Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 3 September

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.

Box Scores

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.

Today’s Starters

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.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 1 September

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, at Oklahoma City (LAD) 2
Round Rock: 11 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 35-20, 1.5 G up, 79-50 overall

SP Marc Church: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 2 SO, 41 P / 20 S, 3.06 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 4.60 ERA
RP Jake Latz: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 4.30 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 2-4, 2B, BB, .264/.392/.442
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 3-4, 2B, .253/.365/.359

Last night, Corey Seager homered at 114.4 MPH, his hardest-hit ball of the season. Soon after, someone with the Express hit a ball the exact velocity. Care to guess? Not Sam Huff; he was called up yesterday.

Jonathan Ornelas, who now has the highest exit velo reading of any fair ball hit in an Express game this season. Ornelas’s hard-hit rate of 33% is slightly below average, but the top side of his range is strong. His 90th-percentile velo is 104.3, higher than anyone on the team except Sam Huff and Blaine Crim. Ornelas is hitting .633 and slugging .967 on the top 10% of his exit velocities, which sounds impressive but actually isn’t. The respective figures for all hitters in Round Rock’s games are .688 and 1.452. Ornelas is easily the most grounder-oriented on the team, so a good number of those scorchers end up singles or outs. Fly-ball master Davis Wendzel is batting .862 and slugging 2.138 on his hardest-hit balls.

AA: Frisco 2, Corpus Christi (HOU) 3 (9)
Frisco: 3 hits, 4 walks, 16 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 2 walks, 17 strikeouts
Record: 28-27, 3 GB, 59-64 overall

SP Ryan Garcia: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 77 P / 53 S, 7.11 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 2.02 ERA
RP Antoine Kelly: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 1.95 ERA

The game was shortened to seven innings because of a lengthy delay but lasted nine anyway. Neither team scored during the regular frames. Frisco committed three errors in the two extra innings, although two of Corpus’s three runs would have scored regardless. Ryan Garcia had a heartening outing after lasting a combined 2.1 innings in his previous two starts.  

Hi-A: Hickory 10, at Greensboro (PIT) 8
Hickory: 11 hits, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 37-20, 4 G up, 64-54 overall

SP Mitch Bratt: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 38 P / 21 S, 3.72 ERA
SS Max Acosta: 1-4, HR (11), BB, .251/.302/.384
LF Wyatt Langford: 3-4, 2B, BB, SB (7), .346/.474/.641
1B Abi Ortiz: 3-5, HR (24), .298/.356/.629
RF Yosy Galan: 1-4, HR (5), .236/.290/.438

Wyatt Langford returned after a couple of games off. In addition to the usual batting heroics, Langford saved a possible walk-off by tracking down a liner to the gap. It’s early and I’m only going off MiLB.tv video, but my impression is that Langford is taking advantage of his speed as a professional. The complaint at Florida is that his solid speed didn’t produce the expected benefit in the field or on the bases. On a combination of speed and smarts, Langford also legged out a double on an ordinary medium-hard fly to left-center.

Mitch Bratt returned from a lat injury and pitched well in an intentionally short outing.

Abimelec Ortiz: most homers in high-A, third most in the minors.

Lo-A: Down East 3, at Carolina (MIL) 4 (11)
Down East: 7 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts

SP Joseph Montalvo: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 4 SO, 53 P / 33 S, 2.75 ERA
RP Skylar Hales: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 2.84 ERA
DH Anthony Gutierrez: 1-1, BB, .259/.326/.338
CF Jojo Blackmon: 1-3, BB
LF Tommy Specht: 2-3, BB, .232/.335/.300

Lo-A: Down East 4, at Carolina (MIL) 0 (7)
Down East: 9 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Record: 27-31, 7 GB, 64-55 overall

SP Leandro Lopez: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 46 P / 28 S, 3.11 ERA
RP Eury Rosado: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1.86 ERA
CF Jojo Blackmon: 2-3, 2B, 3B, BB, .208/.321/.368
C Ian Moller: 2-3, 2B, .190/.328/.300

Low-A hitters are in trouble against an in-control Leandro Lopez. In his last four starts, Lopez has walked two versus 20 strikeouts in 14 innings, and the ERA is 1.93. For the rest of the season, Lopez has a 19% BB/HBP rate.

DH Anthony Gutierrez exited after sliding into second halfway through the opener. Echedry Vargas is on the IL one day after pulling his left hand off the bat early into his swing on Thursday.

4th-rounder Skylar Hales has three increasingly long scoreless appearances in a row after allowing runs in each of his first three pro outings.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Dugger
AA: Krauth
Hi-A: Gessner
Lo-A: TBA (Porter day)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Spokane won 6-0 behind 5.2 scoreless from Jake Latz and a homer and single from JP Martinez. Spokane had gained three games in the standings in three days and needed to win just one of the next two to claim a playoff spot.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 31 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 2, at Oklahoma City (LAD) 4
Round Rock: 7 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 10 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 24-20, 1 G up, 68-50 overall

SP Matt Bush: 2 IP, 1 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 30 P / 22 S, 4.50 ERA
RP Jonathan Hernandez: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 SO, 1.24 ERA
RP Ian Kennedy: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 SO, 3.65 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 1 SO, 3.65 ERA
Kyle Cody: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 5.64 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-4, BB, SB (2)

I listed every pitcher to give an idea of who might (not) be called up today as rosters expand. Listed starters for the weekend are Marc Church, Robert Dugger, and Owen White.

Good news: Hitters swung at seven Alex Speas pitches and missed five. Bad news: Hitters took 21 Alex Speas pitches and drew 18 balls.

Evan Carter is 7-14 with a double and walk through three AAA games. All the statcast info is glowing.

