Rangers Minor League Roundup – 8/23

Spokane Indians starting pitcher Jose Valdespina turned in a dominant performance on Thursday, as he struck out 10 batters over six innings of one-hit shutout ball. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's minor league action in the Texas Rangers' system.

AAA: Round Rock 5 – Nashville 1
W - Bell (4-4)
HR - Nelson (22), Kata (9)
63-70, 13.0 GB

Led by another strong pitching performance, Round Rock won its fourth consecutive game on Thursday. The Express have surrendered just one run in three of their last four contests.

Left-hander Chad Bell (4.41 ERA/.279 BAA) began Thursday's game by tossing five shutout innings, scattering five hits while walking two and striking out five.

Bell, who threw 51 of his 85 pitches for a strike, is on a pitch limit for his last couple outings this year. The 23-year-old prospect is currently at 131.1 innings in 2012 after throwing just 81.2 last season.

Slugging first baseman Brad Nelson (.285/.365/.490) launched his 22nd home run of the season, a solo shot. He also walked twice. Third baseman Matt Kata (2/4, HR) added a solo round-tripper of his own.

Ryan Spilborghs went 2-for-3 with his 20th double, a walk, and two runs batted in.

Red-hot centerfielder Leonys Martin had his hitting streak snapped at 12 games after he went hitless in four at-bats, striking out once.

After reliever Derek Hankins yielded a run in 1.2 innings, Joe Ortiz (0.1 IP) and Willie Eyre (2 IP) closed out the victory with scoreless ball.

The 22-year-old Ortiz continues to pitch exceedingly well for the Express. His stat-line between Double- and Triple-A this season––57.2 ip, 52 h, 15 er (2.34 ERA), 9 bb, 49 k.

Outfielder Joey Butler, who went 1-for-4, extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

Player of the Game: LHP Chad Bell
5.0 5 0 0 2 5 0 4.41

AA: Frisco 3 – (@) San Antonio 9
L - Tepesch (6-3)
HR - Strausborger (6)
32-27, 5.5 GB

Reigning Texas League Pitcher of the Week Nick Tepesch (4.31 ERA/.287 BAA in Double-A) was tagged for eight runs on 11 hits in 3.2 innings on Thursday. He walked two and struck out four.

Tepesch, coming off perhaps his best outing in Double-A, threw 71 pitches (47 strikes) but didn't get out of the fourth inning.

The ‘Riders went up against former Frisco pitcher Robbie Erlin, who recently returned from injury. Erlin needed only 58 pitches to work five innings of two-run ball, as he yielded three hits and struck out two.

Frisco reliever Carlos Pimentel (2.63 ERA/.193 BAA) helped save the bullpen by punching out six batters over 3.1 innings of one-hit scoreless long relief. He walked one.

While the 22-year-old Pimentel has issued 49 walks in 85.2 innings this season, he's allowed only 58 hits while striking out 90.

Left fielder Ryan Strausborger (.244/.307/.360) launched a solo home run and walked in four plate appearances. Middle infielder Jurickson Profar (1/3, BB) added a single and a walk in his four trips.

First baseman Chris McGuiness went 1-for-3 and brought home a run with a sacrifice fly.

Player of the Game: RHP Carlos Pimentel
3.1 1 0 0 1 6 0 2.63

A+: Myrtle Beach – Salem – Canceled (Rain)
35-24, 2.0 GB

Thursday's scheduled game between Myrtle Beach and Salem was canceled due to rain. It will not be made up because it was the last scheduled game between the Pelicans and Red Sox this season.

A: Hickory 4 – (@) West Virginia 3
W - Eickhoff (12-7)
SV - Mavare (5)
33-27, 2.5 GB

After Thursday's series-opening victory over West Virginia, the Crawdads remain 2.5 games out of first place with 10 regular-season games remaining.

Hickory is currently tied with West Virginia in second place, making this four-game series particularly important. They'll finish the year with three home games against Lexington and four games at Greenville. Lexington and Greenville are not in the Crawdads' division.

Having thrown 121.2 innings in his first full pro season, Jerad Eickhoff (4.73 ERA/.263 BAA) has been on a pitch limit in his recent starts, but he made the most of it on Thursday.

Eickhoff worked five innings of two-hit shutout ball, striking out three without issuing a walk. He also induced nine groundouts and three flyouts.

The 22-year-old righty, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, has the following stat-line with Hickory this year––121.2 ip, 125 h, 64 er, 36 bb, 89 k.

West Virginia got back into the game after Jose Monegro surrendered three runs in the sixth inning, but Arlett Mavare then slammed the door.

Mavare (3.58 ERA/.217 BAA) struck out seven hitters in three scoreless innings, giving up one hit. He didn't issue a walk. The 6-foot-0 Venezuelan righty has now struck out 100 in 78 innings with the Crawdads.

First baseman Jorge Alfaro went 2-for-4 with a double, Hickory's only extra-base hit of the game.

Corner outfielders Trever Adams (1/4, BB) and Hirotoshi Onaka (1/3, BB) both singled once and walked once.

