Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 4 June

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.

Box Scores

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.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 8 June Box Scores

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, at Las Vegas (OAK) 5
Round Rock: 5 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 6 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 32-24, 2 GB

SP Spencer Howard: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 3 SO, 83 P / 48 S, 3.70 ERA
RP Jose Leclerc: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 8.31 ERA

Another scoreless outing for Spencer Howard, in Las Vegas, no less. Another mixed review from me. Last week, Howard allowed a lone runner through 3.2 innings and then inexplicably walked three straight. Last night, two runners in 3.2 innings, then three straight walks. Howard also started the 5th with two walks. The changeup didn’t make an appearance. The curve, absent until the 4th, was more effective than usual: three groundouts, a swinging strike, a called strike, and three balls.

Bueno’s high-low approach works well when batters can’t decide if the pitch is coming in at the chest or knees. When too many of those pitches comes across the belt, he gets last night’s result: four doubles, three runs in the 9th.

Round Rock didn’t score until the 9th. Adrian Martinez, acquired by Oakland as part of the Sean Manaea trade, flummoxed the Express with a high-run fastball and screwball-like change.

Texas transferred OF Josh Sale to Round Rock, but he wasn’t in last night’s lineup.

AA: Frisco 4, at Amarillo (ARI) 0
Frisco: 8 hits, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 28-25, tied for first

SP Cole Ragans: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 SO, 93 P / 62 S, 2.81 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 2.22 ERA
DH Dustin Harris: 1-4, HR (10), .249/.338/.456
LF JP Martinez: 3-4, 3B, SB (19), .291/.397/.507

I feel like we’re not far from seeing some players on the move, and I’m hoping Cole Ragans is among them. Every Frisco starter has struggled with consistency. Everyone but Cole (pictured below).

Justin Foscue’s oblique issue happily turned out to be precautionary. He’s back and was 1-4 last night.

High-A: Hickory 6, at Bowling Green (TAM) 4
Hickory: 9 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 8 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 31-22, 1.5 GB

SP Ricky Vanasco: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 6 SO, 79 P / 42 S, 5.40 ERA
RP Marc Church: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 3.16 ERA
1B Cristian Inoa: 2-4, HR (3), .306/.361/.450
3B Cody Freeman: 2-4, HR (8), .256/.344/.442
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 2-3, HBP, .307/.357/.412
LF Angel Aponte: 1-3, 2B, HBP, .296/.376/.444

Ricky Vanasco walked a batter in four of five innings and threw in a balk and wild pitch for good measure, but Bowling Green couldn’t muster much with the bat. Marc Church threw his sixth two-inning outing. Good as he’s been, the previous two resulted in multiple runs scored.

Cody Freeman is first on the Crawdads and third in the organization in homers, just like we all expected. Well, no. Freeman began to display some pop last year but had only six homers in 109 pro games entering the season, and he’s listed at 5’10” and 180 pounds. Last year, he lost a month to injury and didn’t don a mask after July. Assuming no health issues in 2022, we’ll have to see whether the rigors of catching affect his bat.

Evan Carter is hitting .118/.225/.177 in nine games since demolishing Greenville in mid-May. Not too many strikeouts, ample walks, but minimal production on balls in play.

Low-A: Down East 2, at Kannapolis (CHW) 1
Down East: 7 hits, 0 walks, 16 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 6 walks, 17 strikeouts
Record: 25-28, 3.5 GB

SP Emiliano Teodo: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 SO, 65 P / 44 S, 3.99 ERA
RP Jose Corniell: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 6.29 ERA
RP Jackson Leath: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 SO, 4.91 ERA
RP Theo McDowell: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 2.57 ERA
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-4, .266/.357/.367

Down East carried a no-hitter into the 7th and delivered a quasi-shutout, with only the extra-inning gift runner scoring. Emiliano Teodo faced the minimum across five, permitting only a 5th-inning walk that was erased on a a double play. Teodo fanned six straight at one point, running the fastball into the upper 90s. Jose Corneill lost the no-hitter on a bloop. Jackson Leath was placed into a high-leverage situation and made it more interesting than you’d like, but he escaped a two-out, two-on pickle in the 8th and was assisted by Theo McDowell after loading the bases in the 9th. McDowell stranded three by getting a call on a 2-2 fastball against Benyamin Bailey, who then drew a line in the dirt and was summarily dismissed.

