On Josh Jung’s MLB Debut

Our long national nightmare is over: Josh Jung will become a Major Leaguer tonight. He (hopefully) concluded in minor league career with a double to center Wednesday afternoon. In 23 AAA games, Jung batted .273/.321/.525 with six homers and seven doubles. I dove into the Statcast data for good and bad signs. Note that Jung has only 106 plate appearances, so sample-size issues apply.

Good: He hits hard.

Jung’s average exit velocity of 89.5 MPH ranks near the 60th percentile for MLB hitters, and his hard-hit rate (95+ MPH) of 44.9% is around the 75% percentile. Also, this isn’t a Willie Calhoun situation of too many grounders resulting in a depressed and depressing slash line. His rate of grounders is below average.  (Popups, too.)

As you’ve surely heard by now, the opposite-field line-driving Jung of Texas Tech is no more. By my count, about one of every seven balls off Jung’s bat has been either a surefire homer or had a decent chance of becoming one. That’s double the rate of his teammates and opponents in AAA, and he’s hitting 1.000 with a 60% homer rate on those balls.

Good: He doesn’t have trouble with breaking stuff (sort of).

Jung is hitting .419 and slugging .903 when he puts a fastball (including sinkers) in play, and a very respectable .368 with a .632 slugging percentage on non-fastballs. Overall, he’s hitting .295/.340/.636 on plate appearances that conclude with a fastball and .255/.305/.436 on other pitches.

His average exit velocity and strikeout rates on fastballs versus non-fastballs are nearly identical, and his swinging strike rate is lower on bendy stuff and changeups. That said, nearly all of the non-fastball success is against sliders (.455/.455/.864 in 28 plate appearances), while he’s still looking for his first hit against a curve in eight at-bats and is hitting .176 against changes.

Only 43% of the pitches thrown to him have been fastballs, so he’s not going to be caught off guard by pitchers with deep arsenals.

Not So Good: Swings and Takes.

Usually, there’s an inverse relationship between a player’s swing rate and how often pitches taken are called balls. Cautious hitters will accept more borderline calls in search of the pitch they want, while swing-happy types will hack away, leaving only the most obviously errant pitches alone. Jung is an anomaly. In AAA, he swung at 52% of opposing pitches compared to the team rate of 47%, but the percentage of taken pitches called balls was only 65% compared to the team rate of 70%.

Similarly, Jung has a swinging strike rate of 15% of all pitches and 29% of swings, both about 3% higher than the team average. His swinging strike rate of 20% on four-seam fastballs is double the team rate. This is the background of his 4% walk rate and 28% strikeout rate in AAA, both on the wrong side of average. Based on this data, his noisy hit tools have compensated for some occasionally iffy pitch selection.

Jung drew two walks in his first AAA game. Since then, just two more in 101 trips to the plate. His overall walk rate as a pro is a 8.2%, slightly below average.


I don’t do comps. Not if I can help it. But I did run a list of players who most closely matched Jung’s average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, “sweet-spot” rate (launch angle between 8 and 32 degrees), and average launch angle. I’m not claiming this list has has predictive power, but i thought it was interesting:

Joey Bart: .228/.312/.398, 99 OPS+
Carlos Correa: .271/.352/.439, 129 OPS+
Josh Donaldson: .220/.309/.375, 95 OPS+
Nick Gordon: .275/.319/.427, 114 OPS+
Jose Miranda: .273/.327/.448, 123 OPS+
David Peralta: .255/.320/.441, 112 OPS+
Jazz Chisholm Jr.: .254/.325/.535, 138 OPS+
Tyler O’Neill: .225/.301/.384, 97 OPS+
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.: .291/.343/.400, 113 OPS+
Brandon Drury: .262/.319/.496, 92 OPS+
AVERAGE: .255/.323/.434, 111 OPS+

The middle OBP stat is partly dependent on walks, which in Jung’s case are lacking, but on the whole, this is… pretty good? Not outstanding, not team-carrying, but good. Of course, hitting like this will require Jung to maintain his current batted-ball stats against much tougher opposition than he’s seen in AAA. No small task.


Texas has a total of 2.7 wins above replacement from its third basemen since Adrian Beltre’s retirement, and very little of that has come from hitting. I’m confident Jung will change that equation, but I’m not expecting Jung to set the world on fire in September, and not necessarily in future years either. I’m just hoping for a solid everyday player. That would be delightful.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 8 September

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, Sugar Land (HOU) 0
Round Rock: 9 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 73-59, 1 GB

SP Zak Kent: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 91 P / 60 S, 0.73 ERA
RP Kyle Cody: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 1.42 ERA
1B Andy Ibanez: 2-4, 2B, .270/.337/.418

For the second straight AAA start, Zak Kent was in top form, and this outing included the swinging strikes and strikeouts lacking in the debut. Kent missed 15 bats, eight with a slider that was atypically ineffective last week. Perhaps because the slider was in full force, Kent mostly ignored the change that worked well previously, but the two he threw registered a foul and swinging strike. In terms of a 40-man spot this winter, I’d thought of Kent as being on the outside looking in, but he’s adding to the intrigue.

