Results tagged ‘ Jurickson Profar ’

The History of “Rehabs” with the Hickory Crawdads

We don’t get many current or former major league players to play at Hickory.

There are other teams in the South Atlantic League that are close enough to get occasional visitors from their parent major league clubs. Rome (Ga.) is an hour drive from Sun Trust Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves. Lakewood (N.J.) is an hour and 15 minutes from Philadelphia, while Hagerstown (Md.) is about 90 minutes out from Nationals Park in Washington.

However, Hickory has never been anywhere close to its major league affiliate. To have a major leaguer rehab here, it’s about as rare as the sightings of Big Foot. So, when the Rangers announced that Martin Perez is scheduled to pitch here today, the excitement for fans in our corner of the baseball world is amped up.

Should Perez make the start, he will become the tenth former big leaguer to play here, the third after David Lundquist and Jurickson Profar to return to Hickory after playing here previously. I thought I’d take a moment to give fans a little history of previous major league players that have donned a Crawdads uniform.

 

Chicago White Sox affiliation

Jason Bere (1996 and 1997) The right-hander pitched in the American League Championship Series in 1993 and followed that up with an all-star appearance in 1994, during which he finished the strike-shortened season at 12-2 in 24 starts. He was never really the same after that and he experienced elbow problems in 1995 that eventually led to a Tommy John surgery late in 1996. As part of a series of rehab starts with several of the White Sox affiliates prior to the surgery, Bere threw a three-hitter over five shutout innings and struck out five. Following the surgery, he returned for another rehab start the next July. This start wasn’t as sharp as he gave up two runs on four hits over three innings.

Jim Abbott (’98): One of the baseball’s most inspirational players, the left-hander was trying to work his way back to the major leagues after the California Angels released him in spring training of 1997, following a 2-18 season. After spending time away from the game, the White Sox signed him in May 1998 and Abbott came to Hickory soon after for his first minor-league start. Over four innings, Abbott gave up a run on three hits, walked two and struck out two. Abbott went on to pitch for the White Sox and finished up his career in 1999 with Milwaukee.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

Josias Manzanillo (’02): The right-hander made his big-league debut two seasons before the Crawdads played their first game in 1993. Strictly a reliever, Manzanillo pitched for six different clubs before the Pirates picked him up in 2000. Manzanillo became a free agent after the 2001, but after he was unable to sign with another team, the Pirates resigned him. However, under the rules of that time, Manzanillo was unable to pitch for the major league club until May 1. So, Manzanillo took to the hill with Hickory for an outing. In his two innings of relief, he gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and struck out one. Manzanillo returned to the Pirates on May 1, but got hurt and sat out six weeks before coming back to the mound. The Pirates later released him and he pitched for two more big-league seasons before calling it quits in 2005.

Bob Henley (’02): Henley was the first big-league position player to come to Hickory. Very little is known about his signing and no date is available for the game in which he played. A catcher, Henley played just 41 games in the majors in 1998 with the Montreal Expos. An elbow injury cut short his tenure in the majors and after abbreviated seasons in 1999 and 2000, the Expos cut him in spring training 2001. Pittsburgh signed him in 2002 but the only appearance he made with the organization was with Hickory. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout as the team’s DH. It turned out to be the final game as a player. Henley is currently in his fifth season as the Washington Nationals third-base coach.

David Lundquist (’04): Lundquist has several unique contributions to Crawdads history. He is the only player to suit up for Hickory as a part of two different affiliations. Lundquist is the first player to later return as a coach, as he led the pitchers in 2006 and 2007. He is also the first to return to Hickory after playing in the big leagues. The right-hander made 27 starts for the team in 1994 as a part of the White Sox days. Lundquist went on to make his big-league debut for Chicago in 1999 and later pitched in 2001 and 2002 with the San Diego Padres. Lundquist was a minor-league free agent signee with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004, After struggling at AA Altoona, Lundquist was sent to Hickory and he became a crucial part of the team’s championship run. He posted a 0.93 ERA in ten relief outings and posted 21 Ks in 19.1 innings. His stint with Hickory was the last stop as a player. He is currently in his third season as the pitching coach for AAA Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia).

