June 8, 2008

It turns out that the left ring finger that Michael Young injured in the weight room on Thursday has a hairline fracture, but he played last night and singled twice (extending his hit streak to 22 games) before exiting the game in the eighth with tightness in his left groin.  Young said Friday that the disabled list is not an option as far as the finger goes (even though doctors say it will take three weeks to heal, the decision on whether to play is apparently based solely on pain tolerance), but for the groin injury to have forced him to come out of a 2-2 game last night, you have to believe he’ll sit this afternoon so that he’ll have today and tomorrow’s off day to rest.  

As for infield depth, German Duran probably returns to the roster today (and would even if Young were fine), although he’s nursing a hamstring cramp of his own.  

Josh Hamilton has been fighting a viral infection with flu-like symptoms for a few days and may sit today as well.

Check out the great Grant Schiller’s interview with Hamilton, at
http://texasrangerstrades.blogspot.com/2008/06/josh-hamilton-interview.html.

The contract that Texas signed Sidney Ponson to a couple weeks into spring training in March came with a short leash, given his history of off-the-field issues, including charges that he assaulted an Aruban judge in 2004 and two DUI arrests in 2005, the second of which (in August of 2005) prompted Baltimore to release him.  

According to multiple local reports, two weeks ago, on the night before Ponson’s May 26 start in Tampa, he had to be removed from the bar at the Rangers’ team hotel after drinking too much and creating a “serious disturbance.”  He proceeded to give up five runs on 12 hits and three walks in five innings the next day, a 7-3 loss to the Rays.  

He then “reacted unfavorably” after being pulled on Wednesday when he’d given up six runs (two earned) on eight hits and three walks in four innings.  His actions were construed as showing up his teammates.  

Ponson then blew up on Friday after being told that the club wanted to keep Kevin Millwood on normal rest despite tomorrow’s off-day, and to do so Ponson would be pushed back and pitch on an extra day’s rest.

Would the organization have taken the same action if it were Vicente Padilla or Eddie Guardado or Kason Gabbard or Travis Metcalf?  Surely not.  Ponson arrived with no room for error.

And he knew it.  

Gabbard, Luis Mendoza, Eric Hurley, and Matt Harrison, all of whom are at Oklahoma right now, have been mentioned as candidates to replace Ponson on Saturday, when his spot in the rotation comes up next.  Only Hurley is not on the 40-man roster, but (1) the roster sits at 38 members, (2) Hurley will need to be added this winter anyway, and (3) though it would certainly result in his first option being used, perhaps the thought is that if he still needs options in 2011, when he’ll start the season at age 25, then he won’t have developed as the club had hoped — and by then the wave of the Rangers’ best pitching prospects will have arrived.

That’s not to say Hurley will be the choice, but he is pitching his best baseball of the season (three quality starts in his last four efforts for Oklahoma, with a 2.67 ERA in that span).  He’s probably the co-frontrunner along with Gabbard, who pitches for the RedHawks today.

A league-leading eight Frisco RoughRiders were chosen to play in the Texas League All-Star Game on June 25.  Catcher Max Ramirez and outfielders Ben Harrison and Steve Murphy will start, shortstop Elvis Andrus will be a reserve infielder, and Trey Hodges and Brian Gordon will join the pitching staff.  Harrison and Chris Davis were selected but won’t appear since they’ve been promoted to AAA.

Clinton righthander Kennil Gomez (8-1, 2.76 in 11 starts) has reportedly landed on the disabled list.

Go to http://forum.newbergreport.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4784 to vote for Ramirez, Davis, John Mayberry Jr., or Renny Osuna as the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Month for May, and http://forum.newbergreport.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4837 to vote for Neftali Feliz, Tommy Hunter, Harrison, Gomez, Blake Beavan, or Fabio Castillo as the May Pitcher of the Month.

Thanks to Scott Lucas for his great work all day on Thursday, bringing us news flashes right as Texas made each of its six Day One draft picks.  And go ahead and bookmark Eleanor Czajka’s Rangers Draft Page at http://www.dickiethon.com/eczajka/draft_2008.htm.  You’ll have reason to refer back to it all the time.

The Rangers’ Day Two picks:

