Prospect update: Friday edition

OF Brandon Boggs, OKC - The lack of a quality right-handed bat available to pinch hit for the soft underbelly of the Rangers lineup was apparent once again last night, and one internal candidate to fill that role could be Boggs. Finally healthy, Boggs has caught fire recently (.333/.419/.667 since May 24) and offers the patient approach (29 BB in 185 PA) that the club can use more of. He is a switch hitter and has been merely decent from the right side (.286/.342/.429), but the sample is just 35 AB, and Boggs has a solid history against lefties.

RHP Omar Beltre, OKC - Beltre has taken to the rotation. After making nine relief appearances and two short starts, struggling with walks (15 in 18.2 IP), he has found his game as a starter. In his two full fledged starts, he has walked just one and struck out 11 in 11 innings. His six inning outing Wednesday was the longest of his season, and he allowed two runs and a walk while striking out six. With his strong arm and solid repertoire, including strikeout pitches and the ability to induce ground balls with his sinker, Beltre may actually be an interesting candidate to help the rotation later this season, as opposed to jockeying with the likes of Alexi Ogando and Pedro Strop for an opportunity in the pen. Check out this piece from MLB.com with pitching coach Terry Clark discussing Beltre, Ogando and Tanner Scheppers.

RHP Wilmer Font, Bakersfield - Speaking of taking to a new, more difficult situation, Wilmer Font has jumped from the friendly confines of Hickory, where he spent all of last season and where his youth isn’t all that unusual, to the unforgiving California League, where he is once again much younger than most of his teammates and opponents. Organizations are often tempted to just skip their better, younger pitching prospects past the Cal League to save them the frustration of pitching in tiny parks and, in some cases, high winds blowing balls out for home runs. Font’s first start at this level was a nightmare. He lasted just two innings and allowed four hits, five walks and six runs in his his Bakersfield debut. He has since dominated. His second start was a masterpiece (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K), and Monday he was almost as good, going seven again and allowing one run on three hits and two walks, striking out six. He had turned 20 just a week earlier. Font has as much upside as any pitcher in the system not named Scheppers, so more of this kind of step forward would be potentially the biggest development in this system this season.

OF Engel Beltre, Bakersfield - Here’s another quality prospect who is handling the Cal League at age 20, and boy has he handled it lately. He finally broke his long walkless streak Tuesday, and he’s homered twice this week. In his last five games he’s 10-22, moving his season line to .308/.359/.453. To repeat my recent theme, he’s still far from a finished product, and there will be more growing pains, particularly as he continues to fight his nature and mature in his approach at the plate. But he’s having success in a full season league for the first time in his career, and that’s exciting. Beltre's most recent home run, his subsequent antics, and the response from the opposition have attracted national attention.

LHP Robbie Ross, Hickory - Ross and fellow smallish lefty Robbie Erlin have tortured SAL hitters all season, but Ross has really kicked it up a notch on his end of late. A dominating masterpiece Tuesday where he allowed just one hit (to his first batter) and no walks in eight innings was his third straight shutout appearance, all lasting at least seven innings. In fact, a May 16 start where he struggled, allowing 10 hits and four runs in 5.2 is the only start in his last seven where he has allowed a single run or failed to complete six innings. He is an absolute ground ball machine, and his location just keeps getting better.