Results tagged ‘ Jose Almonte ’

Series Preview: Hickory Crawdads at Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies April 18-20

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (10-2, 2nd Northern Division)

Columbia Fireflies (New York Mets) (6-7, 4th Southern Divisioin)

The Hickory Crawdads take a quick roadtrip to Segra Park for a three-game series against the Fireflies

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

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

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Thursday: 7:05 p.m. (Copa de la Diversion, Thirsty Thursday)

Friday: 7:05 p.m. (Copa de la Diversion, Chicharrones Piggy Bank Giveaway to first 1,500 fans)

Saturday: 6:05 p.m. (Copa de la Diversion, ZOOperstars Appearance, Post-game Fireworks)

TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

 

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

The Crawdads have had decent success against the Fireflies since their move from Savannah (Ga.) after the 2015 season. Over the three seasons since the Fireflies relocation to Columbia, the Crawdads are 15-9 overall, 8-3 in Columbia. Last year, Hickory held a 4-3 edge in the season series with a split in the four-game series in South Carolina.

PROBABLES (Hickory/ Columbia)

Thursday: RHP Ronny Henriquez vs. RHP Christian James

Friday: RHP Jean Casanova vs. RHP Dedniel Nunez

Saturday: LHP John King vs. RHP Woods Richardson

 

ABOUT HICKORY

The Crawdads polished off a 4-2 homestand with a win on Wednesday morning over Asheville. Hickory took 2 of 3 in that series. They’ll take to the road for the second time this season after posting a 6-1 mark during the season-opening trip to Lakewood (N.J.) and Greensboro.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 83 in top-100)

SS Chris Seise No. 12

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

RHP Ronny Henriquez No. 30

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; LF: Miguel Aparicio; CF: Pedro Gonzalez; RF: Jose Almonte.

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Pedro Gonzalez – Tied for 5th homers (3)

Sam Huff – Tied for 1st homers (4), tied for 4th total bases, 5th slugging pct. (.583), tied for 8th strikeouts

Chris Seise – Tied for 6th steals (5)

Curtis Terry – 1st RBI (19), tied for 1st homers (4), tied for 1st total bases, 2nd slugging pct. (.688), tied for 3rd doubles (6), 4th OPS (1.040), tied for 4th hits,

Matt Whatley – Tied for 10th walks

Individual pitching:

Tim Brennan – 5th WHIP (0.55)

Hans Crouse – 2nd WHIP (0.35), tied for 9th strikeouts (19)

Abdiel Mendoza – Tied for 3rd saves (2)

Team Batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.238 (4th)/ .299 (10th)/ .422 (2nd)/ .721 (2nd).

Other key rankings: 1st home runs, 2nd runs, 2nd total bases, 2nd fewest caught stealing, 3rd stolen bases, 3rd doubles, T-4th hits, tied for 12th walks

Team Pitching: 1st ERA (1.92), 1st WHIP (0.90), fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, 3rd fewest home runs allowed (2), fewest walks allowed, 4th strikeouts.

 

ABOUT COLUMBIA:

The Fireflies won three of their last four games to cap a seven-game roadtrip to Lexington (Ky.) and Rome (Ga.). Columbia was 3-3 during its first homestand to open the season.

Manager: Pedro Lopez (2nd season)

Prospects – Columbia (rankings by MLB.com):

SS Ronny Mauricio No. 3

3B Mark Vientos No. 4

RHP Woods Richardson No. 7

RHP Christian James No. 26

Possible Lineups: C: Juan Uriarte or Hayden Senger; 1B Brian Sharpe; 2B Chandler Avant or Walter Rasquin; 3B: Mark Vientos; SS: Ronny Mauricio; LF: Brad Marquez or Wagner Lagrange; CF: Anthony Dirocie; RF: Jose Miguel Medina.

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Ronny Mauricio – Tied for 1st hits, 5th batting avg. (.346)

Individual pitching:

Jose Butto – Tied for 3rd hits allowed, tied for 7th runs allowed,

Jaiso Vilera – Tied for 5th earned runs allowed, tied for 6th hits allowed, tied for 9th runs allowed, tied for 9th walks

Ezequiel Zabaleta – 1st games pitched (7), tied for 1st saves (3)

Team batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.229 (7th)/ .295 (12th)/ .319 (10th)/ .614 (11th).

Other key rankings: 3rd fewest strikeouts, 11th home runs, 11th walks, tied for 11th doubles, 13th runs scored, last steals (3).

Team pitching: 3rd hits allowed, 3rd fewest walks allowed, 3rd fewest strikeouts, 4th earned runs allowed, 8th WHIP (1.27), 11th ERA (4.22)

 

NOTES OF INTEREST: Crawdads CF JP Martinez (Rangers No. 2 prospect) was promoted to High-A Down East on Wednesday… RHP Ronny Henriquez will make his stateside debut on Thursday. In 11 starts in the Dominican Summer League last season, the 18-year-old struck out 79 and walked 8 over 58 innings with a 1.55 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. He skipped two levels to join Hickory…Columbia is second in the SAL in fielding pct.

Series Preview: Asheville Tourists at Hickory Crawdads

Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies) (5-6, tied for second, Southern Division)

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (8-2, 2nd Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads continue their season-opening homestand with a three-game series against Asheville.

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

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

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Monday: Asheville at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. (Make-A Difference Monday (Bring canned goods $5 or more in value and receive a free ticket), Remember the Titanic)

Tuesday: Asheville at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. (Dollar Dog Tuesday ($1 hot dogs, dogs admitted for $1))

Wednesday: Asheville at Hickory, 10:30 p.m.

 

TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

 

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

Despite being only an hour apart, the Crawdads and Tourists played just one series in 2018. The Crawdads took 2 of 3 in that series played at McCormick Park in Asheville.

The last series between the two clubs at L.P. Frans came in July 2017 when Asheville swept all three games. That year, the Tourists won 8 of 10 from the Crawdads, which included a 6-1 record at Hickory. It was the first season-series win by Asheville since 2010. Since 2009 and the start of the Crawdads-Rangers affiliation, Hickory is 49-47 vs. Asheville, but the Tourists hold a 26-22 margin at L.P. Frans.

 

PROBABLES (Asheville/ Hickory)

Monday: RHP Ryan Feltner vs. RHP Tim Brennan

Tuesday: LHP Ryan Rolison vs. RHP Yerry Rodriguez

Wednesday: RHP Shelby Lackey vs. RHP Hans Crouse

 

ABOUT HICKORY

Coming off a 6-1 road trip to open the season, the Crawdads continued the early-season success at home with a 2-1 series win over Kannapolis.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 83 in top-100)

OF JP Martinez No. 2 (No. 86 in top-100)

SS Chris Seise No. 12

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; OF LF: Pedro Gonzalez or Miguel Aparicio; CF: JP Martinez, RF: Jose Almonte.

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

Jose Almonte – Tied for 8th doubles (4)

Pedro Gonzalez – Tied for 2nd homers (3)

Sam Huff – Tied for 2nd homers (3), 4th total bases, tied for 4th strikeouts, tied for 8th runs scored, 10th slugging pct. (.605)

JP Martinez – Tied for 5th steals (4)

Jonathan Ornelas – Tied for 4th runs scored

Chris Seise – Tied for 3rd hits, tied for 4th runs scored, tied for 5th steals (4), tied for 8th doubles (4)

Curtis Terry – 1st RBI (14), 2nd slugging pct. (.703), 2nd total bases, tied for 2nd homers (3), 4th OPS (1.078), tied for 4th doubles (5), tied for 7th hits

Individual pitching:

John King – Tied for 4th hits allowed

Jake Latz – Tied for 8th strikeouts, tied for 10th ERA (0.90)

Abdiel Mendoza – Tied for 1st saves (2)

Team Batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.249 (3rd)/ .318 (6th)/ .441 (2nd)/ .760 (2nd).

Other key rankings: 1st home runs, 2nd runs, 2nd home runs, 3rd hits, 3rd stolen bases, tied for 3rd doubles, 10th walks

Team Pitching: 1st ERA (1.90), 1st WHIP (0.91), fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, tied for fewest home runs allowed (1), fewest walks allowed, 4th strikeouts.

