Results tagged ‘ Jose Trevino ’

Hickory / West Virginia SAL Playoff & Game 1 Preview

South Atlantic League Playoff Series

Game 1: Hickory Crawdads (81-57) at West Virginia Power (87-52)

Site/ Time: Appalachian Power Park, Charleston, West Virginia

Crawdads Playoff History:  The Crawdads will make their tenth playoff appearance in 23 seasons since joining the South Atlantic League in 1993. It is the first appearance since 2011. This will be the third trip to the playoffs during the seven seasons the Crawdads have been affiliated with the Texas Rangers.

Hickory has won two SAL championships, both coming during the affiliation of the club with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2002 and 2004.  The Crawdads have not won a series since claiming the title in 2004, nor have they won a playoff home game since the clincher of that series.

Power Playoff History: West Virginia has made seven playoffs appearances since staring South Atlantic League play in 1987. The lone SAL title came in 1990 as the Charleston Wheelers – a Reds affiliate – swept the Savannah Cardinals in three straight. This is the fourth playoff appearance under the name of the West Virginia Power (beginning in 2005), the second as a Pirates affiliate (2013), which began in 2009.

Hickory/ West Virginia Playoff History: The Crawdads defeated the Charleston Alley Cats (Blue Jays) in two straight in the first round of the 2004 playoffs. The clincher of the 2004 sweep was the final game played at Watt Powell Park in Charleston.  West Virginia (Brewers) took a 2-1 first-round series win in 2007.

How Hickory Got Here: The Crawdads led the first-half Northern Division chase wire-to-wire, eventually finishing with a 44-24 mark, 7 ½ games ahead of second-place West Virginia.

How West Virginia Got Here: The Power bullied the SAL in the second half and finished 50-20. It was the first time a SAL club had 50 half-season wins since Augusta turned the trick in 2007. West Virginia finished ten games ahead of second-place Delmarva in the second half and 13 games ahead of fourth-place Hickory.

Game 1 Pitching matchup: Hickory-Yohander Mendez (LH, 3-3, 2.44) vs. West Virginia- Austin Coley (RH, 16-6, 3.66)

Hickory Pitching:

Mendez: After pitching in a piggyback arrangement with Ariel Jurado much of the season, Mendez split off on his own late in the season. After allowing more than two runs just once in his first 19 outings, the lefty gave up four in five innings to Greensboro on August 23 and five to Delmarva in 3.1 innings on September 1 to close out the regular season. He gave up one homer in each of those outings, the only long balls he allowed this season. Mendez finished the season with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. SAL hitters batted .230 against Mendez in 2015. His struck out 74 and walked 15 in 66.1 innings. Against West Virginia in 2015, Mendez allowed one unearned run on three hits, two walks and struck out seven in eight innings (two appearances, one start).

Relievers: Scott Williams likely will get the first look for a save situation. The right-hander picked up ten saves in the second half and built a 40-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31.1 innings in the second half. In three outings vs. the Power in 2015, Williams allowed one run – a homer to Michael Suchy on June 19, on three hits and struck out two over four innings… Joe Filomeno gave up two runs to the Power late in a game on August 16… Shane McCain was roughed up in an outing vs. West Virginia on August 15 (2.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K…Having not pitched since September 2, it would not be unusual to see 2015 first-rounder Dillon Tate get an inning in the middle of the game.  Manager Corey Ragsdale indicated that Tate and Luis Ortiz would be available for action in the series… Adam Dian (5 saves) threw an inning on Monday’s win. He has pitched out of the pen on one day’s rest just once.

West Virginia pitching:

Coley: The 23-year-old right-hander made all 27 starts this season and seemed to finish strong as he allowed one earned run in each of his last four starts (26 innings). Coley has showed good command with 111 Ks to just 25 walks in 147.2 innings. A fly ball pitcher, – He holds a 0.88 GO/AO ratio – Coley is susceptible to the long ball, having allowed a SAL-high 18 this season. The Crawdads touched him up for three in a loss back on August 14. Hickory has had perhaps the best luck against the 16-game winner tagging him for 20 hits over 11 innings in two starts. Among Crawdads hitters, Carlos Arroyo is 4-for-6 this season with a homer and Luke Tendler has doubled and homered in four plate appearances. Jairo Beras went 2-for-2 with a double.

Relievers: Nick Neumann is the Power close with 17 saves in 19 chances. He threw two perfect innings against Hickory this season, both coming in the first half… Other key relievers will likely include Sam Street, Jared Lakind and Julio Vivas. Of the trio, only Lakind (1 IP) has faced Hickory this year.

Hickory lineup:

Late season injuries to Josh Morgan and Michael De Leon put the Crawdads into a mix-and-match mode on the infield. Catcher Jose Trevino and third baseman Juremi Profar are the two likely certainties around the diamond. Ragsdale indicated that Edwin Garcia will likely play short and newcomer Dylan Moore will place second. Carlos Arroyo, who played second most of the season, was stationed at first the final two games of the season and handled the position without a problem. With his output against Coley (4-for-6) this season, and his success against the Power this season Arroyo may get the first look with Chuck Moorman and Jonathan Meyer available off the bench. Arroyo is the lone active Crawdads player to hit over .300 (6-for-15) against the Power in 2015.

In the outfield, the arrival of 2015 second-round Eric Jenkins gives Ragsdale a different wrinkle in the lineup with his speed. He went 7-for-18 during his five-game audition last week and he may well have earned some at bats in the series. The likely lineup will be Luke Tendler in left, Jose Cardona in center and Jairo Beras in right. Tendler ended his season fourth in the SAL in RBI and total bases. Beras had a pair of homers and five RBI during a mid-June series in Charleston. However, he went 0-for-7 against the Power in August. Eduard Pinto may get a look at first on in the DH slot.

Power lineup:

The Power had only 18 position players on their roster this season with eight players taking the field for 99 or more games (Hickory has three in the expected lineup, though Pinto has 98 games). The team finished the season at the top of the SAL with a .269 batting average and a .347 on-base percentage. It’s a team that will play classic National League small-ball (90 sacrifices) to scratch out runs for what has been a shutdown pitching staff. They are very patient at the plate. West Virginia leads the SAL in walks and has the second fewest strikeouts this season.

Behind the plate will likely be Taylor Gushue with Connor Joe – the Pirates No. 29 prospect (mlb.com) at first. Pablo Reyes and 2015 first-round pick Kevin Newman will play second and short respectively. Rounding out the infield at third will likely be Tyler Filliben, who has filled in for the injured Jordan Luplow.

A talented group is stationed in the outfield with SAL all-star Michael Suchy starting in right. Suchy, the fifth-round pick of the Pirates in 2014, finished the season second in the SAL in runs scored and in RBI.

A combination of Tito Polo, Elvis Escobar and Jerrick Suiter split up left and center, with Suiter getting many of the DH starts.  Suiter and Esocbar finished fifth and eighth in the SAL in batting avg. with Escobar third in hits.

Against the Crawdads, Escobar hit .355 (11-for-31) to lead the team among active players. The injured Luplow had two of the five homers struck against Hickory and he is tied with Suchy with five RBI.

Other things to know: This is likely to be a pitching-and-defense series. Hickory and West Virginia finished tied with the fewest errors committed in the SAL and went 1-2 in WHIP. The Crawdads finished second in ERA (3.19) with the Power fourth at 3.38…  Defending bunts had been a downfall for the Crawdads prior to their injuries and against a team that likes small ball, the revamped defensive alignment – especially with the likelihood of inexperience at first – could be a point worth watching… Both teams expect to win when they score first. The Crawdads went 54-14 when scoring first – tops in the SAL – and West Virginia was 59-16, which was second… Hickory has held up well under pressure as it was 71-4 when leading or tied after seven innings. In one-run games, the Crawdads are 27-16 with the Power at 19-22.

