Minor League Rankings: No. 3 Luke Jackson

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
12:00
PM CT
We continue our Rangers Minor League Rankings.

Ranking: 3
Player: Luke Jackson
Position: RHP
Draft selection: 2010, supplemental first-round pick
Team: Triple-A Round Rock
2014 season: Frisco: 8-2, 3.02 ERA, 83.1 IP, 58 H, 0.98 WHIP. Round Rock: 1-3, 10.35 ERA, 40 IP, 56 H, 2.10 WHIP
Positives: Dominated Double-A
Negatives: Struggled with the promotion to Triple-A

When will he be here?: He will start the year in Triple-A, but there's an expectation he should be with the big club in 2015. Can he surprise the club and steal a spot in the rotation in 2015? The Rangers are bullish on him and are waiting to see if he can make the adjustment from Double-A to Triple-A. He has a good fastball and breaking ball and is close.

What they're saying: "Jackson has a fearless approach and has cleaned up his delivery, though he'll have to continue to refine his control and command. He has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter, but if he doesn't throw more strikes, he might become a late-inning reliever." -- MLB.com

"Jackson changes speeds well. He'll have at-bats where he goes from a mid-90s heater to a low-70s off-speed pitch before climbing the velocity ladder again. When able to command the entire arsenal, hitters appear uncomfortable in the box. Jackson's willingness to start at-bats with off-speed stuff only amplifies this. Jackson has also used a slider in the past, but has been told to scrap it for now. At best his slider was a fringe offering, and it is not going to be more than a change of pace pitch if it is brought back into his repertoire down the line." -- ROTO Scouting line

The series:

No. 4 Nick Williams

No. 5 Alex Gonzalez

No. 6 Jake Thompson

No. 7 Nomar Mazara

No. 8 Lewis Brinson

No. 9 Travis Demeritte

No. 10 Corey Knebel

Minor League Rankings: No. 4 Nick Williams

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
9:00
AM CT
Happy Thanksgiving. And while you're waiting on the turkey to be served, check out the latest in our Rangers Minor League Rankings.

Ranking: 4
Player: Nick Williams
Position: LF
Draft selection: 2013, first-round pick
Team: Double-A Frisco
2014 season: Myrtle Beach: 94 G, .292/.343/.491, 13 HR, 68 RBI, 19 W, 117 K. Frisco: 15 G, .226/.250/.290, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2 W, 21 K
Positives: Has hit on every level
Negatives: Needs to cut down on strikeouts

When will he be here?: Williams will begin the season in Double-A and most likely won't see the big club until 2015. He has to curtail the strikeouts and draw more walks as evident by the 22 in 112 total minor-league games last season. Williams has good speed but scouts would like to see him steal more bases. He played mainly left field but has the ability to become a full-time center fielder.

What they're saying: "Williams has a quick, easy stroke that allows him to repeatedly barrel balls and drive them to all fields. Though he needs to tighten his strike zone, he doesn't swing and miss excessively. He profiles as a middle-of-the-order hitter who can produce for both power and average." -- MLB.com

"Nick Williams made big strides (in 2013), calming down at the plate, taking better at-bats, using the whole field instead of trying to jerk everything down the right field line, and it emerged that he's got pretty good bat-to-ball ability underneath all the showcase showmanship. -- Keith Law, ESPN

The Series:

No. 5. Alex Gonzalez

No. 6 Jake Thompson

No. 7 Nomar Mazara

No. 8 Lewis Brinson

No. 9 Travis Demeritte

No. 10 Corey Knebel

Look for D-backs to trade Trumbo

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
7:20
PM CT
video
Just as everyone didn't predict, Yasmany Tomas agreed to a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks worth a reported six years and $68.5 million that includes an opt-out after four years. Tomas projects as a power-hitting left fielder with below-average defense, which suggests the D-backs will now shop Mark Trumbo, last year's acquisition who was supposed to be a power-hitting left fielder with below-average defense.

Of course, this is a different front office with Tony La Russa and general manager Dave Stewart now making the calls, so don't blame them for the ill-advised trade that brought in Trumbo with the idea that he could play left field on a regular basis. Trumbo had averaged 32 home runs in three seasons with the Angels, spending most of his time at first base, although he did start 97 games in the outfield in 2012, but few analysts saw him as a left fielder.

Anyway, his 2014 season with Arizona was pretty much a disaster, as he missed two months with a foot fracture and then hit .235/.293/.415 in the 88 games he did play with 14 home runs.

