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Series Preview: Augusta (Ga.) GreenJackets at Hickory Crawdads April 22-24

Augusta GreenJackets (San Francisco Giants) (8-7, 2nd place, Southern Division)

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (12-4, 2nd place Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads start a seven-game homestand Monday with three against Augusta at L.P. Frans Stadium.

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

WHERE IS IT?: 2500 Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Monday: Augusta at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Make-A Difference Monday (Bring canned goods $5 or more in value and receive a free ticket), Salute to Scrubs Week (Healthcare professionals receive a free ticket with a current ID badge)

Tuesday: Augusta at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Dollar Dog Tuesday ($1 hot dogs, dogs admitted for $1), $2 craft pints, Salute to Scrubs Week (Healthcare professionals receive a free ticket with a current ID badge)

Wednesday: Augusta at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. Kids Win Wednesday (All kids 12 and under receive a free ticket, free meal voucher, and free bounce house, speed pitch and carousel voucher every Wednesday night game) Salute to Scrubs Week (Healthcare professionals receive a free ticket with a current ID badge), Wine Wednesday

TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

 

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

Hickory swept Augusta in a three-game series last June in the only series played by the two teams. The Crawdads have not played at Augusta since 2016 when they took two of three there. Since 2009, which is the start of the Crawdads affiliation with the Rangers, Augusta holds a 31-29 edge in games played, 19-15 at Hickory.

 

PROBABLES (Augusta/ Hickory)

Monday: RHP Blake Rivera vs. RHP Tim Brennan

Tuesday: RHP Matt Frisbee vs. RHP Yerry Rodriguez

Wednesday: RHP Jake Wong vs. RHP Hans Crouse

 

ABOUT HICKORY

Hickory took two out of three at Columbia (S.C.) over the weekend. During their first homestand, the Crawdads went 4-2 against Kannapolis and Asheville.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 80 in top-100)

SS Chris Seise No. 12

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 20

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; LF: Miguel Aparicio or Chad Smith; CF: Pedro Gonzalez; RF: Jose Almonte.

 

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Pedro Gonzalez – Tied for 6th homers (3)

Sam Huff – 1st home runs (6), 1st total bases, 1st slugging pct. (.722), 3rd OPS (1.037), tied for 10th runs

Jonathan Ornelas – Tied for 10th runs

Chris Seise – tied for 8th steals (5)

Curtis Terry – 1st RBI (19), tied for 2nd homers (4), tied for 4th total bases, tied for 5th doubles (6), 7th slugging pct. (.569)

Matt Whatley – 4th walks

Individual pitching:

Hans Crouse – 2nd WHIP (0.35), tied for 3rd hit batters (3), 10th ERA (1.26)

Abdiel Mendoza – Tied for 5th saves (2)

Team Batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.229 (10th)/ .294 (13th)/ .416 (2nd)/ .710 (3rd).

Other key rankings: 1st home runs, 3rd runs, 3rd total bases, next to last walks,

Team Pitching:

1st ERA (2.18), 1st WHIP (0.97), fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, tied for fewest home runs allowed (4), fewest walks allowed.

 

ABOUT AUGUSTA:

The GreenJackets completed their first homestand of the season on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Charleston (SC), but finished off the week at 4-2 overall. Because of The Masters in its backyard, Augusta had a nine-game road trip to start the year and managed a 4-5 record.

Manager: Carlos Valderrama (2nd season)

Prospects – Augusta (rankings by MLB.com):

RHP Sean Hjelle No. 6

RHP Jake Wong No. 7

RHP Gregory Santos No. 8

RHP Blake Rivera No. 18

3B Jacob Gonzalez No. 19

LHP Seth Corry No. 25

Possible Lineups: C: Andres Angulo or Jeffry Parra; 1B: Frankie Tostado; 2B: Shane Matheny or Wander Franco; 3B:Jacob Gonzalez; SS: Nico Giarratano or Shane Matheny; LF: Diego Rincones; CF: Jose Layer; RF: Aaron Bond.

