Minor League Players of the Month: July

Lone Star Dugout announces Oklahoma right fielder Nelson Cruz and Bakersfield left-hander Derek Holland as its minor league players of the month for July 2008.

Player of the Month: Nelson Cruz, RF, Oklahoma

Is it possible that Cruz hit 12 homers in one month, but it resulted in just his third best [out of four] monthly OPS of the season?

That was the case for Cruz in July, as he batted ‘just' .316 with a season-low eight walks in the month. He did sock 12 home runs in 95 at-bats, including an amazing stretch where he hit 11 in just 10 contests.

The slugger also stole six bases in the month, helping him maintain his stolen base lead in the Pacific Coast League with 24. Teammate Joaquin Arias ranks second with 23.

Cruz was able to show phenomenal power production despite being the subject of trade rumors throughout the month. The July 31st trade deadline may have come and gone without Cruz being dealt, but it shouldn't matter. Because Cruz is not on the Rangers' 40-man roster, he is not subject to the Major League deadline. He is still eligible to be traded at any point in the season.

It is very possible that the Rangers are still searching for a suitor for Cruz. If they find a deal that is to their liking, he will probably be traded. But if the Rangers end up deciding they're better off keeping Cruz, which is a legitimate possibility, he should be called up to see some significant playing time in the second half.

Regardless of how the situation unfolds, don't expect Cruz to be hanging around Oklahoma City for much longer.

July 2008 Oklahoma (AAA) .316 95 1 12 28 19 6 8 22 .371 .705

Honorable Mention: Elvis Andrus (Frisco), Marcus Lemon (Bakersfield), Jonathan Greene (Clinton), Dennis Guinn (Spokane), Rafael Hill (AZL Rangers), Emmanuel Solis (DSL Rangers)

Pitcher of the Month: Derek Holland, LHP, Clinton

July's pitcher of the month was a difficult decision between Holland and Clinton right-hander Blake Beavan. The Rangers' first selection in the 2007 MLB Draft, Beavan posted a 3-1 record with a 0.93 ERA in the month. However, his peripheral numbers were not quite as dominant as Holland's and he didn't pitch between two levels.

Holland's fastball reaches 95 mph.
Holland becomes Lone Star Dugout's Pitcher of the Month for the second time in as many months.

The left-hander pitched in two games with Single-A Clinton before earning his promotion to Bakersfield. He was virtually unhittable in those two starts, as he allowed one run in 12 total innings, walking one and striking out 18.

Holland has been nearly as good since his promotion to High-A Bakersfield. The 21-year-old has delivered a quality start in each of his four California League outings.

Over the years, the Cal League has earned a reputation as being a nightmare for pitchers, but Holland has a 2.08 ERA in 26 innings so far. He's yielded 14 hits while walking four and fanning 29. Holland has done an excellent job of working down in the zone all season [as shown by his three home runs allowed in 119.2 innings] and that has helped him excel in a hitter's league.

With an 18-22 record in the second half, a playoff berth is looking to be increasingly unlikely for the Blaze. But Double-A Frisco has already clinched a playoff spot and with the promotions of several pitchers – including Matt Harrison and Tommy Hunter – they are searching for starting pitching. Derek Holland could be just what the doctor ordered for the ‘Riders when they chase a Texas League ring in September.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
July 2008 Clinton (A)/Bakersfield (A+) 3-1 38.0 22 5 47 1.66

Honorable Mention: Tommy Hunter (Oklahoma), Zack Parker (Frisco), Blake Beavan (Clinton), Tim Murphy (Spokane), Joe Wieland (AZL Rangers), Jonathan Rojas (DSL Rangers)

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