Stars of the Day:
AAA: Mike Bianucci, Luis Martinez
Hi-A: Zach Osborne / Santiago Chirino
Lo-A: Luke Jackson, Nick McBride, Nick Martinez / Chris Grayson, Zach Cone, Trever Adams
Julia Morales of YNN Sports, Wade Hilligoss of the Express and I recorded the first Round Rock Express Roundtable, a free podcast featuring our discussions of prospects, roster compositions, Julia's interviews of Julio Borbon and Neil Ramirez, and predictions for the season. Producing is Ted Price, whom you may know from Rangers Podcast in Arlington (starring Jamey Newberg). Link: http://bit.ly/Imk3kZ
AAA: Round Rock 5, at Omaha 6
Record: 2-5, -4.0
Tanner Scheppers retired the side in order in the 8th on 13 pitches, looking about as well as I described yesterday. In the 9th, he would throw 30 pitches without recording the final out. On three hits, a walk and hit batter, Omaha plated three in the 9th for the victory. Scheppers began elevating his fastball in the 9th, missing high several times and serving up a meaty pitch to Irving Falu for a game-ending line drive. Both the walk and hit batter came with two strikes. On the other hand, the first two hits consisted of a dribbler that barely stayed inside the third-base line and a chopper just over Scheppers' head and between the middle infielders. Omaha has a mature lineup (much like Round Rock last year) that can lay off pitches straying out of the zone and punish mistakes.
Martin Perez lost the efficiency from his first start but did protect the tired bullpen with 5.2 innings on 90 pitches. Perez walked two, struck out five and allowed three runs on six hits. 1B Mike Bianucci doubled twice, and catcher Luis Martinez was 4-4.
High-A: at Myrtle Beach 3, Potomac 6
Record: 2-3, -1.5
I feared Wilmer Font might be wild in his first outing back from Tommy John surgery. In fact, he pitched just fine, retiring three consecutive batters, but his second appearance (and first start) belatedly justified my fear. Font faced six without retiring a single batter, issuing three walks to begin the contest and leaving after two singles and another walk. In ten high-A starts, Font has walked 36 batters.
Chad Bell stranded two Font runners but later allowed two runs of his own in four innings. Bell struck out four, walked four and committed two errors. Promising reliever Francisco Mendoza worked two scoreless innings, albeit with five baserunners, and Zach Osborne walked two and fanned three in two scoreless, hitless innings.
2B Santiago Chirino erased an 0-11 start with three hits including a triple. Jake Skole (.200/.400/.267) tripled.
Low-A: Hickory 5, at Greenville 3
Record: 5-2, tied for first
Three Hickory hurlers combined for 14 strikeouts. Starter Luke Jackson fanned seven in four innings but also walked four; he would allow two runs, one earned. The Nicholases McBride (4 IP, 1 H, 1 UER, 0 BB, 4 SO) and Martinez (1 IP, 3 SO) insured the win.
The intolerably hot Chris Grayson followed Tuesdays three hits with four more including a double and triple (and his second steal). The 21-year-old from Monroe, Louisiana, was selected in last year's 13th round and enjoyed moderate success (.288/.323/.424) in rookie ball. Zach Cone (.261/.346/.522) tripled and singled, while 1B Trever Adams contributed a double, single and walk.
Five Years Ago Yesterday
Only Bakersfield played. In his second "mental rehab" start, Edinson Volquez walked six and allowed eight runs in four innings. Taylor Teagarden walked twice, lowering in OBP to .625. Meanwhile, John Mayberry had no walks in his first 34 plate appearances.
AAA: Neil Ramirez
AA: Miguel de los Santos
Hi-A: Cody Buckel
Lo-A: Victor Payano