Rangers Farm Report: Games of Friday 18 April
Martin Perez is my favorite prospect to have covered for the Newberg Report. Others have reached the Majors with more ease, but with him I've seen the gamut of physical and emotional development: the precociously refined teenager, adjustments at each level, occasionally disheartening body language (by him and me), loss and renewal of confidence, worthy additions to his repertoire, and now, fulfillment of the potential we saw back in 2008. Perez has a very impressive 1.1 wins above replacement in just three starts, but that stat doesn’t do justice to his importance in an injury-ravaged rotation.
I always return to his start in AAA Round Rock on 20 May 2012, his nadir from my perspective. Here's what I wrote less than two years ago:
Martin Perez looked like a man defeated yesterday. I've never seen him throw worse. In three exhaustingly prolonged innings, Perez allowed seven runs on eight hits, four walks and four strikeouts. He threw 85 pitches to record nine outs, including 41 in his final inning.
For most of his outing, Perez had no functional fastball. The velocity was present -- he ranged anywhere from 89 to 95 in the 1st -- but it mostly existed in a binary state of missing badly or running over the heart of the plate. In later innings, he appeared to pull back slightly in order to throw more strikes, to little avail. He was also throwing across his body. By far, his best pitch was his changeup, and by my rough count he threw 25 of them including at least eight of 14 pitches in the second. Three of his four third strikes were on changes.
As is often the case, he suffered more than his fair share of misfortune. Several hits wafted lazily over the infield, and the defense didn't provide all the support it could. He also committed his own error on an pickoff throw, but I'd pin that one firmly on 2B Yangervis Solarte, whose hesitation in covering the bag let Perez's throw reach the outfield. But, once again, he responded poorly. After a soft single by Fresno's Nick Noonan that plated two, Perez walked the next two batters. After his error, he immediately offered a pancake-flat changeup that Justin Christian ripped for a two-run single. Then, another walk.
I always preach patience for the younger guys. Perez is the youngest pitcher in AAA. In fact, he's younger than every active starter in Texas's system except for Myrtle Beach's Cody Buckel and Hickory's Luke Jackson and Victor Payano. Development can be slow and fitful. For examples, you need look no farther than Matt Harrison and Derek Holland, two established MLB starters who still leave us scratching our heads sometimes.
On the other hand, by the end of 2012, Perez will have logged three full seasons and close to 400 innings in the upper minors. I'm not worried now (well, not overly worried), but if he's pitching in early September like he is now, I certainly will be. The Rangers advanced Perez extremely rapidly because they felt he could make the adjustments and handle adversity. Lately, he's not, at all. This summer may be the most critical phase of his career.
Perez followed that outing with seven innings of one-run ball and a 90-pitch complete game. He made his Major League debut within two months. Stars of the Day
AAA: Justin Germano / Bryan Petersen, Adam Rosales, Ryan Strausborger
AA: Alec Asher, Phil Klein / Jake Skole, Drew Robinson
Lo-A: Yohander Mendez
AAA: Round Rock 2, at Omaha 3
Record: 8-7, tied for 1st
LF Bryan Petersen hit his fifth homer, 1B Adam Rosales his third. Catcher Chris Gimenez went 3-4. Justin Germano (4.50 ERA) allowed three runs in seven innings.
Texas designated IF Andy Parrino to clear space for reliever Aaron Poreda. I saw Poreda relieve Colby Lewis's two chilly Sundays ago. His fastball ranged from 90-96 with an 82-84 slider. He was knocked around but showed good control, unlike most of his outings during 2009-2012. Poreda is out of options, to my knowledge.
Round Rock received 26-year-old OF Ryan Strausborger from Frisco. He'd been on Frisco's DL all season. Making up for lost time, Strausborger doubled and singled in his AAA debut. He can play anywhere in the outfield and has occasionally manned second base. Unfortunately, he hasn't hit much in the high minors, showing some pop last year (10 homers, 25 other extra-base hits) but batting only .217.
AA: at Frisco 4, Corpus Christi 3
Record: 10-4, +1.0, 9 consecutive wins
Homers from RF Drew Robinson (2) and CF Jake Skole (1) fueled a four-run 7th. Skole (.161/.206/.290) also stole his first base. Alec Asher (3.45 ERA) fanned five and walked two in five innings. He allowed all the runs in the 6th, departing after a triple and two singles. Multiple errors tagged two of the runs as unearned. Phil Klein struck out three and retired six of seven, the other being a fastball into the face of Delino DeShields Jr., who was hospitalized and diagnosed with a sinus fracture. Matt West earned his second save; he's allowed three runners and no runs in 7.2 innings. High-A: wet -- doubleheader today
Myrtle Beach placed RHP Cody Buckel on the DL with a sprained ankle. Lefty Will Lamb, Texas's 2nd rounder from 2011, has replaced him. Lamb is an unusual case: fairly unrefined and searching for a delivery despite his college background, still lacking meat on his 6'6" frame, sometimes very effective (especially against lefties), sometimes eminently hittable.
As for Buckel… What else can one say? I hope the time off serves him well. Andrew Faulkner will replace him in the rotation.
I reversed yesterday's score, a terrible habit from last year. Myrtle won 9-2.
Low-A: Hickory 7, at Asheville 2
Record: 8-8, -3.5
Yohander Mendez retired his first 13 batters, 9 via strikeout, before allowing an infield single. Mendez promptly erased the runner on a double play. In the 6th, he struck out his tenth batter, allowed another single and again induced a double play. Mendez threw 57 of 75 pitches for strikes. Per the local report and opposing manager, Mendez was especially effective with his changeup, a pitch I wish I'd seen more of in Surprise. Mendez generates good movement on what is at present not a terribly fast heater (88-91).
OF Jairo Beras (.176/.259/.176) collected his first two-hit game. All the money and controversy surrounding Beras doesn't make him any less raw, and I half-expected him to begin 2014 in short-season Spokane despite Texas's propensity to assign its teenagers aggressively. Low-A is a stout challenge for the 18-year-old. Five Years Ago Yesterday
A dull day, frankly. Frisco's Guillermo Moscoso allowed three runs before retiring a batter and eight in total in 2.2 innings. Today's Starters
AAA: Ryan Feierabend
AA: Matt Harrison
Hi-A: Luis Parra / Victor Payano
Lo-A: Frank Lopez