Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 12 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 7, at Sugar Land (HOU) 6
Round Rock: 16 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 4-3, 1 GB

SP Kohei Arihara: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 68 P / 38 S, 5.14 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 11.57 ERA
LF Bubba Thompspon: 3-5, SB (5)
SS Josh Smith: 2-5
CF Leody Taveras: 4-5, 2B
C Sam Huff: 2-5
3B Davis Wendzel: 2-4, 2B

Bubba Thompson is batting .407 with a .519 slugging percentage and five steals. Thompson also hasn’t walked in six games and has struck out in one-third of his trips to the plate. So, Thompson is being an extreme version of himself in his early days at AAA.

Sam Huff has put the ball in play 12 times. Eight have been in excess of 96 MPH. 95 is the point at which average and slugging percentage on balls in play really ramps up.

Relying heavily on the slider, Daniel Robert avoided the atypical control issues that marred his first two appearances. He locked down the 9th.

AA: Frisco 6, at San Antonio (SDG) 4
Frisco: 10 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 3-1, 1 G up

SP Zak Kent: 4 IP, 5 H ,3 R, 3 BB, 1 SO, 67 P / 39 S, 6.75 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 3 IP, 2 H ,1 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 10.80 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
CF JP Martinez: 2-5, SB (2)
1B Blaine Crim: 2-4, 2B
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 3-4

Grant Wolfram improved greatly on the wild outing I saw Saturday night. Three walks in four innings is unusually high for Zak Kent. Aside from the end of last season when he ran out of gas, Chase Lee has manhandled AA in his brief pro career.

High-A: Hickory 7, Bowling Green (TAM) 14
Hickory: 9 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 12 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 2-2, 2 GB

SP Ricky Vanasco: 1.2 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 44 P / 26 S, 16.20 ERA
LF Trevor Hauver: 1-4, HR (1), BB
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 4-4

Did Hickory get its ugliest game of the season out of the way in mid-April? Let’s hope! Hickory walked 12, hit another, issued a balk and two wild pitches, and committed four errors.

Ricky Vanasco’s first appearance since 2019 was a dud. It happens. He just never got on track. A seven-pitch walk, another seven pitches to record his first out, a single, then a homer by ex-Ranger Heriberto Hernandez (part of the Nathaniel Lowe trade).

Trevor Hauver has the system’s first grand slam. Luisangel Acuna draws most of the attention, but teammate Keyber Rodriguez was Down East’s primary shortstop the year before.

Low-A: Down East 2, Kannapolis (CHW) 7
Down East: 3 hits, 4 walks, 18 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 0-4, 4 GB

SP Gavin Collyer: 3.1 IP, 6 H ,5 R, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 4 SO, 65 P / 41 S, 12.46 ERA
RP Nick Lockhart: 2.2 IP, 0 H ,1 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 7.71 ERA
SS Maximo Acosta: 1-3, 2B, BB

With the caveat that we’re four games into the season, let’s have a look at the combined BB/HBP rates and strikeout rates in Texas’s low-A league during the past three seasons:
2019: 10.2% BB/HBP, 24.2% SO
2021: 12.7%, 25.6%
2022: 15.7%, 29.0%

Yipes. 47% of plate appearances in the Carolina League in 2022 are ending with a homer, walk, HBP or strikeout; that is, not involving any fielders but the pitcher and catcher. 2021 started out very high (although not this high) and then slowly declined, so I hope ’22 does the same. Still, we’re probably looking at more records in walks and strikeouts.

What set me on this statistical quest: 1) the game itself was drab, and 2) I noticed that Down East had struck out 60 times in four games for an otherworldly 39% K rate. In 30+ years of low-A history, the highest strikeout rate by a team’s offense is 30.4%, set last year (of course) by Visalia. The previous record was 28%.

Today’s Starters
AAA: AJ Alexy
AA: Avery Weems
Hi-A: Ben Anderson

Five Years Ago Yesterday
“Joe Palumbo set a career high with 10 strikeouts and needed just 81 pitches to complete six innings. An MiLB.com story notes that Palumbo will be Rule 5-eligible this winter if left off the 40-man roster, and he’ll ‘have to use this year to prove he’s worthy of being protected.’  I’d phrase this differently: Palumbo is a lock for the 40 at present and can only pitch his way off of it.” He was indeed a lock, despite having only one more outing during 2017, as you’ll find out in a future installment.