Results tagged ‘ Johan Juan ’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeyson Yrizarri hittinng

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

Bullpen Legen—wait for it – dary in Win:

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

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

Tyler Davis

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

A comedy of errors:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martin looking for go-to pitch:

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

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

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

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

 

Running, running, running:

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

Game Story: Hickory at Kannapolis April 10

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sticks:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Arms:

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

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

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

Leather:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bases:

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

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

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

 

Post-Mortem:

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

From the box score: Hickory at Kannapolis 4/8

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game Story: Lenoir-Rhyne at Hickory April 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sticks:

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

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

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

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

Arms:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leather:

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

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

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

Bases:

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

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

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

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

Post-Mortem:

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

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

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

Looking at the 2016 Crawdads Roster: Pitchers

The Texas Rangers and Hickory Crawdads released the opening-day roster for the Crawdads earlier this week. I’ll take a look at the roster over two parts beginning with the pitchers in this entry.

 

In looking at the roster, the first thing I noticed was how much older the pitching staff is this season compared to season’s past as a Texas Rangers affiliate. During the Crawdads-Rangers tenure over the past seven seasons, Hickory has had such teen pitching phenoms as Martin Perez, Wilfredo Boscan, Wilmer Font, Joe Ortiz, Robbie Erlin, Andrew Faulkner, Victor Payano, Jose Leclerc, Akeem Bostick, Luis Ortiz, and Ariel Jurado start the season in a Crawdads uniform.

 

In 2015, 19-year-olds Jurado and Ortiz, along with 20-year old Brett Martin were the cornerstones of the starting rotation with LHP pitching prospect Yohander Mendez – himself 20 – waiting in the wings in the bullpen. This season, Jonathan Hernandez is the lone teen wolf (19) on the Crawdads staff.

 

Now, in the past, the Rangers have sent teen-aged pitchers to Hickory in early-to-mid May to save wear and tear on the arms (Joe Wieland, Neil Ramirez, Cody Buckel, Luke Jackson to name a few), with most repeating the Low-A level the following season. That may well happen here and that remains to be seen.

 

I also noticed a heavier – at least it seems to me – tilt towards pitchers with college backgrounds than in years past. Last year, seven of the 14 pitchers on the opening-day roster had four-year or two-year backgrounds. This year, 10 of the 12 have college experience, eight of those from a four-year school.

Last year’s pitching staff was an average of 21.4 years old (Baseballreference.com). At the start of this season, eight of the 14 members of the pitching staff are 22 and older. This is similar to the Pirate-affiliate days.

 

One possible effect of the heavier-than-normal college presence on the roster could be the allotment of innings. In years past, the Rangers would begin skipping starts at the midpoint of the season and heavily monitor the wear-and-tear of the younger arms to limit innings. However, with the older group, I wonder how much of that will be in play with this group. Even the younger pitchers on the roster (Brett Martin and Pedro Payano) have already built up to 90+ innings the past year. One thing to keep in mind, though, is several of the pitchers on the roster (Wes Benjamin, Adam Choplick to name a couple) have had “Tommy John” surgeries in the past and that will, of course, bear watching.

 

SURPRISES:

A couple of surprises, at least to me, related to the pitchers sent to Hickory. The first, for me, is the return of 2015 SAL All-Star Brett Martin. The left-hander had 72 Ks and 26 BBs in 95.1 innings, but at times struggled with consistency (1.07 WHIP first half of 2015, 1.41 second half) and with nagging injuries. Like Collin Wiles from 2015, this season could be about finding that groove of becoming a consistent six-to-seven inning starter each time out.

Brett Martin 2

2015 SAL all-star Brett Martin looks to build consistency during his second season with Hickory (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

 

Another is the return of Dillon Tate, the fourth-overall pick in 2015. A major checklist item from his time at Hickory in August of 2015 was the development of a changeup and that could be better suited during his time in South Atlantic League ballparks rather than in the rarefied air of the high desert of California.

Dillon Tate 2

Dillon Tate rejoins Hickory after a brief stint with the Crawdads last summer (photo by Tracy Proffitt)

 

WHAT ELSE TO LOOK FOR:

Wes Benjamin comes to Hickory after pitching a lone inning in the AZL last summer. The Kansas product had been out since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014.

 

Pedro Payano opened a ton of eyes in 2015, pitching at three levels with the final coming at Hickory. His three-pitch combination (fastball, curve, change) was used to great effect here in August and the playoffs, as he showed the ability to use any pitch in any count. Given that ability at age 21, his No. 29 prospect listing by MLB.com seems a bit low, though that could have more to do with the Rangers talent up the chain rather than with Payano’s ability. With his pitchability and poise on the mound, Payano could have a Ariel Jurado-type season that further opens eyes.