Given the reports on Tomas' defense, it seems unlikely the D-backs will want to play both Tomas and Trumbo in the outfield, which opens up the idea of trading Trumbo. Trumbo is a low-OBP guy (.298 career) but he is a good defensive first baseman and averaged 2.6 WAR per season from 2011-13. Steamer projects Trumbo with a .245/.303/.461 line and 31 home runs. His estimated salary via arbitration would be $5-6 million.

Here are five teams that could be interested:

1. Miami Marlins: Looking for an upgrade over Garrett Jones at first base, the Marlins made a pitch for Adam LaRoche but he signed with the White Sox. Trumbo fits into their budget.

2. Seattle Mariners: The Mariners need right-handed power and while they prefer an outfielder, they also need a first baseman or DH -- they ranked 20th in the majors in wOBA at first base and last in the AL at the DH position. Trumbo could play first with Logan Morrison moving to the DH position.

3. Kansas City Royals: With DH Billy Butler now with Oakland, the Royals need a replacement. Trumbo is a good fit for a team that finished last in the majors in home runs.

4. Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have James Loney under contract for two more years, but Trumbo could be brought into to provide power for an offense that ranked last in the AL in runs. He can DH, play some first and fill in some in left field. The budget-conscious Rays just designed Sean Rodriguez for assignment and could also be looking to trade Matt Joyce, so Trumbo essentially replaces their salaries.

5. Texas Rangers: The Rangers received terrible production from both first base and DH. Prince Fielder's return should help at one of those spots, but that still leaves ... Mitch Moreland? He's coming off a two-homer, injury-plagued season and it may be time for the Rangers to punt on him.

Trumbo shouldn't be too expensive to acquire, with the D-backs probably looking for pitching prospects or young, major-league ready arms. He's not a star and was overrated during his Angels days, but every team seems to be seeking right-handed power, and Trumbo provides that.

Minor League Rankings: No. 5 Alex Gonzalez

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
1:00
PM CT
We continue our series on ranking the top 10 minor-league prospects for the Texas Rangers.

Ranking: 5
Player: Alex Gonzalez
Position: RHP
Draft selection: 2013, first-round pick
Team: Triple-A Round Rock
2014 season: 7-4, 2.70 ERA, 73.1 IP, 67 H, WHIP 1.25
Positives: Fastball in the mid-90s
Negatives: Changeup

When will he be here?: There's a strong possibility he'll pitch with the big club in 2015 and get a long look in spring training. He won't be on the 40-man roster, but the Rangers are looking for him to move up soon. He has four good pitches: slider, fastball, curveball and changeup. Team officials like how he throws the curveball for strikes.

What they're saying: "Working from a consistent 3/4 arm slot, Gonzalez repeats his delivery very well, mixing a mid-90s fastball with a superior, late-breaking slider. Seen by some as a reliever, his future as a starting pitcher will hinge on whether his changeup, currently below-average, can be refined into a reliable offering. One big plus in his favor: he's known for maintaining his good stuff deep into ballgames." -- Scouting Book.com

"Gonzalez can give hitters fits with two different pitches. He commands his fastball to both sides of the plate with cut and sink, usually operating around 90-94 mph. His mid-80s slider was one of the best available in the 2013 Draft." -- MLB.com

The series:

No. 6 Jake Thompson

No. 7 Nomar Mazara

No. 8 Lewis Brinson

No. 9 Travis Demeritte

No. 10 Corey Knebel

Minor League Rankings: No. 6 Jake Thompson

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
9:00
AM CT
Our daily series continues on the Texas Rangers top 10 prospects with a look at a pair of pitchers today.

Ranking: 6
Player: Jake Thompson
Position: RHP
Draft selection: 2012, second-round pick (Detroit)
Team: Double-A Frisco
2014 season: 3-1, 3.28 ERA, 35.2 IP, 28 H, WHIP 1.29
Positives: Good slider
Negatives: Needs command of fastball

When will he be here?: The Rockwall, Texas, native was acquired in the trade for Joakim Soria in July. He's probably not ready for the big leagues in the early part of 2015 but expect a late-season call-up if he keeps progressing. His bread-and-butter pitch is the slider, but scouts say he needs command of his fastball. Thompson fits in with all the young talent in Double-A Frisco.

