Rangers' Font Gets The Good Feeling Back

ARLINGTON—As most who have had their ulnar collateral ligament operated on would say, it typically takes 18 months to get the pre-operation feeling back.

Righthander Wilmer Font hit that deadline this season after having Tommy John surgery in October 2010 and performed like the highly rated prospect the Rangers believed they had signed in 2006.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Venezuelan found his stride at high Class A Myrtle Beach, jumped a level for the final month, and by the 18-month mark had made his major league debut.

Font, 22, surprised even himself.

"Last year, I had surgery. This is a big step for me," Font said. "At the all-star break, I felt no problems and my arm felt good. My velocity, my command, my secondary pitches were all there."

Font worked primarily in the Myrtle Beach rotation, logging 19 starts but only 83 innings. But in that body of work, which included four relief stints, Font fanned 109 while walking just 37.

He jumped to Double-A in August, joining the Frisco bullpen for the rest of the season. He continued to fill up the strike zone (29 strikeouts, 7 walks) and entered the Texas League playoffs with 3.00 ERA in 15 games.

The RoughRiders were bounced by Springfield in the final series, and Font was in Arlington the next day. He made his major league debut Sept. 18 at Los Angeles, working a scoreless inning, and made two more appearances during the Rangers' final regular season homestand.

The club sees him as a reliever going forward, and they like what they see.

"His arm has come all the way back," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's got the big fastball with real good angle, and his changeup has gotten better. He's still improving, but he's got a chance to fight for a job with us next year."

Ranger Roundup

• Double-A outfielder Engel Beltre went from the Texas League playoffs to the World Baseball Classic qualifier as the leadoff man for Spain. Beltre, who was born in the Dominican Republic and lives in the U.S., went 6-for-14 with a triple, three RBIs and three steals in four games as Spain advanced to the main draw in March. Frisco teammate lefthander Richard Bleier pitched for Israel, and 2010 first-round pick Kellin Deglan was a catcher on the Canadian team.

• Outfielder Preston Beck, a fifth-round draft pick in 2012, was selected as the organization's top defender for the final month of the season. He finished second in the short-season Northwest League with 12 outfield assists. Beck went to Texas-Arlington, which is a 10-minute drive from Rangers Ballpark.