Round Rock infielder Davis Wendzel has been named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for the week just past. Wendzel slashed .526/.640/1.316 with four homers in the series the Express just completed at Albuquerque.
I don’t normally do a whole post about minor leaguers getting POTW/M awards, but I think what Wendzel has done this year is worth a look. Wendzel, taken with the 2019 supplemental first round pick acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Alex Claudio, was the second player the Rangers picked in 2019, behind first rounder Josh Jung. An infielder out of Baylor who had just turned 22 when he was drafted, Wendzel was seen as someone who could move quickly through the system.
That hasn’t really happened — if and when Wendzel makes it to the majors, he will not even be the first player taken by the Rangers out of Baylor in 2019 to reach the Show, as his college teammate Cody Bradford has made a couple of big league starts this year. Wendzel played seven games in his draft year, saw the minor league season wiped out in 2020, and then played just 63 games in 2021 and 91 games in 2022 due to various injuries. When Wendzel was on the field, he didn’t hit much — he had a .214/.333/.464 slash line in 2021 between the ACL, AA and AAA, and a .201/282/.387 slash line in 2022 primarily in AAA.
Wendzel has largely flown under the radar this year with Round Rock, but I am thinking maybe he shouldn’t be at this point. He has a slash line of .252/.375/.497 in 177 plate appearances for the Express while splitting his time between shortstop and third base, with three appearances at second base mixed in. For a guy who can handle all the infield positions, that’s not bad.
I expect that there will be some who dismiss the overall numbers as being artificially inflated by his huge week in the extremely hitter-friendly environs of Albuquerque. Those folks would no doubt point out the .211/.331/.375 slash line he carried into the series, and say hammering at altitude doesn’t offset that mediocre slash line prior to that series.
In looking at Wendzel’s game logs, however, one notices something unusual. Davis Wendzel started the year on an epically bad cold streak. Through his first seven games of the season, Wendzel was 0 for 21 with one walk, one HBP, and nine strikeouts. That’s pretty terrible.
Since then, though, Wendzel has been quite good. Even before last week’s Albuquerque explosion, Wendzel had slashed .252/.379/.449 since his 0 for 21 start. From April 11 — the day he got his first hit of the year — to the present, Wendzel is slashing .294/.418/.579.
There has just been two months of baseball played so far, so whether we are looking at pieces of Wendzel’s season or the whole season to date, there’s still a relatively small sample size involved. Wendzel also just turned 26, so he is on the older side for a prospect, and as an infielder, he doesn’t have much of a path to the major leagues. Even if there are injuries, Ezequiel Duran and Josh Smith are ahead of Wendzel on the depth chart. In addition, fellow infielders Jonathan Ornelas and Luisangel Acuna are already on the 40 man roster.
It isn’t impossible for Wendzel to end up in the majors with the Rangers, of course, but it seems unlikely. However, Wendzel is someone who, if he continues to perform at AAA, could end up having value in a potential trade for a reliever later this summer. He’s not likely to land a big time reliever by himself, but he could be part of a deal at some point.