Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 30 May

Grant Anderson’s seven strikeouts in his MLB debut were his most since his final game as a McNeese State Cowboy in May 2018. He’d fanned six twice as a professional, most recently last year in AA.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, Sugar Land (HOU) 5
Round Rock: 4 hits, 10 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 27-24, 10.5 GB

SP Robert Dugger: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 85 P / 54 S, 4.50 ERA
RP Spencer Howard: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 0-1, 3 BB, SB (6), .275/.394/.483
3B Davis Wendzel: 1-3, HR (9), BB, .253/.378/.513

In Round Rock on rehab, Spencer Howard provided evidence of a healed lat. Two strong innings included a fastball that topped at 96.6 MPH, only 0.3 slower than his speediest AAA pitch last year. I understand that some of you might have forgotten the name and resent the reminder, but this isn’t 2022. No rotation spot awaits. No discussion of recapturing the potential he showed in 2020 is forthcoming. He’s just whoever he is now, and other than the advantage of a 40 spot, he’s just one of several fighting for a bullpen role. Last night was a nice first step toward setting himself apart.

Davis Wendzel’s hard-hit rate (95+ MPH) was 29% in 2022. Entering the Albuquerque series, it was 34%. Now, 41%. He leads the team with 13% of balls in play that have a decent shot at leaving the yard.

Grant Wolfram and Chase Lee combined to walk or hit five consecutive batters in the 9th, reversing a one-run lead.

AA: Frisco 2, San Antonio (SDG) 9
Frisco: 4 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 10 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 20-25, 3.5 GB

SP Ryan Garcia: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 80 P / 51 S, 6.82 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 1-3, 2B, BB, .284/.416/.400
RF Aaron Zavala: 1-1, BB, HBP, .265/.409/.353
LF Dustin Harris: 1-3, BB, .228/.367/.401

Nobody will celebrate the end of May more than Evan Carter, who’s hitting .235/.337/.282 this month.

Hi-A: Hickory 5, at Greenville (BOS) 1
Hickory: 8 hits, 9 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
Record: 17-25, 8 GB

SP Mitch Bratt: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 76 P / 49 S, 2.97 ERA
RP Robbie Ahlstrom: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 7.88 ERA
RP Winston Santos: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 5.20 ERA
RF JP Martinez: 0-1, 2 BB
C Tucker Mitchell: 2-3, 2B, 2 BB
2B Keyber Rodriguez: 2-4, 2B, SB (11), .278/.338/.357

Mitch Bratt continues to pitch well and display terrific control. Winston Santos unexpectedly appeared in relief last night.

JP Martinez is on rehab for a groin pull.

Lo-A: Down East 3, Columbia (KAN) 0
Down East: 9 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts
Record: 24-19, 0.5 GB

SP Jose Corniell: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 70 P / 47 S, 2.78 ERA
RP Dylan MacLean: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 2.93 ERA
LF Yosy Galan: 2-4, .237/.331/.441
SS Cam Cauley: 2-4, 2B, SB (11), .250/.307/.391
DH Tommy Specht: 3-4

I saw Jose Corniell in Kinston last May. At the time, he offered a 90-94 MPH fastball with good run, an upper-70s curves, and a slider and change used less frequently. Still in low-A, Corniell has greatly improved his control, dropping his walk/HBP rate nearly in half.

18-year-old Tommy Specht hit three singles in his full-season debut. He’s last year’s sixth-rounder.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Marvel / TBD
AA: Leiter
Hi-A: Acker

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Barely over two months since wowing onlookers with his stuff if not his command in Surprise, Mike Matuella was pulled from the high-A rotation with a 9.17 ERA and peripherals to match. He would never start again. Matuella’s control was passable, but what he threw in the zone tended to be hit very hard.

I told y’all 2018 would be a downer.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 28 May

This morning, the Rangers purchased the contract of righty Grant Anderson and designated RHP Ricky Vanasco for assignment. Anderson has spent most of the season in AAA Round Rock plus a few innings in Frisco, producing a 3.54 ERA in 28 innings with a 14% BB/HBP rate and a gargantuan 41% strikeout rate. He’s not an especially hard throwing averaging 91.5 with a fastball and 83 with a slider. With Anderson’s side-armed delivery, the fastball has a ton of movement and effectively operates like another breaker. The slider draws the most praise, but he misses bats equally with both and has a team-high 18% swinging strike rate in AAA. Opponents are hitting .182/.293/.343 against him, and he escaped Albuquerque without a run against him in 3.2 innings.

