Davis Wendzel is healthy for the first time in his minor-league career and he’s taken advantage in his first month with the Round Rock Express, who wrapped up their first month of the season with a 7-6 loss against Salt Lake on Saturday.
While Wendzel went 0-for-5 and his batting average dropped to .237, he’s been one of the main sources of power for the Express after the first month of the season.
Through April, Wendzel is tied for the team lead in home runs with Leody Taveras (four each). He also leads the team in runs batted in with 14. He’s also tied for the team lead with 13 runs scored. His slash line of .237/.298/.447.745 is consistent with what he put up last year with three different affiliates.
The expectations have been high since he joined the organization.
The Baylor product shared Big 12 Player of the Year honors in 2019 with another Rangers prospect, former Texas Tech infielder Josh Jung. The Rangers snagged Wendzel at No. 41 in the 2019 Draft.
He’s also used to playing with high-level talent. Wendzel played high school baseball at JSerra Catholic High in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., with 2017 Twins No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis and 2019 Cubs second-rounder Chase Strumpf.
The Rangers haven’t been shy about moving Wendzel throughout their system. In 2019 he spent time with both the Arizona League Rangers and Spokane. After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 season, Wendzel played with three affiliates—the Arizona League Rangers, Double-A Frisco and Round Rock. He spent the bulk of last season with Round Rock, where he hit .239 with six home runs and 23 RBI.
Wendzel has also dealt with injuries. In 2019 he dealt with a balky thumb that limited him to less than 10 games, while in 2021 a broken hamate limited him to 63 games. So Wendzel hasn’t played a full professional season to this point.
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But it’s the power he’s shown to this point that’s encouraging. His four home runs in 20 games is half his production in 63 games last season.
If there is anything holding Wendzel back it’s his strikeout rate. In 2021, he struck out 61 times in 223 at-bats, fanning once every four at-bats. This season, his rate is tracking the same, with 21 strikeouts in 76 at-bats through April.
Wendzel, the organization’s No. 17 prospect, is tracking as a potential 2023 call-up, according to MLB.com. But the third baseman and shortstop is also stuck in a bit of a logjam when it comes to a future call-up, and not just this season.
Corey Seager and Marcus Seimen
Corey Seager, who is playing on a 10-year, $325 million contract, is the Rangers’ shortstop. Andy Ibáñez, who is just two years into his Rangers career, is the starting third baseman. While he’s 29 years old, he’s hitting a solid .263 and has just five errors for his MLB career. The Rangers have slid Ibáñez around the infield, with appearances at first base, second base and left field, in addition to third base.
To this point in his career, Wendzel has played primarily at short and third. He’s played just one game in the field at another position, which was left field.
The Rangers are likely looking for a higher average, more consistency and a healthy 2022 for Wendzel before they make any decisions about his future. But this season is off to a promising start.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard