Results tagged ‘ Chuck Moorman ’

Game Story April 7: Hickory 5 Kannapolis 1

(I apologize ahead if I miss anything grammatical, as I am in a hurry. :-))

 

The Hickory Crawdads won the opening South Atlantic League game with a 5-1 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators at Intimidators Stadium Thursday night.

The win was the first managerial win for new skipper Steve Mintz in his first game.

Said Mintz of the win, “That was fun to finally get out here and play a game that really counted and see these guys do the work after all the stuff that they’ve done in spring training to prepare for it.”

After Kannapolis scored an unearned run in the first, Hickory took the lead in the third via a two-run triple by Andy Ibanez, after Eric Jenkins reached safely on an error with two outs in the inning. Ibanez added a fielder’s choice RBI in the fifth before Yeyson Yrizarri tacked on an RBI single.

Hickory’s final run came in the seventh as Chuck Moorman doubled and scored on an Ibanez single.

The Crawdads put up ten hits on offense while the pitching staff combined to shutout Kannapolis over the final eight innings with 13 strikeouts.

 

Sticks:

Andy Ibanez had four hits and four RBI on the night, as he looked the part of schoolroom bully against Kannapolis pitching. After reaching on an infield hit in the first, Ibanez smoked a fastball from Luis Martinez that one-hopped the wall to the right of straight-away center. He went on to single up the middle and line a fourth hit to left.

“He got some good pitches to hit and didn’t miss them. He had a couple of big hits there to give us some runs.

Jose Almonte showed good bat control by slapping an away fastball hard to the hole at second for an infield hit.

Eric Jenkins showed the wheels with a bunt single in the fifth. His speed likely rushed Intimidators 2B Daniel Mendick into an error that wound up leading to a two-run inning that gave Hickory the lead for good.

Arms:

After giving up an unearned run on a freaky play in the first, Brett Martin appeared to pitch a bit angry and K’d the side -2 on fastballs, 1 on a change. From there, Martin had complete control as he allowed four hits, two walks and struck out eight. He introduced more offspeed offerings the second time through the order. Against Zach Fish in the third, Martin got strike one and two on curveballs, then completed the K by getting Fish to swing through a CH. He finished the game with 8 Ks in 4 innings, getting 50 strikes (19 missed bats) out of 73 pitches.

Mintz said that Martin’s experience was the key to keeping things under control after the crazy play in the first. “You grow up each year and you learn more and he showcased that tonight, being able to keep his cool. When he got in trouble there, he went to his offspeed, like he’s supposed to, and slowed the game down properly. It was nice to see.”

Tyler Davis showed a good slider as he threw three scoreless innings. He was especially tough in the sixth after allowing a walk and a double to the wall in left. He then struck out Silverio and Mendick swinging and finished off the inning on a 5-3 grounder.

“Davis pitched out of that second and third with nobody out and saved two big runs right there,” Mintz said. “All they (the Intimidators) needed were two ground balls and they could’ve picked up two easy runs, but he didn’t let them get them.”

Eric Swanson worked out a leadoff walk with two weak popups and an easy fly. (Honestly, I missed much of the 8th inning.)

Jeffrey Springs worked around an E-3 in the ninth with little trouble.

As a whole, the quartet allows six hits, four walks and struck out 13 in the game.

“The starting pitching, like I said, if they can keep us in it,” said Mintz. “Davis came in and gave us three quality innings, Springs finished it up there and Swanson in the middle. That’s what we want, keep us in the game.”

Leather:

Kannapolis got its first run on a bit of a comedy of errors. With Tyler Sullivan at first, Johan Cruz hit a grounder to Dylan Moore at 1B. Moore botched the grounder, but gathered the ball. However, Moore lofted the throw to Brett Martin covering at first. Sullivan circled the bases on the play and came home as Martin was late covering the plate.

