Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 23 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 9, Salt Lake (LAA) 1
Round Rock: 14 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 30-17, 1 G up, 74-47 overall

SP Owen White: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 76 P / 43 S, 4.59 ERA
RP Jonathan Hernandez: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1.35 ERA
RP Scott Engler: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 10.80 ERA
DH Justin Foscue: 3-5, .259/.384/.435
LF Dustin Harris: 2-5, SB (11), .263/.384/.449
SS Davis Wendzel: 1-3, HR (25), 2 BB, .242/.370/.501

For the second time in eight AAA starts, Owen White carried a no-hitter into the 5th. And for the second time, that statistic didn’t come close telling the whole story. He walked four and hit a batter while striking out two and generating three swinging strikes. Opponents swung at eight four-seam fastballs, never missed, put seven in play, and four of the seven were hit hard. White’s AAA swinging strike rate of 8.8% is ahead of four others on the Express: James Marvel and Bernardo Flores, two older free agents since released, and Nick Krauth and Triston Polley, two AA pitchers intermittently promoted to help out when shorthanded.

Unlike the toughest outings of Cole Winn and Jack Leiter, White’s control maladies aren’t painful to watch; he’s not having to mentally reset after every pitch. He’ll yell into his glove occasionally, but on the whole he’s as businesslike as ever. But every so often, he just stops throwing strikes. He walked two in a span of three batters in the 2nd, ten a hit batter and walk back-to-back in the 5th.

Jonathan Hernandez’s sinker velocity was down, topping at 96.8, but he was as effective as ever, and I’d like to think he’s first in line should the Rangers need a relief replacement.

Scott Engler was delayed in returning from Tommy John surgery and had struggled badly even in rookie ball. Last night, he showed his best form in two years, mixing a 94-95 fastball, 90-91 cutter, and 86-89 splitter. In his previous two outings, every splitter was a ball, but last night, all six resulted in strikes or outs. (Statcast is seemingly at random categorizing the pitch as a cutter, sinker, or change, even though they’re all fairly similar in speed, spin, and break. I manually coded everything with a sub-1300 RPM spin as a splitter. If Engler is somehow throwing a cutter with arm-side movement at 1,150 RPM, I’ll recode.)

Dustin Harris smartly scored from second on a grounder to third. 3B Kevin Padlo backhanded the ball deep down the line and unleashed a looping prayer of a throw that forced the 1B off the bag. Harris never stopped and scored under a belated tag.

On two occasions, Justin Foscue had a near-certain stolen base foiled by a foul ball and inning-ending strikeout. Foscue isn’t fast and isn’t even getting great leads, best as I can tell. He just seems to be very aware of and keen to exploit inattentive pitchers. 12 of his 17 career steals have come this season, and he stole a total of three in college.

CF Jonathan Ornelas had a nice full-stride catch of a deep liner to left-center. To be honest, I think he slightly misjudged its carry off the bat, but he was able to close on it. Ornelas hasn’t played much outfield in 2023 but seems comfortable and competent.

Round Rock won a franchise-best 14th consecutive game. Opponents are hitting .427 off 38-year-old Bees starter Cesar Valdez when they make contact, and it’s much more than bad luck and pitching at altitude. Davis Wendzel hit a solo shot in the 1st, and everybody had Valdez lined up the second time through the order.

AA: Frisco 6, at Midland (OAK) 7
Frisco: 8 hits, 5 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 24-23, 4 GB, 55-60 overall

SP Dane Acker: 3 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 5 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 7 SO, 79 P / 47 S, 3.55 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1.87 ERA
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 2-4, 2B, .288/.377/.455

CF Evan Carter tripled in four trips to the plate, and 2B Jax Biggers hit a three-run homer.

Texas released reliever Theo McDowell. The 2018 14th-rounder pitched succeeded at the A levels and threw the last two innings of a tag-team no-hitter with Mason Englert last year, but he struggled to retire batters at Frisco.

Hi-A: Hickory 3, Greenville (BOS) 2
Hickory: 6 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 33-16, 4.5 G up, 60-50 overall

SP Jose Corniell: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 SO, 76 P / 53 S, 3.22 ERA
RP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 1.42 ERA
DH Cam Cauley: 1-3, 2B, BB, .272/.333/.457
LF Wyatt Langford: 1-3, BB, .263/.408/.509
1B Abi Ortiz: 2-4, 2 2B, .290/.341/.624

Hickory didn’t hit much and not at all with runners in scoring position, but Abimelec Ortiz twice doubled in Wyatt Langford from first.

After a quick 8th, Andy Rodriguez couldn’t record the final out of the 9th, allowing five runners and two runs before Seth Clark entered to strike out Eduardo Lopez. Before them, Jose Corniell and Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa combined to shut out and two-hit the Drive for seven innings. Given that Corniell is starting earlier in the week, he’s lined up to start the opening game of a playoff series should Hickory win the division. He’s certainly the most qualified.

Lo-A: Down East 3, Fayetteville (HOU) 5 (10)
Down East: 3 hits, 4 walks, 21 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 24-26, 6 GB, 61-50 overall

SP Aidan Curry: 6 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 71 P / 50 S, 2.30 ERA
RP Skylar Hales: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 5.40 ERA

Whew. Down East sent 40 batters to the plate and struck out 21 times. Through six, the Woodies were hitless with 14 strikeouts, and for the night, they missed on 34 of 64 swings (54%).

Even so, Down East nearly won, loading the bases with none out in a tied 9th inning. I don’t need to tell you the results of the next three batters, do I? Down two in the 10th, the Woodies re-loaded the bases with two out, but Ian Moller was called out on strikes to end it.

Aidan Curry was good again.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Kent
AA: Nordlin
Hi-A: Santos
Lo-A: Leandro Lopez

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Jonathan Hernandez walked none and struck out eight in six scoreless innings at San Antonio. After missing batting practice because of a late, lengthy bus ride, Spokane put 34 runners on base in a 18-4 walloping of Salem-Keizer.

The previous day, Joe Palumbo in his AA debut held San Antonio to a run with eight strikeouts in five innings. San Antonio started Chris Paddack (currently recovering from TJ surgery) and closed with Andres Munoz, now saving games for Seattle.