 

ABOUT ASHEVILLE:

The Tourists come to Hickory with losses in four of the last five games. This is the second half of their road trip after losing 3 of 4 at Hagerstown, Md. Five of the Rockies top six draft picks from last June’s draft are currently with the Tourists. They include Ryan Rolison (1st), Grant Lavigne (Competitive Balance), Terrin Vavra (3rd), Ryan Feltner (4th)

Manager: Robinson Cancel (1st year)

Prospects – Asheville (rankings by MLB.com):

1B Grant Lavigne No. 5

LHP Ryan Rolison No. 6

RHP Riley Pint No. 8

SS Terrin Vavra No. 14

OF Daniel Montano No. 19

RHP Ryan Feltner No. 24

C Willie MacIver No. 28

RHP Mike Nikorak No. 29

Possible Lineups: C: Javier Guevara or Willie MacIver; 1B Grant Lavigne; 2B Coco Montes or Terrin Vavra; 3B: John Cresto or Hunter Stovall; SS: Coco Montes or Terrin Vavra; LF: Will Golsan; CF: Daniel Montano; RF: Cade Harris.

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting:

John Cresto – Tied for 4th doubles (5), 7th slugging pct. (.621), 10th OPS (.987)

Will Golsan – Tied for 2nd runs scored, 4th RBI (10), tied for 7th total bases

Cade Harris – Tied for 8th walks

Daniel Lavigne – Tied for 4th strikeouts

Willie MacIver – 1st slugging pct. (.824), 1st OPS (1.229), 1st total bases, tied for 2nd homers (3), 3rd batting avg. (.382), 3rd RBI (11), tied for 3rd hits, tied for 8th doubles (4)

Daniel Montano – Tied for 8th home runs (2), tied for 10th total bases

Hunter Stovall – Tied for 2nd doubles (6), 3rd on-base pct. (.471), 8th batting avg. (.357), 8th OPS (1.042)

Terrin Vavra – Tied for 3rd hits, tied for 4th runs scored, 5th on-base pct. (.455), tied for 5th RBI, (9), 6th total bases, 7th batting avg. (.361), 7th OPS (1.066), tied for 8th doubles (4), tied for 8th walks, 9th slugging pct. (.611), tied for 9th steals (3)

Individual pitching:

Jake Bird – Tied for 5th games pitched (4), 8th ERA (0.82), tied for 9th innings pitched (11)

Nick Bush – Tied for 2nd home runs allowed, tied for 4th runs allowed, 5th earned runs, tied for 6th hits allowed

Alfredo Garcia – Tied for 10th earned runs allowed

Eric Hepple – Tied for 1st games pitched (6)

Boby Johnson – Tied for 2nd home runs allowed, tied for 5th games pitched (4)

Shelby Lackey – 6th earned runs allowed, tied for 9th runs allowed

Nick Kennedy – 4th ERA (0.00), Tied for 5th games pitched (4), 10th WHIP (0.78)

Alex Martinez – Tied for 5th games pitched (4)

Mike Nikorak – Tied for 3rd games pitched (5), tied for 5th walks allowed, tied for 9th runs allowed

Ryan Feltner – Tied for 5th walks allowed

Riley Pint – Tied for 5th walks allowed

PJ Poulin – Tied for 3rd games pitched (5)

 

Team batting:

Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.282 (1st)/ .363 (1st)/ .493 (1st)/ .856 (1st).

Other key rankings: 1st runs, 1st hits, 1st doubles, 1st total bases, 1st walks, 2nd home runs, tied for 2nd strikeouts

Team pitching:

2nd runs allowed, 2nd home runs allowed, 2nd most walks allowed, 3rd runs allowed, 12th WHIP (1.45), Last ERA (5.32), tied for last strikeouts

NOTES OF INTEREST: Pedro Gonzalez was a member of the Rockies organization prior to a trade to the Rangers in 2017… Rockies IF Kyle Datres played college ball at North Carolina.

Late Rally Overcomes 3 Crawdads Blasts

The Kannapolis Intimidators picked up a pair of runs in the ninth and defeated the Hickory Crawdads 6-4 Friday night in front of 2,121 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Intimidators (4-4) win snapped their three-game losing streaks and also ended the four-game winning streak by Hickory, which dropped to 7-2.

With the score tied at 4-all after eight, the Intimidators got the winning started with one out in the ninth against reliever Grant Anderson (0-1). Alex Destino picked up his team’s only walk of the game and was joined next on the bases by Ramon Beltre, who singled. Ian Dawkins (3-for-5) lined an offspeed pitch for a ground-rule double to left-center to score Destino. Steele Walker added an insurance run with his second sacrifice fly of the night to score Beltre.

Kannapolis never trailed in the game after score the first four in the second against starter Jean Casanova. Michael Hickman singled, as did Destino one out later. The hit parade continued with Beltre’s RBI single before Dawkins sneaked in a bloop single to left to score a run. Walker’s initial sacrifice fly made it 3-0 before Lenyn Sosa capped the uprising with a hard-hit single to right to score Dawkins.

The Crawdads used the long ball to chip away at the lead. Facing starter Davis Martin, Curtis Terry lined a two-run shot in the third to cut the Crawdads deficit in half. Hickory tied the score after the seventh-inning stretch when Pedro Gonzalez and Jonathan Ornelas (3-for-4) lined the first two pitches of the inning for back-to-back home runs. The three home runs on Friday gave the Crawdads the South Atlantic League lead with ten.

Hickory had a chance to take the lead in the eighth against Sam Long (1-0).  Jose Almonte reached base to lead off the inning when Destino’s throw from third skipped away. Almonte moved to second with two outs, but Long struck out Sam Huff to end the threat.

The Crawdads got four strong innings of middle relief that allowed the hitters to get the team back into the game. Hever Bueno allowed one hit and struck out three over two innings of work. Dylan Bice nearly matched his pen mate with two Ks and one hit allowed over the seventh and eighth innings.

However, the Intimidators’ bullpen allowed just Almonte to reach over the final 2.2 innings and struck out three. Long fanned one before closer Wilber Perez retired the side in the ninth and K’d two more to earn his second save.

The series continues with game three of the four-game series with the first pitch set for 6:30 p.m.

Series Preview: Kannapolis Intimidators at Hickory Crawdads April 11-14

Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (3-3, 3rd Northern Division) at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (6-1, 1st Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads open a seven-game homestand Thursday, starting with a four-game series with Kannapolis.

 

IF YOU PLAN TO GO:

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

GAME TIMES/ PROMOTIONS:

Thursday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 7 p.m. (Thirsty Thursday, Duke Lineman Appreciation Night (Free tickets available at Duke Power Linemen), Magnet Schedules giveaway, Black out (Wear black and receive a $6 ticket))

Friday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 7 p.m. (Fireworks, Roaring 20s Night)

Saturday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 6:30 p.m. (Texas Rangers Night, Post Schedule giveaway)

Sunday: Kannapolis at Hickory, 3 p.m. (Church Bulletin Sunday (bring a bulletin for a $6 ticket))

TICKETS: $9 tickets in advance, $10 at the gate. Children (12 and under) and seniors $8, $15 for VIP section.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

 

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:

The Crawdads won the 2018 season series 14-9 with an 11-3 margin in games played at L.P. Frans Stadium. Hickory has dominated the series with just one season-series loss (2010) against the Intimidators since becoming a Rangers affiliate in 2009. Overall, the Crawdads are 110-72 against the Intimidators, 56-34 at L.P. Frans.

PROBABLES (Kannapolis/ Hickory)

Thursday: LHP Taylor Varnell vs. LHP Jake Latz

Friday: RHP Davis Martin vs. RHP Jean Casanova

Saturday: LHP Konnor Pilkington vs. LHP John King

Sunday: RHP Kade McClure vs. RHP Tim Brennan

 

ABOUT HICKORY

The Crawdads had a 6-1 road trip to open the season, which ended with a three-game sweep at Greensboro. They are trying to match a 7-1 start by the 2016 team.

