Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 11 May

Greetings from Hickory, NC.

Video of Marc Church and TK Roby from Tuesday. I probably wont have any position players until the end of the series.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, Oklahoma City (LAD) 13
Round Rock: 7 hits, 10 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 20-11, 2 G up

SP Jake Latz: 2.2 IP, 4 H (2 HR), 6 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 67 P / 38 S, 5.28 ERA
SS Josh Smith: 0-1, 4 HBP, .255/.352/.396
LF Steele Walker: 1-5, HR (3), .346/.433/.692

We’re late in the season for boosting rate stats dramatically in a single game, but Josh Smith’s walk rate improved from a below-average 8.5% to an above-average 11.5% in one night. The PCL average is 10.6%, well above the norm.

Although Steele Walker hit a career-high 15 homers in 2021, expectations (or at least hopes) were for a few more. He’s off to a rousing start in 2022, with three in just six games.

Yerry Rodriguez (2 IP, 4 H, 3 R) was hit hard again; he’s allowed runs in six of 11 appearances.

AA: Frisco 2, at Tulsa (LAD) 7
Frisco: 2 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 17-12, 2 G up
SP Avery Weems: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 89 P / 61 S, 7.52 ERA
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 1-4, HR (3), HBP, .362/.402/.476
LF Dustin Harris: 0-1, 3 BB, 2 SB (7), .272/.373/.391

Weems threw strikes, but three of the six hit were doubles.

I don’t know why I persist in thinking Dustin Harris doesn’t have speed, but he’s always there with a helpful rejoinder. Harris has stolen 32 bases in 135 games as a Ranger, and only three times has he been caught.

Tulsa pitchers Gus Varland and Austin Drury combined to walk five and hit five more in 5.2 innings. Last year’s walk/HBP surge tended to concentrate at the lower levels, but in 2022 no league is immune.

High-A: Hickory 8, Greensboro (PIT) 3
Hickory: 11 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 15-13, 2 G up

SP Ricky Vanasco: 4 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO, 67 P / 40 S, 6.91 ERA
RP Jesus Linarez: 2 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 3.07 ERA
RP Destin Dotson: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 2-4, BB, .238/.448/.310
SS Luisangel Acuna: 3-5, 2B, HR (1), .294/.368/.647
2B Frainyer Chavez: 2-3, BB, .367/.466/.429
C Randy Florentino: 2-3, BB, .310/.375/.345

In-person reviews of post-TJ Ricky Vanasco have been mixed, and there’s no sugar-coating the poor statistics, particularly control. I’ll add another mixed review to the pile.

Vanasco is about as unrefined as any 40-man pitcher I’ve seen, although the lost 2020 (covid) and 2021 (surgery) share much of the blame. By my inexact count (I had to move twice during the 1st), he missed on nine of his first 12 fastballs. Beginning in the 2nd, Vanasco regained control, if not command, and by the end of the outing he was placing it pretty well and showing more run. Vanasco’s velocity has varied widely this season; last night he ranged from 90 to 96, mostly 93-95. Not the top-notch speed he’s flashed, but solid.

His other pitches were a curve (79-81), slider (mid-80s), and change (mid-80s), and to be honest I’m stumped at what to say about them. They had their moments but weren’t distinctive for good or bad. Vanasco was fastball-oriented on Wednesday, and his improved execution of that pitch as the game progressed was the story.

Vanasco generated only seven swinging strikes (including five on fastballs out of roughly 45 thrown), but then, Greensboro swung at only 28 of his 67 pitches. I imagine his early control problems had them thinking they could walk him out of the game. Putting the ball in play wasn’t usually helpful to their cause. Three of the eight balls in played were popups, and I recall only one hard hit off the fastball. The homer came on a curve.

Deston Dotson arguably deserved a high-A assignment from the get-go, but in any case he handled his first outing for Hickory with ease, mixing a 91-94 fastball, high-70s curve and one slider. Dotson’s control to date has ranged from fair to worse, but last night he placed everything comfortably. Dotson is 6’7″ with long limbs that can be tricky to sync.

Again, Luisangel Acuna displayed the most impressive bat. Against hard-throwing but erratic Jared Jones (2020’s #44 overall pick), Acuna twice lined sliders Jones wished he could take back. Both bolted to left center; one became a souvenir… for a beaver, maybe, as Hickory’s stadium has no outfield seats.

Aaron Zavala had a couple of sturdily lined hits, the requisite walk, and no defensive issues that I can recall. 2B Frainyer Chavez ventured exceptionally deep into right field to chase down a foul fly.

Low-A: Down East 1, Lynchburg (CLE) 4
Down East: 2 hits, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 13-16, 5.5 GB

SP Emiliano Teodo: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 SO, 71 P / 42 S, 1.69 ERA
RP Nick Lockhart: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3.52 ERA
RP Theo Mcdowell: 2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 4.26 ERA

Teodo threw a career-high 71 pitches. A (hopefully temporary) statistical change in being stretched out is degradation of his already-mediocre control. He’s walked or hit 13 in 16 innings.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Alexy
AA: Slaten
Hi-A: Anderson

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Round Rock allowed three more homers in a rain-shortened loss, giving them 54 in 34 games, 17 more than any other team in the league. The Express would recover to end up 5th-worst, albeit with the most of any non-mountainous city in the PCL.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 10 May

Greetings from Hickory, North Carolina. Since I missed Spring Training in Arizona, I decided to head the other direction to see the lower-level guys. Also, we recorded a new podcast this morning; link in signature.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 10 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 13, Oklahoma City (LAD) 7
Round Rock: 13 hits, 10 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 2 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 20-11, 2 G up

SP Spencer Howard: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 49 P / 33 S, 2.45 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
SS Josh Smith: 2-4, 3B, .257/.333/.400
2B Davis Wendzel: 2-3, SB (1), .223/.299/.379
RF Steele Walker: 2-3, .381/.400/.667

Only three extra-bases hits but plenty of everything else for the Express, including steals 15 and 16 from Bubba Thompson (1-6).