Catching on at the Position: An Interview with Jose Trevino

The stat sheet will show that Hickory Crawdads catcher Jose Trevino put up a .262/.291/.415 slash in 2015. His 14 homers were one behind teammate Luke Tendler for the team lead. Generally, he put the ball in play with a manageable 60 strikeouts in 449 plate appearances, though the 18 walks could perhaps use a bump.

Behind the plate, Trevino was a steady force. He caught 87 games – the fourth most in a Crawdads single-season and the most since the affiliation with the Texas Rangers began in 2009 – and in that span he put up some remarkable defensive numbers. Trevino committed only six errors and nine passed balls this season and set the club’s single season and overall fielding pct. mark (.992, minimum 70 games). He threw out 33.7% of runners trying to steal.

Several pitchers this season have raved about his game calling ability.  In an interview with Luis Ortiz after his start on June 9, he said of his catcher, ”I thank Trevino, because he’s the one who called the game for me. I believe in my catcher. I go with him and I trust him. That’s how pitchers should be: trust their catchers.”

After Collin Wiles threw seven shutout innings against Augusta on July 18, he credited Trevino with a game plan that included only three first-pitch fast balls during the first time through the lineup.

“That was kind of Jose’s plan from the start,” said Wiles after the start. “He told me in our pre-game meeting that this is a team that likes the fastball, so stay with me. I trust him 100% and we put up seven zeros.”

Not bad for a guy who was mostly a shortstop in his junior season at Oral Roberts.

With all of the accolades of his play, it’s the relationships that he brings to the clubhouse and on the field that arguably has had the biggest impact on the 2015 Crawdads. On the various trips I take to the clubhouse, there’s little doubt that one of the guys in charge of the space is Trevino. He’s always engaged with someone, whether it’s a video from the night before, a card game, or an occasional prank. You’ll rarely see Trevino alone in the clubhouse. (Honestly, I can’t recall seeing that.)

Trevino seemingly is a second pitching coach on the team. His mound visits nearly always produce a positive outcome from the pitcher in the sequence to come.

In the interview below, Trevino talks about his first full-season work as a catcher, including his preparation for this season along with mound visits and the ability to keep pitchers relaxed. He also talks about the progress of some of the Crawdads pitchers this season.

Jose Trevino behind the plate for the Hickory Crawdads (Photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

Jose Trevino behind the plate for the Hickory Crawdads (Photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

First of all, I want to talk about your season in catching where you didn’t do a whole lot of it in college. You’ve now caught 87 games, which is the most here by a Rangers affiliated catcher. How have you held up for a first full season?

Trevino: Good. I think the main thing was to listen to my body. I know that off-season workouts had a lot to do with it. I had a good trainer back at home. I told him, “Now, I’m going to need my legs up under me when it comes to September and playoff time. I’m really going to need my legs and need that extra gear.” He said, “Alright, we’re just going to work your legs and we’re going to get them to where you want them to be.”

Last year, I kind of died out a little bit just because I was getting tired and my legs were getting tired from a long college season. Now, I feel good. I feel like my legs are up under me. I feel fine other than some cuts and bruises from nagging injuries from being a catcher, my legs are fine and everything’s good. I’m ready to go.

How much weight have you lost this year?

Trevino: I think I’ve dropped two or three pounds. I really try to stay on top of it, especially since that will carry you and help you out a little bit more.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you in converting to being a full-time catcher?

Trevino; When I first started catching last year, I guess it was my bat, balancing out hitting and catching. You can’t take your hitting to your catching because it’s going to affect the whole team; it’ll affect the game. If you try to square up a circle and a circle, it’s hard enough to do already. Then you go out there and you try to catch 90-plus that’s sinking and moving, it really affects you and really wears off on you.

What did you have to learn as far as dealing with pitchers? 

Trevino: Just learning how they like to pitch guys. Learning what their best pitch was. Learning what their best put-away pitch was. Learning what they like to go to when they’re ahead and when they’re behind, and in certain counts what they like to do – what every guy likes to do. So now, you can ask me what every guy likes to do and I can probably tell you what pitch they want to go to and I think they’ll agree with it.

Who did you have help you with that? Or was that something that you figured out on your own?

Trevino: I mean the Rangers go through a whole thing where you’ve got to know your pitchers. You have to know your pitches, especially if you want to play in this game, you have to know what they want and what they like. You just kind of catch onto it. Since you catch the same guys over and over and over again, I know what kind of pitches they’ll want to go to. I can see in the bullpen what’s been working. I can see throughout the game what’s been working maybe in a situation with the hitter and their best stuff. I’m going to take their (pitcher) best stuff over the hitter’s best stuff any day.

I’m going to ask an oddball kind of question. Did you take psychology in college? The reason I ask is that you are so good with mound visits. You just seem to have a sense of when to go and make a visit. Things seem to happen and you’re able to say the right things in a visit.

Trevino: I didn’t take psychology in college, but I took a class, kind of like a managing class – sports management, pretty much. It was learning how to go through things and learning what you could say to some people. Some people it’s a pat on the back and it’s fine. Other you guys it’s, “Hey, you’ve got to figure it out now, because we’ll get somebody else in here.”

You know how to handle certain guys. You know, you’re used it. You get up there and you see the look on some of their faces like, “I’ve got this. I’m fine. You’re just up here because you want to calm me down a little bit.” Other guys, there’s going to be certain guys that are like, “All right, let’s go,” and they’re hyped up. I’m like, “Calm down a little bit. You’re fine. Relax. Get this guy out. It’s easy. It’s going to be easy for you.”

I have other things I’ll say to other guys out there. You’ve just got to pay attention to their reactions. If they’re laughing, I’ll probably go out there and tell them something funny that probably didn’t have anything to do with baseball. I’ll tell them something and they’ll just be like, “Why did you just tell me that?” and I’ll just walk off.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve said to a pitcher?

Trevino: (long pause) I know, but I probably wouldn’t say it. I’ve said some funny things pretty much.

There are some clubs in development that the pitches are called from the dugout. I know the Rangers pretty much expect the catchers to make the calls from the plate. How much of a learning curve did you have in doing that after perhaps having not done it at college?

Trevino:  In college, I didn’t do it at all. Our coach gave us the signs and I put them down. And if our pitchers shook, I looked back at our coach and here we go. So, I had to learn that, too. I had to learn to call the game. I had to learn that it wasn’t to pitch other hitters the way I liked to hit or what I wouldn’t like to hit. It’s what they (hitters) don’t want to hit – what they don’t like to swing at. What they won’t swing at. What they’ll take, but have a bad swing at, and then you go from there.

If some guys are pulling off on the fastball away, you can go with another pitch there in that situation. You learn to read these things. You learn to pay attention more and that’s what I like about catching.

You’re in the game 24/7. You’re looking at everything because you come back into the dugout and you’re talking about hitters with the pitcher and the pitching coach. But then you’ve got to pay attention to the pitcher that’s pitching on the mound and you’ve got to pay attention to the situation that’s going on in the game. You’re in the game and you’re the quarterback. You call the shots.

With me, I don’t have any problem with taking the blame for a pitch that I called. I’ll turn to the dugout and say, “It’s my fault. All right let’s go, move on.”

How did it come about that you shifted from shortstop to catcher?

Trevino: I don’t know. I caught Alex Gonzalez in college on Fridays. He would come in and throw and that’s basically how much I would catch in college. I was also beat up in college. I had a messed up ankle, messed up foot. I was catching “Chi Chi”. I toughed it out and it was fine and it was good and I liked it.

People would come and talk to me and say, “Hey, we know you’re an infielder; we know you’re a third baseman and you can play anywhere.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve heard that one too.” They said, “What about catching?” And I said, “I liked it.” They’d ask me, “What do you think the biggest transition would be?” I said, “Separating my offense from my defense.”