 

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Aaron Bond – 3rd strikeouts,  tied for 8th steals (5)

Shane Matheny – 4th RBI (15)

Ismael Munguia – Tied for 7th runs

Frankie Tostado – 9th batting avg. (.327), 10th on-base pct. (.411), 10th OPS (.921)

Individual pitching:

Seth Corry – Tied for 6th walks

Sean Hjelle – 1st innings (19.2)

Jesus Tona – Tied for 1st saves (3)

Franklin Van Gurp – Tied for 9th games pitched (6)

Ryan Walker – Tied for 9th games pitched (6)

Team batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.234 (6th)/ .333 (4th)/ .346 7th)/.680 (6th)

Other key rankings: 2nd fewest strikeouts, tied for 2nd walks, 12th hits, 12th doubles,

Team pitching:

4th fewest hits allowed, 7th ERA (3.35), 8th WHIP (1.29)

 

NOTES OF INTEREST: RHP Cole Uvila and OF Julio Pablo Martinez were both promoted to High-A Down East last week. RHP Ronny Henriquez, OF Chad Smith joined the club. Henriquez is the first person born in the 2000s to pitch for Hickory … According to MLB.com, should he get to the major leagues, Augusta’s Sean Hjelle would be equal to Jon Rauch as the tallest pitcher in major league history… Augusta’s Jacob Gonzalez is the son of Arizona Diamondbacks World Series hero Luis Gonzalez… Hickory’s Sean Chandler and Augusta’s Keaton Winn both pitched at Iowa Western CC and were drafted one round apart (Winn 5th, Chandler 6th) last summer… Augusta RHP Matt Frisbee is the lone player with a North Carolina connection, as he pitched at Enka High and UNC Greensboro.

Reunion on the Diamond: Former Teammates Whatley and Varnell Now Rivals as Pros

It is always a special moment when former teammates from college or high school meet in pro ball for the first time as opponents. Knowing the foxholes that they both went through as teammates, there’s an extra level of respect that exists that is a notch above any other opponent. It’s an even deeper respect for former battery mates.

Kannapolis Intimidators pitcher Taylor Varnell experienced such a moment last Thursday when Hickory Crawdads Matt Whatley, his catcher from their days at Oral Roberts Univ., strolled to the plate to hit in the first inning. It was a moment that didn’t seem fated to happen when the Crawdads posted their lineup earlier that afternoon.

“I came into the clubhouse,” Whatley recalled. “And I didn’t see my name in the lineup. So, I go, ‘okay, I’ve got a day off.’ Then I see that Taylor’s pitching and I go, ‘Man, it’d be kind of fun to face him.’”

However, when a couple of Hickory players came down with minor ailments and were late scratches, Whatley was pressed into duty as the team’s designated hitter. Having already seen the lineup, Varnell, like Whatley, had thought his former ORU teammate was getting the day off.

“When he came walking up there,” said Varnell. “I was kind of surprised. It was hard not to smile a little bit at him.”

Seeing the moment at hand, Whatley tipped his helmet to the pitcher he caught for two seasons in college. “It was fun getting to face Taylor,” said Whatley with a smile. “The last time I got an at-bat off of him was my sophomore fall (season).”

During their time together at Oral Roberts, the two held a genuine respect for each other. In fact, Varnell, who pitched at Western Oklahoma State as a freshman before transferring to ORU, already knew about Whatley when he joined the team.

“From the first time I got on campus, I knew that he was going to be a high draft pick,” Varnell remembered. “I had heard all about him. He’s great behind the dish and a good hitter. I hadn’t seen him behind the plate yet, but he was crazy good back there.”

He credited Whatley, who eventually was the Texas Rangers third-round pick in 2017, for his strike-zone framing abilities, to which, as he said, “got me so many strikes that I wouldn’t have got otherwise.”

After his senior season, Varnell went on to become the 29th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox. Despite some ups-and-downs in his teammate’s career, Whatley thought the left-hander had the ability and would get a chance to go pro.

“It’s fun to see where he’s at from college until now,” said the Crawdads backstop. “He had the stuff, but he was a little inconsistent in college. Now, he’s way more consistent.”

Having thrown to Whatley for two seasons, as they faced each other last Thursday, Varnell knew that he would have to go about his approach to this hitter differently.

“It was kind of hard to attack him in the usual way,” said Varnell. “Because, he knows how I like to pitch. So, I tried to kind of mix it up a little bit.”

The mix of pitches got the better of Whatley in the first when Varnell struck him out. However, in the fourth, Whatley found a pitch he could handle. Unfortunately for Whatley, the line drive to the left side of the infield found the glove of third baseman Bryce Bush.

“It’s baseball,” said Whatley in reaction to the hard out. “Sometimes, you’re going to barrel some stuff up and not get some hits.”

Varnell agreed that Whatley got the better of him the second time.

“That’s a good play by my third baseman,” Varnell admitted. “That one was on me, he should’ve had the hit, honestly.”

