Rangers send 15 to minor league camp

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Over the last few days, the Texas Rangers have reassigned 15 players to minor league camp. Lone Star Dugout profiles all of the players and their performances during spring training.

Over the last few days, the Texas Rangers have reassigned 15 players to minor league camp. The club is now working with 43 players on the major league side, including five who are currently injured and will miss the start of the season.

The non-roster invitees who are still standing are as follows: 1B/OF Jim Adduci, UTIL Jeff Baker, RHP Lisalverto Bonilla, RHP Derek Lowe, RHP Kyle McClellan, LHP Nate Robertson, RHP Ben Rowen, C Konrad Schmidt, UTIL Yangervis Solarte, RHP Nick Tepesch, C Eli Whiteside, and RHP Johan Yan.

Of that group, Baker, Lowe, and Tepesch are the three with a strong chance to crack the Rangers' opening-day roster. For a more in-depth piece on how the club's opening-day roster is shaking out, check back at Lone Star Dugout on Saturday morning.

Here's a look at the players who were recently sent down. All are likely to start the season at Triple-A Round Rock, with one or two possibly going to Double-A Frisco.

  • Brandon Allen, 1B (NRI) – The 27-year-old Allen saw a lot of time on the big league side this spring, working as a reserve first baseman. With Moreland and Berkman on the Rangers' roster, however, he was never really up for an opening-day job. Allen appeared in 20 games this spring, going 6-for-31 (.194) at the plate with a double, a triple, and two home runs. He drew five walks and struck out six times. Triple-A Round Rock should be Allen's opening-day destination; he should be their primary first baseman (depending on what happens with Indians Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness at the end of camp).

  • Apodaca will catch at the upper levels.
  • Juan Apodaca, C (NRI) – A non-roster invitee, Apodaca was one of six catchers invited to the major league side to deal with the massive amount of pitchers in big league camp. The 26-year-old veteran was 0-for-9 offensively in nine ‘A' game appearances. After splitting last season between Double- and Triple-A in the Cubs' system, he'll likely do the same for Texas in 2013.

  • Collin Balester, RHP (NRI) – Part of the open audition for a job at the front end of the Rangers' bullpen, Balester showed a good fastball––sitting at 93-94 mph––but was knocked around in six big league relief appearances. In six innings, the former Nationals right-hander was tagged for seven runs on nine hits (including two homers), walking three and striking out four. The 26-year-old hurler has always shown good velocity, but the results often haven't followed. While Balester has logged at least some big league action in each of the last five seasons, he'll almost surely open 2013 in the bullpen at Round Rock.

  • Jeff Beliveau, LHP (40) – A member of the Rangers' 40-man roster, Beliveau was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, where he'll open the season as a lefty reliever. The club's lefty relief situation was cloudy entering camp, but Michael Kirkman's strong spring and Robbie Ross' return to the bullpen should nail the coffin on the job. The 26-year-old Beliveau was unspectacular on the whole in camp, showing an 87-91 mph fastball and yielding four runs on eight hits in 5.2 ‘A' game innings.

  • Engel Beltre, OF (40) – With Cruz, Gentry, Martin, and Murphy basically having big-league jobs locked up coming into the spring, Beltre didn't stand much of a chance at a roster spot. He also missed some time early in the spring, traveling to Puerto Rico to play with Team Spain in the World Baseball Classic. The 23-year-old Beltre still impressed Rangers skipper Ron Washington with his play in the outfield––he's a plus defender at all three spots with a plus arm too boot. At the plate, Beltre was just 1-for-15 with a triple, two walks, and two strikeouts. The Rangers used Beltre's final minor league option by sending him to Triple-A earlier this week. If he performs well enough in Round Rock, he's likely to get a look in the outfield at some point in 2013 and could have a future as a plus defender, plus runner reserve outfielder who can provide a little production with the bat.

  • Neal Cotts, LHP (NRI) – Like Beliveau, Cotts opened the spring as a fringe candidate for a relief job but showed pedestrian stuff and results on the whole. The veteran nearly won a spot in the Rangers' bullpen last spring––he may have claimed the job over Ross if not for a late-camp injury––while showing a fastball up to 93 mph and a quality slider. But Cotts' velocity and secondary stuff wasn't as sharp this spring (nor was it during the regular season in Round Rock last year), and he was tagged for five runs on 15 hits in 6.1 innings over six appearances. Cotts should return to the Triple-A bullpen when camp breaks.

