After a disappointing series against the Hooks in which the Sod Poodles (14-20) could only steal one game, losing two in extra innings, the Midland Rockhounds (18-17) are back in Amarillo.
The Rockhounds come in town after losing three out of four to Frisco at home. The Rockhounds have had the Soddies number in 2019, going 5-1 against the new Padres affiliate, including spoiling the home opener at Hodgetown.
Their roster consists of eight of Oakland’s top 30 prospects with the possibility to have more because of the talent sitting in A+ Stockton currently.
The three-game series with Midland is just the first of two series in which the Soddies can make up ground on the Texas League South Division leader, the Frisco Rough Riders (21-15), where the Soddies will head on Wednesday night. Every team in the South Division has struggled lately, none with a winning record in their last ten games.
The Sod Poodles are six games back of Frisco in the Texas League South.
Here are the probable unofficial starters:
Seddon is making his 2019 Double-A debut after spending time in Triple-A Las Vegas and A+ Stockton. Seddon struggled in Stockton but was promoted due to Parker Dunshee being moved up to Las Vegas after a spectacular start. The man taking his spot on the Rockhound’s roster has not had the hottest start and has struggled no matter what position he has been in so far in 2019. He has struggled as a starter posting an 8.59 ERA in two starts in A+, collecting losses in both outings. As a reliever, he has been better recording a 4.26 ERA in just one inning less of work out of the bullpen. After being reassigned on May 12, we will have to see if a change of scenery will change the outcome for the former 11th round pick.
Scholtens has waited eight days since his last start after the rain jumbled the rotation. Against Arkansas, Scholtens looked strong through the first four innings of his start before the Travelers bats game alive the second time through the lineup. The Travelers would hang four runs in the fifth and add another in the sixth that would eventually chase the Padres prospect. Good news for Sod Poodles fans is that the last time that Scholtens matched up with the Rockhounds he had very little trouble going five innings while allowing only one earned run. Scholtens has been inconsistent as of late, alternating a good start with a bad, but regardless of what has happened outside of two starts, he has always provided depth getting into the 5th inning.
Naile is coming off back to back horrendous starts, where he allowed 12 earned runs in just five innings against Tulsa and Frisco. He showed promise before the cold stretch putting up three consecutive quality starts, and even going seven innings against that same Roughriders team in Midland. His worst start by far came on April 9th in Hodgetown against the Soddies when Brad Zunica took him deep twice in two innings during his hot start of the season. That day in Amarillo, Naile gave up eight earned runs in just three innings pitched, in a start where his secondary pitches were almost nonexistent. Will this be a repeat of Naile’s last start in Amarillo or will he adjust?
Reggie Lawson had one of his more mediocre starts against the Hooks in his last outing, after throwing a gem against Springfield. Lawson will face a Midland team that he struggled to figure out in his first outing, going five innings in his 2019 debut. The left-handed Nate Mondou and switch-hitting Jonah Heim did most of the damage, going a combined 5/5 against Lawson with Heim adding home run. If you’re right handed then you have probably had a hard time with Lawson as righties have only hit .160 all season long. Lawson will look to utilize his changeup again tonight, as it was a huge part of the reason for his success against the Cardinals in the same building just two starts ago.
Game 3: (Wednesday, May 15th – 7:05 P.M. CDT) Brian Howard (3-1, 2.37) vs. T.J. Weir (2-2, 7.43)
After talking about the previous two Oakland prospects struggling as of late, Howard is going the exact opposite direction. The A’s #21 prospect has posted some of the best numbers in the Texas League so far in 2019, as seen above with his ERA. As for experience against the Soddies, Howard has yet to allow a run against the team from Bomb City in 11 innings pitched. Those appearances include one at home in Midland and one right here at Hodgetown. The A’s love his massive 6’9 frame as it gives him the ability to fill it out, and hope that he will be apart of their rotation in the future. The Soddies will have to finally figure the former TCU Horned Frog and his sinker in the rubber match.
The struggles continued for T.J. Weir in Corpus Christi, giving up six earned runs in four innings with an uncharacteristic five walked batters. Almost all of Weir’s damage in 2019 has come off the bat of lefties, who are responsible for 15 of his 19 earned runs this season in just 10.1 innings. Lefties on the season against Weir are hitting .378, bloating his ERA against them to 12.06, as opposed to 2.84 against batters on the other side of the batter’s box. Weir will look to stop his skid against the Rockhound’s, a team he has yet to face in the 2019 campaign.
Players to Watch:
Midland Rockhounds: Jonah Heim (C)
Finding a switch-hitting catcher is rare, as the Padres possess their own in Francisco Mejia, and even rarer in when you have one that leads the team in batting average (.280). Heim has given the Sod Poodles problems in 2019, hitting .357 in 15 at-bats, including going 2/2 against likely game two starter Reggie Lawson. In my opinion, the biggest threat is his arm behind the plate, Hiem has thrown out 43% of baserunners in 2019 preventing runners from advancing into scoring position, and creating more trouble for his battery mates on the mound.
Amarillo Sod Poodles: Edward Olivares (OF)
Olivares has continued to stay hot, reaching base in 10 of his last 11 games, and hitting .318 over that stretch. He is doing it in all sorts of ways after his slow start, leading the team in stolen bases (9) and playing well in the outfield in tough wind conditions in Amarillo. Olivares has preferred to hit at home in front of the Sod Poodles faithful, as he has dominated pitching at Hodgetown, slashing .371/.424/.796/1.220 on the year. Despite the home numbers Olivares will have to make a heel turn against a team that he is a combined 3/22 on the year against, but with him hitting the ball better that could change quickly.