Results tagged ‘ Mike Olt ’
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).
There was no game for the Rangers yesterday but of course that does not mean things were slow in terms of news developments. The big story continues to be the Nolan Ryan situation and we can expect things to remain that way until the big man speaks publicly on the matter. So far, he has shown little interest in doing that for reasons only he knows.
I think I speak for most fans when I say that I hope that this reaches a conclusion that keeps Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels’ top lieutenants with the organization. That might be a pie-in-the-sky hope, but it’s no crime to dream of a happy ending in this case. Sometimes, however, the band does end up breaking up. It happened to the Beatles and it can happen here.
In my opinion, what the Rangers would like to avoid experiencing is what happened the Red Sox front office over the final years of the Theo Epstein era. Epstein is a bit like Daniels in how he rose through the game to become a big league general manager. Like Daniels, Epstein had a group of extremely talented people around him who eventually outgrew their roles (i.e., the Red Sox could not afford them or give ran out of ways to promote them) and moved on to other organizations. Think of Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod as examples. Their departures diluted the talent pool of the front office and as a result, the Red Sox stumbled through some mediocre drafts and disastrous free agency signings, leading to three straight seasons ending with no postseason in Boston. Maybe voices like Hoyer and McLeod, had they been a part of those decisions, could have asked questions that weren’t being asked or proposed different solutions.
The Rangers ownership wants to make sure the Thad Levines and A.J. Prellers of the organization stay put to keep Daniels’ “dream team” of assistants together. Daniels’ promotion to president clears the way for some future upward movement in the front office, making it more likely that the band stays together for a little longer and the Rangers continue their run of recent success.
So where does that leave Nolan Ryan? We don’t really know, though there is plenty of speculation. My belief is that we won’t know until Nolan himself determines how he would like to see this play out. Until then, let’s hope this iteration of the Beatles keeps on rocking together.
On the subject of who has the power in the Rangers’ organization – Evan Grant says that nothing much will change with the organization despite the title changes.
Daniels on Nolan Ryan: ‘I don’t want him to leave’ – Some quotes from the Rangers’ GM/president, who was on ESPN Radio 103.3 yesterday.
If the always-sensible Nolan Ryan wants to win, it’s Texas Rangers or bust – Highlights from Kevin Sherrington’s DMN column.
Daniels had ‘good conversation’ with Ryan over the weekend, says there’s ‘no issue’ between the two – More Daniels quotes from another radio interview, this time with KRLD.
Why Rangers haven’t made move for Lohse, others – Daniels also took some time yesterday to touch on the potential acquisition of a new starting pitcher.
Team USA gets strong debut from Holland – There was a Ranger in action yesterday, as Derek Holland threw three innings for Team USA in a WBC tuneup vs. the White Sox.
Rangers’ top prospects can benefit from WBC absences – Jeff Wilson has Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar looking to take advantage of their extended playing time with the big club while the WBC is in progress.
Rangers don’t need to panic and press the No. 5 button – Gil Lebreton says Texas can afford to be patient in finding a fifth starter.
Harrison hopes offseason pays off in ’13 – Matt Harrison says he’s not content with coasting off his first all-star season despite earning a big contract, writes Anthony Andro.
Inbox: Could injuries bring Lohse into picture? – T.R. Sullivan answers fan questions in this week’s mailbag column.
Things were progressing in a nice and dull manner out in Surprise until yesterday’s news that Elvis Andrus would be scratched from the Rangers’ spring training game against the Indians. Missing the game itself wasn’t as noteworthy as was the reason why: his left arm was sore after spending nine hours on Wednesday getting a new tattoo, a memorial to his late father. Publicly, the Rangers haven’t seemed too upset over the ink stink, which overshadowed their 10-0 win – the team’s first of the spring. It also may have been a blessing in disguise for Jurickson Profar, who filled in for Andrus at shortstop and tripled in his first at bat off Zach McAllister (the same Zach McAllister who Profar took deep in his first major league at bat last September in Cleveland). The whole “incident” won’t mean much in the long run – which is a good thing – but it certainly made for an eventful Thursday in the desert. On to today’s links:
Andrus sits out due to sensitivity from new tattoo – A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com talks to Andrus and Ron Washington about the new tattoo and missing yesterday’s game. There’s also some good notes about Derek Holland’s impressive performance, Mike Olt in the outfield and Robbie Ross feeling a little sore.
Berkman looks like usual self in first spring at-bat – Cassavell has a look at Lance Berkman’s spring debut, which included a hit, a walk and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot.
Lance Berkman doesn’t show rust in debut – More on Berkman, from Ron Matejko of ESPNDallas.com.
Holland leaves for WBC on high note – The Rangers lefty tossed four scoreless innings yesterday against Cleveland and now leaves to pitch for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.
