All-Affiliate Team: The Best of the Texas Rangers Years

By Spokane Indians | July 31, 2019 1:31 PM

Spokane, Wash. - The Spokane Indians and Texas Rangers have been affiliated for nearly two decades, and during that time have received numerous standout performances from individual players. We brewed a strong pot of coffee, crunched the numbers, and narrowed them down to the best at each position with a few caveats. Position players need to have recorded at least 100 at-bats, while starting pitchers needed at least 10 starts and relievers needed a minimum of 25 innings (apologies to Hans Crouse, Joey Gallo, and Taylor Teagarden who didn't quite make the cut). Keep in mind that this is a list of the best performances while in Spokane, and doesn't factor in future success, which is why you won't see players Ian Kinsler or Mitch Moreland. Without further ado, here's our list of the best individual performances dating back to 2003:


STARTING LINEUP

1B Chris Davis '06 
Key stats: .277, 15 HR, 42 RBI, 18 2B, .876 OPS
Chris Davis staked an early claim to the nickname "Crush" with a strong showing for the Spokane Indians in 2006. After being selected in the fifth round out of Navarro College (Corsicana, TX), the strapping first baseman did nothing but well, crush, the NWL competition in his first summer of pro ball. He reached the majors just two years later with the Rangers, but found his greatest success with the Baltimore Orioles, leading the American League in home runs in 2013 and 2015. Still just 33 years old, Davis has struggled mightily for the O's the past few seasons, but remains in MLB due to his massive contract. 

2B Jason Ogata '09 
Key stats: .366, 5 HR, 42 RBI, 15 2B, .964 OPS
Ogata struggled during his first season with Spokane in 2008 but returned the a vengeance the following year. The former Oregon State Beavers player paced the Indians in batting average (it would be nearly a decade before his .366 average was matched), RBIs and doubles while finishing second in total bases. Despite the bounce-back campaign, Ogata was released the following spring and never played another professional game. 

SS Diosbel Arias '18 
Key stats: .366, 15 2B, 3 HR, 44 RBI, .942 OPS
We're cheating a bit here since Arias spent more time at third base, but there have been surprisingly few standout performances from Spokane shortstops since 2003 (Jurickson Profar held his own as a 17-year-old in 2010, but finished the year with just a .696 OPS). Arias was a bit of an unknown entering the season after arriving from Cuba, but showed he could rake by posting the highest single-season average since Jason Ogata in 2009. The 22-year-old is currently with the Down East Wood Ducks (A+) where he's once again hitting over .300. 

3B Mike Olt '10 
Key stats: .293, 9 HR, 43 RBI, 16 2B, .854 OPS 
Mike Olt is one of the greatest "what-ifs" in recent memory for the Rangers. A first-round pick out of UConn in 2010, Olt made mincemeat out of NWL pitchers that summer with Spokane as he helped lead the Indians to the NWL Championship series. He reached the bigs with Texas in 2012 before being traded to the Cubs along with Carl Edwards Jr. as part of the Matt Garza deal in 2013. Unfortunately for the Cubs and Olt, vision problems stemming from a concussion greatly impacted his performance, and though he spent time in the majors with the Cubs and White Sox in 2014 and 2015, he was never able to regain the form that made him a top prospect. Now 30-years-old, Olt was recently released by the Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks. 

C Mike Nickeas '04 
Key stats: .288, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 18 2B, .877 OPS
A fifth-round pick out of Georgia Tech, Nickeas led a strong Indians offense in 2004 that also featured fellow big leaguers Kevin Mahar, Travis Metcalf, Tug Hulett and Brandon Boggs. The native of Vancouver didn't reach the majors until 2010 with the Mets, where he would spend parts of three seasons before his last MLB stint with Toronto in 2013. He would retire after spending the next season with the Triple-A Buffalo Bison. 

LF Jared Hoying '10 
Key stats: .325, 10 HR, 51 RBI, 20 SB, .921 OPS
Hoying ran away with NWL MVP honors in 2010 and it's easy to see why when looking at his stat line. The University of Toledo product joined a select group of short-season Spokane players that reached double digits in home runs and steals while also notching a .325 average. The outfielder finally reached the majors with Texas in 2016 and also spent time with the Rangers in 2017. Hoying currently plays for the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization, where he is enjoying another strong season after hitting 30 home runs in 2018.

