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Blackberry Burning

Rangers A Good Trade Fit

With Texas expected to have a strong offensive team and playoff aspirations in 2010 due to improved pitching, their early bullpen woes are not a good sign. In a division ripe for the taking and their primary rival the LA Angels still trying to figure out how to deal with the loss of Lackey, Figgins, and Guerrero; Texas has an opportunity to take charge of the AL West.

With a deep farm system and only one glaring need, the Rangers have an opportunity to strike early to solve this problem on an otherwise competitive and potentially powerful team. Though they really need a #1 closer, it appears that Neftali Feliz has the stuff to grow into that role as the season wears on and Frank Francisco will likely sort out his problems eventually to create a powerful 1-2 punch at the end of games. The addition of a lefty like Scott Downs to complement Darren Oliver however, would create a similar and daunting 1-2 punch from the left side.

So who on the Rangers farm would be fair and interesting compensation for the likes of Blue Jays experienced lefty? I look at two possibilities who might interest GM Alex Anthopolous.

Wilmer Font is the kind of big, strong right-hander 6′4” 210 lbs durable workhorse major league teams love. Turning 20 in May, he spent the ‘09 season in low-A ball and allowed 93 hits in 108.1 innings using his mid 90's fastball to post a 3.49 ERA and an 8-3 record. His control clearly needs work after he posted a 4.90 BB/9 but he had a good strikeout rate at 8.72 K/9. Font also needs to get more balls on the ground (37 GB%) despite a good HR/9 rate of 0.33. He is off to a similar start in 2010 in the SAL league and likely ready for high A ball by mid summer. With lots of pitching depth at the upper minor leagues, Jays could afford to wait 2-3 years for him to reach the big club. It would be worth the wait as he is a potential #2 starter.

Mitch Moreland went from a 17th round draft pick out of college in ‘07 to a Top 10 prospect in ‘09, which is no small feat. After spending all of ‘08 in low-A ball, Moreland played at both high-A and double-A in ‘09 but is off to a slow start in triple-A this season. The left-handed hitter has hit more than .325 over the past two seasons with reasonable strikeout rates. He has average power and defense but a strong arm which translates potentially to RF.

William Bruyea


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