AA: Frisco 11, Corpus Christi (HOU) 10
Frisco: 13 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 8 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 28-26, 2 GB, 59-63 overall

SP Seth Nordlin: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 89 P / 57 S, 5.43 ERA
LF Aaron Zavala: 1-3, BB, HBP, .201/.360/.296
1B Trevor Hauver: 2-4, 2B, HR (12), HBP, .263/.379/.432
C Liam Hicks: 2-5, 2B, SB (4), .278/.402/.395

Frisco built enough of a lead to survive Corpus’s five-run 9th. In his second AA outing, Andy Rodriguez walked three for the first time as a professional and was replaced by Aidan Anderson for the final out. Rodriguez had a sub-10% walk rate at Hickory. The Riders pinned eight runs on starter Blair Henley (hook ’em).

Frisco pulled up to two games out of first, closest in nearly three weeks. The Riders close the season at division-leading Amarillo. Hopefully, the games have meaning beyond incremental prospect development.

Hi-A: Hickory 7, at Greensboro (PIT) 4
Hickory: 8 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 9 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 36-20, 4 G up, 63-54 overall, magic number 6

SP Aidan Curry: 3 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 3 R, 4 BB, 2 SO, 70 P / 39 S, 9.00 ERA
RP Jackson Leath: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Seth Clark: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 2.70 ERA
2B Cam Cauley: 3-5, .274/.339/.443
1B Abi Ortiz: 1-3, 2 BB, .292/.352/.618

Hickory never trailed and didn’t have to ward off an angry comeback. Max Acosta hit a three-run double before Greensboro recorded an out.

Texas promoted Aidan Curry from Down East, and last night’s tougher high-A environment included 2022 4th-overall pick Termarr Johnson. Curry twice walked Johnson, who has 102 combined walks and HBPs in 98 games. Johnson is 19, a young 19 at that. The 21-year-old undrafted Curry posted a 2.30 ERA in 82 low-A innings with 29 walks and 99 strikeouts.

Trailing Bowling Green split a make-up doubleheader.

Lo-A: Down East 4, at Carolina (MIL) 7
Down East: 6 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Record: 26-30, 7 GB, 63-54 overall

SP DJ McCarty: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 7 SO, 63 P / 43 S, 3.23 ERA
3B Miguel Villarroel: 3-4, 2 2B, SB (15), .239/.284/.352
RF Jojo Blackmon: 1-4, HR (8), .203/.312/.355

Echedry Vargas’s full-season debut was brief. After lining a single in the 1st, Vargas took an awkward, one-handed swing leading off the 3rd, walked to the trainer, and exited the game. Replacement Danyer Cueva struck out, attributed to Vargas.

DJ McCarty had one of his best outings of the season, while Thomas Ireland (3 IP, 8 H, 6 R) has found the transition to low-A difficult.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Church
AA: Garcia
Hi-A: Teodo
Lo-A: TBA x 2

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Spokane won 4-3 to keeps its postseason hopes alive. Sherten Apostel clubbed a three-run homer. Emmanuel Clase threw two scoreless innings and hadn’t allowed a run in two months.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 30 August

The Cleveland Guardians executed successful waiver claims on pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez and Matt Moore. Cincinnati nabbed OFs Hunter Renfroe and Harrison Bader. The first four players were waived by the Angels. Bader was a Yankee.

Rosters expand to 28 tomorrow. Eligible choices from the 40-man roster are pitchers Cody Bradford, Zak Kent, Yerry Rodriguez, Alex Speas, Owen White, and Cole Winn (pitchers Grant Anderson and Jonathan Hernandez were optioned too recently to return).C Sam Huff, 1B/OF Dustin Harris, and IF Jonathan Ornelas are eligible batters. Just for fun, I gave myself the task of adding two non-40 players. Who isn’t on the 40 now who could help the Rangers most down the stretch? (I’m ignoring having to designate others to make room. Let’s just pretend we can raise the roster to 42.)Pitcher
Choices are Matt Bush, Marc Church, Kyle Cody, Antoine Kelly, Ian Kennedy, Jake Latz, and Chase Lee. 

Bush and Kennedy have plenty of MLB experience and would comfortably enter a high-pressure environment. However, both were released during 2023, not without reason. Would they be helpful? If the Rangers could answer that affirmatively, one of them would already be up, I think. Also, performing this exercise and landing on someone like Kennedy (no offense to him) is boring. Kyle Cody also has MLB experience and is in the midst of his best stretch in ages: a scoreless 15.1 innings with four walks and 11 strikeouts.

Antoine Kelly has pitched as well as any reliever in the system, especially during the past six weeks. He’s still in AA though, which gives me pause, and I also have seen the least of him in person.

Lefty Jake Latz’s recent stretch outshines Cody: just 12 scoreless innings but 18 strikeouts (a 38% rate) and four walks. He’s been the team’s primary high-leverage reliever lately, notching four saves in his last eight outings. On the downside, earlier in the season he mixed these kinds of recent performances with some really rough outings, and righties are hitting .309/.378/.489 against him.

Lee has a 32% strikeout rate, and the rest is acceptable, including good-enough control, an oppo line of .247/.336/.385, and a 3.25 ERA. At times he’s invincible. Sometimes, not so much. I think I’d put him in the same bucket as Grant Anderson. He could really befuddle hitters at times, but in the longer run there’s a limit to what he could accomplish.

If I could bring up a pitch as opposed to an entire pitcher, it would be Marc Church’s slider. 23% of all his sliders and 51% of swings against them have been strikes. On plate appearances concluding with a slider, opponents are hitting .145/.232/.194 with a 42% strikeout rate. Unfortunately, the fastball, while speedy, is the polar opposite: more walks than strikeouts and a line of .351/.493/.543, plus a 47% hard-hit rate. Alarming.