In March 2019 in Surprise, I filmed Anderson before he became a Ranger, as by coincidence he’d pitched against several Texas hitting prospects. What I saw impressed the Rangers, who acquired Anderson for RHP Connor Sadzeck two weeks later. Texas didn’t protect Anderson in last winter’s Rule 5 draft, and Anderson received a glowing writeup from Baseball America with expectations that he could be taken, but he passed through. (I liked Anderson but not to that extent.)
I have video of Anderson from the previous homestand. I’d say Anderson is here to reinforce the bullpen, not save it. Vanasco was a risky if understandable addition after 2021 coming off Tommy John surgery. Had he not been added that fall, I doubt he would have been protected after 2022, which contained periods of lower velocity and middling results. Vanasco has struggled badly in two starts off the IL following knee surgery. I’m not surprised he was DFAed. I am surprised it happened this soon.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 11, at Albuquerque (COL) 8
Round Rock: 12 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 27-23, 9.5 GB

SP Jake Latz: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 11 P / 7 S, 9.19 ERA
RP Kyle Cody: 4.2 IP, 5 H (2 HR), 2 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 7.32 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 3.58 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 2-4, BB, .288/.388/.486
1B Blaine Crim: 3-5, 2B, SB (1), .266/.362/.422

Davis Wendzel (1-5 with a double) was .526/.640/1.316 for the week. Albuquerque plays a prominent role in that success, of course, but Wendzel’s median exit velocity in the series was 100 MPH compared to 90.9 for all participants. He would have had a terrific week anywhere.

Number of balls hit at least 425 feet in Round Rock’s first 44 games: 7
Number of balls hit at least 425 feet in Round Rock’s 6 games at ABQ: 10

AA: Frisco 4, at Arkansas (SEA) 8
Frisco: 6 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 20-24, 3.5 GB

SP Matt Brosky: 3 IP, 6 H (2 HR), 5 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 61 P / 35 S, 15.00 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1.10 ERA
2B Thomas Saggese: 1-3, 2 BB, .306/.366/.445
1B Dustin Harris: 1-3, BB, .226/.364/.396

Jack Leiter was a late scratch. Per Jeff Wilson of Rangers Today, Leiter had foot soreness and should make next week’s start.

This time last year, Matt Brosky was four days removed from his final start at Youngstown State (a complete-game shutout), which is to say, having him pitch in AA is a big ask.

Hi-A: wet, again

To be made up in Asheville next month.

Lo-A: wet, again

Neither game of the doubleheader will be rescheduled. Both Hickory and Down East have played 41 of a scheduled 45 games.

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Down East was rained out.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 27 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 14, at Albuquerque (COL) 12
Round Rock: 16 hits, 6 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 16 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 26-23, 9.5 GB

SP Nick Krauth: 3.2 IP, 8 H (3 HR), 6 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 49 P / 36 S, 10.80 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 3 SO, 3.80 ERA
CF Elier Hernandez: 3-5, 2B, 3B, BB, .280/.372/.459
C Sam Huff: 3-6, 2B, HR (7), .285/.360/.488
DH Justin Foscue: 2-5, 2 HR (7), .272/.382/.486
RF Rafael Ortega: 2-5, 2 2B, 2 SB (5), .228/.318/.376
3B Davis Wendzel: 2-4, 2B, HR (8), BB, .250/.368/.500

Sam Huff hit the ball 110 MPH and cleared the deepest part of of the deepest park in the PCL by 27 feet. Justin Foscue homered twice, and half of Davis Wendzel’s eight this season have come in the last four days.

Down two in the 9th, Albuquerque loaded the bases with none out against Grant Anderson, who recovered to retire the next three in order.

Nick Krauth replaced Cody Bradford in the Round Rock rotation. Joining in relief is Aidan Anderson from Hickory. Krauth was pulled after allowing homers on consecutive one-pitch plate appearances in the 4th. Krauth typically lasts four innings, and he left with a two-run deficit, so under these trying circumstances, he met requirements.

AA: Frisco 7, at Arkansas (SEA) 2
Frisco: 10 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 19-24, 3.5 GB

SP TK Roby: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 SO, 86 P / 58 S, 4.96 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 1-2, 2 BB, SB (), .286/.420/.401
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-3, 2B, 2 BB, .306/.360/.447
RF Aaron Zavala: 2-4, BB, .267/.389/.367

TK Roby’s last three games: 16.1 innings, 7 hits, 3 walks, 19 strikeouts, 1.65 ERA, .130/.203/.222. Sure, there’s some batted-ball luck involved, but don’t fret that. He’s pitching very well lately after a few rough outings.

Texas bumped 2022 8th-round righty Matt Brosky up to Frisco, probably temporarily.

Hi-A: wet, makeup next month

Lo-A: wet, two today

OF Tommy Specht was assigned to Down East. Absent injury, a late-May first-time assignment is unusual, but perhaps the Woodies just needed reinforcement for a few days, and Specht will join the rookies when they start next week. Specht was chosen in last year’s sixth round, but his slot money didn’t end up in Brock Porter’s pocket. In fact, Specht himself received a bonus akin to a fourth rounder. Still 18, Specht was chosen out of high school in Iowa and spent some time last summer playing for a prospect league in Clinton, Texas’s former low-A affiliate.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Cody
AA: Leiter (on a shorter leash)
Hi-A: Santos
Lo-A: TBD x 2

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Down East LF Eric Jenkins made the catch of the year.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 26 May

Texas’s 6.44 runs per game in 2023 are the best in any 50-game stretch in franchise history. The park-adjusted league average is about 4.8 runs by my calculation, so Texas has outscored the average by 34.2%. Next best is not what I expected: a stretch ending June 10, 1981, when the Rangers scored 5.1 per game versus a park-adjusted league average of 3.85, or 32.5% better. 