The wind played havoc with pop ups in the top of the fourth inning, but Hickory weathered the storm, so to speak. A popup by Louis Silverio started to the left of the mound, but curved back to Frandy De La Rosa well to the right of second. After Daniel Mendick walked, a popup by Grant Massey that carried beyond De La Rosa and into RF. Jose Almonte wound up recording a 9-6 fielder’s choice on the play.

Ti’Quan Forbes came into the season with a bit of a reputation of the game being too fast for him at third. At least on Thursday, those reports appeared off base. Forbes easily made the long throw across the diamond to nab Fish. But the highlight play of the night came in the fifth when Forbes sprinted across toward the mound to make a quick bare-handed snatch of a roller from Johan Cruz and fired a laser to first to get the speedy Cruz.

Bases:

The Crawdads had three baserunners thrown out stealing and should have had a fourth. Andy Ibanez was thrown out in the first with De La Rosa going down in the second and fourth. Ibanez should’ve been caught a second time in the fifth as he went into second standing, but Mendick bobbled the catch at 2B.

Jose Almonte showed good speed as he stole second in the third (at 6-3, 205, he looked like a linebacker running) but nearly got picked off at 3B in the third as he circled too far after Eric Jenkins reached on an error. Almonte further showed good wheels by just missing a second infield hit in the eighth.

Game Story: Lenoir-Rhyne at Hickory April 4

Division II school Lenoir-Rhyne continued a ten-year unbeaten streak in Hickory exhibition games at L.P. Frans Stadium by defeating the Hickory Crawdads 7-5 Monday night.

The Bears, which defeated Hickory 4-3 in last year’s game and tied the 2007 contest, were the aggressors from the start and never trailed in the contest. (The series was not played from 2008 through 2014.)

Colby Dishmond cracked a solo blast in the ninth to break a 4-4 tie. The Bears added a run in the inning after a Dylan Moore error at first and Tripp Hamrick’s grounder accounted for the final run.

“(Dishmond) knocked the fire out of that ball,” said Crawdads manager Steve Mintz of the go-ahead homer.

LRU, which is 26-12 during its South Atlantic Conference season, scored two in the first on a bloop single by Will Thompson. Hickory cut the deficit in half as Andy Ibanez and Yeyson Yrizarri hit back-to-back doubles.

The Bears made it 4-1 in the second. Hamrick scored from second after left fielder LaDarious Clark dropped a slicing liner in left off the bat of Justin Lara. Lara then scored on Chase Hathcock’s single.

Clark earned one of the runs back in the fourth when he tripled in Yrizarri. The Crawdads then tied it in the fifth after Ibanez tripled in Chuck Moorman and Eric Jenkins.

“Our guys played well and gave us a chance to win,” said LRU head coach Tom Fleenor. “I’m proud of our team and hopefully it’s something we can use as a springboard for us for our season.”

Sticks:

Hickory put up ten hits, but six of those came from Ibanez and Yrizarri, both of which sprayed the field with their base-knocks.  Ibanez doubled down the line in left in the first, tripled to the wall in right in the fifth, then returned to double down the line in left in the eighth. “That’s what we expect him to do, hit the ball and drive in runs” said Mintz.

Yrizarri’s three hits went to left, center and right.

Arguably the best at-bat of the night came by Eric Jenkins in the fifth. After swinging through a breaking ball for strike two in the fifth, Jenkins laid off the same pitch two other times and worked a walk. My impression of Jenkins from last year’s cameo appearance at Hickory was that the game could be a bit fast for him at first. However, he’s a quick learner and doesn’t get fooled by the same thing more than once or twice. He does make adjustments on the fly, something that should serve him well as he sees breaking balls away from South Atlantic League pitchers.

Frandy De La Rosa went 0-for-4, but had two hits taken away. He lined hard to shortstop Matthew De La Rosa in the first to strand Yrizarri at third, then lined hard to left in the fourth, but Marcus Shoemaker made a sprawling catch of the liner off the grass.

Arms:

Peter Fairbanks threw what appeared to be a slider with some bite as it whipped away from the right-handed hitters. However, he had trouble commanding the fastball and the Bears hitters took advantage.

