As expected, the top first week performers among Rangers prospects were predominantly pitchers. The good news is that the minor leaguers earmarked to make possible impacts on the Rangers this season - Derek Holland, Justin Smoak, Alexi Ogando and Tanner Scheppers - have all started well.
Top Week One performers:
LHP Derek Holland, OKC - Though the Rangers rotation has brandished an ERA south of two through seven games, Holland appears intent on busting the door down. Through two starts, he has completed 13.2 innings and allowed just one run (on a solo home run) and one walk. He’s given up ten hits and struck out nine. Holland needed just 98 pitches to complete 7.2 shutout innings in his second start Tuesday. He was essentially skipped over AAA last season, making just one start and throwing four total innings before joining Texas, so these should still be valuable innings for him.
1B Justin Smoak, OKC - If Holland is the starting pitcher primed to make a difference for the big club, Smoak is his positional equivalent. While Chris Davis attempts to keep his footing early this season, AAA pitchers haven’t found a way to deal with Smoak. Through his first six games he has homered and doubled twice and has complete control of the strike zone, as displayed by his 7/2 BB/SO ratio. His first week slash line: .333/.500/.714.
RHP Tanner Scheppers, Frisco - Scheppers’ professional debut has not disappointed. Texas is using him in two inning relief stints to control his innings, and his mid-upper 90s fastball and knee buckling curve have been too much so far for AA hitters. In his four innings he’s struck out six, walked none, and allowed two hits.
RHP Joe Wieland, Hickory - Wieland repeats the Low A level, this time as Hickory’s opening day starter, and after a middling 2009 in which he showed middling stuff, two five inning starts have shown progress: 10 IP, 8 H, 0 HR, 2 BB, 7 K, 0.90 ERA, 4:1 groundout/fly out ratio.
RHP Wilmer Font, Hickory - Still just 19 years old but also repeating Low A, Font must show improved consistency and control to stay ahead of schedule. The consistency is still to be determined, but he dominated the strike zone in his first start, striking out eight and walking just one in five innings.
Other notable debuts:
OF Joey Butler, Frisco - Standing out in feeble AA offense: .368/.520/.526, 5/3 K/BB (19 AB)
RHP Blake Beavan, Frisco - Two solid starts undermined by 3 HR allowed: 11 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 3.27 ERA
LHP Martin Perez, Frisco - Nearly unhittable but issue with walks: 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K
RHP Alexi Ogando, Frisco - Tantalizing first look from electric arm: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
RHP Michael Main, Bakersfield - Anticipated return to High A off to solid start: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 HR, 1 BB, 4 K
RHP Matt Thompson, Hickory - Hittable but big curve, improved command lead to K’s: 5 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 7 K