Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 29 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 9, Albuquerque (COL) 8
Round Rock: 9 hits, 9 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 17-8, 2 GB

SP Cole Winn: 5.1 IP, 5 H (2 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 7 SO, 94 P / 54 S, 6.15 ERA
LF JP Martinez: 1-2, 3 BB, 2 SB (15), .351/.490/.519
1B Blaine Crim: 2-4, 2B, BB, .296/.390/.451
2B Justin Foscue: 2-3, 3B, BB, .241/.364/.434

Cole Winn struck out the opening side on 13 pitches (including five whiffs) before settling into something more reminiscent of 2022. After the 1st, only 53% of fastballs registered strikes, but 12 of 19 swings against them put a ball in play. (I wasn’t at the game and had family in town, so I had brief-at-best looks at Texas’s prospects yesterday.)

“Foscue turns on the jets,” proclaimed Round Rock’s social media account with video of Foscue’s first triple of the season. Including college, Foscue has three triples and To be blunt, Foscue’s jets are more like what you’d find in a jacuzzi than an F-16, but he’s batting .303/.410/.546 since his opening five hitless games.

DeGrom’s IL placement is terrible news, of course, but good for Yerry Rodriguez, who has pitched well and earned a chance to prove himself in Arlington. As I’ve mentioned, Rodriguez is on his final option year.  Maintaining a 40-man spot for a reliever not trusted to pitch in the Majors is borderline wasteful, so Rodriguez needs to stake his claim. Replacing him on the Express is lefty Joe Palumbo, I saw Palumbo in Surprise, and while he didn’t compare to his heyday, he certainly looked better than his injury-filled 2021-2022. Just staying healthy and contributing to a Triple A club would be a step forward.

AA: Frisco 4, at Amarillo (ARI) 11
Frisco: 8 hits, 7 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 11-9, 1 GB

SP Jack Leiter: 4 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 5 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 86 P / 52 S, 6.75 ERA
RP Antoine Kelly: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 2.35 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 3-4, 2B, BB, .348/.500/.561

Jack Leiter allowed four runs and expended 33 pitches in the 1st, but he survived to pitch three more relatively comfortable innings and retired his final seven batters consecutively. Fly balls in Amarillo’s thin air were the issue rather than walks. Two doubles, a single and homer accounted for the runs. Best as I can tell, Leiter struck out Jordan Lawlar on a 1-2 change in the 1st. I can’t say for sure because of the camera angle and my inexperience with seeing that pitch from him. So, that’s either a noteworthy development or he fanned Lawlar on a slider with a little screwball action. Either is fine.

Hi-A: Hickory 1, at Salem (CHW) 4 (7)
Hickory: 4 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Record: 10-7, tied for first

SP Kumar Rocker: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 9 SO, 71 P / 52 S, 3.63 ERA
DH Liam Hicks: 1-2, 2B, BB, .310/.444/.448
2B Frainyer Chavez: 1-1, 2 BB, .242/.409/.242

Kumar Rocker was nearly untouchable through four, allowing only a chopper that Rocker himself couldn’t snare. I’d mentally prepared to write something to the effect of Rocker’s slider being too good for high-A hitters. In the 5th, the Dash collected six hits, and none of the at-bats lasted over three pitches. Even so, Rocker’s slider really is better suited for AA competition, but I’m fine with him staying put to work on fastball command and development of a third and perhaps fourth pitch. There’s no hurry.

Hi-A: Hickory 2, Salem (CHW) 4 (7)
Hickory: 5 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 10-8, 3 G up

SP Mitch Bratt: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 50 P / 34 S, 2.31 ERA
SS Max Acosta: 1-2, BB, .316/.381/.474

The second game was the final makeup for the soaked opening weekend at Hickory. Mitch Bratt pitched for the first time in eight days and didn’t last long, but seven of eight outs were recorded via strikeout.

Lo-A: Down East 6, at Fayetteville (HOU) 3
Down East: 11 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 11-8, 1 GB

SP Seth Clark: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 0 SO, 18 P / 9 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Aidan Curry: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 2.76 ERA
RP Adrian Rodriguez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 2.25 ERA
2B Miguel Villarroel: 3-5, .255/.278/.373
LF Yosy Galan: 1-4, HR (3), .191/.321/.447
CF Jojo Blackmon: 2-4, 2B, SB (4), .132/.298/.342

After nine consecutive games of no greater than four runs and usually fewer, Down East has scored at least five in every game of the Fayetteville series. Frisco has the most prospect firepower, but the Woodies might be the most fun to watch when in form.

Today’s Starters
AAA: King
AA: White
Hi-A: Collyer

Five Years Ago Yesterday
“In a few days, the Rangers can recall [Willie Calhoun] without worrying about his service time allowing him to leave via free agency after 2023 instead of 2024.” I wrote that as a procedural matter rather than out of actual concern about his years-distant free agency, but wow, did that sentence age poorly. He’d reached safely in 21 of 24 games but sported a tepid .237/.311/.376 line.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 28 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 6, Albuquerque (COL) 5 (11)
Round Rock: 10 hits, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 16-8, 2 GB

SP Robert Dugger: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 89 P / 52 S, 5.19 ERA
RP Lucas Jacbosen: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.32 ERA
RP Justin Leone: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 1.59 ERA
LF Rafael Ortega: 2-6, 2B, HR (2), .229/.325/.371
DH JP Martinez: 2-4, HR (3), SB (13), .347/.473/.520

Albuquerque plated a runner in the top half of the 11th, but Rafael Ortega responded with a two-run homer.

