KINSTON, NC - On Tuesday the Texas Rangers announced its prospects headed to Surprise, AZ to participate in the Arizona Fall League - a de facto all-star circuit of the minor leagues' top prospects. Of the eight representatives from the Rangers to the Surprise Saguaros, seven have suited up for the Wood Ducks this season.
The participants are RHP Steven Bruce, LHP Adam Choplick, RHP Tyler Ferguson, INF Luis La O, C Josh Morgan, OF Michael O’Neill, and INF/OF Yanio Perez.
Bruce, a Texan from Flower Mound, is in his second stint with the Wood Ducks this season and has thrived in a starting role with the Wood Ducks. Down East has won three of his six starts and he has set new career-highs in innings pitched (7.2) and strikeouts (6, 2x) as a starter this season. An undrafted free agent out of Keiser University, the 25-year-old Bruce is currently in his second season in the Rangers organization.
Choplick is among the leaders in the Carolina League in his third professional season with the Rangers. The southpaw from Denton, TX leads league relievers in strikeouts/per nine innings pitched (12.23) and is second in opponents’ batting average (.176). He has appeared in the most games (39) for the Wood Ducks this season and is sixth in the league as well.
Ferguson was a mid-year callup from the Hickory Crawdads. The right-hander entered the season as the No.30 prospect on both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America for the Rangers farm system. He currently holds an 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings rate with the Wood Ducks after a July in which he posted 16 K's to only two walks. The Nashville, TN resident also held opposing batters to a .179 average for the month.
La O has enjoyed a tremendous first season of baseball in the states. Born in Santiago, Cuba, the infielder was a midseason All-Star for the Carolina League and is in the hunt for the batting crown. He is currently third in batting average (.290) and second in hits (130) for the league. He also has the best strikeout-to-total plate appearances ratio at 10.17.
Morgan is in the midst of a transitional year as the infielder has made 36 starts at catcher this season. He will be listed as a catcher in the AFL as the 21-year-old has been catching for the first time in his professional career. He’s currently hitting .260 with six home runs, including the only two grand slams of the season for the Wood Ducks.
O’Neill was promoted to the Frisco RoughRiders on May 30th after a hot start to his first season in the Rangers organization. The outfielder reached base in 26 of his first 29 games with the Woodies and led the league with 16 stolen bases at the time of his promotion. On the combined year, O’Neill has a career-high in total homers (14), average (.262), slugging (.436), and OPS (.766).
Perez joined the Wood Ducks on June 12th from the Hickory Crawdads - where he was a midseason All-Star prior to his promotion. Perez showcased his power in a two-homer game on the Fourth of July at Winston-Salem and currently has 13 homers on the combined year. Recently turned 22 years-old, the Cuban is also in his first year of professional baseball in the states.
2017 will mark the 26th season of Arizona Fall League baseball in the Phoenix metroplex. The Surprise Saguaro roster also consists of prospects from the Kansas City, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota systems. The other teams include Glendale, Peoria, Salt River, Scottsdale, and Mesa.
Current Hickory manager Spike Owen will manage the team, and the eighth farmhand from the Rangers will be David Ledbetter, a right-hander currently with the Round Rock Express.
These rosters are preliminary and subject to change. The season begins on Tuesday, October 10th and select games will be web-streamed through MLB.Com and televised on the MLB Network.
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