Pair of prospects homer for Hickory

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Pair of prospects homer for Hickory (May 18)
The Rangers’ ninth- and 10th-ranked prospects both launched a go-ahead homer in High-A Hickory’s 6-3 win over Greenville. Evan Carter smacked a two-run homer in extra innings, while Luisangel Acuña hit a solo jack.

Acuña’s drive came in the third inning with the game knotted at 1. He took a 1-0 pitch and parked it over the wall in right to put the Crawdads in front. He added a double, single, stolen base and run scored to his day, and the 20-year-old is batting .263/.349/.526 in 10 games after missing most of April with a hamstring strain.

With the game tied going into extras, Carter took advantage of the free runner and smacked a two-run dinger to lead off the 10th inning, his fourth blast of the year. The 50th overall pick of the 2020 Draft, the 19-year-old Carter is faring well in his sophomore season, slashing .296/.374/.513 with more RBIs (22) than strikeouts (20) in 28 games.
-- Stephanie Sheehan

Duran's scorching May continues (May 15)
Ezequiel Duran
was 4-for-4 with two homers, two doubles, four RBIs and four runs scored through his first four at-bats. His next two trips to the plate may have been his least exciting in the box score but the most exciting to his manager.

MLB’s No. 81 overall prospect reached base five times, drove in five runs and scored five and helped lead Double-A Frisco to an 18-4 rout of Tulsa to wrap up a six-game set.

Already working on one of his best games of a breakout season, Duran stayed locked in for his final two trips to the dish, earning a walk in the top of the eighth and cashed in Frisco’s final run with a sacrifice fly to center in the ninth.

Duran’s five RBIs were tied for the game high along with Frisco third baseman Trey Hair, who belted three home runs. Hair entered the day with one homer for the season and just two multihit games, both in April, before going 3-for-5 with long balls in the second, third and seventh innings. Full story »

Zavala homers twice at Hickory (May 14)
Though he's known more for his contact ability, the Rangers believed there was untapped power potential in Aaron Zavala when they made him their second-round Draft pick in 2021. It's starting to show up.

The Rangers' No. 12 prospect enjoyed his first career multi-homer game in Single-A Hickory's 7-5 win over Greensboro, matching his professional home run total in a single night. Connecting for a leadoff homer and adding a solo shot in the fifth, Zavala led the way in support of No. 8 righty Owen White, who struck out seven over five innings of two-run ball.

Zavala homered only once in 22 games between Single-A and Rookie ball last summer, and once in his first 26 games with Hickory this year despite showing elite on-base skills. He's drawn 30 walks in 27 games and struck out only 21 times. The two homers helped boost his on-base percentage to .448 and OPS to .828 on the season. -- Joe Trezza

Leiter flashes ace potential in dominant start (May 7)
It had been a little shaky for Jack Leiter since his much-anticipated professional debut back on April 9, but on Saturday, the Rangers’ top prospect gave everyone a glimpse of his ace potential.

Leiter fired his best pitching performance to date, allowing just two hits across six innings with five strikeouts in Double-A Frisco’s 5-0 victory. It was the first time this season he hasn’t walked a batter.

"I've just been working on being more efficient with my body, being more efficient with my pitches, being more on line to the plate and simplifying everything," Leiter said of his improved performance. Full story »

Duran notches four-hit night (May 6)
For the first time this season, Ezequiel Duran recorded a four-hit night, but it was not enough to lift Double-A Frisco in a 6-2 loss to Arkansas at home.

The fourth-ranked Rangers prospect opened the scoring for the RoughRiders with an RBI single to right in the first inning. After legging out an infield hit to third in the third, Duran laced his league-leading 12th double to left-center in the fifth. The 22-year-old notched his third single in the seventh to raise his batting average to .268 on the year.

Baseball's No. 81 overall prospect has hit safely in four straight games and is 8-for-17 with a home run, three doubles, four RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base. -- Rob Terranova

Huff crushes two homers for Round Rock (May 4)
Sam Huff’s prodigious power is well known, and he showed it off in a big way in Triple-A Round Rock’s 6-3 win over Reno.

The Rangers’ No. 11 prospect crushed two home runs -- giving him three over his past two games -- and drove in four runs in a 2-for-4 performance. His three-run shot in the fifth gave the Express a 4-2 lead and his solo shot in the seventh added insurance.

