Results tagged ‘ Blake Tiberi ’

Scoreless third changes Crawdads fortunes: Columbia wins 8-3

The Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies rallied back from an early deficit and salvaged the final game of a three-game series with an 8-3 win Friday night over the Hickory Crawdads at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Fireflies (18-16) snapped a three-game losing streak and now return home to face Delmarva (Md.) in a four-game series. Meanwhile, the Crawdads (11-20) host Rome (Ga.) for four games starting Saturday night.

The Crawdads put up single runs in the first and second to build a 2-0 lead. Tyreque Reed singled in Miguel Aparicio and Sam Huff popped his second home run in as many games.

However, Columbia put together four straight hits to start the fourth. Scott Manea’s infield hit broke up a fledgling no-hit bid by A.J. Alexy. Gio Alfonzo followed that with a single and both runners scored on Hansel Moreno’s triple into the corner. Raphael Gladu singled in Moreno.

Matt Winaker blasted his second home run of the season in the first before Austin O’Banion got the run back by tripling in Reed to make it 4-3 Columbia.

Hickory missed a chance at a double play and that contributed to a two-run seventh. Quinn Brodey singled and then Jeremy Vasquez hit a grounder to Huff at first. Huff quickly fed a throw to Cristian Inoa who relayed the throw to the pitcher Joe Kuzia covering at first. Kuzia caught the ball but he was unable to find the bag behind him with his foot. Winaker walked before Rigoberto Terrazas and Manea each singled with Manea’s hit scoring Vasquez. A wild pitch scored Winaker and the Fireflies led 6-3.

Columbia added the final two runs on Brodey’s run-scoring double and Vasquez’s single.

 

The game’s turning point:

I didn’t get to see the dominant performance of Alexy at West Virginia last Friday, but if it was anything like the first inning on Friday, it must have been special. Alexy overmatched the Fireflies in the first, needing 11 pitches to get through the inning. The big right-hander threw all fastballs in the 93-95 mph range before he capped the first with a high-heat 96 that Brodey couldn’t catch up to.

The second inning gave clues as to the direction the remainder of Alexy’s start would go. A first-pitch curveball missed and then another one hit Vasquez. The fastball settled into the 92-93 range and began to miss spots. Winaker flew out to deep center and Terrazas drove a pitch to deep left. Both were outs, but both were squared up well. Manea was hit by a curveball – the umpire ruled he didn’t attempt to get out of the way – and then was walked on four straight. Alexy rebounded to paint the corner with a fastball to fan Alfonzo.

Though the Fireflies didn’t score, the third inning had much to do to foul up Alexy’s night. With one out, Gladu and Blake Tiberi both walked, as Alexy started to bring in the changeup for the second time through the order. Brodey joined them after he was hit by a pitch. Alexy completed the 28-pitch inning by striking out Vasquez and then Brodey. The Brodey strikeout seemed to charge the Crawdads battery as Yohel Pozo gave an emphatic fist pump when he left his crouch and ran to the dugout, while Alexy strutted resolutely from the mound.

Up to that point, the Crawdads hitters had the chance to feast on the offerings of Joe Cavallaro. Using a three-quarter delivery that occasionally dropped lower, the right-hander had trouble getting his slider to bite and the flat, middle-in changeups he served to Reed and Huff were punished accordingly. Combine that with an 87-88 fastball that Cavallaro had trouble spotting. With the Crawdads sending up hot hitters in the bottom of the third, the game seemed ready for the taking facing an ineffective pitcher that had thrown 41 pitches already. A long inning like the previous two would give Alexy a chance to regroup and give him a bigger cushion with which to work.

Reed grounded to short on three pitches. O’Banion struck out on four. Pozo lined to right on the first. Eight pitches total and a wearied Alexy was back to the mound.

The fourth started well as Alexy fanned Terrazas. However, an 0-2 breaking ball was beaten into the ground. Third baseman Ryan Dorow valiantly tried to make the run-and-grab throw to first but bounced it on what was ruled Columbia’s first hit of the game. The small leak in the dam became a steady flow as Alfonzo, Moreno and Gladu each squared up Alexy’s pitches that turned into three runs.

The Fireflies and Crawdads traded runs, but Columbia never trailed again and put the game on ice with the runs in the seventh and eighth.

