Saturday $9-$11, Sunday $8-$10.

 

Where is it?: From Hickory: I-40 East to I-77 North. I-64West to Capital St./Leon Sullivan Way Exit #100. Go to the 1st traffic light and turn left onto Washington St. Go to the 2nd traffic light and turn left onto Morris St. Go through 1 traffic light and Appalachian Power Park is on the left.

 

PARKING: Off-site parking at meters, parking garages, etc.

 

CONCESSIONS: Along with basic ballpark fare, there is an Italian Stand, Portable Grill with various cheesesteaks, Italian sausages, brats, etc., BBQ, etc. Click here for the menu.

http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20090212&content_id=40995192&sid=t525&vkey=team1

 

Probables (Hickory/ West Virginia):

Wednesday: RHP Noah Bremer vs. RHP Gavin Wallace

Thursday: RHP Reid Anderson vs. RHP Max Kranick

Friday: RHP AJ Alexy vs. LHP Domingo Robles

 

Recent Series History:

The Power is 9-4 this season, which included a three-game sweep at Hickory last week. West Virginia won 2 of 3 in the only series played at Charleston in May.

About the Crawdads:

Hickory swept first-half Southern Division contender Augusta (S.C.) three straight to forge a 3-3 homestand to open the second half. The Crawdads are 13-21 on the road this season, but are 10-8 over their last three road trips… Although the Crawdads are still 13th out of 14 teams in the South Atlantic League in batting average, they’ve hit well of late and raised the overall team average from .231 to .241 in the last week. Facing the team with the second-best team ERA entering the previous series, Hickory scored 21 runs in sweeping Augusta. Hickory increasingly continues to rely on power, as the team is now third in the SAL with 63 homers. Despite the dingers, the Crawdads are tenth in runs scored…. On the mound, the Crawdads have struggled with two-out rallies recently. In the last homestand, the Crawdads gave up 19 runs after two outs, 14 of those after the first two batters were retired.

 

Prospects to watch- Hickory (rankings are by MLB.com):

OF Bubba Thompson (No. 6): 2018 stats: .248/.309/.401, 8 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 BB, 45 K, 7 SB, 1 CS. This season vs. West Virginia: 4-for-24, 2 2B, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 SB. First-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of McGill-Toolen High, Mobile, AL.

OF Pedro Gonzalez (No. 9) 2018 stats: .236/.288/.408, 11 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 13 BB, 61 K, 6 SB, 2 CS. This season vs. West Virginia: 13-for-48, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 11 K, 2 SB. Obtained by the Rangers in 2017 from the Colorado Rockies for Jonathan Lucroy. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R.

RHP AJ Alexy (No. 16): 2018 stats: 12 games (10 starts), 53.2 IP, 43 H, 33 R (27 ER), 3 HR, 7 HB, 34 BB, 70 K, 4.53 ERA, .223 OBA, 1.43 WHIP. This season vs. West Virginia: 3 starts, 15 IP, 12 H, 11 R (9 ER), 2 HR, 6 BB, 20 K. Joined the Crawdads after a trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Originally 11th round pick of Dodgers out of Twin Valley HS, Elverson, Pa. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 3rd walks, T-5th hit batters.

C-1B Sam Huff (No. 24): 2018 stats: .250/.312/.439, 13 2B, 9 HR, 12 BB, 64 K, 3 SB This season vs. West Virginia: 4-for-30, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 9 K. Seventh round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia HS (Phoenix, Ariz.). Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

RHP Tyler Phillips (No. 29): 2018 stats: 13 games (13 starts) 76 IP, 80 H, 30 R (28 ER), 3 HR, 2 HB, 8 BB, 65 K, 3.55 ERA, .269 OBA, 1.16 WHIP. This season vs. West Virginia: 2 starts, 13.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 8 K. Sixteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Bishop Eustace HS, Pennsauken, N.J. Native of Lumberton N.J. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st walks-per-9-inning ratio among starters (0.95), T-8th innings pitched

Others to watch – Hickory:

RHP Noah Bremer: 2018 stats: 6 games (6 starts), 24.1 IP, 34 H, 17 R (15 ER), 2 HR, 6 BB, 22 K. This season vs. West Virginia: 1 start, 4 IP, 7 H, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 4 K. Sixth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of the Univ. of Washington. Attended Berkeley (Calif.) HS.

RHP Reid Anderson: 2018 stats: 10 games (8 starts), 52.2 IP, 50 H, 27 R (23 ER), 1 HR, 3 HB, 16 BB, 42 K, 3.93 ERA, .249 OBA, 1.25 WHIP. This season vs. West Virginia: 3 starts, 16 IP, 17 H, 11 R (9 ER), 2 HB, 5 BB, 13 K. Seventeenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Millersville Univ. (Pa.). Attended New Egypt (N.J.) High School.

C Yohel Pozo: 2018 stats: .250/.296/.397, 11 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 15 BB, 30 K. This season vs. West Virginia: 11-for-42, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 K. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2013. A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela. Named to the SAL All-Star Game. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 3rd plate appearance to strikeout ratio (8.33).

IF Ryan Dorow: 2018 stats: .302/.365/.467, 9 2B, 8 HR, 19 BB, 57 K, 2 SB, 2 CS. This season vs. West Virginia: 11-for-36, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 6 K. Thirtieth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Adrian College (MI). Attended South Haven (MI) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 8th batting avg.

RP DeMarcus Evans: 2018 stats: 17 games, 26.2 IP, 18 H, 9 R (9 ER), 1 HR, 21 BB, 45 K, 3.04 ERA, .196 OBA, 1.46 WHIP. This season vs. West Virginia. 3 games, 2 H, 2 BB, 11 K. Twenty-fifth round pick of the Rangers in 2015 out of Petal HS (MS).

 

About the Power:

The Power swept Hickory last weekend and then returned home split two games with Lakewood (N.J.) in a rain-shortened series… West Virginia has been tough on the road, easily sporting the SAL’s best road record at 22-11. But the comforts of home has been anything but, as the Power are just 19-19… Offenses tend to put the ball in play against the Power’s pitchers, as the staff is next to last in strikeouts and walks allowed… Defensively, the Power are 12th in errors committed and fielding pct.