Dillon Tate fanned two in the fourth, but hit a batter and walked one. His strikeout of Dishmond came on a changeup that pasted the inside corner for a called-third strike.

Pedro Payano gave up two hits, but got a double play to work out of the inning.

Jonathan Hernandez needed 22 pitches to get through the sixth, throwing just 10 strikes, as he worked out of a bases-loaded jam.

For my eyes, Erik Swanson had the best stuff of the night, as he ran a live fast ball up in the zone that the Bears hitters had problems catching up to. “It looked hard, didn’t it,” said Mintz. “He was out of the zone a lot, but they kept chasing it, so he kept throwing it up there. They kept trying to hit it, but they couldn’t.”

Lefty Wes Benjamin worked around a single for a scoreless eighth inning.

Johan Juan left a fastball up that Dishmond connected for the go-ahead homer.

“To be honest, I just kind of saw a fastball, not necessarily left over the plate, but it was something I could handle,” said Dishmond. “I didn’t really think it was going out, but I thought it was a double, at least. Then I looked up and saw the umpire throwing his hand around.”

Leather:

After the Bears put two on with no outs, third baseman Ti’Quan Forbes began to charge in from third as the Crawdads put on the wheel play to defend an expected sacrifice. Ryan Perkins pulled the back and hit a hot smash that Forbes speared and turned into a 5-4-3 double play.

LaDarious Clark dropped a slicing liner along the line in LF by Tripp Hamrick after a long run. It was ruled an error which scored a run and led to the second of the inning. Dylan Moore’s error in the ninth was a routine grounder to first that short-hopped his glove.

LRU had four steals over the first four innings against catcher Chuck Moorman. Three of the throws were off line and to the right of second. He appeared to catch Hamrick on a throw to second in the second, but was called safe.

Bases:

The Crawdads plan to push the envelope with their speed in 2016, but will need to be mindful of running into outs in close games. Ibanez doubled and was picked off in the eighth. Yrizarri followed the pickoff with a single, but he, too, was picked off. “That eighth inning killed us getting picked off second and getting picked off first,” said manager Steve Mintz. “Those are things we can’t do. We’re forcing these guys to be aggressive on the bases and different things like that, but on situations like that, we gave away two baserunners with a chance to win the game.”

“The pick plays kind of surprised them a little bit,” said LRU manager Tom Fleenor. “I know they don’t do a ton of that, as far as practicing baserunning. They might practice doing it, but they probably don’t practice it a lot doing the bases. They would be to our advantage.”

On a grounder to third in the first inning, Yrizarri made it from second to third after third baseman Hamrick failed to check the runner.

Eduard Pinto held up at first on a bloop single to short right by Forbes and should have been thrown out easily at third, but Hamrick dropped the throw in from right.

Post-Mortem:

Mintz: “All in all, I was happy with it. We’d love to win the game, but with what we’re doing and where we’re at preparing for the season, it was a pretty good deal for us.”

LRU coach Tom Fleenor: “It’s just fun to get out here. I appreciate the Crawdads for letting us do this with them. It’s a great event and hope it’s something we can do. I know we’re not going to win every year and we may not win again for 20 years, but it’s fun coming out here and rubbing elbows with these guys that get paid to play the game. It’s honor to be on the same field with them.”

Dishmond: “Coming out here and playing in a great ballpark like this, it’s not every day you get to play against pro guys. It’s a really good experience for all of us.”

Crawdads B.P. Pictures April 4, 2016

It was “Media Day” here at L.P. Frans Stadium today, or as much as there is media to be had from the Greater-Hickory metro.

I did some interviews and took some shots of the hitters taking B.P. I thought I got everyone, but alas, I missed a few players, or that is, my camera did.

Below is what I did get.

 

Looking at the 2016 Crawdads Roster: Position Players

Today, I take a look at the position players on the roster that will open the 2016 season with the Hickory Crawdads. There are currently 28 players on the roster with Hickory likely to start the season with 13 or 14 pitchers, leaving a bench of just two or three players. So a couple of the players listed below will be deactivated.

