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Raising Arizona 2022

Back On The Backfields

MLB: MAR 19 Spring Training - Brewers at Rangers
This is NOT the backfields.
Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Finally! After a couple years away from one of my favorite places on earth, shortly after 9am on Tuesday morning I once again pulled into the gravelly parking lot across from Surprise Stadium. As always, I come in search of loud bats and electric arms, mouthy catchers and twitchy defenders. All of that must sound like complete gibberish to anyone with cooler hobbies than tracking the progress of prospects for your favorite baseball team. Alas, if you too search for these traits, allow me to share what I witnessed over a wildly lovely day on the backfields.

First, the Rangers new(ish) players dorm is really nice. I hadn’t been out here since it was completed and its a lovely looking place and more importantly, it’s a very good idea. It’s literally about 100 yards across the street from the ballpark and the locker rooms, etc. It’s such a good idea, the Royals have now built one right next to the Rangers’. You can Google some good stories about it, and even a video tour or two, but this was my first time to see it and it seems pretty smart to keep 150 or so players in that atmosphere.

Anyways, let’s pivot to video:

Got to see Cody Freeman in the cage and doing some fielding drills. I really like his converted-infielder moxy. He’s a human bouncy ball. With tattoos. Plenty of smiles and engagement. Definitely the kind of player who makes it to the upper levels, at least.

Gimme some Ian Moller too. Loads of projection there. Prolly gonna take quite some time, but he knows what he’s doing back there and reps and reps and reps are gonna come his way in ‘22 and ‘23.

My first look at Trevor Hauver and I loved him. No idea where he’s gonna play in the field (didn’t see any of that on Tuesday), but I know he’s got a good eye and a swing geared to hit the shit outta the ball. Just look at that lovely leg kick and how long the bat stays on his back shoulder. The Yanks (and Dodgers) have a long running rep as putting some serious emphasis on hitting the ball as hard as possible, so yeah, Trevor tries to do that.

I saw Aaron Zavala play in the fall exhibition against DBU and frankly, fella looked a bit spent. 2021 was a long year for this kid and I was happy to get a much longer look at him. Not sure how much loft he’s gonna generate with this swing, but he’s a good ballplayer and I’m hoping he has a break-out ‘22.

Luisangel Acuna has plenty of swagger and he’s a very good player. He can hit and he can run and he can catch the ball and he can throw the ball. Texas’ farm is full of very good baseball players and Luisangel is one of the best. He’s gonna stay (somewhere) on the left side of the infield and he’s gonna be a big leaguer.

Chris Seise sighting!! He’s not yet playing the field, but he did DH today. He looks big and strong and still looks like he’s good at every sport there is. Hoping for an injury-free season for this kid.

Maximo Acosta sighting!! He’s playing SS (very well, I might add). He looks big and strong and still looks like he’s good at every sport there is. Hoping for an injury-free season for this kid. [cut] [paste] [v.2]

Evan Carter sighting!! He’s playing the outfield. He looks big and strong (even though his uniform is still quite baggy) and looks like he’s good at every sport there is. Hoping for an injury-free season for this kid. [cut] [paste] [v.3]

Marcus Smith sighting!! He’s playing CF (INCREDIBLY well!) and looks like he’s good at every sport there is...and he’s very fast. Hoping for an injury-free season for this kid. [cut] [pas...oh forget it]

Want more? Stop me if this sounds familiar: toolsy CF with some pop and speed and quick twitch and swagger. Meet Daniel Mateo. I like him and he can play.

Cam Cauley is a good baseball player. Like many others on the Rangers farm these days, he doesn’t have one loud tool, he has several slightly quieter tools. All of which add up to a kid I’m going to always root for. Also, he’s from Texas (Barbers Hill High) and was a Texas Tech commit before the Rangers bought him out of living in Lubbock for even one single minute. He can play SS and 2B and probably 3B and probably the outfield and he has a very good arm. And he’s currently a pest at the plate. I think he had a 439-pitch plate appearance on Tuesday. Maybe more, maybe less, I lost count. Anyways, here’s Cam Cauley:

Here’s someone I want you to see: Yeison Morrobel. Very easy to see (very quickly) why Texas gave this no $1.8 million last summer. He’s rather electric at the plate. He’s rangy and has the type of frame and athleticism that grows well. Pretty sure he hurt his face sliding into 3B after it looked like his helmet or the ball or something popped him in the mouth. But you have to be on third base to get hurt on third base! Very, VERY interesting kid to track and I really liked what I saw from him.

And now, for a new name. And what an awesome name it is. Anthony David Maui La’akea Hoopii-Tuionetoa. Drafted in the 30th round in 2019, the back of the Maui native’s jersey reads “H-Tuionetoa”, and he goes by “Bubba”, or “Hoop” to his teammates. But I call him “very interesting pitcher”. FB was 94-95 T96 (~2450 rpm) today and he missed a couple bats with both a breaking ball (78-81, ~2300 rpm) and a CH (86, ~2200 rpm). Not many arms stood out today (it was a day for the sticks and leather), but Bubba’s did. Nice to meet you, Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa.

And with that, I’m going to bed. Wednesday will be another day with the low-A/high-A kids, and I hope to get more looks at some of the vaunted arms in the program. Quick trip this year as I’m returning home late Thursday night, but rest assured I’ll fill you in as much as I can. Also, did I mention I went to a “big league” game on Monday and the score was 25-12? What the hell is wrong with that league?

As Always, Enjoy Baseball!

Love Ya!