Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Minor League Mailbag, with questions submitted by you, the Twitter users, and answers supplied by me, Kate Morrison.
@unlikelyfanatic Who has been the biggest surprise for Frisco?
It was Martire Garcia, for the week or so that he wasn't suspended for performance altering drugs. Currently? Jake Smolinksi comes to mind. Smolinski is currently hitting .292/.384/.494 with Frisco, and though he's not a top prospect out of nowhere, he could be a very real option as a fourth outfielder or an injury call-up, and one that would offer some sort of versatility.
@unlikelyfanatic should I buy a Rougned Odor shirsey or should I buy two Rougned Odor shirseys?
Three, actually. Everyone knows you need one in every official jersey color. (Real answer? One. When Profar comes back, Odor will have had enough MLB time to prove what he can really do, at age 20. He'll be extremely valuable, and at a position that the Rangers are traditionally very strong in.)
@unlikelyfanatic what do you think of Pro-3B, Andrus-SS, Odor-2B, Beltre-DH in 2015?
As much as it is tempting to try to create a line-up that has Odor, Andrus, Profar and Beltre all in it at once, it's a little difficult. Even with his aging, Beltre will most likely play at least a few games at third next season, and Profar's talents are best used at second, since Andrus is unlikely to be moved from short at any point soon. This leaves no room for the newbie, other than third base, where he has played no professional games, and neither he nor Profar project to have the kind of bat one wants from a third baseman (and Joey Gallo's only two or so years away).
@unlikelyfanatic having watched Profar and Odor over the last 2-3 years, which would you pick going forward if you could only have 1?
I've pondered this question for a good three hours, and I can't come up with a satisfactory answer. Profar is an incredible talent. Odor is a great talent, but as much as I've written about him, before the season I might have put him as a (slightly!) lower-level talent than Profar. Now? I don't know. Odor was pushed into a role no one expected him to have and has not just stayed afloat, but has impressed everyone. His glove is getting better, the pop is already visible, he's not scared of MLB pitching, on top of a personality package that shows through the TV to the regular fan. Profar's got all that, too, though, and was the one who won the job in spring training. If/when Profar comes back this season, Odor likely stays up as backup or is optioned to AAA, and next spring training will be where this question is actually answered. Unless, of course, a trade occurs.
@unlikelyfanatic You're JD. You have to call up a pitcher to fill a bullpen role due to injury. Who is it? Same ? for the for rotation.
For the bullpen, Roman Mendez is on the 40-man roster and pitching decently. Matt West has a terrible ERA in AAA so far, but has only allowed three extra base hits (all doubles), so there could be some luck involved in his showing. Miles Mikolas has already been on the major league roster for a day or so, but didn't pitch. He might be a re-call-up option. For the rotation? At this point? There's an argument to be had about balancing the need for an above-replacement-level fill-in against not interrupting the development process of one of the Rangers' top prospects, Luke Jackson. The only problem with that is...there's not really much else in the system. Justin Germano again?
@unlikelyfanatic Is there no hope for WIlmer?
I really have no idea. I've only seen him hit 96 once this season, though I heard he hit it again away from Frisco, but none of his pitches are particularly fantastic. Last appearance, he faced four batters, starting 93-95, but losing command and allowing a walk and a single at 90-93 before being pulled for Jimmy Reyes. It would be one thing if he'd lost velocity but improved in keeping his pitches in the zone, but he's not striking as many people out and though the walks haven't increased, they haven't decreased either. In fact, as of right now, Font has pitched 20.0 innings with Frisco, the same number of innings he pitched with Round Rock last season. In those 20.0 innings, he's walked 10 batters (the same number as 2013), but only struck out 19, seven fewer than he struck out in the same time period in 2013.
@unlikelyfanatic How about your best guess on ETA to majors for Rangers top prospects?
Though Luke Jackson may yet see major league time this season, it's likely that next year is his first real chance at cracking the Rangers' rotation. Nick Williams is hitting better in Myrtle Beach, but struggled to begin the season. He likely spends all of 2014 there, hits Frisco in 2015, and goes from there. Jorge Alfaro has a lot to work on, still, and his power has dipped worryingly in the move from Hickory to Myrtle Beach this season, hitting .257/.307/.397 in 45 games with the Pelicans. If there aren't major improvements, he likely spends all season on the beach as well, which isn't a huge worry as he's still two years under the league average and at a good age for a prospect at that level. Both Mazara and Guzman are picking up a little bit in Hickory, but neither one has been hitting like the prospects they looked last year. Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff may not be 'top prospects,' but they're closer to the majors than most, and could make valuable contributions in the future.
@unlikelyfanatic Has Jorge Alfaro's receiving skill behind the plate improved at Myrtle Beach?
Alfaro has had 11 passed balls charged to him in 35 games caught this season with Myrtle Beach, and still shows a tendency to drop pitches, even those called for strikes. He has thrown out eight of 27 attempted base stealers, a good rate of 30%. I have heard both good and bad things, and since I haven't seen him personally, I'm not sure how much of them I can give credence to.
@unlikelyfanatic how likely is it for the Rangers to bring up Gallo this year, if Beltre needs rest or gets traded?
Not likely at all. With Kouzmanoff hopefully returning from his back injury in the next month or so, they'll have a backup third baseman again. Gallo's not ready to play third in a major league game, no matter the number of improvements he's made both in the field and at the plate. All of those improvements are still against lower-level pitching, and he'll need to show that he can pick up and hit in AA before it's even really thinkable to consider the majors.
@unlikelyfanatic When are we going to see Joey Gallo knocking balls out of Rangers Ballpark?
Unless Texas is 25 games out in September and puts him on the expanded roster just for fun because he's absolutely killed AA in the maximum two months he would have been there, 2015 is the earliest Gallo will get a plate appearance in Arlington. 2015 is also when they need to invest in stronger glass for the whatever-club-is-up-in-Home-Run-Porch-now.
@unlikelyfanatic can you just wax on about Gallo for a while? And read the future? If its good, then can you accelerate time?
Joey Gallo has ridiculous power, will be in Frisco soon enough, and will break windows in the AMLI apartment complex that is next to Dr. Pepper Ballpark. He's also shown the ability to make adjustments, play defense, and take pictures with Disney celebrities, all important traits on the road to the big leagues. If I could read the future, I'd be making more money than I am, and if I could accelerate time, it would already be 2015.
@unlikelyfanatic On a scale of 1-puppies and rainbows, how awesome is Joey Gallo?
I will refer you to this tweet: https://twitter.com/scottrlucas/status/471430931807367168
Abstain from coffee, and that might actually kill me.
.@unlikelyfanatic Non-MiLB related question: Can you please explain string theory?
Well, you see, baseballs are made up of string, and hockey nets are made up of string. That's about all I've got.
@unlikelyfanatic Do aliens exist?
Hunter Andrew Pence (born April 13, 1983), is a Major League Baseball outfielder for the San Francisco Giants. He previously played for the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies. Pence stands 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm) tall and weighs 210 pounds (95 kg). He bats and throws right-handed. (via Wikipedia)