Nobody thinks of Spencer Howard as an all-or-nothing pitcher, but there he is with an incredible six homers allowed and 12 strikeouts in 32 MLB batters faced. Last night, he threw effective strikes, registering 11 of the swinging variety on 49 pitches.

Spencer Patton, Josh Sborz and Nick Snyder threw scoreless innings. Snyder is the only Express pitcher with rates of strikes, swinging strikes and called strikes above the team average.

Texas released lefty Sal Mendez, 2013’s 40th-round pick. With an effective four-pitch mix, Mendez slowly but steadily rose through the system, reaching AAA briefly in 2022. Mendez re-signed twice with Texas after becoming a free agent, but he hadn’t pitched in a real game in 2022.

AA: Frisco 6, at Tulsa (LAD) 8
Frisco: 10 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 6 hits, 11 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 17-11, 3 G up

SP Zak Kent: 4 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 4 SO, 76 P / 39 S, 5.63 ERA
RP Tai Tiedemann: 2 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 8.04 ERA
DH Ezequiel Duran: 3-5, 2B, 3B, .297/.333/.523
1B Blaine Crim: 2-4, HR (5), .289/.345/.495

After slow starts, Blaine Crim and Ezequiel Duran are hitting to form. Duran has 14 doubles, the most in all of MLB-affiliated professional baseball, Majors or minors.

Frisco pitchers no longer have the league’s worst walk rate (predictably, Houston-affliated Corpus Christi holds that honor), but they’re giving their best effort. Sean Chandler (four batters, four walks) and Grant Wolfram (seven batters, three walks) made for a trying 5th inning after the departure of Zak Kent, who himself barely threw more strikes than balls.

High-A: Hickory 4, Greensboro (PIT) 6
Hickory: 6 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Record: 14-13, 3 GB

SP TK Roby: 5 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 82 P / 53 S, 7.35 ERA
RP Marc Church: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 2.45 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 2-5, SB (6), .310/.402/.483

Greensboro deserved every run scored off TK Roby, but the line treats him a little unfairly. Everything scored in the 4th. To my eyes, the 2020 3rd rounder had avoided the middle of the zone all night with his fastball, but with two out and two on, Roby caught the fat part of the plate against consecutive batters, resulting in an RBI single and three-run homer.

Aside from that, he pitched well. Roby’s fastball ranged from 91 to 95, lacking much horizontal movement but riding high very effectively. He would also deliver it outside to righties. About half of his 82 pitches were heaters, 11 of which were swinging strikes.

Early on, Roby emphasized the change, which runs much slower (79-81) than the fastball. It was effective in the 1st, not as much in the 2nd, and then largely abandoned until a swinging strike three (one of three with that pitch) on his final toss of the night. Fortunately, he doesn’t ignore it against righties, seven of whom filled the lineup. Roby had only one swinging strike with the curve (75-79), but it was easily better than the change, with good depth but not soft. Roby didn’t reveal the curve until the 3rd, after which he started eight consecutive batters with one, all taken (five calls, three balls). But again, it’s a legitimate offering in my opinion, not just something to steal a strike against guys who’ll lay off bendy stuff on the first pitch. Roby is ranked in the teens among Texas prospects by both Baseball America and MLB.com.

Undrafted Triston Polley (3 IP, 2 earned but undeserved runs, 5 SO) used a near-sidearm slot for a low-80s backdoor slider. His fastball is only 89-91, but it works as a sort of a fast changeup against batters expecting the slider. Polley’s control has been good this season for the first time in his career, including college.

Marc Church threw an 96-97 fastball and 85-87 slider. He works quickly and doesn’t leave a drop of intensity in the tank, but he doesn’t overthrow and has terrific control. Church fanned the side swinging on 14 pitches. The 2019 18th-rounder has ten walks and 76 strikeouts in 42 pro innings.

The Crawdads didn’t have a great night at the plate; two of their four runs scored on back-to-back wild pitches. Luisangel Acuna had the most impressive at-bat, adjusting to belt a high-in-the-zone slider for a double. Evan Carter reached on a nice bunt and a fairly hard grounder.

3B Keyber Rodriguez, catcher Cody Freeman and 1B Cristian Inoa combined on a 5-2-3 double play with the bases loaded. I’m not much for judging the finer points of catcher defense, but Freeman, a converted infielder, looks fluid and comfortable to me.

Aaron Zavala might be my new Tim Smith. Smith was a Texas minor league outfielder over a decade ago, perfectly adequate afield but always, always erratic whenever I saw him in person. Last season, the first time I watched Zavala on MiLB.tv, he turned a deep but seemingly catchable fly into an adventure. Last night, he veered right to catch a fairly hard liner, only for the ball to shoot past to his left for a “double.” We’ll try to break the curse tonight.

I do not have video yet. Hopefully soon.

Low-A: Down East 7, Lynchburg (CLE) 6
Down East: 6 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 13-15, 4.5 GB

SP Gavin Collyer: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 81 P / 51 S, 4.91 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 1.2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0.59 ERA
RF Marcus Smith: 3-4, 2B, 3B, SB (10), .161/.381/.274
SS Maximo Acosta: 1-2, 2 BB, 2 SB (10), .244/.354/.378

Down East scored three in the 8th and walked off victorious when an error on Cam Cauley’s grounder plated Daniel Mateo.

