Texas Rangers camp just got a bit thinner. The top prospects in the organization were moved out of major league camp Monday morning as the Opening Day roster begins to take shape.
Outfielder Nomar Mazara and infielders Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo were optioned to Triple A Round Rock. Outfielders Lewis Brinson and Ryan Cordell and third baseman Drew Robinson were assigned to minor league camp.
“I thought they performed very well, how they conducted themselves and how attentive they were,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “They understand that they are an important group of players, [they are] that wave of next players as things happen and we have needs.”
.375 Nomar Mazara’s batting average this spring in 12 games. He had 12 hits, including a homer, double and eight RBIs.
The moves weren’t unexpected, although early in camp some wondered whether top prospects Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo had a chance to earn roster spots. In reality, it was always a long shot with the players ahead of them entrenched as starters. When the Rangers signed former All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond to play left field, the chances of Mazara making the club became even more remote.
Both Mazara and Gallo had good springs. Mazara hit .375 with eight RBIs; Gallo hit .286 with three homers and seven RBIs. Brinson hit .333 with a homer and four RBIs.
“It was a lot of fun, I learned a lot,” said Gallo, who struggled in his first season at Triple A in 2015. “I got to come in here and work on things I wanted to work on. I’m glad about that.”
Mazara, incidentally, fouled a ball off his right big toe in Sunday’s game and is day to day. Trainers had to drill a hole in the nail to reduce swelling.
Left-hander Alex Claudio and right-hander Anthony Ranaudo also were optioned to Round Rock. Right-hander Francisco Mendoza was assigned to minor league camp. Players on the Rangers’ 40-man roster are optioned, while those not are assigned to the minors and will later be officially attached to a minor league affiliate.
Additional cuts are expected in the next day or two as the club gets closer to defining its 25-man Opening Day roster.
Left-handed reliever Andrew Faulkner has quietly put together an impressive spring. He’s allowed just two hits over eight scoreless innings.
Faulkner, 23, who made his major league debut Aug. 31, says better command of his slider has served him well this spring.
“Definitely seen an improvement,” he said. “Haven’t really thrown that many, but when I did throw them I felt like they were in good spots and they turned out well. I trusted in them and that’s always a positive note.”
Spending last September in the major league clubhouse helped him relax this spring.
“You come in here and you know a lot of the guys,” he said. “They know what you’re about and how you react under fire, and that’s a lot of it. It lets the guys trust you a little bit more, and that’s always positive.
Faulkner has thrown two innings in each of his last two appearances. The club is looking at using him sparingly as a multi-inning pitcher out of the bullpen. The former starter wouldn’t be the long man, however. That role is likely to go to one of the candidates for the fifth starter’s job.
“That would be more than OK with me,” he said. “Whatever role they need me if they feel I can do it then I’m happy to help, happy to be there.”