Series Preview: Columbia (S.C.) at Hickory May 4-7

Columbia Fireflies (New York Mets) (17-14, 3rd SAL South), at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (9-19, 7th SAL North)

 

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Wednesday 6:00 p.m., Thursday 7:00 p.m., Friday 7:00 p.m.

 

Promotions:

Wednesday –Wine Wednesday

Thursday – Thirsty Thursday; Dunder-Mifflin Night

Friday – Craw-moms Weekend; Hickory vs. Cancer Night; Boy Scout Night; Post-game Fireworks

 

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

WHERE: 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 (Columbia/ Hickory):

Wednesday: RHP Marcel Renteria vs. RHP Tyree Thompson

Thursday: RHP Tony Dibrell vs. Alex Eubanks

Friday: RHP Joe Cavallaro vs. RHP AJ Alexy

 

Recent Series History:

The Crawdads and Fireflies split a four-game series at Columbia in April. The Fireflies moved from Savannah, Ga. to Columbia at the start of the 2016 season. Since then, the Crawdads are 13-8 overall but just 5-5 at L.P. Frans. Hickory is 41-33 overall, 20-16 at home since 2009, which is the start of the Crawdads/ Rangers affiliation.

 

About the Crawdads:

The Crawdads limp home after finishing a rain-shortened, 1-5 road trip with two walk-off losses at West Virginia on Monday… A revamped roster will greet fans at L.P. Frans Stadium at the start of the homestand. Outfielder Eric Jenkins and catcher Melvin Novoa were both promoted to high-A Down East and shortstop Yonny Hernandez is now with AA Frisco (Tex.). Center fielder Pedro Gonzalez is on the disabled list with an undisclosed injury. Coming to the Crawdads are outfielders Bubba Thompson (extended spring) and Austin O’Banion (Frisco), infielder Cristian Inoa (Frisco) and first baseman Tyreque Reed (extended spring)… What had been a strong suit prior to the series at West Virginia stumbled over the weekend. After entering the series with the fewest errors in the SAL, Hickory committed six errors in three games… The pitching staff continues to struggle with walks. Though they have given up the fourth fewest hits in the SAL, the Crawdads are 11th in ERA on the backs of the second most walks allowed in the league.

 

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

CF Bubba Thompson (No. 6) 2017 stats at AZL Rangers: 30 games, .257/.317/.434, 7 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 5 SB, 5 CS. First-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of McGill-Toolen High, Mobile, AL.

RHP AJ Alexy (No. 17): 2018 stats: 5 games (4 starts), 20 IP, 19 H, 16 R (15 ER), 2 HR, 2 HB, 15 BB, 25 K, 6.75 ERA, .257 OBA, 1.70 WHIP. Last start 5/4 at West Virginia: 6 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 12 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: 5th walks allowed.

RF Miguel Aparicio (No. 18): 2018 stats: .216/.260/.340, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 16 K. Last series vs. West Virginia: 1-for-12, 1 HR, 1 K. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2015. Native of San Carlos, Venezuela.

RHP Alex Speas (No. 23): 2018 stats: 10 games, 14 IP, 11 H, 7 R (5 ER), 1 HR, 13 BB, 25 K, 3.21 ERA, .208 OBA 1.71 WHIP. Second-round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of McEachern HS (Powder Springs, GA). SAL Top-10 Rankings: 2nd Ks-per-9 innings among relievers (16.07).

C-1B Sam Huff (No. 26): 2018 stats: .215/.279/.354, 5 2B, 2 HR, 5 BB, 28 K. Last series at West Virginia: 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K. Seventh round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia HS (Phoenix, Ariz.).

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

RHP Tyree Thompson: 2018 stats: 5 games (4 starts) 21.1 IP, 22 H, 16 R (13 ER), 2 HR, 2 HB, 4 BB, 9 K, 5.48 ERA, .265 OBA, 1.22 WHIP. Last start at Kannapolis 5/2: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 HB, 2 BB, 2 K. Twenty-sixth round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Edna Karr HS, New Orleans.

RHP Alex Eubanks: 2018 stats: 5 games (5 starts) 21.2 IP, 34 H, 23 R (23 ER), 6 HR, 5 BB, 28 K, 9.55 ERA, .358 OBA, 1.80 WHIP. Last start 5/3 at Kannapolis: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R (7 ER), 2 HR, 1 BB, 3 K. Fourteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Clemson Univ. SAL top-10 rankings: T-2nd earned runs allowed, T-2nd home runs allowed, T-5th runs allowed.