Prospects to watch-West Virginia (rankings by MLB.com):

CF Lolo Sanchez (No. 9): 2018 stats: .226/.297/.322, 11 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 19 BB, 42 K, 14 SB, 6 CS. This season vs. Hickory: 5-for-37, 1 2B, 4 BB, 11 K, 2 SB, 1 CS. Signed with the Pirates as an international free agent in 2015. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-7th steals.

SS Oneil Cruz (No. 13): 2018 stats: .311/.370/.534, 15 2B, 7 3B, 10 HR, 24 BB, 69 K. This season vs. Hickory: 16-for-47, 3 2B, 4 HR, 6 BB, 10 K, 2 SB. Traded to the Pirates last summer for former Crawdads LHP Tony Watson. Signed as an international free agent by the L.A. Dodgers in 2015. Native of Nizao, D.R. SAL Top-10 Rankings:  2nd triples, 2nd RBI, 3rd hits, 3rd total bases, 3rd OPS (.879), 5th batting avg., 5th slugging pct., 6th at-bats, 10th OBP,

C Deon Stafford (No. 30): 2018 stats: .289/.347/.457, 12 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 15 BB, 57 K. This season vs. Hickory: 11-for-28, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 BB, 10 K. Fifth-round pick of the Pirates in 2016 out of St. Joseph’s Univ. (Pa.) Native of Hummelstown, Pa. Attended Lower Dauphin HS. Named to SAL All-Star Game.

 

Others to watch- West Virginia:

RHP Gavin Wallace: 2018 stats: 15 games (13 starts), 62.2 IP, 52 H, 27 R (25 ER), 10 HR, 10 BB, 39 K. This season vs. Hickory: 2 starts: 11.2 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 3 HR, 4 BB, 8 K. Fifteenth-round pick of the Pirates in 2017 out of Fairfield (CT) Univ. Attended Madison (NJ) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-7th HRs allowed.

RHP Max Kranick: 2018 stats: 6 games (6 starts), 29.1 IP, 31 H, 13 R (13 ER), 4 HR, 4 HB, 9 BB, 17 K, 3.99 ERA, .227 OBA, 1.36 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory: 2 starts, 9 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 5 K. Eleventh-round pick or the Pirates in 2016 out of Valley View HS in Archbald, PA.

LHP Domingo Robles: 2018 stats: 14 games (14 starts), 72.2 IP, 73 H, 46 R (26 ER), 5 HR, 4 HB, 15 BB, 59 K, 3.22 ERA, .250 OBA, 1.21 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory: 2 starts, 13 IP, 14 H, 6 R (5 ER), 2 HR, 8 K. Signed with the Pirates as an international free agent in 2014. Native of Imbert, D.R. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 9th hits allowed.

LF Chris Sharpe: 2018 stats: .282/.375/.384, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HH, 30 BB, 73 K, 10 SB, 4 CS. This season vs. Hickory: 18-for-46, 3 2B, 2 3B, 3 BB, 13 K, 5 SB. Fourteenth-round pick of the Pirates in 2017 out of Univ. of Massachusetts-Lowell. Attended Bridgton (Maine) Academy. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 6th walks, 6th OBP

 

The History of “Rehabs” with the Hickory Crawdads

We don’t get many current or former major league players to play at Hickory.

There are other teams in the South Atlantic League that are close enough to get occasional visitors from their parent major league clubs. Rome (Ga.) is an hour drive from Sun Trust Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves. Lakewood (N.J.) is an hour and 15 minutes from Philadelphia, while Hagerstown (Md.) is about 90 minutes out from Nationals Park in Washington.

However, Hickory has never been anywhere close to its major league affiliate. To have a major leaguer rehab here, it’s about as rare as the sightings of Big Foot. So, when the Rangers announced that Martin Perez is scheduled to pitch here today, the excitement for fans in our corner of the baseball world is amped up.

Should Perez make the start, he will become the tenth former big leaguer to play here, the third after David Lundquist and Jurickson Profar to return to Hickory after playing here previously. I thought I’d take a moment to give fans a little history of previous major league players that have donned a Crawdads uniform.

 

Chicago White Sox affiliation

Jason Bere (1996 and 1997) The right-hander pitched in the American League Championship Series in 1993 and followed that up with an all-star appearance in 1994, during which he finished the strike-shortened season at 12-2 in 24 starts. He was never really the same after that and he experienced elbow problems in 1995 that eventually led to a Tommy John surgery late in 1996. As part of a series of rehab starts with several of the White Sox affiliates prior to the surgery, Bere threw a three-hitter over five shutout innings and struck out five. Following the surgery, he returned for another rehab start the next July. This start wasn’t as sharp as he gave up two runs on four hits over three innings.

Jim Abbott (’98): One of the baseball’s most inspirational players, the left-hander was trying to work his way back to the major leagues after the California Angels released him in spring training of 1997, following a 2-18 season. After spending time away from the game, the White Sox signed him in May 1998 and Abbott came to Hickory soon after for his first minor-league start. Over four innings, Abbott gave up a run on three hits, walked two and struck out two. Abbott went on to pitch for the White Sox and finished up his career in 1999 with Milwaukee.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

Josias Manzanillo (’02): The right-hander made his big-league debut two seasons before the Crawdads played their first game in 1993. Strictly a reliever, Manzanillo pitched for six different clubs before the Pirates picked him up in 2000. Manzanillo became a free agent after the 2001, but after he was unable to sign with another team, the Pirates resigned him. However, under the rules of that time, Manzanillo was unable to pitch for the major league club until May 1. So, Manzanillo took to the hill with Hickory for an outing. In his two innings of relief, he gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and struck out one. Manzanillo returned to the Pirates on May 1, but got hurt and sat out six weeks before coming back to the mound. The Pirates later released him and he pitched for two more big-league seasons before calling it quits in 2005.

Bob Henley (’02): Henley was the first big-league position player to come to Hickory. Very little is known about his signing and no date is available for the game in which he played. A catcher, Henley played just 41 games in the majors in 1998 with the Montreal Expos. An elbow injury cut short his tenure in the majors and after abbreviated seasons in 1999 and 2000, the Expos cut him in spring training 2001. Pittsburgh signed him in 2002 but the only appearance he made with the organization was with Hickory. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout as the team’s DH. It turned out to be the final game as a player. Henley is currently in his fifth season as the Washington Nationals third-base coach.

