Nick Tepesch came out of nowhere to win the Rangers' fifth starter job this spring. Tepesch likely will just be holding this spot down until Martin Perez or Colby Lewis are ready to come off the disabled list...nevertheless, he has impressed folks with his performance this spring and his composure, and has elevated himself in the pecking order among the Rangers' pitching prospects.
So, who is Nick Tepesch?
Nick Tepesch is a 6'4", 225 lb. 24 year old righthander who was drafted out of the University of Missouri by Texas in the 14th round of the 2010 draft. Tepesch was ranked by Baseball America as the #130 prospect in the draft, calling him a "work in progress." Tepesch apparently fell in the draft due to bonus demands, and ended up signing right before the deadline for a $400,000 bonus, roughly third round slot money. Recall that this was when the Rangers were basically being run by MLB -- the only reason they could pay Tepesch $400,000 is because they got Boston to kick in some cash in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade, which they then earmarked for Tepesch.
Tepesch spent the entire 2011 season in low-A Hickory, postingg a 4.03 ERA in 138.1 innings, striking out 118, allowing 14 homers and walking just 33. It was a decent season, but not anything that was getting him on any of the top prospect lists.
Tepesch followed that up with a solid 2012 season that saw him split the year between high-A Myrtle Beach and AA Frisco, posting a 3.67 ERA in 162 innings, striking out 127, allowing 13 homers and walking 44. Again, numbers that were nice, but weren't sending him rocketing up the prospect map.
Nevertheless, those who watched Tepesch saw something in him. He got rave reviews for his composure and demeanor on the mound, with observers -- both last year and this spring -- praising him for being unruffleable on the mound.
That came across this spring when, in the major league camp for the first time, Tepesch wasn't intimidated or overwhelmed -- he went out there, challenged hitters, and threw strikes. And while he was seemingly an afterthought in the fifth starter battle when camp started, as his competitors fell by the wayside, he just kept going out there, doing his thing, throwing strikes, and ended up being the last man standing.
Tepesch has a four pitch mix of fastball, cutter/slider, curveball and changeup, and while he's not an overpowering pitcher, he's got a shot at having a solid major league career because he can throw his pitches for strikes and battle hitters even when he's not got his best stuff. He's not the type of high ceiling guy who gets prospectphiles' pulses racing, but he's a solid under-the-radar prospect who is likely going to get five or six starts at the major league level to show that he belongs.