Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 20 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 8, El Paso (SDG) 3
Round Rock: 11 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 25-15, 1 G up

SP Spencer Howard: 4 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 3 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 67 P / 48 S, 6.10 ERA
RP Jason Bahr: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 6.65 ERA
RP Hever Bueno: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 2.79 ERA
DH Zach Reks: 1-4, 2B, BB, .292/.395/.477
SS Davis Wendzel: 1-3, BB, .206/.295/.357

Every Express batter had a hit. Exactly one, save two for 1B Elier Hernandez and 2B Nash Knight.

Willie Calhoun (off Friday) is not yet hitting in a way to return him to Arlington in short order or draw opposing interest: .220/.289/.293. He’s swinging and missing at an extraordinarily low rate, but his combined rate of popups, grounders and softer-than-average contact is 66%, highest on the team.

Spencer Howard was what you see above. He wasn’t hit especially hard, but enough balls in play landed unfavorably. Opponents are hitting .304/.373/.478 in three AAA starts against him, including a .448 average on balls in play. Howard does have 16 strikeouts in 10.1 innings.

AA: Frisco 9, Corpus Christi (HOU) 11
Frisco: 12 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 2 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 20-17, 1 G up

SP Jack Leiter: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 83 P / 52 S, 6.38 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Lucas Jacobsen: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 2.13 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 3-5, 2B, .360/.399/.482
CF JP Martinez: 3-4, 2B, HR (6), BB, .333/.445/.576
2B Justin Foscue: 2-4, BB, .309/.424/.543
1B Blaine Crim: 2-5, 2B, .280/.346/.515

Through three innings, Jack Leiter allowed a lone runner while striking out five, and I joked on twitter that “what happened last week in Tulsa [stayed] in Tulsa.” Control wasn’t great — Leiter reached a three-ball count on five of ten batters — but his fastball, slider and curve were menacing.

And then… Leiter hit a batter on a 2-2 count and allowed three consecutive singles. He recorded the next two outs, but a hard grounder up the middle that just eluded both his glove and Justin Foscue’s, a grounded double just inside the line, and a seven-pitch walk ended his night with four in and three on. And then… reliever Tyler Thomas surrendered a grand slam. Not that Leiter doesn’t deserve those runs, but the ERA difference between a third out and a grand slam is a whopping 1.17.

The nice thing about minor league ball is we can compartmentalize. Chase Lee and Lucas Jacobsen were great! The offense was terrific! Down 11-2 in the 6th, Frisco managed to bring the tying run to the plate in the 8th and 9th.

I forgot to mention that Texas released Matt Carpenter. Carpenter was hitting just fine but not not forcing the issue. Arguably, he might offer more than Brad Miller or Andy Ibanez, but his 2020-2021 record calls that into question. Also, Miller’s not going anywhere, and Texas needs to find out whether Ibanez has a future. It was always a weird fit. Carpenter didn’t become a regular for St. Louis until 2021, so I can wish him well without underlying bitterness.

High-A: Hickory 9, at Greenville (BOS) 7
Hickory: 14 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 20-16, 3 GB

SP Nick Krauth: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 72 P / 55 S, 5.10 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 2-4, 2B, BB, .261/.434/.387
C Cody Freeman: 1-5, HR (6), .228/.319/.426
LF Trevor Hauver: 3-4, HR (3), .209/.376/.326
CF Angel Aponte: 3-3, HR (1), BB, .333/.403/.444

I’d mentioned that Destin Dotson’s control problems vanished while I visited Hickory. Last night he walked four of ten batters but managed to complete 2.1 innings with just one run allowed. Marc Church replaced him with one out and the bases loaded and managed to strand two.

Trevor Hauver is hitting .279/.415/.419 in May. At last, some hits are joining his prodigious walk total.

Low-A: Down East 6, at Carolina (MIL) 8
Down East: 6 hits, 8 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 15-22, 6.5 GB

SP Josh Stephan: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 86 P / 54 S, 4.55 ERA
DH Yosy Galan: 1-4, HR (6), .274/.367/.505
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-3, 2 BB, SB (8), .220/.281/.303
3B Junior Paniagua: 2-4, 2 2B, .208/.260/.333

Trying to close out a 6-2 lead, Leury Tejeda struck out the first two batters. And then… (yes, we’re doing “and then” again, and this one is worse)… Tejeda allowed four straight runners to cut the lead in half. On came Jackson Leath, making just his second pro appearance. I happened to sit at my computer just as he entered and thought “nice time to get a first look at him.” Well, I don’t know if Leath was nervous or just had a bad day or both. We’re all human. Leath’s first toss bounced in front of the catcher’s circle, so, maybe a 50-ft. pitch. He then induced an easy comebacker but threw wide of first to extend the inning. Hendry Mendez swatted the next pitch the opposite way just inside the pole for a game-ending grand slam.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Latz
AA: Ragans
Hi-A: White
Lo-A: TBD (Bratt/Kindreich)

Ten Years Ago Yesterday
How about Martin Perez? I’m thrilled he’s pitching so well.By coincidence, ten years ago yesterday I offered this gloomy assessment:

Martin Perez looked like a man defeated yesterday. I’ve never seen him throw worse. In three exhaustingly prolonged innings, Perez allowed seven runs on eight hits, four walks and four strikeouts. He threw 85 pitches to record nine outs, including 41 in his final inning.
For most of his outing, Perez had no functional fastball. The velocity was present — he ranged anywhere from 89 to 95 in the 1st — but it mostly existed in a binary state of missing badly or running over the heart of the plate.  In later innings, he appeared to pull back slightly in order to throw more strikes, to little avail. He was also throwing across his body. By far, his best pitch was his changeup, and by my rough count he threw 25 of them including at least eight of 14 pitches in the second. Three of his four third strikes were on changes. As is often the case, he suffered more than his fair share of misfortune. Several hits wafted lazily over the infield, and the defense didn’t provide all the support it could.  He also committed his own error on an pickoff throw, but I’d pin that one firmly on 2B Yangervis Solarte, whose hesitation in covering the bag let Perez’s throw reach the outfield. But, once again, he responded poorly. After a soft single by Fresno’s Nick Noonan that plated two, Perez walked the next two batters. After his error, he immediately offered a pancake-flat changeup that Justin Christian ripped for a two-run single. Then, another walk. I always preach patience for the younger guys. Perez is the youngest pitcher in AAA. In fact, he’s younger than every active starter in Texas’s system except for Myrtle Beach’s Cody Buckel and Hickory’s Luke Jackson and Victor Payano. Development can be slow and fitful. For examples, you need look no farther than Matt Harrison and Derek Holland, two established MLB starters who still leave us scratching our heads sometimes. On the other hand, by the end of 2012, Perez will have logged  three full seasons and close to 400 innings in the upper minors. I’m not worried now (well, not overly worried), but if he’s pitching in early September like he is now, I certainly will be. The Rangers advanced Perez extremely rapidly because they felt he could make the adjustments and handle adversity. Lately, he’s not, at all. This summer may be the most critical phase of his career.

Perez would make his MLB debut five weeks later and has thrown over 1,100 MLB innings, but he never quite became what we’d hoped for a decade ago. Now, signed to a modest one-year deal to eat some innings for a rebuilding club, Perez is enjoying the most successful stretch of his career. May it stretch out for a long time.