David Lundquist (’04): Lundquist has several unique contributions to Crawdads history. He is the only player to suit up for Hickory as a part of two different affiliations. Lundquist is the first player to later return as a coach, as he led the pitchers in 2006 and 2007. He is also the first to return to Hickory after playing in the big leagues. The right-hander made 27 starts for the team in 1994 as a part of the White Sox days. Lundquist went on to make his big-league debut for Chicago in 1999 and later pitched in 2001 and 2002 with the San Diego Padres. Lundquist was a minor-league free agent signee with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004, After struggling at AA Altoona, Lundquist was sent to Hickory and he became a crucial part of the team’s championship run. He posted a 0.93 ERA in ten relief outings and posted 21 Ks in 19.1 innings. His stint with Hickory was the last stop as a player. He is currently in his third season as the pitching coach for AAA Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia).

CRAWDADS-Dave_Lundquist-0414-4196.jpg

Dave Lundquist returned to Hickory in 2004 after pitching in the majors with the White Sox and Padres. He later became the Crawdads pitching coach (photo by John M. Setlzer, Jr., used by permission)

Adam LaRoche (’08): The slugging first baseman came to the Pirates in 2007 from the Atlanta Braves in a trade that involved two other Hickory Crawdads. Jamie Romak also came to the Pirates and suited up for Hickory that April. Brett Lillibridge, a shortstop on the 2006 squad, went to Atlanta. An intercostal strain put him on the disabled list in July 2008 and it was at Hickory that he played three games before rejoining the Pirates in mid-August. In his first game with the Crawdads, LaRoche crushed one of the longest home runs ever hit by a lefty. The blast one-hopped the service road the runs beyond the right-field fence. LaRoche went 6-for-10 with a double and the home run. He went on to play seven more seasons and retired during spring training of 2016 with the White Sox.

Adam LaRoche

Adam LaRoche with the Crawdads in 2008. He hit one of the longest homers at L.P. Frans Stadium during his first game with the team. (photo by John M. Setzler, Jr./ Used by permission)

Texas Rangers:

Daniel Bard (’14): The combination of “Steve Blass” disease – the inability to throw a baseball accurately – and surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome derailed the pitching career of Bard. A month after the procedure, the Texas Rangers took a flier on the right-hander when they signed him to a minor-league deal in February 2014. He made four appearances for the Crawdads from June 5 to June 15 and recorded two outs. The yips raged for Bard has he hit seven batters, walked nine. The Rangers released him on June 18. The Cubs, Cardinals and Mets each had a go at fixing what ailed Bard before he officially retired during the previous offseason.

Jurickson Profar (’15): Shoulder injuries cost the former top major league prospect two full big-league seasons. Once Profar resumed baseball activities following a surgery for a torn labrum in early 2015, he joined his brother Juremi at Hickory in late August 2015 to start his rehab assignments. The 2011 South Atlantic League’s MVP went 9-for-33 as the Crawdads DH with a double and a homer over nine games. Profar is currently with the Rangers.

Jurickson Profar

Jurickson Profar played his first game in two seasons when he suited up for Hickory in 2015 (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

James Jones (’16): The former fourth-round pick of the Seattle Mariners made his major-league debut with the club in 2014. Jones was traded to the Texas Rangers in November 2015 and then released two weeks later. The Rangers re-signed him eight days later and decided to convert Jones to be a pitcher. He first saw game action on the mound with the AZL Rangers rookie affiliate before joining Hickory. Jones’ debuted with Hickory on August 9 and was pulled after giving up four runs on four hits and a walk over 2/3 of an inning. It was soon found that Jones needed “Tommy John” surgery and was out for a year. Jones returned this year with High-A Down East and is currently on the roster at AA Frisco.

Series Preview: Augusta (S.C.) at Hickory Crawdads June 24-26

Augusta GreenJackets (San Francisco) (39-32 overall, 2-1 second-half T-2nd SAL South), at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (30-41, 0-3 7th SAL North)

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Sunday 5 p.m., Monday 7 p.m., Tuesday noon.

 

PROMOTIONS:

Sunday – Mascot Mayhem

Monday – Make a Difference Monday, YMCA Hit and Spin

 

TICKETS: $9 dollars for regular seats, $14 for VIP section.

WHERE IS IT?: Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

CONCESSIONS: L.P. Frans Stadium has two main concession areas plus the Crawdads Café. The concession stands have your basic ballpark food: Hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwich, BBQ, etc. Here is that menu http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20130627&content_id=51970362&sid=t448&vkey=team4

The Crawdad Café has a menu that features more diverse items, including the Mac & Crawdog, Banana Foster Bites, Fried Pickles, Sloppy Burger, and more. Click here for the menu http://www.milb.com/documents/3/3/4/185907334/cafe_menu_6eeko6n2.pdf

 

PROBABLES (West Virginia/ Hickory)

Sunday: RHP Aaron Phillips vs. RHP Tyree Thompson

Monday: LHP Joey Marciano vs. LHP Martin Perez (rehab start)

Tuesday: RHP Jose Marte vs. RHP Tyler Phillips

 

Recent Series History:

Augusta and Hickory split a four-game series at L.P. Frans Stadium in the only series played by the two teams in 2017. The Crawdads have had trouble with Augusta at home during both the current affiliation with the Rangers and during the previous affiliation with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since the San Francisco Giants hooked up with Augusta in 2005, the GreenJackets are 47-35 overall, 28-18 at L.P. Frans. Since 2009, which is the start of the Crawdads/ Rangers affiliation, Hickory has won just one series at home, that coming in April of 2011. Since then, Augusta is 15-7 at Hickory. Oddly, the Crawdads have not played at Augusta since winning 2 of 3 there in 2016.

 

About the Crawdads:

Hickory started the season 0-6 and it is in danger of starting the second half in similar fashion. The Crawdads were swept in three games by West Virginia to open the second half and have lost five in a row stretching back to the all-star break. The team is also hoping to avoid losing records in both half-seasons, which hasn’t happened since 2009… Now 10-12 in June, the Crawdads are looking to snap out of a funk on all facets of the game. This month, Hickory is last in the SAL in team ERA (4.67) and next to last in batting average (.231). Stout defensively much of the year, the team had five errors the last three games. They currently are fourth in fielding pct. Up the middle, the Crawdads shortstops and second basemen have combined for just 20 errors.