Back: OF Travis Jankowski
Hurt: IF/OF Ezequiel Duran (IL’ed, oblique)
Out: RHP Dane Dunning (paternity leave)
In: LHP Cody Bradford

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 1, at Albuquerque (COL) 4
Round Rock: 3 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 25-23, 10.5 GB

SP Josh Dye: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 49 P / 25 S, 8.31 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 11.05 ERA
DH Sam Huff: 1-3, HR (6), .274/.353/.453

Rehabbing Mitch Garver caught for the first time, threw out a runner at second, and drew two walks.

30-year-old Dinelson Lamet had been atrocious in relief for the Rockies, so they sent him back to AAA to become a potential big-league starter (?), and results are pretty good so far (?!). He struck out six in 4.2 scoreless innings.

AA: Frisco 10, at Arkansas (SEA) 9
Frisco: 14 hits, 7 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 19-23, 4.5 GB

SP Ricky Vanasco: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 2 SO, 46 P / 26 S, 23.14 ERA
RP Theo McDowell: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 3.15 ERA
RP Nick Starr: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 6.35 ERA
2B Thomas Saggese: 3-6, 2 2B, .299/.348/.437
RF Trevor Hauver: 2-4, 3B, HR (3), BB, .259/.376/.397
C Liam Hicks: 2-4, 2B, BB, .258/.425/.516
SS Chris Seise: 2-4, 2B, BB, .210/.303/.314

Frisco scored eight to open the 2nd, only to give back seven the same inning. Ricky Vanasco worked a quick 1st but then suffered the same fate as last week, throwing a bazillion pitches (officially 34) to retire two batters.

Trevor Hauver homered and tripled in the same inning.

Hi-A: Hickory 9, Asheville (HOU) 2
Hickory: 8 hits, 11 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 16-25, 8 GB

SP Larson Kindreich: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 74 P / 45 S, 5.13 ERA
RP Brandon Webb: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 6.88 ERA
SS Max Acosta: 2-5, SB (12), .314/.369/.453
C Tucker Mitchell: 1-2, 3 BB
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, BB, 4 SB (15), .269/.288/.428
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 1-2, 2 BB, SB (10), .270/.333/.344

Larson Kindreich is showing his best control professionally by far, chopping his BB/HBP rate in Hickory from 24% last year to 10% so far in 2023. Balancing that are a few more hits.

Lo-A: Down East 2, at Carolina (MIL) 4
Down East: 5 hits, 2 walks, 17 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 23-19, 0.5 GB

SP Brock Porter: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 38 P / 27 S, 1.07 ERA
RP Kai Wynyard: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 1.35 ERA
LF Yosy Galan: 1-4, HR (6), .228/.326/.439

Brock Porter completed three perfect innings on just 38 pitches, but he apparently injured himself while warming for the 4th and was retrieved. Carolina’s announcer mentioned something about a leg but then said he wouldn’t want to speculate beyond that. Let’s hope it’s not serious.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Not Cody Bradford
AA: Roby
Hi-A: rained out
Lo-A: rained out

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Jeffrey Springs fanned six in three scoreless relief innings for Frisco.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 25 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 18, at Albuquerque (COL) 6
Round Rock: 20 hits, 10 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 16 hits, 6 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 25-22, 9.5 GB

SP James Marvel: 4 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 82 P / 53 S, 4.91 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Lucas Jacobsen: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 3.78 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 2-5, BB, HBP, .274/.390/.463
1B Blaine Crim: 2-5, BB, .264/.368/.429
SS Davis Wendzel: 2-4, 2 HR (7), 2 BB, .243/.361/.471
C Matt Whatley: 3-6, 2 2B, .237/.308/.305

Davis Wendzel homered twice, the latter a grand slam that landed in Las Cruces. Actually 448 feet from the plate, off the bat at 102 MPH and 30 degrees. None of 23 balls in MLB at that velo/angle this season has traveled more than 417. Credit the City of Albuquerque, perhaps Wendzel connecting on the absolutely perfect spot on the bat, and maybe some residual Baylor Bear spirit. Wendzel is slugging 1.500 this week and has raised his overall percentage from .375 to .471 in three days. Make an offer, Colorado.

Travis Jankowski was 3-4 with a double and walk as DH. Mitch Garver did not play.

