The Farm Report -- 8/31/2017

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Wednesday 30 August
Box Scores

AAA: at Round Rock 2, Col. Springs (MIL) 1
Record: 63-70, eliminated

SP Adrian Sampson: 5 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Dario Alvarez: 3 IP, 3 H (1 HR), 1 R, 1 HBP, 7 SO, 2.33 ERA
RF Ryan Rua: 1-3, HR (7), .258/.298/.453

Adrian Sampson made his first AAA appearance after working his way through rookie league and high-A. Texas claimed and then outrighted the 25-year-old righty from Seattle last fall. He missed most of the season after non-TJ elbow surgery.

Ryan Rua hit a two-run homer in the 7th.

Alvarez fanned seven of 13 batters. He's been solid in Round Rock, holding lefties to a .182/.317/.364 line, and you might see him pitching to an MLB lefty or two in September.

AA: at Frisco 3, Corpus Christi (HOU) 10
Record: 59-76 overall, eliminated

SP Yohander Mendez: 5.1 IP, 7 H (3 HR), 6 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 3.79 ERA
RP Connor Sadzeck: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 SO, 6.28 ERA
CF Michael O'Neill: 2-4, double, walk, .258/.340/.401
LF Scott Heineman: 2-4, double, .282/.363/.425
3B Juremi Profar: 2-4, 2 doubles, .267/.301/.383

Yesterday was Yohander Mendez's season in microcosm: pretty good except for all the homers. For the season, he walked 9% of his opponents, slightly above the league average but also an improvement on his 2016. He struck out 22%, off his previous season figure of 26% but still better than average for a starting pitcher. And now, the "except" part: after giving up a total of 15 homers in his previous five seasons, he's allowed 23 in 2017, the most in AA. Unfortunately, Texas can't go into the offseason assuming Mendez (or Ariel Jurado, who has one more start) will be part of the MLB rotation next April. The Rangers have some holes to fill.

Connor Sadzeck in relief: 24 innings, 9.75 ERA, 14 walks, 24 strikeouts, .330/.420/.553 opposing line.

Frisco was eliminated from postseason contention.

High-A: Down East 2, at Wilmington (KAN) 0 (7)
High-A: Down East 4, at Wilmington (KAN) 2 (7)
Record: 34-31, 2.5 GB

SP Wes Benjamin: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 3.98 ERA
RP Adam Choplick: 1 IP, 0 R, 3 SO, 3.00 ERA
SP Jonathan Hernandez: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, 3.44 ERA
RP Jeffrey Springs: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 3.76 ERA
2B Luis La O: 3-6, .293/.339/.405
C/DH Carlos Garay: 3-6, double, .318/.364/.368
RF Ledarious Clark: 3-6, SB (20), .229/.321/.393

The pitchers listed above handled all 14 innings of yesterday's doubleheader in fine fashion. Down East has allowed 3.8 runs per game in the second half compared to 5.1 in the first. Wes Benjamin has played a major role in the improvement, posting a 2.43 ERA and .259/.295/.343 opposing line since mid-June. He's slated to start the season's final game. 21-year-old Jonathan Hernandez, who may be done unless Down East wins the division, has upped his strikeout rate from 17% to 23% , more befitting his lively stuff, while cutting in half the number of balls leaving the yard.

As is often the case, Down East relied on a single-heavy attack. The Woodies are last in the league in walks and isolated power. That said, in August, Luis La O is hitting everything in sight (.337/.368/.398), and Ledarious Clark has a team-best seven extra-base hits.

Division-leading Buies Creek lost in extras. The Wood Ducks and Astros conclude 2017 with a four-game series in Kinston beginning Friday night. If the Woodies gain another game today, they'll need three of four over the long weekend to claim the division. Otherwise, they'll have to sweep the series.

Low-A: Hickory 0, at Charleston (NYY) 2
Record: 36-29, tied for 1st

SP A.J. Alexy: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 8 SO, 3.05 ERA

Ouch, again. A.J. Alexy concluded his 2017 regular season with a second straight scoreless outing. In five Hickory starts, he delivered a 3.05 ERA in 20.2 innings, .178/.326/.315 opposing line, and many walks (17% rate) and strikeouts (30%). Alexy didn't allow a hit until the 5th.

