Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 16 May

As widely reported, RHP Kumar Rocker has a torn elbow ligament and will undergo Tommy John surgery. Perversely, MLB.com had announced placement of Rocker on its top-100 prospect list mere minutes before the news broke. I’d written about a sudden loss of control and command in last week’s start (in fact, I’d drafted and then deleted “like flipping a switch”), but I didn’t observe anything physically worrying at the time. He did become fastball-heavy and completely cease throwing sliders in the middle of his final inning but continued to offer curves. As I’d mentioned, all of Rocker’s previous runs had scored in just two rough innings. Last Thursday seemed just another example of that.

Assuming 14 months until his next real game, Rocker would return in mid-July, meaning up to a month of games at the Surprise complex followed by another month in a full-season league, then instructionals and the Arizona Fall League. So, again assuming a standard recovery, 2024 could be a not too terribly unproductive year.

OF Aaron Zavala is active in Frisco. RHP Winston Santos is active in Hickory.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, El Paso (SDP) 12
Round Rock: 8 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 16 hits, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 21-18, 7.5 GB

SP Kyle Cody: 3 IP, 9 H (1 HR), 8 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 63 P / 43 S, 6.83 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 4.64 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, 2 2B, .236/.362/.333

CF Rafael Ortega stole a homer.

Texas released lefty Joe Palumbo, who’d rejoined the Rangers after an unsuccessful stint with the Giants. Palumbo walked four in an inning yesterday and ten of 17 batters over three appearances. Oft-injured, Palumbo has just never been on track post-2020.

AA: Frisco 3, Amarillo (ARI) 2
Frisco: 9 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 1 walk, 13 strikeouts
Record: 14-19, 4.5 GB

SP TK Roby: 6.1 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 8 SO, 82 P / 54 S, 6.11 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 3.94 ERA
RP Nick Starr: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 8.31 ERA
LF Dustin Harris: 3-4, 2B, .220/.367/.415

With one out in the 5th, catcher Scott Kapers was hit on his throwing hand with a foul tip and had to leave. TK Roby then hit Jordan Lawlar (who himself would depart after the half-inning) and walked Roby Enriquez. Not a great situation.

Roby then retired 18 straight, eight via strikeout, and carried a no-hitter into the 7th. A triple and homer ended his day, but on the whole, Roby produced one of his season’s best starts.

Evan Carter’s well has run dry for the moment. He’s 6-for-42 with no extra base hits and 14 strikeouts in his last ten games. Dustin Harris is .245/.351/.469 over the same period with three of his four homers. He’s sharply cut down on April’s weirdly high strikeout rate but has a still-modest .285 average on contact.

Hi-A: Hickory 3, Rome (ATL) 7
Hickory: 6 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 12-20, 11 GB

SP Mitch Bratt: 4.2 IP, 9 H (1 HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 88 P / 56 S, 3.91 ERA
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, HR (4), .271/.285/.458

Mitch Bratt missed a season-high 14 bats and fanned seven, but most of what went the other direction caused damage. He walked two for the first time.

Lo-A: Down East 10, Fayetteville (HOU) 0
Down East: 10 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts
Record: 19-13, tied for first

SP DJ McCarty: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 8 SO, 74 P / 45 S, 0.92 ERA
RP Kai Wynyard: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Damian Mendoza: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 2.08 ERA
RP Adrian Rodriguez: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 3.00 ERA
RF Yeison Morrobel: 1-4, HR (1), .224/.373/.269
SS Cam Cauley: 2-3, HR (2), BB, SB (8), .261/.317/.391
3B Gleider Figuereo: 1-3, 2B, BB, .202/.324/.309
2B Danyer Cueva: 2-4, HR (1), .247/.282/.361

Last year, Yeison Morrobel averaged an extra-base hit per 11 plate appearances. In 2023, he needed 80 trips to collect his first. I’ll take the under on 80 PAs for his next one.

Just to remind you, and myself again, DJ McCarty is a free agent signed out of high school in 2020. Dylan MacLean is a Texas’s 4th-rounder out of high school from the same year. Aussie Kai Wynyard made his 2023 debut.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Leiter
Lo-A: Ramirez

Five Years Ago Yesterday
“Another example of how baseball has changed recently: [Low-A] Hickory pitchers have a ratio of 2.4 strikeouts per walk. Sounds pretty good, right? Anything over 2:1 is solid, yes? Not now. That ratio is the worst in the 14-team South Atlantic League. The average ratio is 3:1, and Charleston leads the league with 3.9 strikeouts per walk.”

That change didn’t last. A 2:1 ratio isn’t solid, but it’s close. Strikeouts are higher than ever, but the walk rate in Texas’s low-A league has increased by two-thirds since 2018:

2012: 2.2 strikeouts per walk (9.0% BB, 19.8% SO)
2013: 2.5
2014: 2.4
2015: 2.4
2016: 2.7
2017: 3.0
2018: 3.1 (7.5% BB, 23.5% SO)
2019: 2.8
2021: 2.3
2022: 2.2
2023: 2.1 (12.5% BB, 26.8% SO)