CRAWDADS-Dave_Lundquist-0414-4196.jpg

Dave Lundquist returned to Hickory in 2004 after pitching in the majors with the White Sox and Padres. He later became the Crawdads pitching coach (photo by John M. Setlzer, Jr., used by permission)

Adam LaRoche (’08): The slugging first baseman came to the Pirates in 2007 from the Atlanta Braves in a trade that involved two other Hickory Crawdads. Jamie Romak also came to the Pirates and suited up for Hickory that April. Brett Lillibridge, a shortstop on the 2006 squad, went to Atlanta. An intercostal strain put him on the disabled list in July 2008 and it was at Hickory that he played three games before rejoining the Pirates in mid-August. In his first game with the Crawdads, LaRoche crushed one of the longest home runs ever hit by a lefty. The blast one-hopped the service road the runs beyond the right-field fence. LaRoche went 6-for-10 with a double and the home run. He went on to play seven more seasons and retired during spring training of 2016 with the White Sox.

Adam LaRoche

Adam LaRoche with the Crawdads in 2008. He hit one of the longest homers at L.P. Frans Stadium during his first game with the team. (photo by John M. Setzler, Jr./ Used by permission)

Texas Rangers:

Daniel Bard (’14): The combination of “Steve Blass” disease – the inability to throw a baseball accurately – and surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome derailed the pitching career of Bard. A month after the procedure, the Texas Rangers took a flier on the right-hander when they signed him to a minor-league deal in February 2014. He made four appearances for the Crawdads from June 5 to June 15 and recorded two outs. The yips raged for Bard has he hit seven batters, walked nine. The Rangers released him on June 18. The Cubs, Cardinals and Mets each had a go at fixing what ailed Bard before he officially retired during the previous offseason.

Jurickson Profar (’15): Shoulder injuries cost the former top major league prospect two full big-league seasons. Once Profar resumed baseball activities following a surgery for a torn labrum in early 2015, he joined his brother Juremi at Hickory in late August 2015 to start his rehab assignments. The 2011 South Atlantic League’s MVP went 9-for-33 as the Crawdads DH with a double and a homer over nine games. Profar is currently with the Rangers.

Jurickson Profar

Jurickson Profar played his first game in two seasons when he suited up for Hickory in 2015 (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

James Jones (’16): The former fourth-round pick of the Seattle Mariners made his major-league debut with the club in 2014. Jones was traded to the Texas Rangers in November 2015 and then released two weeks later. The Rangers re-signed him eight days later and decided to convert Jones to be a pitcher. He first saw game action on the mound with the AZL Rangers rookie affiliate before joining Hickory. Jones’ debuted with Hickory on August 9 and was pulled after giving up four runs on four hits and a walk over 2/3 of an inning. It was soon found that Jones needed “Tommy John” surgery and was out for a year. Jones returned this year with High-A Down East and is currently on the roster at AA Frisco.

Former Crawdads on Opening-Day MLB Rosters

The 2018 Major League Baseball season has begun and across the landscape former Hickory Crawdads dot the big-league rosters. Thirty-two former players are on 16 different teams, including 11 with the Texas Rangers, the parent club of the Crawdads.

Below is an overview of where former Hickory players will start the 2018 season:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Texas Rangers:

Alex Claudio: The 2013 Crawdads reliever will bring his changeup to the Rangers for his fifth season at Arlington. Claudio posted 11 saves and a 2.50 ERA over 70 games (8th in the AL) last year. He again is expected to be a key member of the Rangers bullpen.

Claudio, Alexander

Joey Gallo: The Crawdads single-season home run record holder joins the Rangers for his fourth season in the majors. A third baseman for the 2013 team, Gallo will start at first for Texas. He is coming off a season in which he hit 41 homers (third in the AL) and slugged .537 (9th).

Gallo

Keone Kela: Another Crawdads reliever from the 2013 club returns to the Rangers for his fourth big-league season. Kela is expected to be the closer for the Texas, one season after posting a 2.79 ERA and struck out 51 in 38.2 innings (39 games).

Keone Kela 3

Jose Leclerc: A third reliever off the 2013 Crawdads squad will be in his third season with the Rangers, but his first on the opening-day roster. He appeared in 47 games out of the Texas bullpen in 2017 and put up a 3.94 ERA. Opposing hitters hit just .145 against Leclerc, who struck out 60 in 45.2 innings.

