Results tagged ‘ Hickory Crawdads ’

Series Preview: Hickory at Delmarva July 7-9

Series Preview: Hickory at Delmarva July 7-9

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (38-45 overall, 8-7 second half T-4th SAL North) at Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore Orioles) (44-39, 9-7 3rd North)

The Hickory Crawdads continue a six-day road trip with three games at Delmarva’s Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, Md.

 

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Saturday, 7:05 p.m., Sunday, 5:05 p.m., Monday, 7:05 p.m.

BROADCASTS: All games are streamed live on the web through milb.com or the Delmarva Shorebirds website.

PROMOTIONS:

Saturday – Post-game fireworks

Sunday – 2018 All-Stars Poster, Post-Game Autograph Session, Strike out Hunger Sunday (Bring two canned-food items and receive an upper reserve ticket for $3, Kids Run the Bases

Monday – 47 ABC 2 Buck Monday ($2 Upper Reserved Tickets, hot dogs and Pepsi products)

TICKETS: Ticket prices range from $8-$13 in advance, $1 more on game day. Upper reserved are $2 on Monday.

PARKING: Parking at the ballpark is $4.

CONCESSIONS: Purdue Stadium offers standard ballpark fare (hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, etc. The Bird’s Eye Café has BBQ sandwiches, crab dip and shrimp salad. The Angus Stand serves Angus Burgers, BBQ sandwiches and steak subs. Vegetarian, gluten-free options are also available.

Where is it?:

From Salisbury, Md. take U.S. 50 east towards Ocean City. Turn right onto Hobbs Rd.

 

PROBABLES (Hickory/ Delmarva)

Saturday: RHP Jean Casanova vs. LHP Cameron Bishop

Sunday: RHP Alex Eubanks vs. RHP Brenan Hanifee

Monday: RHP Tyler Phillips vs. RHP Luis Perez

 

Recent Series History:

The Intimidators are 6-4 vs. Hickory in 2018, which includes a 5-2 record at Intimidators Stadium. The Crawdads won 2 out of 3 in the last series played between the two squads last month at Hickory. Hickory won the season series in 2017 12-10, which included a 7-5 edge at Intimidators Stadium. Since the start of the Crawdads affiliation with the Rangers in 2009, Hickory is 100-69 against Kannapolis, 53-37 at Intimidators Stadium. The Intimidators last won a season series vs. Hickory in 2010 (9-7).

 

About the Crawdads:

The Crawdads split a rain-shortened two-game series at Kannapolis and have won four of their last five. The stretch has come with a good stretch of starting pitching. Over the last five games, the starting pitchers combined have tossed 28.1 innings with a line of 20 H, 7 R, 6 BB, 30 K, 2 HR. Walks continues to plague the team as the Crawdads are tied with Rome for the most walks allowed and that has contributed largely to a 1.33 WHIP, which 11th in the 14-team SAL. However, the Crawdads have received solid help in the field this season. Hickory is third in the SAL in fielding pct. (.975) and have committed the third fewest errors. With the solid defensive help, Hickory has given up the second-fewest earned runs in the league… At the plate, Hickory is 11th in runs scored, hits, 13th in batting avg. and last in doubles. The Crawdads do have the ability put the ball over the fence. Their 71 homers are third in the SAL.

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

OF Bubba Thompson (No. 6): 2018 stats: .268/.320/.402, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 12 BB, 50 K, 11 SB, 1 CS. This season vs. Delmarva: 3-for-14, 2B, 6 K. Last series at Kannapolis: 4-for-9, BB, K, SB. Has reached base in 9 of his last 10 games (14-43, 2B, 2 BB). First-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of McGill-Toolen High, Mobile, AL.

OF Pedro Gonzalez (No. 9) 2018 stats: .229/.286/.404, 13 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 16 BB, 73 K, 6 SB, 2 CS. This season vs. Delmarva: 0-for-14, 7 K, 2 SB. Last series at Kannapolis: 1-for-8, 2B 3 K. Currently in a 2-for-17 stretch with 9 K. Obtained by the Rangers in 2017 from the Colorado Rockies for Jonathan Lucroy. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R.

RHP AJ Alexy (No. 16): 2018 stats: 14 games (12 starts), 63.2 IP, 51 H, 38 R (32 ER), 3 HR, 7 HB, 39 BB, 76 K, 4.52 ERA, .224 OBA, 1.41 WHIP. Not expected to pitch during the series. Last start at Kannapolis 7/5: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 2 K. Joined the Crawdads after a trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Originally 11th round pick of Dodgers out of Twin Valley HS, Elverson, Pa. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-3rd walks, T-5th losses (7), T-7th hit batters.

RF Miguel Aparicio (No. 17): 2018 stats at Hickory: .201/.259/.309, 3 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 BB, 28 K, 0 SB, 4 CS. This season vs. Delmarva: 4-for-19, 3 BB, 5 K. Last series at Kannapolis: 1-for-4, 2 K. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2015. Native of San Carlos, Venezuela. Assigned to Hickory 6/29 after a two-weak stint at short-season Spokane. He is 4-for-24 with a HR, BB and 4 Ks in six games since his return.

C-1B Sam Huff (No. 24): 2018 stats: .231/.291/.397, 13 2B, 9 HR, 13 BB, 75 K, 4 SB. This season vs. Delmarva 9-for-33, 2 2B, 2 HR, BB, 9 K. Last series at Kannapolis: 0-for-7, BB, K, SB. Currently in an 0-for-18 slump with 7 Ks. Seventh round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia HS (Phoenix, Ariz.). Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

RHP Tyler Phillips (No. 29): 2018 stats: 14 games (14 starts) 81 IP, 83 H, 34 R (31 ER), 3 HR, 3 HB, 9 BB, 74 K, 3.44 ERA, .263 OBA, 1.13 WHIP. This season vs. Delmarva: 2 starts: 12 IP, 11 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 1 H, 14 K. Last start 7/2 vs. Greensboro: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 HR, 1 HB, 1 BB, 9 K. In his last 25 starts stretch to 6/23/17 at Spokane 144.2 IP, 16 BB, 147 K. Sixteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Bishop Eustace HS, Pennsauken, N.J. Native of Lumberton N.J. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 2nd walks-per-9-inning ratio among starters (1.00). Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

RHP Jean Casanova: 2018 stats: 17 games (5 starts), 43.2 IP, 47 H, 22 R (18 ER), 7 HR, 2 HB, 16 BB, 30 K, 3.71 ERA, .278 OBA, 1.44 WHIP. This season vs. Delmarva: 3 games (1 start), 8 IP, 8 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 HR, 1 BB, 5 K. Last game 6/29 at West Virginia: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 K. Thirty-fifth round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Waukegan (Ill.) HS. Born in the Dominican Republic. Has allowed at least one HR in all four of his starts.

RHP Alex Eubanks: 2018 stats: 14 games (13 starts), 71.2 IP, 87 H, 50 R (49 ER), 12 HR, 4 HB, 18 BB, 76 K, 6.15 ERA, .300 OBA, 1.47 WHIP. This season vs. Delmarva: 1 start, 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 HR, 6 K. Last start 7/1 vs. Greensboro: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 4 K. Fourteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Clemson. Attended Byrnes High in Moore, S.C. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 3rd earned runs allowed, T-4th home runs allowed, T-7th runs allowed, T-8th hits allowed.

RHP DeMarcus Evans: 2018 stats: 20 games, 2 saves, 32.1 IP, 18 H, 9 R (9 ER), 1 HR, 21 BB, 59 K, 2.51 ERA, .165 OBA, 1.21 WHIP. This season vs. Delmarva: 2 games, 3 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 4 K. Last game at Kannapolis 7/5: 2 IP, 4 K. Last 6 outings: 10.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 24 Ks.Twenty-fifth round pick of the Rangers in 2015 out of Petal HS (MS).

RHP Joe Barlow: 2018 stats: 22 games, 2 saves, 35.1 IP, 11 H, 13 R (10 ER), 34 BB, 52 K, 2.55 ERA, .103 BA, 1.27 WHIP. This season vs. Delmarva: 3 games, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 5 R (5 ER), 1 HR, 7 BB, 3 K. Last game 7/4 at Kannapolis: 1 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 2 K. Eleventh-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Salt Lake CC. Attended Riverton (Utah) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st OBA by relievers (.103), 3rd SAL among relievers Ks per 9 IP ratio (13.25), 9th walks.

C Yohel Pozo: 2018 stats: .252/.299/.395, 11 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 17 BB, 33 K. This season vs. Delmarva: 4-for-27, 3 BB, 6 K. Last series at Kannapolis: 1-for-4. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2013. A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela. Named to the SAL All-Star Game. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 3rd plate appearance to strikeout ratio (8.42).

IF Ryan Dorow: 2018 stats: .289/.339/.439, 10 2B, 8 HR, 20 BB, 65 K, 4 SB, 2 CS. This season vs.Delmarva: 4-for-23, 3 BB, 10 K. Last series at Kannapolis: 0-for-4, K. Had a 20-game, on-base streak stopped 7/1. Since then, he is 1-for-10, 2B, BB, 2 K. Thirtieth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Adrian College (MI). Attended South Haven (MI) HS.

