Rangers Farm Report (Off-Day)

Frisco has announced that Jack Leiter will start at home Thursday. His next date had been in question because of the addition of Antoine Kelly to the rotation.

Will Leiter get to face Fernando Tatis Jr., who’s continuing his rehab with the traveling San Antonio Missions tonight? Hope so, don’t know. I’m sure San Diego’s AAA affiliate in El Paso is texting the parent org every hour: “You know we’re at home this week, right? RIGHT?”

Rookie Recap: Games of 1-6 August
Scores: 2-8 (CHW), 4-9 (SDG), 5-7 (SDG), 9-2 (LAD), 4-11 (KAN)
Record: 29-14, +7 G, magic number 6

RHP Ivan Oviedo (19): 4.0 IP, 1 H, 6 SO, 3.21 ERA
RHP Adrian Rodriguez (21): 2.0 IP, 1 H, 3 SO, 3.18 ERA
RHP Nyan Hernandez (21): 3.9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, HBP, 3 SO, 4.09 ERA
LHP Luis Paulino (24): 3.9 IP, 6 H, 2 R, BB, 9 SO, 5.40 ERA
RHP Eury Rosado (21): 4.0 IP, 3 H (HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 6.66 ERA

OF Yeison Morrobel (18): 9-17, 3 2B, 2 HR (3), .317/.393/.472
IF Danyer Cueva (18): 6-22, 2B, HR (3), BB, .333/.385/.465
OF Jeferson Espinal (20): 7-13, 2 2B, SB (4), .277/.355/.398
OF JoJo Blackmon (19): 2-12, HR (7), HBP, .248/.371/.513
C Jesus Moreno (21): 2-7, HR (2), BB, .281/.347/.416

Yeison Morrobel was named the league’s player of the week with a two-homer, three-double, four-single stretch. Leading up to then, Morrobel was doing fine but not exactly a power source, slugging .376 with seven extra-base hits in 28 games. He’ll turn 19 in December and was Texas’s marquee signing in the ’20-’21 class.

A relatively chilly two weeks has dropped 3B Gleider Figuereo to second in the league in OPS (.276/.371/.619). At least the leader is 19 (Milwaukee’s Jack Avina) and not some 24-year-old Rockies pseudo-prospect.

Adrian Rodriguez is now a Wood Duck.

Texas has four pitchers among the league’s top 50 in strikeouts. Of these 50, Ivan Oviedo is one of a handful with a walk rate of 5% or better. The other three Rangers (Eury Rosado, Aidan Curry, DJ McCarty) are in the 10%-12% range. Oviedo has eight walks and 43 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

Presumptive starting third-baseman-in-waiting Josh Jung played 1B for the first time professionally last week. Per local reports, he’s not moving there, but what if, say, Nate Lowe suffered an injury? Flexibility is fine, but I don’t see him switching positions regularly. He could spot at first if a third baseman, but if he became a starting 1B, I doubt he’d sub elsewhere. I guess one question is whether 1B Nate Lowe + 3B Josh Jung is better than 1B Josh Jung + 3B [to be determined]. Lowe has been okay. Taking the average of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, he’s been worth about 1.8 wins above replacement per 150 games. That made him a standout on last year’s dire offense and middle-of-the-road so far in 2022. He’s been Mitch Moreland: not really good, but steady enough to hold the job. And first base certainly isn’t the smoking meteorite crater occupying left field: .175/.237/.242 split amongst 12 (!) players, -0.9 WAR (29th in MLB).

9th-rounder Griffin Cheney and 10th-rounder Josh Hatcher made their pro debuts last night. Cheney was 1-5 with a steal as a third baseman, while Hatcher singled twice and played first. Unlike the vast majority of Texas’s 2022 picks, they aren’t pitchers and signed for beer money, so they’re getting thrown into real games immediately.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 7 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock , at Sugar Land (HOU) 7 (7)
Round Rock: 6 hits, 8 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 8 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 55-50, 7 GB

SP Dallas Keuchel: 6 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 3 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 94 P / 49 S, 3.48 ERA
3B Davis Wendzel: 2-3, HR (7), BB, .200/.294/.347
SS Ryan Dorow: 2-3, 3B, .287/.377/.484

Changes in pitching use lately include acknowledgement of the third-time-through-the-order penalty and more one-and-done relievers. Unchanged and in conflict with industry trends are the number of innings per game. Texas still has to find roughly 548 innings including 270 from the starters in 2022.