AA: Frisco 4, Tulsa (LAD) 3
Frisco: 8 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 34-25, 1.5 G up, 70-58 overall

SP Cody Bradford: 5 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 10 SO, 89 P / 56 S, 5.22 ERA
RP Justin Slaten: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 7.07 ERA
3B Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, .299/.358/.428
LF Trevor Hauver: 2-3, HR (4), .205/.368/.523

Cody Bradford reached ten strikeouts for the third time in 2022 and is up to seven starts with no more than one walk allowed. During that stretch, he’s walked four and struck out 45 in 36.1 innings.

Frisco scored everything in the 4th, mostly on Trevor Hauver’s homer. Luisangel Acuna walked twice and stole two bases.

High-A: Hickory 5, Rome (ATL) 4
Hickory: 6 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 2 walks, 17 strikeouts
Record: 28-35, eliminated, 66-63 overall

SP TK Roby: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 12 SO, 79 P / 55 S, 4.64 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.07 ERA
DH Evan Carter: 2-3, BB, SB (25), .289/.390/.481

TK Roby let it fly in his final 2022 start, striking out a career-best 12. Roby currently leads the organization with 126 Ks in 104.2 innings. That won’t last because others barely behind him have aren’t done yet, but Roby will finish with the most strikeouts at either A level. He allowed 13 homers in his first 11 starts but only six in the final 11.

Hitters to reach double digits in doubles, triples, homers, and steals during my time on this gig (2007-present): Evan Carter, Drew Robinson (2016 in AAA), Engel Beltre (2012 in AA).

Low-A: Down East 1, at Delmarva (BAL) 4
Down East: 4 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 32-31, eliminated, 65-64 overall

SP Emiliano Teodo: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 6 SO, 79 P / 45 S, 3.09 ERA
RP Jose Corniell: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 5.45 ERA

Emiliano Teodo improved on his already prodigious strikeout rate from 30% in his first 11 starts to 35% in the second 11, but he was more prone to extra-base hits. Teodo was and is on the wild side, but he had a fine season overall, especially in the unexpected role of starter.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Allard
AA: Englert
Hi-A: TBD (Vanasco)
Lo-A: TBD (Collyer)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Down East defeated Myrtle Beach 2-1 to become co-champions (along with Lynchburg) of the Carolina League. With Hurricane Irma looming, league powers decided to reduce the semifinals to a best-of-three and then eliminated the championship round entirely. Starter Brett Martin retired only five of 12 batters but escaped with just one run on his ledger thanks to two double plays and an out on the bases. The bullpen (Emerson Martinez, Jeffrey Springs, Scott Williams) was outstanding as always. Staked to a one-run lead, Williams retired rehabbing Cubbie Wilson Contreras for the final out. Including the postseason, Williams finished 2017 with a 30-inning scoreless streak.

Sadly, that would be the apex of Williams’ career. An injury erased his following season, and more troubles limited him to 30 batters faced in 2019. He would be released in the early-June covid purge of 2020.

This concludes “Five Years Ago” for 2017. The minor league season was over for the Rangers, and I didn’t write anything else until late November.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 7 September

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, Sugar Land (HOU) 7
Round Rock: 5 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 72-59, 1 GB

SP Tyson Miller: 3.2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 6 SO, 71 P / 45 S, 4.73 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 9.00 ERA
DH Josh Jung: 1-4, 2B, HBP, .273/.321/.525
1B Yohel Pozo: 2-4, BB, .338/.378/.503

Heavy rain followed by cloudless, windless conditions turned the stadium into a double boiler during a rare midday contest. Rehabbing Eli White was removed after two innings and one plate appearance. Pitching for the first time in three months, Jake Latz allowed two runs in an inning.

AA: Frisco 11, Tulsa (LAD) 0
Frisco: 12 hits, 7 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Record: 33-25, 1 G up, 69-58 overall

SP Tim Brennan: 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 52 P / 37 S, 2.76 ERA
RP Triston Polley: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 3.64 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 1-4, 2B, BB, .358/.490/.605
2B Justin Foscue: 2-4, 2B, BB, .290/.370/.489
DH Blaine Crim: 2-4, 2 2B, BB, .293/.361/.498
SS Luisangel Acuna: 3-5, SB (7), .243/.310/.400
LF Kellen Strahm: 2-4, 2B, BB, .284/.396/.417

Frisco didn’t need Amarillo’s environment to reach double-digit runs, taking an 11-0 lead after just three innings.

