Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 28 June

Per the Rangers, Jack Leiter is headed to the development list for a week because of “mild arm fatigue.” That would put him on a schedule to pitch next in San Antonio.

Texas promoted righty Marc Church to Frisco. Good.

We’ll have a new podcast later today. Link in signature.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 1, Las Vegas (OAK) 6
Round Rock: 6 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 37-36, 9 GB

SP Cole Ragans: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 89 P / 57 S, 1.59 ERA
RP Hever Bueno: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 5.50 ERA
RP Ryder Ryan: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 3.56 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 7.36 ERA

I witnessed what was probably the worst of Cole Ragans’ three AAA starts, and it was still pretty good. Ragans walked only one batter, but four additional three-ball counts, some other elongated at-bats and questionable fielding conspired to make yesterday his shortest outing since April 10. Ragans dealt a 90-94 fastball, 85-89 cutter (usually 87-88), 80-84 changeup and 73-75 curve. Ragans doesn’t ignore the top of the zone with the fastball but isn’t really trying to ride above bats with it like so many these days. He tends to work lower and move it horizontally. The changeup was his best secondary, actually his best pitch, period. Its locations formed a backwards “L” from the catcher’s view, running across the bottom of the zone and then up the outer edge. He can place it well enough to get calls and run it inside a little to righties. Best as I can tell, he didn’t offer a single one to a left-handed batter, and given his command, I wish he would. The cutter wasn’t amazing on its own but pairs well with the fastball. The curve appeared very sparingly, just three times (all balls) after the 1st.

Not much was hit hard. The first run scored after an error, two fairly soft singles, and Ragans’ own too-delicate throw to third after snaring a liner with the bases loaded. Only two balls reached the outfield via air, both landing in front of an outfielder.

In a trying half-season for many would-be Texas starters, Ragans has stood out, and I’m hopeful he reaches Arlington this season. He’s not going to be a #2 starter, but could he fill out a rotation? He’s looking like he could.

Incidentally, Ragans has been a Ranger since mid-2016, but yesterday was only the second time I’ve seen him in person. The first was a live batting-practice session in Surprise in March 2017. In 2018, he injured his arm as I was driving to Arizona.

I also saw reliever Chase Lee for the first time. Two of Lee’s first three AAA outings were, to be blunt, very poor, and Tuesday was no better, with five of seven batters reaching safely. Lee throws a side-armed upper-80s fastball and upper-70s slider. Both have a ton of movement, and the successful version of Lee involves hitters not knowing which direction the ball will break until it’s too late. The problem is neither pitch had any vertical break, and both tended to arrive at the same height (medium low), so last night’s hitters had a good idea of where the ball would be. Four of five balls in play were at least 101 MPH off the bat, and overall, opponents are hitting .526/.609/.842 against him in AAA. Lee began the season with 15 scoreless outings and didn’t allow any extra-base hits in 24 AA innings, so he’s in AAA on merit, and I have to believe there’s a better version of Lee than what’s appeared so far.

Daniel Robert hasn’t had a fun season, with two IL stints and unprecedented control issues. Last night, he threw an MLB-worthy inning, striking out the side in order on 13 pitches. Prospect Shea Langeliers and vet Matt Davidson were among the victims. Robert threw a 95-96 MPH fastball that is on the straight side but can be placed effectively and a 79-80 slider that can both come in the back door and induce helpless swings as it cuts outside.

Ezequiel Duran’s AAA debut was memorable, after a fashion. He reached on an error, was picked off but stole second when the first baseman double-pumped his throw, and then stole an unmanned third base. He also committed two errors at third.

I saw Josh Sale in person for the first time. He donned the golden sombrero.

AA: Frisco 2, Corpus Christi (HOU) 4
Frisco: 2 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 0-1, 1 GB, 36-34 overall

SP Avery Weems: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 83 P / 50 S, 6.26 ERA
DH Dustin Harris: 1-4, HR (13), .259/.347/.469

Avery Weems was the converse of Ragans, reaching five innings on a reasonable 83 pitches despite three walks.

Frisco was retired in order five times.

High-A: Hickory 4, Greensboro (PIT) 5
Hickory: 6 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 2-2, 1 GB, 40-30 overall

SP TK Roby: 5 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 81 P / 54 S, 5.61 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 1-3, BB, .274/.377/.447
LF Trevor Hauver: 1-3, BB, .225/.392/.407

A 9th-inning homer off Destin Dotson provided the margin. TK Roby pitched pretty well, although he did allow a homer for the fifth straight start. He’s given up 14, most in the system aside from AJ Alexy’s 19.

Aaron Zavala drew three walks for the fifth time. In those games he’s hitless (0-9) with a .600 OBP and four runs scored.

Low-A: Down East 1, Kannapolis (CHW) 5
Down East: 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 3-1, tied for first, 36-34 overall

SP Gavin Collyer: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 90 P / 58 S, 3.49 ERA
RP Dylan MacLean: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 2.63 ERA
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, 2 SB (23), .281/.336/.400
RF Marcus Smith: 1-3, 2B, BB, .160/.320/.263

21-year-old Gavin Collyer has a 2.49 ERA and .180/.281/.285 opposing line in his last ten starts, without a single disaster (more runs than innings) in the bunch. 2020 4th-rounder Dylan MacLean continues to pitch sparingly, tossing one or two innings every three to five days.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Bradford
Hi-A: Vanasco
Lo-A: Teodo

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Cole Ragans no-hit Tri-City for four innings and struck out six but walked five.