Yu Darvish has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues.
And despite that, partly because of his talent and partly because of the ferocity of the Japanese media when it comes to one of their own, the 25-year-old pitcher is one of the biggest stories in baseball right now and has lapped the Josh Hamilton relapse story here locally in terms of relevance and interest.
So it should come as no surprise that Darvish was named as one of the top rookies to watch in 2012 by USA Today. Here's what Paul White had to say about Darvish for the upcoming season:
"If he's truly ready to embrace the rock-star image he could project on a championship-caliber team, there's no telling how good he could be. Making the cultural adjustment from Japan seems to be all that's standing in the way of him being a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Those who have been around him say Darvish has the personality to handle it."
Darvish isn't the only player on the list with ties to the Texas Rangers. Behind him are guys like Tampa Bay Rays lefty Matt Moore, who pitched Game 1 of the ALDS in October against the Rangers with just a handful of MLB innings under his belt and completely shut the Rangers down. He's got all kinds of promise.
Then there's Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout, who has already made a splash in the bigs with his ridiculous speed and good mix of power and way-above-average defense in center.
Finally there's Robbie Erlin, who the Rangers shipped to San Diego last summer in exchange for Mike Adams. It seems as though he's set to be in the bigs in San Diego. Here's Paul White's synopsis:
"Imagine Trevor Hoffman pitching as effectively as he did with San Diego for seven innings at a time. Erlin isn't an exact match, but when he breaks out his changeup, Padres fans will have some nice memories. One place Erlin can one-up Hoffman is control. Few pitchers can match Erlin's 34 walks in 266 minor league innings, to go with 288 strikeouts. Picked up from the Rangers in last season's Mike Adams trade, Erlin needs a big spring to crack the opening-day rotation but won't be down long regardless."
So what do you think, Rangers fans? Erlin or Adams?