The Farm Report -- 11/18/2019

Thank you very much for the responses to this. I haven't replied to any yet, but I've read them all. Many of you shared your own memories of watching baseball with your family, and that was comforting.

No 40-man review here. That's next. Today, I'm squashing three months of news into one report.

Roster Move Catch-Up


Texas traded minor league infielder Jonah McReynolds to the White Sox for C Wellington Castillo and the right to spend an extra $250,000 in international slot money. 24 in December, McReynolds spent the last three seasons in short-season Spokane and was probably facing release if he didn't earn an assignment to Hickory next March.

Texas declined club options on Castillo (at a cost of $500,000) and pitchers Shawn Kelley and Nate Jones, making all free agents. The Rangers had also acquired Jones from the Sox for international slot money in July.

Texas lost RHP Phillips Valdez on waivers.

The Rangers have four open spots on the 40-man roster. I expect the Rangers to add at least that many prior to the Rule 5 draft, so additional moves are probably upcoming.

Prospect Rankings

Baseball America revealed its top prospects by league. Rangers selected:

Pacific Coast League (AAA, 16 teams): Nobody
International League (AAA, 14): #15 LHP Kolby Allard (traded to Texas), #16 2B/OF Nick Solak (traded to Texas)
Texas League (AA, 8): #14 OF Leody Taveras
Carolina League (Hi-A, 10): #5 C Sam Huff, #13 OF Leody Taveras
South Atlantic League (Lo-A, 14): #10 Josh Jung, #11 RHP Cole Winn, #16 3B Sherten Apostel, #17 Hans Crouse
Northwest League (Short-A, 8): #10 RHP Ricky Vanasco, #12 David Garcia
Arizona League (Rookie, 21): #12 2B/3B Keithron Moss, #14 C/1B/OF Heriberto Hernandez

Rangers were absent fro the PCL list, and I can't disagree. Nobody in Nashville for more than a third of the season projects to be more than a utility player or reliever.

In the Texas League chat, writer Kegan Lowe noted the difficulty in ranking relievers  because of their volatility, so no Demarcus Evans or Emmanuel Clase.

BA writer J.J. Cooper mentioned that eight Rangers were under consideration for top-20 status in the Sally League, including infielder Jonathan Ornelas and pitchers Ronny Henriquez and Yerry Rodriguez. On the basis of his reporting and conversations with scouts, Cooper also ranked Winn above Crouse, despite Crouse being the only Ranger in BA's top 100 overall. Crouse's injury and delivery pushed him down the list.

Writer Bill Mitchell considered IF Oslevis Basabe just outside the top 20, still impressive given the huge number of teams.

Jamey Newberg, who you may know from the Newberg Report, has filed his annual top 72 prospects at the Athletic. His top five: Sam Huff, Josh Jung, Cole Winn, Hans Crouse, Ricky Vanasco.

Arizona Fall League


IF Jax Biggers -- .169/.319/.169, 12 walks (versus only ten hits) and six steals in 19 games.
OF Bubba Thompson -- .254/.337/.394, three homers and five steals (without being caught) in 21 games.
C Matt Whatley -- .281/.385/.375, five walks but only one stolen base in ten games.

P Josh Advocate -- No runs and seven runners allowed in 11.1 innings. Nine strikeouts.
P AJ Alexy -- 6.75 ERAS in eight innings, 17 runners allowed, six strikeouts. Alexy hadn't pitched since early April because of a lat injury. Alexy also pitched three scoreless innings against the Padres in the Don Welke On Deck Classic at Petco Park.
P Noah Bremer -- 9.95 ERA in 6.1 innings, 18 runners allowed, seven strikeouts.
P Nick Snyder -- 5.40 ERA in eight innings, 13 runners allowed, seven strikeouts.
P Cole Uvila -- 2.53 ERA in 10.2 innings. He allowed 17 runners, belying his low ERA, but also fanned 16 of 48 batters (33%). Uvila also earned notice for the exceptionally high spin rate on his curve.

I expect all three hitters to begin 2020 in Down East. Uvila should be Frisco-bound, and all the other pitchers save Alexy may join him.

Free Agents

Signings from last offseason and homegrown talent with seven years of service declared free agency after the World Series. Per usual, Texas's AAA squad will require an extensive rebuild. I count 17 departures including infielders Patrick Wisdom and Matt Davidson, OF Zach Granite, and RHP Pedro Payano. Wisdom had come to Texas from the Cards in exchange for utility man Drew Robinson, who himself is looking for employment after an August release. Davidson you might recall as the recipient of manager Chris Woodward's surprisingly effusive praise during Spring Training. Davidson did have a good year, but not good enough to warrant a look in Arlington. In his eighth year in the system, Pedro Payano made an unexpected MLB debut but was later designated for assignment.

Gone from Frisco are pitchers Matt Bush, Yoel Espinal, Emerson Martinez and Walker Weickel. Bush underwent TJ surgery in July and will miss most of 2020. Espinal was a sweetener in the Jurickson Profar trade. Control remains elusive for him. Martinez has impressed at times, but injuries and a glut of starter candidates in Frisco limited him to just 68 innings in 2019. Weickel has re-upped with Texas twice already following his early 2017 release from San Diego, and he may yet return again. I wouldn't mind.

Jurickson Profar's younger brother Juremi is no longer a Ranger, unless he and they want a reunion. Profar enjoyed his best season in Frisco, although a brief visit to Nashville didn't progress as hoped.

I believe the only draft pick to play out his contract this season was lefty Sal Mendez, Texas's final pick of 2013. Mendez threw a career-best 117 innings with a 2.37 ERA at Down East, and I'd be fine with him staying and getting a shot at Frisco.

Finally, Jairo Beras. I've been writing about him for over eight years, albeit with decreasing frequency. The outfielder-turned-pitcher couldn't build on a promising 2018, becoming absurdly walk-prone and returning to Down East after allowing nearly three runners per inning in Frisco. Technically, he could re-sign, but a mop-up inning for Down East in a 7-2 playoff defeat was probably his last in the organization.

Houston


ESPN's Jeff Passan revealed that Astros executive Kevin Goldstein directed an email to scouts "to spy on opponents' dugouts leading up to the 2017 postseason, hoping to steal signs and suggesting the potential use of cameras to do so." Long-time Newberg Report subscribers should know the name well. Goldstein gained fame in the baseball community late in the previous decade as a prospect analyst for Baseball Prospectus. Jamey and I quoted him frequently over the years, and he spoke at several Newberg Night events over the years, most recently in 2012. Somewhere in the depths of my computer are decade-old chat logs discussing prospects and 80s punk/post-punk music.

The Astros hired Goldstein in August 2012. He quickly ascended to Director of Pro Scouting and now holds the title of Special Assistant to GM Jeff Lunhow following an organization reshuffle.

Minor League Agreement

MLB's agreement with Minor League Baseball expires after 2020, and MLB has opened the pre-negotiations with an astounding proposal that would eliminate the short-season leagues and 42 of the 160 minor league teams above the rookie complex level. See here and here. No Texas-affiliated teams are on the cut list, but this contraction would still greatly affect how they do business.

I have many, many, many thoughts on this, but today is not the time.

--
Scott Lucas
Newberg Report
twitter: @scottrlucas
My Rangers Org. Tables

 
title_authors

Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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