 

Unlike the roster of pitchers that I discussed in the previous post, the list of position players are much more in tune with what we are used to seeing on a Crawdads roster over the past seven seasons: A young group of infielders with the occasional stud phenom in the outfield. Sprinkle in a makeshift first baseman and add a couple of college-aged outfielders and you have the prototypical Hickory roster.

 

THE PROSPECTS:

Shortstop Yeyson Yrizarri is the latest in the long line of young Texas Rangers shortstops to receive an aggressive assignment to Hickory at a young age. The 19-year-old Venezuelan native comes advertised with a cannon of an arm, but at 175 lbs on a 6-foot frame, and a developing strike zone, he’ll be a work in progress at the plate.  As is always the case, can he slow the game down enough to showcase his skills in the South Atlantic League.

 

Given his pedigree from his playing days in Cuba, where he won a Golden Glove award at second and played with Team Cuba in the World Baseball Classic as an 18-year-old , I didn’t expect to see Andy Ibanez here with Hickory on a roster that also includes Dylan Moore and Frandy De La Rosa. However, with this being his U.S. pro debut and the uncertainty of the playing situation at High Desert, as well as the adjustment of playing outside the Rangers complex for the first time, it could be that the Rangers wanted a bit more of a stable situation to live a day-to-day existence. At 23, Ibanez will have the opportunity to dominate the South Atlantic League once he settles in. I’m guessing the hope will be that he makes a jump to AA as the season progresses.

 

The Rangers are usually aggressive with assigning their young high-draft picks, but with Josh Morgan at third last year, Ti’Quan Forbes (2nd round 2014) spent last year with Spokane. At 6-3, 188 pounds as a 19-year-old, there is still room to fill out and develop some power. He’s yet to homer as a pro and has just 17 extra-base hits in 107 pro games. Drafted as a shortstop, he has 31 errors in 91 games at third. The ability to slow the game down and to manipulate his 6-foot-3 body will determine whether or not he stays at third, or perhaps moves to the outfield to take advantage of his arm strength.

 

Eric Jenkins, the Rangers second-round pick in 2015, opened eyes in Hickory with his speed after a late-season promotion. He showed quick hands at the plate to go with the speed, and gap-to-gap power, despite a smaller frame. At times, the game at low-A seemed a bit fast for him, but Jenkins appeared to be a quick learner.

Eric Jenkins 2

Eric Jenkins stole 28 of 30 bases in his pro debut in 2015 (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt).

 

RETURNEES:

I was more than a little surprised to see Dylan Moore back to Hickory, after a stellar cameo the final week of the regular season and in the playoffs. However with Travis Demeritte and Michael De Leon moving up to High Desert, and Moore not ready for AA, he is here at Hickory. I’m wondering if Moore gets look-sees all around the infield, including at first-baseman, where there is not really a true first baseman on the roster (both catchers Chuck Moorman and Tyler Sanchez have played first in the past). Moore certainly showed he could handle the bat at this level during the brief time he was here.

Dylan Moore

Dylan Moore hit .583/.615/.750 in the four regular season games he appeared in for Hickory at the end of the 2015 season. (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Eduard Pinto has two batting titles to his credit, so he has the ability to slap the ball around the field. However, with two DL stints last year and a .249/.337/.306 slash in the second half, this season could be more about gaining stamina, as he seemed to wear down. Pinto showed marked progress in seeing the ball at the plate and taking pitches. The hit tool is there, but can his 5-11, 150-pound frame stay on the field for an extended period.

Eduard Pinto showed an improving eye at the plate in 2015 with just 21 Ks and 34 walks. (Tracy Proffitt)

Eduard  Pinto put up a .273/.321/.375 slash in the first half (Photo by Tracy Proffitt)

 

Chuck Moorman and Ricky Valencia both come back as catchers, though I’m guessing that Valencia will resume his role as a pseudo-third catcher while spending time on the inactive or disabled list. Both bring a defense-first mentality to the plate.

