Pelicans dominate Carolina League on top-prospects list

Capping off a highly successful first season as a Texas Rangers’ affiliate, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans placed more players on Baseball America’s Top 20 Prospect list than any other Carolina League team this week.

The national publication’s list included pitchers Miguel de los Santos, Robbie Erlin, Justin Grimm, Robbie Ross and Joe Wieland, as well as infielders Leury Garcia and Mike Olt. League champion Frederick, led by No. 1 prospect shortstop Manny Machado, and Lynchburg each contributed three players to the list, which was published in the September 29th edition.

“No club in the league could match Myrtle Beach’s depth in prospects,” wrote Baseball America writer J.J. Cooper. “The Pelicans placed seven players on the Top 20, led by third baseman Mike Olt, and righthanders Barrett Loux and Johan Yan and outfielder Ryan Strausborger didn’t miss this list by much.”

The Pelicans won the Carolina League Southern Division first-half championship and went on to fall to the Kinston Indians in the opening round of the playoffs. It marked Myrtle Beach’s first postseason appearance since 2008 in the inaugural season of affiliation with the Rangers.

“One of the exciting elements we considered in affiliating with the Rangers was the team’s commitment to both developing future Major Leaguers and winning in the minor leagues,” said Pelicans GM Scott Brown. “Texas more than lived up to its reputation as one of the top organizations in baseball in our first year partnering with them,” Brown added.  “Winning is contagious, and all Pelicans fans look forward to another great season in 2012 of what hopefully will feature a World Championship defense by our parent club.”

Olt ranked third on the overall list and propelled the Birds to the Southern Division’s first half title. The Rangers’ supplemental first round pick out of the University of Connecticut suffered a broken collarbone in a home plate collision on June 6th but returned in late August and led the club with 14 home runs despite missing 66 games. Olt’s neighbor on the left side of the Pelicans infield, Leury Garcia, made the list as the 16th best prospect. A switch-hitting shortstop from the Dominican Republic, Garcia tied for sixth in the circuit with 30 stolen bases.

Solid starting pitching in the season’s first half led by the trio of Erlin (No. 5 on Top 20), Ross (No. 17) and Wieland (No. 9) helped the Pelicans lock up its first playoff berth since 2008. Southpaw Erlin made nine starts for Myrtle Beach, posting a 2.14 ERA in 54 2/3 innings during which he allowed only 25 hits and 62 strikeouts before his promotion to Double-A Frisco in late May. His staff mate Joe Wieland shined as well with six wins and a 2.10 ERA plus 96 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings. After starting for the Carolina League squad in the All-Star Game, the Reno righthander moved up to Frisco. Ultimately, the Rangers bundled both Erlin and Wieland in a late July trade for San Diego reliever Mike Adams.

Left-hander Robbie Ross anchored the starting rotation for most of the season in which he compiled a 9-4 record and a 2.26 ERA over 20 starts. The Carolina League’s managers and media named him the “Pitcher of the Year” in part because of his 98 strikeouts against only 28 walks over 123 1/3 innings. After the trade of Erlin and Wieland, Ross jumped to Double-A in early August to fill the holes in the Frisco rotation.

Mid-season promotions are part of the landscape in the minors, and the Rangers supplied the pitching reinforcements with Grimm (No. 18) and de los Santos (No. 19). Grimm, the Rangers fifth rounder in 2010 out of the University of Georgia, joined Myrtle Beach from Hickory on May 27 and allowed just 84 hits in 90-plus innings while posting a record of 5-2 and a 3.39 ERA.

De los Santos, a member of Texas’ 40-man roster, continued his climb up the ladder after missing much of 2007 & 2008 due to “Tommy John” surgery. The 23-year-old lefthander arrived in Myrtle Beach for the season’s second half. In 13 appearances (12 starts), this hard-throwing native of the Dominican Republic allowed only 46 hits and 28 walks hitters while striking out 97 over the course of 63 2/3 innings en route to a 6-3 record.

The following represents Baseball America’s complete Carolina League Top 20 Prospect List: 1) Manny Machado, SS, Frederick; 2) Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Kinston; 3) Mike Olt, 3B, MB; 4) Andrelton Simmons, SS, Lynchburg; 5) Robbie Erlin, LHP, MB; 6) Jonathan Schoop, 2B/SS, Frederick; 7)Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Wilmington; 8) Bryce Brentz, OF, Salem; 9) Joe Wieland, RHP, MB; 10) Christian Bethancourt, C, Lynchburg; 11) Zeke Spruill, LHP, Lynchburg; 12) Destin Hood, OF, Potomac; 13) Sammy Solis, LHP, Potomac; 14) Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Salem; 15) Bobby Bundy, RHP, Frederick; 16) Leury Garcia, SS, MB; 17) Robbie Ross, LHP, MB; 18) Justin Grimm, RHP, MB; 19) Miguel de los Santos, LHP, MB; 20) Tyler Saladino, SS, Winston-Salem.

Season tickets for the 2012 campaign are on sale now at BB&T Coastal Field, the home of the Pelicans. For more information log onto www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com or call 1-877-918-TIXX or 843-918-6000.

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