OF Clint Frazier signed with the White Sox. The Rangers had released him earlier in the week. Ortega is who I expect the Rangers to call up if they need a different fourth/fifth outfielder.

AA: Frisco 12, at Amarillo (ARI) 6
Frisco: 12 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 10-9, 1 GB

SP Ryan Garcia: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 83 P / 50 S, 4.11 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Triston Polley: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 3.68 ERA
DH Luisangel Acuna: 3-5, 2B, .313/.356/.438
3B Thomas Saggese: 2-4, 2B, 3B, BB, .209/.267/.284
2B Jax Biggers: 1-2, HR (2), 3 BB, .161/.333/.290
C Scott Kapers: 2-5, HR (2), .324/.359/.647

The four games the Riders have played in this wackaloon environment already feels like a dozen, and they have 11 more this season. Frisco led 8-0 after the 1st and 12-0 through four, after which Amarillo once again initiated a comeback that fell short this time. Triston Polley made amends after being hammered in the Tuesday loss.

Last April was Thomas Saggese’s worst month of the season by a fair margin. Maybe he’s just a slow starter.

Lefty reliever Josh Smith has joined Frisco, while righty Ricky Devito was transferred to Arizona.

Hi-A: wet again

Four of seven scheduled contests between the Crawdads and Dash have been rained out. Like last night, this one won’t be rescheduled. They’ll attempt a doubleheader to make up a rainout from opening weekend.

Lo-A: Down East 7, at Fayetteville (HOU) 3
Down East: 10 hits, 4 walks, 15 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 4 walks, 16 strikeouts
Record: 10-8, 0.5 GB

SP Brock Porter: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 7 SO, 58 P / 33 S, 2.25 ERA
RP Jackson Kelley: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Jackson Leath: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1.42 ERA
2B Cam Cauley: 2-5, 3B, .200/.254/.309
1B Abi Ortiz: 2-4, HR (2), .277/.340/.447
DH Tucker Mitchell: 2-4, HR (1), .444/.543/.583
LF Jojo Blackmon: 1-3, HR (2), BB, .088/.279/.294
RF Yeison Morrobel: 2-5, SB (7), .170/.371/.170

Ignoring a jittery debut when he couldn’t clear the 1st, Porter has an 40% strikeout rate but still sports an 18% BB/HBP rate. While I haven’t seen enough this season to know how strong a role his changeup is playing, it struck me as a pitch that few low-A hitters would be able to manage. In the two innings I semi-watched last night, the announcers mentioned a fastball in the 94-95 range. In Surprise, I saw what was apparently a tired-armed outing, when he topped at 93 and sat 90-91.

Jojo Blackmon is on a curious quest to produce a solid OPS while batting under .100.

The Jacksons combined for two scoreless innings. Leath, 2021’s 12th-rounder out of Tennessee, allowed a memorable walk-off grand slam in his second pro outing last summer. This April, he’s limited opponents to a .182/.308/.273 line and kept the ball in the park.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Leiter
Hi-A: Kindreich / Mejia listed, but the two rainouts were of Bratt and Rocker

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Frisco relievers John Fasola and Adam Parks tossed scoreless innings in their first post-TJ appearances.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 27 April

Walk+HBP rates in the first month of full-season minor leagues:

Compared to just four years ago, every team is drawing an additional walk or HBP every game. Only two of 120 teams (AAA Memphis, Lo-A Ft. Myers) have a BB/HBP rate below 10%, which used to be the rule of thumb for average control. AAA Sacramento, which hosted Round Rock earlier, has the worst rate of 18.6% (7.5 per game).Anecdotally, while out in Surprise, I felt that games were dragging more than usual. Relievers struggled to find the plate, hitters kept taking, and fielders had their hands on their knees, waiting on a chance to interact with the proceedings.I hadn’t been there since 2019, so I couldn’t say for sure. Now I can. Control has been worse in the minors this season even compared to the immediate post-covid era.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, Albuquerque (COL) 8
Round Rock: 8 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 15-8, 2.5 GB

SP Kyle Cody: 4 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 64 P / 37 S, 6.35 ERA
RP Taylor Hearn: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 1.59 ERA
CF JP Martinez: 3-5, SB (12), .338/.472/.479
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 0-2, 3 BB, .231/.412/.277
1B Blaine Crim: 1-3, 2B, BB, .290/.389/.435

Jonathan Ornelas returned after a five-game absence.

JP Martinez’s 12 steals are only two behind last year’s total of 14 despite fewer than half as many AAA games. He’s reaching base, especially first base, far more frequently than in 2022.

Hitting hard matters, but so do angles. Kyle Cody didn’t surrender much at high speed, but eight balls hit at favorable angles resulted in a homer, four singles, and a sac fly. Statcast was tipsy last night, according him some changeups that exceeded his fastball speeds.

AA: Frisco 5, at Amarillo (ARI) 1
Frisco: 5 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 9-9, 1 GB

SP TK Roby: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 1 R, 1 BB, 8 SO, 77 P / 54 S, 5.79 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Antoine Kelly: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.70 ERA
1B Dustin Harris: 0-3, 2 BB, SB (6), .217/.400/.400
2B Jax Biggers: 1-3, HR (1), BB, .161/.333/.290

Can a middle reliever be a stopper? Grant Wolfram threw three scoreless innings following lead losses of six and ten runs the previous two nights.

Let’s farm out the TK Roby evaluation to the official player development account.

Hi-A: wet, cancelled

Hickory and W-S already had two makeups from opening weekend scheduled, so yesterday’s rainout is gone for good.

