In a season marked by injuries for the Texas Rangers, their most curious pick Friday on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft was a left-hander who had Tommy John surgery in April.
Wes Benjamin, the No. 1 starter at Kansas, was one of eight players selected by the Rangers on the second day of the three-day draft. The Rangers used their fifth-round pick on Benjamin after liking what he did before the injury and judging that he will do what it takes to get his elbow healthy.
“The biggest thing is we know Wes,” assistant general manager A.J. Preller said. “From a Tommy John standpoint, you feel like in a year the odds are on your side. If they do the rehab the right way, in a year or so you’re getting a guy that should be back to normal if not better.
“We put a lot of stock in the person. He’s going to do everything to a T and get back on the field.”
The Rangers selected three Texans on Friday, including outfielder Doug Votolato in the ninth round out of Central Arkansas. Votolato played at Flower Mound Marcus.
The Rangers opened the day by selecting shortstop Josh Morgan from Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High School in the third round with the 95th overall pick. Morgan was rated as the No. 6 shortstop prospect by Baseball America.
Derek Holland wants to start pitching on a medical rehabilitation assignment so desperately that he asked local media members to begin praying that his next chance to impress the training staff goes well.
Holland is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee. He’ll take pitchers fielding practice Monday for the first time since doing so last week at Minnesota, where manager Ron Washington noticed that Holland wasn’t pushing off his left leg when making throws to third base.
The Rangers want to see improvement before letting Holland loose.
“That’s going to determine if I stay or go,” said Holland, who is on track to return near the All-Star break.
He will throw another bullpen session Sunday. He has thrown as many as 70 pitches on the side and expects that he will open his rehab assignment with a three- or four-inning outing.
Soto on track
Catcher Geovany Soto said that doctors informed him that he should be able to make his season debut the first game after the All-Star break.
Soto had surgery on his right knee late in spring training and is limited only from sprinting, hitting and deep squatting, but otherwise feels strong and well-conditioned.
He hopes to begin hitting next week, and also wants to travel with the Rangers so that he can catch bullpen sessions if cleared to resume deep squats.
The Rangers open the second half July 18 at Toronto.
“It’s not for sure,” Soto said. “It’s 90 percent I’m going to be there.”