If there is one area of Rangers Spring Training that will be providing the most competition it will be the battle for outfield positions. The Rangers have selected five Non-Roster Invitees to join the six outfielders on the active roster and all of them are looking to make a statement. A mix of veteran leaders and youthful future stars will give fans a glimpse of what to expect in 2015.
JARED HOYING – OF – 2014 Statistics:
RR: AB: 509, R: 86, H: 138, 2B: 33, 3B: 7, HR: 26, RBI: 78, SB: 20, BB: 40, SO: 140, BA: .271, OBP: .325, SLG: .517, OPS: .842
Hoying led the Express in almost every statistical batting category last year, so it is fair to say that his play was critical to the teams performance. Hoying was the Express leader in at-bats, hits, runs, doubles, triples, home runs and runs batted in. While he did not lead in these categories, Hoying batted .271, had an OBP of .325, SLG of .517 and an OPS of .842. Hoying played 113 games in center field for Round Rock and recorded 260 putouts to go along with seven assists. He will be attending Rangers Spring Training as a Non-Roster Invitee.
RYAN LUDWICK – OF – 2014 Statistics:
CIN: AB: 357, R: 28, H: 87, 2B: 20, 3B: 0, HR: 9, RBI: 45, SB: 0, BB: 31, SO: 94, BA: .244, OBP: .308, SLG: .375, OPS: .683
The newly signed Ludwick joins the Rangers with a minor league contract after three seasons in Cincinnati. The right-handed batter and left-handed thrower started his career with the Rangers in 2002 and has made stops in Cleveland, St. Louis, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. In 2014, Ludwick saw action in 92 games for Cincinnati at left field and had a 1.000 fielding percentage. Ludwick batted .244 with 45 runs batted in, nine home runs and 87 hits. The 2008 All Star looks to make an impact at Rangers Spring Training as a Non-Roster Invitee.
NATE SCHIERHOLTZ – OF – 2014 Statistics:
WAS: AB: 40, R: 3, H: 9, 2B: 1, 3B: 1, HR: 1, RBI: 4, SB: 0, BB: 2, SO: 8, BA: .225, OBP: .262, SLG: .375, OPS: .637
CHC: AB: 313, R: 29, H: 60, 2B: 10, 3B: 3, HR: 6, RBI: 33, SB: 4, BB: 18, SO: 76, BA: .192, OBP: .240, SLG: .300, OPS: .541
Schierholtz spent the majority of 2014 with the Chicago Cubs before finishing the season in Washington. The Nationals brought Schierholtz in to help their playoff push that ultimately ended in defeat to the eventual World Series champions, San Francisco Giants. In the 2014 NLDS vs. San Francisco, Schierholtz went 1 for 1 with a double and two walks in four games. Schierholtz posted a four-hit game against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 11, 2014 with one double, one run batted in and scored a run. Schierholtz enters Rangers Spring Training as a Non-Roster Invitee.
NOMAR MAZARA – OF – 2014 Statistics:
FRI: AB: 85, R: 10, H: 26, 2B: 7, 3B: 1, HR: 3, RBI: 16, SB: 0, BB: 9, SO: 22, BA: .306, OBP: .381, SLG: .518, OPS: .899
HKY: AB: 398, R: 68, H: 105, 2B: 21, 3B: 2, HR: 19, RBI: 73, SB: 4, BB: 57, SO: 99, BA: .264, OBP: .358, SLG: .470, OPS: .828
Mazara finished his 2014 campaign in Frisco after playing 106 games in Hickory. Mazara’s production continued once he got to Frisco and he certainly took advantage of his first crack at double A ball. While with the RoughRiders, Mazara put up a .306 average with 26 hits and nine walks in 24 games. In only his fifth game with the club, Mazara had three hits with three runs batted in during an 8-1 Frisco victory. At the young age of 19, Mazara will continue his maturation in 2015 with the hopes of a successful season both at the plate and on the field.
