Kasey Kiker rolled tonight for Bakersfield, with a line of 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. He's struggled a little at the HIgh A level since getting a late start on the season, but this makes three pretty dominating performances in his last five starts.
Dating back to 2004 all of the organization's first round picks are still in the organization. Including supplemental picks, seven of those have been pitchers:
2004: Thomas Diamond (10), Eric Hurley (30)
2006: Kasey Kiker (12)
2007: Blake Beavan (17), Michael Main (24), Neil Ramirez (35), Tommy Hunter (54)
The three guys picked in the top 20 have a special spotlight on them as the top picks in their respective drafts, and Kiker's emergence in the middle levels of the minors would be a big boost for the organization, which is flush with upside arms at the lower levels, but is pretty thin on them in AA and AAA. When we talk about getting legitimate help for the pitching staff from the minors, Kiker is the one guy after the handful of solid prospects (Hurley, Hunter, Matt Harrison) in those upper levels who could contribute relatively soon, at least unless a Main, Beavan or Feliz gets put on the fast track. And he's probably the next guy after Hurley who has the talent to potentially play a more important role than #4/5 starter or middle reliever.
Success from Kiker would also take the edge off of the misfortune of Texas having the 12th pick in the '06 draft. Before the Rangers pegged Kiker, the following pitchers were picked: 1. Luke Hochevar 2. Greg Reynolds 4. Brad Lincoln 5. Brandon Morrow 6. Andrew Miller 7. Clayton Kershaw 10. Tim Lincecum 11. Max Scherzer
This is not to say that Kiker was a bad pick, as you don't get see a 2002-post-Drew Meyer trail of studs in the teens, and most of these guys were college pitchers. But every guy on that list, excepting Lincoln (who suffered an elbow tear but is back now and pitching well himself), is in the major leagues and is showing pretty significant promise. Hopefully Kiker will eventually join this impressive group.