With April wrapping up, it’s time to look back at the standouts, both positive and negative, through the first month of play down on the Texas Rangers’ farm system. There have definitely been surprises down on the farm.
Here are the pitchers that have played well in the first month of the season:
Double A – Frisco, SP, Neil Ramirez, 23 yrs old
After getting drafted in the first round in 2007, Neil Ramirez has been on a roller coaster of a ride the past five years. He became a top Texas Ranger prospect after the 2011 season but struggled last year at Round Rock with an ERA over 7. This year, Ramirez went back down to Frisco and he has dominated so far. Neil has a 1.86 ERA, 25 strikeouts and 12 walks in 19 innings stretched over 4 starts this year. The walks are a little higher than he would like but he has found away to keep hitters off of the base paths anyways. Most Impressive Fact: Ramirez’s hits per nine innings last year was 9.1, this year it is 3.3 H/9.
Advanced A – Myrtle Beach, SP, Luke Jackson, 21 yrs old
Luke Jackson has often been compared to Cody Buckel. Surprisingly, Jackson has the higher upside, has better stuff, but less control. Jackson was drafted with a compensatory pick in 2010 out of a Florida HS. In 2011 Luke had a 5.8 BB/9, last year he had a 4.5 BB/9. In 21.1 innings this year, Jackson has lowered his walks once again with a 3.8 BB/9. He is 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 24 strikeouts. Most Impressive Fact: Jackson’s H/9, BB/9, HR/9, SO/9, ERA, and WHIP have all improved gradually each year in professional baseball.
Single A – Hickory, SP, C.J. Edwards, 21 yrs old
After exploding onto the scene last year, some people in the baseball community chose to take the wait-and-see approach when it came to committing to the obvious fact that C.J. Edwards is a stud. So far this season Edwards has done nothing but further improve his level of play. He has started five games on the mound while allowing just five earned runs. C.J. has also struck out 29 batters and only walked 7 during those 23.1 innings. Most Impressive Fact: C.J. Edwards has 114 strikeouts over 90.1 professional innings in his career. Over those 90.1 innings, he hasn’t allowed a single homerun.
Honorable Mention – Pitchers:
AAA – Round Rock, SP, Josh Lindblom, 25 yrs old (3-0, 1.90 ERA, 23.2 IP, 24 Ks)
AAA – Round Rock, RP, Cory Burns, 25 yrs old (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 8.2 IP, 14 Ks)
A – Hickory, SP, Connor Sadzeck, 21 yrs old (2-1, 1.37 ERA, 26.1 IP, 17 Ks)
Here are the position players that have played well in the first month of the season:
Triple A – Round Rock, OF, Engel Beltre, 23 yrs old
Engel Beltre is one of the most talented players in the Texas organization, but he has also been one of the most inconsistent players. This year Engel has batted above .300 while cutting down his strikeouts. Beltre has five doubles and six steals so far this year. Can’t read too much into a guy hitting just above average and showing good speed but there is extreme upside here. If Beltre can string together a good season during his first year at the AAA level, he could, at the very least, be a good OF depth option when the call-ups are made in September. Most Impressive Fact: Engel Beltre had 47 extra base hits last year and stole 36 bases in 133 games last season.
Dude has some pop… http://youtu.be/jqaaV9BCL48
Advanced A – Myrtle Beach, MIF, Rougned Odor, 19 yrs old
Rougned Odor is my favorite name in sports. Odor may also be my favorite player in sports… seriously. Odor is the youngest player in Advanced A ball this year at 19 years old. He was signed as a 17 yr old out of Venezuela for $450,000 in 2011. He has jumped to a new level each year and has excelled despite being a lot younger than everyone else in the league. So far this season Rougned has batted .269 with 3 homeruns, 5 steals, and 6 walks. Last season Rougned hit 10 homeruns while swiping 19 bags in only 109 games. All the while, he is only a teenager. Most Impressive Fact: This isn’t a stat but it is a cool piece of information. Kevin Goldstein, the Coordinator of Pro Scouting of the Houston Astros, said Odor’s hit tool can be a 70 at the pace he is going. (Jurickson Profar‘s hit tool is a 70) Jim Callis of Baseball America said on Twitter this year when asked what he thought about Odor, “Like him, gun to my head… would take [Odor] over Schoop.” Jonathan Schoop is considered a top 100 prospect in baseball. Schoop is the number four second base prospect behind Jedd Gyorko, Kolten Wong, and Delino DeShields.
