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03/19/11 1:58 PM ET
Prospect Hurley among Rangers' latest cuts
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Eric Hurley, who is re-establishing himself as a top prospect, was sent to Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday morning.
Also sent to the Minors were pitcher Ryan Tucker, first baseman Chad Tracy, infielder Brian Barden, catcher Jose Felix and first baseman Jose Ruiz.
Hurley pitched in three games and surrendered just one run over nine innings. He allowed four hits, two walks and struck out five. But he was never really a serious candidate for the rotation because of the time he had missed.
Hurley, 25, was the 30th overall pick of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft and the Rangers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in '06. He has not pitched in a regular season game since July 27, 2008. He missed all of '09 with a torn rotator cuff and had to sit out last season as well because of a broken left wrist that needed three operations to correct.
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He was 1-2 with a 5.47 ERA in five starts for the Rangers in 2008 before suffering a shoulder injury.
"We're very impressed where Eric is," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "He has performed very well in big league camp and did everything we asked to get to this point. But we need to get guys out who are going to be starting pitchers in the Minor Leagues, so they'll be full-go when the Minor League season begins."
Tracy is another top prospect who has been derailed by injuries. He was hitting .263 with 17 home runs and 55 RBI in 78 games at Triple-A last year when his season came to an end in July because of a strained right oblique muscle. He also had surgery to clean up his right shoulder.
Tracy will play first base, left field and designated hitter at Round Rock. First base is his best defensive position, but the Rangers are still waiting to see what happens with Chris Davis.
Ruiz was signed as a Minor League free agent in the offseason and will likely be the Double-A first baseman at Frisco. Ruiz, who was in the Tampa Bay organization last year, is entering his second professional season since defecting from Cuba. He was 5-for-21 with two doubles in Cactus League play.
"We evaluated him pretty extensively as a free agent the first time and always liked his bat," Levine said. "We see him as a gap-to-gap hitter and not a power guy -- someone who can handle the bat. We've seen in Spring Training that he can rise to the occasion and hit good pitching. We're encouraged by what we've seen."
The Rangers acquired Tucker on waivers from the Marlins during the playoffs last year. A right-handed reliever who will be in the Round Rock bullpen, Tucker was 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA in six Cactus League appearances.
Barden, who spent parts of the past four seasons in the big leagues, played in just six Cactus League games while missing time with inflammation in his right elbow. He will likely be the Round Rock third baseman.
Felix was optioned to Double-A Frisco. He was the Rangers' Defender of the Year in 2010 and was 5-for-6 in Cactus League games. If he shows he can hit, Felix could end up playing regularly in the big leagues.
Pitchers Seth McClung and Cody Eppley were also reassigned to Minor League camp.