Unfortunately, Tim Brennan crumpled to the ground with pain in his arm after releasing his 52nd pitch. There’s no news and I’m not going to speculate, but it certainly didn’t look good.

High-A: Hickory 0, Rome (ATL) 5
Hickory: 4 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 27-34, 65-62 overall

SP Larson Kindreich: 1.2 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 45 P / 23 S, 5.40 ERA
RP Luis Tejeda: 3.1 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 1 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 4.75 ERA
2B Thomas Saggese: 1-2, BB, .310/.360/.484

High-A: Hickory 2, Rome (ATL) 8
Hickory: 3 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 27-35, eliminated, 65-63 overall

SP Robby Ahlstrom: 4.1 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 6 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 8 SO, 72 P / 52 S, 6.14 ERA

Hickory struck out 23 Braves in 14 innings but was swept handily. After an opening strikeout in the 2nd, Larson Kindreich’s inning proceeded walk, error, walk, grand slam. Rome also hit a grand slam in the nightcap.

Low-A: Down East 4, at Delmarva (BAL) 2 (11)
Down East: 6 hits, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 32-30, eliminated, 65-63 overall

SP Winston Santos: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 82 P / 54 S, 3.49 ERA
RP Alberto Mota: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 2.45 ERA
RP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 3.09 ERA
CF Marcus Smith: 1-1, 4 BB, 2 SB (47), .180/.338/.264
LF Yosy Galan: 1-5, HR (19), .210/.304/.431

Down East has the most steals of any team in low-A history (1990-present, as defined by the official division of A ball into two distinct levels):
302: Down East (TEX), 2022
299: Beloit (MIL), 1991
295: Capital City (NYM), 1998
290: Down East (TEX), 2021
290: Columbia (NYM), 1992

The 2017 high-A Lancaster Jethawks have the most steals at any level since 1990 with 313 (with a schedule eight games longer than Down East). I’ll have to double check, but on a steals-per-game basis, I think the top two teams at any full-season level since 1990 are the 2021 and 2022 Wood Ducks.

Yosy Galan cranked a three-run homer in the 11th.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Kent
AA: Bradford
Hi-A: TBD (Roby)
Lo-A: TBD (Teodo)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Down East defeated Myrtle Beach 4-1 in the opener of the league semifinals, as Jonathan Hernandez (5.1 IP), Jeffrey Springs (1.2 IP), and, in his high-A debut, CD Pelham (2 IP) limited the Pelicans to six hits. Hurricane Irma shorted the series to a best-of-three to be decided the next day by either one or two seven-inning games. Spokane again lost to Vancouver 2-1 and was eliminated from the Northwest League playoffs. I’d mentioned Vancouver held a sizable starting pitching advantage in the preview, and Nate Pearson and Zach Logue combined for one run allowed in 12 innings. Joe Barlow threw 3.2 scoreless and fanned six in relief of Cole Ragans (4 IP, 2 R, 6 SO), who made what turned out to be his last real-game appearance until 2021.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 6 September

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, Sugar Land (HOU) 0
Round Rock: 7 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 72-58, 1 GB

SP Yerry Rodriguez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 33 P / 22 S, 4.47 ERA
RP Ryder Ryan: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 3.76 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 7.36 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 5.56 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 4.36 ERA
3B Josh Jung: 2-4, .274/.317/.526
SS Davis Wendzel: 1-2, HR (14), BB, .211/.295/.406

Five relievers combined on a two-hit shutout.

Davis Wendzel, pre-injury: .193/.281/.329, 31% SO
Davis Wendzel, post-injury: .244/.320/.544, 19% SO

A persistent issue with Wendzel is pop-ups and sky-high flyouts; he hits them at about double the rate of his teammates, about one of every four balls in play.

AA: Frisco 7, Tulsa (LAD) 11
Frisco: 6 hits, 8 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 9 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 32-25, 1.5 G up, 68-58 overall

SP Jack Leiter: 4 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 78 P / 48 S, 5.32 ERA
3B Jonathan Ornelas: 2-3, 2B, 2 BB, SB (13), .298/.357/.429
1B Blaine Crim: 1-3, 2B, BB, .291/.359/.493
CF Kellen Strahm: 1-3, HR (9), BB, 2 SB (8), .281/.393/.413
RF Miguel Aparicio: 1-3, BB, 2 SB (3), .206/.342/.302

A typical outing for Jack Leiter in his penultimate regular-season start. I watched a portion on MiLB.tv, and as usual was amazed by his stuff and  frustrated by the actual line. The Drillers swung at 38 of his pitches and came up empty 19 times. He fanned six of 20.

