Rangers Minor League Roundup – 6/26

The Texas Rangers got solid starting pitching efforts from all five of the minor league affiliates who were in action on Tuesday. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's minor league action in the Rangers' system.

AAA: Round Rock 3 – (@) Iowa 1
W - Bell (1-0)
SV - Heilman (5)
36-43, 10.0 GB

After the Rangers called up scheduled starting pitcher Martin Perez on Tuesday, left-hander Chad Bell was forced to make his Triple-A debut a couple days earlier than expected.

Bell had success despite the short notice, earning the victory in his first Pacific Coast League start. The 23-year-old southpaw limited the I-Cubs to one run in 5.2 innings while working around five hits and four walks. He struck out seven.

Bell, who had good stuff in the start, threw 60 of his 104 pitches for a strike and induced 11 swings and misses. He appeared to tire late in the outing, as he yielded a double and two walks after recording the first two outs of the sixth inning.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Bell has now ascended to Triple-A after beginning the season at High-A Myrtle Beach. He has the following stat-line between the three levels this year––67.2 ip, 44 h, 19 er (2.53 ERA), 21 bb, 59 k.

Sidearming righty reliever Johan Yan induced a groundout to end the bases-loaded threat in the sixth, and he worked a perfect seventh inning with one strikeout.

Yoshinori Tateyama (1 IP) and Aaron Heilman (1 IP) permitted one hit apiece but didn't surrender a run. Tateyama earned his second hold and Heilman picked up his fifth save.

The Express' three runs in the fourth inning ultimately proved to be enough support for Bell and the trio of relievers.

Left fielder Yangervis Solarte (2/4, 2B) singled and doubled while first baseman Mike Bianucci (2/4) singled twice. Bianucci logged his fourth consecutive two-hit performance, and he's now 17-for-40 (.425) over his last 11 contests.

DH Brad Nelson (0/2, 2 BB) and third baseman Matt Kata (1/3, BB) also reached base a pair of times.

Scuffling leadoff man Julio Borbon went 0-for-3 with a walk, extending his hitless streak to seven consecutive games. He's now without a hit in his last 29 at-bats.

Left-handed starter Derek Holland will make a 50-pitch rehab start in Round Rock on Wednesday, as the Express face off against the Nashville Sounds.

Player of the Game: LHP Chad Bell
5.2 5 1 1 4 7 0 1.59

AA: Frisco – All-Star Break
2-4, 3.0 GB

The Texas League will play its All-Star Game on Thursday at Tulsa's ONEOK Field. Frisco returns to action on Friday with right-hander Cody Buckel scheduled to make his second Double-A start.

A+: Myrtle Beach 3 – (@) Lynchburg 0
W - Font (2-4)
SV - Rowen (3)
4-2, 0.0 GU

Pelicans starting pitcher Wilmer Font (3.90 ERA/.201 BAA) punched out a season-high eight batters in five shutout innings on Tuesday. He scattered four hits and walked two.

The 22-year-old Font is relying heavily on his fastball this season, but he's also having more success as his velocity continues to climb.

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Font worked anywhere between 85-93 mph in spring training. He began sitting in the low-to-mid 90s during May. But lately, Font's velocity has ticked up even more, sitting at 94-96 mph and reaching up to 97-98.

Scouts have also described Font's fastball as ‘heavy' this season, meaning it's been difficult for hitters to square up. That falls in line with the numbers, as he has permitted 40 hits (while striking out 74) in 57.2 innings.

The 6-foot-4 Venezuela native has been particularly good in his last four starts––21.0 ip, 10 h, 2 r, 6 bb, 25 k.

Hot-hitting first baseman Brett Nicholas (.285/.338/.423) provided some offensive support by going 3-for-4 with two doubles, giving him a team-high 24 two-baggers on the year. He has seven doubles (plus a homer) in his last eight games. He's also hitting an impressive .337/.390/.539 in 24 games this month.

Left fielder Teodoro Martinez (0/3) was hitless but drove home two of the Pelicans' three runs, including one on a sacrifice fly.

Jake Skole (.188/.291/.263) ended an 0-for-33 streak with his single to lead off the fourth inning. He also drew a pair of walks and stole his second base.

Josh Richmond (.158/.244/.268) fanned twice in four hitless at-bats, and he is now 0-for-18 over his last five games.

Richmond batted .247/.318/.409 with Single-A Hickory last season while showing his raw talent in flashes. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound corner outfielder is a decent athlete with intriguing raw power and a good arm. But his pitch recognition skills cause the tools to play down in game action, and he has actually scuffled more with each passing month this season. Richmond is just 9-for-65 (.138) with one extra-base hit in June.

Right-handed relievers Joe Van Meter (2.25 ERA/.198 BAA) and Ben Rowen (1.82 ERA/.202 BAA) finished off the Pelicans' 10th shutout of the season by working two blank frames apiece.

Van Meter was particularly impressive, as he struck out three without permitting a hit or a walk. The Virginia Commonwealth product has yielded 22 hits in 32 innings while fanning 34 and walking seven.

Player of the Game: RHP Wilmer Font
5.0 4 0 0 2 8 0 3.90

A: Hickory 7 – (@) Kannapolis 1
W - Martinez (4-2)
HR - Deglan (5)
5-1, 1.0 GU

The Crawdads held a 1-0 lead through seven innings before putting the game away with a six-run outburst in the top of the eighth.