This concludes the Express Tracks 2015 preseason preview. We touched on the potential starting pitchers, relief pitchers, catchers, infielders and outfielders and how they will impact the Express organization this season. Opening Day is rapidly approaching and hopefully this preview has inspired you to get out your glove and prepare for the great season ahead. Be sure to stay up to date with Spring Training and also follow the Express on Facebook and Twitter!
**Please remember these previews are not official documentation of the Express roster and do not determine any roster moves.**
The Rangers made a few changes to their 40-man roster overnight.
-RHP Luke Jackson was added to the 40-man while former Express OF Jim Adduci was designated for assignment.
-Former Express RHP Miles Mikolas and LHP Aaron Poreda were both placed on unconditional release waivers. Both players are expected to play in Asia in 2015.
-Former Express OF Daniel Robertson was traded to the LA Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Here’s the full release from the Rangers will all of the other moves:
RANGERS PURCHASE CONTRACTS OF HANSER ALBERTO, JORGE ALFARO,
JERAD EICKHOFF, AND LUKE JACKSON FROM MINOR LEAGUES
Club removes Adduci, Mikolas, Poreda, and Robertson from major league roster to make room
Arlington, Texas – The Texas Rangers tonight announced the following roster moves:
–Purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Luke Jackson from Triple-A Round Rock.
–Purchased the contracts of infielder Hanser Alberto, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and right-handed pitcher
Jerad Eickhoff from Double-A Frisco.
–Designated outfielder/first baseman Jim Adduci for assignment.
–Placed right-handed pitcher Miles Mikolas and left-handed pitcher Aaron Poreda on unconditional release waivers for the purpose of both playing abroad in Asia in 2015. Each player should finalize the signing with the respective club in the next few days.
–Traded outfielder Daniel Robertson to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash.
Alberto, 22, won a 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove as the top defensive shortstop in the minors, splitting the campaign between Myrtle Beach (High-A) and Frisco (AA). He rated statistically as the best defensive shortstop among Texas League shortstops with at least 50 games played, and was also chosen as the Rangers Minor League Defender of the Month for July. The Dominican Republic native combined to bat .273 (120-440) with 21 doubles, 4 triples, 7 home runs, and 58 RBI in 120 games with the Pelicans and ‘Riders. Alberto was signed as a non-drafted free agent on November 23, 2009 by Rodolfo Rosario, Willy Espinal, and Mike Daly.
Alfaro, 21, combined to bat .261 (127-486) with 17 home runs and 87 RBI in 121 games between Myrtle Beach and Frisco. He was a Carolina League midseason and postseason All-Star selection, ranking among the league leaders in both RBI (3rd) and home runs (T6th, 13). The backstop also threw out 19 of 72 (26.4%) attempted basestealers, good for the 3rd-highest percentage in the circuit. The Columbia native was the starting catcher for the World Squad at the All-Star Futures Game in July. Alfaro was signed as a non-drafted free agent on January 19, 2010 by Don Welke, Rodolfo Rosario, and Hamilton Sarabia.
Eickhoff, 24, led all Double-A pitchers and Texas farmhands with 144 strikeouts in 2014, going 10-9 with a 4.08 ERA (70 ER/154.1 IP) over 27 games/26 starts for Frisco. In addition to leading the circuit in strikeouts, Eickhoff ranked among Texas League leaders in innings (3rd, 154.1), WHIP (4th, 1.17), and wins (T8th, 10). He was selected in the 15th round of the 2011 draft out of Olney Central (IL) Community College.
Jackson, 23, combined to go 9-5 with a 5.40 ERA (74 ER/123.1 IP) and 126 strikeouts over 26 games/24 starts with Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. He was selected for the Texas League All-Star Game and started the contest for the South team. He was tabbed the 7th-best prospect in the Texas League by Baseball America and led the circuit in both wins and strikeouts at the time of his promotion to Round Rock. Jackson finished with the 3rd-most strikeouts among all Texas minor leaguers. The Florida native was selected in the supplemental first round (45th overall) of the 2010 June draft.
Adduci batted .168 with one home run and 8 RBI in 44 games for Texas last season, making the Opening Day roster before missing the bulk of the season due to injuries. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release, or outright Adduci to the minor leagues.