2B-SS Yonny Hernandez: 2018 stats (Hickory only): .246/.369/.313, 6 2B, 3 3B, 33 BB, 33 K, 16 SB, 5 CS. This season vs. Delmarva: 2-for-16, 3 BB, 5 K. Last series at Kannapolis: 2-for-5, 2 BB, K, 2 SB. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2014. Native of Maturin, Venezuela. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T1st sacrifice bunts (11), T-6th stolen bases, 8th walks, 9th on-base pct.

 

About the Shorebirds:

Delmarva is coming off a 2-1 home series win over in-state rival Hagerstown… The Shorebirds started the season with a franchise-best 7-0 record and pushed its record as high as 25-12 on May 14. But the Shorebirds went 4-10 the rest of May and dropped to 32-30 before finishing the first half at 35-32… With a stable of top-30 prospects in the starting rotation, Delmarva has been able to get ahead in most games. They’ve scored first in 48 games – the second most in the SAL – but holding leads has been a work in progress. Delmarva has 8 losses when leading after six innings and four losses when leading after eight. Both are the most in the SAL. In extra inning games, the Shorebirds are 3-8, the second worst mark in the SAL… Walks have also troubled the Shorebirds as they are third behind Hickory and Rome (Ga.)… Delmarva is second in fielding pct. (.976) and in fewest errors committed.

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

LHP D.L. Hall (No. 4): 2018 stats: 14 games (12 starts), 54.1 IP, 42 H, 21 R (17 ER), 5 HR, 3 HB, 29 BB, 49 K, 2.82 ERA, .213 OBA, 1.31 WHIP. Not expected to pitch in this series. Last start 7/5 vs. Hagerstown (Md.) 5.2 IP, 1 HB, 2 BB, 7 K. First-round pick (21st overall) of the Orioles in 2017 out of Valdosta (Ga.) High. Signed away from a commitment to Florida St.

RHP Brenan Hanifee (No. 7): 2018 stats: 15 games (15 starts), 89 IP, 78 H, 28 R (26 ER), 6 HR, 5 HB, 15 BB, 62 K, 2.63 ERA, .234 OBA, 1.04 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory: 2 starts, 13 IP, 9 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 HB, 4 BB, 5 K. Last start 7/3 at Lakewood (NJ): 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 6 K. Last 4 starts: 28 IP, 22 H, 6 R, 1 HR, 2 HB, 2 BB, 17 K. Fourth-round pick of the Orioles in 2016 out of Ashby High in Bridgewater, Va. Signed away from a commitment to East Carolina. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 2nd innings pitched, T-3rd wins (7), 9th WHIP.

LHP Cameron Bishop (No. 13): 2018 stats: 14 games (14 starts), 85 IP, 74 H, 31 R (28 ER), 4 HR, 4 HB, 16 BB, 65 K, 2.96 ERA, .234 OBA, 1.06 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory: 1 start, 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 HR, 1 HB, 1 BB, 4 K. Last start 7/2 at Lakewood (NJ): 7 IP, 4 H, 5 K. Last 4 starts: 25 IP, 13 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 HR, 3 HB, 5 BB, 16 K. Twenty-sixth-round pick of Orioles in 2017 out of the Univ. of California-Irvine. Native of Brea, Calif. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-3rd wins (7), 7th innings pitched.

SS Mason McCoy (No. 25): 2018 stats: .251/.321/.375, 12 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 29 BB, 57 K, 4 SB, 2 CS. This season vs. Hickory: 8-for-33, 2B, 2 3B, 5 BB, 7 K, 1 SB, 1 CS. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 4-for-12, 2B, BB, 4 K. Since 6/26, 16-for-52, 3 2B, 2 3B, HR, 1 BB, 12 K. Sixth-round pick in 2017 out of Univ. of Iowa. Native of Peoria, Ill. Attended Washington (Ill.) Community HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st triples

 

Others to watch-Delmarva:

RHP Luis Perez: 2018 stats (at SS-A Aberdeen and Delmarva): 22 IP, 9 H, 1 HR, 2 HB, 7 BB, 20 K, 0.41 ERA, .122 OBA, 0.73 WHIP. Last start 7/4 vs. Hagerstown: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K. Called up to Delmarva on 7/4. Signed by the Orioles as a free agent in 2016. Previously pitched in the San Diego Padres organization.

RHP Tim Naughton: 2018 stats: 11 games, 3 saves, 14 IP, 15 H, 8 R (5 ER), 8 BB, 13 K. Has not faced Hickory this season. Last game 7/2 at Lakewood: 0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB. Thirty-fourth round pick of the Orioles in 2017 out of NC State. Attended Charles B. Aycock HS in Goldsboro.

OF Zack Jarrett: 2018 stats: .309/.382/.488, 18 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 30 BB, 85 K. This season vs. Hickory: 11-for-38, 2 2B, HR, 1 BB, 17 K. Last series vs Hagerstown: 4-for-9, 2B, 4 BB, K. Twenty-eighth round pick of the Orioles in 2017 out of UNC Charlotte. Played his high school ball at Hickory High. Named to SAL All-Star Game. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st games played, 3rd hits, 3rd batting avg., 4th steals, 5th on-base pct., 5th OPS, 5th RBI, 5th total bases, 6th at-bats, T-10th doubles

C Ben Breazeale: 2018 stats: .245/.350/.335. 8 2B, 2 HR, 23 BB, 45 K. This season vs. Hickory: 4-for-20, 2B, 3 BB, 5 K. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 0-for-3, BB, 3 K. Seventh-round pick of the Orioles in 2017 out of Wake Forest. Attended Pigeon Forge (Tenn.) HS.

3B Trevor Craport: 2018 stats:.265/.337/.441, 14 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 24 BB, 44 K, 4 SB, 2 CS. This season vs. Hickory: 5-for-26, 2B, 4 BB, 4 K, SB. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 2-for-10, 2B, BB, K, CS. Eleventh-round pick of the Orioles in 2017 out of Georgia Tech. Attended Norcross (Ga.) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st sac flies, 2nd RBI, T-6th RBI, T-9th runs

SS Cadyn Grenier: 2018 stats: 1-for-4, 3B, BB, 2 K. Competitive-Balance pick of the Orioles in 2018 out of Oregon State. A member of the Beavers National Championship team. Attended Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas. Joined the Shorebirds on July 5.

2B Kirvin Moesquit: 2018 stats: .275/.350/.375, 12 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 30 BB, 59 K, 35 SB, 9 CS. This season vs. Hickory: 12-for-39, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 3 BB, 8 K, 5 SB, CS. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 2-for-12, BB, 4 K, 2 SB. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st steals, T-1st caught stealing, 2nd runs scored. Twenty-fourth round pick of the Orioles in 2015 out of Seminole St. College (Fla.). Born in Willemstad, Curacao, attended high school at Highland Christian HS (Pompano Beach, Fla.).

1B Ryen Ripken: 2018 stats: .236/.281/.304, 7 2B, 3 HR, 14 BB, 38 K. This season vs. Hickory: 5-for-27, 2 BB, 5 K. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 2-for-11, 2B, 2 K; Signed free agent deal with Orioles in 2017. Played previously in SAL with Hagerstown (Washington) in 2016. Son of Cal Ripken, Jr.

RF Will Robertson: 2018 stats: .238/.280/.389, 19 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 12 BB, 48 K. This season vs. Hickory: 4-for-23, 2B, 2 BB, 4 K. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 2-for-11, 2 2B, 4 K. Signed with the Orioles in 2017 as a non-drafted free agent out of Davidson (NC) College. Attended The Bolles School, Jacksonville, Fla. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-6th doubles

Series Preview: Hickory at Kannapolis July 4-6

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (37-44 overall, 7-6 second half T-3rd SAL North) at Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (45-35, 6-7 6th North)

The Hickory Crawdads begin a six-game road trip with a trip to Intimidators Stadium to face the Kannapolis Intimidators.

 

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Wednesday through Friday, 7:05 p.m.

PROMOTIONS:

Wednesday – Post-game fireworks

Thursday – Thirsty Thursday, Los Rapidos de Kannapolis promotion

Friday – Chicken-Fried Friday, Kids Run the Bases

 

TICKETS: Advance tickets: Adult General Admission $6.50/ Children $5.50; Adult Reserve $8.50/ Children $7.50. Add $1.50 to each ticket the day of the game.

WHERE IS IT?: From I-85 take Exit 63 (Lane Street). From I-85 South, turn left; I-85 north, turn right. Stadium Drive will be on the right.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

CONCESSIONS: Intimidators Stadium is your no-frills ballpark with traditional burgers, hot dogs, popcorn, BBQ sandwiches, etc.

 

PROBABLES (Hickory/ Kannapolis)

Wednesday: RHP Reid Anderson vs. RHP Zach Lewis

Thursday: RHP AJ Alexy vs. LHP Drew Harrington

Friday: RHP Jean Casanova vs. RHP Jhoan Quijada

 

Recent Series History:

The Intimidators are 6-4 vs. Hickory in 2018, which includes a 5-2 record at Intimidators Stadium. The Crawdads won 2 out of 3 in the last series played between the two squads last month at Hickory. Hickory won the season series in 2017 12-10, which included a 7-5 edge at Intimidators Stadium. Since the start of the Crawdads affiliation with the Rangers in 2009, Hickory is 100-69 against Kannapolis, 53-37 at Intimidators Stadium. The Intimidators last won a season series vs. Hickory in 2010 (9-7).

