Stars of the Day:
AAA: Tommy Mendonca
AA: Wilfredo Boscan / Leury Garcia
Hi-A: Cody Buckel, Ben Rowen / Christian Villanueva, Brett Nicholas
Lo-A: Arlett Mavare / Rougned Odor, Zach Cone
AAA: Round Rock 4, at Omaha 5
Record: 2-6, -5.0
Neil Ramirez reverted to Spring Training form, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks in five innings. Ramirez (5.00 ERA) did strike out four and threw 52 of 77 pitches for strikes. Michael Kirkman pitched well again, retiring his four opponents and striking out one. Tommy Mendonca (.259/355/.333) doubled and walked. Mike Bianucci (.361/.395/.750) singled twice.
This version of the Express has more hitters that might help the Rangers in some capacity down the road but fewer of the grizzled vets (Esteban German, Brian Barden) who provide consistent AAA production. The weighted average age of the position players is two years younger than last year.
Tonight is Round Rock's home opener against Iowa. Division leader New Orleans (7-1) has allowed 11 runs in eight games. Houston-affiliated Oklahoma City is 6-2, and Dodger-affiliated Albuquerque is 2-6. Unlike most leagues, the Pacific Coast lacks split-season division winners. It's 144 games, winner takes all.
AA: at Frisco 1, Springfield 5
Record: 4-3, tied for 1st
Unsigned 2007 pick John Gast stifled the Riders for seven innings. A potential first-rounder, Gast underwent Tommy John surgery a month before the draft and fell to Texas in the fifth. Gast decided to enroll at Florida but didn't improve his stock, landing with the Cardinals in the sixth round of 2010.
Miguel de los Santos had a Miguel de los Santos kind of night, using 84 pitches to complete 4.1 innings. He walked three, struck out three and allowed four runs on seven hits. Wilfredo Boscan impressed with 3.2 scoreless and walkless innings plus four strikeouts. Tantalizing and frustrating like de los Santos, Fabio Castillo yielded a run on two hits and a walk in the 9th.
2B Leury Garcia (.250/.280/.458) tripled and singled. Garcia isn't going to slug .458 all season; the key to his future is on-base percentage, which has yet to top .323 outside of the Arizona Fall League. Mike Olt (.250/.323/.429) also tripled. Jurickson Profar had three strikeouts and a walk. To date, he's batting .087/.222/.217 with more walks (3) than hits (2). It's early, he's 19, and baseball is hard.
High-A: at Myrtle Beach 1, Potomac 0
Record: 3-3, -1.0
In the Carolina League, a strikeout rate of 20% is about average. 25% is fantastic. Cody Buckel has fanned 16 of 35 batters faced this season, good for a 46% K rate. Buckel struck out nine in six innings, walked none, and allowed two hits. Both baserunners tried and failed to steal a base, so Buckel faced the minimum. Buckel (pronounced byoo-kell) doesn't throw especially hard compared to many Texas prospects but has a deep arsenal, and you won't find a better student of the craft at his age.
Sidearming Ben Rowen limited Potomac to a lone hit in three innings and struck out four. Buckel and Rowen have yet to allow a run.
Offensively, Myrtle Beach was dormant until the 9th. Jared Hoying led off with a single, advanced to second on a sac bunt and scored when left fielder Kevin Keyes mishandled a Jake Skole fly. 3B Christian Villanueva (.350/.458/.550) and 1B Brett Nicholas were 2-3 with a double.
Low-A: at Hickory 5, Asheville 2
Record:6-2, tied for 1st
Consecutive singles by Jordan Akins (2-4), Drew Robinson (1-3, BB) and Trever Adams (1-4) plated three runners and severed a 2-2 tie in the 8th. Zach Cone (.259/.333/.593) hit a solo homer, his second of the season. Odor (.207/.273/.241) singled twice and walked.
Jorge Alfaro appeared to pull his hamstring running to first in the 8th. There's no word on his status at the moment. Expect cautious handling of the situation.
Victor Payano didn't pitch quite as well as before but held Asheville to two runs in five innings on two hits and three walks. Arlett Mavare pitched three scoreless frames with three hits and three strikeouts.
Five Years Ago Yesterday
Piggyback starter Doug Mathis struggled again for Oklahoma. Texas would soon decide he'd be better off in AA, a level he'd virtually skipped. Eric Hurley allowed one run and struck out seven in six innings with Frisco. Two late-inning hits by Travis Metcalf prompted a 6-5 victory. In Bakersfield's home opener, Chris Davis doubled and singled, Brandon Boggs hit a two-run homer (almost as good as Engel Beltre's two-homer homer, but not quite), and Taylor Teagarden had two doubles and a walk. Clinton was snowed out again. The Rangers don't miss Clinton.
AAA: Greg Reynolds
AA: Barret Loux
Hi-A: Roman Mendez
Lo-A: Jerad Eickhoff