Rangers announce minor league cuts

SURPRISE, Ariz. – The Texas Rangers have announced the release of 13 minor league players, including formerly heralded prospects RHP Danny Gutierrez and OF Cristian Santana. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the players released.

Players released earlier in camp included LHP Kevin Gunderson, LHP Matt Hill, RHP Cephas Howard, and RHP Kyle Ocampo.

Edward Alfonzo, RHP –– 2006 international free agent
Alfonzo, 21, played his first three years in professional ball ('07-'09) as an outfielder, working between the Dominican Summer League and rookie-level Arizona League. The Venezuela native moved to the mound last season and yielded one run in 3.1 innings for the rookie Surprise Rangers.

Starling de la Rosa, LHP –– 2010 Minor League Rule 5 Draft
The tall, lanky Dominican southpaw posted a 5.92 ERA with 35 walks and 53 strikeouts in 48.2 innings between three levels (rookie, Low-A, High-A) in the Kansas City organization last season. He was working between 88-89 mph during spring training but didn't show much command of his repertoire.

Justin Earls, LHP –– 2010 draft, 31st round
Earls joined the Texas organization after a four-year career at the University of Georgia. Throwing in the low-to-mid 80s, he logged a 5.29 ERA in 32.1 frames (20 appearances) at short-season Spokane last season.

Daniel Gutierrez, RHP –– 2009 trade from Kansas City
Gutierrez cemented himself among the organization's top prospects when he hit 97 mph while flashing a wipeout curveball in the Arizona Fall League after the 2009 campaign. But the former Royals prospect began the 2010 season with a 50-game suspension after testing positive for Adderall, and his velocity fell into the 83-87 mph range after returning.

Doug Hogan, C –– 2008 draft, 18th round
In two full seasons with the Texas system, Hogan spent his time between Single-A Hickory and High-A Bakersfield. He played with the Surprise Rafters of the Arizona Fall League after the '09 campaign, batting .212 with four home runs in 15 games. The backstop posted a .240/.290/.367 slash line in 67 games at Bakersfield in 2010.

Jake Kaase, INF –– 2007 draft, 23rd round
The utility infielder and Austin native played parts of four seasons with the organization, ranging between the rookie-level Arizona League and Double-A Frisco. During those four years, he played all four infield positions, both corner outfield spots, and even pitched in three games (throwing three scoreless innings). Kaase played in 21 games at Frisco in 2010, going 16-for-57 (.281) with two doubles and a triple.

Ed Koncel, OF –– 2008 draft, 13th round
Initially drafted as a shortstop, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound slugger became a first baseman and left fielder in his last two years with the system. The 22-year-old showed plus raw power at Single-A Hickory last season, but he batted just .178 and struck out 106 times in 86 contests.

Travis Meiners, UTL –– 2010 draft, 40th round
The Dallas Baptist product batted .279/.380/.405 with the rookie-level Surprise Rangers last summer, getting action at left field, right field, first base, second base, and third base.

Jessie Mier, C –– 2010 Minor League Rule 5 Draft
Acquired over the offseason, the former Dodgers farmhand was let go after he didn't make the Double- or Triple-A roster. The 26-year-old played at Double-A Chattanooga last season, batting .269/.342/.345 in 46 games.

Hector Nelo, RHP –– 2007 draft, 15th round
Nelo, 24, features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and reaches even higher at times, but he never progressed past the A-ball levels in parts of four professional seasons. He got into 39 games at Hickory and Bakersfield last season, posting a 6.41 ERA with 30 walks and 63 strikeouts in 59 innings.

Cody Podraza, OF –– 2006 draft, 16th round
A native of Houston and an alumnus of Tomball High School, the 23-year-old put up solid numbers during his career but struggled to stay on the field consistently due to injuries. He topped out at High-A Bakersfield last season, where he hit .295/.331/.426 with a pair of homers over 37 games.

Cristian Santana, OF –– 2005 international free agent
Santana, who signed for $350,000, was initially inked as catcher and moved to the outfield two years after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2006. The 21-year-old had outstanding raw power but was derailed by plate discipline and pitch recognition issues that led to high strikeout rates. He batted .260/.329/.469 in 75 games with Hickory last summer. Santana had his season cut short when he was suspended 50 games after testing positive for the performance enhancing drug Formestane.

Tim Steggall, RHP –– 2009 undrafted free agent
Steggall was signed as a relief pitcher after playing the 2009 season as a shortstop at UT-Arlington. The 6-foot-1 hurler logged 20 innings with a 5.85 ERA at the short-season levels last season. He threw his fastball between 88-93 mph to go along with a curveball and the occasional changeup.

Ty Taubenheim, RHP –– 2011 minor league free agent
Texas signed Taubenheim to a minor league deal in late January, and he was released late in spring training after failing to make the Double- or Triple-A rosters. He split last season at the Double- and Triple-A levels in the Phillies organization, going 6-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 88 frames.

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