Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 17 July

Management has been in place too long for the selection of Kumar Rocker to be regime-defining, but it could define this era. Before now, I think the most shocked I’d been at the top Texas pick during this gig was 2007, and that shock was Houston foregoing 1B Justin Smoak to take C Jason Castro in 2007. (A pick that paid off for Houston, incidentally.) This is orders of magnitude beyond that.

Purely in terms of talent and performance, Rocker is as good as anyone in the draft and justifies the pick. At his best last spring, he was appointment viewing, even more so than Jack Leiter. The questions are whether that talent and his health will persist after a shoulder issue that resulted in surgery last September. Texas went all-in on a positive outlook. It’s a daring, thrilling pick.

Everyone else available had their own risks. Elijah Green could be hitting .220/.260/.420 with a 35% strikeout rate in AA in 2027. Kevin Parada could have the bat of a 4th OF and no defensive value. Brooks Lee could end up being just okay, a little bland, and has his own dicey injury history. If that sounds harsh, peruse any previous draft list. It’s carnage. The consensus top arm in 2015 was our dear friend Dillon Tate. The next three pitchers off the board: Tyler Jay (pitching in indy ball), Carson Fullmer (closer… for the OKC Dodgers), and Kolby Allard. Calling the draft a crap shoot is unfair, but variances in outcomes are extreme.

After the 2021 debacle, Rocker had shoulder surgery (described in multiple outlets as “minor,” but still, shoulder surgery), worked out, and eventually joined indy Tri-City of the Frontier League. In five starts, Rocker posted a 1.35 ERA with two homers, four walks, and 32 strikeouts in 20 innings. The quality of the league is perhaps a high-variance version of low-A. That’s just a guess. The average age of a hitter is 25.8. Just picking players at random, I see a fair number of late-round college guys who perhaps had some success in short-A, some who reached the upper minors, others who never played affiliated ball. More to the point, reviews of his performance were strong. He sat mid-90s, touched 99. His wipeout slider is intact. His delivery is tighter, at a lower slot.

My expectation is management selected who they wanted most, irrespective of the parent club’s situation, but that said, Rocker could progress quickly and obviously would fill a present need. Rocker isn’t a pick to be traded or tested in the outfield because of Corey Seager. I’d read suggestions that had he fallen to a contending team, he could have been prepped for a 2022 MLB debut in relief. That situation doesn’t apply here. His pro debut could be in Arizona, but as for later, we’ll see. Frisco seems certain at some point.

Rocker reportedly has agreed to terms with Texas for $5.2 million, $2.4 million below slot and equivalent to slot money for the ninth-overall pick. Nothing is official. 

The draft resumes at 1pm CDT today with the third round. Texas commences with the third pick of the fourth round.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 7, at El Paso (SDG) 4
Round Rock: 8 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 47-43, 5 GB

SP Kolby Allard: 4 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 65 P / 39 S, 4.25 ERA
RP Ryder Ryan: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 3.32 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 2-5, 2 SB (43), .299/.348/.461
RF Steve Duggar: 1-4, HR (2), BB, SB (3), .250/.333/.625
SS Ezequiel Duran: 2-3, 2 HR (6), .295/.329/.590

Ezequiel Duran homered twice. He has 32 doubles, three triples, 15 homers in 79 games across three levels. Duran has surpassed last levels 47 extra-base hits in 26 fewer games.

AA: Frisco 4, Midland (OAK) 8
Frisco: 9 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 9-9, 5 GB, 45-42 overall

SP Cody Bradford: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 41 P / 28 S, 5.93 ERA
1B Blaine Crim: 2-4, 2B, .274/.340/.462
RF Kellen Strahm: 3-4, 2B, HR (6), .286/.411/.406

Cody Bradford pitched on four days rest, unusual for AA in 2022, but was limited to 41 pitches on a quasi-bullpen day. Said pen allowed 33 runs in the series including eight today. Midland plated seven off Grant Wolfram (0.1 IP, 4 R) and Triston Polley (0.2 IP, 3 R).

Kellen Strahm was the series hero, batting .476/.577/.857 with two doubles and two homers.

Justin Foscue is homerless in his last 26 games, stuck at four. Recall that in 2021 Foscue homered in eight consecutive games en route to 17 in just 62 games. Most of that output occurred at Hickory. He homered twice in 26 AA games last year, and his 2022 rate is similar. He’s 90th of 99 Texas League batters in ratio of homers to fly balls (minimum 170 PA, about two per game). Foscue does rank second on the organization with 20 doubles.

High-A: Hickory 7, Wilmington (WAS) 1 (5)
Hickory: 8 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 1 hit, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 9-12, 6 GB, 47-40 overall

SP Mason Englert: 5 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 9 SO, 69 P / 48 S, 4.50 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 1-3, HR (9), .267/.366/.474
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-3, HR (9), .302/.353/.473
RF Aaron Zavala: 2-3, SB (10), .272/.423/.430
3B Cody Freeman: 1-2, HR (12), BB, .246/.334/.423

The Crawdads allowed 44 runs (7.3 per game) in the series and spent three games on the verge of pulling people from the stands to pitch, but they walked away with a split. Mason Englert retired 12 straight, allowed a solo homer, sent three more down, and then a perfectly timed storm commenced the All-Star break.

Hickory managed a split because of 15 homers by the offense. Evan Carter clubbed four in the last three days and slugged 1.046 for the week. Cody Freeman hit three, Thomas Saggese and Trevor Hauver two.

