Rangers Minor League Roundup – 5/31

The Single-A Hickory Crawdads won their fourth consecutive game on Thursday, as Nick Martinez turned in five strong innings. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's minor league action in the Texas Rangers' system.

AAA: Round Rock 9 – (@) Memphis 3
W - Jackson (2-5)
HR - Kata (6)
24-31, 7.5 GB

Round Rock knocked Cardinals prospect Shelby Miller out of the game after just three innings on Thursday. Second baseman Matt Kata (.317/.356/.525) delivered the big blow with his grand slam in the second inning. Kata was 3-for-6 with five RBI on the night.

The grand slam was Round Rock's first this season, and it extended Kata's hitting streak to seven games.

Although Miller worked 1-2-3 frames in both the first and third innings, he surrendered five runs while facing nine batters in the second. The native Texan gave up the grand slam after walking four in the frame.

Express starter Zach Jackson (4.92 ERA/.302 BAA) turned in the quality start, giving up three runs in six innings pitched. Jackson worked around four hits and four walks while striking out two.

First baseman Mike Bianucci had another strong game, as he went 3-for-4 with a double and a walk. Val Majewski (1/4, 2B, BB) and Ryan Spilborghs (1/4, 2B, BB) also doubled and walked.

Luis Hernandez (2/6), Brad Nelson (1/3, 2 BB), Joey Butler (1/3, 2 BB) and Dusty Brown (0/3, 2 BB) all reached base multiple times.

The 29-year-old Brown has 21 walks (and 21 hits) in 27 games.

After Jackson exited, Round Rock's bullpen made quick work of the Redbirds.

Derek Hankins worked a perfect inning on six pitches, and John Gaub pitched around a single in an otherwise clean frame. He struck out one.

Closer Tanner Scheppers (3.91 ERA/.258 BAA) needed just six pitches (five strikes) to retire Memphis in order during the ninth inning.

Although the 25-year-old Scheppers has had a few rough outings this season, he has been much more efficient in 2012. He's throwing 65.3 percent of his pitches for a strike––a career high––and is averaging just 15.9 pitches per inning. Scheppers threw 18.9 pitches per inning in Triple-A last season.

Player of the Game: 2B Matt Kata
6 1 3 0 1 5 0 0 .317

AA: Frisco 10 – Tulsa 4
W - Bell (1-0)
HR - Prince (5), Garcia (1)
32-20, 4.0 GU

The ‘Riders turned in an all-around solid performance on Thursday, getting a strong start from left-hander Chad Bell and seven extra-base hits from the offense.

Bell (0.87 ERA/.120 BAA) allowed two runs in six innings while matching a career high with eight strikeouts. He gave up three hits and walked one.

After surrendering two runs in the first inning, Bell settled down and retired 16 of the final 17 hitters he faced.

The 23-year-old, who induced 12 swings and misses out of his 79 pitches on Thursday, has been ultra-efficient in Double-A. He's throwing 67 percent of his pitches for a strike and averaging just 12.2 pitches per inning.

Bell has also yielded 12 hits in 31 Texas League innings, and fellow left-handers are a paltry 1-for-19 (.053) against him with eight strikeouts.

Speedy second baseman Leury Garcia (.320/.343/.485) continued to show a little pop by going 3-for-5 with a home run––his first of the season and only the eighth of his five-year career. He also stole his fourth base.

Right fielder Jared Prince (2/4, 2B, HR) doubled, homered, and drove home three runs.

DH Alex Buchholz (3/4, 3B) tripled while Chris McGuiness (1/3, 2B, BB), Ryan Strausborger (1/4, 2B) and Jurickson Profar (1/5, 2B) all doubled.

The two-bagger extended Profar's on-base streak to 48 consecutive games.

Third baseman Mike Olt raised his batting average to .294 with a pair of singles in four at-bats.

After going 0-for-5 on Thursday, Engel Beltre finished his May with a disappointing .258/.301/.379 slash line. He hit .263/.311/.505 in April. Beltre was the only ‘Riders player without a hit in the game.

Trevor Hurley (3.42 ERA/.245 BAA) hurled two scoreless innings in relief of Bell.

Left-hander Corey Young came on to finish the game in the ninth but surrendered two runs in two-thirds of an inning, raising his ERA to 5.59. Zach Osborne struck out the game's final hitter to end it.

Player of the Game: RF Jared Prince
4 2 2 1 1 3 0 1 .219

A+: Myrtle Beach 2 – (@) Potomac 4
L - Hendricks (1-6)
26-25, 4.5 GB

Shortstop Odubel Herrera (.275/.318/.379) set a Pelicans franchise record by extending his hitting streak to 21 games on Thursday. He was 2-for-4 with a double and a run batted in.

The 20-year-old Herrera got out to a slow start this season but is hitting .321/.369/.462 during the current hitting streak.

Starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks (2.94 ERA/.271 BAA) worked at least seven innings for the fourth consecutive start, but he was saddled with the loss after yielding four runs on 10 hits in those seven innings. He struck out five without issuing a walk.

The 22-year-old Hendricks has now faced 150 consecutive batters without issuing a walk. It's a streak that dates back to his May 1 start at Frederick. He has now worked five consecutive games without a walk.

Christian Villanueva (.292/.355/.406 in May) had two doubles in four at-bats, giving him 12 two-baggers on the season.

Santiago Chirino (1/4, 2B) also doubled while Josh Richmond (1/3) and Jared Hoying (1/4) singled for the club's other hits.

Reliever Ben Rowen fanned the side in a scoreless eighth inning, working around a single.

Player of the Game: 3B Christian Villanueva
4 0 2 2 0 1 0 1 .275

A: Hickory 3 – West Virginia 2
W - Martinez (2-1)
SV - G. Williams (4)
HR - Cone (9)
27-25, 11.0 GB

The Crawdads scuffled through much of May but finished the month on a four-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 23-7.

Making his third start of the season, Fordham product Nick Martinez (3.93 ERA/.227 BAA) worked a season-high five innings and allowed two runs. He gave up four hits, walked one, and struck out three.

Martinez, 21, is pitching relatively well this season––34.1 ip, 30 h, 15 er, 10 bb, 40 k.

Cleanup hitter Zach Cone extended his hitting streak to eight games with a solo home run, his ninth. Cone also walked and stole his fifth base.

Speedy shortstop Luis Sardinas (.276/.350/.303) brought his hitting streak up to 13 games with two singles––including a walk––in four trips. He stole his 15th base in 17 attempts.

The 6-foot-1 shortstop isn't hitting for much power so far this season, but he's having an all-around solid campaign. Sardinas is 17-for-40 (.425) over his last 10 games with two walks and three strikeouts.

Hanser Alberto (0/2, 2 BB) and Jordan Akins (0/3, BB) also had a stolen base.

Tall right-handed reliever Phil Klein worked around two hits and three walks in 2.2 scoreless innings, picking up his second hold of the season. Greg Williams retired the game's final four hitters, striking out two, for his fourth save.

After going 0-for-4 and failing to reach base on Thursday, Rougned Odor had his on-base streak snapped at 26 games.

Player of the Game: RHP Nick Martinez
5.0 4 2 2 1 3 0 3.93

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