Rangers Minor League Roundup – 8/23

The Triple-A Round Rock Express clinched a division title and a playoff berth on Tuesday night. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's minor league action in the Texas Rangers' system.

AAA: Round Rock 5 – New Orleans 2
W - Tomko (8-5)
SV - Wood (1)
79-52, 14.0 GU

The Round Rock Express are headed to the Pacific Coast League playoffs for the first time since 2006. After Tuesday's victory with New Orleans––coupled with an Albuquerque loss––the club clinched an American Southern Division title.

At 79-52, Round Rock currently has the best record in the PCL. They will most likely face Omaha (73-57) in the first round of the playoffs, though they are far from locking up a title. The Memphis Redbirds are four games behind, with a 69-61 mark.

Starting pitcher Brett Tomko (6.11 ERA/.298 BAA) improved to 8-5 on the season after he yielded just one run in six innings pitched. The right-hander allowed three hits while walking two and striking out five.

Catcher Kevin Cash was 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly, and he drove in three of the Express' runs.

Matt Kata (3/4, 2B) and Brad Nelson (1/4, 2B) both doubled. Esteban German (2/4) and Chad Tracy (2/4) had two singles apiece.

Fireballing reliever Tanner Scheppers (3.77 ERA/.345 BAA) gave up a run on three hits in two innings, throwing 16 of his 22 pitches for strikes. He didn't issue a walk and didn't record a strikeout.

Tim Wood, appearing in his second game with the Rangers' organization, worked around a hit and a walk in a blank ninth inning. The former Pirates hurler earned his first save with the Express.

The Pacific Coast League playoffs will begin on September 7 at Dell Diamond, and first pitch will be scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Central.

Player of the Game: RHP Brett Tomko
6.0 3 1 1 2 5 0 6.11

AA: Frisco 5 – San Antonio 2
W - Snyder (9-5)
SV - Tufts (7)
HR - Bianucci (29), Mendonca (24), Hilligoss (3)
30-27, 7.0 GB

The RoughRiders knocked their playoff-clinching magic number down to six with Tuesday's victory over the first-place Missions.

Left-hander Ben Snyder (4.21 ERA/.280 BAA), who began the season in the bullpen, earned his ninth victory. The 26-year-old yielded two runs (one earned) in six innings, scattering six hits, walking one, and fanning three.

Snyder has worked at least six innings in each of his last five starts.

Left fielder Mitch Hiligoss (.267/.316/.411) got the scoring started with a solo home run––his fifth of the season––in the third inning. He also added a triple later in the game.

Sluggers Mike Bianucci (1/3, HR, BB) and Tom Mendonca (1/4, HR) added one two-run homer apiece. Bianucci's was his organization-leading 29th of the season.

Elio Sarmiento raised his average to .274 with two singles in four trips.

While Frisco took a relatively early lead, the bullpen slammed the door with three innings of hitless ball. Johan Yan (1.1 IP), Corey Young (0.1 IP) and Tyler Tufts (1.1 IP) closed the game by keeping San Antonio off the scoreboard.

The sidearming Yan has yielded only one earned run in 20.1 innings with Frisco this season. He has allowed 13 hits, walked eight, and fanned 13.

Player of the Game: LHP Ben Snyder
6.0 6 2 1 1 3 1 4.21

A+: Myrtle Beach 4 – Lynchburg 8 (11 innings)
L - Rodebaugh (1-1)
27-30, 4.0 GB

Myrtle Beach gave up the lead in the ninth inning before surrendering four runs in the 11th and dropping the contest.

Venezuelan righty Wilfredo Boscan (4.34 ERA/.295 BAA) scattered nine hits over 5.1 innings, giving up three runs. The 21-year-old fanned five and walked one.

First baseman Andrew Clark had a double and three walks in five plate appearances. In nine games with the High-A club, Clark is 11-for-29 (.379) with three doubles, two homers, 11 walks, and only three strikeouts. He has a .379/.537/.690 slash line in the small sample size.

Leadoff man Ryan Strausborger (1/2, 2B, 2 BB) doubled, walked twice, and was hit by a pitch twice.

Colby Killian worked 1.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Fellow righty Ryan Kelly blew the save by allowing a run in the ninth, but he ended up with a solid outing––three innings, one run, one hit, and two strikeouts.

Ryan Rodebaugh, who had been excellent lately, coughed up four runs in the top of the 11th inning. The Kennesaw State product yielded four hits and walked two.