In getting to the pros, both players gave credit to another Crawdads alum, Sean Snedeker, who was the pitching coach for Hickory in 1998 during the White Sox affiliation era and later went on to Duke and ORU.

“Sned is one of the best humans I know,” Whatley recalled. “He’s always wanting the best for both of us, but for everyone he’s ever coached. I couldn’t be more happy to have had Sean Snedeker as a pitching coach.”

Varnell said Snedeker, now the pitching coach at Lamar Univ. in Texas, was instrumental in getting his potential pro career on track.

“Going into college, I was a bit of a head case,” Varnell said. “I’d speed it up too fast in my head. He would help me out with the mental part, which is what I needed.”

 

Matt Whatley Taylor Varnell

Crawdads catcher Matt Whatley (right) and Kannapolis pitcher Taylor Varnell were teammates for two seasons at Oral Roberts Univ.

Brennan Locks Up Tourists for Crawdads Win

Tim Brennan allowed just two baserunners over six shutout innings and shutdown the South Atlantic League’s top offensive to lead the Hickory Crawdads to a 2-0 win Monday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.

In winning the first of the three-game series, the Crawdads (9-2) remained in second place in the Northern Division a half-game behind the Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds (9-1), who defeated Kannapolis at home on Monday. During the current homestand, Hickory is now 3-1 and will look to improve on that against Asheville on Tuesday as the series continues with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch.

The Tourists entered Monday’s game with the league’s top numbers across the board (.282/.363/.493/ .856), but the starter Brennan had little trouble working his way through the lineup.

He retired the first 12 before surrendering a walk to current SAL hitter-of-the-week Willie MacIver to start the fifth. The lead runner was retired on successive fielder’s choices leaving Daniel Montano at first with two outs. He stole second second and moved to third on catcher Matt Whatley’s throwing error. However, Brennan got Coco Montes to fly to center to end the lone threat against him.

Hunter Stovall broke up Brennan’s fledgling no-hit bid in the sixth with a clean single to left to start the inning.

Brennan left the game after clearing the sixth on 73 pitches (46 strikes).

The right-hander was supported for his first professional win (1-0) in two starts by the offense, which gave him all he needed four batters into the game. Facing Ryan Feltner (0-2), J.P. Martinez drilled the righty’s second pitch to the leftfield wall for a double. He moved to third on Matt Whatley’s fly to the track in right for Curtis Terry ripped a double to right for the run.

Sam Huff hit a slider over the billboards in right for a solo blast in the sixth to account for the second run. His home run was the fourth of the season with ties him for the SAL and pushed his team’s league high to 14 on the year.

Asheville threatened to erase its deficit in the seventh against Abdiel Mendoza. Grant Lavigne singled and MacIver got his second walk of the game. Two outs later, Mendoza loaded the bases by walking Montes. However, Stovall flied out to shallow left to end the rally.

Scott Engler pitched two perfect innings for Hickory, striking out five of the six he faced to pick up his first pro save.

Game Notes: Cole Uvila was promoted to High-A Down East on Monday. The 40th-round pick of the Rangers last June (GA. Gwinnett) went 2-0 in three relief outings with ten strikeouts over seven innings. He allowed just three hits and one walk… The Crawdads now have three shutouts on the season and have seven games out of 11 with 0 or 1 run allowed.

 

Crawdads Strikeout History

(The following story is based on records I have at my disposal since 2005, as well as sporadic records kept by the Crawdads prior to that season. If others have further information, I welcome their inclusion here and will update.)

At Thursday’s home-opener win over Kannapolis, the Hickory Crawdads tied a club record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game. The trio of Jake Latz (8), Tai Tiedemann (5) and Nick Snyder (4) struck out 17 hitters during a 4-1 win.

With that game in mind, I thought Crawdads fans might want a look back at some of the other big strikeout games in the team’s history.

Hickory first registered 17 Ks in a nine-inning game back on May 25, 2009 in a game at Hagerstown, Md, when a pair of future major leaguers turned the trick. Right-hander Jake Brigham twirled the first five innings of shutout baseball, striking out eight and allowing three hits. Martin Perez then came in and upstaged him. The 18-year-old left-hander, then one of the pitching prospects in the minors, struck out nine over four innings and finished off a seven-hit shutout in a 6-0 win.

The individual pitcher with the most strikeouts in a single game was right-hander Jason Lakman, who on July 31, 1997 struck out 16. During that contest, he became one of the few pitchers in baseball history to struck out five in one inning when he turned the trick in the fifth.

