Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 9 April

Video of Jack Leiter’s professional debut. My photo of Leiter’s first pitch, and a few more:

Podcast-mates Sean Bass and Michael Tepid got a rare one-on-one (well, two-on-one) interview with Leiter on Media Day. Podcast links are in my signature.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, El Paso (SDG) 1
Round Rock: 6 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 1 walk, 15 strikeouts
Record: 2-3, 2 GB

SP Glenn Otto: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Matt Moore: 3 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
LF Leody Taveras: 2-4, HR (1)

I missed some fine performances Saturday. Glenn Otto held the chihuahuas to a single through three, Matt Moore’s initial tryout for future innings for the Rangers (or somebody else) went well, and Nick Snyder nailed down the 9th on six pitches. According to Statcast, Otto mixed in a fair number of curves and three changes. His curve runs at pretty much the same velo (80-82) as his extremely sweepy slider. My issue last year was a repertoire nearly entirely narrowed to fastballs and sliders. (I assume he was just following instructions, so that’s not on him.) If starting remains a possibility, working on and back end of the mix is critical, so yesterday was nice to see.

Leody Taveras hit a 413′ homer and a single off that bat at 105.6 MPH.

MacKenzie Gore limited Round Rock to two hits and fanned seven without a walk in five innings. His 2021 was disastrous, so I’m glad to see a turnaround, even at Round Rock’s expense. (I’m a very low-key Padres fan because I’ve seen their system a fair amount over the years, and in general I like to see guys correct their problems.)

AA: Frisco 8, Arkansas (SEA) 7
Frisco: 9 hits, 6 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 10 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 2-0, 1 G up

SP Jack Leiter: 3 IP, 1 H ,1 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 3.00 ERA
RP Tai Tiedemann: 2 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Luke Jacobsen: 1.1 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Ezequiel Duran: 2-3, 2B, BB
C David Garcia: 2-4, 2B
CF Kellen Strahm: 1-2, 2B, 2 BB
1B Blaine Crim: 1-3, BB, SB (1)

As you might’ve heard from my podcast partners and others, Leiter is Terminator-like in his focus. There are no extraneous movements or even facial expressions. He long-tossed aggressively before the bullpen warmup; as you can see in the picture above, his cap was drenched in sweat by the time he threw a real pitch.

Leiter’s fastball ranged from 93 to 98 with an 83-85 slider and 74-79 curve. He threw the fastball about 50% of the time with a roughly equal mix of the others. As was common in his college career, he did not present a changeup. By my count, Leiter had 12 swinging strikes: five each on fastballs and sliders plus two on curves. All were effective. The curve has uncommon depth; he emphasized it in the 3rd and received both called strikes and whiffs.

Leiter’s strike rate was a mediocre 55%. You might’ve read some comments about a tight strike zone, and it was, but I was behind the plate and didn’t have much issue with the calls. Leiter sometimes pulled his fastball out arm-side, and he reached three balls to the first three batters. Pinpoint control isn’t his thing; he’s always been able to fade the walks by being virtually unhittable.

All told, an impressive, exciting display, especially as a pro debut in front of a bumper crowd and host of media.

Lefty Grant Wolfram just didn’t have it: a three-ball count to the first batter followed by four walks. Next time. He dealt a 93-94 fastball and 83-84 slider.

Lefty Luke Jacobsen has been in the system since 2016 as a 27th-round pick. I don’t think I’ve ever known less about a home-grown player who’s reached AA. He’d thrown all of 53 stateside innings in five seasons, none during 2020 (covid) or 2021 (lat). Now I know. Jacobsen offered a 94-98 fastball, upper-80s change and a slider in the 79-82 range. A 19 MPH gap between fastball and slider is unusual. Jacobsen surrendered a firm liner to score two of Wolfram’s bequeathed runners, but on the whole he was impressive.

Grant Anderson allowed solo homers to three consecutive batters in the 9th to erase most of a four-run lead. I suspect Frisco was counting on two innings from Wolfram, who has starting experience, so when Anderson reached his pitch limit, the Riders had no pitchers to spare and turned to catcher Jordan Procyshen. He induced a towering popup for the final out.

Ezequiel Duran walked, hit a solid double and pushed a tricky slider up the middle for a single. He also swung through a pitch that hit him squarely. Catcher David Garcia doubled off the wall near dead-center. He’s up in Frisco after a sometimes trying year at the plate in Hickory, so that type of contact is much appreciated.

High-A: Hickory 8, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 4
Hickory: 8 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 1-1, 1 GB

SP Mason Englert: 3.1 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 10.80 ERA
RP Juan Mejia: 2.2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Jesus Linarez: 2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
DH Evan Carter: 3-5, 3B, SB (1)
RF Aaron Zavala: 0-2, 3 BB, SB (1)
2B Cristian Inoa: 2-4, HR (1), BB

Mason Englert understandably hasn’t received Owen White’s level of attention, but he’s no slouch. Picked in 2018’s fourth round,Englert had the same interminably deferred debut as White but struck out 90 versus 26 walks in 80 low-A innings last year.

Marc Church made his first appearance since last year’s elbow issue that fortunately (like TK Roby) didn’t require surgery. Sometimes, resting actually works instead of simply delaying TJ. Church was the “Player A” in the ERA portion my primer: mediocre ERA, fabulous peripherals.

Lord help me, I hate cliches, but Evan Carter is a baseball player. He was born to do this.

Aaron Zavala is 0-4 with three strikeouts and six walks. 

Low-A: Down East 2, at Carolina (MIL) 8
Down East: 5 hits, 5 walks, 17 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 9 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 0-2, 2 GB

SP Larson Kindreich: 2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 2 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
RF Abimelec Ortiz: 1-3, 2B, BB
C Efrenyer Narvaez: 2-4, 3B
2B Jose Acosta: 1-1, 2B, BB, HBP, SB (1)

In his full-season debut, Larson Kindreich didn’t need fielders for eight of his 11 batters. Texas drafted him in last year’s eighth round. Clubs often deliberately draft cheaply in the 6-10 rounds to save money for other picks, but Kindreich earned a standard bonus out of California’s Bioal University.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Jake Latz
AA: Cole Ragans
Hi-A: TK Roby
Lo-A: Victor Santos