Results tagged ‘ Kannapolis Intimidators ’

Series Preview: Kannapolis at Hickory May 29-31

Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (26-22, 4th South Atlantic League Northern Division) at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (19-31, 7th SAL Northern)

The Hickory Crawdads continue the second part of a weeklong homestand with a three-game series against the Kannapolis Intimidators.

 

If you plan to go:

GAME TIMES: Monday-Tuesday at 6:00 p.m., Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

PROMOTIONS: Monday – Make a Difference Monday: Donate a requested item of $5 or more to Foothills House of Hope and receive a free ticket. Click here for requested items: http://m.foothillshouseofhopeministriesinc.com/Donation-Needs-List.html

Tuesday – Dollar Dog Tuesday: Bring pet to the game for $1 each. Dog show each Tuesday night. $1 hot dogs, $2 craft pints and Pepsi products.

Wednesday – Business Card Special: Show your business card at the Ticket Office for a $5 ticket.

 

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

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

PARKING: All parking is $3.

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

 

Probables (Kannapolis / Hickory):

Monday: LHP Bernando Flores vs. RHP Kyle Cody

Tuesday: TBA vs. RHP Michael Matuella

Wednesday: RHP Jimmy Lambert vs. RHP Edgar Arredondo

 

Recent Series History:

So far in 2017, the teams have split the 12 previous games played, including a 2-2 series at L.P. Frans in April. Hickory has not lost a home series to the Intimidators since 2014 and are 42-28 there since 2009. The Crawdads won three of five at Kannapolis earlier in May.

 

About the Crawdads:

Hickory opened the homestand by losing three of four and dropped to 9-16 at Frans this season. The Crawdads enter the series losers of 7 out of 8 and 8 of 10… Hickory is often playing catch-up and often in a big way. The Crawdads have been outscored 139-88 over the first three innings. Opponents have scored in the first inning 24 times, while the Crawdads have 25 total runs in the first inning. In 43 games, opposition has scored at least one run in the first three innings… Pitching continues to make its effects felt on a disappointing first half. Hickory is last in the SAL in ERA (5.45), WHIP (1.54), hits allowed, runs allowed, earned runs allowed and are next to last in walks allowed. For the season, Hickory has given up seven or more runs 21 times in 50 games, 15 of those during the last 29… The Crawdads continues to slug their way into runs. They are second in the SAL in homers with 42, but are eighth out of 14 teams in runs scored. They are fourth in slugging (.391), but 10th in on-base pct. (.313). They are next to last in walks accepted, but third in total bases.

 

Prospects to watch- Hickory:

CF Leody Taveras (No. 1 MLB.com and Baseball America, No. 43 Baseball America top-100 prospects, No. 51 MLB.com top-100): Signed as international free agent 2015 out of Tenares, Dominican Republic. Has missed one game this season, leads SAL in at-bats, 10th in hits. After sitting out a game during the midst of four-straight games without a hit, Taveras has a hit in five of the last six. He’s also starting to get his patience back with a walk in each of the last two games. After ten walks in April, he has just five in May.

SS Anderson Tejeda (No. 7 MLB.com, No. 16 Baseball America). Signed as an international free agent in 2015 out of Bani, D.R. Tied for third in Ks (59). Both his K-rate and walk-rate have declined in May compared to April. Went 4-for-13 in his last three games with a run scored in each. Has two strikeouts in three of the last four games.

LF Miguel Aparicio (No. 14 Baseball America, No. 29 MLB.com). Signed as an international free agent in 2015 out of San Carlos, Venezuela. Hitting just .194/.286/.290 since joining the Crawdads on May 10. Has 14 Ks in 70 plate appearances.

2B Yeyson Yrizarri (No. 17 MLB.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of the D.R. Sat out the final two games of the series with Asheville. Has hits in 17 of the last 20 games, which boosted his average from .155 on May 4 to its current .245.

RHP Michael Matuella (No. 19 Baseball America, No. 20 MLB.com). Third-round pick in 2015 out of Duke Univ. After a rough start, Matuella is coming off two straight strong outings with just one hit and a walk over his last six innings and 8 Ks. He will be limited to 60 to 70 pitches.

RF Jose Almonte (No. 28 MLB.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of Santo Domingo, D.R. Hit a pair of homers over the weekend, but K’d 8 times in 16 ABs. Now with 42 Ks in 15 plate appearances this season (28%).

RHP Tyler Ferguson (No. 30 Baseball America, No. 30 MLB.com): Sixth-round pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt. After a hiccup in mid-May, Ferguson has two scoreless outings with three Ks over 3 innings and one hit allowed. Control is his key. He has walked or hit 12 of the 58 batters he has faced, but has fanned 24.

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

3B Ti’Quan Forbes: Second-round pick in 2014 out of Columbia High (MS). Played in all 50 games, second in ABs in the SAL. Has posted a .333/.373/.500 slash vs. Kannapolis in 12 games. Hit a three-run homer vs. Asheville on Saturday, his first since mid-April. Has reached base in 12 straight games and is 12-for-41 in that stretch with four walks and two hit batters. Approach of late has been to take pitches up the middle and away.

C Ricky Valencia: Signed as an international free agent in 2011 out of Valencia, Venezuela. Is 10-for-28 with six RBI in 8 games vs. Kannapolis in 2017

C Alex Kowalczyk: 12th-round pick in 2016 out of Pittsburgh. Had three hits on Sunday and is 5-for-13 with two homers in his last three games. He is the leading Crawdads hitter in May, posting a .431/.484/.690 slash in May.

OF Franklin Rollin: Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of La Romana, D.R. Is 15-for-36 with two homers and 9 RBI in 8 games vs. Kannapolis.

RHP Kaleb Fontenot: 21st-round pick in 2016 out of McNeese St. Currently third in SAL among relievers in Ks per 9 innings (13.50). Has 11 Ks in his last 7 innings over two outings.

 

About the Intimidators:

Managed by Justin Jirschele in his first season with the Intimidators… Kannapolis split a four-game series at Greensboro and are coming to Hickory after striking out 20 hitters in Sunday’s game. The Intimidators are in fourth place, but sit just 3.5 games behind first-place Hagerstown (Md.). Kannapolis will have a chance over the next 17 games to put itself squarely in the division chase. After the Crawdads series, Kannapolis plays four games vs. third place Greensboro, then travels to second-place Lakewood (NJ) for three and sixth-place Delmarva (Md.). The run is capped with a three-game home series vs. Hagerstown… At the plate, Kannapolis is hitting .279 in May, which is second in the SAL. The Intimidators have scored eight or more runs in five of the last ten games. Overall, Kannapolis is third in the league in batting (.264) and OPS (.719)… On the hill, Kannapolis relies on strong starting pitching to eat up innings and get the game to its bullpen. The Intimidators are 18-8 when scoring first and an SAL-best 19-5 when scoring last. When leading after five innings Kannapolis is 20-3… Statistically, both teams should be able to use the running game to generate offense as Hickory and Kannapolis are at the bottom of the SAL in nabbing baserunners trying to steal. However, his is not the Intimidators game. They have just 21 steals in 36 attempts, both SAL lows. Joel Booker has ten of those… Defensively, Kannapolis is third from the bottom in fielding pct.

 

Prospects to watch – Kannapolis:

LF Jameson Fisher (No. 14 Baseball America, 16 mlb.com): Fourth-round pick out of SE Louisiana. As a redshirt-junior in 2016, led NCAA D-I in on-base pct. and was second in batting average. Tied for 9th  in SAL with 12 doubles. Saw a 12-game hitting streak end on Saturday (19-for-47), he still owns a 14-game on-base streak. Has posted a .338/.422/.606 slash in May.

LHP Bernardo Flores (No. 19 mlb.com, 23 Baseball America): Seventh-round pick out of Southern California. Struggled in college, has mid-to-upper 90s fastball. Allowed one run on four hits over six innings in his last start. Has split his two decisions vs. Hickory, gave up four runs on eight hits over 4 innings vs. Hickory on 5/18.

RF Micker Adolfo (No. 21 mlb.com, 24 Baseball America): Signed as an international free agent in 2013. Tied for 3rd in the SAL with 14 doubles. Had a 16-game hitting streak (24-for-66) earlier this month. Currently in the midst of a 4-for-22 stretch.

