Results tagged ‘ Dylan Moore ’

The Slide: Dylan Moore’s Elusiveness Gains ‘Dads Win

The play-by-play log from Sunday (May 1) afternoon’s 4-3 win by Hickory over Lexington shows the play that turned out to be the winning run occurred in the bottom of the seventh inning. It simply reads:

  • Dylan Moore doubles (3) on a line drive to right fielder Amalani Fukofuka.
  • With Yeyson Yrizarri batting, passed ball by Chase Vallot, Dylan Moore to 3rd.
  • Yeyson Yrizarri out on a sacrifice fly to center fielder Cody Jones. Dylan Moore scores.

However, the ability of Dylan Moore to deftly run the bases doesn’t show up in the box score, but it turned out to be a key part of the game’s decisive play.

The score was tied at 3-3 with one out in the bottom of the seventh when Moore took a fastball away from Legends reliever Yunior Marte and slapped it down the line in right. Running hard out of the box, Moore slide in ahead of the throw to second for a double.

For the reader going forward, it’s important to note just how smart a baserunner Moore has proven to be in his young pro career. So far in 2016, Moore is second in the South Atlantic League with 12 steals (teammate Eric Jenkins has 15) and has yet to be caught stealing. Looking back further in Moore’s pro career, now in its second season, he has been caught once in 28 attempts. That one came when Eugene (OR) left-handed pitcher Kyle Twomey – a teammate of Moore in high school at El Dorado High in Placentia, CA – picked him off first and Moore was caught in a subsequent run down. The pickoff/ caught stealing occurred on July 29, 2015 in his fourth overall pro attempt. Since then, Moore has stolen 24 straight bases in a row.

While not as fast as the seemingly winged-footed Eric Jenkins, Moore picks his spots, as if he’s attempting to avoid a spotlight going from building to building in the dark during a late-night prison escape.Always on his toes, Moore continually looks to move on the slightest mistake.

Dylan Moore at second

Dylan Moore looks to advance to third at a moment’s notice. (Photo by Crystal Lin/ Hickory Crawdads)

He got one as a breaking ball from Marte skipped off the back-handed mitt of Chase Vallot for a passed ball, which allowed Moore to scamper to third.

Dylan Moore slide 1

Crawdads manager Steve Mintz gives instructions from the third-base box to Dylan Moore. (Crystal Moore/ Hickory Crawdads)

 

The batter at the plate was Yeyson Yrizarri, who at 19 has proven to be a tough-hitter with two strikes and that turned out to be key for the play to come. During a weekend in which the Legends challenged him with a steady diet of secondary pitches, Yrizarri got a changeup up and away and lofted it into medium centerfield towards Cody Jones for the second out of the inning.

Ever the riverboat gambler with baserunners in 2016, Mintz sent Moore toward home for the potential go-ahead sacrifice fly. The throw from Jones got to the catcher Vallot ahead of Moore and it seemed the play would be an inning-ending double play, as Vallot caught the ball and turned to tag Moore.

 

Dylan Moore Slide 2

Catcher Chase Vallot with the ball turns to tag Moore (6), while he slides toward the plate (Crystal Lin/ Hickory Crawdads)

Perhaps, Moore sees Vallot juggle the throw, or not. However, in a move that would make a contortionist proud, Moore ducks under the oncoming glove of Vallot and in the same motion reaches his left hand for the plate to score the run, as the ball drops to the ground.

Dylan Moore slide 3

Dylan Moore (6) puts a hand out to catch the plate during the winning play against Lexington (Crystal Lin/ Hickory Crawdads)

Dylan Moore slide 4

(Crystal Lin/ Hickory Crawdads)

While the play seemed mundane in the box score, or even the play-by-play log, it’s one of those plays that had much more going for it that a simply sacrifice fly.

(Note: Thanks to Crystal Lin of the Crawdads for allowing me to use her pics. Masterful job of photography.)

Davis & Company Set Down Legends to Cap 6-1 Homestand

After a see-saw affair through the first four innings, the Hickory Crawdads bullpen restored order and snared the team an 8-4 win over the Lexington Legends in a Monday morning game at L.P. Frans Stadium.

With the win and a split by Hagerstown (Md.) in its home doubleheader with Rome (Ga.), the Crawdads (17-8) now sit one-half game behind the Suns in the South  Atlantic League’s Northern Division. Lexington dropped to 10-15 and is now in sixth in the Southern Division, seven games out of first and one game ahead of last place Rome.

The Crawdads took three of four in the series and wrapped up a 6-1 homestand.

The teams exchanged leads three times before Hickory scored two runs in the fifth to keep the lead for good.

The bullpen was the story of the afternoon for Hickory as a quartet of relievers held the Legends to two hits over the final 4.1 innings and posted six strikeouts.

Tyler Davis picked up for starter Brett Martin with two outs in the fourth and struck out five of the seven hitters he faced. Adam Choplick gave up two hits after two were out, but got out a break when catcher Chuck Moorman threw out Marten Gasparini trying to steal third to end the inning. Johan Juan and Jeffrey Springs each pitched perfect innings to close out the game.

Jose Almonte hit his team-leading fourth homer of the season to tie the game in the fourth. In the fifth, Moorman singled in the go-ahead run and then Tyler Sanchez scored when Lexington botched a run-down play of Moorman between first and second. Yrizarri’s RBI double in the seventh and Dylan Moore’s run-scoring single in the eighth tacked on insurance runs for Hickory.

The Crawdads posted 13 hits on the afternoon and scored in six of eight innings. All nine batters had at least one hit with Eric Jenkins, Moore, Sanchez and Yrizarri collecting two each.

Yrizarri knocked in three runs and finished the series 7-for-12 with 3 runs scored and six RBI.

Yeyson Yrizarri hittinng

Yeyson Yrizarri had two hits and three RBI to finish off a 7-for-12 series against Lexington. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

Bullpen Legen—wait for it – dary in Win:

The outing for Tyler Davis didn’t start well when he entered the game in the fourth. With two outs in the inning and DJ Burt at first, Burt took off for second and reached safely when Davis was called for a balk, as he attempted to turn and throw to second. However, Davis recovered to get Marten Gasparini looking on a changeup to end the inning.