The overall support was plenty for starting pitcher Nick Martinez (4.33 ERA/.250 BAA), who matched a season high with seven strikeouts over six scoreless frames. He scattered seven hits (six singles) and walked one.

In 60.1 innings, Martinez has allowed 58 hits, walked 18, and struck out 63.

Catcher Kellin Deglan, making his return from the disabled list, went 2-for-4 with his 15th double and his fifth home run. The round-tripper was a solo shot in the fifth inning, which gave Hickory their 1-0 lead.

On the whole, the 20-year-old Delgan is hitting a disappointing .217/.295/.414 in 45 games. The former first-round pick put together a promising April but went only 7-for-64 (.109) during May. He's turned things around slightly in eight games this month, going 10-for-28 (.357) with five doubles and two homers.

Trever Adams (2/4, 2B) and Chris Grayson (1/4, 2B, BB) also doubled on Tuesday. DH Jorge Alfaro (1/3, HBP) singled and was hit by a pitch.

Playing in his first game with a full-season affiliate, Netherlands native Nick Urbanus got the start at shortstop and went 1-for-4 with two RBI.

Righty reliever Nick McBride pitched around two singles while striking out one in a scoreless seventh inning. Hard-throwing hurler Daniel Lopez gave up a run in two innings, walking two and fanning three.

Player of the Game: RHP Nick Martinez
6.0 7 0 0 1 7 0 4.33

SSA: Spokane 3 – Boise 1
W - Kukuruda (1-1)
SV - Asher (1)
4-8, 2.0 GB

Spokane extended its winning streak to three with a 3-1 victory over Boise. The Indians lost eight of their first nine games to begin the summer.

Sinkerballing right-hander John Kukuruda certainly had the sinker working on Tuesday, as he gave up one unearned run in five innings. The 6-foot-4 California native allowed two hits, struck out four, and didn't walk a batter. He also induced 10 groundouts without a flyout.

The 20-year-old Kukuruda, who mostly works in the low-90s with his sinker, has given up 10 runs in his first 12 innings this season, but only two have been earned.

Rangers' third round pick Pat Cantwell got the start behind the plate in his professional debut. Batting in the seven spot, the Stony Brook product went 1-for-3 with a double, a hit-by pitch, and two runs batted in.

The HBP for Cantwell shouldn't come as any surprise. He was plunked an incredible 27 times in 65 games for the Seawolves this season.

Shortstop Gabriel Roa (2/2, 2 BB) singled twice, walked twice, and committed two errors. He reached base safely in all four of his plate appearances.

Ryan Rua (1/3, BB) and Preston Beck (1/4) had the team's other hits.

After going 0-for-3 on Tuesday, talented third baseman Smerling Lantigua has opened the season in a 3-for-27 (.111) slump through eight games. The 18-year-old prospect played last season in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .260/.329/.340 but showed intriguing raw power.

Righties Cody Kendall (2 IP) and Alec Asher (2 IP) finished out the game with four combined innings of scoreless relief. Asher, the Rangers' fourth-round pick, has yet to surrender a hit in 4.2 innings over three professional appearances.

Player of the Game: RHP John Kukuruda
5.0 2 1 0 0 4 0 1.50

RK: Surprise Rangers – OFF
3-2, 0.0 GU

The Rookie Rangers were off on Tuesday. They return to action on Wednesday evening against the Surprise Royals.

DSL: DSL Rangers 8 – (@) DSL Pirates1 6
W - Sosa (2-2)
SV - De la Cruz (1)
11-10, 3.0 GB

Through 21 games this season, the Dominican Rangers have just one home run, which came from outfielder Anderson Jesus. But they're also the only club in the Dominican Summer League that has drawn more walks (103) than strikeouts (97).

The Rangers' position players, who are hitting a collective .270/.369/.359 thus far, have the fewest total strikeouts in the league. The pitching staff has one of the highest ERAs in the circuit (4.86) but is also among the leaders in strikeouts (176 in 183.1 innings).

On Tuesday, the Rangers plated seven runs in the first three innings and cruised to victory.

Left fielder Eduard Pinto (2/5, 2B), second baseman Belarmino Campos (2/5, 2B) and third baseman Elio Castillo (1/2, 2B, BB) all doubled once.

Veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez singled twice in five at-bats, raising his batting average to .289.

Starting pitcher Kevin Sosa (3.13 ERA/.255 BAA), who has been arguably the Rangers' most consistent performer on the mound thus far, picked up the victory after yielding two runs in five innings. He gave up three hits, walked two, and struck out six.

Sosa, who was born in January 1995, has struck out 23 and walked three in his first 23 professional innings.

The Pirates1 made a brief comeback attempt when reliever Dario Beltre entered in the sixth inning. Beltre failed to retire any of the three hitters he faced, as he allowed a hit, walked two, and uncorked three wild pitches.

But righty Alex De la Cruz, who was signed to a minor league free agent contract last week, retired all eight batters he faced in 2.2 perfect innings to lock down the game and earn the save. He struck out three.

A native of Puerto Rico, the 20-year-old De la Cruz was not eligible for this year's MLB Draft because he did not attend a school this year. He was signed by Texas after a recent workout in Puerto Rico.

Player of the Game: 3B Elio Castillo
2 1 1 1 0 2 1 0 .222

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