With right around a third of the season completed, the Texas Rangers have already seen a major influx in minor league help at the big league level, especially when referring to the bullpen.  Here is a quick look at some of the stories currently going on with some other big name prospects in the Rangers' farm system.

Martin Perez (AA) - Last night faced a very potent Reno lineup and went 7 IP, 0 runs, 5 hits, 2 BB, 5 Ks.  In his last five starts Perez has shown he is figuring it out and won’t be in Frisco much longer.  No promotion is imminent, but I do expect there to be one before the end of June if these type of performances keep up.  Therefore if you live in the DFW area and want to see the Rangers #1 prospect in the entire farm system, go sooner rather than later to a Roughrider game.

Robbie Erlin (AA) - For those too involved in this, just like me, you’ll have already noticed the update.  That’s right the Pelicans top pitcher and arguably a Top 3 pitcher in the farm system has received his promotion from High-A to AA.  Erlin (cough…Cliff Lee…cough) will make his AA debut in a start here in Frisco on Sunday afternoon.  And no joke, I literally bought my tickets for Monday’s game 15 minutes before the announcement.  Perez is considered by most the top prospect in the organization, so I won’t buck that…however I believe the Rangers best pitcher in the future will be Mr. Erlin.  My new favorite, can’t wait to see him in Frisco and if you get a chance, I recommend seeing him even more than I did Cohiba two weeks ago.

Brandon Webb (AA) - Webb will finally make an appearance in the Rangers farm system, outside of extended spring training.  He has been in Arizona at XST this entire season, to date.  But on Monday afternoon in Frisco he will make his first rehab start.  The clock will beginning that evening and the Rangers will have 30 days until they must promote him to Arlington or pass him through waivers.  And unless he is re-injured, there is a 100% chance someone will pick him up.  So starting Monday afternoon, it will be time to pay close attention to Webb and how he throws.  From my understanding his velocity is still not there, but his command and stamina are.  Webb could be activated to the MLB roster around mid-June, either as a starter or reliever.  His presence could be a huge boost for the team. 

I’ll have a better feel for him after Monday, will be sending tweets out through @letstalkrangers during the game about his performance.  Might even throw in a Cohiba tweet or two.

Leonys "Cohiba" Martin (AA) - For those who might have missed the previous piece on Cohiba or the tweeter storm, he is the most recent Rangers signing.  A Cuban defector, 23-year-old centerfielder whose upside is in the stratosphere.  Since joining the organization and being assigned to AA Frisco, Cohiba has played in 13 games.  I know, small sample size, but the numbers are consistent with his Cuban and extended spring numbers.  In his 13 games, Cohiba is batting .315, .393 on-base PCT., and .537 slugging.  Of his 17 hits, 8 have gone for extra bases, five doubles, two triples, and one home run.  He has drawn six walks, struckout only twice, scored seven times and driven in 11.  Cohiba is very well known for his speed and already has seven steals in eleven attempts, successful in his past four. 

Over the last several years the Rangers have had a few groupings of young pitchers who have been together a while and risen up the system together.  When I say and smile that there is a new bunch on the rise, believe me, there are some solid pitching prospects a couple years away.

First came the DVD combo of Thomas Diamond, Edinson Volquez, and John Danks…none did anything worth mentioning in a Rangers uniform.  Volquez brought us Josh Hamilton, so he did serve one good purpose.  But today Diamond is with the Cubs and still struggling to stay healthy, Volquez with the Reds was just sent back down to AAA…again, and Danks…well Danks has been hit hard by the Rangers twice and currently is 0-7 on the season.

After a period in which the Rangers finally dismissed all three of these pitching prospects and catching some serious heat for it, the Rangers decided to groom and keep the next round.  Feliz-Holland, this one worked out much better for the Rangers as Neftali Feliz is still the closer and reigning AL Rookie of the Year and Derek Holland is in the starting rotation and showing some serious signs of holding down a rotation spot.  The book is still out on Feliz, until we see what his future brings…is he our closer for years and years to come?  Or when he transitions to the rotation, will it be for the best?  Same with Holland as he needs to begin to show more progress and less growing pains.  The future is bright for both pitchers as staples for the Rangers for years.

Which brings me to the current and forgive me for not mentioning current MLB pitchers like Alexi Ogando, Tommy Hunter, or minor leaguers Tanner Scheppers and Michael Kirkman, but the next round of Rangers prospects rising together are just a tad younger.  Younger as in all would still be in college, none can rent a car, and half still can't legally buy a drink.  These are the "20-somethings"  That’s really the best thing I can call them right now, because it’s hard to come up with a name, feel free to help out.  But that leads to the good news, there are currently 6 young pitchers that I have on this list and their connection is that they are all in their early 20s.  The future is incredibly bright for each and every single one of these pitchers:

  1. Neil Ramirez (AAA), RHP - 22 (two days ago) - 3-1, 3.74 ERA, 43.1 IP, 48 Ks, 19 BB, and a 1.32 WHIP.  Started the season in A-ball.
  2. Martin Perez (AA), LHP - 20 - 10 starts, 2-0, 2.01 ERA, 53.2 IP, 53 Ks, 1 HR allowed, and a 1.25 WHIP.  Rangers top pitching prospect.
  3. Robbie Erlin (AA), LHP - 20 - (High-A stats) 9 starts, 3-2, 2.14 ERA, 54.2 IP, 62 Ks, 5 BB, and a ri-DIRK-ulous 0.55 WHIP.
  4. Joe Wieland (High-A), RHP - 21 - 8 starts, 4-3, 1.73 ERA, 52 IP, 61 Ks, 0.88 WHIP, and an unexplainable and incredible 3 walks.  Other words he is walking a batter every 20+ strikeouts.
  5. Robbie Ross (High-A), LHP - 21 - 9 starts, 5-1, 2.88 ERA, 50 IP, 43 Ks, and 1.32 WHIP.  On the season Ross has yet to allow a single Home Run.
  6. Ramon Mendez (Low-A), RHP - 20 - 9 starts, 5-1, 2.64 ERA, 47.2 IP, 43 Ks, 2 HR allowed, and a 1.32 WHIP.  The major piece acquired via trade for sending Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Boston.

Now I truly do understand that when the DVD and Feliz-Holland combos became newsworthy, they were all ready to breakthrough into the Majors.  These six young men are not there yet, in fact some are a few years away, maybe 2-4 years.  And I don’t even expect to have all six to pan out and be just as good as their numbers show.  But it is reasonable to say three will, and feasible to say four of them will be solid if not above-average MLB talent.

Of course the question will always come up, will the Rangers hold on to all six over the next couple years?  Well conventional wisdom says, no way.  But the farm system is strong enough that Texas can and will attempt to make trades using some of the other top-tier talent and more than likely not even touching these young men who’s MLB debuts will range from 2013 to 2015.