Player of the Game: RHP Arlett Mavare
3.0 1 0 0 0 7 0 3.58

SSA: Spokane 3 – Salem-Keizer 0
W - Valdespina (3-6)
SV - Asher (4)
13-17, 7.0 GB

Spokane starting pitcher Jose Valdespina is a raw-but-highly talented arm with plenty of potential.

The 20-year-old righty, who's listed at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, pitched last season in the Dominican Summer League. After a dominant performance in extended spring training this year, he earned the assignment to short-season Spokane––skipping the rookie Arizona League.

During one three-inning appearance in May, Valdespina threw strikes with a lively 93-96 mph fastball that touched 97. While he also had the plus velocity last season, his secondary stuff (and breaking ball in particular) was very raw and a work in progress.

The Dominican Republic native began showing more ability to spin a low-to-mid 70s curveball during extended spring training, and the pitch has gradually morphed into more of a slider this summer.

Valdespina's offspeed stuff and pitchability remains raw, but there's plenty to work with in his frame and potential plus-plus fastball.

On Thursday, Valdespina turned in the best outing of his pro career thus far. He tossed six innings of one-hit shutout ball, walking one and striking out a career-best 10 batters.

For the summer, he has a 5.60 ERA while yielding 60 hits in 54.2 innings, walking 31 and striking out 52. His lively fastball has helped him induce more than 2.2 groundouts per airout, and his last two starts have been particularly strong––12.0 ip, 5 h, 0 r, 2 bb, 15 k.

Between Valdespina, Ryan Harvey (2 IP), and Alec Asher (1 IP), the three Indians pitchers combined to strike out 17 Salem-Keizer hitters in nine innings.

Catcher Pat Cantwell (1/4, 3B) tripled while third baseman Joey Gallo (1/3, 2B) doubled. Ryan Rua (1/3) and Preston Beck (1/3) had the other hits, and both players drove home a run.

Player of the Game: RHP Jose Valdespina
6.0 1 0 0 1 10 0 5.60

RK: Surprise Rangers 2 – Phoenix Brewers 3
L - Niggli (0-1)
30-21, 1.0 GU

The Rookie Rangers saw their division lead shrink to one game after they dropped a contest to the 15-36 AZL Brewers.

Despite the loss, the Rangers continued to get strong pitching, as the surrendered three runs on four hits.

Supplemental first-round pick Collin Wiles (7.27 ERA/.306 BAA) retired all six batters he faced, inducing six groundouts and one flyout. Keone Kela (1.1 IP) and Chance Sossamon (2 IP) also kept the Brewers off the scoreboard.

The AZL Brewers scored their runs against lefty Ryne Slack (one run in 2.2 IP) and righty John Niggli (two runs in one inning).

Rehabbing first baseman Mike Bianucci launched a double in three at-bats. It was his third two-bagger in as many Arizona League games.

David Lyon (1/4, 2B) also doubled while Janluis Castro (2/4), Nomar Mazara (1/4), Ronald Guzman (1/4) and Lewis Brinson (1/5) singled for the other hits.

The Rangers had the tying run on third with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth inning but failed to bring him home. Mazara struck out, Lyon lined out to second, and Castro grounded out to second.

Player of the Game: 1B Mike Bianucci
3 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 .556

DSL: DSL Rangers 4 – (@) DSL Mets2 5
L - de la Cruz (4-2)
HR - Campos (2)
42-28, 2.0 GB

After giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Dominican Rangers lost what ultimately became a must-win game that ended their 2012 season.

With Tropical Storm Isaac heading closer to the Dominican Republic, the last two games of the Dominican Summer League's regular season have been canceled.

The loss to the Mets2 left the Rangers two games behind both the Mets and Pirates1. The Rangers' final two games were supposed to be against the Pirates1.

The regular season ends with the Mets2 as division champions at 44-26 and the Pirates1 as wild card champs with the same record.

The Rangers jumped out to an early lead when DH Belarmino Campos (.225/.351/.358) launched a two-run homer in the fourth inning, putting them ahead 3-2.

Lefty Yohander Mendez began the game by surrendering two runs in three innings, giving up a hit and walking a batter. He struck out three.

While Dario Beltre (0.1 IP), Jose Leclerc (2.1 IP) and Ricardo Rodriguez (1.1 IP) all threw scoreless ball, reliable closer Alex de la Cruz gave up the lead in the eighth.

De la Cruz, who has been excellent all season, was knocked around for three runs in the eighth inning.

Eduard Pinto (2/4, BB), Carlos Garay (2/5) and Ramon Urias (2/4) all had two hits apiece. Second baseman Rodrigo Ayarza had a single and a walk in four trips.

The 17-year-old Pinto finishes the summer as the DSL's leading hitter with a .396 batting average in 56 games. Overall, he posted a .396/.475/.477 slash line with 31 walks and 13 strikeouts.

Player of the Game: DH Belarmino Campos
5 1 1 0 1 2 0 1 .225

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