In his AAA debut, Marc Church escaped two mostly self-created bases-loaded situations in the 7th and 8th. He touched 98 once but sat 95-96 with an upper 80’s slider. The ‘Topes had a righty-only lineup, and Church worked vertically and mostly near the outside border. He has MLB-quality stuff but has endured his share of rough outings in the upper levels, and the control that was plus in the lower levels has been so-so lately.

AA: Frisco 2, at Arkansas (SEA) 8
Frisco: 7 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 8 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 18-23, 4.5 GB

SP Owen White: 4 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 4 R, 5 BB, 5 SO, 92 P / 54 S, 4.24 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 HBP, 2 SO, 1.17 ERA
DH Dustin Harris: 2-3, 2B, BB, SB (17), .226/.367/.411
1B Trevor Hauver: 3-4, .250/.368/.348

Owen White entered the 5th with 73 pitches and left with 19 more and none retired. On came Alex Speas, he of the 100 MPH fastball, 90 MPH slider, and often little sense of where they’re headed. On just 12 pitches, Speas induced a sac fly and struck out two to avoid a blowup. Speas has a 16% BB/HBP rate, poor on its own but quite a bit better than his history. He’s having an impressive season, especially for coming out of retirement.

Hi-A: Hickory 9, Asheville (HOU) 12 (10)
Hickory: 15 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 23 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 15-25, 9 GB

SP Yohanse Morel: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 41 P / 23 S, 2.35 ERA
RP Florencio Serrano: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 2.79 ERA
LF Geisel Cepeda: 2-5, 2B, .272/.370/.320
2B Max Acosta: 3-4, BB, SB (11), .311/.368/.455
DH Abi Ortiz: 2-5, 2 HR (3)
CF Daniel Mateo: 3-5, 2B, .262/.277/.426

Abi Ortiz homered twice and has an organization-leading ten for the season, just as we all expected. Honestly, Ortiz has some genuine power and ranked second in homers for Down East last year with 11, but I wasn’t expecting this. Down a run in the 9th, Max Acosta reached on an error and scored on Daniel Mateo’s two-out double.

Listed starter Josh Stephan did not appear.

Lo-A: Down East 0, at Carolina (MIL) 5
Down East: 2 hits, 2 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 23-18, 0.5 G up

SP Luis Ramirez: 4 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 57 P / 35 S, 3.44 ERA
RP Nick Lockhart: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA

Down East entered the 9th without a hit, mostly because of Milwaukee’s 2022 2nd-rounder Jacob Misiorowski, who has fanned 41 in 22.2 innings. After a Yeison Morrobel walk, Danyer Cueva’s hard chopper scampered into right field for an honest single. Ian Moller then singled, and suddenly the Wood Ducks had the tying run on deck. Unfortunately, that would conclude the offense for the evening.

Nick Lockhart was Texas’s 8th-round pick in 2019 and received a high-than-average bonus of $400,000. Lockhart also pitched in Down East in 2022 and had a 4.78 ERA but a better opposing line of .214/.289/.376 plus a 30% K rate.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Dye
AA: Vanasco
Hi-A: Kindreich
Lo-A: TBD (maybe Porter)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
A Maddux from Ariel Jurado, who shut out AA Arkansas on just 86 pitches. He struck out one and generated two swinging strikes. The first five innings required just 36 pitches.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 24 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 6, at Albuquerque (COL) 10
Round Rock: 11 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 24-22, 9.5 GB

SP Robert Dugger: 5.1 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 94 P / 59 S, 4.50 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.19 ERA
SS Davis Wendzel: 3-5, 2 2B, .235/.350/.426

Following Grant Wolfram, yesterday was Taylor Hearn’s turn on Albuquerque’s Mound of Doom (0.2 IP, 7 runners, 6 runs). Even so, opponents aren’t hitting him too badly (.232/.361/.275), but that .361 OBP stands out. Hearn has walked or hit 14 batters in 18.1 innings.

Again DHing, rehabbing Mitch Garver homered, singled, and walked. LF Travis Jankowski was 0-3 with a walk. Incidentally, Brad Miller hasn’t started a game since May 9.

AA: Frisco 2, at Arkansas (SEA) 6
Frisco: 5 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 18-22, 3.5 GB

SP Ryan Garcia: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 90 P / 52 S, 6.91 ERA
1B Dustin Harris: 0-2, SB (16), .217/.358/.399

Eight strikeouts aren’t quite a career-high for Ryan Garcia, but his 90 pitches and 16 swinging strikes are.

Dustin Harris is nine shy of 2021’s 25 steals. He’s only been caught once. Luisangel Acuna is 18-for-18.

Hi-A: Hickory 4, Asheville (HOU) 2
Hickory: 8 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 6 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 15-24, 8 GB

SP Dane Acker: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 48 P / 29 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Emiliano Teodo: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Max Acosta: 3-4, .297/.353/.445
3B Keyber Rodriguez: 2-4, HR (1), .276/.325/.353

Part of the Elvis Andrus trade, Acker returned from Tommy John surgery late last year but was delayed again this season.