Sure enough, you learn – and that comes from maturity – you learn to grow up real fast. I’ll rarely come in and be mad about an at-bat and take it out there. Once I get that last pitch and I say, “It’s coming down.” I’ll throw to second and that’s it. I don’t want to take the shine away from the pitcher that’s on the mound, because it’s his job. He’s trying to put money in his pocket. He’s trying to food on the table for his family, and I don’t want to be the guy responsible for not having his best stuff out there because I missed a block or I missed a fastball coming at me.

Who’s been the biggest help as far as teaching you as a catcher?

Trevino: I’d say all the catching coordinators, Chad Comer especially. He’s been with me through this whole season. He’s fixed so many things hitting wise and catching wise. He’s given me little tips.

Chris Briones, he’s also helped me a lot. He’s a guy that will instill a lot more confidence in me. He’ll just feed you confidence. When he comes during the year, it’s like, “Hey, I’m here to fill you with confidence.” You’re running a little low on gas and he’s like, “No, we’re going to refill you, you’re fine.”

Hector Ortiz. I talked to Hector Ortiz last year at instructs. He said, “We’ve got to work this if you really want to do this and get into it.”  I said, “I want to do this.”

Ryley Westman, he was here last year with the Rangers – he’s with the Padres now. He really got me into catching a ton.

Whenever I walk into the clubhouse, there are certain guys that are in charge, and you’re one of those. What has been the key of keeping the clubhouse together, especially in the second half when there’s been so much movement of guys in and out?

Trevino: Just having fun. You’ve just got to have fun with everybody. When a new guy comes in, you don’t want him just have him sit there on his chair. You might play a joke on him. I’m the one that plays the jokes. I’ll play a joke on him right away and I’ll get him and everybody will see how he reacts and see what kind of guy is he. If he’ll laugh and shake it off, everybody will say, “He’s a good dude.”

We have a bunch of good dudes in there and we all take everything good. They’re fun guys and they know we’re a fun club. Everybody that comes into this clubhouse and everybody that leaves and goes somewhere else, they’re like, “Man, Hickory was so fun.” I think that has a lot to do with our skip, with Ragsdale. He really likes to keep it loose, too. But when it comes game time, we’re going to play.

Let me talk about pitching a little bit. Who has impressed you the most as far where they started in April or maybe into May when they got here to now? Who’s made the biggest jump ahead?

Trevino: Brett Martin. He developed a curveball – a good curveball.

Chris Dula. He has a lot of stuff that plays in AA and AAA. I caught big league guys in spring training and Dula has some stuff in his arsenal. He goes and he keeps working, he has a chance to be really good.

Lulu Ortiz. Stuff wise, mentally wise, he’s locked in ready to go all the time. Every time he goes out there, he’s locked in and ready to go.

I can go up and down the list. I feel like every pitcher has gotten better. Nobody has taken a step back. Everybody has been going forward and forward and forward. Even if it’s a little step, it’s a big step to us.

For me it’s been Scott Williams. Your thoughts?

Trevino: Oh yeah. I caught him actually in my pre-draft workout for the Rangers when we were in Arlington together.

I have a funny story with Scott. They asked me, “Hey, do you want to get some at-bats against Williams.” I was like, “How hard do you throw?” He said, “97”. I said, “Ah, I think I’m just going to sit back here and catch for a little bit.” They were like, “Ok, that’s all right.” I got drafted and then I found out he got draft and I thought, “Sweet.”

He’s been really good and he has that kind of mentality that you can’t teach people. He’s ready to play. If you look down in the bullpen in the fourth or fifth inning, he’s out here stretching because he knows that if we get the lead in the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, he’s going to come in and he’s going to shut it down.  In his head, he’s going to shut it down. There are no negative thought in that head.

With nothing to really play for, has there been any let down as you guys get into August and think, let’s get into the playoffs?

Trevino: No. Everybody’s taking a step forward in their game mentality wise, in like they’re ready to play every day. It’s not just for themselves, but for everybody on the team. I want to do good for Luke (Tendler). I want to do good for the pitcher. I want to do good for Profar. I want to do good for Ragsdale. I want to do good for Comer. I want to do good for everybody around me. I feel like that’s what everybody has here. Everybody wants to get everybody better.

Last thing. You guys have won the championship because this happened?

Trevino: Execute. We just have to execute. We have it. We’re a good team, a really good team. No matter who you bring in, it’s going to be a good team here. We have a bunch of good players and everybody’s going to have fun doing it. If we just execute, we’ll be all right.

Jose Trevino cracked 14 homers and drove in 63 for Hickory in 2015 (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

Jose Trevino cracked 14 homers and drove in 63 for Hickory in 2015 (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

Game Story: Rome at Hickory September 4

The Hickory Crawdads scored two runs in both the third and fourth innings and took a rain-shortened 5-0 win over the Rome (Ga.) Braves Friday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.

With the win, the Crawdads (79-56 overall, 35-32 second half) assured themselves a tenth-straight half-season of .500 or higher baseball. Hickory is also one win away from a second-straight, 80-win season. It would be the first time the team achieved back-to-back 80-plus wins in a season since the team did it three straight times from 2002 to 2004.

The shutout was the tenth of the season, the sixth time the team has posted double-digit shutouts in a season. Four of the six seasons have come during the six years of the affiliation with the Texas Rangers. Hickory has posted at least eight shutouts in all seven seasons of the affiliation. The team posted only five such seasons the previous 16 seasons.

The loss dropped Rome (57-80, 26-41) into a virtual tie for last place in the Southern Division. The Braves are seeking to avoid a second-straight last place finish, which would be the fifth time in eight seasons Rome has done so.

What Happened:

After a scoreless first, the Braves missed an opportunity to open the scoring in the second. Facing Shane McCain, Jordan Edgerton lined a double off the wall in left-center. One out later, Luke Dykstra walked and Tanner Murphy was hit by a pitch to load the bases. However, McCain got Joseph Daris to ground to third to end the inning.

Hickory jumped ahead in the bottom of the inning. Jose Trevino bounced a single up the middle and Luke Tendler walked. Jairo Beras then reached out and bounced a Sean Furney fastball through the hole at second to score Trevino. Jose Cardona’s grounder to second scored Tendler from third for a 2-0 lead.

In the third, Carlos Arroyo began the inning with a single. After Furney’s wild pitch pushed Arroyo to second, Jurickson Profar lined a double off the wall in left-center to make it 3-0 after Arroyo scored. One out later, Trevino doubled off the wall in left to score Profar.

Rome’s last chance to score came in the fourth when it put two on after two were out. However, Murphy fouled out to first to curtail the threat.

A thunderstorm that approached from beyond centerfield throughout the game finally reached the stadium in the fifth. The Braves quickly went down in order quickly with the final out coming on a grounder by Omar Obregon to short as a heavy rain began to fall. The game was called 43 minutes later.

The Good:

Luis Ortiz: Threw a 14-pitch first inning to retire the side. His fastball sat at 95-97 with a mid 80s slider and one change. He needed nine pitches before finally striking out the left-handed Omar Obregon on a slider.

Jose Trevino: Had a hand in both rallies. Just missed a homer in the second on a high change, then worked the count full before sending a 3-2 fastball up the middle for a single. One inning later he took an 0-2 change off the wall in left.

Jairo Beras: Continues to improve with the ability to handle pitches away. His single in the second was on a fastball low and away that he was able to bounce through the right side for a single.

Jurickson Profar: Ended a six-pitch at-bat in the third by driving a change that was up and away off the wall in left-center.

Dylan Moore: Picked up his first hit with Hickory as the right-handed hitter picked off a slider up and lined it to right.

