Two prospects in Texas Rangers camp draw major interest

PHOENIX -- Michael Young remembers his first big league spring training with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1999, being in the same clubhouse as veterans David Wells, Carlos Delgado and Tony Fernandez.

Young knew his role, and didn't say a word. He simply showed up early, worked out in the gym and hit in the cages, trying to make his stay as long as possible. Young felt -- and still feels -- the best way for young players to make a lasting impression is through their actions.

Now, Young is the established veteran in the Texas Rangers' clubhouse, although times have changed. Young said the current Rangers clubhouse is relatively easy to break into for young players compared to his day, but he still likes to keep an old-school mentality.

"Rookies still have to be rookies, and that means keeping their mouths shut and ears open," Young said. "It's on them to make an adjustment to us, not the other way around. That doesn't mean we won't be good teammates and help with certain things, but they have to adjust to us."

That doesn't mean Young doesn't notice them. Young has been impressed with the players who are in major league camp for the first time. Left-hander Robbie Ross and infielder Mike Olt have made quick impressions not only on Young but the big league coaching staff.

Cuts are on the horizon, but Ross and Olt are among those who have positioned themselves to stay longer than most.

"It's awesome to see these young guys do well," bench coach Jackie Moore said. "My favorite part of being a Triple A manager was when I told kids they were going to the big leagues.

"Being in big league camp is a little different and it won't last forever, but it's something they will tell their mom and dad and girlfriend about, playing with Michael Young and Ian Kinsler."

With an impressive first half of camp, Ross earned a Cactus League start on Sunday. It was Ross' first start this spring since he's contending for the left-handed reliever spot in the bullpen.

Ross' likely destination is to begin the season in the minor leagues as a starter. He has made 68 starts in 69 professional games, with his lone "relief" outing coming at the beginning of last season when he threw one inning on his side-session day.

"I like being a starter," Ross said. "But I don't think I'd be opposed of going up there to be a reliever."

Ross has put himself in the conversation by taking advantage of his first big league spring training.

Before spring training, pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins had never seen Ross throw in person. Their eyes have confirmed what they've heard from minor league coaches.

"He's conducted himself extremely well, always on time and always being aggressive on the mound," Hawkins said. "We didn't expect him to show up and do this, but he's made a real impression."

Olt has made his presence felt, too, with half of his hits going for extra bases. It's a continuation for Olt, who had a strong Arizona Fall League after missing time during the 2011 regular season with a broken collarbone.

Young said Olt has the "gamer mentality" that bodes well in the majors.

"I am not trying to do anything that I don't normally do, but it's always important to make a good first impression," Olt said. "It's a nice feeling to know that they're watching closely."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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