1B Tyreque Reed: 2017 stats at AZL Rangers: 35 games, .350/.455/.617, 13 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 22 BB, 26 K. Eighth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Itawamba Community College in Mississippi. Attended Houlka (MS) HS. Named to Arizona Summer League All-star team in 2017.

IF Cristian Inoa: 2018 stats combined at AA Frisco and AAA Round Rock (Tex.): 5 games, .083/.214/.083, 2 BB, 3 K. Played mostly at SS last season at short-season Spokane. Signed with the Rangers in 2016 as an international free agent. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R.

OF Austin O’Banion: 2018 stats at AA Frisco: 4 games, .188/.235/.188, 1 BB, 7 K. Played mostly in LF at short-season Spokane in 2017. Thirty-seventh round pick by the Rangers in 2016 out of Cal State-Fullerton.

 

About the Fireflies:

Managed by Pedro Lopez in his first season at the helm of the team… Went 5-2 during their homestand over the past week including a 3-1 series win over Lakewood (N.J.). The Fireflies are off to a hot start at the plate in May. Currently, their .278 avg. is second in the SAL for the month and they scored six or more runs in four of the seven games at home. However, the road has been tough for Columbia as it has posted a .240/.367/. 325 slash line away from home. Overall, they are third in the SAL in batting avg. (.257) and second in OBP (.349). It is a patient team as the Fireflies lead the SAL in walks with players occupying the first, second and fifth spots individually. Columbia is second in the league in runs scored, third in hits and total bases…  On the mound, it’s a group that throws a lot of pitches. Columbia leads the SAL in both strikeouts and walks allowed.

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

LHP David Peterson (No. 2): 2018 stats: 3 games (3 starts) 23.2 IP, 20 H, 8 R (6 ER) 1 HB, 8 BB, 121 K, 2.28 ERA, .227 OBA, 1.18 WHIP. Last start 5/7 vs. Lexington Ky.: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. Pitched for US National team in 2016. First-round draft pick by the Mets in 2017 out of the University of Oregon. Attended Regis Jesuit HS in Aurora, Colorado. Native of Denver.

LHP Anthony Kay (No. 14): 2018 stats: 5 games (5 starts) 26.1 IP, 21 H, 12 R (10 ER), 9 BB, 24 K, 3.42 ERA, .221 OBA, 1.14 WHIP. Last start 5/5 vs. Lakewood (N.J.): 6.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 HR, 1 HB, 2 BB, 6 K. First-round pick of the Mets in 2016 out of the University of Connecticut. Native of Stony Brook, N.Y. Made pro debut this spring after recovering from “Tommy John” surgery.

C Ali Sanchez (No. 27): 2018 stats: .220/.298/.280, 3 2B, 6 BB, 9 K. Last series vs. Lakewood: 3-for-12, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K. Signed by the Mets in 2015 as an international free agent. Native of Carora, Venezuela.

CF Quinn Brodey (No. 28): 2018 stats: .231/.305/.453, 5 3B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 12 BB, 42 K, 3 SB. Last series vs. Lakewood: 4-for-17, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 K. Third-round pick by the Mets in 2017 out of Stanford Univ. Native of Glendale, Calif. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 2nd RBI, 2nd strikeouts, T-5th triples, T-5th home runs, 8th total bases.

 

Others to watch-Columbia

RHP Marcel Renteria: 2018 stats: 4 games (4 starts), 23.1 IP, 24 H, 11 R (10 ER), 1 HR, 2 HB, 6 BB, 22 K, 3.86 ERA, .273 OBA, 1.29 WHIP. Last start 5/2 vs. Lexington (Ky.): 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Sixth-round pick of the Mets in 2017 out of New Mexico State. Played at Pima CC (Tucson, AZ) and high school ball in his native Nogales (AZ).

RHP Tony Dibrell: 2018 stats: 5 games (5 starts), 25.2 IP, 22 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 2 HR, 1 HB, 15 BB, 37 K, 4.91 ERA, .232 OBA, 1.44 WHIP. Last start 5/3 vs. Lexington: 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 4 BB, 6 K. Fourth-round pick by the Mets in 2017 out Kennesaw (Ga.) State. Attended Chattahoochee HS, Alpharetta, Ga.

