Tanner Scheppers

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Tanner Ross Scheppers

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Tanner Scheppers was a top-50 draft pick twice and reached the majors with the Texas Rangers in 2012.

After hitting .460 and fanning 72 batters as a high school senior, Scheppers was picked in the 29th round of the 2005 amateur draft by the Baltimore Orioles but opted for college. As a freshman at Fresno State in 2006, he had a 9.00 ERA and won one game. In his sophomore season, he was 7-6 with a 4.74 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 93 innings, with his fastball reaching 95 miles per hour, and made first-team All-Western Athletic Conference. He had a strong junior year, going 9-2 with a save and a 2.93 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 71 innings, and won conference Pitcher of the Year honors. He led the WAC in ERA and strikeouts and was one win behind teammate Justin Wilson, the leader. However, he was then sidelined by a shoulder injury that left him out of action as Fresno State won the 2008 College World Series.

Scheppers was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates 48th overall in the 2008 amateur draft, the second pick of the second round, but he failed to come to terms with the club. He then signed with the St. Paul Saints and had a 1-1, 3.32 record for them in 2009, with 20 strikeouts in 19 innings. The Texas Rangers picked him 44th overall in the 2009 amateur draft, a compensation pick for the loss of Milton Bradley to free agency. He was Texas's second selection, after Matt Purke, who did not sign. Scheppers was inked to a deal with a $1.25 million bonus by scout Derek Lee, the highest bonus between picks 30 and 90.

Scheppers made his Organized Baseball debut in 2010. He was unhittable with the Frisco RoughRiders (3 hits, 19 strikeouts, 1 run, no walks, 2 saves in 11 innings) and was quickly promoted to the AAA Oklahoma City RedHawks. In 30 games with the RedHawks, he was 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA and 4 saves. He was also picked for Team USA in the 2010 Futures Game and entered the game in the ninth inning with a 9-1 lead, replacing Christian Friedrich with one out. He allowed a leadoff single to Eury Pérez on a 98-mph fastball, then got Chun-Hsiu Chen to line to Desmond Jennings. He then walked Gorkys Hernandez on nine pitches (eight of them between 97 and 99 mph) before retiring Luis Jimenez to wrap up the US win.

After splitting 2011 between the AA Frisco RoughRiders and the AAA Round Rock Express, Scheppers was back with Round Rock to start 2012. He was called up to the majors in early June when Derek Holland was placed on the disabled list. He made his big league debut on June 7th, facing the Oakland Athletics and throwing an inning and two thirds of relief. He gave up one earned run on a homer by Brandon Moss and struck out Josh Reddick and Seth Smith. He stayed with the Rangers for the rest of the season, finishing at 1-1, 4.45 in 39 relief outings. He then took a big step forward in 2013, earning the job as the main set-up man for closer Joe Nathan. At the end of July, his ERA was a sparkling 1.74 in 46 games, to go with a 5-1 record. Then occurred a strange incident with the Rangers in Cleveland, OH on July 25th, when he claimed he was assaulted by a gang of men while out getting food in the small hours of the morning. He claimed the attack, which left him with a black eye, was entirely unprovoked, as early police reports stated, although eye-witnesses later indicated that there were in fact a number of Rangers players involved, a few girls, and some heated exchanges before a fight - which could easily have been averted - broke out. In spite of the strange incident, he continued to pitch well, finishing the year at 6-2, 1.88 and 1 save in 76 games pitched, a Rangers record. He struck out 59 in 76 2/3 innings, a rather low total for a reliever with other wise brilliant numbers.

Perhaps prompted by the strikeout rate more characteristic of a starter than of a reliever, the Rangers decided to move Tanner to the starting rotation in 2014. It was not an unusual move for the team, as they had done the same with relievers Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando in previous seasons. Scheppers took well to his new role that spring - so well in fact that when ace Yu Darvish had to bow out of the opening day starting assignment because of an injury, he was named his replacement. That made him the first pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 to make his first career start on opening day; Valenzuela also had been a last-minute replacement for an injured teammate, and had gone on to a tremendous rookie season. And while Valenzuela had pitched a shutout that day, Scheppers struggled badly against the Philadelphia Phillies on March 31st, giving up 7 runs in 4 innings, although he ended up with a no-decision as Texas lost, 14-10. It was the harbinger of a lost season, as he made only 8 appearances, including 4 starts, and went 0-1 with an ERA of 9.00 in 23 innings before his season ended because of an elbow inflammation.

After the 2014 season, the Rangers announced that he would return to pitching in relief in 2015. However, Tanner had another rough year, going 4-1, 5.63 in 42 relief appearances. In 38 2/3 innings, he struck out 32 but walked 23. His season started with an ankle sprain in spring training, and then a demotion to the minors after putting up an ERA of 11.25 in April. He pitched better with Round Rock, with an ERA of 1.93 in 13 games, before returning to Texas. However, he did not pitch in the postseason, then in spring training in 2016, he was diagnosed with torn cartilage in his left knee, putting him out for the first half of the season.

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