The current rotation is Dunning, Perez, Otto, Howard, Ragans. Ragans had a promising debut but is already 14 innings beyond last year, so he could be shut down with fewer than the 10-11 additional starts he’d accrue as a permanent rotation member. Otto has reached at least four innings in seven straight starts but is hovering around replacement level. Howard has been enticing, annoying, and ultimately sub-replacement since rejoining the rotation. Can Texas get 270 innings from them (and Jon Gray when he returns)?

All that to say: Is Dallas Keuchel going to throw some innings for the Texas Rangers? He’s allowed only five hits in ten AAA innings, but the opposing exit velocity is elevated, as are the walks. Last night’s fastball topped at 88. But the other options include re-stretching out Taylor Hearn, calling up Kolby Allard, putting AJ Alexy back in the rotation, putting John King in the rotation, adding Kohei Arihara… this exercise careened off the rails in a hurry, didn’t it?

Outfielders Steele Walker and Steven Duggar were lost on waivers to the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. Walker will join ex-Ranger Willie Calhoun (traded for Duggar) in AAA Sacramento. I’ve not seen a placement for Duggar, but he might join the Angels to replace injured OF Mickey Moniak. Duggar took the 40 spot of Dillon Thomas, whose version of not going gentle into the good night entails six organizations in the last six years.

AA: Frisco 2, Amarillo (ARI) 3
Frisco: 3 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts
Record: 20-13, 2 GB, 56-46 overall

SP Antoine Kelly: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 61 P / 41 S, 2.45 ERA
RP Avery Weems: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 5.05 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 1-3, HR (2), BB, .417/.533/.875

Antoine Kelly: 95-97 fastball, 81-84 slider, and (by my uncertain count) three 87-90 changes. He moved the fastball around and has the ride to miss bats high in the zone. The slider’s velocity difference from the fastball is about as high as you’ll see, and it too was effective. The change… I’m not especially confident in calling them changes aside from the radar readings. All were well outside and could be confused for mis-gripped fastballs. On the whole, a promising organizational debut. Kelly is up to 94.2 innings in 2022 after 19.1 last year and none in 2020, so he’s on a pitch diet as a Ranger. Texas has to decide his 40-man fate in November.

Tandem starter and fellow 40 candidate Avery Weems had one of his best outings of the season. Zavala’s hot start in Frisco has improved his season line to .288/.432/.474.

For the first time in his career, Marc Church has allowed runs in three of four outings. Opponents are hitting .625 when they make contact during this stretch.

High-A: Hickory 1, Asheville (HOU) 7 (7)
Hickory: 2 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 15-20, tied for first, 53-48 overall

SP Ricky Vanasco: 4 IP, 3 H (2 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 76 P / 46 S, 5.12 ERA
CF Jayce Easley: 1-2, BB, SB (13), .246/.377/.362

High-A: Hickory 2, Asheville (HOU) 3 (7)
Hickory: 7 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 15-21, 10 GB, 53-49 overall

SP Robby Ahlstrom: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 73 P / 50 S, 6.03 ERA
2B Thomas Saggese: 1-2, BB, .312/.362/.497
R Jayce Easley: 2-3, .246/.377/.362

Hickory lost today’s doubleheader and five of six overall against Asheville while division-leading Rome swept Greenville, leaving the Crawdads ten back with 30 to play. The Crawdads’ stretch of 18 games with at least three runs scored (with an average of 7.4) ground to a halt. Jayce Easley provided four of Hickory’s 13 baserunners on the day.

Low-A: Down East 4, Fredericksburg (WAS) 3
Down East: 7 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 16-20, tied for first, 49-53 overall

SP Ryan Garcia: 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 69 P / 43 S, 2.53 ERA
RP Josh Gessner: 4 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 5.06 ERA
C Ian Moller: 2-3, 2B, BB, .189/.360/.260
PH Abi Ortiz: 1-1, HR (7), .208/.289/.327

Down 3-2 in the 9th with Ian Moller at second base after a single and groundout, pinch-hitter Abimelec Ortiz strolled to the plate and knocked a pitch over the fence for the game-winner.

Finally on the mound regularly, 2019 2nd-rounder Ryan Garcia has assembled a solid “rookie” seasons, allowing an opposing line of .188/.293/.277 with a 34% strikeout rate, highly impressive for a starter. He’s also kept the ball in the part, although the control has been so-so. Garcia will be Rule-5 eligible if unprotected on the 40. Given his low-A status and lack of elite velocity, I don’t see him being added, but he’s on  the right path.

