Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

The one about Joey Gallo, Tony Fossas, and Gerry Oher.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Joey Gallo’s third homer in four AA games than to highly recommend this outstanding article on Gallo by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh, to tell you that if we do have a Newberg Report Night at Globe Life Park this year (not a certainty), it will be on Sunday, July 27, and to rank the best picks the Rangers have ever made in every one of the first 40 rounds of the June draft.

When I’m without Fox Sports Southwest and MLB Network for nearly a week, and without a cell phone indefinitely, things can get a little insane.

So here goes.

Note: These don’t count players taken in the long-defunct secondary phase of the June draft (such as Tom Henke (4th round, 1980)), January draft (Roy Smalley (1st round, 1974), Dave Righetti (1st round, 1977), Jody Reed (3rd round, 1982)), or secondary phase of the January draft (Jim Sundberg (1st round, 1973)).

But it does count unsigned players in the standard June draft, sometimes necessarily.

Round 1.  The Rangers have had one of the first 10 picks in the draft 16 times, but only twice came away with a player who finished in the top four in an MVP or Cy Young vote: Kevin Brown (4th overall pick, 1986) and Mark Teixeira (5th overall pick, 2001).  Of the two Georgia Tech products, you’d probably have to give the nod at this point to Brown.

Round 1—Supplemental.  Belongs to Colby Lewis (1999), although for the first 11 years of his pro career it looked like Mark Petkovsek (1987) would lead an otherwise undistinguished class with his fairly ordinary big league career.  If you’re going strictly off Baseball Prospectus’s WAR rankings, Tommy Hunter (2007) and Tanner Scheppers (2009) have already surpassed Petkovsek, and Neil Ramirez (2007) probably will in a few days.  2010 supplemental firsts Mike Olt and Luke Jackson have their hands raised as well, and Joey Gallo (2012) is staring you down.

Round 2.  Matt West (2007) and Nick Williams (2012) are salivating at the chance to claim this round, which has been shockingly unproductive over the Rangers’ four-plus decades – both in quantity (only 15 Rangers second-rounders have reached the big leagues; next three rounds: 20, 19, and 19) and in quality.  The franchise’s 17th-round picks would run-rule the second-rounders, who would be led by Roger Pavlik (1986) and Robbie Ross (2008), though Kevin “the Catcher” Brown (1994) deserves a brief mention since Texas was able to flip him to Toronto for Tim Crabtree.  Ti’Quan Forbes (2014) plans to ask West and Williams to scoot over a bit and make room.

Round 3.  Oh, Hank Blalock (1999).  You were supposed to erase memory of the previous year’s third-round dance with Barry Zito (1998).  As it stands, Darren Oliver (1988) probably gets the nod over Ryan Dempster (1995), according to both WAR and recent memory.

Round 4.  Jim Clancy (1974) had a better career than you think, and it’s going to take a lot for either Joe Wieland (2008) or Alec Asher (2012) to change the conversation.

Round 5.  With apologies to Steve Buechele (1982), it’s probably C.J. Wilson (2001) at this point, though Chris Davis (2006) is gaining on both of them.

Round 6.  Aaron Harang (1999) (114-120, 4.24 over 13 seasons) – this generation’s Jim Clancy (140-167, 4.23 over 15 seasons)?

Round 7.  Mike Lamb (1997), though one day I’m afraid this round will belong to unsigned 2011 pick Max Pentecost, a catcher who had reportedly agreed to terms with the Rangers before some sort of red flag showed up on his physical and killed the deal.  Pentecost was taken 11th overall a week ago by Toronto.

Round 8.  Jim Sundberg, the 172nd player taken in 1972, the Rangers’ inaugural draft.  There were 27 catchers drafted before Sundberg that year – including Ron Pruitt, chosen by the Rangers in the second round.  Both Pruitt (Michigan State) and Sundberg (University of Iowa) were Big Ten catchers.  To be fair, Sundberg opted not to sign that summer, and the following year the Rangers used the second overall pick in the secondary phase of the January draft to take – and sign – the future Rangers legend.

Round 9.  Edwin Encarnacion (2000), the throw-in that Texas gave Cincinnati one year later in the Ruben Mateo-for-Rob Bell trade.

Round 10.  Sorry, Craig Gentry (2006) fans.  While he probably caught Billy Sample (1976 — whom they had also drafted in 1973 — see Round 28 below), this one still belongs to Rusty Greer (1990), who held Doug “the Pitcher” Davis (1996) off.

Round 11.  Not a lot to show for this round.  Travis Metcalf (2004) is probably the guy for now, but unsigned Boston prospect Anthony Ranaudo (2007) is bearing down and Rangers righthander Connor Sadzeck (2011), out this year due to Tommy John surgery, could have a real shot.