The 24-year-old is slashing .258/.329/.561 with a .890 OPS, six home runs and 14 RBIs in 17 games. Huff appeared in one game for the Rangers on April 30, recording a single and catching the full contest. -- Nick Trujillo

Harris finishes a triple shy (April 28)
As the three-hitter for Double-A Frisco, Dustin Harris served as the catalyst of the RoughRiders’ offense in a 6-1 win over Midland.

The Rangers’ No. 6 prospect went 3-for-5 with a homer and a double, driving in three runs on his ninth-inning opposite-field blast. It was Harris’ second homer of the season and in 15 games, he’s batting .316 with 13 RBIs and a .843 OPS.

Harris proved to be an all-around threat on the diamond last year, tallying 20 homers, 21 doubles and 25 stolen bases with a .327/.401/.542 slash line in 110 games at Low-A and High-A. He primarily played first base and about a quarter of his innings at third base, but this season he’s transitioned to left field to add an extra layer of versatility to his game. -- Nick Trujillo

Winn fans seven before exiting early (April 26)
Cole Winn was dealing before a ball that careened off his left foot caused him to exit the game early in Triple-A Round Rock’s 5-3 win.

The Rangers’ No. 3 prospect fanned seven in the first three innings of his start before allowing three hits and two earned runs in the fourth. Winn registered 13 swings-and-misses on 36 strikes in 48 pitches.

The 22-year-old has gotten off to a great start this season, posting a 2.20 ERA with 15 strikeouts to five walks in four starts and 16 1/3 innings. -- Nick Trujillo

Foscue launches first career grand slam (April 21)
Justin Foscue knocked in five runs, four on his first professional grand slam, en route to Double-A Frisco's 12-2 win over Northwest Arkansas.

The No. 88 overall prospect's grand slam to left-center field in the third inning was his first home run of the season, and his RBI total for the night fell one short of his career high. Foscue went 2-for-4 with a run-scoring double to left in the seventh.

The 23-year-old didn't have an extra-base hit and only one RBI over 11 at-bats coming into the contest. He started the season on the 7-day IL with back soreness.

Foscue, drafted out of Mississippi State, is in his second year in the pros after being taken by the Rangers 14th overall in the 2020 Draft. -- Ethan Sands

Leiter allows one hit over four innings (April 16)
In his first start on April 9, Jack Leiter struck out seven of the 12 batters he faced in his highly-anticipated pro debut. MLB’s No. 17 prospect didn’t quite enjoy the same success in his second start, but he still fared well, allowing just one hit over four innings while surrendering three walks and a run for Double-A Frisco.

The 21-year-old again struggled with his pitch count and his command at times, tossing 42 of 75 pitches for strikes, but he still displayed his swing-and-miss stuff with four strikeouts and was able to limit the damage. He got through the first inning unscathed after walking the first batter he faced, but trouble came in the second when he allowed a leadoff double that eventually came around to score on an RBI groundout. He ended the inning with a four-pitch strikeout and was able to work around two walks and two stolen bases in the third frame before ending his outing with a 1-2-3 fourth.

Through his first two professional games, Leiter has garnered 11 strikeouts, five walks, two hits, two earned runs and no home runs allowed in seven innings. -- Stephanie Sheehan

White fans eight in strong start (April 15)
After struggling in his season debut, Owen White rebounded with a strong performance in High-A Hickory’s 4-3 loss to Bowling Green.

White, the No. 8 Rangers prospect, fanned eight over five scoreless innings of two-hit ball. It was the fourth game of the 22-year-old’s career with eight or more strikeouts and he has fanned 11 batters over eight innings with a 2.25 ERA this year.

White has only thrown 43 1/3 innings in his career but has impressed with his control and ability to miss bats. He has 67 strikeouts to 13 walks and was named the Arizona Fall League’s Pitcher of the Year in 2021 after fanning 29 with a 1.91 ERA in 28 1/3 innings. -- Nick Trujillo

Winn spins four scoreless (April 14)
Cole Winn's strong start to the campaign continues as he twirled four scoreless innings for Triple-A Round Rock. The Rangers' No. 3 prospect threw 43 of his 69 pitches for strikes and struck out four. After yielding just one run in his first start of the year, Winn's ERA sits at 1.13. A first-round pick (15th overall) from the 2018 Draft, Winn is coming off a 2021 season in which he represented the Rangers in the All-Star Futures Game and pitched to a 2.41 ERA over 86 innings split between Double- and Triple-A -- William Boor

Leiter strikes out seven in professional debut (April 9)
In one of the more anticipated professional debuts of the last few years, Jack Leiter lived up to the hype while missing plenty of bats.

