Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 18 May

The Rangers activated Mitch Garver and optioned Nick Solak. I haven’t studied Solak to the extent of Willie Calhoun, but they share some characteristics. Both have actual numbers seemingly below expectations based on exit velocities and angles, but they’re also 27 with upwards of 800 MLB plate appearancesand no apparent upward trajectory.Solak does have some positional flexibility, if not prowess. His upcoming arrival in AAA adds to a crowd. Round Rock has the second-youngest group of hitters in the PCL and is remarkably light on AAA veterans. Solak has only played OF in 2022, but Round Rock already has Leody Taveras, Bubba Thompson, Josh Smith on occasion, Zach Reks, Steele Walker and Calhoun vying for playing time in the grass. 

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 11, at Sugar Land (HOU) 3
Round Rock: 9 hits, 11 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 23-15, tied for first

SP Kolby Allard: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 56 P / 34 S, 4.91 ERA
RP Ryder Ryan: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 2.29 ERA
RP Yerry Rodriguez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 8.16 ERA
3B Josh Smith: 0-3, BB, 2 HBP, .262/.367/.381
CF Leody Taveras: 2-5, 2B, BB, SB (6), .331/.362/.562
C Yohel Pozo: 3-5, 2B, .333/.366/.469
1B Sherten Apostel: 1-3, 2 BB, .230/.319/.459

Round Rock’s hitters did not hack the computerized strike zone. Houston’s minor league pitchers just don’t throw many strikes. After a slow start in that regard, Josh Smith has 11 walks in May, nearly one of every five plate appearances.

Sherten Apostel is hitting .391/.440/.826 at high-elevation Salt Lake and Reno and .132/.250/.211 everywhere else.

AA: Frisco 5, Corpus Christi (HOU) 7
Frisco: 4 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 20-15, 2 G up

SP Avery Weems: 5 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 71 P / 45 S, 6.75 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 1-3, 2B, BB, HBP, SB (1), .315/.427/.575

Single runs in the 7th and 8th put Corpus ahead, and a rare poor outing by Fernery Ozuna (1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 HR, 3 R) created a gap that Frisco couldn’t quite close. Down two with two on and two out in the 9th, Ezequiel Duran saw a tasty pitch but got underneath it for a game-ending popout.

Avery Weems hadn’t allowed a homer in his previous three starts, but on the whole the long ball has troubled him as it did last season at Hickory. He’s surrendered four in 25.1 innings.

Justin Slaten pitched briefly (0.2 IP, 4 runners, 1 run) and will rejoin the rotation on Sunday, pushing everyone else forward a day. Jack Leiter will start on Friday.

High-A: Hickory 6, at Greenville (BOS) 3
Hickory: 11 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
Record: 18-16, 3 GB

SP Ricky Vanasco: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 70 P / 50 S, 6.05 ERA
RP John Matthews: 4 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3.44 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1.96 ERA
RF Evan Carter: 1-5, HR (4), SB (7), .296/.374/.513
SS Luisangel Acuna: 3-5, 2B, HR (2), .263/.349/.526
DH Chris Seise: 2-5, .221/.275/.442

Ricky Vanasco avoided the walk and reached five innings for the first time this season. His walk rate entering Wednesday was an untidy 22%. Vanasco was unusually fly-prone, resulting in a 1st-inning homer and two triples. 

Since last Monday, Evan Carter has homered in every game in which I was not in attendance. Admittedly, I did look askance at his second-round selection back in 2020, but no more than anyone else, so I don’t know why he’s singling me out for punishment. Much as I like Luisangel Acuna, I don’t foresee that .526 slugging percentage holding up, but he does have serious pop, enough to translate to a position other than shortstop if needed. Acuna has played only ten games because of a hamstring injury.

Low-A: Down East 1, at Carolina (MIL) 8
Down East: 5 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 15-20, 4.5 GB

SP Brandon Webb: 5 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 77 P / 47 S, 5.40 ERA
RP Emiliano Teodo: 2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 3.50 ERA
DH Alejandro Osuna: 1-3, BB, .340/.415/.515

Ugh, I don’t know. You try writing something about this game. Revisiting Marcus Smith’s extraordinarily high strikeout rate despite an ordinary swing-and-miss rate, I’d much rather have him than someone who missed more often, other factors being equal. That said, the only sizable difference between his April and May output is a 50% reduction in walks. Smith had the same problem in 2021, but I didn’t pay it any mind because a hamstring injury limited him to just 14 games. Smith has 73 strikeouts in 155 full-season plate appearances (47%).

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Bradford
Hi-A: Anderson
Lo-A: TBD, probably Corniell

Five Years Ago Yesterday
I belabored Round Rock’s astonishing homer-proneness, noting that the Express were on pace to allow 29 more homers than the worst team in PCL history (excluding the Sacramento Solons, which played in an absurdly configured stadium converted from a track-and-field complex). I can’t remember when the tide turned, but the Express had allowed 1.7 homers per game to that point but would cut that rate nearly in half the rest of the season.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 17 May

Cole Winn’s walk and strikeout rates have reversed between his first four and most recent three starts. In the first four, Winn walked 7% of opposing hitters and struck out 22%. Since then, an incomprehensible 22% walk rate and 7% K rate. Other stats of note:

Strike Rate: 65% in starts 1-4, 53% in starts 5-7
Swinging Strike Rate: 14% vs. 7%
Swings Putting Ball In Play: 36% vs. 54%
Average On Contact: .289 vs. .314
Slugging On Contact: .378 vs .412

The primary change is simply far fewer strikes. An additional one of every eight pitches have been called balls in his most recent three starts. The other major difference appears to be location in the zone. Opponents aren’t swinging as much but are putting the ball in play much more often when they do. Far fewer pitches are resulting in swinging strikes and fouls. Essentially, he’s just not placing the ball where he wants.