Yes, Cam Cauley, who was 0-5. Last year’s 3rd-round pick joined the Woodies, as has 4th-round catcher Ian Moeller, who did not play.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Latz
AA: Weems
Hi-A: Vanasco
Lo-A: TBD, probably Teodo / Webb

Five Years Ago Yesterday
A slow day. More interesting is a tidbit i wrote in relation to someone else: In his seven seasons in Texas, catcher Jorge Alfaro finished with more HBPs than walks three times.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 8 May

A short report, as I’ve got more travel in the immediate future. Travel better-suited to covering minor league ball.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 5, at Reno (ARI) 6
Round Rock: 10 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 6 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 19-11, 1 G up

SP Kolby Allard: 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 30 P / 17 S, 9.00 ERA
RP Tyson Miller: 4 IP, 3 H ,1 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 3.43 ERA
DH Steele Walker: 1-4, HR (2)
C Yohel Pozo: 2-4, HBP, .312/.346/.468
3B Ryan Dorow: 1-1, HR (2), .256/.337/.439

Allard was replaced after allowing a walk and two singles to open the 2nd. Allard threw only 30 pitches compared to 51 in his first start. Maybe the weather played a part; temperatures were in the 40s with gusty winds and snow flurries, and everyone in the dugout and stands looked dressed for a November college football game in Michigan. No thanks.

Steele Walker homered for the second day in a row.

AA: Frisco 8, Arkansas (SEA) 2
Frisco: 12 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 17-10, 3 G up

SP Cole Ragans: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 SO, 96 P / 57 S, 2.25 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1.1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 2.51 ERA
CF Jonathan Ornelas: 3-4, BB, .375/.412/.469
2B Justin Foscue: 2-3, 2B, HR (2), 2 BB, .310/.406/.586

Cole Ragans tossed six scoreless innings for the first time since July 2017, and his 96 pitches are the most thrown by a Texas minor leaguer in 2022.

Jonathan Ornelas played CF for the second time all season. Both starts there have come in the absence of JP Martinez, placed on the IL three days ago. Ornelas reached safely 13 times in the six-game series. Hard to argue with his first month in AA. Justin Foscue also reached 13 times (three singles, three doubles, homer, six walks).

High-A: Hickory 1, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 5
Hickory: 5 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 13-12, tied for first

SP Jesus Linarez: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 25 P / 19 S, 3.55 ERA
RP Owen White: 4.2 IP, 4 H ,5 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 4.70 ERA
SS Luisangel Acuna: 1-3, 2B, BB
1B Cody Freeman: 2-4, SB (2), .243/.325/.457

This was the completion of Friday’s game. White retired his first 11 and 12 of 13 before an exceptionally messy 7th inning, when five reached and scored against him.

High-A: Hickory 4, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 0
Hickory: 5 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Record: 14-12, 2 GB

SP Mason Englert: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 80 P / 47 S, 3.20 ERA
RP Joe Corbett: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.61 ERA
DH Chris Seise: 2-3, 2 2B, .221/.268/.494

Englert departed two outs shy of his longest outing without a run allowed. He wasn’t in trouble when pulled; presumably he’d just reached his pitch/batter limit.

Aaron Zavala was 0-4 with four walks across the two games. Cody Freeman singled and walked.

Low-A: Down East 2, at Kannapolis (CHW) 1
Down East: 9 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 12-15, 5.5 GB

SP Winston Santos: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 3 SO, 70 P / 50 S, 4.64 ERA
LF Alejandro Osuna: 2-3, 2B, BB, .325/.398/.506
3B Junior Paniagua: 3-4, HR (1), .181/.231/.292

Junior Paniagua came to the plate with a one-run deficit, a runner on, and a .239 slugging percentage. He improved that mark considerably with his first homer of the season. The 20-year-old hit five last summer in Arizona, so this wasn’t a Guilder Rodriguez or early-career IKF unicorn shot.

I’ve been calling Santos “Victor” much of the season, even though he’s not new to the organization. Victor Santos pitched for the Rangers in 2003, regrettably for all involved (7.01 ERA). Winston has posted back-to-back strong outings after a so-so start, and he was solid in rookie ball last summer. 

Today’s Starters
AAA: off
AA: off
Hi-A: off
Lo-A: off

Five Years Ago Yesterday
I mentioned Blake Beavan (back in affiliated ball for the first time in two years), Michael Choice (signed by Milwaukee after release from Baltimore), Tomas Telis (called up by the Marlins), and Neil Ramirez (DFA’ed by Toronto).

As for where they are now: Telis will visit Round Rock this week as a member of the OKC Dodgers. Michael Choice continues to ply his trade in Mexico. Beavan’s reentry wouldn’t last long; he was injured (I think) after seven starts and released for the final time that November. Ramirez doesn’t appear to have pitched since 2019.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 7 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 13, at Reno (ARI) 10
Round Rock: 12 hits, 10 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 19-10, 1 G up

SP Cole Winn: 4 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 8 R, 6 BB, 1 SO, 83 P / 43 S, 5.68 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 8.10 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 3-6, 3 SB (14), .364/.379/.505
SS Josh Smith: 1-4, HBP, .260/.330/.396
LF Willie Calhoun: 2-6, HR (1)
RF Steele Walker: 1-4, HR (1)
DH Sherten Apostel: 2-3, 2B, .256/.319/.558

Contra his MLB experience, Willie Calhoun saw both of his hard-hit balls (104, 102 MPH) land for hits. One landed over the fence.

Bubba Thompson leads AAA in steals.

Another quirky outing from Cole Winn, and a second straight with six walks. Winn threw only 26 fastballs out of 83 pitches, missed on 15 of them, and registered zero swinging strikes. Winn offered 27 changes, one more than the fastball. Most effective was the curve, of which four of 18 drew empty swings. Winn now has 19 combined walks and HBPs versus 18 strikeouts in 25.1 innings. Statistically, it’s reminiscent of his rough introduction to full-season ball in 2019.