P Victor Diaz (No. 23 mlb.com, No. 26 Baseball America): Traded to the White Sox from Boston in the Chris Sale trade. The Dominican native made his season’s first appearance on May 26. Has retired all nine batters he faced in two outings with six Ks. With an upper-90s fastball, his stay in Kannapolis could be brief.

 

Others to watch – Kannapolis:

CF Joel Booker: 22nd round pick out of Iowa. Attended Polk County High in Columbus, NC. Quietly putting together a nice season as the Intimidator leadoff hitter. Currently second in the SAL in hits and runs scored, sixth in batting avg. (.318) and tenth in total bases.

RHP Mike Morrison: 27th round pick out of Coastal Carolina. Pitched for last year’s College World Series champions. Has allowed the fewest baserunners per 9 IP (3.96) among SAL relievers and is second in saves (8). He has yet to allow a run in 25 innings with 34 Ks to just 11 baserunners. He has given up four hits this season; Hickory has three of them.

RHP Jimmy Lambert: Fifth round pick in 2016 out of Fresno St. Is third in the SAL in innings pitched and has a 1.13 walk-per-nine-inning ratio, the best among starters in the SAL. Relies on defense to make plays, has allowed 57 hits in 55.2 innings. He is 2-1 vs. Hickory with a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings.

C Seby Zavala: 12th-round pick in 2015 out of San Diego St. Tied for second in the SAL with 10 homers and eighth in slugging (.520). Once a top-15 prospect with the White Sox, he’s struggled to make contact. Four of his HRs are against Hickory.

RHP Kyle Kybat: Non-drafted free agent out of Nebraska. Allowed 6.18 baserunners per 9 innings, third among SAL relievers, 0.65 BB per 9 innings 5th among relievers. Has a 0.59 ERA over 30.2 innings. Given up two earned runs, one of those surrendered to Hickory.

2B Mitch Roman: 12th round pick in 2016 out of Wright St.  Tied for seventh in the SAL in hits. Slash line of .242/.279/.293 in May.

Series Preview: Hickory at Kannapolis May 18-21

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (15-23, 7th place South Atlantic League Northern Division) at Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (20-16, Tied for 3rd place Northern)

The Hickory Crawdads start a road trip with a five-game series at Intimidators Stadium.

 

If you plan to go:

GAME TIMES: Thursday 7:05 p.m., Friday Doubleheader 5:05 p.m., Saturday 7:05 p.m., Sunday 5:05 p.m.

Promotions: Thursday: Motorsports Night with a Bank of America 500 ticket giveaway; Thirsty Thursday. Friday: Daddy-Daughter Date night with Pre-game Princess Parade. Saturday: Faith and Family Night with post-game fireworks; Sunday: Team Photo Giveaway, Bark at the Park; Pre-Game Autographs; Picnic in the Park (All-you-can-eat for $10).

TICKETS: $5-$7 for children, $6-8 for adults in advance. $2 more per ticket the day of the game.

Where is it?: Ballpark is off I-85 at exit 63. Exit ramp to Lane Street and head west. Turn right onto Stadium. NOTE: There is heavy construction along I-85, so allow extra time.

PARKING: All parking is $2

CONCESSIONS: Intimidators Stadium has the basic ballpark food at a main concession area behind home plate. Other items include Chicken Tenders, Chicken sandwiches, Pretzel Dogs, Wings, and Turkey Wraps. The Hot Dog Hut has footlongs, brats, burgers, Italian sausages, as well as Dale’s Mater Sandwiches, and Veggie Burgers. BBQ Stand has pulled pork and turkey sandwiches.

 

Probables (Hickory/ Kannapolis):

Thursday: RHP Michael Matuella vs. RHP Chris Comito

Friday (DH): RHP Edgar Arredondo and RHP Reid Anderson vs. LHP Bernardo Flores/ TBA

Saturday: RHP Demarcus Evans vs. RHP Jimmy Lambert

Sunday: RHP Matt Ball vs. RHP Yosmer Solorzano

 

Recent Series History:

Kannapolis is 5-3 against Hickory this season, which includes a 3-1 series win at home back in April The Crawdads were 12-4 in 2016 against Kannapolis with a dominant 7-1 record at Intimidators Stadium. Since the Crawdads began the affiliation with the Rangers in 2009 they are 87-58 overall, 45-30 at Intimidators Stadium.

 

About the Crawdads: After a horrendous start to a just-concluded home stand, the Crawdads won the final two games vs. Greensboro to split that series and salvaged a 3-4 record. Hickory is 7-10 in road games… For the most part, the team’s pitching has posted some ugly numbers. Their 5.52 ERA is nearly .60 higher than the next lowest team (Hagerstown) and the 1.56 WHIP is .12 higher than Lexington. Hickory is second in the SAL in hits allowed and walks issued. The Crawdads team ERA would be worse if not for No. 1 starter Jonathan Hernandez (2.80) and No. 2 starter Kyle Cody (3.41). Neither are scheduled to pitch during the series. Ball and Anderson will each make their first start in the series. Hickory has allowed seven or runs 16 times in 38 games, ten of those during the last 18… The lineup continues to hum along, hitting .281/.331/.394 in May after a .235/.306/.394 slash in April. After hitting 25 dingers in April, Hickory has just eight so far this month. Overall, the Crawdads are tied for third in homers, and fourth in slugging and OPS (.709)… Hickory stole a single-game record of 8 in a game at Kannapolis in April and may again wish to take advantage of catcher Seby Zavala, who has thrown out just 7 of 37 base stealers.

 

Prospects to watch- Hickory:

CF Leody Taveras (No. 1 MLB.com and Baseball America, No. 43 Baseball America top-100 prospects, No. 51 MLB.com top-100): Signed as international free agent 2015 out of Tenares, Dominican Republic. Hitting .345/.362/.545 in May with seven extra-base hits. Prior to an 0-for-4 on Wednesday, he had at least one hit in 15 of 16 games, seven of those with 2+ hits. Along with 3B Ti’Quan Forbes, has played in all 38 of the Crawdads games and leads the SAL in at bats. He is also 6th in total bases.

SS Anderson Tejeda (No. 7 MLB.com, No. 16 Baseball America). Signed as an international free agent in 2015 out of Bani, D.R. Still among the leaders in the SAL in strikeouts, but the rate of his strikeouts is shrinking. Tejeda fanned in 40% of his plate appearances during April, but is down to 26.5% in May.

LF Miguel Aparicio (No. 14 Baseball America, No. 29 MLB.com). Signed as an international free agent in 2015 out of San Carlos, Venezuela. Is 5-for-23 since joining the Crawdads on May 10.

OF Yanio Perez (No. 15 MLB.com, 27 Baseball America): Signed as an international free agent out of Havana, Cuba. Leads the SAL in OBP (.430), and is tied for first with 46 hits. Other top-ten rankings: 2nd in batting avg. (.354), OPS (1.030), third in homers (8), slugging pct. (.600) and total bases, tied for third in RBI (26).

RHP Michael Matuella (No. 19 Baseball America, No. 20 MLB.com). Third-round pick in 2015 out of Duke Univ. In many ways, he is still on the mend from injuries (back and Tommy John surgery) suffered in 2015, but would like to see results. Has given up 9 runs over 5.1 innings with SAL hitters pasting him for a .481 batting avg. Is limited to 60-70 pitches per outing.

2B Yeyson Yrizarri (No. 17 MLB.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of the D.R. After a 1-for-39 funk (.065) to start the season, he is more than making up for lost time with a .425/.452/.475 slash in May. Was at .155 for the season on May 4, but with hits in 9 of the last 10 games (17-for-33) – including two four-hit tilts in that stretch – he is up to .246.

RF Jose Almonte (No. 28 MLB.com): Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of Santo Domingo, D.R. Enters the series 4-for-8 in the last two games, which included a walk-off homer vs. Greensboro.

RHP Tyler Ferguson (No. 30 Baseball America, No. 30 MLB.com): Sixth-round pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt. After five straight scoreless outings, he has given up three runs over 2.1 innings during his last two outings. He has hit or walked 12 of the 61 hitters he has faced.

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

RHP Edgar Arredondo: Signed as an international free agent in 2013 out of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. Had his best outing of the season last Friday when he allowed one run on five hits and fanned three over five innings for the win. The Intimidators has touched him up for 16 hits over nine innings in two starts.