Shane McCain: Didn’t have his best stuff as he left several sliders up – one that Jordan Edgerton nearly cleared the fence in left – and had iffy fastball control. However, he was able to run fastballs in to both Daris and Murphy to keep the shutout in tact.

The Opponent:

Sean Furney: Fastball sat 90-92, but had nothing secondary that were able to throw off the hitters. Hickory was able to pick off changeups and sliders that were left up .

Tanner Murphy: Was a bit slow in blocking both wild pitches by Furney.

Fifth inning: Seemed odd that with rain approaching that it was the Braves hitters that were quick to get off the field. Daris swung through two fastballs before flying out to right. Stephen Gaylor essentially served a first-pitch bunt back to the box before Obregon’s grounder to short ended the inning and, as it turned out, the game. McCain needed only eight pitchers to close out the inning.

Game Story Charleston at Hickory August 29

Jose Trevino cracked a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth and then Jairo Beras threw out the game-tying run at the plate to end the game as the Hickory Crawdads held on to defeat the Charleston RiverDogs  5-4 in front of 3,423 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium

What Happened:

Charleston got off to a quick start against Crawdads starter Brett Martin when Devyn Bolasky started the game with a single and Angel Aguilar homered (3) to left to give the RiverDogs a 2-0 lead.

Hickory took the lead after scoring three in the second against RiverDogs hurler David Palladino.  Beras started it with his ninth home run of the season. After the Crawdads loaded the bases, Michael De Leon’s single scored Juremi Profar and Eduard Pinto.

An error helped the RiverDogs get even in the fifth. Ryan Lindemuth doubled, stole third and scored when catcher Jose Trevino’s throw went into left. Martin left the game in the inning with a hip injury and his replacement Shane McCain retired nine of the first ten hitters he faced going into the eighth.

But in the eighth, the RiverDogs pieced together three hits after two outs with Isisas Tejeda’s run-scoring single bringing in Austin Aune to put Charleston ahead 4-3.

Hickory retook the lead when Edwin Garcia lined a single to right and Trevino delivered a towering homer (14) to left on a fastball by Brady Koerner.

Facing closer Scott Williams, the RiverDogs threatened to retake the lead in the ninth. Collin Slaybaugh singled and went to second on a passed ball. Ryan Lindemuth walked and Bolasky’s sacrifice moved the runners to second and third before Aguilar was walked to intentionally walked to load the bases.  Billy Fleming hit a fly ball to Jairo Beras in medium-shallow right. Beras backed up and made the catch before firing a strike to Trevino at the plate to nail Slaybaugh and end the game.

The Good:
Jurickson Profar
had a single in four trips to the plate with the lone single coming on a change up and away in the first. He was hit by a pitch in the second, bounced to second in the fifth and struck out in the eighth.

Jairo Beras jumped a first-pitch, 95-mph fastball by Palladino and lasered a rope off the batter’s eye. The only question was would the liner be high enough to clear the fence. In looking to make the play, centerfielder Bolasky jogged three steps back before the ball found its target. His throw to end the game was directly on target to Trevino, who had plenty of time to tag Slaybaugh.

Shane McCain used a low-70s change, curveball and an upper 80s fastball to keep the RiverDogs off-balance, as he struck out four of the first six batters he faced. He found a little bad luck with two outs in the eighth when Austin Aune’s soft liner found open grass in center. McCain got away with a fastball up to Vicente Conde that was singled in front of Pinto in left. Tejeda’s seeing-eye single past McCain and second baseman Arroyo scored Aune for the brief lead.

Michael De Leon started a brilliant double play in the third that allowed Martin to complete a shutdown inning and hold the lead for the moment. With runners on the corners and one out, Joey Falcone hit a sharp grounder to De Leon’s right. De Leon made the backhanded grab, quickly fed the ball to Carlos Arroyo at second, who then made the fast turn and throw to nab the speedy Falcone. (Falcone left the game following the game with an undisclosed injury.)

Juremi Profar had a couple of singles and scored a run in the second. However, a key defensive play in the eighth kept the RiverDogs from extending their lead. After Tejada’s single scored the go-ahead run, Profar cut off the throw from Jose Cardona in center and caught Conde in a rundown trying to go to third.

Brett Martin gave up seven hits in 4.2 innings, but many of those were of the bad-luck variety. Bolasky’s leadoff hit in the first was a high chopper to third. The homer by Aguilar and his double in the third appeared to be pitches down and away that Aguilar went after and golfed to left. Tejeda added a broken-bat bloop single in the fourth. Martin retired seven in a row at one point (four grounders and a K) and finished with 63 pitches (45 strikes).

The Not-So-Good:

Jose Trevino had a rough night behind the plate committing two throwing errors on steal attempts and a passed ball. Both off-target throws appeared rushed in order to catch runners that took big jump against Martin.  His passed ball in the ninth may have been on a pitch from Williams in which he was crossed up, as the two had a meeting following the play.

Carlos Arroyo stuck out three times on Friday after a two-K game on Thursday. He appears to be expanding the strike zone and unable to catch up to fastballs in the zone.

Scott Williams gave up a ground single to Slaybaugh on a fastball down and in. However, he compounded the inning with a four-pitch walk to number-nine hitter Lindemuth. His slider didn’t have the usual bite and was ignored by hitters.

The Opposition:

Angel Aguilar, as stated earlier, went down to get a couple of pitches and hit both hard for extra bases. He had four straight hits over a two-game span and his hot streak clearly played into Charleston’s decision in the ninth to have Bolansky sacrifice with no outs after a four-pitch walk and Hickory’s decision to intentionally walk Aguilar.

David Palladino struck out three and gave up eight hits (four in the eighth), but showed good stuff throughout. His fastball hovered around 94-95 much of the game, but it was a tight slider that missed bats and often kept the Crawdads off stride with walk contact.

Philip Walby had the best stuff of any pitcher on both sides when he threw a 1-2-3 seventh. His fastball stayed 98-99 with a high 80s, biting slider. As dominant as he threw (10 pitches, 8 strikes, 4 missed bats), I was surprised that he didn’t come back out for the eighth.

Brody Koerner, the native of nearby Concord, changed speeds well with a leadoff strikeout of Jurickson Profar in the eighth. However, two straight fastballs up to Edward Garcia (single) and Trevino (homer) turned out to be the decisive point of the game.

Game story: Hagerstown at Hickory July 31

The Crawdads posted an 8-2 lead before hanging on late to a 9-6 win over the Hagerstown (Md.) Suns Friday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.

Hickory (63-39 overall, 19-15 second half) has now won 7-of-8, while the Suns (50-51, 15-19) have lost 12-of-18.

What Happened?:

Here is my game story from the pages of the Hickory Daily Record.

http://www.hickoryrecord.com/sports/crawdads-stave-off-hagerstown-rally-pick-up-home-victory/article_fc3c0642-37fb-11e5-b4ed-6331b48def09.html

The Good:

The lineup: All nine hitters had at least one hit with Jose Trevino and Juremi Profar getting at least two. Hickory, especially the right-handers, continues to be pitched to on or just off the outside corner of the plate. For the most part, the hitters have been able to discern balls/ strikes –and attack or lay off appropriately – or it pitches up the middle or away.

The few pitches that made their way over the inner half of the plate were hammered hard. None of the Suns trio of pitchers (Dave Van Orden, Luis Torres or Andrew Cooper) were able to present breaking pitches often enough to keep Crawdads hitters off stride, so it was easy pickings at times.

 

Jairo Beras: Read this.

https://crawdadsbeat.com/2015/08/01/jairo-beras-is-figuring-it-out-and-its-exciting/

 

Xavier Turner: His first two games with Hickory have certainly had its moments. In his first game last week at Asheville, he reportedly dislocated his shoulder on the first play of the first inning.

