The Texas Rangers entered minor league camp with 156 players on the back fields, and that number only grew as players in major-league camp were optioned back to the minors. Because of the sheer numbers, there figure to be plenty of cuts during the last few days of camp.
The Rangers began those cuts by releasing nine minor league players earlier this week. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at those players who were released:
Drew Benes, RHP – The Rangers signed Benes to a minor league contract this offseason after he was released by the St. Louis Cardinals. The son of former major leaguer Andy Benes, Drew posted a 5.31 ERA in 28 appearances (16 starts) with the Cardinals' High-A affiliate last season. The 24-year-old righty worked two-innings in an early-camp scrimmage against Seminole Junior College before being cut by the Rangers.
Santiago Chirino, INF – Chirino, 22, was signed by the Rangers out of Venezuela on July 2, 2008. Initially considered an intriguing prospect, he ranked 39th on Lone Star Dugout's top 50 Rangers prospects list entering the 2011 season––coming off a campaign in which he hit .296/.360/.365 while playing solid defense at second base between the two short-season levels. At that time, Chirino looked like a potential utility type who could play shortstop in a pinch while handling the bat well enough with a good approach. But he began to lose speed on the base paths and range at second as his lower half thickened in 2011. The infielder split time between second, third, and left field while repeating at High-A Myrtle Beach last summer, hitting just .218/.259/.283 in 103 contests. Chirino played a few games at second base with the Double-A squad this spring before receiving his release.
Andrew Clark, 1B – After hitting .310/.430/.477 between the Low- and High-A levels in 2011, Clark voluntarily retired just two games into the 2012 season at High-A Myrtle Beach. The 25-year-old first baseman chose to return for spring training this year but was released after his pre-camp medical exam revealed an injury.
Joucer Martinez, RHP – The 27-year-old Martinez last appeared in affiliated ball in 2009, when he pitched in the Pioneer League with the Chicago White Sox organization. He was signed to a minor league deal this past offseason after being spotted in a Venezuelan semipro game, where he showed 88-92 mph velocity with an intriguing slider as a starter. Working from a low arm slot that was nearly sidearm, Martinez flashed an 88-90 mph fastball this spring to go along with a decent low-80s slider. While the 6-foot-2 righty has usable stuff, he perhaps didn't show quite enough to be workable at the upper levels given his age.
Steven McKinnon, RHP – The 6-foot-4, 238-pound McKinnon signed for a $150,000 bonus out of high school in British Columbia in 2010. At the time, he was rehabbing from a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. McKinnon got back on the mound in 2011 with the rookie Surprise Rangers but was tagged for 19 runs in 18.1 innings while showing mid-80s velocity. He missed the entire 2012 campaign after undergoing preventive heart surgery in January but returned for spring training this year. Unfortunately, the arm speed never really returned for McKinnon, and he worked at 83-85 mph in a few early-spring outings before being released.
Scott Olsen, LHP – A former major leaguer, Olsen logged 723 innings in 130 games (127 starts) with the Marlins and Nationals between the 2005 and 2010 seasons. Injuries have held him back since, however, as he's logged just five minor-league innings since the end of the 2010 campaign. The 29-year-old southpaw pitched in an early-camp Triple-A game before being cut.
Chance Sossamon, RHP – Sossamon, 23, was the Rangers' 21st-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. The Wichita State product spent most of his debut summer on the shelf before returning and working the shuttle between the rookie Arizona League and Single-A Hickory last season. Between those two levels, he had a 6.20 ERA in 18 relief appearances. Sossamon logged 24.2 innings, yielding 33 hits, walking 16, and striking out 22. He showed an 88-91 mph fastball to go along with a curveball, a slider, and the occasional changeup.
Pedro Tirado, LHP – Tirado, 22, pitched four seasons in the Dominican Summer League before earning the state-side assignment with the rookie Surprise Rangers in 2012. The Dominican southpaw made nine appearances with the AZL club, giving up 11 earned runs in 18 innings (5.50 ERA). Last summer, he worked with an 85-87 mph fastball and a big-breaking low-70s curve.
Brett Weibley, RHP – The Rangers' 19th-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, Weibley worked as a reliever with Spokane in his debut summer before undergoing Tommy John surgery during spring training in 2011. He missed the entire 2011 season and much of '12, as well. Although the big 24-year-old righty flashed plus velocity during his collegiate days at Kent State, he worked at just 86-91 mph with a soft 65-69 mph curveball while walking eight batters in five rookie-ball innings last season. During a one-inning appearance this spring, Weibley sat between 85-90 mph, hitting 92 once.
SURPRISE, Ariz. – Each year, teams must trim down their rosters as minor league camp progresses. That's no different for the Texas Rangers, who entered the spring with 156 players on the back fields. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the nine players who were released earlier this week.
Lone Star Dugout looks at the nine minor leaguers released by the Rangers earlier this week