Daniel Robert (calf) made his first appearances in nearly a month. Given the high-scoring games in Reno, I’d have tried to extend that rehab for another two days until the Express returned home.

The hardest-hit ball of the night (109 MPH) belonged to, yes, Sam Huff, who lined to short. He was 0-4 with two walks.

AA: Frisco 5, Arkansas (SEA) 0
Frisco: 7 hits, 7 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 0 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 16-10, 3 G up

SP Jack Leiter: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 67 P / 45 S, 1.93 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 2 IP, 2 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1.76 ERA
RP Lucas Jacobsen: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.93 ERA
LF Dustin Harris: 1-3, 2 BB, SB (5), .276/.356/.391
2B Ezequiel Duran: 2-4, 2B, HR (3), .277/.318/.495
1B Blaine Crim: 1-2, HR (3), BB, .270/.333/.449

Facing Arkansas for a second time early in the season, Jack Leiter delivered his best pro outing by far, not only avoiding walks but reaching a three-ball count just once. Leiter retired the final 15 straight. The fastball was mid-90s, touching 98.

.432 with eight extra-bases hits in seven games for Ezequiel Duran vs. Arkansas.

High-A:wet again

Low-A: Down East 10, at Kannapolis (CHW) 11
Down East: 11 hits, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 13 hits, 7 walks, 15 strikeouts
Record: 10-15, tied for first

SP Josh Stephan: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 51 P / 34 S, 5.09 ERA
RP Mitchell Bratt: 1 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 4 R, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 9.00 ERA
RP Teodoro Ortega: 2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 7.20 ERA
3B Yenci Pena: 3-3, HR (1), 2 BB, SB (2), .231/.369/.346
LF Yosy Galan: 4-5, HR (5), SB (4), .338/.416/.618

Another one-run loss. Another nice day for Yosy Galan. 21-year-old Yenci Pena was signed by Texas in late 2017 after he was declared a free agent by MLB as part of the Atlanta international scandal.

Low-A: Down East 2, at Kannapolis (CHW) 1 (7)
Down East: 4 hits, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 11-15, 5 GB

SP Larson Kindreich: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 75 P / 49 S, 1.33 ERA
RP Michael Brewer: 2.2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.66 ERA

A one-run win. Larson Kindreich has yet to allow more than one run in an outing. Down East had one baserunner (on a hit batsman) in the last five innings.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Allard
AA: Ragans
Hi-A: Roby
Lo-A: TBD, probably WInston Santos

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Drew Robinson, Brett Nicholas, Jose Cardona, Isiah Kiner-Falefa: all 2-4 with a double.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 6 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 19, at Reno (ARI) 5
Round Rock: 23 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 18-10, 1 G up

SP AJ Alexy: 4 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 4 R, 5 BB, 2 SO, 90 P / 55 S, 5.04 ERA
RP Jason Bahr: 3 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 6.91 ERA
RF Bubba Thompson: 2-5, BB, SB (11), .355/.371/.505
SS Josh Smith: 2-6, 2B, .261/.320/.402
CF Leody Taveras: 2-6, 3B, .363/.394/.608
2B Ryan Dorow: 3-5, HR (1), .256/.318/.410
CF Leody Taveras: 2-6, 3B, .363/.294/.608
DH Yohel Pozo: 4-6, HR (2), .301/.329/.466
C Meibrys Viloria: 5-6, .386/.493/.544
1B Sherten Apostel: 4-6, 2B, 2 HR, (3), .225/.262/.525

Round Rock applied the most damage yet to Reno’s staff despite an off-day for Sam Huff, who’d homered four times in the series’ first three games.
48% of Sherten Apostel’s swings have drawn air, far above the team average of 27%, but when he connects, the ball’s moving hard the opposite way.

AJ Alexy stayed true to his frustrating course. He had a decent strike rate and delivered first-pitch strikes to 17 of 22 batters, yet he walked five and reached 90 pitches in just four innings. Batters have tended to wait him out, resulting in the highest pitches per inning among Round Rock’s starters by a fair margin.

Willie Calhoun was 1-5 with a walk. As for his return to AAA, I have mixed feelings.

In his favor:
1) Atrocious luck with injuries. Not just the time missed, but the type of injuries that may cause emotional damage.
2) Atrocious luck on balls in play. Last December, I reviewed the hard-hit stats of all the presumed 2022 Rangers and wrote the following: “Among current Rangers, [Corey Seager] had the highest hard-hit rate (35%) and the highest walk rate (13%) in 2021. Incidentally, the name that stands out to me in this exercise is Willie Calhoun. Calhoun walked at an acceptable rate in 2021 and hit the ball hard. How did he bat only .250/.310/.381? The answer, best as I can tell, is a higher proportion of grounders and low liners than the average hitter, resulting in a relatively poor .705 slugging percentage on hard-hit balls, second lowest among Rangers with at least 20 in play. Seemingly, if Calhoun could elevate that contact a little, he’d be a force.” He’s suffering the same fate so far in 2022. Using a slightly different representation of “hard-hit,” I see 10 balls in play that are usually hits and often for extra bases in 2022. The expected batting and slugging averages on those balls are .669 and 1.168, respectively. He’s actually hitting .400 and slugging .900 on those balls. Tack, say, two singles and a double onto his line and he’s hitting .204/.340/.363, not a good line but perhaps good enough to avoid demotion.
3) Eight walks and just six strikeouts in 2022. He’s not just up there hacking.

In his disfavor:
1. A .241/.300/.407 line in a not-insubstantial 927 trips to the plate across 253 games.
2. A .234/.306/.365 line in 2021-2022.
3. No appreciable platoon split, quashing the idea of playing him exclusively against righties.
4. Because of the deadened ball, hitters as a whole are hitting and slugging considerably worse than the expected figures provided by Statcast. So to some extent, Calhoun’s “unluckiness” isn’t any worse that anyone else’s.
5. Regarding the “elevate his contact” comment above, I certainly made that sound easier than it is. Hitters can’t change their launch angles at will any more than they can automatically hit against the shift. If they could, they’d be batting .400.
5. He’s 27, an age by which potential is typically reached, or isn’t.
6. There’s no need to discuss other factors of his game because they don’t contribute to his value.