He also walked three and allowed three unnervingly solid flies. One fly disappeared, one was prevented from leaving by CF Kellen Strahm, and one was corralled by RF Aaron Zavala on the track. The 1st inning encapsulated his season: six-pitch walk, two-run homer, then three strikeouts on nine pitches.

High-A: rain

Two today. Hickory was eliminated last week, while visiting Rome leads Asheville by two games for the second-half division title. Two Crawdads wins will secure their tenth winning season in 13 as a Texas affiliate.

Low-A: Down East 2, at Delmarva (BAL) 5
Down East: 6 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 31-30, eliminated, 64-63 overall

SP Mitch Bratt: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 5 SO, 84 P / 54 S, 2.45 ERA
2B Maximo Acosta: 1-3, BB, 2 SB (43), .262/.342/.359
SS Cam Cauley: 2-4, 3B, .215/.312/.298

In his final 2022 start (assuming no unlikely final-day start on four days rest), Mitch Bratt was slightly out of form and had to endure more than one instance of “I got it, you take it” by his defensive compatriots. Nevertheless, Texas’s 2021 fifth-rounder had a fine first full season, striking out 99 against 28 walks in 80.2 innings with a 2.45 ERA. On to Hickory.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Miller
AA: Brennan
Hi-A: TBD (Stephan / Ahlstrom)
Lo-A: TBD (Santos)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Spokane lost its playoff opener to Vancouver 2-1. 28th-overall pick Nate Pearson of the Canadians struck out ten in four innings and touched 100 on the stadium gun several times. Down East’s playoff opener against Myrtle Beach was postponed by rain. MiLB also shortened the series to a best-of-three in anticipation of Hurricane Irma.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 4 September

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, Oklahoma City (LAD) 5
Round Rock: 5 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 71-58, 2 GB

SP Cole Winn: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 86 P / 55 S, 6.24 ERA
RP Kyle Cody: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1.69 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 5.25 ERA
DH Josh Sale: 1-3, HR (10), .239/.354/.448

Relatively speaking, Cole Winn had a decent day. The overall strike rate was a robust 64%, suggesting good control marred by occasional lapses rather than a constant struggle for location. He didn’t issue a walk after the 3rd and issued five swinging strikes with the changeup. With three or four starts remaining (assuming he’s not shut down), Winn has a chance to repeat 2019 by concluding an ugly season on an upswing.

AA: Frisco 11, at Amarillo (ARI) 8
Frisco: 10 hits, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 32-24, 2 G up, 68-57 overall

SP Antoine Kelly: 1 IP, 1 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 46 P / 22 S, 7.53 ERA
RP Justin Slaten: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 7.36 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 4.76 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 1-2, 2 BB, HBP, .389/.522/.653
DH Justin Foscue: 2-4, 2B, BB, .288/.369/.489
1B Blaine Crim: 1-4, HR (22), BB, .291/.359/.492
LF Kellen Strahm: 1-3, 2 BB, .281/.392/.404

Entering yesterday’s 2nd inning, Antoine Kelly had walked or hit 20% of opposing hitters as a Ranger. He raised that rate to 26.5% with four walks and an HBP to begin (and, for him, conclude) that inning. Kelley has a bizarre .192/.400/.277 line in Frisco. Texas has reduced his pitch count by about one-third since the trade from Milwaukee.

Fortunately, Frisco’s offense was again up to the task, scoring seven in the 7th to erase a six-run deficit, then three more in the 8th. Blaine Crim homered six times in the series.

High-A: Hickory 2, at Aberdeen (BAL) 4
Hickory: 4 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts

Record: 27-33, eliminated, 65-61 overall
SP Dane Acker: 3.2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 3 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 67 P / 40 S, 10.45 ERA
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-3, 2B, BB, HBP, .309/.358/.485

Evan Carter (0-3) and Thomas Saggese were activated on Sunday, for which the reward was being hit by a pitch. OF Alejandro Osuna was IL’ed, so he could return no sooner than the season finale. He batted .302/.378/.427 with nine homers and 34 steals in 97 games between Down East and Hickory.

Hickory was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.

Low-A: Down East 3, Fayetteville (HOU) 1
Down East: 3 hits, 5 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 8 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 31-29, eliminated, 64-62 overall

SP Aidan Curry: 3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 6 SO, 76 P / 38 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Nick Lockhart: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.40 ERA
1B Abi Ortiz: 1-1, 2B, 2 BB, .228/.315/.388

Aidan’s Curry’s full-season debut was effective if not uniformly attractive. Curry struck out six of 15 batters but also walked five and reached three-ball counts to three others. Listed at 6’6″ and 195 pounds, the 20-year-old signed as a free agent in 2020 out of the Bronx’s Fordham Preparatory School.

