Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 29 July

How the Day Unfolded in Relation to Texas’s Prospects
4:30pm: SS Sebastian Walcott was removed mid-game in Arizona. Around this time, national writers knew the Rangers were in on Scherzer. The idea of Walcott for Scherzer didn’t thrill me. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t believe in untradeable players, but I do have Evan Carter and Walcott in my “strongly prefer not to trade” and would only want them dealt for someone younger, more controllable, etc. Not long after, a national writer indicated the removal was for disciplinary reasons. Too bad for Walcott to have some sort of youngster’s mistake splashed all over twitter, but I’m not worried about it.

5:20pm: Down East starter Brock Porter tossed only three innings and 52 pitches, his fewest in two months aside from one walk-strewn early exit. Curious, but not necessarily indicative of anything. Texas has handled Porter exceptionally carefully all season.

5:20pm: The Frisco lineup didn’t contain either Luisangel Acuna or Thomas Saggese. Now we were cooking with gas.

7:15pm: Neither Justin Foscue nor Jonathan Ornelas were in the Round Rock lineup published only 20 minutes before the start. By then, Acuna had already been revealed as the player possibly headed to New York, but this added (and I suppose continues to add) some intrigue. But as I mentioned on twitter, Foscue hadn’t played all six games of a series in nearly two months, and a day off per week is common practice for him and other prospects of note. Like Porter earlier, interesting but not necessarily significant.

The Trade
Luisangel Acuna is a Met. I’m not huge on numerical rankings, but at the end of the day I suppose I’d rank Acuna third in the Texas system behind Carter and Walcott. Maybe second, given the much lengthier gap between Walcott’s level and MLB. Sad to see him leave, but I didn’t have him in the “would rather keep” group because Acuna’s path to a significant role with the Rangers was complicated at best. His exit day was coming, as it is for several other Texas prospects, potentially in the next couple of days.

More than just about anyone in the system this year, Acuna has mitigated some concerns that one could apply to, say, Foscue, or White, or even Carter. He can really play shortstop, although that might not be his ultimate destination. He has a lively bat that looks more and more like it will play at the highest level. His speed is a weapon. “Solid utility player” seems a reasonable floor, and he has the potential to be a good starter on a good team. That’s still not guaranteed, though, and that is the risk from New York’s perspective.  

One quirk of this deal is that Acuna isn’t entering a more favorable opportunity for playing time once he’s ready for the bigs. The Mets have SS Francisco Lindor signed through 2031, 2B Jeff McNeil through at least 2026, and CF Brandon Nimmo through 2030. All grade well defensively. I don’t know the politics of the situation, but I assume Lindor isn’t budging. Nimmo played some corner in the past but not even a minute of the past two seasons. McNeil has spent about a quarter of his time at an outfield corner and seems the likeliest candidate to accommodate Acuna, except the Mets also have another top-100 prospect Ronny Mauricio hitting the snot out of the ball in AAA. Exclusively a shortstop through 2022, Mauricio has spent a small majority this season at 2B, presumably in anticipation of taking over that position in the Majors. But I’m not a Mets Expert and there’s probably much more to the situation than I understand.

Max Scherzer is not an ace. He’s 39. His ERA is a career-worst 4.01 at present, his walk rate is slightly up, his strikeout rate and swinging strike rate are his lowest in a decade, and his homer rate is way, way up. His opposing hard-hit and barrel rates are his highest in the Statcast era. He hasn’t performed to expectations and shares some responsibility for the Mets’ plight.

All that said, he’s still pretty good. His decaying walk and strikeout rates remain very strong. Advanced models still rate his pitches as average or better. There’s an argument his homer rate on fly balls is unluckily excessive and he could see some improvement (although there’s a counter-argument that this is just who he is now).

Scherzer isn’t worth $43.3 million per year, but the Mets are covering over 60% of his remaining contract. His annualized salary as a Ranger is about $16.7 million, still a hefty chunk of change but less than a qualifying offer. Given his current caliber, that seems reasonable.

The Rangers didn’t trade for who the Mets signed. They traded for who he is now, and they’re paying him for who he is now. He cost the Rangers one player, a top-100 prospect for sure, but just him and no one else. This strikes me as decent business for both sides.  

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 1, at El Paso (SDP) 2
Round Rock: 7 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 14-12, 3 GB, 58-42 overall

SP Robert Dugger: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 70 P / 44 S, 4.50 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 3.75 ERA
1B Blaine Crim: 1-3, BB, .272/.388/.484

I’ve no idea of the record for most consecutive walk-off losses, but Round Rock is well on the way to finding out. Three singles off John King in the 9th resulted in a third straight defeat in this fashion.

AA: Frisco 6, at Wichita (MIN) 7
Frisco: 9 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 14-12, 2 GB, 45-49 overall

SP Dane Acker: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 SO, 69 P / 38 S, 2.60 ERA
SS Chris Seise: 4-5, 2B, HR (12), .221/.287/.338
1B Josh Hatcher: 2-4, HR (6), .326/.358/.547

Another walk-off. Side-arming reliever John Matthews hit the first two batters and then threw errantly to third after fielding a sac bunt, bringing in the winning run.

As a result of Acuna and Saggese’s absences, Trevor Hauver played third base for the second time professionally and first as a Ranger. He never played there in college. Hauver was the target of Matthews’ throw and didn’t look comfortable covering the bag, but I couldn’t say from watching on MiLB.tv that a more seasoned 3B would have prevented an error. Aaron Zavala was removed in bottom of the 9th. He’d caught a seemingly routine fly to close the 8th. Recall that he missed a few days for a facial injury from a diving catch attempt. 1B Josh Hatcher took Zavala’s spot in right, and David Garcia covered first, the only time in 317 professional games he’s played without a mask.

Hi-A: Hickory 8, Hudson Valley (NYY) 6 (5)
Hickory: 9 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 19-9, 2.5 G up, 46-43 overall

SP Yohanse Morel: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 43 P / 26 S, 3.24 ERA
RP Larson Kindreich: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 3 SO, 5.80 ERA
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 2-3, HR (5), .262/.316/.355
2B Cam Cauley: 1-2, 2B, BB, SB (4), .306/.324/.639
1B Abimelec Ortiz: 2-3, 2B, HR (17), .337/.397/.723
C Tucker Mitchell: 1-3, HR (7), .278/.359/.451

Rain delayed the start and hastened the finish. Abimelec Ortiz hit his 24th homer. He has 17 in high-A, fourth most at the classification in just 46 games.

Lo-A: Down East 5, at Fayetteville (HOU) 4
Down East: 10 hits, 1 walk, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 7 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 14-15, 4.5 GB, 51-39 overall

SP Brock Porter: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 52 P / 32 S, 2.41 ERA
RP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 9.00 ERA
C Ian Moller: 2-5, SB (6), .176/.316/.303
3B Gleider Figuereo: 2-4, SB (5), .230/.319/.352

Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa stranded a leadoff double in the 9th to push the game to extras and then stranded the gift-runner in the 10th. Ian Moller singled in the winning run.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Robert
AA: Anderson
Hi-A: Santos