RHP Joe Cavallaro: 2018 stats: 5 games (4 starts), 28 IP, 19 H, 11 R (6 ER), 3 HR, 20 RBI, 2 HB, 9 BB, 28 K, 1.93 ERA, .196 OBA, 1.00 WHIP. Last outing 5/4 vs. Lakewood: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K. Twenty-fourth round pick by the Mets in 2017 out of the Univ. of South Florida. Attended Sarasota HS.

RHP Trey Cobb: 2018 stats: 10 games: 11 IP, 12 H, 4 R (2 ER), 2 HR, 2 BB, 1 BB, 16 K, 1.64 ERA, .273 OBA, 1.18 WHIP. Eighth-round pick by the Mets in 2017 out of Oklahoma State. Attended Broken Arrow HS (Okla.). SAL Top-10 rankings: T-4th saves (4).

1B Jeremy Vasquez: 2018 stats: .343/.457/.559, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 23 BB, 22 K. Last series vs. Lakewood: 7-for-17, 2B, HR, 4 R, RBI, 1 BB, 3 K. Twenty-eighth round pick of the Mets in 2017 out of Nova Southeastern Univ. (Fla.) Played at Univ. of Florida as a freshman and sophomore. Attended Martin Co. HS and a native of Palm City, Fla. SAL Top-10 rankings: 1st OPS (1.016), 1st walks, 2nd batting avg., T-2nd doubles, T-3rd hits, 4th slugging pct., T-4th total bases, lT-10th RBI,

2B Blake Tiberi: 2018 stats: .309/.433/.402, 6 2B, 1 HR, 20 R, 9 RBI, 21 BB, 25 K. Last series vs. Lakewood: 7-for-15, 2B, 3 R, RBI, 3 BB, 4 K. Third-round pick of the Mets in 2016 out of the Univ. of Louisville. Attended Holy Cross HS in Covington, KY. SAL Top-10 rankings: 2nd walks, 4th OBP, T-8th runs, 10th batting avg.

Series Preview: Columbia (S.C.) at Hickory April 27-30

Columbia Fireflies (New York Mets) (12-9, 3rd SAL Southern Division) at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (6-14, 7th SAL Northern)

The Hickory Crawdads continue a weeklong homestand with a four-game series against the Columbia Fireflies at L.P. Frans Stadium in South Atlantic League action.

 

If you plan to go:

GAME TIMES: Thursday-Friday at 7:00 p.m., Saturday at 6:00 p.m., Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

 

Promotions: Thursday – “Thirsty Thursday”, NFL Draft Party

Friday – Post-game fireworks, Dynamic Duo Night

Saturday – Ladies Night, featuring Luke Pell from The Bachelorette, Replica Jersey giveaway to first 1,000 through the gate.

Sunday – Church Bulletin Sunday (Bring church bulletin for $6 ticket. The Crawdads will donate $4 back to respective church.)

 

TICKETS: $9 dollars for regular seats, $14 for VIP section. Games Thursday through Saturday are sold out.

 

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. 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 (Columbia / Hickory):

Thursday: RHP Colin Holderman vs. RHP Michael Matuella

Friday: LHP Blake Taylor vs. RHP Edgar Arredondo

Saturday: RHP Jordan Humphries vs. RHP Argenis Rodriguez

Sunday: RHP Gabriel Llanes vs Demarcus Evans

 

Recent Series History:

The Crawdads took two of three at Columbia during the opening week of the season. In the only series played last year, the Fireflies held a 2-1 advantage.

 

About the Crawdads:

The Crawdads are struggling to find any sort of groove to kickstart their season and they hope the Fireflies will provide that start. Hickory’s only series win in 2017 was at Columbia April 10-12. Since then, the Crawdads are 3-10. Overall, the Crawdads have lost four straight after a three-game sweep by Rome (Ga.) this week. At home, the Crawdads are 2-8 and have scored a total of 22 runs … At the plate, the Crawdads lineup continues to be all-or-nothing. They are tied for the SAL-lead with 19 homers and have the most Ks in the league. They are third in slugging (.385), but 11th in batting (.230) … A good series vs. Rome brought the Crawdads team ERA below five, but the 4.91 ERA is still last in the league. The team has surrendered the most hits, runs, earned runs, the second most walks and the team WHIP of 1.61 is easily the worst in the SAL. However, the Crawdads allowed just nine runs in three games against the first-place Braves and have shown signs of progress in the starting rotation as of late.

