Name: Jason Botts
DOB: July 26, 1980
Rangers prospect Jason Botts ended his 2006 season on a disappointing note, as a fractured hamate bone kept him from getting a September callup to the big league club. Had he been healthy, Botts likely would have been given a chance to audition for the team's designated hitter job for 2007.
After sitting out the final month of the season, the 26-year-old slugger went to play in the Puerto Rican Winter League for the second consecutive winter. Botts got off to a blistering start, as he hit .351 with a pair of home runs in his first 57 at bats. The outfielder didn't hit quite as well the rest of the way, but still finished with a respectable .288 average with four doubles, two triples, and four home runs.
The performance in Puerto Rico doesn't do much for Botts' status with the Rangers organization. The club already knows that he can mash all levels of Minor League pitching. Botts will enter spring training with a legitimate shot to be at least a part-time DH, most likely against left-handed pitchers. The switch-hitter hit .365 with a .635 slugging percentage against lefties with Triple-A Oklahoma in 2006.
Name: Freddie Thon
Position: First Base
DOB: April 9, 1984
The 2006 campaign was a successful one for the 22-year-old first baseman, as he combined to hit .299 – including a .321 average at High-A Bakersfield – with nine home runs between Single-A Clinton and Bakersfield.
Thon, who was born in Puerto Rico, feasted off of the Puerto Rican pitching in the season's first month. Like Botts, Thon eventually cooled off, but the first baseman still ended up with solid numbers. While he was hot, Thon flashed power that he had not shown during the 2006 regular season.
One of the only things holding Thon back at this point is his lack of power. If the Villanova product can bring some of the power that he displayed early on back to the states for 2007, he could be in for a breakout year.
Name: Ramon Vazquez
DOB: August 21, 1976
Ramon Vazquez, a native of Puerto Rico, was given a Minor League contract with an invitation to spring training earlier this offseason. The 30-year-old utilityman appeared in 34 games with the Cleveland Indians in 2006, hitting .209.
Vazquez's versatility proved to be extremely valuable for Caguas this winter, as he played all over the infield and hit everywhere from leadoff to cleanup. The veteran showed off excellent discipline – walking 18 times versus 22 strikeouts – and good speed, with three triples.
The signing of Vazquez is nearly identical to that of infielder Matt Kata. Both will vie for a spot on the 25-man roster as the team's utility infielder.