Hitting the ground running.
Got a seminar to get to early, so today’s edition will be limited to a few quick hits.
“It felt pretty good today. Felt like nothing had changed.”
Tiger Woods said that yesterday in Marana, Arizona, after his first competitive round of golf in eight months.
About 130 miles northwest, any number of Rangers hitters might have said the same thing, after the club’s first competitive effort in five months.
The home half of the first Rangers inning of the 2008 Cactus League schedule featured this: Facing Kansas City starter John Bale, Ian Kinsler reaches on an error on the game’s first pitch. Taking his lead from first, he watches Josh Hamilton strike out on three pitches, Michael Young strike out on three pitches, and Hank Blalock strike out on three pitches.
The home half of the first Rangers inning of the 2009 Cactus League schedule featured this: Facing Kansas City starter Horacio Ramirez, Kinsler singles up the middle. Young strikes out swinging. Hamilton grounds to second, and Mark Teahen throws wild to second, allowing Kinsler to take third and Hamilton to reach second. Nelson Cruz singles up the middle, scoring Kinsler and Hamilton. Blalock blasts the first pitch he sees over the fence in right. David Murphy singles up the middle. Chris Davis singles to right, Murphy takes third. Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounds into a fielder’s choice, shortstop to second, scoring Murphy. Elvis Andrus singles to left center. Kinsler singles to left, scoring Saltalamacchia and chasing Ramirez. Facing Kansas City reliever Brandon Duckworth, Young grounded into a fielder’s choice, shortstop to second.
The number of Rangers hits in each lineup spot yesterday.
Pitching effort that stood out for me? Thomas Diamond, taking the ball in the fourth inning, walked the first Royal he faced, then surrendered a ground ball single. And then: strikeout, swinging; strikeout, swinging, popout to second base.
Tommy John surgery is not a death sentence.
More Baseball America prospect rankings:
Taylor Teagarden is the best defensive catcher prospect in baseball, and has the best arm. He’s the number nine catcher overall. Max Ramirez is number 11.
Justin Smoak is the best defensive first baseman, and the number three player at that position overall.
Elvis Andrus is the best runner among shortstops, number four overall.
Engel Beltre and Julio Borbon are the number 13 and 14 center fielders. Greg Golson (a “Ron Gant-esque player”) earned an honorable mention after the top 15.
Neftali Feliz is the number two right-handed pitcher, but boasts the number one fastball. Michael Main is the number 25 righty.
Derek Holland is the number five lefthander, and Martin Perez is number nine — and the only international southpaw in the top 20.
Feliz, who was ranked by BA as the number 10 prospect in baseball, is the highest-ranking Rangers pitcher in the 20 years that the publication has done a Top 100 Prospects list.
Oakland tied Texas with seven players in the top 100, but look a little deeper and the Rangers begin to separate themselves: (1) Texas had four players in the top 37, while Oakland had two in the top 50; and (2) piecing together some comments that BA‘s Jim Callis and John Manuel made in a chat session following the unveiling of the Top 100 list, Beltre was evidently number 101, Borbon was number 104, and Main was just outside the top 105.
Travis Metcalf will get some spring work at first base. Makes sense.
The Rangers came to terms with the nine remaining unsigned pre-arbitration players on the 40-man roster, most notably Hamilton, whose 2009 salary will be $555,000 (with an additional $50,000 in incentives). For now. Expect discussions about a long-term extension to pick up steam right away, with a possible deal in place before the club breaks camp.
In the wake of the Smiley Gonzalez birthdate scandal, the Nationals have fired special assistant Jose Rijo and reportedly plan to shut their Dominican Republic Academy down. General manager Jim Bowden’s job is apparently not safe.
Debuts today: Holland is expected to pitch in this afternoon’s Rangers-Royals game, and we’ll hear Dave Barnett help describe it, as he settles in as Eric Nadel’s radio broadcast partner. Tune in at 105.3 The Fan.