 

About the Crawdads:

The Crawdads won the final three games of a series vs. Greensboro… Hickory has the fewest road wins (14-23) in the SAL… Defensively, the Crawdads have gone three straight games without an error and are currently third in the SAL in fewest errors committed and fielding pct. (.975)… Collectively at the plate, Hickory remains near the bottom of several SAL’s statistical categories. However, they continue to pommel home runs (five in the last three games) and are currently third in the SAL at 70. The team .243 batting avg. is 13th out of 14 teams and they are last in doubles… Though improved in recent days, Hickory is tied for the most walks issued and is 12th in WHIP (1.34).

 

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

OF Bubba Thompson (No. 6): 2018 stats: .258/.314/.400, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 12 BB, 49 K, 10 SB, 1 CS. This season vs. Kannapolis: 5-for-21, 2 3B, BB, 7 K. Last series vs. Greensboro: 4-for-10, BB, 2 K, 2 SB. First-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of McGill-Toolen High, Mobile, AL.

OF Pedro Gonzalez (No. 9) 2018 stats: .233/.291/.410, 12 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 16 BB, 70 K, 6 SB, 2 CS. This season vs. Kannapolis: 6-for-22, 4 2B, 2 HR, 5 R, 10 RBI, 5 BB, 9 K. Last series vs. Greensboro: 1-for-9, 6 K. Obtained by the Rangers in 2017 from the Colorado Rockies for Jonathan Lucroy. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R.

RHP AJ Alexy (No. 16): 2018 stats: 13 games (11 starts), 57.2 IP, 47 H, 36 R (30 ER), 3 HR, 7 HB, 37 BB, 74 K, 4.68 ERA, .225 OBA, 1.46 WHIP. This season vs. Kannapolis: 2 starts, 11.2 IP, 2 H, 1 HB, 4 BB, 16 K. Last start vs. West Virginia 6/29: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 4 K. Joined the Crawdads after a trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Originally 11th round pick of Dodgers out of Twin Valley HS, Elverson, Pa. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-3rd walks, T-5th losses (7), T-7th hit batters.

RF Miguel Aparicio (No. 17): 2018 stats: .200/.259/.310, 3 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 BB, 26 K, 0 SB, 4 CS. This season vs. Kannapolis: 2-for-13, 3B, BB, 2 K. Last series vs. Greensboro: 2-for-16, HR, K, CS. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2015. Native of San Carlos, Venezuela. Assigned to Hickory 6/29 after a two-weak stint at short-season Spokane.

C-1B Sam Huff (No. 24): 2018 stats: .238/.296/.409, 13 2B, 9 HR, 12 BB, 74 K, 3 SB. This season vs. Kannapolis: 8-for-34, 2B, 2 HR, BB, 9 K. Last series vs. Greensboro: 0-for-11, 6 K. Seventh round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia HS (Phoenix, Ariz.). Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

RHP Tyler Phillips (No. 29): 2018 stats: 14 games (14 starts) 81 IP, 83 H, 34 R (31 ER), 3 HR, 3 HB, 9 BB, 74 K, 3.44 ERA, .263 OBA, 1.13 WHIP. This season vs. Kannapolis: 1 start: 5 IP, 10 H, 6 R (6 ER), 1 HR, 5 K. Last start 7/2 vs. Greensboro: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 HR, 1 HB, 1 BB, 9 K. Sixteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Bishop Eustace HS, Pennsauken, N.J. Native of Lumberton N.J. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 2nd walks-per-9-inning ratio among starters (1.00), 10th innings pitched. Named to the SAL All-Star Game.

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

RHP Reid Anderson: 2018 stats: 12 games (10 starts), 58 IP, 53 H, 30 R (26 ER), 1 HR, 3 HB, 18 BB, 48 K, 4.03 ERA, .242 OBA, 1.21 WHIP. Has not faced Kannapolis this season. Last start 6/28 at West Virginia: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 6 K. Seventeenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Millersville (Pa.) Univ. Attended New Egypt (N.J.) HS.

RHP Jean Casanova: 2018 stats: 17 games (5 starts), 43.2 IP, 47 H, 22 R (18 ER), 7 HR, 2 HB, 16 BB, 30 K, 3.71 ERA, .278 OBA, 1.44 WHIP. This season vs. Kannapolis: 3 games (1 start), 9 IP, 12 H, 4 R (3 ER), 1 HR, 1 HB, 6 K. Last game 6/29 at West Virginia: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 K. Thirty-fifth round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Waukegan (Ill.) HS. Born in the Dominican Republic. Has allowed at least one HR in all four of his starts.

RHP DeMarcus Evans: 2018 stats: 19 games, 2 saves, 30.1 IP, 18 H, 9 R (9 ER), 1 HR, 21 BB, 55 K, 2.67 ERA, .175 OBA, 1.29 WHIP. This season vs. Kannapolis: 3 games, 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 5 BB, 5 K. Last game vs. Greensboro 7/1: 1.2 IP, 4 K. Twenty-fifth round pick of the Rangers in 2015 out of Petal HS (MS).

RHP Joe Barlow: 2018 stats: 21 games, 2 saves, 34.1 IP, 11 H, 11 R (9 ER), 31 BB, 50 K, 2.36 ERA, .106 BA, 1.22 WHIP. This season vs. Kannapolis: 3 games, 4.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 8 K. Last game 7/2 vs. Greensboro: 2 IP, BB, 3 K. Eleventh-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Salt Lake CC. Attended Riverton (Utah) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st OBA by relievers (.106), 4th SAL among relievers Ks per 9 IP ratio (13.11), 10th walks.

RHP Samir Vivas: 2018 stats (at High-A Down East, AA Frisco and AAA Round Rock) 19.2 IP, 19 H, 15 R (15 ER), 5 HR, 1 HB, 12 BB, 18 K, 6.86 ERA, 253 OBA, 1.58 WHIP. Assigned to Hickory on 7/3 and is awaiting his debut. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2013. Native of Barquisimento, Venezuela.

C Yohel Pozo: 2018 stats: .252/.299/.398, 11 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 17 BB, 33 K. This season vs. Kannapolis: 12-for-34, 4 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 4 K. Last series vs. Greensboro: 2-for-11, HR, BB. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2013. A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela. Named to the SAL All-Star Game. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 4th plate appearance to strikeout ratio (8.30).

IF Ryan Dorow: 2018 stats: .295/.363/.446, 10 2B, 8 HR, 20 BB, 64 K, 4 SB, 2 CS. This season vs. Kannapolis: 6-for-24, 2B, HR, 3 BB, 6 K. Last series vs. Greensboro: 3-for-13, 2B. BB, 2 K, SB. Thirtieth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Adrian College (MI). Attended South Haven (MI) HS.

2B-SS Yonny Hernandez: 2018 stats (Hickory only): .241/.364/.310, 6 2B, 3 3B, 31 BB, 32 K, 14 SB, 5 CS. This season vs. Kannapolis: 2-for-12, 2 2B, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 SB, 1 CS. Last series vs. Greensboro: 8-for-15, 3B, BB, K. Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2014. Native of Maturin, Venezuela. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st sacrifice bunts (11), T-8th walks, T-9th stolen bases.

 

About the Intimidators:

A near shoo-in for the first-half, Northern Division title, Kannapolis lost its final five games, which shifted the playoff spot to Lakewood (N.J.). Since then, a rash of promotions has the Intimidators regrouping to start the second half. Kannapolis split a four-game series at Rome (Ga.) as a part of a 4-7 stretch.

 

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

C Evan Skoug (No. 22): 2018 stats: .208/.294/.344, 9 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 23 BB, 66 K. This season vs. Hickory: 10-for-25, 2 2B, HR, 5 BB, 4 K, 2 SB. Last series at Rome (Ga.): 1-for-7, 2B, 3 K. Seventh-round draft pick of the White Sox in 2017 out of Texas Christian Univ. Native of Libertyville, Ill. Big 12 Co-player of the year in 2017. First-team All-American). Has thrown out 6-of-15 base stealers in 2018.

3B Luis Curbelo (No. 23): 2018 stats: .267/.315/.397. 10 2B, 3B, HR, 7 BB, 28 K. This season vs. Hickory: 3-for-10, 2B, 2 BB, 3 K. Last series at Rome (Ga.): 3-for-12, 3 2B, BB. Sixth-round pick of the White Sox in 2016 out of Cocoa (HS), FL. Born in Carolina, P.R.

1B Justin Yurchak (No. 28): 2018 stats: .252/.351/.338, 14 2B, 3B, HR, 34 BB, 41 K. This season vs. Hickory: 14-for-34, 4 2B, 3B, 10 RBI, 6 BB, 6 K. Last series at Rome (Ga.): 3-for-8, 2 2B, K. Twelfth-round pick of the White Sox in 2017 out of Binghamton (N.Y.) Univ. Attended Shenendehowa HS in his native Clifton Park, N.Y. Played at Wake Forest his freshman season. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-6th walks.