Also back is Emiliano Teodo, whose forearm tightness fortunately turned out to be just that. Teodo was on the Opening Day roster but IL’ed soon after.

Lo-A: Down East 5, at Carolina (MIL) 4
Down East: 11 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 23-17, 1.5 G up

SP Joseph Montalvo: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 80 P / 52 S, 2.08 ERA
C Ian Moller: 2-4, 2B, .217/.342/.337
DH Yosy Galan: 1-3, 2B, BB, .234/.336/.430
LF Jojo Blackmon: 2-4, 2B, .170/.284/.330

Josh Norris of Baseball America has some video of Joseph Montalvo, who in his last two starts has avoided the walks that plagued his early outings. Down East has allowed the league’s fewest runs.

Yeison Morrobel and Danyer Cueva singled twice.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Marvel
AA: White
Hi-A: Stephan

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Sam Huff was 2-5 with a homer for Down East.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 23 May

Down East Sold, Moving
A month ago, the Rangers announced the impending sale of the Hickory Crawdads to Diamond Baseball Holdings. Yesterday, the parties consummated the sales of the the ‘Dads and Down East Wood Ducks. Soon after, a rumored relocation of the Woodies to Spartanburg, South Carolina (which I’d mentioned last week) became an actual plan. The intention is to commence play in 2025 in a stadium to be constructed on a vacant site downtown. It will, of course, be part of a multifaceted entertainment/commercial/housing complex. The ballpark would hold 3,500. Apparently, MLB has already approved the process. Unlike so many moves of yore (“South Atlantic” teams in New Jersey, western Kentucky, northern Ohio), relocation to Spartanburg doesn’t create a scheduling headache. Spartanburg could conceivably rejoin high-A, creating a rival just down the road in Greenville, and Hickory would fit comfortably in the low-A Carolina League if desired. Internally, the move benefits the Rangers as the drive between affiliations drops from four hours to 90 minutes.

The timing of the announcement surprised me but not the message itself. Nothing at all against the good folks in Kinston, but the marriage between the city and Rangers always struck me as asymmetric. Kinston was in love again after losing its team in 2011; the Rangers wanted a green card that would allow them to stay in the Carolinas. In 2015-2016, the Rangers desperately wanted out of Adelanto. Kinston had a stadium that could be brought to standards in short order. Also, Texas’s ownership of the team precluded the possibility of losing the affiliation in two years.

Both sides were happy, but unfortunately, minor league baseball in Kinston as an investment made less sense (although, admittedly, I’m not privy to the books). The city has about 20,000 residents, the county around 50,000, so the market is roughly equivalent in size to Corsicana, Texas. It isn’t near another metropolis and has steadily lost population. An effort at regional branding (“Down East”) didn’t change the number of people within driving range of the stadium and irked some locals. With a population of 38,500, Spartanburg proper isn’t what you’d call large (smaller than Hickory, in fact!), but it has recently reversed decades of decline, and the county has grown steadily to nearly 350,000. Once MLB asserted its dominance over the minor league system, the incentive for club ownership diminished, but the capital and managerial requirements intensified, thus the gobbling up of so many teams by DBH. (Incidentally, had Down East not been club-owned in 2020, I’d have placed its likelihood of contraction as virtually certain. And DBH’s broad investment and stature probably insulates it from further contraction.)

The Rangers do have a lease with Kinston through 2031. Can they break it? With the caveat that I am not a lawyer, the terms seem generous in that regard. I don’t see anything granting Kinston the power to compel the Rangers to provide a team. In case of default, Kinston can avail itself to the laws of North Carolina (not enumerated in the document) and/or terminate the lease, the latter of which simply accelerates the modest annual rental payments owed. Furthermore, invoking a low-attendance clause or provision of a replacement team could reduce default payments to zero. The apparent ease with which the Rangers can depart helps to explain why they signed such a long lease in the first place.

Kinston might be better off in the long run. In light of MLB’s new facility requirements, the City of Asheville and Buncombe County have agreed to pony up at least $30 million on renovations to historic McCormick Field. Some of that money is beyond just baseball, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kinston’s 74-year-old Grainger Stadium is in need of renovations well beyond what the city has already undertaken. Can Kinston’s taxpayers make that kind of commitment, and even if so, should they? As for the fans who will be losing a team for the second time in 15 years, well… I don’t know. They didn’t do anything wrong and deserve better.