Down East was eliminated from the division race despite the win.

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

Five Years Ago Yesterday
The regular season ended. All four full-season teams finished under .500 and with their worst records in at least eight years, often longer, and the overall record of 252-305 was the worst since 2006. The news wasn’t all bad. Despite a 62-77 overall record, high-A Down East stole the second-half division title with a 10-3 win over Buies Creek, making up a 7.5-game deficit in 15 days. As the second half transpired, prospect progression and additions had transformed the Wood Ducks into an adequate offensive club with outstanding pitching, especially in relief.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 3 September

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 8, Oklahoma City (LAD) 7 (11)
Round Rock: 9 hits, 12 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 3 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 71-57, 1 GB

SP Kolby Allard: 6 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 2 R, 0 BB, 9 SO, 96 P / 62 S, 4.81 ERA
CF Josh Smith: 1-4, 2 BB, .291/.399/.474
C Sam Huff: 3-6, HR (21), .260/.336/.533
SS Davis Wendzel: 1-4, 2 BB, .212/.295/.400

The Express are their closest to first in nearly three months and can grab a tie for the division lead with a win today. Round Rock scored three in the 9th to extend the contest, then plated two off ex-Ranger Keone Kela in the 10th. OKC was generous in the 11th, bumbling a Matt Whatley bunt and then arguably misplaying what was ruled (fairly, in my opinion) a single by Sam Huff that plated the gift runner and pushed Whatley to third. Whatley then scored on a Davis Wendzel grounder.

Update: Just as I was to hit “send,” the Rangers announced they’d designated Keuchel for assignment and recalled John King. I’d named King and Nick Solak as Texas’s possible call-ups on last week’s podcast, so I win the prize. (The prize is nothing.)

Josh Jung was 1-6 with four strikeouts and has nine Ks in his last 13 trips to the plate.

AA: Frisco 8, at Amarillo (ARI) 7
Frisco: 9 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 31-24, 2 G up, 67-57 overall

SP Avery Weems: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 68 P / 41 S, 5.22 ERA
RP Nick Starr: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 1.95 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 1-3, 2 BB, .386/.506/.657
1B Blaine Crim: 2-5, HR (21), .291/.358/.487
CF Kellen Strahm: 2-4, BB, .280/.389/.404

Frisco scored five in the 8th on two singles and some chaotic pitching and fielding by the hosts. Crim is batting .542 with two doubles and five homers in the series against Arizona’s AA affiliate. If he homers again today, Texas might be able to trade him for Jordan Lawlar or Corbin Carroll. The Rangers can generously offer both names and let the Diamondbacks choose.

Nick Starr tossed a 1-2-3 9th punctuated by Kellen Strahm’s lunging catch to prevent a double.

High-A: Hickory 4, at Aberdeen (BAL) 1
Hickory: 6 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 1 walk, 14 strikeouts
Record: 27-32, 8 GB, 65-60 overall

SP Ryan Garcia: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 SO, 76 P / 49 S, 0.00 ERA
RP John Matthews: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 4.42 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 1 SO, 4.24 ERA
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-5, 3B, .348/.423/.565
LF Josh Hatcher: 1-2, 2 BB, 2 SB (2), .241/.333/.310

In his high-A debut, Ryan Garcia struck out a career-best nine and declined to permit a run for the second straight start. I vaguely recall Garcia touching 94 at some point, but from what I’ve seen, his fastball has generally been in the low-90s range of his college years. Nevertheless, his first venture into full-season ball has been encouraging: 68 strikeouts and 18 walks in 51.2 innings, and a 2.13 ERA.

Low-A: Down East 0, Fayetteville (HOU) 7
Down East: 5 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 30-29, 7.5 GB, 63-62 overall

SP Josh Gessner: 4 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 4 SO, 78 P / 49 S, 5.49 ERA
RP Adrian Rodriguez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 2.70 ERA
LF Yeison Morrobel: 2-3, .353/.450/.412

A quiet affair. Down East couldn’t muster an extra-base hit and batted only three times with a runner in scoring position. DH Ian Moller and CF Marcus Smith walked twice. They and Trevor Hauver have more walks than hits in 2022.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Kelly
Hi-A: TBD (Acker)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
The rookies won their one-game quarterfinal 4-3 over the Mariners, aided by Seth Nordlin’s four scoreless and six strikeouts. Short-season Spokane claimed the second-half division title with an extra-inning win over the M’s. Joe Barlow threw three scoreless innings and fanned five. High-A Down East set up a final-day showdown for the division by defeating Buies Creek 7-3. Starter Kyle Cody allowed a run in six innings. Low-A Hickory was eliminated with a 3-1 loss.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 2 September

