Photo Credit: Sam Hodde

Texas League North (Affiliate, Record, Last Week’s Record)

Tulsa Drillers (Los Angeles Dodgers), 9-5 (5-2)

Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals), 8-6 (4-3)

*Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals), 6-7 (3-4)

Arkansas Travelers (Los Angeles Angels), 5-8 (3-4)

Texas League South (Affiliate, First-Half Record)

Midland RockHounds (Oakland A’s), 10-4 (5-2)

*Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros), 8-6 (4-3)

San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres), 5-9 (2-5)

Frisco RoughRiders (Texas Rangers), 4-10 (2-5)

*First Half Champion

 

July has begun in the Texas League. The All-Star Game is behind us, and the second half is really kicking into gear. With Corpus Christi dominating the South and Springfield securing the first title up North, six teams are fighting for two spots to join them in September’s Playoffs.

While making the Playoffs is always a priority at the pro level—and is no doubt at the top of the list of the Minor League players—it’s development and growth from their young talent that organizations really seek. That’s what the Minor Leagues are for.

Leading off, Midland RockHounds

First up is a team that did not win a First Half title and is so far positioning themselves for a playoff spot with a strong second half start.

Pitching prevailed for the RockHounds. They were given quality starts from almost the entire rotation. Daniel GossettJoel SeddonBrandon Mann and Ben Bracewell all contributed. A’s top prospect Franklin Barreto hit .435 from July 1st-6th including a three-game hit streak. He also stole 4 of 5 bases. Tyler Marincov went 4-for-4 in July’s first contest with a home run.

 

Photo Credit: Tony Capobianco

Batting second, Tulsa Drillers

No stranger to the top of my weekly lists, the Dodgers’ affiliate found their way back to near poll position. They took two of three from Corpus Christi and three of four from the Missions.

Outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo has been scorching the past two weeks. He hit .462 in the past week and has hit safely in 13 of 14 games dating back to June 23rd. Kyle Garlick had four hits including a home run on July 5th.

Veteran Lars Anderson has hits in every July game he’s started, and blooming top prospectCody Bellinger (interview here) shared a big day with Garlick with three hits and a homer of his own, his 9th of the season. Catcher Shawn Zarraga had six hits and four walks in his return to Double-A.

In the hole, Corpus Christi Hooks

“Dropping” all the way down to third are the Corpus Christi Hooks. Above .500, 4-3 just isn’t the week this club has been accustomed to since May began. The ball was flying over the yard as they gave up 52 runs in seven games, for almost seven and a half per contest.

The post Alex Bregman era has opened some doors in the batting order. J.D. Davis and Derek Fisher are now the top prospects in the lineup. The power hitting Davis hit his 13th long ball mixed into three multi-hit games. Danry Vasquez one-upped Davis with four games of the multiple hit variety including a pair of three-hitters. Vasquez hit .480 from the 2nd to the 7th. New shortstop Jack Mayfield—who swapped places with Bregman from Fresno—also had a trio of multi-hit games. Even when the Hooks lose games they’re providing the Astros organization with constant wins with their young talent’s day-to-day development.

Batting cleanup, Northwest Arkansas Naturals

The Royals’ Double-AA squad used a sweep of struggling Frisco to rescue a week where they lost three of four to the league’s top dog Midland.

All-Star Jake Junis was the first to defeat the RoughRiders with Kyle Bartsch following (in three innings of relief) and then Matt Strahm (eight strikeouts) concluding the three-game sweep.

Kansas City’s top prospect Raul Mondesi returned from suspension on the 5th and went 2-for-5 with a run scored. 2011 second round pick Cam Gallagher hit .300 for the week with just two strikeouts, providing invaluable offense from the catcher spot. All-Star Mauricio Ramos drove in four runs on July 5th.

 

Photo Credit: Tony Capobianco

Hitting 5th, Springfield Cardinals

The champions of the North in the first half did not play poor baseball by any stretch to begin the season’s fourth month, but three wins out of seven games isn’t their preference. They dropped three of four to their fellow First Half champions, the Hooks.

Daniel Poncedeleonwas filthy on July 3rd, albeit in a losing effort. He struck out seven in as many innings, allowing just six base runners.

Second-year pro Paul De Jong had three hits on the first of the month, finished the week with nine and drove in five runs. 6-foot-5 catcher and first baseman Michael Ohlman also had three hits on July 1st. He had a seven-game hitting streak and hits in 12 of 13 before being promoted to Triple-A Memphis this past Wednesday.

Due up 6th, Arkansas Travelers

The Angels’ affiliate won three games but finished tied for bottom of the North in a balanced, competitive week. After beginning the month by being three-hit by Frisco All-Star Connor Sadzeck, they stayed the course for a solid week.

They scored eight runs the next day and were given a dominant outing from All-Star Jordan Kipper. The following game four pitchers combined to one-hit the hot RockHounds, who received only a triple from the previously mentioned Franklin Barreto.

Infielder Andrew Daniel had an eye-popping 13 hits in the first seven games of July. He rocked a .520 average, .800 slugging and ridiculous 1.371 OPS. He has hits in eight of nine ballgames.Caleb Adams—the highest-ranked batter among the Travelers on MLB.Com’s Top 30 Angels prospects list—stole his 9th and 10th bases, both July 5th.

7th, San Antonio Missions

San Antonio looks to start anew in the second half after finishing at the bottom of the South—and the Texas League—in the first. It may be coming for the Missions, but not this week. They faced the two North powerhouses (Springfield and Tulsa) and came up two for seven.

They were, however, treated to an Aaron Northcraft gem in their first of two wins. He pitched seven innings of one-run, three-hit baseball while striking out eight Cardinals. He lowered his ERA to 2.83 with another fine outing.

21-year-old Franchy Cordero was called up from High-A Lake Elsinore on the penultimate day of June. He has inherited and taken quite well to the leadoff spot. He had two hits with a stolen base in his first game, and through the first week of July added another seven hits with three more bags swiped. He has yet to be caught stealing in Double-A (4-4) and hit his first home run for San Antonio on July 7th.

 

Photo Credit: Tony Capobianco

And 8th, Frisco RoughRiders

Things went south and went south quickly for the Frisco RoughRiders. As their parent club started to roll, the Riders have gone in the other direction. Starting 30-13 (69.7 win percentage) they have since gone just 12-28 (30%).

As noted above in the Travelers portion, All-Star Sadzeck was throwing his usual gas with his newfound pinpoint location as the month of July started on a high note for a talented bunch. The potential Major League call-up struck out seven batters and allowed just three hits in six innings of work.

Sadzeck added five more impressive innings to end the week. His stuff wasn’t as dominant; he allowed seven hits but was missing bats as usual with five Ks. His two wins provided the bread to a sandwich with nothing on the inside.

All-Star first baseman Ronald Guzman continued his breakout campaign (interview here). He had two hits on July 1st, 4th and 7th and has a 10-game hitting streak. He’s hit safely in 13 of 14. He also stole his first two bases of the season this week.

Rangers top prospect Lewis Brinson returned from the disabled list with an exclamation point. He had three hits on Thursday including two triples.

Next Week: July 8-13

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