Lo-A: Down East 5, at Fayetteville (HOU) 2
Down East: 8 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 9-8, 1 GB

SP Dylan MacLean: 4.2 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 2 R, 4 BB, 3 SO, 72 P / 44 S, 4.15 ERA
RP Jose Corniell: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 4.20 ERA
DH Tucker Mitchell: 2-4, HBP, .438/.537/.500
RF Yeison Morrobel: 2-3, BB, SB (6), .143/.368/.143

Yeison Morrobel has drawn a walk or HBP in 11 of 14 games. Last night was his first multi-hit game; now, he’s seeking his first extra-base hit. Morrobel slugged .487 last year at the complex, so I expect he’ll get his share.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Dugger
AA: Garcia
Hi-A: Rocker listed. Mitch Bratt was rained out last night, but Rocker and Winston Santos have been on a steady schedule with others filling gaps.
Lo-A: Unlisted, but Friday has been Porter(house) night

Five Years Ago Yesterday
I had an almost-four-year-old daughter. Down East OF Leody Taveras reached four times and stole two bases. Mike Matuella’s ERA ballooned to 10.35 after seven scored in 1.2 innings.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 26 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 8, Albuquerque (COL) 2
Round Rock: 12 hits, 6 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Record: 15-7, 1 GB

SP Cody Bradford: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 76 P / 57 S, 0.64 ERA
RP Zack Littell: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
R JP Martinez: 1-3, 2 BB, .318/.464/.470
C Sam Huff: 3-5, .228/.308/.368
1B Blaine Crim: 2-3, HR (2), BB, .288/.382/.424

Another night, another magnificent Cody Bradford start. Fastballs accounted for 58% of Cody Bradford’s pitches, and seven of his ten swinging strikes were fastballs. The Isotopes swung at 26 but put only two in play.

I haven’t studied closely enough to say for sure, but last night contained more low-middle changeup locations than I’m used to seeing. The change isn’t a pure chase pitch — he will certainly throw it for strikes — but the concentration in that area seemed off. Am I being nitpicky? Yes, but I do think there’s going to come a day where he might actually allow multiple runs in one outing. Shocking, I know. Opponents are hitting only .183 when they make contact. That just can’t last.

In any case, Bradford is first in line for a rotation spot if a replacement is needed (despite his absence from the 40), and in most of the past dozen years, we’d probably be anticipating his MLB debut. Bradford has the misfortune of reaching maturity at the exact moment his club has its best top-to-bottom rotation in a long while. The likelihood of him replacing someone on the basis of effectiveness is close to zero. The “good” news is the operative word on the possibility of a rotation injury is more “when” than “if.” In the meantime, he just needs to press on.

Blaine Crim’s batted-ball data has been solid but very singles-oriented. Crim found the angle last night and moved a ball 417 feet through the air.

Zack Littell, a potential bullpen candidate, took care of the last seven outs on just 24 pitches, and he’s been darn near untouchable in 10.2 innings with Round Rock. His vertically oriented repertoire includes a riding fastball, slider, and occasional splitter. Littell’s fastball has averaged 92.7 MPH, down 1.5 from last year. His control is solid but homers have been a serious problem in the Majors.

AA: Frisco 11, at Amarillo (ARI) 12
Frisco: 10 hits, 10 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 7 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 8-9, 2 GB

SP Nick Krauth: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 63 P / 39 S, 2.12 ERA
RP Hever Bueno: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
2B Luisangel Acuna: 2-6, 2B, .320/.366/.453
LF Dustin Harris: 1-4, 2B, 2 BB, .228/.400/.421
DH Kellen Strahm: 2-5, BB, .155/.269/.190
SS Chris Seise: 2-4, BB, .324/.444/.541
C Scott Kapers: 1-5, HR (2), .313/.351/.656

Frisco lost a six-run lead Tuesday night, and as I exited the Dell Diamond last night, I saw that Amarillo had shaved three runs off Frisco’s 10-1 advantage. “Here we go again,” I half-joked. When I got home, I pulled up the box score, and… whew. Amarillo scored seven in the 8th off Ricky Devito (0.1 IP, 6 runners) and John Matthews (0.0 IP, two singles and an error on Luisangel Acuna). Marc Church stranded two runners and worked a clean 9th, but Jordan Lawlar singled in the gift-runner to lead off the 10th.

These things happen, especially in Amarillo, which serves as an an introduction to the AAA Pacific Coast League.

Evan Carter drew three walks.

Chris Seise batted .246/.319/.384 last year in high-A Hickory, not the kind of showing that insisted upon promotion, but Seise is 24 and in his seventh pro season. Unexpectedly, April is going to be the best month of his pro career. After years of hideous injury luck, is he finally establishing himself as a prospect? I don’t really know. Seise has a 36% strikeout rate but is batting .571 and slugging .952 when he makes contact. That seems untenable. For the time being, I just want to enjoy his success, and we’ll see how he proceeds.

Hi-A: Hickory 4, at Salem (CHW) 0
Hickory: 8 hits, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 0 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 10-6, 1 GB

SP Josh Stephan: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 8 SO, 80 P / 55 S, 0.50 ERA
RP Andy Rodriguez: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.25 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1.29 ERA
RF Alejandro Osuna: 2-3, 2 2B, BB, SB (5), .289/.491/.395
CF Daniel Mateo: 1-3, HR (2), .263/.271/.439
LF Marcus Smith: 1-2, 2 BB, 2 SB (4), .125/.382/.125

Josh Stephan: Cody Bradford in training? Stephan throws a little harder and relies more on his slider, but emphasis on strike-throwing and command is similar. Stephan signed as a free agent in 2020 out of South Grand Prairie.