The good news is Winn’s velocity hasn’t decreased, and his spin rates seem fine. He’s lost a little break on his curve and slider, and gained a little vertical break on the fastball (not desired when working high), but I don’t know if the difference is meaningful. Opponents are having more success when they make contact, although the difference isn’t gigantic.

Winn has been here before. Back in 2019, I heard phenomenal reports about his sessions in Arizona, but when he arrived in low-A Hickory, he was frankly a mess. His control was poor overall, his execution varied wildly from pitch to pitch. He’d throw a nice fastball, then one in the dirt, another nice one, then a foot outside. Not until late in 2019 did he substantially improve. Since then, and until this May, he’s been the dominant pitcher you’ve hoped for. I’ve mentioned that the exploits of the Major League club aren’t relevant to his arrival in Arlington. He wasn’t getting promoted in May, so this rough stretch won’t delay his MLB debut assuming he can rectify the situation in a reasonably short time.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 5, at Sugar Land (HOU) 2
Round Rock: 7 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 22-15, 1 GB

SP AJ Alexy: 5.2 IP, 4 H (2 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 89 P / 64 S, 6.48 ERA
RP Jake Latz: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 4.96 ERA
RP Dan Winkler: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 4.02 ERA
3B Josh Smith: 2-4, .268/.362/.390
1B Matt Carpenter: 2-4, 2B, HR (6), .275/.319/.613

Yesterday ushered in the automated strike zone for the Pacific Coast League. It’s probably coincidence, but the change prompted an outstandingly controlled performance from AJ Alexy, who didn’t issue a walk until his 19th batter. No, two homers in a pitcher’s park aren’t great, but relative to what’s occurred lately, I’ll live with it.

Jake Latz worked in relief for the first time.

In last year’s Low-A Southeast, the only league to employ automated umps at the time, both walk and strikeout rates were elevated. Last night, PCL teams averaged 3.8 walks and 8.9 strikeouts, both about 0.4 below the season averages. One night is just an anecdote, of course, but at least we didn’t see any wild results.

AA: Frisco 13, Corpus Christi (HOU) 7
Frisco: 11 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 10 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 20-14, 2 G up

SP Zak Kent: 4.2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 6 BB, 7 SO, 95 P / 56 S, 5.23 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, BB, .360/.398/.480
LF Dustin Harris: 1-5, HR (4), .254/.356/.404
2B Ezequiel Duran: 1-3, HR (6), 2 BB, .303/.352/.576
CF JP Martinez: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, SB (11), .322/.433/.552
C David Garcia: 2-4, .213/.273/.328

On Screaming Child Day — I’m sorry, Education Day — at the park, Frisco took full advantage of Corpus Christi’s terrible control plus some shaky defense. Houston’s four minor league affiliates rank worst or second-worst in walk rates in their respective leagues. Zak Kent’s control was no better, a season-long issue, but the slider was hunting, and he registered seven strikeouts.

Dustin Harris hit hit fourth homer and turned a towering warning-track fly into an adventure-filled double. He’s definitely improved defensively since early April, but he’s not what you’d call fluid.

High-A: Hickory 6, at Greenville (BOS) 11
Hickory: 8 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 14 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Record: 17-16, 4 GB

SP TK Roby: 5 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 5 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 83 P / 54 S, 7.67 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-5, HR (3), .300/.381/.500
C Cody Freeman: 2-4, 2B, .231/.330/.418
LF Trevor Hauver: 2-4, HR (2), .190/.361/.278

Trevor Hauver has his second homer. May it be the second of many. Hauver plays left field, not first base, but his path to the Majors runs entirely through his bat. Hauver mostly played second as Yankee in 2021 but less so once traded to the Rangers, and in 2022 he hasn’t seen the infield at all. I saw Evan Carter four times last week. He homered in one of the two games of that series I missed and the first game since I returned to Texas. Oh well.

Low-A: Down East 8, at Carolina (MIL) 5
Down East: 9 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 15-19, 4.5 GB

SP Gavin Collyer: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 86 P / 54 S, 5.24 ERA
RP Jackson Leath: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
LF Alejandro Osuna: 2-4, 2B, SB (10), .340/.412/.520
RF Marcus Smith: 3-5, HR (2), .167/.350/.295

Here’s a fun little chart:

The lonely red dot is Marcus Smith. Fourth-worst strikeout rate in the league, and one of the worst is all of the minors, but a perfectly ordinary swinging strike rate. Smith also takes a ton of pitches and has one of the league’s highest walk rates, so I assume he’s also seeing many more called strikes than the average hitter. I lack that particular data.