Low-A: Down East 4, Columbia (KAN) 7
Down East: 4 hits, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 12-8, 2.5 GB, 45-41 overall

SP Winston Santos: 5 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 5 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 81 P / 53 S, 4.14 ERA
RP Damian Mendoza: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1.18 ERA
RF Yosy Galan: 1-3, HR (12), BB, .233/.325/.442

Winston Santos endured his worst start in over a month. Santos only walked two, but they led off innings and would both score.

Maximo Acosta and Cam Cauley have shared the middle infield roughly equally when they’ve been on the roster at the same time:
Cauley: 24 starts at short, 13 at second.
Acosta: 23 at short, 15 at second.

Today’s Starters
Off until Friday

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Top 2017 pick Bubba Thompson doubled and walked for the rookies. 2016 pick Cole Ragans tossed six scoreless innings and struck out eight in Spokane.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 16 July

Final Mock Draft Predictions
C Kevin Parada — Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, Carlos Collazo of Baseball America, Kiley McDaniel of ESPN

OF Elijah Green — Jim Callis of MLB.com, Keith Law of The Athletic

IF Jackson Holliday — Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs.com

Futures Game
Jack Leiter retired C Diego Cartaya (high-A), Pete Crow-Armstrong (high-A), and Joey Wiemer (AA) on nine pitches using a 96-98 fastball and 83 slider. Wiemer hit a farly deep fly, while the other grounded out.

1B Dustin Harris drove in the game’s first run with a softly lined single off Bobby Miller (AA). Harris was hitless against Miller in a May meeting between Frisco and Tulsa. Harris also walked and hit another soft singleoff Andrew Abbott (AA).

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 1, at El Paso (SDG) 7
Round Rock: 7 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 46-43, 6 GB

SP Tyson Miller: 2.2 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 67 P / 44 S, 5.36 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 5.89 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 6.00 ERA
RP Yerry Rodriguez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 4.50 ERA
1B Andy Ibanez: 2-4, 2 2B, .270/.321/.430

Texas designated OF Zach Reks for assignment to make room for reliever Jonathan Hernandez. Other than perhaps Demarcus Evans, Reks was who I had in mind since last winter as first in line whenever the Rangers had to create roster space. Nothing against him. He just wasn’t getting much attention and didn’t seem part of even the short-term plan. He proved me wrong and collected his first MLB hit and eight more, but ultimately he had the same problem as last year with the Dodgers, a complete cratering of his his BB/SO ratio. Reks has zero walks and 17 strikeouts in 44 trips to the plate.

Texas also optioned catcher Sam Huff and recalled OF Nick Solak.

AA: Frisco 2, Midland (OAK) 14
Frisco: 8 hits, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 9-8, 4 GB, 45-41 overall

SP Avery Weems: 4.2 IP, 3 H (2 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 5 SO, 71 P / 42 S, 5.56 ERA
RP Marc Church: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
RF Kellen Strahm: 2-4, HR (5), .277/.406/.380
DH Sandro Fabian: 3-4, 2B, .249/.320/.463

Justin Slaten (0.2 IP, 6 R) and Josh Smith (1 IP, 4 R) followed Avery Weems. Marc Church has fanned six of 14 batters in AA.

High-A: Hickory 6, Wilmington (WAS) 5
Hickory: 10 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 7-13, 7 GB, 45-41 overall

SP Larson Kindreich: 3 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 2 SO, 78 P / 48 S, 2.50 ERA
RP Leury Tejeda: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.01 ERA
RP Juan Mejia: 2 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 5.12 ERA
RP Tyree Thompson: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 6.00 ERA
DH Evan Carter: 1-3, HR (8), .266/.366/.464
LF Trevor Hauver: 2-3, HR (10), .222/.380/.407
3B Keyber Rodriguez: 2-3, 2B, BB, .263/.318/.350

Like yesterday, Hickory badly needed innings from its starter and didn’t get them. Larson Kindreich is a good prospect but not without occasional control issues. Three walks, two wild pitches, and other issues resulted in his shortest outing as a Crawdad. Kindreich had allowed a total of four hits in his first three high-A starts.

Management absolutely must spring for guac on Leury Tejeda’s next Chipotle burrito for saving the day with three solid innings. Juan Mejia, promoted from Down East specifically because of this situation as best as I can tell, added two innings.

Both Carter and Hauver homered for the second day in a row.

Low-A: Down East 5, Columbia (KAN) 2
Down East: 10 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 12-7, 1.5 GB, 45-40 overall

SP Mitch Bratt: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 HBP, 7 SO, 82 P / 55 S, 1.81 ERA
RP Kai Wynward: 3.1 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 1.23 ERA
SS Cam Cauley: 2-4, HR (2), SB (21), .200/.301/.281
CF Yosy Galan: 2-4, HR (11), SB (13), .232/.322/.429

Mitch Bratt wasn’t bad in his first four outings this season, just a little walk-prone. Since then: 38.2 IP, 6 BB, 49 SO, 1.16 ERA, .181/.237/.268 opposing line. He turned 19 two weeks ago and is in his first full professional season, so I’m not feeling any urgency toward a promotion, but I suppose some late action in Hickory is a possible, if not likely. Bratt has 7-8 potential starts remaining, assuming he’s not shut down early, another possibility.

Much as I enjoy watching him, Yosy Galan does have contact issues. His K rate over his last 20 games is 44%.

