HOUSTON -- The Rangers had two pitchers make significant starts in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday: Colby Lewis at Triple-A Las Vegas and Neil Ramirez at Double-A Frisco. Lewis is on the road back from last year's flexor tendon surgery, and Ramirez is on the road back to re-establishing himself as a legitimate pitching prospect.
Lewis, in his first start on medical rehabilitation assignment, threw 41 pitches over two innings at Las Vegas. Lewis pitched a scoreless first inning, then allowed three runs in the second. He still felt strong and threw another 12 pitches in the bullpen afterward to get extra work. His velocity averaged 87 mph, with a high of 89. Lewis averaged 89-90 mph with his fastball in 2010-11.
"I felt pretty good ... teetered off a little bit in the second inning," Lewis said. "I think I just need to continue to go out there and build my pitch count up, but my stuff was good. I threw a little more in the bullpen just to push my body, but nothing crazy."
Ramirez was one of five first-round and supplemental-round picks by the Rangers in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and the only one still with the organization. Pitchers Blake Beavan, Michael Main and Tommy Hunter and outfielder Julio Borbon have all moved on to other teams.
Ramirez was 8-13 with a 6.28 ERA in 28 games last season with Round Rock and Frisco, but is off to a great start this season. He allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings in a win over Corpus Christi on Thursday nigh,t and is 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA in seven starts. Opponents are hitting .155 off him, and he has struck out 44 in 36 innings.
"He has been good all year," Frisco manager Steve Buechele said. "It's not just the stuff. He seems more relaxed and more confident. He's a different person, as well as a different pitcher. Everybody has seen the stuff from Neil over the years. But nobody has seen it consistent like we have, and that's a nice step for Neil."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.