“When Davis came in, he came in and pounded the zone with his fastball and was able to get some breaking balls and changeups in there,” said Crawdads manager Steve Mintz. “He really went after them and I think that gave us some momentum to start scoring a little more then without people all over the bases.”

Tyler Davis

Reliever Tyler Davis struck out five of seven hitters to get the win (2-0) for Hickory on Monday (photo by Tracy Proffitt)

 

The right-handed Davis – the Texas Rangers 23rd round pick in 2015 out of Washington – pounded the arm-side corner with an 89-91 mph fastball. But it was his ability to change speeds along that corner which that kept the Legends hitters off stride. In the fifth, Chase Vallot spoiled a fastball on the corner and then swung through a change in the same spot. Amalani Fukofuka was the one batter that seemed to solve Davis through a nine-pitch at-bat before whiffing on a slider off the plate to end the inning.

“I have to give Chuck (Moorman) a lot of credit,” said Davis. “He had a good plan behind the dish all day today. I was just pounding the strike zone with fastballs early and getting ahead of batters. Obviously, when you’re ahead of batters, it makes everything a lot easier. You can do a lot more with the at-bat; you can do a lot more with what you can throw. You’re basically in the driver’s seat.”

In the sixth Davis got Ben Johnson to swing through a slider off the plate before blowing an 89 mile an hour fastball by him. He used a similar plan to Xavier Hernandez, getting the first two strikes on off-speed pitches before painting the corner on a fastball to get him looking.

“I’m not an overpowering pitcher and I know that,” Davis said. “I really try to focus on keeping the ball down and getting ahead of batters and then mixing it up, getting them off balance a lot and keeping them off balance constantly with off-speed stuff and with fastballs as well. Being able to do that is huge and makes life a lot easier for me and the catcher and the coaches.”

Six-foot-eight lefty Adam Choplick used a 94 mph fastball and a biting curve to handle Lexington in the seventh. He left a pair of heaters over the plate that were struck into the outfield.  Overall, a good outing that was helped along when Gasparini was thrown out stealing third.

Johan Juan had little trouble in the eighth, sporting fastballs in the 92-94 range. Jeffrey Springs closed out the ninth on just six pitches.

A comedy of errors:

Whether it was the 10:30 a.m. start, or getaway day prior to an off-day for both teams, fundamental plays were difficult to come by.

In the first, the Crawdads had a chance to get out of the inning unscathed for starter Brett Martin. With runners at first and second, the slow-footed Samir Duenez hit what looked to be a routine double play ball to Frandy De La Rosa at second. However, he and Yrizarri and short were slow in getting the play in motion and Duenez beat out the play. Burt scored on Vallot’s single.

Lexington returned the favor defensively in the bottom of the inning. With runners at second and third with no outs, Moore rifled a shot that Jecksson Flores snagged at third. Instead of taking the sure out at first, Flores gambled and lost when he tried to tag Chris Garia scrambling back to third. Garia beat the play and the bases were loaded. Hickory then traded two outs for two runs in the inning.

The Crawdads appeared to add to its early lead in the second when Garia lifted a fly ball to right that scored Ti’Quan Forbes. However, Lexington successfully appealed the play and Forbes was ruled to have left third early.

A leadoff error by 2B Frandy De La Rosa led to a pair of unearned runs in the third that gave Lexington a 4-2 lead.  Then in the bottom of the third, a single and a double, a walk and another single led to only one Crawdads run as Eric Jenkins was picked off first.

“It took us a couple of innings to get together and then everybody pulled their heads back out and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got something to do here,’” said Mintz. “For the most part, we did what we had to do. We could’ve helped ourselves a little bit better early.”

Lexington appeared to get a break from Hickory in the fifth when Moorman was caught off first after Emilio Ogando’s pitch in the dirt was corralled by Vallot behind the plate. However, Bart’s throw during the rundown got away and Sanchez scored.

The Legends last chance to stay in the game came in the seventh. Down 6-4 in the seventh, Gasparini and Duenez both singled. But with Vallot at the plate at a 1-1 count, the runners took off for a double steal with Moorman easily throwing out Gasparini at third as Gasparini appeared to injure his left leg during the play.

Eric Jenkins reached on an error at short in the eighth with two outs and scored on Moore’s RBI single.

Martin looking for go-to pitch:

Crawdads starter Brett Martin needed 90 pitches to record 10 outs and it was partially his inability to finish off hitters that was his undoing.

An omen as to what was to come occurred in a lengthy battle between Martin and Gasparini. Martin continually stayed away from the right-handed hitter with a series of fastballs on and off the outside corner. Gasparini spoiled several fastballs and was then able to read a changeup in the same area and laid off a curveball away. On the tenth pitch of the plate appearance, Gasparini served an outside-corner fastball into right.

Martin had difficulty with throwing his secondary pitches consistently for strikes, leaving him without a trusted out pitch. On two-strike counts against Martin, Lexington went 6-for-12 with a walk. The botched double play ball and the De La Rosa error also hampered things for Martin.

“Martin threw okay,” Mintz said. “Just his execution today on some pitches when he was ahead on counts and different things, the execution wasn’t there. Obviously, he ate up some pitches, but we didn’t help him in the field there a couple of times.”

 

Running, running, running:

The Crawdads stole 19 bases during the four-game series, getting caught just three times. Nine different players stole a base in the series with Jenkins leading the way with five. Yrizarri and De La Rosa each had three, while Dylan Moore had two.

Series Preview: Greenville at Hickory April 18-20

The Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers affiliate) host the Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox) for a three-game series Monday through Wednesday at L.P. Frans Stadium to close out a seven-game homestand.

If you plan to go:

Games Monday and Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. with Wednesday’s tilt at 10:30 a.m.

