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Thomas Diamond, RHP
Diamond is having an up-and-down season out of the bullpen for Double-A Frisco. The 26-year-old has a 3.63 earned-run average in 44.2 relief innings. While he has allowed just 43 hits [.254 BAA] and struck out 50, he has walked 36 batters.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound hurler is having trouble consistently getting ahead with his fastball, causing him to go deep into counts too often. Depending on the night, Diamond’s four-seam fastball ranges anywhere between 88 and 94 mph, although he averages around 91-93.
When Diamond returned from Tommy John surgery last season, he used a big-breaking curveball. This season, the Rangers have given him a slider. Diamond’s upper-70s, low-80s slider has gradually improved throwing the season, getting both tighter and sharper. His command for the pitch is improving, and it is actually showing a bit of plus potential.
Back in his days of starting, Diamond flashed an above-average changeup, but it has become a little-used pitch out of the bullpen. Earlier in the season, Diamond still incorporated his change even as a reliever, but he only uses the pitch once per outing, if at all lately.
The Arizona Fall League campaign is going to be big for Diamond. This season is just his first out of the bullpen, but he must refine his command. If Diamond is able to get ahead of hitters, he has a chance to pitch in the Major Leagues.
Brennan Garr, RHP
Another right-handed reliever out of the Frisco bullpen, the Rangers also assigned Garr to the Fall League roster.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” he said of the assignment. “I think it’s going to be a good thing for my career. Hopefully I can get some experience and get some more innings under my belt.”
|Garr hasn't allowed an ER in his last 13.0 innings.
Garr is currently turning around what was a previously rough season with an outstanding month of August. The month is perhaps the best he has thrown since arriving at Double-A late in the 2007 season.
For the year, Garr has a 3.94 ERA in 45.2 relief innings. He has surrendered 43 hits while walking 25 and striking out 38.
In August alone, the prospect has surrendered three earned runs on 13 hits in 17.1 innings [1.56 ERA].
The 25-year-old has a 91-94 mph fastball, a good slider, and a developing split-changeup. Like Diamond, Garr’s primary issue is consistent command. He has the raw stuff to pitch in the Major Leagues, but he must get ahead of hitters on a regular basis.
Garr realizes that, and he’d like to refine his command in Arizona.
“I’d like to just continue to keep working on throwing my secondary stuff for strikes,” he explained. “Mostly I want to work on commanding my fastball a lot more. That’s the main thing I’d like to work on—commanding my fastball and getting ahead.”
Doug Hogan, C
Hogan is perhaps the least-known player on the Rangers’ Fall League slate because he was a 2008 draft pick who has played above Single-A Hickory for just about two weeks.
The club’s 18th round pick in the ’08 draft, Hogan opened his season at Hickory, where he batted .249 with 15 doubles and 16 home runs. In five games since his promotion to High-A Bakersfield, the backstop is 3-for-16 with two doubles.
Hogan missed nearly a month earlier in the season because of a knee injury that required minor surgery, but he has had no health issues since.
The Clemson product is one of the system’s strongest hitters, giving him plenty of raw power and the ability to hit some tape-measure home runs. The question with Hogan, at the plate, is whether or not he’ll be able to hit for a high enough average at the higher levels.
Behind the plate, Hogan is a solid catch-and-throw guy who calls a good game. He threw out just 23 percent [20 of 87] of attempted basestealers with the Crawdads, but he did a good job of handling the young pitching staff. The 24-year-old has gunned down four of twelve basestealers with the Blaze.
Marcus Lemon, 2B/SS
“I talked to some of the coaches and Mr. Scott Servais,” said Lemon of going to the Fall League. “They were telling me how it is a good opportunity and I see it as a good opportunity for me to go and better myself.”
At just 21 years of age, Lemon is having a strong season at Double-A Frisco. The Florida native is batting .271 with 19 doubles, four triples, and one home run. He has drawn 40 walks while striking out just 61 times.
“I feel like it has been a great year,” he said. “I think it has been a really great learning opportunity for me. I hope to learn more from the full season up here, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”
Though Lemon currently has multi-hit efforts in four of his last six games, he is batting just .225 with nine extra-base hits since the Texas League All-Star break. In the first half, he hit .299 with 15 extra-base hits and 26 walks versus 33 punchouts.