Jose Leclerc action

Nomar Mazara: The Crawdads right fielder in 2013 and 2014 will be in his third season with Texas to start the season. Mazara posted a .253/.323/.422 slash in 2017 with 20 homers and 101 RBI (9th in the AL). He opens the season as the Rangers starting right fielder.

Nomar Mazara 2

Rougned Odor: The Crawdads 2012 second baseman suits up for Texas in his fifth season as the club’s starter at the same position. Though he hit 30 or more homers for his second straight season, Odor struggled at the plate with a .204/.252/.397 slash.

Rougned Odor2

Martin Perez: The 2009 Crawdads starting pitcher will begin the season on the disabled list (right elbow) but is expected to make his first start for the Rangers on April 5. Now in his seventh season, Perez went 13-12 in 32 starts in 2017. He’s looking to improve on a 4.82 ERA and a .301 opponents batting avg.

Perez 2

Jurickson Profar: The 2011 Crawdads shortstop is now in his fifth season with the Rangers after spending much of last year at AAA Round Rock. Profar hit .172/.294/.207 in 22 major league games in 2017. He will play a utility role for Texas.

Jurickson Profar

Drew Robinson: The 2012 Crawdads third baseman is in his second season with the Rangers after making his debut with the club last April. Sent down to AAA Round Rock shortly after his debut, Robinson returned mid-season and hit .224/.314/.439 in 48 games with Texas. He starts the season as a utilityman.

Drew Robinson

Ricardo Rodriguez: The 2014-2015 pitcher for the Crawdads will start the 2018 season on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis. Rodriguez made his big-league debut with the Rangers last August. In 16 relief appearances, he had a 6.15 ERA in 13 innings.

Ricardo Rodriguez

Ryan Rua: The 2013 Crawdads second baseman is in his fifth major league season with the Rangers and is the team’s starting left fielder. Rua split last season with Texas and AAA Round Rock. With the Rangers, he had a .217/.294/.333 slash with nine extra-base hits in 144 plate appearances.

Ryan Rua HR trot.jpg

 

Baltimore Orioles:

Richard Bleier:  A starting pitcher at the beginning of the 2009 season, the lefty is in his third major league season, the second with the Orioles. Bleier was called up to stay with the Orioles in May 2017 and became a key part of the team’s bullpen. In 57 games covering 63.1 innings, Bleier went 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA to go with an opponents batting average of .257 and a 1.18 WHIP.

Hickory Crawdads - Richard Bleier

 

Chicago White Sox:

Leury Garcia: The Crawdads shortstop from 2009-2010 is in his sixth major league season with 215 his 240 big-league games coming with the White Sox. Garcia hit for a MLB career high .270 in 87 games with nine homers and 33 RBI. He will play a utility role, mostly as a fourth outfielder.

Garcia, Leury

 

Cleveland Indians:

Rajai Davis: The Crawdads 2003 center fielder – he also played a handful of games with the team in 2002 – begins his 13th big-league season by rejoining the Indians. Signed by Cleveland to a minor league contract in the offseason, Davis had a strong spring to make the team. Davis stole 43 bases for Cleveland in 134 games in 2016 and his eighth-inning, three-run homer against Aroldis Chapman in game seven of the 2016 World Series tied the game at the time. He played in 100 games with Oakland last season before going to the Boston Red Sox in a late-season trade. Davis posted a .235/.293/.348 slash and stole 29 bases last year. He will be a fourth outfielder this year for the Indians.

 

Kansas City Royals:

Justin Grimm: A 2011 starting pitcher for Hickory is now in his seventh major league season, the first with Kansas City. The Royals signed him after the Chicago Cubs released him in spring training. Grimm went 1-2 with a 5.53 ERA in 50 relief appearances last year with the Cubs.

Grimm_Justin 2.jpg

 

Minnesota Twins:

Zach Duke: A starting pitcher for the Crawdads in 2003, Duke is now in his 14th season in the major leagues and will begin his tenure with the Twins this season out of the bullpen. Coming off 2016 “Tommy John” surgery, Duke made 27 relief appearances for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017 with a 3.93 ERA and a .197 OBA in 18.1 innings. He’s expected to be a left-handed specialist for Minnesota.

