8-5-1, 0.5 GU
Eric Hurley took a major step forward in his third start back from shoulder and wrist surgeries. The right-hander logged five scoreless innings on Wednesday, yielding two hits, walking zero, and striking out five.
Hurley, who had command issues in his first two outings, needed just 60 pitches (throwing 40 strikes) to get through five innings.
The 25-year-old's command wasn't the only thing that improved––his velocity also ticked up a notch. His fastball consistently sat between 91-93 mph throughout the start, bumping 94 mph once.
Perhaps Hurley's biggest progression between starts two and three was his breaking ball. ESPN.com's Jason Grey reported after Hurley's second start that the slider was breaking out of the hand and simply lacked sharpness––it wasn't an effective pitch and wasn't missing bats.
But on Wednesday, the former first-round pick threw 13 of his 15 sliders for strikes (between 81-86 mph, according to pitch f/x), getting six swinging strikes and three groundouts. In all, Hurley induced nine swings-and-misses (six slider, two fastball, one changeup) out of the 60 pitches.
Hurley's changeup, which was effective in his second outing, wasn't there for most of Wednesday's game. Per pitch f/x, he threw 11 changeups but only five went for strikes.
The path to becoming an effective big league starting pitcher remains a long one for Hurley. There is plenty of work to be done in terms of repeating mechanics, building arm strength, holding velocity, and keeping the secondary stuff sharp.
However, Wednesday's start was a step in the right direction and showed that he still has some juice in the arm even after missing two full years due to surgeries.
Right fielder Joey Butler was the only position player to appear for Surprise in the blowout victory. The Mississippi native batted fifth and went 2-for-4 with an RBI, raising his average to .238.
La Guaira was crushed, 11-3, on Wednesday, but cleanup hitter Max Ramirez contributed a solid game at the plate. The designated hitter went 1-for-2 with a double and two walks in his four plate appearances.
Through his first seven games, the 26-year-old Ramirez is 6-for-22 (.273) with a double, a home run, and six walks.
Leadoff hitter and shortstop Renny Osuna singled once in five trips. Centerfielder David Paisano started for the second consecutive day and was hitless in four at-bats. Paisano is beginning his winterball campaign in an 0-for-16 slump with four strikeouts.
No Rangers appeared on Wednesday.
No Rangers appeared in Wednesday's action in Puerto Rico.
The circuit has begun its 2010 campaign, but there will be no Rangers players participating this season.
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