Today’s Starters
off

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Texas promoted reliever Ricardo Rodriguez to the Majors from Frisco.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 6 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 1, at Sugar Land (HOU) 10
Round Rock: 5 hits, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 55-49, 7 GB

SP Cole Winn: 3.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 90 P / 53 S, 5.93 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 7.71 ERA
C Sam Huff: 2-3, BB, .272/.351/.561

Chase Lee is unscored upon with a walk and nine strikeouts in his last ten innings. A far cry from his first five AAA appearances in which opponents batted .500/.567/.792. Unfortunately for him, me, and you the reader, that horrible stretch was the first time I’d seen him in person. The latest chart shows much more vertical variation in his locations compared to that early stretch.

Winn’s walk rate was okay, relatively speaking (two out of 22 batters), but the overall control really wasn’t. Also, unusually for him, ten of 15 balls in play were 95+ MPH, although nothing was hit at an angle to leave the yard. He faced 12 of 22 batters with runners in scoring position.

AA: Frisco 11, Amarillo (ARI) 2
Frisco: 11 hits, 6 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 20-12, 1 GB, 56-45 overall

SP Cody Bradford: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 83 P / 60 S, 6.10 ERA
DH Justin Foscue: 3-3, 2B, HR (9), 2 BB, .289/.373/.487
2B Luisangel Acuna: 1-4, HR (1)
RF Miguel Aparicio: 1-3, HR (1), .238/.304/.381

Once again: The morning of July 27, the Diamond Pod team wondered what was ailing Justin Foscue, who was a homerless .252/.312/.323 in his last 30 games and had a total of six homers in 88 AA games stretching back to 2021. Since then: .375/.457/.850, five homers and four doubles in ten games. Here’s last night’s blast. I wish we could generate the same rebound with Cole Winn, about whom we’ve talked repeatedly. We don’t yet understand our powers.

Luisangel Acuna’s homer was a grand slam. Acuna has reached safely in 22 consecutive games with a .329/.439/.439 line including 16 walks versus 13 strikeouts.

Miguel Aparicio hit his first AA homer.

Cody Bradford probably has six starts remaining, and barring something amazing, the first digit of his ERA is going to be a five. He’s pitched better since a quasi-restful one-inning appearance at the end of May: 4.44 ERA, seven homers, 14 walks and 51 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. Gauging Texas’s upcoming 40-man additions is tricky right now, because some of the candidates have a decent chance of being traded before the deadline, but I’m inclined to think Bradford won’t be added and won’t be lost in the Rule 5 draft. But there’s time. Bradford missed most of his junior season at Baylor with Thoracic outlet syndrome and all of 2020 like everyone, so he’s a relatively low-mileage arm.

Frisco has won seven straight and gained four games on division-leading Midland.

High-A: wet

Two today.

Low-A: Down East 0, Fredericksburg (WAS) 3
Down East: 5 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 15-20, 8 GB, 48-53 overall

SP Josh Stephan: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 77 P / 54 S, 3.34 ERA
RP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 3.55 ERA
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-4, .284/.362/.401

Undrafted Josh Stephan was his steady self but got no help. Down East faced Jackson Rutledge, selected 17th overall in 2019 out of juco but still in low-A at the age of 23.

Texas bumped 2019 39th-rounder Adrian Rodriguez to Down East. He’d fanned 27 and walked seven in 17 rookie-league innings with a 3.18 ERA.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Keuchel
AA: TBD
Hi-A: Ahlstrom / TBD
Lo-A: Garcia

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Cole Ragans walked none and struck out seven in five innings for Spokane. Bubba Thompson (playing irregularly because of a back issue, if I remember correctly) singled twice for the rookies.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 5 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 5, at Sugar Land (HOU) 6
Round Rock: 10 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 2 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 55-48, 7 GB

SP Kolby Allard: 4 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 3 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 92 P / 59 S, 4.25 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 5.25 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 6.14 ERA
RF Josh Sale: 3-4, 2B, BB, .262/.370/.482
DH Sam Huff: 2-5, HR (16), .265/.342/.559
3B Andy Ibanez: 2-5, HR (5), .258/.314/.426

In the 8th, Sugar Land scored twice off Yerry Rodriguez. A error didn’t help, but Rodriguez walked one, hit another, and missed on 18 of 36 pitches. Rodriguez was a starter when added to the 40, but now he’s deep into his second option year in a relief role. With so many relievers and spot-starters bouncing between AAA and the Majors, 40-man space is more precious than ever, so spots aren’t in abundance for relievers who aren’t contributing to the big-league club. I’m not suggesting he’s in imminent danger of losing his roster spot; not long ago, I had half an idea that he might be heading up. But, the likelihood of him being on the 40 and still waiting for his MLB debut at this time next year is close to nil.

