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Injuries Stymie Rangers' Pitching Development

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Every organization wants to develop its own starting pitchers. Not just a starter or two but a top-of-the-rotation starter or two.

The Rangers are like the majority of organizations in that they haven't had much luck doing that. But they continue to try.

The Rangers have come to the realization that their pitching pipeline is a several years away after the loss of three prospects to Tommy John surgery this season. Righthander Kyle Cody, the system's reigning minor league pitcher of the year, was the latest to hit the operating table on July 19.

He joined 2016 draft picks Cole Ragans, a first-round lefthander, and Alex Speas, a second-round righthander. Both were selected out of high school.

Amplifying the distance Rangers pitching prospects must travel to reach the big leagues, the organization plans to not let their highest draft picks throw until instructional league. That includes prep righty Cole Winn, whom Texas selected 15th overall this year.

"You feel bad first and foremost for Kyle," assistant general manager Mike Daly said. "You don't think about it as a whole group. These are individual players, and you feel for each one of these guys."

There are ways around a talent shortfall, primarily via trades. The Rangers were hoping to add to the farm system at the July 31 trade deadline, and they did add in the final week of the first half via a trade with the Giants.

Technically, it was trade. The Rangers, though, admit that they essentially purchased righthander Jason Bahr by agreeing to acquire veteran outfielder Austin Jackson and the remaining $4.3 million on his contract.

Bahr, the Giants' fifth-round pick in 2017 out of Central Florida, gives the Rangers another arm to attempt to develop. He fits their mold in that he's tall, athletic and throws a lot of strikes.

But the 23-year-old Bahr was assigned to high Class A Down East, and much of the Rangers' top talent has not yet reached Double-A.

Exceptions include lefty Yohander Mendez and righty Jonathan Hernandez, but it's possible the Rangers might not have a prospect join their rotation until the middle of 2019 or start of 2020.

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RANGER ROUNDUP

** Mendez was promoted to Double-A Frisco on July 16 after making five Carolina League starts as part of a reset the Rangers developed for him. He had been recalled June 15 for a trial run in the rotation but violated their team rules four days later. At the time, assistant GM Jayce Tingler said that Mendez, who recorded a 3.48 ERA at Down East, would be judged on work ethic and not deviating from the plan.

** The Rangers' new academy in the Dominican Republic is now expected to open in June 2019, with luck in time for the start of the Dominican Summer League. The land the Rangers purchased adjacent to their current facility has been cleared and leveled ahead of construction.

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