The Farm Report -- 9/4/2013

Games of 9/3 and early 9/4

Stars of the Day:
DSL: Pena, Martinez, Carvallo / Castillo, Profar, Terrero

Dominican Summer League (9/3): Rangers 7, Tigers 2
Texas leads best-of-five 2-1

19-year-old Richelson Pena allowed a solo homer and one other hit in seven innings.  Pena (2.29 ERA) has spent three full seasons on the squad, striking out 76 in 74.2 innings this summer.  3B Elio Castillo was 4-5, and DH Luis Terrero doubled, singled and walked.

Dominican Summer League (9/4): Rangers 8, Tigers 3
Texas wins championship series 3-1

The Rangers won the championship today just after noon CDT.  Castillo was 3-4 with two doubles and a walk; he batted a ridiculous .520/.586/.600 in six playoff games.  SS Juremi Profar (.435/.519/.435 in playoffs) went 3-4.  17-year-old Ariel Jurado struck out five in five innings and allowed three runs on six hits and a walk.  Emerson Martinez and closer Felix Carvallo both posted two scoreless frames with four strikeouts.

Carolina League Semifinals (Best of Three)
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (77-62) vs. Boston-affiliated Salem Red Sox (76-64)

Season Run Differential: Myrtle Beach +16 (621-605), Salem +48 (644-596)
Last 20 Games: Myrtle Beach 8-12, Salem 17-3
Season Series: Tied 10-10

History:  The Pelicans have a winning record and postseason appearance in all three years as a Texas affiliate, though they've yet to advance beyond the first round.  Texas's high-A squad last reached the summit in 2002 with a roster including, at various points in the season, C.J. Wilson, A.J. Murray, Ben Kozlowski, Mark Teixeira, Laynce Nix, Ramon Nivar and Laynce Nix.  The Red Sox last reached the playoffs in 2009.

Top 20 Prospects on Active Roster per MLB.com:
Myrtle Beach -- C Jorge Alfaro (1), RHP Alex Gonzalez (11), RHP Alec Asher (20)
Salem -- C Blake Swihart (10), LHP Brian Johnson (12), OF Keury de la Cruz (14), 2B Mookie Betts (16)

Possible Myrtle Beach Lineup:
C Kellin Deglan / Pat Cantwell
1B Joe Maloney / Trever Adams
2B Odubel Herrera
3B Drew Robinson
SS Hanser Alberto
LF Chris Grayson / Trever Adams
CF Jake Skole
RF Royce Bolinger / Preston Beck
DH Jorge Alfaro

Neither team's offense was exceptional on the whole.  Myrtle Beach has the blander of the two, batting .249/.330/.359 (93 OPS+) and scoring 3% fewer runs than the park-adjusted league average.  The Pelicans are particularly light on power; only Deglan and Adams have surpassed ten homers.  Odubel Herrera has hit well since his demotion (.304/.409/.380), recently moving to the top of the order so that best-overall hitter Drew Robinson (.275/.398/.454 in second half) can bat third. 

For the season, Salem scored 2% more runs than the park-adjusted league average with a 103 OPS+ that emphasized slugging.  During the final month, however, Salem scored an exceptional 5.2 runs per game and batted .269/.340/.403.  20-year-old Mookie Betts catalyzed Salem's last-season resurgence, batting .341/.414/.551 with 22 extra-base hits and 20 steals in 51 games. 

Both teams lost significant production to promotions, notably Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas for Myrtle Beach and Garin Cecchini (.350/.467/.547 in 63 games) for Salem. 

Possible Rotation:
Alec Asher (2.87 ERA, .235/.297/.353, 25% SO) vs. Luis Diaz (1.93 ERA, .225/.275/.317, 23% SO)
Alex Gonzalez (3.77 ERA, .274/.343/.348, 19% SO) vs. Brian Johnson (2.52 ERA, .194/.284/.285, 24% SO)
TBA (maybe Luis Parra for Myrtle)

Myrtle Beach and Salem won with run prevention, though again, Salem was slightly better.  The Pelicans lost four-fifths of their rotation to promotions or injury but remain in decent shape.  Of the named starters, only Asher has more than 19 innings of experience at the level.  Asher led the league with 139 strikeouts and has a 25-inning scoreless streak.  Diaz and Johnson made two late-season starts for Salem after pitching very well in the low-A Sally League.  Like Texas's Gonzalez, Johnson is a first-round pick, 31st overall in 2012.  Chi Chi has been a little walk-prone but posted strong results in four of his five high-A starts. 

Best as I can tell, Salem has four choices for Game 3, all of whom have ample high-A experience but inferior results compared to Diaz and Johnson.  Myrtle Beach could use Luis Parra (3.71 ERA, .276/.339/.390 in Myrtle) or perhaps Nick McBride if needed.

Both bullpen are solid, if not indomitable.  Josh McElwee, Cody Kendall and Tyler Smith permitted fewer than one runner per inning during the season's final month.  Conversely, nominal Myrtle Beach closer Ryan Harvey allowing 27 runners and a 7.62 ERA in his last 13 innings.  Eight different Red Sox recorded saves in Salem's last 30 games. 

Defense:
Myrtle Beach was outstanding at turning the double play, but the up-the-middle players responsible for much of that success are gone.  Based on Frisco's numbers, the Alberto/Herrera combo is decent but no better than Salem.  The Red Sox were outstanding at stifling the running game -- in particular, gunning down 11 of 21 Pelicans runners -- and made fewer mistakes (errors, passed balls, etc).  Both squads excelled at turning balls in play into outs, relative to the league.

Advantages:
Offense – Salem
Pitching – draw
Defense -- Salem

Prediction: I can say with absolute certainty that predicting the winner of a minor-league playoff series is foolish.  Nevertheless…  Salem in three.  The Red Sox are a very strong squad right now. 

--
Scott Lucas
Newberg Report  (newbergreport.com)
rangers.scottlucas.com
twitter: @scottrlucas

 
title_authors

Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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