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, Oklahoma City (LAD) 2
Round Rock: 6 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 70-57, 2 GB

SP Zak Kent: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 68 P / 38 S, 1.59 ERA
RP James Jones: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 7.00 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 5.91 ERA
SS Davis Wendzel: 1-4, HR (13), .212/.290/.402

Zak Kent pitched well in his AAA debut. Jacob Amaya’s triple in the 5th busted the no-hitter, and Amaya scored on a comebacker through Kent’s legs and off second base (the bag, not the player). Kent registered only four swinging strikes, and his strike rate was only 56%, but he walked only one and seemed in control until late when the three-ball counts increased.

Kent threw both a two-seamer and four-seamer in the 91-95 range. The four-seamer has little run and actually cuts some of the time. He doesn’t lose any velocity with the “sinker,” which barely drops more than the ordinary fastball but acquires much more run. Augmenting those are an 82-85 slider, upper-70s curve and mid-80s change. The slider is often an out pitch, but last night’s version was relatively tepid. What worked better was the change, despite a a lower strike rate with it. It often has screwball-like run, and he would throw it inside to lefties and have it run back over the plate for a call or miss. Kent wasn’t overpowering, but he has several pitches with impressive movement, and he was able to harness that movement to obtain a bunch of low and/or weakly hit contact.

Nick Snyder pitched on just one day of rest for the first time since a mid-June game at Tacoma that required a month off. His velocity was fine but he allowed a game-tying homer. Davis Wendzel promptly untied it and walked off victorious by leading off the 9th with his own homer.

Josh Jung was 0-4 with two strikeouts.

AA: Frisco 21, at Amarillo (ARI) 2
Frisco: 23 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 0 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 30-24, 1 G up, 66-57 overall

SP Mason Englert: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 79 P / 56 S, 1.80 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-6, HR (14), .294/.351/.426
DH Aaron Zavala: 3-4, 2 2B, HR (4), 2 BB, .388/.500/.672
3B Justin Foscue: 3-6, 2 HR (14), .289/.369/.492
1B Blaine Crim: 5-6, 2 2B, HR (20), .290/.358/.481
RF Kellen Strahm: 4-6, 2B, .277/.387/.403
LF Trevor Hauver: 1-3, HR (3), 2 BB, .200/.370/.514
CF Josh Stowers: 3-6, HR (8), .222/.331/.365
C Scott Kapers: 2-5, 2B, HR (1), .200/.304/.325

In the first five innings , Jonathan Ornelas, Aaron Zavala, and Justin Foscue came to the plate five times. Frisco sent 41 up men in that span, concluding with an 11-run 5th to take a 19-1 lead. Hauver’s homer, which gave Frisco eight on the night, came off ex-Rangers IF Ti’Quan Forbes.

Meanwhile, making his AA debut in that hitter-friendly environment, Mason Englert calmly quieted the Poodles for five innings.

High-A: Hickory 9, at Aberdeen (BAL) 2
Hickory: 8 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 2 walks, 16 strikeouts
Record: 26-32, 9 GB, 64-60 overall

SP Ricky Vanasco: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 9 SO, 85 P / 54 S, 4.48 ERA
RP Theo McDowell: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.79 ERA
2B Griffin Cheney: 1-2, 2 BB, .063/.286/.063

An oddly muted statistical record for a nine-run night. Liam Hicks, Chris Seise, Cody Freeman, Keyber Rodriguez, and Yenci Pena all reached twice by some combination of singles and walks. LF Josh Hatcher (1-5) had the only extra-base hit. Ricky Vanasco reached nine (or more) strikeouts for the third time this year.

Low-A: Down East 5, Fayetteville (HOU) 1
Down East: 7 hits, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
Record: 30-28, 6.5 GB, 63-61 overall

SP Gavin Collyer: 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 79 P / 48 S, 4.63 ERA
RP Florencio Serrano: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 2.53 ERA
CF Marcus Smith: 2-3, 3 SB (45), .180/.331/.264
SS Cam Cauley: 1-3, BB, SB (37), .213/.314/.292
RF Yeison Morrobel: 2-3, 2B, BB

With six steals last night, Down East reached 295, surpassing last year’s 290. Up next: the all-time modern low-A record of 299 set by the 1991 Beloit Brewers.

