Rangers Minor League Notes (3/19)

SURPRISE, AZ - For the third day in a row, the Rangers trotted out loads of pitching prospects in Surprise. Lone Star Dugout has notes and observations from the day's Low-A contest, which featured Wilmer Font, Richard Alvarez, and Wilfredo Boscan, among others.

The Rangers' Low-A club played in Surprise on Thursday and – while they lost 12-5 and coughed up nine runs in the second inning – the team trotted out more excellent pitching talent.

Wilmer Font looked very sharp. With a fastball that sat in the low-90s and reached 95-96 mph, Font got a 1-2-3 inning on a chopper in front of the plate, a strikeout looking on a fastball, and a routine flyout to left field. Font was reliant on his heater, as he threw just a pair offspeed pitches, and he had excellent command.

• The Rangers' next two pitchers – Kyle Ocampo and Wilfredo Boscan – both lacked command. Ocampo was up in the zone with everything he threw and his normally strong slider wasn't doing much sliding. After fanning the first batter he faced on a slider, six consecutive batters reached against the right-hander, and the Rangers were quickly down 4-0.

• Boscan entered with just one out in the second, and he didn't fare much better. He threw a wild pitch to the first batter, bringing them score to 5-0. He then allowed a walk, a single, two doubles, and he hit a batter before the inning was eventually cut short. Just like Ocampo, Boscan's fastball was constantly up in the zone and his slider was high and flat.

• The Rangers were down 9-0 through 1.5 innings, but the news was mostly positive after that. • Ben Henry pitched a clean third inning after allowing a leadoff walk. The tall right-hander, who generally throws anywhere between 86-90 mph with a good curveball, got a popout to third base, a 4-6 fielder's choice, and Leonel De Los Santos gunned down the runner trying to steal second.

• First baseman Michael Ortiz helped provide a punch or the Rangers' offense with two extra-base hits. The Miami native hit an RBI double into the left-center field gap and a two-run homer that cleared the right field fence in a hurry.

• Slugging outfielder Mike Bianucci has been an extra-base hit machine all week long. The Auburn product added a pair of two-baggers on Thursday.

• Venezuelan right-hander Richard Alvarez was probably the highlight of the day at the Rangers' complex. Though the youngster's fastball was just 84-86 mph [the Rangers say he usually sits 86-88 and has reached 90 mph] but he flashed an impressive 77-79 mph changeup and one curveball. Alvarez faced just three batters, getting a strikeout on a 77 mph changeup, a strikeout on a tight-spinning curveball in the dirt, and a weak groundout to first base. Though his velocity wasn't great [he'll certainly add more as he grows and matures], Alvarez was getting plenty of arm-side run and sink on his fastball.

• Second baseman Jason Ogata has been one of the more impressive players in camp this week. Last year's 38th round pick hit an opposite-field home run on Wednesday, and all he did was go 3-for-4 with two hard-hit singles and a triple on Thursday.

• Outfielder Guillermo Pimentel, 19, is extremely raw, but he is an exciting player to watch. After getting a glimpse of his plus arm on earlier in the week, Pimentel flashed his speed by legging out an infield single and immediately stealing second base.

• A pair of talented lefties – Juan Grullon and Edwin Escobar – pitched the sixth and seventh innings. Both pitchers allowed one run, but both showed solid stuff. Grullon flashed a good slider while Escobar commanded his fastball well and had a promising curveball. Escobar, a Venezuelan, received a $350,000 bonus last summer.

• Six-foot-four righty Ezequiel Rijo was one of the most impressive pitchers in the Dominican Summer League last year, posting a 1.39 ERA and surrendering 48 hits in 71 innings. He got a 1-2-3 inning on Thursday, throwing his fastball between 87-88 mph with some sink. Rijo finished his inning with a strikeout looking on his fastball.

• The Rangers may have lost Thursday's game, 12-5, but they had an opportunity to use five pitchers [including Tae-Kyung Ahn] who have no official game experience in the U.S.


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