Wilmer Font is topping out at 98 MPH
With the minor league season winding down, Lone Star Dugout recently sat down with Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Rick Adair to discuss the organization's short season pitching staffs. This article, which is part one of a two-part feature, is a FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT!
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Jason Cole: Seventeen year old Carlos Pimentel has really been outstanding in his first professional season. Can you tell me a little about his stuff?
Rick Adair: Carlos is a fastball, curveball, changeup guy. His command, velocity, and all of his stuff has gotten better this year. He is throwing for strikes and he is maturing on the field and off the field.
Cole: Another guy that was in that group of Latin American signees last year is Wilmer Font. How has he progressed this season?
Adair: We didn't realize Font would have as much velocity as he has had this early. He still has a lot of work to do with his secondary pitches. He has made some progress in terms of holding runners. He's still a little far behind in the maturity process, but we're real happy with him.
Cole: What has his velocity been like so far?
Adair: He has been anywhere from 90 to 98 MPH.
Cole: Jorge Quintero was having a great season in the AZL and he was recently promoted to Bakersfield. Can you talk about his promotion?
Adair: Jorge is a little bit older than the group that came in last year. He's the oldest one of the group. With Font, Pimentel, Grullon and Quintero, they were the four main guys last year. We actually needed another starter in Bakersfield after moving [Kendy] Batista up. We knew this would only be for two or three starts. He had made enough progress that we felt he could go out and compete at that level for a few starts, so we moved him.
Cole: What is his stuff like?
Adair: He's more of an 88-93 guy and he can sink it. His curveball is average and he does command it. His changeup has progressed to close to an average pitch. The bottom line is that he's throwing more quality strikes than the rest of the group right now. A lot of it has to do with the fact that he's a little stronger physically and a little more mature.
Cole: Bobby Wilkins missed some time earlier in the AZL season. What was the issue with him?
Adair: He has had a little fatigue, so we held him out for a couple of starts. He's already back in. He threw two innings three days ago and he's starting to build himself back up.
Cole: Have you gotten the chance to work with Neftali Feliz yet?
Adair: I saw him throw in the bullpen twice and saw him pitch in a game once. Talking to the people in Atlanta, we're excited to have this guy. He's a good young man and a little more mature than some at 18 years old. Obviously he has a great arm, so we're excited about him.
Cole: Do you see him as a starter or reliever down the road?
Adair: We want to start all of our quality arms. Feliz is one of those guys who is kind of like Fabio. They're probably the youngest two guys in the league. Eventually Feliz is going to be starting and pitching every fifth day. But we're trying to do some side work with him. We've got him on a schedule where he's going to pitch on certain days, but he doesn't yet have the workload of a starting pitcher. In a sense, he is a starting pitcher right now because he is on a schedule. But at the same time, we're trying to protect him from innings, pitch counts, and the fact that the league is a lot older than he is.
Cole: Another one of those young Spokane guys is Michael Main. Can you talk about his recent promotion?
Adair: He made a lot of progress down in Arizona. He's a high-profile guy and he has been exposed to a lot. He has matured a lot since we've had him. We took our time about getting him on the mound and built up. That is a young group we have in Spokane and they're holding their own.
Cole: How do you feel his curveball and changeup have progressed since joining the organization?
Adair: I've definitely seen a plus curveball out of him on the side and a few in the game. His changeup is something that is definitely there, he just hasn't used it enough. He probably didn't have to use it in high school at all. It's something he's going to have to learn how to use a little more often. He is a good athlete with a good attitude and like I said, he's very mature. I'm sure he'll progress quickly.
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