The Texas Rangers have recently signed three players to minor league contracts: first baseman/outfielder Brad Hawpe and relievers Mitch Stetter and Sean Green. All three players have extensive big league experience and received invitations to major league spring training.
Hawpe, 32, spent the first seven years (2004-2010) of his major league career with the Colorado Rockies. The Fort Worth native and LSU product was a key cog at the center of the Rockies’ lineup for much of that span, hitting for above-average power with a high on-base percentage. After a rough 2010 campaign, Hawpe played last season with the San Diego Padres and appeared in 62 games. He posted a .231/.301/.344 slash line with four home runs, 19 walks, and 68 strikeouts.
A left-handed hitter and thrower, Hawpe has played in right field for most of his career but saw the majority of his action at first base last season. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow last June but is expected to be ready for the start of spring training. Hawpe will compete for a spot on the opening day roster and serves as insurance at first base and the corner outfield spots.
Stetter, 31, is a sidearmer who will compete for a left-handed relief role in camp. Although he has appeared in 132 career major league games between ’07 and ’11, he was limited to just 16 big league appearances last season due to a hip injury, which required surgery. He had played his entire career with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Almost solely a lefty specialist, Stetter’s best season came in ’09, when he logged 71 appearances and posted a 3.60 earned-run average over 45 innings. That season, he held fellow southpaws to only 16 hits in 105 total plate appearances––a .178/.295/.257 slash line. He scuffled the following year and spent much of the season in Triple. According to the FanGraphs.com pitch f/x numbers, Stetter relies almost exclusively on his upper-70s, low-80s slider from the deceptive arm slot.
Like Stetter, the 32-year-old Green attacks hitters from a low arm slot. A right-handed reliever, Green also pitched with the Brewers last season, splitting the campaign between Triple-A Nashville and the major leagues. He logged 33 minor league appearances while posting a 3.91 ERA. In 46 innings, he allowed 41 hits while walking 27 and striking out 40. Green had a 5.40 ERA in 11.2 big league innings over 14 games.
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound hurler has a 4.41 ERA in 264 career relief appearances, beginning in ’06 with the Seattle Mariners. Green, whose velocity has dipped in recent years, now features a mid-80s sinker to go with a low-70s breaking ball. He induced over four groundouts per flyout in Triple-A last season.
Green spent his offseason playing with Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican Winter League. He pitched in 15 games with the club and put up a 1.37 ERA in 19.2 innings. He allowed 14 hits, walked five, and fanned 15.
All three players are expected to begin the season at Triple-A Round Rock if they don’t make the major league club out of spring training, although there could be an opt-out date in any contract. Last season, Round Rock reliever Yhency Brazoban exercised his free agency option on June 1 before signing a deal with Arizona and appearing in six games for the D-Backs.
The trio joins a handful of other non-roster invitees to camp who signed minor league free agent deals earlier this offseason. That group includes pitcher Fabio Castillo, catchers Dusty Brown and Chris Robinson, infielders Alberto Gonzalez and Luis Hernandez, and outfielder Yangervis Solarte.
Seven other minor league players have also been invited to camp: RHPs Greg Reynolds and Tanner Scheppers, LHPs Robbie Ross and Ben Snyder, catcher Tom Mendonca, and infielders Greg Miclat and Mike Olt. As of today, the Rangers will begin the spring with 55 players in major league camp.
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