Name: Kasey Kiker
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: November 19, 1987
Coming out of Alabama's Russell County High School, 2006 Rangers first round draft pick Kasey Kiker is accustomed to success. As a sophomore, the left-hander won a gold medal at the 2003 World Youth Championships in Taiwan while playing with the Team USA Youth National Team. Kiker won a national title with Russell County in his junior year, going 12-1 with a 0.53 ERA.
After a celebrated high school career that included many high-pressure situations, the Rangers felt Kiker was ready for the Short-Season Northwest League straight out of high school. Usually reserved for college draftees, Kiker immediately became one of the youngest players in the league.
The 19-year-old was not flustered. Though he battled command issues at times, Kiker posted a respectable 4.13 ERA in 52.1 innings with the Short-Season Spokane Indians. The southpaw held opposing hitters to a .232 average while striking out nearly one batter per inning.
Kiker's 0-7 record is misleading, as the Rangers had him on a strict pitch count due to a heavy workload in high school. Because of this, Kiker rarely lasted the required five innings to pick up the victory.
Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Kiker has an outstanding fastball that sits around 91-93 MPH but can be dialed up to the mid-90's at times. His curveball and changeup are both extremely advanced for his age. Kiker's big breaking curveball is a hammer, but his changeup is also outstanding. It is rare to find a pitcher with three well-developed pitches out of high school. Because of this, it is extremely possible that Kiker could possess three above-average Major League pitches in the near future.
Projection: Kiker's small 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame is one of the few knocks on him, and it certainly hurts his projection. Many experts may question whether his body will be able to handle starting in the Major Leagues. Kiker currently looks to be at least a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, but he could blossom into a strong #2 starter.
2007 Outlook: The Rangers should feel that Kiker is advanced enough to pitch a full season with Single-A Clinton of the Midwest League. The lefty will likely spend the full season there, where the Rangers will want him to work on holding runners and developing a pickoff move, something he had trouble with in 2006.