Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 2 May

Box Scores

AAA: wet, cold

Two today.

Reliever Dominic Leone opted out of his minor league deal. He’s pitched well but apparently not well enough to force a 40 move. OF JP Martinez is on the IL.

AA: Frisco 11, at Midland (OAK) 2
Frisco: 15 hits, 8 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 9 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 12-10, tied for first

SP Grant Wolfram: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 33 P / 18 S, 0.90 ERA
RP Wyatt Sparks: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Theo McDowell: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 5.40 ERA
SS Luisangel Acuna: 2-6, 2B, .320/.367/.440
2B Thomas Saggese: 4-6, SB (3), .271/.333/.376
3B Jax Biggers: 3-5, 2 SB (3), .250/.431/.500
1B Josh Sale: 2-4, HR (1), .160/.300/.320

Righty Wyatt Sparks pitched for the first time since July 2021 following Tommy John surgery. He also pitched for the first time in AA. Now 23, Texas drafted him in 2018’s 23rd round. Fortunately, Sparks was good to go, as spot-starter Grant Wolfram had to be pulled after 33 pitches in the 1st. Low-A Down East’s opening week rotation in 2021 was Owen White, Sparks, Dane Acker (also recovering from TJ), TK Roby, Nick Krauth, and Mason Englert.

Joining Sparks in Frisco is lefty Juan Mejia, while righty Nick Krauth has jumped to AAA.

Hi-A: Hickory 5, Jersey Shore (PHI) 7
Hickory: 8 hits, 8 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 10-10, 5 GB

SP Josh Stephan: 4 IP, 3 H (2 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 82 P / 47 S, 2.05 ERA
RP Spencer Mraz: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 1.86 ERA
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, 3B, BB, 2 SB (6), .261/.274/.435
SS Max Acosta: 1-3, 2 BB, 2 SB (8), .328/.403/.469
DH Geisel Cepeda: 2-4, BB, .234/.357/.298

17 baserunners, five steals, five runs? Hickory lost three runners on the bases and stranded four more at third.

Mark Parker interviewed Kumar Rocker at length. I was happy to see him mention an emphasis on changeups in spring training as well as a curve and sinker (although evidence in games has been fairly limited to date). Ben Spanier at Baseball Prospectus noticed a little cut to his fastball in his most recent start ($ link). Rocker’s fastball/slider combo is too good for high-A, but overwhelming hitters with those pitches alone is of limited utility.

Lo-A: Down East 3, at Fredericksburg (WAS) 4
Down East: 9 hits, 2 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 11-10, 1.5 GB

SP Luis Ramirez: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 74 P / 46 S, 2.35 ERA
RP Joseph Montalvo: 4.2 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 3.06 ERA
C Ian Moller: 1-2, 2 BB, .220/.316/.360
LF Jojo Blackmon: 3-4, 3B, .178/.315/.400

Down East scored twice off 2022 45th-overall pick and Oklahoma alum Jake Bennett and led the game from the 2nd inning until the final pitch. A softly lined single to left-center scored the tying and winning runs off Jackson Kelley. Kelley also balked in a run in the 8th and committed another balk before competing that inning. He had cruised through April, a little wild but nearly impossible to hit (7 IP, 2 H, 5 BB, 12 SO). Kelley uses an adjustable side-arm slot to deliver weirdly bending stuff in a 71-83 MPH range. I suppose he offers a fastball, slider, and curve, but categorizing him might be a pointless task. I’ve seen him clocked as high as 89 MPH, but nothing approached that last night.

Starter Luis Ramirez’s fastball sat 92-93 with some sink plus with a slider and plenty of changes around 84-85. He sells the change well. Joseph Montalvo, who grabbed some attention for a scoreless six innings last week, offered a 91-93 fastball with rise and run, a low-80s slider, and a mid-80s change. In a way, Montalvo has better command than control, able to move around the fastball and slider with uncommon effectiveness for a low-A 20-year-old, but simply throwing strikes is an occasional problem.

Ramirez and Kelley were selected last year in the seventh and 12th rounds, respectively. Montalvo was 2021’s 20th and final draft choice.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Cody / TBD
AA: Roby
Hi-A: Kindreich

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Down East and Buies Creek (now known as Fayetteville) combined for nine homers that were the impetus for every run in Down East’s 15-3 victory. 3B Charles Leblanc improved to .310/.349/.520 with a double and homer. Leblanc made the Majors with Miami last year and batted credibly (.263/.323/.404) but was designated for assignment and unclaimed in January.