The all-time single-game record for the team in a came back in August 2000 as part of a game that set the South Atlantic League record for most combined strikeouts in a game. Asheville and Hickory played 20 innings that day and rang up 53 strikeouts. In what was a loss, the Crawdads pitchers set 23 down on strikes. Unfortunately, the Hickory hitters set the league’s record for most whiffs in a game when they fanned 30 times.

The Crawdads got close to catching that mark a couple of times. During a 17-inning affair on May 9, 2015, Brett Martin (4), Trey Lambert (2), Adam Parks (7), David Perez (6) and Kelvin Vasquez (3) combined to strikeout 22 against Savannah. Their chance to catch and break the club mark ended on Crawdads walk-off homer by Jose Cardona.

The Crawdads has two other extra-inning games during which they struck out 20 or more batters. In a home game on May 4, 2010 against Asheville. Two future major league pitchers were among a quartet of Crawdads hurlers that fanned 20 during a 13-inning game. Starter Joe Wieland (8) and closer Josh Lueke (5), both of whom would go onto the big leagues, collected 13 with Braden Tullis (5) and Hector Nelo (2) filling in for seven others.

The other 20+ strikeout contest came during a loss in 19 innings to Rome (Ga.) on May 15, 2016. Peter Fairbanks had a pedestrian four over six innings with Blake Bass added two more in the seventh and eighth. Reliever and future big leaguer Jeffrey Springs had five over three innings before Omarlin Lopez dominated the Braves with eight in five innings. Sitting at 19 after 16 innings, the club record was in reach. Matt Ball tallied just one more in the 17th and 18th innings. With the Crawdads out of fresh arms, position player Dylan Moore threw in the 19th and was not able to register a K.

Resilient Crawdads Take Extra-Innings Win

The Hickory Crawdads showed resilience Saturday night and wound up with a 6-5 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators in front of 1,523 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium Saturday night.

With the win the Crawdads (8-2) have earned at least a split in the four-game series and look to take the series outright tomorrow with a first pitch at 3 p.m. Kannapolis (4-5) has now dropped four of five.

Kannapolis scored an unearned run in the second, but the Crawdads used their powerful lineup to pull ahead.

Pedro Gonzalez continued his assault on Kannapolis pitching during his stay with the Crawdads with a solo home run in the third. In hitting his third against Kannapolis in as many games, Gonzalez has eight home runs, five doubles and 19 RBI  in 19 games over the last two seasons against the Intimidators.

The two starters battled through six innings and left with the score tied at one. Hickory’s John King allowed six hits and struck out four to go with the unearned run. Konnor Pilkington allowed just two baserunners over six innings, chipping in a walk to go with Gonzalez’s homer and striking out eight.

Against the new pitcher Vince Arobio, the Crawdads jumpstarted things briefly in the seventh. The jolt started when Curtis Terry hit his third of the season, a two-run blast that was his second in two games. Sherten Apostel followed with a line drive over the fence in left for his first of the year. It as the third straight game Hickory launched back-to-back homers. Hickory leads the South Atlantic League with 13 homers.

However, things fell apart for the Crawdads in the ninth and for the second night in a row, the team’s only walk of the game cost them. Facing reliever Grant Wolfram, Amado Nunez reached on an error at third by Apostel and was joined one out later by a Gunnar Troutwine, who walked. Luis Curbelo then took a fastball away and lifted it over the fence in right to tie the game at 4-4.

Curbelo’s home run was the first for Kannapolis, as well as the first surrendered by Hickory.

The Crawdads had a chance to put the game away in the ninth after putting runners at second and third after an error by third baseman Bryce Bush kept the inning alive. But Bennett Sousa got Sam Huff on a grounder to short to extend the game.

Lenyn Sosa’s sacrifice fly scored Ian Hawkins to give Kannapolis the lead in the tenth. Hickory put runners at second and third and none out. Sousa struck out Jonathan Ornelas before the Intimidators cut down a runner at the plate on a grounder to first. However. Chris Seise got enough on an 0-2 pitch to reach on an infield hit to short and score Gonzalez from third.

Cole Uvila (2-0) struck out two in the 11th to reset the Crawdads at plate. With Matt Whatley at second to start the inning, Curtis Terry steered an 0-2 slider past the bag at third for the walk-off double.

 

Late Rally Overcomes 3 Crawdads Blasts

The Kannapolis Intimidators picked up a pair of runs in the ninth and defeated the Hickory Crawdads 6-4 Friday night in front of 2,121 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Intimidators (4-4) win snapped their three-game losing streaks and also ended the four-game winning streak by Hickory, which dropped to 7-2.

