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A Look at the DEWDs

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Breaking down the roster for Rangers’ Low-A Affiliate Down East Wood Ducks

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs
Ducks.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Last week the Texas Rangers announced their “Break Camp” rosters for their Low-A, High-A, and AA teams. The RoughRiders and Crawdads have been touched on already, so now we’ll take a look at the newly Low-A Down East Wood Ducks.

What with the Down East/Hickory level swap, this is a roster full of Ranger ducklings. 27 of their expanded 30-player roster are guys 23 or younger, and of course they all were without a season in 2020.

First and foremost is probably shortstop Luisangel Acuna, who not only has the highest ranking of any of the DEWDs on MLB Pipeline (#6) but is also by far the best-known prospect on the roster, as he is the brother of Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. Ronald drew some attention to his little brother during the postseason last year when he said that Luisangel has the potential to be better than him, and while that might’ve been some overdone flattery from big bro, Luisangel has certainly flashed some of the premiere athleticism that has turned his brother into a star.

Luisangel is smaller than his brother and all logic (and hardwired Rangers fan pessimism) would lead one to doubt he’ll ever hit like Ronald, but he slashed .342/.438/.455 as a 17-year-old rookie debuting in the DSL. Reports say he’s overly aggressive at the plate and that he hasn’t really settled into an infield position yet, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares both offensively and defensively playing full-season ball for the first time, and to peep if he’s still the extremely raw talent he was pre-covid.

Second in terms of garnering attention could be Rangers’ 2020 second-round draft pick, outfielder Evan Carter. Carter of course was a fairly controversial second-round pick, a supposed reach, with baseball people like Kiley McDaniel saying they’d never even heard of him. But he was quite impressive at the instructional camp in the fall and the talk around him has since leveled out a bit, and as such Carter has dipped his toes into the LeDarious Clark/Mike Olt subcategory of LSB memedom.

Chances are Carter’s career achievements will fall somewhere between “worst draft pick of all time” and “20-time AL MVP.” The lefty will of course be making his debut in professional baseball, still a couple months shy of 19 years old (born in 2002, insert Matt Damon transforming into old man gif). He didn’t have a senior season in high school in Elizabethton, TN. He was the valedictorian of his class, though. He’s a lanky but athletic outfielder who slashed .304/.467/.446 at the Rangers’ camp, and I imagine he’ll play centerfield for as long as he can hang there. It’ll just be fun to get to see him play, since it will apparently be the first time doing so for many people around the game.

Keithron Moss is another interesting young bat, a 2B/3B who posted an .866 OPS as a 17-year-old in the rookie league. Signed out of the Bahamas in late 2017, Moss is a switch-hitter with a decent eye at the plate. Sounds like he was a light-hitting infielder who showed up to camp in 2019 having added 20 pounds of muscle and things have kinda ticked up for him since. He’s got plus speed as well, so much so that centerfield is a possibility if the infield defense doesn’t come around.

The Wood Ducks have some ranked prospects on the mound as well, most notably being Tekoah Roby and Owen White. Roby (TK) was the Rangers’ next pick after Carter, another high schooler whose senior season went in the corona toilet. Roby is a righty who pitches in the low/mid 90s and who got a taste at the instructional camp, where Evan Grant says the Rangers were “impressed with his mound presence.”

Owen White (who probably backs up Bubba Thompson at quarterback if the Rangers suddenly had to become a football franchise) was drafted in 2018, and is another one who the covid shutdown was particularly poorly-timed for. He was originally part of the “deloading” program thing that the Rangers were doing to protect their young arms, and then, ya know, he tore his UCL and had to have Tommy John surgery.

He didn’t pitch again until August of last year in a rehab program and then he got 14 innings under his belt at instructs. Drafted out of high school from China Grove, NC (whooaa-oh), White will be making is pro debut almost a full three years after being selected. Big and extremely athletic with a fastball from 92-96, he’s workhorse material if he can stay healthy.

I’m gonna lightning round some other notable DEWDs.

Pitchers:

Dane Acker - 4th round Oakland A’s selection in 2020, acquired by the Rangers in the Elvis Andrus trade (in what will be known in Rangerland as the Winter of Dane). Low ceiling/high floor type, healthy with clean mechanics, low 90s fb. A Sooner who no-hit LSU at Minute Maid in 2020.

Gavin Collyer - 12th round out of high school in 2019. Turns 20 in a week, had a cup of coffee in the AZL in 2019 but otherwise yet to pitch pro

Joe Corbett - 10th rounder in 2019, was quite good out of the pen for Spokane that season.

Mason Englert - From Forney. Copy/paste the Owen White paragraph. Englert taken two rounds after White, also needed 2019 TJ, also making his pro debut at 21, also big righty.

Joshua Javier - The PTBNL from the Jake Diekman-to-Arizona deal in 2018. 22-year-old lefty who was decent for Spok’e in 2019.

Nick Krauth - 2020 UDFA, was lights out for UConn baseball in four starts before the shutdown.

John Matthews - 8th rounder in 2019. Wasn’t great his rookie season. Possibly a fake name.

Abdiel Mendoza - Tiny 22-year-old righty reliever, posted ERAs in the low-3s at both the A- and A levels.

Spencer Mraz - 2019 33rd-rounder (which makes me sad, because that round no longer exists) who pitched four innings of short-season ball his rookie year. The Mrazmanian Devil.

Nick Starr - (Via a two year old Tepid post) Reds draftee that didn’t pass their physical and was given a shot by the Rangers. Maybe throwing mid-90s. Probably running out of time.

Leury Tejada - 21-year-old 10th rounder from the Bronx, done some starting, done some relieving. Been decent at either.

Position Players:

Cody Freeman - Another infielder turned catcher. Which I suppose I’m all for, but I’m not sure why they keep trying it with guys listed at 180 lbs. Still only 20, so why not.

Randy Florentino - Another 20-year-old catcher who posted an OPS of 1.005 in 60 games as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League but struggled the next season in the AZL.

Jayce Easley - 2018 5th rounder, small, fast middle infielder who hasn’t had much to do. Got into a few games at Spring Training.

Dustin Harris - First baseman acquired from Oakland in the Mike Minor deal. Hasn’t shown enough power to play there.

Cristian Inoa - 21, been in the system since he was 16. Possible UIF if he upgrades his offense from “atrocious.”

Keyber Rodriguez - Another young MI who might hit and/or field (and possibly throw) at an okay level someday.

Antonio Cabello - Acquired with Josh Stowers in the Rougned Odor trade; 20-year-old outfielder who hasn’t hit yet.

Jose Rodriguez - Venezuelan 1B/LF type who showed a modicum of pop in the DSL.

Marcus Smith - The other part of the Mike Minor haul; Smith torched the Rookie League for the A’s in 2019. Have a video.

Thanks for reading. The minor league season gets going on Tuesday for the Low-A, High-A and AA levels, and on Thursday for AAA Round Rock.