Rangers invite eight Minor Leaguers to camp
Third-base prospects Olt, Mendonca to try new positions
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have invited eight Minor League players to Major League Spring Training, including infielders Mike Olt and Tommy Mendonca.Both are third basemen who will be used at new positions because they are blocked at the Major League level by Adrian Beltre. Olt, ranked No. 3 among Rangers prospects, will get time at first base and Mendonca is going to get a chance to play catcher. Mendonca is currently working out in Arizona with Rangers Minor League instructor Hector Ortiz, who is a former big league catcher. "He profiles for the position," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's got a good body and a plus arm and plus power from the left side. There are not many catchers like that in the big leagues. Tommy was open to it, so we'll give it a shot and see how it goes. He's committed to it." Mendonca spent last season at Double-A Frisco and batted .278 with 25 home runs and 87 RBIs in 125 games and 504 at-bats. He was selected to the Texas League All-Star team. He was also a member of Team USA that won a silver medal at the Pan American Games in Mexico. The Rangers' best catching prospects are in the lower levels of the system. They have signed Dusty Brown and Chris Robinson to Minor League contracts and acquired Luis Martinez from the Padres for Minor League pitcher Ryan Kelly. Brown and Martinez have limited Major League experience. Jose Felix was in Major League camp last year but has not been invited this season after struggling at Double-A Frisco. The Rangers are hoping for a rebound season. Olt is considered one of the top third-base prospects in the Minor Leagues, but with Beltre at the Major League level, the Rangers wanted to create some options for him. "In Mike's case, I don't think there is any doubt he can play third base," Daniels said. "He is a plus defender, he has a very good arm, plus power and great makeup. We don't lose anything by moving him around. It creates options and other ways to get to the big leagues. You never know what will happen in the course of a season. "Olt is one of the better third basemen in the Minor Leagues. Him playing first base is not a commentary on his third-base play." Olt was at Class A Myrtle Beach and batted .267 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs despite missing two months with a broken collarbone. He also led the Arizona Fall League in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage this offseason. The Rangers are also inviting pitchers Fabio Castillo, Greg Reynolds, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Ben Snyder and infielder Greg Miclat. Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 22. This will be the third straight spring that Scheppers, the Rangers' fourth-ranked prospect, has been in camp. The Rangers looked at him as a starter last year but now plan on using him in relief going into camp.
Prospects Perez, Ross could crack Texas 'pen
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' need for left-handed relief could open up a spot for top Minor League prospects Robbie Ross and Martin Perez this spring. General manager Jon Daniels acknowledged that it's something the Rangers could consider in Spring Training.
"Both Ross and Perez are going to work as starters, but you never know," Daniels said. "We have people who believe they can start long term, but as we've seen, we've had success with guys getting experience in the bullpen and moving to the rotation. They are going to work as starters, but if that's where we have the biggest need, we'll look at it."Perez (No. 2) and Ross (No. 7) are among the Rangers' top 10 prospects, according to MLB.com. Perez is ranked eighth overall.
Right now, Michael Kirkman is the only reliever on the 40-man roster with Major League experience. Miguel De Los Santos, who was 5-0 with a 3.26 ERA in the Arizona Fall League, is another relief candidate.Darren Oliver and Michael Gonzalez were the Rangers' two left-handed relievers in the playoffs last October. Oliver has since signed with the Blue Jays and Gonzalez remains a free agent. Perez was 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 17 games at Double-A Frisco and 4-4 with a 6.43 ERA in 10 games at Triple-A Round Rock. Ross, 22, split last season between Class A Myrtle Beach and Frisco, combining to go 10-5 with a 2.34 ERA and 134 strikeouts against 33 walks over 27 games (26 starts). Ben Snyder, who will be in camp on a non-roster invitation, is another left-handed relief candidate after going 11-5 with a 3.87 ERA at Double-A Frisco.
Profar, Ross take Rangers' top Minors honors
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have announced that shortstop Jurickson Profar is the 2011 winner of the Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year Award and Robbie Ross is the Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year.Justin Miller is the Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year and outfielder Ryan Strausborger is the Defender of the Year. All four will be honored Thursday night at the Dr. Pepper Awards Show at the Arlington Convention Center. Profar is ranked as the Rangers' top prospect, according to MLB.com; Ross is No. 7.
Profar, 18, was the South Atlantic League's Most Valuable Player after batting .286 (123-for-430) with 37 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs, 65 RBIs and 23 stolen bases for Class A Hickory.Miller, 24, spent the entire 2011 campaign with Double-A Frisco, going 9-1 with a 1.81 ERA, 13 saves and 77 strikeouts over 48 relief appearances. He is on the 40-man roster and will come to Spring Training with a chance to win a spot in the bullpen. Strausborger, 23, was selected as the best defensive outfielder in the Carolina League in a Baseball America survey of league managers and was the Rangers' Defender of the Month for May. He ranked tied for third in total chances in the Carolina League (258) and had 11 outfield assists, tied for the fourth most.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.