 

New York Yankees:

Neil Walker: The 2005 Crawdads catcher is in his 10th major league season, his first with the Yankees after signing a free-agent contract with the club in March. After seven seasons as the starting second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets, Walker moved around the diamond in 2017, first with the Mets and then with the Milwaukee Brewers after a midseason trade. At the plate, Walker posted a .265/.362/.439 slash with 14 homers and 49 RBI. He is expected to play first and second with the Yankees.

Walker.JPG

 

Toronto Blue Jays:

Steve Pearce: The 2007 Crawdads first baseman is in his 12th major league season, the second with the Blue Jays. Last year, Pearce was the right-handed part of the Blue Jays platoon in leftfield and is expected to play in the same role in 2018. He hit .252/.319/.438 with 13 homers and 37 RBI in 92 games last year.

Steve Pearce.JPG

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

Chicago Cubs:

Carl Edwards, Jr.: A member of the Crawdads starting rotation in 2013, Edwards is now in his fourth season as a reliever with the Cubs. In 73 games last season, Edwards had a 2.98 ERA with an opponents batting average of .134 on 66.1 innings. His 25 holds last year was second in the National League. He is expected again to be a key member of the Cubs bullpen.

CJ Edwards

 

Cincinnati Reds:

Jared Hughes: A starting pitcher for the Crawdads in 2006 and 2007, Hughes enters his eighth season in the big leagues, his first with the Reds after signing a two-year contract in the offseason. Last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, Hughes with 5-3 with a 3.02 ERA and one save. Hughes will pitch out of the bullpen for the Reds.

Hickory Crawdads - Jared Hughes

 

Los Angeles Dodgers:

Wilmer Font: A starting pitcher for the Crawdads in 2009 and 2010, Font is in his fourth major league season, the second with the Dodgers. Font spent much of 2017 at AAA Oklahoma City where he put together a strong season that led to his selection as the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year. Font pitched in three games with the Dodgers after rosters expanded in September and gave up seven runs in 3.2 Innings. He’ll pitch out of the bullpen for the Dodgers.

Hickory Crawdads - Wilmer Font

 

Miami Marlins:

Lewis Brinson: The Crawdads starting center fielder in 2013 and 2014, Brinson has a full-fledged opportunity for the same role in the majors after Brinson was traded to the Marlins in the offseason. Brinson made his big-league debut last summer with the Brewers and went 5-for-47 in 21 games.

Lewis Brinson outfield dive.jpg

Tomas Telis: The Crawdads catcher from 2011 is in his fifth major league season, the fourth with the Marlins. He spent much of 2017 at AAA New Orleans but posted a .240/.279/.367 slash in 48 big-league games. Telis will be the starting catcher for the Marlins due to an injury to J.T. Realmuto

 TRACY PROFFITT | URASTAR IMAGES - Tomas Telis (13) - Hickory Crawdads

Philadelphia Phillies:

Jorge Alfaro:  The Crawdads catcher from 2012 and 2013 will be on his first opening-day roster after parts of two seasons with the Phillies. A midseason all-star at AAA Lehigh Valley, Alfaro hit .314/.360/.514 in 29 games at Philadelphia. He will split time with Andrew Knapp behind the plate.

Jorge Alfaro.jpg

Jerad Eickhoff: The Crawdads starting pitcher in 2012 is in his fourth season with the Phillies, though he starts the season on the disabled list with a strained right lat. In 24 starts last season, Eickhoff went 4-8 with a 4.71 ERA.

Jerad Eickhoff

Odubel Herrera: The starting second baseman for Hickory in 2011, Herrera is now cemented as the Phillies center fielder for the fourth straight season. In 138 games in 2017, he hit .281/.325/.452 with 42 doubles – the third most in the NL – 14 homers and 56 RBI.

Herrera_Odubel.jpg

Nick Williams: The 2013 starting left fielder for Hickory is in his second season with the Phillies after he made his major league debut for the team last June. Williams went on to hit .288/.338/.473 with 12 homers and 55 RBI in 83 games with the Phillies. He is the starting right fielder.