 

Prospects to watch- Hickory:

CF Leody Taveras (No. 1 MLB.com and Baseball America, No. 51 MLB.com top-100 prospects): Signed as international free agent 2015 out of Tenares, Dominican Republic. Went 0-5 for to close out the Rome series, but did have a pair of walks in Wednesday’s game. Continues to show a discerning eye at the plate for his age (18) with nine walks. Has struck out 22.4 percent of the time (20 Ks in 89 plate appearances), which is not out of the norm at this level for a player so young. Shows good speed out of the box and covering ground in center, but has been timid to use it on the bases. Has only two steals (both on 4/22) in five attempts.

SS Anderson Tejeda (No. 7 MLB.com, No. 16 Baseball America). Signed as an international free agent in 2015 out of Bani, D.R. Has a higher walk ratio than Taveras (14.3% to 10.1), but is striking out a ton. His 27 Ks is one behind a trio of leaders in the stat and is at an unsustainable ratio of 43%. Thus far, Tejeda has struck out at least once in all 15 games in which he has played. Defensively, Tejeda has rebounded from a slow start. Committed two errors in the first game of the season and just two more since.

OF Eric Jenkins (No. 14 MLB.com, No.26 Baseball America). Second-round pick in 2015 out of West Columbus High (Cerro Gordo, N.C.).  Made his first appearance after coming to Hickory this week from extended-spring training. Has a double and two walks over seven plate appearances. Jenkins will have to cut down on the Ks after piling up 154 in 2016. An elite base stealer, Jenkins was third in all the minors with 51 last year. Took in several deep counts during the Rome series, reaching twice after being down 0-2.

OF Yanio Perez (No. 15 MLB.com, 27 Baseball America): Signed as an international free agent out of Havana, Cuba. In the midst of a mini four-game hitting streak (6-for-14, with 2 walks), Perez collected his second homer of the season on Tuesday when he drove a ball in on the hands out to right field. Tends to collect strikeouts in bunches. Of the 19 games he has played, Perez has six multi-strikeout games and 10 other games with none.

2B Yeyson Yrizarri (No. 17 MLB.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of the D.R. After a 1-for-39 funk (.065) Yrizarri has begun to show signs of life at the plate. He has reached base in five of the last seven games and is 8-for-28 in those games. Is battling to lay off breaking balls low and away. Went three straight games without a whiff, but K’d twice in Wednesday’s game.

RHP Michael Matuella (No. 19 Baseball America, No. 20 MLB.com). Third-round pick in 2015 out of Duke Univ. Was on the path of becoming a first-overall pick in 2015 before back troubles and then Tommy John surgery derailed that promise. He pitched in only three injuries last summer at short-season Spokane before further elbow tenderness caused the Rangers to shut him down. Will be extremely limited in order for him to gain his stamina and to simply get him through low-A ball healthy.

RF Jose Almonte (No. 29 MLB.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of Santo Domingo, D.R. After just nine walks all last season, Almonte has five already in 15 games. Was 1-for-13 before sitting out of Wednesday’s contest.

RHP Tyler Ferguson (No. 30 Baseball America): Sixth-round pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt. Of his four relief outings so far, three of those were scoreless for the 6-4 right hander. His one blowup outing (5 ER over 1.2 IP) has his 2017 ERA at 7.50 with his OBA at .304. Control will be his make or break. Has walked just three of 31 hitters, but has hit four more. Conversely, he has fanned 10 to date over six innings.

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

3B Ti’Quan Forbes: Second-round pick 2014 out of Columbia (MS) High. Might be due for a day off after he went 0-for-10 during the Rome series with six Ks. Has started to chase breaking balls of the plate. He is still tied for first with five homers, but has not gone deep since April 17.

SP Matt Ball: Obtained in a trade with the White Sox in 2016. Posted a 1.60 ERA in 50.2 IP with Hickory after the trade by the Rangers. Throws a heavy sinker that gets ground balls and thus, relies on his defense to make plays. Had nearly two-and-a-half groundball outs for every fly out with Hickory.

