Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 26 July

Texas’s .179 winning percentage in one-run games is the worst in MLB since 1886 and worst in the divisional era by a wide margin.

Almost always, a bad one-run record simply punctuates a bad team. Arizona last year. Recent Baltimore entries. Several Kansas City squads during their long fallow period before the mid-2010s resurgence. Texas is an almost unprecedented anomaly. The Rangers are 38-30 with a +23 run differential in games decided by two or more runs. In the divisional era, I found only two teams with sub-.333 one-run records that had winning records in other games: the 2008 Braves (11-30 in one-run games, 61-60 in others) and 1973 Twins (12-27 in one-run games, 69-54 in others). The best one-run record? The 2016 Texas Rangers at 36-11, and 95-67 overall despite outscoring their opponents by only eight runs.

The good news is there’s no reason for this to continue. The expectation should be that the Rangers’ one-run record will roughly coincide with their overall performance. At their current pace, the Rangers will have 19 more one-run games this season. If so, 8-9 wins is more likely than 3-4. Not guaranteed, but more likely.

Whatever you think of Chris Woodward in general, this particular predicament isn’t his fault. Entering 2022, the Woodward-helmed Rangers were 50-48 in one-run games, amazing given their overall performance. The Banister-led Rangers, so adept at winning one-run games in 2016, fell to 13-24 the following season. Crazy how Banister lost his aptitude at managing close games so suddenly.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 1, Sacramento (SFO) 5
Round Rock: 6 hits, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 50-44, 6 GB

SP Cole Winn: 2.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 SO, 72 P / 39 S, 6.11 ERA
DH Josh Sale: 2-4, 2B, .259/.358/.474

Appearing for the first time in 16 days, Cole Winn didn’t improve much from what I called a “low point.” The defense cost him a run and an extra nine pitches in the 1st, but on the whole, his control and command were lacking, again.

As I’ve mentioned, velocity is not the issue, and I double-checked that last night. During his strong April, his heater averaged 93.2 MPH with a 2,220 spin rate. Since then, those figures are 93.3 and 2,260, both very slightly faster. His horizontal break has declined from 6.6 to 6.4 inches, which I wouldn’t think is enough to cause trouble. Speed and movement aren’t the issue. Location is. His fastball strike rate has fallen from 65% in April to 54% since, with a larger proportional decline in swinging strike rate.

AJ Alexy (2.2 IP, 2 HR, 1 BB, 3 SO) had his moments but surrendered two homers. I will say the stark difference between him and Winn right now is that Alexy is attacking hitters, even if the results are mixed. With Winn, the batter is almost superfluous to the proceedings. Winn’s battle is with the strike zone.

Winn’s silver lining through all this is only five homers all season, and only three batted balls of the velocity and angle that are nearly certain to leave the yard. His opposing slugging percentage since the beginning of May is .405, very good relative to the league.

IF Davis Wendzel is on rehab assignment in Arizona.

AA: Frisco 10, at Springfield (STL) 6
Frisco: 15 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 12-10, 4 GB, 48-43 overall

SP Cody Bradford: 4.1 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 5 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 83 P / 49 S, 6.19 ERA
1B Dustin Harris: 4-5, HR (15), SB (18), .266/.355/.475
DH Blaine Crim: 2-3, 2 BB, .272/.339/.450
RF Kellen Strahm: 2-5, 2 2B, .283/.414/.407
CF Josh Stowers: 3-5, 2B, HR (5), .220/.318/.341

Frisco hadn’t visited Springfield since August 2019. I saw a game in that series while conducting business in the the northeast corner of Oklahoma. Feels longer than three years, what with the events of the world.

Dustin Harris is five homers and two steals from joining Jared Hoying in the back-to-back 20/20 club.

Only one of Cody Bradford’s three walks scored, but those plate appearances chewed up 20 of his allotted pitches.

High-A: Hickory 7, Rome (ATL) 3
Hickory: 11 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 11-14, 6 GB, 49-42 overall

SP Nick Krauth: 5 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 3 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 76 P / 49 S, 5.97 ERA
RP Destin Dotson: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2.73 ERA
RP Kelvin Gonzalez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 2.25 ERA
DH Thomas Saggese: 2-4, HR (11), .315/.364/.511
LF Trevor Hauver: 2-4, HR (11), .226/.382/.413
1B Cristian Inoa: 2-4, 2B, HR (7), .282/.346/.440
SS Chris Seise: 2-3, BB, SB (2), .251/.309/.391

11 homers for Thomas Saggese and Trevor Hauver. The former is having a monster July (.383/.422/.733). I would love to see the latter turn on the jets during these last seven weeks. Because of the 2020, we still need to be graceful in judging hitters to be “old” for their level, but the fact is Hauver is among Hickory’s oldest hitters and a very bat-oriented prospect.

Texas released righty Tyree Thompson, picked in 2016’s 26th round. He had a 6.88 ERA in 17.2 innings at Hickory. Prior years were better and occasionally promising, but control and/or long balls were persistent issues. Thompson would have become a free agent after the season.

Low-A: Down East 2, at Charleston (TAM) 10
Down East: 5 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 13-11, 5 GB, 46-44 overall

SP Mitch Bratt: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 55 P / 30 S, 2.24 ERA

I think we’re good on this one.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Miller
Hi-A: Kindreich

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Hmm. I don’t have a report for 7/27/17. The day before, I listed Baseball America’s updated top-ten list: Taveras, Guzman, Bubba Thompson, Mendez, Ragans, Jurado, Miguel Aparicio, Crouse, Josh Morgan, Palumbo. Out of the preseason top ten were Ibanez, Alex Speas, and Brett Martin.