Rangers officials raved about what they were seeing from righthander Dane Acker in February and March as an early reportee to minor league spring training.
The 24-year-old was headed toward his first full season after having Tommy John surgery in 2021. All he had to do was stay healthy.
But he was bitten yet again by the injury bug. This time it was a shoulder injury.
Acker is healthy now and was pitching at Double-A Frisco after earning a promotion from High-A Hickory on July 3.
Acker was still on a short leash, but he likes the way he feels and the way he’s pitching.
“Just that setback at the beginning of the year with the shoulder, it felt like it took forever,” said Acker, whom the Rangers acquired along with Jonah Heim in a 2021 trade with the Athletics. Oakland drafted Acker out of Oklahoma in the fourth round in 2020.
“I’ve been out for a while now, so I’m feeling good. They still have me on pitch count, so it’s just week by week. I just try not to get frustrated with it. I’ve still got plenty of ball.”
He had made 11 starts through July after debuting May 24, the last five with Frisco, but had pitched just 38.1 innings. He had a 2.33 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 19 walks.
Acker is primarily using his fastball, curveball and changeup, and his fastball velocity had been built up to 93-96 mph. He was also working between starts to keep his mechanics sharp.
The Rangers believe that Acker is one of their top pitching prospects. He just needs to stay healthy.
“Everything’s feeling good coming out,” Acker said “There’s stuff I’m just constantly trying to work on. When it comes to game day, everything feels good.”
— Top prospect Wyatt Langford, the No. 4 overall pick out of Florida, made his professional debut July 28 and was promoted to High-A Hickory after three games in the Arizona Complex League. The outfielder signed for $8 million.
— Righthander Alex Speas, the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2016, made his MLB debut on July 20 and struck out three of the four hitters he faced. However, he was optioned back Triple-A Round Rock four days later after two rough outings in which he struggled with his fastball command.