AA: Frisco 6, Amarillo (ARI) 5
Frisco: 13 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 19-12, 1 GB, 55-45 overall

SP Jack Leiter: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 3 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 89 P / 51 S, 5.77 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 5.14 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 3.12 ERA
R Aaron Zavala: 3-4, 2B, .429/.538/.810
1B Blaine Crim: 3-4, .282/.347/.462
3B Justin Foscue: 1-4, HR (8), .281/.363/.467
2B Luisangel Acuna: 2-4, 2B

Through 4.2 innings, Jack Leiter was at a spiffy 64 pitches and had allowed two hits and a walk while striking out three. Then: double by ex-Ranger Ti’Quan Forbes, eight-pitch walk, five-pitch walk (including a wild pitch), single, and finally a strikeout. Leiter has the worst strand rate (56%) in the system among starting pitchers because of nights like these.

Justin Foscue is now up to four homers in a week-and-a-half since my podcast partners wondered where his power was. Early returns on Aaron Zavala and Luisangel Acuna in AA are excellent.

High-A: Hickory 7, Asheville (HOU) 9
Hickory: 9 hits, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 15-19, 8 GB, 53-47 overall

SP Brandon Webb: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 43 P / 30 S, 6.75 ERA
RP TK Roby: 3.2 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 5.38 ERA
LF Alejandro Osuna: 1-4, HR (1)
CF Evan Carter: 3-4, 2B, BB, 2 SB (19), .275/.370/.472

Working in the back end of a tandem role for the first time this season, TK Roby issued three walks for the first time since mid-May. The pitching staff has averaged an even five walks per game since the All-Star break compared to 3.5 before.

Low-A: Down East 10, Fredericksburg (WAS) 9 (10)
Down East: 11 hits, 5 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 7 walks, 16 strikeouts
Record: 16-17, 7 GB, 49-50 overall

SP Gavin Collyer: 4.1 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 9 SO, 88 P / 54 S, 4.44 ERA
RP Dylan MacLean: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.95 ERA
DH Daniel Mateo: 3-5, 3B, SB (36), .282/.322/.420
1B Liam Hicks: 2-4, HR (2), BB, .286/.436/.500
3B Miguel Villarroel: 1-2, 2B, BB, HBP, .325/.400/.450

A two-out single in the 10th by Zion Bannister plated the winner. Down East lost an early 6-0 lead and trailed by a run in the 10th before scoring twice. Gavin Collyer struck out his first four opponents swinging and also fanned the side in the 3rd.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Bradford
Hi-A: Vanasco
Lo-A: Stephan

Five Years Ago Yesterday
“A.J. Alexy was a little wild but ultimately effective. I’ll probably be typing some variant on that for a while.” Across five low-A innings, Alexy walked four and struck out five in his organizational debut.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 4 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 1, at Sugar Land (HOU) 2
Round Rock: 5 hits, 3 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 55-47, 6 GB

SP Kohei Arihara: 6 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 81 P / 52 S, 5.10 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 9.00 ERA

Texas designated outfielders Steele Walker and Steven Duggar to clear space for Ragans and Thompson. Walker’s contract selection back in June surprised me. While he was certainly improving on his 2021 AAA debut, I didn’t expect him to cut in front of Leody Taveras (who would replace Walker on the active roster about a week later). Poor Duggar played a strong support role in San Francisco’s astonishing 2021, started in center on Opening Day in April, and less than four months later he’s found himself dangling from the waiver wire on a different club.

Playing at second base, Mark Mathias walked, was hit by a pitch, and stole two bases in his organization debut.

AA: Frisco 4, Amarillo (ARI) 3
Frisco: 7 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Record: 18-12, 2 GB, 54-45 overall

SP Tim Brennan: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 83 P / 51 S, 3.51 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 6.75 ERA
3B Justin Foscue: 3-4, 2 2B, HR (7), .281/.365/.459

Not a typo. Justin Foscue made his professional debut at third last night. He’s familiar with the position and in fact played more third than second until his covid-shortened junior year in college. I guess one way to mitigate a player’s lack of positional flexibility is to just play him at more positions. I was out last night and have no idea how he looked beyond the clean stat sheet, and in any case, 3B defense is best seen in person.