What they're saying: "Thompson generally uses both two-seam and four-seam fastballs that sit between 90-93 mph to set up a wicked slider at 84 to 85 mph. The fastballs have excellent late life, but it's the slider that Thompson uses often as his put away 'finishing' pitch. He also throws a curveball and a changeup. But the fastball and slider form the foundation of his repertoire." -- Bernie Pleskoff, MLB

"At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Thompson has the build to be a durable starter, and he also possesses the stuff to pitch near the front of a rotation. His delivery can get out of sync at times, but that's typical for a young pitcher and he should develop reasonable command down the road." -- MLB.com

The series:

No. 7 Nomar Mazara

No. 8 Lewis Brinson

No. 9 Travis Demeritte

No. 10 Corey Knebel

KIA Tigers reject Rangers bid for pitcher

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
12:10
AM CT
The Kia Tigers have decided not to accept the Texas Rangers bid for Korean left-handed starter Hyeon-jung Yang, according to a news release issued by the team.

Earlier this week, MK Sports along with former big league pitcher, CJ Nitkowski reported the Rangers won the bidding for Yang at $1.5 million.

Rangers officials said this week they didn't know if they won the bid and whether it would be accepted. The Rangers, it was assumed, had a higher bid than the Minnesota Twins, who also submitted a bid close to the $1.5 million.

The only thing Rangers officials knew was that a final decision would come this week.

In eight seasons for the Kia Tigers, Yang went 62-42 with a 4.33 ERA. He never has pitched more than 170 innings in a season. Team officials considered him more of a middle-of-the rotation-type starter, something the Rangers are looking for given they have Yu Darvish and Derek Holland at the top.

Rangers clear Yu Darvish for throwing program

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
4:40
PM CT
Rangers ace Yu Darvish was cleared by Dr. Keith Meister to begin his normal throwing program Tuesday.

Darvish, who missed the last month and half of the season because of mild inflammation in his right elbow, underwent an MRI exam and subsequent examination by Dr. Meister.

After an Aug. 9 start at Houston, where he lasted just four innings, Darvish complained of mild discomfort in his elbow. As a precaution, the Rangers placed Darvish (10-7, 3.06 ERA) on the disabled list in early August and he never returned.

When the season ended, Darvish went back home to Japan before returning to the United States this week to meet with Rangers officials. Darvish was doing conditioning training in Japan. Now back in Arlington, he will work out for the next few weeks.

Darvish, who made 22 starts, will begin his throwing program in December.

Notes: The Rangers finalized some roster moves with two teams overseas. Outfielder Jim Adduci had his player rights sold to the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization and pitchers Miles Mikolas and Aaron Poreda had their player rights sold to the Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League.

Minor League Rankings: No. 7 Nomar Mazara

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
3:00
PM CT
The Rangers minor league series continues today with a look at some more outfielders.

Ranking: 7
Player: Nomar Mazara
Position: OF
Draft selection: International signing.
Team: Double-A Frisco
2014 season: Hickory: 106 G, .264/.358/.470 19 HR, 73 RBI, 57 W, 99 K. Frisco: 24 G, .306/.381/.518 3 HR, 16 RBI, 9 W, 22 K.
Positives: Hits for power
Negatives: Not much experience, he turns 20 next year

When will he be here?: The Rangers paid a record $4.5 million to sign Mazara from the Dominican Republic in 2011 because of his potential. Expect him to progress in Frisco this summer with a possible move to Triple-A in the second half of the year. Mazara developed a toe-tap before he swings and that allowed him to become a better hitter.

What they’re saying: “He has the bat speed and loft to provide plenty of home runs, though like many of Texas' top position prospects, he'll need to tone down his aggressiveness. With his power and solid arm strength, Mazara profiles easily in right field. He's a below-average runner but has improved his reads in the outfield and gets the job done defensively. -- MLB.com

“Frighteningly talented, though. Don't think he's that far off. I'd start him at Double-A next year, make him repeat what he just did, then get him to Triple-A by June if he does so that he's in position for a late-season callup” -- ESPN’s Keith Law

The series:

No. 8 Lewis Brinson

No. 9 Travis Demeritte

No. 10 Corey Knebel

Notes: Yu Darvish getting exam

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
12:15
PM CT
Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish is visiting team officials this week.

Items on his to-do list include meeting new manager Jeff Banister, checking in with pitching coach Mike Maddux and getting an exam on his right elbow, which had some mild inflammation toward the end of last season.

Darvish is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam and if the results are good, he's expected to begin his normal throwing program next month.

GM Jon Daniels said at the GM Meetings recently that Darvish is always in shape and doesn't have any issues regarding his durability. Darvish has spent time on the DL in all three of his big league seasons for a variety of reasons.

