Batista enjoying first season in U.S.

Though right-handed pitcher Kendy Batista is 26-years-old, this season is his first in the United States. Lone Star Dugout talks with Batista about his past, his experience with the Rangers organization, and his first Double-A start, among other things.

Entering the 2007 season, right-handed pitcher Kendy Batista was arguably the most mysterious player in the Rangers organization.

A Minor League Rule 5 draft selection from the Baltimore Orioles, Batista was a 25-year-old pitcher who had never appeared in the states.

Batista, a native of Santa Barbara, Venezuela, originally signed with the Oakland Athletics organization in 2000. The hurler played with Oakland's Dominican Summer League team in 2000 and 2001 before eventually being released.

It wasn't until 2006, as a member of the Orioles' Venezuelan Summer League club, that Batista would resurface in professional baseball.

The 6-foot-2 righty was dominant, as he surrendered only four runs on 10 hits in 15 1/3 VSL innings. He struck out 27 while issuing just four walks.

Now 26 years of age, Batista finally made his stateside debut with the High-A Bakersfield Blaze in 2007.

He was successful with the Blaze, going 6-2 with a 3.97 ERA in 20 appearances, spanning 95 1/3 innings. He walked 27 and struck out 94 while limiting opposing hitters to a .241 average.

"I liked it," said Batista on his time with the Blaze. "I had fun there and everything went well."

Though it took three organizations and seven years for Batista to reach the U.S., the right-hander has a very good arm. Batista throws a sinker that typically ranges between 92-94 miles per hour to go along with a good slider and a changeup.

Making his Double-A debut last Sunday, Batista surrendered five runs – four earned – on five hits in five innings, walking three and fanning five. All five of his strikeouts – three swinging and two looking – came on his slider.

"I felt good," said Batista of his first Double-A start. "I threw the ball well, just like I have all season."

Known for his excellent control, Batista had issued more than two walks just once in his 20 appearances (18 starts) with Bakersfield.

Batista felt Sunday's uncharacteristic three-walk performance was largely due to an inconsistent strike zone from the home plate umpire. It was a sentiment teammate German Duran – who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes – is likely to agree with.

"Today I felt some of the balls were strikes," he said. "I thought the umpire was squeezing me a little bit, but I just threw the ball and there is nothing I can do about it."

While most pitchers would be nervous in their Double-A debut, Batista says he felt nothing of the sort.

"I felt comfortable because I have been playing in the Venezuelan Winter League," said Batista. "There are a lot of fans down there. It's almost like playing in a Double-A or Triple-A game."

After the minor league season is over, Batista plans on pitching for the Tiburones de La Guaira in his native Venezuela. He made 18 appearances for the Tiburones last winter.

But for now, Batista – who is appreciative of the Rangers for giving him an opportunity – is enjoying a successful debut season in the states.

"It has been a lot of fun," said Batista of his first season. "The way they treat the players here is great. I have been enjoying it and I thank God everything is going well for me.

"[The Rangers] give everybody a chance and they give me the confidence to go out there and play everyday. I am thankful to get a chance to come out here and play."

Thanks to German Duran for translating the interview

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