A Bunch Of Players, Moving
To Round Rock:
C/DH Mitch Garver and OF Travis Jankowski (rehab)
RHP Marc Church (up from Round Rock)

To Frisco:
LHP Juan Mejia (down fro Round Rock)

To Hickory:
RHP Dane Acker (off IL)
RHP Emiliano Teodo (off IL)
C Tucker Mitchell (up from Down East)
1B/OF Abimelec Ortiz (up from Down East)

To Down East:
RHP Nick Lockhart (first assignment of season)
RHP Jacob Maton (down from Hickory)
RHP Wyatt Sparks (down from Hickory)
C Konnor Piotto (down from Hickory)
IF Yenci Pena (down from Hickory)

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, at Albuquerque (COL) 13
Round Rock: 8 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 16 hits, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 24-21, 9.5 GB

SP Kyle Cody: 3.1 IP, 8 H (1 HR), 6 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 54 P / 39 S, 7.84 ERA
RP Tyler Zombro: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Davis Wendzel: 2-3, HR (5), .221/.342/.405

Rehabbing Mitch Garver doubled twice in four trips to the plate as DH, and CF Travis Jankowski was 0-3.

Grant Wolfram (10 batters, 7 hits, 7 runs) joined the Express two weeks ago but discovered you haven’t really pitched in the Pacific Coast league until you’ve pitched at altitude.

Tyler Zombro made his Round Rock debut. He throws an upper-80s sinker and a slider, per Statcast.

AA: Frisco 2, at Arkansas (SEA) 1
Frisco: 4 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 9 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 18-21, 3.5 GB

SP Jack Leiter: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 7 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 91 P / 44 S, 4.17 ERA
RP Nick Starr: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 6.97 ERA
RP Theo McDowell: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 3.50 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1.26 ERA
RP Antoine Kelly: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1.80 ERA
SS Luisangel Acuna: 1-3, BB, SB (18), .309/.379/.444
2B Thomas Saggese: 1-2, 2B, BB, HBP, .299/.353/.435

Jack Leiter’s renaissance ended, if temporarily, at three games. Leiter walked the bases loaded to open the game and went 2-0 to the cleanup hitter, but the Travelers swung at the next four pitches, resulting in a sac fly and grounded double play. After a period of unsteady if acceptable control, Leiter walked three of his last five opponents before departing. This wasn’t pretty, but Leiter did at least keep the situation in hand. Hope for better next time.

Nick Starr stranded two of Leiter’s runners. He and three others combined to shut down the Travs.

Hi-A: Hickory 6, Asheville (HOU) 3
Hickory: 8 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 14-24, 9 GB

SP Winston Santos: 5.2 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 3 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 85 P / 49 S, 5.35 ERA
SS Max Acosta: 1-3, 2B, BB, .282/.341/.435
DH Tucker Mitchell: 1-2, 2B, BB
1B Abi Ortiz: 1-4, HR (1)

Newcomers Abimelec Ortiz and Tucker Mitchell made a splash. Winston Santos has a nice walk rate (6.6%) undermined by an otherworldly HBP rate (5.3%). He’s hit eight batters in his last six starts.

Lo-A: Down East 9, at Carolina (MIL) 5
Down East: 12 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 22-16, 0.5 G up

SP Dylan McCarty: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 77 P / 47 S, 1.54 ERA
RP Jackson Leath: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.19 ERA
CF Anthony Gutierrez: 2-5, .256/.310/.316
RF Yeison Morrobel: 2-4, BB, .250/.377/.295
2B Cam Cauley: 3-4, 2B, BB, 2 SB (10), .248/.306/.389
3B Gleider Figuereo: 3-4, HR (3), BB, .216/.331/.333

I hadn’t mentioned Anthony Gutierrez in a while. He had his first multi-hit game in almost two weeks, during which time he batted .148/.226/.185. In his second tilt at low-A pitching, Cam Cauley is walking less but hitting for better average and power.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Dugger
AA: Garcia
Hi-A: Acker

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Down East’s Jonathan Hernandez struck out ten in six scoreless innings. Leody Taveras drew three walks.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 21 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 5, El Paso (SDP) 4
Round Rock: 10 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 24-20, 8.5 GB

SP Cody Bradford: 5.2 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 96 P / 70 S, 0.99 ERA
RP Lucas Jacbosen: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 11 BB, 0 SO, 4.02 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 3.91 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-5, HR (1), .245/.369/.353
C Sam Huff: 2-4, .280/.355/.449

Back in Round Rock, Cody Bradford allowed his first multi-run inning of the AAA season. Errant throws by 3B Justin Foscue and Bradford himself contributed.

Texas released reliever Jacob Barnes, who had been effective if walk-prone. With the exception of last-second addition Robert Dugger, I think every healthy veteran free-agent pitcher signed for depth is already gone. Kyle Funkhouser and Danny Duffy remain (on the shelf).

The White Sox called up OF Clint Frazier, batting .375/.478/.839 with seven homers and five doubles in 16 games for AAA Charlotte after leaving Round Rock.

AA: Frisco 1, Amarillo (ARI) 3
Frisco: 3 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 17-21, 4.5 GB

SP TK Roby: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 55 P / 31 S, 5.49 ERA
CF Kellen Strahm: 1-3, BB, .236/.347/.341
RF Travor Hauver: 1-2, BB, .231/.359/.337

TK Roby no-hit the Sod Poodles for four innings after doing the same for six of his 6.1 innings last Tuesday. Frisco has employed a five-man rotation, and anyone making a second start is on a restricted diet.

