Results tagged ‘ Leonys Martin ’
This article originally appeared in the March 21 edition of SportsPage Weekly, which is a free publication available throughout the Metroplex. To view the article in the online edition, click here.
There are very few “sure things” in life, but when it comes to local sports and entertainment options, the Frisco RoughRiders are just about as close to a sure thing as you can get. Year after year, Dr Pepper Ballpark hosts exciting baseball action, premium prospects and fun for the whole family. Ask anyone who has ever been to a RoughRiders game and they’ll tell you how memorable the experience is.
It’s almost hard to believe, but the RoughRiders will soon begin their 12th season on April 3 at home against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals affiliate). In honor of a dozen years of Frisco baseball, we present the top 12 reasons to catch the RoughRiders in action this season at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
#12 – A winning tradition
Everybody loves a winner. And over the past decade the RoughRiders have been one of the most consistent winners in Minor League Baseball. In 2013, Frisco finished with a 70-70 record, its eighth consecutive season with a .500 or better mark on the ledger. The last time Frisco finished with a losing record was the only time in team history: back in 2005, when the team finished 58-82. The streak of non-losing seasons is by far the longest in the Texas League; every other team in the circuit has had at least one losing season in the last three years. The streak is the longest in Double-A and the third-longest among all 120 full-season minor league clubs, exceeded only by the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats (11 straight non-losing seasons) and the Advanced-A San Jose Giants (ten). Including teams that play in short-season leagues, Frisco’s streak is the sixth longest; the Elizabethton Twins (25), Brooklyn Cyclones (13) and AZL Giants (13) have the longest such streaks in stateside Minor League Baseball.
#11 – History in the making
Baseball fans appreciate the sport’s history and tradition, and the Texas League plays an important role in the lineage of the game. The RoughRiders and their fans belong to a storied Texas League pedigree that dates back to 1888 (the American League was founded in 1901). A game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is more than just a chance to contribute to baseball’s history; it affords fans the opportunity to witness history as it happens. Notable Texas League alumni span the generations and include Major League Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Dizzy Dean, Joe Morgan and Whitey Herzog. It is a legacy furthered by many stars in the game today who also enjoyed success in the Texas League. Current Rangers Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus had All-Star seasons in the Texas League in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Outside the organization, an impressive crop of recent alumni continue to cultivate the Texas League brand as their big league careers flourish. The Texas League footprint extends across the Major League map and features young stars Mike Trout, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Jean Segura and numerous others.
#10 – Rehabbing Rangers
Players, coaches and fans dislike injuries, but they remain an inevitable component of any professional game. For a major league club, the inconvenience of an in-season malady is lessened—somewhat—when an affiliate team plays in the neighborhood. No one in Frisco hopes for a rehab assignment, but when a Rangers’ regular tweaks a calf or strains a wrist, Dr Pepper Ballpark provides a two-fold benefit for both the player and the fan. Players can stay in the Metroplex to nurse an injury and play in an atmosphere that approximates a big league ballgame. On the other hand, fans receive a unique opportunity to view their favorite Rangers in a more intimate setting and at an affordable cost. A total of 13 Rangers players donned a RoughRiders’ cap for a rehab assignment in 2013, including pitcher Matt Harrison, who unfortunately started as many games for Frisco (two) as he did for Texas. Rehab assignments rarely occur with much forewarning, but thanks to Derek Holland’s dog, Wrigley, the southpaw has likely already booked a stint with the RoughRiders in 2014. Make sure you’re in the stands when the Rangers’ rehabbers visit Dr Pepper Ballpark.
#9 – A new skipper
For the first time in five years, someone other than Steve Buechele will write out Frisco’s lineup card. With Buechele managing the Rangers’ Triple-A club this season, Jason Wood steps into the role for the RoughRiders in 2014. Wood, a five-year major leaguer and veteran of 18 professional seasons as a player, will begin his fourth season as a manager in the Texas farm system. The 44-year-old spent the previous three years as the skipper for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach. He led the Pelicans to the playoffs in all three campaigns and looks to get the ’Riders back to the postseason this year. While Wood is a fresh face in the dugout, the rest of his coaching staff will remain in place from the last two seasons. Jeff Andrews returns as the team’s pitching coach following a season in which Frisco’s hurlers collectively set numerous team records. This past offseason, Andrews was honored the co-recipient of the Rangers’ annual Bobby Jones Player Development Man of the Year award. Jason Hart will begin his third season as Frisco’s hitting coach and his instruction has been lauded for helping former RoughRiders Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Leury Garcia, Chris McGuiness and Engel Beltre all reach the major leagues over the past two seasons.
#8 – Affordability
One of the charms of Minor League Baseball is getting a big league experience without paying a premium price. RoughRiders games are no different because the team strives to make sure everyone can afford to watch games at Dr Pepper Ballpark. It can be a major strain on the wallet to attend other professional sporting events. The average cost for a family of four to attend a Major League Baseball game is approximately $208; for an NFL game that number is $444, with the NBA checking in at $442 and the NHL at $355. That figure for a Minor League Baseball game? Just $61. With RoughRiders tickets starting at just $7 (less than the cost of a movie theater ticket), attending a game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is very much accessible. But say you’re interested in getting even more value at the ballpark. The RoughRiders offer affordable ticket plans that include all-you-can-eat food and drink, and even packages that include alcohol. These value-based ticket plans make attending games in Frisco possible without denting your bank account.
#7 – The other guys aren’t too shabby either
Tomorrow’s stars play today in the Texas League and 2014 is no exception. The RoughRiders will welcome a host of talent from around the circuit to Dr Pepper Ballpark this season, many of whom are ranked on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list. The Tulsa Drillers figure to field a strong pitching rotation bolstered by top 50 prospects Jon Gray (#14) and Eddie Butler (#41). Both pitchers bring high-octane velocity to the Drillers’ staff and can touch the upper 90s on the radar gun. Catcher Austin Hedges (#24) of the San Antonio Missions is rated as the second-highest prospect at his position by MLB.com. His strong arm and good footwork behind the plate will give would-be base stealers second thoughts. Kyle Zimmer (#25), the number five overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, is expected to start the season with the Northwest Arkansas. The Royals promoted Zimmer to Double-A late last season where he held a 1.93 ERA through four starts with the Naturals. Position players to watch for elsewhere in the Texas League include speedy leadoff hitter Delino DeShields (#66) of the Corpus Christi Hooks, Jorge Bonifacio (#91) of the Naturals and gifted batter Stephen Piscotty (#98) of the Springfield Cardinals. Every mentioned player has big league potential.
