|No team has been as dogged in pursuing relievers at the trade deadline than have the Rangers. They snagged their second strike-throwing set-up man in as many days by shipping promising Double-A pitchers Robbie Erlin, a lefty, and Joe Wieland, a righty, to the Padres for 33-year-old righthander Mike Adams, a native Texan who hails from the Corpus Christi area.
Adams sat out the 2007 season while recovering from injury, but upon his return he quickly resuscitated his career with the Padres. With San Diego he logged a 1.66 ERA and 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 209 appearances dating back to 2008. Adams’ WHIP in that time (0.90) ranks third only to Mariano Rivera and Sergio Romo among relievers with at least 150 appearances. The Rangers’ other relief acquisition, Koji Uehara, has a 6.6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2009, which is tops in baseball when applying a relaxed guideline of at least 90 appearances. Remarkably, Romo ranks high on that list, too.
|Robbie Erlin, lhp
Born: Oct. 8, 1990 in Oakland.
Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 175. Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: Scotts Valley (Calif.) HS.
Career Transactions: Selected by Rangers in third round of 2009 draft; signed July 29, 2009.
From the day he signed with the Rangers, Erlin always has been a pitcher whose approach has never matched his birthdate. Even as a high school pitcher, he showed few rough edges. The lefthander threw strikes, stayed ahead of hitters and always seemed to know which pitch would keep a hitter from getting too comfortable. That explains how he was able to get an above-slot deal as a 2009 third-round pick despite his average velocity. Erlin’s 88-92 mph fastball is average at best, but he manages to get outs with it because his secondary stuff, a hard-breaking curveball and a changeup with late fade are both plus pitches. Erlin has had success virtually everywhere he’s pitched as a pro. He posted a 2.12 ERA as a starter at low Class A Hickory last year, and a nearly identical 2.14 ERA at high Class A Myrtle Beach this season, which earned him a promotion to Double-A Frisco. Frisco has proven the toughest test of his young career. He was 5-2, 4.32 at the time of his trade, but he still boasts a sparkling 61-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he has been dominating at his best. (His 0.91 WHIP ranks second in the minors.) On June 26 at Corpus Christi he struck out a career-high 14 while walking one. If there is a criticism of Erlin, it’s that his tendency to fill the strike zone pitch after pitch makes him susceptible to home runs. He’s a flyball pitcher who has already given up 16 homers this season, so San Diego’s Petco Park is just abou the best match possible. As a 20-year-old already pitching in Double-A, Erlin is on a fast track. He profiles as a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter eventually.
|Joe Wieland, rhp
Born: Jan. 21, 1990 in Reno, Nev.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 175. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Bishop Manogue HS, Reno, Nev.
Career Transactions: Selected by Rangers in fourth round of 2008 draft; signed June 8, 2008.
Wieland doesn’t waste time when he’s on the mound. The righthander’s already solid control has taken a significant step forward this year. He works with an 88-92 mph fastball that plays up because of his ability to command it and keep it down in the zone, an average curveball and a solid slider he developed just this year. As Baseball America subscribers learned, the slider has been the key in Wieland’s rapid development this year, as it gives him a pitch he can throw for strikes when behind in the count, and also a pitch he can bury when he’s ahead of hitters. His changeup is clearly his fourth-best pitch. Wieland’s lack of plus velocity limits his upside, but his feel for pitching, command and solid secondary stuff gives him a ceiling as a solid No. 4 starter. Wieland keeps getting better and better. He struggled last year after a midseason promotion to the California League, but this year he went 6-3, 2.11 for high Class A Myrtle Beach, and he’s been even better since a promotion to Double-A Frisco. Wieland has allowed two runs in his past four starts, and he threw a no-hitter against San Antonio his last time out. For the season, Wieland has an almost unfathomable 132-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and his 1.80 ERA ranks third in the minors.
|Mike Adams, rhp
Age: 33. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $845,000 ($2.535 million salary for 2011; under club control for 2012 season).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.