Rangers Minor League Roundup – 4/5

Four Frisco RoughRiders pitchers combined to post an opening-day shutout of the Springfield Cardinals, allowing only four hits and striking out 16 batters on Thursday. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's minor league action in the Texas Rangers' system.

AAA: Round Rock 3 – (@) Iowa 5
L - Hankins (0-1)
HR - Bianucci (1), Borbon (1)
0-1, 1.0 GB

Iowa Cubs starter Randy Wells allowed a pair of home runs in Thursday's start, but those would be the only hits he permitted in six innings of work.

Round Rock first baseman Mike Bianucci launched a two-run homer to left field in his first Triple-A bat. It would be his lone hit in four trips, and he also struck out twice.

Leadoff man and left fielder Julio Borbon provided the club's other run, as he also went yard, hitting a solo shot off Wells in the sixth inning. The speedster went 1-for-3 and later reached base on a catcher's interference call.

Shortstop Luis Hernandez, who was 1-for-3, had the Express' only other hit of the game. Brad Nelson (0/2, 2 BB), Leonys Martin (0/3, BB) and Joey Butler (0/3, BB) all walked. Butler also picked up an assist from right field, gunning down Josh Vitters at third base.

While the Iowa pitching was excellent in limiting Round Rock to three hits on opening day, the Express surrendered 10 hits in the first seven innings.

Starter Mark Hamburger, who threw 48 of his 77 pitches for strikes over five innings, allowed three runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out one. Right-hander Derek Hankins followed by giving up two runs in two innings and throwing just 22 of his 41 pitches within the zone.

The best work of the day for Round Rock came from left-hander Ben Snyder, who struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 inning.

Although Snyder doesn't overpower hitters––he works with a mid-to-upper 80s fastball and a big-breaking curveball––he's coming off a strong performance in big league camp in which he yielded just one hit in 5.1 scoreless innings.

Rangers' top pitching prospect Martin Perez is slated to toe the rubber for Round Rock opposite Iowa's Casey Coleman on Friday night.

Player of the Game: LF Julio Borbon
3 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 .333

AA: Frisco 1 – (@) Springfield 0
W - Grimm (1-0)
SV - Yan (1)
1-0, 0.0 GU

Frisco manager Steve Buechele couldn't have asked for a better performance from his pitching staff to open the 2012 campaign. Four pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout at Springfield, issuing only three walks and striking out a whopping 16 batters.

Making his Double-A debut, right-hander Justin Grimm pounded the strike zone and missed bats. The University of Georgia product hurled 5.1 scoreless innings, giving up just two singles and fanning 10 batters without issuing a walk. He threw 74 pitches, including 51 strikes.

Grimm missed plenty of bats. In fact, he even picked up a rare four-strikeout inning in the second. Springfield's Adam Melker reached on a strikeout swinging followed by a Jose Felix passed ball.

Carlos Pimentel followed in relief. Although he walked two and threw 14 of 29 pitches for strikes, he worked 1.1 scoreless innings and fanned three.

Lefty Joe Ortiz (1 IP) and sidearming righty Johan Yan (1.1 IP) closed it out with scoreless relief. Yan retired all four batters he faced, getting two strikeouts and two groundouts.

Yan was dominant late last season after earning a promotion to Double-A Frisco. The Dominican sidearmer, who features a heavy upper-80s sinker, surrendered only one earned run in 26.2 innings with the RoughRiders in 2011––good for a 0.34 earned-run average.

Frisco's bats collected only five hits in the game, but it was enough to earn the victory. Catcher Jose Felix brought home the contest's lone run with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. He was 0-for-1 with that sac fly and a sacrifice bunt.

Left fielder Ryan Strausborger (2/4) singled twice and picked up an outfield assist at second in his Double-A debut. Mike Olt (1/3, BB), Engel Beltre (1/4) and Val Majewski (1/4) all singled once.

Six of Frisco's nine hitters were playing in their first Double-A game on Thursday. Middle infield prospects Jurickson Profar and Leury Garcia were each 0-for-3 with a base on balls.

While the Cardinals hitters whiffed 16 times on Thursday, Frisco's bats combined for nine strikeouts, with all nine coming from the order's first six batters.

Left-hander Miguel de los Santos will face Springfield's John Gast on Friday. Gast, a left-hander out of Florida State University, was the Rangers' fifth-round pick out of high school in 2007. He didn't sign after undergoing Tommy John surgery and electing to attend college.

Player of the Game: RHP Justin Grimm
5.1 2 0 0 1 10 0 0.00

A+: Myrtle Beach – OFF
0-0, 0.0 GU

The Carolina League begins its season one day after all the other full-season leagues. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans will kick off their 2012 campaign with a three-game home set against Wilmington (Kansas City), beginning on Friday at 6:05 p.m. Central. Right-hander Cody Buckel is set to make his High-A debut in the contest.

A: Hickory – (@) Kannapolis – PPD (Rain)
0-0, 0.5 GB

The Crawdads and Intimidators were washed out on the first day of the regular season. The two clubs will play a single game on Friday evening and make up for the postponement with a doubleheader on Saturday.

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