Returning from the disabled list, Turner crushed a fastball to medium left-center. Thinking triple out of the box, he caught sight of Corey Ragsdale’s stop sign after rounding the bag at second. As he put the brakes on, he slipped and stumbled. With the throw coming into the second behind him, Turner made it to third and slid around the tag of 3B David Masters.

At 6-1, 205 the Rangers 19th round pick showed good speed on the basepaths. He handled both plays in the field without concerns.

Juremi Profar: Had a pair of doubles, both on off-speed pitches away, and would’ve had a third if not for a brilliant catch in right by Dale Carey on a leaping dive on the track.

7th inning ABs: Facing reliever Luis Torres, Josh Morgan spoiled fastball after fastball away before succumbing on a fastball low and in on the tenth pitch. Eduard Pinto then worked a nine-pitch AB into a walk, again spoiling a bushel (correct term?) of fastballs. Able to watch this sequence, Jose Trevino spit on a fastball off the plate and then crushed the next one out of the park in left.

Yohander Mendez: Fastball command was a bit spotty, but he showed good arm action with the changeup that baffled the Suns hitters all night. Had 12 missed bats in 4.2 innings, all but two by my count coming on offspeeds. Didn’t use the curve as much on Friday, and what he did use was a bit loopy. But the change was definitely on. Finished at 77 pitches (49 strikes).

Scott Williams: For me the pitcher that has taken the largest step forward in the second half is Williams. Friday night was mostly fastballs with an occasionally slider mixed it. Fastball 94-96 has life but the biggest thing is simply confidence to attack hitters with it.

The Not-So-Good:

Chris Dula: A hit batter on the first pitch of the eighth, a single and two walks made Dula’s night a short one. Fastball is 94-96, but there is no control as to where it is going. Have to wonder if it at some point he makes a trip to Arizona.

 

Ariel Jurado: Just never looked comfortable all night. He usually is a get the ball and let’s go kind of pitcher, but on Friday there was much more walking around the mound than I recall. Fastball seemed a tick down and did not have the usual precision, as he walked two in an appearance for only the second time this season.

Game Story: Notes from Hickory at Asheville July 24

Hickory at Asheville

After the Hickory Crawdads came from behind twice, they scored three runs in the top of the ninth to claim a 7-4 win over the Asheville Tourists at McCormick Field.

The Crawdads (58-38 overall, 14-14 second half) took two of three games in the series and finished the season series with the Tourists at 7-2. Hickory went 6-1 at McCormick this season and is 13-2 there over the past three seasons. The Crawdads take an overnight bus to Lexington, Ky. and open a four-game series with the Legends on Saturday.

Asheville (49-48) dropped to 17-10 in the second half and remain a game-and-a-half in front of Augusta for the second-half, Southern Division title chase.

What happened?:

The two teams combined for 25 hits, but stranded 15 altogether in what turned into a see-saw affair.

Hickory put the first four runners of the game on base against Asheville starter Ryan Castellani with Jose Cardona scoring on Eduard Pinto’s single. The Crawdads missed a chance for more when Josh Morgan was thrown out at second trying to stretch a hit into a double. With runners on first and second and one out, Luke Tendler’s grounder forced Pinto at third, but 3B Josh Fuentes’ throw to first was wild placing Crawdads and second and third. Despite four hits and error, the Crawdads were held to the one run after Jairo Beras bounced out to the pitcher.

The Tourists scored an unearned run on Crawdads starter Ariel Jurado to even the game in the first. Shane Hoelscher doubled with two outs and scored when Roberto Ramos’ grounder went through the legs of Jonathan Meyer at first.

The Crawdads retook the lead in the third when Eduard Pinto was hit by a pitch and later scored on Luke Tendler’s sacrifice fly. However Asheville tied the game in the bottom of the inning as Omar Carrizales doubled to right and scored on Dom Nunez’s single to make it 2-2.

The Tourists took their first lead of the game in the fourth against new pitcher Yohander Mendez. Ramos doubled and stole third before coming home on Fuentes’s single.

Meyer’s RBI single in the sixth retied the game at three, but Juremi Profar’s double play ball stranded a runner at third.

Again, the Tourists fought back in the bottom of the inning. Jairo Rosario led off the inning with a double and scored on Fuentes’s second RBI single of the game.

Hickory answered in the seventh. Cardona doubled off the wall in left and moved to third on a Pinto’s sacrifice bunt. Trevino’s sacrifice fly to center made it 4-4.

Asheville put runners at second in both the seventh and eighth inning, but stranded both.

The decisive rally for Hickory came against reliever Jerad McCrummen (4-3) started when Profar doubled off the wall in right-center. Cardona beat out a bunt to put runners at the corner for Morgan. His liner to centerfielder Carrizales was just deep enough to score Profar, who slid around the tag of the catcher Nunez. Pinto singled in Cardona, then moved to third on a pair of McCrummen wild pitches before trotting home on Tendler’s double.

Adam Dian had a successful debut with the Crawdads by retiring all five batters he faced to close out the game and pick up the win (1-0).

 The Good:

Jose Cardona went 3-for-5 and scored three times, but it was his speed that factored into the equation in both the first and ninth innings. In the first, Cardona fought off Castellani’s change off, sending a soft liner that fell to second baseman Shane Hoelscher at the cut of the grass. Hoelscher made the play, but Cardona beat the throw to first and later scored the game’s first run. In the ninth, Cardona’s sacrifice bunt went between the mound and the third base line, with Cardona reaching just ahead of Fuentes’s throw.

Cardona also cut down a runner trying for a double in the sixth.

Josh Morgan had the key AB of the ninth. After falling behind 0-2 on two of McCrummen’s  fastball, Morgan fouled off a slow curveball and let another go by for a ball. The next pitch was a fastball up that he lined into center for the sacrifice fly.

Eduard Pinto ripped first-pitch fastballs for RBIs in the first and ninth inning. His sacrifice in the seventh moved Cardona to third from where he scored on Trevino’s sac fly.

Jose Trevino had a couple of hits and a sacrifice fly.

Luke Tendler doubled in a run in the ninth and made a leaping catch into the wall in right to rob Carrizales of a hit in the first.

Juremi Profar’s double starting things in the decisive ninth inning. In scoring the go-ahead run in the ninth, Profar had to steer around Nunez, who had to leap to make the catch from center and then tried for the backhand tag. In the third, Profar made a backhanded stop off a short hop to start a 5-4-3 double play.

Carlos Arroyo ran down a one-hop, soft liner off the bat of Yonathan Daza by ranging back and to his right. Because the ball held up, Ramos had to hold up at second and then failed to advance when Arroyo looked him back to the base. Arroyo then recorded the out at first.

Jonathan Meyer stayed with a breaking pitch away from James Lomangio and sliced it along the line in right for a run-scoring single.

Adam Dian: Showed a fastball 90-93, but took advantage of an aggressive lineup as he started the outing with several curve and changeups, getting Ryan Stevens to chase a breaking ball for a strikeout to strand a runner at second.

The-Not-So –Good:

Yohander Mendez gave up nine hits over 4.1 innings, four of those by left-handed hitters. From my vantage point along the third-base line, it appeared righties were able to lean out over the plate and serve pitches up the middle or to right. A single on an 0-2 pitch by Rosario started the run-scoring inning in the sixth. Carrizales also singled on an 0-2 pitch in the seventh.

McCormick Field turf: Carrizales’ double in the third happened when Luke Tendler slipped and took out a hefty divot as he attempted to make a likely catch on the liner.  Carrizales eventually scored in the inning.

Game Story: Greensboro at Hickory July 16

The Hickory Crawdads put up five runs in the first inning and went on to wallop the Greensboro Grasshoppers 10-2 Thursday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.

With the win, the Crawdads (54-35, 10-11 second half) took two out of three in the series that featured the South Atlantic League’s best team by overall record against the worst in Greensboro (35-55, 6-15).

