Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 6 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 19, at Reno (ARI) 5
Round Rock: 23 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 18-10, 1 G up

SP AJ Alexy: 4 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 4 R, 5 BB, 2 SO, 90 P / 55 S, 5.04 ERA
RP Jason Bahr: 3 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 6.91 ERA
RF Bubba Thompson: 2-5, BB, SB (11), .355/.371/.505
SS Josh Smith: 2-6, 2B, .261/.320/.402
CF Leody Taveras: 2-6, 3B, .363/.394/.608
2B Ryan Dorow: 3-5, HR (1), .256/.318/.410
CF Leody Taveras: 2-6, 3B, .363/.294/.608
DH Yohel Pozo: 4-6, HR (2), .301/.329/.466
C Meibrys Viloria: 5-6, .386/.493/.544
1B Sherten Apostel: 4-6, 2B, 2 HR, (3), .225/.262/.525

Round Rock applied the most damage yet to Reno’s staff despite an off-day for Sam Huff, who’d homered four times in the series’ first three games.
48% of Sherten Apostel’s swings have drawn air, far above the team average of 27%, but when he connects, the ball’s moving hard the opposite way.

AJ Alexy stayed true to his frustrating course. He had a decent strike rate and delivered first-pitch strikes to 17 of 22 batters, yet he walked five and reached 90 pitches in just four innings. Batters have tended to wait him out, resulting in the highest pitches per inning among Round Rock’s starters by a fair margin.

Willie Calhoun was 1-5 with a walk. As for his return to AAA, I have mixed feelings.

In his favor:
1) Atrocious luck with injuries. Not just the time missed, but the type of injuries that may cause emotional damage.
2) Atrocious luck on balls in play. Last December, I reviewed the hard-hit stats of all the presumed 2022 Rangers and wrote the following: “Among current Rangers, [Corey Seager] had the highest hard-hit rate (35%) and the highest walk rate (13%) in 2021. Incidentally, the name that stands out to me in this exercise is Willie Calhoun. Calhoun walked at an acceptable rate in 2021 and hit the ball hard. How did he bat only .250/.310/.381? The answer, best as I can tell, is a higher proportion of grounders and low liners than the average hitter, resulting in a relatively poor .705 slugging percentage on hard-hit balls, second lowest among Rangers with at least 20 in play. Seemingly, if Calhoun could elevate that contact a little, he’d be a force.” He’s suffering the same fate so far in 2022. Using a slightly different representation of “hard-hit,” I see 10 balls in play that are usually hits and often for extra bases in 2022. The expected batting and slugging averages on those balls are .669 and 1.168, respectively. He’s actually hitting .400 and slugging .900 on those balls. Tack, say, two singles and a double onto his line and he’s hitting .204/.340/.363, not a good line but perhaps good enough to avoid demotion.
3) Eight walks and just six strikeouts in 2022. He’s not just up there hacking.

In his disfavor:
1. A .241/.300/.407 line in a not-insubstantial 927 trips to the plate across 253 games.
2. A .234/.306/.365 line in 2021-2022.
3. No appreciable platoon split, quashing the idea of playing him exclusively against righties.
4. Because of the deadened ball, hitters as a whole are hitting and slugging considerably worse than the expected figures provided by Statcast. So to some extent, Calhoun’s “unluckiness” isn’t any worse that anyone else’s.
5. Regarding the “elevate his contact” comment above, I certainly made that sound easier than it is. Hitters can’t change their launch angles at will any more than they can automatically hit against the shift. If they could, they’d be batting .400.
5. He’s 27, an age by which potential is typically reached, or isn’t.
6. There’s no need to discuss other factors of his game because they don’t contribute to his value.

Hopefully, something clicks with Round Rock. It’s disheartening that Calhoun hasn’t become a productive player, particularly during a period of historic awfulness by the Texas offense.

AA: Frisco 2, Arkansas (SEA) 6
Frisco: 6 hits, 9 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 15-10, 2 G up

SP Cody Bradford: 3.1 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 5 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 66 P / 50 S, 9.45 ERA
RP Seth Nordlin: 4.2 IP, 3 H ,1 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 2.74 ERA
SS Ezequiel Duran: 4-5, 2B, .268/.311/.454

Statcast has changed how we view players, but the immutable fact is that fewer strikeouts mean more balls in play which usually means more hits. Such was Cody Bradford’s Friday. He was also atypically fly-prone, leading to two homers and two doubles out of the seven hits.

Ezeuqiel Duran’s strikeout rate:
2018: 28%
2019: 28%
2021: 28%
2022: 18%

High-A: suspended

Rain halted the contest with Hickory leading 1-0 in the 3rd.

Apologies for saying Luisangel Acuna was active but on the bench yesterday. He did play and went 0-4 with a walk. I’d looked for him in the box for Down East, where he played in 2021. Not coincidentally, the person in the hotel room above me yesterday morning awakened at 4:45 AM and made absolutely sure everyone adjacent to him knew about it. I was a little tired.

Low-A: suspended

The Woodies lead 6-2 in the 4th.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Leiter (vs. Seattle’s George Kirby)
Hi-A: Englert
Lo-A: officially TBD, maybe Kindreich / Bratt

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Round Rock’s Ronald Guzman improved his average to .351 with two singles. I’d written about his good luck on grounders, but lately he’d been hitting more liners. Guzman is batting .183/.333/.300 for the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.