 

 

About the Fireflies:

Managed by Jose Leger in his third season (163-135) with the Mets Low-A affiliate. (The Fireflies were based at Savannah, Ga. prior to 2016… Columbia took two of three against Asheville, but were 3-4 overall during the just concluded homestand… Offense has been the struggle for the Fireflies as they were shut out three times during the last homestand and scored a total of 15 runs. Columbia’s .221 batting average is 13th in the 14-team league. The Fireflies provide little power with just six homers as a team and are tied for the fewest extra-base hits in the SAL. However, it is a patient team. Their 86 walks are the most in the SAL and they often use those to manufacture runs. Columbia is third in steals and sixth in runs scored… The Fireflies do bring an impressive group of arms to Hickory. Six of the 12 wins are by shutouts and overall, the 2.56 ERA is third in the SAL. They have surrendered the fewest walks and lead the SAL with a 1.03 WHIP. Only five homers have been hit vs. Fireflies pitching. The pitching staff is backed by a league-best defensive unit that has given up just 15 errors and has thrown out 45.8 percent of base stealers, second in the SAL.

 

Prospects to watch –Columbia:

CF Desmond Lindsey (No. 4 Baseball America, No. 5 MLB.com). Second-round pick 2015 out of Out-of-Door Academy, Sarasota, FL. Struggled with hamstring issues, missing much of his high school senior season. He again suffered the same injury and was limited to 37 games during the 2016 season at two short-season stops. Currently at .143/.286/.186. Seeing a lot of pitches, but it could be perhaps that he’s not seeing the ball with discernment. Has 23 Ks – at least one in 16 of the 17 games he’s played in – and 11 BBs in 70 plate appearances.

2B/SS Luis Carpio (No. 15 MLB.com, 20 Baseball America) Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of Caracas, Venezuela. Missed much of 2016 after surgery for a torn labrum. Came back late in the 2016 season, but was exclusively a DH. Has played mostly 2B this season. In the midst of a 2-for-25 skid with six Ks, he was 5-for-9 against the Crawdads in early April with two steals.

C Ali Sanchez (No. 20 MLB.com, 27 Baseball America) Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of Carora, Venezuela. At this point, Sanchez is defensively ahead of the offensive side of his game. Is currently third in the SAL in nabbing base stealers. Entered this season with 24 passed balls in just 111 games, but has just one so far this year and has yet to commit an error. At the plate, however, he is 6-for-47 with just two walks.

3B/ SS Milton Ramos (No. 22 MLB.com) Third-round pick in 2014 out of Heritage High School (Plantation, FL). In his second season with the Fireflies, he has found full-season leagues tough to solve. After posting a .220/.292/.273 slash in 2016, it’s even worse this season as he is at .179/.233/.179 at the start of this season (10-for-56). Ramos did have a four-game hitting streak from April 18-21, but that has fizzled to an 0-for-10 his last three games. He does put the ball in play (12 Ks in 60 PAs), but with little authority. Defensively, he’s yet to commit an error.

3B Blake Tiberi (No. 29 MLB.com) Third-round pick in 2016 out of Louisville. Missed two weeks with an undisclosed injury, returning 4/24/ Currently 3-for-18 with a double.

 

 

Others to watch – Columbia:

LF Tim Tebow: Signed as a free agent in 2016 out of the SEC Network. Went 9-for-20 during the recent homestand with three doubles and a triple – his total for the season. Had two homers in his first three games, but has not homered since. Hickory held him to 1-for-10 with four Ks and a double play at Columbia

2B/SS Michael Paez: 4th round pick out of Coastal Carolina. Played for the Chanticleers during the team’s run to the 2016 College World Series title. Has two of the team’s six homers this season, including a solo shot during Wednesday’s win.

RHP Colin Holderman: 9th round pick out of Heartland CC (IL). Threw six shutout innings with 11 Ks against Hickory on April 10. Has lasted just seven total innings over his last two starts with four total whiffs.

RHP Jordan Humphries: 18th round pick out of Crystal River High (FL). Currently 2nd in the SAL with 34 Ks, 4th in WHIP (0.71), and 10th in the SAL with a 1.42 ERA. Fanned 12 over 6.2 innings in his last start on Monday.