I’ll save the weekly recap for another day, but I wanted to note that pitchers Dane Acker and Kyle Cody took the mound yesterday. Acker was part of the Elvis Andrus trade. After just two appearances for Down East last May, he succumbed to elbow surgery. Kyle Cody underwent shoulder surgery last September. Acker retired six straight with three strikeouts, and Cody whiffed one in a 1-2-3 3rd.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Allard
Hi-A: Englert
Lo-A: TBD (Santos)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Hickory’s Kyle Cody reeled off a fifth straight strong start, holding Greenville scoreless for six innings.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 15 July

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 6, at El Paso (SDG) 7
Round Rock: 14 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 46-42, 5 GB

SP Cole Ragans: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 91 P / 64 S, 4.31 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 2-5, 2B, .302/.351/.468
3B Ezequiel Duran: 3-5, 2B, BB, .282/.325/.521
LF Nick Solak: 3-5, 2 2B, .287/.374/.473

Through the 3rd, Cole Ragans didn’t allow a baserunner or a ball out of the infield. In the 4th, five of the first six batters reached, and three would score. Then, Ragans retired seven of eight (the other reaching on an error), again with nothing hit to the outfield.

Ezequiel Duran’s exit velocities: 110.2, 106.7, 103.6, 96.6, 85.0.

AA: Frisco 11, Midland (OAK) 10 (11)
Frisco: 13 hits, 8 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 9-7, 3 GB, 45-40 overall

SP Tim Brennan: 5 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 80 P / 52 S, 3.65 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 3.03 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, HR (9), 2 BB, .325/.373/.461
1B Blaine Crim: 2-5, HR (13), SB (3), .271/.339/.461
RF Kellen Strahm: 2-3, 2B, 2 BB, .273/.405/.364
3B Trey Hair: 1-4, HR (14), .244/.307/.517

The Riders trailed 10-4 in the 8th and stormed back. Mere hours after I mentioned Blaine Crim’s dry spell, he knocked his 13th homer. Annoyed at being tied, Trey Hair hit his 14th.

In the 11th, a Strahm-to-Biggers-to-Procyshen relay tagged out the go-ahead runner at the plate. That runner appeared to be very safe, but oh well.

In the bottom of the 11th, Justin Foscue struck out in a ten-pitch duel, but the final pitch short-hopped the catcher, who then threw too close to Foscue for the first baseman to handle cleanly. The ball skipped away, allowing gift-runner Blaine Crim to score all the way from second to end the game.

Youngest Texas League hitters:
IF Jordan Walker (STL), 5/22/02
IF Masyn Winn (STL), 3/21/02
IF Malcolm Nunez (STL), 3/09/01
OF Jose Barrosa (ARI), 2/17/01
OF Andy Page (LAD), 12/08/00
IF Daniel Ozoria (MIN), 8/24/00
IF Jordan Diaz (OAK), 8/13/00
OF Tirso Ornelas (SDG), 3/11/00
IF Jonathan Ornelas (TEX), 5/26/00
C David Garcia (TEX), 2/06/00

High-A: Hickory 11, Wilmington (WAS) 18
Hickory: 15 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 15 hits, 16 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 7-12, 7 GB, 45-40 overall

SP Nick Krauth: 3 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 5 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 79 P / 50 S, 6.17 ERA
RP Theo McDowell: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Frainyer Chavez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 0.00 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 2-5, 2B, HR (9), BB, .268/.421/.428
C Cody Freeman: 3-5, 2 HR (11), .244/.331/.411
CF Evan Carter: 4-5, 2B, 2 HR (7), .265/.365/.455
DH Thomas Saggese: 2-4, 2B, BB, .299/.351/.462
LF Trevor Hauver: 1-4, HR (9), BB, .216/.378/.390

A catastrophic night for the pitching staff. After a couple of high-scoring games including rain delay that truncated Ricky Vanasco’ start, Hickory really needed some innings from Nick Krauth and didn’t get them. He’s a sturdy lad, but a 36-pitch 3rd than ran his count to 79 spelled the end. John Matthews followed with his worst pro outing (0.1 IP, 7 R). Destin Dotson retired five of 12 batters and walked five. Spencer Mraz retired three of ten batters and walked five. Finally, Theo McDowell produced an ordinary two innings, and infielder Frainyer Chavez needed just eight pitches to complete the 9th.

All told, even with Chavez’s efficiency, Hickory threw 251 pitches including 123 out of the strike zone.

Credit the offense for remaining engaged. Down 18-1 in the 7th, the Crawdads clubbed five homers across the 7th and 8th. Two came off ex-Ranger Eris Filpo, a 2019 minor league Rule 5 pick released in May. Evan Carter had his first multi-homer game.

Low-A: Down East 6, Columbia (KAN) 3
Down East: 9 hits, 9 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 11-7, 2.5 GB, 44-40 overall

SP Josh Stephan: 5 IP, 6 H (2 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 88 P / 50 S, 3.74 ERA
RP Florencio Serrano: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 3.00 ERA
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-5, 2 2B, .268/.355/.370
1B Liam Hicks: 1-3, 2B, BB, .167/.385/.222
3B Miguel Villarroel: 2-3, BB
LF Zion Bannister: 1-2, 2 BB

22-year-old Florencio Serrano made his first full-season appearance in 11 months. He had an internal brace procedure on his elbow last August and began pitching with the rookies three weeks ago. Serrano is best known for having his original contract with the Cubs voided for signing bonus complications, and he later signed with Texas. Serrano struck out 29 against eight walks in 28.1 innings with a 1.27 ERA for the same team last year.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Miller
AA: Weems
Hi-A: Kindreich
Lo-A: TBD (Bratt)

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)

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 13 July

Per local and national reports, the Rangers are calling up 27-year-old OF/1B Elier Hernandez from Round Rock for his MLB debut. A former KC prospect, Hernandez received the third largest bonus in the 2011 international class behind Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman. Hernandez’s development was fitful, marked by occasional bursts of contact but lacking substantial power or patience. His career line full-season line entering 2022 was .258/.305/.375. Hernandez became a minor league free agent following 2019 and signed with Texas after the covid-cancelled 2020. He hit .231/.291/.394 in 108 games between Frisco and Round Rock, once again became a free agent and re-signed with Texas.