Nick Williams

 

Pittsburgh Pirates:

Jordy Mercer: The starting shortstop the second half of the 2008 season with the Crawdads is the final member remaining with Pittsburgh from the former Hickory affiliation with the Pirates that ended in 2008. Now in his seventh season – the sixth as the Bucs shortstop – he is likely on the move in what is his final contract year with Pittsburgh. With the Pirates in 2017, Mercer hit .255/.326/.406 with 14 homers and 58 RBI in 145 games.

Mercer, Jordy.jpg

 

San Diego Padres:

Robbie Erlin: The 2010 South Atlantic League’s ERA champ while with Hickory is now in his fifth season with the Padres. Tommy John surgery cost the left-hander much of the 2016 and all of the 2017 season. Erlin will likely be in the San Diego rotation.

Robbie Erlin

Christian Villanueva: The 2011 Crawdads third baseman made his big-league debut with San Diego last September in grand style after hitting four homers and going 11-for-32 in 12 games. Villanueva returns to the Padres as a utility infielder after he made his first opening-day roster.

Villanueva in field

San Francisco Giants:

Andrew McCutchen: The 2006 Crawdads center fielder is in his tenth major league season, but after an offseason trade, he’ll suit up for another club other than the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time. The 2013 National League MVP now patrols right field for the Giants after nine seasons as the Pirates center fielder. In 156 games last season, McCutchen hit .279/.363/.486 with 28 homers and 88 RBI.

Andrew McCutchen

Tony Watson: A starter in his brief stint with the Crawdads in 2007, the left-hander is now in his seventh major league season as one of the game’s best left-handed setup relievers. After five full seasons with the Pirates, he was dealt in a midseason trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he made his first World Series appearance. In 71 games last season, he was 7-4 with ten saves and a 3.38 ERA in 66.2 innings. Watson signed a two-year contract with the Giants in the offseason.

 

Former Crawdads Scattered throughout MLB Opening Day Rosters

As the 2017 season begins, 29 former Hickory Crawdads will dot major league rosters. That is up from 25 to start the 2016 campaign.

Ten of those are on the Crawdads parent club, the Texas Rangers. Among American League clubs, only Toronto has two former Hickory players. Thirteen former Crawdads are on National League teams, including three on the Pittsburgh Pirates, left over from the days of their affiliation with Hickory. The Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres each have two.

Three players on MLB rosters will start the year on the disabled list: Hanser Alberto (Texas), Robbie Erlin (San Diego) and Zach Duke (St. Louis).

Here is a synopsis of each player in the majors:

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

Hanser Alberto (’12): The infielder will begin the season on the disabled. He has played the last two seasons with Texas, posting a .194/ .204 /.226 slash over 76 combined games.

Hanser Alberto fielding

Hanser Alberto, shown in a 2012 game at Kannapolis, went on to win a minor league “Gold Glove” award in 2014. (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Jose Bautista (’02): The right-handed hitter will be in his 14th major league season, the ninth with the Toronto Blue Jays. Battling injuries in 2016, Bautista hit 22 homers in 116 and posted a .234/.366/.452 slash. He signed a one-year contract with Toronto during the off-season to remain with the club.

Alex Claudio (’13): The soft-tossing, lefty reliever will be in his fourth major league season with the Texas Rangers. In 39 games in 2016, he put up a 2.79 ERA over 51.2 innings with 34 Ks and 10 walks.

Claudio, Alexander

Alex Claudio (’13) now a middle reliever for the Texas Rangers (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Rajai Davis (’02-’03): The speedy outfielder will be in his 12th major league season, his first with the Oakland A’s after signing a free agent contract in the off-season. The right-handed hitter posted a .249/.306/.388 slash with Cleveland in 2016 and led the American League with 43 stolen bases. He is expected to start in centerfield for the Athletics, with whom he played for from 2008-2010.

Joey Gallo (’13): The left-handed hitter will be in his third major league season with the Texas Rangers. He has played in 53 games the previous two years, putting up a .173/ .281/.368 slash. Gallo will start at third in place of the injured Adrian Beltre.

Joey Gallo

Joey Gallo will be the opening-day third baseman for Texas (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Leury Garcia (’09-’10): The switch-hitter will be in his fifth major league season, most of those with the Chicago Cubs. Out of minor-league options, Garcia was kept on the big league club and will fill a utility role. He spent much of last year at AAA Charlotte.