Down East lacks a no-hitter like Hickory but has six games with just one or two allowed, plus 12 shutouts and 14 one-run games.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Allard
AA: Weems

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Down East split the make-up doubleheader with Buies Creek, requiring the Woodies to win both of the last two games to win the division. Hickory also split a twin bill and needed to win both remaining games and have West Virginia lose one. Spokane’s 3-2 win over Everett meant a win or Vancouver loss on the season’s final day would be enough to advance to the postseason. And the baby Rangers clinched the second-half division title earlier in the day when the Padres lost.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 1 September

Free Baseball
Last night’s Hickory-Aberdeen tilt was the MiLB.tv “free game of the day.” I don’t think I knew such a thing existed, or I would have mentioned it as a way for non-subscribers to take an occasional peek at Texas’s farm system. You didn’t miss much, as Aberdeen’s setup consists of three static, press-level cameras. Luckily, tonight’s free game is Frisco at Amarillo, which produces a top-notch feed. If interested, here’s the link to today’s games including Frisco. MiLB.com might make you create an account.

You probably know of Mike Capps, the voice of the Express in all their incarnations over the past 23 years. Capps and co-author Chuck Hartenstein have transformed their decades inside the game into Grinders: Baseball’s Intrepid Infantry. If you’re a serious fan of the game, you already know what a Grinder is, so no need to explain that. Capps and Hartenstein profiled over three dozen players and others who’ve made their lives in baseball, including several associated with the Rangers like Tom House, Darren Oliver, Chris Gimenez, Jeff Frye, Jim Adducci, Spencer Patton, and Jared Hoying. The link will give you a chance to see the intro and opening chapter.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, Oklahoma City (LAD) 0 (6)
Round Rock: 2 hits, 1 walk, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 69-57, 3 GB

SP Tyson Miller: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 7 SO, 100 P / 69 S, 4.50 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 5.48 ERA
LF Sandro Fabian: 1-2, HR (4), .220/.278/.500

Josh Jung was hitless with three strikeouts. 2020 29th-overall pick Bobby Miller went the abbreviated distance and fanned 14 for the Dodgers. He’s MLB.com’s #27 prospect. 97-99 FB, upper-80s SL and CH, 79-83 CB.

AA: Frisco 4, at Amarillo (ARI) 7
Frisco: 8 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Record: 29-24, 1 G up, 65-57 overall

SP Cody Bradford: 5.2 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 5 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 86 P / 60 S, 5.30 ERA
1B Blaine Crim: 2-3, HR (19), BB, .282/.352/.464

Cody Bradford walked just one and allowed a not-unreasonable six hits, but four were for extra bases. LF Trevor Hauver (1-3, BB) contributed Frisco’s only XBH aside from the Crim homer.

High-A: Hickory 3, at Aberdeen (BAL) 4
Hickory: 3 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 25-32, 10 GB, 63-60 overall

SP TK Roby: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 76 P / 49 S, 4.88 ERA
CF Daniel Mateo: 1-3, BB, SB (1)

I should mention it’s Penultimate Week for the A-level teams. The season ends on the 11th, so every starter  is making his next-to-last start. Roby’s was okay. He avoided homers, which are statistically his biggest problem in 2022 (roughly one per five innings). He’s struck out 114 against just 34 walks in 99.2 innings.

Low-A: Down East 4, Fayetteville (HOU) 7
Down East: 10 hits, 2 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 9 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 29-28, 7.5 GB, 62-61 overall

SP Emiliano Teodo: 3.2 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 2 R, 4 BB, 5 SO, 76 P / 42 S, 3.05 ERA
3B Miguel Villarroel: 2-4, 2 2B, .336/.414/.416

Emiliano Teodo threw more strikes but was nevertheless more walk-prone than last week’s four-inning, 11-K night.

I mentioned yesterday that 1B/C Liam Hicks had been slumming in rookie ball and had amassed 26 walks versus just 11 strikeouts in low-A. Later that day, word came he’d been promoted to Hickory.

Today’s Starters
AAA: TBD (maybe Kent)
AA: Englert
Hi-A: TBD (maybe Vanasco)
Lo-A: TBD (Collyer)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Spokane held a one-game led with two to play after losing in extras despite eight innings of two-run ball from Demarcus Evans. Rain postponded the opener of Down East’s deciding four-game series with Buies Creek. The Woodies needed to win three of four to nab the division title.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 31 August

The Rangers have recalled IF/OF Nick Solak and purchased the contract of RHP Jesus Tinoco from Round Rock. My half-apologetic roster expansion predictions during yesterday’s podcast were Solak and John King. Can’t believe The Ticket hasn’t offered me a drive-time slot with these hot takes.
Reliever Josh Sborz (elbow) was transferred to the 60-day IL to make room for Tinoco.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 7, Oklahoma City (LAD) 6
Round Rock: 9 hits, 7 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 68-57, 4 GB

SP Yerry Rodriguez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 40 P / 25 S, 4.76 ERA
RP Kyle Cody: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 2.08 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 5.73 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 4.35 ERA
CF Josh Smith: 1-3, 2 BB, .291/.398/.481
3B Josh Jung: 2-5, .311/.363/.635
LF Nick Solak: 2-4, 2 2B, BB, .278/.371/.489

Down a run in the 8th, pinch-hitter Yohel Pozo doubled home Sandro Fabian and chugged to third when ex-Ranger LF Jason Martin played footsie with the ball. Josh Smith singled to right to bring Pozo in. Nick Snyder fanned the side in order in the 9th.

