Rangers Minor League Roundup – 7/18

The Frisco RoughRiders picked up a come-from-behind victory on Wednesday behind the bat of leadoff man Engel Beltre, who went 2-for-4 with a triple and a homer. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's minor league action in the Texas Rangers' system.

AAA: Round Rock 8 – (@) Nashville 5
W - Bell (3-2)
SV - Tateyama (2)
41-56, 16.0 GB

Right fielder Joey Butler (.290/.399/.475) helped carry the Express to their second victory in as many days behind his perfect 5-for-5 performance at the plate. Butler, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games, had four singles and his 23rd double of the year. He also scored three runs and drove home one.

Butler raised his batting average by 11 points on Wednesday––the power of a 5-for-5 night even after 94 games played.

The Express teed off on Nashville starter and former Round Rock hurler Seth McClung, who dropped to 2-12 on the season after he coughed up six runs in 3.1 innings.

Meanwhile, Round Rock starting pitcher Chad Bell (4.15 ERA/.291 BAA) needed only 87 pitches to work seven innings, matching a career best. Bell surrendered five runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out three.

The 23-year-old southpaw, who posted a 2.84 ERA in 50.2 innings at Double-A Frisco, has the following stat-line through five Triple-A starts––30.1 ip, 34 h, 14 er (4.15 ERA), 15 bb, 17 k.

Although Bell was shaky at times, he was more than strong enough to earn the victory.

Shortstop Greg Miclat (1/3, 2B, 2 BB), first baseman Brad Nelson (1/4, 2B, BB) and second baseman Luis Hernandez (1/4, 2B, BB) all doubled once and walked at least once.

Sidearming righty relievers Johan Yan and Yoshinori Tateyama each hurled a perfect inning to close out the game. Yan was particularly efficient, throwing five of his seven pitches for a strike while inducing three consecutive groundouts.

As a long-limbed sidearmer who relies heavily on deception and the sink from his upper-80s fastball, Yan has been excellent against fellow righties in the PCL but continues to struggle against southpaws. Right-handed hitters are just 6-for-38 (.158) against him while lefties are getting him at a .440 (11-for-25) clip.

Player of the Game: RF Joey Butler
5 3 5 1 0 1 0 0 .290

AA: Frisco 4 – San Antonio 3
W - Wolf (1-1)
HR - Beltre (9)
11-14, 6.0 GB

The ‘Riders gradually chipped away at a 3-0 deficit before taking the lead on a Val Majewski double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

While Majewski had the game-winning hit, it was leadoff hitter Engel Beltre (.242/.285/.396) who did most of the damage. The 22-year-old outfielder had a triple and a home run in four at-bats.

Beltre hit well early in the season before posting a punchless .180/.219/.240 slash line in June. But he's beginning to pick up the pace once again in July, hitting .277/.319/.508 in his first 15 games.

Shortstop Jurickson Profar (1/3, 2B) doubled and brought home a run on a sacrifice fly. Mike Olt, who got the start in right field, was 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

‘Riders starter Jake Brigham cruised through the first four innings before surrendering three runs in the fifth. Overall, Brigham threw 95 pitches in five innings and yielded three runs. He gave up six hits, walked one, and struck out seven.

Right-handed relievers Ryan Rodebaugh (2 IP) and Ross Wolf (2 IP) each hurled two shutout innings out of the bullpen.

Player of the Game: CF Engel Beltre
4 2 2 0 1 2 0 1 .242

A+: Myrtle Beach 3 – Wilmington 2
W - Reyes (3-2)
SV - Rowen (9)
17-9, 2.0 GU

Catcher Tomas Telis' run-scoring double in the bottom of the eighth inning put the Pelicans ahead and ultimately gave the club its third consecutive victory. Telis, who was 2-for-4 on the night, raised his batting average to .264.

The offense did just enough to earn the victory while the Myrtle Beach pitching staff continued to succeed. They've surrendered four total runs during the first three games against Wilmington.

Hard-throwing starter Wilmer Font (4.56 ERA/.212 BAA) bounced back from a rough outing to yield two runs on four hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked one.

On the season, the 22-year-old Font has allowed 58 hits in 77 innings, walking 36 and striking out 96.

Left-hander Jimmy Reyes (2.95 ERA/.275 BAA) followed Font out of the bullpen with three shutout frames, giving up two hits, walking one, and striking out five.

