Prospect ranking season is just around the corner. In anticipation of that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The popular series is back for the second year.
The Graduate: Tommy Hunter, RHP
Fellow rookie Derek Holland gets a lot of love, but Hunter has actually been more consistent (as “consistent” as rookie pitchers can be) this season. The right-hander has a nice walk rate at 2.67 BB/9 but a modest strikeout rate of just 5.10 K/9. Despite the fact he doesn’t miss a ton of bats, Hunter has allowed just 104 hits in 107.2 innings of work. He has, though, been touched up by the long-ball with 12 homers (1.00 HR/9). Hunter has also been aided by a low BABIP-allowed at .275. His homework for the 2009-10 off-season should be to improve his ground-ball rate (37.2%).
The Riser: Mitch Moreland, 1B
Moreland had a very nice year – especially for a player that really wasn’t on the prospect map prior to 2009. A two-way player at Mississippi State University, the big first baseman’s bat has really come on since he signed as a 17th round draft pick in 2007. He had a nice 2008 season but built on that while playing in high-A and double-A. Overall, Moreland posted a line of .331/.391/.527 with 38 doubles and 16 homers in 471 at-bats. Old for high-A ball, the now-24-year-old still hit well in double-A, although his walk rate dove by four percent and his ISO dropped almost .100, from .253 to .163. The left-handed hitter has fared well against southpaws in his career but his lack of usable in-game home run power could hurt him at the MLB level.
The Tumbler: Michael Main, RHP
Sometimes baseball players just have everything stacked against them. Main was highly-regarded as both a pitcher and a hitter when he was selected out of a Florida high school in the first round of the 2007draft. Injuries and illness have taken their toll on his career so far, though. After posting respectable numbers in 2007-08, Main’s stats took a tumble in ’09 due to his health woes. He allowed 72 hits in 58 innings of work, while posting a walk rate of 5.74 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 7.60 K/9. He did get back on the mound at the very end of the year but the season was a write-off. At this point, Rangers fans should just hope that Main can be happy and healthy in 2010.
The ’10 Sleeper: Wilmer Font, RHP
When you think of young pitchers and the Rangers, Neftali Feliz‘ name pops up first. When you ask for the next electric arm in the system, people will mention Martin Perez. Mr. Font, though, should also be in the mix. The right-hander is just 19 but he can already touch the upper 90s with the heater and he also utilizes a changeup and a curveball. He is currently a one-pitch pitcher with his secondary stuff needing a lot of work. Despite that, he was able to dominate low-A ball hitters on occasion. Font allowed 93 hits in 108.1 innings of work and posted a strikeout rate of 8.72 K/9. He struggled with his control and posted a walk rate of 4.90 BB/9.
Bonus: Taylor Teagarden, C
Current back-up catcher Teagarden was listed as the sleeper in the 2008 series. Despite spending the year in the Majors, his 2009 season has not exactly gone as hoped with him barely seeing playing time in the first half of the year. Only an injury to Jarrod Saltalamacchia allowed Teagarden to get into the lineup (briefly) on a regular basis. The acquisition of veteran Pudge Rodriguez quickly put an end to the regular playing time, even though Teagarden’s bat was showing some life when he was able to play more than once a week.
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