Hernandez is having a terrific 2022, batting .295/.364/.546 with 11 homers and nine steals in 62 games. I’d considered writing a bit more about him but didn’t consider it a pressing matter, to be honest, and his promotion certainly caught me by surprise despite his stats and supporting Statcast info. He’s been hammering the ball lately.

His arrival won’t require a 40 move. Yesterday, I’d said one would be needed if Texas activated Jonathan Hernandez, but I’d read some transactions in reverse order and mistakenly thought the roster was full.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 6, at El Paso (SDG) 5
Round Rock: 11 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 46-40, 5 GB

SP Kohei Arihara: 5 IP, 6 H (2 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 77 P / 45 S, 5.47 ERA
RF Bubba Thompson: 2-5, HR (11), SB (41), .300/.350/.466
CF Ezequiel Duran: 2-4, BB, .262/.313/.475

Bubba Thompson is slightly under a 20-homer pace but has a decent chance of becoming the system’s sixth 20HR / 20 SB hitter in the 2000s. Can you guess the others? Answer at bottom.

In early June, Thompson finally discovered that four pitches out of the zone allows him to claim first base without needing to hit the ball. He’s drawn 16 walks in his last 30 games, a sturdy 11% rate. He’s not just sullenly parking the bat on his shoulder and hoping for the best. His pitch selection is genuinely improved. His strikeout rate has fallen from 28% during the first two months to 22% during this 30-game stretch.

So, the MLB relief maneuvers didn’t match my expectations. Ah, well. Sborz’s nominal unavailability was what prompted me to write yesterday’s list in the first place, but I wasn’t considering injury replacement (for Joe Barlow), which allowed Sborz to be recalled after all. In AJ Alexy’s case, I simply didn’t expect a recall this soon, although he’s truly pitching better in long relief (six walk-free innings, no runs, five strikeouts). Jonathan Hernandez’s rehab was transferred to Frisco. He’s been inconsistent, a little walk-prone, but when has that not been the case?

AA: Frisco 11, Midland (OAK) 4
Frisco: 9 hits, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 8-6, 3 GB, 44-39 overall

SP Owen White: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 84 P / 59 S, 2.49 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Jonathan Hernandez: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, BB, .325/.371/.452
1B Dustin Harris: 2-4, 2B, BB, .260/.350/.466
2B Justin Foscue: 2-4, 2B, BB, .286/.374/.453

I’ll take White’s line despite the three runs. No homers, just one walk, ample strikeouts. Three doubles (two on the ground) and a single in the 3rd plated all the runs. Marc Church is back from a two-week absence. He wasn’t IL’ed. He’s already surpassed last year’s innings, which were curtailed by an elbow injury that did not require surgery (rest really does the trick, sometimes).

High-A: Hickory 6, Wilmington (WAS) 2
Hickory: 6 hits, 8 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 7-10, 5 GB, 45-38 overall

SP Ricky Vanasco: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 33 P / 23 S, 5.20 ERA
RP Leury Tejada: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 4.57 ERA
RP Kelvin Gonzalez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Spencer Mraz: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 4.08 ERA
SS Luisangel Acuna: 1-3, HR (8), BB, .305/.400/.492
1B Frainyer Chavez: 2-3, BB, .286/.369/.357

Untimely rain shortened the outings of Ricky Vanasco and Wilmington starter Mitchell Parker.

Hickory walked to victory, drawing three that would score as part of a five-run 7th.

Reliever Kelvin Gonzalez joined Hickory and pitched a scoreless inning in his high-A debut. He is technically on a rehab assignment from AA Frisco, where he has never pitched. Don’t ask.

Low-A: Down East 5, Columbia (KAN) 8
Down East: 11 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 9-7, 4 GB, 42-40 overall

SP Emiliano Teodo: 5 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 67 P / 45 S, 3.27 ERA
2B Maximo Acosta: 3-3, 2 2B, HBP, .269/.357/.367
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, 2B, .280/.329/.425
RF Alejandro Osuna: 2-4, 2B, .314/.404/.461

Jose Corniell can’t have an ordinary day. Last night’s six runs in 2.1 innings mark the fourth occasion of many more runs than innings. Conversely, he also has seven outings in the 2-5 inning range with zero runs.

Maximo Acosta leads the team and is third in the organization with 16 doubles.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Hearn
AA: Kent
Hi-A: Ahlstrom
Lo-A: TBD (Garcia)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
The system was off.

Texas’s 20/20 minor league hitters in the 2000s: Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Lewis Brinson, Jared Hoying (twice), and Josh Stowers.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 12 July

New podcast later today. Link in signature.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, at El Paso (SDG) 9
Round Rock: 12 hits, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 45-40, 4.5 GB

SP Tyson Miller: 1 IP, 2 H (2 HR), 5 R, 3 BB, 2 SO, 35 P / 21 S, 5.10 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 16.50 ERA
LF Bubba Thompson: 2-4, HBP,.298/.350/.456
CF Ezequiel Duran: 2-5, 2B, HR (3), .246/.290/.474
3B Andy Ibanez: 5-5, .280/.344/.439

In case the Rangers want to make a move, here’s the 40-man options with days of rest in parentheses:

Jonathan Hernandez (2) — at the end of his extended rehab (barring another extension), seems the likely choice but would require a 40 move.

