Phil Klein Scouting Report: Texas Ranger pitcher Phil Klein ranked #23 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 30 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 32, and who didn't get traded. 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-2014. 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 Phil Klein...
Phil Klein is a great big (listed at 6'7", 260 lbs.) righthanded relief pitcher who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 30th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Youngstown State. I can't find any information on Klein's signing bonus, but as a college senior who was drafted in the 30th round, I have to guess it was a nominal amount. After signing, Klein split his time in 2011 between the AZL and the Northwest League, putting up a 4.58 ERA in 17.2 IP.
Klein went to low-A Hickory in 2012 and pitched well out of the bullpen, putting up a 1.90 ERA in 52 IP with 53 Ks and 21 walks. That earned him a promotion to high-A Myrtle Beach for the remainder of the season, where he struck out 14 and walked 2 in 10.1 IP, allowing just one run and two hits for the Pelicans. Still, as an older reliever who didn't light up the radar gun, he wasn't really on the prospect map...I think only Jamey Newberg had him on any Rangers prospect rankings after 2012, and that was at #59 (ironically, between Jared Hoying and Ryan Rua).
Klein returned to Myrtle Beach to start the 2013 season and quickly earned a promotion to AA Frisco after appearing in just 7 games for the Pelicans. For the year, Klein had 67.1 IP, with 86 Ks and 47 walks against 3 home runs. Still, he wasn't garnering a lot of attention.
That changed in 2014, a breakout year for Klein. Klein returned to AA Frisco to start the 2014 season, and in 33.1 IP, allowed just 3 runs on 15 hits and 14 walks while striking out 42 batters. Texas sent him to Round Rock in late June, and Klein continued to dominate, throwing 18.1 shutout innings, striking out 28, and allowing just 7 hits and 6 walks. Remarkably, Klein did not allow a single extra base hit in 51.2 IP (196 batters faced) in the minors in 2014.
That earned Klein a promotion to the majors where, of course, he allowed a home run in the first major league batter he faced, Cleveland's Lonnie Chisenhall. Klein ended up having a nice two month run for the Rangers post-promotion, however, putting up a 2.84 ERA in 19 IP, striking out 23, issuing just 5 unintentional walks, and giving up 3 homers.
Tepid did a great writeup on Klein last August, when he got promoted, which you should check out here. Klein throws a low-90s fastball that plays up because of how hard it is to pick up with his size, as well as a slider and a cutter. Klein is in the mix to be in the Rangers bullpen this year, and he's got the potential to carve out a successful major league career as a middle reliever or setup man.