Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 3 June

Ezequiel Duran, Texas Ranger. Per local reports and Duran’s literal presence in Globe Life early this afternoon, the Rangers will be calling up the 23-year-old for his MLB debut. Duran is batting .317/.365/.574 in 45 AA games. To quote myself from yesterday: “Scaled to last year’s 471 plate appearance, Duran is on pace for two fewer homers than last year’s 19 but 32 (!) additional combined doubles and triples. Also 27 more walks and 46 fewer strikeouts. ‘On pace for’ is a dangerous undertaking, but I don’t think it’s dangerous to say Duran’s having a breakout season.” A timely assessment if I may say so, although without any subtext that a call-up was imminent.

Duran is expected to start tonight at third base, a position he’s played only four times in 2022 and three before then.

He is already on the 40. No word on whether the Rangers will create space by IL’ing the banged-up Josh Smith or optioning someone else. It sounds like a temporary measure, and Duran potentially could head to AAA Round Rock thereafter.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, Oklahoma City (LAD) 10
Round Rock: 6 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 8 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 30-22, 1 GB

SP AJ Alexy: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 97 P / 62 S, 6.29 ERA
RP Jonathan Hernandez: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
DH Nick Solak: 1-5, HR (2), .244/.333/.400

Just shy of 14 months since Tommy John surgery, Jonathan Hernandez pitched in a real game. His appearance had a “just happy to be here” element, as the velocity was present (97-99 fastball, 88-90 slider) but the control was not (19 pitches, 8 strikes, including zero strikes on four sliders). No reason for him to be worried, but soon the Rangers will have some tricky 40-man and active-roster decisions. Texas is still playing for the future, but as we’ve seen with Albert Abreu, present-day performance is increasingly important. Hernandez can be optioned once his rehab assignment ends, if Texas decides he needs more time, but even that would still require a 40-man move. Incidentally, Hernandez pitched in Round Rock for the first time. He’d reached the Majors straight from Frisco in 2019.

AJ Alexy breezed through the first three innings. In the 4th, a leadoff walk and four straight two-out hits plated four. In the 5th, he worked around a walk but needed 23 pitches against just four batters.

AA: Frisco 2, at Wichita (MIN) 1
Frisco: 4 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts
Record: 27-22, 1 G up

SP Zak Kent: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 SO, 89 P / 58 S, 5.61 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.11 ERA
2B Jax Biggers: 2-4, 2B, .250/.455/.375
1B Trey Hair: 1-4, HR (6), .220/.277/.440

No point in mincing words: Zak Kent’s year has been terrible. Nearly as many walks as strikeouts, a swinging strike rate of 8% compared to last year’s 17%, at least two runs allowed in every appearance. Last night, the version that put him on the radar reappeared. He reached nine strikeouts and seven innings for the first time since last August and missed 16 bats for the first time since last September.

High-A: Hickory 6, at Asheville (HOU) 9
Hickory: 9 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 28-21, 1.5 GB

SP Nick Krauth: 1.1 IP, 5 H (2 HR), 6 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 45 P / 26 S, 5.63 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 3.57 ERA
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-4, .275/.320/.394
CF Angel Aponte: 1-4, HR (2), .300/.375/.429

There are better places to lower your ERA. Hickory starts have allowed 17 runs in 14 innings in Asheville.

Statistically, 2022 has been one step forward, two steps back for Thomas Saggese. He’s hitting better for average but last year’s power and patience are diminished. It’s worth nothing that Saggese turned 20 in April. He’s the second-youngest Crawdad hitter after Evan Carter and the fifth-youngest in the Sally League. 

Low-A: Down East 2, Charleston (TAM) 6
Down East: 4 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 23-26, 4.5 GB

SP Ryan Garcia: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 48 P / 29 S, 0.00 ERA
RF Jose Rodriguez: 2-4, 2B, .204/.295/.285
SS Maximo Acosta: 1-3, BB, .260/.359/.370

Ryan Garcia pitched for the first time since 2019. A rain delay stalled the game after the first — comically unfair in light of Garcia’s history — but the weather cleared in time for him to continue.

19-year-old Maximo Acosta leads the Woodies in doubles (11) and steals (17).

Today’s Starters
AAA: Bullpen, featuring Josh Sborz
AA: Weems
Hi-A: White

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Yohander Mendez and Collin Wiles both threw seven-inning shutouts for Frisco, allowing eight runners between them across 14 innings. Jonathan Hernandez allowed 12 hits and seven runs in 3.2 innings for low-A Down East.