Name: Wilmer Font
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: May 24, 1990
When watching baseball on the back fields of the Surprise Recreation Complex, one can't help but notice the Rangers' impressive stockpile of young Latin American talent.
Much of the credit for the sudden influx of talent goes to International Scouting Director A.J. Preller, who – along with G.M. Jon Daniels and company – stepped up the Rangers' efforts in the Latin American market a few seasons ago.
The investment has already begun to pay off for the Rangers, as a handful of young, promising prospects displayed their skills in the rookie-level Arizona League last summer.
One of those prospects is 17-year-old pitcher Wilmer Font, who, at 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, hardly looks his age. Font's fastball and talent level don't resemble that of a young kid either.
Font rode his hard fastball, which tops out at 98 MPH, to an impressive performance with the AZL Rangers last year. The native of Venezuela racked up 61 punchouts in only 45.2 innings with the club.
There is little doubting that Font is still raw, but he is no more raw than any other 17-year-old pitcher. Had he been an American citizen, Font would be in the midst of his senior year of high school, preparing to be picked in the first-round of the 2008 MLB Draft.
Also See: Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Rick Adair (August 24, 2007)
Sizing up the right-handed pitching prospects (October 16, 2007)
Repertoire: Fastball, Changeup, Curveball.
If Font doesn't possess the best fastball in the system, he's certainly in the top two or three. Font's fastball is definitely the best for a kid his age, as the righty will not turn 18-years-old until late-May. During his pro debut last summer, Font's fastball ranged anywhere between 90-98 MPH. He generally sat in the middle – anywhere between 93-96 MPH. Font was reportedly reaching 98 MPH with consistency during his first spring training outing of the year last week. The big pitcher's secondary pitches are currently a bit underdeveloped, but they both show promise, especially for a 17-year-old kid. Font's changeup is currently ahead of his breaking ball. Font often struggled to get on top of his curveball last year, leading to inconsistent command of the pitch. He has a hard curveball, which is generally clocked in the upper-70s.
Projection: If – or when – Font is able to harness his offspeed stuff, he could become one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. The 6-foot-4 Venezuelan already has the elite fastball, but he must develop the curveball and changeup. It seems preposterous to project a 17-year-old pitcher with just 45.2 innings of professional experience, but there is little doubting that his ceiling is sky-high. With that being said, Font is still raw and has quite a ways to go before reaching that level.
2008 Outlook: Font will more than likely begin the season in Surprise for extended spring training. Once the short-season leagues start up, he will probably join fellow top-flight prospects Blake Beavan and Neil Ramirez in the Spokane rotation. There is a slight chance he could see some time with Single-A Clinton, but in all probability, Font's 2008 path should mirror that of Fabio Castillo's 2007 campaign.
|2007||AZL Rangers (RK)||2-3||45.2||41||24||61||4.53|