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South Atlantic League: Rangers prospect Luke Tendler deserves a promotion

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Roundup report of performances in the South Atlantic League over the past week. Hickory outfielder Luke Tendler earns offensive player of the week honors and Nationals prospect Austen Williams outpitches a no-hitter for Hickory. League stats and highlight videos are included.

Hickory's Luke Tendler checks his swing in a 4/14 game against Asheville.
Hickory's Luke Tendler checks his swing in a 4/14 game against Asheville.
Charlie Drysdale

Rangers prospect Luke Tendler was named the offensive player of the week and he's performing as if he's too old for the South Atlantic league-- which he is. Chosen in the 29th round out of North Carolina A&T last season, the 23-year-old is a year and a half older than the rest of his competition in the SAL.

Perhaps the small school scared off some teams; or perhaps his average size lowered his projections. Luke stands 5-foot-11, and weighs 190 pounds according to his bio. That being said, the North Carolina native is doing what he's supposed to, and that's hit with power.

Tendler's four home runs and seven doubles for Hickory lead the league and provide an interesting opportunity for the Rangers with 2011 first round flameout Zach Cone keeping right field warm in High Desert of the High-A California League. Tendler tore up the Northwest league after being drafted last season. A short-season league renowned for being pitcher-friendly, the left-handed hitter launched 11 home runs and put up a slash line of .316/.390/.531 in 67 games.

Imagine those numbers in High Desert, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the minor leagues and Tendler could be a hidden gem to watch. It's still early in the season and I'm probably getting ahead of myself, but when a mature player continues to smoke the ball after being promoted a year out of college, it's a sign that he may be placed too low.

Austen Williams outpitches a no-hitter

Washington Nationals pitching prospect Austen Williams has a good start to the season, allowing just one earned run in his first three starts. The right-handed pitcher outdueled a combined no-hitter against the West Virginia Power in his second start for Hagerstown.

Back on April 15th, Hagerstown hitters used three walks and a hit batsman to score their only run in the first inning against the Pirates affiliate. West Virginia then buckled down and combined to hold Austen's team from getting on base the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, the Texas native was pitching his own gem, allowing just four hits in 5.2 shutout innings and striking out seven batters in the process. Austen has been solid throughout the first month of the season, sporting a 0.57 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning pitched.

Austen was selected by the Nationals in round No. 6 of the 2014 draft out of Texas State University. A big prospect at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Austen has a good command of his slider with depth and late movement. The fastball is still a work in progress as he uses max effort in his delivery to top out around 95 mph, but usually sits in the low 90's. The righthander's repertoire also includes a solid change with movement and he currently profiles as a number four starter or reliever.

Top Performers in the League

Hitters

Name

Team

Age

G

PA

2B

3B

HR

SO

SB

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Brett Austin

White Sox (A)

22

10

42

3

3

0

5

0

0.412

0.488

0.676

221

Luke Tendler

Rangers (A)

23

14

55

7

0

4

12

1

0.346

0.382

0.712

206

Carlos Mesa

Red Sox (A)

27

10

41

3

0

2

13

0

0.324

0.425

0.588

188

Carlos Tocci

Phillies (A)

19

14

62

7

0

1

4

4

0.370

0.452

0.556

186

Chris Curley

White Sox (A)

27

14

57

7

0

3

8

1

0.333

0.368

0.630

181

Jose Trevino

Rangers (A)

22

13

52

2

0

4

5

0

0.340

0.365

0.620

178

Alex Murphy

Orioles (A)

20

14

59

5

1

2

10

0

0.320

0.407

0.580

176

Eduard Pinto

Rangers (A)

20

13

49

4

1

0

1

1

0.404

0.429

0.532

175

Malquin Canelo

Phillies (A)

20

13

59

8

0

1

8

2

0.294

0.410

0.549

174

Forrest Wall

Rockies (A)

19

12

44

2

2

1

7

2

0.316

0.409

0.553

173

Pitchers

Name

Team

Age

ERA

G

GS

IP

TBF

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

K/9

Jordan Guerrero

White Sox (A)

21

0.50

3

3

18.0

64

9

2

1

0

3

21

10.50

Austen Williams

Nationals (A)

22

0.57

3

3

15.2

60

13

3

1

0

2

15

8.88

Sebastian Vader

Orioles (A)

23

0.69

2

2

13.0

48

10

1

1

0

2

6

4.15

Emilio Ogando

Royals (A)

21

0.73

3

1

12.1

52

10

6

1

1

4

13

9.67

Luis Ortiz

Rangers (A)

19

0.79

3

3

11.1

52

15

3

1

1

3

12

9.73

John Means

Orioles (A)

22

1.50

2

2

12.0

46

8

2

2

1

1

13

9.75

Helmis Rodriguez

Rockies (A)

21

2.04

3

3

17.2

71

19

5

4

1

4

8

4.19

Pedro Fernandez

Royals (A)

21

2.08

3

2

13.0

51

7

4

3

0

5

15

10.38

Thaddius Lowry

White Sox (A)

20

2.25

2

2

12.0

47

11

4

3

0

1

10

7.50

Nathanael Santiago

Giants (A)

25

2.45

4

1

11.0

42

8

4

3

1

1

14

11.45

Stats through 4/24

Highlights of the Week

Pirates: Jordan Luplow, a third round pick in 2014, hits an opposite-field double.

Yankees: DSL standout Luis Cedeno shows off a snappy breaking ball in this highlight from his five shutout inning debut for Charleston this week. This kid as a career 0.76 ERA.

Red Sox: 19-year-old shortstop Javier Guerra drives a ball to the right-center gap for a triple.

Giants: 2014 second round pick, Aramis Garcia takes a hanging curve off the jumbotron.

Rockies: No. 35 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Forrest Wall drives a triple off the right-center wall.

Royals: Kansas City's No. 12 prospect, Elier Hernandez goes deep for his first home run of the year.