The Texas Rangers have promoted pitcher Luke Jackson, infielder Ryan Rua, outfielder Jake Smolinski and reliever Phil Klein from AA Frisco to AAA Round Rock, according to John Blake on Twitter.
In addition, outfielder Engel Beltre, currently on the 60 day disabled list, will start a rehab assignment with Round Rock on Thursday.
This is an interesting quartet to get jumped up to AAA, and all four could end up seeing Arlington before the season is over.
Luke Jackson, who turns 23 in August, was a supplemental first round pick of the Rangers in the 2010 draft, and has established himself as one of the top prospects in the Rangers' organization. He has a 3.02 ERA in 83.1 innings for Frisco, striking out 83 and walking 24. He is Rule 5 eligible after the season, and thus is a candidate to potentially get a promotion in September, when rosters expand.
Ryan Rua, 24, is a second baseman/third baseman who had a breakout campaign in 2013, and has followed it up with a solid 2014 campaign that has seen him put up a .300/.375/.475 line, and win the Texas League Home Run Derby yesterday. Rua is also Rule 5 eligible after the season, and thus, could also get a look in the second half of the year, particularly given the Rangers' need for a righthanded hitting bench bat.
Phil Klein, 25, is a 6'7", 260 lb. righthanded reliever who has been dominant for Frisco so far this season, putting up a 0.81 ERA in 33.1 relief innings. Klein isn't a real hard thrower, mostly sitting in the low-90s, but he is deceptive and induces a lot of swings-and-misses. Like Jackson and Rua, he is Rule 5 eligible after the season.
Jake Smolinski, 25, is a former second round pick of the Washington Nationals, who was signed by the Rangers as a minor league free agent. He's put up a nice .267/.349/.459 line for Frisco, but he is more of an organizational depth guy.
The move to add Engel Beltre to the Round Rock roster is good news. Beltre, a terrific defensive outfielder with issues hitting, can spend up to 20 days on a rehab assignment, but after that, since he is out of options, he can't be sent down to the minors without clearing waivers. Given the mess that is the current Rangers' position player situation at the major league level, once he's ready, he should be able to get some semi-regular playing time at the major league level, so the club can determine whether he has a role with the team going forward.
To make room at Round Rock, the Rangers have released pitcher Daniel McCutchen, put Scott Richmond on the disabled list, and sent Ryan Strausborger from Round Rock to Frisco.
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