Hickory Crawdads - Leury Garcia

Leury Garcia is expected to come off the bench for the White Sox (John M. Setzler, Jr.)

 

Jose Leclerc (’13): The right-handed reliever will be on his first opening-day roster after he made 12 relief appearances for the Texas Rangers in his debut season last year. He put up a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings with 15 Ks and 13 BBs. He split last year at AA Frisco and AAA Round Rock.

Jose Leclerc action

Jose Leclerc is on his first major league, opening-day roster spot with the Rangers.

 

Nomar Mazara (’13-’14): The left-handed hitting outfielder will be in his second major league season with the Texas Rangers after playing in 145 games during his debut season. He posted a .266/.320/.419 slash with 20 homers and 64 RBI. Mazara will start the season in right.

Nomar Mazara

Nomar Mazara will start in RF for the Rangers (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Rougned Odor (’12): The left-handed second baseman will be in his fourth season with the Texas Rangers and recently signed a six-year extension with the club. Last year, Odor hit 33 homers and collected 88 RBI in 150 games. His posted a .271/.296 /.502 slash.

Rougned Odor2

Rougned Odor recently signed a six-year extension with the Rangers (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Steve Pearce (’07): The right-handed hitter will be in his 11th major league season, the first with the Toronto Blue Jays after signing a two-year deal during the off-season. Pearce split last year between Tampa Bay and Baltimore, posting a .288/.374/.492 slash over 110 games. He his expected to start in left.

Steve Pearce

Steve Pearce signed with the Blue Jays during the offseason (John M. Setzler, Jr.)

 

Martin Perez (’09): The left-handed pitcher will be in his sixth major league season with the Texas Rangers. Perez went 10-11 with a 4.39 ERA over 33 starts in 2016. He is expected to be the No. 3 starter for the Rangers.

Perez 2

Martin Perez will be the No. 3 starter for the Rangers this season (John M. Setzler, Jr.)

 

Jurickson Profar (’12, ’15): The switch-hitter will be in his fourth major league season with the Texas Rangers, but is on his first opening-day roster. Profar had a .239/.321/.338 slash over 90 games in 2016. He is expected to play a utility role for the Rangers this year.

TRACY PROFFITT | URASTAR IMAGES - Jurickson Profar (10) - Hickory Crawdads

Jurickson Profar looks to put his potential to use with the Rangers this season. (John M. Setzler, Jr.)

 

Drew Robinson (’12): The left-handed hitter will make his major league debut with the Texas Rangers this season after spending last year at AAA Round Rock. Robinson will play a utility role with Texas.

Drew Robinson at 3B

3B Drew Robinson will make his MLB debut for the Rangers this season. (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Robbie Ross (’10): The left-handed reliever will be in his sixth major league season, the third with the Boston Red Sox. Ross posted a 3.25 ERA in 2016 and fanned 56 over 55.1 innings.

Hickory Crawdads - Robbie Ross

Robbie Ross looks to provide solid middle relief for Boston this year (John M. Setzler, Jr.)

 

Ryan Rua (’13): The right-handed hitter will be in his fourth major league season with the Texas Rangers. Rua posted a .258//331/.400 slash over 99 games last year. He is expected to split time in left and at first.

Ryan Rua

Ryan Rua with split time in LF for Texas this season (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Chris Young (’01-’02): The right-handed pitcher will be in his 13th major league season, the third with the Kansas City Royals. Young went 3-9 in 34 games (13 starts) in 2016 with a 6.19 ERA. He lost out in a battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation and will be a long-man out of the bullpen.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

 Zach Duke (’03): The left-handed reliever will miss the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He is currently with the St. Louis Cardinals after the team acquired him from the Chicago White Sox in a 2016 trade.

Carl Edwards, Jr. (’13): The right-handed reliever will be in his third major league season with the Chicago Cubs. This will be his first opening-day in the majors. In 36 games last year, Edwards posted a 3.75 ERA with 52 Ks and 14 BBs over 36 innings. The National League hit just .123 against Edwards.

