Midland Notes: Looking for Second-Half Surge

The defending Texas League champion Midland RockHounds had an up-and-down first half, but they are still in position to make a run for the post-season during the second half of the season.

Overview

It was a seesaw first half for the Midland RockHounds, so it was only fitting that the RockHounds finished the first half with a .500 record (35-35). Midland finished second in their division to Corpus Christi, although the RockHounds were a distant 13 games out of first place. Two games into the second half, Midland is back at .500 thanks to a comeback win on Tuesday that evened their record at 1-1. The RockHounds will look to defend their Texas League title with a strong second half push into the post-season.

Offense hasn’t been a problem for Midland this season. Midland is third in the league in runs scored with an average of 4.8 a game and third in the league in team batting average (.265). The RockHounds are second in the league in team OPS at 766. They are second in team OBP with a .353 mark and they lead the league in walks by 46. The RockHounds are second in the league in team SLG with a .414 mark and are first in doubles and triples and tied for second in homeruns. The RockHounds are also second in the league in strike-outs.

Surprisingly, the veteran and talented Midland pitching staff has struggled this season. The RockHounds are currently last in team ERA with a 4.58 mark. The ‘Hounds are third in the league in strike-outs, but are second in the league in walks and WHIP. Midland pitchers have allowed the most hits (692 in 636.2 innings) and homeruns (64).

The RockHounds have five more games before heading into the Texas League All-Star break, where they will have eight players representing them.


Comings and Goings

It has been a relatively quiet month of on the roster movement front for the RockHounds. On June 9, Midland welcomed back one of their most productive hitters this season from the disabled list: OF Chad Oberacker. He replaced C Philip Pohl on the roster. Pohl was placed on the DL.

On June 22, RHP Bobby Wahl was placed on the disabled list. He hadn’t pitched in 10 days at the time he was placed on the DL. LHP Omar Duran was promoted from High-A Stockton to take Wahl’s spot on the roster. Duran pitched for most of the second-half of last season with Midland.


Who’s Hot

There could be a lot more roster movement after the All-Star break, which is a traditional time for the A’s to make in-season promotions. Several RockHounds are deserving of a shot in Triple-A, but none more so than RHP Ryan Dull. Dull has been nearly untouchable this season. In 35 innings this season, Dull has allowed one run. One! He has 39 strike-outs, 10 walks and 22 hits allowed (his WHIP is 0.91). He is six-for-six in save opportunities and 3-0 on the season. He has yet to allow a run in June, a stretch of 10.2 innings.

Shortstop Chad Pinder is making a push for a promotion, although the A’s may prefer to have him get more time in Double-A (Dull spent all of last season in Double-A, but this is Pinder’s debut season at the level). Pinder missed 11 games in early June with a sore hip, but his bat remained hot when he returned to the field. Over his last 10 games, he is batting .415 with nine RBI. He has a 974 OPS for the month. Pinder’s batting line is now .306/.366/.457 with seven homers. Pinder is tied with teammate Chad Oberacker for sixth in the league in batting average.

Oberacker is continuing to put together the best season of his career. He is batting .372 over his last 10 games and he has a .306/.367/.459 line for the season. Oberacker is six-for-seven in stolen bases.

Catcher Carson Blair is second in the league in OPS with a 931 mark. Despite a .284 batting average, Blair has a .400 OBP thanks to 31 walks in 52 games. He also has 24 extra-base hits in 162 official at-bats.

Infielder Colin Walsh is third in the league in OPS with a 913 mark. He is second in the league to teammate Matt Olson with 57 walks and Walsh is second in the league in OBP at .426. He is tied for second on the team in homeruns with eight. Over his last 10 games, Walsh has a .375 average and an incredible 15 walks. He has also stolen five bases in his last 10 games and eight overall (in eight tries).

Corner infielder Renato Nunez is starting to get into a groove after a slow start to the season. He is batting .304 in his last 10 games with two homers. Despite missing the first six weeks of the season with a calf injury, Nunez leads the team with nine homeruns in 47 games. Nunez has six homers in 21 games in June.

A mid-season addition to the Midland roster, RHP Jonathan Joseph has provided a stabilizing presence as a long reliever and, most recently, a starter. The longtime A’s farmhand has a 2.72 ERA in 39.2 innings for Midland this season with 37 strike-outs and 17 walks. In June, Joseph has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings, 14 of them as a starter.

Before allowing a season-high eight runs in five innings on Tuesday, RHP Nate Long had allowed just five runs in 27 innings for Midland this June. Even with the poor outing, Long has a 3.13 ERA for the season. He is one of eight RockHounds heading to the Texas League All-Star game.

Like Long, RHP Seth Frankoff’s last outing was a rough one. Frankoff allowed two runs without recording an out. Coming into the game, he had allowed just two runs in 20.2 innings for Midland this season. Frankoff has 13 strike-outs in 9.2 innings this month.

Fellow bullpen ‘mate Tucker Healy is also having an excellent month. The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run over his last 14 innings. He has a 2.20 ERA for the year and 38 strike-outs in 32.2 innings.


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