Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 18 June

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 5, @ Sacramento (SFO) 0
Round Rock: 6 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Record: 34-35, eliminated

SP Jack Leiter: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 8 SO, 101 P / 71 S, 3.61 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 1.69 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.25 ERA
2B Jax Biggers: 1-3, HR (2), BB, .264/.405/.365

After a couple of starts that had me muttering “it’s a marathon not a sprint” in my sleep, Leiter improved to dominant but still walk-prone last week, and to simply dominant last night. He’d posted zero walks before, and zero runs, but every walk-free outing had been marred one one or more homers, and the scoreless outings had a few hiccups. Last night, the execution was nearly flawless with matching results.

Leiter had a 70% strike rate. He’s approached that level in the past, but those were remedial 2023 starts in which he leaned almost exclusively on the fastball. Last night’s pitch mix was typical, perhaps with even a few more changeups. Every pitch contributed to the 14 missed bats, including two curves and two changes. If anything, the fastball was the negative outlier, with only four misses out of 29 swings. Leiter’s 101 pitches are the most by anyone in the system in 2024. He accomplished this against an offense that is average in runs scored but better in both walks taken and strikeouts avoided.

Texas’s four full-season teams combined for just five extra-base hits last night, led by Jax Biggers’ homer. The ex-Razorback isn’t a statcast darling but has a terrific batting eye, leading the organization with 35 walks (despite not-quite-regular playing time) and generating 40% fewer swinging strikes than the average PCL hitter.

In his first 2024 appearance, reliever Chase Lee (hip) allowed a runs on three hits and struck out two in an inning for the rookies.

AA: Frisco 1, @ Midland (OAK) 2
Frisco: 8 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 43-21, division champion

SP Josh Stephan: 5 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 79 P / 51 S, 5.05 ERA
RF Josh Hatcher: 2-4, 2B, .301/.338/.461

The win streak ended at seven against the division rival, but last I checked, no team had ever lost a seven-game lead with five to play. 26 days ago, Frisco lost to Midland 5-3 to fall 2.5 games behind the RockHounds. After that, Frisco won the last two games of the series, reeled off winning streaks of nine and seven, and went 18-3 until last night, while formerly 28-15 Midland lost 13 of 20. I’m happy the games elapsed this way, as the daily “five years ago” research forced me to relive Frisco losing nine of ten down the stretch to fall from first to a last-place 33-36.

Josh Stephan has only one ordinary outing this season; the others are a mix of good-or-better like last night or more runs than innings pitched.

Hi-A: Hickory 2, Bowling Green (TAM) 5
Hickory: 4 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 27-37, eliminated

SP DJ McCarty: 6 IP, 6 H (2 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 87 P / 63 S, 4.05 ERA
RP Luis Ramirez: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 6.58 ERA
RP DJ Peters: 2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 8.31 ERA

Hickory has mid-pack run prevention at home, built on being slightly better in all respects save homers, which have been plentiful. Only Asheville at 52 has surrendered more than Hickory’s 43 in the Sally. Comparatively, Rome in its much more pitcher-friendly park has allowed only eight.

Lo-A: Down East 6, @ Fredericksburg (WAS) 1
Down East: 8 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 35-28, eliminated

SP David Davalillo: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 69 P / 43 S, 1.71 ERA
RP Justin Sanchez: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 5.51 ERA
RP Victor Simeon: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3.86 ERA
C Jesus Lopez: 2-5, .284/.340/.412
1B Marcos Torres: 2-3, BB, .190/.277/.301
LF Tommy Specht: 2-3, BB, 2 SB (5), .193/.289/.240

David Davalillo added some extra strikeouts to his typically solid outing. In ye olden days, a 24% K rate would be cause for celebration. Now, it’s slightly below league average. Regardless, Davalillo has been very stingy with walks and hits, making for a fine first full season. I liked what I saw of hard-throwing Victor Simeon in March, but my honest impression was that his more-than-occasional wildness would delay his ascent to full-season ball. Instead, he joined the Woodies after just one rookie appearance (1 IP, 3 BB). He has indeed walked or hit eight in 11.2 innings but also struck out a third of his opponents and allowed only six hits. Now 23, Simeon was signed in May 2019 out of the DR but hadn’t made much impression stateside until recently.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Cueto
AA: Garcia
Hi-A: Lobus
Lo-A: TBA (Trentadue / B. Mendoza)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Jason Bahr and Yerry Rodriguez threw scoreless innings for the All-Stars in the high-A Carolina League and low-A South Atlantic League, respectively. OF Leody Taveras and 3B Ryan Dorow had two hits apiece for the high-A squad, and 3B Jonathan Ornelas and OF Pedro Gonzalez did the same for the low-A side. The 2021 minor league reorganization eliminated All-Star games.