Nick Snyder (2) — has been fine in three outings since that scary game in Tacoma a month ago.

Taylor Hearn (4) — threw 76 pitches last Friday.

Yerry Rodriguez (3) — much better in the past month-plus, but most recent outing was ugly.

AJ Alexy (2) — has looked better in a relief role but hard to envision right now.

Josh Sborz (2) — rested but optioned just eight days ago, minimum for recall is 15.

John King (0) — pitched last night, also optioned seven days ago.

Tyson Miller and manager Matt Hagen were tossed in the 2nd for arguing a home run call. Miller had already given up a grand slam in the 1st.

Texas promoted catcher Matt Whatley to Round Rock. Whatley didn’t hit much at Frisco but is highly regarded for his rapport with pitchers. Usually, Texas’s minor league teams have “too many” catchers, but that wasn’t the case after last weekend. Both Sam Huff and Meibrys Viloria are in Arlington, and Yohel Pozo is on the inactive list, leaving Jack Kruger (experienced, capable) and Konnor Piotto (57 pro plate appearances) as the only backstops.

AA: Frisco 3, Midland (OAK) 8
Frisco: 8 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 7-6, 4 GB, 43-39 overall

SP Cody Bradford: 3.2 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 6 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 78 P / 50 S, 6.19 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, 2B, HR (8), .323/.367/.452
2B Justin Foscue: 2-4, .281/.370/.447
C David Garcia: 2-4, 2B, .256/.295/.440

Cody Bradford’s strikeout rate is 22%. That’s not bad, roughly average for a Texas League starter, but well below last year’s 28% in AA and 33% in high-A. Those extra balls in play plus a few more walks are causing problems; his opposing OBP is 50 points higher than 2021. The heat might be as well. Scoring in the league is up a half-run over last year.

Jonathan Ornelas has tied last year’s eight homers in 21 fewer games. His isolated power isn’t any better because of fewer doubles and triples, but he’s hitting enough singles to raise his average 60 points.

High-A: Hickory 0, Wilmington (WAS) 6
Hickory: 2 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 6-10, 6 GB, 44-38 overall

SP TK Roby: 7 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 87 P / 55 S, 4.79 ERA
RP Destin Dotson: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.08 ERA
2B Luisangel Acuna: 1-3, BB, SB (23), .305/.398/.477

Wilmington took advantage of John Matthews late (1 IP, 5 R, worst outing of the year by far). Seven innings is a career-high for TK Roby. Luisangel Acuna has no homers and four doubles in the last month, but he’s hitting .311 with a .392 OBP.

Low-A: Down East 6, Columbia (KAN) 4
Down East: 10 hits, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 9-6, 3.5 GB, 42-39 overall

SP Gavin Collyer: 6 IP, 7 H (1 HR), 3 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 90 P / 66 S, 3.42 ERA
RP Nick Lockhart: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 4.76 ERA
2B Maximo Acosta: 2-4, HR (2), SB (25), .260/.348/.361
SS Cam Cauley: 2-3, BB, .195/.306/.252
C Efrenyer Narvaez: 2-3, HBP, .219/.275/.315

Down East scored the go-ahead and insurance runs in the 8th on a passed ball, fielder’s choice with no out recorded, and a bases-loaded walk.

Texas promoted OF Zion Bannister and IF Miguel Villarroel to Down East. Exclusively a left fielder so far in 2022, Bannister had batted .281/.465/.375 in ten games for the rookies. Villaroel, primarily a 1B with one or two games at the other infield spots, hit .351/.433/.509 in 15 games. Both turn 21 later this year. Four Wood Duck hitters are younger: Acosta, Cauley (youngest), Abi Ortiz, and Alejandro Osuna.

Today’s Starters
AA: White
Hi-A: Vanasco
Lo-A: Teodo

Five Years Ago Yesterday
The system was off.

Rangers Farm Report (Off-Day)

OF Dustin Harris has been added to the Futures Game roster, joining Jack Leiter. The game is scheduled to begin Saturday at 6pm CDT (coinciding with the final innings of six MLB games and the beginning of Red Sox – Yankees and Brewers – Giants). The game is on Peacock Premium (11 million subscribers). The game will last seven innings (19 pitchers are on the combined rosters).

FanGraphs has updated its farm rankings and placed the Rangers sixth behind Baltimore (which still includes Adley Rutschman), Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Arizona. Seattle is 15th, Oakland 21st, Houston 27th, and Los Angeles 28th. Preseason rankings of the Rangers by other major publications were between eighth and tenth.

Baseball America updated its top-100 prospect list:
37. RHP Jack Leiter (preseason #25)
39. 3B Josh Jung (26 pre-injury)
43. OF Evan Carter (unranked)
52. IF/OF Ezequiel Duran (unranked)
86. RHP Owen White (unranked)

RHP Cole Winn, ranked 52nd before the season, is no longer listed. The folks at BA had Carter eighth on the Rangers before the season, so they’ve had an epiphany.