Hmm. I have changed my mind half a dozen times than on this, and part of me wants to say “eh, just pick Bush.” He is the safest pick, even though he’s not at all his former self and would be best in lower-leverage situations. But that’s no fun (no offense to him). I wish I had a better grasp on Kelly. At long last, I am going to choose the hot hand in the form of Jake Latz, who can’t be a LOOGY under current rules but could hopefully succeed against lefty-heavy portions of opposing lineups. His fastball is a steady 95, reaching 98, and he’s mixed in an effective change plus a slider and curve. Obviously, the Rangers lack a clear choice in this matter, because if the choice were clear that person would already be in Arlington.

Position Player
Choices are OF Evan Carter, IF Cam Cauley (hear me out), 1B Blaine Crim, OF Sandro Fabian, 2/3 Justin Foscue, OF Elier Hernandez, and IF Davis Wendzel.Sandro Fabian and Elier Hernandez are having terrific seasons in Round Rock, both hitting around .300 and slugging over .500. Fabian has more raw power but surprisingly fewer strikeouts. Hernandez gets the nod in defense and speed. They’re best regarded as power-oriented bat-first role players.

Blaine Crim has the best exit velo data outside of Sam Huff. He’s slightly more inclined to liners than flies, aiding a .292 average but robbing a little power, although he is slugging a hefty .505. He also has a superior plate approach, which would lead me to take him over Fabian or Hernandez even though he’s restricted to first.

Davis Wendzel has appeal as a power-hitting middle infielder. He’s as likely as anyone not named Sam Huff to aim the ball at the cheap seats. He’s also improved his miss rate. He still hits a ton of high flies, so 36% of his plate appearances end in a strikeout or gimme out.

Justin Foscue is the former first-rounder, and his plate approach bests everyone. Unfortunately he’s not hitting the ball that hard since late June (.238/.370/.366), doesn’t offer much defensively, and while he’s a clever runner, he’s not who you’d turn to in time of need.

Cam Cauley? 20-years-old-in-high-A Cam Cauley? Yes. Because he can fly on the bases.

That leaves Carter. Over and over, whenever I would identify a positive trait about one of the players listed above, I would then say “but Carter does that just as well or at least well enough and brings defense,” or “… and speed,” or “… and approach.” While I’m not sitting here thinking Carter is fully ready for MLB as of this minute, I do think he’s the most complete package. Carter can pinch-run, he can replace a weaker defender, and he’d probably offer some credible plate appearances if needed. He’s the one. An easier decision than the pitcher, thank goodness.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, at Oklahoma City (LAD) 6
Round Rock: 5 hits, 8 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 34-19, 2 G up, 78-49 overall

SP Zak Kent: 3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 66 P / 43 S, 1.45 ERA
RP Scott Engler: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 6.35 ERA
LF Evan Carter: 1-4, HBP
SS Davis Wendzel: 1-3, 2 BB, .239/.367/.491

Evan Carter had a soft single and two hard outs.

Zak Kent’s slider was all business on Wednesday. Of 22 thrown, 20 were strikes and seven of those were swinging.

Cole Winn’s first inning: 18 pitches, 11 strikes (5 swinging), 0 balls in play, 3 strikeouts
Cole Winn’s second inning: 34 pitches, 18 strikes (1 swinging), 7 balls in play (6 for hits), 2 walks, 0 strikeouts

The Yankees released RHP Spencer Howard, acquired at the beginning of the month from the Rangers for cash. Howard was roughed up in two of three outings for AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. He’ll latch on somewhere, but not at the expense of a 40 spot.

Lefty John King is doing what he does with the Cards, inducing a bunch of grounders and living with the consequences, which have been good (1.93 ERA).

Joe Barlow is having 2019-in-Nashville level troubles retiring batters in KC-affiliated Omaha: 8.49 ERA, .400/.452/.800 oppo line in 11.2 innings. Teammate Bubba Thompson is hitting .250/.357/.417 in 12 games. Up with the Royals, Taylor Hearn has eight strikeouts in 7.2 innings but an 8.22 ERA and a bunch of hard hits allowed.

And then there’s Cole Ragans. Ragans just had the best month of his life at any time and level. In six starts and 36.2 innings for the Royals, Ragans had a 1.72 ERA with nine walks and 53 strikeouts.

AA: Frisco 1, Corpus Christi (HOU) 2
Frisco: 5 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 27-26, 3 GB, 58-63 overall

SP Dane Acker: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 78 P / 48 S, 3.08 ERA
RP Justin Slaten: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 3.23 ERA
DH Liam Hicks: 1-3, BB, 2 SB (3), .275/.402/.390

Dane Acker had his best start as a professional. Two runs off Reid Birlingmair (an in-season free agent) in the 8th proved costly. Frisco put the leadoff runner aboard in the last two innings to no avail.

Hi-A: Hickory 2, at Greensboro (PIT) 6
Hickory: 8 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 35-20, 3.5 G up, 62-54 overall

SP Winston Santos: 0.2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 3 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 1 SO, 29 P / 16 S, 6.46 ERA
RP Florencio Serrano: 4.1 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 5.02 ERA
RF Alejandro Osuna: 2-4, .267/.380/.394
3B Jayce Easley: 2-3, BB, .208/.364/.263

Winston Santos wasn’t pitching well but wasn’t pulled per se. After fielding a grounder, Santos lost his footing running to first, fell and banged his knee. Hopefully he’s okay, because the play was pretty comical, featuring limbs askew and the ball popping straight up from his glove as he tagged the base.

Alejandro Osuna returned from a lengthy absence. Wyatt Langford did not play.

Lo-A: rain

Two Friday.

Today’s Starters

Five Years Ago Yesterday
I attended what I thought would be my final game at the Dell Diamond with Round Rock as a Texas affiliate. The Express were certain to sign with the Astros for 2019 and beyond, leaving the Rangers the possibilities of San Antonio, Nashville, or (gulp) Fresno, the AAA affiliate of last resort since all the western clubs had secured homes elsewhere. I was fortunate to have the Rangers in town for so long. The break between Ryan and the organization occurred soon after the Rangers and Express had signed a four-year extension.