Hopefully, something clicks with Round Rock. It’s disheartening that Calhoun hasn’t become a productive player, particularly during a period of historic awfulness by the Texas offense.

AA: Frisco 2, Arkansas (SEA) 6
Frisco: 6 hits, 9 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 15-10, 2 G up

SP Cody Bradford: 3.1 IP, 7 H (2 HR), 5 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, 66 P / 50 S, 9.45 ERA
RP Seth Nordlin: 4.2 IP, 3 H ,1 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 2.74 ERA
SS Ezequiel Duran: 4-5, 2B, .268/.311/.454

Statcast has changed how we view players, but the immutable fact is that fewer strikeouts mean more balls in play which usually means more hits. Such was Cody Bradford’s Friday. He was also atypically fly-prone, leading to two homers and two doubles out of the seven hits.

Ezeuqiel Duran’s strikeout rate:
2018: 28%
2019: 28%
2021: 28%
2022: 18%

High-A: suspended

Rain halted the contest with Hickory leading 1-0 in the 3rd.

Apologies for saying Luisangel Acuna was active but on the bench yesterday. He did play and went 0-4 with a walk. I’d looked for him in the box for Down East, where he played in 2021. Not coincidentally, the person in the hotel room above me yesterday morning awakened at 4:45 AM and made absolutely sure everyone adjacent to him knew about it. I was a little tired.

Low-A: suspended

The Woodies lead 6-2 in the 4th.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Winn
AA: Leiter (vs. Seattle’s George Kirby)
Hi-A: Englert
Lo-A: officially TBD, maybe Kindreich / Bratt

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Round Rock’s Ronald Guzman improved his average to .351 with two singles. I’d written about his good luck on grounders, but lately he’d been hitting more liners. Guzman is batting .183/.333/.300 for the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 5 May

Greetings from Chicago Midway, one of America’s many airports.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 4, at Reno (ARI) 8
Round Rock: 10 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 9 walks, 7 strikeouts
Record: 17-10, 1 G up

SP Kohei Arihara: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 0 SO, 28 P / 12 S, 5.18 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1.2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Ryder Ryan: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1.84 ERA
DH Sam Huff: 2-3, HR (7), .258/.329/.561
SS Ryan Dorow: 3-4, 2B, .203/.276/.319

Reno + escape-velocity-level power + who knows, maybe a little extra incentive from that one appearance in Arlington = a .455/.571/.1.544 with four homers in three games for Sam Huff.

Spencer Howard was a late scratch for reasons unknown to me. Maybe it’s out there, but I’ve been out of pocket. Kohei Arihara took his place and couldn’t escape the 1st inning. Nick Tropeano aided with 3.1 innings of one-run ball.

LF Willie Calhoun was 0-3 with a walk. Josh Smith hasn’t played in the Reno series. You know what I know about that. He’s not on the IL, but unlike years part, the larger roster and sizable taxi squad prevent the need to immediately IL a player for what is hopefully a minor owwie.

AA: Frisco 6, Arkansas (SEA) 1
Frisco: 9 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Opponent: 3 hits, 7 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 15-9, 2 G up

SP Justin Slaten: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 SO, 68 P / 37 S, 2.12 ERA
RP Tyler Thomas: 2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 2.13 ERA
RP Fernery Ozuna: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 2.70 ERA
DH Justin Foscue: 2-3, 2B, .319/.389/.574
2B Ezequiel Duran: 2-4, 2 2B, SB (5), .239/.286/.424
1B Blaine Crim: 2-3, BB, SB (2), .274/.330/.429

Not to bag on Foscue’s defense, but his future largely runs through his bat, so keep it up, Justin. And, like a good many Texas prospects, he’s facing a position change if he’s going to be a starter with the Rangers. Left field is just sitting there, waiting for someone to claim it.

High-A: Hickory 7, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 4
Hickory: 10 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 13-11, 2 GB

SP Nick Krauth: 4.2 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 2 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 71 P / 38 S, 5.58 ERA
RP Spencer Mraz: 3 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 6.55 ERA
CF Aaron Zavala: 3-3, 2 BB, SB (6), .250/.449/.333
2B Frainyer Chavez: 1-2, 3B, SB (2), .357/.460/.429
LF Trevor Hauver: 2-5, .183/.365/.250

Once again, not to suggest Aaron Zavala already needs to be in AA, but I’m more-or-less waiting until then to see what he can do. Or put another way, the swinging part of his bat needs to be at this level (some more power would be nice), but his zone control is “too good,” especially with so many pitchers lacking control. His 23 walks lead high-A and are second in all of minor league ball. Trevor Hauver’s line continues to be Zavala Lite.

A couple of earlier bad outings sabotaged Spencer Mraz’s line, but he corrected that to the extent possible with six strikeouts in three perfect innings. Mraz fanned the last five batters in a row.

Low-A: Down East 2, at Kannapolis (CHW) 5
Down East: 7 hits, 4 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 7 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Record: 10-14, 5 GB

SP Robby Ahlstrom: 4.1 IP, 5 H (2 HR), 3 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 62 P / 43 S, 6.92 ERA
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-4, 2B, SB (8), .250/.349/.389
2B Jose Acosta: 1-3, HR (1), .278/.395/.500

Kannapolis scored single runs in five different innings but stranded only two runners the whole game. That’s hard to do. Four solo homers certainly helped.