Prospects to watch- Hickory (rankings are by MLB.com):

OF Bubba Thompson (No. 6): 2018 stats: .240/.307/.408, 8 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 BB, 40 K, 7 SB. Last series vs. West Virginia: 0-for-13, BB, 3 K. First-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of McGill-Toolen High, Mobile, AL.

OF Pedro Gonzalez (No. 9) 2018 stats: .222/.276/.403, 10 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 12 BB, 60 K, 6 SB, 1 CS. Last series vs. West Virginia: 2-for-12 2B, BB, 3 K. Obtained by the Rangers in 2017 from the Colorado Rockies for Jonathan Lucroy. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R.

RHP AJ Alexy (No. 16): 2018 stats: 12 games (10 starts), 53.2 IP, 43 H, 33 R (27 ER), 3 HR, 7 HB, 34 BB, 70 K, 4.53 ERA, .223 OBA, 1.43 WHIP. Last series vs. West Virginia: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 HR, 2 BB, 4 K. Joined the Crawdads after a trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Originally 11th round pick of Dodgers out of Twin Valley HS, Elverson, Pa. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 3rd walks, T-5th hit batters.

C-1B Sam Huff (No. 24): 2018 stats: .240/.299/.417, 12 2B, 8 HR, 10 BB, 62 K, 1 SB Last series vs. West Virginia: 2-for-11, HR, BB, 3 K. Seventh round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia HS (Phoenix, Ariz.). Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

RHP Tyler Phillips (No. 29): 2018 stats: 12 games (12 starts) 70 IP, 7-5 H, 30 R (28 ER), 3 HR, 1 HB, 7 BB, 61 K, 3.60 ERA, .274 OBA, 1.17 WHIP. Last start 6/15 at Lakewood (NJ): 6 IP, 11 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 HR, 5 K. Sixteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Bishop Eustace HS, Pennsauken, N.J. Native of Lumberton N.J. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st walks-per-9-inning ratio among starters (0.90). Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

Others to watch – Hickory:

LHP Martin Perez: 2018 stats at Texas: 5 games (5 starts), 22.1 IP, 41 H, 25 R (24 ER), 7 HR, 12 BB, 13 K, 9.67 ERA, .398 OBA, 2.37 WHIP. Making an injury rehab start on Monday, it will be his first game action since being placed on the disabled list on April 30th with discomfort in his right (non-pitching) elbow. Perez made 22 appearances (14 starts) for Hickory) in 2009. Started a combined, 7-inning no-hitter for Hickory on 4/11/09, just one week after his 18th birthday.

RHP Tyree Thompson: 2018 stats: 12 games (11 starts), 58.2 IP, 60 H, 33 R (26 ER), 7 HR, 3 HB, 20 BB, 33 K, 3.99 ERA, .262 OBA, 1.36 WHIP. Last start 5/16 at Lakewood (NJ): 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 HR, 3 BB, 6 K. Twenty-sixth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Edna Karr HS, New Orleans.

RHP Alex Eubanks: 2018 stats: 12 games (12 starts), 63 IP, 76 H, 45 R (44 ER), 11 HR, 4 HB, 17 BB, 69 K, 6.29 ERA, .298 OBA, 1.48 WHIP. Last start 6/17 at Lakewood (NJ): 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R (4 ER), 2 HR, 3 BB, 6 K. Fourteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Clemson. Attended Byrnes High in Moore, S.C. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-3rd earned runs allowed, 4th home runs allowed, 8th runs allowed, T-9th hits allowed.

C Yohel Pozo: 2018 stats: .265/.309/.420, 11 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 14 BB, 29 K. This season vs. West Virginia:7-for-30, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 K. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2013. A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela. Named to the SAL All-Star Game. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 5th plate appearance to strikeout ratio (8.14).

About the GreenJackets:

Managed by Jolbert Cabrera in his first season with the team… Augusta was in the running for the first-half Southern Division title and were 3.5 games ahead of Rome (Ga.) after a win on June 1. Then the bottom fell out. The GreenJackets 11 straight as part of a 1-14 stretch and Augusta went on to finish tied for second, 2.5 games behind Rome. The GreenJackets got a minor measure of revenge to open the second half by taking 2 of 3 at home from the Braves… The offense disappeared much of the time during the losing streak and as a team they currently last in the SAL this month at .222. The GreenJackets scored just 46 runs during the 1-14 stretch, including seven games in which they scored two or fewer runs. The offense leads the SAL in strikeouts and is second in walks accepted. When the GreenJackets get on base, they are liking going. Augusta is second in the SAL in steal attempts (120) and third in successful steals (76)… For the most part, the pitching staff has held its own this season. The team ERA of 2.92 is second in the SAL and they have 10 shutouts. Augusta has allowed the second fewest hits, is second in strikeouts and have the third lowest WHIP (1.17).

Prospects to watch-Augusta (rankings by MLB.com):

CF Heliot Ramos (No.1, No. 74 overall prospect): 2018 stats: .240/.319/.384, 16 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 23 BB, 73 K, 4 SB, 6 CS. Last series vs. Rome: 2-for-12, 2B, 1 BB, 3 K. First-round pick of the Giants in 2017 out of Leadership Christian in Guaynabo, P.R. Native of Humacao, P.R. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-10 2Bs.

3B Jacob Gonzalez (No. 10): 2018 stats: .248/.305/.364, 11 2B, 6 HR, 15 BB, 61 K, 7 SB, 5 CS. Last series vs. Rome: 2-for-12, 2B, HR, 3 K. Second-round pick of the Giants in 2017 out of Chaparral HS in Scottsdale, AZ.

RHP Garrett Cave (No. 19) 2018 stats: 14 games (13 starts), 56 IP, 53 H, 32 R (27 ER), 2 HR, 6 HB, 38 BB, 59 K, 4.34 ERA, .248 OBA, 1.63 WHIP. Last start 6/22 vs. Rome: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 6 K. Fourth-round pick of the Giants in 2017 out of University of Tampa. Also played college ball at Florida International Univ. Attended South Sumter HS in Bushnell, FL. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st walks, T-7th HB.

 

Others to watch- Augusta:

RHP Aaron Phillips: 2018 stats: 6 games (5 starts), 30.1 IP, 33 H, 19 R (13 ER), 4 HR, 4 HB, 2 BB, 33 K, 3.86 ERA, .264 OBA, 1.15 WHIP. Last start 5/23 vs. Charleston (SC): 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 8 K. Making his first start since being place on DL June 1. Ninth-round pick of the Giants in 2017 out of St. Bonaventure Univ. Attended Cleveland Hill HS in Cheektowaga, NY.