RHP Matt Ball: Acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a trade in 2016. Expected to make his first start of the season against his old team. Has allowed two runs over five relief appearances (8.1 innings) since joining the Crawdads on 4/27/17. Fanned 12 and walked just one during that stretch.

C Ricky Valencia: Signed as an international free agent in 2011 out of Valencia, Venezuela. Returned to the team after a disabled list stint with an injured hamstring. Will split time with Alex Kowalczyk.

 

About the Intimidators:

Managed by Justin Jirschele, who played in 15 games for the Intimidators in 2013. He was the team’s hitting coach last year… A Shermanesque march through Georgia has placed Kannapolis in the thick of the Northern Division chase. The Intimidators won three of four at Rome after taking two at Augusta… Pitching has been a strong suit with the I’s allowing just 8 total runs during their five wins on the trip. Their 3.32 ERA in May is fourth in the SAL… At the plate, Kannapolis’ .282 average for May is just behind Charleston for the league lead… Speed is not their game. The Intimidators have just 17 steals in 27 attempts, both SAL lows.

 

Prospects to watch – Kannapolis:

LF Jameson Fisher (No. 14 Baseball America, 15 mlb.com): Fourth-round pick out of SE Louisiana. As a redshirt-junior in 2016, led NCAA D-I in on-base pct. and was second in batting average. Has hits in each of his last three games, but is at .226/.333/.419 for May. Hickory struck him out ten times in 33 plate appearances in April.

LHP Bernardo Flores (No. 18 mlb.com, 23 Baseball America): Seventh-round pick out of Southern California. Struggled in college, has mid-to-upper 90s fastball. Pitched four-hit ball over six innings in his last start with six Ks.

RF Micker Adolfo (No. 20 mlb.com, 24 Baseball America): Signed as an international free agent in 2013. Saw his 16-game hitting streak (24-for-66) end with an 0-for-5, four-strikeout game at Rome.

 

Others to watch – Kannapolis:

CF Joel Booker: 22nd round pick out of Iowa. Attended Polk County High in Columbus, NC. Is tied for 7th in hits, tied for 8th in runs scored. He tortured the Crawdads pitching staff in April with 9 hits in 26 ABs and scored seven runs.

RHP Mike Morrison: 27th round pick out of Coastal Carolina. Pitched for last year’s College World Series champions. Currently tied for second in the SAL with seven saves. Over his 14 appearances spanning 17.1 innings, he has allowed eight baserunners and struck out 26 with no runs allowed.

Series Preview: Hickory at Kannapolis April 20-23

Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (5-9, 7th place SAL Northern Division) at Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (6-8, 6th place SAL Northern Division)

The Hickory Crawdads travel to Intimidators Stadium for a four-game, South Atlantic League series against Kannapolis.

 

If you plan to go:

GAME TIMES: Thursday – Saturday 7:05 p.m., Sunday 2:05 p.m.

Promotions: Thursday – Gamer Night w/ PS 4 Giveaway; Thirsty Thursday. Friday – Go Green & Recycling Night; Saturday: Jurrasic Ball Park, Appearance by Dakota & Friends; Sunday – Pre-Game Autographs, Design-A-Sign Night, Post-Game Kids Run the Bases.

TICKETS: $5-$7 for children, $6-8 for adults in advance. $2 more per ticket the day of the game.

Where is it?: Ballpark is off I-85 at exit 63. Exit ramp to Lane Street and head west. Turn right onto Stadium. NOTE: There is heavy construction along I-85, so allow extra time.

PARKING: All parking is $2

CONCESSIONS: Intimidators Stadium has the basic ballpark food at a main concession area behind home plate. Other items include Chicken Tenders, Chicken sandwiches, Pretzel Dogs, Wings, and Turkey Wraps. The Hot Dog Hut has footlongs, brats, burgers, Italian sausages, as well as “Dale’s Mater Sandwiches, and Veggie Burgers. BBQ Stand has pulled pork and turkey sandwiches.

 

Probables (Hickory/ Kannapolis):

Thursday: RHP Kyle Cody vs. RHP Jimmy Lambert

Friday: RHP Emerson Martinez vs. RHP Yosmer Solorzano

Saturday: RHP Edgar Arredondo vs. RHP Alec Hansen

Sunday: Argenis Rodriguez vs. RHP Dane Dunning

 

Recent Series History:

The teams split a four-game series at Hickory last week. The Crawdads were 12-4 in 2016 against Kannapolis with a dominant 7-1 record Intimidators Stadium. Since the Crawdads began the affiliation with the Rangers in 2009 they are 86-55 overall, 44-27 at Intimidators Stadium

 

About the Crawdads: Hickory takes the road after a 2-5 homestand, which ended with a three-game sweep at the hands of the West Virginia Power. The Power outscored Hickory 35-11 in the series …The Crawdads have relied on the long ball to get any sort of offense going. Their 14 homers are third in the SAL, but the team is last in the league in runs scored. An impatient team, Hickory is third from the bottom in walks and second in strikeouts. They are also next to last in batting average (.217) and in OBP (.290) … The work on the mound hasn’t been much better. As a staff, they are the lone SAL with an ERA over five (5.28). They have allowed the most hits, runs, earned runs, walks and have the worst WHIP (1.60).

 

Prospects to watch- Hickory:

CF Leody Taveras (No. 1 MLB.com and Baseball America, No. 55 MLB.com top-100 prospects): Went 3-for-23 in the homestand, though he is making consistent contact. Had a 2-for-5 game against Kannapolis last Friday.

SS Anderson Tejeda (No. 8 MLB.com, 16 Baseball America): Returned on Wednesday after missing nearly a weak with a bruised wrist. Singled and scored in his first game back. Has struggled to make contact, whiffing 17 times in 41 plate appearances.

OF Yanio Perez (No. 15 MLB.com, 27 Baseball America) Saw a five-game hitting streak snapped in Wednesday’s game. Went 3-for-13 with three walks in last week’s Kannapolis series.

2B Yeyson Yrizarri (No. 17 MLB.com): After a horrid start, had his first two-hit game on Wednesday, which included a two-run homer in the second inning to snap an 0-for-12 skid.

RF Jose Almonte (No. 29 MLB.com): One of the few Crawdads swinging well, went 5-for-11 with a walk in the series with West Virginia. Still looking for his first homer of the season, is showing a bit more patience at the plate. He walked only 9 times all last season, but already has four in 13 games this year.

RHP Tyler Ferguson (No. 30 Baseball America): Pitched a clean inning vs. Kannapolis last Friday (2 Ks), but was roughed up by the Power on Monday (1.2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

3B Ti’Quan Forbes: Tied for the SAL lead with 5 homers, is second in total bases, third in slugging (.692) and sixth in batting (.385). Went 6-for-15 vs. the Intimidators last weekend.

2B Brallan Perez: Joined the Crawdads for the Intimidators series last week, had a 4-for-8 weekend.

RHP Kyle Cody: Walked a high-wire act on the mound in his start against the Intimidators last Thursday, managed to get through five innings with one run allowed on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter.

RHP Edgar Arredondo: Has been roughed up at the plate in his two starts, including a 10-hit attack by Kannapolis last Saturday. Walked four in 6.1 IP over two starts, which equals the amount he surrendered in the Dominican Summer League over 62 innings last summer.

 

About the Intimidators:

Managed by Justin Jirschele, who played in 15 games for the Intimidators in 2013. He was the team’s hitting coach last year… Swept three straight at Asheville to cap a 5-2 road trip. The overall pitching performances have been tough, as Kannapolis has allowed 7 runs over the last five games. The Intimidators have allowed the fewest walks in the SAL and have the second-best WHIP (1.14). Like Hickory, the Intimidators have struggled to score runs. They are just ahead of Hickory in runs scored and have the second fewest extra-base hits.

 

Prospects to watch – Kannapolis:

RHP Alec Hansen (No. 5 Baseball America, No. 9 MLB.com). Did not face Hickory last weekend. Has allowed three runs on 10 hits and struck out 15 over his last two starts (11 innings).

RHP Dane Dunning (No. 10 MLB.com). First-round pick in 2016 out of Florida. Has dominated SAL hitters so far. In three starts (20 innings), he has 26 Ks to just one walk and allowed one run on 11 hits. Last Thursday against Hickory, Dunning struck out 13 over eight innings.