#6 – You won’t be the only one cheering
The vocal and expressive fan will find a home at Dr Pepper Ballpark. For nine consecutive seasons, the RoughRiders have led all 30 Double-A teams in total and average attendance. More than half-a-million fans routinely fill Dr Pepper Ballpark every season and the team averages better than 7,000 fans per game. Not only is that the best in Double-A, but it’s also higher than 17 Triple-A teams! On 21 occasions in 2013, the ’Riders drew crowds of more than 10,000. Frisco’s fan base is second to none and players say the crowds enhance the in-game environment more than anywhere else in the Texas League. Bring a sign, be loud and shout until your voice goes out. You won’t be cheering alone.
#5 – More than just peanuts and Cracker Jack
RoughRiders cuisine far outstrips traditional ballpark fare. Sure, fans can still fill up to the gills on foot-long hot dogs and brats from Smokie’s Sausage Shack, but Dr Pepper Ballpark serves something for any palate. The new Beer & Barbeque stand will cook in-house, smoked Texas barbeque favorites while Lone Star Pizza offers a wide range of personal style pies. Deep-fried Oreos grace the à la carte lineup for the first time this season, and for those in search of a healthy option, Greek yogurt is also available. Of course, many Frisco fan favorites will be back on the menu as well, from fresh-spun cotton candy and funnel cakes to snow cones and freshly squeezed lemonade. Of course, few things taste better on a hot Texas night than a cold serving of Dippin’ Dots. It’s never summer without great food, great drinks and RoughRiders baseball.
#4 – An arsenal of arms
For the best pitching this side of Yu Darvish and Arlington, Dr Pepper Ballpark is the place to be. The RoughRiders will rely on their mound men to bolster the franchise’s quest for an eighth playoff berth. Right-hander Luke Jackson is expected to lead the group in 2014. The fireballer started the previous season with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and made his RoughRiders’ debut on August 4, 2013. He didn’t miss a beat in Double-A and finished the season with 134 combined strikeouts at both Myrtle Beach and Frisco and held the eighth-lowest ERA among all full season minor league pitchers (2.04). Those numbers were a big reason why the Rangers named Jackson the club’s 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Alex Claudio figures to take the reins from Jackson and the starters as a key piece in the RoughRiders’ bullpen in 2014. The deceptive Claudio fools batters with his changeup and was named the Rangers’ Minor League Reliever of the Year last season. Another burgeoning prospect, Alex Gonzalez, hopes to excite the Frisco faithful this year. Don’t call him Alex, though. Gonzalez prefers the nickname “Chi Chi,” given by a family member. Baseball America rates the 2013 first round draft pick as the number six prospect in the Rangers’ organization. Fans on the wild side will anticipate the return of eight-year veteran Kevin Pucetas as he unleashes his newly developed knuckleball pitch on the diamond this season. Other highly-ranked pitchers that are expected to see time in Frisco this season include Alec Asher, Nick Martinez and Jerad Eickhoff.
#3 – Rougned Odor
Because the makeup of minor league teams are up to the discretion of the parent club, you never know who will be on the Opening Day roster until very late in spring training. That is typically the case with the RoughRiders, but one player who looks very likely to be with the team on April 3 is second baseman Rougned Odor. The Venezuelan with the memorable name is the Rangers’ top-ranked prospect according to Baseball America and he showed why during a 30-game stint with Frisco at the end of the 2013 season. Odor was promoted to Double-A in early August and hit .306/.354/.530 with six home runs, eight doubles, two triples and 19 RBI. And he did all of that as just a 19-year-old, the youngest player in Double-A. (Projecting those numbers out over a 140-game season, he would have hit 28 homers with 37 doubles, nine triples and 89 RBI.) Now 20, Odor spent the first half of spring training in big league camp and hopes to use that experience to further propel his ascension to the major leagues. For the time being, however, the spunky infielder with the big bat is expected to ply his trade at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
#2 – Family-friendly entertainment
The RoughRiders are well-known for making trips to Dr Pepper Ballpark about more than just the game on the field. The atmosphere on game nights is a blast, even for folks who aren’t big baseball fans. The RoughRiders employ a full-time entertainment director whose sole job is to make sure that families have fun when visiting the ballpark. From spectacular fireworks shows following every Friday night home game to a collection of more than 180 hilarious on-field skits and promotions that rotate throughout the season, there is something fun for everyone who comes to a game. Dr Pepper Ballpark even features a pool in right field and two playgrounds (including one specifically designed for two-to-five-year-olds). And for a lot of fans, their favorite RoughRiders aren’t ones you might see in Arlington someday – they are Deuce and Daisy, the team’s loveable mascots.
#1 – The home of future Rangers
With Odor and a tremendous pitching staff leading the way, there should be another impressive assortment of talent on display at Dr Pepper Ballpark this season. This has been the norm in each of the RoughRiders’ first 11 seasons in Frisco, and with the Rangers’ relentless pursuit of building a winning organization from top-to-bottom, don’t look for that trend to change anytime soon. Since 2003, 107 former RoughRiders have reached the major leagues, almost one-third of all Frisco players. In 2013, ten former ’Riders made the big leagues, including Nick Tepesch, Beltre, Garcia and McGuiness. One look at the Rangers’ 40-man roster shows that half of its members played in Frisco. Elvis Andrus, Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Holland, Leonys Martin, Profar, Neftali Feliz, Mitch Moreland, Tanner Scheppers and Martin Perez are just a few of the Texas stalwarts who once wore a RoughRiders uniform. Outside of the Rangers organization, All-Stars such as Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Adrian Gonzalez and C.J. Wilson all spent time in Frisco as well.
With the RoughRiders, fans get winning baseball, exciting prospects, delicious food, affordable family fun and the future of the Texas Rangers on display. It all shows that the Frisco RoughRiders continue to be a sure thing for families and sports fans across the Metroplex.
In the top of the ninth, well after midnight central time, in a 10-3 Rangers lead last night, Joey Butler made his Major League debut. Pinch-hitting for Leonys Martin, Butler lined out to second base and then played right field in the final inning of the Rangers win.
The former Frisco RoughRiders outfielder, who spent 2010 and the first part of 2011 in a ‘Riders uniform has hit, hit and then hit some more as a minor leaguer. The right-handed swinger has an OPS of near 1.000 against LHP this season, making him a good candidate to help patch up the gaping hole left by the suspension of Nelson Cruz.