With the score tied at 4-all after eight, the Intimidators got the winning started with one out in the ninth against reliever Grant Anderson (0-1). Alex Destino picked up his team’s only walk of the game and was joined next on the bases by Ramon Beltre, who singled. Ian Dawkins (3-for-5) lined an offspeed pitch for a ground-rule double to left-center to score Destino. Steele Walker added an insurance run with his second sacrifice fly of the night to score Beltre.

Kannapolis never trailed in the game after score the first four in the second against starter Jean Casanova. Michael Hickman singled, as did Destino one out later. The hit parade continued with Beltre’s RBI single before Dawkins sneaked in a bloop single to left to score a run. Walker’s initial sacrifice fly made it 3-0 before Lenyn Sosa capped the uprising with a hard-hit single to right to score Dawkins.

The Crawdads used the long ball to chip away at the lead. Facing starter Davis Martin, Curtis Terry lined a two-run shot in the third to cut the Crawdads deficit in half. Hickory tied the score after the seventh-inning stretch when Pedro Gonzalez and Jonathan Ornelas (3-for-4) lined the first two pitches of the inning for back-to-back home runs. The three home runs on Friday gave the Crawdads the South Atlantic League lead with ten.

Hickory had a chance to take the lead in the eighth against Sam Long (1-0).  Jose Almonte reached base to lead off the inning when Destino’s throw from third skipped away. Almonte moved to second with two outs, but Long struck out Sam Huff to end the threat.

The Crawdads got four strong innings of middle relief that allowed the hitters to get the team back into the game. Hever Bueno allowed one hit and struck out three over two innings of work. Dylan Bice nearly matched his pen mate with two Ks and one hit allowed over the seventh and eighth innings.

However, the Intimidators’ bullpen allowed just Almonte to reach over the final 2.2 innings and struck out three. Long fanned one before closer Wilber Perez retired the side in the ninth and K’d two more to earn his second save.

The series continues with game three of the four-game series with the first pitch set for 6:30 p.m.

Series Preview: Kannapolis Intimidators at Hickory Crawdads April 11-14

Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (3-3, 3rd Northern Division) at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (6-1, 1st Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads open a seven-game homestand Thursday, starting with a four-game series with Kannapolis.

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

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

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Thursday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 7 p.m. (Thirsty Thursday, Duke Lineman Appreciation Night (Free tickets available at Duke Power Linemen), Magnet Schedules giveaway, Black out (Wear black and receive a $6 ticket))

Friday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 7 p.m. (Fireworks, Roaring 20s Night)

Saturday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. (Texas Rangers Night, Post Schedule giveaway)

Sunday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 3 p.m. (Church Bulletin Sunday (bring a bulletin for a $6 ticket))

TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

 

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

The Crawdads won the 2018 season series 14-9 with an 11-3 margin in games played at L.P. Frans Stadium. Hickory has dominated the series with just one season-series loss (2010) against the Intimidators since becoming a Rangers affiliate in 2009. Overall, the Crawdads are 110-72 against the Intimidators, 56-34 at L.P. Frans.

PROBABLES (Kannapolis/ Hickory)

Thursday: LHP Taylor Varnell vs. LHP Jake Latz

Friday: RHP Davis Martin vs. RHP Jean Casanova

Saturday: LHP Konnor Pilkington vs. LHP John King

Sunday: RHP Kade McClure vs. RHP Tim Brennan

 

ABOUT HICKORY

The Crawdads had a 6-1 road trip to open the season, which ended with a three-game sweep at Greensboro. They are trying to match a 7-1 start by the 2016 team.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 83 in top-100)

OF JP Martinez No. 2 (No. 86 in top-100)

SS Chris Seise No. 12

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; OF LF: Pedro Gonzalez or Miguel Aparicio; CF: JP Martinez, RF: Jose Almonte.

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting: Batting average: Chris Seise 7th (.400), Sam Huff (10th) .385; On-base pct: Seise 8th (.464); Slugging pct: Huff 2nd (.731), Jose Almonte 6th (.667), Seise 9th (.640); OPS Huff 5th (1.115), Seise 8th (1.104); Runs: Seise T-1st (8), Jonathan Ornelas 3rd (7); JP Martinez T-4th (6); Huff T-8th (5); Hits: Huff T-3rd (10); Seise T-3rd (10); Martinez T-9th (8); Doubles: Almonte T-3rd (4); Seise T-3rd (4); Huff T-6th (3); Curtis T-6th (3); RBI: Terry 1st (9); Almonte T-8th (6); Total Bases: Huff 2nd (19); Seise 5th (16); Almonte T-7th (14); Walks: Sherten Apostel T-7th (5); Steals: T-1st (4); Martinez T-4th (3).