Manager: Matt Hagen (2nd season)

Prospects – (team rankings are by MLB.com):

RHP Hans Crouse No.1 (No. 83 in top-100)

OF JP Martinez No. 2 (No. 86 in top-100)

SS Chris Seise No. 12

IF Jonathan Ornelas No. 18

C Sam Huff No. 21

3B Sherten Apostel No. 22

Possible lineups: C: Matt Whatley or Sam Huff; 1B Curtis Terry; 2B Frainyer Chavez or Jonathan Ornelas; 3B Sherten Apostel; SS Chris Seise; OF LF: Pedro Gonzalez or Miguel Aparicio; CF: JP Martinez, RF: Jose Almonte.

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting: Batting average: Chris Seise 7th (.400), Sam Huff (10th) .385; On-base pct: Seise 8th (.464); Slugging pct: Huff 2nd (.731), Jose Almonte 6th (.667), Seise 9th (.640); OPS Huff 5th (1.115), Seise 8th (1.104); Runs: Seise T-1st (8), Jonathan Ornelas 3rd (7); JP Martinez T-4th (6); Huff T-8th (5); Hits: Huff T-3rd (10); Seise T-3rd (10); Martinez T-9th (8); Doubles: Almonte T-3rd (4); Seise T-3rd (4); Huff T-6th (3); Curtis T-6th (3); RBI: Terry 1st (9); Almonte T-8th (6); Total Bases: Huff 2nd (19); Seise 5th (16); Almonte T-7th (14); Walks: Sherten Apostel T-7th (5); Steals: T-1st (4); Martinez T-4th (3).

Individual pitching: ERA: Hans Crouse T-1st (0.00); WHIP: Crouse 1st (0.26); Saves: Abdiel Mendoza T-1st (2)

Team Batting: Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS):.272 (2nd)/ .347 (2nd)/ .433 (2nd)/ .780 (2nd). Other key rankings: Runs 2nd, Hits 2nd, Doubles 2nd, Home Runs T-3rd, Total Bases 2nd (100), Stolen bases 1st (12).

Team Pitching: ERA 1st (1.48), 3rd fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed, fewest earned runs allowed, fewest home runs allowed (0), fewest walks allowed, strikeouts 2nd, WHIP (0.87).

 

ABOUT KANNAPOLIS:

The Intimadators split a six-game homestand, which ended with two losses to Delmarva (Md.) during a rain-shortened series.

Manager: Ryan Newman (1st season)

Prospects – Kannapolis (rankings by MLB.com):

CF Steele Walker No. 11

LHP Konnor Pilkington No. 20

3B Bryce Bush No. 21

RHP Jonathan Stiever No. 27

Possible lineups: C: Evan Skoug or Gunnar Troutwine; 1B: Amado Nunez; 2B: Luis Curbelo or Lenyn Sosa; SS: Sosa or Curbelo; LF: Ian Dawkins; CF: Steele Walker; RF: Logan Sowers

SAL Rankings:

Individual Batting: Batting average: Evan Skoug 1st (.429); On-base pct: Skoug 1st .579; Slugging pct: Skoug 8th (.643); OPS: Skoug 2nd (1.222); Hits: Lenyn Sosa T-6th (9); Doubles: Luis Curbelo T-6th (3). Sosa T-6th (3); Walks: Skoug T-7th (5); Steals: T-1st Ian Dawkins 1st (4).

Individual pitching: WHIP: Tyler Varnell 2nd (0.33); Konnor Pilkington T-10th (0.71)

Team batting: Slash line (BA. OBP/ SLG/ OPS): .244 (5th)/ .310 (7th)/ .337 (6th)/ .647 (7th). Other key rankings: Runs 13th, Doubles 4th, HR T-12th (0), Walks T-12th, Strikeouts 12th.

Team pitching: HRs allowed 2nd (7), hit batters 3rd (5), fewest walks allowed T-3rd, WHIP 5th (1.16).

 

NOTES OF INTEREST: Kannapolis manager Ryan Newman played for Hickory in 2003 and was the team’s hitting coach in 2007… Crawdads catcher Matt Whatley and Kannapolis pitcher Taylor Varnell were teammates at Oral Roberts Univ. Both played under former Crawdads pitching coach Sean Snedeker.

2019 Hickory Crawdads bios

PITCHERS                                                                                                           

Grant Anderson (6-0, 180 lbs., 21 y/o) RHP

Was the 21st round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2018 out of McNeese St. (La.). Native of Port Arthur, Tex. Obtained by the Rangers in a trade on April 1. Struck out 13 in 13 innings with three Mariners farm teams last summer.

Dylan Bice (6-4, 220, 21) RHP

Was the 23rd round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2016 out of Heritage High in Ringgold, Ga., where he is a native. Signed away from a commitment to East Tennessee St. Made four appearances with the Arizona Summer League (AZL) Rangers (rookie) in 2018 and registered two saves.

Tim Brennan (6-4, 200, 22) RHP

Was the 7th round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of St. Joseph’s Univ. Native of Philadelphia. Named first-team All-ECAC last year after leading Division I with a 16.80 K/BB ratio and 0.51 BB/ 9 IP ratio. Will make his pro debut with Hickory.

Hever (eh-vehr) Bueno (6-2, 179, 24) RHP

Was the 9th round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Arizona St. Missed 2018 with a right elbow injury. Has made just 11 appearances (8 starts) in pro seasons following “Tommy John” surgery in 2016. Signed with Texas eight days after the 2016 surgery. A native of Meza, Ariz.

Jean Casanova (6-3, 155, 21) RHP

Was the 35th-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Waukegan (Ill.) High. Moved to the U.S. in fifth grade from the Dominican Republic. Made 27 appearances (8 starts) for the Crawdads in 2018 with 55 Ks in 71.1 innings. His cousin Raul played in the majors from 1996 to 2008.

Sean Chandler (6-5, 200, 22) RHP

Was the sixth-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of Iowa Western CC. Native of Bellevue, Neb. Named Iowa Community College Athletic Conf. player of the year in 2018 after striking out 123 in 74 innings. Played two years at Nebraska before transferring. Posted 1.27 ERA with Spokane (short-season) last summer.

Hans Crouse (6-4, 180, 19) RHP

Was the second-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Dana Hills High, Dana Point, Calif., where he is a native. Led Dana Hills to championship game of the National High School Invitational in Cary in 2017. Pitched for Team USA in the under-18 gold-medal winning game against Cuba. Had committed to USC. Tabbed a Short-Season All-Star by Baseball America after fanning 47 in 38 innings and posting a 0.95 WHIP. Made five starts for Hickory (0-2, 2.70 ERA, 15 Ks in 16.2 IP). Currently the Rangers No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com.

Scott Engler (6-4, 220, 22) RHP

Was the 16th-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Cowley County (Kan.) CC. Native of Wichita. Returned to action with Spokane last year after missing 2017 following “Tommy John” surgery. Fanned 49 in 53.2 innings over 13 games (9 starts).

John King (6-2, 215, 24) LHP

Was the 10th-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Univ. of Houston. Native of Missouri City, Tex. Missed 2017 after left elbow surgery. Made one start each for AZL Rangers and Spokane (4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 K). Pitched two seasons at Angelina College before going to Houston. Went 8-1 with a 3.11 ERA as a senior with the Cougars.

Jake Latz (6-2, 185, 22) LHP

Was the fifth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Kent State. Born in Boerne, Tex., but attended school at Lemont High near Chicago. Pitched for LSU in the NCAA regional championship before transferring. At Spokane in 2018, was among top-10 Northwest League leaders in wins (2nd), strikeouts (4th), WHIP (7th)and ERA (8th). Fanned 67 in 71 innings.

Abdiel Mendoza (5-10, 160, 20) RHP

Originally signed with Oakland in 2015, traded to the Rangers in 2018. Native of Chitre, Panama. Made one appearance with Hickory in 2018 after the trade (3 IP, 2 H, 1 K.) Had a 3.32 ERA in 57 IP at short-season Vermont.

Wes Robertson (6-2, 190, 23) RHP

Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Rangers in 2017 out of Washington College (Md.). Native of Cheshire, Conn. Transitioned from catcher to pitcher in college. Posted a 1.53 ERA in 17.2 IP last year between AZL Rangers and Spokane.