Spring break: Rhode Islander trying to catch on with Rangers – Jeff Beliveau is trying to become the first player from the Ocean State to suit up for the Rangers, per Drew Davison.
‘Tattoo soreness’ and other significant developments in the Rangers’ camp – Randy Galloway gives his thoughts on the news of the day and Lance Berkman.
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.
Yesterday the White Sox jumped out to a 12-0 lead and beat up the Rangers 14-8 to drop Texas to 0-4 in Cactus League play. The good news? These games (of course) don’t count for much of anything and, by all accounts, Yu Darvish looked fantastic in his two innings of work. As for 2012 RoughRiders pitcher Cody Buckel? He had a tough afternoon, throwing just 10 of his 31 pitches for strikes and yielding six runs (four earned) with five walks while retiring just one batter. Here are today’s links:
Why veteran Jeff Baker could have edge on Mike Olt for spot on Texas Rangers’ bench – Evan Grant says the journeyman’s experience riding the pine might end up getting him a big league job.
Texas Rangers roster predictions, V2.0 – From a couple days ago, but worth a look as Grant handicaps the 25-man roster.
Same old Josh? Ex-Ranger Hamilton swings at first pitch, goes 0-for-3 in Angels debut – If you’re interested, Josh Hamilton did not set the world on fire in his first game of the spring with Los Angels.
With year under his belt, Texas Rangers’ Darvish already looking like Yu 2.0 – For subscribers only, Gerry Fraley thought highly of the Japanese right-hander’s debut outing.
Cody Buckel survives – Jeff Wilson reports that, despite yesterday’s flameout, Cody Buckel was not incinerated from planet Earth altogether. He also notes that Engel Beltre might not be playing for Spain in the WBC after all.
Rangers catcher feels nothing (yet) vs. old team – Wilson writes about A.J. Pierzynski facing the White Sox for the first time as a Ranger yesterday.
Yu Darvish impresses in spring debut – Another glowing report on Darvish, this time from Ron Matejko.
Darvish off to strong start in second spring – Matt Mosley writes that things are bit calmer this spring for the now more seasoned Darvish.
Plenty of arms to choose from for Rangers – Needing to almost completely rebuilt their bullpen, Anthony Andros says that the Rangers have a diverse group of options available to fill out the open spots.
Rangers prepared to round out rotation in house – Don’t look for Kyle Lohse to come walking through that door, writes T.R. Sullivan.
Berkman may make Rangers debut Thursday – Sullivan has injury updates on Lance Berkman, Colby Lewis and the two Beltres, Adrian and Engel.
Earlier today MiLB.com released its 2012 Rangers Organization All-Star Team and the RoughRiders were well-represented with six players named to the squad, more than any other team in the farm system (Round Rock, which ironically finished with the worst record of all the full-season teams, was second with five). So how did MiLB.com do with their picks? Let’s take a look at the catching and infield positions.
MiLB.com’s pick: Kellin Deglan, Hickory (92 G, .234-12-41, 25 2B, 2 3B, 46 R, .310 OBP, .438 SLG, .748 OPS, 7 E, 12 PB, 38% CS)
My pick: Deglan
Production-wise, it’s not a stellar crop to choose from but a case could be made for either one of Frisco’s catchers (Jose Felix and Zach Zaneski) and for Myrtle Beach’s Tomas Telis. Felix was arguably the best defensive catcher in the Texas League and made strides offensively while Zaneski’s batting average was over .300 for most of the year and got better behind the plate as the season went on. Telis’ offensive numbers, when observed through the hitter-unfriendly Carolina League prism, were actually fairly comparable to Deglan’s. For me, the difference came down to the numbers that were actually there, and the former first round pick Deglan swatted 12 home runs with 25 doubles, both impressive figures for a 20-year old catcher. It may all be a moot point in the long run, as Jorge Alfaro, who caught just 29 games, is probably the best prospect of the bunch. His lack of time behind the dish hurt him in this exercise, however.
MiLB.com’s pick: Chris McGuiness, Frisco (123 G, .268-23-77, 25 2B, 65 R, .366 OBP, .474 SLG, .840 OPS, 7 E)
My Pick: McGuiness
One of the newest members of the Indians organization, McGuiness had a terrific bounce back season with the ’Riders, giving Texas League hurlers a reason to throw hittable pitches to Mike Olt, who batted before the former Citadel star in Steve Buechele’s lineup. McGuiness established career-highs in home runs, doubles, runs batted in and runs scored while saving numerous throwing errors with excellent glove work at first base. Other fine seasons to consider for this spot belonged to the Round Rock combo of Mike Bianucci and Brad Nelson, Myrtle’s Brett Nicholas and the AZL Rangers’ Ronald Guzman.