Round 12.  Spot reliever Tony Fossas (1979), who in 12 big league seasons racked up measurably fewer innings (415.2) than games pitched (567), or unsigned lefthander Drew Pomeranz (2007), who’s now in Oakland’s rotation, but Keone Kela (2012) is thundering this way.

Round 13.  Fifteen-year big leaguer Rey Sanchez (1986).

Round 14.  Nick Tepesch (2010) has a long road ahead to unseat unsigned Tulsa high schooler Charlie O’Brien (1978), the prototype backup catcher in the big leagues in the 1990s.

Round 15.  Jameis Winston (2012) was the better football player, but Pete O’Brien (1979) was the more dedicated baseball player.

Round 16.  The highly underrated Mike Stanley (1985), whose last name isn’t O’Brien.

Round 17.  I would have liked to shoehorn Dallas Hillcrest High School product Omar Brewer (1987) in here, but he didn’t have the minor league numbers of Ryan Rua (2011), who hasn’t had the big league opportunity of Mitch Moreland (2007), who hasn’t had nearly the impact in the game that Ian Kinsler (2003) has had.  Texas also took Reid Ryan in the 17th round, back in 1994.

Round 18.  Fordham University second baseman Nick Martinez (2011), who will take the mound against Seattle Sunday.

Round 19.  Unsigned lefthander Noah Lowry (1999), who two years later a San Francisco first-round pick.

Round 20.  Kameron Loe (2002), who would also prevail in a James Hetfield Lookalike ranking.

Round 21.  Righthander Erik Davis declined to sign with the Angels as their 47th-round pick in 2004.  He declined to sign with the Rangers as their 21st-rounder in 2007.  He signed with the Padres the following summer, was traded three years after that to the Nationals for onetime Rangers utility infielder Alberto Gonzalez, and put up a 3.12 ERA in 10 relief appearances for Washington last year.  I learned something new today.

Round 22.  Ed Lynch (1977) over unsigned lefthander Cory Luebke (2006) for now, but perhaps submariner Ben Rowen (2010), the newest Ranger in this season of Semi-Weekly Newest Rangers, can make this round his own.

Round 23.  LOOGY Zach Phillips (2004).  Or Davidson College infielder Jay Heafner (2006), who five years later would be the area scout who saw a pitcher in Fordham University second baseman Nick Martinez.

Round 24.  Rich Aurilia (1992), whose name comes up every time I write about Texas having two legitimate prospects at the same position and a big decision to make.

Round 25.  Another group that crushes Round 2.  Mike Hargrove (1972) was so solid for the Rangers teams that were emerging from expansion in the mid-’70s.  Derek Holland (2006) was the final Rangers “draft-and-follow” selection to pay off big before MLB eliminated the rule.  I’d appreciate it if Tanner Roark (2008) never enters this conversation.

Round 26.  While I’d like to honor Spike Lundberg (1997) – one of the people I’ll forever credit for helping to push the Newberg Report several levels further than I ever envisioned – and while Mark Brandenburg (1992) would get lots of local support, righthander Dave Schmidt (1979) was pretty solid over five years of Rangers relief before keying a deal with the White Sox to get Scott Fletcher and the sadly forgotten Edwin Correa, who was going to be freakin’ special if he hadn’t injured his shoulder at age 21.

Round 27.  Texas was the third team to draft big righthander Aaron Barrett, whom they took out of the University of Mississippi in 2009, but it was the Nationals – who signed him as a discounted college senior – who got the benefit, as he’s been an absolute find in the Washington bullpen this season.  While he’s basically the opposite of the power-arsenaled Barrett, Rangers Class A lefthander Alex Claudio (2010) has a chance to impact the bullpen in a similarly big way in a year or two.

Round 28.  It’s sort of unbelievable and very sad that a Google search of “Billy Sample” “Gerry Oher” comes up completely empty.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, never mind.  (But if you do, Fan of 1981 Channel 8 Sportscasts, I just put a smile on your face.)

Round 29.  Mike Venafro’s (1995) best season in the big leagues was his first, and it came in the Rangers’ 1999 playoff campaign, when he and fellow rookie Jeff Zimmerman each contributed in a big way to a 95-win club.

Round 30.  Texas failed to sign lefthander Al Holland (1974), who went on to have an outstanding 10-year career in relief that included not only one All-Star appearance but also, shockingly, a top 10 MVP finish.  Credit also goes to Gene Nelson (1978), who a year after Texas drafted and signed him was traded in a large package for the great Mickey Rivers.  Among other Rangers 30th-rounders, at this point I’d probably put Scott Feldman (2003) ahead of Jeff Frye (1988), but man, I was a big Frye fan.