Yerry Rodriguez (6-2, 198, 21) RHP

Signed as an international free agent by the Rangers in 2015. Native of Santiago, D.R. Split last season with AZL Rangers and Spokane. Led AZL in fewest walks/ 9 innings (0.70) and Ks/ 9 IP (12.91). Posted a 1.82 ERA with 27 Ks in 24.2 innings over four starts for Spokane.

Nick Snyder (6-4, 190, 23) RHP

Was the 19th-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Indian River St. (Fla.) College. Native of Palm City, Fla. Was a shortstop in college and named Florida NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. Threw just 2.2 innings in college. Struck out 12 in 12 innings last year with AZL Rangers.

Tai Tiedemann (Tie Tee-de-man) (6-6, 195, 22) RHP

Was the eighth-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Long Beach (Calif.) CC, where he is a native. Named South Coast Conference player of the year as a sophomore. Posted a 4.84 ERA in 57.2 innings over 13 games (12 starts) for Spokane last year.

Cole Uvila (6-4, 206, 25) RHP

Was the 40th-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of Georgia Gwinnett Univ. Native of Port Angeles, Wash., where he attended high school. Also pitched for Pierce College (Wash.) and Georgia St. Had 80 Ks in 55 innings his college senior season. Posted a 1.42 ERA and fanned 48 over 31.2 innings for Spokane last summer.

Grant Wolfram (6-6, 210, 22) LHP

Was the 18th-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of Davenport (Mich.) Univ. Native of Hamilton, Mich., originally pitched for Central Michigan Univ. before transferring. Struck out 13 in a no-hitter last year at Davenport. Made eight appearances (1 start) for AZL Rangers with 10 Ks and 6 BBs in 10.2 IP.

 

CATCHERS

Sam Huff (6-4, 215, 20) B-T: R-R

Was the seventh-round pick of the Rangers in 2016 out of Arcadia High in Phoenix. Named to Arizona Republic’s All-Arizona baseball team in 2016. Tied for the AZL lead in 2017 with nine homers. Played for Hickory last year and posted a .241/.292/.439 slash line. Named to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game. Tied for the Crawdads lead in homers with 18. Currently the Rangers No. 21 prospect, according to MLB.com.

Isaias Quiroz (Key-Rose) (5-10, 234) B-T: R-R

Was the 20th-round pick of the Rangers in 2014 out of St. Joseph Regional in Montvale, N.J. Born in New York City. Played at Spokane last year and threw out 37% of attempted base stealers while posting a .224/.333/.402 line. Played 11 games for Hickory in 2017 going 3-for-35.

Matt Whatley (5-10, 200, 23) B-T: R-R

Was the third-round pick of the Rangers in 2017 out of Oral Roberts Unix. Native of Claremore, Okla. Received the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s best college catcher in 2017. Three-time first-team all -Summit League pick. Played in 52 games for Down East (high-A) and Hickory last year, missing time due to an illness. Went 3-for-19 in seven games last year with the Crawdads.

 

INFIELDERS

Sherten Apostel (6-4, 200, 20) B-T: R-R

Originally signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a non-drafted free agent in 2015. Traded to the Rangers in 2018. Native of Willemstad, Curacao. Spent last year at Bristol (Pittsburgh-rookie) and Spokane. Posted a .351/.469/.459 line in 12 games after the trade. Currently the Rangers No. 22 prospect, according to MLB.com.

Frainyer Chavez (5-10, 170, 19) B-T: S-R

Was the 22nd-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of Midland (Tex.) JC. Born in Valencia, Venezuela, but attended Little Elm (Tex.) High School. Named to first-team All-Western JC Athletic Conference after batting .387 with 13 HRs and 66 RBI. Posted a .306/.378/.405 line in 45 games at AZL Rangers.

Jonathan Ornelas (6-1, 178, 18) B-T: R-R

Was the third-round pick of the Rangers in 2018 out of Kellis High school in Glendale, Ariz., where he is a native. Named 5A co-player of the year by the Arizona Baseball Coaches Assoc. Won 5A state title with his school in 2017. Posted a .302/.389/.459 line in 48 games with the AZL Rangers and named as the 10th best prospect in the Arizona Summer League. Signed out of a commitment to Tennessee. Currently the Rangers No. 18 prospect, according to MLB.com.

Chris Seise (cease) (6-2, 175, 20) B-T: R-R

Was the first-round pick (29th overall) of the Rangers in 2017 out of West Orange (Fla.) High in Winter Garden. Born in Schenectady, N.Y. Named to Arizona Summer League All-Star team in 2017 after posting a .336/.395/.509 line in 27 games with the AZL Rangers. Missed all of 2018 due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. Currently the Rangers No. 12 prospect, according to MLB.com.

Curtis Terry (6-3, 264, 22) B-T: R-R

Was the 13th-round pick of the Rangers in 2015 out of Archer High in Lawrenceville, Ga. Native of nearby Snellville. Named Northwest League MVP after leading the league in home runs (15), RBI (60), total bases (149), runs (51) and OPS (1.040). Batted .337, the second-best in the Rangers minor league system. Named to Baseball America’s short-season all-star team.

OUTFIELDERS

Jose Almonte (6-3, 205, 22) B-T: R-R

Signed by the Rangers as international free agent in 2013. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R. Played 57 games for Hickory in 2016 and posted a .278/.343/.444 line with 8 homers and 26 RBI. Missed parts of the season with shoulder injuries. Returned to the Crawdads in 2017 and again struggled with injuries, playing only 66 games with a .185/.251/.300 line. Played in 11 games last year in the AZL.

Miguel Aparicio (6-0, 188, 20) B-T: L-L

Signed by the Rangers as an international free agent in 2015. Native of San Carlos, Venezuela. Spending his third season with Hickory. Named South Atlantic League hitter of the week for July 9-15, 2018 after batting .385/.407/.769 with two homers and eight RBI.

Pedro Gonzalez (6-5, 190, 21) B-T: R-R

Originally signed by the Colorado Rockies as an international free agent in 2014. Traded to the Rangers in 2017. Native of Santo Domingo, D.R. Played in 92 games for Hickory and posted a .234/.296/.421 line. Battled leg injuries through the year with two DL stints due to quad strains.

Julio Pablo (J.P.) Martinez (5-9, 174, 23) B-T: L-L

Signed by the Rangers as an international free agent in 2018. Native of Baracoa, Cuba, currently resides in Miami. Tabbed the 6th-best prospect in the Northwest League by Baseball America. Posted a .252/.351/.436 line in 60 games with Spokane. Debuted in the Cuban National Series at 16-years-old and played five seasons in the country’s top league. Currently the Rangers No. 2 prospect, according to MLB.com.

 

Crawdads 2019 Preview: Interview with Manager Matt Hagen

The Hickory Crawdads began the 2018 season with six straight losses and were 1-8 before winning two straight for the first time. The season took a big turn in the second half as the pitching, which struggled mightily early on, carried the team.

Matt Hagen will take the reins of the team for the second time and there are high expectations for a group that will have six of the Texas Rangers top-30 prospects, according to MLB.com. Five of those are position players, which will also have four more teammates that were once on that heralded list.

However, the expectations aren’t simply because of the pedigree of the players that will start the year here. The expectations are there because Hagen and his staff has raised the bar of accountability that he admitted wasn’t present until several weeks into 2018.

The Crawdads will be young in the field, older on the mound and it could be an interesting combination as they go forward.

I talked with Hagen on Tuesday a day after his team’s exhibition win over Lenoir-Rhyne.

You and I talked late last year and this January at the hot stove banquet about setting up accountability right off the bat. You start this year at Lakewood with the long bus trip and the weather that’s up there in April. With that in mind, let me ask you about the start of the season and hitting the ground running.

Hagen: I think we get some adversity right away with the long bus trip and some cold weather. But, at the end of the day, these guys are going to be better off facing some adversity. With that said, we want to push them simply hold them to a higher standard and level of accountability right out of the gate.