As for the game itself, OF Scott Heineman was tossed early (again!), so the understaffed squad placed reliever Tayler Scott in left for two innings, followed by catcher Tony Sanchez in his first-ever appearance on the grass. Round Rock still won 9-3.

My pictures preceding the first home game and following the last home game as a Texas affiliate:

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 29 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 10, at Oklahoma City (LAD) 9
Round Rock: 14 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 15 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 34-18, 3 G up, 78-48 overall

SP Owen White: 0.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 35 P / 21 S, 4.50 ERA
RP Jake Latz: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 4.45 ERA
RF Elier Hernandez: 2-4, 2 BB, SB (9), .312/.372/.513
CF Evan Carter: 4-6, SB (1)
C Sam Huff: 2-2, 3 BB, .303/.407/.551
3B David Wendzel: 1-5, HR (26), .238/.364/.491
DH Justin Foscue: 2-3, BB, HBP, SB (14), .265/.392/.444

Evan Carter debuted successfully in AAA. In the 1st, he reached on a chopper to SS Kolton Wong. He lined to center the next inning, followed by a solid lineout to left, a blistered grounder through to right, a flared single to center, and a called strikeout. Carter didn’t miss any of the seven pitches he attacked, fouling off two and sending the others into play.

The Rangers promoted Carter at the onset of a two-week road trip. I take that personally.

I’m not going to tell you Owen White was good, but luck definitely participated in his short outing. The first four runners reached on an error, a bouncer through the right side, a medium-hard grounder just past SS Jonathan Ornelas, and a slow chopper by Wong to Ornelas (identical to Carter’s first hit to Wong). He wasn’t alone, as Fernery Ozuna, Marc Church, Grant Anderson, and Yerry Rodriguez also surrendered runs in the wild affair.

AA: Frisco 3, Corpus Christi (HOU) 2
Frisco: 5 hits, 7 walks, 2 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 27-25, 3 GB, 58-62 overall

SP Noah Bremer: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 78 P / 49 S, 6.14 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 2,11 ERA
RP Antoine Kelly: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 2.03 ERA
LF Trevor Hauver: 1-3, 2B, BB, .258/.375/.420
CF Kellen Strahm: 1-2, BB, HBP, .246/.352/.336
RF Aaron Zavala: 1-1, 3 BB, .199/.358/.296

Frisco won its first game of the post-Carter era. Grant Wolfram entered with two in, two on, and a one-run lead in the 6th and struck out two batters plus three of the next four. Antoine Kelly followed with four strikeouts against seven batters.

Hi-A: Hickory 11, at Greensboro (PIT) 3
Hickory: 12 hits, 6 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 35-19, 4 G up, 62-53 overall, magic number 8

SP Jose Corniell: 5 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 2 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 79 P / 51 S, 3.25 ERA
SS Cam Cauley: 2-6, HR (4), .258/.330/.443
2B Max Acosta: 2-4, 2 BB, .254/.302/.400
LF Wyatt Langford: 2-4, HR (4), .324/.457/.622
3B Cody Freeman: 1-3, 2 BB, .238/.302/.400

Wyatt Langford hit a ball out in about 0.2 seconds. Gboro’s Derek Diamond set it up with a down-the-pipe first pitch. Here’s video.

Later, Cam Cauley upstaged Langford with an opposite-field grand slam off the facade of the apartments across the street. I measured the distance to the wall at about 410′, and adding another +-15′ for where it would have landed if unimpeded results in a shot of around 425′ that was about 30′ inside the opposite foul pole. That is some serious power.

Lo-A: Down East 6, at Carolina (MIL) 3
Down East: 5 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 26-29, 6 GB, 63-53 overall

SP Dylan MacLean: 4.2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 77 P / 46 S, 2.99 ERA
RP Paul Bonzagni: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 3.68 ERA
RP Luis Ramirez: 3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 4.13 ERA
2B Devin Hurdle: 1-2, 2 BB, .220/.281/.254

Down East took the first game of the series against its most likely playoff opponent. Carolina leads the second-half race by two games with 11 to play. As has become increasingly common, the Woodies collected more walks than hits but managed to take advantage of the generosity.

Texas promoted IF Echedry Vargas to Down East from the rookie squad, joining 1B/OF Marcos Torres.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Kent
AA: Acker
Hi-A: TBA, forecast worrisome
Lo-A: already postponed

Five Years Ago Yesterday
The rookie Rangers lost in the Arizona League semifinals 8-7 to the Cubs on a game-ending bases-loaded walk by Erne Valdes. Announced participants in the upcoming Arizona Fall League were RHP Joe Barlow, RHP Demarcus Evans, C/IF Josh Morgan, IF Chuck Leblanc, OF Julio P. Martinez, and OF Yanio Perez (taxi squad, limited availability).

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 27 August

While control has never been Jonathan Hernandez’s strong suit, the last time he’d walked three straight batters was early in last year’s rehab assignment following Tommy John surgery. In the time leading up to his return yesterday, you’d have to count back 29 batters to total three walks. In a tie game with the gift-runner on second, the home team has about an 80% chance of winning entering the inning, but to lose that way is crushing. On to Queens.

And Jack is back.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 11, Salt Lake (LAA) 2
Round Rock: 16 hits, 10 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 33-18, 3 G up, 77-48 overall

SP Robert Dugger: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 4 SO, 96 P / 53 S, 4.36 ERA
CF Elier Hernandez: 3-6, 2B, .311/.369/.513
DH Sam Huff: 3-3, 2B, HR (16), 2 BB, .298/.397/.548
RF Sandro Fabian: 2-4, BB, .300/.348/.559
3B Justin Foscue: 1-2, HR (13), 3 BB, .261/.388/.443

Everyone in the lineup reached at least twice in another demolition of Salt Lake. Dustin Harris and Jonathan Ornelas singled twice, and Blaine Crim doubled and walked.