High-A: Hickory 5, Asheville (HOU) 3
Hickory: 9 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 15-18, 7 GB, 53-46 overall

SP Mason Englert: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 88 P / 55 S, 3.89 ERA
3B Cody Freeman: 2-4, 2B, .240/.326/.401
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-4, HR (12), .317/.362/.507
LF Trevor Hauver: 1-3, 2B, BB, .219/.373/.410

Mason Englert reached seven innings for the first time. Opponents haven’t homered in his last two starts after tallying nine in the previous six. Thomas Saggese tied Trevor Hauver and Cody Freeman for the team lead with 12 homers.

Low-A: Down East 5, Fredericksburg (WAS) 0
Down East: 7 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 15-16, 8 GB, 48-49 overall

SP Emiliano Teodo: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 SO, 74 P / 49 S, 3.13 ERA
RP Jose Corniell: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 5.59 ERA
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-3, HR (4), SB (32), .281/.360/.400
C Ian Moller: 2-3, BB, .175/.355/.244

For the second time this season, Emiliano Teodo no-hit an opponent for five innings, struck out ten, and walked one. Eerie. In the first effort back in June, Teodo led off a two-hit, 17-strikeout shutout with support from Jose Corniell and Jackson Leath. Last night, Cornell lost the no-hitter in the 7th but pitched the game to its conclusion.

On Jun 24, Maximo Acosta boasted a career line of .244/.322/.347 in 73 games. Since: .362/.418/.543.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Allard
AA: Leiter
Hi-A: Roby
Lo-A: Collyer

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 3 August

A few minutes after I sent yesterday’s post, Texas listed Cole Ragans as Thursday starting pitcher. Obviously, I want him to pitch well tonight, but there’s joy simply in his arrival. Texas’s first pick in 2016 missed three entire seasons because of two Tommy John surgeries and covid. He made his full-season debut just 15 months ago. Tonight, he becomes a Major Leaguer. And, as I cautiously predicted a while back on the presumption of continued success in AAA, he’s arriving earlier than late September, so thanks to Cole for making me look like I know what I’m talking about.

Ragans is not a flamethrower; his average fastball velocity in AAA was 92.4, topping at 95.3. The placement tends to the low side with good run. He’ll also work high, but he’s not consistently attempting to ride the pitch over the top of opposing bats. His swinging strike rate on the pitch is 8%, a little below average. Ragans’ primary breaker is alternatively described as a cutter or slider. I lean toward “cutter” because most aren’t dialed down much from the fastball, nor do they have much cut, but some are slow enough that they might be two distinct pitches. Regardless; I don’t know that it’s a great pitch in and of itself, but it’s hard to pick up and pairs well with the fastball. Ragans can steal first-pitch strikes with the curve or bring it later as a potential bat-misser.

In AAA, Ragans has thrown more changeups than curves and cutters combined. His swinging strike rate is 22%, highest among Round Rock starters. Viewed from behind the plate, Ragans’ locations create an inverted “L,” running along the bottom of the strike zone and then all the way up the right edge. His command of the pitch is uncommon. He doesn’t apply it as frequently against same-handed batters as Cole Winn (few do), but he won’t ignore it either.

Ragans’ exit velocity data is odd. He’s excelled at avoiding too much hard contact, but the that contact is hard indeed, mostly over 100 MPH instead of the 95-99 range. That said, he’s not been homer-prone, surrendering four in 43.1 AAA innings, and opponents are slugging only .335, an outstanding figure in the Pacific Coast League.

Stamina was a problem last year. He’s already tossed 14 innings over his 2021 total and has faced more batters than anyone in the system, but I’m not seeing a definitive loss in velocity. Two starts ago, I mentioned a consistent dip of about one MPH from his norm, but toward the end of his most recent start, his average velocity was slightly higher than usual. Unsurprisingly, he threw hardest in the first of his eight AAA starts, and we can expect a little extra juice tonight. Weariness can also manifest with loss of command and control, and he did tie a season-high three walks last week, but I don’t think that’s enough to reach any conclusion. To be sure, he pitched well enough toearn a trip to Arlington.