 

Others to watch-Kannapolis:

RHP Zach Lewis: 2018 stats: 12 games (8 starts), 53 IP, 46 H, 18 R (16 ER), 2 HR, 6 HB, 13 BB, 45 K, 2.72 ERA, .241 OBA, 1.11 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory: 3 games (1 start), 7.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 HR, 1 HB, 5 BB, 6 K. Signed a non-drafted, free-agent contract with the White Sox in 2017. Played college ball at Wabash Valley College (IL) and Wichita St. Attended St. Laurence HS, Burbank Ill.

LHP Drew Harrington: 2018 stats (at Low-A Rome (Ga.), High-A Florida, Rookie AZL White Sox, Low-A Kannapolis): 16 games (7 starts), 1 save, 45 IP, 59 H, 35 R (29 ER), 7 HR, 6 HB, 15 BB, 31 K, 5.80 ERA, .321 OBA, 1.64 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory (with Rome): 1 start, 4 IP, 1 HR, 1 HB, 3 K. Last start 6/30 at Rome: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 HB, 2 BB, 3 K. Signed a free-agent contract with the White Sox on June 18. Released by the Atlanta Braves on June 9. Originally a third-round pick of the Braves in 2016 out of the Univ. of Louisville. Attended Central Hardin HS, Cecilia, KY. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-10th hit batters.

RHP Jhoan Quijada: 2018 stats: 8 games (2 starts), 33 IP, 39 H, 18 R (18 ER), 4 HR, 2 HB, 6 BB, 20 K, 4.91 ERA, 2.98 OBA, 1.36 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory: 1 game, 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 3 K. Last start 7/1 at Rome: 6 IP, 10 H, 6 R (6 ER), 1 HR, 1 HB, 2 K. Signed as an international free agent with the White Sox in 2012.

RHP Jake Elliott: 2018 stats: 21 games, 2 saves, 44.1 IP, 34 H, 17 R (15 ER), 5 HR, 2 HB, 10 BB, 54 K, 3.05 ERA, .217 OBA, 0.99 WHIP. This season vs. Hickory: 3 games, 1 save, 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 HR, 4 BB, 7 K. Last game 7/3 at Rome: 3 IP, 4 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 HR, 1 HB, 1 BB, 2 K. Fifteenth-round pick of the White Sox in 2016 out of the Univ. of Oklahoma. Attended Coppell (Tex.) HS. Named to SAL All-Star Game.

2B Tate Blackman: 2018 stats: .272/.367/.426, 12 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 35 BB, 91 K, 3 SB, 3 CS. This season vs. Hickory: 7-for-35, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 BB, 15 K, 1 CS. Last series at Rome: 1-for-13, 2B, BB, 2 K. Thirteenth-round pick of the White Sox in 2017 out of Ole Miss. Attended Lake Brantley HS (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) Named to SAL All-Star Game. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-4th walks, T-5th games played, 6th strikeouts, 10th OBP, T-10th RBI.

LF Craig Dedalow: 2018 stats: .269/.320/.424, 21 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 17 BB, 65 K. This season vs. Hickory: 11-for-40, 5 2B, 3B, 2 BB, 14 K, CS. Last series at Rome: 2-for-13, 2B, 2 2 K. Ninth-round pick of the White Sox in 2017 out Indiana Univ. Attended Munster (Ind.) HS. Named to SAL All-Star Game. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st at-bats, T-2nd doubles, T-5th games played, T-7th triples, T-9th total bases, 1st assists by an OF (11).

RF Tyler Frost: 2018 stats: .213/.283/.425, 10 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 18 BB, 78 K. This season vs. Hickory: 4-for-21, 2B, HR, 2 BB, 8 K. Last series at Rome (Ga.): 3-for-16, 2B, BB, 2 K. Fifteenth-round pick of the White Sox in 2017 out of Gonzaga Univ. (College teammate with Hickory’s Justin Jacobs.) Attended Greenway HS in Phoenix, AZ. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-9th HR

 

Series Preview: Hickory at West Virginia June 27-29

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

 

If You Plan to Go:

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

 

Promotions:

Wednesday –  Pets in the Park

Thursday – Thirsty THursday

Friday – Postgame Fireworks

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Probables (Hickory/ West Virginia):

Wednesday: RHP Noah Bremer vs. RHP Gavin Wallace

Thursday: RHP Reid Anderson vs. RHP Max Kranick

Friday: RHP AJ Alexy vs. LHP Domingo Robles

 

Recent Series History:

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

About the Crawdads:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others to watch – Hickory:

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Power:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Others to watch- West Virginia:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

If You Plan to Go:

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

 

PROMOTIONS:

Sunday – Mascot Mayhem

Monday – Make a Difference Monday, YMCA Hit and Spin

 

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

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

PARKING: All parking is $3.

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

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

 

PROBABLES (West Virginia/ Hickory)

Sunday: RHP Aaron Phillips vs. RHP Tyree Thompson

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

Tuesday: RHP Jose Marte vs. RHP Tyler Phillips

 

Recent Series History:

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

 

About the Crawdads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others to watch – Hickory:

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

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

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

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

About the GreenJackets:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Others to watch- Augusta:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Where were you at when they called your name?

Thompson: New York.

 

Did your family come with you?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Justin Jacobs May 2018

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

 

Was there disappointment that your name wasn’t called?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Bubba Thompson hitting

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Bubba Thompson fielding

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Justin Jacobs on bases May 2018

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Matt Hagen:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Thursday – Saturday 7 p.m.

PROMOTIONS:

Thursday – Thirsty Thursday, Margaritaville

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

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

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

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

PARKING: All parking is $3.

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

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

 

PROBABLES (West Virginia/ Hickory)

Thursday: RHP Max Kranick vs. RHP Noah Bremer

Friday: LHP Domingo Robles. RHP Reid Anderson

Saturday: RHP Hunter Stratton vs. RHP AJ Alexy

 

Recent Series History:

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

 

About the Crawdads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others to watch – Hickory:

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

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

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

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

About the Power:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Others to watch- West Virginia:

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

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

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

 

Series Preview: Charleston (S.C.) at Hickory May 25-28

(I am my own editor… I did this in a rush. Laugh at my mistakes, but laugh gently. Thank you.)

Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs (New York Yankees) (20-25, 5th SAL South), at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (16-26, 6th SAL North)

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Friday, 7 p.m., Saturday, 6 p.m., Sunday, 3 p.m., Monday, 1 p.m.

 

PROMOTIONS:

Friday – Memorial Day Weekend Kickoff, Salute to Troops, Post-game Fireworks

Saturday – ZOOperstars! Appearance, Hat Giveaway (1st 1,000 fans)

Sunday – Church Bulletin Sunday, Birdzerk!

Monday – Memorial Day Celebration

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

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

PARKING: All parking is $3.

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

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

 

PROBABLES (Charleston/ Hickory)

Friday: RHP Jio Orozco vs. RHP Noah Bremer

Saturday: RHP Alex Vargas vs. RHP Derek Heffel

Sunday: RHP Rony Garcia vs. RHP Tyler Phillips

Monday: LHP Dalton Lehnen vs. RHP Tyree Thompson

 

Recent Series History:

Charleston took five of six in the series last year, which included a 2-1 series win at L.P. Frans. The RiverDogs’ three-game sweep at home in late August began a downward spiral for the Crawdads in the final week of the season that knocked them out of the SAL playoffs. Charleston has won 4 of 6 at Hickory the past two years. Since 2009, which was the start of the Rangers-Crawdads affiliation, Hickory holds a 50-45 edge in the overall series, 27-21 at L.P. Frans.

 

About the Crawdads:

Hickory started the homestand with two straight wins over Delmarva (Md.), then lost the final two to fall into a split. The current eight-game homestand is the longest of the season… Overall, the Crawdads have pitched well as of late, especially in the starting rotation. Prior to Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Shorebirds, Hickory starters had an eight-game stretch during which they allowed eight earned runs over 46.1 innings with 49 Ks and 8 walks. The Crawdads starters have not walked a batter in four straight games. Near the top of the SAL in walks allowed much of the season, the Crawdads are now fourth in that category… Meanwhile, the Crawdads are back to looking for answers at the plate. Since scoring 11 runs in a win vs. Columbia on 5/9, Hickory has scored more than three runs in a game just five times in 13 games. Among the 14-team SAL, the Crawdads are last in doubles and next to last iin extra-base hits. They are also 11th in batting average, 12th in runs scored and total bases, and 13th in hits. Their .240 batting average in May is next to last.… The team continues to be stellar in the field. Their 39 errors – just 23 on the infield – are the second fewest in the SAL.

 

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

CF Bubba Thompson (No. 6): 2018 stats: .245/.302/.429, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 14 K, 3 SB. Last series vs. Delmarva: 3-for-14, 2B, 6 K. First-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of McGill-Toolen High, Mobile, AL.

RHP AJ Alexy (No. 17): 2018 stats: 7 games (6 starts), 29.2 IP, 25 H, 19 R (18 ER), 2 HR, 5 HB, 20 BB, 41 K, 5.46 ERA, .231 OBA, 1.52 WHIP. Last start 5/19 at Kannapolis: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 HB, 2 BB, 9 K. Joined the Crawdads after a trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Originally 11th round pick of Dodgers out of Twin Valley HS, Elverson, Pa. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-4th walks, T 4th hit batters.