I’ve seen Alejandro Osuna’s daffy line before. From early May through early June last year at Down East, he batted .290/.443/.461 with more walks than strikeouts. He has a good sense of the strike zone and ought to develop more power. Osuna stole 34 bases last year but was caught 18 times. Out in Surprise, he looked bigger to me than his listed 185 pounds. Expecting the steals to diminish isn’t unreasonable, although he’s contradicting that idea so far with five successes versus zero caught in 13 games.

Lo-A: Down East 8, at Fayetteville (HOU) 5
Down East: 5 hits, 10 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 6 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 8-8, 1 GB

SP Josh Gessner: 5 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 76 P / 45 S, 1.32 ERA
RF Abi Ortiz: 1-4, HR (1), BB, .256/.333/.372
SS Danyer Cueva: 1-3, BB, SB (2), .240/.250/.340
DH Andres Mesa: 2-2, 2B, 2 BB

I mentioned yesterday that Danyer Cueva hadn’t drawn a walk this season. He has now, taking one with the bases-loaded early in the afternoon as a finished typing yesterday’s report. Josh Gessner, part of the Gibson/Kennedy trade, is off to a nice start, albeit with continued below-average control (13% BB/HBP rate). Hans Crouse, also part of that trade, is back in action for AAA Lehigh Valley after missing most of 2022. He’s posted a 2.89 ERA despite two homers and seven walks in 9.1 innings.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Cody
AA: Roby
Hi-A: Bratt

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Jonathan Hernandez struck out nine and walked three but needed only 90 pitches to complete seven innings for high-A Down East.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 25 April

So you want a new reliever? Let’s check out some candidates. First, from the 40:

Taylor Hearn has been fine if not exceptional. I expect he’d be better than the two outings that resulted in assignment to Round Rock, but whether he’d inspire confidence or queasiness is uncertain.

John King has shown good control but has been hit pretty hard, although most of the balls in play haven’t amounted to more than singles.

Joe Barlow’s opponents are hitting only .050/.050/.100 with a 25% K rate. His opposing average on balls in play is an impossibly low 0.67, but at every level including the Majors, Barlow has posted a low BABIP. Might as well not argue about regression at this point. His fastball still lags behind its 2021-2022 rate, averaging 92.6 overall and 93.1 in his most recent outing.

Yerry Rodriguez has been terrific. Only one dubious outing out of seven, a .121/.211/.152 line with a 37% strikeout rate, more swinging strikes with the fastball than last year, a ridiculously low (and surely unmaintainable) median exit velocity of 76 MPH.

Off the 40, Zack Littell (8.1 IP, five runners, 11 strikeouts) has been the best of the experienced offseason signings. But let’s talk about a potential home-grown option: Chase Lee.

Lee has a 1.54 ERA. Opponents are hitting only .209/.277/.279 with a 34% strikeout rate. He’s averaging nearly seven batters per outing, so he’s not a one-inning-and-done type. Call him up now, yes? Well, maybe.

Lee throws an upper-80s sinking fastball with varying degrees of run and a low-80s sweepy slider. Despite the high K rate, his swinging strike rate is an ordinary 11%, and last year’s in AAA was only 9%.

Despite a less than overpowering arsenal, batters hate swinging against him, perhaps because his fastball runs more like a reverse slider, and minor league hitters strongly prefer to attack a more mundane heater. Lee has a 25% called strike rate, highest on the team. Observe the take rate against him compared to all pitchers in Round Rock’s games so far:

21 of 47 batters have taken the first three pitches against Lee. He’s not running up a bunch of 3-0 counts. His walk rate is 6%, and his strike rate is 65%. Many hitters are napping their way into 1-2 counts and then taking groggy hacks at a slider with 15 inches of horizontal break.

The question is whether this translates to the Majors. I can’t imagine hitters will be that passive against someone who throws low-in-the-zone fastballs at 88-91 MPH. Lee works both sides of the plate, but his pitches sometimes tend to run in a worryingly narrow vertical range. Lee has endured two poor stretches as a pro, once closing out 2021 (he looked tired) and upon promotion to AAA. Fortunately, both were short, but during those periods, opponents were hitting off a tee.

Lee’s going to get a shot, and while I wouldn’t quite call him a finished product, he’s pretty much who he’s going to be. I don’t know if that shot should be now. If a change is coming, I’d be inclined to take Barlow or Rodriguez. Rodriguez is on his last option, and, somewhat like Josh Sborz, the Rangers need to decide whether he has a future in Arlington. Might as well take a chance while he’s hot. Regardless, the Rangers don’t have a anyone in AAA just sitting there waiting to dominate high-leverage situations in Arlington. He’d be a Ranger already. Texas’s bullpen is pretty blah overall, actualized in the form of three weeks of over-their-head performance and three days of mayhem. Any change effected by a call-up will be marginal.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, Albuquerque (COL) 3
Round Rock: 11 hits, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 17 strikeouts
Record: 14-7, 1.5 GB

SP John King: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 41 P / 24 S, 2.38 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1.54 ERA
RP Yerry Rodriguez: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1.93 ERA
3B Justin Foscue: 2-5, .254/.376/.451
1B Yoshi Tsutsugo: 3-5, 2B, 3B, .298/.437/.456

Round Rock won on a bases-loaded HBP near midnight after an 82-minute rain delay.

