Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 30 June

The Trade
A full month before the trade deadline, the Rangers addressed their most serious weakness with the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman. (Not to say that they’re done.) You’ve probably heard some commentary imploring the Rangers not to wait until the last minute to improve the squad, and I didn’t disagree, but trades aren’t unilateral decisions. The Rangers needed a willing partner, and they found one in KC for a return that is honestly a little lighter than I expected.

Chapman has a noisy and concerning Wikipedia page that raises two questions:

1) Why would the Rangers trade for a guy who lost his closer’s role last year, missed three weeks with a tattoo-induced infection, was pointedly omitted from the postseason roster after skipping a mandatory workout, and signed a make-good contract with the downtrodden Royals?

Here’s why:

Chapman’s walk rate is an atrocious 16%, but as we see increasingly often, the walks are just an annoyance because he’s so hard to hit. Opponents are batting .158, slugging .188, and when they’re unable to draw a walk, their strikeout rate is 53%. Chapman’s average sinker velocity is 101.3, and the four-seamer is 99.4. He is on a different level than anyone on the Rangers.

2) Why would the Rangers trade for a guy with a documented history of domestic abuse and the first suspension handed down under MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy instituted in 2015?

Because he’ll get more batters out than some other relievers who are almost certainly better human beings. That’s it. As to how we as fans should react, well, there’s no absolute answer. Ultimately, it’s your time and money, and taking a closer look at how you use them is always worthwhile.

Is Cole Ragans a starter? A long reliever? A 7th-or-later one-inning guy? I’m still not sure. I assume the Royals see him as a starter, because otherwise the acquisition seems awfully light on their side. I certainly would keep him on that path were I in charge of a club like KC. I expect he’ll be useful somehow, if perhaps not in the way the Royals hope. He’s been optioned to AAA Omaha. While Ragans is switching from one of baseball’s better teams to one of the worst, the move does allow him to develop at his own speed, no longer beholden to the short-term and shifting needs of a club like the Rangers.

I had read a little about Roni Cabrera but had never typed his name until yesterday. Texas signed him in May 2022, far from peak signing time and for only $10,000, so at least in that respect he’s not remotely on the level of a Sebastian Walcott or Anthony Gutierrez. Now 17, he’s hitting a stout .320/.469/.620 while manning CF in his second year in the Dominican Republic, and reports of his batted-ball data and projection are positive. While he’s a long, long way from reaching the Majors, KC obviously saw enough to accept him in the deal.

As I’d mentioned, Glenn Otto looked ready to go immediately upon starting his rehab assignment in Round Rock. Not that can guarantee he’ll be better than, say, John King, but he’s at full capacity.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, at Las Vegas (OAK) 5
Round Rock: 6 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 1-2, 1 GB, 45-32 overall

SP Chase Lee: 2.2 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 47 P / 33 S, 3.51 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
CF JP Martinez: 1-4, HR (6), .342/.465/.570
DH Blaine Crim: 2-4, 2B, .263/.372/.453
1B Dustin Harris: 1-2, 2 BB, .333/.484/.625

Alex Speas had a successful AAA debut, touching 100 once with the fastball but dealing mostly cutters in an 88-97 range. No, that’s not a Statcast pitch classification defect; Speas really tossed a 97 MPH cutter. Speas’ effectiveness was of a different variety than displayed in Frisco. He struck out two but only missed two bats on outside cutters. His control was almost too good. He pounded the zone, where everything swung at was no worse than fouled, and only one of six balls in play was below 93 MPH off the bat.

Down a run in the 9th, Round Rock loaded the bases with none out but didn’t score.

There are worse problems to have, but with the trade of Ragans and call-up of Glenn Otto, the Express are down to two starters: Owen White and Robert Dugger. Three if you reinsert Cole Winn, who’s pitched in long relief lately. Might be time to throw a little money at someone in the Atlantic League.

AA: Frisco 3, at San Antonio (SDG) 10
Frisco: 7 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 1-2, 2 GB, 32-39 overall

SP Jack Leiter: 4.2 IP, 7 H (1 HR), 8 R, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 5 SO, 86 P / 56 S, 4.85 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-4, 2B, .309/.423/.454

Activated from the Development List after a week off, Jack Leiter ran the gamut. He threw strikes at a 65% rate but walked or hit five. He missed 13 bats, but the contact included four extra-base hits and a .619 slugging percentage.

Hi-A: Hickory 5, Greensboro (PIT) 2
Hickory: 13 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 1 hit, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 7-0, 2.5 G up, 34-34 overall

SP Winston Santos: 6.2 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 2 R, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 6 SO, 88 P / 48 S, 5.07 ERA
RP Spencer Mraz: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 3.81 ERA
RF Alejandro Osuna: 3-4, 2B, .264/.379/.392
SS Max Acosta: 1-3, BB, .275/.323/.383
DH Abi Ortiz: 2-4, HR (11), .360/.427/.750
C Cody Freeman: 2-4, HR (8), .224/.284/.415

In the span of two months, Hickory has a 12-game losing streak and ten-game win streak. In four wins against Greensboro, which held the league’s best offense entering the series, Hickory has allowed only six runs and 11 hits. Like Dane Acker and Larson Kindreich before him, Winston Santos lacked control but was nearly impossible to hit.

Abimelec Ortiz doesn’t have minor league ball’s most homers, nor does he have the highest homer rate, but in some sense he’s the best in the minors at going deep when factoring age. Entering last night, 120 batters had at least 12 homers. Of those, 12 had a HR rate of 7% of their plate appearances. So, we’re talking the elite both in raw numbers and frequency. 11 of those 12 have done most or all of their damage in AAA, often in a favorable home park, and nearly all are in their mid-twenties. 23-year-old Mark Vientos is the youngest of the AAA group. There’s one outlier among the 12: 21-year-old Abi Ortiz. What does this mean? I don’t know. It could mean a jump from Jamey’s top 72 to Baseball America’s top 30. It could just be a crazy hot streak, and we subsequently discover that Ortiz can’t and won’t hit bendy stuff. Don’t trade Ohtani for Ortiz in your dynasty league just yet.

Lo-A: Down East 11, Carolina (MIL) 0
Down East: 15 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 5-1, 1 G up, 42-25 overall

SP Joseph Montalvo: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 74 P / 51 S, 1.71 ERA
RP Damien Mendoza: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 5.04 ERA
RP Adrian Rodriguez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 3.18 ERA
2B Danyer Cueva: 3-5, .264/.325/.406
C Ian Moller: 1-4, 2B, BB, .188/.314/.318
3B Gleider Figuereo: 3-5, 2B, .232/.325/.367
1B Griffin Cheney: 2-3, 2B, 3B, BB, .214/.329/.443
RF Jojo Blackmon: 2-3, HBP, 3 SB (13), .160/.258/.303

I’d listed Brock Porter as Friday’s starter out of habit, but he didn’t pitch, probably because of the extra day off on Tuesday. Joseph Montalvo started instead and continued to shine. Danyer Cueva was Down East’s best hitter in June, batting .326/.396/.512.

Today’s Starters
AA: Krauth
Hi-A: Teodo

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Spokane lost in the 9th when Hillsboro scored twice off Emmanuel Clase.