LHP Joey Marciano: 2018 stats: 12 games (11 starts), 65.2 IP, 58 H, 22 R, 17 ER, 3 HR, 1 HB, 15 BB, 59 K, 2.33 ERA, .239 OBA, 1.11 WHIP. Last start 6/15 at Asheville: 5 IP, 10 H, 4 R (4 ER), 5 K. Thirty-sixth round pick of the Giants in 2017 out of Southern Illinois Univ. Also played college ball at John A. Logan CC (Ill.) Attended Roberto Clemente HS in Chicago. Related to boxing great Rocky Marciano.

RHP Jose Marte: 2018 stats: 13 games (13 starts), 61.2 IP, 59 H, 27 R (23 ER), 4 HR, 1 HB, 23 BB, 64 K, 3.36 ERA, .247 OBA, 1.33 WHIP. Last start 6/21 vs. Rome: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 HR. Signed as an international free agent by the Giants in 2015.

1B Ryan Kirby: 2018 stats: .228/.313/.443, 16 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 25 BB, 78 K, 4 SB, 1 CS. Last series vs. Rome: 2-for-8, HR, 3 BB, 2 K. Twelfth-round pick of the Giants in 2017 out of Univ. of San Diego. Attended Granada HS in Livermore, CA. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-5th HR, 7th Ks, T-10th doubles

RF Logan Baldwin: 2018 stats: .251/.309/.391, 12 2B, 6 3B, 3 HR, 13 BB, 76 K, 16 SB, 6 CS. Last series vs. Rome: 0-for-7, 2 BB, 6 K. Twenty-first round pick of the Giants in 2017 out of Georgia Southern Univ. Attended Ringgold (Ga.) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-2nd SB, T-3rd triples, 9th Ks.

SS Manuel Geraldo: 2018 stats .277/.330/.410, 7 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 18 BB, 61 K, 176 SB, 7 CS. Last series vs. Rome: 2-for-13, 2 K. Signed as international free agent by the Giants in 2013. Native of Azua, D.R. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-10th SB.

Exploring Baseball’s Window of Opportunity: An Interview with Bubba Thompson and Justin Jacobs

Just under a year after the 2017 MLB draft, Texas Rangers first-round pick Bubba Thompson and undrafted free agent Justin Jacobs were teammates in Hickory, NC., each chasing a dream to become a big league player in the future.

My interest in talking with the two of them was their perception of the expectations placed upon them, as well as the expectations they have of themselves. They both expect to get there some day. Their current manager expects them to make it as well.

There are two interviews below. The first is a side-by-side discussion between the two about their memories of coming to the Rangers and what those expectations are of themselves as pro players chasing the dream.

I also got some feedback from Hickory manager Matt Hagen – himself a 12th-round draft pick – about how members of the player development staff approach players with vastly different expectations and financial investments.

 

This is the week of the draft. Last year you were a first-round pick. What do you remember about last year?

Thompson: It was a life-changing moment. Leading up to it, I had to work really hard. I wasn’t really a first rounder. I had to show some different tools and all that good stuff leading up to me. In my senior year, I think I showed what they were looking for and I kept it going. Once that day came, I was ready for it. I ended up getting picked 26th overall. Ever since then, I’ve been having to grind and trying to stay healthy, and I try to keep my skills up each and every day, because every day is a grind. You play every day. You get just a few off days, so I’ve really got to maintain my skills and my health each and every day.

 

Where were you at when they called your name?

Thompson: New York.

 

Did your family come with you?

Thompson: They did and we had a good old time up there and everybody treated us well. I’m here now trying to chase my dream.

 

What was it like to put the jersey and put the hat on?

Thompson: Like I said, it was a life-changing moment. Just the name on the back and trying to represent that each and every day, and the name on the front, also.

 

You were not drafted. What was draft week like for you?

Jacobs: Well, I didn’t really know for sure if I was going to get drafted, or not. I had some pretty good calls, so I figured there was a chance that I could. I had talked to a few teams that said there was a possibility that I could go late, or not, or whatever. Then, basically, the draft came up and I was sitting there waiting for my name to get called. It never got called.

Leading up to that I was coaching summer ball, so I figured that if I was done playing I would be coaching summer ball. I was actually thinking about working grounds crew for the Spokane Indians, which is our short-season team.

My coach from Gonzaga was actually good friends with the owner of the Spokane Indians and was able to get me a tryout the day before the draft. The tryout was with two of the coaches now here. Matt Hagen and Chase Lambin basically went up to Spokane and threw me some b.p. and had me take some ground balls. The next day, I didn’t get drafted and then after that I was offered a free agent deal.

Justin Jacobs May 2018

Justin Jacobs hits during a game vs. Charleston (S.C.) on May 25, 2018 (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

 

Was there disappointment that your name wasn’t called?

Jacobs: A little bit disappointed, because that’s obviously what I’d been working forever since I was playing in high school and college, and what not. I was just happy that I was able to get the opportunity to come down here and play.

 

Did you guys go to Arizona together or did you go straight to Spokane?

Jacobs: No, we played in Arizona together last year.

 

You guys meet each other – the first rounder and the free agent – what was the meeting like?

Jacobs: Honestly, I thought Bubba really was a humble kid. If you didn’t know him at all, you wouldn’t know if he was a first-round pick or a 40th-round pick or a free agent. He kind of just holds himself to the same level as everyone else.

 

Would you agree with that coming in and meeting some of the other guys? You come in from all over the country, what was meeting some of the other guys like?

Thompson: It was good, man. J.J. came and worked hard, and it, like, came naturally to him. He loved playing the game. Each and every day I would see him laugh and I would see him give his all. I think he’s a very good player.

Bubba Thompson hitting

Bubba Thompson takes a cut during a game against Columbia on May 9, 2018 (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

 

A lot of guys would say, okay, he’s a first rounder and he’s got it easy. You’ve got an easy ticket to the major leagues. That’s not necessarily so, is it?

Thompson: It’s not, because if you go out there and you barely hit and you don’t take it serious; you go on the field and you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, this game is going to catch up to you. I try to give my all, to shag, b.p., just do the little things. I try not to slack and give it 100 percent each day.

