It’s no secret the Rangers’ pitching situation at the Major League level has been chaotic. Texas has used 10 rookie pitchers this season. Friday night, Tommy Hunter became the seventh rookie to start a game for the Rangers this season – a club record. To top it off, Andy Hawkins and Jim Colborn were installed to replace pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Dom Chiti, respectively, at the conclusion of the game Hunter started.
The Texas rotation currently consists of Vicente Padilla, Luis Mendoza, Matt Harrison, Scott Feldman and Hunter. Padilla is the only veteran of the five, let alone proven veteran.
Mendoza entered 2008 with 16 Major League innings under his belt. Harrison began the season at Double-A Frisco and spent some of his time there on the disabled list. Feldman had 89 2/3 innings of Major League experience coming into this season, but had never started a Major League game. He’s actually been one of the most dependable of Texas’ pitchers, but was shut down last month in an attempt to cut down his innings. Injuries to the rotation have dragged him back into the rotation. As for Hunter, he began his trek to the big leagues this season at High-A Bakersfield. At this point last season, Hunter was pitching in his first professional season.
However, there is hope that these resilient youngsters will be relieved of duty soon and be allowed to drop down to their appropriate Minor League affiliates.
Brandon McCarthy, rehabbing a case of severe elbow inflammation, pitched 5 1/3 innings Friday for Triple-A Oklahoma. Although he allowed five runs on six hits and two walks, the most important number was his 89 pitches thrown. Once he’s able to stretch his arm out, then he’ll be able to hone his pitches in preparation of rejoining the Texas rotation.
Last Sunday, McCarthy went 4 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits and three walks while striking out five. He tossed 82 pitches in that outing.
Kiko Calero, who could be an asset in the Rangers bullpen down the road, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of McCarthy on Friday. He allowed one hit and struck out one. However, on July 28, he allowed six runs in 1/3 of an inning, blowing a save opportunity in the process.
Doug Mathis, who is rehabbing a case of shoulder inflammation, is scheduled to throw two innings today in Phoenix. If all goes well, logic would say a rehab assignment would follow.
On July 30, Joaquin Benoit started for Frisco, but pitched only one inning and got out of there. In his inning of work, Benoit struck out two of the batters he faced, throwing 10 of 16 pitches for strikes.
When Benoit departed, Thomas Diamond came in and pitched four innings, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four. He threw just 46 of 81 pitches for strikes.
Benoit is rehabbing an inflamed right shoulder and Diamond is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and pitching with a bone spur in his ankle. Benoit is expected to pitch two innings at Oklahoma today. There was an outside chance that Diamond might reach Arlington this season, but that’s looking less and less likely.
Max Ramirez lands on DL
Max Ramirez was placed on the disabled list after injuring his hip flexor on July 30 with Oklahoma.
Catchers Taylor Teagarden and Emerson Frostad have left the Rangers organization temporarily to join their respective National teams in preparation for the Beijing Olympics. Teagarden, who had been at Oklahoma, will be representing the United States. Frostad, who had been at Frisco, will be representing Canada.
Nelson Cruz Update
Triple-A extraordinaire Nelson Cruz has gone homerless since July 27, when he hit No. 37 for Oklahoma. There were rumors that Cruz might be traded before the non-waiver Trade Dealine, but that didn’t happen. Cruz is batting .344 with 98 RBI after going 2-for-3 with a double on Friday, but he left the game after straining a quad sliding into second base in the fifth inning.
Mayberry welcomes August with a bang
John Mayberry Jr., who hit .158 in the month of July, went 1-for-3 Friday with Oklahoma, belting his 13th home run of the season.
Elvis Andrus, Julio Borbon and Jose Vallejo are up to 43, 44 and 34 stolen bases this season, respectively.
Short, but Feliz
In his last start for Frisco on July 28, Neftali Feliz went just 3 1/3 innings, but a scoreless 3 1/3 innings nonetheless. He allowed just three hits and one walk and struck out four as his ERA shrank to 2.21. He threw 35 of his 57 pitches for strikes.
With the signings of Clark Murphy and Matt Thompson earlier in the week, the Rangers have agreed to terms with all but three of their top 10 picks.
Murphy, a left-handed throwing and hitting outfielder from Fallbrook (Calif.) High School, was selected in the fifth round. Thompson, a local product who pitched at Grace Prep Academy in Arlington, Texas, was a seventh round selection.
With three weeks left until the August 15 deadline to sign draft picks, the Rangers are in good shape. First round pick Justin Smoak, second round pick Robbie Ross and 10th round pick Kevin Castner are the only players Texas has yet to sign of its first 18 selections.
Smoak, a well-rounded first baseman out of South Carolina who switch-hits and throws left-handed, still has another year of eligibility for the Gamecocks. Ross, a left-handed pitcher out of Lexington (Ky.) Christian High School, has committed to play college ball at the University of Kentucky. Castner, a right-handed pitcher out of Cal-Poly, has two more years of eligibility for the Mustangs.
After those three, Texas has 15 more unsigned draft picks, ranging from rounds 19 to 50, as of Friday. Other than Harold Martinez, a highly-touted shortstop coming into the season picked in the 19th round out of Braddock (Fla.) High School and committed to Miami, all of those unsigned players were drafted in the 27th round or later.
Of Texas’ signees, some are already progressing well on the farm. Tanner Roark, Tyler Tufts and Erik Morrison, picked in the 25th, 32nd and 46th rounds, respectively, are already up to High-A Bakersfield.
In two appearances, one start, Roark is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and eight strikeouts in seven innings. Tufts has pitched two innings of relief, having allowed one unearned run on three hits while striking out one. Morrison, who played shortstop in high school and his junior and senior seasons at the University of Kansas, has reached Bakersfield as a second baseman.
Duran’s season in jeopardy
According to numerous sources, including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (http://www.star-telegram.com/284/story/786011.html), infielder German Duran has been placed on the disabled list and will miss 6-8 weeks after undergoing ligament-replacement surgery in his left thumb.
Duran had been playing at Triple-A Oklahoma after being sent down when Vicente Padilla was activated from the disabled list. Oklahoma’s season will likely be over by the time Duran is healthy, so his only hope of playing again this season would be to join the Rangers in September when the rosters expand.
All eyes on Frisco
Texas was especially interested in a pair of pitching lines Friday night at Double-A Frisco.
Former first round pick Thomas Diamond, who’s recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and pitching with a bone spur in his ankle, earned his third victory of the season Friday. He allowed one run on three hits and four walks in five innings while striking out four.
Joaquin Benoit, in Frisco as he rehabs his inflamed right shoulder, entered in the seventh, but didn’t retire a batter. He faced five batters and allowed three hits, two walks and two runs.