Winterball Roundup - 10/15

Eric Hurley's Arizona Fall League start on Friday marked his first official appearance since he pitched against the Oakland A's in July 2008. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at all of the day's winterball action.

Arizona Fall League: Surprise 7 - (@) Mesa 8 (11 innings)
1-3, 1.5 GB

• After two full years of rehab, right-hander Eric Hurley finally made his return to live game action on Friday afternoon.

Hurley's last official appearance had been on July 27, 2008, when he faced the Oakland Athletics in the Coliseum. The hurler surrendered six runs in two innings and was promptly shut down due to shoulder issues.

The former first-round selection initially attempted to rehab the injury before electing to undergo shoulder surgery in April 2009. Hurley was slated for a return to full-strength in May '10, but a broken left wrist required surgery and kept him out even longer.

More wrist-related complications during the season––including a second surgery––limited Hurley to throwing live batting practice and bullpen sessions at the club's Spring Training facility in Arizona. Until Friday, that is.

The 25-year-old logged two innings against the Mesa Solar Sox, giving up two runs on one hit. He walked two and fanned one. Hurley, who threw 16 of his 33 pitches for strikes, surrendered both runs on a homer off the bat of Dodgers prospect Andrew Lambo.

Once regarded as the Rangers' top pitching prospect, Hurley has a chance to help the big league staff in 2011 if he is healthy and his stuff resembles its pre-injury form.

Though it's impossible to make any conclusions from his first outing in over two years, ESPN's Keith Law tweeted that Hurley's fastball was sitting at 88 mph on Friday.

Shoulder surgeries can be unpredictable. Sometimes pitchers are able to regain their pre-surgery stuff, which includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball and above-average slider in Hurley's case. But many times, the velocity and breaking ball go missing. Only time will tell with Hurley.

• Five other Rangers prospects played in the game, with most making strong contributions.

Centerfielder Engel Beltre batted leadoff and belted a double and a triple in his first two plate appearances. The 20-year-old finished by going 2-for-6 with an RBI and a strikeout.

• Relief pitcher Fabio Castillo has definite big-league stuff, and he has flashed some surprising efficiency in his first two Fall League outings. On Friday, the big righty hurled 2.1 shutout frames on just 21 pitches, throwing 15 strikes. He yielded one hit, walked zero, and struck out one.

Daniel Gutierrez turned heads by flashing a fastball that reached 97 mph in short stints during the Fall League last year. As Keith Law tweeted, the fastball was 82-85 mph during Friday's scoreless inning.

Velocity became a major issue once Gutierrez returned from his 50-game suspension after testing positive for Adderall. Though the cumulative 3.68 ERA in 51.1 innings between Hickory, Bakersfield, and Frisco wasn't quite alarming, his fastball hovered in the mid-80s and rarely cracked 90 mph.

• Right fielder Joey Butler batted sixth for the Rafters and was 0-for-4 with a hit-by pitch. The Mississippi native also knocked in a run. Davis Stoneburner entered as a late defensive replacement at third base but didn't have a plate appearance.

Venezuelan Winter League

The only Rangers prospect to play in Friday's action was David Paisano, who didn't get a plate appearance. The 22-year-old entered the game as a pinch runner in the seventh inning before finishing out the contest in centerfield.

Mexican Pacific League

The circuit has begun its 2010 campaign, but there will be no Rangers players participating this season.

Dominican Winter League

The Dominican Winter League will begin its season on October 22.

Puerto Rican Winter League

The season in Puerto Rico will also commence on October 22.

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