Texas Rangers

Rangers lose pitching prospect to Tommy John as another returns from surgery

Lefty starter Joe Palumbo will begin his road back from Tommy John on Sunday when he makes his first appearance since April 2017 in the Arizona Rookie League.
Lefty starter Joe Palumbo will begin his road back from Tommy John on Sunday when he makes his first appearance since April 2017 in the Arizona Rookie League. Special to the Star-Telegram

Just as one Texas Rangers prospect who underwent Tommy John surgery is set to return, another is headed to the operating table.

This time it's right-hander Alex Speas, the Rangers second-round pick in the 2016 draft. An MRI exam showed a torn ulnar collateral ligament, and he will undergo the ligament replacement surgery Monday in Arlington.

Speas was 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA as the closer at Low-A Hickory. His surgery will come some two months after 2016 first-rounder Cole Ragans, a left-hander, underwent Tommy John.

"That one hurts," assistant general manager Jayce Tingler said. "He was throwing extremely well."

Lefty starter Joe Palumbo will begin his road back from Tommy John on Sunday when he makes his first appearance since April 2017 in the Arizona Rookie League.

Tingler said that Palumbo will make a few starts with the rookies before moving to High-A Down East.

Palumbo shot into the top 10 of Rangers prospects in 2016 and was off to a fast start at High-A Down East last season before being diagnosed with a torn UCL.

The Rangers added Palumbo to their 40-man roster in November to avoid losing him in the Rule 5 draft, and he was in big league spring camp for the first time in his career.

Promotion time

The All-Star break arrived for Down East earlier this week, and as usual the Rangers used the break to promote players to a new level.

Righty Edgar Arredondo and lefty C.D. Pelham made the jump to Double-A Frisco, and Arredondo was the Rough Riders' starting pitcher Friday. He went 5-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 11 High-A starts, striking out 68 and walking only 11.

Pelham, though, is a prospect to watch. The hard-throwing reliever, a 33rd-round pick in 2015 from Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College, was 11 for 11 in save chances for Down East and posted a 1.95 ERA over 27 2/3 innings.

With the Rangers in a developmental phase and possibly in need of a lefty reliever if Jake Diekman is traded, the 6-foot-6 Pelham will merit consideration.

"He's got a unique ability," Tingler said. "Any given night a fastball from 94 to 99 mph. There's definitely major-league stuff in there. Are there still things C.D. needs to work on? Absolutely. The shape of his slider, throwing it for strikes, throwing it for put-away, and controlling the running game."

A-OK in Spokane

Hans Crouse, the Rangers' second-round pick last year, allowed one run in two innings Thursday in his 2018 debut with short-season Class-A Spokane after being scratched from the season opener because of a cut on his index finger.

The righty was injured June 15 warming up for the Indians' season opener and scratched as a precaution. After his outing Thursday, he will be allowed to pitch longer.

"Since he hadn't pitched in 17 days, we capped it off at a short amount," Tingler said. "It's one of those things that he probably could have pitched through, but we made the decision of let's not take a chance at having him miss two or three starts if it opens up worse."

Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez is off to a slow start with Spokane after moving from the Dominican Summer League, going only 2 for 21 over his first six games. Tingler, though, said that the at-bats have been solid as he adjusts to a better level of talent.

"The transition is fine," Tingler said. "All of the reports have been very positive. He hasn't gotten going offensively, but the at-bats have been good."

Another Cuban, right-hander Yosiel Serrano, was suspended 72 games by MLB for a positive test for a banned substance. Serrano, 21, was signed over the offseason and hadn't thrown a pitch for the Dominican Summer League team.

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