Rookie Recap: Games of 4-10 July
Scores: 9-1 (Giants), 7-3 (Dodgers), 13-12 (Dodgers), 10-6 (M’s), 23-6 (Royals)

Record: 19-7, 5.5 G up

RHP Aidan Curry (age 20): 6.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H (HR), BB, 12 SO, 3.18 ERA
RHP Eury Rosado (21): 5.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 4 BB, 6 SO, 7.63 ERA
RHP Adrian Rodriguez (21): 2.0 IP, BB, 4 SO, 5.00 ERA
RHP Ivan Oviedo (19): 3.0 IP, 3 H, 4 SO, 3.57 ERA
RHP Alberto Mota (19): 2.2 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 2 SO, 0.77 ERA

IF Miguel Villarroel (20): 6-19, 3 2B, HR (1), 3 BB, HBP, .351/.433/.509
OF JoJo Blackmon (19): 6-21, 3B, 2 HR (5), 4 BB, SB (7), .292/.427/.569
IF Gleider Figuereo (18): 3-8, 2 3B, HR (4), BB, HBP, .259/.400/.667
IF Frandy Almonte (18): 4-8, 2B, 3 BB, HBP, 3 SB (5), .321/.500/.357
C Jesus Moreno (21): 12-23, 2 2B, 2 BB, 2 HBP, .352/.429/.463

The Rangers have won nine straight and scored 62 runs in last week’s five games.

JoJo Blackmon’s five homers lead the team. Gleider Figuereo and Frandy Almonte were part of Texas’s ’20-’21 signing group. Figuereo I’ve mentioned before, because he’s hitting the snot out of the ball every week. Almonte is listed at 5’8″ and 150 pounds. He’s played a little more sparingly and roamed between third, short, second, left, and center. As with last year’s Dominican Summer League campaign, he’s walking (11) more than striking out (6).

Undrafted Aidan Curry is as close as Texas has to a workhorse in the complex league, leading with 21.1 innings in six starts. Last Monday, he struck out 12 in six innings; his total of 34 leads the team.

Yesterday, 17-year-old CF Anthony Gutierrez went 0-3 in his stateside debut. The Venezuelan was Texas’s premier signing from the 2021-2022 international class, ranked the #6 international prospect in that class and Texas’s current #15 prospect. Gutierrez batted .352/.410/.511 with two homers in 22 Dominican Summer League games. He is now the youngest on the squad (beating out Danyer Cueva and Gleider Figueroa, both recently 18) and first Ranger to play in the US who wasn’t alive when I got married. Lord.

Comparisons are tricky because some teams (like the Rangers) usually play nine-inning games while others play only seven, but statistically, I’d venture that Texas has the best offense in the league and a middle-of-the-pack pitching staff.

Today’s Starters
AA: Bradford
Hi-A: Roby
Lo-A: TBD (Collyer)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
The system was off for the All-Star break.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 10 July

Some sad news to report: Ted Nichols-Payne, engineer of Rangers’ radio broadcasts for most of the past three decades, died prior to Sunday’s game at the age of 56. Those who knew him well have offered their condolences and tributes.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, Albuquerque (COL) 10
Round Rock: 6 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 8 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 45-39, 4 GB

SP Cole Winn: 1.2 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 8 R, 4 BB, 2 SO, 60 P / 31 S, 5.93 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 5.79 ERA
RP Josh Sborz: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0.49 ERA
RP Jonathan Hernandez: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.05 ERA
SS Ryan Dorow: 3-4, .228/.319/.332

A low point for Cole Winn. Conditions were dire (106 and dead still down in the bowl), and the defense and arguably the scorekeeper didn’t offer enough support, but ultimately the pitches weren’t made.

Winn struck out his first batter on a 3-2 change but walked the next three. A lined single plated two, but Winn avoided further damage with a fly out and called strike three on another full-count change.

In the 2nd, SS Ryan Dorow slipped fielding a deep grounder and threw slightly late to first (fairly ruled a hit in my opinion). Then a bloop single and a double steal. Then, 3B Ezequiel Duran charged but couldn’t handle a hopper (which I so strongly assumed was an error I didn’t notice the hit ruling until today). At this point, Winn had thrown 43 pitches, 21 for strikes, to record three outs. Winn immediately reversed course with two outs on two pitches, but a five-pitch walk, grounded single after five fouls, and a no-doubt homer concluded his outing well before sunset.

As to how to fix this… I’m just a guy with a media pass and a keyboard.

Winn’s walk rate through his last 12 starts is an alarming 17%, but he still isn’t being hit that hard: .251 with a .391 slugging percentage. His opposing OPS+ is just 95.

The quintet of Daniel Robert, Nick Snyder, Josh Sborz, Jonathan Hernandez, and AJ Alexy combined for six scoreless innings with five runners and nine strikeouts. The slowest fastball from these five: 94.8 MPH.

Sam Huff was listed in yesterday’s lineup but replaced by Jack Kruger at game-time.

AA: Frisco 0, at San Antonio (SDG) 10
Frisco: 3 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 7-5, 3 GB, 43-38 overall

SP Jack Leiter: 1.1 IP, 6 H (2 HR), 7 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 53 P / 30 S, 6.30 ERA
RP Triston Polley: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0.93 ERA

I had enough advance notice of Jack Leiter’s return to watch in person, but my Sunday was busy, and the heat had half-melted my brain, so I took the shorter trip Round Rock instead. I haven’t reviewed any of his outing on MiLB.tv. For now, I assume the box score accurately describes the situation.

Leiter was 15 days between appearances. He’d ordinarily be on course to pitch at home against Midland this coming weekend, but he’s on the roster for the Futures Game to be played this Saturday.

High-A: Hickory 4, at Bowling Green (TAM) 11
Hickory: 6 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 6-9, 5 GB, 44-37 overall

SP Mason Englert: 2.2 IP, 3 H (2 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 62 P / 40 S, 4.70 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-3, BB, .262/.364/.433
1B Cristian Inoa: 1-4, HR (5), BB, .285/.348/.430

Hickory no-hit Bowling Green on Saturday but lost the other five games by a combined score of 31-10. Homers have become an issue for Mason Englert. He’s surrendered at least one in his last six starts and nine total, part of his opponents’ lofty .591 slugging percentage. Englert does throw a higher percentage of strikes than the average pitcher. This isn’t uncommon at the lower levels: plenty of strikes and strikeouts, few walks, but ample and heavy contact.