Persons can get into the game free on Monday by bringing an item to support the Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry. Items needed are diapers, socks, men’s undershirts, light bulbs, batteries, paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning products, or air fresheners. Item(s) must be $5 or more in value.

Tuesday is Dollar Dog Day. Dogs are admitted for $1 each and hot dogs are $1 each at the concession stand. The Crawdads will have 16 oz. craft pints and 22 oz. Pepsis for $2.

Wednesday is the first Education Day of the year.

Concessions are basic ballpark fare with a wider selection of items at the Crawdads Café, which is located above the 1B stands. New this year is a mac-and-cheese footlong hotdog and an updated version of the CLAWlossal

 

Where is it?:

L.P. Frans is located on Clement Blvd., approximately 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321. From I-40 east or west, take exit 123 B and follow the signs to U.S. 321 North. The left turn for Clement Blvd. is at the light that houses Pizza Hut, CVS, RaceTrac gas station and Peak Motors.

From the north, take Hwy 321 South to Clement Blvd. and turn right.

From downtown Hickory, take 3rd street NW to the west and follow it until it turns into Clement Blvd. past the U.S. 321 intersection.

 

Probables (Greenville/ Hickory):

Monday: RHP Anderson Espinoza vs. RHP Peter Fairbanks

Tuesday: LHP Logan Boyd vs. LHP Brett Martin

Wednesday: RHP Roniel Raudes vs. RHP Dillon Tate

 

Recent Series History:

Hickory and Greenville split a four-game series at LPFS last season in the only meetings between the clubs. The Crawdads have taken 9-of-12 the last two seasons. Since 2009, which is the start of the Rangers-Crawdads affiliation, Hickory is 34-29 overall, 23-21 at home. Overall, since the Drive began play in 2005 after moving from Columbia, Greenville holds the series lead 52-49, including a 28-24 mark at LPFS.

 

Entering the series – Hickory:

The Crawdads are 9-2, which is their best 11-game record to open a season since at least the 2000 season. (There are no game-by-game records available prior to 2000.) They are tied with the West Virginia Power for first in the South Atlantic League’s (SAL) Northern Division… Hickory took the final two games of the four-game series with Kannapolis and have won 6-of-7 overall.

At the plate: the Crawdads are tied with Greenville with a .423 slugging pct., trails only Greenville in OPS (.760) at .758 and are second in batting avg. at .265. The Crawdads lead the SAL in total bases and are second in hits.

On the mound, the team ERA of 2.00 is second in the SAL and as a group have allowed the fewest HRs (2) in the league. Despite the number of errors, especially early on, Hickory has given up just six unearned runs

In the field:  After eight errors over the first four games of the season, the Crawdads have just five over the last seven.

On the bases: Hickory has a SAL-high of 35 steal attempts with 15 caught stealing. Eight different players have at least one steal with six putting up two or more. Dylan Moore leads with five and has yet to be caught.

 

Entering the series –Greenville:

The Drive are 7-4 after taking the final three games in their series at Columbia (S.C.) this weekend and sit two games behind first place Charleston (S.C.) in the SAL’s Southern Division. Greenville is in the midst of a stretch of games in which it had a three-game winning streak, a three-game losing streak, and now its current three-game winning streak.

At the plate: After scoring 25 runs over the first eight games of the season, Greenville exploded for 24 over the final three games, which included nine home runs against Fireflies pitching. That explosion has put them into the SAL lead with 13. They have more homers than doubles (12) and trail only in Hickory in total bases.

On the mound: As a group, the Drive is around the middle of the pack in most statistical categories, though their 2.66 ERA is fourth in the league. That ERA may need to be given more weight as to its excellence, considering that their home ballpark in Greenville is a hitter’s park. The relief pitching in many cases have been nearly lights out. Bobby Poyner, Jeffrey Fernandez and Kuehl McEachern have combined to strike out 18 and walk one over 16.1 scoreless innings.

In the field: Next to last fielding pct. (.957), Greenville has 17 errors on the season, eight of those in the last five games. Infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe has four.

 

Players to watch- Hickory:

RHP Peter Fairbanks: The 22-year-old was the Rangers 9th round pick in 2015 out of Missouri. Allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks over five innings with four Ks in his first start at Greensboro last week.

LHP Brett Martin: The 2015 SAL All-Star returned for a tune-up of his repertoire and it has worked well out of the gate for Hickory in 2016. Unrattled after a rough first inning during opening night at Kannapolis, the native of Morristown, Tenn. has allowed one earned run over nine innings with 12 K and four walks. He is prone to hits, as Martin sports a .264 OBA in his career, including ten hits allowed this year. Martin is the Rangers No. 11 prospect according to MLB.com, No. 18 by Baseball America.

RHP Dillon Tate: The Rangers No. 4 prospect by MLB.com, No. 5 by Baseball America. He is also MLB.com’s No. 35 overall prospect and the 8th best RHP. In his opening start of the season, Tate allowed an unearned run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts over 4.2 innings at Kannapolis. He returned for the home opener last Thursday to strike out ten Intimidators over six innings and allowed four hits. Possesses a fastball/ slider combo with a developing changeup.

LHP Joe Palumbo: Has been tough to face in his two outings, as he has struck out 12 over 6.1 innings. That ratio of 17.05 K’s-per-9 innings is tops among relievers. Palumbo was the Rangers 30th round pick in 2013 out of St. John the Baptist in N.Y.

2B Andy Ibanez: Has arguably been the best hitter in the SAL over the first week-and-a-half of the season. Ibanez leads the SAL in hits (18), doubles (7), batting (.439), slugging (.732), extra base hits (9), total bases (30) and is third in OBP (.489). Baserunning has been a problem area early on as he has been caught stealing five times with three pickoffs. The 23-year-old Cuban native is the No. 8 prospect according to MLB.com and Baseball America has him No. 16.

