Rangers sign three, invite McClellan to camp

The Texas Rangers recently signed three more players to minor league contracts, including right-hander Kyle McClellan, who received an invitation to big league camp. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at McClellan, righty Kevin Pucetas, and lefty Ryan Feierabend.

The Texas Rangers recently announced the signings of three more pitchers to minor league deals: right-handers Kyle McClellan and Kevin Pucetas, and left-hander Ryan Feierabend. McClellan received an invitation to major league spring training; Pucetas and Feierabend will report to minor league camp in March.

  • McClellan, 28, brings by far the most major league experience of the group, and he'll compete for an opening-day spot on the Rangers' pitching staff. A full-time contributor to the St. Louis Cardinals between 2008 and 2012, McClellan earned a reputation as a versatile arm who served in starting, setup, and long relief roles.

    Although the 6-foot-2 righty has appeared in 261 games during the last five seasons, an arm injury limited him to just 16 appearances and 18.2 frames last summer. McClellan went down with an elbow sprain in May before ultimately undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a frayed labrum (right shoulder) in July. He was released by St. Louis following the 2012 campaign.

    McClellan enjoyed a career-best campaign in 2010, when he posted a 2.27 ERA in 68 relief appearances for the Cards. That season, he yielded just 58 hits in 75.1 innings, walking 23 and striking out 60. The Missouri native contributed as a part-time starter in 2011, making 17 starts out of 43 games pitched, and logging 12 wins with a 4.19 ERA over 141.2 frames. He had returned to the bullpen last season before suffering the injury.

    When healthy, McClellan attacks hitters with a four-pitch mix that includes an upper-80s, low-90s fastball, mid-80s cut-slider, low-to-mid 70s curveball, and low-80s changeup. He works primarily off the fastball-cutter-curve combo while mixing in the occasional change.

    The early-season absence of Colby Lewis will leave the Rangers looking to fill their fifth starter role in camp. Rostered hurlers Martin Perez, Justin Grimm, and perhaps even Robbie Ross are expected to compete for that role. If healthy, McClellan may also be in the mix, though he may have a better chance to break camp in a middle/long relief spot. It'll all depend on how his stuff plays post-surgery.

    McClellan will join eight other non-roster pitchers in big league camp: RHP Collin Balester, RHP Jake Brigham, LHP Neal Cotts, RHP Evan Meek, RHP Yonata Ortega, RHP Yoshinori Tateyama, RHP Randy Wells, and RHP Johan Yan.

  • Pucetas, also 28, has toiled around the upper minors in recent years, spending the last four seasons at the Double- and Triple-A levels. The former Giants prospect represented the club at the 2008 MLB All-Star Futures Game, but he has struggled since earning a promotion to Triple-A the following year.

    After posting a cumulative 5.24 ERA in three unspectacular Triple-A campaigns between 2009 and 2011, Pucetas inked a minor league deal with the Nationals last offseason and spent most of the year at Double-A Harrisburg. Also making one start in Triple-A, the right-hander posted a 3.70 ERA in 104.2 innings. He allowed 101 hits, walked 21, and struck out 72.

    A finesse hurler who has pitched the last two seasons as both a starter and reliever, Pucetas relies heavily on commanding his fastball-curveball-changeup repertoire. He made eight starts in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, putting up a 3.25 ERA while fanning 22 and walking nine in 36 frames.

    Pucetas will report to minor league camp and should open the 2013 season as a member of the Triple-A Round Rock pitching staff.

  • Feierabend, 27, is another candidate for the Express rotation in 2013. The soft-tossing southpaw made big league cameos with Seattle between 2006 and 2008 but hasn't returned since undergoing Tommy John surgery in '09.

    After posting Triple-A ERAs north of 5.00 in both 2010 and 2011, Feierabend was left without an affiliated job to begin last season. He began with the independent York Revolution before signing a minor league deal with Cincinnati in June. The former third-round pick reported to Triple-A Louisville but was released after being battered for 11 home runs in seven starts (6.75 ERA). He then returned to York and finished out the 2012 campaign in indy ball.

    During Feierabend's last big league stint in 2008, he flashed a fastball that hovered around the upper-80s with a changeup/slider secondary combination.

  • A closer look at the other 17 players who have signed minor league contracts with the Rangers this offseason can be seen at this link.

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