MINNEAPOLIS -- Former All-Star pitcher Mark Prior, whose career has been derailed by a devastating shoulder injury, has reached an agreement with the Rangers on a Minor League contract. He will pitch at Triple-A Oklahoma City in relief, and this is considered a long-term project. He is not expected to be an option for the Rangers this season.
The right-hander signed an independent league contract with the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League on Aug. 3 and has allowed one unearned run over nine relief appearances (11 innings pitched), while compiling 22 strikeouts against 5 walks.
"I just want to see what I have left," Prior told the New York Times recently. "I'm doing this because I love playing. If what I've got left is good enough to get back up there, I'd love to put some more years under my belt. The only regret would be what if I could have one more shot, whether I get back for one day or five or six more years. I don't think I was ready to say, 'All right, that's it. I've had enough.'"
Prior was an 18-game winner for the Cubs in 2003 but hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since '06, when he was 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA in nine starts. He has had a variety of injuries in his career, but it was a fragile shoulder that brought him down.
He was the second overall pick behind Joe Mauer in the 2001 Draft and his $10.5 million signing bonus was the largest ever given out until Stephen Strasburg signed for $15 million last year.
"We got reports he was throwing well in the independent league," manager Ron Washington said. "He might become a very good bullpen piece."