In the 10th, Maximo Acosta doubled in Marcus Smith, and a Efrenyer Narvaez double and Yenci Pena single would bring Acosta home. A passed ball, walk and wild pitch put the tying run on 2nd with none out, but McDowell would prevail on a fly out and two strikeouts.

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

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Drew Robinson batted .471/.591/.1.412 in four games at Colorado Springs.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 5 June

The Arizona Complex League and Dominican Summer League begin today. We don’t have official roster for the rookies yet. I will likely cover each game this week and then switch to weekly coverage.I don’t cover the DSL on a daily basis but will check in on occasion. Today’s game includes several signings from January 15 (the major signing date pushed forward from last July), including 17-year-old Venezuelan outfidler Anthony Gutierrez, OFs Jose De Jesus and Wady Mendez, 1B/OF Marcos Torres, and catchers Daniel Bruzual and Jesus Lopez.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, Oklahoma City (LAD) 4
Round Rock: 9 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 31-23, 1 GB

SP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 24 P / 14 S, 0.73 ERA
RP Tyson Miller: 5 IP, 5 H (2 HR), 3 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 5.02 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 6.75 ERA
RP Jose Leclerc: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 0 SO, 8.10 ERA
1B Zach Reks: 2-3, HR (6), BB, .354/.441/.667
DH Nick Solak: 2-4, 2B, .288/.373/.481
3B Diosbel Arias: 2-3, 2B, BB, .357/.400/.571

Cole Winn was pushed back to Tuesday in Las Vegas, creating a second straight bullpen day, albeit fortified by occasional starter Tyson Miller. Rehabbing Jose Leclerc wasn’t able to complete an inning, consistently missing up and out with his fastball.

Formerly in Hickory, Frainyer Chavez lined an RBI single in the 9th for his first AAA hit, while Frisco fixture Diosbel Arias had a nice day including the front end of a 5-3 double play during Leclerc’s outing. They’re in Round Rock because Ryan Dorow is on the temporary inactive list and Davis Wendzel is active but seemingly unavailable of late. The Express have moved from crowded to undermanned in a hurry.

AA: Frisco 3, at Wichita (MIN) 5
Frisco: 9 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 6 walks, 4 strikeouts
Record: 27-24, tied for first
SP Cody Bradford: 4 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 67 P / 41 S, 7.82 ERA
RP Seth Nordlin: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 3.00 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, BB, SB (3), .342/.384/.468

Josh Sale struck out three times and walked in his first affiliated action since 2014. Jonathan Ornelas leads the organization and is third in MiLB with 65 hits.

High-A: Hickory 21, at Asheville (HOU) 6
Hickory: 17 hits, 11 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 30-21, 1.5 GB

SP Mason Englert: 4.1 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 3 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 90 P / 62 S, 3.65 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 3.42 ERA
DH Aaron Zavala: 1-5, 3B, 2 BB, SB (8), .264/.426/.377
LF Trevor Hauver: 1-2, HR (7), 3 BB, .242/.421/.444
C Cody Freeman: 1-5, 2 HBP, .250/.343/.419
3B Cristian Inoa: 3-4, 3 2B, 2 BB, .296/.355/.428
2B Thomas Saggese: 3-6, HR (5), HBP, 3 SB (6), .288/.337/.441
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 1-3, BB, HBP, .300/.348/.407
RF Angel Aponte, 2-5, 3B, BB, .307/.384/.453
CF Jayce Easley, 2-5, BB, SB (6), .267/.375/.417
1B Jake Guenther: 2-5, HR (4), BB, .215/.312/.431
PH/1B Scott Kapers: 1-1, HBP, .273/.329/.545

I’m sure I’ve listed nine hitters in a recap before, but ten? Maybe not. Everyone reached safely at least twice, including Scott Kapers, who subbed for Trevor Hauver late. Thomas Saggese’s homer was a grand slam.

Hickory scored 60 runs in six games at Asheville and has the best OBP (.362) and the most runs (6.1 per game) in high-A. Unfortunately, because of uneven run distribution and 37 runs allowed, the Crawdads split the series.