Joey Butler’s minor league numbers:
|AAA (3 seasons)||AAA||347||1459||1267||220||381||76||6||42||179||20||10||167||360||.301||.386||.470|
|AA (2 seasons)||AA||145||628||560||78||153||27||6||12||62||10||7||54||136||.273||.344||.407|
|A- (1 season)||A-||62||271||226||35||68||8||5||4||31||9||4||40||54||.301||.417||.434|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||134||574||522||82||146||33||1||12||76||6||4||46||146||.280||.343||.416|
Six hours earlier, ‘Riders starting pitcher circa 2009 and 2010, Tanner Roark made his debut on a major league hill in the nation’s capital, with the Washington Nationals against the Atlanta Braves. Part of the Christian Guzman trade of 2010, Roark was arguably the most effective pitcher for either side last night. He faced the minimum in two innings and allowed just one baserunner, a single by B.J. Upton. It took Tanner just 15 pitches to record six outs.
Tanner Roark’s minor league numbers:
|AA (3 seasons)||AA||21||16||4.21||54||48||275.2||290||143||129||24||88||209||1.37||2.9||6.8|
|AAA (2 seasons)||AAA||15||20||3.87||61||37||253.1||246||132||109||20||67||214||1.23||2.4||7.6|
|A+ (2 seasons)||A+||11||3||2.93||41||11||116.2||95||44||38||10||40||128||1.15||3.1||9.9|
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||2||1||0.73||7||0||12.1||9||2||1||0||3||11||0.97||2.2||8.0|
|Ind (1 season)||Ind||0||2||21.41||3||3||9.2||23||25||23||5||9||11||3.31||8.4||10.2|
Roark became the 107th RoughRiders alum to make it to the big leagues, and Butler made it 108. That is 13 former RoughRiders who have done so this season. Eight of them have made it to the Rangers (Ortiz, Garcia, Tepesch, Wolf, McGuiness, McClellan, Beltre, Butler). Five have come with other teams (Evan Reed – DET, Scott Rice – NYM, Robbie Erlin – SD, Brad Hawpe – LAA, and Tanner Roark – WAS).
The debuts of both were entertaining follows on Twitter last night–Butler because of his long wait and great minor league track record, and Roark, due to his dominant first ever outing. Instead of some thoughtful analysis of the two debuts…which you can find out there for Roark at the very least…I rounded up my favorite tweets of the two stories, presented to you in chronological order.
Tanner Roark warming in the pen
— Big Mans (@SixSev_Kev) August 8, 2013
This is the first tweet I found that he was getting loose…and his time would come.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 8, 2013
Former Wilmington Wildcat and former Danville Dan called up ro majors for Washington Nationals. You go Tanner Roark.
— Aaron Graff (@Graff_it_off) August 8, 2013
Tanner Roark is Washington’s new pitcher, making his MLB debut. Desmond and Ramos meet him at the mound for some words of encouragement.
— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) August 8, 2013
Tanner Roark is making is MLB debut. Fans of mediocre teams live for this. I’m insanely excited. #Nats
— Joe Drugan (@TheNatsBlogJoe) August 8, 2013
Tanner Roark sounds like a character in a TV show like “Full House”
— Dave Scarangella (@DullesDistrict) August 8, 2013
Tanner Roark (ROH-ark) now on the mound for the Nats? Is he any good? Don’t know but his mullet is remarkable.
— Ira Allen (@IraRAllen) August 8, 2013
A nice, 1-2-3 debut inning for Tanner Roark, who retired a tough trio: McCann, Johnson, Uggla. #NationalsTalk
— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) August 8, 2013
Tanner Roark working 94-95 mph in his first MLB inning. Amped up I’m sure, but certainly didn’t see much of that when he was with Rangers.
— Jason Cole (@LoneStarDugout) August 8, 2013
Wasn’t Tanner Roark a character in an Ayn Rand book?
— Eric London (@elondon) August 8, 2013
Tanner Roark is taking over this game.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) August 8, 2013
Heck of a debut so far for Tanner Roark. He dives to catch a popped-up Medlen bunt and doubles Upton off first. Two scoreless from him.
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) August 8, 2013
Standing ovation for tanner roark 👏👏👏
— Alex Morris (@MorrisCode5) August 8, 2013
And Tanner Roark just turned his 1st double play in the majors. Not bad for giving up a lead off single to B.J. Upton. Tie’s in tact. #Nats
— We Love DC Sports (@welovedcsports) August 8, 2013
Congrats to former RoughRiders pitcher Tanner Roark, making his MLB debut tonight for the Washington Nationals.
— Frisco RoughRiders (@RidersBaseball) August 8, 2013
I think we got in there within the statute of limitations.
I love reading all of these tweets when I search “Tanner Roark”
— Seth Jansen (@seth_jansen) August 8, 2013
Me too Seth. Me too.
Fast foward a few hours…props to Evan Grant for getting on the Twitterverse first:
Here’s Joey Butler making his MLB debut.
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) August 8, 2013
Jeff Wilson, bested by just seconds. Either that, or deferred to the longer tenured beat writter:
Joey Butler pinch hitting for his major-league debut.
— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) August 8, 2013
Joey Butler sighting!
— マット Hansen (@RangersFanMatt) August 8, 2013
Joey Butler’s first MLB plate appearance. Send karma.
— Scott Lucas (@scottrlucas) August 8, 2013
— Jason Cole (@LoneStarDugout) August 8, 2013
Joey Butler will make his Major League debut with a leadoff pinch hit for the #Rangers (Nelson Cruz replacement) … he lines out to second
— Taylor Blake Ward (@TaylorBlakeWard) August 8, 2013
Okay – “Nelson Cruz” replacement? A bit strong, although you aren’t the first to categorize it this way.
Joey Butler’s first AB introduces him to BABIP.
— Matt Fisher (@NextWaveMLB) August 8, 2013
Congrats to former ‘Rider Joey Butler, who just got his first MLB at bat!
— Frisco RoughRiders (@RidersBaseball) August 8, 2013
Great work by somebody in this department (I can’t take credit).
Woohoo, Joey Butler!!! Wait… pic.twitter.com/4yOx5ZqMS6
— Tepid Participation (@TepidP) August 8, 2013
— David Mc (@DavidInMEM) August 8, 2013
Joey Butler has a career BABIP of .000, Such an unlucky guy.
— Kazuto Yamazaki (@LaBlynne) August 8, 2013
@scottrlucas you know if Joey Butler has a twitter handle? Want to congrat him on 1st AB. Been watching him everytime RR @ MEM for years
— David Mc (@DavidInMEM) August 8, 2013
Joey Butler has resisted twitter, to my knowledge, so you’ll have to toast his first MLB plate appearance via warm, fuzzy thoughts.