Low-A: Down East 2, at Fayetteville (HOU) 0
Down East: 5 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 8-6, 4.5 GB, 41-39 overall

SP Winston Santos: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 84 P / 51 S, 3.78 ERA
RP Kai Wynyard: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA

The Woodies haven’t allowed five or more runs in consecutive games since May 31-June 1. They’ve allowed 3.3 per game in that span, dealt five shutouts, and are 19-14.

A 1st-inning single and 6th-inning sac fly by Alejandro Osuna scored the runs. CF Marcus Smith (0-2, BB) stole his 33rd base.

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

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Catcher and part-time third baseman Brett Nicholas represented Round Rock in the PCL All-Star Game. Cole Ragans fanned nine in six innings at Spokane.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 9 July

A ten-inning no-hitter for Hickory.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 10, Albuquerque (COL) 9 (10)
Round Rock: 14 hits, 9 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 6 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 45-38, 3.5 GB

SP Cole Ragans: 4.2 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 3 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 94 P / 54 S, 4.26 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 19.80 ERA
RP Ryder Ryan: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 3.18 ERA
RF Bubba Thompson: 1-3, 2B, 3 BB, .300/.350/.462
CF Ezequiel Duran: 2-5, BB, .234/.288/.426
LF Nick Solak: 4-6, .275/.362/.443
1B Elier Hernandez: 4-5, 2 SB (9), .300/.370/.557
PH Josh Sale: 1-1, HR (7), .282/.390/.565

Round Rock won after trailing 7-0 at the stretch. The Express used three singles and three walks to score five in the 7th. A two-out, two-run single off Jesus Tinoco in the 9th seemingly put the game out of reach, but two-run homers from Andy Ibanez and Josh Sale (pinch-hitting with two out) forced extras. Ryder Ryan stranded Albuquerque’s gift-runner in the 10th. ABQ intentionally walked Bubba Thompson to open the bottom half, presumably to create a force and eliminate a likely runner-advancing bunt. Ezequiel Duran punched a low pitch to short left to load the bases, and Nick Solak hammered an 0-2 pitch to the fence (nominally a single).

Cole Ragans cruised through four innings but hit a wall in the 5th. The Isotopes offered eight right-handed batters, so the lefty had been relying heavily and effectively on his changeup. After consecutive swinging strikes on changes to Jonathan Morales, Ragans hung a change that Morales singled, after which DJ Peterson homered. Ragans then missed on seven of eight changes and walked two of the next three batters. He expended 32 pitches to record two outs, enough to end his night. Ragans grabbed a large handful of called strikes with his curve and essentially ignored his cutter/slider.

Chase Lee was much more effective the second time I saw him in person. Albuquerque hitters weren’t nearly as comfortable in the box as those from Las Vegas. I still worry about how most of his pitches cross the plate at the same height.

Ezequiel Duran was effective if largely untested in center. On a routine catch to his left, Duran had his body properly aligned for a throw to third, preventing the runner on second from getting frisky.

AA: Frisco 6, at San Antonio (SDG) 0
Frisco: 11 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 7-4, 2 GB, 43-37 overall

SP Tim Brennan: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 80 P / 50 S, 3.09 ERA
RP Seth Nordlin: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 3.12 ERA
DH Dustin Harris: 2-5, HR (14), .263/.352/.474
1B Blaine Crim: 1-2, 3 BB, .269/.342/.458
C David Garcia: 3-3, HR (5), BB, .248/.289/.430

It’s a good day for the system when a two-hit shutout is arguably the least interesting game. Tim Brennan limited the Missions to two walks through five. Consecutive singles to start the 6th ended his night, but Seth Nordlin, Tyler Thomas, and Nick Starr were perfect except for a Nordlin HBP.

Dustin Harris hit his organization-leading 14th homer in the 1st.

High-A: Hickory 4, at Bowling Green (TAM) 0 (10)
Hickory: 6 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 0 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 6-8, 4 GB, 44-36 overall

SP Larson Kindreich: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO, 84 P / 51 S, 0.60 ERA
RP Leury Tejada: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 5.21 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 6.14 ERA
RP Theo McDowell: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Luisangel Acuna: 2-5, .304/.394/.482

Four Crawdads combined on the first no-hitter for the Texas system since 2014*. In his third high-A start, Larson Kindreich retired the first 14 Hot Rods before a Johan Lopez walk.

Righty Leury Tejeda replaced Kindreich in the 7th. Opponents were hitting .313/.364/.588 against him in high-A, and eight of his nine outings had resulted in hits and runs, but Tejada retired his side with relative ease. Then followed Michael Brewer, very successful at Down East but, like Tejada, extremely hittable so far at Hickory. Brewer induced a one-pitch groundout by ex-Ranger Heriberto Hernandez and fanned the next two. Theo McDowell, yet another reliever promoted from Down East this season, entered the 9th and retired his side in order.

Unfortunately, Hickory didn’t have a no-hitter yet. The Crawdads offense managed only two hits and three other runners through the first nine. Hickory finally broke through in the 10th when Cristian Inoa doubled home gift-runner Trevor Hauver, and singles by Angel Aponte, catcher Randy Florentino, and Luisangel Acuna followed.

With the pressure of a scoreless game alleviated, McDowell retired the first two batters (one a running catch on the track by CF Evan Carter), walked the next, and got Hernandez to ground out to short.

This was Kindreich’s fourth lengthy scoreless outing in 12 starts.

