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Spokane Indians kick off home slate after strong season-opening road trip

Spokane Indians manager Kenny Hook introduces his team during Fan Fest on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at Avista Stadium in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Indians manager Kenny Hook introduces his team during Fan Fest on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at Avista Stadium in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane Indians opened the 2019 season on the road for the first time since 2005. It was a positive seven-game stretch as the Indians, under new manager Kenny Hook, won five of seven against Vancouver and Salem-Keizer – the team’s best start since 2014.

The squad returns to Avista Stadium to kick off the home slate on Friday at 6:35 p.m. against Boise. After four games with the Hawks, the Indians will match up against Tri-City for three games midweek before hitting the road again.

While the team isn’t boasting prodigious power yet, with three home runs through seven games, the offensive is benefiting from timely production and good execution.

Infielder Jonah McReynolds, on his third tour of duty with the team, leads the Indians in hitting after the first week of the season with a .444 average and .583 on-base percentage – third and first in the Northwest League, respectively.

Also off to a good start is outfielder Obie Ricumstrict, who is hitting .333/.467/.667 with a homer, seven RBIs and three stolen bases after seven games.

Texas Rangers No. 29 prospect catcher David Garcia has played in just three of the team’s first seven games – there are four catchers on the roster – and he has three hits in 12 trips with an RBI.

Outfielder Luis Asuncion, who played the past three seasons with Tri-City, is the team’s third-leading hitter at .273/.304/.545 with a home run and four RBIs.

The Indians have picked up several quality pitching performances thus far.

Opening Day starter Ricky Vanasco, a 20-year-old 15th round pick from the 2017 draft, tossed four shutout innings on June 14 against Vancouver with seven strikeouts. Lefty Joshua Javier followed two days later with four shutout innings of his own, allowing only one hit with no walks and six strikeouts.

Reliever Sam Hellinger, a minor league free agent who played college ball at Gonzaga, has a win and a save in his two appearances. He earned the save on Sunday, striking out both batters he faced, then got the win on Tuesday, tossing three shutout innings and allowing one hit and one walk with a K.

Four Indians pitchers haven’t allowed an earned run in two appearances, including Werner Leal and Teodoro Ortega, who have both registered more strikeouts than innings pitched.

Looking ahead

The Rangers have yet to make any big adjustments to the opening day roster, but with a draft heavy on college players the Indians could very well see a few of them in Spokane before the summer heats up too much.

Josh Jung, the Rangers’ first round pick at No. 8 overall, is still playing third base in the college World Series with Texas Tech and isn’t eligible to sign until his season is over. The Red Raiders play Michigan on Friday in an elimination game for Texas Tech. If the Red Raiders beat the Wolverines, the teams will play again on Saturday for a trip to the national final.

The Rangers’ competitive-balance pick (No. 41 overall), 3B Davis Wendzel from Baylor, is still negotiating. The Rangers signed their second-round selection, RHP Ryan Garcia from UCLA, on Tuesday.

Overall, Texas has signed 13 of its 41 selections from draft day, including six of its top 10 picks: RHP Justin Slaten (third round, New Mexico), CF Kellen Strahm (fifth round, San Jose State), RHP John Mathews (eighth round, Kent State), RHP Zak Kent (ninth round, VMI) and RHP Joe Corbett (10th round, West Texas A&M).

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