— Scott Lucas (@scottrlucas) August 8, 2013
Rangers are 3-0 in the Joey Butler era.
— Anthony Andro (@aandro) August 8, 2013
Well put Anthony. And they will stay undefeated in the “Joey Butler era” for at least another day.
Baseball term of the day: saturated curve – a spitball
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
Former RoughRider Leonys Martin hit his first major league home run in the Rangers’ 11-3 win over the Seattle Mariners Sunday, April 21, giving the Rangers the sweep. Martin’s homer tied the game at 1-1, and was the first of many by the Rangers batters, including a grand slam by Nelson Cruz.
RoughRiders Game Notes:
The Frisco RoughRiders (10-6) begin a four-game road series tonight in San Antonio against the Missions (7-9). Click here for the game notes.
Baseball Term of the Day: Bullhead: An umpire who favors the visiting club.
Today is a day for minor celebration, not necessarily because it’s “311 Day,” but because we are now exactly one month away from the home opener for the 2013 season at Dr Pepper Ballpark. We are also 22 days from the RoughRiders-Express exhibition game in Frisco and 24 days away from the official start of the regular season in North Little Rock.
All of the Rangers’ minor leaguers (excluding the ones who had big league camp invitations) reported to Surprise one week ago and they will begin their spring training games against other organizations on Thursday. We’ll do our best to get you whatever information we can on those games, though the Double-A team that takes the field against their Royals counterparts on Thursday is guaranteed to look much different than the one that arrives here in the Metroplex come late March. That’s mainly because off all the roster mixing that goes on in the spring, with many players playing a level higher than they will ultimately be on once the season starts.
As for the big club, we are still not at a point of complete resolution with the Nolan Ryan situation, though it looks like we are moving closer to that point. The Rangers released a statement from him yesterday that basically said he’s been meeting with ownership about his role with the team and that those discussions will continue. It’s not much to read into, but I suppose it should be taken as a positive sign that there is a chance that they work this all out and come out a happy family once again.
In other developments, Craig Gentry of all people is hitting home runs, Jurickson Profar’s stint as starting spring training shortstop (I love alliterative phrases) is likely coming to an end as Elvis Andrus’ stay at the World Baseball Classic was a short one, and Derek Holland gets more time to play on the “big” stage.
Ryan will remain CEO for time being, continue to search for understanding of role - Evan Grant gives you the basics of yesterday’s developments with Ryan’s full statement included.
More time on WBC’s big stage can only help Rangers’ “wildcard” Derek Holland (subscribers only) – Tim Cowlishaw thinks the continuing experience for Holland on the US team will be good for him.
Josh Hamilton brought sizzle to Texas, but new Ranger Lance Berkman could offer just as much substance – Highlights from Cowlishaw’s Sunday column on why there might not be so large a dropoff between Hamilton and Berkman. (A major caveat should be added – IF Lance stays healthy.)
(Daily FWST disclaimer: most articles on their site are subscription-only, but you can easily read the articles around the sign-in pop-up)
Positive spin on Ryan staying takes another negative turn – Randy Galloway (who has practically been the writer-of-record on all things Nolan Ryan) says that, in spite of yesterday’s statement, Ryan staying on with the Rangers is no sure thing at all.
Long journey may lead Rangers’ Martin to center field – From a couple of days ago, but a good read from Gil Lebreton nonetheless about Leonys Martin.
Despite Ross’ struggles, Rangers hold on for 7-6 victory over Indians – Robbie Ross says he was not distracted by the ZOOperstars, who performed at yesterday’s game in Goodyear. Thank goodness for that.
Ross struggles for first time this spring – ESPNDallas.com’s Ron Matejko has more reaction from Ross on his tough start (2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB).
Is there still time to get Nolan Ryan to stay? - Richard Durrett gives his thoughts on the latest developments with Ryan.
Tepesch still auditioning for role – Ron Washington and Mike Maddux talk about 2012 RoughRiders pitcher Nick Tepesch and his odds on winning the fifth spot in the Rangers’ rotation.
We interrupt today’s edition of “Nolan Ryan Talk” to bring you the latest development involving the guys who are actually on the field: last night the Rangers announced the signing of veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to a minor league deal. Lowe split last year between the rotation and bullpen for the Indians and Yankees, going 9-11 with a 5.11 ERA and one save in 38 games, 21 starts. The big sinkerballer has bounced around the last few seasons, but is best known for being one of the chief “idiots” on the 2004 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, earning the clinching win in all three series that post-season.
While he’s not on the Rangers’ 40-man roster at the moment, you would have to think he’s a at least a decent bet to make the club out of spring training given his versatility, the team’s lack of experienced middle relievers, and the fact that the Rangers were facing the prospects of going into a season without a pitcher named “Lowe” for the first time in four years (Mark signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month).
As someone who grew up in the Boston area and remembers when Dan Duquette pulled off one of the greatest heists in big league history – trading Heathcliff Slocumb for Lowe and some guy named Jason Varitek – I have a special place in my heart for the Michigan native. I watched him go back-and-forth from the starting rotation to the closer spot and have success in both positions, pitch a no-hitter in 2002 against the Devil Rays, and put a lot of Boston nightclub owners’ kids through college.
It’s a smart, low-risk move for the Rangers, who could benefit tremendously if Lowe can locate his sinker and be effective for a couple innings at a time when called upon (or even fill in as a starter). If he doesn’t work out, he didn’t cost you much to begin with so there’s no obligation to keep him. He should be a strong clubhouse presence as a player who has succeeded on the biggest stages and is known to be a good teammate. And, at the very least, his acquisition has slowed down some of the Ryan talk that has become a distraction for the organization.
The Rangers won a 3-2 decision over the Cubs in Surprise yesterday and got some strong pitching from Robbie Ross (4 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and Alexi Ogando (3 IP, 6 K, 1 R). Lance Berkman also homered as the team won its second straight Cactus League contest.
Jon Daniels has the power; Nolan Ryan has the love – (Note: read around the “sign in” bubble to take in the article) Before we get to the on-the-field items, this Randy Galloway column is a must-read for fans interested in the Nolan Ryan story (i.e., pretty much all Rangers fans). Galloway has been all over this story from the start and says that Daniels was actually offered the full CEO job that belonged to Ryan, in addition to the president title, back in November but turned it down. More interesting stuff to chew on.
Berkman confident about health as Opening Day approaches - Jeff Wilson has the Big Puma feeling good about his ability to be ready to go come March 31.
Rapid Reaction from Texas win – Ron Matejko’s fast facts on yesterday’s victory.
