Today was Opening Day for full season minor league affiliates, and the Texas Rangers had four of their top starting pitching prospects on the mound tonight. All four had solid outings, a precursor for what hope will be many to come in 2019.
Hans Crouse started for the low-A Hickory Crawdads, and with a 50-60 pitch limit for today, the 2017 2nd round pick ended up getting pulled with two outs in the third, due in no small part to some problematic defense behind him that prolonged the inning. In 2.2 IP he allowed a single unearned run on 1 hit and 1 HBP, with a pair of strikeouts.
Tyler Phillips was the starter for the high-A Down East Wood Ducks, and Phillips picked up where he left off after a breakout 2018 campaign, working efficiently and throwing strikes. Phillips had 5 shutout innings tonight, needing just 57 pitches while giving up a lone hit and an HBP, striking out 4 and walking none.
Brock Burke, one of the prizes of the Jurickson Profar trade, made his Rangers organization debut for AA Frisco tonight, and the left hander did solid work. Burke allowed a single unearned run in 5 innings, allowing 6 hits and 0 walks, striking out 4 while logging 84 pitches.
Taylor Hearn, the hard-throwing lefty who came to Texas in the Keone Kela trade, made his AAA debut for Nashville tonight. His line shows 4 runs allowed in 5 innings, but three of those game on a 5th inning bases loaded double by Ian Happ, with the three runners getting on, per Levi Weaver, on “a bleeder, a bloop, and a perfectly placed bunt single,” making his line look a little worse than his performance might suggest. Hearn had 9 Ks and no walks, with 6 hits allowed (including a home run) and an HBP.
And while I wanted to highlight the starting pitching performances on the farm tonight, I would be remiss if I didn’t single out Leody Taveras. Returning to high-A this year, with folks wanting him to start translating his tools into offensive results, Taveras went 4 for 4 with a pair of singles, a double and a triple. It’s just one game, of course, but it’s a terrific start for Leody.