Individual pitching: ERA: Hans Crouse T-1st (0.00); WHIP: Crouse 1st (0.26); Saves: Abdiel Mendoza T-1st (2)

Team Batting: Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.272 (2nd)/ .347 (2nd)/ .433 (2nd)/ .780 (2nd). Other key rankings: Runs 2nd, Hits 2nd, Doubles 2nd, Home Runs T-3rd, Total Bases 2nd (100), Stolen bases 1st (12).

Team Pitching: ERA 1st (1.48), 3rd fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, fewest home runs allowed (0), fewest walks allowed, strikeouts 2nd, WHIP (0.87).

 

ABOUT KANNAPOLIS:

The Intimadators split a six-game homestand, which ended with two losses to Delmarva (Md.) during a rain-shortened series.

Manager: Ryan Newman (1st season)

Prospects – Kannapolis (rankings by MLB.com):

CF Steele Walker No. 11

LHP Konnor Pilkington No. 20

3B Bryce Bush No. 21

RHP Jonathan Stiever No. 27

Possible lineups: C: Evan Skoug or Gunnar Troutwine; 1B: Amado Nunez; 2B: Luis Curbelo or Lenyn Sosa; SS: Sosa or Curbelo; LF: Ian Dawkins; CF: Steele Walker; RF: Logan Sowers

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting: Batting average: Evan Skoug 1st (.429); On-base pct: Skoug 1st .579; Slugging pct: Skoug 8th (.643); OPS: Skoug 2nd (1.222); Hits: Lenyn Sosa T-6th (9); Doubles: Luis Curbelo T-6th (3). Sosa T-6th (3); Walks: Skoug T-7th (5); Steals: T-1st Ian Dawkins 1st (4).

Individual pitching: WHIP: Tyler Varnell 2nd (0.33); Konnor Pilkington T-10th (0.71)

Team batting: Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS): .244 (5th)/ .310 (7th)/ .337 (6th)/ .647 (7th). Other key rankings: Runs 13th, Doubles 4th, HR T-12th (0), Walks T-12th, Strikeouts 12th.

Team pitching: HRs allowed 2nd (7), hit batters 3rd (5), fewest walks allowed T-3rd, WHIP 5th (1.16).

 

NOTES OF INTEREST: Kannapolis manager Ryan Newman played for Hickory in 2003 and was the team’s hitting coach in 2007… Crawdads catcher Matt Whatley and Kannapolis pitcher Taylor Varnell were teammates at Oral Roberts Univ. Both played under former Crawdads pitching coach Sean Snedeker.

SERIES PREVIEW: Hickory at Greensboro April 8-10

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (3-1, T 1st Northern Division)

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Pittsburgh Pirates) (3-1, T 1st Northern Division)

 

The Hickory Crawdads continue a weeklong road trip at First National Bank Field

BROADCASTS: Games are streamed live on the Greensboro Grasshoppers website

 

 

If you plan to go:

 

GAME TIMES: Monday-Tuesday, 7:00 p.m., Wednesday 10:45 a.m. (NOTE: NO TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR WEDNESDAY’S GAME)

WHERE IS IT?

From Hickory, take I-40 East to exit 218 B / Freeman Mill Road. That will turn into Edgeworth St. and the ballpark will be on the right. (Edgeworth and Bellemeade St.)

TICKETS: Ticket prices range from $7-11.

PROMOTIONS:

Monday: Money Off Monday: $1 dogs, soda and water. $6 lawn tickets

Tuesday: Baseball Bingo

PARKING: Parking at the ballpark is $5. There are independently operated parking lots nearby that charge a varied amount. Metered parking about a block away from the outfield is free after 6 p.m., on weekdays and is free on weekends.

CONCESSIONS: First National Bank Field is more of a AA park and so the concession offerings are a vast upgrade from what a smaller Low-A ball park provides. Other than basic ballpark fare, there is a BBQ stand, Sausage Shack, Pimento Cheese along with veggie options.

