Rangers Prospect #18: Danny Ray Herrera

Herrera's impressive debut after being selected in the 45th round of the 2006 draft opened the eyes of Rangers fans and officials alike. Rangers Insider takes a look at the 5-foot-8 lefty.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Danny Ray Herrera
Position: Pitcher
DOB: October 21, 1984
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 145
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

At just 5-foot-8, left-handed pitcher Danny Ray Herrera is far from being Randy Johnson. In fact, Herrera could be considered The Big Unit's polar opposite.

Though Herrera does not possess the size and velocity of most top prospects, the tough lefty lays claim to an exceptional changeup, which is arguably the best pitch in the entire organization.

With many clubs expecting Herrera to return to the University of New Mexico for his senior season, he fell to the 45th round, where the Rangers took a chance on him.

Before being drafted by the Rangers, Herrera put together one of the best seasons in Division I college baseball. The southpaw accumulated a 10-0 record with a 2.24 ERA over 17 starts in the high altitude of New Mexico. Herrera held opposing hitters to a .238 average, allowed just four home runs, and held a 104-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Herrera was every bit as dominating in his professional debut. After making three flawless appearances with the Rookie League Arizona Rangers, "D-Ray" was temporarily sent to High-A Bakersfield. However, the club was so impressed with the southpaw that he spent the rest of the season with the Blaze.

The lefty didn't let the team down, as he posted a 1.35 earned run average in the notoriously hitter-friendly California League. The native of Odessa yielded just 39 hits – no home runs – in 53.1 innings, walking 12 and fanning 61. He was especially tough on lefties, holding them to six hits – with 20 strikeouts – in 10.2 frames.

Repertoire: Fastball, Changeup, Slider.

Even though Herrera's 82-85 MPH fastball rates as one of the weakest in the organization, his devastating changeup could be the best. Herrera's changeup – which has drawn many nicknames, including "the bamboozler" – comes in at 60 miles-per-hour and dances away from right-handed hitters. He has excellent command of all three of his pitches, especially the changeup.

Projection: At 5-foot-8, 145-pounds, Herrera is one of the smallest players in all of baseball. Because of his incredibly small frame and 82-85 MPH fastball, Herrera's future lies in the bullpen. The 22-year-old figures to be a middle reliever who can also be used as a lefty specialist.

2007 Outlook: After mastering the California League in his professional debut, Herrera looks to begin the season with Double-A Frisco. The Texas League should be much more challenging for Herrera, as it will be increasingly difficult to retire advanced hitters with a below-average fastball. With the lefty's makeup and changeup, his rise to the Majors could be a quick one. It would not be a shock to see Herrera playing with the Rangers by the end of 2007, though 2008 is the safest bet.

ETA: 2008.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2006 AZL Rangers (RK) 0-1 8.2 5 0 11 2.08
Bakersfield (A+) 4-2 53.1 39 12 61 1.35

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