Class AAA

Sounds like Tennessee, Redbirds ready at home

Morristown’s Brett Martin is part of the pitching staff for the Nashville Sounds as the Class AAA Pacific Coast League schedule begins. (photo by Mike Morrow)

The Nashville Sounds are promoting the heavy presence of Tennesseans on their roster as a first-year AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers, and it’s easy to see why.

Former Morristown-Hamblen East High School and Walters State Community College pitcher Brett Martin, who is on the Rangers’ 40-man roster, is among a group of Tennessee products on the Sounds team that opens its Pacific Coast League schedule Thursday. The Sounds host the Iowa Cubs in the first of a five-game series that runs through Monday.

Meanwhile, the AAA Memphis Redbirds open their PCL schedule Thursday at home against the Omaha Storm Chasers, the AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

Martin was drafted out of Walters State. He began his college career at Tennessee. The left-hander pitched last season at AA Frisco. The Rangers took Martin in the fourth round of the 2014 draft.

The Sounds’ roster includes left-handed pitcher Zac Curtis, who played at Hendersonville High School and Middle Tennessee State University. He has pitched for three different major league clubs, Arizona, Seattle and Philadelphia before joining the Rangers organization this season. Curtis, 26, was born on the Fourth of July.

Tim Dillard, who at age 35 is the all-time leader in wins for the Sounds with 39, has played parts of eight seasons with the club as part of the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Dillard has pitched 556 innings with the Sounds and could break the club record for strikeouts this year if he can get 19 to overtake Jamie Werly. Dillard is 1-4 in the majors, all appearances with the Brewers. He’s a crowd favorite with the Sounds. He played the last four seasons for Colorado Springs, the AAA affiliate of the Brewers.

The Sounds’ roster includes four players listed by mlb.com as among the top 30 prospects for the Rangers, including left-handed pitcher Taylor Hearn, ranked 11th, lefty C.D. Pelham, ranked 15th, infielder Eli White, 16th, and catcher Joe Trevino, 25th.

Rosters are firming up by the day in the minors. This week the Rangers sent pitcher Kyle Bird to Nashville, called up pitcher Adrian Sampson from the Sounds and traded pitcher Connor Sadzeck to Seattle for pitcher Grant Anderson.

Among other recent moves, the Rangers formally called up infielder Logan Forsythe from the Sounds. Forsythe played at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis before playing for the University of Arkansas.

The Memphis roster is loaded with 10 of MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Cardinals prospects, including third baseman Elihuris Montero, ranked 4th; outfielder Lane Thomas who played at Bearden High School in Knoxville, 8th; left-handed pitcher Genesis Cabrera, 9th; right-handed pitcher Ryan Helsley, 10th; infielder Edmundo Sosa, 11th; right-handed pitcher Connor Jones, 17th; right-handed pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon, 16th; right-handed pitcher Jake Woodford, 25th; infielder Ramon Urias, 26th; and second baseman Max Schrock, 27th.

An assessment of the Cardinals’ organization by Michael Avallone at milb.com put Helsley in the “back and healthy” category, saying shoulder problems have probably kept him out of the major leagues thus far.

Avallone’s report said, “Whatever the reason, Helsley has proven extremely hard to hit as evidenced by his .212 opponent’s batting average in 65 career minor league appearances. The Oklahoma native is healthy and will begin the year in Triple-A, but his name could be among the first called when St. Louis inevitably needs an arm at the big league level.”

The same report said Ponce de Leon “has done nothing but succeed in the minors and during a short stint in the bigs last year.” Avallone also reported that the fifth-ranked Montero has the makings of a future star.

Categories: Class AAA

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