Ballard earns promotion to Triple-A

The Texas Rangers promoted 24-year-old lefty Mike Ballard to Triple-A Oklahoma on Friday afternoon. Lone Star Dugout spoke with the pitcher shortly after the move was made.

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The Texas Rangers promoted left-hander Mike Ballard to Triple-A Oklahoma on Friday afternoon.

Ballard, the Rangers' 14th round pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, had pitched the entire 2008 season with Double-A Frisco. He had an 8-3 record with a 4.13 ERA in 16 appearances [15 starts].

The University of Virginia product had been particularly impressive in nine appearances since June 1, going 5-0 with a 2.52 ERA. Over that span, he pitched 53 2/3 innings, giving up 53 hits, walking 16, and striking out 47. The string of success coincided with the addition of a cutter, which has helped him succeed against right-handed batters.

"I'm definitely pumped," said Ballard of the promotion, as he traveled from Frisco to Oklahoma City. "It's definitely a step up and a step in the direction where I want to be headed. I'm excited to keep moving on."

Ballard learned of the promotion just prior to yesterday's game against the San Antonio Missions.

"They told me yesterday, probably an hour and a half before the game," he said. "After they told me, they said go ahead, go home, and pack the stuff in your car. I got back for the last three innings of the game."

The 24-year-old recently made news when he was expected to pitch for the Rangers in their July 9 game against the Los Angeles Angels. Ballard even went as far as spending two days with the team in Arlington. But because Matt Harrison saved the bullpen with a seven-inning gem in his Major League debut the previous night, the Rangers elected to go with a pitcher-by-committee approach instead.

Ballard was left watching the game in a luxury suite at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"J.D. [General Manager Jon Daniels] just kind of said, ‘you'll be back, don't worry about that," Ballard explained. "He said, ‘at least you'll have the unique opportunity of getting two Major League debuts', or something along those lines."

The situation wasn't completely negative for Ballard, as he was able to spend two days hanging around the big league clubhouse.

"Those guys are awesome," he said. "Everyone kept telling me – [Chris] Davis, Max [Ramirez] and [Matt] Harrison were telling me – this is an awesome team. These guys are awesome. They're real energetic. They just love to have fun and it was just cool hanging around those guys and just listening to the stories they had to share. It was fun."

Although Ballard is still yet to make his Major League debut, he moves one step closer with his promotion to Oklahoma. The southpaw expects to make his Triple-A debut on Sunday, but he will not know for certain until he arrives in Oklahoma City.

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