Round 31.  Travis Hafner (1996) was a sensational draft pick at a time when Cowley County Community College seemed like the Rangers’ seventh stateside farm club.  Hafner was also traded really, really badly.

Round 32.  But not as badly as Robb Nen (1987).

Round 33.  Or Walt Terrell (1980).

Round 34.  Ray Fontenot (1979) was also part of that Rivers trade, enough for him to stand out among Rangers’ 34th-rounders.  Maybe this year’s pick in that round, righthander Storm Rynard (2014), can restore the Texas/Cowley County magic and make more of an ultimate impact than Fontenot did.  Rynard was scouted by Dustin Smith, a former Rangers draftee out of CCCC himself.

Round 35.  The biggest big league headline that TCU righthander Sam Demel made as Oakland’s third-round pick in 2007 was that he was flipped three years later for mid-season pickup Conor Jackson, making the Rangers’ inability to sign Demel as their 35th-rounder in 2004 less painful.  As long as we’re focusing on unsigned picks, Texas used its 35th-round pick in 1997 on Mansfield HS catcher Kelley Gulledge, who didn’t sign, went to the Twins three years later in the 10th round, landed in the Rangers system after all in 2003, and went on to put up video game numbers from 2009 through 2011 for the Fort Worth Cats, but the part that will stand out most for you is that he’s the son of Rangers PA Man Chuck Morgan.

Round 36.  I’m going to cheat a bit here since you’re probably nearly alone among those who have read this far, but the 36th round is pretty thin, so here goes: Washington Senators 36th-rounder Bobby Jones (1967) is the pick here, as the dude is now in his 44th season with the Senators/Rangers franchise as a player or coach, 38 of those coming since the Senators moved to Arlington.  I’m going to go ahead and count the 1970 season among those 44, even though that entire year was part of the 14 months Jones spent serving our country in Vietnam.

Round 37.  Texas was the first of two teams to unsuccessfully draft infielder Brian Dallimore (1992) before Houston landed him in the 9th round in 1996.  He’d finally get his cup of coffee with the Giants in 2004 and a refill in 2005.

Round 38.  The aforementioned Dustin Smith (2000), after a six-year career as a catcher in the Rangers system, has been responsible as a scout for the drafting of Brett Nicholas and Collin Wiles, among others, including three of the club’s first eight choices in this year’s draft.  Smith’s brother Dan “the Righthander” Smith was a former Rangers pitcher as well.

Round 39.  Unsigned Dallas Baptist righthander Les Lancaster (1983) had some good years in the big leagues.  Unsigned Florida high school shortstop Brad Miller (2008) will have more.  Then there’s Tim Hulett, unsigned in 1978, a year and a half after which he was the third overall pick (White Sox) in the January secondary phase, embarking on a 16-year pro career that ended with a couple months with AAA Oklahoma City in the Texas system.  He’s about to kick off his eighth season as manager of the Rangers’ Short Season A affiliate in Spokane.  But none of them approach perhaps the greatest draft success in Rangers franchise history, lefthander Kenny Rogers, a winner of 219 big league games who wasn’t even a pitcher when Texas used the 816th pick in the 1982 draft on him – but instead was an outfielder playing his first year of organized baseball as a high school senior.

Round 40.  Dave Martinez was a January third-rounder of the Cubs seven months after he declined to sign with the Rangers (1982).  He later had a swim through Texas toward the end of a lengthy, productive career, and now serves as Joe Maddon’s bench coach in Tampa.  The weird thing about the Rangers’ 1982 draft is only three of the club’s 40 picks made it to the big leagues: fifth-rounder Steve Buechele . . . and Rogers and Martinez, taken in the 39th and 40th.

The Rangers have historically participated in as many as 63 rounds, but since the draft now ends after 40 rounds, and because I’ve got a lot to do today, I’m going to stop here, though I will offer tips of the cap to a few more names: Mike Cather (41st round, 1993); Jesse Chavez (42, 2002); Jermaine Dye (43, 1992); Danny Ray Herrera (45, 2006) & Brandon Finnegan (45, 2011); Jason Botts (46, 1999); Danny Patterson (47, 1989); C.J. Edwards (48, 2011); Todd Walker (51, 1991); Raul Ibanez (54, 1991); and Pat Flury (63, 1991), who I suppose qualifies as the Rangers’ “Mr. Irrelevant,” though he did carve out a 13-year pro career, including one season with Nippon Ham in 2002, when among his teammates was Yoshinori Tateyama, who would eventually be teammates with Yu Darvish on two different continents.

And that’s this morning’s edition of Today in Pretty Much Irrelevant Stuff.

Yu and the rest.

Joey Gallo didn’t homer as a RoughRider, Yu Darvish didn’t get his daps until after the 27th out, and though you can’t predict ball, you might have figured both of those streaks were bound to fall this summer.