For the past three weeks, Round Rock has played as well as any team I’ve ever covered. 17 wins in 18 games, an average of 8.1 runs scored per game versus 3.9 allowed, a team slash line of .305/.403/.502. A 14-10 finish would give the Express the best-ever record by a Texas AAA club. Round Rock next visits nemesis Oklahoma City followed by El Paso, then closes out against the two closest in the standings, Las Vegas and Tacoma.

AA: Frisco 8, at Midland (OAK) 2
Frisco: 9 hits, 9 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 0 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 26-25, 3 GB, 57-62 overall

SP Jack Leiter: 3 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 49 P / 32 S, 5.40 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, .284/.411/.451
1B Josh Hatcher: 1-3, 2 BB, .246/.299/.413
C David Garcia: 1-3, 2 BB, .216/.353/.299
3B Frainyer Chavez: 2-3, HR (3), BB, .255/.368/.499

About an hour before game-time, Frisco announced Jack Leiter’s addition to the active roster as Sunday’s starter. His return began inauspiciously, as leadoff hitter Caeden Trinkle turned an 0-2 inside slider into a souvenir. Thereafter, Leiter was never seriously threatened, dispatching nine of the next 11 batters without too much trouble. His slider may have been the most dazzling, if also erratic. Some were running too far outside from the get-go and easy to lay off. His other two hits were on sliders he’d want back. The fastball was most consistent. He largely avoided the glove-side issues that plagued earlier starts and was effective up high. It is well beyond the means of AA hitters when dealt effectively. He also mixed in a few effective curves. Leiter didn’t walk anyone, reached only one three-ball count, and always appeared comfortable and on track. All told, a promising return.

Matt Bush, Robby Ahlstrom, Triston Polley, and Antoine Kelly threw scoreless innings.

Hi-A: Hickory 5, Greenville (BOS) 10
Hickory: 11 hits, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 34-19, 4 G up, 61-53 overall, magic number 9

SP Winston Santos: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 18 P / 13 S, 6.21 ERA
RP Josh Gessner: 0.2 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 14.54 ERA
SS Max Acosta: 1-5, HR (10), .251/.297/.379
DH Wyatt Langford: 2-4, 2B, BB, SB (6), .314/.455/.586
1B Abi Ortiz: 2-4, 2B, BB, .300/.350/.638

One pre-draft observation about Wyatt Langford was that he had more speed than was apparent in games. So far at Hickory, he’s attempting to steal more than twice as often as during his college days.

Winston Santos worked as an opener, presumably because his start earlier in the week was so short. Originally announced starter Josh Gessner was removed after 29 pitches in the 2nd. Rocky DeVito struck out three in two scoreless innings.

Hickory leads by four games with either 12 or 13 to play. An earlier rainout at Winston-Salem remains a mystery. Winston-Salem announced the game was cancelled, but every other official source indicates the game will be made up in Hickory during the season’s final week. Nothing is scheduled. Regardless, I believe Hickory’s magic number is nine. Trailing Bowling Green would win a tiebreaker. Should the Crawdads prevail, they would host host the first game of a best-of-three against first-half champ Greenville on September 12.

Lo-A: Down East 2, Fayetteville (HOU) 3
Down East: 3 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 25-29, tied for first, 62-53 overall

SP Bryan Chi: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 73 P / 47 S, 3.52 ERA
RP Brayan Mendoza: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 3.02 ERA

My preference is to write about players having good games, not teams having bad months, but Down East isn’t giving me any material lately. For the week, Down East batted .171/.296/.219 with six extra-base hits (none of them homers) and 91 strikeouts, most by any Texas affiliate in a six-game series.

In his full-season debut, RF Marcos Torres drew a walk in four trips to the plate. Bryan Chi was okay, if not to his lofty standards. His first homer allowed in low-A plated all the runs.

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Contra the 2023 squad, the 2018 Express would need a 6-1 finish to avoid the worst record of their eight seasons in Round Rock. They would win four to finish at 65-73. Both DSL teams won the opening games of their best-of-three playoff series. Ronny Henriquez (6 IP, 3 R), SS Keyber Rodriguez (1-3, 2 BB), and Heriberto Hernandez (HR, 2 BB) featured for one club.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 26 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 13, Salt Lake (LAA) 7
Round Rock: 15 hits, 6 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 32-18, 2 G up, 76-48 overall

SP Chase Lee: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 26 P / 13 S, 3.28 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 2.66 ERA
CF Elier Hernandez: 3-4, 2B, BB, .308/.367/.511
2B Justin Foscue: 2-4, 2B, BB, SB (13), .260/.383/.434
RF Sandro Fabian: 3-5, 2B, HR (21), .298/.348/.559
LF Dustin Harris: 1-4, BB, SB (12), .266/.388/.444
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 1-2, 2 BB, SB (11), .248/.363/.357

Round Rock scored multiple runs in six of eight innings. Pitching is largely responsible for the excellent record, but the offense has shined lately, averaging 7.9 runs per game during the team’s 16-1 hot streak.

Alex Speas showcased his entire being in the 9th: leadoff walk, wild pitch, half his 26 pitches outside the zone, iffy control of the fastball, also three strikeouts in which every strike came on a cutter that topped at 97 and generated calls and misses.

Daniel Robert (1.2 IP) and Scott Engler (1.1) held Salt Lake scoreless.

AA: Frisco 7, at Midland (OAK) 3
Frisco: 10 hits, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 25-25, 4 GB, 56-62 overall

SP Nick Krauth: 4 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 86 P / 57 S, 6.09 ERA
2B Jax Biggers: 2-4, 3B, BB, .234/.351/.389
RF Aaron Zavala: 0-1, 3 BB, .199/.356/.299
3B Frainyer Chavez: 2-3, HR (2), BB, .227/.346/.409

Frisco scored four in the 1st and rolled from there. Evan Carter singled twice. Frainyer Chavez homered. He’s spent most of 2023 in Hickory after participating in Frisco’s 2022 championship run.