LF Jameson Fisher (No. 14 Baseball America, 15 mlb.com): Fourth-round pick out of SE Louisiana. As a redshirt-junior in 2016, led NCAA D-I in on-base pct. and was second in batting average. Went 5-for-15 against Hickory.

LHP Bernardo Flores (No. 18 mlb.com, 23 Baseball America): Seventh-round pick out of Southern California. Struggled in college, has mid-to-upper 90s fastball. Allowed two runs on seven hits in his start at Hickory.

 

Others to watch – Kannapolis:

RHP Mike Morrison: 27th round pick out of Coastal Carolina. Pitched for last year’s College World Series champions.

RHP Yosmer Solorzano: International free agent from Venezuela. Took the loss last Saturday at Hickory, despite allowing just one run over six innings.

2B Mitch Roman: 12th round pick out of Wright St. Leads the SAL with a .422 batting average and a .490 OBP.

CF Joel Booker: 22nd round pick out of Iowa. Attended Polk County High in Columbus, NC., he tortured the Crawdads pitching staff last week, going 7-for-17 with three RBI and four runs scored.

Note of Interest: RHP Tyler Davis was promoted to High-A High Desert. The 24-year-old hit five scoreless innings for Hickory, though he did walk four at Columbia.

Game Story: Hickory/ Kannapolis Split a DH

Kannapolis 3 Hickory 1 (Game 1).  Hickory 1 Kannapolis 0 (Game 2)

Despite mustering two runs on ten hits over 14 innings the Hickory Crawdads rode the back of strong pitching and the bat of Ti’Quan Forbes in game two to earn a doubleheader split with the Kannapolis Intimidators Saturday night at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The split left the teams in a series split for the four games. The Crawdads are off for Easter Sunday and then will resume South Atlantic League play Monday night at 6 p.m. as they start a three-game series against visiting West Virginia.

 

What happened in game one:

Polk County native Joel Booker continued to harass Hickory pitching with a three-hit performance in game one and had a hand in all three runs.

He led off the doubleheader with a broken-bat single and moved to second as Mitch Roman’s sneaked an infield hit to the right side, as Booker beat a throw to second from second baseman Brallan Perez. One out later, Brandon Dulin hit a ball to Preston Scott, who fielded the ball on the run, but his throw to second went into leftfield and allowed Booker to score from first.

Kannapolis (3-8) made it 2-0 in the second. With one out, Antonio and Wilfredo Rodriguez (no relation) both singled. After Max Dutto whiffed, Booker oozed a grounder through the infield for an RBI single.

The Crawdads (5-6) got a run back in the bottom of the inning. Ti’Quan Forbes singled and was then erased on Scott’s fielder’s choice. One out later, Ricky Valencia got enough wood on an inside fastball for a bloop RBI single.

However, the Intimidators added an insurance run in the fourth as Booker singled in MIcker Adolfo to account for the final margin.

Jimmy Lambert (1-0) pitched a complete-game six-hitter with one walk and five strikeouts.

Edgar Arredondo (0-2) gave up all three runs on ten hits and a walk, and struck out three. Reid Anderson pitched two scoreless innings with one hit allowed and two Ks.

 

What happened in game 2:

Both team had just four hits each, but Forbes’s homer in the fourth was the difference.

Sal Mendez (1-0) made the spot start for Hickory and gave up a walk and two outs over five innings with four strikeouts. The Intimidators threatened just once against him and that came in the third. Grant Massey singled and moved to second when Tyler Sullivan was hit by a pitch. Mendez then got Booker looking and induced Roman to tap into an double play.

Jake Lemoine worked around a double in the sixth. In the seventh, Seby Zavala singled and Adolfo was hit by a pitch. Zach Remillard botched a sacrifice and bunted a third-strike foul for a strikeout. Lemoine then struck out Massey before Christian Torres was brought in to face Tyler Sullivan.

Torres needed just three pitches to fan Sullivan and get his first pro save.

Yosmer Solorzano pitched a complete game in the loss (1-1).

 

Forbes fortunes:

Forbes had four pro homers in 227 games entering this season. He has four in 11 games this season. For the season Forbes has hits in 10 of 11 games and his at .436/.500/.769. He’s in a good place right now.

I had a twitter conversation about Forbes and I pondered if Forbes gets a bump up when Charles Leblanc is ready at extended spring. Or… after Forbes struggled so much over his first two seasons as a pro, will the Rangers let him dominate for now and amp up his already burgeoning confidence.

An intriguing arm:

The Texas Rangers have had success with late-round pitching selections and I wonder if they perhaps have a nugget with 40th-round selection Sal Mendez.

In talking with Crawdads pitching coach Jose Jaimes, I asked him to give me a pitcher that is under the radar. Sal Mendez was his answer. When I asked for who had the best secondary pitch, Jaimes said it was Mendez’s changeup.

Mendez needed 68 pitches (44 strikes) to get through five innings. He relied on a two-pitch mix of fastball (89-91) and change (81-83) and did so effectively with very little squared up. Three of his five Ks came consecutively in the first and second. He got Dula to swing through a change off the 1B side of the plate in the first. Then fired a fastball that Zavala took for a called third strike. Then, it was back to the change off the plate to get Adolfo.

Very simply, he attacked the strike zone and got mostly weak contact. Mendez threw 11 of 18 first-pitch strikes to hitters, much of that total coming early (6 of the first 7). He’ll have to continue to throw strikes and hit spots, but he’s not afraid to attack.

I’m interested and want to see more.

 

Yey-yey is ney:

Yeyson Yrizarri is not in a happy zone right now. One-for-14 in the series, 3-for-39 for the season, it’s been a tough one. The one hit in the series was on a ninth-inning, get-me-over fastball with a five-run lead on Friday night. Otherwise, he is seeing a lot of breaking stuff in front of the plate and in the dirt and hacking away.

He did hit into a bit of tough luck in game one. In the second inning, Remillard took a roller behind the bag and then with a Manny Machado-esque throw from behind the back, got Yrizarri by a quarter step.

In his first AB in game two, he was unable to hold back on a fastball at the thumbs and then later whiffed at a curveball in the dirt. After the AB, the body language had the look of one who was beaten for now.

 

Defense wins games:

While Booker played a big part in the game-one win, so did the Kannapolis defense – especially from shortstop Max Dutto.

In the third, Brallan Perez lined a pitch to right. Adolfo ran the ball down and made a strong throw to second that was to the centerfield side of the bag. Dutto made the catch on the one-hop throw, then made the lunging tag on Perez. Later in the inning, Dutto made a diving stop of a grounder and made the quick throw to first to barely get Leody Taveras at first.

With a runner on first in the fifth, Yrizarri hit a comeback to Lambert, whose throw to second on the pivot was to the third-base side. Dutto made a back-handed catch while his momentum carried him across the bag and then completed the double play at first.

In the sixth, Dutto made a grab of a grounder deep in the hole and made a strong throw to complete the out at first.

 

Missing hitting counts:

Scuffling as a team, the Crawdads collectively seem to be unable to take advantage of hitter’s counts. In game two, Solozano threw first-pitch strikes to just eight of 22 hitters. However, Hickory managed just four hits and a walk.

Game Story 4/14/17: Kannapolis Dials Long Distance to Defeat Hickory

Toothless at the plate much of the early season, the Kannapolis Intimidators muscled up three homers in support of three pitchers in an 8-4 win over the Hickory Crawdads in front of 2,525 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium Friday night.

The win snapped the Intimidators three-game losing streak, as well as the Crawdads three-game winning streak.

 

What Happened

Hickory took a 1-0 lead in the first as Leody Taveras hit the first pitch from Bernardo Flores into the right field corner for a triple. A wild pitch later scored him.

Kannapolis used an error to get even in the third. After Joel Booker walked, Mitch Roman singled him to third and then Booker scored with LF Yanio Perez’s throw to third clanked off Booker’s helmet.

Brandon Dulin’s second homer of the season put the Intimidators in the lead 2-1 in the fourth.  One inning later, Booker singled with two outs, stole second and scored on Jameson Fisher’s single to right.

The Crawdads got a run back in the sixth. Perez led off with a single and worked his way to third on successive grounders to third. Travis Bolin singled in Perez and the Crawdads eventually loaded the bases with two outs. Alex Katz entered the game and struck out Brallan Perez to end the threat.

