March 14, 2013
Prospects Will Break Your Heart
Backfields Notes: Texas Rangers
After minor-league camp’s first pitcher/catcher salvo and before the legitimate backfield games commence in mid-March, teams often schedule prospect-heavy intrasquad games to put eyes on the talent and get the players back in the groove of live action. On the morning of March 10th, the Rangers occupied fields 5 and 6 on the backfields in Surprise; two lower-level minor-league squads on one field, and two upper-minors squads on the other. For a prospect lover, this was like a team-specific Futures Game, only stripped of all the fanfare and pageantry. This is a barebones scouting experience and the notes will reflect that. Jason Cole saddled up to field 5 while I took a seat behind the plate at field 6, where my radar gun almost melted onto my flesh and my phone got so hot that it decided to commit suicide when I asked it to function. Also, Jorge Alfaro hit a home rune and I giggled like a child.
Royce Bolinger (OF): Intriguing 2012 college senior draft pick; legit 7 arm from outfield; at his best on the corners; may be able to handle center in a pinch, though with fringy range; good instincts in the field; righty hitter with feel for hitting; can take the ball to all fields; showed some power to pull side; took a ball to the wall in first at-bat; took 87 mph fastball slightly up and in over left field fence for no-doubt home run next time up; could make jump from short-season to High-A out of camp this spring.
Zach Cone (OF): Big-league body; lots of strength in 6’2”, 205-lb. frame; good athlete; plus defender in corners with average arm; fringy in center; quick bat; flashes plus raw power; offensive tools play down in games due to highly questionable pitch recognition; leads to unbalanced approach; can get caught on front foot against secondaries, making it difficult to square with full authority; has the talent to succeed but must make adjustments.
Jon Edwards (RHP): Reliever all the way; worked exclusively from stretch; large 6’5”, 230-lb. righty with high arm slot; can create steep downward plane with plus velocity; worked 92-94 mph early in inning before finishing at 94-96; also mixed in plus power curve at 83-84; two legit plus pitches; rigid mechanics cause issues with repeatability and command; had trouble keeping front side square to the plate.
Note: A former outfielder in the Cardinals system, the 26-year-old Edwards was signed by the Rangers and converted to the mound full-time in 2012. Over 30 minor-league innings last season, he fanned 37 batters but issued 32 walks.