CF Eric Jenkins: At 19 on opening day, he is Baseball America’s No. 6 Rangers prospect, while MLB.com has him at No. 7. Had 13 strikeouts during the opening week-long road trip, but has adjusted for now with just three over the weekend. Has blazing speed with which he uses well to track down balls in the gaps. On offense, Jenkins will lay down effective bunts, but has the ability to pull the bat back and slap the ball around the field. Has shown emerging power as of later, with his first pro homer at Greensboro and a double to the track in CF vs. Kannapolis.

SS Yeyson Yrizarri: He is the No. 12 Rangers prospect according to MLB.com, No. 27 by Baseball America. Thus far, he has not appeared overmatched as a 19-year-old in his first full-season league. Yrizarri is errorless at the position and has shown good range. The cannon of an arm that was advertised ahead of his arrival has proved to be true. At the plate, he has a six-game hitting streak during which he is 9-for-25, including three two-hit games. Also has a streak of four games with at least one RBI. Showed promising power when he homered to LCF on Friday.

IF Dylan Moore: He began to get well at Greensboro last week, but had a six-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday vs. Kannapolis. Went 8-for-20 during the stretch. Has settled down at first after he made two errors opening night; gone errorless since and seems to look more comfortable there.

C Tyler Sanchez: At this point, Sanchez has worked himself into a few more at bats. Was the first catcher to work back-to-back games this season when he did so on Friday and Saturday, then played first on Sunday. Sanchez has shown patience at the plate with seven walks over his last four games.

Players to watch-Greenville:

RHP Anderson Espinoza: At 18, the native of Caracas, Venezuela is already the Red Sox No. 4 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com, which has him at the No. 37 overall prospect and the 10th-best right handed pitching prospect. Comes armed with a fastball that has touched 100 and an advanced curve and change. He shut down Asheville on two hits over five innings in his first start before West Virginia touched him for four runs (three earned) on six hits in his last start. Has nine Ks and no walks in 10 innings. Likely slated for around 75 pitches.

LHP Logan Boyd: The 22-year-old out of Sam Houston St. was the Red Sox 19th round pic in 2015. Gave up a hit per inning in his short-season tenure at Lowell (Mass.), has a 1.50 WHIP in two starts this season. Gave up two runs on four hits over three innings in his last start at Columbia.

RHP Roniel Raudes: From Nicaragua, the 18-year-old is MLB.com’s No. 14 prospect, No. 24 by Baseball America. Skipped short-season level after making his stateside debut in the Gulf Coast League last summer. Entered the season with 79 Ks and nine walks over 74 innings, is already at a 9/1 ratio in 10 innings this year. He four-hit Asheville to start his season and then allowed a run on three hits at Columbia in his last outing. Has a low-90s fastball with curve and change. Like Espinoza, will also likely top out at 75 pitches.

RHP Anyelo Leclerc: A member of the 2014 Crawdads squad, the Red Sox acquired him in the offseason during the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Has 10 Ks in 8.2 IP over 4 relief outings thus far in 2016. Gave up two runs in back-to-back outings before bouncing back on Sunday with a scoreless 1.2 innings at Columbia, though he gave up two walks and a hit.

CF Luis Alexander Basabe: The 19-year-old from El Vigia, Venezuela is listed as MLB.com’s No. 8 prospect, 9th by Baseball America. Is already in his fourth pro season after having signed with Boston in 2013 at 16. Evaluators have noted his speed and bat speed. A patient hitter at the plate for his age, has 126 walks in 867 plate appearances (15%). Has struggled at the start of the season (.176/.222/.353) with hits in only 3 of his 9 games. He is the twin brother of Drive infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe.

3B Michael Chavis: The Red Sox first-round pick (26th overall) in 2014 is in his second season with the Drive after a .223/.277/.405 season in 109 games last year. Still just 20, the native of Marietta, Ga. is the No. 10 prospect according to Baseball America and MLB.com. Won the home run derby at the 2013 Perfect Game All-American Classic and cranked out 16 homers with the Drive last year. But his 144 Ks derailed his season (31% K-rate). Has improved in that area early on in 2016 with just eight in 43 appearances. Is at .350/.395/.500 to start this season.

1B Josh Ockimey: The Red Sox 5th round pick in 2014, out of Sts. Neumann and Goretti High in Philly. Signed away from a commitment to Indiana. Already 6-1, 215, some evaluators have given comparisons a young Ryan Howard with his potential power.  Had four homers and 20 extra-base hits in 56 games at short-season Lowell last year. Coming off back-to-back homers at Columbia and is third in the SAL in slugging at .676). MLB.com ranks him as the Red Sox No. 16, while Baseball America pegs him at No. 23.

C Austin Rei: The Red Sox No. 25 prospect, according to MLB.com was their third round pick in 2015 out of the University of Washington. Struggled at the plate at short-season Lowell (.179/.285/.295 in 130 plate appearances), has started just 4-of-28 at Greenville. Caught 4 of the 6 runners attempting to steal this season.

Notes of Interest:

Both teams have yet to lose a game when having the lead after five innings. Hickory is 7-0, while Greenville is 5-0. Both are undefeated (4-0) when scoring first. The Crawdads have won six of seven games decided by more than three runs…Drive catcher Roldani Baldwin went to the 7-day DL and was replaced on the roster by C Jhon Nunez. It is Nunez’s first stint at low-A… Drive RHP Michael Kopech (No. 5 prospect) is on the DL…The lone Crawdads DL casualty is pitcher Jacob Shortslef (cut finger).

Game Story: Kannapolis at Hickory April 14

Dillon Tate was masterful and the lineup backed him with five runs early, which sent the Hickory Crawdads onto a 6-1 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators Thursday night in the home-opener at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Crawdads moved to 7-1 on the season with four of the wins coming against their in-state rivals. Kannapolis dropped to 3-5.

Hickory got on the board in the first as Eric Jenkins and Yeyson Yrizarri both doubled in the inning. In the second, Darius Day slapped a single into center to score Ti’Quan Forbes and Chuck Moorman. Later, Jenkins singled, moved to second on a balk and scored on Andy Ibanez’s single.

