Highlights from Texas vs. Round Rock on Monday
A small picture set: http://pix.scottlucas.com/txr/txr120402.htm
CF Leonys Martin -- In his first at-bat, Martin took a couple of balls from Derek Holland before laying down a too-hard bunt that Adrian Beltre uncharacteristically fumbled. Martin later singled solidly off Johan Yan. His defensive "highlight" was an ill-advised dive at a Craig Gentry liner. Martin landed several feet short and Gentry easily tripled. Ah, the exuberance of youth.
LF Julio Borbon -- Borbon drove a Holland pitch past a diving Josh Hamilton (whose dive was justified) for a triple and singled off Yan.
LF Brandon Snyder -- Texas's last bench player manned left field during the game's latter half. In his only consequential chance, he lost his footing retrieving a liner down the line and turned a possible single into an easy double. Snyder's production in 285 AAA games is .256/.317/.394, especially weak for the offense-oriented positions he plays. However, his claim to fame is being right-handed, and he's batted a robust .320/.369/.502 against lefties.
SS Jurickson Profar -- Profar grounded the first pitch he saw from Zach Jackson into left for a single. Against Justin Miller, he doubled to the right-center gap. His attempted steal of third failed.
1B Mike Olt -- Olt played first base without issue and struck out swinging against Miller in his only at-bat.
3B Christian Villanueva -- The defensive star of the game, Villanueva prevented a hit with a diving snare of Greg Miclat's liner. Villanueva then charged a Julio Borbon squibber and executed a bare-handed grab-and-throw to perfection. He was 0-2 at the plate.
RF Ryan Strausborger -- Strausborger doubled off Zach Jackson. Against Michael Kirkman, he forced an eight-pitch at-bat after an 0-2 start but eventually succumbed by popping to first.
RF Joey Butler -- Last year, Butler batted .453 on balls in play, which is (at best as I can tell) the highest figure in AAA since at least 1992. Butler was true to form Monday, following a 1st-inning single off Holland with a walk and three strikeouts.
2B Yangervis Solarte -- Solarte crushed an 0-1 Holland pitch for a homer. Facing Holland again, he missed a second homer by about three feet and settled for a double off the wall just left of the 407 marker. Solarte has minimal experience at shortstop, in case you're curious about his potential as a Major League backup with the Rangers. He does play the outfield corners in addition to 2B and 3B.
1B Mike Bianucci -- Bianucci has never played 1B in a real game, but I suspect that's about to change. His immense raw power definitely fits there. Bianucci deposited a Ben Snyder offering in the upper deck in left field for his only hit.
SP Derek Holland -- Despite no walks, Holland needed 78 pitches to complete three innings. Conditions were ill-suited to pitching, as I'll explain later.
RP Martin Perez -- Perez replaced Greg Reynolds in the 4th and succeeded despite himself. Mike Napoli doubled hard to right-center on his first pitch, after which David Murphy sacrificed him to 3rd. Perez would later walk Ian Kinsler on four pitches. No runs scored, but Perez threw only four of 12 pitches for strikes, and two of the outs came on swings at 2-0 pitches.
RP Mark Hamburger -- Similar to Perez, Hamburger missed on eight of 14 pitches but suffered no damage aside from a four-pitch walk to Michael Young.
RP Michael Kirkman -- Kirkman retired his side in order on 14 pitches, 11 for strikes. Heartening.
RP Johan Yan -- I'd seen Yan pitch but never from directly behind the plate. To call him a mere sidearmer doesn't do justice to his unique delivery (check my video of his playoff outing from last September: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz3Ck5BfH5U). Unlike Cody Eppley and the departed Darren O'Day, Yan's pitches curl backwards, coming to the plate more like a hard screwball or a slider throw by a lefty. Like other sidearmers, when he elevates, he's in big trouble.
RP Koji Uehara -- Uehara fanned Brad Nelson and Joey Butler swinging as part of of a clean 11-pitch 5th.
RP Tanner Scheppers --Scheppers needed only 24 pitches to retire his six batters in order. I wasn't behind the plate and couldn't judge his command, but obviously the results were strong.
Jake Brigham (SP)
Miguel de los Santos (SP)
Justin Grimm (SP)
Barret Loux (SP)
Carlos Pimentel (SP)
Only four of this group are new to the level: Grimm, Hurley, Loux and Ortiz. Murphy is returning from Tommy John surgery. He was Texas' 3rd-round pick (between Robbie Ross and Joe Wieland) in 2008.
Felix returns to AA. His ability to avoid strikeouts has yet to turn into much production. Ignored in the 2008 draft, Zaneski has accumulated nearly 1,000 plate appearances.
As of late June 2011, Profar was the youngest players in the low-A South Atlantic League. Now, he's skipping high-A. Profar and Garcia are best suited to shortstop but will trade off between short and second.
V al Majewski
Strausborger (who excelled in the Arizona Fall League) and Prince are moving up from Myrtle Beach. Majewski is a minor-league vet. Beltre has a line of .234/.286/.307 in nearly 700 AA plate appearances and will attempt to resurrect his faded prospect status. He's still the third-youngest hitter on the roster.
Round Rock Roster
It’s essentially set but not announced, so I’ll save it for the next post.
Fox Sports reporter Anthony Andro noted the hitter-friendly conditions in partially excusing Derek Holland’s rough outing Monday night. Monday was a continuation of 2011’s extreme, abnormal weather. From 2005 (the Dell Diamond’s first year as a Triple-A park) through 2010, the ratio of home homers to road homers was remarkably consistent: never below 0.94 or above 0.97. This means the park slightly favored pitchers relative to other parks. Last year, courtesy of insufferable heat and a steady wind usually toward left field, that ratio ballooned to 1.36, more akin to dry, high-elevation locales like Colorado Springs, Tucson and Salt Lake. Frisco played similarly.