Minor League Players of the Month: August

Lone Star Dugout announces rookie-level Surprise Rangers first baseman Jhonny Gomez and High-A Bakersfield hurler Joe Wieland as its minor league players of the month for August 2010.

Player of the Month: Jhonny Gomez, 1B, AZL Rangers

After playing three years in the Dominican Summer League, Gomez got his first opportunity to play in the U.S. this season. The 20-year-old capitalized in a big way.

Gomez appeared in 40 total games for the rookie-level Surprise Rangers this summer, and he finished second in the Arizona League with a .369 batting average. Overall, Gomez posted a .369/.420/.447 slash line.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound first baseman had a phenomenal august August, going 28-for-59 (.475) with seven extra-base hits and six walks. Gomez got particularly hot while his club was chasing a playoff berth. He was 16-for-24 over the Rangers' final six games, including a 3-for-4 performance with a double and four RBI in the division-clinching game against the AZL Indians.

Initially signed as a corner outfielder, Gomez was moved to first base full-time during the 2009 campaign because of his leadership qualities. The Venezuela native has turned himself into an above-average defender at first.

Surprise Rangers manager Jayce Tingler recently discussed Gomez's contributions to the club.

"In my short experience, Jhonny probably has what so few people have but a lot of people talk about––he has got true leadership skills," Tingler said. "He finds a way to make others around him better. That's what Jhonny brings to the game.

"With that being said––bringing leadership to the field––he has had more opportunity to play because of that. With a good work ethic, he has turned himself into a pretty good hitter and a pretty good player."

Upon the completion of the Arizona League season, Gomez was rewarded with a promotion to short-season Spokane. He went 1-for-4 in his debut with the club.

August AZR (RK) .475 59 5 0 10 11 1/3 6 6 .515 .627

Honorable Mention: Hernan Iribarren (Oklahoma City), James Tomlin (Frisco/Oklahoma City), Erik Morrison (Bakersfield), Travis Adair (Hickory), Jared Hoying (Spokane), Alex Gonzalez (DSL Rangers)

Pitcher of the Month: Joe Wieland, RHP, Bakersfield

Right-hander Joe Wieland had an overall strong month that was carried by two dominant starts. Because the 20-year-old sits at 148 innings on the season, he had one start skipped and worked a three-inning bullpen appearance in mid-August.

Wieland made five total appearances in the month, going 2-1 with a 1.73 earned-run average. He logged 26 innings, giving up 22 hits, walking four, and striking out 28.

He fanned 14 batters and walked zero during a seven scoreless inning performance on August 3. About three weeks later, he came back to toss seven innings of one-hit, shutout ball.

The former fourth-round pick has 62 strikeouts and 10 walks in his first 59 innings at High-A Bakersfield. His fastball velocity has been more consistent with the Blaze, sitting at 91-93 mph and bumping 94 on occasion.

Wieland also chalks the higher strikeout total up to simply throwing his promising curveball more often since the promotion.

"My curveball is much better than it was in Low-A," Wieland said. "Back in Hickory, I was able to go four or five innings without even using it at times. And when I needed it, it wasn't there. It wasn't as sharp or I wasn't consistent with it.

"Now that I'm in the Cal League, you've got to show it early. I've been throwing it more and more. It has become a better pitch. When I need a big pitch or when I need to get that strikeout, that's what I've been going to. I've been able to get those strikeouts."

The 6-foot-3, 175-pound prospect has nice command and pitchability, and his stuff is beginning to take the next step forward. Wieland appears to be on track to reach Double-A Frisco as a 21-year-old at some point next season.

Month Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
August BAK (A+) 2-1 26.0 22 4 28 1.73

Honorable Mention: Omar Beltre (Oklahoma City), Clayton Hamilton (Frisco), Fabio Castillo (Bakersfield), Jake Brigham (Hickory), Ben Rowen (Spokane), Chris Hanna (AZL Rangers), David Perez (DSL Rangers)

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