MLB's No. 17 prospect showed off his full arsenal in Double-A Frisco’s 8-7 win over Arkansas, touching 97 mph on his 70-grade fastball and generating several swings-and-misses from his 60-grade curveball and other breaking pitches. He worked around a few bouts of shaky command to strike out seven of the 12 batters he faced across three innings, allowing two walks, one hit and one run on 60 pitches (33 strikes).

"It felt really good. It was a long time coming," Leiter said. "Sort of anxiety built up to first time competing for real, it's been a long time. It felt good to get that one out of the way. We got the win, which is most important of all." Full story »

White impresses in Cactus League debut (April 2)
Owen White, the Rangers’ No. 8-ranked prospect, made his Cactus League debut in the Rangers' 3-1 win over Cleveland on Saturday, tossing two shutout innings.

White opened with a 1-2-3 inning, including a three-pitch strikeout while throwing just eight pitches in the frame. He followed it up by allowing one hit in his second inning, but faced the minimum after forcing a double play.

Injuries and the canceled 2020 Minor League season have limited White’s professional action since the Rangers selected him in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft. But he impressed at the Arizona Fall League campaign, when he was named the Pitcher of the Year with a 1.91 ERA across 28 1/3 innings.

The right-hander will start his first full season of professional ball with High-A Hickory, but figures to advance through the system quickly. White pitched just 35 1/3 innings in 2021 between a rehab assignment in Arizona and Single-A Down East. -- Kennedi Landry

Duran stock rising (March 26)
In MLB Pipeline’s newest Top 100 Prospect rankings, Rangers infielder Ezequiel Duran vaulted onto the list at No. 83, less than a year after being included in the Joey Gallo trade package with the Yankees.

Duran, now the club’s No. 4 prospect, is quickly showing why he belongs on that list with a hot start to his first big league Spring Training. In the Rangers' 8-4 win over the Royals on Friday, Duran went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.

“It's been good,” Duran said through interpreter Raul Cardenas. “I’ve been feeling pretty good about how everything’s been. I’m pretty confident and very happy to be here. … I worked really hard this offseason, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity that the Rangers have given me, and to take a chance on me here in the big leagues.”

Texas added Duran to the 40-man roster after a hot showing in the Arizona Fall League. There, he slashed .278/.333/.611 with a .944 OPS after spending all of 2021 at the High-A level.

“He kind of hit the ground running,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “This kid is impressive. Just the way he communicates with our hitting guys and the way his body moves, he’s got a ton of power. He's very in tune with the game. It's been impressive in a short amount of time.” -- Kennedi Landry

Trio of prospects put on power display (March 21)
A trio of Texas' Top 30 prospects in Josh Smith, Davis Wendzel and Bubba Thompson all homered in the Rangers’ 25-12 win over the Guardians at Goodyear Ballpark. All three had multi-hit games, including a 3-for-4 day with two doubles and the homer from Thompson. Smith went 2-for-3 and added a walk and Wendzel went 2-for-4 with a homer and a walk.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward said he expected prospects who have been in Minor League camp in Arizona for weeks to have a clear grasp of what hitting coaches Donnie Ecker and Tim Hyer have been working to implement across the organization.

“These guys have the DNA that we're looking for,” Woodward said. “Obviously they're very talented, but as far as going up there with the proper path and a proper game plan, they can execute the game plan. They have solutions for a lot of different pitches which they train every day. They've obviously been doing it a little longer than our big league guys, so I kind of expect a little bit more out of them. Our guys have been phenomenal.” -- Kennedi Landry

Leiter K's four in Spring Training debut (March 18)
Making his Cactus League debut, Jack Leiter, MLB's No. 17-ranked prospect, struck out the first four batters he faced and retired his first five hitters overall. Leiter was tagged for a two-run homer before back-to-back walks ended his afternoon. In total, Leiter tossed 1 2/3 innings with four strikeouts against three runs on two hits and two walks. Story >

Foscue injury update (March 18)
Rangers No. 4-ranked prospect Justin Foscue has endured a few injuries in his short professional career, including a rib contusion that caused him to miss two months in his debut season. He had another setback at the start of big league camp, this time with lower back soreness.

Rangers director of baseball operations Paul Kruger said the club doesn’t want to rush Foscue back sooner than he’s ready, so they’re slow-playing him while they have the time. Foscue added that unless there’s a setback, he should be ready for Minor League Opening Day.

Though he played in just 62 games last season between High-A Hickory and Double-A Frisco, he slashed .275/.371/.590 with 17 homers. -- Kennedi Landry