Texas released OF Clint Frazier. Frazier was batting .250/.350/.442, far better than last year in AAA, but he wasn’t really standing out and lacks a tool that might make him a bench asset. Texas also released lefty Bernardo Flores Jr. after three walk-filled appearances.

AA: Frisco 7, at Amarillo (ARI) 9
Frisco: 10 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 8-8, 1 GB

SP Owen White: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 83 P / 59 S, 2.89 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-5, HR (4), .380/.516/.640
LF Dustin Harris: 1-3, 2 BB, SB (5), .226/.391/.415

Another solid outing from White in the toughest destination for AA pitchers. Unfortunately, an attempt at more than six innings played out like the parent club’s issues the last two nights. Up 7-1, White allowed a single and his only walk (on four pitches) to open the 7th and was replaced by Tristen Polley, who retired one of four batters. High-leverage reliever Nick Starr fanned Jordan Lawler with a nasty righty-righty change but surrendered a game-tying homer in the 7th plus another homer and triple off the wall in the 8th.

In the lineup for the first time since a Friday HBP, Evan Carter homered.

Hi-A: Hickory 2, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 3 (7)
Hickory: 8 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

SP Winston Santos: 5 IP, 7 H (1 HR), 3 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 84 P / 55 S, 5.21 ERA
RF Alejandro Osuna: 2-2, BB, .257/.472/.314
C Liam Hicks: 2-3, .304/.448/.435
LF Marcus Smith: 1-2, BB, SB (2), .091/.333/.091

Hi-A: Hickory 2, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 5 (7)
Hickory: 8 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 9-6, 2 GB

SP Gavin Collyer: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 6 SO, 85 P / 55 S, 5.68 ERA
RP Robby Ahlstrom: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 4.91 ERA
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, 2B, SB (2), .259/.273/.389
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 2-3, 2B, .298/.313/.383

Winston Santos is why I tack HBPs onto control stats. He’s walked only four in 13 innings for an excellent 6% rate, but he’s hit six, so his combined BB/HBP rate is a not-so-excellent 16%. He plunked 12 last year in 108 innings. Pedro Payano would approve.

In the second game, Hickory played as home team in the makeup of an opening-weekend contest. 

Lo-A: Down East 8, at Fayetteville (HOU) 1
Down East: 11 hits, 9 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 7-8, 2 GB

SP Joseph Montalvo: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 68 P / 43 S, 2.77 ERA
RP Luis Ramirez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3.86 ERA
RF Yeison Morrobel: 1-3, 3 BB, SB (5), .103/.340/.103
C Ian Moller: 1-5, HR (1), .250/.308/.444
CF Anthony Gutierrez: 2-3, BB, SB (5), .311/.360/.400
2B Cam Cauley: 2-5, SB (4), .163/.200/.256
SS Danyer Cueva: 2-5, 2 2B, .234/.229/.340
LF Jojo Blackmon: 0-2, 3 BB, SB (3), .065/.256/.194

Runs! By Down East!

The Wood Ducks have some flaky lines in the early going. Yeison Morrobel isn’t striking out excessively but has only four hits versus 13 walks. Jojo Blackmon: two hits, eight walks. Meanwhile, Danyer Cueva still seeks his first free pass and has an OBP below his batting average. Pretty all-around is young Anthony Gutierrez.

According to the Rangers themselves, 20-year-old Joseph Montalvo’s whiff rate (misses / swings) on sliders was 50%. Born in Puerto Rico, Montalvo attended high school in Florida and was Texas’ final pick of the 2021 draft.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Bradford
AA: Krauth
Hi-A: Stephan
Lo-A: Gessner

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Hickory’s Tyler Phillips threw a seven-inning complete game on just 70 pitches. Joe Barlow whiffed four in two scoreless in the other half of the doubleheader.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 23 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, at Sacramento (SFO) 1
Round Rock: 10 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Record: 13-7, 1.5 GB

SP Cole Winn: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 83 P / 61 S, 6.00 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 1-4, 2B, BB, .242/.375/.455
C Sam Huff: 1-3, BB, .192/.283/.346
LF Clint Frazier: 3-4, 2B, HR (1), .250/.350/.442

By game score, yesterday was Cole Winn’s best AAA start since last June and third-best of 32 at the level. Notably, Winn completely ignored his slider and new cutter for a third straight outing. He’s also reduced, if not eliminated, the righty-righty changeup, leaving the curve as the near-exclusive secondary against right-handed batters. As far as I know, the slider has been part of his repertoire since before he was drafted, and while it’s graded behind the curve, it is by no means a “show me” pitch. Winn threw more sliders than curves in 2022 and had a 16% swinging strike rate, higher than any other pitch. We’ll see whether this is more workshopping (Winn has occasionally de- and re-emphasized particular pitches) or a perhaps permanent effort to improve control and command through simplification.

AA: Frisco 6, Arkansas (SEA) 3
Frisco: 7 hits, 4 walks, 15 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 9 walks, 18 strikeouts
Record: 8-7, tied for first

SP Jack Leiter: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 5 SO, 76 P / 41 S, 5.63 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Justin Slaten: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA
DH Luisangel Acuna: 2-4, 2 SB (5), .323/.366/.462
LF Dustin Harris: 2-3, 2B, 3B, HBP, SB (4), .220/.375/.420

Jack Leiter walked three and retired one batter in a 30-pitch 3rd.

The good news is Leiter has raised his strikeout rate to an impressive 31% compared to last year’s 25%. The bad news is everything else. A lower strike rate, more walks, more pitches per inning, a .447/.596/.816 opposing line when the batter doesn’t strike out (league average is .351/.462/.572).