 

Do you have a sense that your path to the big leagues is a harder one?

Jacobs: Not necessarily. Obviously, on the way in, he’s going to have more money than I do, but I feel like, no matter what, you have to compete and prove yourself to get to the next level. If you come out and play well, no matter if you’re a first-round pick or a free agent, you’re going to have the opportunity to move up if you play well and compete every day.

 

Do you think there is more pressure on you because you are a first-round pick?
Thompson:
That’s what I feel like. There’s a lot of pressure, like he said, kind of the money hype. So that’s why I try to grind every day and do what I’ve got to do, so I don’t have any regrets when I get older. That’s the main part.

 

I don’t ask this as a loaded question, but do you feel like the Rangers do enough to make it an equal situation, or is there a hierarchy at first? Bubba shows up and a second-rounder shows up, and so on. Do you sense there’s a hierarchy before you get a chance to prove yourself?

Jacobs: To be honest, no not really. I think our organization does a pretty good job of treating everyone pretty equally. I think it’s good that they don’t come and treat the first rounders like they’re famous, because then those guys might not work as hard. I think they’ve treated us all the same and held us all to a higher standard so everyone has to come out and prove themselves, no matter if you’re a first rounder or a 40th rounder, or whatever.

 

What do you appreciate about somebody like Bubba, who could’ve played football and is obviously very talented athletically?

Jacobs: A lot of times you think of a first rounder, you think of a kid that comes in and is cocky and doesn’t work hard, and they fall down the hill really quick because they’re full of themselves. They’ve signed for a lot of money, so sometimes they don’t think they have to work as hard as someone else. I think he does a good job of coming in every day and just treating himself like everyone else, and working just as hard, if not harder, than everyone else here, which is going to give him an edge, I think.

 

With the college guys coming in, do you have an appreciation of somebody that’s been grinding with four years of college?

Thompson: We did something today. I asked J.J., “Can we bunt off the machine?” because that’s something I’ve been working on. So, he didn’t say, “Aw, man.” He said, “Yeah, we can do that. Do you really want to do it?” And I said, “Yes.” So, we came in here to the cage right when we got here. He fixed the machine up for me and all that good stuff, and he was feeing me some tips. Also, the other coaches were feeding me some tips and I was just working on my bunting.

I appreciate him taking the time out from his day to come out here and feed the machine for me. I know he’s got a lot of tips, being a four-year college guy. Usually, the three-year and four-year college guys really know how to bunt.  I’ve seen him bunt plenty of times, so I was trying to feed off of his mind.

Bubba Thompson fielding

Bubba Thompson prepares to make a catch during a game vs. Rome (Ga.) on May 12, 2018 (Tracy Proffitt)

 

He’s 22 and you’re 20. Do you look at some of the older guys that went to college and have grown up a bit, while you’re still maturing?

Thompson: I’ll ask him here and there about his approach at the plate and stuff like that, at the plate. I’m just trying to get little tips and add them to my game.

 

What about living life and so on? You’re now going out and having to pay bills once a month. You’re not at home anymore.

Thompson: Everybody really helps us with that kind of stuff. since we got here in May. It’s really been the first time I’ve had to pay rent, but they’re really helping us out with that.

Jacobs: He needs to be helping me out with my rent.

 

When I talked with Hayden Deal, when he came here with Rome (Ga.) – he and Hunter Harvey went to high school together – I asked him did he think he would have a greater appreciation to get to the major leagues than Hunter did. So, I’ll ask the same thing. Do you think you will have a greater appreciation of getting to the major leagues than a first rounder, or somebody else?

Jacobs: I don’t know, necessarily. I think both of us will obviously have a great appreciation for that because either way, making it to the major leagues is huge. The ultimate goal for a baseball player is making it there. So, I think, either way, whether he makes it, or whether I make it, or we both make it, I think we’ll both have an appreciation for that. It’ll be a satisfying road either way.

 

When you get the call up, what’s that phone call like for you?

Jacobs: That would probably be the greatest day of my life. I’d probably call my parents and my girlfriend and I would be pretty happy that I made it there, but I’d want to get out there and win.

Justin Jacobs on bases May 2018

Justin Jacobs runs the bases during a May 9 game vs. Columbia, S.C. (Tracy Proffitt)

 

When you get the call up, what’s that phone call like for you?

Thompson: Really joyful, I feel like. There’s going to pressure off my back, but more pressure added on. As you get the call, they want you to go out there and provide and do your job. I feel like, like he was saying, we share the same amount of time at the field. So, I feel like it’s going to be the same feeling for everybody. Everybody here is on the bus ride, the long bus ride. Ain’t nobody on the plane, we’re all on the buses and working each and every day. So, whoever gets the call, that feeling is going to be epic.

 

I know you have a great appreciation for Bubba and all your teammates, so this question is not meant to be about them. But do you ever get a sense that somebody from another team who was a high pick isn’t giving an effort. Does that ever enter your mind to where you say, “come on, dude.”

Jacobs: I mean honestly, I have seen that with other teams, but not on our team. It just kind of bugs me because they have a great amount of talent and it’s a great opportunity for them and the situation they’re in.

It sucks to see a guy go about his business like that, because I know in his situation, if he were to work hard and do his thing every day, he’s got a good chance of making it. I mean, there’s nothing you can really do about it. If someone wants to hurt themselves and not help themselves out in that situation, there’s nothing I can tell him then.

Now, if it’s my teammates, I’m going to get on them and make sure they keep working.

 

Matt Hagen:

You’ve got a first-round pick here in Bubba Thompson and he gets here and there’s a ton of expectations. And then you have a guy here like Justin, who wasn’t drafted. I guess that, maybe, he feels that every game he gets he gets is borrowed time, although he’s played well, and he’s worked himself into the equation to get playing time. As a manager and as coaches, what are the expectations when you have two guys coming in as widely varied expectations of ability and pedigree?

Hagen: I think, first and foremost, the expectations they have for themselves are exactly the same. They both expect to come out and get the most out of there abilities and they both have the same level of expectations of themselves to play in the big leagues. If they didn’t, then they shouldn’t be here. Of course, that’s probably geared more towards J.J.

Obviously, when a kid is a first round pick, an organization makes a financial investment in that kid, he’s going to have some bigger expectations placed on him from within the organization. But that doesn’t mean that we have less expectations from J.J., in the sense that we expect him to be a big leaguer one day, too.

