Texas Rangers: Tommy Mendonca

Notes: Utility infield, cuts, injuries

March, 20, 2012
3/20/12
3:03
PM CT
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Texas Rangers made three more cuts Tuesday and will likely have some more at the end of the week as it's time to get the rosters in view as the season gets closer.

Catcher Tommy Mendonca, outfielder Kyle Hudson and infielder Yangervis Solarte were assigned to minor league camp. The fact that all three were cut is not a shock.

Of particular note, though, is Solarte, a candidate for the utility infielder spot. The 24-year-old was swinging a solid bat this spring, but had not played much shortstop. Manager Ron Washington said he wants a utility infielder that can play short.

"Solarte just needs reps and more time," Washington said. "He'll get to play second, short and third now."

So that leaves Alberto Gonzalez, Luis Hernandez and Greg Miclat battling for the utility infield spot. Washington said there is no favorite yet and it may take the rest of camp to make a decision.

Other notes:

* Catcher Yorvit Torrealba (back) said he felt better Tuesday. But he did not make the trip to Mesa and will also get tomorrow off with the rest of the team. He could be back Thursday.

"It was like the muscle disappeared or something," Torrealba said. "I just couldn't move as well. But it's better."

Torrealba said he took some swings on Monday and was planning on doing a full workout Tuesday.

* First baseman/outfielder Brad Hawpe's chances of making the team aren't being helped by injuries. He has a mild left hamstring strain and was held out of the lineup Tuesday. He may return Thursday after the off day Wednesday.

* Catcher Mike Napoli came out of Monday's game feeling fine. He's the DH today against the Cubs.

Rangers Magazine: Jake Krug on Jurickson Profar

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
10:39
AM CT
Spring training minor league games begin this afternoon in Surprise, Arizona. While the Texas Rangers at the major league level will have very few new names, the Rangers' affiliates will see new names on their rosters due to the natural progression of development. The headliner among minor league position players is 19-year-old shortstop Jurickson Profar and where he will play after 115 games for Low-A Hickory in 2011.

PODCAST
Rangers director of minor league operations Jake Krug discusses Jurickson Profar's future with the team.

Listen Listen
“We kind of live by the motto 'challenge the gifted’ and Jurickson certainly fits in that category,” said Rangers director of minor league operations Jake Krug during a recent edition of Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “We keep it open-minded. Whether it’s Myrtle or Frisco, half in Myrtle … half in Frisco. It’s kind of up to Jurickson. He’s one of those guys. You really wouldn’t count anything out. Him playing in Double-A this year I know is a goal of his, and a goal of ours.”

As Profar continues his climb to Arlington, you are probably trying to figure out the major league roster when he is ready. Shortstop Elvis Andrus has three years (including 2012) left on his contract. At second base, Ian Kinsler has two years left on his deal, including a 2013 club option. Is a position change coming?

“I think there’s certainly talk of exposing him to second base in game situations,” Krug said of Profar.

This spring has seen the Rangers move a couple players around the diamond. Third baseman Mike Olt has played first base. Third baseman Tommy Mendonca is converting to catcher.

Soon the Rangers begin their quest for a third consecutive trip to the World Series, and five of the Rangers' top six minor league affiliates look to return to the playoffs. Even though the major league roster is loaded with talented players, development of minor leaguers will not slow down.

“The last thing we can do is sit back and just watch the major league team do their thing. We’ve got to get ready for the next wave,” Krug said. “Like [general manager Jon Daniels] says, you don’t want to regroup at any point, you want to reload when the time comes.”

Krug is an Arlington native who enters his 10th season working for the Rangers and his first in this role. Krug discussed the evolution of the Rangers the way he has experienced it. He talked more about Profar, the beginning of minor league camp, Mendonca as a catcher, starting pitcher depth that spills into Round Rock and Tim Purpura. Listen to the podcast.

Bryan Dolgin enters his third season as the Texas Rangers radio pre/postgame show host on the Texas Rangers ESPN Radio Network. Follow him on Twitter @RangersRadioBD.

Daniels: Mendonca move creates options

January, 11, 2012
1/11/12
10:00
AM CT
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the idea of moving Tommy Mendonca to catcher this offseason is to see if it can create more opportunity for him and the organization.

"We're just trying to create options, both for Tommy and the club," Daniels said. "He profiles well back there, he's committed to it, and if it pans out we've got a left-handed hitting catcher with power and that's a relative rarity."

Mendonca, a third baseman and Texas League All-Star, hit .278 with 25 homers and 87 RBIs in 125 games for Double-A Frisco in 2011.

With Adrian Beltre at third base for the long-term, the club wants to see if Mendonca can handle the catching position, a spot the club has been working toward building some depth at in recent seasons.

Daniels points out that Mendonca isn't the only player that will see time at a new position. Mike Olt, who had such a solid season at Class A Myrtle Beach before fracturing his collarbone (.267 with 14 homers and 42 RBIs) and then returned to lead the Arizona Fall League in homers and RBIs, will get some time at first base this spring after playing third in 2011.

