Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 30 June

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, Las Vegas (OAK) 0
Round Rock: 5 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 1 hit, 1 walk, 15 strikeouts
Record: 39-36, 8 GB

SP Spencer Howard: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, HBP, 11 SO, 93 P / 57 S, 3.69 ERA
RP Spencer Patton: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 3.29 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 2-4, HR (8), SB (37), .286/.325/.435
SS Ezequiel Duran: 1-4, HR (1)

Spencer Howard would like to pitch in the big leagues again, thank you very much.

I’d looked askance at his consecutive scoreless outings from a month ago. Both were walk-filled and too reliant on two pitches for my tastes. They didn’t look like performances that would translate to a higher level. In Howard’s next start, he allowed six runs in his first inning, but for the rest of that night and ever since, Howard has increasingly looked like what the Rangers envisioned. Last night, Howard nearly no-hit Las Vegas, with the lone hit came on a grounder that SS Ezequiel Duran couldn’t quite flag down. He wasn’t overpowering, despite all the strikeouts, but he mixed and spotted his pitches well, preventing the Aviators from ever feeling comfortable in the box. Notably, he gathered eight calls and two misses with his curve, a pitch that wasn’t in abundance or effectiveness a month ago. The change is still a tag-along. Howard worked almost exclusively fastball/slider to righties and mostly near the outside edge at varying heights. He saved the change and most of the curves for lefties.

As to how he might perform back in MLB if he gets the chance… well, hopefully better than Hearn, who I’ve always liked and still do in a limited role.
Howard was and is fly-prone. Those balls have mostly stayed in the park in AAA (3 HR in 46 IP), but his MLB track record in that regard is poor. He can’t keep allowing a homer every four innings.

Ezequiel Duran put enough oomph on a high, inside fastball enough to launch it over the fence for his first AAA homer. According to Statcast, the ball came off the bat at 87 MPH and an angle of 30 degrees. 87 is impossibly low. There are exactly zero MLB homers at that speed/angle combo in the Statcast era, and no balls in play the distance of Duran’s 352 feet. Duran’s a trailblazer.

None played often last month, but Round Rock’s three best hitters in June were the catching trio of Yohel Pozo (.406/.459/.750), Meibrys Viloria (.400/.533/.629) and Sam Huff (.280/.379/.640). Among regulars, newcomer Josh Sale hit best: .297/.384/.578 with five homers in 17 games. Bubba Thompson batted only .209 but drew nine walks, seven more than April and May combined. 

All eight opposing innings were thrown by ex-Ranger Collin Wiles. Wiles has a 5.77 ERA, which sounds bad but is actually above average for a Vegas-based squad.

AA: Frisco 8, Corpus Christi (HOU) 3
Frisco: 13 hits, 6 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 1-2, 1 GB, 37-35 overall

SP Tai Tiedemann: 2 IP, 3 H (2 HR), 2 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 31 P / 19 S, 5.86 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 5.22 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 2.32 ERA
LF Dustin Harris: 2-4, 2B, BB, .260/.351/.468
CF JP Martinez: 2-3, 3B, 2 BB, 2 SB (25), .291/.414/.485
2B Justin Foscue: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, .263/.363/.450
3B Jax Biggers: 3-3, 2B, BB, .326/.389/.407

Six Riders effectively covered Jack Leiter’s absence. Marc Church’s AA debut was ultimately effective if ordinary by his standards. An inning-ending GIDP followed a walk and single. Grant Wolfram fanned 20 of 50 batters last month.

Outfielder Kellen Strahm led the Riders with a .329/.413/.514 line in June.

High-A: Hickory 6, Greensboro (PIT) 5
Hickory: 7 hits, 7 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 3-3, 1 GB, 41-31 overall

SP Robby Ahlstrom: 6 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 4 SO, 91 P / 61 S, 6.08 ERA
3B Thomas Saggese: 1-4, HR (6), .296/.349/.449
DH Chris Seise: 1-3, 2B, BB, .258/.313/.407
RF Jayce Easley: 2-2, 2B, 2 BB, SB (10), .235/.364/.378

Hickory recovered from a 4-0 deficit in the late innings. Trevor Hauver (2-5) drove in two in the 7th after two Gboro wild pitches. In the 8th, Thomas Saggse knocked a two-run homer, and Chris Seise and Jayce Easley followed with doubles.

Saggese hit .344/.408/.563 with three homers and four steals in June.

Seise batted .311/.358/.419 in June, easily his best month in full-season ball. Admittedly, competition for this honor is scant, as Seise had played in all of 62 games at this level before last month. Seise played nine games at short and ten at DH. He’s yet to man short on consecutive days.

Low-A: Down East 4, Kannapolis (CHW) 2
Down East: 6 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 4-2, 1 GB, 37-35 overall

SP Ryan Garcia: 4.2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 1 R, 1 BB, 8 SO, 65 P / 40 S, 2.03 ERA
RP Josh Gessner: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 2.31 ERA
1B Jose Rodriguez: 2-3, 2B, BB, SB (3), .201/.281/.273

Making his first appearance as a 22-year-old, Aussie Josh Gessner cared for the last four innings. Part of the Kyle Gibson trade along with Howard, Gessner has been effective if walk-prone, a description I’ve typed to excess in 2022. Opponents are hitting .207/.333/.241 with a 15% BB/HBP rate. Two singles and two walks plated a run and loaded the bases in the 9th, but Gessner was able to record the final out. Ryan Garcia, ramping up slowly, set career highs in innings and strikeouts.

Outfielders Daniel Mateo (.318/.372/.471, 4 HR, 15 SB) and Alejandro Osuna (.311/.381/.392, 12 SB) were Down East’s best hitters in June.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Allard
AA: White
Hi-A: Krauth
Lo-A: TBD (Josh Stephan’s turn)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
The first two words from Frisco’s post-game notes were “Buehler impresses.” Not a great sign when the headline features the opposing starter. Walker Buehler held the Riders scoreless for 5.2 as part of a five-hit shutout. Hans Crouse threw a scoreless inning in his pro debut. In 2022, Crouse hasn’t pitched since April 20, spending his time since on the regular and covid Injured Lists.