Pedro Payano

RHP Pedro Payano dominated the SAL in the final month of the 2015. season (Tracy Proffitt)

Starting rotation likely begins with Tate, Payano, Martin and Hernandez. Others with starting experience in the pros include Bass, Tyler Davis, Peter Fairbanks and Joe Palumbo. Jeffrey Springs started at Appalachian St.

 

 

2016 HICKORY CRAWDADS PITCHER CAPSULES

 

BLAKE BASS (RHP, 6-7, 265)

2015 Pro Season: 13 games (4 starts) at Spokane (Wash.), 33 1/3 IP, 3 HR, 15 BB, 29 K, 4.32 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .242 OBA.

About Bass: A native of Lubbock, Tex,. Bass, 22, was the Texas Rangers eighth-round pick in 2015 out of Angelo (Tex.) St., where he was a first-team All-Lone Star Conference pick. Was an All-State performer as a senior at Coronado High.

 

WES BENJAMIN (LHP, 6-1, 197)

2015 Pro Season: 1 game (1 start) at Arizona Summer League (AZL) Rangers, 1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K.

About Benjamin: A native of St. Charles, Ill., Benjamin, 22, was the fifth round pick of the Rangers in 2014 out of Kansas. Was an All- Big 12 Freshman Team selection. Underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2014 (Tommy John). Formerly drafted by the New York Yankees (48th round) in 2011.

 

ADAM CHOPLICK (LHP, 6-8, 275)

2015 Pro Season: 16 games at Spokane, 33 IP, 1 HR, 23 BB, 35 K, 2.18 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, .242 OBA.

About Choplick: A native of Denton, Tex., Choplick, 23, was the 14th round pick of the Rangers in 2015 out of Oklahoma. Was formerly drafted by the Chicago White Sox (32nd round) in 2014 and the Arizona Diamondbacks (17th round) in 2011. Underwent Tommy John surgery while a junior at Denton Ryan High. Was second team All-State pick in baseball as a high school senior and a first team All-State performer as a senior in basketball.

 

TYLER DAVIS (RHP, 5-10, 190)

2015 Pro Season: 16 games (2 starts) at Spokane, 35 1/3 IP, 4 HR, 12 BB, 30 K, 5.09 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .293 OBA.

About Davis: A native of Seattle, Davis, 23, was the 23rd round pick of the Rangers in 2015 out of Washington. Was the Northwest League Pitcher of the Week (Sept. 1-7) after throwing six no-hit innings in a start for Spokane. Holds the Huskies record for innings pitched at the school, second in starts and fourth in wins and strikeouts. Was an All-Pac 12 selection his junior and senior seasons and an All-American in 2014. His brother Erik pitched for the Washington Nationals in 2013.

 

PETER FAIRBANKS (RHP, 6-6, 219)

2015 Pro Season: 13 games (11 starts) at Spokane, 57 1/3 IP, 3 HR, 22 BB, 47 K, 3.14 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .246 OBA.

About Fairbanks: A native of St. Louis, Mo., Fairbanks, 22, was the ninth round pick of the Rangers in 2015 out of Missouri. Was a first-team All-Conference infielder in high school at Webster Grove in 2012.  Underwent Tommy John surgery as a high school junior. His father played one season in the Houston Astros chain in 1983.

 

JONATHAN HERNANDEZ (RHP, 6-2, 173)

2015 Pro Season: 11 games (9 starts) at AZL Rangers, 45 IP, 0 HR, 12 BB, 3 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .250 OBA.

About Hernandez: A native of Santiago de los Caballos, D. R., Hernandez, 19, signed with the Rangers as a free agent in 2013.Baseball America has Hernandez as the 20th best Rangers prospect, while MLB.com has him at No. 28. His father, Fernando, pitched briefly for the Detroit Tigers during a 14-season pro career.

 

JOHAN JUAN (RHP, 6-1, 180)

2015 Pro Season: 18 games at Dominican Summer League (DSL) Rangers, 43 1/3 IP, 2 HR, 7 BB, 46 K, 1.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .218 OBA.

About Juan: A native of La Romana, D. R., Juan, 21, signed with the Rangers as a free agent in 2013. After posting a 1.95 ERA over three seasons in the Dominican Summer League, Juan will be making his U.S. debut this year.

 

OMARLIN LOPEZ (RHP, 6-3, 162)

2015 Pro Season: 20 games at Spokane, 36 IP, 3 HR, 16 BB, 36 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .267 OBA.

About Lopez: A native of Payita, D.R., Lopez, 22, signed with the Rangers as a free agent in 2013.

 

BRETT MARTIN (LHP, 6-4, 190)

2015 Pro Season: 10 games (18 starts) at Hickory, 95 1/3 IP, 6 HR, 26 BB, 72 K, 3.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.65 OBA.