The 23-year-old Reyes is making a push for a promotion to Double-A. He's pitched particularly well in his last 10 appearances, striking out 28 batters over 19.1 innings.

Sidearmer Ben Rowen (1.45 ERA/.181 BAA) punched out two in a perfect ninth inning to earn his ninth save. Rowen has permitted only 23 hits in 37.1 innings this year while walking just three and striking out 31. He's also inducing nearly three groundouts per airout.

DH Vin DiFazio (1/3, 2B) added his 15th double of the season. Teodoro Martinez, Jeremy Williams, and Edwin Garcia all singled once in three at-bats.

Garcia, a utility infielder, got the start at first base on Wednesday. The Pelicans have been without a true first baseman since Andrew Clark retired during the first week of the regular season.

Player of the Game: LHP Jimmy Reyes
3.0 2 0 0 1 5 0 2.95

A: Hickory – OFF
15-11, 0.0 GU

The Crawdads, who are currently locked in a three-way tie for first place at 15-11 in the second half, had Wednesday off.

SSA: Spokane 7 – Tri-City 5
W - Blackwell (2-1)
SV - Burns (1)
HR - Johnson (2)
11-22, 9.0 GB

The Indians snapped a 10-game losing streak in satisfying fashion by finishing off a three-game sweep of Tri-City on Wednesday.

Nine-hole hitting left fielder Saquan Johnson provided most of the offensive punch for Spokane, as he went 2-for-3 with a triple, a home run, a walk, and three runs batted in.

Johnson, 19, was the Rangers' 28th-round pick in last year's MLB Draft. A North Carolina native, he was a three-sport star in high school who had excellent athleticism but never played any baseball on the travel or showcase circuits. In other words, Johnson has the raw talent but very little polish.

The Rangers pushed the 6-foot-2, 175-pound athlete forward to Spokane this summer due to the crowded outfield in Arizona––so Johnson would be able to get consistent at-bats.

In his first eight games with Spokane, Johnson appeared plenty overmatched. He went 1-for-22 with no extra-base hits, no walks, and 13 strikeouts. But he's picked up the pace of late, going 5-for-13 with a triple, two home runs, one walk, and five strikeouts over his last four contests.

On the mound, big righty Jose Valdespina worked the first four innings and allowed two runs. He gave up two hits, walked two, plunked two, and struck out three.

John Kukuruda followed by surrendering two runs in two innings, Shawn Blackwell allowed a run in two frames, and lefty Joseph Burns tossed a perfect ninth to earn the save.

Burns, 22, has allowed a run on eight hits in his first 15.2 professional innings.

Second baseman Cam Schiller (1/3, 2B, BB) doubled and walked while cleanup man Ryan Rua went 0-for-1 but drew three free passes.

Player of the Game: LF Saquan Johnson
3 2 2 0 1 3 1 0 .171

RK: Surprise Rangers 4 – (@) Scottsdale Diamondbacks 9
L - de Jesus (0-1)
12-10, 1.0 GB

Making his first start of the season, Dominican righty Anyelo Leclerc worked the first four innings and yielded a run on three hits, walking two and striking out three.

Rehabbing reliever Coby Cowgill, the Rangers' 23rd-round pick in this year's MLB Draft, worked around a walk in a blank fifth inning.

The game's other rehabber, Brett Weibley, ran into plenty of control issues in the sixth, however. All three batters Weibley faced eventually scored after he walked two and allowed a hit. He also uncorked two wild pitches.

First baseman Ronald Guzman (.280/.337/.373) was 3-for-4 with a double. Guzman is beginning to pick up the pace, as he's 14-for-39 (.359) with five extra-base hits over his last nine games.

Lewis Brinson (2/5, 3B) singled and tripled. Nomar Mazara (1/5, 3B) also added a triple while Joey Gallo (1/3, 2B, SF) doubled.

Through 22 professional games, Brinson is hitting .286/.346/.551 with 16 extra-base hits and 34 strikeouts.

Player of the Game: 1B Ronald Guzman
4 0 3 1 0 1 0 0 .280

DSL: DSL Rangers 2 – (@) DSL Mets2 2 (Suspended)
25-13, 1.5 GU

Wednesday's contest between the Rangers and Mets2 was suspended, likely due to rain, with the Rangers batting in the top of the seventh inning. It will be completed at a later date.

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