RF Miguel Aparicio (No. 18) 2018 stats: .217/.280/.325, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 10 BB, 22 K, 0 SB, 2 CS. Last series vs. Delmarva: 2-for-4, BB, K. Rejoined the team on 5/24 after an 11-day absence. Signed as an international free agent with the Rangers in 2015. Native of San Carlos Venezuela.

RHP Alex Speas (No. 23): 2018 stats: 14 games, 4 saves, 20.1 IP, 14 H, 9 R (7 ER), 1 HR, 19 BB, 37 K, 3.10 ERA, .187 OBA 1.62 WHIP. Last game 5/22 vs. Delmarva: 1.2 IP, 3 K. Second-round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of McEachern HS (Powder Springs, GA). SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st Ks-per-9 innings among relievers (16.38), T-9th walks.

C-1B Sam Huff (No. 26): 2018 stats: .254/.313/.449, 8 2B, 5 HR, 6 BB, 39 K, 1 SB. Last series vs.Delmarva: 6-for-16, 2 2B, HR, 2 K. Seventh round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia HS (Phoenix, Ariz.).

RHP Tyler Phillips (No. 30): 2018 stats: 44 IP, 44 H, 15 R (14 ER), 2 HR, 1 HB, 5 BB, 46 K, 2.86 ERA, .257 OBA, 1.11 WHIP. Last start vs. Delmarva: 7 IP, 5 H, 7 K. Sixteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Bishop Eustace HS, Pennsauken, N.J. Native of Lumberton N.J. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 4th walks-per-9-inning ratio among starters (1.02).

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

RHP Noah Bremer: 2018 stats: 1 game (1 start), 1 IP, 1 K. Made only start on 4/8, pulled and placed on disabled list with an oblique injury shortly after. 2017 stats at AZL Rangers and Spokane: 11 games (0 starts), 20 IP, 10 H, 4 R (3 ER), 1 HR, 1 HB, 4 BB, 30 K, 1.35 ERA, .152 OBA, 0.70 WHIP. Sixth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of the Univ. of Washington. Attended Berkeley (Calif.) HS.

RHP Derek Heffel: 2018 stats: 2 games (1 start), 8 IP, 9 H, 6 R (6 ER), 1 HR, 1 HB, 6 K. Last start 5/20 at Kannapolis: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 HB, 3 K. Began season at extended spring. Fourteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Madison Area (Wisc.) Technical College. Attend St. Catherine’s HS in Racine, Wisc.

RHP Tyree Thompson: 2018 stats: 8 games (7 starts) 38.2 IP, 37 H, 26 R (21 ER), 6 HR, 3 HB, 12 BB, 17 K, 4.89 ERA, .247 OBA, 1.27 WHIP. Last start vs. Delmarva 5/22: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 BB, 3 K. Twenty-sixth round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Edna Karr HS, New Orleans.

SS Yonny Hernandez: 2018 stats: .194/.354/.226, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 14 BB, 14 K, 5 SB, 2 CS. Last series vs. Delmarva: 2-for-4, R. Played in four games at Frisco (Tex.) from May 11-14, (3-for-11, 4 BB, 3 K, 2 SB.) Signed with the Rangers as an international free agent in 2014. Native of Maturin, Venezuela.

UT Ryan Dorow: 2018 stats: .253/.340/.425, 3 2B, 4 HR, 10 BB, 37 K, 1 SB, 1 CS. Last series vs. Delmarva: 0-for-10, 2 BB, 5 K. Will likely see more playing time with 2B Kole Enright on the disabled list. Thirtieth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Adrian (Mich.) College. Attended South Haven (Mich.) HS.

UT Justin Jacobs: 2018 stats: .281/.364/.385, 4 2B, 2 HR, 12 BB, 34 K, 1 SB. Last series vs. Delmarva: 1-for-11, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K. Leads Hickory with an .813 OPS in May over 16 games. Signed with the Rangers in 2017 as a non-drafted free agent from Gonzaga Univ. Also played at Lower Columbia CC (Wash.). Attended Riverside HS in Auburn Wash.

 

About the RiverDogs:

Managed by Julio Mosquera in his first season as the skipper. He led short-season Staten Island to a 46-29 record and a playoff berth in the New York-Penn League in 2017… The RiverDogs were shutout in two games at Augusta (Ga.), but salvaged the final game of the rain-shortened series… Like the Crawdads, Charleston has struggled to put runs on the board. It has scored five or more runs in just 6 of 20 games in May, with one or fewer runs in eight of them. They are just above Hickory at .241 for the month and for the season. Collectively, the RiverDogs are 12th in OBP (.309) and slugging pct. (.360) and that has contributed to a last-place showing in the SAL in runs scored… Base stealing has also been an issue as they are just over .500 in pilfer attempts (29-for-57)…The pitching, however, has kept the team from sliding into an abyss record wise. The staff WHIP of 1.13 is second in the SAL and the team ERA of 2.86 is third. Charleston has surrendered just 18 HRs, the fewest in the league, and only Augusta has given up fewer hits.

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

3B Dermis Garcia (No. 21): 2018 stats: 4-for-22, 2B, HR, 10 K. Joined the RiverDogs from extended spring on 5/17. Last series at Augusta: 2-for-11, 4 K. Signed with the Yankees as an international free agent in 2014. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R.

Others to watch-Charleston:

RHP Jio Orozco: 2018 stats: 1 game (1 start) 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Made first start with the RiverDogs vs, Columbia on 5/18. Made 12 starts for the RiverDogs in 2017: 56.1 IP, 61 H, 37 R (31 ER), 3 HR, 7 HB, 34 BB, 48 K, 4.95 ERA, .286 OBA, 1.69 WHIP. Fourteenth-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2015 out of Salpointe Catholic, Tucson, Ariz. Traded to the Yankees on 8/31/16 as a part of a package for RF Ben Gamel.

RHP Alex Vargas: 2018 stats with Charleston: 3 games (3 starts), 14.1 IP 17 H, 9 R (6 ER), 2 BB, 11 K, 3.77 ERA, .288 OBA, 1.33 WHIP. Last start 5/19 vs. Columbia: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K. Made a spot start for AA Trenton in April and a relief outing at High-A Tampa. Signed with the Yankees as an international free agent in 2014. Native of Santiago, D.R.

RHP Rony Garcia: 2018 stats: 7 games (7 starts), 39 IP, 46 H, 24 R (18 ER), 2 HR, 2 HB, 8 BB, 33 K, 4.15 ERA, .291 OBA, 1.38 WHIP. Last start 5/20 vs. Columbia: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 HB, 2 BB, 7 K. Signed with the Yankees as an international free agent in 2015. Native of Mao, D.R.

LHP Dalton Lehnen: 2018 stats: 8 games (7 starts), 41.1 IP, 35 H, 14 R (12 ER), 3 HR, 2 HB, 8 BB, 44 K, 2.61 ERA, .220 OBA, 1.04 WHIP. Last start 5/21 at Augusta: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 HB, 1 BB, 7 K. Sixth-round pick of the Yankees in 2017 out of Augustana (S.D.) Univ.

RF Steven Sensley: 2018 stats: .278/.353/.497, 13 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 15 BB, 49 K, 2 SB, 3 CS. Last series at Augusta: 2-for-11, 2B, 4 K. Twelfth-round pick of the Yankees in 2017 out of the Univ. of Louisiana-Lafayette. Attended University HS in Baton Rouge, La. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 2nd doubles.

1B Chris Hess: 2018 stats: .280/.396/.439, 6 2B, 5 HR, 18 BB, 39 K, 0 SB, 3 CS. Last series at Augusta: 0-for-8, 1 BB, 4 K. Seventeenth-round pick of the Yankees in 2017 out of the Univ. of Rhode Island. Attended North Kingstown (RI) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 5th OPB.

Tyree Ties Up Shorebirds: Hickory wins 5-1.

Tyree Thompson pitched a masterpiece, Sam Huff and Kole Enright supported him at the plate as the Hickory Crawdads defeated the Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds 5-1 at L.P. Frans Stadium Tuesday night.

The win was the second straight by Hickory (16-24) to open the four-game series, which continues Wednesday night at 6 p.m. Delmarva (26-17) lost its third straight game and has dropped six of the last eight overall. The Shorebirds now trail first-place Kannapolis by two games in the first-half Northern Division standings.

It was the Tyree Thompson show from the start as the right-hander kept the Shorebirds off balance throughout the game. The New Orleans native allowed just six baserunners over a pro career high of 7.1 innings and struck out three.

Meanwhile, the Crawdads, led by Huff and Enright, supplied the runs Thompson (2-3) needed early. Facing starter D.L. Hall, Austin O’Banion doubled and scored when Huff also doubled off the left field wall. In the fourth, Huff doubled with two outs and Enright swatted his third homer of the season to left-center to make it 3-0.

Franklin Rollin’s speed played a large part for a run in the seventh. He reached on an infield hit, stole second and moved to third on an error from where Tyreque Reed doubled him in.