Mason Englert had an odd line: 90 pitches in just 4.1 innings despite just three strikeouts, one walk and one other three-ball count.

Luisangel Acuna, Evan Carter and Chris Seise had the day off, much to their chagrin.

Low-A: Down East 3, Charleston (TAM) 4
Down East: 8 hits, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 24-27, 4.5 GB

SP Winston Santos: 5 IP, 7 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 88 P / 60 S, 3.95 ERA
RP Theo McDowell: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 2.75 ERA
RP Jackson Leath: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 5.69 ERA
C Efrenyer Narvaez: 1-4, HR (3), .196/.254/.313

Down 4-2 in the 9th, Junior Paniagua singled home Yosy Galan and pushed the tying run to third, but Alejandro Osuna grounded out to end it. 19-year-old Efrenyer Narvaez has surpassed last year’s two homers in six fewer games, but on the whole, low-A has been a challenge compared to the rookie league, where he batted .353/.428/.500.

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

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Drew Robinson homered on the game’s second pitch in a 10-7 win at Colorado Springs. Brett Nicholas and Hanser Alberto also homered.

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.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 2 June

The Rangers traded DFA’ed reliever Albert Abreu to Kansas City for 21-year-old righty Yohanse Morel. Morel signed with the Nats in 2017 and was traded in a package for Kelvin Herrera a year later. Baseball America ranked him KC’s #19 prospect in 2019 and #30 in 2020, noting a three-pitch mix topped by a 91-95 fastball. Just a few days ago, FanGraphs gave him an honorable mention outside a 47-man list, mentioning a “plus splitter and a 45-grade sinker and slider.” Morel has a 4.08 ERA, 21 strikeouts and 10 walks in 17.2 relief innings at high-A Quad Cities. He’ll join the same level with the Rangers.

Playoffs: I heard last month about how MiLB intended to implement the postseason this year but didn’t see anything formal until recently. Playoffs will be similar to the old format with a few tweaks. In AAA, as before, the two division winners will meet in a single series, but the title will be decided in a single game instead of a best-of-five, presumably because the regular season stretches to the end of September. Then, as before, the winners of the Pacific Coast League and International League will meet for one game to decide the AAA champion. At lower levels, the split-season format has returned. The first and second-half division winners will play a best-of-three followed by another best-of-three championship series. In a quirk of scheduling, the first halves for Down East and Hickory will end on Thursday, June 23, in the middle of a six-game series. Frisco’s first half will end Sunday the 26th.

Hickory has been exactly 0.5 games behind division-leading Bowling Green for a week and is tied with Rome. The Crawdads will play nine of their last 18 first-half games against those teams. At four games back,  below-.500 Down East still has a shot but needs to pass four teams. Frisco has shared or held the division lead by itself from the get-go. The Riders are currently tied with San Antonio.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, Oklahoma City (LAD) 6
Round Rock: 4 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 30-21, tied for first

SP Jake Latz: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 53 P / 31 S, 5.44 ERA
RP Jose Leclerc: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 6.75 ERA
LF Nick Solak: 1-2, BB, HBP, .250/.348/.350
C Yohel Pozo: 2-4, HR (4), .336/.369/.485

Jake Latz was pulled after needing 39 pitches to record two outs in the 2nd. Latz made his MLB debut last summer as a covid-rule addition, was a contender for the 40-man roster, and also was a contender for Rule-5 draft selection had it not been scrapped. Latz didn’t allow a homer yesterday, but long balls have become a problem since he reached AA last May. Opponents are hitting .282/.364/.528 with nine homers in 41.1 innings.

Jose Leclerc stretched out to 28 pitches. 

AA: Frisco 1, at Wichita (MIN) 2
Frisco: 7 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 26-22, tied for first

SP Cole Ragans: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 89 P / 58 S, 3.20 ERA
RP Tim Brennan: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1.08 ERA
3B Ezequiel Duran: 2-4, 2 2B, .317/.362/.578
RF Josh Stowers: 1-2, 2 BB, SB (10), .226/.362/.330

Baseball America revised its rankings this week. Most moves were incremental, but Cole Ragans jumped ten spots to #14. Ragans has reached five innings in seven consecutive starts, and a two-homer, four-run outing is his worst. Ragans tailed off badly in last season’s second half, understandable given his history. The hope is for more stamina this year. I’m also hoping for some action in AAA. He’s up to 18 starts in AA.