Unfortunately, Hickory generated very little offense. Nick Green, the third piece of Texas's Carlos Beltran trade last summer, tied a career-high nine strikeouts over five innings, and two River Dog relievers were just as effective.

Kaleb Fontenot was again the victim. He fanned 33% of opposing batters through mid-July but only 19% since. 19% isn't bad, but a few extra hits and five homers have resulted in runs in seven of his last 12 appearances.

The Crawdads find themselves in a tie with West Virginia, which swept a doubleheader to a erase a 1.5-game deficit. Meanwhile, Greensboro blew a chance to take the division lead by percentage points. The Grasshoppers led 9-0 over Kannapolis in the 5th but lost 13-11. If Hickory ties Greensboro in games over .500, the Grasshoppers (which will play two fewer games) will advance on percentage points. Local correspondent Mark Parker contacted the Sally League office and learned that a tie between Hickory and West Virginia will force a one-game playoff for the division title. As it stands, Alexy is in line to pitch that game.

Short-A: Spokane 10, at Salem-Keizer (SFO) 5
Record: 21-14, +1 G

SP Cole Ragans: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 3.62 ERA
RP Alex Speas: 1 IP, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 6.54 ERA
RP Noah Bremer: 2 IP, 0 R, 4 SO, 1.50 ERA
RP Alex Eubanks: 2 IP, 0 R, 2 SO, 1.17 ERA
3B Tyler Ratliff: 2-4, double, walk, .269/.340/.434
C Matt Whatley: 4-5, HR (6), .289/.381/.452
DH Melvin Novoa: 1-5, HR (4), .281/.336/.469
2B Kole Enright: 2-4, SB (4), .230/.309/.320

Cole Ragans' final 2017 start was his shortest and among the least effective. For the season, Ragans held the opposition to a .234/.344/.360 line, walking 35 (14%) and striking out 87 (35%) in 57.1 innings. He's going to lead the Northwest League in strikeouts and has the most of any pitcher during Texas's 15-year affiliation with Spokane. A walk-heavy season, to be sure, but he did nothing to diminish his prospect status. Be enthused.

Fortunately, with Thursday off, manager Matt Hagen could employ the bullpen to its fullest. Five combined to allow only two hits and two walks over 7.1 innings. Bremer and Eubanks, the once-a-week tag team, have a combined five walks, 50 strikeouts, and five runs allowed in 33.1 innings.

3rd-rounder Matt Whatley had a day. He's also thrown out 35% of base-stealers. Texas couldn't have hoped for any better from the Oral Roberts alum.

The league has today off, followed by a concluding three-day intra-division series. Spokane will host Everett, which is three games back. Here are the possible outcomes based on how many games Spokane wins over the weekend.

Win 0: eliminated
Win 1: champion if Tri-City wins exactly one of three against Vancouver
Win 2: champion unless Tri-City sweeps Vancouver
Win 3: champion no matter what

If Spokane is swept and Tri-City wins one of three, the entire four-team division will finish at 21-17. Vancouver will win that scenario based on second-half intra-division record, and since the Canadians also won the first half, the other playoff team would be the one with the second-best overall record. That would be Tri-City.

Rookie: Rangers 15, at Brewers 1
Record: 16-9, +2.5 G

SP Derek Heffel: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 2.84 ERA
RP Israel Cruz: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 SO, 5.91 ERA
CF Bubba Thompson: 2-5, HR (3), .269/.327/.462
3B Justin Jacobs: 1-3, 3 walks, .318/.428/.428
DH Sam Huff: 3-5, HR (9), .257/.341/.475
RF Darius Day: 1-1, 3 walks, .333/.667/.417

The Rangers put 24 runners on base in the first six innings. Top pick Bubba Thompson hit his third homer.

Five Years Ago Yesterday
The rookies won the Arizona League semifinal over the Dodgers 7-3. Nick Williams hit a three-run homer, Nomar Mazara hit a solo shot, and Lewis Brinson reached three times. Frisco's Miguel de los Santos gave up two runs in three innings. The 24-year-old would never pitch for an affiliated team again.

Today's Starters:
AAA: David Ledbetter
AA: Pedro Payano
High-A: Steven Bruce
Low-A: Edgar Arredondo
Short-A: off
Rookie: TBA

Scott Lucas
Newberg Report
twitter: @scottrlucas


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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