After the jump, we continue by taking a look at the #22 player in the LSB Community Prospect Rankings, righthanded pitcher Wilmer Font...
Wilmer Font is a 6'4", 210 lb. righthanded pitcher who the Rangers signed in the summer of 2006 out of Venezuela, one of the first prominent signings the Rangers made after Jon Daniels made a priority out of re-establishing the Rangers' presence in Latin America.
Although Font turns 22 in May, and has spent almost six years in the Rangers organization, it is still difficult to say what, exactly, the Rangers have in the big righthander, in part because of his inconsistency as a professional, in part because he missed the entirety of the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Font has logged just 237 innings as a professional, but has shown enough to have been added to the Rangers' 40 man roster prior to the 2011 season and to have a solid grasp on that roster spot heading into the 2012 season.
Font made his U.S. debut in 2007 with the Rangers' complex team in the Arizona Rookie League as a 17 year old. Font struck out 61 hitters in just 45.2 innings, but also walked 24 batters and gave up 33 runs. Font showed enough to be named the #5 prospect in the Arizona League by Baseball America after the 2007 season.* Unfortunately, 2008 was a lost season for Font, who was plagued by injuries and threw just 4.1 innings in the Arizona League.
Also making BA's list for the Rangers...Engel Beltre at #2 overall, and Cristian Santana at #9 overall. Future Ranger Mason Tobin was #11. One of the things looking back on these lists is leading to me believe is that Rookie League prospect lists are pretty useless.
2009 saw Font spend the entire season with the Hickory Crawdads of the low-A South Atlantic League, and Font had a solid bounceback year, going 8-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 games. In 108.1 innings, Font struck out 105 batters, although he walked 59, hit 9, and had 16 wild pitches.
Font went back to Hickory to start the 2010 season and, while his 5.16 ERA over 29.2 innings was ugly, he had 10.0 Ks per 9 against 3.9 walks per 9, and earned a promotion to high-A Bakersfield in the California League. Font put up a 3.86 ERA in 49 innings in the Cal League, striking out 52 and walking 32, before elbow soreness ended his season. It was determined that he had ligament damage in his elbow, and Font underwent Tommy John surgery in October, 2010, which wiped out his entire 2011 season.
Despite the injuries and limited performance history, there's a lot to like about Font. He's big and has the type of body scouts love to see in pitchers, and pre-injury, he could throw his fastball in the upper-90s. Font also has a changeup and a curveball, but those pitches still need a lot of work, as do his mechanics and his overall command. Still, not many pitchers can bring the heat the way Font can, and so he's going to get plenty of chances to put it all together.
The 2012 season will probably see Font start off at high-A Myrtle Beach. Given the amount of time he has missed, and his overall rawness, it wouldn't be surprising to see Font spend the entire season with Myrtle Beach, shaking off the rust and working on his craft. Like a lot of the Rangers' pitching prospects, how quickly he moves will depend on the role the Rangers ultimately put him in...if he is going to be a reliever (which is likely his ultimate destination), he could be in Texas as a hurry, as his upper-90s fastball could make him a viable weapon in the near future. As a starter, he would probably be at least a couple of years away from contributing at the major league level.