2021 12th-round righty, Tennessee alum, and Waxahachie native Jackson Leath made his pro debut.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Allard
AA: Weems
Hi-A: Vanasco
Lo-A: Teodo

Five Years Ago Yesterday
On Yohander Mendez’s sudden increase in homers: “In five previous seasons covering 293 innings, he gave up only 15.  This year: 49 innings, 11 homers.” This increase was permanent. From Frisco in 2017 to his current station in Monterrey, Mendez has been very homer-prone.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 15 May

As it turns out, I did get the offending email some of you mentioned, but since it looked addressed to me, I wasn’t as suspicious. A good number of people were also unsubscribed by the listserv. Obviously, if you’re getting this, that’s not an issue, but in case it happens again, you can resubscribe here. You didn’t miss a Monday report. Sunday’s recap is below.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 15 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 14, Oklahoma City (LAD) 13
Round Rock: 16 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 16 hits, 7 walks, 18 strikeouts
Record: 21-15, 1 GB

SP Spencer Howard: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 7 SO, 71 P / 43 S, 7.11 ERA
RP Ryder Ryan: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.50 ERA
RP Spencer Patton: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 2-6, SB (18), .325/.339/.447
DH Yohel Pozo: 4-5, .333/.370/.471
1B Matt Carpenter: 2-3, HR (5), .263/.374/.566

Round Rock led 9-4, trailed 13-9, and scored three in the 9th to win. Even with the new pitch clock that has dramatically reduced game times, this one took three hours and 48 minutes. Singles by Yohel Pozo and Matt Carpenter followed by one-out walks from Nash Knight and Jack Kruger plated one and loaded the bases. Bubba Thompson then reached on a fielder’s choice, and Josh Smith’s fly single ended it. Thompson has reached safely 16 times and stolen 11 bases in his last nine games.

Five of six balls in play against Howard were medium-hard or harder and at angles conducive to damage. Production from Yerry Rodriguez (1 IP, 3 R, homer, walk) hasn’t improved. Rodriguez wasn’t on the cusp of a call-up entering the season, in my opinion, but six weeks of solid pitching would have put him in that position. As it stands, he’s not remotely under consideration.

AA: Frisco 18, at Tulsa (LAD) 4
Frisco: 17 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 19-14, 1 G up

SP Cole Ragans: 5 IP, 4 H (2 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 85 P / 53 S, 2.79 ERA
RP Lucas Jacobsen: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.31 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.20 ERA
CF JP Martinez: 2-5, 3B, BB, .321/.424/.548
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-6, HR (4), .355/.391/.479
2B Ezequiel Duran: 4-4, 2 2B, 2 HR, (5), BB, .302/.343/.558
3B Trey Hair: 3-5, 3 HR, (4), .231/.275/.492
1B Blaine Crim: 1-4, 2 BB, .287/.351/.522

No need for a comeback. Frisco scored in every inning but the 5th. Ezequiel Duran swatted four extra-base hits for the first time in his career. He’d hit three as a Yankee a couple of times. Duran is hitting as well as could be hoped in AA, producing a lot of hard, airborne contact while striking out much less than usual. Highly encouraging.

27-year-old Trey Hair has been a handy addition since signing out of indy ball in June 2021. Tampa Bay released the 2017 34th-rounder in November 2018 despite a respectable low-A line.

Fernery Ozuna has a strong 29% strikeout rate but one of the lowest swinging strike rates in the organization, just 8.3%. Highest in AA/AAA are Dan Winkler (19.1%), Lucas Jacobsen (18.7%), and Cody Bradford (16.2%).

High-A: Hickory 3, Greensboro (PIT) 4
Hickory: 9 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 0 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 17-15, 3 GB

SP Mason Englert: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 SO, 83 P / 57 S, 3.23 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.08 ERA
1B Cristian Inoa: 2-4, .282/.347/.388
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-4, .278/.328/.380
3B Keyber Rodriguez: 2-4, .299/.337/.392
C Scott Kapers: 2-4, 2B, .282/.310/.462

Before the game started, I applied sunscreen and laid a towel over a hot seat. By the 5th, I had an umbrella over my head, a poncho over my backpack, and that towel over my camera. Rain afflicted four and delayed two of the six games i saw, but all were played to completion. The joke in Texas is to wait a minute if you don’t like the weather, but North Carolina had me changing clothes and switching gear in the middle of the day multiple times.

Mason Englert doesn’t eschew the high fastball, but it certainly isn’t a point of emphasis like most starters I saw in NC. It ranged from 91 to 93 plus a single pitch at 90. Englert tends to throw across his body a little. I don’t mean in an uncomfortable or out-of-sync way; it’s just his style. As such, all of his pitches including the fastball tended to lean glove-side, regardless of the handedness of the batter. However, one quirk is he sometimes spins his slider into a corkscrew shape, creating the unusual sight of a right-handed pitcher whose fastball drifts away from righties while the slider runs inside. Usually, the slider moved typically, and with his body action, it and the change often operated along similar paths and were hard to me to differentiate. Best as I could tell, the slider ranged from the low to mid 80s, the change squarely in the mid 80s. Like TK Roby, Englert delayed the intro of his curve but then frequently led the at-bat with it, grabbing four called strikes and a groundout out of six thrown.

Englert finished with 12 swinging strikes. Of the ten I categorized, five were fastballs, and every pitch was represented. In the 1st, Greensboro was happy to see him, collecting four lined hits in the 1st, two for extra bases, although Englert did fan the side in that inning. Thereafter, most balls in play were grounders. No pitch was what I’d call dominant, but everything worked, a rarity in high-A. Only three batters reached a three-ball count. Englert’s control has always been above average.

