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Where Did This Guy Come From? Derek Holland

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Rangers fans are getting really excited about this guy. He hasn't received much national attention yet, but that will be changing soon, so here is the heads up.

Derek Holland was drafted in the 25th round in 2006, from Wallace State Community College in Alabama. He was a draft-and-follow pick, signing in May 2007 for $200,000. His pro debut was very successful: 3.22 ERA with an 83/21 K/BB in 67 innings for Spokane in the Northwest League, with 57 hits allowed. I did not put him in the 2008 book. I can't remember why, it may just have been an oversight. I should have: his K/IP was excellent. He should have been at least a Grade C+ prospect.

Holland opened 2008 with Clinton in the Midwest League, going 7-0, 2.40 in 17 starts with a 91/29 K/BB in 94 innings, just 77 hits and two homers allowed. Promoted to Bakersfield in the Cal League, he went 3-1, 3.19 with a 37/5 K/BB in 31 innings and 20 hits allowed. Promoted then to Frisco in the Texas League, hes' 3-0, 0.90 in his first three outings with a 22/4 K/BB in 20 innings. His combined line on the year: 13-1, 2.36, 150/38 K/BB in 145 innings, 107 hits allowed, just 3 homers.

Obviously, his statistics are excellent. I don't see anything to nitpick. Everything is above average or better, and he's maintained his ratios as he has moved up. The scouting reports are terrific. Holland was throwing 90-92 early in the year at Clinton, but over the last couple of months that has increased well into the mid-90s. Check out this report from Jamey Newberg for example. Holland's secondary pitches still need a bit of polish, but everything I have read and heard indicates that the combination of plus stuff and sharp command is special.

Holland is a Grade B+ prospect at a minimum right now and perhaps an A-. If he stays healthy, he could be an excellent pitcher.