CJ Edwards

Carl Edwards, Jr. looks to a bigger role in the Chicago Cubs bullpen in 2017 (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Jerad Eickhoff (’12): The right-handed starting pitcher will be in his third major league season with the Philadelphia Phillies after he completed his first full year with the club in 2016. He went 11-14 with a 3.65 ERA over 33 starts, striking out 167 and walking 42 over 197.1 innings. Eickhoff will be the No. 2 starter for the Phillies.

Jerad Eickhoff

Jerad Eickhoff looks to take another step forward in the Phillies rotation this season (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Robbie Erlin (’10): The left-handed pitcher will begin this season on the disabled list with the San Diego Padres while he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2016. He hopes to return to the club this midseason for what would be his fifth major league season.

Justin Grimm (’11): The right-handed reliever will be in his sixth major league season, the fifth with the Chicago Cubs. In 68 appearances in 2016, Grimm went 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA and fanned 65 to just 23 walks over 52.2 IP. Grimm will pitch in middle relief.

Grimm_Justin.jpg

Justin Grimm continues to pitch in middle relief this season for the Cubs (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Odubel Herrera (’11): The left-handed hitter will be in his third major league season with the Philadelphia Phillies after he took a big step as one of the National League’s best young centerfielders in 2016. During a season in which he represented the Phillies on the National League All-Star Team, Herrera posted a .286/.361/.420 slash and stole 25 bases in 159 games.

TRACY PROFFITT | SCOUT.COM -(2) Odubel Herrera - Hickory Crawdads

Odubel Herrera hopes to build on his 2016 all-star season (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Jared Hughes (’07-’08): The right-handed reliever will be in his seventh major league season and recently just signed with the Milwaukee Brewers after the Pittsburgh Pirates released him last week. Hughes went 1-1 with a 3.03 ERA over 67 appearances in 2016. He will pitch in middle relief for the Brewers.

Hickory Crawdads - Jared Hughes

Jared Hughes signed with Milwaukee to start the 2017 season (John M. Setzler, Jr.)

 

Andrew McCutchen (’06): The right-handed hitter will be in his ninth major league season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. McCutchen struggled over 153 games last year and posted his career-worst slash (.256/.336/.430). He hit 24 homers, but stole just six bases in 13 attempts. After manning center his entire career, McCutchen will shift to right this year.

Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen looks to rebound with the Pirates after a tough 2016 season  (John M. Setzler, Jr.)

 

Jordy Mercer (’08): The right-handed shortstop will be in his sixth major league season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played in 149 games last year and posted a .256/.313/.377 with 11 homers and 59 RBI.

Mercer action

Jordy Mercer returns to the Pirates lineup at shortstop (John M. Setzler, Jr.)

 

Neil Ramirez (’09-’10): The right-handed pitcher will be in his fourth major league season, the first with the San Francisco Giants. Ramirez signed a minor-league contract with the club during the offseason and made the club out of spring training. Ramirez made 18 relief appearances with three clubs (Cubs, Milwaukee, Minnesota) and struggled to a 6.00 ERA over 24 innings. He did strike out 24, but walked 18 and had a 1.67 WHIP. He will come out of the bullpen for the Giants.

Ramirez

Neil Ramirez joins the San Francisco Giants after a strong spring. (John M. Setzler, Jr.)

 

Luis Sardinas (’12): The switch-hitter will be in his fourth major league season, the second with the San Diego Padres after the team acquired him from Seattle during the 2016 season. Sardinas played in 66 combined games last year with a .244/.295/.356 slash. He will play some shortstop, but will start the season in a utility role.

Luis Sardinas bunt

Luis Sardinas will be in a utility role with San Diego (Tracy Proffitt)

 

Neil Walker (’05): The switch-hitting second baseman will be in his ninth major league season, the second with the New York Mets after resigning in the offseason. Despite battling a back injury, Walker still posted a .282/.347/.476 over 113 games with the Mets and blasted 23 homers.

Walker web

Neil Walker returns to the Mets for a second season as the starting 2B.

Tony Watson (’07): The left-handed reliever will be in his seventh major league season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After the midseason trade of Mark Melancon, Watson took on the job of the Pirates closer in 2016 and will serve in the same role this year. He went 2-5 with 15 saves last year over 70 games with a 3.06 ERA. Watson struck out 58 and walked 20 over 67.2 IP.

