Texas Rangers: Matt Thompson

Prospect update: Friday edition

May, 21, 2010
5/21/10
10:30
AM CT
RHP Blake Beavan, Frisco - Beavan was at it again Thursday, completing eight innings and allowing just two runs on five hits and a walk. He has allowed just three runs in his last three starts, spanning 22 innings, and his WHIP is now south of one (0.92). The two statistical issues that only Beavan’s performance in Triple-A and the major leagues will answer are his relatively low strikeout totals (37 in 56.1 innings) and his middling ground ball rate. Together these beg the question: will his stuff be strong enough to induce outs at the highest level, despite high contact rates and an average percentage of fly balls?

RHP Alexi Ogando, OKC - Ogando threw three more nearly perfect innings (one hit) this week out of the Redhawks pen. In six Triple-A innings he’s allowed four hits and has posted a fine 8:0 K:BB. His combined season line: 21.2 IP, 8 H, 1 HR, 5 BB, 29 K, 1.25 ERA. The Rangers appear to be waiting for him to perfect his slider, but he will be in the majors before long.

OF Engel Beltre, Bakersfield - There are eleven prospects mentioned here today and one is a position player. Such is the state of the Texas system in 2010. It took him a while, but Beltre is now conquering High A. His five hit game Thursday night raises his season line to .295/.354/.418 and his May line to .351/.393/.494. He still sits at just two home runs and he hasn’t walked since May 9, so the full game still isn’t there on a consistent basis. Still, his line drive rate has jumped from 7% in April to 20% this month, and his ISOP is up 42 points. He seems to be figuring some things out.

LHP Robbie Erlin, Hickory - Erlin replaced Wilmer Font in the Hickory rotation Tuesday and celebrated by throwing five perfect innings and striking out nine. His overall numbers are surreal: 25.1 IP, 11 H, 1 HR, 4 BB, 31 K, 0.36 ERA. That’s one run allowed on the season, a solo home run on April 23. Erlin has been written up several times since his breakout game, but Jason Parks’ scouting report still provides the best breakdown. He appears to be too advanced for the SAL, but since he is essentially making his professional debut (he threw just 4.1 innings in rookie ball last summer), he likely won’t throw a lot of innings late in the summer.

RHP Matt Thompson, Hickory - This guy is getting easier and easier to like as a prospect. He has walked eight batters in eight starts and struck out 52. He induces groundballs at a solid rate (58%). The only statistical knock is that he’s been hit fairly well, allowing a .272 average against and four home runs in 43.1 innings, though a .372 BABIP against helps explain the former. His curveball ranked third (behind Tanner Scheppers and Martin Perez pitches) on Jamey Newberg’s recent list of top secondary pitches, and he does feature a solid fastball. Thompson was held back last season for short-season ball, rather than starting in Hickory, so the Rangers might consider jumping the 20-year-old to Bakersfield this summer.

RHP Neil Ramirez, Hickory - Mr. Inconsistency hit a major high point Thursday: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K
RHP Tommy Hunter, OKC - Bit of a hiccup Thursday: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
RHP Wilmer Font, Bakersfield - Struggled mightily in his High A debut: 2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 1 HR, 5 BB, 2 K
RHP Josh Lueke, Hickory - Toying with Low A: 16:1 this month, may be ready to jump to Frisco
RHP Tanner Scheppers, OKC - Six walks in 8 AAA innings but still showing dominant stuff
LHP Martin Perez, Frisco - Not controlling the strike zone, had possibly his worst start as a pro Wednesday: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 1 HR, 3 BB, 6 K

Prospect update - Monday edition

May, 10, 2010
5/10/10
10:30
AM CT
RHP Tanner Scheppers, OKC - Scheppers has now made two appearances in Triple-A, and the level does appear to be providing him with more of a legitimate challenge than the Texas League could offer him. The Rangers reportedly do intend to stretch Scheppers out and allow him to throw three and eventually four innings per appearance, rather than the two that he has typically thrown so far this season. Both of his appearances for OKC have been two innings in length, however, and he’s allowed four hits, three walks and a home run in those four innings. He has struck out six and has induced more ground balls so far. How Scheppers progresses at this level could play a role in how the Rangers approach their pitching personnel this summer, so he bears continued close watching.

RHP Carlos Pimentel, Bakersfield - Pimentel will always be overlooked as a prospect in the Texas organization, because he does everything well but doesn’t leap off the page via scouting or statistical analysis. That doesn’t mean that he won’t be a major league pitcher. He has moved a level per year since signing as a 16 year old out of the Dominican Republic and had his best season as a pro for Hickory in 2009, pitching 123 innings and posting 101:35 K:BB while allowing 15 home runs. He will pitch this entire season at age 20, and while his ratio is down to 21:10, he is holding his own in a very difficult pitchers league at a young age. He had his best Cal League start Sunday, lasting seven innings (his previous best was 5.1), allowed no runs on four hits and no walks, and struck out three.

RHP Matt Thompson, Hickory - Thompson topped himself on Friday, throwing 6.2 innings, striking out nine and walking one, while maintaining his superlative ground ball rate and allowing just four hits and a run. His 38:6 K:BB ratio for the season is among the best in baseball, and he’s beginning to catch the attention of scouts outside of the organization. Thompson looks like a prototypical Twins pitching prospect, something that could be said about few Rangers arms over the years.

