Rangers Minor League Roundup – 4/24

Double-A Frisco right-hander Barret Loux picked up his fourth victory in as many Texas League starts on Tuesday evening. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's minor league action in the Texas Rangers' system, including a rundown of Loux's fast start.

Feature Player: Barret Loux, RHP, Frisco

Right-hander Barret Loux has picked up a victory in each of his four starts at the Double-A level. In those four outings, he has logged 21.2 innings, giving up three runs (1.25 ERA) on 21 hits while walking seven and striking out 20.

For the most part, Loux has scattered hits and limited the damage––he's yet to allow a home run––and missed some bats. Tuesday's start against San Antonio was perhaps his most promising outing to date, as he allowed one run in six innings. Throwing 76 pitches (52 strikes), he gave up six hits, walked one, and struck out five.

The 23-year-old flashed his best stuff of the young season on Tuesday, running his fastball up to 94 mph. Although Loux had solid results during spring training and in his first three regular-season starts, he'd done so with an 87-91 mph fastball. While he was able to locate his four-pitch repertoire, the above-average velocity he'd flashed last season wasn't there. In 2011, Loux often worked in the 90-94 mph range, touching up to 95-96 on occasion.

When Loux tossed five innings of one-hit, shutout ball against Corpus Christi on April 19, one scout remarked that Loux "can really pitch with average stuff," speaking to his 87-91 mph velocity and ability to mix and command the four-pitch arsenal in that game. When Loux can work in the low-90s and bump a tick higher in bursts, his fastball is a true 60-grade (plus) pitch with natural weight that includes good arm-side run. His three secondary offerings––curveball, slider, changeup––aren't plus, but they're average-to-solid average pitches that he's able to sequence and command well.

The overall package for Loux could equal a number four or five starter at the big league level. Some scouts believe his future is in the bullpen due to the plus velocity, though his lack of a wipeout offspeed pitch limits his ceiling there. If healthy, the 6-foot-5 hurler should profile best as a strong starting pitcher.

Despite the myriad of potential elbow and shoulder issues Loux entered the Rangers' organization with, he's kept a clean bill of health since signing. The Texas A&M product was shut down late last season as a precautionary measure due to fatigue, but the Rangers were quick to point out that he wasn't injured.

The health of Loux's arm will always be something worth watching, along with his velocity as the 2012 season progresses. Tuesday's outing was a definite step in the right direction, though, as the results remained excellent while his velocity resembled its 2011 form.

AAA: Round Rock 7 – (@) New Orleans 1
W - Jackson (1-2)
9-11, 4.0 GB

The slow-starting Express appear to be hitting their stride after winning three-of-four against a good New Orleans Zephyrs club.

Zach Jackson (5.32 ERA/.322 BAA) shut down the opposition for six scoreless innings, scattering six hits and throwing 88 pitches. He walked one and struck out six.

After scuffling early in the year, the Round Rock offense plated at least seven runs for the third consecutive day. In fact, the club outscored New Orleans 25-2 in the final three games of the series.

DH Brad Nelson (.254/.316/.366) continued to pull out of his slump by going 3-for-5 with a double. Catcher Dusty Brown also doubled in a 1-for-2 performance with three walks and two RBI.

Leonys Martin (1/3, 2 BB), Joey Butler (2/4, BB), and Yangervis Solarte (1/3, BB, HBP) all reached base three times.

Butler extended his hitting streak to 15 games, one shy of his career-long mark and three shy of the franchise record, which was set by Mark Saccomanno in 2008. He's now hitting .315.

Japanese right-hander Yoshinori Tateyama worked around a single and a walk in a scoreless eighth inning. Tanner Scheppers (4.00 ERA/.257 BAA) closed out the game by striking out a pair in a scoreless ninth inning. He allowed one double.

In nine innings this season, Scheppers has yielded four runs on nine hits, walking three and striking out eight. Three of those runs came in one outing.

Player of the Game: LHP Zach Jackson
6.0 6 0 0 1 6 0 5.32

AA: Frisco 7 – San Antonio 2
W - Loux (4-0)
HR - Olt (5)
11-7, 1.0 GU

In each of his four starts this season, Texas A&M product Barret Loux (1.25 ERA/.263 BAA) has scattered hits and thrown strikes.

That's exactly what the 23-year-old did on Tuesday, as he allowed one run in six innings while giving up six hits, walking one, and striking out five. He threw 52 of his 76 pitches for strikes.

