Final Instructional League Report

SURPRISE, Ariz. - Lone Star Dugout wrapped up another eventful trip to the Texas Rangers' Fall Instructional League during the month of October. Check out the final reactions and analysis from the games, as we take a look at Danny Gutierrez, Robbie Ross, and Miguel Velazquez, among others.

Daniel Gutierrez started an instructs game just a few days before the Arizona Fall League began its season.

The 22-year-old logged three innings in the start, and he wasn't particularly sharp. Scouts who had seen Gutierrez during the regular season with Wilmington made comment that he didn't appear to be the same pitcher.

In the instructs outing, Gutierrez worked anywhere between 88-94 mph with his fastball [mostly sitting upper-80s, low-90s], but it was the fastball command and breaking ball that led to shaky results. Gutierrez worked up in the zone with his fastball, and his curveball was being thrown between 68-69 mph. Although it was still a good, big-breaking pitch, it didn't have nearly the bite it had during the regular season, when it generally registered in the mid-70s.

Since the Arizona Fall League has begun, Gutierrez has been excellent, and there doesn't appear to be any cause for concern. The right-hander's velocity and command has been solid, and the hard curveball appears to be back.

• Statistically, left-hander Robbie Ross was an absolute animal during his first professional season. In 74.1 innings at short-season Spokane, he gave up 68 hits, walked 17, struck out 76, got 3.2 groundouts per flyout, and logged a 2.66 earned-run average.

He looked as good as advertised in one late-instructs outing. Although his velocity had dipped to the 88-90 mph range [it was mostly 90-93 during the regular season], the plus command and movement were still there.

Even though Ross usually sticks to his four-seam fastball, the pitch's excellent late life allows him to get plenty of ground balls. He gets similar late movement [usually cut, but it can move in both directions] even when he's throwing between 90-93.

In the instructs outing, Ross retired all six batters he faced. He began the outing with a strikeout of Eric Hosmer on a high 90 mph fastball, and he ended it with four groundouts and a popout to shortstop.

In addition to the fastball, Ross appeared to be focusing on his changeup at instructs. Though he was happy with his fastball and slider during the 2009 season, he didn't come away satisfied with his change. Ross was working on the changeup to right-handed batters, and he looked to have a solid feel for the pitch.

Thompson's changeup is making progress.
Matt Thompson had his struggles on the mound, as he wasn't able to get out of his inning. Thompson simply didn't appear to be himself on the mound, and he admitted to not feeling well afterwards.

The Burleson native walked just 10 batters in 72 innings with Spokane this season. In his final 50.1 frames, he issued only four free passes. However, in just two-thirds of an inning during the instructs game, Thompson walked two batters and his command was all over the place.

On the bright side, there was nothing wrong with the 19-year-old's velocity. He worked between 90-93 mph, and he showed a solid feel for his changeup–much improved from the 2008 Instructional League.

After falling behind in counts, Thompson gave up a pair of doubles off the wall then allowed a three-run bomb to Royals prospect Jamar Walton on a fastball that was left up and over the plate.

On the bright side, Thompson struck out left-handed slugger Eric Hosmer on a beautiful sequence of outside corner changeup [called], outside corner fastball [called], curveball away [swinging].

• With plenty of high-profile, high-ceiling pitching prospects in camp for the Rangers, Dominican Summer League right-hander Denny Peralta was the surprising runaway winner of this year's points system for pitchers. In the system, pitchers are rewarded points for things such as first-pitch strikes, pitcher's fielding, and similar feats.

In the game, Peralta flashed above-average command of a mid-80s fastball, an advanced changeup, and a curveball. While the curve got loopy at times, he commanded it well enough to get outs.

The 20-year-old Peralta pitched exactly like his line in the DSL–60 innings, 54 hits, 7 walks, 65 strikeouts. He worked down in the zone, threw strikes, and has good enough stuff to miss a few bats.

• Right-handed reliever Jose Monegro doesn't get much buzz despite his 61 strikeout, 40.2 inning performance between the DSL and AZL this summer, but he is a relief prospect to watch.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound hurler was impressive in an instructs game, tossing a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. He appeared to have a four-pitch repertoire, with an 87-91 mph fastball, an 82 mph slider, an 80-82 mph changeup, and a 73-74 mph curveball.

