Rangers Look For A Starter To Step Forward





ARLINGTON—The organizational depth general manager Jon Daniels and his staff have assembled the past few years is enough to trade for top-tier big league talent. Yet the Rangers are cautious to not mortgage their future in the face of changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that they were strongly against.

Nevertheless, they have the game's top prospect (shortstop Jurickson Profar), one of the top power-hitting prospects (third baseman Joey Gallo) and an intriguing teenager (outfielder Jairo Beras) who they believe can be an elite big league hitter.

But if there's one thing missing from the system, it's a dominant starter. There is no Dylan Bundy or Gerrit Cole, though Martin Perez was once thought to be an elite prospect.

The lefthander hasn't fallen far, and he could be the Rangers' fifth starter to open the season after making his major league debut in 2012. There are others in the Rangers system who could make an impact, but no one has stepped forward.

"There are a number of guys that have a combination of the traits you like to see," Daniels said. "But it's going to come down to their consistency and maturity."

Cody Buckel was named the club's minor league pitcher of the year after going 10-8, 2.49 as a 20-year-old over two levels. Fellow righthander Luke Jackson has the arsenal of a power pitcher, but 21-year-old didn't begin focusing on pitching until he got to high school.

Justin Grimm is closer to the majors, having also debuted in 2012, but he doesn't have as big of an upside as Perez, Buckel or Jackson.

The onus is on the individual and the Rangers to produce a starter who can be a big league ace. Daniels isn't sure who that might be.

"That's a tough question," he said. "Can they harness their ability? Can we develop them to max out their potential?"

Ranger Roundup

• Joining Buckel as minor league award winners for 2012 were third baseman Mike Olt (player of the year), outfielder Engel Beltre (defender of the year) and righthander Ben Rowen (reliever of the year). Olt has the best chance of the four to make the Rangers' Opening Day roster.

• Among the new faces on the Rangers' minor league coaching staff for 2013 is Scott Coolbaugh, who spent the past two seasons as the big league hitting coach. He returns to Triple-A Round Rock as hitting coach, the post he held when promoted to replace Thad Bosley in June 2011.