7. Matt Thompson, RHP, Grace Prep Academy, Texas
8. Mike Bianucci, OF, Auburn University
9. Jared Bolden, OF, Virginia Commonwealth University
10. Kevin Castner, RHP, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
11. Clifford Springston, LHP, University of Arkansas
12. Corey Young, LHP, Seton Hall University
13. Ed Koncel, SS, Joliet (Ill.) Junior College
14. Justin Gutsie, RHP, St. John’s University
15. Joey Butler, OF, University of New Orleans
16. Justin Miller, RHP, Fresno State University
17. Dennis Guinn, 1B, Florida State University
18. Doug Hogan, C, Clemson University
19. Harold Martinez, SS, Braddock (Fla.) High School
20. Mike Hollander, SS, Louisiana State University
21. Dustin Brader, RHP, Arizona State University
22. Trevor Hurley, RHP, Kansas State University
23. Eric Evans, LHP, Radford (Va.) University
24. Adam Cobb, OF, Louisiana Tech University
25. Tanner Roark, RHP, No School
26. Chris Dove, OF, Elon University
27. Charles Lowell, LHP, Winfield (Mo.) High School
28. Nate Freiman, 1B, Duke University
29. Charlie Robertson, RHP, Bella Vista (Calif.) High School
30. Justin King, RHP, Jacksonville State University
31. Kyle Higgins, SS, Monmouth University
32. Tyler Tufts, RHP, Indiana University
33. Benjamin Petralli, C, Oral Roberts University
34. Ryan Schlecht, RHP, Mount Olive College, Ariz.
35. John Ruettiger, OF, Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy
36. Jack Armstrong, RHP, Jupiter (Fla.) Community High School
37. Matthew Andriese, RHP, Redlands East Valley (Calif.) High School
38. Jason Ogata, 2B, Oregon State University
39. Bradley Miller, SS, Olympia (Fla.) High School
40. James McGraw, OF, Corban College, Ore.
41. Brian Feekin, LHP, Iowa Western Community College
42. Stephen Pryor, RHP, Cleveland State Community College
43. Cody Eppley, RHP, Virginia Commonwealth University
44. Alex Pepe, LHP, Florida Atlantic University
45. Kevin Torres, C, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School
46. Erik Morrison, SS, University of Kansas
47. Lejuan Hill, OF, Austin Peay State University
48. Daniel Bowman, OF, Turner Ashby (Va.) High School
49. Truman Sample, RHP, Crowder College, Ariz.
50. Levi Rosecrans, C, Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe High School

A few notes on some of the club’s Day Two picks:

Thompson was All-State as a junior, which I bet was less of a big deal to him than last night’s chance to sit next to Nolan Ryan during the Rangers-Rays game.

A year ago, many thought Martinez would figure in as a top 10 pick in this draft, based on his raw power at the plate and plus arm that reminded some of Alex Rodriguez and Adrian Beltre.  A shortstop that some think will outgrow the position and end up at third base, he struggled offensively as a high school senior this spring and was ignored until nearly midway through the draft, as teams figured he wouldn’t want to sell low on his potential and would go to the University of Miami rather than sign.  The Cuban-born Martinez, whose father was a water polo player and whose mother was a synchronized swimmer, is a very unlikely sign but, hey, Texas is the team that has his rights until August 15, and you n
ever know what could happen.

Petralli, the son of former Rangers catcher Geno Petralli, has been drafted five times: in 2004 (Dodgers, 26th round) out of Weatherford High School; in 2005 (Tigers, 15th round), 2006 (Tigers, 17th round), and 2007 (Rangers, 47th round) out of Sacramento City College — where Geno played collegiately and where Ben caught Bakersfield lefthander Zach Phillips; and on Friday, out of Oral Roberts University.  The great John Sickels projected Petralli as a potential fifth-rounder, based on power potential and solid plate discipline, plus good reports on his defense.

Robertson’s father is Rangers special assistant to the general manager Jay Robertson.  McGraw’s father is Rangers scout Gary McGraw.

Armstrong’s father is Jack Armstrong Sr.  The younger Armstrong, who has committed to Vanderbilt, stands 6’7″ and touches 92 mph, with projection to amp that up a bit as he fills out.

Ruettiger’s uncle is Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger, whose run as a football walk-on at Notre Dame inspired the classic movie.  The younger Ruettiger has committed to Arizona State.

Baseball America’s Jim Callis likes Rangers second-rounder Robbie Ross “as much as any high school lefty in the draft.”  (In his final mock draft, he had Ross as a possibility at number 26 to Arizona.)  Callis adds that Ross, whom the publication tabbed as having the second-best command of any high school pitcher in the draft, is seeking $1.575 million to sign.  

One other factor to consider is that John Cohen has left the head coach post at the University of Kentucky, where Ross has committed, in order to take over the program at Mississippi State, replacing the retiring Ron Polk.

Among Cohen’s potential freshmen is Colleyville Heritage third baseman Patrick Palmeiro, son of former Bulldogs star Rafael.  Pittsburgh used its 22nd-round pick on the younger Palmeiro on Friday.

Jason Botts homered in his final Rangers game.

He also homered in his final Oklahoma RedHawks game.

Pittsburgh signed Franklyn German to a minor league deal.

You can’t convince me that Scott Kazmir isn’t the best starting pitcher in baseball right now.  The guy is an amazing strike-thrower, and he throws great strikes.

Tom Grieve will work today’s series finale against the Rays before taking time away to undergo prostate cancer surgery.  Like Michael Young, Tom’s recovery time is expected to be close to three weeks, and like Michael, I suspect Tom isn’t interested in any down time.  But Tom is doing the right thing, and we’ll all look forward to getting him back in the booth later this month.

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

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