May’s peek into the minors


Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of each month during the regular season, at least up until September call-ups, I will be doing an article detailing a few ups and downs in the Texas Rangers’ farm system.

I’ll take a little peek into each level, from AAA Round Rock down to Low-A Hickory.

Yes, the Texas Rangers organization has lost some at-or-near Major League ready prospects over the past few years in an attempt to acquire talent to help push them into World Series contention.

Some of those deals worked out, some of them did not. That’s why they say there is no sure thing, and that’s why you see some general managers hold on to their top-level prospects for dear life.

But the Texas Rangers have done a very good job of re-stocking through the draft and signing international free agents, which has allowed them to feel comfortable unloading some of their Minor League talent via trade in recent years.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at each affiliate’s highs and lows at the end of May.

AAA Round Rock
High – Brad Snyder, RF (6-3, 220)
Snyder has been a little bit of a journeyman since being drafted 18th overall by the Indians in 2003.  He has been very successful hitting in AAA since 2010 in the Minor League systems of Chicago (Cubs), Houston and now Texas, but he has not been able to flip the switch at the Major League level. He hit .303 and averaged 17 home runs from 2010-13 in AAA, and he has hit .280 with 17 home runs so far this year for the Express. You can argue that he has not gotten many opportunities at the Major League level, though – he has only 37 plate appearances in his career to this point. Snyder, 28, is doing everything he can to keep knocking at the door. In May alone, he hit 10 home runs and drove in 28 runs while carrying a slash line of .287/.336/.620.

Low – Cory Burns, P (6-0, 205)
For a guy that was called up last year, made 10 appearances for the parent club and managed to post a 3.18 ERA, Burns has been pretty paltry so far this year. He had a better May than April, but that isn’t saying much. Burns, 26, posted an ERA of 12.10 in five games in April and 5.00 in May. In May, he appeared in nine games, surrendered 21 hits with three home runs and walked four in just 18 innings.

AA Frisco
High – Jake Smolinski, LF (5-11, 215)
When I have to pick between one of two players to highlight, I’m almost always going to go with pitching. I’m very high on starting pitcher Luke Jackson, who had another very good month, but I’m going with Jake Smolinski for May. Smolinski, 25, is with his third Major League organization. He was drafted in the second round by the Nationals in 2007 and was one of the prospects involved in the deal that also sent Emilio Bonifacio to the Marlins for Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham in 2008. Smolinski is having his best season as a pro in 2014. In May, he hit five homers with 17 RBIs and carried a slash line of .321/.363/.527 while only striking out 19 times in 112 at-bats.

Low – Ryan Rodebaugh, P (6-0, 190)
Rodebaugh, 25, had a very good month of April, posting an ERA of 2.45 and striking out 13 batters in five relief appearances and 7 1/3 innings of work.  But May was much, much different.  Rodebaugh struggled mightily, posting an ERA of 14.21, surrendering 15 hits with six walks in seven relief appearances and just 6 1/3 innings.

High-A Myrtle Beach
High – Joey Gallo, 3B (6-5, 205)
If you’re following the Texas Rangers’ Minor League organizations at all, you’re watching the Pelicans very closely. There is so, so much good going on with Royce Bolinger, Nick Williams, Chris Garia, Jorge Alfaro, Alex Gonzalez, etc. Unfortunately for those guys, they are currently being overshadowed a bit – okay, a lot – by Joey Gallo. Gallo, 20, has drawn more walks this season, 50, than anyone playing professional ball anywhere — including the Major Leagues. In May, he hit 12 of his 21 total home runs with 26 of his 48 total RBIs, walked 26 times and carried a ridiculous slash line of .326/.483/.783. The MLB draft in June usually calls for a shake-up for the entirety of the Minor League system, so don’t be surprised if you see many of Gallo’s current Pelican teammates joining him in trading their powder blue jerseys for the red and black of Frisco very soon.

Low – Zach Cone, OF (6-2, 205)
Cone, 24, might be finding himself in Low-A ball very soon. He hit .203 in May to raise his batting average for the season to .181. He struck out 21 times in 69 at-bats and has struck out 55 times in 138 at-bats for the season. Yuck.

Low-A Hickory
High – Evan Van Hoosier, 2B (5-11, 185)
Joe Jackson – yes he is, in fact, a descendant of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson – has gotten off to a torrid start to his pro career, but he didn’t play the entire month of May as Van Hoosier did. Van Hoosier, 20, piggy-backed a strong April with another strong month, posting a slash line of .312/.376/.552. He hit three home runs, racked up 11 doubles, five triples, swiped five bases while striking out only 26 times in 125 at-bats. Keep an eye on him this month when the shake-up occurs.

Low – Jairo Beras, RF (6-5, 178)
Similar numbers to Cone at Myrtle Beach: A slash line of .214/.267/.286 for the month of May with 28 strikeouts in just 70 at-bats. There’s a big difference between the two, however. Beras is six years younger than Cone and has a much higher ceiling when he gets a little older and grows into his large frame.