Yesterday, the Rangers promoted IF Sebastian Walcott to high-A Hickory. In the evening, they announced Wyatt Langford would head to AA Frisco.
I’ll confess that both moves surprised me. In recent years, the Rangers have dialed back on such aggressive moves. Walcott is highly regarded and had a fine debut for a 17-year-old in rookie ball, but not without some distress. He batted .167/.228/.292 with a 37% strikeout rate across the final month. I’d assumed that he was done since the rookie season ended nearly two weeks ago, or that, if anywhere, he’d head to low-A both because of the single-level jump and an injury to fellow IF Echedry Vargas, assigned to Down East a few days ago. Instead, Walcott joins a high-A squad before reaching adulthood.
As for Langford, I again assumed he’d stay put. Langford has been playing real games since mid-February, and at Hickory he was getting occasional days off and spending nearly a third of his time at DH. This gave the appearance of allowing him to ease into life as a professional. Also, I thought Texas might let Langford hang around to play for a team that is likely playoff-bound, while Frisco’s hopes are in serious jeopardy. He’s looking at close to the same number of games in either location.
Frisco is at home today at 6pm for a rare Monday game, and Langford is expected to be active, but I don’t know yet if active means in the lineup. Frisco will be off Tuesday and resume the series Wednesday. I think I might be there Thursday.
AAA: Round Rock 1, at Oklahoma City (LAD) 9
Round Rock: 3 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 6 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 35-22, 1 G up, 79-52 overall
SP Owen White: 4 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 5 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 74 P / 41 S, 5.21 ERA
Evan Carter lined a pitch from rehabbing Walker Buehler 101 MPH… into the second baseman’s glove. Still impressive.
Round Rock was 4-14 with a -48 run differential against OKC this year. Should the Express hold the division lead, they’ll meet again in the best-of-three PCL Championship.
AA: Frisco 5, Corpus Christi (HOU) 7
Frisco: 11 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 28-29, 5 GB, 59-66 overall, elimination number 8
SP Jack Leiter: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 61 P / 42 S, 5.27 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 6.41 ERA
LF Aaron Zavala: 2-5, .202/.356/.296
C Liam Hicks: 2-4, HBP, .273/.398/.384
Using an even more narrowly tailored repertoire than his first start off the Development List, Jack Leiter excelled again.
Leiter threw 52 fastballs out of 61 pitches, 37 (71%) for strikes, in a range of 96-99 MPH. Opponents swung at 31 heaters and missed 14. Leiter emphasized working high. By my count, Leiter threw 24 pitches upstairs, generating 10 swinging strikes, seven fouls, and nothing in play. As has always been the case, it’s an unhittable pitch when located decently. Leiter threw only nine benders that generated a grounder and some fouls, but under these circumstances they were just to prevent hitters from being too complacent. A deeper outing was stymied by Kenedy Corona, who fouled off seven straight pitches before fanning on pitch number 13 to lead off the 3rd. Leiter started 3-0 to Corona and then delivered ten consecutive strikes. Though he did issue a walk and another three-ball count, like last time out he was always in control.
Hi-A: Hickory 9, at Greensboro (PIT) 0
Hickory: 9 hits, 7 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 38-21, 3 G up, 65-55 overall, magic number 4
SP Jose Corniell: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 37 P / 23 S, 3.14 ERA
RP Juan Mejia: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 4.15 ERA
RP Larson Kindreich: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 5.24 ERA
RF Alejandro Osuna: 0-1, 3 BB, .262/.382/.384
SS Cam Cauley: 1-3, HR (5), BB, .261/.343/.443
LF Wyatt Langford: 2-5, 2B, HR (5), .333/.453/.644
DH Sebastian Walcott: 1-4, 2B
2B Max Acosta: 1-3, BB, HBP, 2 SB (26), .252/.304/.383
Langford doubled and homered to right-center in his final high-A game. On Tuesday, he homered off the same pitcher and pitch.
On an 0-2 count, Walcott impressively smacked a curve just inside the line for a double. He later grounded out twice, popped up, and walked.
Hickory took four of six against the fist-half division winner.
Lo-A: Down East 2, at Carolina (MIL) 7
Down East: 6 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 27-33, 9 GB, 64-57 overall
SP Brock Porter: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 55 P / 37 S, 2.47 ERA
CF Jojo Blackmon: 1-3, BB, SB (28), .210/.322/.366
Brock Porter reached four innings with only one walk or HBP for the second time this season. Porter needed 30 pitches to work through the 3rd but only allowed a run. His other three innings required only 25 pitches.
Five Years Ago Yesterday
The seasons for the four full-season squads concluded with an aggregate record of 320-367, worst since 2006 and the first time since then that no team reached the postseason. Let us not speak of those days again.
Texas would add RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx, LHP C.D. Pelham, RHP Adrian Sampson, IF Hanser Alberto and OF Willie Calhoun to the active roster. Other recent additions were LHP Yohander Mendez, LHP Zac Curtis, and RHP Connor Sadzeck.
We’re not quite done yet with 2018 because short-season Spokane did make the playoffs.