Arizona Notebook: 10/18

Lone Star Dugout reports from Thursday's action at the Instructional and Arizona Fall Leagues in Surprise, Ariz. The day included a pair of top-flight pitching prospects and a pair of home runs, among other things.

Instructional League -- Rangers 6, Royals 1

• First round pick Blake Beavan got the starting nod for the Rangers on Thursday afternoon in Surprise, Ariz. The tall right-hander hurled four scoreless innings. Beavan mixed in his two- and four-seam fastballs, which sat around 91-93 MPH.

Beavan appeared to be generally pleased with his final outing of the fall instructional league.

"I felt ok," said Beavan. "It wasn't the best as far as feeling good arm-wise, but I went out there and got the job done. I had a good defense behind me and they made the plays. Altogether it was a good outing for both sides."

Though he is known for his hard slider, Beavan used his time at instructs to refine his changeup. The Metroplex native threw his changeup – which was clocked around the mid-80's – more than his slider on Thursday.

Ortiz's shot put the Rangers on top for good.
• First baseman Michael Ortiz put the Rangers on top early with a three-run home run in the bottom of the second inning. Ortiz – who joined the Instructional League team just two weeks ago – hit the ball in the vicinity of the 404-foot marker in right-center field. He added a line-drive double down the right field line in his next at bat.

• Right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter – another 2007 first round pick – followed Beavan with three shutout frames. The University of Alabama product threw a low-90's fastball, a curveball, and a changeup. While his fastball and curve were as-advertised, Hunter's changeup was particularly impressive. Like Beavan, Hunter's primary focus this fall was the development of his changeup.

"That last inning I threw," said Hunter, "I threw eight changeups. I don't know if I threw eight changeups in the whole year [in college]. That's just something I need to learn. Rick Adair has been working with me. It's just coming out here and making sure I know when to establish it and when to throw it.

"If you had told me before instructs that I would have thrown eight changeups in an inning, there's no chance I'd believe you."

• Catchers Manuel Pina and Leonel De Los Santos split time behind the plate on Thursday and appeared to be equally impressive. Both Pina and De Los Santos used their phenomenal arm strength to gun down prospective base stealers. Pina, who batted .228 with Single-A Clinton this past year, also had two hits in the game.

Kennil Gomez pitched a scoreless eighth inning. The 19-year-old's fastball checked in at 89-90 MPH. He also flashed a big-breaking curveball.

• Although Jonathan Greene worked as Spokane's regular catcher this past season, he got the starting nod at third base on Thursday. Also, with Engel Beltre, Julio Borbon, and David Paisano all playing, the Rangers' lineup featured three centerfielders. Borbon got the start in center while Beltre played left and Paisano went to right field.

• The Rangers' starting lineup looked as follows:

1) Engel Beltre, LF
2) Marcus Lemon, SS
3) Julio Borbon, CF
4) Mauro Gomez, 1B
5) Jonathan Greene, 3B
6) Manuel Pina, C
7) Michael Ortiz, DH
8) David Paisano, RF
9) Andres James, 2B

Arizona Fall League -- Surprise 10, Peoria Saguaros 3

• Second baseman German Duran was the only Rangers position player to appear on Thursday night. The Fort Worth native was 1-for-4 with a home run and a walk. During his home run at bat, Duran says he was looking for a fastball in the 1-1 count.

"[Miller] was throwing a lot of fastballs," said Duran. "He has a good fastball. The first at bat, he was going away. I hit his fastball to third base – I hit it pretty well. The second at bat, he was staying away. He threw me a curveball first pitch and then got me to 1-1. I thought ‘if he throws me something inside right here, I'm going to try and pull it'. He did and he threw me a fastball. I stayed on top of it and got one out."

Duran played second base for the majority of the 2007 season at Double-A Frisco, but the Rangers want him to become more versatile. In addition to him now working at shortstop and third base, the Rangers want Duran to begin getting experience in the outfield.

"They told me they want me to go and take some fly balls," replied Duran. "They want me to be kind of a super-utility guy. I think it just helps me get to the big leagues faster. Whatever they tell me to do, I'll do."

The 23-year-old is currently doing some work in the outfield, but he isn't sure if he will play there before the Arizona Fall League season comes to a close.

"I'm not sure yet," said Duran when asked if he would be appearing in the outfield this fall. "We have a lot of outfielders and they're trying to rotate them. I don't know if they're going to do anything out here, but I'll just keep working out there in BP."

• Relief pitcher Kea Kometani also appeared for the Rafters and tossed a scoreless ninth inning. The former Pepperdine Wave gave up one hit without recording a walk or strikeout.

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