  • Aaron Cunningham, OF (NRI) – A defensive specialist for the Indians last season, Cunningham appeared in 72 major league games while getting just 97 official at-bats. His ability to play all three outfield positions gives him a shot to receive some time in Arlington this season. But he's behind the current regulars (plus Craig Gentry) on the depth chart, and he may even be behind 40-man roster member Engel Beltre. Cunningham played in 19 games before going down to minor league camp, hitting 8-for-29 (.276) with three doubles and a round-tripper. Like many of the guys on this list, he'll break camp with Round Rock.

  • Jose Felix, C (NRI) – Felix was in major league camp but played in just seven ‘A' games because of his time spent with Mexico's World Baseball Classic squad. He went 3-for-9 with a home run offensively, striking out twice. The 24-year-old Mexico native has been regarded as a plus defender in the past but struggled with his receiving at times last year; he still shows a good arm with good mechanics behind the dish. After playing the last two years at Double-A Frisco, Felix is in limbo between Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock coming out of camp.

  • Font fell behind schedule with an early-spring injury.
  • Wilmer Font, RHP (40) – The big right-hander was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, where he'll open the 2013 campaign––likely in the bullpen. Font began his spring with mild shoulder tendinitis which, while it shouldn't be a big deal going forward, caused him to fall behind schedule. He's just getting back on to the mound in games and hasn't been at his sharpest. Showing a 92-95 mph fastball, Font allowed four runs and issued three walks in 1.2 innings over two ‘A' games. He figures to be a top candidate for a righty relief call-up once back to 100 percent during the regular season.

  • Justin Grimm, RHP (40) – Along with the now injured Martin Perez, Grimm opened camp as one of the favorites for Texas' vacant no. 5 starter spot. But the 24-year-old prospect scuffled early in the spring and yielded 10 runs on 15 hits in 9.1 ‘A' game innings. His two most recent appearances have been much better, but it wasn't enough to get his name back in the mix. Grimm will continue to work on sharpening his command and delivery in the Round Rock rotation this April. If he gets back in-line, he could be one of the top candidates for a call-up in either a relief or starting role.

  • Evan Meek, RHP (NRI) – The Rangers gave Meek a look as a potential righty middle reliever, but he failed to impress on the big league side of camp, coughing up 10 runs (nine earned) in 7.2 innings over seven appearances. While his velocity was just 88-91 mph––topping at 92––during his time in ‘A' games, he suddenly flashed 93-94 mph heat––hitting 95––in a minor league game on Thursday. Heavily reliant on his lively fastball during his successful run in Pittsburgh, Meek is an intriguing guy at that velocity. The key will be to see if he holds it during the regular season at Round Rock.

  • Mike Olt, 3B (40) – Given the Rangers' current plethora of corner infielders and outfielders on the big league roster, Olt entered camp as a long-shot to win an opening-day spot. Matters weren't helped by his second consecutive slow start, as he went just 6-for-31 (.194) with a double and two home runs in 19 contests. He drew six walks and fanned 12 times. Olt was also slow to get going defensively at the hot corner, though he appeared to be adjusting well in right field. After going 6-for-31 last spring and putting up a similar showing this year, it's far too soon to worry about Olt––he may just be a slow starter. The prospect was having difficulty adjusting to plus velocity in the early going. He'll begin the year with the Express, where he should see some time at first base and right field in addition to his more natural third base spot.

  • Brandon Snyder, UTIL (NRI) – Snyder made the opening-day roster last season as a right-handed corner bat off the bench. While he was largely punchless against righty pitching, he did his job against southpaws by going 14-for-44 (.318) with two doubles and three home runs against them. Back this year on a minor league deal with a non-roster invite, Snyder didn't really have a spot on the roster this spring and went 4-for-24 (.167) with a double and a home run before going back to the minors. He'll start the season at Round Rock, where he should see time at all four corner spots.

  • Yoshinori Tateyama, RHP (NRI) – Tateyama was sent to minor league camp earlier this week before being released by the Rangers on Thursday night.

  • Randy Wells, RHP (NRI) – Coming off elbow surgery, Wells made four ‘A' game starts this spring and was on the fringe of the Rangers' no. 5 starter competition before being sent to minor league camp on Friday morning. The veteran right-hander permitted six earned runs on 17 hits in 13 innings, walking six and striking out 10. He flashed fairly standard velocity for him––working between 87-89 mph––but was throwing his changeup softer than normal. More of a command/control guy when he's on top of his game, Wells will work out of the Round Rock rotation and should serve as starting pitching depth this season.

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