During a hard drizzle that I thought would force a delay, Marc Church was effective, if not quite so dominant as when I saw him earlier in the week. At odds with his pro and college careers, Triston Polley allowed homers by consecutive batters in the 8th to reverse a one-run lead.

Scott Kapers had the only extra-base hit, and Aaron Zavala, Evan Carter and Luisangel Acuna were hitless. Carter and Acuna did draw walks, and Zavala and Carter lost hits on hard shots to good outfield defense. As a group, Hickory makes contact but isn’t power-oriented.

Low-A: Down East 11, Lynchburg (CLE) 2
Down East: 14 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 14-19, 5.5 GB

SP Winston Santos: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO, 86 P / 56 S, 3.76 ERA
RP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1.46 ERA
LF Alejandro Osuna: 3-4, BB, SB (9), .333/.409/.510
2B Cam Cauley: 2-5, .095/.136/.095
1B Tucker Mitchell: 2-4, HR (1), HBP, .216/.394/.333
C Ian Moller: 2-3, 2 BB, .167/.313/.167
3B Junior Paniagua: 2-3, HBP, .186/.245/.279

2021 picks Cam Cauley and Ian Moller have their first full-season hits after multiple games without, including those I saw in person. Tucker Mitchell (2021, 14th round) hit his first full-season homer.

Winston Santos fanned a career-best eight. Dylan MacLean and Theo McDowell also threw scoreless innings. Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa’s 21.4% swinging strike rate is the highest in the system, shared with Church.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Alexy
AA: Kent
Hi-A: Roby

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Kyle Cody fanned ten and walked one in seven scoreless innings. Still an outfielder, Jairo Beras made his first pitching appearance and touched 98 despite an all-arm delivery.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 14 May

Greetings, once last time, from Hickory. A couple of you told me you’d received a suspicious email from the listserv.  Jamey and I subscribe to the list, too, and didn’t receive anything ourselves, and I haven’t been able to find anything wrong. Hopefully, it’s a one-time glitch. You shouldn’t ever receive anything other than from Jamey and me, so please be careful.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 1, Oklahoma City (LAD) 5
Round Rock: 6 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 20-15, 2 GB

SP Tyson Miller: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 9 SO, 84 P / 56 S, 3.81 ERA

OKC scored three quickly against Tyson Miller, who retired 13 of his final 15, eight via strikeout. Round Rock had nobody with more than one hit.

AA: Frisco 1, at Tulsa (LAD) 11
Frisco: 4 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 18-14, 1 G up

SP Jack Leiter: 1.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 1 SO, 46 P / 25 S, 4.43 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 3-5, .357/.393/.461

A week after his best pro showing, everything went wrong for Leiter, right for Tulsa. The Drillers swung at only 19 of Leiter’s pitches but put 11 into play, seven for hits. 78% of the pitches Tulsa took were called balls. Those are uncommonly, downright weirdly high figures, especially in tandem.

Catcher David Garcia drew three walks. OF Kellen Strahm had the other hit and a walk.

High-A: Hickory 7, Greensboro (PIT) 5
Hickory: 12 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 5 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 17-14, 3 GB

SP Owen White: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 80 P / 54 S, 4.50 ERA
RP Spencer Mraz: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 6.59 ERA
RP Destin Dotson: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
CF Aaron Zavala: 2-5, 2 HR, (3), .250/.448/.380
DH Evan Carter: 2-5, 2B, .307/.388/.495
SS Luisangel Acuna: 2-4, 3 SB (3), .292/.393/.542
LF Trevor Hauver: 1-3, 2 BB, .173/.356/.227
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-5, 2B, .269/.321/.375

Owen White came out hunting with the high fastball, recording eight swinging strikes out of 24 thrown in the first two innings. It ranged from 93 to 96 MPH, and the Grasshoppers simply couldn’t touch it. White struck out the side swinging in the 1st. Conversely, the lower version of his fastball was hittable. He allowed four line drives on them in the first three innings, and all went for hits, two for extra bases. In the last two innings, Greensboro finally laid off the high fastball, but at the same time, White was working in other pitches and sequences that awarded him two called strike threes on lower fastballs.

All told, White had 15 swinging strikes: ten on heat, four with sliders, and one change. The slider picked up for the absence of high swinging strikes as the game progressed. It was the primary pitch giving Greensboro trouble by the 5th. White threw six curves, five for balls, although one was a terrible call. It actually looks like it could be a proper pitch, but he just couldn’t locate it. The change was also relatively infrequent but had its moments, nabbing a surprise swinging strike on a full count in the 3rd.

One run scored with two out on a delayed double steal in the 2nd. Catcher Cody Freeman probably should have kept that ball in his pocket. The other scored on a double-triple sequence.

Eudrys Manon worked high-leverage relief down the stretch in low-A last season, walk-prone but hard to hit. Now I see why. Manon’s hitchy, spasmodic delivery makes strike-throwing seemingly impossible. Indeed, he walked his first batter on four pitches with an 88-92 fastball. Then, he dialed up to 93-95 with control plus an impressive slider. Suddenly, that delivery was a weapon. But in his second inning the chaos returned, and he nearly allowed a game-tying grand slam (instead a 375′ moonshot single off the wall thanks to inexplicable baserunning). Spencer Mraz (92-96 fastball with an offspeed and breaker) prevented the inning from completely derailing.