Fisher unloaded a two-run blast off the scoreboard in right-center in the eighth and Seby Zavala added a solo shot to make it 6-3.

Hickory eased back into the game briefly in the bottom of the inning. Jose Almonte and Isaias Quiroz each walked. A wild pitch moved both runners up a base and Perez’s single scored Almonte. Taveras came to the plate as the tying run, but Lane Hobbs struck him out to end the threat.

Kannapolis pushed two more runs across in the ninth before Preston Scott’s sacrifice fly scored Yeyson Yrizarri in the bottom of the inning to account for the final margin.

 

Book it:

Roman went 4-for-4 with a walk, Fisher, Dulin and Zavala homered, but Joel Booker had the key at-bats of the game.

Booker saw 34 pitches during his five plate appearances and it was his persistent patience that played into a big night. With two outs and the bases empty in the third, Booker worked a walk. He made an aggressive play to go first to third and it paid off when Perez’s throw hit him in the helmet and led to a run.

In the fifth, Hickory starter Emerson Martinez needed just eight pitches to get the first two outs. Martinez got ahead 0-2 but was unable to put Booker away, who worked the count full before steering a single to left. Martinez went on to throw 28 pitches in the inning and inflated his pitch count to 76 and cost him a chance to go deeper into the game.

With two outs in the ninth, Booker again fell behind 0-2 before working the count even and eventually made contact on a swinging bunt up the first base line to score Max Dutto.

 

Flowers Blooming:

Hickory reliever made his first appearance of the season in the sixth. His debut was delayed after he got ill upon his arrival in Hickory. Flowers threw 93-94 mph and mixed in the slider with ease missing three bats. He struck out two during a perfect inning.

 

Martinizing:

My memory of Emerson Martinez was a guy that threw low 90s, mixed in a change and slider and a bit of guile to get hitters out. According to the Rangers pitch trackers, Martinez was hitting 95 mph. His change at time had the Intimidators off balance, but as seen above, he was unable to finish off innings with a put-away pitch. After getting 12 of 15 outs via the whiff and groundball in his first start at Greensboro, had just 9 of 15 on Friday.

 

Yrizarri scuffling:

The Kannapolis staff has taken the step of throwing breaking balls to Yeyson Yrizarri and it made him look silly. He fanned in his first two at-bats – five swing-and-misses for the game, all on breaking balls – then was out on his front foot during back-to-back grounders. Up five runs in the ninth, the Intimidators threw a first-pitch fastball the Yrizarri rifled to the wall in left-center.

 

Baserunning boo=boos:

Both sides had some curious baserunning plays that potentially cost the team runs. In the no-harm-no-foul category. In the second, Brallan Perez appeared to take a couple of steps in reverse during a pop-up to second with two outs.

Ti’Quan Forbes delayed the turn at second, which proved costly during Preston Scott’s down double the line in left. Forbes then tried to make up for lost time during a scamper to the plate, but was thrown out.

Kannapolis had a curious baserunning decision of its own in the fifth. Fisher’s double scored Booker from second. Roman trailed behind at third and held up with two outs while the throw went to second.

 

Defensive gems:

3B Ti’Quan Forbes continues to shine defensively and he in the eighth contributed two more plays to his portfolio of artistic plays. He made a backhanded stab of a liner to the right of his knees as he spun backwards to keep his balance. But there was a better one to come. The inning concluded when Forbes stumbled left to corral a Zach Remillard ground, then from his knees, fired a strike to first for the out.

2B Brallan Perez started a double play in the second by snatching a quick short-hop during which he had to avoid the obstruction of the umpire. In the ninth, Perez had his feet slip on the wet track, but he was able to reach back over his right shoulder to take a high hop and complete the out at first.

Series Preview Kannapolis at Hickory April 14-15

(Yes, I know it’s late. Paid work takes precedent at times.)

Jose Almonte - Lin

Jose Almonte and the Hickory Crawdads look to continue a three-game winning streak as they take on the Kannapolis Intimidators (Crystal Lin/ Hickory Crawdads)

Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) (1-7) at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) (4-4)

The Hickory Crawdads open the home portion of the 2017 South Atlantic League season as they face in-state rival Kannapolis at L.P. Frans Stadium.

 

If you plan to go:

GAME TIMES: Friday 7:00 p.m., Saturday (DH) 5 p.m.

Promotions: Friday – Post-Game Fireworks. Saturday – Poster Giveaway to first 1,000 fans; Turn Back the Clock; Easter Celebration.

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

 Where is it?: Clement Blvd., 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321, near entrance to Hickory Airport.

PARKING: All parking is $3.

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

 

Probables (Kannapolis/ Hickory):

Friday: RHP Bernardo Flores vs. RHP Emerson Martinez

Saturday: TBA vs. RHP Edgar Arredondo, Argenis Rodriguez

 

Thursday’s Game: Hickory scored a 2-1 win in 12 innings, despite a lineup that whiffed 18 times.

Jose Almonte’s triple down to right scored Anderson Tejeda from first for the game winner. White Sox No. 10 prospect Dane Dunning struck out 13 and allowed one unearned run on three hits. Outfielder Travis Bolin pitched the 12th and got the win for the Crawdads.

 

Recent Series History:

The Crawdads were 12-4 in 2016 against Kannapolis, 5-3 at home. Since the Crawdads began the affiliation with the Rangers in 2009 they are 85-53 overall, 41-26 at L.P. Frans.

 

About the Crawdads:

Hickory has won three straight after a 1-4 start. The Crawdads handed Columbia its first loss of the season and then went on to take two of three from the Fireflies before last night’s home opener. Hickory has scuffled to a .216 BA and .294 OBP, both next to last in the South Atlantic League. However, the Crawdads lead the SAL with 11 homers.

 

Prospects to watch- Hickory:

CF Leody Taveras (No. 1 MLB.com and Baseball America, No. 55 MLB.com top-100 prospects): After hits in his first six games, Taveras is 0-9 in his last two with 8 Ks in his last 18 ABs.

SS Anderson Tejeda (No. 8 MLB.com, 16 Baseball America): Struggling to make contact at the plate for now, has at least one K in all eight games, 15 in 29 ABs. Also has five walks on the season after just 18 in all of 2017. Got his first triple of the season in the home opener and later scored the winning run.

OF Yanio Perez (No. 15 MLB.com, 27 Baseball America) Got his first homer of the season during the final game of the road trip, then K’d 4 times in five ABs last night.

2B Yeyson Yrizarri (No. 17 MLB.com): Started slow out of the gate at 2-for-29. Is putting the bat to the ball with just 5 Ks. After just 9 walks in 2016, he’s yet to get a free pass this season.

RF Jose Almonte (No. 29 MLB.com): Has a modest three-game hit streak, including thewalk-off RBI triple on Thursday.

RHP Tyler Ferguson (No. 30 Baseball America): Has not pitched yet this season. The big righty (6-4, 225) had a dominant tenure with Spokane (1.78 ERA, 46 Ks/ 10 BBs 30.1 IP), then struggled to find his command after he joined Hickory for the final month of 2016 (10 Ks/ 18 BBs 13.1 IP). Brings an overpowering fastball/ slider, but the Vanderbilt product’s goal is simple to start the season: find the plate.

 

Others to watch – Hickory:

3B Ti’Quan Forbes: The hottest hitter in the lineup at the start (.414/.485/.759). Homered in each of his first three games and at least one hit in seven of the first eight games. Forbes leads the South Atlantic League in total bases, slugging and OPS (1.243)

RHP Emerson Martinez: Threw five shutout innings in his first start at Greensboro. proven to be a durable arm for the Crawdads over his two seasons coming out of the pen or starting. Looks to get groundballs for outs. Twelve of the 15 outs he recorded at Greensboro were strikeouts or grounders.

RHP Edgar Arredondo: Had 56 Ks to just four walks last season with DSL Rangers, but struggled with control during his first stateside start on Sunday. Managed to record just four outs as he walked three and hit a batter.

 

About the Intimidators:

Managed by Justin Jirschele, who played in 15 games for the Intimidators in 2013. He was the team’s hitting coach last year… The Intimidators have started slowly and have lost three straight after last night… Like Hickory, the Intimidators have struggled at the plate and are next to last in the SAL in runs scored and are last with just 10 extra-base hits.

