Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 14 July

Dustin Harris also had a 20/20 season last year, but he did so across two levels, andadding numbers just wasn’t a task I was prepared to carry out yesterday.

The Draft

Texas picks third on Sunday and then has to wait until #109 to call another name. I haven’t paid as much attention to draft prospects this year, partly because of work, partly because the novelty of picking so high has slightly worn off, but mostly because of who’s likely to be chosen. College arms are the easiest to watch; for example, you knew when Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker were pitching and could set your schedule accordingly. In 2022, hitters dominate the board, mostly of the high school variety. The Rangers have gone the college route the last three drafts, but the talent distribution this year might — might — impel the selection of a youngster. A hitter is a virtual certainty.

Here’s a quick rundown of potential picks:

CF Druw Jones (18 years old, 6’4″, 185, Georgia) — Andruw’s son. Jones has the speed and aptitude for center, the arm for right, terrific speed, good contact ability, and solid power with more to come as his lanky frame fills out. The likelihood of him being available at #3 seems remote.

SS Jackson Holliday (18, 6’1″, 180, Oklahoma) — Matt’s son. Purportedly the best high school hitter among those will actually remain at shortstop. Several others on this list have a single tool superior to Holliday, but he could have the best all-around set. Age notwithstanding, his hitting style fits the type the Rangers have sought in recent years.

CF Elijah Green (18, 6’1″, 185, Florida) — NFL tight end Eric Green’s son. Last year at this time, the mordant joke was that Texas should tank 2022  to secure Green, who’d stood out as a junior against older competition. He’s the draft’s biggest power prospect and a superior runner. The questions are about the miss in his swing and whether he’ll stick in center.

2B Terrmar Johnson (18, 5’8″, 175, Georgia) — The best pure high school bat, with reviews and projections ranging from glowing to blinding. The downside is position. Over the years, I’ve become increasingly dubious of reports suggesting a player “might” stick at short or center; those guys typically end up moving. In this case, there’s no question that Johnson will play second.

SS Brooks Lee (21, 6’2″, 205, Cal Poly) — Arguably the best college bat. Another “might stick at short” defender, but unlike Johnson, third is a possibility. Like Holliday, the bat is slightly more oriented to contact than power, but power certainly isn’t lacking.

C Kevin Parada (20, 6’1″, 195, Georgia Tech) — Parada has a mature approach at the plate and offers a solid bat with less development risk than a younger hitter. Defensive reviews are mixed at best, supportive of his work ethic but skeptical of his ultimate position. Fangraphs.com flat-out lists him as a left fielder, but again, but the bat will play at any position if he reaches his potential.

3B Cam Collier (17, 6’1″, 215, Chipola JC) — Son of Lou, and yes, a 17-year-old JuCo hitter. Collier is not only young for his class but departed high school early to qualify for the 2022 draft. Already a man-sized 215 pounds, his future position is an open question, possibly first, possibly an outfield corner. A strong all-around hitter.

Recent mocks from Baseball America, MLB.com, and ESPN have Jones and Holliday leaving first, but the Texas pick is wide open. The picks are Parada, Lee, and Parada, respectively, and an earlier BA mock linked Texas to Green. Another, differently styled BA mock has Texas selecting Collier. Conversely, an MLB poll of scouts and executives placed Lee mostly to go 1-1. Baltimore, picking first, has a quirky draft history and might try to save money on its initial pick to spread on later rounds. That would make one of Jones or Holliday available.

The Rangers will pick who they think is best. Don’t be shocked if they pick a shortstop eight months after signing Corey Seager. (Also, I wouldn’t place an even-money bet on Seager being Texas’s stating shortstop in 2027.)

