The Texas Rangers have a lot of really fun and intriguing prospects, and have seen their minor league teams get off to a great start this year. But yesterday, Pedro Payano had perhaps the best game that any Ranger prospect has had this year, pitching for the Hickory Crawdads.
The 21 year old righthander threw a complete game shutout against the Greensboro Grasshoppers, striking out 11, walking just two and allowing a single hit -- a bloop single. And Payano did that while needing just 99 pitches, throwing 70 strikes.
It was an incredible performance for Payano, who was one of the players signed by the Rangers in their big 2011 J-2 class that included Nomar Mazara, Ronald Guzman and Yohander Mendez, but who has largely flown under the radar thusfar. Payano doesn't have overwhelming stuff, but has a low-90s fastball as part of four pitches he can throw for strikes, and over the past year, has been dominating A ball. Last sseason, between the DSL, AZL and Sally Leagues, he had a 1.11 ERA in 89 IP with 101 Ks and 22 walks, and this year, he has a 0.38 ERA in 24 IP with 27 Ks and 11 walks. His profile is the type where he's going to have to succeed at the upper levels to really get a lot of attention, but he's definitely put himself on the map.
The Rangers affiliates, incidentally, are now an aggregate 54-22 on the season. That's pretty impressive...