But the Rangers using the disabled list for the 20th time this season (already surpassing 2011’s and 2013’s 19 — the club eclipsed 2012’s 12 in late April) and Brad Snyder, in his second day as a Ranger, eclipsing the number of pro innings he’d previously played at first base (18 with Texas, 15 with Round Rock, after over 10,000 minor league innings playing nothing but outfield)?  Not so foreseeable.

The Rangers’ Opening Day starter lands on the DL for a second 2013 stint, this time “for a significant portion of the summer” according to the GM, and while I understand Tanner Scheppers was forced into the rotation out of something approaching an emergency in camp, it’s going to be OK with me if the next time we see a dominant young Rangers reliever taken out of his established role and experimented with as a starter is after Gallo reaches arbitration eligibility and Darvish extends his contract to stay in Texas a very long time.

Chi Chi and Luke and Alec, keep doing that thing you do — you too, Sam and Cole, and Jerad and Yohander and Andrew, and welcome aboard, Luis — and hopefully soon enough the competition for guys like Nick and Nick will steadily come from below, rather than from the seventh and eighth innings.

But for now, the Wild Card deficit is just 2.5 games, and the two teams are chasing in that race and the other team that Texas trails atop the division are the three teams ahead of the Rangers in the West — and the three teams that they now travel to face over the next week and a half.

The active roster may include Brad Snyder and Scott Baker and Daniel Robertson and Ben Rowen and Donnie Murphy and Joe Saunders and Luis Sardinas, and not Prince Fielder or Matt Harrison or Mitch Moreland or Martin Perez or Geovany Soto or Derek Holland or Jurickson Profar or Alexi Ogando or Neftali Feliz or Tanner Scheppers, but nobody’s feeling sorry for anybody, and these next nine games in Seattle and Oakland and Los Angeles are pretty big.

Maybe one silver lining of having a crashed cell phone and a screwed-up DirecTV signal that no longer gets Fox Sports Southwest is that I’ll get some sleep in spite of all those late-night West Coast starts, but I trust you know me a whole lot better than that.

It’s all good, Yu.  Like all but one Marlin who managed last night to reach first base, we’re not going anywhere.

Hoping that’s where your head is, too.

Rainy days and Mondays.

This spring training box score from March 17, just a dozen Mondays ago, makes me sports-sad.

Texas Rangers

Hitters

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

#P

AVG

OBP

SLG

S Choo DH

4

0

0

0

0

3

15

.156

.263

.250

E Andrus SS

3

0

1

0

0

2

11

.314

.333

.200

B Lillibridge SS

1

0

0

0

0

1

7

.333

.318

.190

P Fielder 1B

3

0

1

0

0

1

11

.256

.256

.333

R Guzman 1B

1

0

1

0

0

0

2

.667

.667

1.667

A Rios RF

3

0

1

0

0

0

7

.429

.455

.333

M Choice RF

1

0

0

0

0

1

7

.378

.395

.486

M Moreland LF

1

0

0

0

0

0

2

.233

.368

.200

J Adduci LF

3

0

0

0

0

1

9

.375

.375

.344

K Kouzmanoff 3B

2

0

1

0

0

0

10

.343

.410

.314

E Beltre CF

1

0

0

0

0

1

4

.318

.348

.091

J Profar 2B

2

0

0

0

0

0

5

.286

.348

.333

a-A Rosales PH-2B

2

0

0

0

0

0

7

.136

.167

.136

G Soto C

3

0

1

0

0

0

7

.429

.429

.143

R Chirinos C

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

.474

.524

.579

L Martin CF

3

0

0

0

0

0

14

.160

.276

.200

J Wilson 3B

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

.241

.333

.276

Totals

33

0

6

0

0

10

118

 

 

 

a-grounded to second for J Profar in the 7th

BATTING

Rangers RISP: 0-2 (J Profar 0-1, G Soto 0-1)

Team LOB: 7

FIELDING

E: E Andrus (3, throw)

DP: 2 (J Profar-E Andrus-P Fielder, B Lillibridge-A Rosales-R Guzman).

Outfield Assist: M Choice (N Aoki at 3rd base).