As of 1pm Central, Texas hasn’t officially added him to the 40-man and active rosters or announced any corresponding moves as best as I can tell. That’s coming about five minutes after I send this.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 10, at Sugar Land (HOU) 2
Round Rock: 8 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 55-46, 6 GB

SP Tyson Miller: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 2 SO, 75 P / 41 S, 4.85 ERA
RP John King: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 7.84 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 2-5, 3B, SB (49), .303/.355/.474
LF Steele Walker: 2-4, BB, SB (6), .277/.353/.435

Round Rock drew seven walks against the Sugar Land pen, and every single one would score.

Bubba Thompson has 17 more steals than anyone else in AAA.

IF Davis Wendzel was reactivated in Round rock but didn’t play last night.

AA: Frisco 12, Amarillo (ARI) 5
Frisco: 15 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Record: 17-12, 2 GB, 53-45 overall

SP Zak Kent: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 86 P / 58 S, 5.10 ERA
3B Jonathan Ornelas: 1-5, HR (6), .317/.364/.400
RF Aaron Zavala: 3-5, 2 2B, HR (1)
1B Blaine Crim: 4-5, 2 HR (15), .277/.344/.461

Earlier this season, I suggested that Aaron Zavala wasn’t at the wrong level in high-A, but we wouldn’t be able to start judging his contact until he reached AA. Well, in the early going, Zavala is still walking as much as ever, and five of his six hits are for extra-bases.

More than just about anybody, Blaine Crim’s future is linked with how often he appears in these reports, so keep mashing, Blaine.

High-A: Hickory 7, Asheville (HOU) 8 (10)
Hickory: 9 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 14 hits, 9 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 14-18, 7 GB, 52-46 overall

SP Larson Kindreich: 2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 58 P / 30 S, 5.32 ERA
RP Yohanse Morel: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 7.78 ERA
CF Jayce Easley: 1-3, 2 BB, .238/.368/.361
DH Evan Carter: 2-4, 2B, BB, .272/.368/.471

Larson Kindreich has been a mess in three starts since the no-hitter: 13 walks to 45 batters, a .387/.578/.742 opposing line. To be clear, he wasn’t abused in the in that no-hit start, as he threw a reasonable 84 pitches across six innings. Kindreich’s 60 innings are his most in one unbroken season. He threw 66 in 2020 split between a covid-shortened college season and a summer-league gig.

Low-A: Down East 5, Frederick (WAS) 6
Down East: 8 hits, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 14-16, 9 GB, 47-49 overall

SP Winston Santos: 4.2 IP, 7 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 90 P / 60 S, 3.38 ERA
RP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 3.73 ERA
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-5, 2B, 2 SB (31), .277/.356/.387
2B Cam Cauley: 2-3, HBP, SB (26), .202/.299/.281
1B Miguel Villarroel: 2-3, HR (1), BB, .316/.366/.421

Down East has allowed 5.7 runs per game while losing nine of ten.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Not Cole Ragans
AA: Brennan
Hi-A: Englert
Lo-A: Teodo

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Willie Calhoun swatted his first homer with the organization. He’s hitting well for AAA Sacramento (.299/.396/.483), but I’ve not seen anything to suggest he’s headed back to the Majors.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 2 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, at Sugar Land (HOU) 4
Round Rock: 6 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 12 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 54-46, 6 GB

SP Dallas Keuchel: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 82 P / 47 S, 2.08 ERA
RP AJ Alexy: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 0 SO, 6.32 ERA
CF JP Martinez: 2-4, BB, SB (5), .357/.486/.821

Topping out at 89.4 MPH, Dallas Keuchel got the job done around some walks. I didn’t see any of his performance and don’t plan to, no offense. We all know who he is. With Jon Gray to miss at least half of what remains of the season, a spot is available for Keuchel.

It’s also available for Cole Ragans, I would think.

Both Yerry Rodriguez and Hever Bueno walked three consecutive batters in brief appearances. Rodriguez, while not possessed of great control, had never walked three as a reliever. Bueno has always been prone to wild swings in effectiveness, and he’s on the negative end of one right now.

Rehabbing Josh Jung was 1-3 with the rookies.

AA: Frisco 6, Amarillo (ARI) 2
Frisco: 8 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 16-12, 3 GB, 52-45 overall

SP Seth Nordlin: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 62 P / 43 S, 2.68 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 5.27 ERA
1B Blaine Crim: 2-4, .269/.338/.437
SS Luisangel Acuna: 1-3, BB

Luisangel Acuna flared a single to right in his first AA plate appearance and later walked. How Texas handles the infield assignments with his arrival will be interesting. Acuna has never played third. Jonathan Ornelas has ample experience there but has been the primary shortstop since late May and in fact hasn’t played anywhere else since then. Justin Foscue is exclusively a 2B. Perhaps Ornelas will focus on third and spot at the other two positions. He was off last night in favor of rehabbing Brad Miller. Certainly, Acuna’s arrival shouldn’t result in more than a minimal loss of playing time for Ornelas. I wasn’t thinking of him as a serious contender for a 40 spot during last offseason, but I am now.