Maximo Acosta has four consecutive two-hit games. IF Luisangel Acuna (hamstring) was activated but did not play. Always add two weeks to any hamstring prognosis. That’s not a knock against the Rangers. Just that hamstrings always take longer and are easy to reinjure.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Alexy
AA: Bradford
Hi-A: White
Lo-A: TBD, usually a Josh Stephan night

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Converted IF Josh Morgan threw out his first runner from behind the plate. Only seven had tried so far. Texas’s 3rd-rounder from 2014 is still a going concern, batting .167/.227/.333 in limited action for AAA Tacoma (Seattle). So far in 2022 he’s exclusively behind the plate, after spending the entirely of 2021 at second or third.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 4 May

My podcast partners were joined by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News this week. Link in signature. Yours truly is in Michiganon a federal takings case. I hope to be back next week, perhaps in a location more germane to Texas baseball.

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 6, at Reno (ARI) 3
Round Rock: 14 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Record: 17-9, 1.5 G up

SP Jake Latz: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 95 P / 65 S, 4.18 ERA
LF Steele Walker: 3-5, SB (1)
DH Sam Huff: 2-4, 2 HR, (6), .258/.329/.561
RF Elier Hernandez: 3-4, SB (3), .268/.342/.437

Ho hum, two more balls off the bat at 106+ for Sam Huff, who homered twice. (At 106 MPH, launch angle practically doesn’t matter in terms of getting a hit. Launch angle greatly affects the type of hit, of course.) Reno favors hitters like almost nowhere else, but those shots are leaving any park. Huff has 13 balls in play at this velocity. No teammate has more than four, and the entire rest of the team has 23. Duty requires me to point out that he’s also striking out in more than one-third of his plate appearances.

Steel Walker, injury free and also happy to be in Reno.

Following Latz, Hever Bueno, Yerry Rodriguez and Jesus Tinico threw scoreless innings on a combined 30 pitches.

AA: Frisco 3, Arkansas (SEA) 6
Frisco: 8 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 15-8, 1 G up

SP Kevin Gowdy: 3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 58 P / 35 S, 6.35 ERA
RP Avery Weems: 5 IP, 5 H ,3 R, 3 BB, 8 SO, 8.04 ERA
2B Justin Foscue: 2-5, 2B, .295/.360/.545
SS Ezequiel Duran: 1-4, HR (2), .227/.277/.398
3B Jonathan Ornelas: 2-4, HR (2), .370/.386/.481

Duran has his second homer. He’s off to a fairly slow start, but there’s plenty of time. Duran his a more robust .278/.333/.611 in the Arizona Fall League, but 1) that was in Arizona, and 2) the pitching quality was relatively weak.

High-A: Hickory 8, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 2
Hickory: 12 hits, 9 walks, 15 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts
Record: 12-11, 3 GB

SP Ben Anderson: 5 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 68 P / 38 S, 2.16 ERA
RP John Matthews: 3 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 3.09 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 1-3, 2 BB, HBP, .217/.419/.304
3B Cristian Inoa: 3-6, .329/.393/.474
CF Evan Carter: 2-5, 2B, BB, .329/.432/.534
C Cody Freeman: 2-4, 2 HR, (5), .219/.301/.453
2B Keyber Rodriguez: 2-3, 2 BB, .306/.359/.361

A fiesta for Hickory’s hitters. Cody Freeman barely showed doubles power in a homerless 2019. Last year he went deep six times in 71 low-A games. Now, five in just 17 games at high-A. According to this progression, Freeman will hit nothing but homers once assigned to Frisco.

Trevor Hauver reached on a single and, yes, two walks.

Low-A: Down East 4, at Kannapolis (CHW) 5
Down East: 8 hits, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 11-12, 4.5 GB

SP Brandon Webb: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 72 P / 44 S, 6.14 ERA
RP Emiliano Teodo: 3.1 IP, 1 H ,1 R, 3 BB, 3 SO, 0.75 ERA
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-3, BB, .235/.342/.368
CF Daniel Mateo: 2-4, 2B, .229/.282/.286

Down East’s last six losses have been by one or two runs. An attempt to get Emiliano Teodo through four innings didn’t go as hoped, as a leadoff error and HBP put two on with one out. Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa struck out the next batter, but an 0-2 single ended the game.

Today’s Starters
AAA: Howard
AA: Slaten
Hi-A: Krauth
Lo-A: TBD, maybe a Corniell / Ahlstrom tandem

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Frisco’s Ariel Jurado walked four batters for only the second time in 75 starts but managed to keep San Antonio off the board. Round Rock had knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa. When he signed, I remember thinking how much fun I’d have seeing a knuckler from directly behind the plate. I had exactly zero fun, as Gamboa had a 6.49 ERA with even worse peripherals, and he was released in June.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Tuesday 3 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 13, at Reno (ARI) 9
Round Rock: 14 hits, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 11 hits, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 16-9, 1 G up

SP Kolby Allard: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 SO, 51 P / 25 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Dan Winkler: 2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0.82 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 3-5, HR (3), HBP, 3 SB (10), .349/.360/.518
LF Leody Taveras: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, SB (4), .374/.408/.626
C Sam Huff: 1-4, HR (4), BB, .242/.309/.468
2B Ryan Dorow: 3-5, .215/.292/.338

Reno is one of baseball’s most generous parks for hitters, and the Express took advantage.
Sam Huff lined the hardest ball in an Express game this season: 116.5 MPH. His reward was a lineout. Seemingly weakened from that effort, he followed with a an only 110 MPH shot, but lucky for him it traveled 439 feet. Huff has five of Round Rock’s six batted balls about 110 MPH, the other a single by Bubba Thompson. Thompson himself had three balls in play in excess of 100 MPH and his tenth steal.

Leody Taveras has drawn four of his six walks in the last two games.

