Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 29 May
Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 0, El Paso (SDP) 8
Round Rock: 7 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 9 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 28-24, 5.5 GB

SP Jack Leiter: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 1 SO, 59 P / 31 S, 3.94 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 3.31 ERA
RP Cole Winn: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 5.06 ERA
RF Sandro Fabian: 3-4, 2 2B, .329/.378/.555

A closed Highway 130 delayed my arrival to the game until the 2nd inning, so I missed most of Jack Leiter’s first poor AAA outing. In six starts, he hadn’t allowed more than three runs or walked more than he struck out. No longer. Leiter had a 30% zone rate with the fastball, and the Chihuahuas weren’t biting. He missed four bats with the slider, but El Paso also had a good grasp on how to square them up. Nothing to do but hope the next start makes last night a blip instead of a trend.

Antoine Kelly missed on 16 of 23 pitches, walked two, allowed two hits and recorded only one out. Unfortunately, his situation is definitely a trend. Two weeks ago, Kelly departed with what appeared to be a scary elbow or forearm injury but instead was only a cramp per local media. He returned after a week, but his success hasn’t, and his fastball velocity continues to decline. Before last night, his slowest fastball was 89.7 MPH, the last pitch he threw before exiting hurt. Wednesday, he threw five fastballs slower than that, bottoming out at 87. Statcast described them as cutters, and I suppose that’s possible, but they’d be the first cutters he’s ever thrown in AAA, and they had the same tail as his fastball.

More promising was Cole Winn. Winn was erratic and blew a save last weekend in his first appearance back in AAA, but he was on point last night, not blowing everyone away but solid enough to retire big-league hitters, I’d venture.

AA: Frisco 6, @ San Antonio (SDP) 3 (7)
Frisco: 8 hits, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

SP Ryan Garcia: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 92 P / 58 S, 4.46 ERA
DH Liam Hicks: 2-4, 2B, .240/.348/.300
3B Cody Freeman: 1-2, 2 BB, SB (6), .298/.359/.490
1B Josh Hatcher: 1-3, HR (5), BB, SB (6), .316/.358/.478

AA: Frisco 6, San Antonio (SDP) 4 (7)
Frisco: 6 hits, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 30-17, 1 G up

SP Florencio Serrano: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 53 P / 33 S, 3.97 ERA
CF Kellen Strahm: 2-3, BB, SB (8), .300/.390/.413

Meet your first-place Frisco RoughRiders. Frisco played as the home team in the nightcap to make up a mid-May DFW rainout. Kellen Strahm was the hero, singling in the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the 6th, then stealing second and scampering all the way home on an offline throw by the catcher and failed bare-hand grab by the CF. 27 as of last month, Strahm was a 5th-round senior sign out of San Jose State. He had a good season in Frisco in 2022 but backslid some last year, preventing a possible promotion to AAA. This year, he’s resumed his better pace.

Frisco has the league’s best record and second-best in AA behind Birmingham (31-16).

Hi-A: Hickory 9, @ Winston-Salem (CHW) 2
Hickory: 11 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 19-28,

SP Ryan Lobus: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 7 SO, 85 P / 56 S, 2.87 ERA
RP DJ Peters: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 SO, 13.50 ERA
RF Alejandro Osuna: 2-4, BB, .267/.333/.442
2B Cam Cauley: 1-3, 3B, BB, .156/.208/.244
SS Sebastian Walcott: 3-4, 2B, .193/.331/.314

Nearly two months into the season, we have the first appearance from both Cam Cauley and Sebastian Walcott in a recap. Cauley did miss nearly a month to injury but also has been mouse-quiet for the most part, collecting only one multi-hit game and one homer outside the complex all season. He has a 34% strikeout rate off the IL, which is nothing new, but he’s also not accounting for much on contact, which is an unwelcome change. Walcott is actually slugging less in May than April but has been better in all respects otherwise. The Rangers have his highlights from last night.

Ryan Lobus settled for 14 missed bats after last week’s 21 plus a career-high 12 strikeouts. His slider is menacing, and everything he throws seems to have an extra little squiggle, even his four-seamer at times. In his second full-season outing, DJ Peters had a 57% strike rate, not good overall but with enough good stretches to record two scoreless innings.

Lo-A: Down East 3, Fredericksburg (WAS) 5
Down East: 8 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 3 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 25-21, 3.5 GB

SP Josh Trentadue: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 6 SO, 65 P / 41 S, 4.60 ERA
RP Brayan Mendoza: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3.06 ERA
SS Echedry Vargas: 3-5, 2B, 2 SB (6), .250/.308/.361

With two errors last night, Echedry Vargas has 16 in 24 games at shortstop. Errors are an overrated  but not useless stat, and having that many in that few games is a problem. I’m reminded of Odubel Herrera, who in 2012 had 28 errors in 60 games at short by mid-June. There would be no 29th. He switched to second and eventually the outfield, and other than a couple of innings as a mid-game replacement the next season, he’d never play short again. I’m not suggesting the 19-year-old Vargas could be banished from the position in a few weeks, but the situation is worth watching. On the flip side, Vargas is having a nice May at the plate: .270/.333/.348 with a 15% K rate.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Cueto
AA: B. Anderson
Hi-A: Bratt

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Sam Huff knocked his organization-leading 18th homer in a 7-2 win for Down East, 36-17 and leading the division by 6.5 games. Teammate Leody Taveras singled, walked, and stole his 14th base.