The Rangers are calling up OF Steele Walker. Andy Ibanez has been optioned. Walker has batted much better during a second try at AAA (.297/.395/.486). His Statcast stats are respectable: above-average in contact likely to result in a homer, but also more prone to softer-than-average contact. He tends to avoid grounders. Even with his success, I wasn’t considering a call-up this early, but here we are. It’s still a transition year, but the Rangers are being more aggressive in sorting out potential occupants on the next winning roster.
With that in mind, Texas has designated OF Willie Calhoun for assignment. I’d never written about the possibility, but the idea had begun to creep into my head. Even with his two homers a few nights ago, Calhoun’s batting profile was disturbing. Calhoun hardly ever swung and missed, but his rate of quality contact lagged badly behind his peers. He really needed to put on a show, and he didn’t. The bigger tell was that he just wasn’t playing much, as I’ve documented. Essentially, every member of Round Rock’s crowded outfield was receiving as much game time as possible except for him. Calhoun has an option, making him more enticing as a waiver claim.
AAA: Round Rock 5, Oklahoma City (LAD) 2
Round Rock: 10 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 31-22, tied for first
SP Josh Sborz: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 31 P / 15 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Kohei Arihara: 3 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 5.70 ERA
RP Jonathan Hernandez: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 0.00 ERA
RF Zak Reks: 2-4, 2B, .344/.430/.634
CF Leody Taveras: 1-3, BB, SB (7), .283/.316/.472
RF Nick Solak: 2-3, 3B, BB, .271/.364/.458
C Yohel Pozo: 2-4, .336/.376/.486
Rehabbing Jonathan Hernandez pitched for a second straight night. Hardly anybody pitches on consecutive nights in the minors, much less folks coming off TJ surgery, so I was very surprised. The outing wasn’t smooth, but Hernandez found control of his fastball and reintroduced the change that was absent the night before.
Compared to last year, Leody Taveras is finding more success swinging the bat but drawing far fewer walks, enough to drag down his OBP. He’s still sporting a solid slugging percentage but has been more liner than fly-oriented, diminishing his power slightly. He’s cooled off quite a bit in the last month. Earlier in the season, Taveras being passed over was more a role issue; I’d said I’d rather him continue to play regularly in AAA than be the last man on the MLB bench. Now, it seems like more of a performance issue. (I wrote the preceding sentences last night, and now we have Walker in Arlington instead of Taveras.)
AA: Frisco 7, at Wichita (MIN) 8
Frisco: 15 hits, 3 walks, 15 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts
Record: 27-23, 0.5 G up
SP Avery Weems: 4.2 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 5 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 71 P / 49 S, 7.94 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-6, HR (6), .339/.379/.468
1B Blaine Crim: 2-5, 2B, .301/.376/.540
DH Kellen Strahm: 2-4, 2B, BB, .216/.373/.275
LF Dustin Harris: 2-5, SB (10), .248/.340/.442
In his last four outings, Avery Weems has faced 61 batters and allowed seven homers, roughly one per trip through the order.
Texas assigned OF Josh Sale to Frisco. The 17th-overall pick from 2010 washed out of baseball after just 224 games because of substance issues and spent some time in the wilderness, shall we say. Sale recently got his life back together, played well for indy Gastonia in 2021, and signed with Texas over the winter.
High-A: Hickory 13, at Asheville (HOU) 4
Hickory: 12 hits, 6 walks, 3 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 0 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 29-21, 1.5 GB
SP Owen White: 6 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 10 SO, 84 P / 65 S, 4.73 ERA
RP Yohanse Morel: 2 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 4.50 ERA
2B Luisangel Acuna: 1-4, HR (6), .284/.407/.612
DH Cody Freeman: 2-3, BB, .252/.339/.420
3B Thomas Saggese: 2-4, 2B, HR (4), BB, .280/.328/.421
SS Chris Seise: 3-5, .246/.299/.410
LF Jayce Easley: 1-2, 2 BB, 2 SB (5), .255/.364/.418
Owen White decided to throw a million strikes and see what happens. He didn’t even reach a three-ball count. The Tourists struck out ten times and batted .563 when they managed to make contact. His walk rate is down by one-third from 2021, aided immensely by yesterday’s effort.
Yohanse Morel, acquired for Albert Abeu, made his Texas debut.
Not enjoying Asheville: Evan Carter (1-16, 2 walks)
Low-A: Down East 5, Charleston (TAM) 0
Down East: 7 hits, 9 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 24-26, 4.5 GB
SP Mitch Bratt: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 72 P / 50 S, 2.84 ERA
RP Dylan MacLean: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 3.38 ERA
RP Damian Mendoza: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1.63 ERA
SS Cam Cauley: 3-4, BB, 3 SB (13), .216/.310/.257
DH Marcus Smith: 1-3, 2 BB, SB (16), .145/.314/.274
C Ian Moller: 1-4, HR (1), BB, .150/.321/.250
3B Junior Paniagua: 2-4, 3B, SB (5), .218/.269/.339
Quite a night for the 2021 picks. 18-year-old Mitch Bratt tossed four scoreless. Four has been his limit so far. Roughly, 13 more starts at 4-5 innings per would give him 75-80 for the season, which feels about right.
Ian Moller hit his first full-season homer. Moller’s hitting profile is flat-out weird. He draws plenty of walks, doesn’t strike out much and hits a ton of fly balls. But those flies are getting caught, and he pops up quite a bit, so he’s hitting only .207 when he makes contact.
Cam Cauley has heated up, and like Jayce Easley last year, low-A batteries can’t contain him on the bases. Cauley has 13 bases and zero tag-outs in 19 games.