Recently promoted Andy Rodriguez, Danny Duffy, and Michael Brewer threw scoreless innings.

Hi-A: Hickory 4, Greenville (BOS) 3
Hickory: 7 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 34-18, 4.5 G up, 61-52 overall

SP Emiliano Teodo: 5 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 75 P / 50 S, 4.55 ERA
RP Jackson Kelley: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 5.63 ERA
CF Wyatt Langford: 1-2, HR (3), 2 BB, SB (5), .303/.446/.576
1B Abi Ortiz: 3-4, 2B, .296/.345/.636

Making his second professional start in center, Wyatt Langford contributed a homer and two walks.

Per eyewitness Mark Parker, Emiliano Teodo was at his best yesterday, routinely hitting triple-digit velocity and mixing in lower-90s curves. His control has been better as well, with four walks in his last 15 innings.

Lo-A: Down East 1, Fayetteville (HOU) 7
Down East: 4 hits, 3 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 1 walk, 14 strikeouts
Record: 25-28, 7 GB, 62-52 overall

SP Brock Porter: 4 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 8 SO, 55 P / 38 S, 2.48 ERA
RF Jojo Blackmon: 2-3, 2B, BB, SB (27), .206/.315/.354

The eight strikeouts for Brock Porter were a career best. Not a huge number, but to date Porter has never exceeded five innings or 74 pitches. Porter has a stretch of six games with zero or one earned runs allowed (one of last night’s reached on an error). Per usual, the control has wavered, but he’s allowed ten hits, just one for extra bases, in 20.2 innings.

Texas promoted 1B/OF Marcos Torres from the rookie complex to Down East. The 18-year-old batted .250/.378/.494 with 20 extra-base hits and 23 steals in Arizona. He didn’t play Saturday.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Dugger
Hi-A: Gessner
Lo-A: Chi

Five Years Ago Yesterday
3.5 games out of 1st, Hickory lost a virtual must-win to Lakewood and Philly prospect Spencer Howard.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 25 August

I forgot to hit send on this at lunch, but that now allows me to tell you now that reliever Jonathan Hernandez has been recalled from AAA in place of Grant Anderson. As I’ve mentioned, Hernandez has pitched much better lately and set himself apart from the other 40-man and non-40 options in the minors. As for Anderson, last night wasn’t pretty, but on the whole he’s been pretty close to expectations, and he’s certainly the easiest to remove from the active roster. An in-form Hernandez is an upgrade, assuming he can maintain his recent improvement.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 9, Salt Lake (LAA) 7
Round Rock: 10 hits, 6 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 15 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 31-18, 2 G up, 75-48 overall

SP Cody Bradford: 2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 49 P / 32 S, 3.63 ERA
RP Glenn Otto: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 3.38 ERA
RP Marc Church: 2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.87 ERA
CF Elier Hernandez: 1-3, 2 BB, SB (8), .304/.363/.507
1B Blaine Crim : 2-5, 2B, HR (17), .294/.394/.510
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 1-4, HR (7), .247/.360/.357
2B Dio Arias: 2-3, 2 2B, BB, .281/.350/.431
DH Jordan Procyshen: 1-3, HR (1), BB, .244/.426/.390

Blaine Crim’s two-run homer in the 8th broke a 7-7 tie. CF Jared Oliva nearly made a terrific catch, but the ball caromed out of his glove and (as best I as can tell) grazed the screening above the yellow stripe before landing back on the field. The umps conferred and confirmed the initial judgment, and Bees’ manager Keith Johnson decided that was as good a time as any to get ejected.

Cody Bradford was pulled after the first two runners reached in the 3rd. He wasn’t having a great night, but I’m pretty sure last night’s usage patterns were decided in advance.

Marc Church fanned three of seven batters, but the five balls in play were between 94 and 107 MPH.

Congrats to Jordan Procyshen on his first AAA homer. The 30-year-old has spent the last three seasons catching intermittently in Frisco and Round Rock.

AA: Frisco 9, at Midland (OAK) 6
Frisco: 8 hits, 9 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 25-24, 5 GB, 56-61 overall

SP Ryan Garcia: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 51 P / 30 S, 7.53 ERA
RP Aidan Anderson: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 4.23 ERA
RP Justin Slaten: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 3.38 ERA
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 1-3, BB, HBP, SB (8), .274/.372/.425
DH Trevor Hauver: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, .258/.376/.423
LF Aaron Zavala: 1-4, 2B, BB, .200/.351/.300

Frisco plated three three times. The only starter not to reach safely was Evan Carter. Five of Frisco’s nine runs reached on walks. Ryan Garcia hasn’t reached the 3rd in his last two starts.

Hi-A: Hickory 0, Greenville (BOS) 5
Hickory: 5 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 33-18, 3.5 G up, 60-52 overall

SP Ben Anderson: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 45 P / 27 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Nick Lockhart: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 4.63 ERA
LF Wyatt Langford: 3-4, 2B, .297/.430/.531
2B Ben Blackwell: 2-3, .220/.304/.317

Ben Anderson (2019, 13th round) returned to full-season ball for the first time in 14 months. Wyatt Langford and free agent Benjamin Blackwell accounted for all of Hickory’s hits.

Lo-A: Down East 9, Fayetteville (HOU) 7
Down East: 9 hits, 5 walks, 15 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 25-27, 6 GB, 62-51 overall

SP Joseph Montalvo: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 68 P / 44 S, 2.87 ERA
RP Damian Mendoza: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 5.06 ERA
RF Quincy Scott: 2-3, BB, HBP, SB (2), .419/.486/.468
1B Miguel Villarroel: 1-3, BB, 2 SB (14), .230/.377/.333
DH Anthony Calarco: 1-2, 2 BB, SB (1), .226/.311/.226
SS Danyer Cueva: 1-3, BB, 3 SB (9), .241/.291/.344

Down East has scored some runs the past two nights with a strategy of See (a bunch of pitches and hope for some walks), Singles, and Steals. The Woodies have struck out 63 times in four games. The most in a six-game series by a Texas affiliate in a six-game series is 82 by these same Wood Ducks in early June. Despite that, Down East averaged 7.5 runs per game and won five against Delmarva.

