Forgotten prospect West off to quick start

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Forgotten pitching prospect Matt West is off to a good start for the Rangers this spring. While other Rangers pitchers were getting knocked around, West pitched a scoreless inning in the Rangers' 11-1 loss to the Royals on Friday afternoon.

West had a 1-2-3 inning earlier in the week during an intrasquad game. On Friday, Norichika Aoki reached on shortstop Elvis Andrus' throwing error but West got Jason Donald to ground into a double play. Eric Hosmer also grounded out as first baseman Prince Fielder made a terrific diving stop down the line.

"I just feel good," West said. "I feel recovered. I'm feeling better every time out."

"He did a heckuva job," manager Ron Washington said. "He came in and did the job. It looked like he was free with his fastball. Hopefully he can keep growing and getting better. He has good mechanics. His arm strength is pretty firm. There is more there but it was pretty firm."

West was the Rangers second-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Houston Bellaire (Texas) High. He was drafted as an infielder but switched to pitcher in 2011. Just when it appeared he was about to flourish on the mound, he developed elbow problems and underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 22, 2012. He pitched in one game in 2013 but did pitch in the Arizona Fall League.

All through the process, the Rangers have West on the 40-man roster in the hope he could come back all the way. The fact that he could hit 99 miles per hour on the radar gun and averaged 95-96 before the injury probably had something to do with it. Right now he is about 90-91 miles per hour.

"Obviously I've been blessed with a good arm and the ability to throw decent pitches," West said. "They know my work ethic so with the little success I have had and my work ethic, it has given them some hope."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for 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.