The Farm Report -- 4/13/2018

Per local reports, 1B Ronald Guzman will be recalled to replace Elvis Andrus. The Rangers are apparently rolling with an option I thought they would decline, namely moving Joey Gallo to the outfield.

Signed concurrently with Nomar Mazara in 2011 for the princely sum of $3.5 million, Guzman has taken a much lengthier route to MLB, but he's still just 23 and will be the fourth-youngest position player in Texas. For a while, this day seemed unlikely. After nondescript seasons in 2014 and 2015, Guzman merited top-30 prospect status and arguably received that more on background than potential. The Rangers declined to add him to the 40-man roster after 2015, and he slid through the Rule 5 draft unclaimed. Hitters with very long limbs often have trouble coordinating them into a shapely swing, and Guzman didn't look very enticing at the plate.

Given what I thought was a surprising AA assignment in 2016, Guzman resurrected his career, batting .288/.348/.477 with a career-best 15 homers. Earning 40-man status that winter, he then batted .298/.372/.434 with 12 homers for the Express in 2017. 

Even with the improvements, Guzman isn't your dead-pull, all-or-nothing 1B. He's not a 30-homer candidate. Instead, Guzman's progress has come in two forms: 1) a keener batting eye with the ability to wait for a pitch he likes, and 2) use of those long limbs to place the ball where he wants. Guzman will happily poke an outside pitch the opposite way. Defensively, he again uses his size to his benefit. The long arms compensate for a lack of range, and he'll stretch halfway across the diamond to snare a throw.

If he reaches his potential, I see an average first baseman, never an All-Star but someone you needn't worry about, at least while he's under cost control. Here's video of Guzman during Round Rock's opening series. It's not terribly exciting but displays the plate and bat control I've mentioned.

For the record, I'm not much for nicknames, but I did obliquely invent "Condor" back in 2012.

Rangers Farm Report: Games of Thursday 12 April

Box Scores

AAA: Round Rock 1, at OKC (LAD) 3
Record: 1-7, 6 GB

SP Yohander Mendez: 5.2 IP, 6 H (1 HR), 3 R, 1 BB, 4 SO, 8.00 ERA

Mendez split his six innings between evenly between retiring the side in order and working through trouble. More than anyone else, I'm anxious to see progress and good results from Mendez. Even under the best of circumstances, the Rangers will need help this season, and they also need to decide whether and how Mendez fits into their 2019 plans.

AA: Frisco 3, at Tulsa (LAD) 4
Record: 3-4, 2 GB

SP Collin Wiles: 5.2 IP, 8 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 5.91 ERA
CF Scott Heineman: 3-4, double, walk
3B Juremi Profar: 1-4, walk

Scott Heineman's .613 OBP ranks first in AA and fourth in all of the minors. With Jose Cardona no longer a teammate, he's started five of seven games in center. Together in 2016 and 2017, Heineman usually played LF, while Cardona drew most of the CF assignments. CF experience will certainly aid Heineman's ascent to MLB, but the bat will need to carry the majority of the load. So far, so very good.

Profar the Younger reached twice. He's played every infield position except shortstop so far. Last year, he showed adequate contact and power, but the lack of walks (19 in 109 games) dragged his OBP under .300.

High-A: at Down East 16, Myrtle Beach (CHC) 14
Record: 4-4, 1 GB

SP Edgar Arredondo: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 4.76 ERA
RP Jacob Shortslef: 3 IP, 4 H (1 HR), 1 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1.23 ERA
LF Ledarious Clark: 2-4, double, 2 walks
SS Anderson Tejeda: 2-4, triple, 2 walks
CF Leody Taveras: 1-4, 2 walks
RF Preston Scott: 2-4, triple, HBP
2B Josh Altmann: 1-5, HR (1)
DH Blaine Prescott: 1-3, 2 BB

Are we back in High Desert? (Please, no.) In the home opener, Down East found themselves down five runs before swinging a bat, clawed back to a 10-7 lead in the 6th, lost it, and regained it for good in the 7th. Relative to the score, the teams didn't combined for that many hits (31), but add 14 walks, two HBPs, eight reaching on errors, and five wild pitches, and you've got a wild one.

Every Wood Duck reached at least twice save for Josh Altmann, who hit the lone homer. Also, catcher Shaq Matta recorded the last four outs for the Woodies, allowing a run on two walks and a hit.

Low-A: at Hickory 6, West Virginia (PIT) 2
Record: 1-7, 6 GB

SP Alex Eubanks: 5 IP, 5 H (1 HR), 2 R, 1 BB, 8 SO, 5.06 ERA
RP Josh Advocate: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
RP Demarcus Evans: 1 IP, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 0.00 ERA
3B Tyler Ratliff: 2-3, double, walk
C Melvin Novoa: 2-4, double

In front of the home crowd for the first time, the previously woeful Hickory offense pinned four on the board in the 1st, all with two out. Melvin Novoa hit a bases-loaded double, and Justin Jacobs singled him home. Novoa singled home another in the 5th. No Crawdad hitter has a good line in the early going, but along with Sam Huff and Yohel Pozo, he forms of trio of young catchers who should provide healthy offensive support.

Clemson alum Alex Eubanks escaped a bases-loaded jam in the 1st and then cruised to the 5th, where he gave up a two-run homer. Huge Demarcus Evans struck out the side in the 8th. Like Tyler Phillips, Evans is getting a second shot at Hickory after a very rough full-season debut last year. The 2015 26th-rounder has started most of the last two seasons but is working relief for now.

Five Years Ago Yesterday
19-year-old Shortstop Luis Sardinas doubled and walked to improve to (280/.419/.320). Sardinas would make his MLB debut barely a year later with the Rangers and then be included in the Yovanni Gallardo trade. Still just 24, he's managed to accumulate some MLB service time every year since his debut but has been traded twice and selected off waivers. He currently plays for Baltimore's AAA squad and isn't on the 40-man roster.

Today's Starters:
AAA: Austin Bibens-Dirkx
AA: Wes Benjamin
High-A: Mike Matuella
Low-A: Jean Casanova


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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