Rangers Minor League Roundup – 4/14

Powered by a strong outing from starting pitcher Josh Lindblom, the Triple-A Round Rock Express earned a 2-1 victory at New Orleans on Sunday. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's minor league action in the Texas Rangers' system.

AAA: Round Rock 2 – (@) New Orleans 1
W - Lindblom (1-0)
SV - Burns (2)
HR - Whiteside (1)
7-4, 1.0 GU

Although the Pacific Coast League is known for its hitter-friendly environments, the arms have ruled Round Rock's first 11 games this season.

After Sunday's victory over New Orleans, Round Rock is now 7-4 on the young season. Yet their offense has plated more than three runs just three times in those 11 contests.

The Express took home another low-scoring victory with the help of a solid pitching performance from starter Josh Lindblom.

Lindblom, who worked in relief for both the Dodgers and Phillies last season, opened the game by tossing five innings of two-hit, shutout ball. He struck out three without issuing a walk. While command was Lindblom's issue through spring training and part of his first start with the Express, he needed just 63 pitches (45 strikes) to work five innings on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Express catcher Eli Whiteside broke the scoreless tie in the fifth inning with a solo home run––his first of the season. Whiteside also added two singles in his four at-bats.

DH Robinson Chirinos, acquired from Tampa Bay earlier this week, had a double and two walks in four trips. Chris McGuiness (1/4) singled in Round Rock's only other run.

Engel Beltre went 0-for-3 but drew a pair of walks. Known for his ultra-aggressive approach, Beltre recorded just his second multi-walk game in the last three seasons.

After Lindblom exited, veteran southpaw Neal Cotts struck out four batters in two scoreless innings. Yoshinori Tateyama allowed a solo home run in the eighth before giving way to Cory Burns, who earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

A changeup artist with some deception and an upper-80s, low-90s fastball, Burns nearly cracked the Rangers' bullpen out of spring training. He has been impressive in three Triple-A outings––4.0 ip, 3 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 6 k.

Third baseman Mike Olt punched out in all four of his plate appearances, dropping him to a porous 3-for-41 (.073) on the season with 21 strikeouts.

Player of the Game: RHP Josh Lindblom
5.0 2 0 0 0 3 0 0.75

AA: Frisco 9 – Northwest Arkansas 2
W - Pimentel (2-0)
SV - Brigham (1)
HR - Buchholz (2), Nicholas (2), Strausborger (2)
6-4, 1.0 GB

The ‘Riders used three big flies to clobber the Naturals on Sunday afternoon.

Centerfielder Ryan Strausborger opened the scoring with his three-run shot off Northwest Arkansas starter J.C. Sulbaran in the second inning. Alex Buchholz added a three-run homer of his own in the next frame––also off Sulbaran.

Strausborger and Buchholz both homered for the second consecutive day. Buchholz also committed his second error in as many games.

First baseman Brett Nicholas brought home three runs of his own, going 2-for-4 with a round-tripper and a free pass.

On the mound, starting pitcher Carlos Pimentel held the Naturals at bay. The Dominican righty yielded two runs on six hits in five innings, walking two and striking out six. He threw 55 of his 86 pitches for strikes.

DH Chih-Hsien Chiang (2/4, 2B) singled and doubled while Guilder Rodriguez (2/5), Jared Hoying (1/3, 2 BB), and Zach Zaneski (1/2, 2 BB) also reached base multiple times.

Hoying, who stole his first base on Sunday, is 9-for-33 (.273) with a double, a triple, and two home runs through nine contests.

After Tyler Tufts worked a blank sixth inning, Jake Brigham closed out the game by throwing 43 pitches (32 strikes) in three shutout frames. Showing a 90-93 mph fastball that sat at 92, Brigham allowed two hits and fanned three without walking a batter.

Player of the Game: 1B Brett Nicholas
4 1 2 0 1 3 1 0 .257

A+: Myrtle Beach 6 – (@) Salem 7
L - McBride (0-1)
4-5, 1.0 GB

The Pelicans carried a shutout into the bottom of the seventh inning on Sunday, but Salem plated a whopping seven runs in their final three at-bats to earn the victory.

The Red Sox won in walkoff fashion, getting to Myrtle Beach reliever Nick McBride for three runs (two earned) in two-thirds of an inning. McBride allowed two hits and walked a pair.

Right-hander Alec Asher began the game strong, however, by working six scoreless innings. Asher allowed three hits while walking one and striking out seven.

The 21-year-old righty was able to bounce back from a pair of rough outings to begin he season, as he'd given up nine runs in his first four innings.

Salem began its comeback in the seventh inning, when lefty reliever Will Lamb was tagged for four runs in two-thirds of an inning. Joe Van Meter temporarily stopped the bleeding for 1.1 blank frames before McBride came on.

Double-play partners Edwin Garcia (1/3, 2B, BB) and Rougned Odor (1/5, 2B) each doubled for the Pelicans' only extra-base hits of the game.

Odor, who was born in February 1994, has now hit safely in all eight games he has played this season. The lefty-hitting prospect is 10-for-30 (.333) with five doubles and two home runs; he's slugging .700 in the early going.

Chris Grayson (1/4, BB), Drew Robinson (1/2, 2 BB), and Pat Cantwell (1/2, BB) all singled and walked. Cantwell brought home a run with a sacrifice fly.

Making his High-A debut, UT-Arlington product Preston Beck batted fifth and played in right field. The lefty hitter went 0-for-3 but drew a pair of walks.

After going 0-for-3 on Sunday, former first-round pick Jake Skole is now just 3-for-29 (.103) with 12 strikeouts to begin his campaign.

Player of the Game: RHP Alec Asher
6.0 3 0 0 1 7 0 5.59

A: Hickory 0 – (@) Kannapolis 6
L - Vasquez (0-1)
4-7, 3.0 GB

The Crawdads were kept off the scoreboard and held to only three hits in Sunday's series finale against the Intimidators.

Hickory's only knocks were doubles from Ryan Rua (1/3, 2B) and Jorge Alfaro (1/4, 2B) and a single from left fielder Jordan Akins (1/3). Alfaro struck out in his other three plate appearances.

Although it's early in the season, the 20-year-old Akins is off to a promising start at 10-for-33 (.303) with two doubles and two stolen bases. Of course, he's drawn only one walk and whiffed 10 times.

Slugging corner outfielder Nomar Mazara fell to 4-for-39 (.103) with two walks and 15 strikeouts after going hitless on Sunday.

Dominican righty Kelvin Vasquez ran into some trouble with the strike zone, as he gave up only one hit but issued five walks in 3.2 innings. Vasquez allowed three runs.

Despite surrendering nine hits in 3.1 innings, John Kukuruda limited the damage to three runs while walking one, plunking one, and fanning one.

Fireballing righty Jose Valdespina worked around a single, a walk, and a balk in a blank eighth inning. He also struck out one.

Player of the Game: DH Ryan Rua
3 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 .171

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