The Crawdads will host Augusta Friday night in the start of a four-game series.

Jose Cardona started the offense by taking the second pitch from Michael Mader over the fence in left for his ninth homer of the season. One out later, Josh Morgan walked and Jose Trevino steered a Mader curveball into left. Luke Tendler raked a fastball into right for an RBI before Jairo Beras walked. That brought up Jonathan Meyer, who ripped a single off the mound and up the middle to score two. Juremi Profar finished the five-run, ten-hitter first inning with a double to right-center to make it 5-0.

Greensboro responded in the second as K.J. Woods doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Twine.

But the Crawdads tacked on two in the fourth to chase Mader (4-8). Trevino’s sacrifice fly scored Cardona, who had singled, and Tendler’s ground-rule double brought in Morgan.

Meyer’s bases-clearing double in the sixth finished off the scoring for the Crawdads.

Brett Martin (4-4) provided steady work on the mound. He matched his season-high with seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits. The lefty struck out five and surrendered three walks.

Chris Dula worked around two hit batsmen in the eighth and Shane McClain added a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the game for Hickory.

 

The Good:

Fastball jumping: The Crawdads took advantage of the inability of Mader to command the fastball in the first inning. Mader threw 24 fastballs in the opener with only 11 crossing the plate. Of the 11, six were put into play, four of those for hits. Seven of the eight hits surrendered by Mader came on fastballs.

Jose Cardona: He extended his hitting streak to seven straight (12-for-25) in the win, as well as RBI in the last four. Since the all-star break (20 games), Cardona has posted a .290/.386/.478 slash. He his punishing fastballs (both hits tonight come on heaters) with the ability to see off-speed pitches well and layoff them out of the strike zone.

Carlos Arroyo: Only a circus catch in centerfield kept him from his 15th multi-hit game out of his last 30. He has reached base in 11 straight games and is hitting .342 in the second half.

Josh Morgan: Continued to shows patience at the plate. Though hitless in the game, he walked and scored twice.

Jose Trevino: After pulling several pitches into outs on Tuesday, Trevino put up three hits on Thursday – none of which were struck well, but simply put into play where the pitch was made. He lined a hanging curve to left in the first, send a low and away fastball into right in the second, then sent up and away fastballs to center and right for a sac fly and a single.

Luke Tendler: Two more hits and a walk on Thursday, now has a .357/.420/.614 slash in the second half (15 games) and has reached base in 17 of his last 18 games.  It is almost impossible to get a fastball by him for now.

Jonathan Meyer: Hit the ball hard to all fields in the game. Had a hard single up the middle on a fastball in the first, drilled a fastball to CF in the third for a lineout. A seven-pitch AB ended in a deep drive to the track in left-center in the fourth. His double in the sixth on a high slider in the sixth went to the wall in right.

Brett Martin: After a tough outing in his last start at Lakewood, the lefty was steady over his seven innings. He threw 93-95 early and was still at 91-93 when tiring in the seventh. Said he stayed mostly with a changeup as an out pitch (6 missed bats with it).

The impressive thing was the poise. He rarely seems to get rattled by the surrounding circumstances. After giving up the double to Woods to lead off the second, he retired the next two in order – both on 1-0 fastballs away that were pulled for outs. After the first two reached in the fifth, Martin got a gift on bunt (down six at that point) by Mason Davis for an out, then needed two pitches – the second a changeup that got Zach Sullivan to pop to second – and then fanned John Norwood with strike three coming on a change.

Shane McClain: Now with 16 Ks/ 4 BBs in 11.1 innings, the lefty brings to mind Alex Claudio with the low-70s change and a mid-to-upper-80s fastball. Command of his fastball can be an issue but not on Thursday when he pitched a clean ninth and struck out two.

The Not-So-Good:

Chris Dula: Has hard stuff (95-96), but has no clue where it is going. He has walked or hit at least one batter in 11 straight outings (24 BBs or HBPs in 12 innings). Dula has just one clean relief outing in 25 appearances, which came when he struck out the only batter he faced on Mary 20

The Opposition:

Zach Sullivan made a brilliant catch in center off a drive from Arroyo in the second. He sprinted straight back into center before making a diving, over-the-shoulder catch. However in the fourth, is weak and off-line throw home on a Trevino’s shallow fly allowed Cardona to score easily as well as allowed Morgan to tip-toe to third.

Michael Mader: With the fastball difficulty noted earlier, it’s also interesting to see the home-road split of the lefty. Despite pitching in one of the friendlier hitter’s ballparks in the SAL, Mader has a 1.45 ERA in six games with a .189 OBA. On the road, he is 0-8 in 12 starts with a  8.23 ERA and a .325 OBA.

Dugout presence: It was interesting to note in the fourth inning the presence – or lack of – the teams in their dugouts. With Hickory in the field and the Grasshoppers at the plate, the dugout railing on the Hickory side was full. The Greensboro side might have had four or five persons at the rail.

Game Story: Greensboro at Hickory July 14

The Hickory Crawdads pecked away at the Greensboro Grasshoppers for 14 hits in picking up an 11-4 win Tuesday night to start a three-game series.

The 11 runs tied a season high with all nine hitters picking up one hit, five of them with two. All but Luke Tendler scored a run, with Tendler chipping in an RBI.

Hickory improves to 53-34 overall (9-10 second half) and 29-15 at home, both the best marks in the SAL.  Greensboro is now 34-54 overall, 5-14 in the second half, and 13-32 on the road- all three the worst in the circuit.

The Crawdads took advantage of a Grasshopper misplay in the field to score three in the first. After starter Ernesto Franco sandwiched walks to Jose Cardona and Josh Morgan around an out, Jose Cardona lofted a high popup to shallow left-center. Two outfielders and the ‘Hoppers shortstop converged, but the ball fell amongst the trio. SS Justin Twine eventually picked up the ball, but missed an opportunity to record a force play and left the bases loaded. Tendler’s sacrifice fly into the RF corner moved up all three runners before Jairo Beras got enough on a low fastball to get it through the infield for a two-run single.

Greensboro cut it to 3-2 in the third as Arturo Rodriguez singled with two outs and came around on K.J. Woods’ homer to right.

The game blew up on the Grasshoppers in the fourth when Hickory scored six times. Beras lead off the inning with a first-pitch homer to left. Hickory then put together a series of bloopers and soft liners for the remaining runs. Juremi Profar floated an opposite-field, soft liner to right followed by a bloop to left by Rock Shoulders. Brallan Perez then loaded the bases as he beat out a bunt up the third base line.

Cardona’s sacrifice fly sent in Profar before Carlos Arroyo’s blooper along the left field line fell in and scored Shoulders. A balk by Franco places runners at second and third from where both scored when Morgan steered a single through the drawn-in infield. A error in left by Austen Smith moved Morgan to second and he scored when Twine’s wild throw on a Trevino grounder skipped away from first to make it 9-2.

A passed ball brought in Mason Davis in the fifth, but the Crawdads responded with two more in bottom of the inning on run-scoring singles by Arroyo and Morgan.

Davis doubled and scored in the seventh to account for the final margin.

Nick Gardewine (5-6) was the recipient of the Crawdads offensive output in the win. He allowed three runs on six hits over a season-high of six innings with seven strikeouts and two walks. Ricardo Rodriguez allowed the remaining run before settling down over the final three scoreless innings.

The Good:

The lineup: 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position, 4-for-4 plus two sac flies with runners at third. Hitting coach Francisco Matos credited the day off Monday with clearing everyone’s heads. He said the recent nine-day trip that ended Sunday felt like a month-long trip.

Carlos Arroyo: Went 2-for-5 in the game and also made a couple of key plays in the field. With two on in the second, Mason Davis hit a soft, sinking liner that Arroyo charged and caught just before the ball hit the dirt to close the innings.