 

Notes: The Crawdads are assured its worst April since before 2002. As a Rangers affiliate, the worst April start was a 11-12 mark in 2014. They went 10-11 in 2009. As a Pirates affiliate, the worst mark was a 10-13 record in 2006… Hickory is also on pace to break its own SAL record for strikeouts in a season, which was set by the 2013 squad with 1,403.  The current pace would take them to 1,421… RHP Emerson Martinez was promoted to High-A Down East. OF Travis Bollin and IF Brallan Perez were both sent to Rangers extended spring… Top-30 prospect RHP Harol Gonzalez was placed on the disabled list by the Fireflies.

Series Preview: Hickory at Columbia April 10-12

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (1-3) at Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies (New York Mets) (4-0)

The Hickory Crawdads complete the second leg of their two-city, weeklong road trip at Columbia’s Spirit Communication Park to open the 2017 South Atlantic League season.

 

If you plan to go:

GAME TIMES: Games Monday through Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.

 

BROADCAST: MILBtv.com or through Gameday Audio links on milb.com.

 

TICKETS: Ticket prices range from $5 for an outfield berm seat to $14 for a “Scout Seat”.

 

 

Where is it?:

From Hickory, take Hwy 321 South to Gastonia, then I-85 North towards Charlotte. Take exit 30 to the I-485 outer loop, then I-77 South toward Columbia. Take I-77 to 277 South to Columbia. Take the Farrow Road/SC-555 exit. Turn left onto Farrow Road/SC-555. Continue onto Colonial Drive. Turn left onto Gregg Street. Turn right onto Freed Street. The ballpark is located on the left side of the street.

 

PARKING: Parking in the general lots is $3 and located along Colonial Dr. as well as Gregg St. Take the complimentary trolley shuttle to the stadium. ADA permit parking is available by the stadium property.

 

CONCESSIONS: Spirit Communications Park has four permanent stands and 25 specialty carts. The team’s website does not list food offerings.

 

 

Probables (Hickory/ Columbia):

Monday: RHP Argenis Rodriguez vs. RHP Colin Holderman

 

Tuesday RHP Tyler Phillips or RHP Demarcus Evans vs. LHP Blake Taylor

 

Wednesday: RHP Jonathan Hernandez vs. RHP Harol Gonzalez

 

Recent Series History:

The Fireflies took two of three at Hickory’s L.P. Frans Stadium during the only series the teams played in 2016. This is the first trip by the Crawdads to Spirit Communication Park, which opened last year. The Columbia franchise was previously stationed in Savannah, Ga. and known as the Sand Gnats. This will be Hickory’s first trip to the Mets low-A affiliate since 2014. Since 2009, the first year of the Crawdads-Rangers affiliation, the Sand Gnats/ Fireflies hold a 14-13 lead in games played at their home ballparks. Overall, Hickory holds a 29-27 advantage during the same time period.

 

About the Crawdads:

Hickory is coming off a 1-3 series loss at Greensboro in which the pitching staff struggled with control. The crew walked 12 in an opening-night loss to the Grasshoppers, eight the second night, and finished with 30 in the series. The Crawdads lead the South Atlantic League with ten HRs.

 

Prospects to watch- Hickory:

CF Leody Taveras (No. 1 MLB.com and Baseball America): Had hits in all four games (6-for-16) with 5 runs scored and two homers at Greensboro. He had one dinger all last season.

 

SS Anderson Tejeda (No. 8 MLB.com, 16 Baseball America): Hit a mammoth homer (441’) opening night, but went 3-for-16 in the series at Greensboro with 7 Ks. Showed encouraging signs of discipline, as he worked four walks in four games. He had 18 in 66 games last year.

 

OF Yanio Perez (No. 15 MLB.com, 27 Baseball America) Had a four-hit game at Greensboro on Saturday and went 6-for-17 in the series. Started at 1B opening night, then shifted to right the remainder of the series.

 

RHP Jonathan Hernandez (No. 17 Baseball America, 18 MLB.com): Hernandez struggled in his first start on opening night, as he allowed nine of 16 batters to reach base. Control was his downfall as he threw just 33 strikes out of 65 pitches. He can rack up strikeouts at times (three in two innings last Thursday), but Hernandez relies on a sinker to get groundballs.

 

2B Yeyson Yrizarri (No. 17 MLB.com): Singled opening night, had a homer the next game, then suffered through an 0-for-6 on Saturday. Just three Ks over 14 PAs, so he is making contact. Has handled the move to second base well in the early going, turning a couple of double plays and making plays with ease.