CF LeDarious Clark '15 
Key stats: .276, 8 HR, 7 3B, 12 2B, 29 SB, .825 OPS
Clark was seemingly unstoppable to open the season for Spokane in 2015, and even though he stumbled a bit down the stretch, his final numbers are still the best of any Indians centerfielder in the last two decades. His 27 extra-base hits tied Dylan Moore for the team lead while his 29 steals are the most for a Spokane player since Marco Cunningham swiped 30 in 2000. Injuries have hampered the progress of the 25-year-old since 2015, and Clark currently finds himself with the Double-A Frisco Rough Riders. 

RF Luke Tendler '14 
Key stats: .316, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 18 2B, .921 OPS
Tendler, a 29th-round pick out of North Carolina A & T State University, led a balanced Indians squad (at least six players with 75+ at-bats finished the season hitting above .300) in home runs, RBI, stolen bases and OPS. He was a solid if unspectacular player in the Rangers' system for the next three seasons before being selected by the Red Sox in the Minor League Rule 5 Draft in 2018. The 27-year-old currently plays for Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. 

DH Curtis Terry '18 
Key stats: .337, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 17 2B, 1.040 OPS 
Who else did you expect to see here? The Big Rig slugged his way to an NWL MVP award last year after leading the league in home runs, RBIs, totals bases, and slugging. He also won the NWL vs PBL Home Run Derby and his 1.040 OPS was the highest for a Spokane player since Ken Harvey posted a 1.075 OPS in 2000. Terry started this year in Hickory (A) where he compiled 39 extra-base hits in 62 games before being promoted to the Down East Wood Ducks where he's currently hitting .365 with a 1.056 OPS.

UTIL Dylan Moore '15 
Key stats: .254, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 13 SB, 19 2B, .801 OPS
A versatile defender and patient hitter, Moore was named to the NWL vs PBL All-Star Game in 2015 after being selected in the seventh round out of the University of Central Florida. Moore played all over the diamond for the Indians that season while leading the team in doubles, walks, OBP and RBIs. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves the next season and also spent time in the Milwaukee Brewers organization before reaching the majors with the Seattle Mariners this year, where he currently serves as the team's new Willie Bloomquist. 

STARTING ROTATION

RHP Wes Littleton '03 
Key stats: 6-0, 1.56 ERA, 47 K/8 BB in 52 IP, 0.846 WHIP 
Though just 20 years old when he played for the Indians, Littleton pitched like a seasoned vet against the NWL competition-which was to be expected since the right-hander had played for Team USA in college. A 4th-round pick out of Cal-State Fullerton, Littleton reached the majors in 2006 with Texas and stuck around with the Rangers for three seasons as part of their bullpen. He bounced around the minor leagues and independent ball after that, retiring from the sport following the 2012 season with the Amarillo Sox. 

RHP Clint Brannon '04 
Key stats: 3-2, 0.59 ERA in 61 IP, 0.803 WHIP
Fresh off leading the Arkansas Razorbacks to a College World Series appearance, the 21-year-old Brannon put together one of the finest seasons ever by a Spokane Indians pitcher. The right-hander allowed a mere 35 hits and four earned runs in 61 innings, and didn't yield a single home run. Despite the strong start to his pro career, Brannon was out of baseball just two years later after struggling with the High-A Daytona Cubs in 2006.

RHP Carl Edwards Jr. '12 
Key stats: 2-3, 2.11 ERA, 60 K in 47 IP, 0.957 WHIP
The spindly youngster arrived in Spokane in 2012 as a no-name prospect, but his performance for the Indians that summer certainly changed that. A 48th-round pick (which doesn't even exist anymore) out of high school in South Carolina, the String Bean Slinger dazzled the Avista Stadium faithful with a searing fastball that belied his slightly frame. Edwards allowed just 26 hits in 47 innings and not a single batter managed to clear the fence against him. The right-hander was traded to the Cubs in 2013 and made his big league debut in 2015. He's been a key part in their bullpen ever since, including helping the team to their first World Series title in over 100 years in 2016. 

