Tracking the Offseason

The off-season is in full-swing here in Round Rock with only 112 days left to savor the silence. In reality, there’s just under four months until baseball is back at The Dell Diamond and all is right in the world. Silence is overrated anyways.

As is normal in the off-season, there have been a few moves and changes in the Rangers farm system. Let’s take a look at what’s going on with some of your favorite Express players from 2012…

The Rule V draft took place last Thursday in Nashville towards the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. The Rangers selected Marques Smith from the Reds (Double-A Pensacola) and saw Tommy Mendonca selected by the Athletics (Triple-A Sacramento).

Smith split 2012 with the Piratas de Campeche (Triple-A Mexican League) and the Portland Sea Dogs (Boston, Double-A). In 12 games with the Piratas, he hit .261 (12-for-46) with four doubles, one home run and six RBI. He spent the majority of the season in Portland at third base. He batted a solid .293 (82-for-280) with 22 doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 37 RBI in 71 games. He struck out 52 times and drew 23 walks. Smith elected free agency in November and was quickly signed by the Reds before being selected by the Rangers in the Rule 5 draft.
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Mendonca split the 2012 season between Round Rock and Double-A Frisco. He struggled at times with the Express, hitting just .208 (48-for-231) with 14 extra-base hits and 31 RBI. He struck out 84 times while only walking nine. In his 63 games with Round Rock, only 12 were multi-hit games. He improved in Frisco with a .277 average (28-for-101) in 28 games and improved his OBP and SLG by over 100 points each (.342/.455 vs. .249/.329). He also showed a little more patience at the plate, drawing 10 walks in his 114 plate appearances.

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In other Rule 5 draft news, both RHP Justin Miller and LHP Joe Ortiz had their contracts selected by the Rangers and were placed on the 40-man roster. Miller was injured in 2012 and didn’t pitch, but had to be put on the 40-man to be protected before the Rule 5 draft. (For more information on the Rule 5 draft, check out this great article in Baseball America.) Twenty-two-year-old Ortiz had a 1-1 record with a 1.97 ERA (7er/32ip) in 24 appearances with Round Rock last year. He started the season in Double-A Frisco, posting a 1-2 record with a 2.35 ERA (8er/30.2ip) in 27 games. He converted six of 10 save opportunities between the two clubs. Ortiz’s contract was purchased on Nov. 20, the last day to protect a player before the Rule 5 draft.

Now we get into the fun that is minor league free agency. Here’s a list of the following players in the Rangers farm system who have either elected or declared free agency along with the team they have since signed with (where applicable).

Dusty Brown, C – Unsigned
Fabio Castillo, RHP – Giants
Robinzon Diaz, C – Unsigned
Willie Eyre, RHP – Unsigned
Alberto Gonzalez, SS – Cubs
Derek Hankins, RHP – Unsigned
Aaron Heilman, RHP – Unsigned
Luis Hernandez, 2B – Indians
Zach Jackson, LHP – Unsigned
Matt Kata, 3B – Unsigned
Val Majewski (Double-A), OF – Unsigned
Brad Nelson, 1B – Unsigned
Greg Reynolds, RHP – Unsigned
Ben Snyder, LHP – Unsigned
Yangervis Solarte, 2B – Rangers
Ryan Spilborghs, OF – Seibu Lions (Japan)
Johan Yan, RHP – Rangers

For a complete, up-to-date listing of all minor league free agents, click here.

What has been your favorite move of the off-season?

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