The right-hander was economical all-night, needing just 65 pitches to get through seven innings. No Shorebirds hitter saw more than four pitches in a plate appearance before the game reached one out in the eighth. That batter, Arlington (Tex.) native Jaylen Ferguson, lined a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left for his first homer in the second game since joining the Shorebirds. After Thompson walked Kirvit Moesquit, the Crawdads brought in reliever Alex Speas, who recorded the final two outs.

Hickory added a run on a bases-loaded walk in the eighth. Speas returned with a dominant ninth, striking out the final two batters of the game for his fourth save of the season.

 

More on Tyree Thompson:

When the Shorebirds Moesquit hit the second pitch of the game, a middle-in fastball, hard to Reed at first, it looked ominous. As it turned out, it was the last hard-hit ball by the Shorebirds against Thompson until Jean Carrillo lined out to center in the fifth.

Thompson’s fastball started the night topping at 93 mph, but he stayed around 89-91 much of the night and spotted it well. It was the second strong start in a row for the 20-year-old – he allowed one run on four hits and three walks over six innings last week against Rome (Ga.)  – which he said has been the result of a mechanical adjustment.

“I’m just tweaking some simple things with my hands, as far as movement,” Thompson said. “It helped me as far as conviction wise and command wise to be able to throw the ball wherever I want.”

That command was with three pitches: the fastball, change and an occasional curve. Thompson broke his first curveball off to strike out Trevor Craport in the second. After a walk and an error put two on in the second, Thompson got Carrillo to bounce a changeup into a force play.

The changeup got a lot of play by Thompson and it was largely responsible for the ten groundball outs recorded.

Overall, Thompson threw 53 strikes out of 82 pitches, starting 17 of the 28 hitters with first-pitch strikes.

“They’re a good hitting team,” said Thompson of the plan of attack. “But once you get ahead early in the count, they’re protecting. My strength is getting ahead of batters and getting them out in four pitches or less.”

A couple of defensive plays aided Thompson’s gem. In the first, Thompson tried to make a backhand stab of a comebacker. The ball deflected to the first-base side of second, where shortstop Cristian Inoa made a quick charge of the play and threw to first for the out.  Playing center on Wednesday, Rollin saved a hit in the fifth with a full-out dive and catch to his left.

The defensive plays along with the early runs boosted Thompson’s confidence.

“If I get a run ahead, that’s a plus for me because I know what kind of pitcher I am, and I know my strengths. When I get a run ahead, it makes me compete more, knowing my defense is behind me. I throw strikes and do what I have to do, knowing my defense will make plays.”

Tyree Thompson

Tyree Thompson allowed a run on three hits over 7.1 innings vs. Delmarva on Tuesday (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

 

The game’s turning point:

D.L. Hall, the Baltimore Orioles No. 4 prospect, had spotty control early, but got into a groove into the third. Gassing around 94-95 with increasing command of the changeup, Hall had retired eight in a row after Huff’s RBI double in the second. He was ready to make it nine with two outs in the fourth and Huff back at the plate.

The Shorebirds went after Huff in the second with three straight secondary pitches, the third of which was a hanging curve that Huff roped off the wall. So in the fourth, Hall came with two straight fastballs that put Huff in an 0-2 hole. A third fastball missed just inside and before Hall went back to two straight changeups. Huff spoiled both.

The final pitch of the AB was a 93 mph just off the plate – too close to take – that Huff not only spoiled, but got enough of the pitch off the end of the bat to bounce the ball past first for a double.

Enright followed with a homer on a 2-0 fastball and that turned out to be the game.

 

Alex Speas ninth:

The dude was gassing.

After a 4-3 grounder, Speas made Ryan Ripken uncomfortable in the box. A 98 mph heater had the left-handed hitting Ripken stepping towards first on a swing-and-miss. Ripken flicked a second 98 into the stands. Expecting another heater, Speas fooled him with an 89 slider that closed into the hitter’s hands. A half-hearted swing completed the strikeout.

Then to Ben Breazeale: 99, 99, 99, 100, 98, 98.

Ball game.

Series Preview: Delmarva at Hickory May 21-24

The Crawdads start their longest homestand of the season (8 games) with a four-game series against Delmarva.

Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds (Baltimore Orioles) (26-15, 2nd SAL North), at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (14-24, 6th SAL North)

If You Plan to Go:

GAME TIMES: Monday – Wednesday, 6 p.m., Thursday 6 p.m.

 

PROMOTIONS:

Monday – Make-A-Difference Monday (For Safe Harbor, bring Multi-pack Paper Towels, Gas Cards, Grocery Cards, Laundry Detergent or PODS $5 or more in value and receive a free ticket.)

Tuesday – Dollar Dog Tuesday (Dogs admitted for $1 each, Hot Dogs $1 each, $2 craft pints and Pepsi products

Wednesday – Wine Wednesday

Thursday – Thirsty Thursday/ Tribute to Jim Carrey (Dress as a Jim Carrey Movie character to receive a free ticket)

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

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

PARKING: All parking is $3.

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

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

 

PROBABLES (Delmarva/ Hickory)

Monday: RHP Brenan Hanifee vs. RHP Tyler Phillips

Tuesday: LHP DL Hall vs. RHP Tyree Thompson

Wednesday: LHP Zac Lowther vs. RHP Alex Eubanks

Thursday:  LHP Cameron Bishop vs. TBA

 

Recent Series History:

Delmarva has dominated the series this season, winning five of six overall and two of three at L.P. Frans in April. Since the Crawdads-Rangers affiliation began in 2009, Delmarva has won just one season series, that coming in 2015.

 

About the Crawdads:

A quick road trip at Kannapolis resulted in a 2-1 series loss at Kannapolis, as the final game of the series was suspended Sunday afternoon… Hickory is 10-9 at home this season… After a hot start in May, the Crawdads have come back to earth and are currently at .247/.325/.394 for the month. The team is next to last in the SAL in hits, last in doubles, 11th in runs scored, 12th in total bases and 13th in extra-base hits… The pitching had a good last run through the rotation and as a staff the team had allowed four or fewer runs in six straight before giving up five through five innings in the suspended game. Overall, the Crawdads are 11th in ERA (4.45), 12th in WHIP (1.40) and have walked the second most in the SAL… Defensively, Hickory has committed the fewest errors in the SAL (35 in 38 games). Collectively, Hickory has committed just four since May 9 (nine games).

 

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

CF Bubba Thompson (No. 6): 2018 stats: .257/.333/.486, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 8 K, 3 SB. Last series at Kannapolis: 1-for-10, 3B, 5 K. First-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of McGill-Toolen High, Mobile, AL. Joined the team last Wednesday.

RHP AJ Alexy (No. 17): 2018 stats: 7 games (6 starts), 29.2 IP, 25 H, 19 R (18 ER), 2 HR, 5 HB, 20 BB, 41 K, 5.46 ERA, .231 OBA, 1.52 WHIP. Last start 5/19 at Kannapolis: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 HB, 2 BB, 9 K. Joined the Crawdads after a trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Originally 11th round pick of Dodgers out of Twin Valley HS, Elverson, Pa. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-2nd hit batters, 3rd walks allowed.

RHP Alex Speas (No. 23): 2018 stats: 13 games, 3 saves, 18.2 IP, 14 H, 9 R (7 ER), 1 HR, 19 BB, 34 K, 3.38 ERA, .200 OBA 1.77 WHIP. Last game 5/17 at Kannapolis: 1.2 IP, 2 K, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K. Second-round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of McEachern HS (Powder Springs, GA). SAL Top-10 Rankings: 2nd Ks-per-9 innings among relievers (16.39), T-6th walks.

C-1B Sam Huff (No. 26): 2018 stats: .235/.297/.412, 6 2B, 4 HR, 6 BB, 37 K. Last series vs. Kannapolis: 3-for-6, 2B, K. Seventh round pick of Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia HS (Phoenix, Ariz.).

RHP Tyler Phillips (No. 30): 2018 stats: 37 IP, 39 H, 15 R (14 ER), 2 HR, 1 HB, 5 BB, 39 K, 3.41 ERA, .267 OBA, 1.19 WHIP. Last start vs. Rome: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K. Sixteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Bishop Eustace HS, Pennsauken, N.J. Native of Lumberton N.J. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 4th walks-per-9-inning ratio among starters (1.22).

Others to watch – Hickory:

RHP Tyree Thompson: 2018 stats: 7 games (6 starts) 31.1 IP, 34 H, 25 R (20 ER), 5 HR, 2 HB, 10 BB, 14 K, 5.74 ERA, .272 OBA, 1.40 WHIP. Last start vs. Rome 5/15: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R (1 ER), 1 HR, 3 BB, 4 K. Twenty-sixth round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Edna Karr HS, New Orleans.

RHP Alex Eubanks: 2018 stats: 7 games (7 starts), 33.2 IP, 45 H, 26 R (26 ER), 7 HR, 1 HB, 7 BB, 44 K, 6.95 ERA .321 OBA, 1.54 WHIP. Last start 5/17 at Kannapolis: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. Fourteenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Clemson Univ. A native of Duncan, S.C. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-4th HR allowed.

