Future looking brighter for Rangers

Standout seasons from Davis, Volquez provide hope in Texas

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By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com | October 29, 2007 4:38 PM ET

Before the 2007 season began, MLB.com took an in-depth look at every big league team's Minor League system. Now, it's time to recap all 30 organizations, from top prospects to the recent draft class.

Editor's Note: The Rangers on Dec. 21 traded pitchers Edinson Volquez and Daniel Herrera to the Reds for outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Texas finished last in the American League West, mostly as a result of its poor record on the road. The Rangers were 25 games below .500 away from Arlington, but folks in the Lone Star State can seek solace in the fact that the situation figures to get brighter next season.

A large influx of talent is moving up through Texas' system, enough to help the Rangers become the kind of road warriors they'll need to be in order to compete in the AL. There's a bevy of pitching prospects on which to keep an eye, not to mention positional standouts in the infield and behind the plate.

So take a closer look at what the Rangers have to offer knowing that in the next few seasons -- because of this influx of young players -- hitting the road might no longer be a problem for Texas.

Organizational Players of the Year

PRESEASON PREDICTIONS

Taylor Teagarden, C : The former Longhorn wasn't quite the organizational MVP, but a case could be made for him after he combined to hit .310 with 27 homers and 83 RBIs while splitting time between Bakersfield and Frisco. He got back behind the plate on a near full-time basis and is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.
Audio: Teagarden tees off with solo shot

Eric Hurley, RHP : Hurley also saw action in two stops this season, splitting time between Frisco and Oklahoma City. Though he went 11-9 with a 4.00 ERA, he struggled after the promotion, going 4-7 with a 4.91 ERA in the Pacific Coast League. He allowed 13 homers in each of the stops, but the homers he allowed in Oklahoma came in 15 fewer innings.
Audio: Hurley strikes out his sixth batter

POSTSEASON SELECTIONS
As chosen by the author, not the organization

Chris Davis, 3B: The young slugger is beginning to look like the steal of the 2006 draft. Texas got him in the fifth round from Navarro Junior College, and this season he put up some of the best numbers in all of Minor League ball. Davis hit .297 with 36 homers and 118 RBIs while splitting time between Bakersfield and Frisco. He finished second in homers and RBIs in the Minors. With a good spring and a quick start next season, there's no reason to think he won't get a taste of life in Arlington at some point.
Audio: Davis belts a grand slam
Audio: Davis delivers another slam

Edinson Volquez, RHP: There were some questions surrounding Volquez after he got hammered in each of the last two seasons during appearances in the Major Leagues. Those questions didn't go away when he began the season by going 0-4 with a 7.13 ERA in seven starts at Bakersfield. But over his next 19 starts at Frisco and Oklahoma City, Volquez went 14-2 with a 2.55 ERA. He then made it back to Texas, where he went 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six starts. He finished the Minor League season at 14-6 with a 3.67 ERA with an organizational-best 166 strikeouts. Overall, he was 16-7 with a 3.88 ERA.
Audio: Volquez fans 11

Climbed the Ladder

Kasey Kiker, LHP: How could the former high school phenom from Alabama not have climbed the ladder? He was 0-7 with a 4.13 ERA in 2006 at Spokane, but put together a splendid season in '07, going 7-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 20 starts for Clinton of the Midwest League. He finished up strong, going 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his last 10 starts, not allowing a run in his final 12 2/3 innings. Kiker didn't get into game action until May 21 because the Rangers wanted to keep his innings down. He finished with 96 1/3 frames.
Audio: Kiker gets his ninth K

German Duran, 2B: Duran followed up a solid season in the California League with an even better one in the Texas League, hitting .300 with 22 homers and 84 RBIs. He was second in the league with 144 hits, third with a .525 slugging percentage, fourth with 59 extra-base hits and fourth in batting while helping lead Frisco to the playoffs. Duran was a midseason and postseason All-Star and was selected for the All-Star Futures Game.
Video: Duran goes solo

Omar Poveda, RHP: Too many people got caught up in Poveda's 4-14 record in 2006 rather than looking at the fact that he struck out 134 and walked only 42 batters. But he made his supporters this year, combining to go 12-6 while splitting time between Clinton and Bakersfield. His strikeout-to-walk ratio remained high (153-to-45) and he held the opposition to a .216 average, making him a strong contender for the organization's Pitcher of the Year.
Audio: Poveda strikes out 12

Kept Their Footing

Marcus Lemon, SS: The teenager struggled early on during his first full season in pro ball, hitting .213 in April and May. But he began to adjust as the calendar turned to summer and hit a respectable .284 the rest of the way to finish at .261. Lemon struck out more as the season progressed, averaging 22 strikeouts from June through August after whiffing an average of 15 times in April and May. But his walk totals also increased and he stole 12 bases. He was second among Midwest League shortstops with 31 errors.
Audio: Lemon triples home a run