Once again, Destin Dotson’s control was far better in front of me than the statistics claim. He commanded his 94-96 fastball with more success than is customary at this level, and he added an occasional slider and curve.

On the first pitch of the 1st, Aaron Zavala lasered a pitch over the wall in right-center. I mentioned on twitter that the hit was “not really elevated, that’s just not how he hits.” Two at-bats later, Zavala got more loft on a drive that not only cleared the wall but the triple deck of advertising behind it. Good comeback. In truth, Zavala doesn’t hit a high proportion of flies and hadn’t shown much power, but the bat had been more lively lately even before today’s heroics.

Greensboro’s Nick Dombrowski emphasized a changeup that read 81-82, looked ten MPH slower and baffled several Hickory hitters. Evan Carter was among them early in an at-bat, but when Dombrowski tried to trick Carter with a two-strike 89 MPH fastball, Carter drilled it down the 1B side for a double. I haven’t seen much solid contact from Carter so far. He’s batting .307 with a .495 slugging percentage, so I assume it’s just my misfortune, not a commentary on his bat.

The announced lineup had Chris Seise at DH and Evan Carter in CF. By game time, Carter was DH and Seise was absent. I know nothing beyond that.

Low-A: Down East 2, Lynchburg (CLE) 4
Down East: 3 hits, 4 walks, 16 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 13-19, 6.5 GB

SP Mitch Bratt: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 54 P / 38 S, 4.50 ERA
RP Larson Kindreich: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 2.52 ERA
CF Alejandro Osuna: 1-3, BB, SB (8), .315/.390/.500
3B Yenci Pena: 1-2, HR (2), BB, .232/.380/.393

I’d liked to have seen Bratt and Kindreich, but this isn’t Spring Training where I need only a ten-second walk to switch between the low-A and high-A games. I had to choose.

Yenci Pena’s homer was the only extra-base hit by a Texas minor leaguer in the three games I didn’t attend. Lucky me. After taking the opener, Down East has scored only ten runs on 18 hits in four straight losses.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Howard
AA: Ragans
Hi-A: Englert

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Round Rock’s Ronald Guzman homered twice, and Down East’s Josh organ hit a walk-off grand slam.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 13 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 5, Oklahoma City (LAD) 6
Round Rock: 9 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 11 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 20-14, 1 GB

SP Cole Winn: 6 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 2 SO, 87 P / 52 S, 6.03 ERA
3B Josh Smith: 2-5, SB (5), .263/.359/.395
CF Leody Taveras: 1-4, HR (5), .348/.378/.598
LF Zach Reks: 1-3, HR (1), .286/.394/.464
1B Matt Carpenter: 2-4, HR (4), .247/.349/.521
SS Davis Wendzel: 1-4, HR (5), .212/.295/.381

Cole Winn walked or hit five batters in his first four starts. The total in the last three starts is 17. Those starts came after being hit on the heel by a hard grounder, but he made his next start on normal rest, so I can’t imagine that’s an issue. When I’m back home, I may dig into Statcast to see of anything noteworthy.

Winn had partners in crime, as Nick Tropeano and Jesus Tinoco walked the based loaded in their respective innings. Tropeano escaped, while Tinoco allowed the ultimate go-ahead run on a balk.

David Wendzel batted .146/.241/.160 in the 13 games between homers.

AA: Frisco 8, at Tulsa (LAD) 6
Frisco: 9 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 2 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 18-13, 2 G up

SP Cody Bradford: 5 IP, 6 H (2 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 10 SO, 88 P / 60 S, 9.00 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.35 ERA
1B Blaine Crim: 2-5, 2B, HR (7), .302/.358/.557
LF Dustin Harris: 1-2, 2 BB, .265/.378/.378
CF JP Martinez: 3-4, HR (5), .316/.419/.532

Bradford’s ten strikeouts aren’t a career high (14 last summer at Asheville) but are his most by a fair margin in 2022. It is, however, the third time this season Bradford’s allowed two homers in  a start this season compared to just twice all of last year.

I saw a handful of Ozuna’s pitches. Good velocity, crazy tailing movement on everything. He’s walked only three in 15.1 innings.

JP Martinez has tied last year’s five homers in 60 fewer games. He’s hitting more line drives than last year but not more flies. Last year, he hit lefties far better than righties even through he’s left-handed, but 2022 is a complete reverse. That’s probably sample size, but I hope the power remains.

High-A: Hickory 3, Greensboro (PIT) 0
Hickory: 6 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 16-14, 3 GB

SP Nick Krauth: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 65 P / 44 S, 4.32 ERA
RP Joe Corbett: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 2.19 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.30 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 1-4, HR (2), .302/.387/.490
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-3, .263/.318/.364
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 1-3, HR (2), .281/.323/.371

Krauth, Corbett and Church shut down the Grasshoppers on 112 pitches in under two hours. Krauth was undrafted out of Connecticut in the covid-shortened 2020. Corbett, out of West Texas A&M, mastered low-A well enough to earn an early promotion last year but was mauled in Hickory. He’s handling high-A much better in a second try.