I think it can be a blessing and a curse to be a kid that is a first-round pick because the expectations are so high for you, that when you come to the ballpark every day people expect you to do first-rounder type of things. So, it’s part of my job and the rest of the coaching staff to get both of these guys to realize and live up to their level of abilities, whatever their ceiling may be individually. We want to get the most out of them. It doesn’t matter if you’re a free-agent pick or a first-round pick or everybody who’s in between that. They’re all the same to us.

 

Justin gave Bubba a lot of praise for being a kid that didn’t appear to be full of himself or cocky, where you get the stereotypical guy that comes in and has the money and now he doesn’t pull his weight. That’s probably rarely the case, but Bubba does appear to have handled himself well as far as getting in here and doing what he’s supposed to do.

Hagen: Yeah, and you’ve got to give credit to the people that raised Bubba. You give credit to his family and you give credit to the scouting department for doing the research on Bubba to find out, not only the kind of player he is, but what kind of person he is, because he can be cancerous to come in with that high-and-mighty type of attitude. It’s not a good way to endear yourself to your teammates. Whereas, Bubba, he’s been the exact opposite. He’s come and he’s one of the guys. He works his tail off and he’s a very humble person by nature, which makes him coachable and likeable and easy to work for.

 

How hard is it – and you went through this in your case where you didn’t sign or were not a high pick like Ryan Dorow or Sal Mendez – to bide your time to get your playing time and get your opportunity? The opportunity is always there, but they have to bide their time.

Hagen: Somebody explained it to me this way the best. The reality of it is everybody has a window to make it to the big leagues. Depending when you signed and what you signed for, your window might be bigger than somebody else. But they still have a window. If your window is small because you signed at an older age, or you didn’t get as much of a signing bonus, you still have a window and it’s your responsibility to capitalize on that window. And you can make your window bigger by playing well, and you can make your window smaller by not performing well.

So, we try to stress that to those kids, that you’re here because somebody in our scouting department, or otherwise, believe that you have the ability to be a major league baseball player one day. So, do the most of your window, and if you perform, you window is only going to get bigger.

 

Justin mentioned that you and Chase tries him out at Spokane. What did you guys see in him to say, “hey, we need to sign this guy and give him an opportunity.”

Hagen: First of all, he had good bat control and he has a good feel for his body. When he takes batting practice, he can hit the ball where it’s pitched. It’s a mature approach. It’s not a kid who’s trying to hit the ball as hard as he can on every swing. You give him something away, he’ll hit the ball the other way. If you make a mistake in, he’ll pull it for a base hit. Then the ability to make routine plays. If you hit him 20 ground balls in a row, he catches all 20.

It’s not the flashiest thing. He’s not going out there looking like a guy that runs a 4.4 40 as he goes to cover ground balls. If he gets to it, he catches it and is accurate with his throws. We say sometimes in the minor leagues that a guy is more of an athlete than a baseball player, and sometimes we have guys who are more a baseball player than an athlete. J.J., I think, falls into the realm of there’s a whole lot of baseball player in J.J. I mean, obviously, as a huge compliment. You’re always looking for guys that have a whole lot of baseball player in them, because they’re not going to hurt you. They’re going to help you in a lot of ways.

Series Preview: West Virginia Power at Hickory Crawdads June 21-23

West Virginia Power (Pittsburgh Pirates) (37-29, 3rd SAL North), at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (30-38, 6th SAL North)

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Thursday – Saturday 7 p.m.

PROMOTIONS:

Thursday – Thirsty Thursday, Margaritaville

Friday – Outdoors Night, Post-game Fireworks, Science Center Night

Saturday – T-shirt Giveaway (1st 1,000 fans)

 TICKETS: $9 dollars for regular seats, $14 for VIP section.

WHERE IS IT?: Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

CONCESSIONS: L.P. Frans Stadium has two main concession areas plus the Crawdads Café. The concession stands have your basic ballpark food: Hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwich, BBQ, etc. Here is that menu http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20130627&content_id=51970362&sid=t448&vkey=team4

The Crawdad Café has a menu that features more diverse items, including the Mac & Crawdog, Banana Foster Bites, Fried Pickles, Sloppy Burger, and more. Click here for the menu http://www.milb.com/documents/3/3/4/185907334/cafe_menu_6eeko6n2.pdf

 

PROBABLES (West Virginia/ Hickory)

Thursday: RHP Max Kranick vs. RHP Noah Bremer

Friday: LHP Domingo Robles. RHP Reid Anderson

Saturday: RHP Hunter Stratton vs. RHP AJ Alexy

 

Recent Series History:

West Virginia holds a 6-4 advantage in 2018, which includes a 4-3 mark at L.P. Frans Stadium. The teams split a four-game series to close out Hickory’s home schedule for the first half.

 

About the Crawdads:

Hickory closed out the first half with a 5-4 road trip ended with two straight losses in a three-game series at Lakewood (N.J.)…The Crawdads were 17-17 at home during the first half… Offensively, the Crawdads are next to last in the SAL in hits and batting average (.238). 12th in doubles, 11th in runs scored and triples. Hickory’s .231 average in June is last in the SAL… On the mound, the Crawdads are 12th in team ERA (4.44) and overall they are 11th at 4.22. They have issued the most walks in the league and 11th in WHIP (1.37)…Defensively, Hickory is third in the SAL in fielding pct. and tied for second in the fewest errors committed.

Prospects to watch- Hickory (rankings are by MLB.com):

OF Bubba Thompson (No. 6): 2018 stats: .268/.333/.455, 8 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 10 BB, 37 K, 7 SB. This season vs. West Virginia: 4-for-11, 2 2B, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 SB. First-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of McGill-Toolen High, Mobile, AL.

OF Pedro Gonzalez (No. 9) 2018 stats: .226/.279/.415, 9 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 11 BB, 57 K, 6 SB, 1 CS. This season vs. West Virginia: 11-for-36, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 8 K, 2 SB. Obtained by the Rangers in 2017 from the Colorado Rockies for Jonathan Lucroy. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R.

