Amarillo Sod Poodles Series Preview: 5/16-19 at Frisco Roughriders

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Credit: Sod Poodles

After taking two out of three from the Rockhounds, first place Frisco awaits Amarillo in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Sod Poodles (16-21) took two of three from the Rockhounds winning their second series in May (Springfield May 3rd).

Amarillo was lead by a pair of four-for-four outings by shortstop Owen Miller and outfielder Buddy Reed, and great outings from the starting pitching. The finale was one to see, as the 20-year-old Andres Munoz lit up the radar gun delivering a sequence of 103 & 104 mph pitches before dropping a perfectly placed slider at 85 mph to lock down the series victory and the save.

The Sod Poodles have traveled to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to take on the first place Frisco Roughriders (22-17). This is a Frisco team that a majority of the rotation, when healthy, is almost entirely made up of Texas Rangers top 30 prospects. The Sod Poodles will likely not have to face Brock Burke (#9 Prospect) or Tyler Phillips (#13 Prospect) as Burke is on the Injured List and Phillips just made his Double-A debut and is not listed as a probable starter.

Amarillo will have a significant opportunity to make up ground in the Texas League South this four-game series and can pull as close as one game with a sweep. The Sod Poodles are five games back of the Roughriders in the Texas League South.

Here are the probable yet unofficial starters:

Game 1: (Thursday, May 16th – 7:05 P.M. CDT) Lake Bachar (0-1, 3.38) vs. Joe Palumbo (0-0, 3.82)

Lake Bachar has been statistically the best pitcher for Amarillo so far this season, and after spending one start at Lake Elsinore, he is back in a Soddies uniform. Bachar’s only start in High Single-A after being sent down, he tossed six innings allowing two earned runs, walking two, and striking out seven. That start also continued Bachar’s impressive streak of not allowing more than two earned runs in any start in 2019. Bachar will need to put Roughriders away after getting ahead in the count, something he has struggled with so far this year. 

Texas Rangers #7 prospect Joe Palumbo’s frame may fool you, as he is not very big with his 6-foot-1 168 lbs frame. His ability to pitch and not just throw has impressed those in the Rangers organization, being that he doesn’t have the 99 mph heat you expect out of a starter today. While his speed isn’t as slow as Sod Poodles starter Kyle Lloyd, Palumbo uses his lower 90’s fastball to set up and absolute sledgehammer of a curveball. That curveball is what some consider to be the best in the Rangers organization. Palumbo has also been a model for consistency, going no less than 4.2 IP in any start in 2019 so far, but will face only his fourth different team this year after facing the Midland Rockhounds four times already. The 24-year-old will likely make his Major League debut either this year or the next with Texas, giving him a chance to show off his curveball.

Game 2: (Tuesday, May 14th – 7:05 P.M. CDT) Reggie Lawson (3-1, 5.20) vs. Pedro Payano (3-0, 4.02)

Reggie Lawson had one of his more mediocre starts against the Hooks in his last outing, after throwing a gem against Springfield. 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 massive part of the reason for his success against the Cardinals just two starts ago. Lawson will look to replicate that performance against a right-handed heavy Frisco team on the road.

Credit: Sod Poodles

Outside of an outlier against Springfield in which he gave up six earned runs in 4.2 innings pitched and a season high in hits, Payano has only allowed more than three earned runs one time. This is something that you will see remain constant, as the Frisco starters this season have been a huge part of their Texas League South-leading success. The outing in Springfield was his shortest of the year, going at least five innings in every other start this season. The Sod Poodles will catch Payano at home where he has struggled in two starts at Dr. Pepper Ballpark, giving up nine earned runs in 9.2 innings. Unlike Palumbo, Payano has been almost unhittable when he gets ahead in the count, surrendering only two hits as hitters are batting .065 when they fall behind. Payano has a little bit of a walk problem, having not walked less than two batters to this point in the season.

Game 3: (Wednesday, May 15th – 7:05 P.M. CDT) Miguel Diaz (0-0, 1.35)  vs. Jonathan Hernandez (2-2, 6.61)

Miguel Diaz is still on his rehab assignment, after going 3.2 innings in his last outing. Diaz has been sharp both starts in terms of staying out of trouble, allowing only a single run in his 6.2 innings with the Sod Poodles. Per usual with rehab assignments the Sod Poodles will let Diaz go a little further with his pitch count in his next start, after throwing 61 and 67 in his first two outings. One thing that has remained constant from 2018 is Diaz walk rate, walking five batters in those 6.2 innings of work. Part of the reason the walk rate is so high is that Diaz has only thrown strikes 54% of the time, well below the MLB average of 65%. Diaz will be with the team for the time being and will continue in his recovery.

Texas Rangers #8 prospect Jonathan Hernandez got off to a slow start again in 2018 like he has most of his career. Hernandez could still make his major league debut very soon despite his recent struggles because of the youth movement the Rangers are trying to grasp this season. Hernandez showcases a combination of a pair of fastballs and a slider that tails away quickly after seeing a mid-90’s fastball on your hands the pitch before. His starts have been sporadic at best, alternating good starts and bad ones. In the two bad outings in his last four starts. He allowed seven earned runs each. If the trend continues, he is due for another one after having an average start against the Hooks in his last outing.

Game 4: (Thursday, May 19th – 4:05 P.M. CDT) Adrian Morejon (0-3, 6.89) vs. Edgar Arredondo (3-1, 5.46)

Adrian Morejon “is going to be brought back extremely slowly” according to Sod Poodles manager Phillip Wellman, so we shouldn’t expect to see more than two innings out of the Padres #5 prospect. This will be Morejon’s second start since coming off the Injured List for an injured shoulder, with his first being a two-inning five strikeout performance outing against Midland which he threw 34 pitches. Morejon will likely be followed out of the pen by one of the starters that haven’t already pitched in the series, with Emmanuel Ramirez being the likely candidate in this scenario.

Credit: John E. Moore/ Sod Poodles

A Carolina League All-Star just a year ago, Arrendondo is coming off three straight outings of five innings pitched. Arrendondo has demonstrated a less than impressive 2/1 strikeout to walk ratio, which is surprising given that up until this season he had averaged about a strikeout per inning in his professional career. The former Mexican Leaguer has four pitches, none of them being outstanding according to scouts with his highest grade being in his control. The right-hander will look to continue the success he had in his last start against the Rockhounds, likely facing Morejon and the Sod Poodles bullpen in the rubber match.

Players to Watch:

Frisco Roughriders: Andretty Cordero  (1B)

Cordero has come alive in May, recording multi-hit games in five out of his last ten, hitting .325 over that stretch. He has been much better at home in Frisco hitting .321 and an even better .439 with runners in scoring position. Only one of those RBI have come off left-handed pitching, luckily for him, the only southpaw starter that the Sod Poodles could throw at him would be Morejon who would only pitch for around the two innings mentioned above. He is not a power threat as he only has two home runs in 2019, but will drive in runs in spots that matter.

Amarillo Sod Poodles: Andres Munoz (CL)

Easily the most talked about Sod Poodle currently, Munoz collected his third save of 2019 while showing the Rockhounds his signature gas, hitting 104 on the radar gun. While that fastball is phenomenal to watch and keeps the fans in awe, it is his slider that seems to be the most crucial pitch in his repertoire. If his slider is on then not only do batters have to worry about the possibility of triple-digit heat, but also a slider that he can spot after breaking the length of the plate. The next step for Munoz is if he can pitch back to back days, something Sod Poodles manager Phillip Wellman said they are “getting close” to doing.

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