You face the league runner-up (Lakewood, N.J.)– and I know there is turnover and such, but traditionally it’s a strong club that always has good pitching. You’ve got a lineup that looks like, on paper, a good group of prospects that you’re going to put up there every night.

Hagen: Our team, opening day, the depth of our lineup is one of our strengths. On any given night, our four-hole (hitter) could be batting eighth and the next night our eighth-hole could be batting fourth. There’s not a differentiation between the two. So, we have some length in the back half of our lineup, which is, on paper, a good look.

You’ve got Chris Seise, J.P. Martinez, (Jonathan) Ornellas. You’ve got, at least from MLB’s point of view, five prospects that are in the top-30. To run five out every night, that’s a nice group to play with.

Hagen: I think it’s more the names you didn’t mention that are going to be a big deal for us. You’re talking about Matt Whatley, who is coming off a year where he was misdiagnosed and was battling illness all year and was a Johnny Bench award winner coming out of college. You’ve got Jose Almonte, who had a heck of a year here before he got hurt. He’s been spending the last two years just getting healthy to get back to Hickory. You’ve got Pedro Gonzalez, who showed some electrifying stuff last season and has a chance to come back here and start off with some familiarity.

So, I think it’s nice to have guys that are on prospect lists, but at the end of the day, a prospect list just means you haven’t done anything yet. You’re a guy who has the potential to someday do something. We try to drive that point home to them that you don’t get to make it to the big leagues because you are on a prospect list in Low-A. You’ve still got a lot of work to do.

You do have some guys that were on that top-30 list: Matt and Pedro and Miguel (Aparicio). It’s almost a group that has something to prove to get back into that conversation.

Hagen: When Miguel came back last year after going to Spokane for a little bit, we saw a different player in terms of his preparation, his effort and his hustle on the field. From that time, which I want to say was July, all the way through Instructional League, through the winter programs in the Dominican, through spring training, that’s the guy we’ve seen. So, I’m excited to see that same guy for a whole five months, now.

Miguel Aparicio will start his third season with the Crawdads (Crystal Lin)

Is this a similar situation to Pedro? Like you said, there were spurts when he would electrify in the lineup, but there were times he was out for injuries. Was there disappointment for that last year, or was it more of a luck of the draw that he couldn’t stay healthy?

Hagen: I think it’s par for the course for athletic players, who happen to be 6-foot-5 and possess a lot of power. They’re going to get pitched like a AA hitter would get pitched in Low-A baseball. They’re not, “here’s three fastballs within the at-bat” with something to hit. It’s right away, “we don’t want to give in, let’s see if we can get you to chase” and take something off. It doesn’t matter if Pedro bats third or hits eighth or ninth, him and guys like Sam Huff and Curtis Terry are going to get pitched the same, no matter what, because everybody knows what they can do with one swing of the bat.

Pedro Gonzalez returns to the Crawdads after posting a .234/.296/.421 slash a season ago (Ashley Salinas/ Hickory Crawdads)

So, it’s just part of the education process for Pedro. If he can add one base hit for week over the course of a season for him, you add 20 hits in there and all of a sudden, he’s a uber-prospect, when he has 20 more hits over the course of 500 at-bats. So, just making those little adjustments where he becomes a little more patient on getting a pitch that he can hit. I think that’s just part of the natural process of all hitters.

Chris Seise is healthy?

Hagen: He’s healthy and ready to go. He’s really excited. He spent a whole year in the training room himself, which for a young kid is frustrating. He wants to be out there every day. He’s healthy and I think that some of the game clock things are going to have to come back to him, because he’s had time off. And Almonte taking a couple of years off is going to have to have the game clock come back to him. But, two three weeks into the season, I think they’ll be right back to where they were before.

What have you seen from J.P. so far?

Hagen: A superior athlete. When he gets on base, it’s really fun to watch. I put him in that Eric Jenkins, LeDarious Clark mold – guys in our organization that can change the game on the basepaths. He can go get it in the outfield. Then at the plate, if you’re not careful, you might look and realize this guy not only can defend and run, but it turns out he can hit the ball pretty hard for a guy that’s his size. The sky’s the limit for him and it’ll be exciting to see him get four or five bats every game, probably at the top of the order.

Apostel – he’s a big kid, for some reason he’s not what I was expecting. I was thinking he would be a smaller guy for a third baseman.

Hagen: A tall kid for a third baseman, but he can play the position. Just seeing the amount of adjustments he made over the course of spring training, working on his feet to get them better. He’s got a strong enough arm and he’s starting to get better angles on his ground balls. At the plate – he’s only 19 or 20 years old – the maturity of his at-bats and the inner confidence that he brings is beyond his years. We’re going to plug him in the middle of the order.

Ornellas looks like he was pretty smooth last evening.

Hagen: Johnny is going to be all over the field for us because he’s just that athletic. That allows a manager, like myself, to plug him wherever I want. He can play third base one night. He can play centerfield, left, second, short, right field. His role on this team will be mostly to bounce around and be that super-utility guy for us, just because that’s what we need with this particular group of guys. He’s smart enough and athletic enough to handle that.

I think we’ve mentioned all the prospects, but there’s one guy who is not on any of the prospect lists and it’s the guy Curtis Terry who was the MVP of the Northwest League last year, Curtis Terry. You lose Tyreque Reed from last year and now you plug another one in.

Hagen: I’m surprised they didn’t find him a house and sign him to a long-term contract in Spokane. Two years ago, he led the league in home runs. He went back to repeat last year simply because we have a log jam at first base with Tyreque. He goes back and winds up winning the MVP. So, you look at guys, that prospect status is what it is, but track record is more important to me. And his track record says, based on his last two years, the dude hits. He puts up his number. Just read the baseball card – the baseball cards don’t lie. You are what you are. So, you look at the back of his baseball card, you get excited for what he can potentially do over 140 games.

Looking at the roster, usually when you look at this level it’s been the tendency for the Rangers to bring in a bunch of young guys, but have a couple of college guys. You don’t have that his year, other than Matt behind the plate. Does that concern you to have so many young guys around the infield? Is the expectation for the guys to grow up on their own a little bit?

Hagen: Yeah, they’re going to have to learn on the fly. Luckily, Matt has the leadership skills to count as two or three people. He really does. Then, if you watched (Frainyer) Chavez last night, his inner clock that he plays with is so under control. There’s no panic. He plays like a kid that’s been playing infield professionally for six years, and it’s only his second season. That’s a bright spot for me.

We’ll lean leadership wise on the guys who have been here in the past, and also on our two catchers. We’ve Sam’s maturity and Matt’s been at a higher level. They both possession good leadership skills.\

One of the worries from last year was getting the guys that were here enough playing time as catchers, getting repetition. Right now, how do you see that playing time shaping up?

Hagen: I think 50-50 coming out of it. They’re both guys that need to play. They’re both guys that are going to be instrumental to the success of our club. Sam was an all-star here last year and he’s earned the right to play every day. Matt was arguably our best hitter two years ago at Spokane and had some adversity last year. He’s also earned the right to play a lot, too. They are two guys in the organization the organization is high on for good reason. So, one of those guys will be catching and the other guy will probably be DH-ing most nights.

Sam Huff hit 18 home runs for the Crawdads which finished in a tie for the team lead (Tracy Proffitt)

What is your general impression of what you have among the pitching staff? You, obviously, have Hans Crouse at the top and Jean Casanova who was here last year. Everybody else is pretty spanking new to this level.

Hagen: (Pitching coach) Jose (Jaimes) and I were talking about this just the other day. It’s a stark contrast to what we had last year. We had a lot that were lighting up the radar gun early in the season, but not the strike zone. This year, we have more guys that, I think, have the ability to throw more strikes – more pitchers than throwers. Last year, we started the season with more throwers and we had to make them pitchers. To have guys that can throw a couple of pitches in the zone to start the season. I think it’s encouraging, as we learn the value of free bases and not walking guys every night. It gives our defense a chance to make plays.

It’s the first group I can recall that doesn’t have a teenager on the pitching staff. I know the Rangers have put together a program in which the high school guys they drafted last summer were shut down until instructionals. Is this older group of pitchers a part of that intentional process by the Rangers?

