Rangers Minor League Notes (3/18)

SURPRISE, AZ - Wednesday's Double-A contest between the Rangers and Indians was chock full of pitching prospects, from Kasey Kiker to Carlos Melo. Lone Star Dugout has notes from the second day of minor league games.

After catching the Low-A game on Tuesday, Lone Star Dugout stayed at the Rangers' complex in order to watch the Rangers' and Indians' Double-A squads do battle on Wednesday afternoon.

• The Indians won the game, 5-4, with a late rally. The Rangers did nearly all of their hitting early and often, taking a 3-0 lead within the game's first three batters.

• After Jake Kaase led off the bottom of the first with a single, second baseman Guilder Rodriguez hit a fly ball down the left field line. The Cleveland left fielder dove unsuccessfully, and the ball rolled all the way to the left field fence. Rodriguez eventually rounded all four bases for an inside-the-park home run.

• In 1,487 career minor league at-bats [501 games over seven seasons], Rodriguez has 25 extra-base hits. And no home runs. Unfortunately, this one won't count officially.

Andruw Jones batted after Rodriguez and immediately hammered a no-doubt round-tripper to left-center field to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead. He also provided their fourth run with another solo home run in his second at-bat. Jones walked his third time up before being removed from the game. It really was an impressive display of power from the big league veteran.

Michael Schlact got the starting nod for Frisco and was sharp. The tall right-hander pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit. He got three groundouts, one flyout, walked one, and struck out two. Schlact threw 32 pitches in the outing, including four sliders and three changeups.

Kasey Kiker was scheduled for two innings after Schlact, but he wasn't able to record all six outs. Kiker's stuff was apparent, but he had trouble spotting his curveball. The most noticeable thing about Kiker is his heavy fastball that runs in on left-handed hitters. The 21-year-old southpaw went 1.1 innings, allowing one run on three hits. He walked one [on a bad 3-2 call] and fanned two. Both of Kiker's strikeouts came on fastballs – one was looking and one was swinging.

Guillermo Moscoso relieved Kiker with the bases loaded and just one out. The righty began his outing by striking the Indians hitter out on just three pitches [swing-and-miss on slider, looking on fastball, looking on fastball]. However, Moscoso walked the next hitter, forcing home a run. He ended the inning by getting a ground ball back to shortstop. In his second frame, Moscoso got a 1-2-3 inning on a groundout [rolled over breaking ball] and two flyouts. All-in-all, it was an extremely impressive outing for the 25-year-old.

Marcus Lemon entered in the game's latter innings and played second base. Lemon moved to second base during Fall Instructional League, and he is still seeing plenty of time there. He'll likely still play some shortstop, but this could be the beginnings of a permanent move.

• Catcher Elio Sarmiento has a strong arm, and he's not afraid to throw behind the runner to any base. The same can be said of Alberto Puello, who caught the last few innings of Wednesday's Double-A contest.

Mark Hamburger had the lone rough outing of the game for the Rangers, giving up three runs in his lone inning. The 22-year-old was throwing a 92 mph fastball with loads of armside run, but he was just unable to command it. The frame started with a four-pitch walk and he eventually gave up a three-run homer. Hamburger ended the inning on a positive note by striking out the last two Cleveland hitters he faced – one looking on an inside fastball and one swinging on a slider.

• Left-hander Eric Evans, last year's 23rd round pick, began his outing with a pair of walks. After falling behind the third hitter, he rebounded to strike out the last three batters he faced. Five hitters, zero balls in play.

Josh Lueke had perhaps the game's easiest outing. Facing just three hitters, Lueke had a strikeout, a 1-3 groundout, and a 5-3 groundout. Three hitters, zero balls out of the infield.

• Hard-throwing righty Carlos Melo closed out the game for the Rangers, but he recorded only one out. Melo was unable to get his breaking ball anywhere near the strike zone, and his fastball command left something to be desired. But he threw easy, effortless heat that exploded out of his hand. In the three batters Melo faced, he allowed a single, a deep flyout to left field, and a ground-rule double. But Melo is going to be an arm to watch over the next couple of seasons. He has the talent to be something special.

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