Name: Josh Rupe
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: August 18, 1982
Rupe joined the Rangers organization in 2003 when he was traded to the Rangers along with pitcher Frank Francisco and outfielder Anthony Webster. The White Sox received Carl Everett in the deal.
At the time of his acquisition, the former third round pick was in his second season of professional baseball. Rupe had posted a 3.02 ERA with the Single-A affiliate with the White Sox before joining the Clinton LumberKings, the Rangers' Single-A team.
The native of Portsmouth, Virginia, struggled to stay healthy in 2004, as he split 15 appearances between Short-Season Spokane, High-A Stockton, and Double-A Frisco. Though Rupe had pitched well in each of his stops, he was unable to stay on the field.
The Rangers did not get their first glimpse of Rupe's potential until 2005. Rupe started out at Double-A Frisco, where he put up a 3.74 ERA in 65 innings. The righty earned a mid-season promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma, where he struggled mightily at the outset.
Though his 6.25 earned run average in 17 starts with Oklahoma was far from pretty, Rupe showed consistent improvement with each start. The improvement eventually led to a September callup to the Rangers, where the right-hander shined. Rupe beat the Mariners in his first Major League start, allowing just two runs over five innings while flashing a four-pitch repertoire that included a power sinker.
Having gained the attention of Rangers fans, Rupe was no longer flying under the radar entering the 2006 campaign. But an elbow injury delayed the start of Rupe's season, and he was forced to rehab at Frisco and Oklahoma for two months.
The sinkerballer finally made it back to the Majors in July, where the Rangers worked him in long relief. Rupe's 3.41 ERA in 19 appearances was outstanding, as was his 3.1:1 groundout-to-flyout ratio.
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Curveball, Changeup.
Rupe has a very good four-pitch repertoire that is headlined by his power sinking fastball. Rupe's sinker can range between the upper-80's to mid-90's, but it is typically in the 91-93 MPH range. His slider is his second best pitch, but Rupe's big-breaking 12-to-6 curveball can also be used as an effective strikeout pitch.
Projection: Because of his large assortment of pitches, the Rangers would like Rupe to become a starting pitcher. However, he has only managed an average of 84.2 innings pitched over his five professional seasons. Rupe should blossom into a middle-of-the-rotation starter if he is able to stay healthy. If not, the righty will be more than effective out of the bullpen.
2007 Outlook: Rupe is currently being given a shot to make the Rangers' rotation as the fifth starter. But due to poor performances in his last two outings and the lights-out play of others, he has become a longshot. There is still a chance for Rupe to make the team as a reliever, but he is more likely to begin the season with Triple-A Oklahoma. Regardless of where he starts the season, there is little doubt that Rupe will be in a Rangers uniform for a good portion of the 2007 campaign.