MiLB.com’s pick: Yangervis Solarte, Round Rock (130 G, .288-11-54, 28 2B, 69 R, 3-4 SB, .340 OBP, .405 SLG, .745 OPS, 11 E at position)
My pick: Rougned Odor, Hickory (109 G, .259-10-47, 23 2B, 4 3B, 60 R, 19-29 SB, .313 OBP, .400 SLG, .714 OPS, 10 E at position)
My first disagreement with MiLB.com comes at the second base position. Solarte’s first season with the Rangers organization was also his first at the Triple-A level. It was his finest season to date in home runs, RBI and runs scored, but while I tend to give a little extra credit to offensive players in the Carolina League, I have to take some away from Pacific Coast Leaguers. Why? The circuit dramatically favors hitters in most years and 2012 was no exception. The PCL batting average and OPS for this past season were .278 and .775, respectively (the International League, by comparison, was .257 and .717). Solarte should certainly be congratulated for a fine season, but the 18-year-old Odor (he turns 19 this February) put up similar numbers in a less offensively-generous league while ranking among the best defensive second basemen in the South Atlantic League. His numbers did fall off in the second half of the year, but that is often the case for players in their first full season of professional ball. Added Frisco first name bonus: I’m looking forward to seeing Rougned playing for the RoughRiders, perhaps by the end of next season. Other second basemen whose seasons were worthy of note included Frisco’s Leury Garcia, Myrtle’s Odubel Herrera, Spokane’s Cam Schiller and the AZL Rangers’ Janluis Castro. So yeah, the Rangers are pretty well-stocked at this position.
MiLB.com’s pick: Mike Olt, Frisco/Texas (MiLB numbers: 95 G, .288-28-82, 17 2B, 3B, 65 R, 4-4 SB, .398 OBP, .579 SLG, .977 OPS, 11 E at position)
My pick: Olt
No brainer here, as a case could be made for Olt being the best third baseman in Minor League Baseball in 2012. After missing a good chunk of the previous season with a broken collarbone, the former UConn Husky was a one-man wrecking crew in Frisco. He looked capable of hitting the most home runs by a Texas Leaguer in more than a decade before the Rangers called him up to the big leagues in early August. He was slowed by a foot injury that he suffered just days into reaching Arlington, but that will likely become just a footnote in an otherwise solid big league career. While Olt was clearly the best at the hot corner for the Rangers, it would be remiss of me to not mention Joey Gallo, who spent time with both short-season clubs. The supplemental first rounder from this past June snapped Cody Decker’s AZL home run record with 18 long balls (he added four more with Spokane) while hitting .293 with a 1.169 OPS for the baby Rangers. Christian Villanueva, who spent most of 2012 with Myrtle before being traded to the Cubs, Hickory’s Drew Robinson and Spokane’s Ryan Rua also had noteworthy seasons.
MiLB.com’s pick: Jurickson Profar, Frisco/Texas (MiLB numbers: 126 G, .281-14-62, 26 2B, 7 3B, 76 R, 16-20 SB, .368 OBP, .452 SLG, .820 OPS, 22 E at position)
My pick: Profar
Again, you can’t shoot too many holes in picking Profar, hailed by many as the best prospect in the game at the moment. From his preternatural ability to work a count to his off-the-charts makeup, there isn’t much to say about the 19-year-old Curacaoian (my favorite learned word of 2012) that hasn’t already been said. So how about this observation, for kicks and giggles:
First game of full season ball: Home run in his first at bat of the year for Hickory vs. Asheville on April 7, 2011
First hit at Double-A: Home run at Arkansas to deepest part of the ballpark on April 8, 2012
First at bat in 2012 XM Futures All-Star Game: Home run off top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi in first inning
First MLB at bat: Home run at Cleveland on September 2, 2012
The man knows how to make an entrance, doesn’t he? With apologies to Allen Iverson, not to be forgotten at the shortstop position is Hanser “The Answer” Alberto, who put together a strong campaign between the two Single-A stops on the Minor League ladder.
Coming tomorrow: My thoughts on the outfield and pitching All-Star choices.
– 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.
In part two of my discussion with RoughRiders manager Steve Buechele, we talk about Jurickson Profar, Chris McGuiness and his own future in the game.
Alex Vispoli: This past season you had the distinct pleasure of sending four guys directly to the big leagues, by passing Triple-A. In your opinion, taking a look at those four guys (Justin Grimm, Wilmer Font, Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar), what do you think their ceilings are, how good can they get?