Hagen: Yeah, I think it’s a hundred percent intentional. When we signed the American kids out of high school, we want them on our program, doing things our way. Sometimes that means you have to take a step back and get them back to neutral as an athlete. Then, we can take two or three steps forward. You have to be willing to have the patience to give that a year to take place, so therefore you don’t have kids that are 19, but now they are 20. I think it’s a plan that has the player’s best interest at heart long term.

Series Preview: Kannapolis at Hickory July 4-6

Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (43-37 overall, 4-8 second half, tied for 6th South Atlantic League Northern Division) at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (34-48 overall, 7-5 3rd SAL Northern)

The Hickory Crawdads begin a weeklong homestand with a three-game series against in-state rival Kannapolis.

 

If you plan to go:

GAME TIMES: Tuesday – Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

PROMOTIONS:

Tuesday – Independence Day Celebration and Post-Game Fireworks

Wednesday – Kids Win Wednesday: All kids 12 and under admitted free, also get vouchers for free meal, bounce house, speed pitch and carousel;

Thursday – Thirsty Thursday; Rudy Wright Night

 

TICKETS: $9 dollars for regular seats, $14 for VIP section. NOTE: Tickets for July 4 are $12 for regular seats, $17 for VIP section… while supplies last!

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

PARKING: All parking is $3.

CONCESSIONS: L.P. Frans Stadium has two main concession areas plus the Crawdads Café. The concession stands have your basic ballpark food: Hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwich, BBQ, etc. The Crawdad Café has a menu that features more diverse items, including the Mac & Crawdog, Banana Foster Bites, Fried Pickles, Sloppy Burger, and more. Click here for the menu http://www.milb.com/documents/3/3/4/185907334/cafe_menu_6eeko6n2.pdf

 

Probables (Kannapplis/ Hickory):

Tuesday: RHP Yelmison Peralta vs. RHP Walker Weickel

Wednesday: RHP Blake Hickman vs. RHP Edgar Arredondo

Thursday: RHP Luis Martinez vs. RHP Reid Anderson

 

Recent Series History:

In 2017, Hickory is 10-9 as the teams enter the final series vs. Kannapolis this season. The Crawdads have not lost a season series against Kannapolis since 2010 (7-9). The Intimidators hold a 4-3 edge in games played at L.P. Frans this season and are looking to win its season-series at Hickory since 2008 (3-1).

 

About the Crawdads:

The Crawdads hope to springboard off a successful road trip and use that momentum to improve upon a 15-24 home record. They return home after their first winning road trip (5-3) of the season. Hickory won 3 of 4 at Kannapolis last week and then earned a split of a four-game series at West Virginia by winning Monday night’s finale… At the plate, the Crawdads are fourth in the SAL in total bases, supported by a league-leading 28 triples and 56 homers, which is fourth in the league. However, that has not added up to tallies on the scoreboard as the Crawdads are ninth in runs scored. Some of that has been due to impatience at the plate. Hickory is tied for last in walks received and next to last overall in on-base percentage (.305) …The Crawdads remain last in the SAL in ERA, but the trend continues towards improvement as the club is under five (4.87) and is no longer on pace to set a club record. Hickory is last in WHIP, and next to last in both walks and hits allowed.

 

Prospects to watch- Hickory:

CF Leody Taveras (No. 1 MLB.com and Baseball America, No. 43 Baseball America top-100 prospects, No. 51 MLB.com top-100): Signed as international free agent 2015 out of Tenares, Dominican Republic. Went 3-for-11 at West Virginia and has a .302/.415/.372 slash for the second half. Has just four extra-base hits since May 30. Tied for first in triples (5), second in ABs, 5th in games played, 8th in runs scored, tied for 9th in hits

SS Anderson Tejeda (No. 7 MLB.com). Signed as an international free agent in 2015 out of Bani, D.R. Went 2-for-11 in series at West Virginia. Has shifted mostly to 2B, playing just four games at SS since May 30. Tied for 6th in SAL with 4 triples. Is tied for 4th in Ks and has 13 in 52 plate appearances (31%) in the second half.

2B Yeyson Yrizarri (No. 17 MLB.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of the D.R. Went 6-for-15 at West Virginia with a homer and 5 RBI. Has hits in 9 of 11 games in the second half, including the last six. Hitting .325/.333/.550 in the second half.

RF Jose Almonte (No. 28 MLB.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of Santo Domingo, D.R. Has struggled all season (.186/.248/.305) and is now losing playing time, seeing action in just 7 of 12 games. Went 1-for-14 on the road trip and is 2-for-22 with 7 Ks in the second half.

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

C Ricky Valencia: Signed as an international free agent in 2011 out of Valencia, Venezuela. Named to the SAL All-Star Game as a reserve catcher. Went 4-for-11 at West Virginia and has hits in 6 of his last 8 games. Looking for his first extra-base hit since June 12.

1B Carlos Garay: Signed as an international free agent in 2012 out of La Victoria, Venezuela. Has settled into the starting first base slot since joining the Crawdads on May 20. Has hits in 10 of his last 11 games and multi-hit games in five of the last seven (14-for-32). Very much a contact hitter, has just 3 Ks over the last 11 games, but no walks. Overall, he has just 4 walks in 40 games, but just 14 Ks.

3B Ti’Quan Forbes: Second-round pick in 2014 out of Columbia High (MS). Has missed just three of 82 games. Went 5-for-15 at West Virginia and has 9 hits in 20 ABs. Is hitting just .217/.255/.319 at home.

C Alex Kowalczyk: 12th-round pick in 2016 out of Pittsburgh. Went 3-for-13 at West Virginia. Is at .333/.368/.417 in the second half. At home, Kowalczyk is .368/.403/.559. Has had trouble however behind the plate with a SAL-high of 9 errors and four passed balls in just 28 games.

RHP Walker Weickel: Signed as a free agent in 2017 out of the San Diego Padres organization with which he was a first-round pick. In his last start at Kannapolis, allowed three hits, a walk and struck out seven over 6.2 innings.

RHP Edgar Arredondo: Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. Allowed two earned runs over five innings with five hits and three Ks at Kannapolis in his last starter. Has given up one for fewer earned runs in five of his last eight starts.

RHP Kaleb Fontenot: 21st-round pick in 2016 out of McNeese St. Pitched in three of the four games (2 saves) at West Virginia and has four straight scoreless outings.

 

About the Drive:

Managed by former Kannapolis infielder Justin Jirschele. The Intimidators won six of seven to close out the first half, which included a four-game sweep of then-first place Hagerstown (Md.) to claim the first half Northern Division title. Kannapolis will make its first playoff appearance this September since 2009…Winning the first half earned promotions for several players (six of the seven all-stars received promotions) and for now it has left Kannapolis scrambling for answers. At the plate, about 40% of the homers (21 of 52), one-third of the RBI, and nearly one-third of the hits are elsewhere. In losing the final seven games of its just-concluded homestand, Kannapolis scored 16 runs. It’s a team that doesn’t run much – a league low 50 steal attempts – and relies on station-to-station and situational hitting… The same holds true on the mound as players that made 48 of the 80 starts for Kannapolis are now elsewhere. Only one pitcher currently on the roster (Yosmen Solorzano) has made more than six starts (15).

 

Prospects to watch – Kannapolis:   

RF Micker Adolfo (No. 21 mlb.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of San Pedro de Macoris, D.R. Went 3-for-16 vs. Delmarva in the last series. Had a 16-game hitting streak (24-for-66) in May and was named the White Sox minor-league player of the month in May and June. He had ten homers, 19 doubles and 37 RBI during that stretch. He is tied for first in the SAL with 24 doubles, fifth in total bases and ninth in slugging (.483).

RHP Luis Martinez (No. 22 mlb.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2012 out of Carupano, Venezuela. Had a dominant first start of the season vs. Hickory on May 19 with 9 Ks and one run allowed on four hits over five innings. Bumped up to high-A Winston-Salem, he struggled (16 ERs, 25 hits, 10 BBs over 16 innings), then returned to Kannapolis on June 26 to again dominate Hickory (1 ER, 3 H, 5 K, 6 IP).