After Roby’s departure, Amarillo scored a run off three different relievers on only two hits plus six walks, a hit batter, a wild pitch, a passed ball, and a balk.

Rule 5 pick Mason Englert is getting by in Detroit: a 4.73 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. He’s surrendered seven homers, five of which have come against his fastball. Had he stayed with Texas, I expect he’d be in Frisco rotation, which he joined toward the end of 2022, with a promotion to AAA assuming good performance.

Hi-A: Hickory 8, Rome (ATL) 7
Hickory: 9 hits, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 13-24, 10 GB

SP Mitch Bratt: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 40 P / 27 S, 3.49 ERA
RP Andy Rodriguez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.00 ERA
RF Alejandro Osuna: 3-4, 2B, HR (2), .267/.423/.390

Down 7-3 in the 7th, Daniel Mateo drew a bases-loaded walk in front of Alejandro Osuna’s grand slam. Osuna also hit a two-run infield single according to the box score. The 13-game losing streak is over.

Lo-A: Down East 4, Fayetteville (HOU) 1
Down East: 8 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 21-16, 0.5 GB

SP Aidan Curry: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 80 P / 54 S, 2.78 ERA
RP Kai Wynyard: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Jackson Kelley: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1.59 ERA
1B Abi Ortiz: 2-3, 2B, BB, .307/.392/.604
C Ian Moller: 2-4, .214/.343/.333
2B Danyer Cueva: 2-3, .241/.278/.343

Better control = better results for Aidan Curry, who’s walked or hit 9% of opponents so far in 2023 compared to 14% last year and 16% the year before. 20 years old and already in his fourth season, Curry signed a with Texas after being bypassed in 2020’s short draft.

Like last year, Ian Moller is walking plenty and hinting at power, but his strikeout rate has ballooned to 37%. Abi Ortiz is enjoying his best month stateside. Ortiz also spent last year at Down East after bypassing rookie ball, which might account for his weaker outing (.226/.308/.380) after showing uncommon power in the DSL (11 homers in 40 games).

Five Years Ago Yesterday
2013 3rd-rounder David Ledbetter retired. Ledbetter holds the unfortunate distinction of pitching the most innings for Texas’s high-A affiliate in High Desert in 2015 and 2016. Somebody had to, and at least he got a championship out of it. Ledbetter never had a good year outside of short-season but could almost always get his team five innings.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 20 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 6, El Paso (SDP) 5
Round Rock: 11 hits, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 23-20, 8.5 GB

SP Fernery Ozuna: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 43 P / 25 S, 7.31 ERA
1B Blaine Crim: 2-5, .262/.363/.437
DH Yoshi Tsutsugo: 2-2, HR (2), 2 BB, SB (2), .231/.369/.365

A Davis Wendzel error and four-pitch walk by Yerry Rodriguez plated the tying and go-ahead runs for El Paso in the 9th. In the bottom half, Sam Huff tied the game on a bases-loaded walk that started with two swinging strikes, and Blaine Crim singled in Sandro Fabian.

AA: Frisco 8, Amarillo (ARI) 7 (10)
Frisco: 13 hits, 7 walks, 15 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 17-20, 3.5 GB

SP Ricky Vanasco: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 0 SO, 31 P / 15 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Nick Krauth: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 3.32 ERA
RP Nick Starr: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 7.71 ERA
RP Antoine Kelly: 2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1.93 ERA
SS Luisangel Acuna: 2-5, 2B, BB, SB (17), .316/.385/.458
CF Evan Carter: 4-6, SB (8), .302/.430/.426
1B Dustin Harris: 2-5, .226/.366/.414
RF Kellen Strahm: 1-3, 2 BB, .233/.343/.342
C Liam Hicks: 3-5, 2B, HR (1), .261/.452/.565

Back from knee surgery, Ricky Vanasco couldn’t escape the 1st thanks to an egregious two-strike pitch call and a Luisangel Acuna throw that was aimed more toward the dugout than third base. Oh well. He was on a short leash and probably through even he he’d secured that third out.

In the 10th, Acuna singled to score the gift-runner and tie the game. He stole second and scored easily on Evan Carter’s fourth hit.

Liam Hicks is 2021’s ninth-rounder, signed for a relative pittance ($30,000) to spread money around to others. Out of Arkansas State, reviews were promising toward the bat and as hostile toward his defense as any I’ve seen. I haven’t seen enough to judge the latter, but Hicks has indeed hit wherever stationed, producing a .298/.447/.426 line in 82 pro games. The homer was a grand slam. Last year at this time, he was waiting for the rookie schedule to begin.

Nick Starr has two nice outings in a row following half a dozen of the worrying sort.

