San Diego Padres’ shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. starts his rehab assignment for the Amarillo Sod Poodles (28-26) just in time for a first-place showdown with the Frisco Roughriders (29-27) at home.
Amarillo only dropped one game in the previous series against Midland as Brian Howard picked up another win, adding to his Texas League-leading total. The Sod Poodles would respond the next day collecting 25 hits over the next two games of the series, giving the team it’s third straight series win.
The Soddies have without a doubt been the hottest team in the league, winning eight of their last ten games, including holding a 5-2 record in all seven games in Frisco.
It was announced on Sunday that Padres’ phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. would begin his rehab in Amarillo Monday. The number two prospect in all of baseball has been sidelined since April 28 with a hamstring injury, after helping lead the Padres to an 18-15 record with him in the lineup.
Amarillo is now tied with these same Frisco Roughriders for first place in the Texas League South. The Sod Poodles have returned to Hodgetown where they hold a 16-9 record. On the other side, Frisco is the only team in the league to have a better road record (15-11) than home (14-16). This will be the first trip for the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate to Bomb City since a team was returned to Amarillo this year.
Here are the probable yet unofficial starters:
Game 1: (Monday, June 3 – 7:05 P.M. CDT) RHP Esmerling Vazquez (1-2, 4.40) vs. RHP Kyle Lloyd (2-0, 2.86)
It’s not often that you see a 35-year old in Double-A, but it also isn’t often that you see a player not play professional baseball in the United States for six years and come back. The Rangers added Vazquez to their minor league spring training after he had an excellent showing, returning to baseball in the States after tearing up the Mexican League in 2018 in his return. The righty made his major league debut over ten years ago (4/26/2009), making him an interesting mirror to the Sod Poodles player to watch this week.
After being dominant as a reliever as of late, Kyle Lloyd will return to the hill as a starter in a huge Texas League series for the Soddies. Lloyd has only allowed two runs in his last seven outings, one of those outings includes his only start of 2019 so far. The right-hander out of Evansville went five innings only allowing one run on five hits and a walk against Midland on May 14. Starting is nothing new to Lloyd, as he has started over 60% of his games in his minor league career and includes one major league outing. It’s beginning to look like Amarillo is using Lloyd as a utility pitcher, filling in where ever he needs too, as he has recorded three saves while also starting a game.
2019 has not been kind to Pena, who is posting a 7.44 ERA in Triple-A Nashville. The 25-year-old had been torn apart at the Triple-A level before being sent down to Frisco just last week. The Texas League is nothing new to Pena, making an appearance in Double-A for the fourth season in a row. Pena will look to see if he can return to the form he was in the last time he was in the Double-A in 2018 posting a 2.43 ERA in 11 starts for Frisco as a Texas League All-Star.
In two appearances against the Roughriders, Ramirez had two very different outcomes. The Puerto Plata native dominated in his last start throwing only 66 pitches (48 strikes) in a huge victory in one half of the doubleheader. In that start, Ramirez went five innings on two hits, no walks, and six strikeouts leading the way for Michel Baez to shut the door. This was a stark contrast to his last Frisco outing when he gave up five runs on eight hits. This is an exact match-up of their last outings as the right-handers will duel with first place likely on the line.
A lot like Emmanuel Ramirez, Edgar Arredondo has had two very different outings against this series opponent. The right-hander spun a gem against Amarillo in his last outing, but it was not enough to get the win, wasting five shutout innings with no run support. Arredondo has struggled to finish innings, allowing 46% of his earned runs with two away in the inning. Arredondo has gone ten innings without walking a batter after allowing ten walks in his previous 20.1 innings pitched. Arredondo shows up will likely have a huge effect on the standings at the end of the series.
Jesse Scholtens had easily his best start of 2019 in his last outing against these same first place Frisco Roughriders. Scholtens delivered seven shutout innings of two-hit baseball in what would have been a complete game being part of the doubleheader. The Soddies failed to score until the eighth inning but still allowed Scholtens to collect the victory.
Players to Watch:
Frisco Roughriders: CD Pelham (RP)
2019 Stats: 0-0 / 9.00 ERA / 2.75 WHIP
Frisco as a team has gone cold as of late, so finding a player to watch that wasn’t Juremi Profar was tough, but I landed on reliever CD Pelham. The 6’6 left-hander has experience at the major league level with Texas, so the makeup for Pelham to be a good reliever is there. The former basketball standout has struggled since returning to the minors, allowing 15 earned runs in just 10.1 innings pitched with the Rangers Triple-A Affiliate Nashville Sounds.
Amarillo Sod Poodles: Fernando Tatis Jr. (IF)
2019 Stats (MLB): .300/.360/.550/.910
Did you expect anyone else? When you have the future of the organization in front of you, you watch intensely because anytime he’s involved in a play, there is a chance to see greatness. The 20-year old human highlight reel made his presence felt in San Diego quickly, collecting his first hit off of Madison Bumgarner. This is a prospect that many believe is a once in a lifetime player, and as good as his numbers have been at the big league level they don’t do him justice. Tatis is a 20-year old that is the youngest player on the Sod Poodles roster, making him almost an entire year younger than fellow Padres top 30 prospect Hudson Potts. To put into perspective Tatis will likely face Esmerling Vasquez on Monday, a matchup with 15-years in between adversaries. Tatis is a can’t miss prospect that only adds more firepower to an already hot first place Sod Poodles team.