Today’s Starters
AA: Krauth
Hi-A: Teodo
Lo-A: Porter

Five Years Ago Yesterday
The rookies clinched a wildcard with a 4-0 win, ensuring that Texas’s domestic farm clubs would not be absent from the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 24 August

AL West teams to win the division despite a losing streak of seven or more games, 1995-2022:
Oakland 2006: 93 wins with a seven-game losing streak
Oakland 2012: 94 wins with a nine-game streak (sorry to bring that up)
Houston 2019: 107 wins with a seven-game streak.

Jonah Heim’s batted ball data before and after the injury:
Contact rate: 79% before, 65% after
Hard-hit rate: 38%, 25%
Median Exit Velo: 92.2, 83.6
90th Percentile Exit Velo: 104.1, 101.1

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 3, Salt Lake (LAA) 4 (12)
Round Rock: 9 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 3 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 30-18, 1 G up, 74-48 overall

SP Zak Kent: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 57 P / 39 S, 1.76 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 2.79 ERA
RP Kyle Cody: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 5.88 ERA
LF Dustin Harris: 2-4, 2B, HBP, .269/.393/.456
RF Sandro Fabian: 1-3, HR (20), 2 BB, .291/.339/.548

All things must pass. A Dio Arias homer tied the game at 3 in the 9th, but thereafter the Express were 2-13 with runners in scoring position, and neither hit scored a run. The win streak ended at 14.

Zak Kent, Alex Speas, and Kyle Cody combined for 7.1 scoreless innings. Salt Lake’s earlier runs scored off Cole Winn (3.1 IP, 6 H, BB, 3 SO). Since giving up four runs upon return to AAA, Speas hasn’t allowed a run across 11.1 innings and ten appearances, although he’s walked nine. Kyle Cody ran his scoreless streak to 14.1 innings, during which he’s allowed five singles and three walks while fanning 11. Here’s quick video of Kent.

Per Jon Heyman, IF Josh Harrison has opted out of his minor league deal with the Rangers. He’d batted .222/.323/.370 in six games with the Express.

AA: Frisco 0, at Midland (OAK) 3
Frisco: 6 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 24-24, 5 GB, 55-61 overall

SP Seth Nordlin: 5 IP, H (1 HR), 3 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 86 P / 54 S, 5.43 ERA
RP Antoine Kelly: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2.17 ERA
LF Evan Carter: 2-4, .285/.414/.455

Since claiming a share of first on August 11th, Frisco has lost nine of 11. Down 3-0 after the 3rd, the Riders didn’t mount a serious threat until the 8th, when Jax Biggers (strikeout) and Evan Carter (grounder) couldn’t take advantage of loaded bases.

Hi-A: Hickory 2, Greenville (BOS) 5
Hickory: 6 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 33-17, 4.5 G up, 60-51 overall

SP Winston Santos: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 33 P / 19 S, 6.28 ERA
RP Florencio Serrano: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 5.35 ERA
DH Wyatt Langford: 1-3, BB, SB (4), .267/.413/.500
1B Abi Ortiz: 1-4, HR (23), .289/.339/.631
LF Yosy Galan: 1-3, 2B, BB, .264/.324/.472

Abimelec Ortiz’s 23 homers lead all of high-A, and his 30 for the season are tied for third in the minors. Outside of burly AAA vets, Ortiz is the first Texas minor leaguer with 30 homers since Joey Gallo.

Winston Santos’ last month got a little worse when he was unable to complete the 1st. He’s throwing strikes, but opponents are hitting off a tee of late: .409/.453/.750 with 12 doubles and six homers in his last 19 innings.

Lo-A: Down East 4, Fayetteville (HOU) 5
Down East: 8 hits, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 24-27, 7 GB, 61-51 overall

SP Leandro Lopez: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 26 P / 16 S, 3.29 ERA
RP Dylan McCarty: 3 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 2 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 3.34 ERA
CF Anthony Gutierrez: 2-5, 2B, SB (30), .264/.328/.348
3B Gleider Figuereo: 1-3, BB, SB (6), .216/.302/.330
LF Jojo Blackmon: 1-3, BB, 2 SB (26), .201/.309/.344
RF Tommy Specht: 1-3, BB, SB (5), .235/.341/.311

The go-ahead run for Fayetteville scored in the 9th after two errors and a wild pitch by DJ McCarthy, who struck out seven of 13 batters. Leandro Lopez pitched for the first time in a month.

The Woodies stole six bases, and steals were of consequence in three of their four runs. The Woodies have struck out 48 times in the series’ first three games.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Bradford
AA: Garcia

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Frisco lost what was at the time believed to be its final game ever in San Antonio, as the Missions were to join AAA in 2019. That arrangement lasted all of one season. With the season near conclusion, the rookie Rangers had climbed from five games out of the playoffs to 1.5 games up in a span of two days, thanks to the first-half division-winning Dodgers climbing into first again and leaving the Rangers in place to claim a spot with the second-best overall record. In a span of three days, every game that needed to go the Rangers’ way did. John King allowed two runs in 1.2 innings in his pro debut. He’s surrendered one run in 7.2 innings with the Cardinals.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 23 August

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 9, Salt Lake (LAA) 1
Round Rock: 14 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 30-17, 1 G up, 74-47 overall

SP Owen White: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 76 P / 43 S, 4.59 ERA
RP Jonathan Hernandez: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1.35 ERA
RP Scott Engler: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 10.80 ERA
DH Justin Foscue: 3-5, .259/.384/.435
LF Dustin Harris: 2-5, SB (11), .263/.384/.449
SS Davis Wendzel: 1-3, HR (25), 2 BB, .242/.370/.501

For the second time in eight AAA starts, Owen White carried a no-hitter into the 5th. And for the second time, that statistic didn’t come close telling the whole story. He walked four and hit a batter while striking out two and generating three swinging strikes. Opponents swung at eight four-seam fastballs, never missed, put seven in play, and four of the seven were hit hard. White’s AAA swinging strike rate of 8.8% is ahead of four others on the Express: James Marvel and Bernardo Flores, two older free agents since released, and Nick Krauth and Triston Polley, two AA pitchers intermittently promoted to help out when shorthanded.