What to do? I don’t know. I’m the guy you call when you need an appraisal of a landfill or a property with a construction defect or contamination. An easy task relative to fixing a pitcher. Is Hickory an option? Perhaps, but to what end? Leiter’s statistical performance would almost certainly improve. Batters would chase more and create less damage on contact. That would be a confidence boost, I suppose, but Leiter’s fundamental issue isn’t lack of trust in his stuff. I’d choose Arizona over Hickory if a reassignment is under consideration.

Dustin Harris had two three-strikeout games in 2022. He had three against Arkansas last week. Yesterday snapped a four-game hitless streak. Conversely, Luisangel Acuna hit .360/.407/.600 in the series.

Hi-A: Hickory 4, Bowling Green (TAM) 0
Hickory: 7 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 7 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 9-4, tied for first

SP Larson Kindreich: 3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 SO, 53 P / 26 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Juan Mejia: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
CF Daniel Mateo: 1-4, HR (1), .234/.250/.362
DH Liam Hicks: 2-4, HR (1)

Hickory took five of six from the 2021 and 2022 league champions and outscored them 41-20. Of course, nearly all of the personnel from those title-winning squads have moved on, but the Rays still have a highly regarded system. Hickory leads the league with 3.5 runs per game allowed despite ranking 11th of 12 teams in strikeout rate. The Crawdads trail only one team in walks and homers allowed.

Larson Kindreich walked three in 3.1 innings and missed on over half of his pitches, but he averaged only 15.9 pitches per inning while holding the Hot Rods hitless and scoreless.

Lo-A: Down East 2, Carolina (MIL) 3 (7)
Down East: 3 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts

SP Aidan Curry: 5 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 79 P / 51 S, 2.84 ERA
RP Jackson Kelley: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
C Tucker Mitchell: 1-2, BB, HBP,

Lo-A: Down East 3, Carolina (MIL) 4 (7)
Down East: 6 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 6-8, 2 GB

SP Ivan Oviedo: 3.1 IP, 4 H (2 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 66 P / 39 S, 9.35 ERA
RP Dylan McCarty: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA
LF Yosy Galan: 1-2, 2B, BB, .194/.324/.452

The Woodies scored 16 runs in the six-game series and were shut out in the final two games of the previous week. Tucker Mitchell (.500/.581/.583 in eight games) and Anthony Gutierrez (.286/.333/.381) are the most notable outliers. This week, Down East heads to Houston-affiliated Fayetteville, which in typical fashion is walking everyone in sight but great at missing bats.

Aidan Curry has fanned 19 of 51 batters (37%). He signed out of high school despite being ignored in the five-round 2020 draft.

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Frisco lost its 11th straight. Texas released pitchers Joe Filomeno and James Dykstra from AA, replaced by OF Austin O’Banion and pitcher Werner Leal, neither of whom had played full-season ball. I told y’all that 2023’s “five years ago” segment would be a challenge.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 22 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, at Sacramento (SFO) 3
Round Rock: 6 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 12-7, 1.5 GB

SP Robert Dugger: 5 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 1 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 69 P / 46 S, 6.39 ERA
RP Joe Barlow: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 0.00 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 2-4, HR (3), .242/.373/.452

Down 3-1 in the 9th, Justin Foscue led with a solo homer. The Express would load the bases with one out. Matt Whatley struck out, and catcher Ricardo Genoves threw to second with Davis Wendzel well off the base. Runner-on-third Yoshi Tsutsugo broke for home as Wendzel manufactured a rundown but was tagged at the plate for the final out.

Tsutsugo has started two straight games at third. He hadn’t played there since 2020.

AA: Frisco 1, Arkansas (SEA) 3
Frisco: 3 hits, 7 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 7-7, tied for first

SP Ryan Garcia: 4 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 78 P / 41 S, 3.27 ERA
RP Marc Church: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 2.70 ERA
RF Trevor Hauver: 0-1, 2 BB, HBP, .184/.380/.289

Evan Carter did not play. CF Kellen Strahm reached twice on walks, stole a base, and scored Frisco’s only run in the leadoff spot.

Ryan Garcia is in “hard to hit but hit hard” mode so far: opponents are only 7-for-39 but with three homers and a double.

Frisco has outscored the opposition by two runs per game but is in a four-way tie for first at 7-7. The Riders have scored at least seven runs in all the wins but no more than three in the losses.

Unretired reliever Hever Bueno is active for Frisco. Reliever Grant Anderson has returned to Round Rock.

Hi-A: Hickory 5, Bowling Green (TAM) 3
Hickory: 4 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 8-4, tied for first

SP Kumar Rocker: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 74 P / 44 S, 2.19 ERA
RP Leury Tejeda: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 5.06 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1.50 ERA
LF Jayce Easley: 0-1, 3 BB, SB (5), .244/.354/.341
SS Max Acosta: 3-4, 2B, SB (4), .356/.396/.556

Rocker fanned eight batters for the second time in three starts. Per Mark Parker, Rocker missed 14 bats: seven on fastballs, five or six on sliders, and one or two on changeups. He threw first-pitch balls to 11 of 18 batters. Results of those were mixed: both walks, a double, but also five of his seven strikeouts.

Max Acosta’s single and double in the first two innings plated three. Acosta’s gaudy slash stats aren’t unprecedented. He batted .349/.411/.546 last July.

