The RedHawks lost 15-9 to Omaha Tuesday night in a game that didn’t do the profession of throwing baseballs for a living any favors.
Omaha and Oklahoma City pitchers tossed 333 combined pitches through the first seven innings alone in a four-hour game. The RedHawks burned through so many arms, infielder Casey Benjamin took a turn on the hill.
Some struggled more than others, but you have to wonder when the Rangers will call up a prospect from Frisco who is in their long term plans to fill spots of players who may not be.
Several candidates might be lefty Kasey Kiker and Tommy Hunter. While Omaha and OKC pitchers were giving up hit after hit, three hours to the south in Frisco Kiker pitched seven scoreless innings of one hit ball with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Kiker, 21, is the No. 19 ranked prospect in the Rangers farm system according to Baseball America. There have been some concerns about his conditioning, so much so team president Nolan Ryan personally talked to him about it. Those issues caused him to drop 12 spots on BA’s rankings this season, but there’s no denying he has potential.
Kiker projects as a starter on the major league level, but the Rangers called up Derek Hollland who is a starter and the No. 2 prospect in the organization to Arlington to pitch in the pen while getting his feet wet on the big league level. Doing the same with Kiker seems plausible if he were promoted to Triple-A before later working him into the rotation.
Hunter pitched in Oklahoma City last year as both a reliever and a starter. He’ll probably land in OKC anyway eventually. The Rangers have been taking a slow approach with Hunter since he suffered a groin injury in spring training.
Texas could also choose to stand pat and leave OKC’s pen and rotation alone. Kiker didn’t pitch nearly as well in his first start so there are still some rough edges to smooth out and Dustin Nippert was added to OKC’s roster Tuesday on a rehab assignment. He figures to take a turn or two in the rotation or in relief, along with Michael Ballard who started out in the pen but will make at least one start later this week.