RHP Joe Barlow: 2018 stats: 10 games, 16.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 12 BB (2 IBB), 26 K, 1.08 ERA, .113 BA, 1.08 WHIP. Last game 5/19 at Kannapolis 1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB (2 IBB). Eleventh-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Salt Lake CC. Attended Riverton (Utah) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 2nd lowest OBA by relievers.

3B Tyler Ratliff: 2018 stats: .237/.313/.339,6 2B, 2 HR, 7 BB, 29 K. Last series at Kannapolis: 2-for-9, 2 2B, RBI, 1 BB, 1 K. Hitting .310/.375/.431 in May. Seventeenth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Marshall (WV) Univ. Played at TC Williams High in Alexandria, Va.

OF Franklin Rollin: 2018 stats at Hickory: 6-for-18, 2B, HR, BB, 2 K, 2 SB, 2 CS. Last series at Kannapolis: 4-for-14, 2B, HR, BB, 2 K, SB, CS. Signed an international free agent contract with the Rangers in 2013. Native of La Romana, D.R.

Tyler Ratliff

Tyler Ratliff is hitting .310/.375/.431 in May (Tracy Proffitt)

 

About the Shorebirds:

Managed by Buck Britton in his first season with the club. He is the brother of Orioles reliever Zach Britton… Delmarva heads to Hickory after dropping two of three at home to Hagerstown (Md.), the Northern Division’s last place team… What had been a solid pitching staff this season, the Shorebirds got knocked around a bit last week as they gave up seven or more runs in three of the last four games – all losses. The one win was a shutout in game one of a doubleheader on Sunday. The team ERA of 3.26 is still fifth in the SAL and they have five shutouts this season. Delmarva has allowed just 20 homers, but are just five behind Hickory in walks allowed… At the plate, the Shorebirds are near the top of the SAL teams. Collectively, they are second in the SAL in batting avg. (.263) and hits, third in runs, total bases and OPS (.723), fourth in OBP (.329) and homers, and fifth in slugging pct. (.394). They are next to last in strikeouts… Delmarva is first in fielding pct. (.976).

 

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

Prospects to watch-Delmarva:

LHP D.L. Hall (No. 4): 2018 stats: 6 games (6 starts), 19.2 IP, 12 H, 6 R (5 ER), 12 BB, 20 K, 2.29 ERA, .212 OBA, 1.22 WHIP. Last start 5/13 at Columbia: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K. First-round pick (21st overall) of the Orioles in 2017 out of Valdosta (Ga.) High. Signed away from a commitment to Florida St.

RHP Brenan Hanifee (No. 8): 2018 stats: 6 games (6 starts), 38.2 IP, 31 H, 12 R (11 ER), 5 HR, 1 HB, 8 BB, 27 K, 2.56 ERA, .223 OBA, 1.01 WHIP. Last start 5/11 at Lexington: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 7 K. Fourth-round pick of the Orioles in 2016 out of Ashby High in Bridgewater, Va. Signed away from a commitment to East Carolina. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-4th wins (4), 10th WHIP.

LHP Cameron Bishop (No. 14): 2018 stats: 7 games (7 starts), 43 IP, 41 H, 16 R (13 ER), 2 HR, 7 BB, 37 K, 2.72 ERA, .247 OBA, 1.12 WHIP. Twenty-sixth-round pick of Orioles in 2017 out of the Univ. of California-Irvine. Native of Brea, Calif. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 9th innings pitched.

LHP Zac Lowther (No. 15): 2018 stats: 5 games, (5 starts) 25 IP, 11 H, 4 R (4 ER), 2 HR, 1 HB 6 BB, 41 K, 1.44 ERA, .129 OBA, 0.68 WHIP. Last start 5/15 at Columbia: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 HB, 3 BB, 2 K. Second pick in competitive balance round of the Orioles in 2017 out of Xavier. Attended Cuyahoga Heights in Cleveland. Native of Brooklyn Heights Ohio.

RHP Gary Fenter (No. 21): 2018 starts: 7 games (2 starts), 16.1 IP, 23 H, 14 R (14 ER), 1 HR, 2 HB, 7 BB, 19 K, 7.71 ERA, .338 OBA, 1.84 WHIP. Last game 5/19 vs. Hagerstown: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K. Seventh-round pick of the Orioles in 2015 out of West Memphis (AR) High. Signed away from commitment to Mississippi St.

SS Mason McCoy (No. 25): 2018 stats: .254/.329/.399, 5 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 15 BB, 26 K, 2 CS. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 4-for-10, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB, 3 K. Sixth-round pick in 2017 out of Univ. of Iowa. Native of Peoria, Ill. Attended Washington (Ill.) Community HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 1st triples

RHP Matthew Dietz (No. 26): 2018 stats: 7 games (7 starts) 35.2 IP, 30 H, 13 R (13 ER), 1 HR, 19 BB, 41 K, 3.28 ERA, .229 OBA, 1.37 WHIP. Second-round pick of Orioles out of John A. Logan CC (Ill.). SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-4th wins (4), T-6th walks.

 

Others to watch-Delmarva:

RHP Tim Naughton: 2018 stats: 1 game, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 2 K. Made his season debut on 5/20 vs. Hagerstown. Thirty-fourth round pick of the Orioles in 2017 out of NC State. Attended Charles B. Aycock HS in Goldsboro.

RHP Cameron Ming: 2018 stats: 1 game, 4.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 7 K. Made his season debut on 5/20 vs. Hagerstown. Fourteenth-round pick of the Orioles in 2017 out of the University of Arizona. Attended Sandra Day O’Connor HS in Glendale, Ariz.

RF Zack Jarrett: 2018 stats: .290/.362/.510, 6 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 12 BB, 43 K. Last series vs Hagerstown: 3-for-11, HR, 1 K. Twenty-eighth round pick of the Orioles in 2017 out of UNC Charlotte. Played his high school ball at Hickory High. SAL Top-10 Rankings: 4th home runs, 6th runs, 6th total bases, T-7th hits, 9th slugging pct.

2B Kirvin Moesquit: 2018 stats: .282/.356/.380, 5 2B, 3 HR, 16 BB, 37 K, 16 SB, 6 CS. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 2-for-9, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 SB, 1 CS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-1st steals, T-4th runs scored (14). Twenty-fourth round pick of the Orioles in 2015 out of Seminole St. College (Fla.). Born in Willemstad, Curacao, attended high school at Highland Christian HS (Pompano Beach, Fla.).

C Ben Breazeale: 2018 stats: .220/.340/.366. 6 2B, 2 HR, 13 BB, 19 K. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 0-for-2. Seventh-round pick of the Orioles in 2017 out of Wake Forest. Attended Pigeon Forge (Tenn.) HS.

1B Ryen Ripken: 2018 stats: .283/.325/.336, 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 BB, 12 K. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 1-for-7; Signed free agent deal with Orioles in 2017. Played previously in SAL with Hagerstown (Washington) in 2016. Son of Cal Ripken, Jr.

3B Trevor Craport: 2018 stats: .282/.333/.481, 6 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 9 BB, 19 K. Last series vs. Hagerstown: 3-for-11, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Eleventh-round pick of the Orioles in 2017 out of Georgia Tech. Attended Norcross (Ga.) HS. SAL Top-10 Rankings: T-6th RBI, T-9th runs

LF Jaylen Ferguson: 2017 stats with SS-A Aberdeen: .233/.266/.264, 6 2B, 8 BB, 59 K. Made his debut with Delmarva on 5/20 (0-for-2, K). Ninth-round pick of the Orioles in 2015 out of Arlington (Tex.) HS.

The Fire to Win: An Interview with Sam Huff

In writing the feature for the Hickory Daily Record, I had a bit of a writer’s block. I found the subject of this interview, Sam Huff, to be a multi-faceted person and there were so many directions in which I could’ve steered the article.

For the HDR writeup, I chose to go the route of the guy that had his baseball fire sparked at the age of five. As I mentioned in the article, there is a fire there that burns in the baseball soul. This kid wants to win and he wants to win however necessary.

I interviewed Huff a day after a game against Rome during which he and pitcher Jean Casanova put together a clinic on how to change the plan of attack against a lineup when the original plan didn’t work.

The night before, I had talked to the two of them about the game. A minor blip on Huff’s night was getting the golden sombrero (4 strikeouts in a game at the plate, for those that don’t know). When I asked him about that, while he wasn’t happy about the strikeouts, in the grand scheme of the game itself, he didn’t care. His team won. He had a part of that win because of the work as a catcher and that’s all that mattered to him. He repeated the mantra over and over, “I just want to win.” I left without the expletive that was a part of one of those statements.

So, inside of a measured speaker, that fire is there and the more it smolders.

There were other areas we touched on in this interview: his development, his leadership, and his curiosity for learning. I think readers will see that curiosity when reading through the interview and how he seeks to soak up information.

Both Huff and catching coordinator mentioned the influence of former Crawdads catcher Jose Trevino on Huff. So, I tracked down Trevino to get his perspective on Huff and what stands out to him.

Said Trevino about Huff:

“He’s different. Swings different. Throws different. He’s a special kid.

“He doesn’t know how dangerous he is yet though and I think being in his first full season, he will start to figure it out. He’s like that baby snake that doesn’t know how poisonous it is, yet. But sooner or later he will know when to strike and how much he needs to take down someone.

