RHP Alex Speas repeats as organization’s Reliever of the Month award winner

July 13th, 2023

Arlington, Texas — The Texas Rangers today announced the organization’s minor league award winners for June:

Player of the Month – 1B Abimelec Ortiz

Starting Pitcher of the Month – RHP Josh Stephan

Reliever of the Month – RHP Alex Speas

Defender of the Month – OF Geisel Cepeda

Ortiz, 21, slashed .374/.442/.723/1.165 (31-83) with 8 home runs and 22 RBI across 22 games with Hickory (A+) last month, earning South Atlantic League Player of the Month honors for June. The Puerto Rico native led the circuit in batting average, home runs, RBI, total bases (60), runs (19), and hits (tied) last month, and his OPS figure ranked third among league qualifiers. He finished June with a 14-game hitting streak, and hit 5 home runs over his last 7 games in the month. In 62 games between Down East (A) and Hickory this season, Ortiz has slashed .330/.403/.679/1.082 (74-224) with 19 home runs, 4 triples, 13 doubles, and 59 RBI. He ranks among all affiliated minor league batters (min. 200 PA) in both slugging pct. (2nd) and OPS (3rd), and his 19 home runs lead all Texas farmhands.

The 21-year-old Stephan went 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA (6 ER/25.0 IP) and 32 strikeouts across 5 games/starts for Hickory in June, holding opponents to a .195/.247/.356/.604 (17-87) slash line. He went undefeated (3-0) across his final 3 starts in the month, posting double-digit strikeouts on both June 14 vs. Bowling Green (W, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R-ER, 0 BB, 11 SO) and June 28 vs. Greensboro (W, 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 SO). A Dallas-Fort Worth area native and graduate of South Grand Prairie High School, Stephan was recently promoted to Frisco (AA) and made his Double-A debut in a start on July 4 vs. Midland (ND, 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R-ER, 1 BB, 5 SO). Overall, he is 6-3, 2.30 ERA (17 ER/66.2 IP) in 13 appearances/12 starts between Hickory and Frisco this season, ranking among Rangers minor leaguers in wins (T2nd) and strikeouts (3rd, 78). 

Speas, 25, has now earned back-to-back Texas Minor League Reliever of the Month awards (also May) after he was scoreless in 14.0 innings across 9 relief outings in June with Frisco and Round Rock (AAA). He held opponents to a .149 (7-47) batting average and fanned 22 of 51 (43.1%) batters faced last month, recording multiple punch outs in each of his last 5 outings. The Powder Springs, Ga. native has combined to go 3-0 with 2 saves and a 1.06 ERA (4 ER/34.0 IP) over 27 relief outings this season across the Double-A and Triple-A levels, ranking among affiliated minor league hurlers (min. 30.0 IP) in ERA (4th) and strikeout pct. (10th, 40.9%).

The 25-year-old Cepeda has yet to commit an error this season over 40 games/starts in left field for Hickory. His totals in the outfield for 2023: 353.0 innings, 82 total chances, 79 putouts, 3 assists, one double play, zero errors. Over 17 games in June, Cepeda had no errors across 30 total chances (29 putouts, one assist). The Cuba native was signed by Texas as a minor league free agent on Jan. 15, 2023.