While the RoughRiders have six players currently ranked in Baseball America’s top 30 prospects in the Texas Rangers organization, right-handed pitcher Cody Buckel is one to name in the spotlight.
With the Riders hosting the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Tuesday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark, Buckel was called to the mound. Buckel lasted only 1 and 2/3 innings, concluding with three strikeouts, five walks and giving up one hit.
The sizzling bats of the Riders backed him up, tallying 14 unanswered runs after trailing 7-0 in the second inning. The 14-7 victory clinched the Riders first sweep of the season. It also pushed their winning streak to five games.
Aside from all that, Buckel’s performance has not been indicative on how successful the 20-year-old has fared in the minors. Sure, he’ll have his struggles finding the strike zone, walking a batter or two or giving up multiple home runs from time to time. You can’t always expect perfect outings.
Buckel, who is 18-11 in the minors, entered the 2013 season ranked as the Rangers’ eighth best prospect. In fact, In 2012, he was named the Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year. And reached Double-A just after his 20th birthday. I have to add that Buckel was also the Minor League All-Star Second Team and High Class-A Pitcher of the Year.
I’ll throw you some stats as to why Buckel is highlighted in the majors. The Minor League All Star hasn’t been consistent in three straight outings. But he sustains a solid 3.78 ERA, 2.48 total in the minors. In 2011, the California native held right-hand batters to a .207 average, with his opponents hitting .229 overall. I would say that’s pretty impressive for his age.
It’s not all about what Buckel can do on the diamond. There are a number of things the prospect has done outside of baseball. Buckel played the lead role of “Troy” in the Royal High School production of “High School Musical” in recent years. He also starred in a national television commercial for Dick’s Sporting Goods during the off-season. I can tell the youngster is making himself known.
If anything, Buckel has a lot to be proud of. And likely has a bright future ahead. When his name is called upon, his teammates know he’ll be ready. I’ll be expecting the Louisville Slugger All-American to stay focused on his pitching. If Buckel keeps doing what he is capable of doing, he’ll get his shot in the majors someday.