 

Others to watch – Kannapolis:

2B Mitch Roman: 12th round pick in 2016 out of Wright St. Went 3-for-19 vs. Delmarva. Named to the SAL all-star game. Shifted to SS after the promotion of Grant Massey. Currently fourth in the SAL in hits.

RHP Blake Hickman: 7th round pick by the White Sox in 2015 out of Iowa. Made his first pro start vs. Hickory on 5/31/17 and allowed one run on five hits and fanned two over six innings. Had a rough outing vs. Delmarva in his last start on June 30 (5.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 4 K.).

 

Weird Baseball: Hickory outlasts Lexington 6-5

When you have a pre-game that has the Red Power Ranger and Dale Murphy throwing out first pitches back-to-back and the box manager announces the attendance dressed in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume, the game itself must be weird.

After the offenses were dormant early, the Hickory Crawdads and the Lexington (Ky.) Legends battled back-and-forth until a play at the plate settled the contest, which the Crawdads won 6-5 on Saturday at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The win snapped the Crawdads (24-38) losing streak at three and sent the Legends (30-32) to their fourth loss in five games on the current road trip.

 

What happened?:

Well, not much in the first 5 ½ innings. Lexington’s Jace Vines (KC’s 2016 4th round pick from Texas A&M) held the Crawdads without a baserunner until the fifth and a hit until the sixth. Meanwhile, his counterpart Walker Weickel allowed two hits, walked two and struck out five over his four innings.

Lexington scored in the fifth against reliever Christian Torres. Rudy Martin walked, stole second and scored on Angelo Castellano’s single to left.

Alex Kowalczyk broke up the fledgling perfect game with a leadoff walk in the fifth. In the sixth, Jose Almonte laid to rest Vines’s no-hit bid with a clean single through the left side of the infield. Yeyson Yrizarri singled up the middle before Vines walked Anderson Tejeda to load the bases. After Vines fanned Eric Jenkins, Leody Taveras ambushed a first-pitch fastball and drove it over the funeral home sign in center for a grand slam, his fifth homer of the season to make it 4-1.

“It happens in the game,” said Crawdads manager Spike Owen. “(Vines) was throwing well against us the first five innings. We got to the sixth inning and finally had some quality at bats and got the no-hitter out of the way with Almonte’s single and Yrizarri had a great at-bat. Obviously, Taveras get the first-pitch fastball for the grand slam. Up to that point, we didn’t have anything going, but you’ve got to play nine innings. That’s what we’ve been preaching to them all year.”

Matt Smoral picked up for Torres in the seventh and after striking out the first two hitters, he walked the bases loaded. C.D. Pelham entered to face Emmanuel Rivera, who hit the lefty’s second pitch out to left for his fifth homer of the season.

The Crawdads fought back to tie it a 5-5 in the seventh, when Ti’Quan Forbes and Yrizarri pieced two doubles together for the tying run.

Lexington threatened in the eighth when it put Gabriel Cancel on second with one out. Yeison Melo ripped a Pelham pitch to left – or it would have landed there if not for the diving play of Forbes at third, who made the catch and fired to second to complete an inning-ending double play.

What turned out to be the winning tally started in the eighth when Eric Jenkins had a hustle double and moved to third on Taveras’s infield hit. Yanio Perez hit into a fielder’s choice to erase Taveras, but Jenkins inexplicably stayed at third. After Kowalczyk lined out to short, Forbes brought in Jenkins with a single.

Things got harrowing for the Crawdads in the ninth as Pelham hit Martin with a pitch with one out. After Pelham struck out Khalil Lee, Castellano singled Martin to second. Rivera hit a grounder up the middle that SS Tejeda knocked down, which seemingly would’ve kept Martin at third. Except, Martin ran with his head down and either didn’t see manager Scott Thorman with a stop sign, or Thorman didn’t throw one up. Martin circled around third and sprinted for home. Tejeda’s throw to the plate was in plenty of time to allow Ricky Valencia tag Martin sliding in.

 

Yes, Taveras is back.

I thought Taveras was on the way to his usual pest-like self again on Friday. When he’s on, Taveras is marvelously skilled at picking out his pitch. Whether it’s a first-pitch fastball, like on the grand slam, or a 9-pitch AB as in the first inning, he will seek out his pitch, and more often than not, smack it hard somewhere.

 

But he’s bunting?

After Friday night’s ninth-inning loss Spike Owen was pulling out the stops to get a win. AFter Jenkins double in the eighth,  Taveras fouled off the first two pitches on failed bunt attempts before connecting on a slow roller that set up the final run of the game. Hickory has only 8 sac bunts this season – Tejeda has 3 of them – it just seemed a weird strategy to take the bat out of your second-best hitter.

 

Forbes making noise like a duck:

Or he could if he gets a promotion to the Down East Wood Ducks. He offers stellar defensive play every night, but it’s been the stick that has held him back. He continues to see fastball and is willing to drive it where it’s pitched. Tonight, he got pitches in and he knows what to do with them. A great play at third deprived him of three hits.

 

Eric, oh Eric:

There is so much raw talent, but wow, there seems to be some baseball acumen missing at times. In the sixth with the bases loaded, he swung through a fastball up –  a big swing, when just putting the ball in play most likely gets a run. Later in the AB, he fouled off a high slider that screamed “hit me”. Jenkins did work the count in the AB, but eventually flew out to shallow left. When he is in a key situation in an inning, he tends to overswing.

Him holding at third with runners on the corners and no outs was just odd – just as odd as it was for the Legends to play back for a double play with no outs and the go-ahead runner at third in the eighth.

Legendary Rally Sinks Crawdads 4-3

It’s been a tough season for the Hickory. The pitching staff has taken its lumps. The defensive play has been iffy. There has been time the two aspects have performed well, but the bats went silent.

Friday night had all the makings of a good team win. Solid pitching, nearly flawless defense, and timely hitting added up to a 3-1 lead. And then the ninth…

Taking advantage of a key error, the Lexington (Ky.) Legends tallied three runs in the top of the ninth and claimed a 4-3 victory over the Crawdads in front of 3,025 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Legends (30-31) snapped a three-game losing streak and picked up their first win during a weeklong road trip after being swept at Columbia (S.C). The win was also the first of the season after trailing in the eighth inning. Lexington was 0-25 in such games before Friday’s rally.

Meanwhile, Hickory (23-38) dropped its third straight, all at home where the Crawdads are 11-21. It was first loss (14-1) when leading after eight innings.

 

What happened?:

Crawdads starter Matt Ball held the Legends in check for six innings and Nick Dignacco added two more solid innings to help get the Crawdads to the ninth with the lead.

Ball allowed one run on seven hits and struck out ten before Dignacco tacked on three Ks over two scoreless innings.

Meanwhile, the Crawdads put up two runs in the second against Andre Davis. With two outs, Jose Almonte singled and Yeyson Yrizarri doubled him in. Anderson Tejeda reached on an infield hit and Yrizarri scored when second baseman John Brontsema’s throw to first went into the dugout.

Khalil Lee hit his ninth homer of the season in the third to trim the Legends deficit in half.

Hickory got the run back in the fourth when Alex Kowalczyk singled and came around to score on Carlos Garay’s doubled to the track in center to make it 3-1. And then the ninth…

Rudy Martin and Lee opened the inning with singles to chase Dignacco. Reid Anderson entered to face Angelo Castellano and this was the key sequence of the inning. Castellano sent a 2-1 fastball on a liner to left, which scored Martin from second. On the play, LF Eric Jenkins charged the ball aggressively, but it skipped to Jenkins left and that allowed Lee to go to third and Castellano to second.

Gabriel Cancel atoned for a four-strikeout night with a sacrifice fly to the track in left that easily scored Lee from third and was deep enough to allow Castellano to move to third. With the infield in to try and keep the go-ahead run from scoring, the next hitter, Emmanuel Rivera, hit a grounder to Yanio Perez at first. He made the quick grab of the ball and fired home, but Castellano was able to slide under the tag of the catcher Kowalczyk to make it 4-3.

Anderson pitched out of further trouble, but aside from Yrizarri’s second double of the game with two outs, Gavin Grant had little trouble setting down the Crawdads to close out the game.