Mikolas went 2-5 with a 6.44 ERA (41 ER/57.1 IP) in 10 games/starts for Texas last season, his first major league action as a starter. He did not pitch after a start on August 25 due to right shoulder fatigue. Poreda went 2-1 with a 5.91 ERA (14 ER/21.1 IP) over 26 relief appearances for Texas in 2014, his first major league action since 2009.
Robertson batted .271 over 70 games with Texas in his major league debut last season, spending all but 11 days on the major league roster after he was acquired in an April 23 trade with San Diego.
With tonight’s moves, the Rangers still have a full 40-man roster.
Just four months, 26 days and 8 hours until first pitch…
While we’ve been breaking down former Express players in the Division Series, it’s time to move on to the Championship Series in both the American and National Leagues. The battles are between the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles in the American League and the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals in the National League. With the Royals (Omaha), Giants (Fresno and now Sacramento going into 2015) and Cardinals (Memphis) affiliates in the Pacific Coast League, we’ve seen a lot of familiar faces come through Dell Diamond in the opposing dugout. Here’s a list of some of those names you might recognize:
Those who played for the Express, counting rehabbers:
Those who played against the Express:
Thanks to Express broadcaster Mike Capps for the research lead on this.
With the amount of roster moves (203) we officially had this season, it’s kind of hard to think that there might be any left to make this offseason. But where there’s a will, there’s a way and the following six players were outrighted to Round Rock:
-3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
-C/1B J.P. Arencibia
-P Pedro Figueroa
-P Wilmer Font
-OF Engel Beltre
-INF/OF Guilder Rodriguez
Additionally, the Cubs clamied P Joseph Ortiz on waivers.
Since being outrighted, both Kouzmanoff and Arencibia have elected free agency and are going to test the market.
207, 208, 209…
The NL Wildcard play-in game took place last night between the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates. There was one former Express player in both dugouts with OF Hunter Pence (2007) wearing the victorious black and orange and RHP Mark Melancon (2010) donning the Pirates’ black and yellow. The Giants have another former Round Rocker in their system, RHP Juan Gutierrez (2007) who was reassigned before the beginning of the postseason. Gutierrez and Pence were teammates for a grand total of 23 games on that ’07 squad (April 5 – 27, August 18).
Good luck to Hunter as the Giants continue on in the postseason!
The MLB postseason starts tonight with the AL wild card play-in game between the Rangers division rivals the Oakland A’s and the Kansas City Royals. There are three former Express players on the A’s active roster and none on the Royals. There were a total of six former E-Train players who played with the A’s at some point this season… and none on the Royals. This might be the only time we say this, but go A’s!
Here’s the list of all six with the current players bolded:
P Fernando Abad (2010)
OF Craig Gentry (2011)
P Josh Lindblom (2013)
P Brad Mills (2013)
INF Andy Parrino (2014)
C Geovany Soto (rehab – 2014)
Who are you cheering for tonight?
The off-season is full of moves on both the minor and major league side. This off-season is no different. Take a look and see where some of your favorite Express players from 2013 have landed:
Collin Balester – Pirates
Joe Benson – Marlins
Travis Blackley – Japan
Jake Brigham – Pirates
Aaron Cunningham – Cubs
Ryan Feierabend – Rangers
Brendan Harris – Dodgers
Kyle McClellan –
Evan Meek –
Carlos Pimentel – Cubs
Scott Richmond –
Nate Robertson –
Yangervis Solarte – Yankees
Eli Whiteside – Cubs
Ross Wolf – Korea
Johan Yan – Rangers
To follow along with all of the off-season signings with the Rangers and Express, both past and present, click here!
Congrats to (the now former) Express manager Bobby Jones who will join the Rangers major league staff for 2014 as an assistant hitting coach. Bobby had an overall record of 229-203 (.570) in his three seasons as Express manager (2011-13). Round Rock made one playoff appearance with him at the helm in 2011. He spent a total of 11 seasons as skipper of the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, eight of those with Oklahoma City.