Lo-A: wet

Two today.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Leiter
Hi-A: Kindreich
Lo-A: Curry / TBD

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Frisco fell to 3-13 with a tenth straight loss. Starter Brett Martin struck out nine and walked none in five innings but allowed a homer and four runs.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 21 April

Condolences to Jamey Newberg on the loss of his father. He posted his eulogy on his Facebook account. I was able to access it even after logging out of FB, so even if you’re not Facebook friends with him or lack an account, you might be able to read it through this twitter link.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, at Sacramento (SFO) 7
Round Rock: 10 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 6 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 12-6, 0.5 GB

SP Kyle Cody: 3.2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 62 P / 41 S, 5.54 ERA
CF JP Martinez: 2-5, 2B, SB (9), .353/.484/.549
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 3-4, BB, .238/.400/.286
C Sam Huff: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, .184/.268/.347

27-year-old JP Martinez is off to a great start backed by across-the-board improvement in the statcast metrics. I’m not expecting a 1.000+ OPS to hold up, but he really is hitting the ball harder. I also hadn’t been thinking of him as a possible depth for the big club and I’m not really now, but I’m thinking of thinking about it.

Jonathan Ornelas is getting more hits to bolster his 20% walk rate. He’s never posted a full-season rate above 9%.

AA: Frisco 13, Arkansas (SEA) 5 (completed from Thursday)
Frisco: 12 hits, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 7 walks, 6 strikeouts

SP Nick Krauth: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 52 P / 35 S, 2.08 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 1-3, BB, HBP, .378/.525/.600
SS Luisangel Acuna: 3-4, 2B, HR (3), .316/.355/.474
3B Thomas Saggese: 2-4, 2B, .213/.269/.319
LF Chris Seise: 2-4, HR (2)
C David Garcia: 2-3, BB

AA: Frisco 1, Arkansas (SEA) 7 (7)
Frisco: 4 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 7-6, tied for first

SP TK Roby: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 79 P / 51 S, 7.24 ERA

Scout’s honor: when I looked at the schedule yesterday, the suspended game showed as a Saturday completion. Instead, they played last night.

Evan Carter was hit by a pitch late in the first game. It didn’t look bad, and he stayed in, but his absence in the second game prompted some anxious texting and tweeting. He’s fine. “An abundance of caution,” etc.

Luisangel Acuna clubbed a grand slam in the opener. Years ago, it might have disappeared because of rain that halted the contest before 4.5 innings, but at some point the powers that be (who I sometimes malign, but not this time) wisely said “replaying minor league games from scratch is ridiculous, just pick it up tomorrow.”

Hi-A: Hickory 16, Bowling Green (TAM) 4
Hickory: 8 hits, 18 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 7-4, 1 GB

SP Mitch Bratt: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 78 P / 47 S, 3.00 ERA
RP Spencer Mraz: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.84 ERA
DH Max Acosta: 2-4, BB, .317/.364/.512
1B Josh Hatcher: 2-2, 2 BB, SB (4), .317/.364/.512
C Cody Freeman: 2-6, 2B, BB

In addition to those above:
SS Frainyer Chavez: hitless with two walks
RF Alejandro Osuna and 2B Griffin Cheney: hitless with three walks
CF Marcus Smith: hitless with four walks

Hickory drew 18 walks. No hit batsmen, but Bowling also served up five wild pitches, a passed ball, and three errors. Catcher Nate Soria was the only of six Hot Rod pitchers to avoid a walk; he pitched a one-run 9th.

Lo-A: Down East 4, Carolina (MIL) 3
Down East: 7 hits, 2 walks, 16 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 6-6, 0.5 GB

SP Brock Porter: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 SO, 64 P / 36 S, 3.38 ERA
RP Florencio Serrano: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Matt Brosky: 3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 3.00 ERA
CF Anthony Gutierrez: 2-4, .308/.341/.410
LF Yosy Galan: 1-4, HR (2)

During a five-game losing streak plus eight inning of last night, Down East scored eight runs. Down 3-1 with two out and two on in the 9th, Yosy Galan plated three with one game-ending swing.

Brock Porter combined elements of his first two starts, loading up on both walks and strikeouts. Of 36 batters faced, he’s fanned 12 and walked or hit nine, leaving his defense as spectators nearly 60% of the time.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Dugger
AA: Garcia
Hi-A: Rocker
Lo-A: TBD (Curry and/or bullpen is my guess)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Five minutes ago today, an assignment I’ve been working on since August 2020 settled [takes a sip of the nice tequila]. Five years ago yesterday, Round Rock’s game at Colorado Springs had a mid-game 30-minute fog delay

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 20 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, at Sacramento (SFO) 1
Round Rock: 4 hits, 8 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 12-5, 0.5 GB

SP Cody Bradford: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 81 P / 56 S, 0.77 ERA
RP John King: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 3.00 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-5, 2B, .203/.373/.254
1B Blaine Crim: 1-2, 2 BB, .273/.385/.364

Cody Bradford went out and did Cody Bradford things. Six swinging strikes on fastballs in a range of 88.7 to 90.4 MPH. Four more on secondaries. To be clear, that fastball is a straightforward four, not a bowling-ball two-seamer, and it tends to work high, as evidenced by this graphic of last night’s whiffs.

Blaine Crim and Yoshi Tsutsugo scored on a Jonathan Ornelas double in the 7th. Appropriately, Crim and Tsutsugo walked. Sacramento has a 20% BB/HBP rate and opposing OBP of .416, both worst in minor league ball.

Crim’s rates of hard hits and good velo/angle combinations are solid overall, but what’s missing so far are any balls I classify as likely homers. He’s hit two in the “maybe a homer” group, one of which did leave the yard.

AA: suspended

Frisco leads 9-0 after four. They’ll resume Saturday.