 

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.

Jurickson Profar Begins another Journey to Arlington from Hickory

For the first time since September 27, 2013, Texas Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar suited up for a regular-season game Thursday night when he served as the designated hitter for the Hickory Crawdads during an injury rehab assignment.

Noticeably more filled out and chiseled than he was as the Crawdads shortstop in 2011, the now 22-year-old Profar missed the past two seasons with a torn shoulder muscle that he suffered in a weightlifting session during spring training, according to the Rangers media guide. After unsuccessfully trying to resume baseball activities several times last year, Profar finally underwent shoulder surgery in February 2015.

Profar has been in Hickory since Tuesday and finally hit the field Thursday night against Charlestown (S.C.) as the designated hitter. He is expected to DH again on Friday before the Crawdads hit the road for Delmarva (Md.) for a five-game series with the Shorebirds. It is not yet been determined how long Profar will be with the Crawdads.

Jurickson Profar played his first game in two seasons wihen he suited up for Hickory on Thursday (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

Jurickson Profar played his first game in two seasons wihen he suited up for Hickory on Thursday (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

In front of several of the Rangers front office brass – which included senior director of player development Mike Daly and senior director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg – Profar went 1-for-4  with a sharply-lined single to right in his final at bat of the game in the seventh prior to his removal for a pinch-runner.

Batting left handed in all four plate appearances, Profar was jammed by a fastball for a 4-3 grounder in the first. He then popped up a fastball to second in the third before topping a curve ball in the fourth for a weak 1-3 comebacker.

“I felt good,” said Profar of his first live action in two seasons. “It’s been a while, but it felt the same. The first couple of ABs my timing was a little bit off, but by the third AB I got it. So, it felt good to be back playing and doing what I love.”

As far as the shoulder goes, Profar said that it felt good and the prescribed throwing program is coming along well.  Profar is not expected to do any throwing in games until this fall.

While Profar missed playing the game over the past two seasons, he doesn’t envision a major setback of what was once a fast-track journey to the majors once he resumes playing on a regular basis.

“I just work out every day,” said Profar.” I just believe in myself and when I’m ready it’s going to be the same or even better. It wasn’t that hard because every day I go with a positive mind. Every day is a day closer to be playing. Now I’m here and back to playing.”

Profar understands the full recovery of his shoulder is a long process and that it will take time. Rather than being in an anxious rush back to get back to Arlington, he is content to let the process play out as he gets back onto the field.

“Just being myself and just play. It’s been two years out of baseball, and I’ll come here and just play. Now everything is going to be good. I’m just having fun playing day-to-day.”

One perk of Profar’s time in Hickory is the opportunity to play with his younger brother Juremi, an infielder with the Crawdads.

“It’s good to get to play with my brother. I remember the old days when we used to play in the backyard and now we’re playing pro ball together.”

Jurickson Profar (second from left) observes action from 3B dugout (L-R Luis  Ortiz, Profar, Carlos Arroyo, Josh Morgan, Brett Martin, Dillon Tate, photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

Jurickson Profar (second from left) observes action from 3B dugout (L-R Luis Ortiz, Profar, Carlos Arroyo, Josh Morgan, Brett Martin, Dillon Tate, photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

NOTES: Profar is the sixth major-leaguer to rehab in Hickory. Others included Jason Bere (’96-’97), Jim Abbott (’98), Josias Manzanillo (’02), Adam LaRoche (’08), and Daniel Bard (’14). Profar is the first former player to return to Hickory in a major league assignment… Profar is the 51st player to play for Hickory in 2015. That ties the club record for the most players on a Crawdads roster for a season. The 2008 team also had 51 players… The Profar brothers are the second set of brothers to play for the team at the same time. In 2014, pitchers David and Ryan Ledbetter were on the roster together for the first month of the season. Pitchers Jose and Anyelo Leclerc wore a Crawdads uniform a year apart. Jose pitched for Hickory in 2013 with Anyelo coming a year later…. Profar comes to Hickory at the age of 22-years, five-months. According to Baseball Reference.com, the average age of South Atlantic League hitters is 21.5-years-old, while the average pitcher is 22.0.