Ezequiel Duran doubled twice to retake the lead in that category across all levels. 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.

Texas released righty Sean Chandler earlier this week. Now 25, the 2018 6th-rounder came to Texas with serious control problems that he partially rectified as a rookie with Spokane and last summer at Hickory, but in Frisco this strong he’d walked 10 in 5.1 innings. He struck out 111 in 81.2 innings.

High-A: Hickory 3, at Asheville (HOU) 7
Hickory: 6 hits, 2 walks, 16 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 28-20, 0.5 GB

SP Ben Anderson: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 76 P / 51 S, 3.75 ERA
SS Luisangel Acuna: 1-4, HR (5), .288/.417/.610

Luisangel Acuna has four homers and eight walks in his last eight games.

Chris Seise (1-4) moved back to DH, but just being in the lineup a day after playing in the field is noteworthy.

Low-A: Down East 4, Charleston (TAM) 1
Down East: 8 hits, 7 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Record: 23-25, 4 GB

SP Robby Ahlstrom: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 80 P / 49 S, 4.22 ERA
RP Jose Corniell: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 7.06 ERA
SS Cam Cauley: 1-3, BB, 2 SB (10), .186/.278/.229
RF Marcus Smith: 2-3, BB, SB (15), .145/.313/.282
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, HR (3), .255/.307/.365

Robby Ahlstrom is now the holdover from the Jose Trevino trade. When I saw him last month, Ahlstrom threw an 88-91 fastball, tilty mid-70s curve and a change around 80. The Yankees drafted him in last year’s 7th round.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Alexy
AA: Kent
Hi-A: Krauth
Lo-A: TBD. Ryan Garcia is expected to pitch. Texas’s 2019 2nd-rounder out of UCLA has thrown all of five professional innings because of Tommy John, covid, and a lat injury.

Five Years Ago Yesterday
A snooze of a day to be honest. Ten years ago, Roy Oswalt pitched in Round Rock, and Jurickson Profar drew an eight-pitch walk followed by a Mike Olt homer.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 1 June

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, Oklahoma City (LAD) 0
Round Rock: 7 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 30-20, 1 G up

SP Spencer Howard: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 85 P / 57 S, 4.66 ERA
RP Josh Sborz: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Yerry Rodriguez: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 6.05 ERA
RP Jesus Tinoco: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.66 ERA
RF Steele Walker: 2-3, BB, .314/.407/.514
LF Willie Calhoun: 3-4, 2 HR (4), .246/.299/.443

I’ve mentioned that Willie Calhoun hasn’t been playing all that much or that well, but he was the offense last night, driving in four on a tall homer down the line and a liner to the opposing bullpen in right-center.

I said last week that Spencer Howard had ditched the changeup. That’s not quite true. He did throw just one for Texas before demotion to AAA, but having corrected my minor league database, I now see he’d thrown 11 in AAA out of 269 total pitches, including ten in one outing on May 20. A small portion of his arsenal, but not completely absent. He added four last night. Unfortunately, neither the change nor the handful of curves were of much use. In AAA, his swinging strike rate on the curve is 7%, and the change has yet to generate a miss. Opponents are hitting .500 (4-for-8) when they make contact on those pitches. The fastball and slider are solid. At his best, he spots the fastball well and mixes in the slider successfully. Hitters aren’t swinging helplessly through a bunch of pitches but certainly don’t look comfortable. In the 4th, his fastball began running high and he walked three straight batters.

Yerry Rodriguez doesn’t quite look like his old self, but he’s been better, allowing no runs and fanning eight in his last six innings.

The box score lists seven automatic balls called. I counted ten, including two in one plate appearance by both Howard and recently optioned Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. I don’t think I’d ever seen more than three in one game, and never two to a single batter.

The Padres are calling up Nomar Mazara, who will increase their collection of ex-Rangers to five (Jurickson Profar, Jorge Alfaro, Yu Darvish, Nick Martinez).