With a runner on first in the fourth, Taylor Munden lofted a blooper into shallow right-center. Arroyo, who had moved to cover the bag on a steal attempt, reversed course. He was unable to make the catch, but Arroyo turned and fired a strike to Josh Morgan at second for the force play. The next batter Brian Schales also popped a blooper to short right. Arroyo cut back to his left, then after making the catch in front of right fielder Jairo Beras, he threw out Munden retreating to first for a double play.

Finally, the sixth, Twine sent a slow roller to second that Arroyo charged quickly, fielded at the cut of the grass and fired a quick throw to first.

Jairo Beras: Hit a tough 1-2 fastball (95 mph) down in the zone up the middle just past Twine’s glove. In the fourth, Beras smacked a first-pitch, get-it-over fastball out to left.

Josh Morgan: Two hits, a walk, two runs and three RBI. Saw 17 pitches in first three plate appearances, 25 for the game. In the fifth, he fought through a 7-pitch AB before getting enough on a change of the two-run single.

Luke Tendler: 1-4, 2B, RBI- He just missed a grand slam on a change in the first, then roped a slider into the RF corner for a double in the sixth

Jose Cardona: Sitting at the top of the order, he went 2-for-3, with a sac fly, scored twice and knocked in two. The lone out came on a liner to center in the seventh.

Nick Gardewine: Struggled at time to put away hitters on two-strike counts and at two outs in the inning, Gardewine still pushed through 98 pitches (63 strikes). He started with first-pitch strikes to 18 of 26 hitters. Pounded the strike zone low and away to right-handed hitters to good effect, first with fastballs (92-94), then brought in his slider on the second time through the lineup. Control of his change was iffy at times, and it cost him with Woods crushed a high offering to right for the homer.

The not-so-good:

Jose Trevino: Bloop single aside – and arguably could’ve had a second hit credited on the error charged to Twine in the fifth – he’s pulling a good many outside pitches and appeared to miss a couple of fastballs middle-in during a plate appearance in the sixth.

The opposition:

Greensboro: Arguably the poorest effort displayed by a visiting team this season. Team had little life in the field. Mason Davis appeared to give up on Morgan’s line single in the fifth, and then after fielding it sent a throw home that went well up the line at third.

The failure to get an out on a catch or a force in the first cost them three runs. No one appeared to communicate with Twine, who had his back turned to the play.

A sloppy play by Austen Smith in left allowed Morgan to move to second before he scored in the fourth.

Arturo Rodriguez: The SAL all-star punished a couple of mistakes by Crawdads pitching. He kept the third alive by slapping an 0-2 high slider to right, which lead to Woods homer. In the seventh, it was an 0-2 hanging curve by Ricardo Rodriguez that was drilled to right for an RBI.

Series Preview: Hickory at Lakewood July 8-12

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

Probables (Hickory/ Lakewood):

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Series History:

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

Entering the Series – Hickory:

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

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

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

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

Entering the Series – Lakewood:

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

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

Players to watch- Hickory:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Players to watch- Lakewood:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crawdads Mid-Season Assessment: An Interview with Rangers VP Mike Daly

The Hickory Crawdads currently has the best record in the South Atlantic League at 50-29 (through July 5). While the Crawdads cruised to the first-half Northern Division title – clinching a playoff berth in September – the name of the game is first and foremost player development. In that aspect, the Texas Rangers have much to celebrate with the Crawdads roster, especially where the pitching staff is concerned.

Mike Daly, the Senior Vice President for Scouting and Player Development of the Texas Rangers, was in town during the recent weeklong homestand to get an extended look at the Crawdads in action.

The following is an interview I did with Daly during which he talked about some of the top pitchers on the staff – and assigning them to High Desert – a few of the top hitters, as well as the on-going struggles with Jairo Beras.

In the first half of the season the Crawdads were the best team in the South Atlantic League by record, and a lot of days, the best team on the field. The Rangers brass had to be excited with how the team played in the first half.

Mike Daly: Yeah, we’re certainly proud of the players and the staff. I think it starts with Corey Ragsdale, an outstanding manager who’s closing in on the all-time record for number of wins here – not only for the number of wins in Hickory – but with what he’s done taking on a really young group of players and bringing them together.

Each of the players get better individually but also as a collective group. They’re playing for each other, pulling for each other and ultimately winning a bunch of games. We’re very pleased and very proud of the group here in Hickory.

You mentioned the staff and Rags is here for the third year and seems a lot more comfortable with himself. You see the growth from him over the three years. It’s obvious that he’s in charge and the guys like playing for him, to a man.

Daly: Absolutely. Corey does a number of things very well. First, he has outstanding baseball knowledge. He knows the ins and outs of a baseball game. He has a very keen eye for what players need to do and how they need to develop on the field.

But then off the field, he has presence and he knows how to handle the clubhouse and the players. They respect him and enjoy playing for him, but otherwise they know who is in charge. We’re thrilled to have Corey in the organization and we’re very, very happy with what he’s done with the club so far in 2015.

As far as the first half the pitching staff, almost night in and night out, is getting five, six, seven innings in every night and then turns it over to a what’s been a pretty good bullpen for the most part.

Daly: I think that was reflected there in the all-star game with how many selections we had off our pitching staff. I think what’s really good is these guys push one another. So, when Ariel Jurado goes out and has a good outing, now Brett Martin wants to go out there and top him. Then Luis Ortiz, he wants to go out there and do better and Yohander Mendez wants to show where he’s at. Nick Gardewine wants to do that and Collin Wiles wants to do it better.

So it’s a real good internal competition amongst these guys each and every night. It certainly gives our ballclub an opportunity to win and it always starts with the starting pitching. These guys have really stepped up. It’s really, really fun to watch these guys compete against one another.

Jurado was not somebody that people read a lot about before this season. He took the ball the first night and for the most part at every start he toes the rubber and goes seven innings.

Daly: He’s been outstanding. He was one of the six starters that we wanted to send out here. That’s a big credit to Brian Shouse, who is our pitching coach in the Arizona League and pitched a number of years in the major leagues. He dropped down Jurado’s slot from a high slot to more of a low three-quarters slot, which he throws now and really helps his fastball move. He gets a ton of ground balls with his sinker. He throws a lot of strikes and mixes in his breaking balls and his changeups very well.

He’s throwing a curveball now, which is another nice toy for him?

Daly: Absolutely, and he has a real good feel. When guys have power – nd he has a fastball that he can run up there over 90 miles an hour – and then he’s able to break out his offspeed pitches, it really puts hitters on their heels. His sinker is obviously his money pitch and when he’s able to throw the other offspeed pitches for strikes, it puts hitters on their heels. We’ve seen that with the performance of Jurado.

Luis Ortiz has had a couple of wrinkles, but numbers wise he has a low ERA, good WHIP, a ton of strikeouts. I know you’re kind of pacing him along, especially with the arm fatigue. What is your evaluation of him at this point?

Daly: We’re really happy with Luis. I think our goal was for him to get out here on opening day and to get through the whole season. A player learns a ton, especially a player coming out of high school, going out for the first time and getting through a full season at a full-season club. We’re really happy with what he’s done throughout the year.

Obviously there’s a little bit of a setback here with the arm fatigue. We’re looking to get him back here probably in about a month or so. But we’re really happy with where Luis is. He’s working on all his pitches. His changeup continues to develop as does the power fastball and a good breaking ball.

Collin Wiles is another guy that has been good night in and night out. I’m honestly a little surprised he’s still here. Let me ask you about his development and where he goes from here.

Daly: We give Collin a ton of credit. He had a very good offseason. I think he really took ownership in his offseason program and really invested in where he was at in his career and it’s paying dividends on the field. He’s able to throw all of his pitches for strikes at anytime in the count. He has an extreme amount of confidence on the mound and that come through.  I think that’s due in large part to the work that he did in the offseason. He came into spring training very, very focused and that’s carried through here in the season.

