DALLAS - As the trade deadline draws near the Rangers are still stuck in the middle of competition and dropping out of contention. Despite the front office continuously insuring that the team still is seen as a playoff contender, a plethora of rumors are circulating about teams inquiring into the top SP on the market in Yu Darvish.
Clayton Kershaw going down with an apparent aggravation in his lower back that could sideline him for two weeks or more sparked rumors that LAD could no longer be comfortable with standing pat. Acquiring another top of the rotation pitcher might be necessary for the Dodgers to take some weight off Kershaw.
The Dodgers have one of the deepest and most talented farm systems in the MLB and the idea of that treasure chest opening up in a trade for Yu Darvish is certainly easy to dream about. At the top of that wish list sits Walker Buehler, a right handed pitcher just promoted to AAA after breezing through advanced A and AA in the same season. I had the opportunity to scout him in late June and he immediately made an impact.
As he walked into the visitor’s bullpen in Frisco, his intensity was already radiating as he was warming up angry. His fierce demeanor transitioned onto the field as he attacked hitters at one of the quickest paces I’ve seen in a minor league game. As a mentor of mine is oft to say, at that moment Buehler hated hitters and wanted nothing more than to ruin their day.
Intensity without skill is just hot air, but Buehler has the ability to back it up.
Buehler stands at 6’2” 185 lbs with an athletic build, broad shoulders, and lean muscle throughout. Walker’s moves fluidly and shows good quick twitch movements in addition to fielding his position like an infielder.
Walker gets into a strong loaded position before delivering the ball from an over the top slot. Buehler’s delivery is a bit rotational, but he has more than enough athleticism to repeat the motion consistently. His arm action is very clean and he has excellent arm speed.
Walker works with a 4-seam fastball that sits between 94 and 96 and tops out at 98 with slight arm-side life. At times he flashed the ability to consistently locate from corner to corner, but would briefly lose feel for precise location. Overall he has an average command of the zone with his fastball that could take another step forward with time.
Buehler mixes in a hard slider at 88-89 with excellent arm speed and double plus dive. His feel for the pitch is inconsistent, but when executed the pitch had hitters struggling to see it out of the hand and lay off it.
Walked also offers an 81-83 curveball with 12 to 6 break with plus depth. Walker shows excellent feel for the pitch and he is able to hit spots consistently.
In an embarrassment of riches, Buehler is working on a changeup and although I didn’t see much of it, the people I asked said it could project as average or better with some arm-side action and dive.
Overall Walker Buehler is exactly the kind of pitcher hitters have nightmares about with three offerings that project as plus or better, commands his fastball well, and mixing in a changeup to keep them off balance. He has a killer demeanor on the mound and works at a rapid pace which keeps hitters uncomfortable.
With Buehler’s stuff and mentality he projects as a role 6 starting pitcher to sit at the top of some rotations or as #2 starter on a championship quality team. Even assuming his command doesn’t develop enough to reach that potential, his stuff should allow him to slot in as a middle of the rotation pitcher on an MLB team.
With rumors ablaze that Walker Buehler is a potential Ranger target in a Yu Darvish trade, it’s easy to see why the Rangers’ FO has struggled to come to a decision about the 2017 team. Yu Darvish is a legitimate top of the rotation pitcher and he would likely be vital to a 2017 playoff run.
That being said, if Yu has decided to test FA after 2017 and needs to be moved soon, getting Walker Buehler might make the pill of losing the best pitcher to ever pitch for the Rangers a bit easier.
Would you welcome Walker, Texas Ranger even at the cost of Yu Darvish? Share your thoughts on a potential Darvish trade with Kevin on Twitter @KevinWC7.
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