AA: Frisco 3, at Wichita (MIN) 0
Frisco: 8 hits, 8 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts

SP Cody Bradford: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 16 P / 10 S, 8.47 ERA
RP Jack Leiter: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 SO, 4.93 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.77 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, BB, .349/.388/.471
2B Ezequiel Duran: 2-5, 2B, .313/.356/.568
LF Dustin Harris: 2-5, HR (9), SB (9), .253/.339/.461
DH Kellen Strahm: 1-2, 2 BB, .211/.373/.263
RF Josh Stowers: 0-1, 3 BB, .221/.350/.327This was the completion of Tuesday’s rain suspension. Cody Bradford pitched the 1st that night, and Jack Leiter followed Wednesday as a “reliever” instead of starting the regularly scheduled contest. Leiter was in form, fanning eight of 22 batters and averaging only 16.4 pitches per inning. Matt Olson has five doubles in his last four games to reach 23, one more than Ezequiel Duran. No shame in being slightly less proficient than Olson at something.

AA: Frisco 1, at Wichita (MIN) 7 (7)
Frisco: 3 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Record: 26-21, 1 G up

SP Kevin Gowdy: 1 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 3 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 36 P / 21 S, 9.00 ERA
RP Seth Nordlin: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 3.23 ERA
CF Kellen Strahm: 2-2, BB, .211/.373/.263

Kellen Strahm immediately rewarded my faith in him by going 3-4 with three walks in the quasi-doubleheader.

IF Justin Foscue was IL’ed with a tight oblique per local reports. A worse version (I hope) of that injury cost him a sizable chunk of 2021.

High-A: Hickory 15, at Asheville (HOU) 7
Hickory: 10 hits, 14 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 28-19, 0.5 GB

SP Ricky Vanasco: 4 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 83 P / 51 S, 6.04 ERA
DH Aaron Zavala: 0-0, 3 BB, .269/.433/.372
LF Trevor Hauver: 3-5, HR (6), 2 BB, .243/.418/.435
1B Cristian Inoa: 3-5, .288/.355/.404
3B Cody Freeman: 1-3, HR (7), 2 BB, .233/.320/.414
SS Chris Seise: 2-5, 2B, .232/.289/.408

Hickory scored six in the 1st on two singles, seven walks, two passed balls and a wild pitch. In the 7th, Randy Florentino, Evan Carter and Luisangel Acuna would walk in front of Trevor Hauver, who belted a grand slam.

Since the beginning of 2021, Houston’s full-season farm clubs have issued a combined 5.4 walks and HBPs per game, the most in baseball by 0.5 per game over the second-worst club, Cincinnati. (Texas is 12th-best with 2,846, 4.3 per game.)

Look carefully at that Chris Seise line. Not the batting. The position. Seise took the field for the first time this season. Seise has lost years to injuries and was limited in 2022 to DH with frequent rest until last night.

Low-A: Down East 2, Charleston (TAM) 13
Down East: 6 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 22-25, 4.5 GB

SP Brandon Webb: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 7 SO, 82 P / 53 S, 4.99 ERA
RP Emiliano Teodo: 2.1 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 9 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 4.81 ERA
SS Cam Cauley: 2-4, 3B, .179/.267/.224
LF Yosy Galan: 1-3, HR (7), .254/.351/.482

Webb and Teodo contributed five walks, three errors, two hit batters, a balk and a wild pitch to the cause. One of those days.

Since an 0-for-16 start, Cam Cauley is hitting .235/.328/.294. Not great, but he’s seeing some pitches and not striking out at a bad rate.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Latz
AA: Ragans
Hi-A: Anderson

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Pedro Payano allowed a run in five innings in his AA debut. He would make the Rangers in 2019. He’s still around, pitching in relief for Cincinnati’s AAA squad.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 31 May

New podcast today. A deep dive into Martin Perez plus Josh Smith, Eli White, Sam Huff, and a bunch of prospects. Link in signature.
Baseball America updated its top-30 rankings for the Rangers. Some notable moves:OF Evan Carter up from 8th to 3rd, and new to the overall top 100 at #75.
IF Ezequiel Duran enters the top 100 at #80 and 4th on the Rangers.
RHP Cole Winn drops behind the previous two at #5, and down to 90th overall.
LHP Cole Ragans jumps from 24th to 14th.
OF Bayron Lora drops from 20th to unranked. MLB.com beat writer Kennedi Landry mentioned that Perez had pitched to now-manager Kevin Cash back in 2011. He did, and I was there:

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 0, Oklahoma City (LAD) 8
Round Rock: 6 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 3 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 29-20, tied for first

SP Tyson Miller: 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 60 P / 43 S, 35156.00 ERA
RP Jose Leclerc: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 0 SO, 27.00 ERA
RP Hever Bueno: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 3.42 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
LF Bubba Thompson: 2-5, 2B, SB (26), .333/.343/.491
RF Steele Walker: 1-3, 2B, BB, HBP, .299/.390/.507

OF/DH starts in the 10 games since 5/20, when Nick Solak made his first appearance after being optioned:
Solak — 8
Taveras — 8
Thompson — 7
Walker — 6
Reks — 4 (plus 3 games at 1B)
Calhoun — 4
Smith — 2 (plus 8 games at 3B/SS)

Optioning Calhoun, Reks (now back in Texas), and Solak in May certainly crowded the outfield, what with Leody Taveras, Bubba Thompson, and Steele Walker already there and deserving of steady time. So far, the person most crowded out has been Calhoun, unless he been fighting a minor injury of which I’m unaware. Calhoun started three straight when he reported to Round Rock and pinch-hit the day after that, but since then, he’s started nine of 19 possible games, batting 214/.261/.286 in that span.

Cole Winn appears to be having his rotation turn pushed back slightly. I think I said “skipped” on the podcast, but that’s not quite true. He’s listed as Sunday’s starter, eight days after his last outing. Despite his issues lately, I see no cause for alarm. Texas employed this tactic with a bunch of pitchers (Winn included) around this time last year and is doing so right now with some AA guys. The AAA season is also 150 games, running through September 28 instead of the traditional Labor Day finish.

AA: wet

Frisco’s first venture to Kansas since 2007 was suspended by rain. The Wichita Wranglers relocated to Springdale, AR, as the NW Arkansas Naturals in 2008. 12 years later, the Wichita Wind Surge replaced them as a would-be AAA team, but after the lost 2020 and MLB’s top-down reorganization of the minors, the Surge were relegated to AA before taking the field in their $75 million stadium.

High-A: Hickory 2, at Asheville (HOU) 4
Hickory: 9 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 27-19, 0.5 GB

SP TK Roby: 5.1 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 3 R, 1 BB, 9 SO, 86 P / 57 S, 6.21 ERA
RP Joe Corbett: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.50 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 2-3, BB, .275/.431/.380
SS Luisangel Acuna: 1-3, BB, SB (8), .308/.419/.615
3B Keyber Rodriguez: 1-3, BB, SB (3), .300/.340/.414
2B Thomas Saggese: 3-4, SB (3), .276/.323/.401

In an otherwise fine start, one pitch defined the outcome for TK Roby, a three-run homer by Colin Barber. The lefty-swinging Barber went deep to right, which in Asheville is all of 297 feet down the line and 327 to the alley. Maybe Barber’s shot would have carried in any park, but maybe not.

Low-A: Down East 11, Charleston (TAM) 5
Down East: 13 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 22-24, 4 GB

SP Gavin Collyer: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 SO, 79 P / 50 S, 3.78 ERA
LF Alejandro Osuna: 1-2, HR (6), 2 BB, .318/.424/.508
2B Maximo Acosta: 2-4, 2B, BB, SB (15), .257/.354/.360
1B Tucker Mitchell: 3-5, HR (3), .205/.333/.373
CF Daniel Mateo: 3-5, .248/.301/.338
3B Junior Paniagua: 2-3, BB, .219/.274/.333

As a group, the Woodies are at the low end of the range in everything but homers, but last night they reached double-digits hits for the first time in over two weeks. Alejandro Osuna remains the team’s best statistical hitter by a wide margin. Osuna isn’t on any top-30 list and didn’t even make Jamey Newberg’s top 72, but I think there’s a little something to this guy, even though he’s repeating low-A. Osuna’s just 19, has a keen eye, speed, and six homers in 39 games.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Howard
AA: Leiter
Hi-A: Vanasco

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Andy Ibanez homered twice, doubled and singled in a 13-2 victory for Frisco.