AA: Frisco 2, Arkansas (SEA) 1
Frisco: 4 hits, 8 walks, 4 strikeouts
Opponent: 5 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 14-8, 2 G up

SP Zak Kent: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 2 SO, 82 P / 46 S, 6.00 ERA
RP Grant Anderson: 2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 2.03 ERA
RP Lucas Jacobsen: 1 IP, 0 H (1.04 HR), 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 0.00 ERA
CF JP Martinez: 1-3, BB, SB (10), .309/.405/.515
LF Dustin Harris: 2-3, SB (4), .315/.373/.452

Hard to say about JP Martinez. The Cuban has always been a little on the older side, 26 now, and has never quite measured up to the hopes when he signed. He was assigned to Frisco again this April while the younger Bubba Thompson moved on. Hitting like this will certainly warrant a promotion at some point. After a slow start, Dustin Harris has settled in to hitting much like he did last year.

Chase Lee subbed for Zak Kent in the 6th and walked two batters before completing the inning.

High-A: Hickory 9, at Winston-Salem (CHW) 11
Hickory: 13 hits, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 6 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 11-11, 3 GB
SP Ricky Vanasco: 2.1 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 6 R, 4 BB, 2 SO, 65 P / 39 S, 8.71 ERA
RP Joe Corbett: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2.89 ERA
RF Aaron Zavala: 3-4, HBP, .212/.402/.303
1B Cristian Inoa: 2-5, 2B, .314/.386/.471
CF Evan Carter: 2-4, 3B, .324/.427/.529
3B Cody Freeman: 1-4, HR (3), .200/.279/.350

Evan Carter continues to delight and amaze. His four triples lead the organization; nobody else has even three. Aaron Zavala propelled his batting average above .200 for the first time. His walk-saturated OBP has always been around .400.

Nothing in Ricky Vanasco’s stats suggests he better than his 8.71 ERA right now. Well, his hit rate isn’t that bad. Just have to be patient.

Low-A: Down East 9, at Kannapolis (CHW) 3
Down East: 14 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Record: 10-12, 4.5 GB

SP Gavin Collyer: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 51 P / 36 S, 5.14 ERA
RP Damian Mendoza: 2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 3.14 ERA
RP Theo McDowell: 2 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 5.59 ERA
LF Alejandro Osuna: 3-5, 2 HR, (3), .350/.429/.567
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-5, SB (7), .215/.320/.354
CF Yosy Galan: 5-5, 3B, HR (4), SB (3), .316/.400/.579
DH Jose Rodriguez: 1-4, HR (1), .207/.309/.293

Yosy Galan strikes out around 30% of the time, but when he’s clicking, he’s a force. 5-5 with a triple and homer is the best line by any Texas hitter this season. The 19-year-old Osuna is halfway to last year’s six homers and striking out much less. 20-year-old Joe Rodriguez was described as a catcher during the international signings in 2018, but he’s yet to actually catch a game.

Kannapolis avoided a shutout with five straight hits off the normally reliable Leury Tejeda in the 9th.

Today’s Starters
AA: Gowdy
Hi-A: Anderson
Lo-A: maybe a Teodo / Webb tandem

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Jeffrey Springs struck out a career-best ten in a 1-0 loss for Down East, then a high-A team. Connor Sadzeck allowed a run in six innings.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Sunday 1 May

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 9, at Salt Lake (LAA) 4
Round Rock: 11 hits, 8 walks, 7 strikeouts
Opponent: 4 hits, 9 walks, 4 strikeouts
Record: 15-9, tied for first

SP Cole Winn: 5 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 6 BB, 2 SO, 83 P / 40 S, 3.38 ERA
CF Leody Taveras: 1-3, 2 BB, .375/.402/.625
DH Yohel Pozo: 3-5, 3 2B, .270/.303/.397
RF Elier Hernandez: 2-4, 2B, HR (2), .222/.300/.365

Well, if you’re pitching at altitude and took a shot off your foot in your previous start, you’d like to avoid hard-hit balls. Winn achieved that, after a fashion, by issuing a career-high six walks. The hits were on a bloop and hard grounder. Going off the data, no pitch looked particularly effective, and he missed on 25 of 46 fastballs. Just one of those days.

Leody Taveras doubled his walk total. That’s been the only missing piece of his production so far.

More on Willie Calhoun later, I suppose. What a mess.

AA: Frisco 6, at Midland (OAK) 5
Frisco: 6 hits, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 14-7, 3 G up

SP Cole Ragans: 5.1 IP, 8 H (1 HR), 3 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 87 P / 55 S, 3.00 ERA
RP Seth Nordlin: 1.2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 2 SO, 3.60 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA
1B Blaine Crim: 2-3, HR (3), .284/.329/.459
2B Justin Foscue: 1-2, 2B, 2 BB, .306/.366/.583

Ragans got a chance at six innings after completing five on just 77 pitches, but a single, double and walk ended his afternoon slightly early.

Justin Foscue had seven hits (four for extra bases) and four walks in the five games he played at Midland. Blaine Crim also had a nice series after hitting well at San Antonio, giving him an absurd split of .194/.257/.290 at home and .349/.380/.581 on the road. Doesn’t mean anything, though I’m sure he’d like a few more hits in front of people wishing him success.

High-A: Hickory 5, Greenville (BOS) 10
Hickory: 10 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Opponent: 12 hits, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 11-10, 3 GB

SP TK Roby: 4 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 6 R, 4 BB, 4 SO, 72 P / 40 S, 7.41 ERA
RP Josh Smith: 1 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1.17 ERA
DH Chris Seise: 1-4, HR (5), .233/.292/.533
2B Thomas Saggese: 2-4, .247/.304/.356

Seise has three homers in the past week, already equaling his best from any complete season. He’s played in 16 of Hickory’s 21 games, never more than three in a row and still exclusively as a DH.