Sandro Fabian’s three-run homer in the 2nd put Frisco up for good.

Texas released infielder Trey Hair. Signed out of indy ball last year and re-signed over the winter, Hair was actually leading the organization in homers with 17 (tied with Dustin Harris) and had a fine July, but he’s 27 and in AA. At present, Frisco has an infield of Blaine Crim (spotted by Harris), Justin Foscue, Luisangel Acuna, and Jonathan Ornelas, plus Jax Biggers, who was as busy as anyone last month. 

Joining Acuna in Frisco is catcher Scott Kapers.

High-A: Hickory 5, Asheville (HOU) 6 (10)
Hickory: 6 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 14-17, 6 GB, 52-45 overall

SP Nick Krauth: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 77 P / 51 S, 5.80 ERA
C Cody Freeman: 1-3, BB, SB (7), .236/.324/.396

Evan Carter (1-4) hit his tenth triple. As noted by Mark Parker, Carter needs one more homer to become only the second Crawdad after Nick Williams to reach the triple-double of extra-base hits (ten doubles, triples and homers). Those who’ve accomplished the feat with the Rangers in the past decade are Drew Robinson and Anderson Tejeda in 2017, Williams in 2013, and Engel Beltre in 2012.

Low-A: Down East 3, Frederick (WAS) 4 (10)
Down East: 8 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 14-15, 8 GB, 47-48 overall

SP Mitch Bratt: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 68 P / 43 S, 2.04 ERA
RP Florencio Serrano: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 3.24 ERA
SS Maximo Acosta: 1-4, BB, 2 SB (27), .275/.355/.383
RF Marcus Smith: 2-4, BB, .275/.355/.383
LF Yosy Galan: 2-4, 2B, BB, .230/.323/.426

Yosy Galan’s double tied the game in the 9th, but Down East subsequently loaded the bases with none out and couldn’t bring the winner home. Another zero-out, three-on opportunity in the 10th produced only one run after the Nationals scored twice in the top half. Frederick leads the division by an increasingly wide margin, so the Woodies badly need some victories this week.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Miller
AA: TBD
Hi-A: Kindreich
Lo-A: Santos (Down East has a listed starter for the first time I can recall)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Jeffrey Springs fanned four in two scoreless innings for Down East. Despite leading the organization in strikeouts and a full repertoire, he’d been switched to relief to minimize control/command issues. The move quickly proved worthwhile, as Springs would make his MLB debut the following July. In 2022, Tampa Bay rebuilt him up to starting again in May, and he’s been solid (3.14 ERA) despite a high homer rate.

Rangers Farm Report (Off-Day)

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.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 31 July

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 9, Sacramento (SFO) 4
Round Rock: 11 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 5 walks, 17 strikeouts
Record: 54-45, tied for first

SP Cole Winn: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 SO, 80 P / 46 S, 5.72 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 5.48 ERA
DH JP Martinez: 2-5, HR (4), .333/.467/.875
C Sam Huff: 2-4, HR (15), .273/.349/.578
RF Steele Walker: 2-4, 2B, .277/.350/.440

A better outing from Cole Winn, if not absent of his ongoing control issues. Through four innings, Winn had seven strikeouts, just one walk, and three-ball counts to just two others, but his strike rate was still a sub-par 57%. In the 5th, he he opened with two straight walks, missing mostly high, even with his curve and slider. Winn then rebounded with three outs on seven consecutive strikes including two swinging strike threes. Winn had 12 swinging strikes total, five each with the change and curve, two with the fastball. Winn throws as many righty-righty changeups as you’ll ever see, but last night he almost entirely ignored that pitch to righties in favor of the slider. Per usual, balls in play were favorable, with only two balls hit hard, both caught.

Sam Huff is hitting .281/.324/.469 in eight games since returning to AAA. Whether at Round Rock or in Arlington, Huff’s upcoming month-plus is his chance to claim a Major League catching position next year. Ideally, he does.