RHP AJ Alexy (No. 16): 2018 stats: 11 games (9 starts), 48.2 IP, 37 H, 28 R (23 ER), 2 HR, 7 HB, 32 BB, 66 K, 4.25 ERA, .211 OBA, 1.42 WHIP. This season vs. West Virginia: 2 starts, 10 IP, 6 H, 6 R (5 ER), 1 HR, 4 BB, 16 K. Joined the Crawdads after a trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Originally 11th round pick of Dodgers out of Twin Valley HS, Elverson, Pa. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 3rd walks, T-5th hit batters.

C-1B Sam Huff (No. 24): 2018 stats: .244/.302/.415, 12 2B, 7 HR, 9 BB, 59 K, 1 SB This season vs. West Virginia: 2-for-19, 1 2B, 2 BB, 6 K. Seventh round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia HS (Phoenix, Ariz.). Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

RHP Tyler Phillips (No. 29): 2018 stats: 12 games (12 starts) 70 IP, 75 H, 30 R (28 ER), 3 HR, 1 HB, 7 BB, 61 K, 3.60 ERA, .274 OBA, 1.17 WHIP. This season vs. West Virginia: 2 starts, 13.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 8 K. Sixteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Bishop Eustace HS, Pennsauken, N.J. Native of Lumberton N.J. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st walks-per-9-inning ratio among starters (0.90), 10th innings pitched

Others to watch – Hickory:

RHP Noah Bremer: 2018 stats: 5 games (5 starts), 20.1 IP, 27 H, 11 R (10 ER), 1 HR, 5 BB, 18 K. Has not faced West Virginia this season. Sixth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of the Univ. of Washington. Attended Berkeley (Calif.) HS.

RHP Reid Anderson: 2018 stats: 10 games (8 starts), 46.2 IP, 44 H, 22 R (19 ER), 1 HR, 2 HB, 14 BB, 39 K, 3.66 ERA, .249 OBA, 1.24 WHIP. This season vs. West Virginia: 2 starts, 10 IP, 11 H, 6 R (5 ER), 1 HB, 3 BB, 10 K. Seventeenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Millersville Univ. (Pa.). Attended New Egypt (N.J.) High School.

RHP Alex Eubanks: 2018 stats: 12 games (12 starts), 63 IP, 76 H, 45 R (44 ER), 11 HR, 4 HB, 17 BB, 69 K, 6.29 ERA, .298 OBA, 1.48 WHIP. This season vs. West Virginia: 1 start, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 8 K. Fourteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Clemson. Attended Byrnes High in Moore, S.C. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-3rd earned runs allowed, 4th home runs allowed, 7th runs allowed, T-8th hits allowed

C Yohel Pozo: 2018 stats: .261/.308/.411, 11 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 14 BB, 28 K. This season vs. West Virginia:7-for-30, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 K. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2013. A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela. Named to the SAL All-Star Game. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 5th plate appearance to strikeout ratio (8.00).

About the Power:

Managed by Wyatt Toregas in his second season (106-96) with the club… The Power made a late-season run at the Northern Division title four-game sweep at Southern Division contender Augusta (Ga.). They went on to win the first two at home vs. Delmarva (Md.), but lost the first-half finale and finished 2.5 games behind Lakewood (N.J.)…Offensively, the Power is 12th in hits, but what hits ring up often go for big results. West Virginia is third in the SAL in triples, fifth in doubles and homers… On the mound, West Virginia’s team ERA of 3.42 is fifth in the SAL. Teams tend to put the ball in play against the Power, as evident by the stats. The Power has issued the second fewest walks in the SAL but have struck out the third fewest hitters. That can be a detriment at times as the Power has committed 90 errors in 66 games, the third most in the SAL.

Prospects to watch-West Virginia (rankings by MLB.com):

CF Lolo Sanchez (No. 9): 2018 stats: .211/.278/.308, 10 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 16 BB, 40 K, 12 SB, 6 CS. This season vs. Hickory: 4-for-28, 1 BB, 9 K. Signed with the Pirates as an international free agent in 2015. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-10th steals.

SS Oneil Cruz (No. 13): 2018 stats: .303/.363/.516, 36 R, 14 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 39 RBI, 22 BB, 64 K. This season vs. Hickory: 8-for-33, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 BB, 9 K, 1 SB. Traded to the Pirates last summer for former Crawdads LHP Tony Watson. Signed as an international free agent by the L.A. Dodgers in 2015. Native of Nizao, D.R. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-1st triples, 4th RBI, 4th total bases, T-6th hits, 6th slugging pct. 7th OPS (.879), 8th at-bats,

RF Calvin Mitchell (No. 15): 2018 stats: .316/.379/.504, 17 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 22 BB, 61 K. This season vs. Hickory: 10-for-33, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 11 K. Second-round pick of the Pirates in 2017 out of Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) HS. Native of San Diego. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-4th doubles, 4th batting avg., 4th OBP, 5th OPS (.883), T-6th hits, 7th total bases, 9th slugging pct. Named to SAL All-Star Game.

C Deon Stafford (No. 30): 2018 stats: .286/.345/.449, 11 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 14 BB, 53 K. This season vs. Hickory: 7-for-19, 1 2B, 3 BB, 8 K. Fifth-round pick of the Pirates in 2016 out of St. Joseph’s Univ. (Pa.) Native of Hummelstown, Pa. Attended Lower Dauphin HS. Named to SAL All-Star Game.

 

Others to watch- West Virginia:

RHP Max Kranick: 2018 stats: 5 games (5 starts), 25.1 IP, 29 H, 13 R (13 ER), 4 HR, 4 HB, 7 BB, 17 K, 4.62 ERA, .290 OBA, 1.42 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory: 1 start, 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K. Eleventh-round pick or the Pirates in 2016 out of Valley View HS in Archbald, PA.

LHP Domingo Robles: 2018 stats: 13 games (13 starts), 65.2 IP, 68 H, 43 R (24 ER), 4 HR, 4 HB, 15 BB, 55 K, 3.29 ERA, .257 OBA, 1.26 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory: 1 start, 6 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 4 K. Signed with the Pirates as an international free agent in 2014. Native of Imbert, D.R.

RHP Hunter Stratton: 2018 stats: 10 games (8 starts), 40.1 IP, 44 H, 34 R (28 ER), 6 HR, 3 HB, 22 BB, 42 K, 6.25 ERA, .282 OBA, 1.64 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory:4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 BB, 3 K. Sixteenth-round pick of the Pirates in 2017 out of Walters State (TN) CC. Attended Sullivan East (Bristol, TN).