Yesterday’s Diamond Pod is special. One day before his retirement, The Ticket’s Norm Hitzges joined us for an hour of reminiscing, assessment of Texas’s current situation and prospect development, and much more. Links are in the signature at bottom. Most of my experience with Norm dates to the 1980s when I lived in DFW and he called Rangers games on television. Here he is with Greg Lucas (no relation) on Home Sports Entertainment calling the Rangers and Red Sox on August 26, 1986. I probably had never seen any of this contest until today. I’d moved from Arlington to Austin three days before, and college dorms didn’t have cable. Best wishes to Norm on his next adventure.
AAA: Round Rock 11, Sacramento (SFO) 5
Round Rock: 13 hits, 6 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 42-29, eliminated
SP Robert Dugger: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 77 P / 49 S, 4.43 ERA
RP Jonathan Hernandez: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1.29 ERA
RP Yerry Rodriguez: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 4.29 ERA
3B Davis Wendzel: 1-2, 3 BB, .255/.383/.537
1B Blaine Crim: 2-4, HR (7), .271/.385/.463
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, BB, .243/.357/.342
RF Sandro Fabian: 3-5, 2B, HR (7), .275/.323/.485
LF Dustin Harris: 3-4, 3B
Dustin Harris has decided that Pacific Coast League opposition is no tougher than rec-league softball, and I fully support this viewpoint. In two games, Harris has a homer, triple, double, two singles, and two walks.
Jonathan Hernandez was effective, if not quite as dominant as his line suggests. Hernandez missed wide and/or low on seven of 12 sliders, but swings at five others generated four misses. A couple of balls were hit sharply but directly to RF Sandro Fabian. Still, a positive outing on the whole.
Elier Hernandez (1-5, HR) set a franchise record with a hit in his 23rd straight game. JP Martinez hit a bases-loaded triple.
Texas released 1B Yoshi Tsutsugo (.249/.380/.432), who was decent enough in AAA but not what you’d consider depth for the MLB club. Even if Dustin Harris spends most of his time in the OF, Tsutsugo seemed lacking for room in the lineup.
The re-signed Ian Kennedy is in Round Rock, and reliever Grant Wolfram has returned to Frisco. Wolfram’s a better pitcher than his awful AAA line (10.80 ERA, .310/.412/.500), but one seven-run wipeout and even worse control than usual have forced a reset.
AA: Frisco 2, Springfield (STL) 3
Frisco: 7 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 28-37, eliminated
SP Ryan Garcia: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 SO, 82 P / 45 S, 7.11 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0.68 ERA
RP Justin Slaten: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1.00 ERA
RP Antoine Kelly: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3.60 ERA
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-3, 2B, BB, .302/.361/.481
Alex Speas entered a one-out, bases-loaded pickle in the 4th and was able to limit damage to one run. He and three others shut down the Cards on four hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts in 5.2 IP.
Hi-A: rain, cancelled
First Half Over
Record: 27-34, 6.5 GB, 5th of six teams
Pythagorean Record: 29-32
Offense: 4.5 runs per game (9% worse than park-adjusted league average), .245/.329/.359 (88 OPS+)
Pitching/Defense: 4.7 runs per game (5% better than average), opposing line .249/.331/.404 (101 OPS+)
Best Hitter: OF Alejandro Osuna (.269/.385/.403, 11 2B, 4 HR, 37 BB/HBP, 13 SB, 116 OPS+)
Best Pitcher: RHP Josh Stephan (57.1 IP, 2.35 ERA, .188/.251/.352 oppo line, 29% SO)
Texas released RHP Bradford Webb, 2021’s seventh-round pick. The Virignia Commonwealth alum was a money-saver signing who pitched pretty well in 2021-2022, but this year was very different: an 8.27 ERA with peripherals to match in 20.2 innings.
Lo-A: rain, cancelled
First Half Over
Record: 37-24, +5 G, division championPythagorean Record: 38-23
Offense: 4.9 runs per game (12% better than park-adjusted league average), ..237/.329/.379 (111 OPS+)
Pitching/Defense: 3.8 runs per game (15% better than average), opposing line .206/.306/.311 (84 OPS+)
Best Hitter: 1B/OF Abimelec Ortiz (.307/.392/.604,7 2B, 7 HR, 196 OPS+), now in Hickory
Best Pitcher: RHP Jose Corniell (43.1 IP, 2.70 ERA, .175/.259/.295 oppo line, 34% SO), but you can pick Brock Porter if you like
Lo-A: TBD (Porter’s night but possibly affected by rainouts)
Five Years Ago Yesterday
We learned that Alex Speas would miss the rest of the season and more because of elbow surgery. Speas had been nearly untouchable over the previous month in low-A Hickory, allowing four runners while striking out 15 in 10.1 innings.