Cole Wiper Scouting Report: Texas Ranger minor league pitcher Cole Wiper ranked #21 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 31 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 31. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2013. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Cole Wiper...
Cole Wiper is a 6'3", 180 lb righthanded pitcher who the Rangers drafted in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB draft. Wiper was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 14th round of the 2011 draft out of high school, but did not sign, electing to go to the University of Oregon instead. However, Wiper red-shirted in the 2012 season because of Tommy John surgery, and only pitched 12.2 innings for Oregon in 2013.
Because Wiper was born on June 3, 1992, he was 21 at the time of the 2013 MLB draft, and therefore was a rare instance of being a draft-eligible (redshirt) freshman. The Rangers clearly really liked Wiper's potential, as they gave him a well-over-slot bonus of $700,000.
Wiper, pre-injury, was described as athletic (of course) and having an above-average curveball to go along with a slider and changeup, as well as a fastball he could throw in the low 90s. I have to assume that the Rangers had a strong grade on him coming out of high school in 2011, and didn't draft him because they didn't think they could sign him -- that was the year the Rangers devoted most of their money to signing Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman, and had little available in their budget for draft pick signings. Wiper was #75 on BA's high school top 100 prospects in November, 2010, and ended up being #192 on their final top 200 list for the 2011 draft.
After signing with Texas, Wiper was assigned to the Rangers' rookie league team in the AZL, and in 25.1 innings over 10 games, he struck out 26 batters, walked 8, and allowed a 2.13 ERA. Wiper's performance was impressive enough for Baseball America to list him as the #20 prospect in the AZL, praising him for having a 93-94 mph fastball to go with a quality slider and changeup.
Wiper will be an interesting case to watch this season. If I were to guess, I'd say the Rangers will start him in low-A Hickory, although an assignment in the Northwest League is possible, as well. He seems to be someone who could either start or relieve, with BA saying that he could move quickly if utilized in a bullpen role. The Rangers' history is that they usually leave prospects in the rotation until they prove they can't start, so I'd expect to see Wiper in a minor league rotation for the 2014 season.