March 20, 2012; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (13) slides into Texas Rangers third baseman Mike Olt (70) at third base after hitting a triple in the first inning at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE
Just some stats, slash lines, and idle observations on the Rangers' minor leaguers...this isn't meant to be comprehensive or particularly insightful, just some things that have caught my eye...
- Mike Olt continues to mash. Not only does Olt have a .313/.419/.605 slash line on the season for AA Frisco, his numbers have gone up each month. After a .250/.353/.523 April, Olt posted a .333/.437/.556 line in May, and has an insane .375/.485/.821 line for the month of June, which includes 8 home runs. The contact rate is still worrisome -- Olt has 73 strikeouts in 290 plate appearances, and his .377 BABIP isn't likely sustainable -- but even taking that into account, he's exceeding expectations this summer, and you'd have to think he's going to be in AAA Round Rock soon.
- Olt's AA teammate Engel Beltre continues to disappoint. After turning heads with a solid spring and a fast start to the season, Beltre now has a .238/.286/.390 line in AA, with 64 strikeouts in 307 plate appearances. Yes, Beltre is just 22, and yes, he's still got lots of tools...but he's out of options after next season and has yet to do much to lead you to believe that he's going to be able to translate the tools into skills. I wouldn't be surprised if the Rangers look to include Beltre in a deal this summer, given that he's taking up a 40 man roster spot and doesn't appear to have a future here in Texas.
- An under-the-radar guy coming into the season who you should probably start paying some attention to is lefthanded pitcher Chad Bell. Bell was a 14th round pick in the 2009 draft, but ended up getting the 4th highest bonus of any Ranger draft pick this year, signing for $450,000 as a 20 year old out of Walters State Community College. Bell put up a 1.59 ERA with 12 Ks and 4 walks in 11.1 innings in Myrtle Beach this season before getting moved up to AA Frisco, where he's logged 44.2 innings in 6 starts and 6 relief appearances, striking out 35 and walking just 11 while putting up a 2.22 line. There's a lot of good arms in the system, so someone like Bell can get lost in the shuffle, but he's someone who I'd think at this point has a good chance of being added to the 40 man roster this offseason, and who could contribute in the not so distant future out of the bullpen.
- Meanwhile, speaking of Rangers 14th round draft picks who got above-slot bonus money, Nick Tepesch was promoted from high-A Myrtle Beach to AA Frisco to replace Justin Grimm when Grimm's contract was purchased by the Rangers. Tepesch signed for $400,000 out of the University of Missouri, and like Grimm, was seen as an upside college pitcher who had better stuff than results. Tepesch went 7 innings in his Texas League debut, giving up just 2 runs on 7 hits (including a homer), striking out 2 and not walking anyone. Given that he turns 24 in October, Tepesch was a bit old for the league down in high-A, so I'd expect him to stay in the Frisco rotation going forward.
- Matt West is back and pitching for Myrtle Beach, after missing the first part of the season with a sprained UCL. Keep an eye on him...he was dominant in Spokane last year, and if he can stay healthy, West could be a contributor in a major league bullpen in a hurry.
- Some Hickory slash lines: Zach Cone -- .270/.328/.472. Jordan Akins -- .207/.235/.346. Drew Robinson -- .282/.413/.455. Kellin Deglan -- .209/.290/.385.
- Julio Borbon is hitting .331/.372/.488 for AAA Round Rock. He's 26, and his window of opportunity with Texas has shut, but he is playing well enough that he's going to have some trade value, and could end up having a decent major league career with some other team. If nothing else, he looks like he should be able to be part of a deal at the deadline this summer.