Chapman looking for his rhythm as Texas League season hits midway point
The toughest jump in minor league baseball is the move from A-ball to Double-A. Oakland A's prospect Matt Chapman knows that challenge all too well. The A's 2014 first-round pick rode a standout spring training into a hot start for the Midland RockHounds. However, since posting a 980 OPS in April, Chapman has found the Texas League to be tougher sledding as he faces opposing teams for the second, third and fourth times. Despite a league-leading 17 homeruns, Chapman has seen his OPS dip below 800 at the midway point in the season. He has struck-out 102 times in 74 games after striking out just 79 times in 80 games last season.
Chapman was a starter in the Texas League All-Star game on Tuesday night in Springfield, Missouri. He drew a walk in three plate appearances, but put on a show before the game during the homerun derby, hitting 28 in the two-round contest. He fell just short of the title. Before the game, he spoke with TheCardinalNation's Derek Shore about the challenges of playing in the Texas League.
"The biggest adjustment is just trying to be consistent. Just trying to go up and take good at-bats every night," Chapman told Shore. "That's been the biggest challenge for me is go up there and put up four quality at-bats. There's really good pitching in this league and tough travel. There's a lot of different elements, so to be able and go up there and take good at-bats every night is tough for me."
Chapman came into the All-Star break on a bit of a run, collecting four hits and three walks in 12 at-bats over the last four games. He told Shore that he is looking to simplify things as he heads into the second half and take more consistent swings.
Chapman isn't planning to over-haul anything despite his mid-season slump.
"Something I took away [from his time in big league camp] is don't try and change a bunch of things, but trust your ability and trust the process," Chapman said.
Chapman was one of three RockHounds in the South's starting line-up. Catcher Beau Taylor and infielder Franklin Barreto also earned starting nods. Taylor went 0-for-2 and Barreto collected a double in two at-bats and he swiped third base. Infielder Wade Kirkland replaced Barreto at second base midway through the game and he went 0-for-2 with a run scored. Andres Avila was the only Midland pitcher to appear in the game. He allowed three runs in 1.1 innings pitched. The South earned the win, 8-5.
Smith leads Nashville to another win
The Nashville Sounds earned their 47th win of the season on Tuesday thanks to a stellar performance from starter Chris Smith. The right-hander struck-out 10 in eight innings in the 5-1 win over the Omaha Storm Chasers.
Smith didn't walk a batter and he scattered five hits over his one-run performance. The eight innings were a season-high for the veteran and he now has 90 strike-outs in 94 innings pitched this season. Andrew Triggs worked a scoreless ninth to finish off the win.
Joey Wendle hit his seventh homerun of the season and he walked twice. Wendle has an 815 OPS for the month of June. Matt Olson went 2-for-4 and had an RBI double, his 19th of the season. Tyler Ladendorf had a two-hit game in the win.
Before the game, the A's optioned UT Max Muncy back to Nashville to make room for Josh Reddick on the active roster. Muncy has hit .257 with a .366 OBP in 14 games with Oakland this season. The A's will be making at least one more roster move on Wednesday, as starter Sean Manaea will return from the disabled list.
Martin leads walk-off win for Beloit
Left-fielder Mike Martin hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 12th to give the Beloit Snappers a 4-3 win over the Peoria Chiefs. The win moved the Snappers back within five games of .500 on the season and to 3-3 for the second half.
Martin had three hits and a walk out of the lead-off spot for Beloit. He has been a revelation since joining the team from extended spring training. The Harvard alum is batting .319 with a .388 OBP and five stolen bases in 20 games for the Snappers.
Jean Carlo Rodriguez, Justin Higley and Edwin Diaz each had two-hit games, while Ryan Howell drew three walks. Evan Manarino had a strong start, allowing two runs in seven innings. He struck-out four and walked one. Andrew Tomasovich, Armando Ruiz and Rob Huber combined to allow one run in five innings of strong relief. The one run was controversial, as it appeared the RBI double was foul. After it was ruled fair, Beloit manager Fran Riordan was tossed arguing the call.
AZL A's rout AZL Dbacks in the desert
The AZL A's collected 11 runs on 15 hits -- including a grand slam from Robert Mullen -- in an 11-1 rout of the AZL Dbacks. Robert Bennie had three hits and Mullen, Tyler Ramirez and Carlos Hiciano each had two-hit games. Both of Ramirez's hits were doubles and he drove-in three.
Charley Gould had a hit and two walks and he is batting .471 on the young season. Kyle Nowlin also had two walks and he has eight walks in just six games. Jeramiah McCray picked up the first hit of his professional career.
Mitchell Jordan made his professional debut and breezed through two innings of work, striking out two. Kevin Duchene continued his rehab with another solid outing, allowing an unearned run in three innings of work. Sam Sheehan (two innings), Seth Martinez (one inning) and Emerson Nelo (one inning) finished off the win, which pushed the AZL A's above .500 at 4-3.
Stockton battles early, falls late
The Stockton Ports saw a 2-2 tie spiral into an 8-2 deficit in the seventh inning on Tuesday, as they dropped their game to the Modesto Nuts, 10-4.
Kyle Friedrichs got the start and he worked six solid innings, allowing two runs. He didn't strike-out a batter and he walked his first hitter in five outings. He has a 2.61 ERA over his last five starts and he has walked just two over 32.2 innings for the Ports this season.
Victor Veliz ran into all sorts of trouble in the seventh and he was tagged with five runs in two-thirds of an inning. Corey Miller didn't fare much better, allowing three runs in 1.1 innings.