 

Matt was Ballin’

With a decent arsenal of four pitches (fastball 91-92, change, curve and a slider I don’t remember seeing last year), I was a bit surprised the Rangers hadn’t given him much of a look in the starting rotation other than as a spot-starter. With Demarcus Evans going on the DL, and Tyler Phillips and Jonathan Hernandez moving to different affiliates, Ball has picked up a rotation spot. The results up till Friday in the rotation have been not good: 14 earned runs in his last 14 innings (three starts) with 7 walks. But the Ks have increased. He had eight in 6.1 innings at Delmarva and posted 14 over the last three starts.

He hadn’t been much of a strikeout pitcher, but more of a groundball hurler. The SAL hit .266 against him last year, but when he keeps his sinking fastball down and throws his secondaries for strikes, he’s tough. Friday was one of those nights.

He got Ks on all four pitches – spotting the fastball on corners for looking Ks. He threw a few changes early to good effect, but started leaving some pitches up.

Lee’s homer was a rope that skipped off the top of the 32’ billboard in right – a true liner. In the fourth, Rivera lined to right, Meibrys Viloria then nearly decapitated Ball with a liner up the middle and Brontsema added a hard-hit single. From there, Ball began to amp up the breaking ball arsernal and K’d both Joe Dudek and Marteen Gasparini on good sliders.

Running out of gas in the sixth – a walk and hit batter – Ball got his final K on a slider to Dudek and later returned to the change for a fielder’s choice.

 

Digging Dignacco

The 40th round pick in 2014 finally returned to action after serving out his commitment to West Point and he’s not messing around. Dignacco has a quick pace and brings an 88-90 mph fastball and a curve that seems to have two speeds. It was especially tough on lefties as a couple of them bailed on the bender. He also got a couple of hitters to chase changeups, with which he used to expand the strike zone to righties looking for the curve to come over the plate.

 

Eerie Yrizarri:

Yeyson Yrizarri was moved to second for this season with most of the playing time going to Anderson Tejeda. Occasionally the two will switch, as they have for the last couple of games. Personally, I like Yrizarri more at short. Cannon of an arm and the range to play the position, I thought he made the position look easy last year and continues to do so this year. The issue of him taking his time to make plays has seemed to vanish this season.

One such play on Friday showed his prowess at the position. In the second, Brontsema hit a grounder that seemed destined for a single to center. Cheating up the middle prior to the pitch, Yrizarri fielded the ball to the first-base side of the bag at the cut of the outfield grass. He quickly twirled and fired a bullet to first for the out.

But there were a couple sequences on force plays that seemed to tax him mentally. In the sixth with runners at first and second, Gasparini hit a ball up the middle that Yrizarri fielded near the bag. What looked like a routine step-on-the-bag-at-second play to end the inning, turned into a throw to first that the speedy Gasparini beat out. One inning later, a similar play occurred when Yrizarri fielding the ball near the bag, but there seemed almost a mindset of, “I won’t mess that up again”. He looked up to Tejeda covering at second and the ball kicked off the glove for an error.

 

Taveras back?:

A 1-for-18 at Delmarva (Md.) last weekend seemed to be a cry for help in the form of time off for the 18-year-old. With Monday’s off day, he got three days of R&R before returning to the lineup Thursday. He looked a little rusty last night, but seemed back on track again. In the first, a 9-pitch AB right-handed AB turned into a hard out to right. He waved through a breaking ball for an out in the third, then in the fifth Taveras slapped a pitch away to the RF corner for a double. Batting lefty in the eighth, he turned on a fastball in and again peppered the right fielder with a liner.

Greenville Rallies, Defeats Hickory 5-3

The Greenville (S.C.) Drive rallied with two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to defeat the Hickory Crawdads in front of 3,625 fans, many of whom spent the 10:30 a.m. matinee in line at the lemonade stand at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The win for the Drive (35-23) snaps both their three-game losing streak and the Crawdads (23-36) three-game winning streak. Pending today’s other action in the South Atlantic League’s Southern Division, the Drive is guaranteed at least a three-game lead with 11 games to play in the first-half title chase. Columbia (S.C.) already defeated Lexington (Ky.) today and is three back. Rome (Ga.) will play at in-state rival Augusta this evening. The Braves started the day 2 ½ games behind the first-place Drive.

The loss assured the Crawdads first sub-.500 record for a half-season since the second-half of the 2009 season. Hickory is now simply trying to avoid its first last-place finish since their affiliation with the Pirates ended in 2008. They entered the day two games behind sixth-place Delmarva (Md.). The Crawdads worst half-season record as a Rangers affiliate came in the 2009 second half with they finished 30-40.

 

What happened?:

The Greenville started the game with a single by Chris Madera and a walk issued by Edgar Arredondo (2-3) to Santiago Espinal. One out later, Tyler Hill doubled to left to score Madera.

Hickory pounced back with two of its own in the bottom of the first against Darwinzon Hernandez. With two outs and the bases empty, Yanio Perez singled and then walks to Ti’Quan Forbes and Alex Kowalczyk loaded the bases. Carlos Garay hit a broken-bat, jam-shot blooper into shallow center to score both Perez and Forbes.

That turned out to be almost the last of the Crawdads offense as Robby Sexton replaced Hernandez in the second and was nearly unhittable in earning his first pro win (1-5). The lefty, a 14th-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2016 out of Wright State, retired the first 11 and 18 of the 20 hitters he faced.

Greenville vaulted ahead 3-2 in the fifth with two runs that came after the Crawdads missed a chance for the third out.  Mitchell Gunsolus doubled and one out later moved to third on Arredondo’s wild pitch. Madera joined him on the bases when he was hit by a pitch. The key play of the inning occurred when Espinal flew out to shallow right. Jose Almonte made the catch and while Gunsolus held at third, Madera, for some unknown reason, tagged up from first and tried to advance to second. 1B Yanio Perez cut the ball off, but his throw to second to cut down Madera was high and the runner slid in safely. Ryan Scott singled in both runners to give the Drive a lead they would never relinquish.

Greenville used a two-out rally for a run in the sixth. Reliever Christian Torres loaded the bases by sandwiching walks to Gunsolus and Madera around a single by Carlos Tovar. Espinal hit a liner that was initially caught when SS Yeyson Yrizarri made a leaping grab. However, the ball tumbled out as he fell to the ground and that scored Gunsolus.

Franklin Rollin hit his third homer of the season in the eighth off closer Stephen Nogosek (11th save). However, Madera returned serve with his third homer of the season to start the ninth and accounted for the final score.

 

Strikes matter:

A missed opportunity for the final out in the fifth aside, the game came down to the ability of the pitchers to throw strikes. When Hernandez couldn’t throw strikes in the first (32 pitches, 16 strikes), the Drive moved quickly to shuffle in Sexton and he was brilliant. He mixed in a few breaking balls to miss bats – especially to Jose Almonte and Alex Kowalczyk – but it appeared he stayed with a fastball that was 88-90 according to the pitch trackers with a few changeups mixed in. Sexton (65 pitches, 46 strikes) moved the ball around well, hit spots and the Crawdads never really made solid contact against him.

Arredondo’s fastball was in the 90-92 range with iffy command and he had difficulty getting any of his secondary pitches (change, curve, slider) over the plate. He finished with just 57 strikes out of 87 pitches through 4 2/3 innings.

Christian Torres walks (32 pitches, 19 strikes) cost him a run in the sixth, though he used his change effectively in getting out of Arredondo’s jam in the fifth.

 

Early-run woes continue:

The first-inning run by Greenville was the 30th time in 59 games that an opponent has performed that feat. Further, Hickory has kept the opposition off the scoreboard over the first three innings just nine times.

 

Center field prospects take the day off:

Hickory’s Leody Taveras – the Texas Rangers No. 1 prospect – had his second straight off day on Wednesday. He had missed only one game this season prior to this week and on the heels of a 1-for-18 weekend at Delmarva (Md.) a chance to rest and regroup could be what is needed for now.

Greenville’s Lorenzo Cedrola – the Boston Red Sox No. 15 prospect – sat out on the heels of getting pulled from Tuesday’s game for not running out a groundball.