SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Every spring, one or two players seem to come out of nowhere, play well and earn themselves a spot on the roster coming out of camp.
Left-handed relief pitcher Robbie Ross can attest to this after beating the odds and securing the final bullpen spot after a strong Cactus League performance in 2012. Perhaps this year's version of Ross could be Nick Tepesch.
The rookie right-hander made his first career appearance in an "A" game Sunday and impressed. Poise is key to success on the mound and the non-roster invitee showed plenty of it with a near perfect outing in two innings of work during the Rangers 7-5 loss to Kansas City.
"There is a surprise or two and we know what he [Tepesch] can do and if he continues to do it maybe he'll force us to make a decision," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It's one time. I'd like to see him continue to pitch well and maybe he'll do like Robbie Ross and make us make a decision."
Tepesch faced the minimum six batters in the two innings, retiring five of the six. The lone batter to reach was Willy Taveras who placed a perfect bunt to spoil what would have been a flawless performance. That poise presented itself again when the next batter Alcides Escobar grounded into an inning-ending double play. The outing began on a high note when Tepesch struck out the side in the third inning.
"It was my first game and the adrenaline was pumping a little bit, but I felt comfortable out on the mound and I just tried to stick to my plan," Tepesch said. "In the bullpen the sinker was feeling pretty good, I was throwing it pretty well. I was just trying to attack hitters and get ahead."
The strong performance in his debut was made that much sweeter, as it came against his hometown team. Tepesch is a native of Blue Springs, Mo., which is just 15 minutes from Kauffman Stadium, the regular-season home of Sunday's opponent, the Kansas City Royals.
"I grew up a Royals fan, so it was kind of cool," he said.