Lemon isn’t what scouts consider to be a ‘toolsy’ player, but he maximizes his tools by working hard and being smart. Lemon has an advanced approach at the plate and he can spray the ball to all fields. He isn’t likely to hit for much home run power, but Lemon can turn on the occasional inside fastball and dump it over the right-field wall.
|Lemon has moved to second base this year.
Most young left-handed hitters struggle against left-handed pitching, but that isn’t the case for Lemon. The lefty hitter [but righty thrower] is 27-for-85 [.318] against southpaws this season with 10 walks and 11 strikeouts.
In the field, Lemon has recently made the transition to second base. After being drafted as a shortstop, he spent his first two full professional seasons playing that position before moving to second at last year’s Fall Instructional League.
Lemon has still spent some time at short this season, and he’ll likely always play there from time-to-time. Lemon is the type of player who will likely play multiple positions should he reach the Major Leagues.
The 5-foot-11, 173-pound infielder’s range and arm strength have improved a bit this year, but he still much work on making the routine play. In 71 games at second base and 38 at shortstop, Lemon has committed 24 errors this season, leading to a .952 fielding percentage.
But Lemon is also improving with the routine stuff. He committed 43 errors [.919 fielding] in 115 games one season ago in Bakersfield.
Lemon will likely continue to play second base with the Surprise Rafters, and he may benefit from the Fall League assignment and a repeat of the Texas League in 2010.
Mitch Moreland, 1B/RF
No hitter in the Rangers’ system has done more to improve his stock this season than Mitch Moreland.
Moreland’s numbers are incredibly impressive. He batted .331 for the season between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco, putting up similar numbers are both levels. Moreland showed steady improvement since arriving in Frisco.
The 23-year-old played 73 games in the Texas League, batting .326 with 19 doubles, three triples, and eight home runs.
Although he walked just 23 times with Frisco [versus 21 in 43 games for Bakersfield], Moreland’s plate discipline proved to be excellent. He was a selective hitter that showed the ability to lay off pitches out of the strike zone, foul off ‘bad’ strikes, and hit his pitch into the outfield for a line drive.
Like Lemon, Moreland is a lefty that has little trouble mashing southpaws. He went 30-for-78 [.385] against left-handers as a RoughRider, walking five times and striking out five times.
Basically, Moreland looks like he can be a solid Major League hitter that can hit for a decent average, good power, and work his share of walks.
The only question mark is where the Mississippi State product will play in the field. Moreland profiles best as a first baseman, but Chris Davis and Justin Smoak are currently roadblocking him there.
Also a left-handed thrower, Moreland has spent much of the season playing in right field, where his plus arm plays well. Moreland pitched in last year’s Fall Instructional League, and his fastball sat between 90-94 mph. However, Moreland isn’t the fastest or most athletic player in the system, and he isn’t able to cover much ground in right.
Moreland’s season came to an end when he fouled a ball off his foot in Tulsa on August 13. The foul ball broke his foot. He should get a month’s worth of at-bats with the Surprise Rafters, and it’ll be interesting to see what position he plays.
Evan Reed, RHP
Just like the other two relievers the Rangers are sending to the Fall League, righty Evan Reed has big-league stuff, but he needs to refine command.
Reed is having success in his first season out of the bullpen. Playing with High-A Bakersfield, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound hurler has an organization-leading 22 saves in 41 appearances. He has yielded 42 hits in 46.1 innings [.246 BAA] while walking 26 and fanning 62.
The former Cal Poly pitcher possesses one of the system’s best fastballs. The pitch ranges between 91-95 mph with good, heavy movement. The heater is one of the reasons he has surrendered just one home run all year, and he has a 1.88 groundout-flyout ratio.
The focus for Reed, ever since he joined the Rangers’ organization, has been getting consistent command of his offspeed stuff. Reed uses a slider and a splitter. Reed recently began throwing the splitter to help with his power arsenal.
The 2009 campaign is Reed’s second full season in Bakersfield, and he should open the 2010 season with Double-A Frisco. But for now, Reed will get an opportunity to pitch against some of minor league baseball’s most impressive hitters.
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