 

RF Jose Almonte (No. 29 MLB.com): Opened the season in RF, then shifted to LF the next two games. Had a 1-for-11 weekend and sat out Sunday’s game.

 

RHP Tyler Ferguson (No. 30 Baseball America): Did not pitch over the weekend. The big righty (6-4, 225) had a dominant tenure with Spokane (1.78 ERA, 46 Ks/ 10 BBs 30.1 IP), then struggled to find his command after he joined Hickory for the final month of 2016 (10 Ks/ 18 BBs 13.1 IP). Brings an overpowering fastball/ slider, but the Vanderbilt product’s goal is simple to start the season: find the plate.

 

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

3B Ti’Quan Forbes: Homered in each of the first three games of the series, Forbes went 6-for-11 over the three games he played before sitting out Sunday’s game.

 

RHP Jake Lemoine: The 2015 fourth-round draftee made his pro debut on Thursday night at Greensboro. Looked rough early, the Univ. of Houston product settled in nicely in his second inning and racked up a pair of Ks, including a 91 mph on the corner for a called third-strike.

 

1B Preston Scott: Reached base in seven of 13 plate appearances over the weekend, including a pair of homers and a double to account for the three hits. The two homers came in Saturday’s game during which he also stole two bases and reached on a hit and a walk.

 

About the Fireflies:

Managed by Jose Leger in his third season with the Mets’ low-A affiliate. The Fireflies are coming off a four-game sweep of the Augusta (Ga.) as they outscored the GreenJackets 36-12. Two of the wins came on shutouts. During the sweep, the team put up a .313/.446/.458 slash and worked a SAL-high 32 walks. They also stole 12 bases, the most in the SAL.

 

Prospects to watch – Columbia:

CF Desmond Lindsey (No. 4 Baseball America, 6 MLB.com). The 2015 second-round pick of the Mets struggled with hamstring issues, missing much of his high school senior season. He again suffered the same injury and was limited to 37 games during the 2016 season at two short-season stops. Showed good plate discipline with 25 walks to 31 Ks in 2016, sporting a .433 OBP. Played 3B in high school, moved to the OF to showcase his speed.

 

2B/SS Luis Carpio (No. 16 MLB.com, 20 Baseball America) Missed much of 2016 after surgery for a torn labrum. Came back late in the 2016 season, but was exclusively a DH. Went 5-for-16 during the opening-season series vs. Augusta

 

C Ali Sanchez (No. 21 MLB.com, 27 Baseball America) At this point, Sanchez is defensively ahead of the offensive side of his game. Has thrown out 92 of 191 base stealers (48%), though he has 24 passed balls in just 111 games. Struggled to a .535 OPS at short-season Brooklyn in 2016, started this season 4-for-12 over three games.

 

RHP Harol Gonzalez (No. 28 Baseball America) Led the New York-Penn League with a 2.01 ERA and 88 Ks over 85 innings. Struggled in his opening-night start vs. Augusta, giving up five runs on six hits while walking and striking out three over 3.2 IP. Leaned heavily on fly ball outs until a huge shift in 2016. Posted GO/AO of 0.79 in 2014 and 0.86 in 2015. Went to 1.58 last year.

 

3B Blake Tiberi (No. 29 MLB.com) Went 3-for-11 over the weekend, shows a patient eye at the plate with 25 walks to just 34 K over 207 ABs. Has not shown much pop for the position, slugging just .319 for his young career.

 

 

Others to watch – Columbia:

LF Tim Tebow: The former Heisman Trophy winner slugged a homer in his first official pro AB on Thursday and added a three-run shot on Sunday. Has just three hits total and struck out five times in 14 PAs.

 

C Anthony Dimino: Played at North Mecklenburg in Charlotte before spending his college career at Belmont Abbey. Went 5-for-6 with a 2B and two walks in the recent series.

 

IF Michael Paez: Played for the Coastal Carolina during the team’s run to the 2016 College World Series title.

 

1B: Dash Winningham: Returned to Columbia for a second season, went 7-for-19 over the weekend.

 

Note of Interest: Hickory last played in Columbia during its 2004 South Atlantic League title run. The Crawdads won games one and two against the Capital City Bombers before completing the sweep at Hickory. Capital City then transferred to Greenville and is now known as the Greenville Drive.