Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 29 March

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, Sugar Land (HOU) 4
Round Rock: 4 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 0-1, 1 GB

SP Owen White: 4 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 79 P / 50 S, 9.00 ERA
RP Cole Winn: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
LF Dustin Harris: 1-3, BB

Owen White offered the reverse of the Jekyll/Hyde performance I saw in Surprise. This time, Hyde (the bad guy) arrived first. White needed 51 pitches to complete the first two innings, walking two and allowing a two-run homer and deep double to right-center. His velocity was fine (92-95 fastball), a couple of tics above what he often dealt in 2023, but basic control was absent, resulting in three three-ball counts in addition to the walks.

Dr. Jekyll arrived in the 3rd. White needed only 26 pitches in the next two innings, regaining his control such that he could deceive opponents with first-pitch changeups and sliders, and nothing but sliders to one batter followed by nothing but fastballs to another. Much, much better. A single to start the 5th ended his night. On the whole, White did throw a higher percentage of swinging strikes than he averaged last year, and he dealt first-pitch strikes to 12 of 18 batters.

I don’t wish to make such an ominous pronouncement on day one of the minor league season, but here it is: The difference between White’s second two innings and first two is the difference between getting back to the Majors and not. Mr. Hyde can’t be out there throwing half his innings.

I’d marked a couple of early pitches from Cole Winn as changeups, but they looked a little funny, tending to dive in toward left-handed batters’ feet. Statcast called them sinkers. Statcast can get a little carried away with pitch categorizations in the minors, and the spin and movement figures were in the same range as his straight change, but yeah, many of them appeared to be sinkers. Winn hit a batter and walked another, but the sinker (or sinker-change tandem) was effective, and every pitch had its moments. A new, effective pitch in Winn’s arsenal would be a blessing, and after his trying Spring Training, it’s nice to be able to look forward to his next outing.

Offensively, the Express didn’t cause a fuss until the 9th. Facing Wander Suero, who as an OKC Dodger threw the final pitch of Round Rock’s season in the Pacific Coast League finals, Davis Wendzel was hit by a pitch and Matt Duffy doubled. With two out, Sandro Fabian doubled them home. After another, uglier HBP that forced CF Derek Hill out of the game, Justin Foscue lined a 3-2 cutter directly into Suero’s glove.

Sugar Land starter Spencer Arrighetti had his own trouble throwing strikes, walking five in 4.1 IP, but he allowed only two singles and befuddled the Express with a mean sweeper. 11 swings against it generated eight whiffs, two fouls and a batted out. All eight misses were on pitches outside the zone.

Jonathan Ornelas generated solid exit velocities last year, but his production was limited by the highest grounder rate in the PCL. He had Round Rock’s two hardest-hit balls last night (105.3 MPH and 104.2), both on the ground, resulting in three outs.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Leiter (and Lorenzen)

Round Rock’s starting lineup (minus catcher Sam Huff), right to left