Evan Carter could’ve saved that homer for my return to Hickory today, but that’s okay.

Low-A: Down East 4, Lynchburg (CLE) 6 (10)
Down East: 6 hits, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 13-18, 5.5 GB

SP Josh Stephan: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 7 SO, 96 P / 51 S, 4.94 ERA
RP Leury Tejada: 3 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 5.50 ERA
LF Alejandro Osuna: 1-3, HR (4), BB, .315/.386/.506
DH Jose Rodriguez: 1-4, HR (2), .202/.306/.298
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-4, SB (11), .261/.364/.380

A tough loss. Down 3-2 in the 7th, Down East scored twice to take the lead, promptly lost it, and committed two errors in the 10th.

DH Jose Rodriguez bounced a fly over the yellow stripe atop the wall in right-center for his second homer. A catcher in theory but never in practice, Rodriguez will need to hit like crazy if he’s not going to wear a mask. LF Alejandro Osuna later hit a fly about ten feet deeper the same direction.

In the 7th, Maximo Acosta led off with a soft fly single and stole second off pitcher Jack Leftwich, the only person in the stadium unaware that Acosta would run. Acosta scored on a triple by Daniel Mateo, who himself scored on Ian Moller’s sac fly. In my second viewing of Moller, he hit a couple of oppo flyouts and drew a walk. One one attempt at nabbing a baserunner sailed over Acosta’s head. Fellow newcomer Cam Cauley had the night off.

The 10th opened with a tough error on 3B Junior Paniagua: A bunt that hinted foul stayed fair, and Paniagua’s hurried throw sailed offline, but nobody advanced more than an ordinary bunt single. The killer came with two out and the bases loaded, when 1B Abi Ortiz simply missed Acosta’s throw from short on a grounder. Cleveland reliever and Clemson alum Davis Sharpe has an untouchable slurve (for low-A, at least) and sent down the Woodies with ease to end it.

Josh Stephan used an 88-92 fastball and a huge number of low-80s sliders. I was wandering around attempting some actions shots early on, so I don’t have more about him. Leury Tejeda’s fastball/slider combo (sorry, no speeds) was dominant except for one pitch, a no-doubt game-tying homer in the 8th.

Today’s Starters
AA: Leiter
Hi-A: White

Five Years Ago Yesterday
A day after Yohander Mendez took a no-hitter into the 7th at San Antonio, the Missions returned the disfavor with a complete-game no-hitter from Kyle Lloyd, who fanned only three but induced a zillion grounders. Lloyd made his one and only MLB appearance two months later. Hickory lost 14-2 to Greensboro and was allowing a historically poor two runs per game more than the league average.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 12 May

Greetings from drizzly Kinston, NC.

I’m glad the big boys won, because the farm scored 11 runs and allowed 46, both the worst of the season when all four teams played. I sat through an hour-long rain delay and a perpetual horizontal mist, and I was at only the second-worst game of the night.

Here’s Ricky Vanasco video from Wednesday.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 0, Oklahoma City (LAD) 19
Round Rock: 3 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 19 hits, 10 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 20-13, tied for first

SP AJ Alexy: 2.2 IP, 9 H (2 HR), 8 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 77 P / 47 S, 7.16 ERA
CF Josh Smith: 1-3, .257/.357/.394

Well. I wish I could offer something mitigating in the advanced stats about Alexy, but no. He’s issuing walks, not missing bats, and has the highest hard-hit rate on the squad.

Round Rock didn’t use any position players on the mound.

Yesterday, Josh Smith drew four walks, not four HBPs. Sorry about the mistake.

AA: Frisco 7, at Tulsa (LAD) 9
Frisco: 8 hits, 8 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 17-13, 1 G up

SP Justin Slaten: 0.1 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 5 R, 2 BB, 0 SO, 32 P / 14 S, 4.67 ERA
RP Seth Nordlin: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 2.63 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 2-3, 2B, 2 BB, .318/.418/.591
1B Blaine Crim: 2-4, HR (6), .297/.356/.525

Frisco at least made a game of it after trailing 5-0 in the 1st and 9-3 into the 6th. Kellen Strahm drew three walks, giving him a team-best 16 alongside just eight hits (.136/.329/.220). He’s batted over .280 in two previous seasons, so I’d expect improvement even at this advanced level.

High-A: Hickory 1, Greensboro (PIT) 7
Hickory: 6 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 15-14, 3 GB

SP Ben Anderson: 4 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 5 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 76 P / 49 S, 3.48 ERA
RP Eudrys Manon: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 3.18 ERA
3B Thomas Saggese: 2-3, BB, .250/.308/.344

Jayce Easley (1-5) is back.  The 2018 5th-rounder showed minimal power but reached at a .403 clip and stole 70 bases as part of Down East’s record-setting 2021 squad.