About Martin: A native of Morristown, Tenn., Martin, 20, was the fourth round pick of the Rangers in 2014 out of Walters St. (Tenn.) CC. Named to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game in 2015. Threw four shutout innings against Asheville in Game 2 of the 2015 SAL Championship Series. Originally attended Tennessee before transferring to Walters St. He is the Rangers No. 11 prospect, according to MLB.com and No. 18 tabbed by Baseball America.

 

JOE PALUMBO, (LHP, 6-1, 168)

2015 Pro Season: 13 games (9 starts) at Spokane and Hickory, 58 2/3 IP, 3 HR, 25 BB, 43 K, 3.07 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .253 OBA.

About Palumbo: A native of Holbrook, N.Y., Palumbo, 21, was the Rangers 30th round pick in 2013 out of St. John the Baptist (N.Y.)  High. Made a start for Hickory on the final regular season game in 2015. Named to the Arizona Summer League All-Star Team in 2014.

 

PEDRO PAYANO (RHP, 6-2, 207)

2015 Pro Season: 17 games (12 starts) at DSL Rangers, AZL Rangers, Hickory, 89 IP, 1 HR, 22 BB, 101 K, 1.11 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, .244 OBA.

About Payano: A native of San Pedro de Macoris, D.R., Payano, 21, signed with the Rangers as a free agent in 2011. Named Rangers minor league pitcher of the month in July 2015 after going 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA. Allowed one or fewer runs in five of six starts for Hickory after joining the club August 1, 2015. Threw six shutout innings vs. Asheville in Game 1 of the South Atlantic League Championship Series.

 

JACOB SHORTSLEF (RHP, 6-5, 235)

2015 Pro Season: 16 games at AZL Rangers and Spokane, 37 IP, 1 HR, 8 BB, 33 K, 1.95 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .271 OBA.

About Shortslef: A native of Sterling, N.Y., Shortslef, 21, was the Rangers 26th round pick in 2015 out of Herkimer County (N.Y.) CC. As a sophomore, ranked ninth nationally with a .157 opponent batting avg. Struck out 20 of 21 batters in a game while a senior at Hannibal (N.Y.) High. Brother Josh pitched for Hickory in 2003 and 2004, as part of his ten-season, minor-league career with the Pirates.

 

JEFFREY SPRINGS (LHP, 6-3, 193)

2015 Pro Season: 17 games at Spokane and Hickory, 27 2/3 IP, 2 HR, 15 BB, 39 K, 2.61 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .200 OBA.

About Springs: A native of Belmont, N.C., Springs, 23, was the Rangers 30th round pick out in 2015 of Appalachian St. Left the Mountaineers third in career starts and fourth in strikeouts. Attended South Point High and led the Red Raiders to the state 3A title in 2011 and named the MVP of the championship series. Named 2011 North Carolina 3A player of the year.

Jeffrey Springs

Appalachian St. product Jeffrey Springs returns to Hickory after a brief stint last August. (Tracy Proffitt)

 

ERIK SWANSON (RHP, 6-3, 250)

2015 Pro Season: 10 games at AZL Rangers, Hickory, Frisco (Tex.) and Round Rock (Tex.) 15 1/3 IP, 1 HR, 7 BB, 14 K. 2.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .185 OBA.

About Swanson: A native of Terrace Park, Ohio, Swanson, 22, was the Rangers eighth round pick in 2014 out of Iowa Western CC. Made seven appearances for Hickory before landing on the disabled list (elbow strain) on July 23 through the remainder of the season. Named Most Outstanding Pitcher while leading Iowa Western to NJCAA Division I College World Series title in 2014. Was to attend Pittsburgh before deciding to sign with Texas.

Erik Swanson 2

Erik Swanson pitched across four minor league levels with the Rangers in 2015 before an elbow strain ended his season in July (Tracy Proffitt)

 

DILLON TATE (RHP, 6-2, 197)

2015 Pro Season: 6 games (6 starts) at Spokane and Hickory, 9 IP, 1 HR, 3 BB, 8 K. 1.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, .100 OBA.

About Tate: A native of Claremont, Calif., Tate, 21, was the first round pick (fourth overall) of the Rangers in 2015 out of California-Santa Barbara. Was highest-drafted player to appear in a Crawdads uniform since Brad Lincoln (4th overall) did so in 2006.Named 2015 Louisville Slugger All-American and a Golden Spikes Award semi-finalist in 2015. Allowed 2 runs over four innings in three appearances for Hickory during the 2015 postseason. Currently the No. 4 Rangers prospect by Baseball America and No. 5 by MLB.com, which has Tate as the No. 36 prospect in the minors and the eighth-best right-handed pitching prospect.