Frandy De La Rosa hit his second pro homer as he lifted a Zach Thompson fastball into the wind and out to left field to make it 5-0.

That was more than enough for Tate (1-0), who shutout the Intimidators over six innings. He allowed four hits and struck out ten batters.

Joe Palumbo relieved Tate in the seventh and added five strikeouts over the final three innings for his first career save.

Kannapolis scored its only run against Palumbo in the eighth as Corey Zangari singled in Landon Lassiter, who with three hits passed Andy Ibanez in the South Atlantic League’s early batting title chase.

Hickory accounted for its final margin with a run in the eighth as Forbes fly ball to center scored LaDarious Clark.

Thompson took the loss for the Intimidators, as he allowed five runs on eight hits and walked two over 3.1 innings.

 

The sticks:

Piling up 13 hits as a team, all nine Crawdads hitters had at least one hit with Jenkins, Ibanez, De La Rosa and Moorman all had two hits.

“When they can all stick their finger in the Kool Aid, that’s good every night,” said Crawdads manager Steve Mintz. “ I’m just happy with the way that we played tonight.“

Tate said that while the early runs didn’t necessarily help him relax on the mound, as much as it gave him a mentality to battle along with his teammates.

“It’s just the way the hitters are going about their business at the plate,” said Tate. “I see them grinding away. Our hitters are attacking their pitchers. When I see that, it makes me want to attack the hitters a little bit more, because I see my guys really going after them. They’re fighting for me and I fight for them. It’s just a cycle and a lot of pushing each other in a good way.”

Got a chance to really watch Yeyson Yrizarri hit for the first time without distraction. The first thing I notice is just how quick his hands are in turning on inside fastballs. He got out quickly on an inside fastball in the first and ripped it down in the line and into the LF corner. He almost repeated the same in the third.

Eric Jenkins looks more comfortable at the plate. He sent a first-pitch fastball over the head of CF Louis Silverio in the first. One inning later, he pulled a fastball into right.

De La Rosa put together an inside-out swing on a fastball that was enough to get it into the jet-stream wind and over the fence in left-center.

Good situational hitting by Day to get two runs in the second. He put enough on a Thompson fastball away to squirt it past the drawn-in infield and into center.

 

The mound:

It was thought that Tate would use and develop his changeup more this season, but honestly, once Tate established firm command of his fastball, the secondary pitches weren’t needed. Tate was in the mid-90s much of the night, topping out at 97. After Landon Lassiter singled to end an eight-pitch at bat to start the game, Tate retired the next 12 hitters.

“After he got through that first inning, he kind of settled in and he really understood that his fastball was the pitch that he needed right there,” said Mintz. “He was going to it glove side pretty much all night and was able to get some changeups and some breaking balls going there in the middle innings that helped him. You could tell there at the end that they were starting to get it timed up a little better. That’s why we get the guys to use all their pitches. We want them to be aggressive and establish the fastball early. That’s what he did and then he used his secondaries as he moved through the game.”

Tate struck out ten, but it was the manner in which he did it that was impressive. Five of the ten strikeouts were on four pitches or less. He nearly had a nine-pitch, three-strikeout inning in the second as the ninth pitch of the inning went for a grounder to short. By my count, Tate finished with 77 pitches, 58 of those strikes. Of the 21 batters he faced, only five batters saw more than 5 pitches in an at bat.

“That’s Jose’s (Crawdads pitching coach Jose Jamies) thing,” said Tate. “He’s a big advocate of four pitches or less with your batters. So, we go up there and all the pitchers have that mentality of just execute in four pitches or less and get an out.”

Palumbo

Honestly, because GameDay (what we use for entering the official play-by-play on line) was having issues, I missed much of Palumbo’s outing. What I did see, Palumbo showed good life on a 93-94 mph heater, but it was the curveball that gave the Intimidators fits, especially after following the fastball wizardry of Tate.

The gloves:

A pretty routine night defensively. Moorman came up with a strong throw to cut down Lassiter stealing second in the sixth. It was the first caught stealing attempt for Kannapolis this season. He did commit an error in the eighth trying to cut down Corey Zangari moving to second after he had singled in a run.

Dylan Moore made a pick of a hot grounder behind the bag at first to retire Antonio Rodriguez in the fourth.

 

The bases:

Moorman arguably had the key play of the game in the second by taking an extra base. After Forbes had doubled, Moorman lined a single to left, which was too shallow to score Forbes. Mintz had held up Forbes at third, but Lassiter airmailed a throw to home from left. Moorman saw the play develop and easily moved up to second. That sent the Kannapolis into a situation in which it brought the infield in to try to keep the runner at third on a grounder. Day capitalized on the defensive strategy and shot what would’ve likely been a double-play ball into centerfield, past Danny Mendick at second.

Ibanez was picked at first and later caught at home on a double-steal attempt in the fifth. On the steal attempt of home, Ibanez got a late jump, as Dylan Moore was caught in a rundown between first and second. As the throw came home, Ibanez pulled up near the plate and was thrown out. Ibanez has been thrown out stealing five times with three pickoffs.

“We had a couple of baserunning blunders there, but we’re going to do it and forcing them to go. I’m telling them to go and we’re going to see stuff like that. We’ll take it tomorrow and we’ll correct it and learn from and we’re going to keep moving forward.”

Series Preview: Kannapolis at Hickory April 14-17

Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) 

The Hickory Crawdads open the home portion of the 2016 South Atlantic Season with a four-game series against their neighbor to the southeast, the Kannapolis Intimidators at L.P. Frans Stadium.

 

If you plan to go:

Games Thursday and Saturday are at 6 p.m., Friday is at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.

All ticket prices are $9 with VIP tickets going for $14. Parking is $3. On Sundays, the Crawdads offer $6 tickets when presenting a church bulletin.

The Crawdads are giving away 2016 magnet schedules on Thursday, a commemorative 2015 SAL championship banner on Saturday, and a poster schedules on Sunday. All giveaways are to the first 1,000 fans to the gates. There will be post-game fireworks on Friday.