We have had some conversations about challenging him at the next level, but we’re really happy with where he’s at, how he’s pitching and how he’s performing. With his age, as a high-school player coming out of Kansas City, we still feel that there’s some challenges for him here at the low-A level. But we’re really happy where he’s at.

This is not necessarily about Collin, but just in general. How much does the High Desert situation play into you advancing guys and not wanting to tax them at that spot versus maybe they need that challenge?

Daly: I don’t think it’s so much about High Desert. I think it’s more about the individual player and where he needs to be challenged or where he’s at in his career.

If you look back when Arizona was at High Desert, they sent John Patterson and Brandon Webb and Brad Penny. So there have been pitchers that have been very successful major league pitchers that have gone through High Desert.

But I think our decisions are based more on the individual player and what they need and where we see they’re at in their careers in terms of promoting them or having them go through High Desert or not.

We’ve had some success. Frank Lopez is a guy who pitched here and had some success early on at High Desert and he earned a promotion up to Frisco. There are pitchers that can go out there and have had some success. I think it’s a very good learning experience if you’re able to pitch in High Desert in those type of conditions.

Is there a mental component that plays into that at times, where you might be hesitant to send somebody there because if they get lit up with the easy home run, you worry about the psyche?

Daly: I think that’s part of like each individual guy. I think our coaches have a very good feel for each individual player. We do talk about it amongst our staff, amongst our coaches about what’s best for each individual player. Some guys have gone out there and taken on that challenge and were able to overcome High Desert. That usually bodes pretty well for success at the next level.

Let me ask you about one other guy and that’s Yohander Mendez. He was here and there last year because of the shoulder and other injuries health wise. He had a good year out of the bullpen, but I know the object has always been to get him back into the rotation. You’ve got to be pleased with where he is at this point.

Daly: We’re very happy with Yohander. We had a couple of setbacks with some injuries in his career. I think the goal was to start him out in the pen this year with some short stints to try to keep him healthy. He’s done that and has been able to post every time that we’ve asked him to pitch.

Now, I think, his goal has changed in terms of, can we build strength. He’s done a nice job with Wade Lamont, our strength and conditioning coach, in terms of putting more weight on his body. I know it doesn’t really show, but he’s up to over 200 pounds. That’s a huge credit to Yohander and the tireless efforts of Lamont. Obviously Oscar Marin (Crawdads pitching coach) has done a real nice job with him last year and this year. We’re really happy with where Yohander is at and obviously it’s showing on the field.

Let me go to the hitting side of the team and start with Josh Morgan, who had a rough start getting his feet wet, but the last two months has done well.

Daly: Definitely, he’s certainly found it. He’s one of the guys going through his first full-season year. I think in April the hits weren’t falling, but he continued to have an outstanding makeup. He’s a very, very hard worker. He believes in the talent and we believe in the talent as well. I think that we’ve seen that over the past couple of months with the consistent approach and the consistent work ethic and those hits are falling. Obviously, he’s been a huge part of the 2015 Crawdads.

A guy that has been the glue or spark plug, or whatever cliché you want to use, has been Jose Trevino. I know it’s been his first full year of catching and I know that’s gone well. But all around he’s a guy that keeps the clubhouse together.

Daly: We’re very, very, very happy with Jose Trevino, not only defensively, but offensively. There’s a lot of stuff as a catcher that you need to work on in terms of your own defensive, knowing the pitching staff , being able to help your pitchers get through each count. But then he’s able to step into the box with his bat and be very productive in the middle of the lineup. So, we’re really happy with the things that Jose has accomplished so far both offensively and defensively. You see the makeup and you see how he’s able to keep his focus together.

I’m going to go to Jairo Beras, who had the rough start not running out a batted ball the first night. He had a good couple of weeks here where it seemed like he was seeing everything, but then he gets into another thing last night where he doesn’t run it out. Let me ask you about him and what is a tough situation.

Daly: Jairo is somebody there have been some ups and been some downs. I know last year he had a very good second half here in Hickory. It looked like he was going on that path again here and have another strong second half in 2015.

Part of the process is not about numbers, but part of the process is about playing the game the right way. I think Corey’s done a really good job of handling the situation with Jairo.

We’re still very excited about Jairo and I think he’s still going to be a big part of this Crawdads team over the last couple of months. I think his at bats are getting more consistent. He’s seeing balls batter and he’s using the whole field. He had a nice double down the right field line. He’s walking a little more. I think that there’s some stuff, just with player in development, there’s some ups and some downs, but we’re still very bullish on where Jairo is and his status in the organization.

You mentioned that you’re excited about Jairo and the Rangers are excited about Jairo. Is there a point where Jairo is excited about Jairo and there are not the mental lapses?

Daly: You hope so, yes. I would fully expect that to happen. When that happens, I’m not sure that anybody knows. It’s really up to the player to decide that they’re going to do the things each and every day that’s part of being a professional player. I think it’s really up to Jairo. Our job as an organization is to support him and when he doesn’t do the things that he’s supposed to do to correct them and teach him and to make sure he learns from him. Ultimately, it’s up to Jairo to make those changes.

Michael De Leon. The hitting is still not quite there. He’s still only 18 and the strength is getting there, but defensively, what a wizard.

Daly: With Michael last year, it was really the year of opportunity. When we signed him in 2013, nobody thought that in 2014 that he would play the majority of his games in Hickory. None of our guys that we had signed in their first year – Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor – none of those guys spent any time in Hickory. There was an opportunity last year with the number of injuries. To his credit, he took advantage.

I think there are still challenges for Michael here at this level, but he’s done an outstanding job. When he can play defense like he can play defense at shortstop, he’s always going to have the opportunity to play. The manager is going to want to get you in the lineup based on the defense that he provides.

He hits at the top of the lineup and makes a ton of contact. He’s going to get bigger and stronger. I know that Wade Lamont is working with him relentless to try to get him faster and try to get him bigger and stronger. But, when you have a shortstop that can play that type of defense, the pitchers really appreciate you, and the manager’s always going to find a way to get you into the lineup. That’s his calling card is his defense right now.

Let me ask you about one more guy and that’s Tendler. He had a hot start and then went into the slump, but you get the feeling that he’s coming out of some things.

Daly: I give Luke a ton of credit. Luke came into the organization last year and right away has been all about baseball. After Spokane – he had a real nice year there – he spent the winter in Columbia. He went down there on his own and went to the Columbian Winter League. The first time we’ve ever had a player right out of the draft make the decision on his own to go down to Colombia. So, he really invested in his career. He really wants to be as good as he can.

I know that he came into Hickory this year and was on fire in April and in May. He was producing maybe better than he thought that he was. Right now in the slump, he’s better than he’s showing now.

We’re really happy with Luke. Once again, a guy going through his first full season and it’s hard. A hundred-and-forty games is a long season; it’s a grind. He’s done a real nice job. He’s a big part of the Crawdads team. I know that Corey has a lot of confidence in him and we’re going to continue to run him out there and he’s going to figure it out and be a big part of the team here.

Who has surprised you that maybe you didn’t expect to put together the season they have?

I think like the back end of the bullpen was really good. Parks and Fasola, both of those guys, especially Fasola, coming in and closing the door and saving a lot of games. I know that Corey had a ton of confidence looking down there in the eighth or ninth inning and bring in big John to close out the game.

Obviously, John pitched very well and earned himself a promotion up to High Desert. So, I think John Fasola coming in and taking the reins of the closer role and earning a promotion was the biggest surprise here so far.

(Eduard) Pinto?:

Daly: Been good. He can always hit. He hit close to .400 in the Dominican Summer League his first summer out. I think his big key is staying healthy. That’s something he continues to manage each and every day. He can hit, but his ability to on the field is the key.