Rangers Prospect #1: Eric Hurley

Rangers prospect Eric Hurley flew under the radar until dominating with Double-A Frisco late in the 2006 season. Rangers Insider takes a look at the top prospect in the Rangers' organization.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Eric Hurley
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: September 17, 1985
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Ask any fan who the Rangers' first round pick was in 2004 and the answer will most likely be "Thomas Diamond".

Many forget that the Rangers actually had a pair of first round picks that year, thanks to John Thomson signing with the Atlanta Braves.

With that extra pick, the Rangers took 6-foot-4 pitcher Eric Hurley out of Wolfson High School in Jacksonville, Florida.

Hurley started out with the Rookie League Arizona Rangers, where he posted a 2.35 ERA over six appearances. The right-hander was quickly promoted to Short-Season Spokane, where he held his own against older competition.

The righty played his entire 2005 season with Single-A Clinton as a 19-year-old. Hurley not only posted an impressive 3.77 earned run average, but he also held hitters to a .234 average while leading the Midwest League in strikeouts with 152.

Overshadowed by the "DVD" trio of pitching prospects, Hurley was still a bit of a mystery to most Rangers fans entering the 2006 campaign. But that wasn't the case for much longer, as Hurley busted out of the gates and dominated the California League competition in the first half.

The native Floridian struggled at Bakersfield after pitching in the MLB All Star Futures Game, but the Rangers had seen enough. Hurley was promoted to Double-A Frisco, where he proceeded to become untouchable.

In six starts with the RoughRiders, Hurley yielded just 21 base hits in 37 innings, walking 11 and fanning 31. The right-hander held a 1.95 ERA while opposing hitters managed just a .168 average off of him.

Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

The knock on Hurley out of high school was that his fastball was his only above-average offering. That is not true anymore, though Hurley's fastball is still outstanding. His heater, which tops out in the mid-90's, picks up steam as the game wears on. However, the 21-year-old also has a very good slider to go along with a developing, but solid changeup. Hurley uses a "vulcan" changeup, which was also thrown by former Rangers reliever Danny Patterson. Though his change is relatively new, it should develop into an above-average pitch in time.

Projection: Hurley will develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter if his slider and changeup progress into plus pitches. The safe bet would be on him being in the middle of a big league rotation, but there is definitely a chance for Hurley to develop into more.

2007 Outlook: The righty should start the season at Double-A Frisco, but he won't be there for long if he is able to duplicate his 2006 success. The Rangers have said that they will try to avoid sending pitchers straight from Frisco to the Majors, so Hurley will likely see some time at Triple-A Oklahoma later in the year. It would be a bit of a surprise if Hurley is not called up to the Rangers in September this year.

ETA: Late-2007.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2004 AZL Rangers (RK) 0-1 15.1 20 4 15 2.35
Spokane (SSA) 0-2 28.1 31 6 21 5.40
2005 Clinton (A) 12-6 155.1 135 59 152 3.77
2006 Bakersfield (A+) 5-6 100.2 92 32 106 4.11
Frisco (AA) 3-1 37.0 21 11 31 1.95

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