Concessions are basic ballpark fare with a wider selection of items at the Crawdads Café, which is located above the 1B stands. New this year is a mac-and-cheese footlong hotdog.

 

Where is it?:

L.P. Frans Stadium is located on Clement Blvd., approximately 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321. From I-40 east or west, take exit 123 B and follow the signs to U.S. 321 North. The left turn for Clement Blvd. is at the light that houses Pizza Hut, CVS, RaceTrac gas station and Peak Motors.

From the north, take Hwy 321 South to Clement Blvd. and turn right.

From downtown Hickory, take 3rd street NW to the west and follow it until it turns into Clement Blvd. past the U.S. 321 intersection.

 

Probables (Kannapolis/ Hickory):

Thursday: RHP Zach Thompson vs. RHP Dillon Tate

Friday: LHP Tanner Banks vs. RHP Pedro Payano

Saturday: RHP Johnathan Frebis vs. RHP Jonathan Hernandez

Sunday: RHP Luis Martinez vs. RHP Erik Swanson/ LHP Wes Benjamin (piggy back)

 

Recent Series History:

Hickory won three out of four games last week at Intimidators Stadium to open the season. Last year, the Crawdads took a 9-6 season-series win, which included a 5-2 record at L.P. Frans Stadium. Against Kannapolis, the Crawdads are 75-50 since 2009 – the start of the affiliation with the Texas Rangers – 35-23 at LPFS. Kannapolis has one series win at Hickory since 2011, which came when the Intimidators took 2-of-3 in the first week of the 2014 season.

 

Entering the series – Hickory:

The Crawdads return home after a three-game sweep at Greensboro, which wrapped up a 6-1 season-opening road trip, and are a game ahead of West Virginia in the SAL’s Northern Division… At the plate, the Crawdads are tops in the 14-team league with a .429 slugging pct. They also lead the league in homers, total bases and are tied with Lakewood for the most hits. Hickory is second in runs scored, RBI, and team OPS (.734)… Expected to be aggressive on the base paths, the Crawdads have attempted a league high of 24 steals and lead the SAL with 9 caught stealing attempts. They are second in steals with 15…On the mound, the Crawdads pitching staff has allowed two or fewer runs in five of their seven games. Overall, their 2.14 ERA is third in the SAL and they have allowed just one home run… After committing 8 errors during last weekend’s Kannapolis series, the Crawdads had just one during the three-game series at Greensboro.

 

Entering the series – Kannapolis:

Kannapolis swiped two out of three at home against Delmarva (Md.) and went 3-4 on its homestand… At the plate, the Intimidators have scored two or fewer runs in five of their seven games. They are third in hits, fourth with a .254 batting average. Kannapolis leads the league with the most strikeouts… On the mound, the Intimidators are second in the league in strikeouts… In the field, they are tied with Lexington with 10 errors committed and are next to last in fielding pct.

 

Players to watch- Hickory:

RHP Dillon Tate: The Rangers No. 4 prospect by MLB.com, No. 5 by Baseball America. He is also MLB.com’s No. 35 overall prospect and the 8th best RHP. In his opening start of the season, Tate allowed an unearned run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts over 4.2 innings at Kannapolis. It is apparent that Tate will have a higher pitch count than has been the case for a younger pitcher at the start of the season. He threw 85 pitches (52 strikes) in last Friday’s start. Possesses a fastball/ slider combo with a developing changeup.

RHP Pedro Payano: The MLB.com No. 29 Rangers prospect had a steady start last Saturday, but it was tainted by control issues. Payano held the Intimidators to one run on two hits and struck out seven over five innings. However, he also tied his career high for a game with four walks. Like Tate, it appears that Payano also will be pushed early on with pitch counts, as he threw 91 pitches (45 strikes) in the start at Kannapolis. Armed with fastball/ curve/ change, he will throw any pitch at any count.

RHP Jonathan Hernandez: The righthander is the Rangers No. 20 prospect, as determined by Baseball America, No. 28 by MLB.com. Hernandez was the lone starting pitcher to struggle his first time through the rotation. Needing 73 pitches to record 10 outs, Hernandez gave up 8 runs (6 earned) on seven hits and walked two over 3.1 innings at Kannapolis in his last start on Sunday. His defense committed four errors behind him during the game, but Hernandez had control issues with his fastball, as well. He has allowed the lone Crawdads homer surrendered thus far in 2016

RHP Erik Swanson: The Rangers 8th round pick in 2014 out of Iowa Western CC had a stellar first pro start at Greensboro on Monday, during which he gave up two hits and a walk over five innings and struck out four. Swanson had the sinker working as he recorded 11 groundball outs.

LHP Wes Benjamin: Will piggyback with Swanson for now. The 22-year-old was the Rangers fifth round pick in 2014 out of Kansas. Had Tommy John surgery while with the Jayhawks in 2014. In his first outing last Monday, Benjamin earned a four-inning save at Greensboro during which he allowed three baserunners (one hit) and struck out two.

2B Andy Ibanez: Continues to be among the conversation when considering the hottest hitter in the minors at the start of the 2016 season. Ibanez leads the SAL in hits (14), doubles (5), total bases (24), batting avg. (.560), OBP (.607), slugging (.960) and OPS (1.567). Last week at Kannapolis, Ibanez went 9-for-17 with two doubles, a triple, a homer, 6 RBI and three runs scored. The 23-year-old Cuban native is the No. 8 prospect according to MLB.com and Baseball America has him No. 16. He is splitting time at second with Frandy De La Rosa and DHing.

CF Eric Jenkins: At 19 on opening day, he is Baseball America’s No. 6 Rangers prospect, while MLB.com has him at No. 7. Had a tough weekend at Kannapolis with seven strikeouts in 14 plate appearances, including a “Golden Sombrero” in Saturday night’s game. Jenkins struck out six more times at Greensboro, but started to make better contact in the series with three hits, including his first pro homer, over the final two games.