RANGERS HIRE BENGIE MOLINA AS FIRST BASE COACH AND CATCHING INSTRUCTOR;
PROMOTE BOBBY JONES TO ASSISTANT HITTING COACH TO FINALIZE
2014 MAJOR LEAGUE COACHING STAFF
Jamie Reed named Senior Director of Medical Operations; Kevin Harmon promoted to Head Trainer
Arlington, Texas — The Texas Rangers announced today the hiring of former catcher Bengie Molina as first base coach and catching instructor. The team also promoted Triple-A Round Rock Manager Bobby Jones to assistant hitting coach to complete the 2014 coaching staff.
Additionally, longtime trainer Jamie Reed has been named senior director of medical operations and Kevin Harmon has been promoted to head trainer.
Molina, 39, spent the 2013 season as the assistant hitting coach for the National League-champion St. Louis Cardinals, his first coaching job since completing a 13-year major league career with the Rangers in 2010. Acquired by Texas in a July 1, 2010 trade with the San Francisco Giants, Molina had a postseason average of .293 (12-41) with 2 home runs and 8 RBI in the Rangers’ run to a first-ever World Series appearance that year. His last major league game came as the Rangers’ catcher in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series. Molina hit for the cycle with Texas on July 16, 2010 at Boston’s Fenway Park, when he became just the eighth player since 1900 to hit a grand slam as part of a cycle.
A career .274 hitter for the Angels (1998-2005), Blue Jays (2006), Giants (2007-10), and Rangers (2010), the two-time Gold Glove Award winner was the starting catcher for Anaheim’s 2002 World Series champion club. He is the older brother of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Rays catcher Jose Molina.
Jones, 64, will be in his third stint on the major league staff, as he served on Johnny Oates’ staff in 2000 and 2001 (third base coach, first base coach) and again under Buck Showalter for the 2006 campaign (first base coach, outfield instructor). The 2014 campaign will be the 27th season as a coach or manager in the Texas organization for Jones, who is one of the longest-tenured members of club’s baseball operations. In 24 years as a minor league manager, he has compiled a 1656-1621 record and led his teams to 12 postseason berths, amassing the most games and victories of any manager in the history of the Texas organization. Originally selected by the Washington/Texas franchise in the 1967 June draft, Jones made his major league debut with the Rangers in 1974.
Reed, who will be in his 12th season with the Rangers, will oversee all medical aspects of the organization on the major and minor league levels. He will travel on both the major and minor league sides of the Rangers’ system. Reed previously worked in both the Tampa Bay (1997-2002) and Baltimore (1982-96) organizations and had a stint as President of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society.
Harmon will be in his 10th season with the Rangers and his first as head trainer. In addition to his work as a trainer, Harmon has also served as a strength and conditioning coach in a career that began in 1986 spanning stints in the Atlanta, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay organizations.
As the division series kick-off and continue today, we can’t technically call it the “baseball off-season” just yet. However it is the off-season for the Express and all of Minor League Baseball.
Every Friday during the Express off-season, we’re going to introduce “Friday’s Top 5.” It will be the top five of a bunch of different categories all pertaining to the 2013 season. We’ll have the top five games, top five players, top five crowds, top five pitchers, top five hitters, etc. As we close in on next year and start pumping up our celebration of the Express’ 15th season, we’ll start going further back in time and might even expand it to a top 10 to accommodate all that has happened the past 14 seasons.
Talk around the office today is surrounding the Express 2013 team MVP so today’s top five is going to be five candidates for team MVP this season. It was tough to narrow it down with so many contributors on so many different levels, but we couldn’t make this a top 50 so we had to draw the line somewhere. So here, in no particular order, are the five biggest vote-getters in the front office:
1. Joey Butler
OF Joey Butler was the team MVP for 2012 and with the year he had this year, he’s definitely a strong candidate for the honor again in 2013. His .291 average was third on the team (min. 200 AB) and he ranked in the top three in four other categories: runs (71- 2nd), hits (124 – 3rd), HR (12, t-2nd), total bases (186, 3rd). He was fourth on the team in two other categories: RBI (51) and doubles (26). He saw time at every outfield position and filled in a DH. On top of all that, he made his MLB debut on August 7 as a pinch hitter (he recorded his first ML hit on 8/9 – a double).