Robbie Ross continues to impress – With Perez out until May, the former RoughRiders lefty may have cast himself as the new favorite to take the fifth starter spot after yesterday’s outing.
Alexi Ogando rewards Ron Washington’s faith – Given the way his first two spring outings went, Ogando’s strong performance was maybe the most encouraging thing about yesterday’s game.
Derek Lowe gives club versatility – Richard Durrett gives his thoughts on the Lowe acquisition.
Astros should woo Nolan Ryan – ESPN.com’s Johnette Howard argues that Jim Crane should be pulling out all the stops to swipe away the Rangers’ CEO.
Angels’ Hamilton primed for monster year — but holds no grudges – Some interesting nuggets on CBS.com’s Jon Heyman’s interview with former Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, including Hamilton saying that Nolan Ryan wished that Texas hadn’t dragged its feet in the negotiations.
Rangers don’t plan to return Alexi Ogando – and maybe Robbie Ross – to bullpen (subscription only) – Gerry Fraley thinks that the starting rotation is the final destination for both Ogando and Ross.
Ogando, Ross giving Rangers confidence in rotation – T.R. Sullivan’s report on the two pitchers impressing Ron Washington yesterday.
Rangers press on despite Ryan’s uncertainty – Sullivan has plenty of quotes from Daniels on the Ryan story.
Olt, Martin pulled out of Rangers’ lineup – Sullivan’s notes column has injury updates on Mike Olt (tooth pain, not the Rory McIlroy type), Leonys Martin (hamstring), Kyle McClellan (shoulder), Tanner Scheppers (hamstring) and Yoshinori Tateyama (back).
Repeat after me: the games don’t count. It’s reassuring to remind yourself of that every time you see results like yesterday. Or the day before. Or any of these spring training games. It’s only natural to have at least a small amount of concern that the Rangers have yet to put anything other than a bagel in the “W” column, especially given that wins were a rarity over the final few weeks of last season.
(By the way, did you notice the only other team that has yet to post a spring training victory? They play their regular season home games at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, to give you a hint.)
To get worked up over early spring training results is a quixotic endeavor, given the relative rust on the players and the individual tasks they set for themselves that may give way to garish performances. A pitcher’s goal in a spring training game may simply be to throw his fastball for strikes, results be damned. Maybe a hitter is working on a new aspect to his swing. Maybe a player simply isn’t ready for the season at this point in late February. I don’t have problems with any of that. When spring training is over and the battles for the number five starter, utility infielder and regular centerfielder are over, I’m willing to bet (like many others) that the Rangers will have a unit that will be very competitive for a playoff spot in the American League West. Until then, practice your anti-Kevin McCallister face.
Rangers’ Ron Washington says prospect Mike Olt trying too hard – Gerry Fraley has the Rangers skipper saying Mike Olt should not put so much pressure on himself to perform.
Hamilton on Michael Young & the Rangers - It seems like everyone has an opinion on how things went/ended with Michael Young on the Rangers, including Josh Hamilton.
Despite villainous reputation, Rangers’ A.J. Pierzynski a winner, ex-mates say – Fraley writes about the Rangers’ new catcher, who won a World Series with Chicago in 2005 (subscribers only).
Alexi Ogando’s continuing struggles could throw wrench in rotation plans – With most of the focus on the Rangers’ fifth starter competition, everyone is kind of assuming Ogando will step in and be the guy he was a few years ago as a starter. Might not work out quite so smooth, based on early returns.
Rangers not about to ignore Ogando’s early struggles – Just because the results don’t count doesn’t mean that Ron Washington is paying no attention to Ogando’s troubles, writes Drew Davison.
Rangers’ survivors say change is good – Randy Galloway says that the holdovers from a tumultuous off-season are still confident that this club can win a World Series.
Leonys Martin staking claim to CF job – A trio of stories today from Ron Matejko, who is filling in for new ESPN Radio host Richard Durrett. The first has Leonys Martin starting to emerge as a favorite for a more regular role with the Rangers.
Alexi Ogando still working out some kinks – Ogando and Washington talk about the right-hander’s struggles.
Robbie Ross aiming for last rotation spot – The 2011 RoughRider talks about his desire to join the Rangers’ rotation.
Burns stepping forward in Rangers’ bullpen – T.R. Sullivan has Washington giving some kind words to bullpen-hopeful Corey Burns.
Berkman ready for first Cactus League action – Sullivan’s notes column touches on Lance Berkman’s expected spring debut this afternoon, Ogando and injury updates for Engel Beltre & Craig Gentry.
With calendar year wrapping up, we’re taking one last look at the 2012 season, specifically the top performers in the Rangers organization. MiLB.com’s Rangers Organization All-Star Team provided a good jumping off point and yesterday we took a look at the infield with an eye upon the outfield and pitching today.
Joey Butler, Round Rock (137 G, .290-20-78, 28 2B, 3B, 93 R, 6-10 SB, .392 OBP, .473 SLG, .865 OPS)
Julio Borbon, Round Rock (126 G, .304-10-56, 23 2B, 8 3B, 78 R, 20-28 SB, .349 OBP, .433 SLG, .783 OPS)
Engel Beltre, Frisco (133 G, .261-13-55, 17 2B, 17 3B, 80 R, 36-46 SB, .307 OBP, .420 SLG, .727 OPS)
Lewis Brinson, AZL Rangers (54 G, .283-7-42, 22 2B, 7 3B, 54 R, 14-16 SB, .345 OBP, .523 SLG, .868 OPS)
The Rangers have a decent number of outfield prospects in their farm system and some very exciting ones who spent 2012 in the lower levels. Unfortunately, some of those exciting prospects did not have very good years offensively. The super-athletic Jordan Akins (Hickory) couldn’t crack the Mendoza Line in his first year with a full-season club while former first rounder Jake Skole struggled mightily in the Carolina League before serving a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
However, there were some notable seasons among outfielders down on the farm. While perhaps a little too old to wear the “prospect” label, Butler turned in a fine season for the Express, providing a consistent, middle-of-the-order threat. Whether or not he profiles to make a big league team at any point, he should have a long career in professional baseball given his ability to produce at the Triple-A level. I could have really included the entire Round Rock outfield on this list, as Borbon’s numbers were nearly as impressive Butler’s and Leonys Martin (55 G, .359-12-42, 1.033 OPS) was a stud in his limited time in Triple-A. While both certainly have credible cases to be made, ultimately I decided that there were other players who deserved the recognition maybe just a bit more.
