Rangers Midseason Report
Though the Rangers weren't able to sign 2009 first-rounder Matt Purke, they may end up with one of the first 2009 draft picks to reach the majors. Righthander Tanner Scheppers, the 44th overall pick in the draft, has simply been dominant.
Showing a fastball in the 96-98 mph range and a well-developed curve, Scheppers started the season at Double-A Frisco but was at Triple-A Oklahoma City within a month. He had a composite 2.36 ERA, with 58 strikeouts and 14 walks in 46 innings. He will likely pitch in the majors before the year is out, in a similar role to the one in which righthander Neftali Feliz broke into the majors in 2009. The Rangers want to limit Scheppers to about 100 innings in his first full season.
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD:
It would be impossible for anybody to have taken a bigger step forward than righthander Alexi Ogando, who was finally allowed into the U.S. after five years of visa denials and then reached the majors before the end of June. Among those still in the minors, lefthander Robby Erlin, 19, makes a pretty good consolation prize. Erlin, a third-round selection in 2009, was 3-1, 1.30 at low Class A Hickory with 65 strikeouts and 11 walks in 62 innings.
Lefthander Kasey Kiker, a first-round pick in the 2006 draft, has taken significant steps backward and has stalled at Frisco. Kiker, 22, has dealt with command issues and lost his spot in the rotation. He also missed a month on the DL, partly due to a hamstring injury and partly to rework his delivery. He was 1-4, 5.97 with 35 strikeouts and 33 walks in 34 innings this year. Perhaps most telling: Kiker has been passed by 2007 first-round righthander Blake Beavan, who was recently promoted to Triple-A.
• The Rangers included righthander Michael Main, one of their two 2007 first-round picks, in the deal to get Giants catcher Bengie Molina. They also sent righthander Chris Ray to the Giants, but had to include a significant prospect to get the Giants to pick up the remaining $2 million in Molina's salary. Main, 21, had been promoted to Frisco two days before the deal was consummated.
• Beavan gave the Rangers the kind of workhorse performance they crave in Frisco. In 32 starts there over the last two seasons, he pitched 200 innings and went 14-9, 3.34. While he had just 102 strikeouts, he walked 25 and allowed 10 home runs. It's the kind of pitch-to-contact approach the Rangers are seeking from their pitchers.