Low-A: Down East 3, Lynchburg (CLE) 11
Down East: 7 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 14 hits, 3 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 13-17, 5.5 GB

SP Jose Corniell: 3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 8 SO, 68 P / 46 S, 7.02 ERA
RP Teodoro Ortega: 1 IP, 0 H,  0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 6.55 ERA
RP Robbie Ahlstrom: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 6.35 ERA
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, 2B, SB (7), .222/.280/.278
2B Maximo Acosta: 2-3, BB, .250/.359/.375
LF Yosy Galan: 1-3, BB, .309/.398/.543

Texas picked up Jose Corniell in the Rafael Montero trade. Still just 18, Corniell offers a 90-94 fastball, 75-79 curve, and a mid-80s slider and change that weren’t employed much. The curve has about as much lateral movement as possible, practically a 10-4 angle. Hitters couldn’t do anything with it, and most preferred not to try. Six of his eight strikeouts were on curves (three swinging, three called), and nobody put one in play. The fastball has good run, if not always the desired location. Seven of eight balls in play were hits, and I wouldn’t attribute that to bad luck. Several were pretty firm. Corniell could have allowed far fewer runs, but a two-out, 0-2 HBP in the 1st was followed by a hard single and triple, and with the bases loaded, two out, and another 0-2 count in the 3rd, two more hits plated four.

In increasingly damp conditions, lefty Robby Ahlstrom (part of the Jose Trevino trade) ground through four innings with an 88-91 fastball and a low-to-mid-70s curve, both of which cut across the plate from the 1B side. Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa delivered a 93-96 fastball, mid-80s change and tight curve. Defensive miscues and a couple of hard-hit balls ratcheted his pitch count to 30 with two outs, forcing infielder Jose Acosta to grab the final out of the 9th.

OF Yosy Galan has a hole in his swing that could well prevent him from reaching his potential, but he’s a blast to watch: tall, athletic, rangy, quick bat, fast out of the box. In the 9th, Galan dropped a gimme fly gearing up for a throw to the plate with a runner on third. That aside, he’s worth the price of admission.

Maximo Acosta had two medium-hard liners for hits, once hustling into second when the defense didn’t handle a cutoff properly. The most consistent contact came from 20-year-old Daniel Mateo, who crept into the lower end of some prospects lists after a flashy 2021. 19-year-old Cam Cauley (0-4), last year’s 3rd-round pick, seems to have plenty of arm for shortstop to my eyes. DH Ian Moller (4th round 2021) didn’t have a fun night, hitting into a double play and striking out three times, twice on three-ball counts.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Bradford
Hi-A: Krauth
Lo-A: Stephan

Five Years Ago Yesterday
RHP Joe Wieland was assigned to AAA Durham (TAM) and catcher Kellin Deglan was activated in Buffalo (TOR). Wait, this happened yesterday. Five years ago, I saw Frisco’s Yohander Mendez carry a no-hitter into the 7th at San Antonio. Mendez wasn’t especially sharp (3 BB, 1 HBP), but the change, his money pitch at the time, was a beast, and he reintroduced his largely abandoned curve.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 11 May

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.

Box Scores

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.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Alexy
AA: Slaten
Hi-A: Anderson

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.

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.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 8 May

A short report, as I’ve got more travel in the immediate future. Travel better-suited to covering minor league ball.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 5, at Reno (ARI) 6
Round Rock: 10 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 6 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 19-11, 1 G up

SP Kolby Allard: 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 30 P / 17 S, 9.00 ERA
RP Tyson Miller: 4 IP, 3 H ,1 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 3.43 ERA
DH Steele Walker: 1-4, HR (2)
C Yohel Pozo: 2-4, HBP, .312/.346/.468
3B Ryan Dorow: 1-1, HR (2), .256/.337/.439

Allard was replaced after allowing a walk and two singles to open the 2nd. Allard threw only 30 pitches compared to 51 in his first start. Maybe the weather played a part; temperatures were in the 40s with gusty winds and snow flurries, and everyone in the dugout and stands looked dressed for a November college football game in Michigan. No thanks.

Steele Walker homered for the second day in a row.

AA: Frisco 8, Arkansas (SEA) 2
Frisco: 12 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 17-10, 3 G up

SP Cole Ragans: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 SO, 96 P / 57 S, 2.25 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1.1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 2.51 ERA
CF Jonathan Ornelas: 3-4, BB, .375/.412/.469
2B Justin Foscue: 2-3, 2B, HR (2), 2 BB, .310/.406/.586

Cole Ragans tossed six scoreless innings for the first time since July 2017, and his 96 pitches are the most thrown by a Texas minor leaguer in 2022.

Jonathan Ornelas played CF for the second time all season. Both starts there have come in the absence of JP Martinez, placed on the IL three days ago. Ornelas reached safely 13 times in the six-game series. Hard to argue with his first month in AA. Justin Foscue also reached 13 times (three singles, three doubles, homer, six walks).

High-A: Hickory 1, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 5
Hickory: 5 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 13-12, tied for first

SP Jesus Linarez: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 25 P / 19 S, 3.55 ERA
RP Owen White: 4.2 IP, 4 H ,5 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 4.70 ERA
SS Luisangel Acuna: 1-3, 2B, BB
1B Cody Freeman: 2-4, SB (2), .243/.325/.457

This was the completion of Friday’s game. White retired his first 11 and 12 of 13 before an exceptionally messy 7th inning, when five reached and scored against him.

High-A: Hickory 4, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 0
Hickory: 5 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 14-12, 2 GB

SP Mason Englert: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 80 P / 47 S, 3.20 ERA
RP Joe Corbett: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.61 ERA
DH Chris Seise: 2-3, 2 2B, .221/.268/.494

Englert departed two outs shy of his longest outing without a run allowed. He wasn’t in trouble when pulled; presumably he’d just reached his pitch/batter limit.

