Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 13 June

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, Tacoma (SEA) 0
Round Rock: 8 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
Record: 33-32, 9.5 GB, eliminated

SP Johnny Cueto: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 87 P / 57 S, 5.91 ERA
RP Gerson Garabito: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1.78 ERA
CF Dustin Harris: 2-4, .259/.351/.382

Johnny Cueto was okay. He’s been better than his 5.91 ERA, but enough to supplant any of the six active Rangers who could start now, plus an on-the-way Max Scherzer? I think not. A relief role? Still hard to see. Having 40-member Gerson Garabito reel off four scoreless immediately after him doesn’t help.

Cueto has another opt-out arriving shortly. My guess is Texas would like him to stay, because AAA depth and reliability is valuable, but that’s not the type of value Cueto sees in himself, I suspect. If he departs, I’m sure he’ll latch on somewhere. The worst-case scenario is a few decent starts for some club’s overstretched AAA staff. Dallas Keuchel still has a job and in fact will be starting against the Express on Saturday. The teams should have rigged their rotations to have Cueto and Keuchel face each other.

Combined with Sugar Land’s victory, Round Rock was eliminated from first-half title contention.

AA: Frisco 5, Amarillo (ARI) 3
Frisco: 4 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 40-20, 5 G up, magic number 5

SP Ben Anderson: 5 IP, 5 H (2 HR), 3 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 80 P / 53 S, 4.28 ERA
RP Steven Jennings: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.45 ERA
RP Ricky DeVito: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 3.92 ERA
DH Liam Hicks: 1-4, HR (4), .281/.393/.391
C Cooper Johnson: 1-3, HR (5), .244/.347/.463

Down 3-0 in the 6th, catchers Liam Hicks and Cooper Johnson homered to plate three, and with two out and two strikes in the 8th, Cody Freeman lined a two-run single. Hicks is batting .444/.556/.778 with six extra-base hits in June. He had seven extra-base hits in April and May combined. He’s improved his slugging percentage 90 points in that time, an amazing feat this far into the season.

The win dropped Frisco’s magic number to five with nine to play. Second-place Midland’s path to a title involves something like taking two of three this weekend while Frisco loses twice, then winning five of six against Frisco next week. Both teams would have 42 wins, and Midland would advance based on an 8-4 head-to-head record.

Hi-A: Hickory 6, @ Aberdeen (BAL) 8 (10)
Hickory: 7 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 26-34, 7 GB, eliminated

SP Mitch Bratt: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 79 P / 53 S, 4.60 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Sebastian Walcott: 2-4, 2B, HBP, SB (8), .218/.338/.362

Yesterday, I mentioned Down East trailing from the 1st until the 9th but coming out ahead. The reverse befell Hickory last night. The Crawdads scored a run in the 1st and led 4-1 with three outs to record, but normally reliable Jackson Kelley allowed three runs for the first time all year. In the 10th, Yosy Galan drove in Cam Cauley (the gift-runner) and Sebastian Walcott (who’d been hit), but Adrian Rodriguez surrendered a walk, double, and three-run homer in the bottom half. Rodriguez has a live arm and iffy-or-worse control, and lately it’s been the “or worse,” consisting of a sub-50% strike rate and 18 walks or HBPs in his last 8.1 innings.

Mitch Bratt was unscored upon for the first time this season.

Anthony Gutierrez was 0-4 with an HBP and three steals. Cauley (1-4) stole a couple of bases.

Hickory is eliminated from first-half title contention.

Lo-A: Down East 6, Charleston (TAM) 5
Down East: 11 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 5 walks, 16 strikeouts
Record: 33-26, 4.5 GB, elimination number 3

SP Kohl Drake: 5 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 SO, 87 P / 53 S, 1.95 ERA
SS Echedry Vargas: 3-4, 2 HR (4), BB, .265/.326/.406
1B Arturo Disla: 3-4, BB, .262/.362/.398
LF Tommy Specht: 1-3, 2 BB, .184/.278/.234

Down East also lost a 9th-inning lead but recovered to post a second-straight walkoff. Down a run in the bottom of the 9th, Arturo Disla and Marcus Smith walked, and with two out, Tommy Specht and Chandler Pollard singled them home.

19-year-old Echedry Vargas posted his third two-homer day and first at Down East. He led last year’s rookie circuit with 11.

Kohl Drake pitched well yet again. Several Down East pitchers would appear ready for the next challenge, although one can’t just charter a bus to Hickory without knowing who’ll replace them. Paul Bonzagni, Drake’s tandem partner, unfortunately had one of his lesser days, throwing 30 pitches and failing to complete an inning.

Down East and first-place Carolina have played and will end up playing a different number of games (weather permitting), so the magic number math is funky. The Mudcats have two makeup doubleheader scheduled early next week. If the Woodies win their last six to finish 39-26, Carolina would surpass them with a 3-5 finish and a 40-26 record. Even if I’ve miscalculated somewhere, odds are slim.

Today’s Starters
AAA: White
AA: Krauth
Hi-A: Montalvo
Lo-A: TBA (Gonzalez, maybe)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
With a 1-0 victory, 48-19 Down East secured the best first-half record of any full-season Texas affiliate since at least 2005 (the beginning of the “modern” era in terms of record-keeping). Ricky Vanasco was named short-season Spokane’s Opening Day starter.