Hi-A: Hickory 5, Bowling Green (TAM) 1
Hickory: 0 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 6-4, 1 GB

SP Josh Stephan: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 SO, 83 P / 58 S, 0.75 ERA
2B Jayce Easley: 3-4, SB (3)
DH Josh Hatcher: 1-3, HR (2), BB, SB (3)

Seven-inning starts are rare in the lower levels, especially in April, but averaging 12 pitches per inning can get you there. Per longtime Crawdads’ follower/reporter/scorer/etc. Mark Parker, Stephan didn’t throw many fastballs, missed 14 bats, and had first-pitch strikes to 19 of 26 batters.

Entering the season, 2018 5th-rounder Jayce Easley had reached 163 times on hits and 163 times on combined walks/HBPs.

Lo-A: Down East 3, Carolina (MIL) 8
Down East: 6 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 5-6, 1 GB

SP Jose Corneill: 4 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 5 R, 4 BB, 4 SO, 81 P / 46 S, 5.73 ERA
CF Anthony Gutierrez: 2-4, HR (1)
DH Yosy Galan: 2-2, 2B, HR (1), 2 BB

Anthony Gutierrez (.286/.324/.400) has his first full-season homer and fifth of his young career. Two walks are far more unlikely than a homer from Yosy Galan.

Down East has scored seven runs during a five-game losing streak.

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Hickory’s AJ Alexy walked four in 3.1 innings and had nine in 11.1 for the season. Alexy never had good control, but it improved enough for him to reach MLB in 2021. He backslid last year, and his time as a Charlotte Knight (CHW AAA) is going exceptionally poorly: 13 walks, a hit batter and two homers in seven innings.

Alexy and Nick Solak were teammates for two days, but Solak never appeared for the Knights and may not have even joined the team for all I know. Solak has been DFA’ed three times in a span of 17 days. For the moment, he’s a Gwinnett Striper.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 19 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 7, at Sacramento (SFO) 3
Round Rock: 10 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 11-5, 0.5 GB

SP Chase Lee: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 38 P / 25 S, 1.86 ERA
RP Zack Littell: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
CF Jonathan Ornelas: 1-4, BB, .185/.371/.222
2B Justin Foscue: 2-5, 2B, .255/.387/.451
3B Blaine Crim: 2-4, BB, .262/.354/.357

Blaine Crim has started five games at third. That represents half of his ten non-DH starts in 2023 and half of his career ten starts at that position. Not what I expected.

Jonathan Ornelas made his first outfield start of the season. He played CF four times in 2022 and 27 the year before. A Josh Smith-esque super-utlility role is likely what he’s working toward.

Chase Lee isn’t being converted to starting. Or at least, I think not. Round Rock has a five-plus-bullpen rotation.

AA: Frisco 9, Arkansas (SEA) 5
Frisco: 12 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 6-5, tied for first

SP Owen White: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 77 P / 50 S, 2.13 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1.93 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-5, .381/.519/.619
2B Luisangel Acuna: 2-4, 2 2B, BB, SB (3), .306/.352/.408
1B Dio Arias: 2-4, 2 HR (2)
SS Chris Seise: 1-4, HR (1)

It’s early, but one thing to eye is Owen White’s strikeouts. His rate of 15.7% ranks 59th of 72 Texas League pitchers with at least six innings, and his swinging strike rate of 8.9% is 56th. Last year’s rates in AA were 27% strikeouts and 16% swinging strikes. White was slowed by a minor injury in Spring Training.

I mentioned yesterday that Carter had seen to most pitches in AA. Now in second: Dustin Harris.

Hi-A: Hickory 8, Bowling Green (TAM) 7
Hickory: 11 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 7 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 5-4, 2 GB

SP Winston Santos: 3.2 IP, 6 H (2 HR), 7 R, 2 BB, 3 HBP, 3 SO, 82 P / 52 S, 5.79 ERA
RP Robby Ahlstrom: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 6.75 ERA
RP Andy Rodriguez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 3.38 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2.25 HBP, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
2B Jayce Easley: 2-4, 2B, BB
RF Alejandro Osuna: 2-4, 2B, BB
1B Josh Hatcher: 3-4, BB

Hickory chipped away at a five-run deficit in the final four innings. In the 9th, walks by Josh Hatcher and Daniel Mateo preceded a game-ending single from Cody Freeman. The Crawdad bullpen kept the Hot Rods off the board despite nine runners.

The early monster at the plate is Hatcher: .424/.472/.606 in eight games. He’s in his first full pro season but is already 24, having signed at a steep discount as a 10th-round college senior. That is to say, posting gaudy numbers is conducive to his employment.

Lo-A: Down East 2, Carolina (MIL) 5
Down East: 8 hits, 1 walk, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 5-5, 0.5 GB

SP Leandro Lopez: 3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 68 P / 40 S, 2.84 ERA
RP Josh Gessner: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 0.00 ERA
CF Jojo Blackmon: 1-3, HR (1), BB
C Tucker Mitchell: 3-3, 2B, SB (1)
LF Yosy Galan: 2-4

Leandro Lopez started much of 2022 in the Dominican Republic but rarely worked through two orders of batters. Jojo Backmon is famed for speed but has more pop than you might think. He clubbed nine homers in 54 rookie-level games last year.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Bradford
AA: Krauth
Hi-A: Stephan
Lo-A: TBD (maybe Corneill)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Jonathan Hernandez allowed two solo homers but nothing else in a 6-5 victory for high-A Down East. Sam Huff hit three doubles for low-A Hickory.