The 20-year-old had good armside run on both his fastball and changeup, and he was able to throw strikes with all his pitches. The strikeouts came on a 91 mph fastball and a big 74 mph curve.

Doyle is a sinker-slider-changeup guy.
• Third-round pick Andrew Doyle worked at the end of an instructs game. He flashed an 89-90 mph fastball with good sink, a sweeping 80 mph slider, and a changeup. In one frame, the former Oklahoma Sooner broke a bat with his fastball and recorded a strikeout on a changeup.

• Royals first-round pick Aaron Crow made an appearance against the Rangers, but he didn't give those in attendance much to see. Crow quickly sat down the Rangers in order during his lone inning, throwing no more than seven or eight pitches. The hard-throwing righty worked in the mid-90s with plenty of late movement.

• After a disappointing first game from toolsy outfielder Miguel Velazquez, the Puerto Rico native put on a show in the second game. Velazquez made hard contact in every at-bat, collecting three hits [two singles and a double]. The right fielder showed a strong arm and good range. Overall, he probably doesn't have quite the tools of Engel Beltre, but he is more advanced and much more likely to progress up the organizational ladder.

• Centerfielder Guillermo Pimentel is another toolsy, inconsistent player who has his share of good days and bad days. Pimentel flashed a solid approach in game two, hitting two opposite-field singles and one single to center. He also went the other way for a lineout to right field on an outside fastball.

The 19-year-old Pimentel has plus speed, plus raw power, and his approach is decent. He is still a very raw player, but he certainly has breakout potential in 2010.

Ed Koncel was the Rangers' 13th-round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft. In two professional seasons, between the AZL and Single-A Hickory, he has batted .197 with a .637 OPS. But he can impress at times.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound infielder swings-and-misses far too often, but the ball tends to go a long way when he squares up. Koncel has some strength and raw power, and he displayed it a couple of times by blasting balls foul or off the wall at instructs.

Garcia is a slick-fielding shortstop.
• Shortstop Edwin Garcia has exceptionally smooth hands at shortstop. The native of Venezuela is an excellent defensive player. He doesn't quite have the unbelievable raw defensive tools of Leury Garcia [granted, not many players do], but he is far more polished.

Edwin isn't bad at the plate either. The 18-year-old switch-hitter was impressive with the DSL Rangers in 2008, and he held his own in the U.S. this past summer.

• Because the Rangers needed Edwin Garcia to get some time at shortstop, they moved Jurickson Profar to third base at times. Profar, who said he had played plenty of third in the past, looked excellent defensively at the hot corner, as well.

Not only did Profar appear to be handling himself well at the plate and in the field, but he carried himself like a leader. While Matt Thompson was struggling with control, Profar called timeout and went to the mound for a chat. That's not ordinary or routine for a just-signed 16-year-old.

Luis Sardinas appeared late in one game as a pinch hitter. He showed a patient approach, working a full-count walk and taking some close pitches. The rail-thin shortstop also displayed impressive bat speed when he lined a ball foul down the right field line.

The Rangers list Sardinas at 150 pounds, and that appears to be accurate. His raw skills [including blazing speed] are evident, but his body still must mature and develop.

Instructs Notes

Clark Murphy didn't appear to be having the dominant instructs of 2008, but he is definitely developing physically. The first baseman is noticeably much bigger and much stronger than he was one season ago.

• Pitcher Neil Ramirez, who was with the Advanced Instructional League team, was sent home about a week before the end of camp due to soreness in his shoulder. The injury isn't expected to be a big issue. Righty Wilfredo Boscan was also nursing a minor ailment.

• In an effort to strengthen their ties to Korean baseball, the Rangers had a handful of players and translators/coaches visiting from Korea. They worked out with the Rangers' Instructional League club and even played in some of the games. They aren't eligible to be signed, however, as all of the players are with the LG Twins of the Korean Baseball Organization. A couple of the players are top prospects in the minor leagues, and a couple already had experience with the Twins.

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