Back in the bad old days, the Rangers rarely produced pitching prospects worth the label.
When they did actually did stumble across a young arm of merit, they would rush them through the system so quickly that their eventual demise wound up being about as surprising as the ending to your average romantic comedy. The shortage of pitching became an organizational theme that consistently bit them in the rear as they tried to build a contending team.
That's all come to an end. Neftali Feliz was the Rookie of the Year, the team is producing homegrown starters by the gross and they've got one of the best prospects in all of baseball pitching for Double-A Frisco. Martin Perez just turned 20, has three plus pitches and has earned comparisons to Johan Santana.
He also spent Tuesday night throwing a perfect game.
Well, he almost threw a perfect game. It was called after five innings because of lightning, but that's good enough to go into the book as an official game and it's more than good enough to ratchet up the hype machine another level for Perez. He's now gone 10 innings without allowing a run, striking out 12 hitters in that span and allowing just six baserunners.
That's an impressive start for a guy who looked a bit overmatched during his stint with Frisco in 2010. He struck out more than a hitter per inning, good enough to keep his prospect shine intact, but he got hit hard a good bit of the time and it felt like the Rangers might be up to their old tricks when it came to rushing young arms.
Those concerns can go away. Perez is clearly better for last year's experience and should be moving up the ladder again before too much longer. Could that ladder reach all the way into Arlington this summer?
In a perfect world, such a move would be totally off limits. Perez needs to be brought along at just the right speed to ensure he develops into the ace that the Rangers believe he can be. Pennant races aren't perfect worlds, though, and the vagaries of the months to come may make it impossible to resist seeing what Perez can do at the big league level.
Either way, it's nice to know that Rangers pitching prospects are no longer the oxymoronic jumbo shrimp of the baseball world.