Rangers Prospect Profile: Tug Hulett

After a solid season between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco last year, infielder Tug Hulett is off to a scorching-hot start to his Triple-A career in 2007. Lone Star Dugout profiles the infielder.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Tug Hulett
Position: Infielder
DOB: February 28, 1983
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 185
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Oklahoma RedHawks infielder Tim "Tug" Hulett has never been regarded as a top prospect. Though the son of former Major Leaguer and current Spokane Indians manager Tim Hulett has produced at every level of the minor leagues, he doesn't possess the flashy "tools" that scouts and organizations love.

Top prospect or not, Hulett continues to win fans with his hard grind-it-out mentality, exceptional plate discipline, and valuable versatility in the field.

The Rangers selected Hulett in the 14th round of the 2004 draft, following a season in which he had hit .306 for the Auburn Tigers.

The second baseman was sent to Short-Season Spokane, where he impressed from the beginning. In 70 games with the Indians, Hulett hit .279 with 17 doubles, 68 walks, and 19 stolen bases.

Hulett's full-season debut with Single-A Clinton one year later was less than spectacular, but he continued to build on his reputation as the most disciplined hitter in the organization. Though the Auburn product hit just .265 with a .345 slugging percentage, he swiped 20 bases while walking 90 times.

Despite a sluggish performance with the LumberKings, the Rangers elected to promote Hulett to High-A Bakersfield at the beginning of the 2006 season. Hulett enjoyed his best season as a pro, as he hit .291 with 19 doubles, seven triples, two home runs, 15 stolen bases, and 61 walks in 77 games. The infielder was good enough to earn a mid-season promotion to Double-A Frisco, where he posted a respectable OPS of .800 in 48 games.

The Rangers felt that the 24-year-old was ready to make the jump to Triple-A Oklahoma out of spring training this season. The club appears to have been correct, as Hulett is currently enjoying his best start as a pro. In 19 games, the 5-foot-10 second baseman has hit .345 with four doubles, one triple, one home run, three stolen bases, and 13 walks. Hulett currently leads the RedHawks – by a wide margin – with a .988 OPS.

Batting and Power: With just four home runs in 320 minor league games, Hulett will probably never hit for enough power to become a big league regular. However, he has worked to improve at the plate, as he hit .300 with Double-A Frisco in 2006 and appears to be handling Triple-A pitching staffs just fine. A left-handed hitter, he also hits southpaws well. Hulett hit .273 against lefties last season and he is currently 5-for-15 against them in 2007. If Hulett can continue to hit for a solid average while drawing walks at an outstanding rate, he will find a spot on a Major League roster.

Base Running and Speed: The Auburn product is not overly fast, but he is a smart baserunner. This was shown as he smacked seven triples last season. Hulett has also stolen 19, 20, and 24 bases in his three professional seasons.

Defense: One of the things that can make Hulett valuable to a Major League club is his versatility in the infield. A second baseman by trade, Hulett can also play shortstop and third base when needed. After playing exclusively at second base with Frisco in 2006, he has switched between third base and shortstop with the RedHawks this season.

Projection: Hulett projects to become a utility infielder at the Major League level. He may never be a guy that hits for power, but he can serve as a versatile infielder that can get the occasional start while working as a pinch-hitter on his days off.

ETA: 2008.

2004 Spokane (SSA) .279 247 17 0 23 54 19 68 67 .444 .348
2005 Clinton (A) .265 385 22 1 45 70 20 90 87 .402 .345
2006 Bakersfield (A+) .291 289 19 2 37 46 15 61 61 .415 .426
Frisco (AA) .308 185 8 0 15 36 9 31 36 .405 .395
2007 Oklahoma (AAA) .345 55 4 1 9 12 3 13 10 .479 .509

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