The Rangers finalized their Opening Day roster. Officially up, as expected, are pitchers Matt Bush and Greg Holland plus infielder Charlie Culberson. To clear three 40-man spots, the Rangers placed RHP Jose Leclerc on the 60-day Injured List, designated IF Sherten Apostel for assignment, and traded IF Yonny Hernandez to Arizona for non-40 OF Jeferson Espinal.
Back to my thinking from the other day, Leclerc was the obvious first choice to make room on the 40. I thought OF Zach Reks was next in line. Nothing against him, but I’ve just not heard much about the 28-year-old in terms of a potential active-roster role. My two “make[s] me sad but I get it” players were Apostel and RHP Demarcus Evans, who’s currently not assigned to a team. Next, Hernandez headed my “interesting territory” group.
I expect that the front office had their collective minds decided before Round Rock’s first game, but to the extent Apostel had a chance to make them second-guess, he definitely did not: 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, eight swinging strikes out of 15 pitches, insecure fielding at first. Acquired along with lefty Taylor Hearn for reliever Keone Kela, Apostel was the prize of the pair for a while. Multiple leg ailments limited him to 68 games last year, and he never acclimated to either Frisco or Round Rock. He’s still just 23, so there’s still time.
I’m always fond of guys like Hernandezwho receive scant attention on prospect lists but you can gauge as having a real chance when you see them in person. Hernandez runs well, can play multiple positions capably and possesses an exceptionally keen eye for the strike zone. He’s not much of a hitter, but he could put enough balls in play to create an eye-popping OBP, and he was able to maintain enough of that ability as he faced increasingly tough pitchers. The 19-year-old Espinal will head to Arizona for now. He split last year between the rookie league (.352/.446/.507) and low-A Visalia (.216/.288/.288). Baseball America recently ranked him Arizona’s #27 prospect. “Toolsy and raw” seems a good thumbnail description.
Texas also simply assigned offseason pickup Joe McCarthy to AAA without adding him to the 40. Per the beats, the outfielder is exploring potential options in Japan. Generally, clubs and MLB as a whole will permit players like McCarthy to seek greener pastures, but at the same time, Texas wouldn’t want to release him only for him to latch on with rival.
AAA: Round Rock 2, El Paso (SDG) 6
Round Rock: 3 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 6 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 0-2, 2 GB
SP Kohei Arihara: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 60 P / 36 S, 9.00 ERA
RP Ryder Ryan: 2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Hever Bueno: 2 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 4.50 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
I didn’t see anything in March to suggest Kohei Arihara had improved on 2021’s rough introduction to MLB, and last night didn’t help. Maybe that’s harsh, as only two balls were hit especially hard, and Arihara himself was hit on a comebacker by the opening batter. Regardless, there’s much work to be done to renew the possibility of rejoining Texas.
Nick Snyder swatted away three Chihuahuas in short order with a 96-98 fastball and 83 MPH downhill slider. His presence in AAA doesn’t bother me, but I’d say he’s got better odds of finishing 2022 and starting 2023 in Texas than a good number of current Texas bullpen occupants.
Round Rock has three runs and seven hits in two games, and that honestly oversells the performance. Just not much to say yet. Leody Taveras broke a string of 20 consecutive batters retired with a one-out 9th-inning walk but was doubled out attempting to advance on a deep Yohel Pozo flyout.
IF Matt Carpenter and pitchers Glenn Otto and Matt Moore are active. We’ll see how Carpenter’s situation plays out. Elier Hernandez is the only non-catcher I’d consider more of a sub/rotation guy than a regular, and Sam Huff and Yohel Pozo may DH frequently when not behind the plate, so Carpenter’s plate appearances are always going to come at someone’s expense.
Hickory lost a friendly to Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University 3-1. The Bears’ Wayne Cuda hit Ricky Vanasco’s first pitch over the fence.
St. Louis released IF Anderson Tejeda. Tejeda was an extreme high-variance prospect, but being released twice before his 24th birthday wasn’t a future I’d ever contemplated. He’d made tangible improvements in his hitting and fielding during 2018, and I was probably higher on him than most, but 2019 was shortened by injury. It’s easy to blame his premature MLB debut in 2020 (along with Apostel, Leody Taveras and Sam Huff) for subsequent events, but he could have just as easily stalled in AA/AAA if afforded a typical development path. 2020 and 2021 were tough on players, evaluators, everyone.
AAA: AJ Alexy
Five Years Ago Yesterday
The high-A Down East Wood Ducks won their inaugural game 7-6, roaring back from a 6-1 deficit in the 9th. RF Jairo Beras capped the scoring with a homer. The very expensive and notorious prospect would hit three more homers in his pro career and switch to the mound by season’s end. Down East was technically a new team but in essence the relocated High Desert Mavericks, which played in the most hitter-friendly park in the US, and that was the only thing friendly about the situation. The Rangers paid several million dollars to get out of that jackpot. I digress. Lefty Joe Palumbo walked three and struck out five in his high-A debut.