KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers are close to replenishing their Minor League pitching depth, farm director Jayce Tingler said on Sunday.
The Rangers are probably not going to have a young arm ready next spring to compete for a spot in the rotation. But a group at Double-A Frisco that includes Yohander Mendez, Ariel Jurado, Connor Sadzeck and Collin Wiles are getting closer to filling the upper level void created by multiple July trades over the past two years.
"Those four are the most advanced," Tingler said. "I would say most realistically, part of 2018 and certainly 2019 is fair."
Mendez, ranked as the club's No. 2 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, is 6-6 with a 3.94 ERA and a 1.15 ERA in 17 starts. He has an excellent changeup so Tingler said the focus has been on improving the fastball command.
"I've seen a lot of positive strides with him," Tingler said.
Jurado, the No. 3 prospect, is 7-6 with a 4.57 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 18 starts. He relies on a power sinker with an excessive ground-ball rate, and he now needs to refine his offspeed pitches.
Sadzeck, the No. 10 prospect, is one of the hardest throwers in the system and his 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings ranks him sixth among all Minor League pitchers. The Rangers have decided to try him out of the bullpen right now although they retain the option of moving him back to the rotation.
"That's something we are going to discuss," Tingler said.
Wiles is not among the Top 30 Rangers prospects, but this has the potential to be a breakout season for him. Wiles, the 53rd overall player taken in the 2012 Draft, is 7-6 with a 3.98 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Wiles is not overpowering, but he has learned to mix pitches and locate well, something you have to learn quickly pitching for Class A High Desert last year in the hitter-friendly California League.
"He got through the Cal League, took his lumps and licks, and is now better for it," Tingler said. "He's got a few of the staff buzzing about him."
The Rangers have another wave in Class A led by right-hander Jonathan Hernandez, who just pitched in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, and left-hander Brett Martin among others.
There is also a buzz about right-hander Mike Matuella, who the Rangers took in the third round out of Duke in 2015 while he was just beginning the recovery from Tommy John surgery. He was sidelined last year with a strained right forearm and pitched in just one game.
He is healthy now pitching at Class A and earned his first professional victory with five scoreless innings on Friday night against Asheville. Matuella was supposed to be one of the top picks in 2015 if not for the Tommy John surgery.
"Our goal is for him to make all his starts and finish healthy," Tingler said. "There is more development absolutely, but we're not going to skip this step."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.