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 6, at El Paso (SDG) 7
Round Rock: 13 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 46-41, 5 GB

SP Seth Nordlin: 3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 53 P / 37 S, 6.00 ERA
RF Steele Walker: 3-4, 2B, .268/.356/.423
CF Ezequiel Duran: 1-5, HR (4), .258/.306/.500
LF Nick Solak: 3-4, HR (5), .276/.367/.455

For those seeking respite from yesterday’s loss by Texas, I regret to report that the theme of yesterday’s minor league games was struggling relievers. The combined tally: 22.1 IP, 31 H (4 HR), 23 R, 12 BB, 24 SO. Round Rock led 4-0 before El Paso batted and 6-2 in the 4th.

Ezequiel Duran and Nick Solak hit two-run homers in the 1st. Duran also had a 112.5 MPH lineout. Duran has a 26% strikeout rate in AAA, more in line with prior years than the 18% rate at Frisco.

The Elier Hernandez call-up was certainly interesting, what with outfielders Solak, Steele Walker, and Zach Reks already on the 40-man roster, and former first-rounder Bubba Thompson having a strong season, albeit not strong enough to force Texas’s hand.

Daniel Robert (1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SO) continues to baffle. His walk rate of 17% is triple that of 2019-2021.

Seth Nordlin made his AAA debut. He throws a little bit of everything, emphasizing an upper-70s curve. The sinking fastball tops at 91.

AA: Frisco 3, Midland (OAK) 6
Frisco: 9 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 8-7, 4 GB, 44-40 overall

SP Zak Kent: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 62 P / 38 S, 5.33 ERA
DH Blaine Crim: 2-4, .269/.340/.452
CF Kellen Strahm: 2-3, BB, .267/.397/.354

Frisco led 3-2 entering the 7th.

Following Zak Kent, four relievers (Grant Wolfram, Joe Corbett, Nick Starr, Tyler Thomas) allowed at least one run apiece.

Blaine Crim is homerless in his last 20 games. He’s been here before, enduring a 25-game dry spell early last year.

Jack Leiter was deactivated in anticipation of tomorrow’s Futures game.

High-A: Hickory 8, Wilmington (WAS) 12
Hickory: 11 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 16 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 7-11, 6 GB, 45-39 overall

SP Robby Ahlstrom: 3 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 64 P / 39 S, 6.85 ERA
SS Luisangel Acuna: 2-4, BB, SB (24), .309/.405/.492
2B Thomas Saggese: 3-4, 2B, HR (8), .296/.347/.457
DH Chris Seise: 1-4, HR (7), .251/.309/.395

Hickory led 3-0 after the 1st, then fell behind but retied the game in the 3rd. And the 4th. And the 5th. And… no more after that.

Reliever Jesus Linarez surrendered six runs in two innings. Twice a minor league free agent who has re-signed with the Rangers, Linarez could probably give the Crawdads a decent inning every day if permitted, and he hadn’t allowed more than two runs all season.

Low-A: Down East 5, Columbia (KAN) 4 (10)
Down East: 6 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 10-7, 3 GB, 43-40 overall

SP Ryan Garcia: 3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 63 P / 41 S, 1.42 ERA
CF Alejandro Osuna: 2-5, SB (30), .316/.404/.460
DH Liam Hicks: 1-2, BB, SB (1), .133/.364/.133

Down East lost a 3-0 lead in the 9th. Happily, the Woodrows persevered.

Josh Gessner, more tandem starter than reliever, allowed four straight to reach with one out in the 9th. A two-run single off Jackson Leath tied the game, and a passed ball placed Down East behind for the first time. In the bottom half, Daniel Mateo (pinch-running for catcher Efrenyer Narvaez, who’d walked) stole second, trotted to third on a balk and scored on a sac fly. Alejandro Osuna singled home Abi Ortiz in the 10th.

Cautious use of oft-injured 2019 2nd-rounder Ryan Garcia persists. He was pulled with two outs in the 4th after 63 pitches, two below his 2022 peak.

Columbia was 18-48 in late June, scoring two or fewer runs in 29 of 66 games despite playing in a hitter-friendly park. The Fireflies are much better of late, winning 12 of 18 and exceeding two runs all but once.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Ragans
AA: Brennan
Hi-A: Krauth
Lo-A: TBD (Stephan)