Texas Rangers

Pitchers

IP

 H

 R

ER

BB

SO

HR

PC-ST

ERA

M Harrison

(L, 0-1)

1.2

3

3

2

1

0

0

35-20

10.80

J Edwards

0.1

0

0

0

0

1

0

5-3

0.00

J Saunders

4.0

4

2

2

1

4

0

70-42

6.43

P Figueroa

1.0

3

1

1

0

1

0

16-10

3.60

S Tolleson

1.0

1

0

0

0

0

0

8-6

0.00

Totals

8.0

11

6

5

2

6

0

134-81

 

PITCHING

First-pitch strikes/Batters faced: M Harrison 9/10; J Edwards 0/1; J Saunders 12/16; P Figueroa 2/5; S Tolleson 2/3

Called strikes-Swinging strikes-Foul balls-In Play strikes: M Harrison 7-0-4-9; J Edwards 0-3-0-0; J Saunders 16-7-8-11; P Figueroa 3-2-1-4; S Tolleson 2-0-1-3

Ground Balls-Fly Balls: M Harrison 2-3; J Edwards 0-0; J Saunders 6-2; P Figueroa 1-0; S Tolleson 2-1

If you need a little baseball pick-me-up this morning, celebrate the news that Joey Gallo and Chi Chi Gonzalez have been promoted to Frisco, or watch this “Day in the Life” video that Student Sports put together on Rangers’ third-round pick Josh Morgan.

And that Texas, in spite of everything, is still just 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race.

Be well, Rougned.

The revitalizing effects of Draft Day.

On August 25, 1996, Texas rolled on the Twins, 13-2, behind five home runs and a strong Bobby Witt start.  The win was the Rangers’ 12th in 16 games, extending their division lead to a season-high-matching eight games.  They were on their way to the first playoff appearance in franchise history, led by league MVP Juan Gonzalez and team leader Ivan Rodriguez, who would earn his first top 10 MVP finish that year as well.

That same day, the Yankees fell to Oakland, 6-4, their 10th loss in 16 games, though they maintained a six-game lead in the AL East.  Coming off its first playoff season in 14 years, New York would reach the post-season again in 1996, the second of what would be 13 straight Octobers and the first of three out of four that would begin with a spanking of the Rangers in the ALDS.  That 1996 season was Derek Jeter’s rookie campaign.

Both Pudge and Jetes would put up an OPS of .882 when their clubs met in that playoff series.

The day after Texas 13, Minnesota 2 and Oakland 6, New York 4, a kid named Edward Ti’Quan Forbes was born in Mississippi.  Eleven months before that, a kid named Luis Ortiz was born in Northern California.

The preceding has been more than just an awkward effort to point out that the Rangers drafted players last night who were born in 1995 and 1996, which makes me feel even older than the fact that my daughter (born the day after Texas drafted Scott Heard, Laynce Nix, Nick Masset, and Edwin Encarnacion) turns 14 today.

It’s also a setup to shoehorn in the fact that it was Pudge who stepped to the podium to announce the Forbes selection last night, and it was Jeter whom Forbes singled out as the player he models his game after.

As long as MLB (with very limited exceptions) disallows the trading of draft picks, you never want to be drafting near the top of round one (because of that which prompted it), and if you’re fortunate enough that your team is strong enough to be parked toward the back of the first, the result is that the names tend not to sizzle as much in the projections or the selections themselves.

But when you hear your General Manager say about Ortiz, taken by Texas last night with the 30th overall pick: “Our guys were pretty ecstatic — there are years when you line it up and the board dries up real quick, and there are years when other teams see things differently, and this was probably one of those years because we got a guy that we love,” it sounds a lot like what he said a year earlier when his guys were thrilled to see Oral Roberts righthander Chi Chi Gonzalez fall to number 23.

I’ve never seen Ortiz pitch.  I’ve seen the same videos you might have seen since last night, but that’s it.  And even if I’d seen him pitch in person a dozen times, I’m certainly not qualified to say whether he was the better pick than fellow high school righties Michael Kopech (from Mount Pleasant) or Jack Flaherty, both of whom went a few minutes later, or than righthander Sean Reid-Foley or outfielder Monte Harrison, two kids widely projected to go a full round earlier than the mid-second round slots where they were ultimately chosen.  I have no opinion on the forearm issue that caused Ortiz to miss one start this spring, or whether to be encouraged by or concerned about the 40-pound weight loss a year ago and the body type that necessitated it (people raised similar red flags once upon a time about Felix Hernandez, whose game Ortiz models his own after).  I leave all those things to the people making ultimate decisions for the Rangers, and the scouts and advisors and medical team providing their evaluations along the way.

But I will say this: When Jon Daniels, informed by his team of evaluators, says they expected Ortiz to go off the board in the upper half of round one, and calls his “pure stuff as good as anybody in the draft — big league-caliber stuff right now,” and also drops the “strike-thrower” and “bigtime competitor” praise on the kid, and adds that he’s a very good bet to sign right away (his slot is valued at $1.7605 million) rather than hold the team hostage with the leverage of his commitment to Fresno State, and when a guy like ESPN’s Keith Law (with his own background in scouting and player development) judged Ortiz to be the number 10 draft prospect in his final evaluation, published Wednesday, then I’ve heard all I need to hear to be pretty fired up about the pick.