Chuck Moorman

Chuck Moorman returns for his second season with the Crawdads. (Tracy Proffitt)

 

NEWCOMERS:

Frandy De La Rosa, who came to the Rangers in an off-season trade with the Cubs, should also see some time at second, after playing 61 games there with short-season Eugene last season… Tyler Sanchez will likely split the catching duties and first base with Moorman…. LeDarious Clark burst onto the pro scene with an 18-game hitting streak at Spokane and is likely the best power threat (27 XBH in 257 ABs). He along with Pinto and Darius Day will likely man corner outfield positions around Jenkins, with the odd man out DH-ing.

 

CATCHERS

CHUCK MOORMAN (B-T: R-R, 5-11, 216)

2015 Pro Season: 32 games at Hickory, Frisco and Round Rock, 7 R, 13 H, 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 30 K, .143/.210/.209.

About Moorman: A native of Lakeside, Calif., Moorman, 22, was the Rangers 17th round pick in 2012 out of El Capitan (Calif.) High. Played mostly as a backup with Hickory in the second half of last season, Moorman made spot appearances at AAA Round Rock (1-for-2 in two games) and AA Frisco (0-3 in 1 game).

 

TYLER SANCHEZ (B-T: R-R, 6-3, 236)

2015 Pro Season: 43 games at Spokane, 24 R, 32 H, 15 2B, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 17 BB, 44 K, .215/.318/.436.

About Sanchez: A native of Point St. Lucie, Fla., Sanchez, 22, was the 17th round pick of the Rangers in 2015 out of St. John’s (N.Y.) Univ. Played one season at Hillsborough (Fla.) CC.

 

RICKY VALENCIA (B-T: R-R, 6-0, 185)

2015 Pro Season: 15 games AZL Rangers, Hickory, High Desert (Calif.), Frisco, 3 R, 6 H, 1 2B, 3 RBI, .146 AVG.

About Valencia: The native of Valencia, Venezuela, Valencia, 23, was signed by the Rangers as an international free agent in 2011. Went 4-for-13 in four games for Hickory in 2015.

 

INFIELDERS

FRANDY DE LA ROSA (B-T: S-R, 6-0, 170)

2015 Pro Season: 62 games at Eugene (Ore.), 32 R, 70 H, 20 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 30 RBI, 11 SB, .15 BB, 64 K, .273/.315/ .367.

About De La Rosa: A native of San Isidro, D. R., De La Rosa, 20, came to the Rangers via a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Nov. 20, 2005 in exchange for major league reliever Spencer Patton. Played second base for the Cubs short-season team at Eugene (Ore.) in 2015. Led Northwest League in errors and double plays, was named a post-season league all-star.

 

TI’QUAN FORBES (B-T: R-R, 6-3, 188)

2015 Pro Season: 59 games at Spokane, 25 R, 57 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB, 14 BB, 54 K, .263/.315/ .323.

About Forbes: A native of Columbia, Miss., Forbes, 19, was the Rangers second round pick in 2014 out of Columbia High. Played third base for Spokane in 2015. Named by MLB.com as the Rangers 30th best prospect. As a pitcher and shortstop, led Columbia to Mississippi Class 4A state title. Had originally committed to Ole Miss before signing with Texas.

 

ANDY IBANEZ (B-T: R-R, 5-10, 170)

2015 Pro Season: Did not play.

About Ibanez: A native of Havana, Cuba, Ibanez, 23, signed with the Rangers as a free agent in 2015. Was the youngest member of Cuba’s World Baseball Classic team in 2013. Played with Cuba’s Serie Nacional in 2011 as an 18 year old. Will make his U.S. pro league debut with Hickory as a second baseman. Currently, Baseball America has Ibanez ranked as the Rangers eighth-best prospect, while MLB.com has him at No. 16.