……Oh and the kid can knock your a#$ out if you say something unnecessary to him as he passes you by. http://youtu.be/Wt5eZJWMELo
Single A – Hickory, OF, Nick Williams, 19 yrs old
Last year the Texas Rangers drafted two young OF prospects that were raw but could potentially show five real tools if they developed well. Lewis Brinson was taken in the first round as a natural speedy center fielder and Nick Williams was taken in the second round as a potential power hitter. In the Arizona Rookie League, Brinson and Williams both tore it up. Brinson hit 7 homers in 54 games in the AZL a year ago while Williams hit 2 homers in nearly 50 games. That left people wondering if Williams could really hit for power against the talented pitchers he was facing. Well, this year Williams has 7 bombs in 18 games while also having a .303 AVG. Although Williams is striking out quite a bit (23 times in 76 ABs), nobody can question that the power is now showing up… in full force. Unfortunately Nick Williams has just been placed on the disabled list after leaving a game early recently. Hopefully he will get back onto the field quick. Most Impressive Fact: Williams’ former summer baseball team, the Houston Banditos, will be filmed and made into a reality television show on TruTV in the coming months. The program will be the first to show the inside of competitive college-prep travel baseball.
The kid has a smooth HR stroke… http://yt2gif.com/view/171782
Honorable Mention – Position Players:
Single A – Hickory, 3B, Joey Gallo, 19 yrs old (.221/.327/.558, 8 HRs, 17 RBIs)
Single A – Hickory, C, Jorge Alfaro, 19 yrs old (.262/.315/.500, 4 HRs, 14 RBIs, 3 SBs)
Double A – Frisco, OF, Jared Hoying, 23 yrs old (.291/.351/.547, 4 HRs, 15 RBIs, 2 SBs)
Players that have disappointed so far this year:
Double A – Frisco, SP, Cody Buckel, 20 yrs old (0-4, 18.00 ERA, 9 IP, 25 BBs, 9 Ks)
Cody Buckel has struggled to control any of his pitches in any of his outings this year. Buckel’s difficult throwing motion that has allowed him to be so effective and deceptive may be halting his progression at Frisco. Although Cody has been very consistent in rising through the minor league ranks the past couple of years, with his throwing motion, it seems like no two deliveries are perfectly repeating themselves for Buckel. Buckel failed to record an out in his last outing while allowing 6 earned runs and walking 3 batters. It was also just announced that the Rangers will not demote Buckel back down to Myrtle Beach. They will use Buckel out of the bullpen here for a while instead.
Triple A – Round Rock, 3B, Mike Olt, 24 yrs old (.139/.235/.236, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 32 SOs)
Mike Olt has failed to string good at-bats together so far this year in Round Rock. Olt went 2 for 17 with 6 strikeouts and a two run homer in his last five games. Now, Olt has watched the last three games from the bench. May be just what the doctor ordered… we can only hope.
Gerry Fraley recently had an article up on DallasNews.com where he discussed Cody Buckel’s struggles…
The Texas Rangers held an internal discussion to determine the next step for highly regarded right-hander Cody Buckel after his struggles deepened Saturday night with Double-A Frisco.Buckel faced six hitters against Corpus Christi, of the Houston organization, without getting an out. He allowed one hit and three walks and hit two batters. Buckel threw only nine strikes among his 29 pitches.Buckel’s control problems surfaced while he was in major league spring-training camp. In two appearances against major league hitters, Buckel allowed five walks and threw 58 pitches in one inning.General manager Jon Daniels said there are no indications Buckel is injured, but the club is puzzled beyond that.“We’re not sure what it is yet,” Daniels said.
**Stats were taken on April 29, 2013 in the morning.