22 Rangers in Minor League Free Agent Pool (Part 1)

On November 2nd, over 500+ minor league players were granted free agency adding to the talent pool that already included many MiLB players who had already elected to travel the free agent path. While that was almost two weeks ago, coverage and analysis of the 22 Rangers that were a part of that group has been noticeably absent here on Nolan Writin’. I’m here to correct that particular oversight though it’s going to take me 2 articles to get through them all in my own way.

2B/SS Nick Green (33)

 2011 Performance [AAA]: 516 PA, 0.235/.300/.382, 31 2B, 12 HR, 35 BB, 96 SO

Green has just over 1100 major league plate appearances on his resume with slash stats strikingly similar to what he did in AAA this past year. With the glove he’s right around average in the middle infield as well, but teams can find better options including one listed below with the initials O.Q.

RHP Derek Hankins (28)

2011 Performance [AA/AAA]: 110.1 IP, 5.71 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 5.7 SO/9

Hankins is far from a household name, even for prospect hounds. In fact of the 22 guys that entered minor league free agency via the Rangers organization, he’s the guy I know the least about. As in I had never even heard of him. What I do know is that Triple-A is apparently his kryptonite – 6.08 ERA, 1.6 WHIP, 1.69 SO/BB in 93.1 IP. You can guess what my thoughts on his abilities at the major league level are based off of that.

LHP Zach Jackson (28)

 2011 Performance [AAA]: 152.0 IP, 5.51 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 4.6 SO/9

At age 22 Jackson, the 2004 1st round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, was already pitching in Triple-A. That was in 2005 and outside of 105.1 major league innings along the way, he’s been there ever since. Unfortunately the results have been lackluster (putting it nicely). His 5.51 ERA with Round Rock was actually his best since 2007. The problem? To start he can’t strike guys out, and if you can’t put guys away chances are you’re not missing many bats. In Jackson’s case that translates to allowing 10.6 hits every 9 innings over 741.0 innings in Triple-A. Even throwing left handed shouldn’t get you as many chances as he’s had but in a world where Sidney Ponson still has an agent

LHP Beau Jones (25)

2011 Performance [AA/AAA]: 68.1 IP, 3.29 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 3.8 BB/9, 7.8 SO/9

It took Jones 129.0 innings in parts of 4 seasons to get beyond Double-A but he’s put up respectable (not great) numbers throughout his minor league career. There’s some talent there which explains why he already signed a minor league deal with the Miami Marlins on November 4th, 2011.

2B Matt Kata (33)

2011 Performance [AAA]: 447 PA, 0.293/.353/.480, 30 2B, 13 HR, 28 BB, 63 SO

Back in 2003, Kata was 25 and making his major league debut with the Diamondbacks. He played in 78 games with Arizona that year, hit a little (84 OPS+), provided good glove work at 3B and subpar work at 2B and SS. For a brief moment if you squinted and tilted your head a little to the left it almost appeared as if he would have a decent career as a super-utility guy. Nine years and 440 plate appearances later his career OPS+ is just 68. He also only has 52 PA in the big leagues since 2007 and those came with Houston in 2009. That year his OPS+ was 16 and if you’re wondering how bad you have to hit to get that low the answer is 0.200/.212/.220.

1B Brad Nelson (29)

2011 Performance [AAA]: 533 PA, 0.281/.360/.501, 28 2B, 24 HR, 60 BB, 101 SO

Coming off arguably the finest season of his 11 year minor league career, he has some value on the market just based on his statistical output. Nelson also has some positional versatility and is capable of playing either corner outfield slot. Last seen in the majors with Milwaukee in 2009, he didn’t have much success against big league pitching but he also hasn’t ever been given an extended look.

OF David Paisano (24)

2011 Performance [A+/AA]: 379 PA, 0.237/.271/.313, 21 XBH, 3 SB, 13 BB, 67 SO

In his 6th minor league season he finally reached Double-A, lacks power, has a little speed and lackluster on-base skills. Paisano is currently playing in the Venezuelan Winter League, but isn’t helping his cause by hitting 0.207/.233/.310 through 22 games.

SS Omar Quintanilla (30)

2011 Performance [AAA]: 234 PA, 0.298/.369/.452, 18 XBH, 3 SB, 23 BB, 33 SO
2011 Performance [MLB]: 23 PA, 0.045/.045/.136, 0 BB, 9 SO

Over the course of 6 season Omar has played 227 major league games and sports a 0.213/.268/.284 slash line that makes even Tony Pena Jr. chuckle. Of course as you’d expect with such abysmal offensive numbers, Quintanilla brings it with the glove. He’s above average defensively at 2B (2.8 UZR/150) and even better at SS (9.6 UZR/150) and that makes him a valuable insurance policy for an organization that lacks middle infield depth.

RHP Brett Tomko (38)

2011 Performance [AAA]: 108.1 IP, 6.15 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, 6.8 SO/9
2011 Performance [MLB]: 17.2 IP, 4.58 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 5.1 BB/9, 7.1 SO/9

The end is near …

RHP Merkin Valdez (30)

2011 Performance [AAA]: 65.2 IP, 3.29 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, 5.4 SO/9
2011 Performance [MLB]: 4.1 IP, 6.23 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 12.5 SO/9

Once upon a time Valdez was rated as a Top-100 prospect in back to back years (2004 and 2005) and got as high as #40 in Baseball America’s rankings. Of course that was before multiple arm injuries derailed his career. He threw just 1 inning in affiliated ball between 2007 and 2009. After an atrocious 2010 campaign with Las Vegas [TOR-AAA] he bounced back to have a decent season. It appears that there is still life in the arm after his 2006 Tommy John surgery and 2008 forearm surgery. Now further removed from those procedures he might be worth taking a flyer on.

RHP Tim Wood (29)

2011 Performance [AAA]: 49.0 IP, 3.49 ERA 1.14 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9 and 6.2 SO/9
2011 Performance [MLB]: 8.0 IP, 5.63 ERA, 2.0 WHIP, 9.0 BB/9 and 2.3 SO/9

The Pittsburgh Pirates moved quickly to re-acquire Wood and signed him to a minor league deal on November 1st. He also received an invite to spring training. All this after the Pirates traded him to the Rangers for cash on August 18th, 2011. With Round Rock he “contributed” just 4.2 not-so-effective innings of relief (9 H, 3 BB and 5 ER) which skewed his stat line. At his best he seems to be a Triple-A and nothing more. Against major league competition he is hittable, has poor control and has trouble missing bats.

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Topics: Beau Jones, Brad Nelson, Brett Tomko, David Paisano, Derek Hankins, Matt Kata, Merkin Valdez, Nick Green, Omar Quintanilla, Texas Rangers, Tim Wood, Zach Jackson

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