@unlikelyfanatic Q1. Who are your biggest surprises on the farm this year good and bad?
Good surprise of the moment? Cody Buckel's last few games. Though he's allowed 17 earned runs in his last 16.2 innings (and seven of those came in one really awful third of an inning), he's also only walked 10 (though he's hit three) and has struck out 21, remarkable numbers from someone who many thought was completely done. In fact, a recent observer said that he might have the stuff to start again. While it's unlikely that he's ever the top prospect he once was, the fact that he's pitching like this is cool.
Biggest disappointment? Ronald Guzman's lost season, Drew Robinson's lost-ish season. Two hitters with talent, neither one of them particularly able to show it at the plate, both of them looking for rebounds in 2015, at this point.
@unlikelyfanatic Q2. Will Pat Cantwell see significant MLB time in his career? Not necessarily 110 games a year but as a solid backup?
I think so, even if I may be the only one. Yes, Cantwell is only hitting .254/.329/.312 through 51 games in Frisco, but maybe the additional playing time he'll get with Tomas Telis' promotion to Round Rock will help. Defensively, Cantwell's a rock star. He'll be in baseball as long as his knees hold up and I could definitely see a major league team giving him a chance as the defense-oriented backup.
@unlikelyfanatic when is Alfaro coming up?
Up where? Up to Arlington? No time soon. Up to Frisco? Slightly sooner than Arlington, but I don't see it happening this season, especially with indy-ball signee JT Wise taking second-catcher duties for the 'Riders now.
I think that one could potentially pick any name out of the pen. Matt West could come back up, if Tanner Scheppers is healthy again he'd be a likely choice...I could even imagine Phil Klein being summoned from Round Rock to get some experience. If the Rangers do trade Soria, the closing role will be much more about next year's closer than this year's. Get some of the new guys experience in that role, see who's best cut out for it.
Willy Adames is an 18-year-old shortstop in the Tigers' system, currently succeeding in the Northwest League to the tune of .277/.353/.449. According to a Detroit prospect writer, he's probably the highest upside guy in their system, even though he's likely to move to third base. Though normally, that might be a bit high to expect in return for a closer, the Street trade has set the market at something a little ridiculous, and Adames would fit extremely well in the Rangers' system of high-upside, up-the-middle talent.
@unlikelyfanatic Mailbag Q:Have you noticed any adjustments in Choice's game since going to AAA? Think he'll make it back to MLB this year?
I actually don't get to see much Round Rock, so I asked Scott Lucas. Lucas has only seen Choice the once, but while the plate discipline is there, he doesn't stand out as someone ready to make the jump back to the majors.
@unlikelyfanatic Also, thoughts on Roogie's uniform number change?
It's a number change. Maybe the switch to a lower number is because he's actually a permanent part of this 2014 Rangers squad, maybe it was just a whim.
@unlikelyfanatic So what's the Odubal Herrera story? He seems to get lost in the clogged infield discussion Texas is brought up in.
Odubel Herrera may get a little over-looked simply because his down year last season coincided with the rising stars of Luis Sardinas, Rougned Odor, and Jurickson Profar. Also, because last year, he wasn't really a fielder, just a guy who stood at second and hit a bit. This season, though? While he's still not what I would call 'above-average,' he'll make plays at second, while hitting .348/.389/.432 in 59 games with Frisco with 36 strikeouts and 15 walks. Though some combination of Odor and Profar will have second base for the Rangers in 2015, Herrera's worked his way back into the conversation.
@unlikelyfanatic Is Smolinski a guy, or just having a good run?
That really depends on what your definition of 'a guy' is. Smolinski's ceiling is likely where he's at right now, a good fourth outfielder who can hit a bit. He'll have his struggles (especially as the scouting report on him gets out), but he'll still have some value to offer.
@unlikelyfanatic It seems Luke Jackson is a lock for at least a 2015 rotation try out. Are there any under the radar names that could also?
Either of Alec Asher or Jerad Eickhoff could be under consideration, though if Martin Perez, Derek Holland, and possibly Matt Harrison come back, there won't be that many places to compete for. Jackson's struggling a bit in Round Rock since being promoted, allowing fourteen runs in 15.1 innings, but he'll hopefully figure the higher level out by the end of the season.
@unlikelyfanatic How much has Brinson developed this year?
To start with, I'll just quote some strikeout numbers and percentages at you.
2013, with Hickory: 122 games played, 191 strikeouts (38.0 percent)
2014, with Hickory: 43 games played, 46 strikeouts (24.7 percent)
2014, with Myrtle Beach: 13 games played, 13 strikeouts (22.6 percent)
In addition to the plate discipline improvements, Brinson's upped his average at both his stops this season, and has shown the same elegant fielding that he displayed in his earlier stops. He still needs some work on his swing, because he's not accessing the power potential he has, but his development between this year and last is remarkable.
It might make it seem like the time between now and when Gallo finally hits the bigs goes by quicker, but I highly doubt that drinking that will actually make Gallo have his big league debut before 2015. He's got to figure out AA pitchers, first.