Feb 28, 2012; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez (33) poses for a picture during the Rangers photo day at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE
- Several mid-season promotions were announced yesterday, with the most significant being Cody Buckel moving up to AA Frisco from high-A Myrtle Beach, and Luke Jackson going from low-A Hickory to high-A Myrtle Beach. Buckel and Jackson are an interesting pair...both are righthanded pitchers drafted by the Rangers out of high school in the 2010 draft, with Jackson going #45 overall (but getting a well-above-slot bonus) and Buckel going #72 overall. Although Jackson is almost a year older than Buckel -- Jackson turns 21 in August, Buckel turned 20 four days ago -- as was the more highly regarded coming out of high school, he's been a level below Buckel throughout the 2012 season. Buckel is viewed as more of a "pitchability" pitcher, Jackson more of a "stuff" pitcher...Buckel throws four pitches and knows how to pitch, though there are questions about whether his stuff will translate at higher levels, while Jackson is viewed as someone whose potential greatly exceeds his performance to date. Jackson hasn't had a ton of success in Hickory this season, putting up a 4.92 ERA with 72 Ks and 33 walks in 64 innings, but the Rangers apparently feel he's ready for the challenge of high-A ball. Buckel, meanwhile, was not being challenged by Carolina League hitters, putting up a 1.31 ERA with 91 Ks and 25 walks in 75.2 innings, and allowing just 49 hits in the process. Both pitchers will be worth keeping an eye on in the second half.
- One pitcher who very prominently was not promoted last week, when the Rangers needed a spot starter, was Martin Perez, who has been an enigma all season. Perez has responded to that snub by throwing 7 innings of 1 hit, shutout ball on June 15 (albeit with 5 walks against 5 Ks), and then pitching a 90 pitch complete game last night, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Martin Perez appears to be the Rangers' version of the proverbial box of chocolates this year...
- Two other players of note who got promotions yesterday are LHP Chad Bell, who is going to AAA Round Rock, and IF Hanser Alberto, going to Myrtle Beach. We talked about Bell earlier in the week, but Alberto is someone who hasn't gotten much attention to date. Alberto, who doesn't turn 20 until October, spent the first half of 2012 in Hickory, playing mostly shortstop along with some third base after playing exclusively shortstop in the Northwest League in 2011. His .337/.385/.463 slash line is particularly impressive in light of his age, defensive position, and the pitcher-friendly nature of the Sally League, and he has just 22 strikeouts against 18 walks this year. Alberto has gotten good reviews for his instincts and makeup, and while he's not going to be an elite defensive shortstop, there does seem to be a sense that he can stick at the position.
- Jake Skole has continued to struggle in the Carolina League, and now is hitting .169/.306/.220 for the month of June, dragging his overall slash line down to .195/.292/.276. This sort of performance has resulted in some criticism of the Rangers, who took Skole at #15 overall two years ago. That said, Skole got me thinking of Orioles' draft pick Billy Rowell. A highly-regarded high school hitter, Rowell went #9 overall in the 2006 draft, was ranked #47 overall before the 2007 season by Baseball America, but since 2007 has never hit. He has a career minor league slash line of .261/.329/.389, spent the previous three seasons in high-A ball, and now, at age 23, is attempting to convert to pitching (while also serving a 50 game suspension for testing positive for marijuana). Looking at others taken around Skole in the 2010 draft, Delino DeShields, Jr., who went #8 overall, has hit .236/.329/.337 in the Sally League the past two seasons while moving from centerfield to second base. Deck McGuire, a pitcher out of Georgia Tech who went #11, has a 6.62 ERA in AA while striking out less than 6 batters per 9 innings. Hayden Simpson, a college pitcher taken one pick after Skole, has a career 6.33 ERA, hasn't made it out of A ball, and is currently back in the short-season Northwest League. Kolbren Vitek, taken #20 overall out of college (by Boston, no less), has a 640 OPS this season in AA and a 725 career minor league OPS.
- The reality is, a lot of guys taken in even the middle of the first round never do much as pros. Skole is young and still has time, but it is worth pointing out that there are quite a few players drafted around him who are struggling now, as well. It doesn't mean the Rangers haven't, at this point, seemingly whiffed on this pick...what it does mean is that a lot of picks in that range look bad after a couple of seasons.