Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 20 September

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, at Tacoma (SEA) 2 (11)
Round Rock: 5 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 7 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 76-66, 4 GB, elimination number 5

SP Zak Kent: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 91 P / 56 S, 0.39 ERA
RP Lucas Jacobsen: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 3.00 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 5.90 ERA
LF Elier Hernandez: 2-4, 2 2B, .291/.351/.517
CF JP Martinez: 1-4, HR (6), .205/.340/.426

For a fourth straight start, Zak Kent calmly dispatched of his opponents. Yet again, he didn’t overpower anyone, but hitters sure aren’t having much luck on contact. Kent’s fastball topped at 93.1, a little lower than usual.

Unfortunately for the Express, El Paso and OKC are meeting this week. Both are ahead of Round Rock (and tied as well), so the Express can’t gain ground on both teams the same day.

Tieran Alexander of Prospects Live has a deep dive into Cole Winn’s troublesome 2022. Worth yur times if you’re into a serious breakdown of his pitches, what’s working, and what isn’t. The short version, which jibes with my assessment: The stuff is still fine, the control and command are sorely lacking.

Ex-Ranger Ronny Henriquez made his MLB debut on the 19th, allowing three runs in four innings. Texas had traded him and IKF to the Twins for Mitch Garver. Per Statcast, Henriquez threw sliders for more than half his pitches. In AAA, Henriquez has a 5.66 ERA with (per usual) good control, plenty of strikeouts, and a lot of homers.

AA: Frisco 7, San Antonio (SDG) 3
Frisco: 12 hits, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 8 walks, 11 strikeouts
Frisco leads best-of-three semifinal 1-0

SP Jack Leiter: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 6 BB, 4 SO, 79 P / 43 S
RP Seth Nordlin: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO
RP Josh Smith: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
RP Nick Starr: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO
RF Aaron Zavala: 1-4, HR
2B Luisangel Acuna: 2-4, 2B, SB
LF Kellen Strahm: 2-2, 2 2B, 2 BB
1B Frainyer Chavez: 2-4

Frisco won last night’s playoff opener with typically superior hitting and a surprising 5.2 innings of scoreless relief. The bullpen wasn’t totally blameless, as Seth Nordlin could only strand one of three runners bequeathed by Jack Leiter with one out in the 4th. In his defense, that’s a bear of a situation with an expectation of about 1.6 runs. In any case, he kept the game from getting out of hand, and aided by a clean inning from rehabbing Joe Barlow, the relievers blanked the Missions as Frisco mounted its comeback.

The Riders didn’t mount much of an attack against soft-tossing Thomas Eshelman in the early innings but eliminated a 3-0 deficit in the 5th on doubles by Luisangel Acuna and Kellen Strahm plus singles from Scott Kapers and Evan Carter. Unwilling to settle for a single crooked inning, Frisco plated four in the 8th. Aaron Zavala began by blasting a pitch from Fred Schlichtholz, one of San Antonio’s best relievers. Hits from Thomas Saggese, Strahm, and Jonathan Ornelas provided ample insurance.

Frisco won in front of a surprisingly large and engaged crowd. I mean no offense to the good folks up there, just that playoff ball is often a miss with fans. I’ve attended some AA and AAA playoff games in which the number of actual bodies in attendance was in the low hundreds. The games aren’t scheduled far in advance, school is back, until recently the season ended on Labor Day.  Last night was great to see.

As for Leiter, well, he was bad. He walked the leadoff hitter on five pitches, another on four, and then surrendered a two-out RBI single in a 26-pitch 1st. His last three batters consumed 19 pitches. All walked. The strike zone was on the tight side, but Leiter just didn’t have any control. He’s walked 12 of 42 batters (29%) in his last two starts. I expect he’ll pitch again if Frisco reaches the finals.

Today’s Starters
AA: off