New postion? New league? No problem for Chad Pinder. The Oakland A's 2013 competitive balance pick made the move to shortstop and the leap from High-A to Double-A look easy, earning Texas League Player of the Year honors for his 2015 campaign. Pinder is the first RockHound to earn the league's top player honors since Chris Carter won the award in 2009.
Pinder has plenty of company on the Texas League's post-season All-Star roster. Almost the entire Midland infield landed on the list, with Pinder at shortstop, Ryon Healy on the roster at third base and Colin Walsh on the roster at second base. Reliever Ryan Dull, who is currently pitching for Triple-A Nashville, was named to the roster as a reliever.
Pinder has had a spectacular season for Midland. He is currently second in the league in hitting, tied for fifth in homers, first in RBI, fourth in OPS and first in hits. He has established career-highs in games played, at-bats, hits, runs scored, homeruns, RBI and walks. Pinder has accumulated all of those numbers despite changing from second base to shortstop this season. The Virginia Tech product spent all of the 2014 season with High-A Stockton, where he hit a solid .288/.336/.489 in 92 games, but Pinder took his game to a new level this season.
Chad Pinder 2015 stats, as of August 26
Healy was named the league's top third baseman. Like Pinder, Healy was a 2013 draft pick of the A's. The Oregon product is fourth in the league in batting with a .306 average and he is second in the league in hits with 143. He has 10 homers and 29 doubles. Healy has been red-hot since the All-Star break, posting a .380/.401/.561 line. Although named as the league's top third baseman, Healy has split his time defensively between third and first base this season, logging 78 games at third and 23 at first.
Walsh has had a monster season in his second year in the A's organization. The former St. Louis Cardinals prospect is third in the league in hitting with a .310 average and he leads the league in OBP with a .446 mark. He also leads the Texas League in walks with 106 and doubles with 35. He has 13 homers and 140 hits. Walsh has played 107 games at second this season and nine games in left field.
Dull was nearly unhittable during his time with Midland this season. The right-hander had a 0.60 ERA in 45 innings for the RockHounds. The 2012 draft pick struck-out 52 and walked 13. He also saved 12 games in 12 chances. Dull has continued to dominate in Triple-A. In 13.1 innings, Dull has allowed just one run on seven hits. He has 16 strike-outs against just two walks.
The RockHounds are closing in on another playoff berth. Going into Thursday's action, their magic number to reach the post-season was one and their magic number to clinch a second-half division title was five. The RockHounds won the Texas League title last season.