Hyatt impresses in short Triple-A stint

ROUND ROCK, TX - Despite being a 33rd round pick in his first full year of pro ball, pitcher Jared Hyatt has allowed just one run in 9.1 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the 24-year-old after his first start with the RedHawks.

When the Rangers selected Tommy Hunter with the 54th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, many people expected him to become the first player from the Rangers' draft class to reach the Triple-A level.

While that did happen, with Hunter making his Triple-A debut on July 2, most people didn't expect 33rd rounder Jared Hyatt to be right behind him.

The right-hander began the year in the rotation with High-A Bakersfield, going 6-5 with a 3.92 ERA. In 80.1 innings, he was able to strike out 62 batters while limiting the opposition to a .251 batting average.

"I think I've thrown well in Bakersfield," said Hyatt. "Obviously I went through the transition from a reliever to starter, so I had a little bit of struggles at times with that. But overall I felt like I have thrown well there."

Although Hyatt was a successful pitcher in four seasons at Georgia Tech – he posted a 4.13 ERA with 150 strikeouts in 144 career innings – he made just four starts during his collegiate career. Hyatt continued relieving after being drafted by the Rangers last season, appearing in 16 games between Arizona, Clinton and Bakersfield.

But the Rangers elected to make Hyatt a starting pitcher this season and he feels the transition has been relatively smooth.

"It's not that big of a transition actually because I'm used to being a long reliever, throwing multiple innings at a time," he said. "So going from that to a starter isn't as huge of a transition as a closer to a starter would be. But it is somewhat of a transition."

The 24-year-old recently received a surprise promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma. Hyatt made his debut with the RedHawks on July 9, pitching three scoreless innings out of the bullpen. The hurler says he was actually scheduled to start the game.

"I threw well," said Hyatt of his first Triple-A appearance. "I was supposed to start that game and I missed it because of flight difficulties. But I came in there in relief and I felt comfortable and threw well."

Because of the flight issues, Hyatt wasn't able to make his first Triple-A start until July 14. Going up against the Round Rock Express, the Georgia native surrendered just one run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out three.

"I felt like I threw well," Hyatt said after the start. "I guess I made a few mistakes here and there – struggled with my command a little bit. The curveball felt good today and overall I felt like I threw the ball well."

Hyatt mixed in three pitches during the start, but a fourth offering is in the works.

"I have a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup," he said. "That's what I usually use. I'm starting to develop a cutter to mix in there."

The righty threw his fastball between 87-88 mph during the start, topping out in the 89-90 range a couple of times. His curveball, ranging from 74-76 mph, appeared to be his best offspeed pitch. The curve had a 12-to-6 break at times and acted more like a slider at others.

The 2008 season may be his first full year, but Hyatt isn't completely surprised that he has been able to succeed in his limited Triple-A action.

"It doesn't matter what level you play at," explained Hyatt. "If you can get ahead of hitters, stay ahead, and change up the pitches – fastball, curveball – you can have success at any level."

Hyatt says he plans on just going with the flow for the remainder of the season.

"It was kind of a surprise coming up here I guess," he said. "It was kind of sudden. I'm trying to take things in now and see where things go from here."

Hyatt's next stop will be Corpus Christi, Texas, where he will make a start for Double-A Frisco on Saturday night. With the ‘Riders struggling to fill their pitching staff of late, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Hyatt become a mainstay in the Double-A rotation.


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