And I would have said that even without having seen Law suggest: “I think the Rangers just got their best pitching prospect with the 30th pick, and he could be in the Texas rotation by late 2016,” when he’ll still be just 20 years old.  If Ortiz — who says he’s never had a pitching coach, but instead developed and refined his mechanics by intently watching King Felix and others on TV — does move fellow righthanders Gonzalez and Luke Jackson down a slot in the Rangers’ pecking order, even arguably, then the decision not to sign Kendrys Morales before the draft and forfeit that draft pick looks even better, as does the strength of the pipeline flowing toward Texas.

As for Forbes, a toolsy, projectable athlete who was projected by at least five different mock-drafters to be a strong bet to go to Oakland at pick number 25 — and at one point Law’s prediction for Texas at number 30 — the fact that the Ole Miss commit fell to 59, for now, feels less like a concern than a potential windfall.

One of the youngest players in the draft (if you did the math above, you know he won’t turn 18 until late August), he’s a high school shortstop whom Assistant GM A.J. Preller believes could stay at that spot or move to third base or the outfield.  Also his high school’s quarterback, the 6’3” Forbes has the bat speed and arm strength and run tool combination that causes scouts to dream, and while the predictability of his development could be as erratic as A.J. Preller’s war room sport coat, I won’t ever complain about an organization who loads up on the high risk/high reward types, because for every Jordan Akins and K.C. Herren (and Jameis Winston) there’s a Jorge Alfaro, and you don’t win in baseball by playing it safe on the talent acquisition side.

Preller jacket

The Rangers had five first-round picks in the pivotal summer of 2007.  Four of them have reached the big leagues, and the fifth (Michael Main) was traded well, bringing Bengie Molina into the fold at a time when Texas needed a frontline catcher to help push the momentum forward for a franchise that still hadn’t won a playoff series.  Five other players from that Rangers draft class have gotten to the big leagues, including three who didn’t sign with Texas (Drew Pomeranz, Erik Davis, and John Gast), and there are a few others who still have a chance, like Matt West and Ryan Tatusko, not to mention Anthony Ranaudo, another draftee who didn’t sign here.

And here’s the thing about that 2007 draft class: Of the 10 eventual big leaguers and those who still could earn that opportunity, just seven years later only two are still Texas Rangers — Mitch Moreland and West, one of whom was moved from the infield to the mound in the minor leagues and the other of whom almost was.

It’s an awesome thought to imagine Luis Ortiz Bobbleheads and Ti’Quan Forbes T-Shirt Night in Arlington one day, and maybe that’s where this is headed, but there’s also the possibility that they could each get nothing more than a big league cup of coffee here, hit a wall before AA, or be moved together in two years in a deal for Andrew Cashner, and that’s assuming they both sign pro contracts in the next few weeks as expected.

There’s plenty that’s starting to make me feel old these days, including draft picks who haven’t lived a day when Derek Jeter wasn’t a Major Leaguer, but there’s also something about Draft Day that rejuvenates me annually, and while I’m pretty sure I won’t be writing regularly about baseball when some kid born tomorrow gets drafted by a big league franchise, today is not the day to ask me to bet against it.

Work.

The coach, who in his 30 years had developed Day One MLB Draft picks, and nine-year-old kids who were still all about the postgame snow cone, and all kinds in between, said to his team at the end of the game, just after the championship trophies had been handed out:  “You know all that hard work you guys have put in?  This right here is you reaping the benefits of all that hard work, all that practice.  You prepared well for this.”

The same could be said for Rougned Odor, who wasn’t supposed to get here this fast, or Robinson Chirinos, who wasn’t even a catcher until his eighth pro season, missed all of 2012 with a concussion, and now controls the running game just about as effectively as any catcher in the big leagues.

Or Daniel Robertson, who at nearly 29 had stepped to a minor league plate more than 3,100 times in the Padres system before getting a phone call from the Texas Rangers six weeks ago.

They prepared well, whether earning a chance they never dreamed they’d get so soon, or one they probably thought would never come at all.

You might think things have always come easily to Joey Gallo, who led all of minor league baseball in home runs (40) in 2013, and who reached 21 this season before May ended.

But recognize that, despite playing a level higher than he played last year, Gallo has cut his strikeout rate significantly (1 for every 3.8 plate appearances, compared with 1 for every 2.7 last year) and — more importantly — has already drawn as many walks (50) this year as he did in 2013, in right at half the trips to the plate.

Nobody in minor league baseball has worked as many bases on balls this season.

Nobody in the big leagues has, either.

Hard work, and benefits.

There’s hard work involved, too, when you’re a diehard fan and your team is fighting staircase dogs and malevolent pillows and breakaway motorcycles and bad knee cartilage and bad elbow ligaments and bad cervical and lumbar disk integrity.

