SPOKANE, Wash. -- After a slow start to the season that quickly removed them from contention in the AL West, the Texas Rangers have been sellers at this year's trade deadline, adding a much-needed influx of arms to their barren farm system. A major reason for the lack of pitching stems back to the team's deadline deal in 2016 that included Erik Swanson ('14), Dillon Tate ('15) and Nick Green ('15 - '16), who were sent to the Yankees for another former Spokane Indians player, Carlos Beltran, as the Rangers looked to add a veteran bat for a playoff push. Beltran performed well down the stretch (.280-7 HR-29 RBI in 206 AB) and Texas made the playoffs, but the Rangers were swept in the Division Series by the Blue Jays and Beltran signed with the Astros in the offseason (where, of course, he went on to win a World Series).
The now twice-traded Tate (try to say that five times fast) was the highest-profile prospect involved, having been originally drafted fourth overall in 2015, but also the most mercurial. The right-hander flirted with triple digits during his time at UC-Santa Barbara but inconsistent mechanics led to lower velocity and middling results in the minors (Tate had a 5.12 ERA with Hickory at the time of trade). He was solid the rest of 2016 in the Yankees organization before a breakout season across two levels last year, finishing 7-2 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Tate was off to a strong start again this year in Double-A (Baseball America had him ranked as New York's No. 6 prospect) before he was shipped to the Orioles on July 24 as part of the Zach Britton deal. The pitching-starved Orioles will give Tate every chance to remain a starter, and at worst he appears likely to be a power arm of an MLB bullpen in the not-too-distant future.
Drafted in the eighth round out of Iowa Western Community College, Swanson performed well in the Rangers organization but didn't look likely to make a name for himself in the big leagues due to some control issues and the lack of third pitch. He ironed out his command with the High-A Tampa Yankees in 2017 (just 14 walks in 100.1 innings) before blossoming into a legitimate prospect this season thanks to an improved curveball that's left hitters flummoxed. Across three levels in 2018, Swanson has gone 6-1 with a 2.38 ERA while striking out 103 in just 87 innings. Like Tate, Swanson will be given an opportunity to make the majors as a starter, but the burly right-hander has the also stuff and demeanor necessary to become a future shutdown closer in the Bronx.
The youngest of the three pitchers involved in the deal, Green spent time with Spokane in both 2015 and 2016, becoming the first player in recent memory to be traded while still on the Indians roster. Green had flashes of potential during his first year in the Yankees organization but finished the season with mediocre numbers (8-9, 4.49 ERA, 1.35) for the Charleston RiverDogs. The sinkerballer has finally put it all together this season, posting a 6-4 record with a 3.16 ERA while being selected to start the Florida State League All-Star Game. Although the furthest away from the big leagues, Green's ability to generate groundball outs makes him a name to file away for the future, especially in the homer-happy AL East.
So, as all three pitchers that were traded for Beltran continue to develop into potential impact arms, the Rangers have to hope that this summer's deadline deals will prove as fruitful in the years to come.
About the Spokane Indians
The Spokane Indians are the Short Season Class "A" affiliate for the Texas Rangers. Avista Stadium is home to the $5 Bench Seat courtesy of Multicare. Ticket packages for the 2018 season are now available for purchase. CLICK HERE to reserve your seats today. Parking at all Spokane Indians games is FREE. The Spokane Indians Team Store is open M-F 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, and 10:00 AM on all game days.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.