Unlike the toughest outings of Cole Winn and Jack Leiter, White’s control maladies aren’t painful to watch; he’s not having to mentally reset after every pitch. He’ll yell into his glove occasionally, but on the whole he’s as businesslike as ever. But every so often, he just stops throwing strikes. He walked two in a span of three batters in the 2nd, ten a hit batter and walk back-to-back in the 5th.

Jonathan Hernandez’s sinker velocity was down, topping at 96.8, but he was as effective as ever, and I’d like to think he’s first in line should the Rangers need a relief replacement.

Scott Engler was delayed in returning from Tommy John surgery and had struggled badly even in rookie ball. Last night, he showed his best form in two years, mixing a 94-95 fastball, 90-91 cutter, and 86-89 splitter. In his previous two outings, every splitter was a ball, but last night, all six resulted in strikes or outs. (Statcast is seemingly at random categorizing the pitch as a cutter, sinker, or change, even though they’re all fairly similar in speed, spin, and break. I manually coded everything with a sub-1300 RPM spin as a splitter. If Engler is somehow throwing a cutter with arm-side movement at 1,150 RPM, I’ll recode.)

Dustin Harris smartly scored from second on a grounder to third. 3B Kevin Padlo backhanded the ball deep down the line and unleashed a looping prayer of a throw that forced the 1B off the bag. Harris never stopped and scored under a belated tag.

On two occasions, Justin Foscue had a near-certain stolen base foiled by a foul ball and inning-ending strikeout. Foscue isn’t fast and isn’t even getting great leads, best as I can tell. He just seems to be very aware of and keen to exploit inattentive pitchers. 12 of his 17 career steals have come this season, and he stole a total of three in college.

CF Jonathan Ornelas had a nice full-stride catch of a deep liner to left-center. To be honest, I think he slightly misjudged its carry off the bat, but he was able to close on it. Ornelas hasn’t played much outfield in 2023 but seems comfortable and competent.

Round Rock won a franchise-best 14th consecutive game. Opponents are hitting .427 off 38-year-old Bees starter Cesar Valdez when they make contact, and it’s much more than bad luck and pitching at altitude. Davis Wendzel hit a solo shot in the 1st, and everybody had Valdez lined up the second time through the order.

AA: Frisco 6, at Midland (OAK) 7
Frisco: 8 hits, 5 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 24-23, 4 GB, 55-60 overall

SP Dane Acker: 3 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 5 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 7 SO, 79 P / 47 S, 3.55 ERA
RP Grant Wolfram: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1.87 ERA
SS Keyber Rodriguez: 2-4, 2B, .288/.377/.455

CF Evan Carter tripled in four trips to the plate, and 2B Jax Biggers hit a three-run homer.

Texas released reliever Theo McDowell. The 2018 14th-rounder pitched succeeded at the A levels and threw the last two innings of a tag-team no-hitter with Mason Englert last year, but he struggled to retire batters at Frisco.

Hi-A: Hickory 3, Greenville (BOS) 2
Hickory: 6 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 3 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 33-16, 4.5 G up, 60-50 overall

SP Jose Corniell: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 SO, 76 P / 53 S, 3.22 ERA
RP Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 1.42 ERA
DH Cam Cauley: 1-3, 2B, BB, .272/.333/.457
LF Wyatt Langford: 1-3, BB, .263/.408/.509
1B Abi Ortiz: 2-4, 2 2B, .290/.341/.624

Hickory didn’t hit much and not at all with runners in scoring position, but Abimelec Ortiz twice doubled in Wyatt Langford from first.

After a quick 8th, Andy Rodriguez couldn’t record the final out of the 9th, allowing five runners and two runs before Seth Clark entered to strike out Eduardo Lopez. Before them, Jose Corniell and Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa combined to shut out and two-hit the Drive for seven innings. Given that Corniell is starting earlier in the week, he’s lined up to start the opening game of a playoff series should Hickory win the division. He’s certainly the most qualified.

Lo-A: Down East 3, Fayetteville (HOU) 5 (10)
Down East: 3 hits, 4 walks, 21 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 24-26, 6 GB, 61-50 overall

SP Aidan Curry: 6 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 1 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 71 P / 50 S, 2.30 ERA
RP Skylar Hales: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 5.40 ERA

Whew. Down East sent 40 batters to the plate and struck out 21 times. Through six, the Woodies were hitless with 14 strikeouts, and for the night, they missed on 34 of 64 swings (54%).

Even so, Down East nearly won, loading the bases with none out in a tied 9th inning. I don’t need to tell you the results of the next three batters, do I? Down two in the 10th, the Woodies re-loaded the bases with two out, but Ian Moller was called out on strikes to end it.

Aidan Curry was good again.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Kent
AA: Nordlin
Hi-A: Santos
Lo-A: Leandro Lopez

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Jonathan Hernandez walked none and struck out eight in six scoreless innings at San Antonio. After missing batting practice because of a late, lengthy bus ride, Spokane put 34 runners on base in a 18-4 walloping of Salem-Keizer.

The previous day, Joe Palumbo in his AA debut held San Antonio to a run with eight strikeouts in five innings. San Antonio started Chris Paddack (currently recovering from TJ surgery) and closed with Andres Munoz, now saving games for Seattle.