 

Prospects to watch – Kannapolis:

LF Jameson Fisher (No. 14 Baseball America, 15 mlb.com): Fourth-round pick out of SE Louisiana. As a redshirt-junior in 2016, led NCAA D-I in on-base pct. and was second in batting average. Continued to rake in the Pioneer League (.342/.436/.487). Was a catcher in college before hurting his shoulder and had surgery for a torn labrum.

LHP Bernardo Flores (No. 18 mlb.com, 23 Baseball America): Seventh-round pick out of Southern California. Struggled in college, has mid-to-upper 90s fastball. Struggled in his first start (4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 B, 6 K

 

Others to watch – Kannapolis:

RHP Mike Morrison: 27th round pick out of Coastal Carolina. Pitched for last year’s College World Series champions. So far has allowed just one hit and struck out six over four innings in three appearances. Fanned four in two innings during Thursday’s game.

RHP Yosmer Solorzano: International free agent from Venezuela. Likely starter for Saturday’s doubleheader. In his last start on Monday against Rome (Ga.), gave up just one run on six hits and struck out nine over six innings. To date, has the only win for Kannapolis.

3B Zach Remillard: Tenth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina. Played for last season’s College World Series champs. Started pro career well with the AZL White Sox and earned a promotion to full-season club at Kannapolis for the final month. Currently on a four-game hit streak.

2B Mitch Roman: 12th round pick out of Wright St. Had three hits during Thurday’s loss to Hickory. Currently at .370/.414/.481 for the season.

CF Joel Booker: 22nd round pick out of Iowa. Attended Polk County High in Columbus, NC. Has four multi-hit games, including a two-hit night on Thursday.

 

Note of Interest: Hickory added RHP Tyler Davis and LHP Christian Torres during the road trip and will pitch out of the bullpen. Both pitched for Hickory in 2016. Davis made 16 starts for High Desert last year… Kannapolis RF Micker Adolfo (No. 20 mlb.com, 24 Baseball America) is on the disabled list.

 

Game Story April 16: Hickory 10 Kannapolis 2

After Kannapolis put up the first two runs, Hickory scored the final ten of the game and blasted the Intimidators 10-2 at L.P. Frans Stadium.

What Happened?:

Kannapolis (4-6) needed took the lead in the first inning when Tyler Sullivan doubled and later scored on a wild pitch by Crawdads starter Jonathan Hernandez.

The Intimidators made it 2-0 in the third after Corey Zangari lifted a fly ball over the fence in left for a solo homer (2).

After Johnathan Frebis retired nine of the first 12 hitters of the game, he walked back-to-back hitters after two were out in the fourth. Frandy De La Rosa then sent a fastball over the fence in left-center for a three-run blast (2) which, as it turned out, gave Hickory the lead for good.

The Crawdads (8-2) blew open the game with seven runs in the sixth. Yeyson Yrizarri reached on an infield hit and after stealing second, Dylan Moore joined him with a walk. That chased Frebis from the game and brought in Jaider Rocha.

The key at-bat early in the inning came when Tyler Sanchez hit a chopper up third base line that Cody Daily fielded cleanly, but threw wide of first. Yrizarri scored with Moore going to third. After De La Rosa whiffed, Eduard Pinto’s RBI single scored Moore. Jose Almonte loaded the bases when catcher Seby Zavala was called for catcher’s interference.

Rocha walked Darius Day for a run and Eric Jenkins’ grounder brought in Pinto. The final blows came on a two-run double by Andy Ibanez and an RBI single by Yrizarri.

Hernandez completed six innings – his longest outing since 2014  – and allowed two runs on four hits, two walks and struck out three to even his mark at 1-1. Johan Juan picked up a rulebook save with three scoreless innings, as he allowed three hits and one walk with three strikeouts.

The bats:

Hickory put up nine hits in the game with Yrizarri, Moore and Pinto each getting two. The team struggled with the softer-tossing, left-hander Frebis (87-89 fastball, 80-82 CH, Curve) and at times were anxious.

Frebis struggled with command (89 pitches, 47 strikes, 42 balls), but Hickory helped him out by chasing pitches out of the zone.

In the second, after Moore singled and Tyler Sanchez walked on four straight balls, De La Rosa – originally looking for the sacrifice – took the first two fastballs that were low. A mound visit by Kannapolis ensured, followed by another fastball off the plate that De La Rosa tried to pull and it went for a double play.

“It took them a little bit to get that lefty figured out,” said Crawdads manager Steve Mintz. “He was kind of mixing it and keeping it down and was really throwing a lot of balls off the plate that we were chasing a little too much early.”

Sanchez had the key at-bat in the fourth, as he worked the count 2-2. He laid off a fastball just off the outside corner for ball three that both Frebis and the catcher Zavala wanted for strike three. Ball four was another fastball well off the plate. That allowed De La Rosa to come up to the plate for the homer.

De La Rosa’s homer was a first-pitch fastball that strayed over the plate and it wasn’t missed.

The decisive sixth inning wasn’t so much a lineup mauling as it was the Crawdads putting the bat on the ball and seeing what happens. Yrizarri’s single was just to the right of the 2B Mendick. Moore put together a good AB to walk. Sanchez got enough on the ball to work it up the 3B line (Arguably, it could’ve been a hit). Pinto got enough on the ball to sneak it just past Rocha and the middle infielders. The only ball of the 12 batters that was well struck was Ibanez’s double off the wall in LCF. Said Mintz of the inning, “They got going and we started hitting it and we got of soft hits where we just hit it out of reach and a couple of hits that kind of finished it off. It was a good inning.”

The lineup will have their moments of being low-A players, but as a group, they show good bat control and are able to put the ball in play and allow their speed to force the issue.

Mintz said, “The guys, they just feed off of one another and have that, ‘I don’t want to make the last out mentality.’ It’s fun to watch and seeing the guys run around the bases.”

 

The mound:

After a bit of a rough start, Jonathan Hernandez settled in nicely over the final five innings. His fastball sat 93-94 with a top speed of 97. The best use of that pitch came against Zangari, who swung through three straight heaters in the first. However, Zangari got the best of him on a first-pitch fastball (95) in the third. The control was iffy at first, but got progressively better as time went on. His used the Changeup and slider more as the outing continued and used them both almost exclusively to strike out Micker Adolfo to end the sixth.

“Hernandez, tonight, was very, very good,” said Mintz. “He struggled in that first inning, but then he got going and started throwing his fastball over the plate and started getting some of his offspeed stuff going a little bit better and was able to hold them to two runs. It obviously gave us a chance to get back into the ballgame.”

The most noticeable thing I noticed with Hernandez this time in comparison to his start at Kannapolis was the ability to be more in control on the mound. Whereas before, Hernandez appeared to overthrow his pitches and was seen falling off to the grass on the first base side of the mound, on Saturday, he seemed more compact and reserved with his delivery.

“Definitely from the first start to the second start, he had a whole different demeanor and was very in control of himself out there,” said Mintz. “His mound presence was very good, even after a couple of mistakes.”

I had hoped to pay attention to Johan Juan’s outing, but Gameday issues messed that up. What I did get to see, Juan brings a lively 92-93 mph fastball to the plate with a slider and change. He froze Zangari with a fastball to strike him out in the 7th, It was a slider that did the trick against Grant Massey in the ninth.

 

The gloves:

A pretty routine night a field. Jenkins made a nice catch after a long run in RCF to nab a ball on the run.

Ibanez made a nice, sliding grab of a hot grounder after Hernandez flicked it on the mound.

 

The bases:

The adventure that is Crawdads baserunning added to their ledger on Saturday. With Eric Jenkins on first in the first, Andy Ibanez flew out to medium center. Jenkins did not pick up the ball and briefly fell for a decoy by second baseman Daniel Mendick. When Jenkins realized that Mendick didn’t have the ball, he took a few steps toward third, but then realized the situation and retreated to first. Unfortunately for Jenkins, he forgot to retouch second and was doubled up.

Moore, Yrizarri and Jenkins all stole second in the game. The first two were off Frebis and the final by Jenkins against Rocha. Both pitchers took their time to deliver a pitch home, and so Hickory was able to read the moves of both and take advantage. Jenkins steal against Rocha came as he was nearly a third of the way down the line to second as the pitch came home.

