Martinez was acquired from San Diego
The Texas Rangers recently acquired catcher Luis Martinez and first baseman Brandon Snyder while also re-signing first baseman Brad Nelson to a minor league deal. Lone Star Dugout looks at the recent minor league moves made by the club over the holiday period.
During the recent holiday period, the Texas Rangers made two trades involving minor league players and re-signed another to a minor league deal.
Near the end of December, the club acquired catcher Luis Martinez from the San Diego Padres in exchange for right-handed reliever Ryan Kelly. On Tuesday, the team landed corner infielder Brandon Snyder from Baltimore for cash considerations. Snyder, a 40-man roster member, brings the Rangers to 38 players on the list. Martinez finished the 2011 season in the major leagues but had recently been designated for assignment by San Diego.
Texas also re-signed first baseman/outfielder Brad Nelson to a minor league contract. Utility infielder Omar Quintanilla reached a minor league deal with the Mets while Merkin Valdez has inked with the Oakland Athletics.
Martinez, 26, is a 40-man roster member with an automatic invitation to spring training. Because he has options remaining, he will likely share the Triple-A Round Rock catching duties with Dusty Brown and Chris Robinson––who were both signed to minor league deals earlier this offseason––while serving as insurance to the club’s big league catching corps.
The Miami native had played his entire career in the San Diego system, beginning in ’07. He split last season between Triple-A Tucson and the majors. With Tucson, Martinez played in 58 games and posted a .323/.379/.434 slash line while throwing out 14-of-50 (.280) potential base stealers. He played in 22 major league games, throwing out 5-of-19 (.263) base stealers and going 12-for-59 (.203) at the plate with one double, one triple, and one home run.
In the deal, the Rangers gave up righty reliever Ryan Kelly, who was acquired last offseason from Oakland in exchange for pitcher Guillermo Moscoso. Featuring a 91-96 mph fastball, upper-80s cutter and promising 81-84 mph breaking ball, Kelly’s stuff was certainly better than his numbers last season. With High-A Myrtle Beach, he posted a 3.95 earned-run average in 82 innings, yielding 74 hits while walking 23 and striking out 64.
Kelly found more success after adding the cutter mid-way through the season, helping add deception to his fastball, which lacks much movement despite its above-average velocity. The 24-year-old hurler improved as the year progressed and logged a 2.95 ERA in 21 second-half appearances. Though he wasn’t among the Rangers’ top prospects, Kelly remains a solid relief arm with the potential to carve out a major league career.
Snyder, 25, was acquired for cash considerations––the Rangers did not give up a player in the trade. The Las Vegas native was the 13th overall pick in the ’05 MLB Draft but has struggled to produce consistently at the upper levels of the minors. Playing in 114 games with Triple-A Norfolk in ’11, Snyder produced a .261/.312/.406 slash line with 21 doubles and 14 home runs. He drew 32 walks and struck out 91 times. The prospect has played in 16 total major league games over the last two seasons with the O’s, going 9-for-33 (.273).
As a member of the Rangers’ 40-man roster, Snyder receives an automatic invitation to major league spring training, but he is likely to open the 2012 season with Triple-A Round Rock. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound righty is primarily a first baseman (after beginning his career behind the plate) but has also played some third base in recent seasons.
Nelson, 29, re-signed after spending the entire ’11 campaign with the Round Rock Express. The 6-foot-2, 260-pound left-handed hitter was one of the club’s more consistent offensive producers, hitting .281/.360/.501 with 24 round-trippers in 121 games. Nelson played the majority of his games at first base but also filled a spot in left field when needed.
The former Brewers farmhand spent the winter in the Dominican Republic, where he played in 24 games for the Gigantes del Cibao. Nelson went 18-for-82 (.220) with seven doubles and two home runs, walking 16 times with 20 strikeouts. He should fill a similar role with the Express again this coming season.
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