IF Dylan Moore: He began to get well at Greensboro this week. During the three-game series, the Orange Co. California native went 4-for-10 with a homer, a double and four RBI.

RF Jose Almonte: Had a nice weekend series at Kannapolis, going 5-for-11 (all singles) and walked twice. Overall, the Dominican Republic native has a .318/.400/.455 slash with four RBI and five runs scored. He hit his first homer of the season at Greensboro and only his third overall as a pro.

 

Players to watch-Kannapolis:

LF Landon Lassiter: The 22-year-old attended North Davidson High in Lexington and UNC  Chapel Hill. Was drafted two different times prior to finally signing with the White Sox after being picked in the 21st round in 2015.  His 4-for-4 game vs. Delmarva on Wednesday placed him behind only Ibanez in the SAL with a .526 batting avg. Lassiter is third in the league in OBP (.571) and OPS (1.256). He also had three hits in the game that Hernandez started on Sunday.

CF Tyler Sullivan: Tied for third in the SAL in walks (5), he has a slash of .333/.455/.444. Went 6-for-16 against Hickory last weekend. Sullivan was the White Sox 14th round pick in 2015 out of Pacific.

1B Corey Zangari: The White Sox sixth-round pick out of Carl Albert High in Midwest City, OK. He is currently the White Sox’s No. 10 prospect according to MLB.com and No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America. Went only 3-for-16 against Hickory, but had three hits including a homer over the last two games vs. Delmarva to push slash to .231/.310/.346.

SS/3B Johan Cruz: Currently the White Sox’s No. 16 prospect from MLB.com and No. 27 by Baseball America. Struggled versus Hickory last weekend at the plate (4-for-17, 6 Ks) and on the field (3 errors). Had two hits and three RBI in a game that Hernandez started for Hickory last Sunday.

C Seby Zavala: No. 26 prospect by Baseball America. Was the 12th round pick of the White Sox in 2015 out of San Diego St. Started the season 0-for-16 before putting up a 2-for-4 game vs. Delmarva on Wednesday. Had Tommy John surgery in 2013.

1B/ OF Zach Fish: Has the Intimidators only homer through seven games this season – a three-run blast vs. Hernandez on Sunday. Named the Big XII Conference Player of the Year at Oklahoma St. He was the Rangers 4th round pick in 2011 out of Gulf Lake High (Mich.).

RHP Zach Thompson: A native of Burleson, Tex., Thompson was the White Sox fifth round pick in 2014 out of Texas-Arlington. Allowed one run on five hits and struck out eight over five innings in his lone start of the season, which came against Hickory last Saturday.

LHP Tanner Banks: The White Sox 18th round choice in 2014 out of Salt Lake CC helped pick up the Intimidators first win of the season on Sunday, as he held Hickory to three earned runs on six hits and struck out five over five innings.

RHP Luis Martinez: No. 29 prospect by MLB.com. Made 24 starts for the Intimidators last season as a 20-year-old and allowed 155 baserunners in 108.2 innings. So far in two 2016 starts, Martinez has given up just 13 baserunners in 10 innings. He has 10 Ks and one walk, a promising improvement after a 69/ 53 ratio in 2015. Had Tommy John surgery in 2011.

RHP Taylore Cherry: Was the 32nd round pick of the White Sox in 2015 out of UNC Chapel Hill. Is listed at 6-9, 290 lbs.

 

Notes of Interest: Like last season, it appears the Rangers will play a bit of merry-go-round with the Crawdads roster to accommodate a six-man rotation that will actually contain seven pitchers, as Erik Swanson and Wes Benjamin throw in a piggyback situation. For now, it is Swanson and fellow starter Peter Fairbanks switching places on the active list… Crawdads reliever Jacob Shortslef is on the DL with a cut on his pitching hand…Kannapolis RHP Drew Hasler is the son of former Crawdads pitching coach (1993-1994) Curt Hasler, now the White Sox minor league pitching coordinator… Crawdads catcher Tyler Sanchez and Kannapolis pitcher Alex Katz were teammates at St. John’s. Katz surrendered his first pro home run last Sunday – to Sanchez.

Game Story: Hickory at Kannapolis April 10

The Kannapolis Intimidators put up their first win of the season as they throttled the Hickory Crawdads 10-3 in front of 1,269 fans at Intimidators Stadium.

The I’s never trailed as they opened the scoring with a two-run double by Landon Lassiter in the second. A three-run blast from Zach Fish completed a four-run third inning before the Intimidators added two runs in the fourth and fifth to blow it up to the final margin.

Johan Cruz had an sacrifice fly in the third and added a two run double in the fifth.

LaDarious Clark hit his first homer of the season in the third. Jose Almonte added an RBI single in the fourth before Clark scored on an attempted double steal in the fifth.

Tanner Banks allowed three runs on six hits over the first five innings to pick up the win for Kannapolis. Matt Ball and Taylore Cherry each threw two shutout innings, as the trio combined for 13 strikeouts.

 

Sticks:

Hickory put up 11 hits, added two walks and put three others aboard on Kannapolis errors, but scored just three runs. The Crawdads stranded 11 and went 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position and the trouble started in the first. Hickory put two on with one out and loaded the bases one out later, but Dylan Moore lined to center and Eduard Pinto bounced back to the mound. A double play in the second erased a leadoff runner. In the third Ibanez reached on a leadoff double, but nothing came of the scoring chance. The Crawdads put two on in the sixth, but came up empty. Two more reached in the seventh with one out, but Moore K’d and Frandy De La Rosa fouled to the catcher. Again, two more runners aboard with one out in the eighth, but Darius Day and LaDarious Clark struck out. To close it out, Ibanez reached 2B with none out in the ninth, but Tyler Sanchez and Dylan Moore whiffed before Frandy De La Rosa hit into a bad-call, 4-1 bouncer to end it.