John Mayberry, OF: The former first-round pick didn't really progress and didn't really regress this season. He just seemed to be there for much of the year, thus his falling into this category. He hit a combined 30 homers at Bakersfield and Frisco, one less than in 2006 at Clinton. He drove in 83 runs, six more than the previous season, but hit .235, a 33-point drop from '06. Mayberry also had more strikeouts (126) than hits (115), representing higher and lower totals, respectively, from the previous season.
Video: Mayberry delivers an RBI single

Steve Murphy, OF: The Kansas State product moved up from the California League in 2006 to the Texas League in '07 and had almost an identical season, hitting .277 with 66 RBIs. Each of his offensive totals was similar, whether it was walks, hits, double, triples, average and strikeouts. The only big change was that his home run production dropped from 19 to 11, not surprising considering the Cal League is a hitter's haven and the pitching in the Texas League is much tougher.
Audio: Murphy launches a solo shot

Slipped a Rung

Joaquin Arias, OF/SS: Arias, who was part of the deal that sent Alex Rodriguez to New York, appeared in only five games because of shoulder surgery and an infected thumb. The Rangers had high hopes for him this season, moving him to center field during Spring Training, but he developed a sore shoulder and eventually underwent arthroscopic surgery in July. He has demonstrated a lack of durability throughout his career, so how well he rebounds from this season will be telling.

Thomas Diamond, RHP: It's difficult to penalize a player because he got hurt, but the bottom line is that he missed the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and that leaves his future clouded. While the success rate for this surgery is high, there's no telling how Diamond will perform upon his return, which should come some time next summer. Either way, he has to work his way back up the food chain after going 12-5 with a 4.24 ERA for Frisco in 2006.

On the Radar

Chad Tracy, C/OF: Tracy wasn't considered the greatest defensive catcher when the Rangers drafted him in 2006 out of Pepperdine. Knowing that, the switch to a new position was on this year and after catching 11 games -- he only caught once after May 29 -- Tracy was moved to left field, where he spent the bulk of his time. He also saw action at first and as a designated hitter, but it would appear his future -- particularly with Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate -- is in the outfield for now. He committed three errors in 109 chances in left field (no errors in 96 chances behind the plate) and had one assist. He had no errors in 47 chances at first, so it's obvious he knows how to use the glove. Tracy also hit .250 with 14 homers and 84 RBIs.
Audio: Tracy connects for a two-run blast

Jesse Ingram, RHP: The 36th-round selection from the 2004 draft began to blossom as a closer at Frisco, collecting 26 saves and limiting the opposition to a .191 batting average. He appeared in a career-high 56 games, striking out 70 in 62 innings. His 28 walks and 10 homers allowed were each a tad high, but he seemed to get stronger as the season progressed, going 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 24 second-half games.
Audio: Ingram saves the day

Daniel Herrera, LHP: Like Ingram, Herrera was a late-round selection, coming out of New Mexico State in the 45th round of the 2006 draft. He spent the bulk of his season with Ingram in Frisco, though, and had a good showing, going 5-2 with a 3.78 ERA in 34 games. Combine that with the 2-0 record and 3.27 ERA he posted at Bakersfield to start the season, and it was a year that Herrera got himself noticed.
Audio: Herrera comes up big in the ninth

2007 Draft Recap

1. Blake Beavan, RHP: The Texas high school star signed late and didn't pitch during the regular season, but he did get on the mound during instructional league action. The Rangers will be cautious with him throughout much of next season, limiting his innings, which means there's a good chance he'll start the year in extended Spring Training.

2. Michael Main, RHP/OF: The hard-throwing high school star had some shoulder problems in high school, but worked through them and had a splendid senior season. He then was assigned to the Arizona League and had a 1.42 ERA in five games, earning a bump to Spokane of the Northwest League, where he went 2-0 with a 4.70 ERA in five games.

3. Julio Borbon, OF: The Tennessee product was a sandwich pick (35th overall), but probably would have gone higher had he not missed much of the season with a broken ankle. He had 37 at-bats after signing, splitting time between the Arizona and Northwest Leagues. He was unimpressive, hitting .189 with four strikeouts and a .250 OBP.

Others of note: RHP Neil Ramirez,the 44th overall pick from Kempsville High in Va., signed at the deadline and didn't see any game action. ... RHP Tommy Hunter, the 54th overall pick from Alabama, got in slightly ahead of Ramirez; early enough to go 2-3 with a save and a 2.55 ERA in 17 2/3 innings for Spokane. ... IF Matt West (second round, Bellaire High, TX) hit .301 with 17 RBIs in 103 at-bats in the Arizona League. ... Nothing funny about RHP Andrew Laughter (10th round, Louisiana-Lafayette). He had 11 saves and a 2.03 ERA in 26 appearances for Spokane of the Northwest League. Laughter didn't allow a homer in 31 innings. ... RHP Bobby Wilkins (sixth round, Valhalla HS, Calif.) was 0-4 with a 5.25 ERA in 10 games (six starts) in the Arizona League. ... RHP Evan Reed (third round, Cal Poly) was 1-1 with a 1.91 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) at Spokane and Clinton. The opposition hit .143 against him.

Kevin T. Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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