RHP Cody Eppley, Bakersfield - Speaking of looking statistically like a Twins prospect, this guy has posted K:BB numbers that are unmatched in this organization. He was a 43rd round pick in 2008 out of Virginia Commonwealth, so he has flown way under the radar outside of the most interested circles, but he had posted a 113:10 ratio in 95 pro innings leading into this year and has somehow improved on that with a 21:1 in 16 High A innings. He has also improved the rest of his stat line, allowing just eight hits and posting an imposing 4.4 GO:AO, both about twice as good as his 2009 numbers. He uses a low arm angle and will have to prove himself against lefties at higher levels, as the small bit of success against him this season has come from the left side. The Frisco bullpen is crowded, but Eppley and Hickory closer Josh Lueke are two interesting names who could be pitching locally later this season.

OF Brandon Boggs, OKC - He’s slowed down (zero for his last 13), but provides an intriguing option as the year goes on if he can continue his early season performance: .282/.398/.526, 15BB:21SO
RHP Tommy Hunter, OKC - Hunter is back in a rotation and has allowed seven baserunners in seven innings but struck out just one.
RHP Alexi Ogando, Frisco - All in all he's been solid in the pen (6 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K) but does have a walk in his last three appearances.
RHP Blake Beavan, Frisco - With his start televised locally Sunday, those watching were treated to standard Beavan: three hits and a walk along with three strikeouts in six innings.
RHP Joe Wieland, Hickory - His last two starts haven’t produced stellar end results, but he has completed 13.2 innings, allowed just ten hits, and posted a 15:2 K:BB.
OF Miguel Velazquez, Hickory - The Velazquez train rolls on, with six more hits over the weekend. He’s at .342/.415/.614 for the season and should be on the verge of a promotion.

Rangers prospect update - Friday edition

April, 30, 2010
4/30/10
10:30
AM CT
RHPs Tanner Scheppers & Alexi Ogando, Frisco - 21.2 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 33 K, 0.83 ERA. That's their combined line so far this season. Thursday night, just three weeks into the season, they each pitched one inning of relief on shorter rest than their previous schedules. As has been said here repeatedly, they are clearly too good for Double-A, particularly in shorter stints, so a bit of an acceleration in plans shouldn't be a surprise. The Rangers have not commented on the intent behind the change in regimen, but this move speaks loudly on its own.

OF Miguel Velazquez, Hickory - One of the most promising position prospects in this system, Velazquez is really heating up at the plate. He has three of his four home runs in his last five games, ten hits in his last six games, and he's beginning to walk on a more consistent basis. For the season he is now hitting .309/.371/.580. Righties still give him some trouble, but his splits and line drive rates all look promising, and he has become one of the few hitters in the organization worthy of a daily box score check.

Nonprospect Triple-A Position Players - There are three key ones in OKC at this point - Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chris Davis & Brandon Boggs - and all are hitting well, but when will they be able to help the Rangers? Saltalamacchia is on a seven game hitting streak, has three doubles and a home run this week, and is hitting .357/.424/.679 overall. The Rangers obviously have other reasons for keeping him in the minors. Davis joined OKC Saturday and immediately started hitting (8-18 in four games). For the moment he seems to be a great example of a 4A hitter. He is on his second of three options, so a hidden positive in the timing of swapping him for Justin Smoak is that he will have almost two entire seasons to make the sorts of adjustments that Nelson Cruz did in 2007 and 2008 before the Rangers are forced to make a decision on him. Boggs (.295/.380/.455) is healthy and heating up at the right time, with six hits (including four XBH) in his last three games, but he was passed over for Craig Gentry to replace Cruz this week.

RHP Braden Tullis, Hickory - Last summer's eighth round pick was one of the better pitchers in the college level Northwest League, as he succeeded in the magical combination of controlling the strike zone (64 K, 20 BB) and keeping balls on the ground (2.61 GO/AO). Promoted to a crowded Hickory staff this spring where good prospects like Wilmer Font, Joe Wieland and Neil Ramirez were left in the rotation, he began the season pitching in short stints and has been stretched to three innings. It would be a surprise if he doesn't make his way to a rotation at some point, as players move around and are injured, but in the mean time he's actually improving on those 2009 rates in full season ball. Through 14 innings his 13/3 K/BB and 3.83 stand out on the young staff, and he has the repertoire to deal with both left-handed and right-handed hitters.

RHP Blake Beavan, Frisco - Back in the saddle Thursday: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, sat in the low 90s
LHP Robbie Ross, Hickory - Made his best start at the full season level Thursday: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, ten groundball outs
OF Engel Beltre, Bakersfield - While his teammates struck out 17 times Thursday, Beltre walked twice and singled. He still isn't hitting (.235/.288/.338) but a 4/10 BB/SO in 73 PA is a small step in the right direction.
LHP Derek Holland, OKC - Least dominant outing of the season Thursday but still no earned runs: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 8 K, 118 pitches (80 strikes), 29/6 K/BB for the season
LHP Kasey Kiker, Frisco - Repeating the Texas League, he still scuffles with his control. Five more walks Tuesday give him 15 in 20.0 innings on the season to go with a slew of hit batters.
RHP Matt Thompson, Hickory - Another 7K, 1 BB Monday move him to 23/4 with impressive ground ball rates. The Burleson native looks like a prospect, as Jason Parks detailed this week

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.12 123 158
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 73
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .876
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182