Steve Buechele: I don’t know, but I think they can all become great players. To tab every one of them as a great player, well what happens down the road you just never know. [Profar], he’s had so much talk about him and hype put on his shoulders, and the same with Mike Olt; I think they’re both going to be absolutely great Major Leaguers for a long time. I think Wilmer Font has a chance to very very good. And I think Justin Grimm, getting a taste and seeing what it’s like, I think he’ll be very good. And I could say that about a lot of other guys who were on our team this year. I think the fans and people around the Metroplex are going to find out that a pretty good number of kids who were on that team this year are going to be wearing a Rangers uniform. If not a Rangers uniform, they’ll be wearing a big league uniform pretty soon.
AV: Chris McGuiness was named the co-Player of the Week – along with Houston’s Jon Singleton – for the first week of action in the Arizona Fall League. I was pretty surprised by McGuiness’ season in that he was so productive. He started off slowly but hit for a .268 average with 23 home runs and it seemed like he raised his game to another level when Olt – who had been hitting in front of him for most of the season – went up to the big leagues. Here he is carrying the label of an “elite prospect” by going out to Arizona and by having the season that he had. He is known for being a pretty good defensive player as well. Is he someone who surprised you a little bit considering that he missed most of 2011 with injury and when he did play the results were not great?
SB: I don’t think he surprised me. I think what was key for him was that it was one of the first seasons where he went the full season injury-free. He’s always had little nicks and knacks and injuries that have knocked him out here and there. This year, for the most part, he was injury-free and played every day. And he was a kid who you saw him just develop and grow into a much more confident run producer and a much more confident hitter. I think maybe when Mike [Olt] got brought up, and I think even before that, you saw him develop and become a much more confident hitter as the season went on, certainly after the first half. Early in the year he had so many opportunities to knock in runs and I think became frustrated with it. It was just nice to see a kid at the Double-A level understand what it takes and what kind of hitter he needs to become to be a run producer. It was just great to see him do that. And he’s a great kid; to see that he was named “Player of the Week,” that’s not a surprise to me at all.
AV: With Profar, there’s so much hype around him and he had such a good season at 19 years old in Double-A, the youngest player in Double-A this year. You probably don’t know the answer to this and Jon Daniels might not know the answer either, but how do the Rangers work him in to get a more regular role than what he had in the last month of the regular season, considering the two positions that he can play are pretty well spoken for at the moment?
SB: I don’t know, that’s not my call. Do I think he’s a great utility player at the big league level if in fact they go with [Elvis] Andrus and [Ian] Kinsler [at shortstop and second base]? Yeah, no doubt he is. He would serve that role perfectly. Could he play every day in the big leagues? And my answer to that is yes too. He’s only 19 years old and you can’t overlook that. With Pro, what makes him so good is that he adjusts so quickly for a 19-year-old kid. The adjustments he makes and as smart as he is, it’s well beyond his years. I’ve said this a hundred times and you’ve heard it: very often you find kids that are afraid to fail. And he’s one of the rare players that you see who is not afraid to be great. I would be shocked if the Rangers don’t find some kind of role for him starting next season.
AV: I know you follow the Rangers very closely, I’m sure you were watching after our season ended. But from your vantage point, what happened to that team over the last two weeks of the season and that one playoff game?
SB: You know what, I don’t know. I’m not there, I watch it obviously just like everybody else. I don’t know. You hear their excuses and if you want to make excuses, to me it is kind of the result of what’s gone on the last two years. The grind, the long years, players becoming tired, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer as to what happened. I think at the end of the season it looked like a very sluggish team to me, the energy level wasn’t there. What are the reasons for it? I’m not going to sit here and try to make any kind of excuse for them, but if I had to give you an opinion I think it’s just a result of what’s gone on the last couple of years and I think they just ran out of gas.
AV: Yeah, an extra month of baseball for two straight years and I think almost everyone played in a career-high number of games which probably helped cause that.
AV:You have been mentioned as a guy that folks think has what it takes to be a Major League manager. Is that what you want eventually?
SB: Sure, I mean going back four years ago when I was asked to come back in the organization and be a part of it, managing was never on my radar screen. Coaching or getting back in some form was in my mind. But being a manager never was. I’ve enjoyed it and I love it. What other people say is what they say, I don’t care. I’m happy with what I’m doing and hopefully someday I’ll get a chance to be on a big league staff again.
AV: Is that something that you take an active role in trying to make it happen or is your philosophy “if it’s going to happen, just wait for it to happen”?
SB: I don’t know how active a role I can take in it. I think I’m pretty loyal to the Rangers. I’ve been a part of this organization for a long long long time going back to 1985 and always being a part of the organization, doing something for them in some extent and now I’m back in uniform. There are certain loyalties that I have to the Rangers and the hope on my end is that at some point, some time I’ll be able to wear that Rangers uniform again.
My thanks to Steve Buechele for taking the time to talk with us. Look out for more interviews with members of the 2012 RoughRiders throughout the off-season.