Photo Credit: Tony Capobianco
Texas League North (Affiliate, Record, Last Week’s Record)
Tulsa Drillers (Los Angeles Dodgers), 33-24, 6-0
Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals), 31-27, 2-4
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals), 27-31, 2-5
Arkansas Travelers (Los Angeles Angels), 24-34, 3-3
Texas League South (Affiliate, Record, Last Week’s Record)
Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros), 36-21, 5-1
Frisco RoughRiders (Texas Rangers), 33-23, 3-2
Midland RockHounds (Oakland A’s), 27-30, 1-5
San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres), 18-39, 2-4
Leading Off, Tulsa Drillers
Tulsa had a perfect week, simple as that. They’re hot right now, winners of 10 in a row and having lost just one game in their last 16! Led by top prospect Cody Bellinger —who I got the chance to talk to last week— they continue to receive excellent starting pitching from the likes ofTrevor Oaks (13 IP 12 K 2 ER), Chase De Jong (2.85 ERA, .192 opponent’s BA) and Brock Stewart (complete game one-hitter).
Pitching is the best ingredient to winning baseball games, and the Drillers have had a lot of it lately.
Batting Second, Corpus Christi Hooks
It looks like the first half of the Texas League season in the South Division will come down to red hot Corpus Christi and formerly even hotter Frisco. The Hooks lost just one game in the covered stretch, a 2-1 pitchers duel against Northwest Arkansas.
Just as the Major League team they feed got hot in Houston, so have the Hooks who have entered June with the same kind of winning attitude they exited May, a month that saw them go 21-8 and hop the RoughRiders for first place.
David Paulino got the week going on a good (and familiar) note with seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 1.80 and allowing just one hit.
Top prospect Alex Bregman remained hot and poised for a 2016 Major League debut. He slugged .407 during the week and continued to get work in not only at shortstop but third base.
In The Hole, Frisco RoughRiders
Speaking of the RoughRiders, because it seems talking about them or the Hooks constitutes mentioning the other, they had a bounce-back week after losing all five games from May 27-June 1.
After getting rained out (and then cancelled) vs. Tulsa, they sandwiched some solid play in between a blowout loss in San Antonio where the bullpen allowed seven runs.
RoughRiders first baseman Ronald Guzman continues to scorch Double-A pitching in his first action at the level, a promotion that most “experts” found puzzling to say the least (My interview with Guzman here).
He has maintained his .300+ batting average and continues to hit for power. This past week he hit two more home runs and had a three-hit game June 3rd, falling just a triple short of the cycle.
Batting Cleanup, Arkansas Travelers
Only three teams were above .500 in the Texas League from the 2nd through the 8th of June. The Travelers were neither above or below and were the only club to finish the week with the same amount of wins and losses.
They fell flat twice in a row to start the time frame by a combined score of 10-0 but rebounded nicely to win three of four. Third-year pro Andrew Daniel hit .400 for the week and had three straight two-hit games while occupying third base, second base and putting the hitter in designated hitter.
Hitting 5th, Springfield Cardinals
Half the Texas League finished below .500 this week, implying balance. Aside from an 11-1 record between Tulsa and the Hooks, there definitely was.
Springfield dueled with Midland, Frisco and Arkansas and won two games in between three losses and on more. Luke Weaver, the Cardinals first round pick (27th overall) in the 2014 MLB Draft, was called up to make his Double-A debut on Sunday, May 5th. To say the least, he dazzled.
Weaver stifled a potent RoughRiders lineup –that included MLB rehabber Shin-Soo Choo— on his way to 10 strikeouts in 7.1 innings. He allowed just five hits and no runs. Weaver was making his season debut after breaking his wrist during Spring Training in an outfield collision.
Coming in at 6th, San Antonio Missions
Jumping up to sixth were the San Antonio Missions. Friday’s game was rained out as bad weather roughed up most of the region and they split the ensuing doubleheader on Saturday with Arkansas. A series win against Frisco capped off a week that is improvement upon the previous two I’ve written about.
In game one of said doubleheader, Bryan Rodriguez threw six shutout innings adding six strikeouts and walking just two. Soon-to-be 23-year old Nick Torres carved through the competition, hitting .478 with a monstrous 1.303 OPS and added two stolen bases to a very impressive week.
Not so Lucky 7th, Northwest Arkansas Naturals
A big week for the Naturals first half playoff prospects as they entered 25-26 with a chance to catapult past an even win margin. Seven games later they didn’t arrive where they wanted but had some good offensive performances to speak of.
Outfielder (and sometimes second baseman) Carlos Garcia played just four of the seven games from the 2nd to 8th but contributed five hits. Sam Houston State alum Corey Toups hit .348 with an even .500 OBP and two stolen bases. He is firmly entrenched as the team’s everyday second baseman since his call-up from High-A Wilmington on May 25th.
Any offensive production from the catcher’s spot is always a huge bonus and Cam Gallagher tallied seven hits in the three games from June 2-4.
And 8th, Midland RockHounds
Last but certainly not least are the Oakland Athletics affiliate, the Midland Rockhounds. Midland snagged one win vs. Springfield on the 2nd but then played the two hottest teams in the league –Tulsa and Corpus– and lost the remainder.
Raul Alcantara threw 7 2/3 sparkling innings in the team’s victory, allowing just one earned run. The A’s top prospect Franklin Barreto hit his 5th home run of the season, on pace to break his previous career high of 13 set in 2015 at High-A Stockton.