Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 27 August

While control has never been Jonathan Hernandez’s strong suit, the last time he’d walked three straight batters was early in last year’s rehab assignment following Tommy John surgery. In the time leading up to his return yesterday, you’d have to count back 29 batters to total three walks. In a tie game with the gift-runner on second, the home team has about an 80% chance of winning entering the inning, but to lose that way is crushing. On to Queens.

And Jack is back.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 11, Salt Lake (LAA) 2
Round Rock: 16 hits, 10 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 33-18, 3 G up, 77-48 overall

SP Robert Dugger: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 4 SO, 96 P / 53 S, 4.36 ERA
CF Elier Hernandez: 3-6, 2B, .311/.369/.513
DH Sam Huff: 3-3, 2B, HR (16), 2 BB, .298/.397/.548
RF Sandro Fabian: 2-4, BB, .300/.348/.559
3B Justin Foscue: 1-2, HR (13), 3 BB, .261/.388/.443

Everyone in the lineup reached at least twice in another demolition of Salt Lake. Dustin Harris and Jonathan Ornelas singled twice, and Blaine Crim doubled and walked.

For the past three weeks, Round Rock has played as well as any team I’ve ever covered. 17 wins in 18 games, an average of 8.1 runs scored per game versus 3.9 allowed, a team slash line of .305/.403/.502. A 14-10 finish would give the Express the best-ever record by a Texas AAA club. Round Rock next visits nemesis Oklahoma City followed by El Paso, then closes out against the two closest in the standings, Las Vegas and Tacoma.

AA: Frisco 8, at Midland (OAK) 2
Frisco: 9 hits, 9 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 0 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 26-25, 3 GB, 57-62 overall

SP Jack Leiter: 3 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 49 P / 32 S, 5.40 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, .284/.411/.451
1B Josh Hatcher: 1-3, 2 BB, .246/.299/.413
C David Garcia: 1-3, 2 BB, .216/.353/.299
3B Frainyer Chavez: 2-3, HR (3), BB, .255/.368/.499

About an hour before game-time, Frisco announced Jack Leiter’s addition to the active roster as Sunday’s starter. His return began inauspiciously, as leadoff hitter Caeden Trinkle turned an 0-2 inside slider into a souvenir. Thereafter, Leiter was never seriously threatened, dispatching nine of the next 11 batters without too much trouble. His slider may have been the most dazzling, if also erratic. Some were running too far outside from the get-go and easy to lay off. His other two hits were on sliders he’d want back. The fastball was most consistent. He largely avoided the glove-side issues that plagued earlier starts and was effective up high. It is well beyond the means of AA hitters when dealt effectively. He also mixed in a few effective curves. Leiter didn’t walk anyone, reached only one three-ball count, and always appeared comfortable and on track. All told, a promising return.

Matt Bush, Robby Ahlstrom, Triston Polley, and Antoine Kelly threw scoreless innings.

Hi-A: Hickory 5, Greenville (BOS) 10
Hickory: 11 hits, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 34-19, 4 G up, 61-53 overall, magic number 9

SP Winston Santos: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 18 P / 13 S, 6.21 ERA
RP Josh Gessner: 0.2 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 14.54 ERA
SS Max Acosta: 1-5, HR (10), .251/.297/.379
DH Wyatt Langford: 2-4, 2B, BB, SB (6), .314/.455/.586
1B Abi Ortiz: 2-4, 2B, BB, .300/.350/.638

One pre-draft observation about Wyatt Langford was that he had more speed than was apparent in games. So far at Hickory, he’s attempting to steal more than twice as often as during his college days.

Winston Santos worked as an opener, presumably because his start earlier in the week was so short. Originally announced starter Josh Gessner was removed after 29 pitches in the 2nd. Rocky DeVito struck out three in two scoreless innings.

Hickory leads by four games with either 12 or 13 to play. An earlier rainout at Winston-Salem remains a mystery. Winston-Salem announced the game was cancelled, but every other official source indicates the game will be made up in Hickory during the season’s final week. Nothing is scheduled. Regardless, I believe Hickory’s magic number is nine. Trailing Bowling Green would win a tiebreaker. Should the Crawdads prevail, they would host host the first game of a best-of-three against first-half champ Greenville on September 12.

Lo-A: Down East 2, Fayetteville (HOU) 3
Down East: 3 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 25-29, tied for first, 62-53 overall

SP Bryan Chi: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 73 P / 47 S, 3.52 ERA
RP Brayan Mendoza: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 3.02 ERA

My preference is to write about players having good games, not teams having bad months, but Down East isn’t giving me any material lately. For the week, Down East batted .171/.296/.219 with six extra-base hits (none of them homers) and 91 strikeouts, most by any Texas affiliate in a six-game series.

In his full-season debut, RF Marcos Torres drew a walk in four trips to the plate. Bryan Chi was okay, if not to his lofty standards. His first homer allowed in low-A plated all the runs.

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Contra the 2023 squad, the 2018 Express would need a 6-1 finish to avoid the worst record of their eight seasons in Round Rock. They would win four to finish at 65-73. Both DSL teams won the opening games of their best-of-three playoff series. Ronny Henriquez (6 IP, 3 R), SS Keyber Rodriguez (1-3, 2 BB), and Heriberto Hernandez (HR, 2 BB) featured for one club.