Rangers Final Report

Smoak, Perez stand out in still-deep system




Best Player: In his first full pro season, first baseman Justin Smoak, 22, started at Double-A Frisco and finished the year at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Smoak crushed the ball at Frisco, hitting .328/.449/.481 in 50 games, and then recovered from a slow start at Oklahoma City to bat .267/.413/.386 in August.

 

If there was one downside to his year, it was an oblique strain that cost him a month and might also have cut into his power. He had just 10 homers in 380 non-rehab at-bats. The Rangers expect Smoak to have 30-homer or better power.

 

Best Pitcher: Even with righthanders Tommy Hunter and Neftali Feliz and lefthander Derek Holland in the majors, there remained an outstanding candidate for this category in the minors: lefty Martin Perez. Just days past his 18th birthday when the season began, Perez was the youngest player in the low Class A South Atlantic League. He ended it as the youngest player in the Texas League. In between, all Perez did was go 6-8, 2.90 with 119 strikeouts and 38 walks in 115 innings. After a pair of rough outings as his baptism to Double-A, Perez finished by allowing four runs in 14 innings over his final three starts.

 

With Feliz and Holland in the majors, there is no doubt Perez is the top pitching prospect in a still-deep system.

 

Keep An Eye On: Lefthander Michael Kirkman, the Rangers' fifth-round pick in 2005, nearly fell off the map by averaging a walk per inning in his first two full years in the minors. He started to turn things around last year, and this season he re-established himself as a legitimate prospect.

 

Kirkman, 23, began the year as one of the older players at high Class A Bakersfield and dominated the league, going 4-1, 2.06 in eight appearances before moving up to Double-A. Though he finished with a 5-7, 4.19 mark at Frisco, he posted a 2.51 ERA over his last seven starts, capped by seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball in his last outing.

RANGER ROUNDUP

The "DVD" era in Rangers history is officially over. Righty Thomas Diamond, the last remaining member of the troika that included John Danks and Edinson Volquez, was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. Diamond, the 10th overall pick in 2004, never reached the majors with the Rangers.

 

• The Rangers have so much minor league talent they may be facing a 40-man roster crunch this winter. That may have led them to deal catcher Manny Pina (who must be protected this winter) and outfielder Tim Smith to the Royals for righthander Danny Gutierrez, a talented prospect who had something of a falling out with Royals officials this season over the rehab of a minor injury. Gutierrez was limited to 32 innings this season, but held hitters to a .171 average and compiled a 1.95 ERA.