Rangers Minor League Roundup – 7/17

A pair of teenage middle infield prospects––Spokane's Rougned Odor and Hickory's Jurickson Profar––socked a grand slam for their respective club on Sunday. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's action in the Texas Rangers' minor league system.

AAA: Round Rock 8 – (@) Memphis 5
W - Jackson (7-3)
SV - Strop (8)
HR - Kata (7), Cash (4)
56-39, 6.0 GU

The Express improved to a season-best 17 games above .500 after winning four of the five games at Memphis over the weekend.

The club is also just one win shy of last year's season total of 57––when Round Rock was the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. The Astros' current affiliate––Oklahoma City––is in last place with a 40-55 mark.

Round Rock got on top early when hot-hitting second baseman Matt Kata (.274/.348/.435) launched a two-run homer––his seventh of the season. Overall, the switch-hitter was 2-for-3 with three RBI.

Veteran catcher Kevin Cash added a solo shot of his own to extend the lead in the seventh inning. He also singled once.

Left-hander Zach Jackson (5.63 ERA/.301 BAA) got plenty of run support, and he improved to 7-3 on the season after yielding five runs (four earned) in 5.2 innings. He gave up six hits while walking and striking out three.

Chris Davis, who has played his last few games at third base instead of left field, was 2-for-5 with a double. He is now hitting .357 on the season.

Joey Butler (2/5) and Robinzon Diaz (2/5) both singled twice. Leadoff man Esteban German was 0-for-3 with a pair of free passes.

Righty reliever Cody Eppley posted 2.1 scoreless innings despite giving up two hits and walking three. He threw 24 of 42 pitches for strikes.

Fireballing closer Pedro Strop (3.69 ERA/.294 BAA) needed only 10 pitches to compete a perfect ninth inning for his eighth save. The 26-year-old has thrown scoreless ball in 10 of his last 12 appearances.

Player of the Game: 2B Matt Kata
3 1 2 0 1 3 0 0 .274

AA: Frisco 8 – Corpus Christi 3
W - Tufts (3-1)
HR - Greene (11), Ruiz (11), Osuna (8), Hilligoss (1)
13-9, 1.0 GB

The ‘Riders got it done with the long ball on Sunday, mashing four home runs––plus three doubles and a triple––en route to their victory over Corpus Christi.

Although Mitch Hilligoss isn't quite known for his power, the veteran utility player showed some pop on Sunday. He went 2-for-3 with a triple and a solo home run. He also drew a walk.

First baseman Jose Ruiz (.288/.354/.470) had a double, a round-tripper, and three RBI in four at-bats. Jonathan Greene (2/4, HR) and Renny Osuna (2/5, HR) also went yard.

Osuna's home run––his eighth of the season––once again added to his career high. The Venezuela native's previous career best was four homers, which he did in both 2008 and 2010.

Starter Ben Snyder yielded three runs––two earned––on six hits in 4.2 innings. He threw 98 pitches but wasn't able to get through the fifth inning.

Right-handed relievers Tyler Tufts (2 IP), Justin Miller (1.1 IP) and Tanner Scheppers (1 IP) kept the Hooks off the scoreboard through the final 4.1 frames.

Scheppers gave up a hit in his inning but fanned one and threw 11 of his 15 pitches for strikes. After struggling for a brief period, the 24-year-old now hasn't allowed a base runner in his last three appearances, spanning three frames.

Tom Mendonca (1/5, 2B) and Mike Bianucci (1/4, 2B) both doubled. Mendonca, who struck out three times, has now punched out 100 times in only 79 contests this year. He is also hitting just .167 in nine games this month.

Centerfielder Engel Beltre singled, walked, and was hit by a pitch. He worked a base on balls for the second consecutive game.

Player of the Game: DH Mitch Hilligoss
3 2 2 0 1 1 1 1 .250

A+: Myrtle Beach – OFF
12-11, 1.5 GB

The Pelicans were off on Sunday. They begin a four-game set against the Wilmington Blue Rocks (9-13) on Monday, with lefty Robbie Ross scheduled to take the mound.

