The Minor League season may only be a week old, but Dillon Tate is already making a strong case for a promotion.
Tate, the Rangers' No. 4 prospect (No. 34 overall), scattered four hits and struck out a career-high 10 hitters over six scoreless innings on Thursday night as Class A Hickory defeated Kannapolis, 6-1. The right-hander was the epitome of efficient in his second outing of the season, throwing 53 of his 65 pitches for strikes without issuing a walk.
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After allowing a leadoff single to begin the game, Tate retired 12 straight Kannapolis hitters before finally surrendering a single in the top of the fifth. He struck out at least one hitter in each of his six innings of work and fanned a pair in four of those frames, highlighted by two swinging strikeouts with a runner on third base to end his outing.
Selected by the Rangers with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Tate was limited to just nine innings (across six starts) last season in his pro debut after a lengthy college season at UC Santa Barbara. The 21-year-old right-hander was still plenty sharp during that time, though, and finished the season with a brief taste of full-season ball.
Picking up where he left off in 2015, Tate has already piled up 16 strikeouts (against just one walk) in 10 2/3 innings and has yet to allow a run in his first two starts, both of which came against Kannapolis.
No. 16 prospect Andy Ibanez, who signed with the Rangers for $1.6 million last July, paced the Crawdads at the plate, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. The 23-year-old Cuban second baseman is on fire to begin his U.S. career, hitting a robust .552 (16-for-29) with seven extra-base hits through his first seven games. Eric Jenkins, No. 7 on the Rangers' Top 30, also collected multiple hits in the win, finishing 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.