Other notes of importance: Something that could bear watching -Hernandez took a liner off his right arm in the sixth. The field and training staff took a look at Hernandez and after throwing a couple of pitches, they were satisfied enough to let continue. Mintz relayed that Hernandez nearly lost a nail on the play…

Kannapolis DL’d  SS Johan Cruz, the White Sox No. 16 prospect (mlb.com). The White Six then assigned OF Micker Adolfo  (No. 9) to Kannapolis.

 

 

Series Preview: Kannapolis at Hickory April 14-17

Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) at Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers) 

The Hickory Crawdads open the home portion of the 2016 South Atlantic Season with a four-game series against their neighbor to the southeast, the Kannapolis Intimidators at L.P. Frans Stadium.

 

If you plan to go:

Games Thursday and Saturday are at 6 p.m., Friday is at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.

All ticket prices are $9 with VIP tickets going for $14. Parking is $3. On Sundays, the Crawdads offer $6 tickets when presenting a church bulletin.

The Crawdads are giving away 2016 magnet schedules on Thursday, a commemorative 2015 SAL championship banner on Saturday, and a poster schedules on Sunday. All giveaways are to the first 1,000 fans to the gates. There will be post-game fireworks on Friday.

Concessions are basic ballpark fare with a wider selection of items at the Crawdads Café, which is located above the 1B stands. New this year is a mac-and-cheese footlong hotdog.

 

Where is it?:

L.P. Frans Stadium is located on Clement Blvd., approximately 1 mile west of U.S. Hwy 321. From I-40 east or west, take exit 123 B and follow the signs to U.S. 321 North. The left turn for Clement Blvd. is at the light that houses Pizza Hut, CVS, RaceTrac gas station and Peak Motors.

From the north, take Hwy 321 South to Clement Blvd. and turn right.

From downtown Hickory, take 3rd street NW to the west and follow it until it turns into Clement Blvd. past the U.S. 321 intersection.

 

Probables (Kannapolis/ Hickory):

Thursday: RHP Zach Thompson vs. RHP Dillon Tate

Friday: LHP Tanner Banks vs. RHP Pedro Payano

Saturday: RHP Johnathan Frebis vs. RHP Jonathan Hernandez

Sunday: RHP Luis Martinez vs. RHP Erik Swanson/ LHP Wes Benjamin (piggy back)

 

Recent Series History:

Hickory won three out of four games last week at Intimidators Stadium to open the season. Last year, the Crawdads took a 9-6 season-series win, which included a 5-2 record at L.P. Frans Stadium. Against Kannapolis, the Crawdads are 75-50 since 2009 – the start of the affiliation with the Texas Rangers – 35-23 at LPFS. Kannapolis has one series win at Hickory since 2011, which came when the Intimidators took 2-of-3 in the first week of the 2014 season.

 

Entering the series – Hickory:

The Crawdads return home after a three-game sweep at Greensboro, which wrapped up a 6-1 season-opening road trip, and are a game ahead of West Virginia in the SAL’s Northern Division… At the plate, the Crawdads are tops in the 14-team league with a .429 slugging pct. They also lead the league in homers, total bases and are tied with Lakewood for the most hits. Hickory is second in runs scored, RBI, and team OPS (.734)… Expected to be aggressive on the base paths, the Crawdads have attempted a league high of 24 steals and lead the SAL with 9 caught stealing attempts. They are second in steals with 15…On the mound, the Crawdads pitching staff has allowed two or fewer runs in five of their seven games. Overall, their 2.14 ERA is third in the SAL and they have allowed just one home run… After committing 8 errors during last weekend’s Kannapolis series, the Crawdads had just one during the three-game series at Greensboro.

 

Entering the series – Kannapolis:

Kannapolis swiped two out of three at home against Delmarva (Md.) and went 3-4 on its homestand… At the plate, the Intimidators have scored two or fewer runs in five of their seven games. They are third in hits, fourth with a .254 batting average. Kannapolis leads the league with the most strikeouts… On the mound, the Intimidators are second in the league in strikeouts… In the field, they are tied with Lexington with 10 errors committed and are next to last in fielding pct.

 

Players to watch- Hickory:

RHP Dillon Tate: The Rangers No. 4 prospect by MLB.com, No. 5 by Baseball America. He is also MLB.com’s No. 35 overall prospect and the 8th best RHP. In his opening start of the season, Tate allowed an unearned run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts over 4.2 innings at Kannapolis. It is apparent that Tate will have a higher pitch count than has been the case for a younger pitcher at the start of the season. He threw 85 pitches (52 strikes) in last Friday’s start. Possesses a fastball/ slider combo with a developing changeup.

RHP Pedro Payano: The MLB.com No. 29 Rangers prospect had a steady start last Saturday, but it was tainted by control issues. Payano held the Intimidators to one run on two hits and struck out seven over five innings. However, he also tied his career high for a game with four walks. Like Tate, it appears that Payano also will be pushed early on with pitch counts, as he threw 91 pitches (45 strikes) in the start at Kannapolis. Armed with fastball/ curve/ change, he will throw any pitch at any count.

RHP Jonathan Hernandez: The righthander is the Rangers No. 20 prospect, as determined by Baseball America, No. 28 by MLB.com. Hernandez was the lone starting pitcher to struggle his first time through the rotation. Needing 73 pitches to record 10 outs, Hernandez gave up 8 runs (6 earned) on seven hits and walked two over 3.1 innings at Kannapolis in his last start on Sunday. His defense committed four errors behind him during the game, but Hernandez had control issues with his fastball, as well. He has allowed the lone Crawdads homer surrendered thus far in 2016

RHP Erik Swanson: The Rangers 8th round pick in 2014 out of Iowa Western CC had a stellar first pro start at Greensboro on Monday, during which he gave up two hits and a walk over five innings and struck out four. Swanson had the sinker working as he recorded 11 groundball outs.

LHP Wes Benjamin: Will piggyback with Swanson for now. The 22-year-old was the Rangers fifth round pick in 2014 out of Kansas. Had Tommy John surgery while with the Jayhawks in 2014. In his first outing last Monday, Benjamin earned a four-inning save at Greensboro during which he allowed three baserunners (one hit) and struck out two.

2B Andy Ibanez: Continues to be among the conversation when considering the hottest hitter in the minors at the start of the 2016 season. Ibanez leads the SAL in hits (14), doubles (5), total bases (24), batting avg. (.560), OBP (.607), slugging (.960) and OPS (1.567). Last week at Kannapolis, Ibanez went 9-for-17 with two doubles, a triple, a homer, 6 RBI and three runs scored. The 23-year-old Cuban native is the No. 8 prospect according to MLB.com and Baseball America has him No. 16. He is splitting time at second with Frandy De La Rosa and DHing.

CF Eric Jenkins: At 19 on opening day, he is Baseball America’s No. 6 Rangers prospect, while MLB.com has him at No. 7. Had a tough weekend at Kannapolis with seven strikeouts in 14 plate appearances, including a “Golden Sombrero” in Saturday night’s game. Jenkins struck out six more times at Greensboro, but started to make better contact in the series with three hits, including his first pro homer, over the final two games.

IF Dylan Moore: He began to get well at Greensboro this week. During the three-game series, the Orange Co. California native went 4-for-10 with a homer, a double and four RBI.

RF Jose Almonte: Had a nice weekend series at Kannapolis, going 5-for-11 (all singles) and walked twice. Overall, the Dominican Republic native has a .318/.400/.455 slash with four RBI and five runs scored. He hit his first homer of the season at Greensboro and only his third overall as a pro.

 

Players to watch-Kannapolis:

LF Landon Lassiter: The 22-year-old attended North Davidson High in Lexington and UNC  Chapel Hill. Was drafted two different times prior to finally signing with the White Sox after being picked in the 21st round in 2015.  His 4-for-4 game vs. Delmarva on Wednesday placed him behind only Ibanez in the SAL with a .526 batting avg. Lassiter is third in the league in OBP (.571) and OPS (1.256). He also had three hits in the game that Hernandez started on Sunday.

CF Tyler Sullivan: Tied for third in the SAL in walks (5), he has a slash of .333/.455/.444. Went 6-for-16 against Hickory last weekend. Sullivan was the White Sox 14th round pick in 2015 out of Pacific.

1B Corey Zangari: The White Sox sixth-round pick out of Carl Albert High in Midwest City, OK. He is currently the White Sox’s No. 10 prospect according to MLB.com and No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America. Went only 3-for-16 against Hickory, but had three hits including a homer over the last two games vs. Delmarva to push slash to .231/.310/.346.

