Significant cuts were made Monday at Texas Rangers camp, and those fans hoping to see Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Lewis Brinson and Jurickson Profar will have to head to the back fields to do so.
They were among the nine players who saw their big league camps come to an end. There were no surprises there, though I thought they might have gotten a few more days. Adrian Beltre played only four innings in the 9-6 loss to Colorado, so there were five innings for Gallo.
That’s nit-picking an easy decision. The harder decisions are coming, and the candidates to be the No. 5 starter aren’t making it any easier. In this case, that’s not a good thing.
Thoughts? Here are The Surprise Five.
1. The biggest news of the day was the roster trim in the morning. Then, Jeremy Guthrie took the mound against the Rockies, creating the news that most impacts the Opening Day roster.
Guthrie struggled, surrendering five runs (three earned) in three innings, and now his apparent front-runner status to win the fifth rotation spot has been tarnished. The good news for him, and bad for the Rangers, is that no other candidate has wowed this camp.
The best has probably been A.J. Griffin. He started Saturday in San Antonio, and threw three no-hit innings before allowing back-to-back homers in the fourth after an error that would have ended the inning.
The Rangers insist that they won’t be concerned about Griffin’s arm after essentially missing the past two seasons. He seems to show it more when he wears down, but he’s still building up.
Nick Martinez wasn’t nearly as bad Sunday as things might have looked. There were six misplays behind him, one his own doing, but he seemed to make the best out of it.
Chi Chi Gonzalez has struggled twice in a row now. There are concerns that Guthrie’s stuff isn’t as sharp as it needs to be.
Maybe Phil Klein needs to be taken more seriously.
The thinking here is that the Rangers want Martinez or Gonzalez to win it. One of them just needs to do it.
2. The combined ages of Profar (23), Gallo (22) and Brinson (21) still don’t add up to Hillary Clinton (68), Donald Trump (69) or Bernie Sanders (74). Add in Mazara (20), and the ages of the four Rangers don’t reach 90.
Yet, it seems like they’ve been around forever, especially Profar. At least he’s the old man of the bunch, at 23 years, one month and one day. He was born three months before I graduated high school.
Despite his relative youth and inexperience, Profar is not technically a Rangers prospect. He surpassed the rookie limits in 2013. He was arbitration-eligible over the off-season, for crying out loud.
Yet, he feels like a prospect. People want to know how he’s going to do after an incomplete 2013 and no 2014 and 2015 at all. And, like a prospect, he has to earn his chance again.
At least he’s healthy, which is the No. 1 priority with him. He made all the throws this spring, and even his two worst throws were actually seen as encouraging.
Profar went into the hole March 13 against the Angels and dived to stop a grounder. He then threw to third from his knees. Although the throw was wide for an error, his instincts were there and he didn’t think twice about the throw.
On Sunday, he said that his throw that sailed over the first baseman came as the result of him throwing harder than he has thrown all spring. It was an error, but his arm felt fine.
He’ll be fine at Triple A, and he’ll become an option for the Rangers at some point. Where? No one knows, but club brass no longer have any concerns about Profar.
86 Combined age of the Jurickson Profar (23), Joey Gallo (22), Lewis Brinson (21) and Nomar Mazara (20). They were among the nine Rangers players sent to minor league camp Monday.
3. Of the Big Three — Gallo, Mazara and Brinson — I lean toward Gallo as having had the best camp.
He had the advantage of being in big league spring training before and actually playing in the majors, but he came to camp with a plan and executed it. He wanted to keep working on shortening his swing, seeing pitches and learning how he will be attacked.
Over his final 10 days, it’s pretty hard to say he didn’t execute.
Gallo hit three homers, each one more majestic, and left for the minor league clubhouse feeling more comfortable at the plate than he has been in a year. He needed it.
Gallo admitted early in camp that he had lost some of his swagger as the baddest power hitter in the minor leagues. He’s still rated highly as a prospect, though some more had hopped on the doubt train after what was a down 2015.
Mazara was impressive, no doubt, and so was Brinson even though he didn’t have his defining moment until Friday’s walk-off three-run homer at the Alamodome.
Each of them has some polish when dealing with the media, and they are close friends who have grown up in baseball together. That’s refreshing to see.
4. General manager Jon Daniels confirmed that the Rangers don’t expect that they will trade for a catcher before the regular season, as has been previously reported.
The asking price for Derek Norris and Jonathan Lucroy remains very high, too high, and the Rangers have asked themselves if either catcher is the one player that will push them over the top.
If the Rangers could be guaranteed that they would get the 2014 Lucroy, a National League MVP candidate, they would reconnect with Milwaukee. As things stand now, there hasn’t been much conversation lately.
They are also asking themselves if they would rather hold onto their prospects for pitching ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Though four of the five rotation spots are sewn up, there hasn’t been a lot of optimism generated so far this spring.
Yeah, yeah, it’s spring training. Starters will begin showing their true form closer to the season. The panic button hasn’t been pushed, but the champagne hasn’t been ordered, either.
Robinson Chirinos and Chris Gimenez entered spring training as the incumbent catchers on the Rangers’ roster and remain the favorites to make the Opening Day roster. Michael McKenry and Brett Nicholas, though, are still in the roster hunt.
5. Ian Desmond was back on the highlight reel Monday with a sizzling one-hop throw to the plate to easily get Nolan Arenado early on. Arenado should have never been sent, but he was and Desmond’s throw was what manager Jeff Banister was talking about last week when he said that Desmond already has one of the best arms in left field in the game.
The Rangers continue to be infatuated with Desmond’s defense, which continues to be a work in progress. It seems as though the Rangers believe he has left field figured out, and Banister remains committed to giving him chances in center field.
Ryan Rua got a chance in right field against the Rockies, and Hanser Alberto got a chance at first base. A bench of Chris Gimenez, Alberto and Rua seems like a good bet if the Rangers go with an eight-man bullpen.
If they have a traditional seven-man bullpen, outfielder Drew Stubbs could be the fourth player over James Jones. The Rangers seem to like Stubbs’ defense a tad more. The Rangers would be without a left-handed hitter on the bench should Stubbs prevail over Jones, but that would be alleviated when/if Josh Hamilton comes off the disabled list in early May.