Low-A: Down East 4, Carolina (MIL) 6
Down East: 6 hits, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts
Record: 9-12, tied for first

SP Winston Santos: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 76 P / 56 S, 5.87 ERA
C Tucker Mitchell: 1-3, 3B, 2 BB, SB (2), .276/.488/.379
SS Maximo Acosta: 2-3, 2B, HR (1), SB (6), .200/.314/.350

Like last year in Arizona, Maximo Acosta’s production has been modest. What he needs is continued health; last year was limited to 17 games by a shoulder injury.

Last year’s 14th-round pick Tucker Mitchell is catching every third game a drawing a handful of DH assignments. Outside of the best prospects, that’s about the most a catcher can hope for in low-A, where three and sometimes even four catchers are splitting duty. Mitchell has been hit once every ten plate appearances, an effective if painful way to boost one’s OBP to nearly .500.

Santos rebounded nicely from last week’s career-worst four walks. His control is typically impeccable.

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Round Rock baserunners allowed: 373 (most allowed among 8 eastern teams in PCL)
Frisco baserunners allowed: 318 (most in 8-team league)
Down East baserunners allowed: 341 (most in 10-team league)
Hickory baserunners allowed: 353 (most in 14-team league)

Fortunately, only Round Rock would remain such, and Down East in particular had a pitching-dominant squad by season’s end.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Saturday 30 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 6, at Salt Lake (LAA) 7
Round Rock: 11 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 8 hits, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts
Record: 14-9, tied for first

SP AJ Alexy: 6 IP, 5 H (2 HR), 4 R, 2 BB, 2 SO, 84 P / 50 S, 4.71 ERA
RP Yerry Rodriguez: 1 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, 7.36 ERA
CF Leody Taveras: 2-4, HR (4), .376/.391/.635
1B Sherten Apostel: 2-4, 2B, .167/.219/.333
SS Ryan Dorow: 2-3, 3B, .190/.254/.276

AJ Alexy rectified the previous week’s control issues but surrendered homers on a change and slider. In his best outing of the season, Yerry Rodriguez needed just eight pitches to record three groundouts.

Leody’s two hits came off the bat at 109.9 and 105.2 MPH.

A few hours after I looked at Friday’s mundane box score and settled on praise of Zach Reks’ “quietly effective” performance, he joined the Rangers, started, and collected his first MLB hit and RBI. Leody Taveras has been the more impressive of the two, but with rosters decreasing from 28 to 26 soon, Reks might be a stopgap. I’d just as soon Taveras not return unless the intention is a longer stay with a defined role. The Statcast stats don’t shed any additional light on Reks; he’s been productive if unexceptional swinging the bat while drawing enough walks and HBPs to boost his on-base percentage to an impressive .387, highest among the regulars.

AA: Frisco 4, at Midland (OAK) 7
Frisco: 8 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
Record: 13-7, 2 G up

SP Jack Leiter: 3 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 4 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 SO, 76 P / 48 S, 2.84 ERA
RP Tyler Thomas: 3 IP, 3 H ,0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 2.53 ERA
1B Blaine Crim: 1-4, HR (2), .268/.321/.408

Jack Leiter walked only one, the game’s leadoff hitter, but went to three balls against five other hitters and tallied an evening’s worth of pitches in just three innings. Following the walk, he allowed his first professional homer. Odds are you know this, but just in case: Double A is a much stiffer level of competition than top-level college baseball. Even for the #2 pick in the draft, Frisco is an aggressive (albeit not rash) assignment.

High-A: Hickory 9, Greenville (BOS) 1
Hickory: 12 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts
Record: 11-9, 2 GB

SP Mason Englert: 6 IP, 2 H (1 HR), 1 R, 1 BB, 10 SO, 68 P / 51 S, 4.05 ERA
RP Tyree Thompson: 2 IP, 0 H ,0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, 0.00 ERA
CF Evan Carter: 3-3, 2B, HR (1), BB, .317/.425/.517
LF Trevor Hauver: 1-3, BB, .140/.344/.233
C Cody Freeman: 1-3, HR (2), .212/.288/.327
DH Chris Seise: 2-4, 3B, .232/.295/.500

Mason Englert is the first starter of the season to record double-digit strikeouts, and on a miserly 68 pitches. Evan Carter continues to be Evan Carter. Tough to argue with a 3/4/5 slash from a 19-year-old in high-A. No, he’s not headed to Frisco next week. Hauver has been an extreme form of Aaron Zavala, if that’s possible: only six hits in 15 games, but also 15 walks. He’s struck out only 13 times in 63 trips to the plate, so he’s not just a walk-or-strikeout hitter.

Low-A: Down East 2, Carolina (MIL) 0
Down East: 4 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Opponent: 2 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Record: 9-11, 5 GB

SP Mitch Bratt: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 39 P / 28 S, 0.00 ERA
RP Larson Kindreich: 6 IP, 1 H ,0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1.13 ERA
C Tucker Mitchell: 1-2, BB, .269/.472/.308

Two 2021 picks combined on a two-hit shutout. 18-year-old Mitch Bratt (5th round) made his full-season debut, while Larson Kindreich (8th round) became the first Ranger to surpass 90 pitches in an outing. No starter has thrown more than 87.

Today’s Starters
AAA: TBD (but it should be Winn)
AA: Ragans
Hi-A: Roby
Lo-A: TBD (Victor Santos has been starting on Sundays)

Five Years Ago Yesterday
Round Rock’s Tanner Scheppers allowed homers to three consecutive batters in the 7th. The Express had surrendered 35 long balls, seven more than any other PCL team. Meanwhile, Frisco starter Yohander Mendez gave up four dingers (not consecutively), pushing his team’s total to 31, ten more than any Texas League competitor. At times, chronicling 2017 is going to be a labor of something other than love.