Greetings from Hickory, NC.
Video of Marc Church and TK Roby from Tuesday. I probably wont have any position players until the end of the series.
AAA: Round Rock 4, Oklahoma City (LAD) 13
Round Rock: 7 hits, 10 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 20-11, 2 G up
SP Jake Latz: 2.2 IP, 4 H (2 HR), 6 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 67 P / 38 S, 5.28 ERA
SS Josh Smith: 0-1, 4 HBP, .255/.352/.396
LF Steele Walker: 1-5, HR (3), .346/.433/.692
We’re late in the season for boosting rate stats dramatically in a single game, but Josh Smith’s walk rate improved from a below-average 8.5% to an above-average 11.5% in one night. The PCL average is 10.6%, well above the norm.
Although Steele Walker hit a career-high 15 homers in 2021, expectations (or at least hopes) were for a few more. He’s off to a rousing start in 2022, with three in just six games.
Yerry Rodriguez (2 IP, 4 H, 3 R) was hit hard again; he’s allowed runs in six of 11 appearances.
AA: Frisco 2, at Tulsa (LAD) 7
Frisco: 2 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 17-12, 2 G up
SP Avery Weems: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 89 P / 61 S, 7.52 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 1-4, HR (3), HBP, .362/.402/.476
LF Dustin Harris: 0-1, 3 BB, 2 SB (7), .272/.373/.391
Weems threw strikes, but three of the six hit were doubles.
I don’t know why I persist in thinking Dustin Harris doesn’t have speed, but he’s always there with a helpful rejoinder. Harris has stolen 32 bases in 135 games as a Ranger, and only three times has he been caught.
Tulsa pitchers Gus Varland and Austin Drury combined to walk five and hit five more in 5.2 innings. Last year’s walk/HBP surge tended to concentrate at the lower levels, but in 2022 no league is immune.
High-A: Hickory 8, Greensboro (PIT) 3
Hickory: 11 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 15-13, 2 G up
SP Ricky Vanasco: 4 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 67 P / 40 S, 6.91 ERA
RP Jesus Linarez: 2 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 3.07 ERA
RP Destin Dotson: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 2-4, BB, .238/.448/.310
SS Luisangel Acuna: 3-5, 2B, HR (1), .294/.368/.647
2B Frainyer Chavez: 2-3, BB, .367/.466/.429
C Randy Florentino: 2-3, BB, .310/.375/.345
In-person reviews of post-TJ Ricky Vanasco have been mixed, and there’s no sugar-coating the poor statistics, particularly control. I’ll add another mixed review to the pile.
Vanasco is about as unrefined as any 40-man pitcher I’ve seen, although the lost 2020 (covid) and 2021 (surgery) share much of the blame. By my inexact count (I had to move twice during the 1st), he missed on nine of his first 12 fastballs. Beginning in the 2nd, Vanasco regained control, if not command, and by the end of the outing he was placing it pretty well and showing more run. Vanasco’s velocity has varied widely this season; last night he ranged from 90 to 96, mostly 93-95. Not the top-notch speed he’s flashed, but solid.
His other pitches were a curve (79-81), slider (mid-80s), and change (mid-80s), and to be honest I’m stumped at what to say about them. They had their moments but weren’t distinctive for good or bad. Vanasco was fastball-oriented on Wednesday, and his improved execution of that pitch as the game progressed was the story.
Vanasco generated only seven swinging strikes (including five on fastballs out of roughly 45 thrown), but then, Greensboro swung at only 28 of his 67 pitches. I imagine his early control problems had them thinking they could walk him out of the game. Putting the ball in play wasn’t usually helpful to their cause. Three of the eight balls in played were popups, and I recall only one hard hit off the fastball. The homer came on a curve.
Deston Dotson arguably deserved a high-A assignment from the get-go, but in any case he handled his first outing for Hickory with ease, mixing a 91-94 fastball, high-70s curve and one slider. Dotson’s control to date has ranged from fair to worse, but last night he placed everything comfortably. Dotson is 6’7″ with long limbs that can be tricky to sync.
Again, Luisangel Acuna displayed the most impressive bat. Against hard-throwing but erratic Jared Jones (2020’s #44 overall pick), Acuna twice lined sliders Jones wished he could take back. Both bolted to left center; one became a souvenir… for a beaver, maybe, as Hickory’s stadium has no outfield seats.
Aaron Zavala had a couple of sturdily lined hits, the requisite walk, and no defensive issues that I can recall. 2B Frainyer Chavez ventured exceptionally deep into right field to chase down a foul fly.
Low-A: Down East 1, Lynchburg (CLE) 4
Down East: 2 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 13-16, 5.5 GB
SP Emiliano Teodo: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 71 P / 42 S, 1.69 ERA
RP Nick Lockhart: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3.52 ERA
RP Theo Mcdowell: 2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 4.26 ERA
Teodo threw a career-high 71 pitches. A (hopefully temporary) statistical change in being stretched out is degradation of his already-mediocre control. He’s walked or hit 13 in 16 innings.
Five Years Ago Yesterday
Round Rock allowed three more homers in a rain-shortened loss, giving them 54 in 34 games, 17 more than any other team in the league. The Express would recover to end up 5th-worst, albeit with the most of any non-mountainous city in the PCL.