AAA: Round Rock 1, El Paso (SDG) 13
Round Rock: 4 hits, 2 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 16 hits, 6 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 0-1, 1 GB
SP Jake Latz: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 4.50 ERA
RP Tyson Miller: 1 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Yerry Rodriguez: 0.2 IP, 3 H ,3 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 40.50 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1.1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
LF Bubba Thompson: 1-4, HR (1)
Surveys show most fans don’t pay attention to the score when visiting a minor league park. Neither do I, albeit for different reasons. Ignorance was bliss last night.
In his AAA debut, LF Bubba Thompson homered to left-center on a fastball. Thompson actually got under the pitch just a little, but his strength and a favorable wind teamed to carry his moonshot over the fence. Thompson’s had Round Rock’s only other very hard-hit ball of the night, a groundout off the bat at 102 MPH. The team’s other three hits consisted of an opposite-field blooped double by CF Leody Taveras (1-4), a soft single by RF Zack Reks (1-3, BB), and a topped grounder by C Sam Huff (1-4) that might’ve traveled 30 feet.
SS Josh Smith turned an 0-2 count into a nine-pitch walk in his first AAA plate appearance. Smith was hitless with a strikeout afterwards. El Paso starter Jesse Scholtens leaned on a looping curve to great effect; 21 of 23 registered strikes, with only Reks’ single causing damage. Grant Gavin’s changeup-heavy approach and Jordan Brink’s “I dare you” heat combined for nine strikeouts in four innings. The Express just didn’t have much to say offensively.
On the pitching side, starter Jake Latz was his boringly solid self, offering a fastball that reached 94, a good changeup, a decent curve, and a slider that didn’t do as much. 26 on Thursday, Latz was a candidate for the 40-man roster over the winter and remains one for the rotation or in long relief if needed.
Yerry Rodriguez maintained last year’s switch to relief, dealing a 95-98 fastball and 82-84 slider. The heater has excellent movement, although the Chihuahuas did hit a couple squarely. Rodriguez’s breaker has been a work in progress. He switched from a curve last spring, and the slider’s efficiency varied quite a bit. Last night version was pretty easy to spot out of his hand but looked tighter that usual, and it’s a very different look than his running fastball.
I’d never seen righty Daniel Robert in person, and what I saw on MiLB.tv at Frisco was a 92-93 fastball. Last night, the range jumped to 94-97, so that’s noteworthy. It’s straighter than Rodriguez’s but he places it well. Robert also delivers a tricky 79-82 slider that wasn’t as consistent as what I saw last year. The better ones tease the strike zone but sneak outside (against righties). Last night, he was “behind” several of them, so they sort of looked like attempted backdoor sliders but missed inside every time. Robert was a senior sign out of Auburn and missed a years to surgery and covid, so he’s a Triple A newcomer at the age of 27.
Apparently, automated umpiring won’t reach the Pacific Coast League until mid-May. The human ump shaved off the top of the zone but didn’t get much grief from either team. As I’d hoped, the advanced stats for the PCL do appear at Baseball Savant, although some manual URL input is needed to find them, and I don’t know if season-long stats will be compiled. I was happy to see my observations about Rodriguez’s and Robert’s respective fastball movement confirmed. Rodriguez’s horizontal break ranged from 7″ to 13″, Roberts 1″-7″. Statcast struggled badly to categorize some pitchers, calling most of Latz’s output in a broad 84-94 range a cutter.
Note: Most individual game reports won’t be nearly this long, so if you’re thinking this is overkill, don’t worry. With just one game on the schedule that I attended in person, I expanded a bit.
Righty Jake Lemoine made the Opening Day roster of the A’s. Texas’s 4th-round pick in 2015 because a free agent after last season. Recently released pitcher Mason Cole and ex-Rangers IF Ti’Quan Forbes and LHP Brady Feigl have signed with the indy Atlantic League.
AAA: Kohei Arihara
AAA: Round Rock 1, El Paso (SDG) 13