 

DYLAN MOORE (B-T: R-R, 6-0, 197)

2015 Pro Season: 65 games at Spokane and Hickory, 39 R, 65 H, 21 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 15 SB, 32 BB, 65 K, .271/.376/.454

About Moore: A native of Yorba Linda, Calif., Moore, 23, was the Rangers seventh round pick in 2015 out of Central Florida. Named to the Northwest League All-Star Team while at Spokane. Hit .583 in four regular-season games after a late-season promotion to Hickory, then went 6-for-22 in six postseason games with two doubles and three RBI. Was second-team American Athletic Conference as a junior at Central Florida. As a sophomore, led Cypress College to the California Community College state title.

 

YEYSON YRIZARRI: (B-T: R-R, 6-0, 193)

2015 Pro Season: 71 games at Spokane and Round Rock, 29 R, 74 H, 11 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 8 SB, 7 BB, 51 K, .266/.291/.342.

About Yrizarri: A native of Puerto de Ordaz, Venezuela, Yrizarri, 19, was signed by the Rangers as a free agent in 2013. Named to the Northwest League All-Star team while at Spokane in 2015.  Hit in seven of nine games while filling in as the shortstop at AAA Round Rock. MLB.com has him as the Rangers 12th best prospect, while Baseball America lists him at No. 27. He is the nephew of former major league shortstop Deivi Cruz.

 

OUTFIELDERS

JOSE ALMONTE (B-T: R-R, 6-3, 205)

2015 Pro Season: 48 games at DSL Rangers and AZL Rangers, 20 R, 29 H, 7 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB, 14 BB, 45, K, .165/.254/ .216.

About Almonte: A native of Santo Domingo, D.R., Almonte, 19, signed with the Rangers as a free agent in 2013. Played in the Perfect Game World Showcase and named to the Dominican Prospect League All-Star Game in 2013.

 

LEDARIOUS CLARK (B-T: R-R, 5-10, 188)

2015 Pro Season: 65 games at Spokane, 46 R, 71 H, 12 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 24 RBI, 29 SB, 26 BB, 73 K, .276/.354/ .471.

About Clark: A native of Meridian, Miss., Clark, 22, was the Rangers 12th round pick in 2015 out of West Florida. Named to the Northwest League All-Star Team and played in the NWL-Pioneer League All-Star Game, where he went 2-for-5 and finished second in the home run derby. Had an 18-game hit streak while at Spokane. Played football and baseball at SE Lauderdale High, winning a state title in baseball as a senior.

 

DARIUS DAY (B-T: L-L, 5-11, 172)

2015 Pro Season: 54 games at Spokane, 26 R, 49 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 13 SB, 23 BB, 68 K, .261/.349/.330.

About Day: A native of Chicago, Ill., Day, 21, was the 23rd round choice of the Rangers in 2014 out of Simeon Carver Academy (Ill.).  Had committed to Arizona before signing with Texas.

 

ERIC JENKINS (B-T: L-R, 6-1, 170)

2015 Pro Season: 56 games at AZL Rangers and Hickory, 38 R, 51 H, 5 2B, 6 3B, 0 HR, 14 RBI, 28 SB, 24 BB, 61 K, .262/ .348/.349.

About Jenkins: A native of Jacksonville, N.C., Jenkins, 19, was the Rangers second round pick in 2015 out of West Columbus High. The speedster stole 28 bases in 56 games as a pro. Came to Hickory at the end of the 2015 regular season and went 7-for-18 in five games. Named Perfect Game, Second Team All-America as a high school senior, during which he led his school to the East 1A Regional final. Currently named by Baseball America as the Rangers sixth-best prospect, while MLB.com has him at No. 7.

 

EDUARD PINTO (B-T: L-L, 5-11, 150)

2015 Pro Season: 98 games at Hickory, 39 R, 91 H, 12 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 36 RBI, 2 SB, 34 BB, 21 K/ .261/.329/.341.

