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Raising Arizona V. 2018 (Part II)

Continuing to scope out the backfields of Surprise

MLB: Spring Training-Milwaukee Brewers at Texas Rangers Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

There’s enough to dream on. But I want more. I’m looking for a jolt. I’m yearning for pure electricity and I’m ready for the shock. Maybe I saw it today when Bubba Thompson launched a homer over the left field fence or when Sam Huff did the same. Maybe it was Jon Hernandez dialing up 96s and using an effective SL and CH to get whiffs when not meeting barrels. It might have been Jake Lemoine, finally healthy, sitting 94 and touching 96 a couple times. Whatever it is, whenever it happens, I’m ready for it. And so are the Rangers. One of these kids is gonna breakout and look like a big league regular. One of them is gonna grab the brass ring and contribute to wins in Arlington. One of them is gonna make more than $10,000 a year. It’s not altogether clear which player is gonna do it, but one of them is. And Rangers fans will be ready for it.

Jon Hernandez was good today. He’s on the 40-man now, so he’s gotta be good. He flashes really good stuff and has added positive weight over the last couple of years. Sitting 93-95 and generating whiffs with both his CH and his SL, he still gave up some loud contact. The 21 year-old is certainly one of Texas’ best starting pitching prospects. Plenty of Texas front office luminaries on hand to watch Hernandez including a couple of pennants.

Bubba Thompson is a tool shed. He looks comfortable in CF and has a very good arm and he is legit fast, especially underway. And he hit the absolute snot out of a homer over the left field wall. I think he’s more polished than was thought pre-draft and I don’t think it will be long before he’s alongside Leody as Texas’ best position-playing prospects. Dream on, Rangers fans:

**Side note on the second Bubba video above: I really like the (surprise, surprise) KC catcher. Young kid named MJ Melendez. Very quick behind the plate and borderline fast on the bases. A name to sock away for Royals fans, for sure.

Alex Eubanks started the other game and he hovered around the 90mph mark with a few really good SLs. Perhaps the best pitch I saw him throw was a nasty 80mph SL that finished a swinging K.

Starling Joseph is a muscular kid who hit the crap out of the ball today in both BP and games. This display included a no-doubt homer. There’s some power there and power plays these days.

I gotta ask Tyreque Reed about his batting gloves. Big fella hits with a pair on, and appears to have 2 more pairs in his back pockets while at the plate. Ball players are a funny bunch, so maybe it’s just his thing. Gotta find out. He can flick his wrists and hit the ball a mile. It’s legit 70-grade raw power.

I was genuinely impressed by the outing from Royce Bolinger. Texas’ 6th rounder in 2012, Bolinger is converting to pitching after spending the last couple of seasons bouncing around the outfield (and 1B) with Frisco and High Desert. He looked good, especially good considering he’s only been a pitcher for 6 months. FB was 90-92, touching 94 and he generally kept his 80-82mph SL down. And he retired Royals uber-prospect Nick Pratto, so that counts as a win. It’s unlikely he ever overpowers people, but he went right at guys and threw strikes and got outs. It was really fun to watch.

While 27 year-old Royce Bolinger was beginning another chapter in his career, 18 year-old Ryan Dease was on the next field beginning his first. In short, I like this kid. He’s thin and was 89-93 for most of his outing today, but he knows what he’s doing on the mound and has the type of frame that can almost certainly add good weight over the next few years. He’s got a quiet, easy windup and already has the confidence to use his offspeed pitches in nearly any count. FB command will be key and getting one of these offspeeds to turn into a whiff pitch. Could be a part of a fun Spokane rotation.

Jake Lemoine wins the “Best Mustache” contest that no one knew I was having. He sports a full-on, thick fu manchu. The 24 year-old was drafted in 2015 and only got healthy last season. After 70ip in Hickory, the 6’5” 230lb righty appears to have worked hard to stay healthy and has regained some ummph on his FB. He sat 94 today and touched 96. I think there’s more in the tank too and as the summer months warm up, so will his arm. He’s got a good SL and he buried a couple FBs at 95 on the inner black at the knees. They were big league pitches. More of that, please.

You guys, my fandom of Sam Huff appears to be on an upstoppable upward projection. After watching him catch a whole game yesterday, I was rather amazed at his athleticism. He’s 6’5” and probably 230lbs, but he’s unexpectedly quick and he runs like a linebacker. I was told today that he has a 34” vertical leap. And his arm is plus. Maybe double-plus. And his raw power is definitely double-plus. Here’s the skinny on Texas’ catching corp: it’s incredibly deep and they legitimately might have 7 guys who catch at least a game in the big leagues. But as of yet, none of these kids has leapt out and looked like an everyday MLBer. If Huff continues to grow at the position and makes enough contact- he’s gonna be the one he leaps out. Here’s a bombo he launched about 415’ today:

Brendon Davis flexed some of his raw power today with an oppo homer and also waltzed away with the blue ribbon in the Lewis Brinson lookalike competition. He looked alright at 3B today and that might be his ultimate home. He’s definitely capable of stinging it at the plate, so I’ll be curious to see how he does this season being in the Rangers org.

Joe Kuzia pitched in the indy leagues before signing with Texas and last season the 24 year-old put up a gaudy stat line with Spokane: 3BB/45K in 31.1ip. And today I saw how he did that. He has a very, very good slider. He can throw it for strikes or bury it and he can front door it to righties and they are simply frozen. His FB was 89-91 but it has hella cut and kinda looks like a faster version of his SL. He’s gonna make it at least to the upper levels of Texas’ farm system.

Chris Seise is shelved for a few days with a slight shoulder issue. It’s not expected to be serious and the club is in absolutely no hurry to rush him back onto the field before he’s ready. They’re gonna take it slow with him, like they did with Bubba and Hans last season. And probably Bubba and Hans again this season. This is a process they’re investing a tremendous amount of time, money, and energy into and they’re taking things a bit slower than they did in the past. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t electricity. Volts and jolts, man, that’s what we’re here for. Which one of these kids is gonna light this sky up?

As Always, Enjoy Baseball!

Love Ya!