Before the end of May.

Yet you’re a game over .500, in spite of a deck missing a handful of face cards, and the whole idea of reaping rewards now seems fitting for those of us who never even think about giving up on our team.

I can’t remember where I heard it, or whether it was while the Rangers were in Detroit or Minnesota or Washington, D.C., but someone said on the radio the other day that the press in one of those towns was suggesting Ron Washington probably already has AL Manager of the Year locked up, just a third into the season.

It’s easy as a fan base to feel cheated, to wave a fist at the baseball gods, to lament the brutal injury pileup and ask what any of us did to deserve this.  But in that clubhouse, whether it’s on the west end of 1000 Ballpark Way, or in the smaller rooms in Detroit or Minnesota or Washington, D.C., nobody’s feeling sorry for themselves.  They’re putting in the work, and — at least in the judgment of those covering the opposition the last week and a half — they’re reaping the rewards, hanging in this race.

There are lots of things you want from your manager, a different set of priorities I think from the ones you’d list for a head coach in football or basketball or probably hockey.  The man in charge of 25 baseball players who play games that count every day for six months, and hopefully seven, has a lot of responsibilities, but none can be as important as having those 25 — even in the years when it’s a different 25 seemingly every day — ready to play.  It’s knowing how to motivate one different from another, when to floor it and when to tap the brakes, when a given player needs a day and when another needs nothing more than to be thrown back into the fire, and to me those things are more important over the long haul than bullpen management or when (not) to bunt.

There’s a reason, in this sport, that he’s called a “manager.”

And this situation, the one that has shoved Texas just about as deep into a human resources corner as you can imagine, is the one in which Ron Washington is at his best.  It’s easy, at any level of baseball, to get caught up in those jolts of adversity and lose sight of the bigger picture.  Those were two bad losses to the Nationals before a league-leading 11th shutout salvaged that series, but take a step back even further and you’ll see Texas flying back home after a season-long 11 on the road, having won seven and lost four.

You take that every single time.

Stretches like this should no longer come as a surprise from this team, which for years now has tended to find ways to put things back in gear when the chips are stacked against it.  It’s a reflection of the manager, at least in this case, when character is shown, or revealed, or whatever, and no fluke.

Texas is on a pace to see its league-leading streak of four straight 90-win seasons snapped, but its 29-28 win-loss record is in far better shape than the team it shares that streak with, the Tampa Bay Rays, whose 23-35 mark (despite the highest payroll in its 17-year history) is the American League’s worst.

Baseball is hard.

Gallo told the Myrtle Beach Sun News a few days ago that he was eight or nine years old when he hit his first home run.  He’d be the first to tell Jake Storey (now at four bombs for the year, at age nine) that there will be adversity ahead — of the thousands of hitters in the minor leagues in 2013, only five struck out more than Gallo did — but taking it on and figuring out ways to overcome it just makes you better.  Yu Darvish knows better than anyone that no-hitters are incredibly rare, and for him the complete game has been just as elusive, and just because Preston Stout accomplished both Sunday morning, hours before Darvish dominated the Nationals over eight scoreless, doesn’t mean that he won’t have to put in thousands of hours of work and commitment just to maintain, and to keep reaping the benefits.

You don’t win ’em all, but there’s growth from that as well, and if there weren’t I can think of plenty of times between the mid-70s and the mid-90s when the much easier and obvious choice would have been to walk away from Rangers baseball.

Winning is hard work.  Winning takes hard work.

And sometimes it takes more than that right brew — the right players and the right coach, and the right mix of both, which doesn’t always follow — because luck and health and timing all factor in, and that’s just sports.

Even when things start looking bleak, as a player or a team or its fans, sticking with it and putting in the work is really the only choice, unless the plan is to walk away.

And walking away is no fun.

Elaine Payne

Elaine Payne

Kins & Gallo.

On June 12, 2004, Clinton shortstop Ian Kinsler doubled, homered, and walked in five trips against Peoria, raising his average above the .400 mark for the first time in a little over three weeks.  Following the game the 21-year-old was promoted to Frisco, a two-level jump.

That .402 average Kinsler posted in over 250 LumberKing plate appearances that spring will mark his media guide page forever (he would then hit exactly .300 for the RoughRiders that summer), and that’s pretty cool.

I’m not saying I thought about this after Joey Gallo hit home runs 19 and 20 last night against Carolina Mudcats victims D.J. Brown and Clayton Cook, but I sorta am, because 20 bombs is a pretty cool number — especially when it’s reached in May.

Gallo (.320/.457/.750) isn’t about to make any two-level jump, but he’s going to make a one-level, one-way trip pretty soon, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it came very close to the 10-year anniversary of Kinsler’s promotion, a 10-year span between one impact prospect arriving in our Frisco backyard and another.