About Pinto: A native of Valencia, Venezuela, Pinto, 21, signed with the Rangers as a free agent in 2011. Starting at Hickory for a third straight season. Pinto had disabled-list stints in May (wrist tendonitis) and July (left femur strain).  Won the Northwest League batting title (.335) in 2014 and the Dominican Summer League batting title (.396) in 2012.

Series Preview: Hickory at Lakewood July 8-12

The Hickory Crawdads (51-30 overall, 7-6 second half) make their second of three trips this season to FirstEnergy Park to take on the Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws (39-42, 6-7) in a five-game series.

Probables (Hickory/ Lakewood):

Wednesday: Cody Buckel (RH, 0-2, 2.79) vs. Ranfi Casimiro (RH, 3-5, 3.51)

Thursday: Brett Martin (LH, 3-3, 2.73) vs. Austin Davis (LH, 0-2, 2.40)

Friday: Ariel Jurado (RH, 9-0, 2.15) vs. Elniery Garcia (LH, 6-6, 3.08)

Saturday: Collin Wiles (RH, 9-3, 2.29) vs. Shane Watson (RH, 0-1, 2.45)

Sunday: Austin Pettibone (RH, 1-1, 3.94) vs. Will Morris (RH, 0-0, 0.82)

Recent Series History:

Lakewood holds a 5-4 edge in the 2015 season series after taking three of five at Hickory to open the second half. The Crawdads and BlueClaws split the series at Lakewood in early June. Hickory is 32-30 since 2009 – the start of the affiliation with the Texas Rangers – and 18-18 on the road.

Entering the Series – Hickory:

The Crawdads took the first three games of the series at Greensboro before dropping the matinee Tuesday afternoon. Winners of six out of the last nine on the road, Hickory (23-15) currently holds the best road record in the South Atlantic League.

The team pitching ERA of 2.82 is nearly a half-run better than second-place Lakewood (3.29). However the BlueClaws bats battered Hickory pitching for 32 runs on 51 hits in the recent five-game series at L.P. Frans. Overall, the Crawdads pitching staff has surrendered the fewest hits, runs and earned runs in the SAL. They also have the lowest WHIP at 1.16.

At the plate, Hickory has reclaimed the top spot in the SAL with 61 home runs. They are third in slugging pct. (.384).

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

Entering the Series – Lakewood:

After winning three straight at Hickory, the BlueClaws are 3-6. They split a four-game series at home with Hagerstown over the weekend.

Lakewood will put the ball in play as the hitters taken the fewest walks and have the second fewest strikeouts in the SAL. The BlueClaws are second in doubles and third in hits. They are next to last in OBP (.312).

Players to watch- Hickory:

SP Ariel Jurado: Currently pitching in tandem with Yohander Mendez, Jurado is expected to start, but could be switched to the relief role. He is first in the SAL in WHIP (0.96), tied for second in wins (9) and fourth in ERA (2.15). Jurado has thrown only six innings in the second half and will likely be limited to around three innings for now. He currently has 60 Ks to just eight walks in 67 innings.

SP Collin Wiles: Having won six of his last eight starts, two of those have come against the BlueClaws over the last month (12,1 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K). Opposing teams are hitting just .221 against Wiles. He is tied with Jurado with nine wins, is second behind Jurado in WHIP (1.00) and fifth in ERA (2.29)

SP Cody Buckel: After giving up nine baserunners in 2.2 innings against Lakewood on June 26, Buckel rebounded against Greenville with a three-hitter over six innings and struck out six to just one walk. SAL hitters are batting just .182 against Buckel, but he has thrown 16 walks and hit six batters in 29 innings.

SP Austin Pettibone: Has settled into the rotation nicely since gaining a permanent spot in late June. Spun a two-hitter over six innings against Greenville on June 30, then followed that up with a one-hitter through six at Greensboro before falling apart in the seventh for a no-decision.

RP Scott Williams: Has two wins and a save in the second half during which Williams has allowed one base runner (a solo homer) in seven innings and struck out 11. After sporting a 4.26 ERA in May, Williams has allowed two runs overall in 12.2 innings (8 appearances) on six hits and two walks with 17 Ks.

