Myrtle Beach Pelicans (high-A)
As expected, the mighty Pelicans wrapped up the first half championship, then promptly lost two of the big guns responsible for their success. Gobbles and Chi Chi were promoted to Frisco, but the birds didn't really miss a beat. Nick Williams can flat out hit. He picked up a little injury and only played 10 games, but he was able to best the .356 mark he put up in May, with a .366 tally over those 10 contests. No idea what's gotten into Chris Garia, but I love it. The 21 year-old with 80-grade speed shocked a lot of people by hitting .300 in May, and followed it up with a rock solid .293 in June. 24 games, 23 runs scored, 10 stolen bases and a role holding down centerfield everyday. Local hero, Preston Beck moved back to RF where his arm cannon is best utilized and his bat responded with a .291/.431/.500 month. On the bump, Sam Wolff and Andrew Faulkner continue to develop into dudes. Wolff introduced a slider to his growing repertoire and continued to develop his 2 fastballs, curveball, changeup arsenal. Meanwhile, Faulkner has been a bit of a revelation this year. The 6'3" 200lb, 21 year-old lefty has been essentially carving up opponents this season, and June was no different. Both Wolff and Faulkner spent part of the month on the shelf due to innings limits, but both were effective and have shown to have promising futures. Wolff's mechanics and arsenal are no joke, and Faulkner is a big lefty with deception, a FB he can run into the mid-90s, and a wicked splitter. I know it's not particularly en vogue to get excited about relievers, but screw that, I'm excited about Jose Leclerc. 9 walks and 18 strike outs in 12 innings in June supplement his 56Ks in 36ip for the first 3 months of 2014. His mid-90s FB and nasty 12-6 CB have been excellent. He's not a big kid (6'0" 180lbs) and he isn't a fiery closer, but he's got closer stuff and he's 20 years old. Jorge Alfaro scuffled in June (.233/.304/.467) and Christopher Bostick (.169/.196/.202) was the happiest player on the entire farm to see the calendar turn to July.
Sam Wolff 3.27.14 (via Tepid Participation)
Frisco RoughRiders (AA)
Gobbles arrived. And he arrived with aplomb, hitting a walkoff homer in his first game. The kid is special. That's not a word I use lightly. Your mom uses it to describe you, but I don't use it to describe many players. Getting a chance to be around Joey during BP and watching him in person has given me a new appreciation for his ability and his future. He's going to make adjustments and he's going to be a beast. I think he'll go to All Star Game(s) at the major league level. I haven't though that about many guys recently other than Mike Trout and Justin Smoak, and well... While it was exciting to celebrate the arrival of Chi Chi, Gallo, Will Lamb, and eventually, Alex Claudio, Frisco also lost a few fellas to promotion as well. Lamb is an exciting prospect who ended last season on the brink of not being a prospect at all. Now the lanky lefty is routinely throwing 93-96 and spotting it well. Claudio will be like Ben Rowen. He'll keep getting a chance, and he'll probably keep getting minor leaguers out, but I'll never not be scared when a big league right hander (TROUT!) sees his Bugs Bunny CH at 66, then times the holy hell outta his 85mph FB. Let's take a moment to discuss a player who was overlooked, for good reason, but who is simply the most improved player in the entire organization. Odubel Herrera came into this season as a lefty with a good hit tool, who couldn't hit lefties, and couldn't play a position. Right now he's a 22 year-old, 2B, who hit .352/.379/.429 in June, and is simply, a dude. I've sat with many of the same scouts this season as last and they marvel at the player Doobie is now. Had 2 of them put a Role 5 on him last week. Projecting him as an everyday big leaguer would have been a fool's errand last season and I'm beyond anxious to see if he can maintain his production throughout the upcoming dog days of summer. Pat Cantwell is hitting around .250, which will keep him around the big leagues for about 10 years. Drew Robinson's unfriendly season continued with a .157/.253/.257 month. The month ended with Hanser Alberto being promoted back to Frisco to man the shortstop position. Still only 21, if he hit's like his longtime buddy Doobie has, he'll be a utility dude. Listen, it's all about Joey right now. No point in acting otherwise. He's arguably the most exciting player in minor league baseball and I'm just enjoying watching him play.
Doobie Herrera with special guest stretcher, Pat Cantwell:
Odubel Herrera 6.26.14 (via Tepid Participation)
Chi Chi Gonzalez 6.10.14 (via Tepid Participation)
Round Rock Express (AAA)
FRESH FACES GALORE! There's some dudes north of Austin these days. Luke Jackson, Phil Klein, Ryan Rua, and Jake Smolinski were promoted from Frisco. Luis Sardinas arrived from the big league club seeking everyday playing time. Jon Edwards drove down from Frisco at the end of June and that's where I'll start. He's a helluva story. If he makes it up, it'll be a narrative local media will jump all over. Drafted as an outfielder out of Keller High by the Cardinals in '06, he never hit enough to stick, so he quit hitting in 2011 and took up pitching. Stops in the Pecos League, including San Angelo and Alpine, preceeded signing with Texas and beginning the climb. A physical specimen at 6'5" 235lbs, Jon has always had excellent pure stuff and next to no idea where it was going. All of the sudden it clicked for him in June. He was mechanically consistent and his two pitch arsenal just overwhelmed AA hitters. A FB that sits 94-97 and a big, sweeping, hard SL that trips in around 87mph give him a back of the bullpen profile. If he keeps throwing strikes and doesn't get walk happy, his stuff will warrant a shot at the 3-tiered stadium, perhaps before the end of the year. I wrote at the end of May that Jared Hoying was much better than he'd played up until then. In June, the everyday centerfielder hit .347/.432/.663 and was named as Express' lone representative to the All Star Game. The bullpen continues to have some 40-man guys who've not necessarily scuffled, but haven't necessarily separated themselves as dudes either. Matt West has been back up to 97 with the FB, but isn't getting his CB over enough. Lisalverto Bonilla has sick BB/K numbers, but opponents are hitting nearly .300 off him. Roman Mendez, same story. Cory Burns was bumped off the 40-man and didn't make it through the waiver wire as the Rays grabbed him. Hey, the Express got some mojo right now. Get out to that park and watch LuJax and Rua, or just wait until September and watch them in Arlington. No wait! Go to Round Rock!
* UPDATE * Since I wrote this, Jake Smolinski and Roman Mendez have been called up to the big leagues for 2 reasons: 1) because they are good baseball players and 2) because this season is all kinds of f-ed up.
Jared can hit the ball deep. (Also, a little peek at El Paso's new ballpark)
Rua can hit the ball deeper.
That's it. I'm tired. Stop reading now.
As always, enjoy baseball. Love Ya!
THE GREATEST SOUND EVER? THE GREATEST SOUND EVER.
Joey Gallo 6.26.14 (via Tepid Participation)