SS/3B Johan Cruz: Currently the White Sox’s No. 16 prospect from MLB.com and No. 27 by Baseball America. Struggled versus Hickory last weekend at the plate (4-for-17, 6 Ks) and on the field (3 errors). Had two hits and three RBI in a game that Hernandez started for Hickory last Sunday.

C Seby Zavala: No. 26 prospect by Baseball America. Was the 12th round pick of the White Sox in 2015 out of San Diego St. Started the season 0-for-16 before putting up a 2-for-4 game vs. Delmarva on Wednesday. Had Tommy John surgery in 2013.

1B/ OF Zach Fish: Has the Intimidators only homer through seven games this season – a three-run blast vs. Hernandez on Sunday. Named the Big XII Conference Player of the Year at Oklahoma St. He was the Rangers 4th round pick in 2011 out of Gulf Lake High (Mich.).

RHP Zach Thompson: A native of Burleson, Tex., Thompson was the White Sox fifth round pick in 2014 out of Texas-Arlington. Allowed one run on five hits and struck out eight over five innings in his lone start of the season, which came against Hickory last Saturday.

LHP Tanner Banks: The White Sox 18th round choice in 2014 out of Salt Lake CC helped pick up the Intimidators first win of the season on Sunday, as he held Hickory to three earned runs on six hits and struck out five over five innings.

RHP Luis Martinez: No. 29 prospect by MLB.com. Made 24 starts for the Intimidators last season as a 20-year-old and allowed 155 baserunners in 108.2 innings. So far in two 2016 starts, Martinez has given up just 13 baserunners in 10 innings. He has 10 Ks and one walk, a promising improvement after a 69/ 53 ratio in 2015. Had Tommy John surgery in 2011.

RHP Taylore Cherry: Was the 32nd round pick of the White Sox in 2015 out of UNC Chapel Hill. Is listed at 6-9, 290 lbs.

 

Notes of Interest: Like last season, it appears the Rangers will play a bit of merry-go-round with the Crawdads roster to accommodate a six-man rotation that will actually contain seven pitchers, as Erik Swanson and Wes Benjamin throw in a piggyback situation. For now, it is Swanson and fellow starter Peter Fairbanks switching places on the active list… Crawdads reliever Jacob Shortslef is on the DL with a cut on his pitching hand…Kannapolis RHP Drew Hasler is the son of former Crawdads pitching coach (1993-1994) Curt Hasler, now the White Sox minor league pitching coordinator… Crawdads catcher Tyler Sanchez and Kannapolis pitcher Alex Katz were teammates at St. John’s. Katz surrendered his first pro home run last Sunday – to Sanchez.

Hickory at Kannapolis May 23

After a six-game stretch in which they scored eight total runs, the Hickory Crawdads equaled that in the first five innings Saturday en route to a 10-5 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators at CMC Northeast Stadium.

In pounding out 14 hits, the Crawdads (28-14) snapped a season high, four-game losing streak and maintained a four-game lead over second place West Virginia.

Hickory put the first four runners of the game on base, scoring three of them. Luke Tender singled in Jose Cardona for the first run, followed by a wild pitch – the first of six by Intimidators starter Yelmison Perralta –  that put runners and second and third. Jose Trevino (2-for-5) reached on a double error by 3B Ryan Leonards with Michael De Leon scoring on the play. Eduard Pinto  (2-for-5) – in his first at bat since returning from the disabled list earlier in the day – brought in Tendler with a grounder to short.

Kannapolis (19-23) answered with two of its own in the bottom of the first against Collin Wiles. Eddy Alvarez and Christian Slater opened with sharp singles, and then worked a double steal. One out later, Leonards reached on an infield single to De Leon at short. Alvarez scored on the play with Slater following him to the plate after De Leon’s throw to first skipped away. Hickory caught a break as the rebound from De Leon’s throw went to Rock Shoulders at first, who then picked off Leonards when he tried to advance to second.

The Crawdads returned serve in the second when Jose Cardona singled in Marcus Greene and Josh Morgan scored on a wild pitch.

From there, Collin Wiles (5-1) held the opposing lineup in check through his six innings of work, as he retired 16 of the final 18 hitters he faced and struck out six.

Hickory blew open the game with four in the fifth. Pinto tripled in two and then scored on a wild pitch from Peralta. Rock Shoulders’ snapped an 0-for-28 slump since he joined the Crawdads a week ago with a sharp single to center that chased Peralta (1-4). Reliever David Trexler walked the bases loaded before issuing his own wild pitch to score Shoulders.

Kannapolis took advantage of a combined five walks by Scott Williams and Kelvin Vasquez to score three in the eighth before Vasquez stuck out Michael Danner to end the threat.

Travis Demeritte’s RBI single in the ninth provided the final margin before Vasquez struck out the side to end the game.

The Good:

**The Crawdads lineup went back to what they were good at during the first month of the season—taking advantage of mistakes and taking extra bases when the opportunity presented itself. Cardona hit an 0-2 change (I think it was a change, speed gun function was not reliable) for a single to start the first, then took third on De Leon’s bouncer through the right side to set up Tendler’s RBI hit. Morgan’s first-to-third on Cardona’s single in the second set up his run on a Peralta wild pitch.

***Peralta threw six wild pitches, with Hickory runners taking off on several pitches that never left the home-plate circle. One such play involved Pinto in the fifth. When Peralta’s pitch stayed just behind catcher Zach Fish’s feet, Pinto was off from third on the dirt ball and slid in just under Fish’s tag.

** Of the starts I’ve seen Wiles make, this one may be my favorite. It was a night where Wiles did not have his best location early, but he figured out what he did have and worked with it. Wiles had problems keeping his fastball down in the first and the Intimidators made him pay with sharp singles. My memory of the 2014 Wiles is that he would try to bullrush people with heat looking for strikeouts. The 2015 Wiles has ditched the macho and is looking to make pitches. On the final out of the first, he got Mason Robbins to swing through a change, then came back with a fastball to get Robbins to loft a lazy fly to left.

He parlayed that success into the second when Wiles pitched more off his change. He got Danner to swing through one for the first out. After getting Fish to whiff on a change for strike one, Wiles dialed up a 93 heater for the second K of the inning. A fastball up was punished for a double, but then Wiles worked a through an 8-pitch at bat with Eddy Alvarez before his first curveball of the night was taken for strike three.

From there, Wiles mixed all three pitches and had the Intimidators off balance much of the remainder of the night.

As I’ve stated in my blog introduction, I am not the most knowledgeable baseball person in the room. So, with that knowledge, I will say this. I can’t imagine Wiles is with Hickory much past the June all-star break. For now, he has figured out what he needs to do when he doesn’t have his best stuff. He’s become a pitcher that has embraced adjustments from pitch to pitch.

**Good to see the dugout with some animation. It was especially prevalent on plays in which extra bases were taken. There was a funny moment when the dugout asked for the ball after Shoulders’ single in the fifth.

** Some guys get it. It was fun to watch Jose Trevino interact with a couple of pre-teens sitting near the on-deck circle. By the ninth inning, several kids were looking for fist bumps prior to Trevino’s lead off appearance. He did them all, then stepped to the plate and smacked a double to left-center.

Jose Trevino greets a fan prior to his plate appearance in the ninth

Jose Trevino greets a fan prior to his plate appearance in the ninth

The Not-So-Good:

**Four walks by Scott Williams in 1.2 innings. He got bailed out by a horrific base-running blunder in the seventh that turned into a double play on a fly to right and got then a more conventional 6-4-3 DP in the eighth to keep the fledgling rally from getting out of hand. Williams now has six walks and only two Ks in 5.1 innings. With an overload of arms at Hickory and in Arizona awaiting a place to pitch, Williams will need to find the K-zone soon.

** The ups-and-downs of Vasquez. He gave up a walk and a hit batter following Williams into the game, followed by a two-run single. In the ninth, he dialed up several 97-98 mph pitches to fan the side.

**Cardona got caught rounding first too wide on his RBI single and got thrown out trying to scramble back. However, that was part of the aggressive theme by base runners all night, so it’s hard to fault him on the play.

**De Leon’s error was a rarity in which he tried to make a play that wasn’t there. His throw to first to catch a runner that would likely have reached safely allowed Singleton to score.