Derek Holland.

8-4-1-0-1-10: One of the two or three
greatest minor league games I’ve ever seen pitched.  The fact that it was Derek Holland’s AA
debut, that five weeks ago he was not just in Class A but in Low Class A, that one
year ago today he’d thrown 39 professional innings (and no more than five in
any one appearance), that 15 months ago he was making his final four starts for
Wallace State-Hanceville Community College, against Meridian Community College,
Marion Military Institute, Gadsden State, and Calhoun.  All that is irrelevant, as is the fact that Holland is 21 years old and would have been drafted out of
Arizona State two months ago (and probably
negotiating right up to this Friday’s deadline) had he not agreed to terms with
the Rangers last year.  As frameable as
8-4-1-0-1-10 looks on the page, it was even better in person.

69: Percentage of Derek
Holland’s 107 pitches that were strikes.

86: Number of Holland’s pitches that
were fastballs.  (His first breaking ball
of the game was his 13th pitch, a slider he left up to
left-handed-hitting first baseman Jeff Kindel, who slapped an opposite-field
double that scored Tulsa’s only run [unearned because Frisco first baseman Chad
Tracy dropped third baseman Adam Fox's throw on the previous hitter's routine grounder
that would have ended the inning].)  Holland’s breaking ball
was a little inconsistent, as was his change, but there were spectacular
instances of each.

5: Number of Holland’s
fastballs that clocked in at 97 mph – including all three pitches to strike out
the game’s second hitter, former blue-chip first-rounder Chris Nelson.  (Holland
hit 96 another 17 times, and sat 93-95 most of the night.)

2: Number of times Holland registered 95 on
the gun in the eighth inning.

8: Number of Holland’s 10 strikeouts that
were swinging.

2: Number of players in
the Drillers’ lineup that Holland
did not strike out.

3: Number of Holland’s 24 outs that
were recorded by his outfielders, who burned about as many calories defensively
as I did sitting in the stands.  Holland
induced eight groundouts, picked one runner off dead in his tracks at first
base, had catcher Manny Pina cut another down trying to scamper to third on a
ball that kicked away at the plate, and saw Elvis Andrus gun another down at
the plate to end the eighth and preserve a 1-1 tie as Holland’s night ended. 

11: Number of wins Holland
has in 12 decisions this year, as
Jose Vallejo, Andrus,
and Julio Borbon keyed a four-run bottom of the eighth with their feet before
Andrew Laughter came on to finish the 5-1 victory that Holland earned.

138: Number of strikeouts Holland has in 132.2
innings in 2008.

35: Number of walks Holland has.  How does that 4:1 ratio work for you?

747: Number of players selected
in the 2006 draft before Texas followed the
recommendations of area scouts Rick Schroeder and Jeff Wood and called Holland’s name.

2: I was planning on
keeping this under wraps until a week from today, when my first Top 20
Prospects feature is published on TexasRangers.com, but I can’t do it.  When I post my first ranking of the Top 20
prospects in the Rangers’ farm system next week, Derek Holland will show up at
number two.

And
I had made that decision before
tonight.

Evan
Grant of the Dallas Morning News suggested in this morning’s “Inside the Texas
Rangers” newsletter that in order to make a trade for an impact pitcher this
winter, Texas will probably have to part with Chris Davis, Neftali Feliz, Engel
Beltre, or Andrus.  He suggests the first
two should be untouchable, and that Andrus should be slightly more expendable
than Beltre if for no other reason than the relative lack of system depth in
the outfield.

Let
me suggest that Derek Holland is more a more untouchable asset right now than
Beltre or Andrus, or anyone else in the system outside of Davis and Feliz.

For
years we’ve sat tight anticipating whether our best pitching prospects’
performance at the upper levels would catch up to their hype.

With
this kid, we’re now seeing the hype
start to catch up.

Be
excited.  Be very excited.

 

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

1 Comment

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