My pick of Beltre was likely influenced by having the opportunity to see him everyday with the RoughRiders this past season. The former Red Sox signee entered this past season looking to wipe the slate clean from a disastrous 2011 campaign that tarnished his prospect status. The Dominican delivered, setting career-highs in home runs, triples and steals. His 17 three-baggers were the second-most in Minor League Baseball and he played an astonishingly good center field. Speaking from a purely defensive standpoint, I am convinced that he could step into the big leagues today and be a top 15 center fielder.
Based on his 2012 season, the Rangers certainly have to be happy with selecting Brinson with their first round draft pick this past June. The 18-year-old Floridian did not get the same level of attention that AZL Rangers teammate Joey Gallo received for his desert power surge, but that was through no fault of his own. Brinson led the AZL with 36 extra-base hits, 54 runs scored and 124 total bases while finishing one shy of the league lead in both hits and RBI. The potential of Brinson and many of his teammates from this past season should keep Rangers fans excited for the future.
RIGHT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
MiLB.com’s pick: Barret Loux, Frisco (25 GS, 14-1, 3.47 ERA, 127 IP, 120 H, 100 K, 41 BB, 1.27 WHIP, .251 BAA)
My pick: Cody Buckel, Myrtle Beach/Frisco (26 G, 23 GS, 10-8, 2.49 ERA, 144.2 IP, 105 H, 159 K, 48 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .206 BAA)
Loux’s record is gaudy, but a closer look into his and Buckel’s numbers make the Californian the decisive choice from my perspective. Loux wowed everyone (the Diamondbacks included, methinks) by winning each of his first ten starts of the season before going 4-1 in his final 15 outings. His command of four pitches and ability to adjust from start-to-start and during starts were something to behold. Traded to the Cubs in November as Jake Brigham’s replacement in the Geovany Soto deal, Loux fits the profile of a 4 or 5 starter in a big league rotation. While Loux was very good at the start of the season for Frisco, Buckel was transcendent for the Pelicans. The undersized righty had more starts (13) than runs allowed (12) in the Carolina League and, after an adjustment period in Double-A, was at his best in the Texas League as the season wrapped up. Buckel learned to pound the strike zone with his zippy 92-94 mph fastball and then tortured hitters with his multitude of off-speed offerings (including a “shuuto,” or “reverse-slider”). Buckel should be a regular big league contributor (either with the Rangers or another team depending on how the trade winds are blowing) before the end of the 2014 season. Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards also were worthy of consideration for this spot.
LEFT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
MiLB.com’s pick: Chad Bell, Myrtle Beach/Frisco/Round Rock (31 G, 21 GS, 8-7, 3.48 ERA, 2 SV, 142.1 IP, 123 H, 110 K, 54 BB, 1.24 WHIP, .236 BAA)
My pick: Bell
The paucity of lefty starters in the Rangers’ system almost gives this award to Bell by default, but he is still a worthy recipient. He probably should have begun the year: a) in Frisco; and b) as a starter all along. But he started 2012 in a multi-inning relief role for Myrtle Beach before joining the RoughRiders at the end of April. He got off to a rocky start in the Texas League, allowing a home run in his first outing before settling down and going 23 straight innings over seven outings without allowing another earned run. By mid-May, he was starting and on June 11 he received the biggest boost of his season and perhaps his professional career. With Rangers Special Assistant and pitching legend Greg Maddux in attendance, Bell allowed just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts over 6.2 scoreless innings in a win over Midland. Maddux said after the game that it was one of the most impressive starts by a Minor Leaguer he had ever witnessed. Bell was in Round Rock by the end of the month and, though the PCL proved to be more treacherous, continued to string together solid performances.
MiLB.com’s pick: Ben Rowen, Myrtle Beach (38 G, 5-0, 1.57 ERA, 19-20 SV, 57.1 IP, 52 K, 3 BB, 0.77 WHIP, .201 BAA)
My pick: Rowen
Winner of a “MiLBY Award” for the best reliever in all of Minor League Baseball, the submariner Rowen is obviously the best choice here. The former 22nd round draft pick kept his pitches consistently down, inducing a 2.9 GO/AO ratio and allowing just two home runs all season. His ludicrously low number of walks (three) is perhaps his most impressive statistic, given the unpredictablility of submarine-style pitchers in general. Other excellent relievers from this past season included Phil Klein (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Jimmy Reyes (Myrtle), Nicholas McBride (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Zach Osborne (for his Myrtle work), Ross Wolf (Frisco/Round Rock), Joseph Ortiz (Frisco/Round Rock) and Yoshinori Tateyama (Round Rock).
– Alex V.
The regular season ended two months ago, but there is still baseball being played all over the world. Many fall and winter leagues have been playing for several weeks, and plenty of former and future RoughRiders are in action. Here’s an update on some familiar names and ones that will become familiar to ’Riders fans in just a few months.
Note: For a variety of reasons, many of these off-season leagues tend to dramatically favor strong offensive numbers, especially in the Arizona Fall League. So you should take some of the impressive offensive numbers (and poor pitching stats, for that matter) with a grain of salt.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE (Surprise Saguaros)
1B Chris McGuiness: The former Citadel star, who enjoyed a productive 2012 in Frisco, has played in a team-high 19 games for the Saguaros, hitting .314 with a triple-slash of .410/.543/.952. He’s tied for the AFL lead with four home runs and 20 RBI. He’s hit four doubles and has as many walks (11) as he does strikeouts. He was named the co-Player of the Week in the AFL in week one, sharing the honor with former Corpus Christi Hooks first baseman Jon Singleton. He was also the only Rangers farmhand named to the AFL Rising Stars Game, going 0-for-2 with a pair of fly outs.
SS Hanser Alberto: The recently minted 20-year-old split 2012 between the Rangers’ two Single-A affiliates in Hickory and Myrtle Beach and could very easily break camp in spring training as a RoughRider. He’s currently third in the AFL in batting average with a .360 clip in 14 games to go along with a double, two triples and six RBI. While he has stolen three bases, he’s also been caught four times (he was 24-for-31 in steals during the regular season).
SS Luis Sardinas: Another young middle infielder, the 19-year-old Venezuelan is batting .316 with a home run, two doubles and four runs batted in through nine games. He played this past season for Hickory and would seem to be a candidate to reach Frisco at some point in 2013 unless things bottom out for him in Myrtle Beach.
C Kellin Deglan:The former first round pick (22nd overall in 2010) out of Canada struggled at the plate for Hickory this past season and things have continued for him out in Arizona. In eight games, he is batting .172 with no extra-base hits, one RBI and four runs scored. He is only 20-years-old and has never played above Single-A, so don’t push the panic button just yet.