Player of the Game: RHP Ryan Kelly
3.0 1 1 1 0 2 0 3.96

A: Hickory 8 – (@) Hagerstown 13
L - Jackson (4-5)
32-25, 3.0 GB

Hickory starter Luke Jackson may be starting to tire down the stretch of his first professional season. On Tuesday, the hard-throwing righty allowed eight runs (four earned) in 3.1 innings, giving up seven hits and walking five. He struck out two.

In 17 starts this season, Jackson has 73 strikeouts over 65.2 innings. But he has fanned just 12 in 21.1 innings over his last six starts––a sign that his stuff isn't quite as sharp as it was earlier in the season.

After Jackson exited, reliever Andrew Doyle gave up two runs (one earned) in 3.2 innings. Jorge Marban yielded four more scores in the eighth.

Second baseman Odubel Herrera (.308/.354/.400) picked up his fourth consecutive multi-hit effort by going 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, and two runs batted in. The 19-year-old is batting .383 in 19 games this month.

Christian Villanueva had three singles in five trips. Both Villanueva and Herrera picked up their 31st stolen base of the season.

Josh Richmond (2/5, 2B) doubled while Jake Skole (1/5, 3B) belted his sixth triple.

Shortstop Jonathan Roof went 2-for-4 with a base on balls.

Player of the Game: 2B Odubel Herrera
4 0 3 1 0 2 1 0 .308

SSA: Spokane 1 - (@) Tri-City 2
L - Grullon (5-1)
12-16, 5.0 GB

The first-place Dust Devils avoided the sweep with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday.

Fordham product and Spokane starter Nick Martinez (3.30 ERA/.282 BAA) worked the first four innings, giving up a run and scattering five hits. He fanned three, walked one, and induced seven groundouts against one flyout.

Martinez's lively low-90s fastball has netted him over two groundouts per flyout in 49.2 innings this summer.

Centerfielder Zach Cone (1/3, 2B) doubled for the Indians' only extra-base hit of the game. Edwin Garcia (1/4) and Yefry Castillo (1/4) had the team's other knocks.

Righties Phil Klein (2 IP) and Kyle Hendricks (1 IP) tossed scoreless ball out of the bullpen. Left-hander Juan Grullon, who suffered the loss, gave up a run in one inning.

Player of the Game: RHP Nick Martinez
4.0 5 1 1 1 3 0 3.30

RK: AZL Rangers 7 – AZL Brewers 2
W - A. de los Santos (7-1)
HR - Akins (2), Johnson (1)
33-18, 9.0 GU

Saquan Johnson, the Rangers' 28th-round pick in this year's MLB Draft, made a big splash with his professional debut on Tuesday afternoon.

Johnson had a huge day, falling just a double short of the cycle. He was 3-for-4 with a single, a triple, and a two-run homer. The round-tripper came in his first-ever professional at-bat.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound outfielder is an intriguing case. He signed shortly after the draft but had been on the disabled list until Tuesday. A three-sport star at East Bladen High School in rural North Carolina, Johnson is quite raw from a baseball standpoint––he never played the travel circuit and stuck to just his high school regular season.

Because Johnson didn't attend showcases and comes from a small town, he didn't get much attention from scouts leading up to the draft. But the 18-year-old is an excellent athlete, getting looks from a handful of Division I schools in football and running the 60-yard dash in the neighborhood of 6.3 seconds in a couple of pre-draft workouts.

Centerfielder Jordan Akins (.286/.311/.434) was 2-for-5 with a home run, three RBI, and his 13th stolen base in 15 attempts this summer. The talented 19-year-old also whiffed three times.

Starting pitcher Abel de los Santos (3.73 ERA/.243 BAA) improved to 7-1 on the summer, as he held the Brewers to two runs on six hits in five innings pitched. He struck out seven without issuing a walk.

De los Santos, 18, has 61 strikeouts and only eight walks in 60.1 innings this season.

Greg Williams (2 IP) and Kyle DeVore (2 IP) closed the game with two scoreless innings apiece. DeVore walked two but didn't allow a hit and struck out four.

Jeremy Williams (2/5, 2B) and Ryan Rua (1/4, 2B) both doubled once.

Playing in his second state-side game, shortstop Luis Marte went 0-for-2 before being lifted in mid-game for Nick Urbanus, who was also 0-for-2.

The Rangers won the game despite going just 2-for-16 with men in scoring position and stranding 10 runners on base.

Player of the Game: LF Saquan Johnson
4 2 3 0 1 2 0 1 .750

DSL: DSL Rangers – Season Over
41-30, 5.5 GB

The Dominican Rangers failed to qualify for the Dominican Summer League playoffs despite posting a strong 41-30 record. The club finished in second place, 5.5 games behind the DSL Cubs2.

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