As you’ve likely seen, Texas traded reliever Matt Bush to Milwaukee for RHP Antoine Kelly and IF Mark Mathias.
Kelly is ranked between seventh and 16th in Milwaukee’s below-average system depending who you read. Picked in 2019’s second round, 65th overall and two choices ahead of Josh Smith, Kelly had a strong rookie debut with 41 strikeouts against just five walks in 28.2 innings. His 2020 included surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, after which his control cratered and is slowly returning to form. As a starter in high-A, he’s posted a 3.86 ERA with 119 strikeouts and 63 combined BB/HBP in 91 innings. At the beginning of July, Kelley walked seven and hit four more in just 4.1 innings. No Rangers minor league starter has walked more than six this season. He also struck out 13 of 22 batters faced in May. Among pitchers with at least 50 innings, his 31% strikeout rate ranks first in the Milwaukee system, and his 13.7% swinging strike rate is third. The latter figure would be good for only 12th in the Texas system. Kelly retired two batters in this year’s Futures Game.
From what I’ve read, he owns a nice two-pitch repertoire (mid-90s fastball topping at 98, sweeping slider) with a changeup in progress. If you’re response to that is “so, a reliever?” you could be right, but we’ll see. Kelly has faced more batters than any prospect with the Rangers, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his workload tapered. He’ll be assigned to AA Frisco. He’ll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if unprotected this fall.
Matthias turns 28 today. His present: a hastily arranged trip to Sugar Land to join the Express. Mathias has a .231/.226/.346 line in 53 plate appearances across two seasons. In AAA this season he’s been much better: .318/.421/.518 with eight homers in 50 games at pitcher-friendly Nashville. Drafted in 2015’s third round, Mathias made the 40-man roster at the end of 2019 and his MLB debut during 2020, but a shoulder injury cost him the entirety of 2021 and his roster spot. He rejoined the 40 this season. If designated for assignment again and unclaimed on waivers, he can opt for free agency by virtue of having gone through the process before. Mathias has played some outfield in the Majors but is primarily a 2B/3B. He doesn’t play short.
Bush had been with the Rangers since 2015, longer than all but 11 players in the system. Hopefully, he enjoys some October innings that wouldn’t have occurred as a Ranger in 2022. Future reliever or not, Kelly is a legitimate prospect and a solid return for Bush.
Joey Gallo is headed to the Dodgers. Not exactly a low-key, low-expectations market, but hopefully where he can right the ship.
Rookie Recap: Games of 25-31 July
Scores: 0-4 (LAD), 1-3 (SEA), 2-10 (SEA), 2-0 (CHW), 4-0 (KAN)
Record: 28-10, 8.5 G up
RHP D.J. McCarty (19): 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, HBP, 6 SO, 5.79 ERA
RHP Ivan Oviedo (19): 4.0 IP, 2 H, BB, 6 SO, 3.64 ERA
LHP Luis Paulino (24): 3.1 IP, 2 R, 4 H, BB, 3 SO, 5.52 ERA
LHP Brayan Mendoza (18): 4.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H (HR), BB, 3 SO, 2.00 ERA
RHP Alberto Mota (19): 3.0 IP, 3 H, BB, 5 SO, 0.48 ERA
OF JoJo Blackmon (19): 2-12, HR (6), BB, SB (12), .257/.386/.524
IF Gleider Figuereo (18): 3-12, 2B, HR (7), .297/.400/.692
OF Anthony Gutierrez (17): 3-11, HBP, 2 SB (4), .325/.349/.500
OF Robert Gonzalez (21): 2-6, HR (2), BB, HBP, .275/.415/.450
C Beycker Barroso (19): 4-8, 2B, SB (3), .345/.406/.517
The Rangers’ win streak concluded at 16 last week, and their league-best offense scored only nine runs all week.
Gleider Figuereo’s .692 slugging percentage is more than 70 points ahead of the nearest competitor. Down East will have a fun lineup in 2023.
Anthony Gutierrez is looking for his first stateside walk after drawing eight in 150 Dominican plate appearances. The league rate is just over 10%, honestly lower than I would have expected, but with no advanced short-season league, the complex circuits probably have more older, control-oriented pitchers than in years past.
Undrafted DJ McCarty leads the team with 39 strikeouts in 32.2 innings. Also 26 combined BB/HBP and ten wild pitches. Adrian Rodriguez, who struck out two in an inning last week, has the team’s best K rate at 41%.
Assuming the three-division format is in effect, the Rangers have a magic number of 10 with 15 games to play.
The Rangers ultimately signed 13 of 18 draft picks. Missing are RHP Caden Marcum (13th), MIF Jack Goodman (15th), LHP Carson Dorsey (17th), RHP Grayson Saunier, (19th), and RHP Matt Scott (20th). On the whole, these were younger players with firm college commitments and appeared to be fallbacks in case Brock Porter hadn’t signed. None of Texas’s 2022 draftees has been assigned yet. A fair number may not see real-game action, instead working out and practicing in Arizona ahead of fall instructionals.