The Texas Rangers have a solid first-place standing in the American League West, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look at their minor league system. The current major league team could experience injuries, they may acquire new pieces via trade later this season and certainly there will be September call-ups when the minor league season ends.
Thus, it’s not too early to check in with Tim Purpura on what’s happening in the Rangers' farm system. Purpura is the Rangers' senior director of player development, and he was a guest on the recent edition of Rangers Magazine (ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM).
A player who creates plenty of conversation is outfielder Leonys Martin. Recently at Triple-A Round Rock, Martin tried bunting his way on and slid head first into first base. He tore a ligament in his left thumb and could miss up to eight weeks. The injury delays the plan for Martin that was implemented at the beginning of this season. That was to move him to the top of the lineup rather than be in the middle because he projects to being more of a top/bottom part of the lineup hitter. He also has been asked to bunt more often.
His injury contributed to the Rangers needing another major league-ready outfielder if a need arises, and that’s where the trade for outfielder Ryan Spilborghs comes into play.
“Ryan is a very versatile player, plays all three outfield positions and plays them well, runs and makes good routes in the outfield,” Purpura said. “Offensively, he’s more of a contact guy. Not a real big power guy, but has very good at-bats. Very competitive guy, and from what we heard a very good guy on the team.”
From a Triple-A perspective down to the high-A level at Myrtle Beach, right-handed starting pitcher Cody Buckel is a standout with his 3-1 record, 1.31 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 12 walks in six starts.
“He’s someone who is mature beyond is years. There’s no doubt about it ... as a pitcher and as a person,” Purpura said of the 19-year-old who was the Rangers' second round draft pick in 2010 out of Royal High School in California. “A very, very competitive guy. Has three plus pitches. Attacks the strikes zone and pitches down in the zone. He’s got some swagger about him.”
Purpura talked about Martin, Spilborghs, righty Neil Ramirez, first baseman/outfielder Brad Hawpe staying at Frisco rather than moving to Round Rock, whether Tanner Scheppers can be a contributor at the MLB level, the Cody Ross factor, the depth of the organization and more. Listen to the podcast.
Bryan Dolgin is the host of Rangers Magazine (weekends on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM) and the radio pre and postgame show of the Texas Rangers. Follow him on Twitter: @RangersRadioBD.