Top 10 most interesting sleepers at Rangers camp

Tepesch, Ramos headline list of potential difference-makers

February 27th, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- They aren't the marquee players in Rangers camp. But they are each intriguing in their own particularly way.
Here are 10 players worth keeping an eye on with the Rangers in Spring Training.
1. RHP Nick Tepesch: He made 39 starts and three relief appearances for the Rangers from 2013-14 but missed all of last season because of surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. He had surgery on Aug. 19. The Rangers non-tendered him in December and re-signed him to a Minor League contract. He is 100 percent healthy and able to compete on the mound without inhibition.
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2. LHP Cesar Ramos: He has made 241 relief appearances and 10 starts over seven seasons for the Padres, Rays and Angels. The Rangers are stretching him out as a starter, which also might be a precursor to a dual role. He might fill a valuable role as a long reliever who could also be used in other games for 1-2 batters against tough left-handed hitters. In other words, a 2-in-1 reliever.

3. OF Patrick Kivlehan: A right-handed hitter with power and a good athlete who can play on the corners in both the infield and the outfield, Kivlehan is in the left field competition but could also be a nice utility player off the bench. Kivlehan appears similar to Ryan Rua.
4. C Brett Nicholas: He started catching again in 2014, and he has spent the past two years at Triple-A Round Rock working on his game. His defense has progressed over the past two years, and a left-handed hitting catcher with power is invaluable. There were only 15 left-handed hitting catchers in the big leagues last season, only five of whom had more than 300 at-bats.
5. RHP Connor Sadzeck: After missing all of 2014 following Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, Sadzeck was hitting 102 mph on the radar gun in the Arizona Fall League. Sadzeck, an 11th-round pick in 2011 out of Howard College, has the biggest arm in camp but needs to sharpen his control. He pitched 19 2/3 innings at Double-A Frisco last season, allowing 22 hits and 17 walks with 16 strikeouts.
6. LHP Sam Freeman: The Rangers are looking for a second left-hander out of the bullpen behind Jake Diekman, and Freeman filled that role last year. He also showed some durability by pitching in seven straight games at one point, though that stretch included the All-Star break. Freeman is also out of options, meaning he would have to clear waivers before being sent to the Minors.

7. LHP Andrew Faulkner: The Rangers moved Faulkner to the bullpen last summer when it appeared they were loaded with Minor League starter prospects and needed left-handed relief in the big leagues. That changed on July 31 when they gave up three starting pitching prospects in the trade that netted Diekman and Cole Hamels from the Phillies. Faulkner is competing for a spot in the bullpen, but if he doesn't make the team, he might be better off starting in the Minors. He throws 93-95 with a plus slider and changeup.
8. IF Hanser Alberto: Considered an outstanding defensive player, Alberto won the Dominican League batting title this winter. He also hit .310 at Triple-A Round Rock last year. In a camp obsessed with the progress of Jurickson Profar, Alberto could be the one to challenge shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Rougned Odor.
9. RHP Scott Williams: An 11th-round pick in 2014 out of Manatee-Sarasota State College, Williams was converted from catching and is still learning his craft. He had a big year at Class A Hickory last year with a 2.28 ERA and a .188 opponent's batting average. He also struck out 49 and walked just 15 in 43 1/3 innings. He has good stuff, including a 92-95 fastball, and he is also smart and driven. The Rangers think he could move quickly.
10. RHP Phil Klein: He is a 6-foot-7 pitcher who relies on deception rather than velocity with his pitches. Royals pitcher Chris Young, who is 6-foot-10, has had success that way. A reliever from 2010-14, Klein moved to the rotation last season and was 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 10 starts at Round Rock. He had two starts for the Rangers, allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings against the Red Sox on May 20 and seven runs in two innings against the Indians on May 25.