The Express have used 13 pitchers the last two nights; none has thrown more than Grant Anderson’s 46 pitches on Tuesday.

Josh Jung continues to hit. In Round Rock, for the time being.

The Angels designated OF Steven Duggar for assignment. Duggar had been claimed by Los Angeles from the Rangers in early August, leaving Texas no return from the Willie Calhoun trade. (To be honest, I thought Calhoun might be traded for a marginal prospect or simply released, so getting someone who’d had some success in MLB exceeded my expectations.) Calhoun is hitting well for AAA Sacramento (.290/.388/.456) but hasn’t received a shot with the parent Giants even as their fortunes have dwindled.

AA: Frisco 16, at Amarillo (ARI) 10
Frisco: 17 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 29-23, 1 G up, 65-56 overall

SP Tim Brennan: 5 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 2 SO, 71 P / 47 S, 2.94 ERA
RP Triston Polley: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 3.16 ERA
3B Jonathan Ornelas: 3-5, BB, 2 SB (12), .295/.353/.423
RF Aaron Zavala: 2-5, HR (3), BB, SB (3), .397/.507/.638
2B Justin Foscue: 2-4, HR (12), 2 BB, .283/.365/.474
1B Blaine Crim: 3-6, 2 HR (18), .279/.349/.456
SS Luisangel Acuna: 2-4, HR (3), .247/.314/.441
DH Trevor Hauver: 1-3, HR (2), 2 BB, .172/.333/.414

In the 4th, Frisco hit four homers in a span of five batters. The intervening nonconformist was Justin Foscue, who had the gall to draw a four-pitch walk. Foscue would redeem himself for that misdeed with his own homer in the 9th. Even with that 4th-inning outburst, the Riders found themselves down 8-7 in the 7th, but they then pinned three threes to the board. Amarillo is no less crazypants for offense that the mountain-area Pacific Coast League cities.

Trevor Hauver is off to a Hickory-like start in AA: five hits, seven walks. Luisangel Acuna’s batting average has dropped 70 points compared to his time in Hickory, but he’s hitting for more power.

Frisco leads the division outright for the first time during the second half.

High-A: Hickory 1, at Aberdeen (BAL) 0 (7)
Hickory: 3 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 1 hit, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts

SP Josh Stephan: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 SO, 86 P / 55 S, 1.54 ERA
RP John Matthews: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.48 ERA
RF Angel Aponte: 1-2, HR (6), BB, .256/.343/.392
SS Chris Seise: 1-2, BB, SB (12), .259/.329/.408No no-hit drama, as Josh Stephan surrendered a single in the 4th, but drama nonetheless as the Crawdads maintained a one-run lead for six innings.

High-A: Hickory 5, at Aberdeen (BAL) 8 (7)
Hickory: 5 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 25-31, 10 GB, 63-59 overall

SP Robby Ahlstrom: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 30 P / 20 S, 5.74 ERA
RP Larson Kindreich: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 4.68 ERA
RP Spencer Mraz: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 5.43 ERA
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-3, HR (1), BB
LF Josh Hatcher: 2-3, 2B, .227/.292/.273

Stephan’s six earlier innings came in extra-handy when Robby Ahlstrom couldn’t escape the 1st.

Low-A: Down East 0, Fayetteville (HOU) 6
Down East: 6 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 29-27, 6.5 GB, 62-60 overall

SP Winston Santos: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 84 P / 57 S, 3.66 ERA
RP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3.12 ERA
1B Liam Hicks: 1-2, 2 BB, .273/.433/.409
DH Gleider Figuereo: 2-4

Liam Hicks has 26 walks and 11 strikeouts. Take that, Aaron Zavala. I don’t know much about Hicks aside from having expressed the opinion that he needed a low-A roster spot as soon as one became available, because he seemed far too advanced for the rookie league. Hicks, 23, was Texas’s ninth-round pick last year.

18 as of June, IF Gleider Figuereo singled twice in his low-A debut.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Miller
AA: Bradford
Hi-A: TBD (Englert’s turn but he’s gone)
Lo-A: TBD (Teodo)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Steven Bruce and Scott Williams combined for 12 scoreless innings in Down East’s 1-0 defeat of Wilmington to pull to 1.5 games behind Buies Creek.