Daniels added that Leury Garcia, who has played mainly shortstop in his professional career, will try some center field this season.

"Once they get to the Double-A level, we like to experiment a little with their athleticism and versatility if it helps them get to the big leagues and contribute," Daniels said.

Rangers Magazine: Steve Buechele

August, 29, 2011
8/29/11
3:00
PM CT
The magic number is one…for the Frisco Roughriders, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, to reach the Texas League playoffs. However, developmental magic continues to be produced by their manager, former Rangers third baseman Steve Buechele.

PODCAST
Frisco RoughRiders coach Steve Buechele talks about prospects, the transition from High-A to Double-A and dealing with the dog days of baseball season in the minors and majors.

Listen Listen
“My primary focus is to make sure that they are playing the game the right way,” Buechele said when he was a recent guest on Rangers Magazine (Saturday 10-11 a.m.) on 103.3 FM ESPN. “Get them ready to play at the next level. We have a lot of young kids in this organization who are being pushed and challenged to play at a level that they maybe they shouldn’t be at age-wise. If I can pass along a kid up to Triple-A, the best thing I can pass along is a kid who plays the game the right way.”

Buechele, along with pitching coach Jeff Andrews, were able to “pass along” a couple of their pitchers earlier this season to the San Diego Padres in order to acquire reliever Mike Adams for the major league club. Adams pitched a scoreless relief inning in last night’s Rangers win against the Angels.

“The trades…part of you, when you lose a Robbie Erlin and a Joe Wieland all at one time, part of the trades you’re saying ‘gosh darnit, you just took 40 percent of my staff and these are the two guys we are leaning on,’ but the other half is that’s what we’re here for is to develop these young players and if they go in trades, they go in trades.”

In the interview, Buechele also talked about pitching prospect Robbie Ross, outfielder Mike Bianucci, third baseman Tommy Mendonca, outfielder Engel Beltre, the transition from High-A to Double-A and dealing with the dog days of baseball season in the minors and majors.

Follow Bryan Dolgin on Twitter @RangersRadioBD.

Rangers prospect update - Monday edition

May, 24, 2010
5/24/10
10:30
AM CT
RHP Pedro Strop, OKC - Strop has been overshadowed this spring by Alexi Ogando and Tanner Scheppers, particularly since the pair joined him in the Redhawks bullpen, but Strop has made a legitimate claim for a bullpen spot. His season line is 18.2 IP, 13 H, 1 HR, 5 BB, 20 K with a strong GB tendency, and in his last five appearances he is nearly perfect at 9 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 8 K. He would still be third on my list if I am looking for an impact arm, but his stuff is electric, and he's currently pitching the best baseball of his career.

LHP Beau Jones, Frisco - The one piece of the Mark Teixeira trade return to not make a noticeable impact on the major league club, Jones has not lived up to his status as a supplemental first round pick by the Braves or his potential since entering the organization. He started this season in extended spring training, but since his activation this month he has seen Double-A success for the first time (8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 12 K, 1.13 ERA). Jones joins Zach Phillips and Ben Snyder as a potential left-handed middle relief option down the road.

RHP Jake Brigham, Bakersfield - Tabbed by observers during spring training as a likely breakout prospect in the Texas system, Brigham has not lived up to the hype. He hasn't been terrible (36:18 K:BB in 41.2 IP), particularly considering that he pitches in the California League, but previous breakout arms such as Derek Holland have shown that it is possible to have success in that league. Brigham had his worst start of the season Friday, allowing six earned on eight hits and four walks, striking out three in three innings.

LHP Robbie Erlin, Hickory - Erlin was one of the big “buzz” prospects in baseball last week after throwing five perfect innings in his first professional start. His encore was Sunday, and, while he didn’t match that level of dominance, he was still solid, lowering his season ERA to 0.30 and posting a typically impressive K:BB (6:0). Erlin is among the most dominating arms in the SAL and may - at age 19 - need to be promoted to see worthy competition.

LHP Robbie Ross, Hickory - After an excellent summer in Spokane, Ross entered 2010 already among the Rangers’ best pitching prospects. Another jump forward was expected by many, but he has seen the younger and less experienced Erlin trump his performance. That is not to say that Ross has been a disappointment, merely a bit inconsistent. One area where he has been consistent is in keeping the ball on the ground. Through nine starts (49.1 IP) his ground ball rate is 67%, and he has yet to allow a home run. His longest and best outing of the season came Saturday, when he completed seven innings and allowed just three hits and no walks.

RHP Joe Wieland, Hickory - Fourth straight solid start Friday: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 HR, 1 BB, 6 K
OF Miguel Velazquez, Hickory - Pace has slowed (six for his last 36), might need to reestablish himself to be promoted...or might just be bored
3B Tommy Mendonca, Bakersfield - One of the biggest disappointments in the organization, the 2nd rounder has been terrible across the board: .212/.271/.288, 7:41 BB:SO, 0 HR.
RHP Josh Lueke, Frisco - Promoted straight to AA after dominating the SAL, struggled a bit in his first game Sunday, allowing three hits (including a HR) and a walk in one inning

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