2. Jim Adduci
OF/1B Jim Adduci led the club in a handful of categories: batting average (.298), runs (75), home runs (16), total bases (219) and stolen bases (32). He finished the season in the top five in another bunch of categories: games (127 – 2nd), at-bats (473 – 2nd), hits (141 – 2nd), doubles (24 – 5th), triples (3 – 3rd), RBI (65 – 2nd), walks (65 – 3rd), OBP (.381 – 2nd), SLG (.463 – 2nd). His 32 stolen bases were also tied for second-most in the PCL. While he mainly saw time in the outfield (95 games), he filled in at first base for 33 games after the injury bug didn’t leave many other options available at that position. A 10-year MiLB veteran, Adduci finally got his much-deserved cup of coffee with September call-ups. He made his MLB debut on September 1, going 1-2 and starting at LF.
3. Josh Lindblom
RHP Josh Lindblom was one of the Express’ most consistent starting pitchers. He was 8-4 with a 3.08 ERA (108.0ip/37er) in 20 appearances (18 starts). He led the team in wins and had the fewest losses out of all starters. He gave up the fewest hits among starters (86) and allowed the second-fewest walks (31) while striking out the second-most batters (79). His 1.08 WHIP was the lowest among Express starters as well. Lindblom made a handful of appearances with the Rangers this season (in three call-ups), going 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA (31.1ip/19er) over eight games (five starts).
4. Cory Burns
RHP Cory Burns was Express-closer extraordinaire. In 38 appearances, he converted 20 of 23 save opportunities which was 16 more than the next closest reliever in the E-Train bullpen. His 2.15 ERA (37.2ip/9er) was second-lowest among relievers with at least 20.0 ip. He allowed just 15 walks while striking out 48. He made three trips up to Arlington this season to join the big league club, going 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA (11.1ip/4er) in 10 appearances out of the bullpen.
5. Yangervis Solarte
INF Yangervis Solarte was a true utility man this season. He name was on the lineup card at 2B, 3B, SS, LF and DH. In 133 games with the Express, Solarte batted .276 (5th best on the team) with 31 doubles (T-1st), 12 homers (T-2nd) and 75 RBI (1st). He was also among the team leaders in total bases (219 – 1st) and runs (66 – 3rd). Solarte also ranked third in the PCL in at-bats (526). He is the only Express player on this list to not get playing time in Arlington this season, but his time is due.
It’s the best time in baseball when the postseason really gets underway. The Wild Card games were fun and all, but now it’s time to start the real chase for the World Series ring. With the NL division series starting in mere moments, I wanted to take a quick look at where some former Express players landed in the postseason.
Boston Red Sox (vs. Tampa Bay Rays):
Boston has two former Express players in catcher Mike Napoli (2011) and pitcher Koji Uehara (2012). Napoli had a brief four-game rehab stint in Round Rock in 2011 while Uehara threw 3.0 innings over three appearances in 2012.
Atlanta Braves (vs. Los Angeles Dodgers):
Infielder Chris Johnson played for the Express in 2008-10. He spent 30 games with the Express in 2008, batting .218 with one home run and nine RBI. He spent most of the 2009 season in Round Rock, batting .281 with 38 extra-base hits and 42 RBI in 104 games. In 2010, he appeared in 38 games, batting .329 (49-149).
Pittsburgh Pirates (vs. St. Louis Cardinals):
Pitcher Mark Melancon was in the Express bullpen for three games in 2010, going 1-0 with one save over 4.1 innings.
Tampa Bay Rays (vs. Boston Red Sox):
LHP Wesley Wright went 4-1 with a 4.65 ERA (69.2ip/39er) in 15 games (14 starts) for the E-Train in 2010. In 2009, he went 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA (19.0ip/7er) in 13 appearances (1 start).
Which former Express players are you rooting for this postseason?