Rangers Farm Report

I’d planned on saving the writeup on Davis Wendzel’s MLB promotion until Tuesday morning, but since he’s starting tonight, I’ll go ahead and send it.

Wendzel has spent most of his pro career on the left side of the infield with a small majority of games at short, slightly less time at third, and a handful of games at second. Unlike Justin Foscue, most of his errors are with the glove. While his fielding isn’t elite, it isn’t going to limit whatever becomes of his MLB career.

If you want your hitters to sell out for power, Wendzel is your man. He led the Pacific Coast League in homers last year with 30 homers and has collected three more in just nine games in 2024. Nobody on the Express gets the ball airborne as often. Wendzel’s walk/HBP rate is exceptional, comparable to Foscue. He posted a 108 OPS+ last year, league-average in getting on base and above in slugging.

The downside of so many skyward shots are a bunch of easily catchable flies. Last year, 22% of his balls in play were in excess of 45 degrees. Of 71 in play, he had one single and one windblown-on-a-hot-night homer. Combined with an above-average K rate, 44% of his at-bats last year concluded with a strikeout or pop. Thus, a .236 batting average. (Note: I don’t differentiate between infield flies and deeper high flies. Anything 46+ degrees is nearly always an out.)

Wendzel has a huge and problematic platoon split. During 2022-2024 in AAA, he’s batted .333/.435/.681 against lefties but only .189/.297/.369 against righties. He still hits for power and draws free passes against righties, but he strikes out much more often and succeeds far less often on balls in play. Related to the platoon split is difficulty against breaking stuff compared to fastballs. He’s hardly alone in that regard, but his whiff rate and production against sliders and curves declines precipitously.

These are the factors underlying his impressive top-line numbers that have kept him out of MLB to date. That and having Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, and Josh Jung as regulars. He was going to make the Majors at some point but would need a break. Unfortunately, the break was an oblique injury to Justin Foscue, but in any case, congratulations to Wendzel.