And that’s this morning’s edition of Today in Stuff.

Rise.

This is a wonderful day.  I’ve never seen this one before.

— Maya Angelou

Thank you for that, Joe Saunders and Luis Sardinas.

The last pitcher on a ludicrously stretched roster. The last position player, too, unless you want to count face-fractured 28-year-old rookie Daniel Robertson. Two players that, if not for these almost impossibly extraordinary and trying circumstances, should not be here right now.

Thank you.

 

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.  In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.

— Maya Angelou

Let’s go, Nick Martinez.

Let’s win (another) damn series.

 

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive.  Forgive everybody.

— Maya Angelou

I’m sorry that I implied yesterday that Jorge Alfaro might find himself playing baseball in Rhome, Texas this summer . . . since Frisco is actually 35 miles northeast of Arlington.

I’m sorry for Monday morning’s unnecessary, uncool “Mad Men” spoiler.

And I’m sorry, Bazooka Joe Saunders.

Today, I forgive.

Let’s go, Nick Martinez.

More stuff.

I’d have gotten myself ejected from the game after Mike DiMuro ruled Adrian Beltre didn’t attempt a tag and that Eduardo Nunez’s parabolic path to third base was acceptable, but then again I’d probably have already been tossed out of the game half an inning earlier when my team led the frame off with Alex Rios sliding into third and ended the inning with Rios standing in that same place, though I might have felt like being thrown out six hours before that when I found out my best player caught that nasty, contagious neck stiffness strain.

But that’s one of a thousand reasons I’m not the right man to manage the Texas Rangers, who are 1.5 games back in the Wild Card race and, for a thousand reasons, probably shouldn’t be anywhere close to that.

Hey, last night in Myrtle Beach, Jorge Alfaro doubled and then Jorge Alfaro singled and then Jorge Alfaro singled and then Jorge Alfaro tripled with the bases loaded (with nobody out, and was stranded) and then Jorge Alfaro singled, and no, he’s not going to see Arlington this year (and probably not next), but if you were to suggest he could land 35 miles northwest of that sometime this summer, I won’t strain my neck pushing back on that idea, though I’m confident he’s not going to get to Frisco before his Pelicans teammates Joey Gallo or Chi-Chi Gonzalez — the post-draft Northwest League starts play in about two weeks, around which time you can expect a wave of minor league reassignments system-wide, which in this season of cover-your-eyes transaction reports will be full of baseball-y goodness for a change — but the Alfaro train keeps chugging along, at a different rate and a different path from Gallo’s, more parabolic than meteoric, and that’s OK, because not every prospect Rougned’s his way to the big leagues, not every Joakim Soria save opportunity gets converted, and sometimes, a leadoff triple gets stranded.

And that’s this morning’s edition of Today in Stuff.

Loyalty.

“I’m a leader.  And a leader is loyal to his team.” 

— Bert Cooper (d. 7-20-69)

Not just leaders.

I could dump a whole bunch of numbers this morning, lots of shiny numbers coming out of a series convincingly won in Detroit in spite of reason, but I don’t want to.

I’m not thinking about numbers.

The players matter.  They matter a lot.

But not long ago, someone I know who embodies leadership on a level that would elicit a Bert Cooper “Bravo” said to me that while team is bigger than individual, you can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s those players who help make the team that you’d run through a wall for.

Maybe Texas is on its 37th and 38th and 39th players — in May — and is relying on them while a handful of others you’d count on your first couple hands watch from the dugout.  “Injuries only really devastate when they pile up,” writes FanGraphs columnist Jeff Sullivan in a Fox Sports piece, “but the top of the Rangers’ pile now is well out of view.”

Yeah, maybe so, but giving up isn’t part of a loyal sports fan’s playbook any more than a leader’s, and walking up to that wall and choosing a slump-shouldered U-turn isn’t, either.

Ultimately, it’s about team.

Don’t quit on this one.

On the off-chance that something really special ends up happening, that the last four days create some form of momentum or indicate some sort of life or have some amount of stamina or whatever you might believe in, it’s going to be a lot more special for you than for those who walked away.

Don’t quit on this team.

Stuff.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there are four Beltre’s who have ever played in the Major Leagues, and only four:

Adrian Beltre.

Esteban Beltre.

Engel Beltre.

Omar Beltre.

All four played for the Texas Rangers.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there are four Esteban’s who have ever played in the Major Leagues, and only four:

Esteban Loaiza.

Esteban German.

Esteban Beltre.

Esteban Yan.

All four played for the Texas Rangers.

Esteban Beltre and his Donruss-photoshopped baseball cap are a Texas Rangers wormhole.

esteban beltre

And that’s this morning’s edition of Today in Stuff.

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