 

 

PROBABLES (Hickory, Greensboro has not released its probables)

Monday: RHP Tim Brennan

Tuesday: RHP Yerry Rodriguez

Wednesday: RHP Hans Crouse

 

Recent Series History:

Hickory was 9-15 against Greensboro a year ago, and since 2009, the beginning of the Crawdads affiliation with the Rangers, the Grasshoppers were 91-81 over. However, Greensboro is now hooked up with the Pittsburgh Pirates after 16 years with the Miami Marlins. The Pirates begin this affiliation after 10 seasons at West Virginia. Against West Virginia, the Crawdads were 7-12 a season ago, 2-4 at Charleston, WV. Since 2009, the Power went 52-51 against Hickory.

 

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

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 83 in top-100)

OF JP Martinez No. 2 (No. 86 in top-100)

SS Chris Seise No. 12

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

 

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

RHP Stephen Jennings No. 12

OF LoLo Sanchez No. 17

Crawdads Alumni Opening Day Assignments

As the rosters were announced in Major League Baseball in late March and in the minor leagues the following week, those who once wore the uniform of the Hickory Crawdads were well represented at nearly every level of full-season, affiliated competition.

At the start of the season, 135 former Crawdads players and field staff were with a major or minor league team as a player, manager or coach with a full-season team. Of that group, 35 were on major rosters as players and 10 more were named as field staff. A total of 108 were still playing in affiliated ball, 27 more managing or coaching.

Below is the entire list:

ALUMNI ASSIGNMENTS (135)

PLAYERS (108)

MAJOR LEAGUES (35)

American League (20)

Baltimore: Hanser Alberto, Richard Bleier; Boston: Steve Pearce (10-day DL); Chicago White Sox: Ryan Cordell, Leury Garcia; Cleveland: Neil Ramirez; Detroit: Reed Garrett, Jordy Mercer; Minnesota: Martin Perez; Oakland: Jurickson Profar; Seattle: Dylan Moore; Tampa Bay: Wilmer Font; Texas: Joey Gallo, Ronald Guzman, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jose Leclerc, Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, Jeffrey Springs, Yohander Mendez (DL)

 

National League (15):

Atlanta: Luke Jackson; Nick Williams; Chicago Cubs: Carl Edwards, Jr.; Cincinnati:  Zach Duke, Jared Hughes; Miami: Jorge Alfaro, Lewis Brinson, Neil Walker; Milwaukee: Alex Claudio; Philadelphia: Odubel Herrera, Andrew McCutcheon, Pittsburgh: Keone Kela; St. Louis: Drew Robinson; San Diego: Robbie Erlin; San Francisco: Tony Watson

 

MINOR LEAGUES (73):

AAA (16):

International League (6):

Gwinnett (Atlanta): Travis Demeritte, Luis Marte; Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia): Jerad Eickhoff; Norfolk (Baltimore): Luis Ortiz; Rochester (Minnesota): Tomas Telis; Syracuse (Mets): Rajai Davis

Pacific Coast League (10):

Memphis (St. Louis): Drew Robinson; Nashville (Texas): Wes Benjamin, Nick Gardewine, Ariel Jurado, Brett Martin, CD Pelham, Jose Trevino; Oklahoma City (LA Dodgers): Justin Grimm; Round Rock (Houston): Akeem Bostick; Tacoma (Seattle): Erik Swanson

 

AA (30):

Eastern League (4):

Bowie (Baltimore): Dillon Tate; Harrisburg (Washington): Luis Sardinas; Portland (Boston): Luke Tendler; Richmond (San Francisco): Sam Wolff

Southern League (4):

Birmingham (Chicago White Sox): TiQuan Forbes; Chattanooga (Cincinnati): Victor Payano; Mississippi (Atlanta): Ben Rowen; Mobile (LA Angels): Dario Beltre

Texas League (22):

Frisco (Texas): Josh Altmann, Edgar Arredondo, Blake Bass, Preston Beck, Jairo Beras, LeDarious Clark, Andretty Cordero, Brendon Davis, Michael De Leon, Jonathan Hernandez, James Jones, Charles Leblanc, Jake Lemoine, Emerson Martinez, Chuck Moorman, Josh Morgan, Joe Palumbo, Pedro Payano, Juremi Profar, Walker Weickel; Midland (Oakland): Brallan Perez; Springfield (St. Louis): John Fasola

 

HIGH A (27):

Carolina League (26):

Carolina (Milwaukee): Chris Dula; Down East (Texas): Josh Advocate, AJ Alexy, Reid Anderson, Joe Barlow, Noah Bremer, Ryan Dorow, Alex Eubanks, Demarcus Evans, Peter Fairbanks, Kaleb Fontenot, Yonny Hernandez, Eric Jenkins, Michael Matuella, Sal Mendez, Clay Middleton, Melvin Novoa, Yanio Perez, Tyler Phillips, Yohel Pozo, Tyreque Reed, Leody Taveras, Anderson Tejeda, Tyler Thomas, Bubba Thompson; Winston-Salem (Chicago White Sox): Yeyson Yrizarri

