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March 07, 2009

Texas Rangers Prospects #19-#27

27. THOMAS DIAMOND (RHP-starter, 26.0, AA, Jamey’s #30) – Diamond lost 2007 and much of 2008 to Tommy John surgery. Before then, he featured a monster strikeout rate (27%) and some monster control issues (12% BB rate). Development of an offspeed pitch to accent his powerful fastball remains a critical problem. Diamond has switched between a curve and slider on several occasions. As reported by Mike Hindman, he’s back on the slider this spring. Bound for: You heard Mr. Daniels suggest that Diamond might make the active roster a while back. I doubt it. Actually, I wouldn’t terribly mind another visit to AA to prove a semblance of control with his revamped repertoire. He’s likely headed for AAA.

26. CARLOS PIMENTEL (RHP-starter, 19.3, short-A, Jamey’s #28) – Four of Texas’s top 26 prospects should anchor the low-A Hickory rotation come April. Though 17-year-old Martin Perez deserved attention for being the only non-adult in the Northwest League, he overshadowed Pimentel, the league’s third youngest player. Pimentel’s walk rate increased and his strikeout rate declined in his second year in the US, but he more than held his own against a bunch of former college juniors. Opponents mustered only a .235 batting average against him… when they made contact. 20% of the time, they struck out. Bound for: Hickory.

25. TIM MURPHY (LHP-starter and reliever, 21.9, low-A, Jamey’s #22) – The rookie Murphy missed plenty of bats with a money curveball and excelled at inducing weak contact. As in his UCLA days, Murphy occasionally took the mound without much control, but he finished with three consecutive sharp outings in Clinton. The following stock statement applies to 80% of the pitchers on this list: “Murphy’s future role depends on his ability to develop a changeup.? Bound for: Bakersfield’s rotation. He and the previous year’s 3rd rounder, Evan Reed, might be teammates.

24. JOE WIELAND (RHP-starter, 19.2, rookie, Jamey’s #20) – In rookie ball, where plenty of talented but raw pitchers have no idea where the ball is going, overmatched batters can at least keep the bat on their shoulders and hope for a walk or HBP. Opponents attempting that “strategy? against Joe Wieland found themselves slinking back to the dugout in short order. Wieland walked fewer than 5% of opposing batters, never more than one in any of his 13 appearances. He also fanned 27%. Baseball America, which has a serious crush on him, indicated his fastball could eventually separate him from his Texas draft mates. Bound for: Spokane’s rotation. BA suggests Hickory, but it’s a tight fit. Assuming the quartet of Perez/Boscan/Ramirez/Pimentel collectively jump from Spokane to Hickory, only one spot remains. I count six candidates for the final spot, and I might be missing someone. Still, a visit to Hickory, if not a full season, is within reach.

23. ROBBIE ROSS (LHP-starter, 19.8, has not pitched, Jamey’s #24) – Ross took full advantage of his leverage and signed at the last second for the largest second-round bonus in last year’s draft. Like Matt Harrison, Ross reportedly has a better feel for his secondary pitches (slider, change) than most high schoolers. Bound for: Blake Beavan signed late and skipped short-season ball; might Ross do the same? I doubt it, and as noted, Hickory’s not lacking for starters. Thus, his first taste of pro ball should come more than a year after being drafted.

22. MITCH MORELAND (1B/OF, 23.6, low-A, Jamey’s #21) – After a lackluster Spokane debut, Moreland’s 2008 OPS+ of 166 trailed only Max Ramirez in Texas’s full-season leagues. Moreland hit for average and power, drew plenty of walks, and didn’t even strike out that much. Moreland didn’t see a minute in the outfield between Ian Gac’s departure and Justin Smoak’s arrival, which should give you some idea of his long-term position. The lefty also threw a couple of innings last season and worked from the mound at Fall Instructionals. Bound for: Bakersfield’s outfield if Smoak or Gac is there, 1B if not.

21. WILMER FONT (RHP-starter, 18.9, rookie, Jamey’s #16) – Had I written prospect previews last year, I could have recycled Font’s. Font missed almost all of 2008 with shoulder and knee problems and remains exactly what he was a year ago: a huge, flamethrowing, very high-upside pitcher with a very long way to go. Like another pitcher of whom you might be aware, Font has reached triple digits on the gun. He actually displayed reasonably good control of his fastball as a 17-year-old in rookie ball in 2007. Bound for: Font may be the best reason to pay attention to Spokane this year. I’m dying to see how he fares against stiffer competition.

20. GUILLERMO MOSCOSO (RHP-starter, 25.4, AA, not around for Jamey) – Moscoso didn’t pitch professionally until the age of 19. For various reasons including injuries, he’s never pitched more than 90 innings in a season and has only 389 total at the advanced age of 25. Still, Texas wants to keep him in a starting role for now. He thrives on a respectably speedy and exceptionally lively fastball. Reviews of his offspeed stuff are less enthused, but he controls his repertoire well: Moscoso has a career 5% walk rate and 27% strikeout rate. Bound for: AA rotation. If Texas does convert him to relief, he could visit Arlington this season.

19. WARNER MADRIGAL (RHP-reliever, 25.0, MLB, not ranked by Jamey) – No, the Angels didn’t forget to tender the next K-Rod a contract back in 2007. They did lose what looks like serviceable reliever. Madrigal plowed through AAA for three months and received “the call? in early July. Ignore his grievous debut (6 runs in 1/3 inning) and you have a 1.23 WHIP and an opposing line of .237/.301/.382 in 35.2 innings. Not bad for someone who took up pitching in 2006. Bound for: Having options may land Madrigal in AAA in April unless he forces Texas’s hand.

Posted by Lucas at March 7, 2009 12:16 PM