OF Luke Tendler: Arguably the hottest hitter in the lineup in the second half, Tendler is at .333/.375/.489 in the 12 games after the all-star break. He put up six RBI in the weekend series vs. Lakewood to open the second half and has a team-high of nine RBI against the BlueClaws this season. Tendler is tied for sixth in the SAL with 19 doubles.

C Jose Trevino: Has a .301/.322/.460 slash on the road compared to a .216/.252/.399 mark at home. He is off to a cool start in July (3-for-20) with all three hits coming at Greensboro on Saturday. Currently, Trevino is third in the SAL in homers (10) and tied for 11th in RBI (39).

OF Jose Cardona: Of current active players, Cardona has the highest avg. (.290) against the BlueClaws this season. Like Trevino, Cardona is off to a cool start in July and is three for his last 31 – two of the hits homers. His nine homers are tied for fourth in the SAL.

C Chuck Moorman: Joined the Crawdads at Greensboro, the 17th round pick of the Rangers in 2012 played two games at AAA Round Rock this season.

C-1B Jonathan Meyer: Had a six-game hitting streak (8-for-22) and a three-game RBI streak snapped in the shutout loss to Greensboro on Tuesday.

2B Carlos Arroyo: Currently in the midst of a three-game hitting streak (5-for-12) and has at least one hit in 17 of his last 22 games since going hitless in his first two games with the club.

OF Jairo Beras: Has begun to heat up again with hits in five straight games (7-for-18) before an 0-for-3 game on Tuesday. However, he has at least one strike out in seven straight (11 overall).

Players to watch- Lakewood:

SP Elniery Garcia: He has dominated the Crawdads in his two starts, having allowed two runs on nine hits over 13 innings with eight strikeouts. Garcia threw a four-hitter over seven innings against Hickory on June 28. He followed that up with a five-hitter over seven innings against Hagerstown in his last start. Garcia is ninth in the SAL in ERA (3.08) and WHIP (1.20).

SP Shane Watson: The first-round pick of the Phillies (Lakewood (CA) High) in 2012 missed all of 2014 with shoulder surgery and a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse violation to start this season. Watson allowed one run on seven hits over 3.2 innings in his first start for the BlueClaws on Sunday.

SP Will Morris: Former teammate of Evan Van Hoosier at College of Southern Nevada, the 24th-round pick of the Phillies in 2013 made the first start of his career last Monday against Hagerstown (5 IP, 2 H, 2 K). Morris had 51 relief appearances over three seasons before the start.

RP Joey DeNato: Was selected to the SAL All-Star Game. He is eighth in the SAL with 26 appearances.

CF Herlis Rodriguez: Has two SAL hitter-of-the-week awards and is arguably the best hitter on the team after the promotion of key teammates Carlos Tocci and Rhys Hoskins to high-A. Currently seventh in the SAL in slugging (.469) and tenth in RBI (41).

3B Damek Tomscha: Has ripped through Hickory pitching this season at a .370/.419/.556 clip with seven RBI and a homer. He put together four straight multi-hit games at the end of June, but is hitless in his last four games and is 2-for-21in his last six. Tomscha has 20 doubles, tied for third in the SAL.

1B Kyle Martin: The Phillies fourth-round pick out of South Carolina last month made his pro debut at Hickory. He has a .340/.365/.580 slash in 13 games since joining the BlueClaws with six multi-hit games.

LF Cord Sandberg: Was the third-round pick of the Phillies in 2013 out of Manatee (FL) High and is currently the No. 13 prospect in the organization. Sandberg with 10-for-21 against the Crawdads two weeks ago with four extra-base hits, five runs scored and five RBI.

2B Scott Kingery: The Pac-12 player of the year was the Phillies second-round draft pick a month ago. Like Martin, he made his pro debut at Hickory with two hits in the opener. Kingery finished 6-for-21 in the series with six runs scored. So far in July, he is 3-for-24 (.125).