Rangers and Padres Pitching Prospects Open Instructs

Instructional League began in Arizona on Wednesday with the Texas and San Diego groups playing in Peoria, AZ. Lefty Brett Martin started for Texas and sat 92-94 with his downhill fastball, touching 95. He frequently utilized a changeup that flashed average, but was mostly below in the 83-85 mph range with an upper-80s cutter. I saw no curveballs from Martin, which I had previously evaluated as his best secondary pitch. I’m not certain if the pitch has been scrapped temporarily for developmental purposes — or perhaps medical ones, as Rangers pitchers in Extended were on fastball-only programs for a while — or if he simply didn’t happen to throw any. Regardless, Martin’s changeup needs reps, as he’s missed significant time with injury during each of the last three years. Between 2015 and -17 he’s had hip, elbow, and back issues. He has mid-rotation upside if he can stay healthy and more consistently locate a fully developed changeup.

Speaking of changeups, Cole Ragans is going to have a really good one. The Rangers 19-year-old lefty sat 88-91 with his fastball yesterday and flashed an above-average, fading changeup in the upper 70s. I have it and Ragans’ command projected to plus. His fastball is a 40 on pure velocity but plays better than that due to plane and deception. He also showed a fringey, low-70s curveball. I can see the basis for the Cole Hamels comparisons, as there are some mechanical similarities and the repertoire is structured similarly. That said, Ragans isn’t as graceful and athletic as Hamels is/was, nor does he have the velocity. Yet.

Another Rangers lefty, Colombian Reiver Sanmartin, sat 87-90 and flashed an average changeup and slider. He has a reliever — Reiver the Reliever® — look about him due to his low-three-quarters arm slot and cross-bodied delivery, but he’s athletic, well built, throws strikes, and might have enough repertoire depth to pitch through a lineup multiple times. He looks like a fifth- or sixth-starter type.

Texas’s starting outfield featured three legitimate center-field prospects in Eric Jenkins, Leody Taveras, and Bubba Thompson. Thompson dealt with knee tendinitis this summer and played sparingly, but his bat speed is intact. He looks to me like he’s running gingerly but he’s raw with the bat and needs reps. Jenkins looks like he’s starting to learn how to limit the scope of his offensive approach in a way that more effectively utilizes his speed. Even as a low-impact slasher/bunter who hits at the bottom of a lineup, Jenkins might play such good defense in center field that he plays everyday anyway. Taveras was disappointing. It’s possible he’s gassed after a long, first full season, but he looked sluggish and apathetic yesterday, taking several low-effort swings and allowing a catchable ball to fall in front of him in the outfield. Even amidst a bad look, which I’ll ultimately flush, Taveras’s special bat-to-ball ability and feel for center field were evident.

For San Diego, Cuban righty Roland Bolanos touched 96 several times and had perhaps the day’s best breaking ball, an above-average, low-80s curveball. He looks to be in much better shape than he was last fall, when he arrived in the states, but still has issues repeating and throwing strikes. I continue to have him projected in relief.

Henry Henry, a Dominican righty who is still only 18, was up to 94 with life, sitting 90-93. He has 45 breaking ball in the 78-82 mph range and a below-average changeup, but both flash a bit better than that. Henry remains a long-term project, but his velocity, ability to throw strikes, breaking-ball quality, and changeup feel are all a bit better than they were this spring. He’s also starting to mature, physically.

We hoped you liked reading Rangers and Padres Pitching Prospects Open Instructs by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Jetsy Extrano
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Jetsy Extrano

Henry Henry might be the best name.