LHP Robbie Ross '09 
Key stats: 4-4, 2.66 ERA, 76 K in 74.1 IP, 1.143 WHIP
Ross arrived in Spokane as a bonus baby in 2009 and lived up to the hype, finishing second on the Indians in innings and strikeouts, while posting the lowest ERA among starters. The left-hander reached the majors for the first team with Texas in 2012 and pitched well for the Rangers and Boston Red Sox before injuries forced him out of baseball in 2017. The 29 year old is currently attempting a comeback with the Atlantic League's Sugar Land Skeeters. 

RHP Kelvin Vasquez '13 
Key Stats 2-2, 2.13 ERA, 72 K in 63 IP
The 2013 Spokane Indians ended the season at exactly .500, so Vasquez's 2-2 record shouldn't come as a surprise despite allowing only 46 hits in 63.1 innings and leading the league in ERA. Just 20 years old at the time, Vasquez was named the No. 6 prospect in the NWL that season and seemed poised for big things. Unfortunately, 2013 proved to be the peak for Vasquez as he struggled for the next five seasons in affiliated ball. The right-hander currently pitches for the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League. 

BULLPEN

RHP Jon Wilson '05 
Key stats: 3-1, 2.08 ERA, 49 K/4 BB, 0.865 ERA, 11 saves
Despite a 37-39 record, the 2005 Indians squad still won the Eastern Division and went on to beat the Vancouver Canadians for the NWL Championship. Plenty of the credit for their success should go to Wilson, who led the team in appearances (29) and helped to fortify a shaky pitching staff that posted a collective 4.17 ERA. A 27th-round pick out of Winthrop University, Wilson was never able to regain the magic of the 2005 season and was out of baseball just two years later. 

LHP Shane McCain '14 
Key stats: 2-0, 0.31 ERA, 39 K/1 BB in 28.2 IP
Shane McCain pitched the fewest innings of any player on this list, but boy howdy did he make them count. The southpaw from Troy University allowed just 18 baserunners in 28.2 innings (17 hits and just ONE walk) and was charged with only a single earned run in his 15 appearances. McCain also racked up three saves and pitched three innings of Spokane's combined 11-inning no-hitter against the Everett AquaSox on August 10. Injuries and inconsistency stalled his ascent after Spokane, and the left-hander was out of baseball after the 2017 season, but his 39/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with the Indians is a record that will likely never be matched. 

RHP Joe Barlow '17 
Key stats: 6-1, 2.00 ERA, 64 K in 45 IP
An 11th-round pick out of Salt Lake Community College, Barlow was nails out of the bullpen for the Indians in 2017, helping the team to a dramatic season-finale victory that clinched a playoff berth. The right-hander allowed just 28 hits in 45 innings (including zero home runs) and led the team with six wins while topping relievers in strikeouts. Barlow has continued his dominant work with the Down East Wood Ducks (A+) and Frisco Rough Riders (AA) this season, and looks to be on the verge of his first big-league call-up. 

RHP Ryan Schlect '08
Key stats: 4-2, 1.48 ERA, 45 K in 42 IP, 1.008 WHIP
The 2008 Spokane Indians won the NWL title thanks in no small part to an outstanding pitching staff that posted a 3.46 team ERA. Schlect, a 34th-round pick from Mount Olive College in North Carolina, was a key member of that outstanding staff's bullpen, leading the team in appearances (23) while not allowing a single home run. The right-hander struggled the next year in Hickory in what proved to be his final season in baseball. 

RHP Emmanuel Clase '18
Key stats: 1-1, 0.64 ERA, 12 saves, 0.776 ERA
Clase was acquired from San Diego in exchange for Indians alum Brett Nicholas, and after the season Clase put together with Spokane in 2018, it looks like the Padres may be regretting that deal for years to come. The hard-throwing right-hander allowing just two earned runs and 16 hits in 22 appearances while his 12 saves were the highest total for an Indians player since Billy Keppinger had 16 in 2002. Clase started the 2019 season with Down East (A+) but has already reached Frisco (AA) and could find himself in the Rangers bullpen before the year is over. 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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