A: Hickory 9 - (@) Delmarva 6
W - Rowen (2-2)
SV - Reyes (1)
HR - Profar (10), Villanueva (10), Clark (8)
16-8, 2.0 GU

Sunday's series opener at Delmarva was a grind-it-out victory for the Crawdads in which they issued 10 walks and were constantly holding off the Shorebirds.

Regardless, shortstop Jurickson Profar (.273/.380/.511) gave Hickory some breathing room with his second-inning grand slam––his 10th homer of the season. The 18-year-old prospect also belted his 24th double in the game.

Profar's .511 slugging percentage as an 18-year-old shortstop in full-season ball is certainly impressive. But perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that he still has more walks (41) than strikeouts (39) through 74 contests this year.

Starting pitcher Matt Thompson's control problems refuse to go away, and they are becoming more and more worrisome with each outing.

On Sunday, Thompson issued seven more walks in 3.2 innings, including the first three batters of the game. He gave up five runs on three hits and also struck out three. That now makes 43 free passes issued in 30.1 innings over his last eight starts.

And once again, it's worth pointing out that Thompson walked only 23 in 129.1 innings at the same in level in 2010. He issued 10 walks in 72 frames with Spokane the year before.

The offense and bullpen both picked Thompson up, though.

Andrew Clark (.360/.500/.760 in July) continued his incredible recent power surge, as he was 2-for-4 with another home run and another walk. Third baseman Christian Villanueva (1/5, HR) also socked a long ball.

Yefry Castillo (2/5, 3B) singled and tripled while Josh Richmond (2/4, BB) and Jake Skole (2/5) had two singles apiece. Skole stole a pair of bases, giving him 16 for the season.

Reliever Jimmy Reyes (1.48 ERA/.277 BAA) punched out four in two shutout innings, working around a hit and a walk.

Reyes, the Rangers' seventh round pick in last year's MLB Draft, hasn't surrendered a run in his last 12 appearances, posting the following line––20.2 ip, 19 h, 0 r, 3 bb, 23 k.

Player of the Game: SS Jurickson Profar
6 2 2 1 1 4 0 1 .273

SSA: Spokane 5 – (@) Everett 6
L - Perez-Lobo (1-1)
HR - Odor (2)
15-15, 1.0 GB

Second baseman Rougned Odor (.326/.383/.453)––coming off suspension––got the Indians back into the game with his grand slam in the top of the eighth inning. But they weren't able to come out on top.

Odor, who also had a single earlier in the game, has been one of the Indians' best hitters. And he is also the youngest player in the league––the 5-foot-11 second baseman was born in February 1994.

Tall right-hander Nick McBride got the start on Sunday. He also pitched last season in the Spokane rotation but had been in the Hickory bullpen this year. The Rangers moved McBride back to Spokane this weekend in order to give him more innings as a starting pitcher.

McBride allowed nine hits in 5.1 innings on Sunday, giving up five runs. He walked three and struck out four.

Juan Grullon (1.2 IP) and Santo Perez (1 IP) followed with scoreless ball out of the bullpen.

After Odor's grand slam, Spokane's Zach Cone actually scored the tying run on a wild pitch. But reliever Andres Perez-Lobo allowed a walkoff solo homer to the first batter he faced in the bottom of the ninth.

Hirotoshi Onaka (3/5) had three singles while Guillermo Pimentel (2/4) raised his average to .358 with two knocks in four trips.

Player of the Game: 2B Rougned Odor
5 1 2 0 1 4 0 0 .326

RK: AZL Rangers – OFF
14-6, 3.0 GU

The Rangers were off on Sunday. They'll travel across down to take on the AZL Diamondbacks on Monday.

DSL: DSL Rangers – OFF
25-16, 1.0 GU

The Dominican Summer League Rangers also had Sunday off.

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