Darvish went on the DL after the mild inflammation was discovered and didn't return.

Chirinos wins award: It was nice to see Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos receive the first ever The Richard Durrett Hardest-Working Man award presented by the Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Durrett, as you know, was a former Rangers beat writer for ESPNDallas.com. Durrett passed away June 17.

"I'm totally touched about the award," said Kelly Durrett, Richard's widow. "One of things I want our kids to remember about Richard was how hard working he was. He had so much dedication and drive and I still don't know how he got everything done in a day. He really did work harder than anyone I know. I think this is the perfect way to honor and to remember him. It's great that this could be done and I'm sure Robinson was someone Richard enjoyed working with and someone who is truly deserving."

(Read full post)

Minor League Rankings: No. 8 Lewis Brinson

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
12:00
PM CT
Our daily series on the Top 10 Rangers minor league prospects continues with a pair of outfielders.

Ranking: 8
Player: Lewis Brinson
Position: OF
Draft selection: 2012, first round
Team: High Desert
2014 season: Hickory: 43 G, .335/.405/..579 10 HR, 28 RBI, 18 W, 46 K. Myrtle Beach: 46 G, .246/.307/.350 3 HR, 22 RBI, 15 W, 50 K.
Positives: Good makeup, wiling to learn
Negatives: Needs more work on developing power and expanding strike zone

When will he be here?: He made some improvements in his swing and approach in 2014 and during the instructional league. The Rangers believe he’s got an above average arm for a center fielder and see him getting better. He’s got a good chance to make Double-A Frisco at some point this season, especially if he cuts down on the strikeouts, 96 in 89 minor league games last season.

What they’re saying: Brinson’s swing was choppy in high school and the Rangers have smoothed it out to let his athleticism shine through. He also appears to be intentionally working on lowering his hand load in BP, but it still creeps up in games. Brinson’s plate discipline has slowly increased and it’s workable now, but he’s still getting by on raw ability at this point. -- FanGraphs Kiley McDaniel

Here's a look at the series:

No. 9 Travis Demeritte

No. 10 Corey Knebel

Minor League Rankings: No. 9 Travis Demeritte

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
12:00
PM CT
We continue our rankings of the Top 10 minor league prospects in the Texas Rangers system.

Ranking: 9
Player: Travis Demeritte
Position: 2B
Draft selection: 2013, first round.
Team: Class-A Hickory
2014 season: Hickory: 118 G, .211/.310/.450 25 HR, 66 RBI, 50 W and 171 K.
Positives: Hits for power
Negatives: Needs experience, last season's 118 games played was the most he ever participated in.

When will he be here?: He's about two years away and that's OK because the Rangers have depth in the middle of the infield. You have to like the power, but the batting average (he had 84 hits in 118 games) suffered a little bit as he hit for that power. He will get better with more experience, especially at the plate. He turned 20 on Sept. 30, so there's no rush to promote him before he's ready. Demeritte is worth following because he's the draft pick the Rangers obtained for losing Josh Hamilton in free agency. "I just want to get in and do what I do best," Demeritte said back in 2013 when asked about the pick. "I'm not worried about that. I'm just ready to make my name."

What they’re saying: "Scouts were mixed on Demeritte's ability to remain at shortstop because he has just average speed. His arm and his bat would profile well at third base, where he spent time in his pro debut, but will stand out even more at second base, where the Rangers played him for most of 2014." -- MLB.com

"The right-handed hitting Demeritte has a strong offensive projection too. His movements are free and easy, generating lift at the point of contact. An athletic base helps drive future power projection. Barreling baseballs to all fields in batting practice, Demeritte projects flashed power to all fields. In game action, he hit a laser beam off the right field wall for a loud hit." -- ROTOScouting




Minor League Rankings: No. 10 Corey Knebel

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
9:00
AM CT
Starting this week, ESPNDallas will rank the Top 10 minor league prospects in the Texas Rangers system. You'll receive two prospects per day.