Aaron Zavala was 0-4 with four walks across the two games. Cody Freeman singled and walked.

Low-A: Down East 2, at Kannapolis (CHW) 1
Down East: 9 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 12-15, 5.5 GB

SP Winston Santos: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 3 SO, 70 P / 50 S, 4.64 ERA
LF Alejandro Osuna: 2-3, 2B, BB, .325/.398/.506
3B Junior Paniagua: 3-4, HR (1), .181/.231/.292

Junior Paniagua came to the plate with a one-run deficit, a runner on, and a .239 slugging percentage. He improved that mark considerably with his first homer of the season. The 20-year-old hit five last summer in Arizona, so this wasn’t a Guilder Rodriguez or early-career IKF unicorn shot.

I’ve been calling Santos “Victor” much of the season, even though he’s not new to the organization. Victor Santos pitched for the Rangers in 2003, regrettably for all involved (7.01 ERA). Winston has posted back-to-back strong outings after a so-so start, and he was solid in rookie ball last summer. 

Today’s Starters
AAA: off
AA: off
Hi-A: off
Lo-A: off

Five Years Ago Yesterday
I mentioned Blake Beavan (back in affiliated ball for the first time in two years), Michael Choice (signed by Milwaukee after release from Baltimore), Tomas Telis (called up by the Marlins), and Neil Ramirez (DFA’ed by Toronto).

As for where they are now: Telis will visit Round Rock this week as a member of the OKC Dodgers. Michael Choice continues to ply his trade in Mexico. Beavan’s reentry wouldn’t last long; he was injured (I think) after seven starts and released for the final time that November. Ramirez doesn’t appear to have pitched since 2019.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 7 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 13, at Reno (ARI) 10
Round Rock: 12 hits, 10 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 19-10, 1 G up

SP Cole Winn: 4 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 8 R, 6 BB, 1 SO, 83 P / 43 S, 5.68 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 8.10 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 3-6, 3 SB (14), .364/.379/.505
SS Josh Smith: 1-4, HBP, .260/.330/.396
LF Willie Calhoun: 2-6, HR (1)
RF Steele Walker: 1-4, HR (1)
DH Sherten Apostel: 2-3, 2B, .256/.319/.558

Contra his MLB experience, Willie Calhoun saw both of his hard-hit balls (104, 102 MPH) land for hits. One landed over the fence.

Bubba Thompson leads AAA in steals.

Another quirky outing from Cole Winn, and a second straight with six walks. Winn threw only 26 fastballs out of 83 pitches, missed on 15 of them, and registered zero swinging strikes. Winn offered 27 changes, one more than the fastball. Most effective was the curve, of which four of 18 drew empty swings. Winn now has 19 combined walks and HBPs versus 18 strikeouts in 25.1 innings. Statistically, it’s reminiscent of his rough introduction to full-season ball in 2019.

Daniel Robert (calf) made his first appearances in nearly a month. Given the high-scoring games in Reno, I’d have tried to extend that rehab for another two days until the Express returned home.

The hardest-hit ball of the night (109 MPH) belonged to, yes, Sam Huff, who lined to short. He was 0-4 with two walks.

AA: Frisco 5, Arkansas (SEA) 0
Frisco: 7 hits, 7 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 0 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 16-10, 3 G up

SP Jack Leiter: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 67 P / 45 S, 1.93 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 2 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1.76 ERA
RP Lucas Jacobsen: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.93 ERA
LF Dustin Harris: 1-3, 2 BB, SB (5), .276/.356/.391
2B Ezequiel Duran: 2-4, 2B, HR (3), .277/.318/.495
1B Blaine Crim: 1-2, HR (3), BB, .270/.333/.449

Facing Arkansas for a second time early in the season, Jack Leiter delivered his best pro outing by far, not only avoiding walks but reaching a three-ball count just once. Leiter retired the final 15 straight. The fastball was mid-90s, touching 98.

.432 with eight extra-bases hits in seven games for Ezequiel Duran vs. Arkansas.

High-A:wet again

Low-A: Down East 10, at Kannapolis (CHW) 11
Down East: 11 hits, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 7 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 10-15, tied for first

SP Josh Stephan: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 51 P / 34 S, 5.09 ERA
RP Mitchell Bratt: 1 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 9.00 ERA
RP Teodoro Ortega: 2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 7.20 ERA
3B Yenci Pena: 3-3, HR (1), 2 BB, SB (2), .231/.369/.346
LF Yosy Galan: 4-5, HR (5), SB (4), .338/.416/.618

Another one-run loss. Another nice day for Yosy Galan. 21-year-old Yenci Pena was signed by Texas in late 2017 after he was declared a free agent by MLB as part of the Atlanta international scandal.

Low-A: Down East 2, at Kannapolis (CHW) 1 (7)
Down East: 4 hits, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 11-15, 5 GB

SP Larson Kindreich: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 75 P / 49 S, 1.33 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 2.2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.66 ERA

A one-run win. Larson Kindreich has yet to allow more than one run in an outing. Down East had one baserunner (on a hit batsman) in the last five innings.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Allard
AA: Ragans
Hi-A: Roby
Lo-A: TBD, probably WInston Santos

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Drew Robinson, Brett Nicholas, Jose Cardona, Isiah Kiner-Falefa: all 2-4 with a double.