Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 10 May

Greetings from Hickory, North Carolina. Since I missed Spring Training in Arizona, I decided to head the other direction to see the lower-level guys. Also, we recorded a new podcast this morning; link in signature.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 10 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 13, Oklahoma City (LAD) 7
Round Rock: 13 hits, 10 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 2 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 20-11, 2 G up

SP Spencer Howard: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 49 P / 33 S, 2.45 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Josh Smith: 2-4, 3B, .257/.333/.400
2B Davis Wendzel: 2-3, SB (1), .223/.299/.379
RF Steele Walker: 2-3, .381/.400/.667

Only three extra-bases hits but plenty of everything else for the Express, including steals 15 and 16 from Bubba Thompson (1-6).

Nobody thinks of Spencer Howard as an all-or-nothing pitcher, but there he is with an incredible six homers allowed and 12 strikeouts in 32 MLB batters faced. Last night, he threw effective strikes, registering 11 of the swinging variety on 49 pitches.

Spencer Patton, Josh Sborz and Nick Snyder threw scoreless innings. Snyder is the only Express pitcher with rates of strikes, swinging strikes and called strikes above the team average.

Texas released lefty Sal Mendez, 2013’s 40th-round pick. With an effective four-pitch mix, Mendez slowly but steadily rose through the system, reaching AAA briefly in 2022. Mendez re-signed twice with Texas after becoming a free agent, but he hadn’t pitched in a real game in 2022.

AA: Frisco 6, at Tulsa (LAD) 8
Frisco: 10 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 11 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 17-11, 3 G up

SP Zak Kent: 4 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 76 P / 39 S, 5.63 ERA
RP Tai Tiedemann: 2 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 8.04 ERA
DH Ezequiel Duran: 3-5, 2B, 3B, .297/.333/.523
1B Blaine Crim: 2-4, HR (5), .289/.345/.495

After slow starts, Blaine Crim and Ezequiel Duran are hitting to form. Duran has 14 doubles, the most in all of MLB-affiliated professional baseball, Majors or minors.

Frisco pitchers no longer have the league’s worst walk rate (predictably, Houston-affliated Corpus Christi holds that honor), but they’re giving their best effort. Sean Chandler (four batters, four walks) and Grant Wolfram (seven batters, three walks) made for a trying 5th inning after the departure of Zak Kent, who himself barely threw more strikes than balls.

High-A: Hickory 4, Greensboro (PIT) 6
Hickory: 6 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 14-13, 3 GB

SP TK Roby: 5 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 82 P / 53 S, 7.35 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.45 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-5, SB (6), .310/.402/.483

Greensboro deserved every run scored off TK Roby, but the line treats him a little unfairly. Everything scored in the 4th. To my eyes, the 2020 3rd rounder had avoided the middle of the zone all night with his fastball, but with two out and two on, Roby caught the fat part of the plate against consecutive batters, resulting in an RBI single and three-run homer.

Aside from that, he pitched well. Roby’s fastball ranged from 91 to 95, lacking much horizontal movement but riding high very effectively. He would also deliver it outside to righties. About half of his 82 pitches were heaters, 11 of which were swinging strikes.

Early on, Roby emphasized the change, which runs much slower (79-81) than the fastball. It was effective in the 1st, not as much in the 2nd, and then largely abandoned until a swinging strike three (one of three with that pitch) on his final toss of the night. Fortunately, he doesn’t ignore it against righties, seven of whom filled the lineup. Roby had only one swinging strike with the curve (75-79), but it was easily better than the change, with good depth but not soft. Roby didn’t reveal the curve until the 3rd, after which he started eight consecutive batters with one, all taken (five calls, three balls). But again, it’s a legitimate offering in my opinion, not just something to steal a strike against guys who’ll lay off bendy stuff on the first pitch. Roby is ranked in the teens among Texas prospects by both Baseball America and MLB.com.

Undrafted Triston Polley (3 IP, 2 earned but undeserved runs, 5 SO) used a near-sidearm slot for a low-80s backdoor slider. His fastball is only 89-91, but it works as a sort of a fast changeup against batters expecting the slider. Polley’s control has been good this season for the first time in his career, including college.

Marc Church threw an 96-97 fastball and 85-87 slider. He works quickly and doesn’t leave a drop of intensity in the tank, but he doesn’t overthrow and has terrific control. Church fanned the side swinging on 14 pitches. The 2019 18th-rounder has ten walks and 76 strikeouts in 42 pro innings.

The Crawdads didn’t have a great night at the plate; two of their four runs scored on back-to-back wild pitches. Luisangel Acuna had the most impressive at-bat, adjusting to belt a high-in-the-zone slider for a double. Evan Carter reached on a nice bunt and a fairly hard grounder.

3B Keyber Rodriguez, catcher Cody Freeman and 1B Cristian Inoa combined on a 5-2-3 double play with the bases loaded. I’m not much for judging the finer points of catcher defense, but Freeman, a converted infielder, looks fluid and comfortable to me.

Aaron Zavala might be my new Tim Smith. Smith was a Texas minor league outfielder over a decade ago, perfectly adequate afield but always, always erratic whenever I saw him in person. Last season, the first time I watched Zavala on MiLB.tv, he turned a deep but seemingly catchable fly into an adventure. Last night, he veered right to catch a fairly hard liner, only for the ball to shoot past to his left for a “double.” We’ll try to break the curse tonight.

I do not have video yet. Hopefully soon.

Low-A: Down East 7, Lynchburg (CLE) 6
Down East: 6 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 13-15, 4.5 GB

SP Gavin Collyer: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 81 P / 51 S, 4.91 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 1.2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0.59 ERA
RF Marcus Smith: 3-4, 2B, 3B, SB (10), .161/.381/.274
SS Maximo Acosta: 1-2, 2 BB, 2 SB (10), .244/.354/.378

Down East scored three in the 8th and walked off victorious when an error on Cam Cauley’s grounder plated Daniel Mateo.

Yes, Cam Cauley, who was 0-5. Last year’s 3rd-round pick joined the Woodies, as has 4th-round catcher Ian Moeller, who did not play.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Latz
AA: Weems
Hi-A: Vanasco
Lo-A: TBD, probably Teodo / Webb

Five Years Ago Yesterday
A slow day. More interesting is a tidbit i wrote in relation to someone else: In his seven seasons in Texas, catcher Jorge Alfaro finished with more HBPs than walks three times.