- Full name Wilmer Font
- Born 05/24/1990 in La Guaira, Venezuela
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 255 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 09/18/2012
Organization Prospect Rankings
When Font showed up in the Rookie-level Arizona League as a 17-year-old in 2007, his 98 mph fastball generated buzz, but injuries have sidetracked his career. After Tommy John surgery erased his 2011 season, Font became a full-time reliever and made his major league debut in 2012 with three appearances. He had a strong 2013 campaign split mostly between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, with a pair of major league relief outings in July. He went to Caracas to pitch in the Venezuelan League after the season. With an imposing, extra-large frame, Font leans heavily on a power fastball that he runs anywhere from 92-98 mph. His 80-84 mph slider has short, slurvy break that flashes as an average pitch, as does his changeup, but they're usually below-average. Font has a loose arm but his long arm action hampers his slider and his fastball command, as his arm tends to lag behind when he gets to his balance point and causes timing issues. The development of a more consistent offspeed pitch and better fastball location will be two keys for him going forward. Font will have a chance to compete for a bullpen job in 2014 as a middle reliever or else return to Triple-A.
Font flashed a 98-mph fastball as a 17-year-old during his 2007 pro debut, but he missed almost all of the next season with injuries. He worked his way to high Class A in 2010, only to experience elbow soreness that eventually required Tommy John surgery, which erased his entire 2011 season. Texas added him to its 40-man roster in November 2010 even knowing he wouldn't get back on a mound for more than a year. When Font returned to action in 2012, the Rangers assigned him to high Class A with the goal of getting him 100 or so innings, and he actually finished the year with a three-game trial in the big leagues. Font shows the same wicked arm strength he showed pre-surgery, sitting at 94 mph and touching 99, but also the same lengthy arm action that inhibits his feel for a slider. His high-70s changeup has its moments, but without more precise fastball command he won't find himself in many counts where he can use the changeup as a chase pitch. Font's heater alone might be enough for a low-leverage relief role, but he has the potential for more because he's hard to hit when he's around the plate. Look for him to spend time in Triple-A and the majors in 2013.
Font made his high Class A debut four days before turning 20 in May, and he showed overpowering stuff in nine starts before the Rangers shut him down with elbow soreness. He tried to rehab and started throwing again in instructional league, but the pain persisted and he wound up having Tommy John surgery. Though he'll miss the entire 2011 season, Texas protected him on its 40-man roster. When healthy, Font regularly runs his fastball up to 97-98 mph, and he holds his velocity deep into games. The pitch also has heavy life, giving it a chance to be a true 80 pitch on the 20-80 scale scouting if he can refine his command of it. His No. 2 pitch is an average changeup that has come a long way in the last year and a half, but his breaking ball remains well-below-average. He throws a curveball but lacks feel for the pitch, and he may need to scrap it in favor of a slider in the future. Font has a long, complicated delivery that could prevent him from developing the necessary command to stick as a starter. He does work around the strike zone, but he needs to do a better job getting into pitcher's counts and locating within the zone. When he returns to action--perhaps in the fall of 2011--the Rangers figure to continue developing him as a starter. He's still ahead of most pitchers his age, and his upside is tantalizing.
After his solid U.S. debut in 2007, Font limited to four innings in 2008 by shoulder soreness and knee tendinitis in 2008. The Rangers closely monitored his workload last year--he pitched more than five innings just once in 29 outings--and he stayed healthy all season, making one of the biggest jumps in the system according to some club officials. The hulking Font always has had an explosive fastball and has touched 100 mph in the past, but he focused on improving his command of the pitch last year and worked mostly at 93-98 mph. His fastball has heavy life to go with its velocity. His changeup made considerable strides in 2009 and rates as an average pitch at times, with a chance to be plus in the future. He also matured considerably last year, demonstrating a better understanding of the importance of between-starts routines and workouts. Font has long struggled to harness his mechanics, and though he's making progress, he still must do a better job repeating his delivery. The Rangers are trying to keep him online and going downhill instead of spinning off too quickly and leaving his arm dragging behind. They hope his secondary stuff will improve as his mechanics do. He's still trying to improve his feel for his breaking ball, which is currently a hard curve but could wind up as a slider. Font has a chance to start because he can maintain his plus-plus fastball velocity deep into games, but he could wind up in the bullpen because of his questionable command and secondary stuff. He'll continue working as a starter at high Class A Bakersfield for now, but he also has upside as a closer.
After his solid U.S. debut in 2007, the Rangers hoped to use Font as a closer at Spokane, but he was shut down with shoulder soreness late in spring training. As he tried to work his way back, he developed tendinitis where his knee meets his quadriceps, keeping him out of action until mid-August. He finally took the mound for three outings in the AZL, getting lit up for five runs in a third of an inning in his first game, then pumping 96-98 mph heaters for two perfect innings in his second appearance and working in the 98-100 range during two more perfect innings in his third. He carried his momentum into instructional league, where he regularly threw 97-100 mph. Font throws downhill with his fastball, which projects as a true 80 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale if he can continue to refine his command. He attacks hitters with the heater and has no problem throwing it for strikes. Texas hasn't wanted him to throw his breaking ball much, so it remains raw, but he can spin it. The pitch is slurvy, however, and probably will end up as a power slider. He shows feel for a changeup, but he tends to throw it too hard, sometimes up to 89 mph. Font's huge frame should make him durable, but he's still working on his coordination. The Rangers figure to develop Font as a starter, but he could take a Jonathan Broxton developmental path and wind up as a flamethrowing closer. He likely will start 2009 at Spokane, with the goal of reaching low Class A during the year.
Font and Fabio Castillo were the jewels of the Rangers' 2006 international haul, and Font held his own in his stateside debut as a 17-year-old in 2007. Despite his youth, Font already has a strong, physical frame, and the Rangers say he finished the year at 237 pounds after starting it at 210. Though he's pigeon-toed when he walks around, he's more athletic than he looks. His arm strength is his best asset, as he runs his fastball up to 97-98 mph and sits at 93-96, though he has a long arm action and some effort in his delivery. He still needs to develop his fastball command, but it's not bad for his age. Font's secondary stuff is a work in progress. He has good feel for a changeup, which is his No. 2 pitch right now, but he's still experimenting with a mid-70s curveball. Some in the Rangers system think his arm action is more suited to a slider, but for now he just needs to learn how to maintain his arm speed when throwing a pitch that spins. Font remains very green, but he has front-of-the-rotation upside. He figures to get a crack at Spokane in 2008.
Minor League Top Prospects
The Rangers have increased their international scouting efforts in recent years, and they placed three Latin Americans on this Top 10. Font already has a strong, physical body already despite being one of the league's youngest players. His fastball was as good as any in the league, often sitting at 93-96 mph and reaching as high as 98. Font remains raw, as most pitchers his age are. The ball comes out of his hand easy but his fastball loses life and he loses command when he muscles up to the high 90s. His changeup is his second pitch for now. He's just learning the fundamentals of a breaking ball, how to repeat his mechanics and maintain his arm speed when throwing something that spins. He's shown the hand speed to develop a curveball down the line.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Fastball in the Texas Rangers in 2013