* I think. My record search consisted primarily of searching for “no-hitter” in my old reports (and being mortified at how badly I’ve overused the verb “carried” when describing no-hitters lost late, as in “Derek Holland carried a no-hitter into the 6th”). Derek Thompson and three teammates combined on an 11-inning no-hitter for Spokane in 2014. Strangely, I found nine no-hitters during 2008-2014 but none since.

Low-A: Down East 13, at Fayetteville (HOU) 1
Down East: 14 hits, 12 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Record: 7-6, 4.5 GB, 40-39 overall

SP Mitch Bratt: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 73 P / 52 S, 1.84 ERA
RP Josh Stephan: 4 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 3.75 ERA
C Ian Moller: 1-4, 2 BB, .141/.308/.228
LF Daniel Mateo: 4-6, 3 HR (9), .280/.331/.427
RF Alejandro Osuna: 2-3, 3 BB, 2 SB (29), .312/.407/.462
SS Cam Cauley: 1-6, HR (1), .183/.293/.242
DH Xavier Valentin: 3-6, HR (1), .184/.268/.245

An offense not known for its power cranked five homers against a staff not known for giving them up. OF Daniel Mateo went deep three times. Still on the lanky side, if not outright skinny, the 21-year-old Mateo had all of three homers in 92 pro games entering the season. Cam Cauley hit the first homer of his pro career, and Valentin his first since last August.

Mitch Bratt dealt his third straight scoreless outing, though which he’s walked three and fanned 20 in 15 innings. Rained-out Friday starter Josh Stephan handled the rest.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: TBD (rotation has been in flux, could be anyone, could be someone)
Hi-A: TBD (Englert)
Lo-A: TBD (Santos)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Jeffrey Springs whiffed six and allowed a run in seven innings for high-A Down East. I suggested Springs would lead the organization in strikeouts since Connor Sadzeck had switched to relief, and he would, with 146, although Kyle Cody presented a challenge with his 136.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 8 July

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 7, Albuquerque (COL) 3
Round Rock: 14 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 44-38, 4.5 GB

SP Taylor Hearn: 5 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 1 R, 2 BB, 9 SO, 76 P / 48 S, 4.50 ERA
RP Jonathan Hernandez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 4.38 ERA
C Sam Huff: 3-4, 2 HR, (13), .270/.355/.607
DH Josh Sale: 2-4, .274/.384/.524
LF Nick Solak: 2-4, 2 2B, .256/.349/.432

Sam Huff knocked a majestic homer to dead center and rope to right. Best HR/PA rates in system (min. 5 HR):
Huff: 13 HR, 1 per 10.6 PA
Trey Hair: 13 HR, 1 per 15.8 PA
Scott Kapers: 7 HR, 1 per 16.0 PA
JoJo Blackmon: 5 HR, 1 per 17.0 PA
Josh Sale: 6 HR, 1 per 17.2 PA

AA: Frisco 10, at San Antonio (SDG) 7 (12)
Frisco: 15 hits, 11 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Record: 6-4, 2 GB, 42-37 overall

SP Zak Kent: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 39 P / 24 S, 5.77 ERA
RF Kellen Strahm: 1-5, 2 BB, SB (1), .267/.397/.361
1B Blaine Crim: 3-4, 2B, 2 BB, .268/.334/.457
DH JP Martinez: 2-4, 2 BB, .291/.412/.485
CF Josh Stowers: 4-6, 2B, SB (16), .235/.346/.352

Blaine Crim’s power has largely dissipated over the last six weeks, but he is reaching base more frequently lately.

Zak Kent seems to have resolved his early problems with walks and few swinging strikes, although he’s been still been hit hard in some of his recent starts. Last night, his second following a brief IL stint, was among his better ones.

High-A: Hickory 0, at Bowling Green (TAM) 7
Hickory: 4 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 5-8, 4 GB, 43-36 overall

SP Nick Krauth: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 2 SO, 59 P / 36 S, 5.69 ERA
RP Spencer Mraz: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 4.32 ERA
DH Aaron Zavala: 1-2, 2 BB, .273/.429/.422

Hickory’s offense misread the calendar and took an early All-Star break during the Bowling Green series.

Aaron Zavala had his 17th multi-walk game. He’s batting .302/.450/.523 over the last month.

Low-A: Down East 4, at Fayetteville (HOU) 7 (completion of Thursday)
Down East: 6 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 6-6, 4.5 GB, 39-39 overall

SP Ryan Garcia: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 39 P / 21 S, 1.76 ERA
RP Josh Gessner: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 2.30 ERA
RP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3.09 ERA
LF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, 2B, HBP, 3 SB (28), .271/.323/.383
2B Cam Cauley: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, SB (20), .184/.299/.219

With two on and two out in the 7th, the floodgates opened in the form of a walk and four hits (including a bases-loaded triple), washing away Juan Mejia and Down East’s 4-1 lead.

Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa’s 38% strikeout rate ranks sixth in the league among those with at least 20 innings. The leader is Atlanta’s Royber Salinas, who fanned a ridiculous 52 of 93 batters (55%) before moving up to high-A. The leader in strikeouts per nine innings is Milwaukee’s Jakob Brutoski at 19.3, but his walk/HBP is so extreme (34%!) that he’s only eighth in SO percentage. He’s a good example of why I prefer percentage over SO/9.

The regularly scheduled contest was rained out and will be played in August.

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

Five Years Ago Yesterday
“C.D. Pelham since the end of May: 16.2 IP, 6 BB, 19 SO, 1.62 ERA, .143/.246/.286 opposing line. The wild version of Pelham is ‘intriguing.’  The controlled version is a prospect.”