Florida State League (1):

Daytona (Cincinnati): Reiver Sanmartin

 

FIELD STAFF (27)

MAJOR LEAGUES (10):

American League (6)

Chicago White Sox: Curt Hasler – assistant pitching coach; Detroit: Dave Clark – 3B coach; LA Angels: Josh Paul – bench coach; Texas: Tony Beasley – 3B coach, Oscar Marin – bullpen coach, Hector Ortiz – 1B coach

 

National League (4):

Cincinnati: JR House – 3B coach

Philadelphia: Dave Lundquist – assistant pitching coach; Pittsburgh: Ray Searage – pitching coach; Washington: Bob Henley – 3B coach

 

MINOR LEAGUES (17)

AAA (5):

International League (2)

Charlotte: (Chicago White Sox): Frank Menechino – hitting coach; Columbus (Cleveland): Tony Mansolino – manager

Pacific Coast League (3):

Fresno (Washington): Brad Holman – pitching coach; New Orleans (Miami): Justin Mashore – hitting coach; Reno (Arizona): Chris Cron – manager

 

AA (3):

Southern League (2):

Biloxi (Milwaukee): Bob Milacki – pitching coach; Jackson (Arizona): Jorge Cortes – assistant coach

Texas League (1):

Frisco (Texas): Jason Hart – hitting coach

 

HIGH A (8):

Carolina League (6):

Down East (Texas): Corey Ragsdale – manager; Steve Mintz – pitching coach; Chase Lambin – hitting coach; Turtle Thomas – assistant coach; Frederick (Baltimore): Justin Lord – pitching coach; Myrtle Beach (Chicago Cubs): Steve Lerud – manager

 

Florida State League (2):

Charlotte (Tampa Bay): Steve Watson – pitching coach; Clearwater (Philadelphia):  Chris Heintz – hitting coach

LOW A (1):

South Atlantic League (1):

Kannapolis (Chicago White Sox) Ryan Newman – manager

 

Series Preview: Hickory Crawdads at Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (70-68 in 2018) at Lakewood BlueClaws (Philadelphia Phillies) (87-51 in 2018)

 

The Hickory Crawdads open the 2019 at First Energy Park for a four-game series.

GAME TIMES: Thursday 6:35 p.m., Friday 7:05 p.m., Saturday 4:05 p.m., Sunday 1:05 p.m.

BROADCASTS: Games are streamed live at milb.tv and on the Lakewood BlueClaws website

 

PROBABLES (Hickory/ Lakewood)

Thursday: RHP Hans Crouse vs. RHP Colton Eastman

Friday: LHP Jake Latz vs. RHP Jack Perkins

Saturday: RHP Jean Casanova vs. LHP Jhordany Mezquita

Sunday: LHP John King vs. RHP Victor Santos

 

Recent Series History:

Lakewood won 7 of 10 from the Crawdads in 2018 with a 4-2 mark at First Energy Field. The South Atlantic League schedule tends to send Hickory to Lakewood rather than the reverse. Hickory will play 7 of 11 in New Jersey this season.

Since 2009, the teams have played 97 games. Sixty-eight of those have been played in Lakewood, where the BlueClaws are 37-31 against the Crawdads. Overall, the BlueClaws are 54-47 against Hickory since 2009, the start of the Rangers-Crawdads affiliation.

 

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

RHP Hans Crouse No.1

OF JP Martinez No. 2

SS Chris Seise No. 12

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

 

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

3B Alex Bohn No. 1

SS Luis Garcia No. 4

RHP Francisco Morales No. 8

C Rafael Marchan No. 14

RHP Dominic Pipkin No. 23

RHP Kevin Gowdy No. 24

LHP Jhordany Mezquita No. 26

 

NOTES; Hickory opens on the road for the fourth straight season. The last home opener was in 2015, a 5-2 win over Hagerstown (Md.) … The Crawdads opened the previous two seasons at Greensboro, losing 6-1 in 2018 and 14-4 in 2017. The Crawdads last opening day win was in 2016 when they beat Kannapolis 5-1… This is the first time since 2010 Hickory opened a season outside of the state of North Carolina. The Crawdads opened that year at Hagerstown and lost a 1-0 game to the Suns.