Hi-A: Hickory 6, Rome (ATL) 10
Hickory: 14 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 12-24, 11 GB

SP Larson Kindreich: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 56 P / 36 S, 6.75 ERA
RP Florencio Serrano: 3.1 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.84 ERA
RF Alejandro Osuna: 3-5, .248/.414/.337
C Cody Freeman: 4-4, HR (5), .219/.274/.438
2B Jayce Easley: 3-5, .210/.341/.267

Hickory has the fifth-worst record of 120 full-season teams. Hickory is actually third in the league in fewest runs allowed (and was best until last night) but isn’t scoring much. The Crawdads have averaged 6.3 hits and 2.6 walks during a 13-game losing streak, and last night was the first with double-digit hits.

Lo-A: Down East 1, Fayetteville (HOU) 2 (7)
Down East: 4 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 19-16

SP Brock Porter: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 64 P / 30 S, 1.21 ERA
DH Tucker Mitchell: 1-2, BB, SB (3)

Lo-A: Down East 4, Fayetteville (HOU) 3 (7)
Down East: 7 hits, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 1 walk, 13 strikeouts
Record: 20-16, 0.5 GB

SP Dylan MacLean: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 65 P / 47 S, 3.28 ERA
RP Jose Corneill: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 3.38 ERA
1B Abi Ortiz: 2-3, HR (7), .296/.379/.592
C Tucker Mitchell: 2-3, 2B, .346/.458/.500

Brock Porter limited the opposition to two singles and no runs but landed fewer than half his pitches for strikes. He’s struck out 32% of his enemies (great!) but walked or hit 20% (not great).

Tucker Mitchell was picked five spots after Liam Hicks out of Manatee-Sarasota in Florida, a year younger and paid the maximum that doesn’t count against the draft cap ($125,000).

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

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Leody Taveras was 3-7 with his third homer in high-A Down East’s doubleheader sweep of Winston-Salem.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 19 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 12, El Paso (SDP) 2
Round Rock: 20 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 22-20, 9.5 GB

SP James Marvel: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 3 SO, 78 P / 42 S, 3.77 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 4.24 ERA
3B Justin Foscue: 4-5, BB, .276/.393/.476
DH Sam Huff: 4-5, 2B, BB, .283/.351/.465
SS Davis Wendzel: 2-5, 2B, HR (4), .207/.329/.380
RF Sandro Fabian: 4-5, 2B, .229/.302/.352
C Matt Whatley: 2-4, 2 2B, BB, .208/.288/.245

The Express shook off a ten-game losing streak with a torrent of activity: 12 runs, 19 hits, and five walks in just six innings. Six Chihuahuas combined for 156 pitches in that span. El Paso was already among the oldest and dullest AAA squads, to be blunt, and now starter Matt Waldron’s formerly knuckle-heavy approach is dominated by a fastball. Yawn. 

The Express actually left much on the table. In the first three innings, three runners were tagged attempting to score, and another two were stranded at third.

Chase Lee fell a pitch shy of an immaculate inning in the 7th. Beyond that I can’t say much, as I was mainly there so my daughter could see fireworks.

Texas signed reliever Tyler Zombro, unfortunately most famous for taking a line drive that fractured his skull in 2021. Zombro returned from that but a year later underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, which by law obligates him to pitch for the Rangers at some point. Those injuries and covid have limited him 13.1 innings the past three-plus years.

AA: Frisco 1, Amarillo (ARI) 2
Frisco: 6 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 16-20, 3.5 GB

SP Owen White: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 62 P / 36 S, 3.72 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 3.71 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1.46 ERA
RP Eudrys Manon: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 6.00 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-3, BB, SB (7), .285/.421/.415
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-4, .306/.350/.444

Owen White just doesn’t quite seem himself. His velocity is down a tic or two since I saw him last month in San Antonio, and that was down a tic or two from last year. He’s still effective, just more polite about it. White’s strikeout rate (20%) and swinging strike rate (10.5%) are both well into the lower half among Texas Leaguers with at least 20 innings.

Hi-A: Hickory 0, Rome (ATL) 1
Hickory: 3 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 12-23, 11 GB

SP Josh Stephan: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 82 P / 54 S, 2.17 ERA

Hickory has the best walk rate in the league (8.9%) and four of the top ten among the 69 pitchers with at least 20 innings. Josh Stephan is among them, having steadily progressed from respectable to terrific control over his three pro years (especially against a backdrop of ever-worsening control at all levels).

Hickory is four shy of 2021’s franchise-worst 16-game losing streak. That one was far worse, culminating with a season-ending six-game series at Rome with lousy weather and covid absences. Three games were canceled, the last (if I remember correctly) a day in advance so everyone could get the heck out of there.

Lo-A: wet

Two today.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Bullpen
AA: Krauth
Hi-A: Kindreich
Lo-A: TBD (Porter plus one, I imagine)