Loux, who improved to 4-0 on the season, has yielded 21 hits in 21.2 innings while walking seven and fanning 20.

The RoughRiders got an early 3-0 cushion in the first inning behind its top prospect bats.

Shortstop Jurickson Profar (1/5, 3B) belted a one-out triple before first baseman Mike Olt (1/3, HR, BB) socked a two-run homer––his fifth of the year. Olt was playing his first game of the regular season at first base.

Olt, who also struck out twice, has an interesting stat-line through 17 games. He's hitting .266/.356/.563 with five round-trippers, nine walks, and 24 strikeouts.

The Frisco hitters combined to strike out 14 times in Tuesday's game despite earning the comfortable victory.

Catcher Jose Felix (2/4, 2B) doubled while third baseman Alex Buchholz (1/4, 3B) hit his first triple. Ryan Strausborger (2/5) and Jared Prince (2/4) both singled twice. Strausborger stole his fourth base.

Veteran Brad Hawpe (.268/.418/.488) struck out three times and walked once in his four trips to the plate.

Dominican righty Fabio Castillo (3.86 ERA/.250 BAA) finished the game by fanning one in a 1-2-3 ninth inning, throwing only 10 pitches.

Player of the Game: RHP Barret Loux
6.0 6 1 1 1 5 0 1.25

A+: Myrtle Beach 3 – Frederick 8
L - Mendez (1-2)
9-8, 0.0 GU

On the heels of a strong performance in spring training, fireballing righty Roman Mendez (7.71 ERA/.280 BAA) appears to have hit something of a rut. The 21-year-old has struggled in two of his four starts this season.

Mendez was hit hard on Tuesday, coughing up eight runs on seven hits––including four extra-base hits––in 3.1 innings. He walked five and plunked one while striking out two.

The former Red Sox prospect was actually sharp in the first inning, when he fanned the game's first two batters and induced a popup to second. But things fell apart in the second, third and fourth innings before he was lifted.

Thanks in part to a fantastic job by four Myrtle Beach relievers, the Pelicans actually out-hit the Keys, but they weren't able to threaten on the scoreboard.

Jimmy Reyes (1.2 IP), Randol Rojas (1 IP), Ben Rowen (2 IP) and Randy Henry (1 IP) teamed up for 5.2 innings of one-hit, shutout relief while walking two and striking out four.

Rojas, who was making his High-A debut after being promoted earlier in the day, walked the leadoff hitter in his frame before inducing a flyout and a double play ground ball.

Henry (0.00 ERA/.156 BAA) punched out a pair in a perfect ninth inning.

Leadoff hitter Odubel Herrera (.282/.307/.394) went 3-for-5 with a double, his fifth of the season. Tomas Telis (1/4, 2B) also added a two-bagger.

Telis had a fairly rough day behind the plate. Despite picking a rummer off third base, he committed his first error and his third passed ball.

Infielders Christian Villanueva (2/4) and Santiago Chirino (2/4) both singled twice and stole a base.

After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the game, right fielder Josh Richmond is now hitting just .178/.260/.333 through 14 contests.

Player of the Game: SS Odubel Herrera
5 1 3 1 0 0 0 1 .282

A: Hickory 0 – Greensboro 6
L - Eickhoff (2-2)
12-6, 1.0 GB

The Crawdads were no-hit by Marlins prospect Jose Fernandez and relievers Greg Nappo and Kevin Cravey on Tuesday evening.

Fernandez, who was the 14th overall pick in last year's MLB Draft, tossed the first six innings of no-hit ball while walking two and striking out eight. The Cuba native (by way of Tampa) has yielded only nine hits in his first 23 innings this season, striking out 33.

Hickory's only base runners in the game were left field Chris Grayson (0/1, 2 BB) and first baseman Jhonny Gomez (0/1, BB, HBP). They both reached via walk or hit-by pitch.

Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff (3.66 ERA/.213 BAA) was stuck with the loss despite pitching relatively well. The 21-year-old worked five innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He walked three and fanned six.

Eickhoff has struck out 19––while allowing 16 hits––in 19.2 innings through four starts this season.

Right-hander Nick McBride and lefty Greg Williams posted identical lines in the final four innings. Each hurler worked two innings, giving up two runs on two hits, walking one and striking out two.

Player of the Game: RHP Jerad Eickhoff
5.0 6 2 2 3 6 1 3.66

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