Ibanez continues to rip the ball in the early season. He raked a middle-in fastball in the first and doubled to the LCF wall in the first. He took another such pitch and ripped it down the line in LF in the third. After walking in the fifth, he was fooled by a slider from Ball in the seventh before working a second walk. Ibanez then took a fastball away and lined it for a single up the middle in the ninth.

Eduard Pinto looks back in gear on Sunday, seeing the ball into the catcher’s mitt as he was want to do in 2015. Pinto pulled a fastball into the RF corner and added a single in the sixth.

Clark put up a couple of hits, including a homer in the third. He apparently didn’t think much of the contact as he slammed his bat, but the ball continued to carry and easily cleared the fence in LCF. He also added a broken bat single in the fifth. Conversely, Clark fanned three times as he had trouble with the breaking ball.

Hickory struck out 13 times: Moore, Day and Forbes each with three.

 

Arms:

The first non-complex start by Jonathan Hernandez was not a good one as he struggled with fastball control. At times, the 6-2, 183-pound right-hander appeared to overthrow the pitch, including one offering in which Hernandez wound up on the grass to the first-base side of the mound. He began to introduce his offspeed pitches the second time through the order and it was an 0-2 change (it appeared to be a CH- no speed gun) that stayed up to Johan Cruz and Cruz got enough on it to pull it to left. A Baltimore Chop grounder by Antonio Rodriguez over the head of Ibanez at second compounded the inning before Zach Fish hit a no-doubt, three-run blast. That made it 6-1 in the third and the game began to ebb away. Hernandez threw his slider a few times late in the outing and got Cody Daily to swing through one to end the third.

Andy Choplick showed a decent fastball-curve combination and was more thwarted by a couple of seeing-eye hits and poor defensive play than anything.

Johan Juan retired the side in the eighth with a lively fastball, though control was iffy at times.

Leather:

Four errors and another botched play during which Ti’Quan Forbes was late covering first compounded things for the Crawdads throughout the game.

Darius Day booted a double down the line in left that led to a run in the second. However, he made a couple of star-quality plays later on, including a long run into the LF corner to snag Daily’s fly ball. He added a nice catch of a liner off the bat of Corey Zangari in the eighth.

A weak throw by Frandy De La Rosa across the diamond from third to first in the fourth aided the two-run inning. It was a throw that possibly could’ve been scooped out at first, but Forbes’ inexperience worked against him there.

In the fifth, Forbes made a misjudgment in going after a ball in the hole at second that Ibanez easily got to, and then further exacerbated the situation by not getting back to first quick enough. Add to that a dropped pop foul and it was a tough afternoon for a guy making his first pro start at the position.

Clark dropped a ball in center after attempting a basket catch.

Hickory has committed nine errors in four games, something that certainly will be addressed by the Rangers as the organization is adamant about helping their pitchers do what they need to do to get outs.

 

Bases:

Two steals by Clark, but one of those happened after he was picked off first it the fifth, yet Cruz was late getting the tag down.

Ibanez caught off second and into a rundown in the third after a bouncer to the mound. However, Moore did a good job on hustling to second during the rundown to replace Ibanez.

Jose Almonte got caught flat-footed on a pickoff by catcher Seby Zavala in the fourth.

 

Post-Mortem:

As good as Ibanez has been in the early going, we’ve found out that he will show his emotions on the field, and in this game, it was not a good thing. On the play in the fifth with Forbes, Ibanez was visible in his displeasure with Forbes, extending both hands to his sides. Ibanez did a similar gesture toward the base umpire after Rodriguez beat out a close play in the sixth. In the seventh, it was an adamant disagreement with the home plate ump after Ibanez was ruled to not have checked his swing. It didn’t appear to be a good look.

From the box score: Hickory at Kannapolis 4/8

 

I hope to do this on occasion for games I can’t attend. It won’t happen every game – or possibly not many at all – but there are things curious to me I notice that I will try and put into the blog.

Andy Ibanez is a professional hitter. After four hits on opening night, he dropped in two more on Friday, including his first home run of the season, a fly out to centerfield. That has to be some kind of power as Intimidators Stadium is not the easiest place to hit a ball out of in the first place. Secondly, although the game time wind was 6 mph (R to L), I spent Friday night in nearby Charlotte and it was much windier than that most of the night. Ibanez had to have killed that baseball to get it out to CF.

As I looked at Andy Ibanez hit this week, I tried to get in my mind who he looks like at the plate. Now, it’s never fair to make comparisons between an A-ball minor leaguer and a big leaguer, but that doesn’t stop most of us, and it’s fun anyway. With all that said, perhaps it’s the stock build of the 23-year-old, I have it in my head that Ibanez looks like Bill Madlock at the plate. (I can’t find a video of him hitting, but just for fun, I did come across this video of a brawl between Madlock and catcher Ted Simmons.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQbN1qlFSo8

Eric Jenkins didn’t register a hit (one walk in five plate appearances), but he created havoc on the bases with three steals and scored two runs. He stole two of those bases after reaching on a dropped-third strikeout in the seventh and scored on Yeyson Yrizarri’s sacrifice fly. He has a .200 OBP in two games and has scored three runs. This could be a fun player, ya think?

Dillon Tate allowed one unearned run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts over 4.2 innings. He also hit two batters. What I found interesting? A) He went 85 pitches, which is the most I can recall a Crawdads starter going in a first start as a Rangers affiliate. B) It took 85 pitches (52 strikes, 33 balls) to get through 4.2 innings. Twenty of those went to three batters, including an 8-pitch AB to Seby Zavala in the first and he needed 22 pitches to get two outs in the fifth. Tate did start 14 of the 21 batters with a first-pitch strike.

Fourteen more strikeouts posted by the Crawdads pitching staff after 13 on opening day and one earned run allowed in 18 innings. Joe Palumbo struck out seven over 3.1 innings and Johan Juan added one, though he did give up an run on two hits in the ninth.

Dylan Moore homered, as did Tyler Sanchez. Sanchez’s blast came against his former St. John’s teammate Alex Katz.

Crawdads commit two errors for the second straight game, three of those on the infield.

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.