First off, Break Up The Rangers!
The trip to the northeast coast that usually serves as a treacherous part of a team’s schedule has seen the Rangers win the latter two of a three game sit in Boston with the Red Sox, and have now taken the first two of three in the Big Apple against the rival Yankees.
But even as the team has won four straight, pulling within just three games of the .500 mark (20-23) and also awaits the highly anticipated return of Josh Hamilton, just completing his rehab assignments from Extended Spring Training to Frisco to Round Rock the organization has made four finger’s worth of promotions and demotions in the always fluid Minor League system.
The moves are as follows:
Starting Pitcher Alec Asher from AA Frisco to AAA Round Rock
Starting Pitcher Frank Lopez from High-A High Desert to AA Frisco
Catcher/First Baseman J.T. Wise from AA Frisco to AAA Round Rock
Catcher Sherman Lacrus from AAA Round Rock to AA Frisco
Four transactions altogether in this current slew of roster movement among the lower levels, and all four connect with each other, two by two, and connect via the Double-AA Frisco RoughRiders, winners of two of three themselves after a tough 13-game losing streak that thankfully resides in the rear view mirror at the back of the team bus.
Alec Asher, a 4th round pick in 2012, has gotten his as of yesterday. A 1-4 record is not indicative at all of his season. It hasn’t been all roses and sunshine, but of late Asher has picked things up to earn the call-up to the next level in the journey to the center of the Texas Rangers.
A 3.98 ERA is good, not great by any means, and he’s sporting the highest WHIP of his career at 1.326. He is however, striking out a batter an inning and in his last four starts has a 21:7 K:BB ratio, a 3.33 ERA in 24.1 IP.
The Rangers starting pitching at the higher levels –particularly the highest– is obviously not the prettiest of situations. You know about the absences of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Martin Perez. Ross Detwiler has been really bad, Wandy Rodriguez has been a great gift to the 2015 ball club.
So it isn’t surprising at all to see Texas promote Asher to AAA, even though he’s capable of better than he’s been in AA.
Taking his place is Frank Lopez. Scott Lucas of the Newberg Report said of the 21-year old Lopez, “(he’s) my pick for the organization’s best pitcher for the first quarter of the season.”
A promotion seemed natural in that case, and now it’s a reality.
Signed as an international free agent at age 17 out of Venezuela, the lefty experienced some turbulence in 2012 and 2013 but since 2014 he has a 2.43 ERA and has climbed from Rookie Ball, through all the A’s and now to AA in just over a year.
That’s impressive. Really impressive. Lucas notes that due to his early signing status, he’ll be eligible for Rule 5 exposure if unprotected on the 40-man roster (See: Odubel Herrera, Russell Wilson). So will Alec Asher.
Now the two bats, specifically catchers, despite the former’s extremely valuable versatility around the infield.
J.T. Wise, or Jeremy Tyler Wise in the Mike D’Antoni sponsored Three-First-Name club, has earned a promotion from Frisco to Round Rock. But it’s not his first time. However the first time was for one At-Bat.
This one’s a heck of a lot more real.
Wise, who turns 29 in nine days, is hitting just .227 in 2015, but boasts a more than respectable career .286 batting average in 7+ Minor League seasons.
To be frank, numbers are down across the board, but so are the opportunities, and that’s probably the main reason for this promotion.
Wise can play all over the place, but with Frisco loaded with talent at every position he could potentially dig out a consistent gig (Catcher-Jorge Alfaro, First Base-Preston Beck, Third Base-Joey Gallo, Corner Outfield-Nomar Mazara, Nick Williams) the move to AAA could give him more opportunities.
Don’t get your hopes up, but if Wise takes advantage of this opportunity, he could be a sneaky end of the bench September call-up.
At the expense of Wise’s promotion, 21-year old catcher Sherman Lacrus is being demoted to Double-AA Frisco.
Lacrus, who backed up Thomas Telis in Round Rock, will do the same for Jorge Alfaro in Frisco. He doesn’t have the infield versatility that Wise possesses, opening up more chances for AB’s, but he has made 43 appearances in Left Field for the Rangers. However, 40 of them came back in 2013.
Lacrus was considered a temp for Round Rock, making the jump from the short-season A-Ball club in Spokane and did not appear in a game for the Express. Wise will. How many? Not sure. At catcher? Especially not sure. But Lacrus has a solidified backup gig now as opposed to being in the undesirable prospect limbo between levels.