Jonathan Hernandez Moves To Double-A
The Rangers added righthander Jonathan Hernandez to the 40-man roster last offseason despite the fact he had having never pitched above high Class A Down East. This season he showed why the Rangers didn't want to risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.
Hernandez, who was born in Memphis while his father played in the minors but raised in the Dominican Republic, made swift work of the Carolina League this season. He recorded a 2.20 ERA in 10 starts while allowing a .184 opponent average and striking out 77 in 57.1 innings.
That made Hernandez the system's first notable promotion when he moved to Double-A Frisco on June 11. His Texas League debut wasn't very memorable (six runs in four innings), but as the Rangers key in on development the next few seasons, Hernandez is ascending to the top of the class.
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD
Down East third baseman Charles Leblanc was the organization's top hitter in the first half. The 2016 fourth-rounder out of Pittsburgh hit .300/.374/. 517 with 10 home runs through 67 games
Last season Leblanc scuffled to a .244 average with four home runs at two stops, but the Rangers have long seen him as a late bloomer after he never played baseball full time until college.
Leblanc's jump is significant for the Rangers because they face the realities a future without Adrian Beltre and the reality that Joey Gallo is better suited for first base. Texas doesn't have much depth at third base in their system, but Leblanc, who played shortstop in college, has entered the picture.
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** The Rangers didn't waste much time promoting outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez, the 22-year-old Cuban who signed for a $2.8 million in April, out of the Dominican Summer League. After hitting .409/.606/.683 in seven games against overmatched teens in the DSL, Martinez was shipped to short-season Spokane. There is more opportunity for him to play center field there, and the Rangers believe it is an age-appropriate spot for his debut.
** Lefthander Yohander Mendez made the first start of his major league career and might be finished pitching in the minor leagues. The Rangers are planning to give the Venezuelan an extended look in the rotation as they continue to give their top advanced players opportunities in the majors. Mendez struggled at Triple-A Round Rock, going 0-6, 5.26 in 10 starts, but he is out of options next season and the Rangers want to see if he can be a rotation piece in future seasons.