Some weary relief arms in the system? Since the All-Star break, Texas’s full-season minor-league bullpen has allowed 130 runs in 173.3 innings (6.75 per nine including unearned). Frisco’s 6.09 R/9 is the best of the four teams. I haven’t performed the calculations, but I don’t sense the opponents are faring any better, as Texas’s system has a 20-16 record and +8 run differential in that span. 

AA: Frisco 14, at Springfield (STL) 12
Frisco: 15 hits, 8 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 15 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 15-12, 4 GB, 51-45 overall

SP Cody Bradford: 2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 41 P / 27 S, 6.26 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 2.85 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-5, HBP, .319/.366/.456
RF Aaron Zavala: 2-3, 2 2B, 3 BB, SB (1)
DH Dustin Harris: 2-6, 2 2B, .261/.351/.481
2B Justin Foscue: 3-6, HR (6), .279/.364/.446

“AA is easy! I should’ve been here in April like Jack,” Aaron Zavala could be thinking to himself. Hopefully not. Even as the 38th-overall pick of the 2021 draft, reaching AA in his second pro season as a young 22-year-old is impressive. Justin Foscue has two homers in five games since my podcast partners and I wondered how he could have only four through last July.

High-A: Hickory 11, Rome (ATL) 10
Hickory: 19 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 10 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 14-16, 5 GB, 52-44 overall

SP Robby Ahlstrom: 4 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 1 R, 4 BB, 4 SO, 77 P / 45 S, 6.44 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-5, SB (17), .270/.367/.464
SS Luisangel Acuna: 2-5, SB (28), .317/.417/.483
3B Thomas Saggese: 2-3, BB, .317/.364/.505
1B Cristian Inoa: 3-4, 2B, BB, .304/.369/.476
LF Alejandro Osuna: 2-4

Hickory took four of six against the second-half division leader. The Crawdads are five back with 36 to play, no small task but better than the seven-game deficit than began the series. Hickory also hosts Rome for a closing six-game series after Labor Day.

Texas bumped OF Alejandro Osuna to high-A to replace Zavala. Two months shy of 20, Osuna is now the team’s youngest hitter.

That Hickory line for Luisangel Acuna is permanent, barring some misfortune. The 20-year-old is headed to AA, per local reports. 

Low-A: Down East 2, at Charleston (TAM) 5
Down East: 5 hits, 8 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Record: 14-14, 7 GB, 47-47 overall

SP Ryan Garcia: 4 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 63 P / 40 S, 2.33 ERA
RP Josh Gessner: 3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 5.56 ERA
C Ian Moller: 1-2, 2 BB, SB (13), .164/.344/.233
LF Zion Bannister: 2-2, BB, .188/.316/.188

Down East lost five of six at Charleston, disappointing but in line with the opponent’s 36-11 home record entering the series.

Ian Moller has been leading off occasionally despite a batting average well under .200 because he’s walked in 21% of his plate appearance. Moller is amongthe most fly-prone of Texas’s young hitters, but the damage hasn’t arrived yet. He’s hitting .247 with a .350 slugging percentage when he makes contact.

Today’s Starters
Off day

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Texas traded RHP Yu Darvish for 2B/OF Willie Calhoun, RHP AJ Alexy, and IF Brendon Davis. “Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen rates Calhoun the second-best prospect traded in July, behind only OF Eloy Jimenez.”

Ten Years Ago Yesterday
“As I filled my tank in a gas station in Katy, I learned that Texas had traded 3B Kyle Hendricks and RHP Kyle Hendricks for Ryan Dempster. At the time, Hendricks had improved his status but was still generally seen as a control freak with middling stuff and a 5/LR future. Baseball America didn’t bother placing him in Chicago’s top 30 entering 2013. Villanueva was the bigger get, a strong defender who stood a decent chance of becoming an average MLB third baseman. His hitting development stalled, and then he was beset by injuries, missing all of 2016. He’s now a Padre, batting .299/.371/.546, albeit in the El Paso bandbox.”

Fifteen Years Ago Yesterday
“From texasrangers.com, July 31, 2007: ‘Acquired C/1B Jarrod Saltalamacchia, nonroster SS Elvis Andrus, nonroster LHP Matt Harrison, nonroster LHP Beau Jones and nonroster RHP Neftali Feliz from the Braves in exchange for 1B Mark Teixeira and LHP Ron Mahay; Acquired LHP Kason Gabbard, OF David Murphy and nonroster OF Engle Beltre from the Red Sox for RHP Eric Gagne and cash.’ “