“He always wants to learn and he’s always picking my brain about everything! I like being around the kid because he still needs that person to check him back into place at times. It looks funny, a 5’8” dude telling a 6’8” dude something that will help him.

“But yes, a very special kid with a lot of talent. I don’t really compare him to a player in the big leagues right now cause I don’t think you can. Sam Huff is Sam Huff. He’s going to keep getting better and he’s always going to want to learn. Great ballplayer and a better person!”

However, Huff is not just a student for the sake of being a student. He wants to lead. He wants to lead his team. He wants to lead his pitchers. Huff doesn’t appear to be a person to lead in such a way that gives the feeling he that wants the world to revolve around him; he wants to figure out how to make his teammates better—so they can win.

Sam Huff fist pump

Sam Huff with a first pump during a game against West Virginia (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

 

Here is the interview with Sam Huff:

First of all, your three-headed monster at catcher, I guess, is now down to two with you and Pozo. How did the three of you work together where you’re not getting total playing time behind the plate but you’re having to figure that out?

Huff: At the start it was kind of different because we’d play like Melvin, me, Pozo, Melvin, me, Pozo and we kind of had to work off of that. It was kind of hard to get into a rhythm and a groove. Then we’d finally start to get the hang of it and we were like, “Okay, this is our day.”

The day before that we’d get focused on watching and studying. Then the day of, we’d talk to each other. Melvin would say, “Hey, this team is good at hitting fastballs” or “This team likes to hit offspeeds and the fastball away” or “They’re a fast team, so then like to bunt or run.” We just had to almost give each other reports to keep us in the game and to help our pitchers.

Because, our goal is to help our pitchers. Us three together, we knew we all had to come together and help each other, because overall, we want to be good and we like to see each other do good because we’re winning. What I said last night, we like to win and have us three catchers calling good games and our pitchers in the strike zone and keeping them in good rhythm. It helps a lot to talk to each other.

 

Was it hard to get the pitchers into any kind of consistency, though, when you have three different voices coming at them?

Huff: Yeah, because pitchers will want to throw to a different guy, or to one or the other, but we just had to work with it. We had to learn our pitchers by talking, then catching the bullpens, catching the sides and getting an idea of what they like to do. So, every day I didn’t catch, and it was my off day, I would go to the bullpen and catch all the relievers. That’s the biggest part is every night, you’ve got a new guy coming in. You’ve haven’t caught them in two weeks and you don’t remember the ball movements. My biggest thing is I can remember my pitchers.

I live with four: Tyler Phillips, Joe Barlow, Josh Advocate and Noah (Bremer) – he’s coming back from the rehab. I talk to them. I always work with them. I know them like the back of my hand. I love them and it’s just good to talk to pitchers because then they tell you what pitchers think like from a perspective of what they want to do, how they want to do it. What’s their strengths and what’s their weaknesses. How they rank their pitches. That comes into play because you’ve got to know, if he doesn’t have his fastball, what’s his second best and go off that. You can’t just say, “Okay, we’re going to go to his third best,” and that’s not his strength. You got to work to the strengths of the pitcher and understand them.

 

There’s so much that goes into catching, not just handling the pitching staff, obviously the defense, then you’ve got to come out and bring a stick to the plate and hit. Then, there’s so many intangibles. What’s the biggest thing you are working on right now, at this level?

Huff: The biggest thing is being consistent behind the plate, catching, calling the game, maintaining a good pitching staff and how I want to approach hitters. Last night was a really good thing for me as a catcher to learn. If a plan doesn’t work, we can work off of it where we can modify it a little bit. We don’t have to flip the script and get a whole new plan. We just build off of it. It was really cool to understand that. Here’s a team that’s a fastball hitting team. They don’t like curveballs, so, okay, we’ll pitch backwards now. As a catcher, when I see that, it’s going to be easier to call because you understand, because I’m right here and the hitter’s standing right there. So, it’s easier for me, but it has to come from the pitcher, too.

Learning that as a player and hitting and just being consistent. I’m just working on some stuff. Overall, I don’t try to focus too much about hitting, because the biggest thing for me is to become the best catcher and I want to be the best.

Sam HUff hitting

Sam Huff with a home run swing during an exhibition game vs. Catawba Valley CC (Tracy Proffitt)

 

What made you decide you wanted to be a catcher in the first place? You guys take a beating and there’s so much going into what you do at the position.

Huff: I didn’t catch my whole life. I played short when I was little, third, first, the outfield and pitched. I didn’t pitch in high school. I played first base my freshman year.

I watched a guy named Tommy Joseph and Matt Wieters and Joe Mauer. I liked the way they did their catching. I just kind of said, I want to be a catcher. I went to a guy in Arizona – he was Tommy Joseph’s catching coach. Tommy was in the (Arizona) fall league at the time with the Giants, so he’d come and watch and hang out. It kind of got me triggered there. I was in my sophomore year. In my junior and senior year, I caught.

It’s been different. I didn’t think I was ever going to be a catcher when I was younger. I thought I was going to be a third baseman or a first baseman, or the outfield type. It stuck with me. I liked the way it is, that you’re in every pitch. You’re not just standing there, but you’re doing something to help the team win.

 

What is the thing you think you bring to the position? You were playing other positions and now you’re fresh behind the plate. What did you bring to the position that you thought would make it work?

Huff: I thought I received well. I caught the ball. I threw the ball good and I could throw guys out. Blocking, I had to work at it and I’m still working at it, but it’s becoming one of my strengths. I just felt like I could catch and throw really well. I felt like I could bring energy as a player and being able to control my team and help my teammates out, because I want other guys to be good.

To be able to see a catcher, even though he’s down, but he’s still up and going, that’s a leader. I’m just trying to fill the role, because it’s something I want to be, but it’s something I’ve got to work at. Every day I’m working and I’m talking to guys that I feel like are leaders to me and they tell me how they do it and I try to copy that.

 

Who are the leaders to you?

Huff: I feel like Clay Middleton. He’s a really good guy to look after. Tyree Thompson, Tyler Phillips, I could go on. I feel like everybody, in some aspect of the way, is a leader to me. They show me things that I can do different, and they tell me things that I can do different, and I show them things that I’ve improved on that they could do different. So, it’s really cool. As a team, I try and incorporate everybody as a leader. It doesn’t matter how you lead, if you’re just a quiet guy or if you like to talk a lot. If you’re a leader, you’re a leader.

 

You mentioned some guys that got you interested in catching like Mauer and Tommy Joseph. At this stage of you career, who are you looking at as someone you’d like to model your game after?

Huff: I’d like to model my game after Mike Piazza. He wasn’t the best catcher, but he could hit. He’s a Hall-of-Famer, so you can’t say that he’s not that bad of a catcher. But, I really like to model my game after him, because watching video, he had the mentality of, he’s going to beat you. He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t give, you know what, about you.

He plays hard. He wasn’t given the opportunity, he had to work for it. I like watching him as a player, because he had the flow. He had the mentality to just go out there and play to show everyone that he was better than they thought he would be.

 

(Rangers catching coordinator) Chris (Briones) will come in and say, “it’s time to fill my guys up.” What does a guy like Chris bring to you when he comes on a visit?

Huff: We talk about what I can do different and what I’m doing good at. What things he’s seen that I’ve improved on, or I need to improve on. Lately, we’ve just talked about being consistent behind the plate and getting wins, being consistent with the blocking, the throwing, the receiving, calling. I love Chris and love when he comes here and we talk.

We always bring up Trevino because we’re in the same agency and we always talk. I always talk to Jose, so I ask him little things and he just tells me what’s the deal and how to do it. It’s really awesome to have a guy like that talk to me. It’s really cool.

 

What are you looking at as the next step of development for you?

Huff: Just getting better every day at everything. I feel like I can get better at everything. There’s always something I want to improve on. I feel like once I start to get the hang of hitting, then everything will come together. Overall, I want to get better at everything. I’m always anxious to learn. Briones, he knows that and I’m always talking to him about stuff. So, it’s always cool to have him here and pick his brain a little more.

 

You get a call that says you’re going to the major leagues? Who’s the first person you call?

Huff: My parents. My dad first. He’s been there since the start, so he would get the first call. Then my grandma and grandpa, and then my whole family members and my coaches and friends.

 

Who is the biggest factor in your career that is not a family member?

Huff: As crazy as it sounds, my dad’s best friend, Marty Maier, a pitching coach at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. We talk all the time and he’s been playing for a while.

He was kind of the first guy I talked to in baseball when I was a five-year-old kid. He’s a pretty funny guy, but he told me, “This game ain’t easy, but you can do a lot if you just apply yourself. Play every game like it’s your last. Never, ever take anything for granted.” I took that to heart and I really love this game and I like to play.

I thank myself every day and I thank my parents. I thank everybody that’s helped me along this journey. Even though I’m in the ups and downs, I still remember what would I rather be doing: going to school or playing baseball for a living? When you tell yourself that, you really take it to heart. I’m playing a game that’s a kid’s game and I’m having fun with it. So, I try not to take anything for granted. For him doing that and telling me that at a young age, that was really cool and I thank him for that every day.

Huff Jaimes Mendez mound visit

A mound visit with Sal Mendez (left) Jose Jaimes and Huff (Proffitt)