The Down East Wood Ducks are featuring some new starting pitchers the next two nights. Lefthander Joe Palumbo, who started the 2017 with the DEWDs before undergoing Tommy John surgery, has moved to Down East as part of his rehab assignment and will be starting for them tonight, while Jason Bahr, just acquired on Sunday from the Giants, starts Saturday.
Palumbo, a 23 year old who was a 30th round pick of the Rangers in the 2013 draft, was making a case for himself as the top pitching prospect in the system last year before he went down with a torn UCL. He has made three rehab starts this year for the Rangers’ Arizona League rookie squad, and appears to be in good form, allowing a .161/.212/.290 slash line to opponents in 9 innings of work, with 15 Ks, 1 walk, 5 hits and 4 runs allowed. He will likely be limited to 5 innings or so for the time being, but I think we can expect to see Palumbo take the ball as part of the regular rotation for the Wood Ducks the rest of the season, and possibly be a candidate for the Arizona Fall League. Palumbo is currently on the 60 day d.l., and will likely be activated and optioned at some point in the next month or so.
Bahr, 23, is a righthander who was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of the University of Central Florida. He’s put himself on the map this year with 103 Ks against 23 walks in 84.2 IP between low-A and high-A, and having been the incentive the Giants included in the Austin Jackson trade to convince Texas to take Jackson and his 2 year, $6 million contract, he will now step into the Down East rotation, and will make his first Carolina League start on Saturday.
The pair could be joined in the Down East rotation in the next ten days or so by Kyle Cody. The 23 year old righthander, selected by the Rangers in the sixth round in 2016 out of the University of Kentucky, had a breakout year in 2017 that saw him finish up with five starts for Down East, but has been sidelined this season with an elbow issue. Cody has made a pair of starts in Arizona for the rookie league team, striking out 9 against 1 walk and 2 hits in 5 innings of work, and seems likely to follow Palumbo’s path of having a four inning outing there, likely early next week, before being assigned to Down East. Cody, like Palumbo, will likely be handled carefully the rest of the way, but seems likely to be slated for the Down East rotation the rest of the way, and is also an AFL candidate.
All three pitchers are intriguing starting pitching prospects for the Rangers, and if they finish the season strongly, they could all be in the mix for the Frisco rotation to start the 2019 season.