THE NEWBERG REPORT — AUGUST 12, 2007

These days there’s an avalanche of good news in every one of Scott Lucas’s minor league reports. Save yesterday morning’s email from Scott, and the one you’ll receive today, and look back on them in two or three years. We’ve got the chance to recognize pitchers and hitters at virtually every level busting through right now.

It’s being reported everywhere that the Rangers are revising the plan to have Jarrod Saltalamacchia relieve Gerald Laird twice a week, and will now split catching duties between the two evenly. This is an important development to watch play out.

Mark Teixeira as an Atlanta Brave: .273/.340/.636, seven extra-base hits (including four home runs) and 12 RBI in 10 games.

Ron Mahay in six Braves appearances: two runs (one earned: 1.23 ERA) on four hits (all singles) and five walks in 7.1 innings, six strikeouts, one win, one hold, opponents’ line of .182/.321/.182.

Eric Gagné in four Red Sox appearances: six runs (16.20 ERA) on nine hits and two walks in 3.1 innings, four strikeouts, two holds, opponents’ line of .474/.524/.684.

Kenny Lofton as a Cleveland Indian: .250/.294/.271, one double among his 12 hits, two RBI, no stolen bases and one caught-stealing.

Old friend Kat O’Brien of Newsday advises that the Rangers asked the Yankees for either Melky Cabrera or Ian Kennedy in exchange for Gagné — not both of them, as reported recently by Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune.

For the heck of it: Fabio Castro is 4-4, 2.91 for AAA Ottawa (after earlier stretches of 0-0, 12.27 for Philadelphia and 2-0, 2.70 in relief for AA Reading). He was moved from the Lynx bullpen three weeks ago to the rotation, and has a 2.45 ERA in four starts.

John Koronka is 1-3, 4.38 (opponents’ average of .307) in five starts for AAA Buffalo in the Indians system.

Seventeen-year-old righthander Wilfredo Boscan is almost never mentioned along with fellow summer 2006 Latin American signees Wilmer Font, Geuris Grullon, or Carlos Pimentel, but remember the name. The Venezuelan is 2-1, 1.76 in eight Dominican Summer League starts and three relief appearances, with an eye-popping groundout-to-flyout rate of 4.53. In 51 innings, he’s allowed only 37 hits (.207 opponents’ average) and 13 walks while punching out 55 hitters. Right-handed hitters have been particularly helpless against Boscan, managing a scrawny line of .160/.229/.201 in 144 at-bats.

Don’t expect to see Oklahoma righthander Eric Hurley in Arlington next month. Bringing him up for a start or two might be merited by the brilliant season he’s had, but it would eliminate a winter roster spot unnecessarily. The new CBA dictates that Hurley’s first Rule 5 winter will follow the 2008 season, not this one, and so even if he stands a good chance to be in the big leagues sometime next year, adding him to the roster this September would theoretically mean one fewer roster spot this winter to keep open for a minor league who will be Rule 5-eligible.

Example: If Hurley was brought up to make one start in the week’s final season and, as a result, outfielder Brandon Boggs was lost to another organization in December via Rule 5, how would we all feel about that?

Righthander Edinson Volquez in AAA this year: 5-0, 2.03 in five starts, no home runs allowed, opponents’ average of .146, 4.4 walks per nine, 11.3 strikeouts per nine.

In simpler terms: In four of his five RedHawks starts, Volquez has allowed either one or two hits. Good grief. And in four of his five starts he’s punched out more than a batter per inning.

According to Drew Davison of MLB.com, supplemental first-round pick Neil Ramirez, a righthander who went 6-2, 1.46 for Kempsville High School and was named the Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year, says he’s “pretty close” to agreeing to terms with the Rangers. The club has until Wednesday to sign Ramirez (who has committed to Georgia Tech), fellow first-rounders Blake Beavan and Julio Borbon, and any other unsigned picks from the June draft.

The Rangers and Reds have equivalent 50-66 records, better than three other teams, if you’re thinking about 2008 draft position.

In June, Baseball Prospectus projected Tulane righthander Shooter Hunt as the number four prospect among college starting pitchers for next summer’s draft. Texas drafted Hunt in the 34th round out of a New Jersey High School in 2005.

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And thank you again for your support of the Newberg Report by way of your donations over the last week.

Lefthander Kason Gabbard will pitch to Jarrod Saltalamacchia tonight for the first time since Gabbard was a senior and Saltalamacchia was a freshman at Royal Palm High School in West Palm Beach, Florida, seven years ago.

I’ll be at the yard, and I invite you to pay close attention along with me.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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