RHP Ryan Rodebaugh: After struggling with an oblique injury that sidelined him for more than a month early in the season, the former Kennesaw State Owl put together a very good campaign in his first season at the Double-A level. In eight AFL games, “Rodey” is 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA, 11 strikeouts and four walks in 11.2 innings. Since allowing four runs through his first three appearances, he has thrown seven straight scoreless frames.
RHP Joe Van Meter: It was a short stint in the AFL for Van Meter, who was shut down with a sore right shoulder after two starts. He had given up four runs on nine hits and four walks with four strikeouts in six innings. The former two-way star at VCU spent most of the season with Myrtle Beach but made three appearances in a RoughRiders uniform in the second half.
RHP Ben Henry: Henry replaced Van Meter on the Saguaros roster and has appeared in three games. He owns a 10.50 ERA (7 ER in 6 IP) with four strikeouts and seven walks in six innings. He spent most of this past season with Myrtle Beach, but missed the last month of the year due to injury.
RHP Ben Rowen: A likely closer candidate for the RoughRiders next season, Rowen won a MiLBY Award for the best reliever in Minor League Baseball this past season while pitching for the Pelicans. In the AFL, he has thrown in 11 games and has posted a 4.22 ERA in 10.2 innings. The submariner has eight strikeouts and four walks with a .195 opponents’ batting average.
LHP Jimmy Reyes: The former Elon Phoenix has been the most impressive Rangers pitcher in the AFL this year. Reyes, who spent all of 2012 in Myrtle Beach and finished Nick Tepesch’s May no-hitter, has yielded just two unearned runs on six hits in seven appearances (10 IP) with no walks and seven strikeouts. He also picked up a win in his first AFL game on October 10.
MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
C Jose Felix: The RoughRiders’ catcher in each of the past three seasons is playing for the Algodoneros de Guasave (or, the Guasave Cotton Growers for those who are a little rusty on their Español). After showing solid improvement at the plate for the ’Riders in 2012, he has looked good with Guasave, hitting .407 with three doubles and seven RBI in ten games and a triple-slash line of .393/.519/.911. And yes, Felix’s OBP is lower than his batting average, as he has not walked yet this off-season. He walked a ludicrous five times in 306 plate appearances during the regular season.
OF Joey Butler: The former RoughRider (2010 & 2011) is suiting up for the Venados de Mazatlán (Mazatlán Deer; yes, teams in the Mexican Pacific League have silly names. We should feature them on a blog post soon) after a very solid 2012 campaign with Triple-A Round Rock. Butler has struggled, however, for Mazatlán, hitting .228 with four doubles, a homer and five RBI in 17 games.
DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE
TIGRES DEL LICEY (LICEY TIGERS)
LHP Chad Bell: The Knoxville lefty made Frisco the middle stop on his three-team climb this past season (starting in Myrtle and ending in Round Rock). He has been hit hard by DWL opposition, going 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA in five games (three starts) with eight strikeouts and three walks in 9.2 innings.
3B Mike Olt: Frisco’s big-bopper in 2012 became a Ranger in early August when the big club called him up directly from the Texas League. Although his two injury-plagued months in the big leagues were underwhelming, he is still considered a big-time corner infield prospect. In ten games for Licey, Olt is hitting .286 with four doubles, one home run, five RBI and a triple-slash of .474/.536/1.009. His fine DWL performance was interrupted when he was hit in the head by a pitch on November 3 and he has yet to play since.
SS Jurickson Profar: Über-prospect Profar recently joined Licey, but has yet to play in a game. He spent nearly the entire 2012 season in Frisco until the Rangers called him up to the Major League squad when rosters expanded in September.
OF Engel Beltre: When he is not promoting proper recycling techniques, Beltre has been lighting up the DWL just like he did the Texas League at times this past season. The four-season RoughRiders centerfielder is batting .381 in 15 games for Licey with a double, five triples, ten RBI, 13 runs scored and a triple-slash of .435/.643/1.078. He leads the league in average, triples and OPS and is second in OBP and slugging.
OF Leonys Martin: The 2011 RoughRider split this past season
between Round Rock and the Rangers and, like Beltre, has been a solid performer in the DWL. In 17 games, he is batting .288 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, 14 RBI and 14 runs scored.
GIGANTES DEL CIBAO (CIBAO GIANTS)
IF LEURY GARCIA: The only Rangers farmhand on Ciboa, Garcia has looked pretty similar to the player he was in Frisco this past season. In 16 games he is batting .273 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs (he had three for the ’Riders in 2012, including the playoffs), six RBI and seven runs scored. Garcia is a strong candidate to begin next season with Round Rock.
ESTRELLAS DE ORIENTE (EASTERN STARS)
LHP Ben Snyder: After spending parts of 2010 and 2011 with Frisco, Snyder pitched for Round Rock during the 2012 season. In five games (three starts) for Oriente, he is 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA, six strikeouts and ten walks in 15 innings.
AGUILAS CIBAENAS (EAGLES OF CIBAO)
RHP Johan Yan: Frisco’s closer for the first two months of 2012, Yan struggled after his promotion to Triple-A (5.03 ERA). He has performed a bit better in winter ball, going 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in eight games. The submarine pitcher has posted an impressive 12-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 6:1 groundout/flyout ratio in 6.1 innings.
TOROS DEL ESTE (BULLS OF THE EAST)
RHP Fabio Castillo: Castillo split 2012 between Frisco and Round Rock after spending the previous two seasons as a RoughRider. He has been good in limited action with los Toros, allowing just an unearned run on three hits in 4.1 innings over six appearances. He has two walks and two strikeouts while pitching for his hometown (La Romana) club.
RHP Jose Diaz: The portly Diaz, who pitched for Frisco in 2009, spent 2012 with Indianapolis (Pittsburgh) of the Triple-A International League. In ten games for los Toros, he is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA, 12 strikeouts, one walk and seven hits allowed in 9.2 innings.
LEONES DEL ESCOGIDO (LIONS OF THE CHOSEN ONE)
RHP Carlos Pimentel: Pimentel seemed to be effectively wild or wildly effective at points this season for the ’Riders, but not so effective for los Leones. In six games (one start), he owns a 10.57 ERA (9 ER, 7.2 IP) with a .343 opponents’ batting average. Still, with his solid year in Frisco he would seem to be a good bet to begin next season with Round Rock.
PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE
LEONES DE PONCE (PONCE LIONS)
The Puerto Rican League just began play on November 8. The Rangers farmhands on Ponce include OF Mike Bianucci (’Riders 2011), C Jorge Alfaro, C Kevin Torres, 1B/OF Brandon Snyder, LHP Tim Murphy (’Riders 2010, 2012), LHP Alexander Claudio, RHP Alex De La Cruz, RHP Jon Edwards (’Riders 2012) and RHP Angelo Leclerc.
VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE
AGUILAS DE ZULIA (ZULIA EAGLES)
RHP Wilfredo Boscan: The RoughRiders’ 2011 Opening Day starter, Boscan spent the first half of 2012 pitching in relief for Frisco before performing very well as a starter in the second half of the season. He has continued that success for Zulia, going 0-1 with a 0.81 ERA in five starts. He has struck out 15 and walked six batters in 22.1 innings while opponents are hitting .228 off of him. The 23-year-old will likely start next season as a RoughRider once again.
TIBURONES DE LA GUAIRA (LA GUAIRA SHARKS)
LHP Joseph Ortiz: Affectionately nicknamed “Mini-Me,” the 5’7” Ortiz put together a superb 2012 season between Frisco and Round Rock. With La Guaira, he is 0-2 in 12 games with a 3.48 ERA, eight strikeouts and three walks in 10.1 innings and batters are hitting .200 against him. He will challenge for a spot in the Rangers bullpen during spring training.
RHP Jose Mavare: The 22-year-old Barquisimeto native spent 2012 with Hickory pitching out of the bullpen and could be a candidate to reach Frisco in the second half of next season. He has been hit hard in the VWL, allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings with five walks and six strikeouts.
NAVEGANTES DEL MAGALLANES (MAGELLAN’S NAVIGATORS)
RHP Randol Rojas: Rojas split 2012 between the Single-A affiliates, spending most of his time with Myrtle Beach. He has yet to appear in a game for los Navegantes.
LEONES DEL CARACAS (CARACAS LIONS)
RHP Wilmer Font: The hulking right-hander’s first season coming off Tommy John surgery was a resounding success. Font spent most of the season with the Pelicans before joining the RoughRiders in August, dazzling the Texas League with a blazing fastball and then earning a promotion to the Rangers in mid-September. He has not pitched yet for Caracas.
RHP Richard Alvarez: After pitching for Spokane for most the season, Alvarez made one appearance out of the bullpen for Hickory. Like Font, he has not yet thrown for Caracas.
CARDENALES DE LARA (LARA CARDINALS)
IF Guilder Rodriguez: The longtime Minor League veteran Rodriguez was recently re-signed by the Rangers and may be back in Frisco for a fifth consecutive year in 2013. In 15 games for Lara, G-Rod is batting .147 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored.
– Alex V.
Baseball America recently released their list of the top 10 prospects in the Rangers organization. Three players on this list spent time in Frisco with the Roughriders — Neil Ramirez, Leonys Martin and Martin Perez. Several others should make their Frisco debut in 2012.
10) Rougned Odor, SS: The almost eighteen-year-old Venezuelan spent the 2011 season with the Spokane Indians of the Northwest League. Odor ended his first minor league season with a .262 batting average and .966 fielding percentage at shortstop. There is speculation that Odor will switch to second base this season. Odor’s uncle, Rouglas, is returning this season as one of the coaches for the Akron Aeros, the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
9) Christian Villanueva, 3B: Villanueva spent the 2011 season with the Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League posting a .278 batting average and a .942 fielding percentage at third base. Villanueva spent the 2009 season with the Dominican Summer League Rangers 2 and the 2010 season with the Arizona League Rangers.
8) Jorge Alfaro, C: The Colombian was just 16 when the Rangers offered him a contract in early 2010. With Spokane this past season, Alfaro had a .300 batting average with a .481 slugging percentage.
7) Cody Buckel, RHP: The Rangers signed Buckel in the second round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft. Like Villanueva, Buckel spent the 2011 season with Hickory. In 101.2 innings of work, Buckel struck out 120 batters with an ERA of 2.61.
6) Neil Ramirez, RHP: The Rangers drafted Ramirez in the first round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft. He has steadily risen through the minor league ranks playing for Spokane and Hickory in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Last season, Ramirez split time with three different teams — the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Frisco RoughRiders and the Round Rock Express. During his time with Frisco, Ramirez had an ERA of 1.89 and opponent batting average of .194. He is currently on the Texas Rangers 40-man roster and will probably spend the season in Round Rock.
5) Leonys Martin, OF: Martin had a whirlwind season climbing the ranks to the major league level within the span of a year. He was signed by the Rangers in May 2011 with a contract over $15 million. After a short stint with the Arizona League Rangers, he was promoted to Frisco where he played 29 games.
During his time with Frisco, Martin had a .348 batting average and a .571 slugging percentage. Martin then spent 40 games with Round Rock before being promoted to the Bigs. He played eight games at the major league level with a .375 batting average and .500 slugging percentage. He is listed on the Rangers 40-man roster and will probably remain at the major league level this season.
4) Mike Olt, 3B: Drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft, Olt spent last season with the Arizona League Rangers for four games before making the transition to Myrtle Beach where he spent the remainder of the season. The third baseman has had strong numbers in Myrtle Beach including a .482 slugging percentage and a .954 fielding percentage. He’s jumped two levels in the course of the past season and could be promoted sometime this season.
3) Martin Perez, LHP: The Rangers signed the Venezuelan as a non-drafted free agent in 2007. Since then he has been working his way up through the minor league system. From 2008 to 2011, Perez has spent time playing for Spokane, Hickory and the RoughRiders. During the 2010 season with the ‘Riders, Perez struck out 101 batters in 99.2 innings of work. He ended the 2011 season playing in Round Rock with a record of four wins and four losses. He was a Futures Game Selection this past season and is currently on the Texas Rangers 40-man roster.
2) Jurickson Profar, SS: Profar was signed by the Rangers in 2009 and spent 2010 with Spokane and 2011 with Hickory. Between the two seasons, he has had fielding percentages over .950. Last season, he hit .286 with 12 home runs and 23 stolen bases leading him to be named the South Atlantic League Most Valuable Player. He was one of the Rangers representatives in the Futures Game this year.
1) Yu Darvish, RHP: The recent Rangers acquisition came at a price of a six-year $60 million contract which isn’t including the record-breaking $51.7 million posting fee. Darvish was drafted in the 2004 Nippon Professional Baseball amateur draft by the Nipponham Fighters and has remained with Nipponham throughout his career.
Last season Darvish had a record of 18 wins and 6 losses, an ERA of 1.44, and 276 strikeouts. Expectations are high for him as he plays his first season with the Rangers who see Darvish as one of their five starters.
By Jarah Wright, Media Relations Intern