Ranking: 10
Player: Corey Knebel
Position: RHP
Draft selection: 2013, first round supplemental.
Team: Triple-A Round Rock
2014 season: Detroit Tigers: 8 Games, 8.2 IP, 11 H, 11 K, OPP BA: .306. Triple-A Round Rock: 9 Games, 12 IP, 9 H, 20 K, OPP BA: .205. Triple-A Toledo: 14 Games, 18.1 IP, 6 H, 9 K, OPP BA: .109.
Positives: Big fastball and a hard breaking ball.
Negatives: Recovering from elbow injury

When will he be here?: The former University of Texas pitcher was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and quickly moved up the ranks in the minor league system to the big club. He pitched in eight games this past season for the Tigers. He was acquired in a trade this past summer and the Rangers have been nothing but impressed with his work in Triple-A. Knebel suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament during the 2014 season and was shut down. He's recovering well and there's an expectation he'll be ready for spring training. Knebel will battle for a back-of-the-bullpen spot, but with so much depth on the big club there's nothing wrong with seeing him get extended time in Triple-A.

What they’re saying: "There's some funkiness to Knebel's delivery, but it adds more deception than it detracts from his ability to throw strikes. He flashes a decent changeup, which had the Tigers initially considering trying him as a starter, but his future definitely is as a reliever." -- MLB.com

"Corey Knebel is a reliever, a tough competitor with a mid-90s fastball, a grade-55 curveball that misses some bats, below-average command, and a high-effort arm swing that's hard for him to repeat. He doesn't have the pure stuff to be a closer (he can be an elite reliever, top 25 or so in the game) but if he can finish the curveball consistently enough he'll have a solid career working in the seventh or eighth inning." -- Keith Law, ESPN

Rangers inquire about J. Upton trade

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
8:19
AM CT
[+] EnlargeUpton
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesJustin Upton had a career-high 102 RBIs last season.

The Texas Rangers have inquired about trading for Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton, according to a source.

The Rangers tried to acquire Upton in previous seasons but couldn't finalize a deal.

With the Rangers planning on moving left fielder Shin-Soo Choo to right field, they need another corner outfielder with power. Last season, Upton played in a career-high 154 games and hit .270 while also setting career highs in home runs (29) and RBIs (102).

Upton has a limited no-trade clause in his contract to four teams, but the Rangers are not one of them.

In addition to Upton's skills on the field, the Rangers are attracted to his contract. He has one year remaining on a six-year, $51.2 million contract extension he signed while playing with Arizona. Finding players with at least one year remaining on their contracts is appealing to the Rangers in this trade market.

The Braves are retooling their club after a 27-40 second-half collapse and already have traded outfielder Jason Heyward


(Read full post)


Rangers place bid for Korean pitcher

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
8:15
AM CT
According to a source, the Texas Rangers have placed a bid for Korean left-handed starter Yang Hyeon-Jong.

MK Sports reported the Rangers have won the bidding at $1.5 million and former big-leaguer CJ Nitkowski, who played for the Rangers from 2002-03, tweeted the Rangers beat out the Minnesota Twins for Hyeon-Jong's rights.

A Rangers official said the team won't know if they won the bidding for Hyeon-Jong until this week.

While pitching for the Kia Tigers, Hyeon-Jong went 62-42 with a 4.33 ERA in his career. He's never pitched more than 170 innings in eight seasons. He's considered more of a middle-of-the rotation-type starter, something the Rangers are looking for given they have Yu Darvish and Derek Holland at the top.

GM Jon Daniels said pitching is his No. 1 priority this offseason and there was a belief the Rangers wouldn't go into the international market that much.

Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 20

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
6:15
PM CT
Before you know it, baseball season will be here.

The Texas Rangers announced that pitchers and catchers will report Feb. 20 in Surprise, Ariz., with the first workout the next day. Position players report Wednesday, Feb. 25, and the first full squad workout is Thursday.

The Cactus League schedule opens March 4 when the Rangers meet the defending AL champion Kansas City Royals in Surprise.

A few things to look for:

  • Yu Darvish's first workout. Darvish missed nearly the last month and a half of the season with elbow inflammation.

  • Prince returns. First baseman Prince Fielder, limited to basically two months of the season because of neck problems, should be ready to go.

  • There are several injured players in addition to Fielder returning, including Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Shin-Soo Choo, Martin Perez and Jurickson Profar.

  • The battle for the backup catcher could be between Tomas Telis, Chris Gimenez and maybe a veteran free agent.

  • Oh yeah, this is manager Jeff Banister's first spring training as the skipper. He replaces Ron Washington, who resigned late last season.
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    TEAM LEADERS

    WINS LEADER
    Colby Lewis
    WINS ERA SO IP
    10 5.18 133 170
    OTHER LEADERS
    BAA. Beltre .324
    HRA. Beltre 19
    RBIA. Beltre 77
    RA. Beltre 79
    OPSA. Beltre .879
    ERAC. Lewis 5.18
    SOY. Darvish 182