Arlington, Texas — The Texas Rangers today announced the signing of three players to minor league contracts for the 2021 season with invitations to the club’s Major League Spring Training camp: catcher/first baseman John Hicks, infielder Brock Holt, and left-handed pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang.
Additionally, the club has invited two other players already in the organization to Major League Spring Training camp: right-handed pitchers Hans Crouse and Luis Ortiz. Outfielder Adolis García has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Round Rock. García will also be a non-roster player in the Rangers camp this spring.
Hicks, 31, spent the 2020 season in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He did not see game action in the regular season, as he was assigned to the D-backs’ Alternate Training Site at Scottsdale’s Salt River Fields until he was released on September 19. He appeared in 10 games spanning Spring Training/Summer Camp last year, batting .261 (6-23) with 2 home runs and 5 RBI for Arizona. He attended the University of Virginia in his native state and owns a career .235 batting average with 28 home runs and 90 RBI over 254 MLB games with Seattle (2015) and Detroit (2016-19).
The 32-year-old Holt split last season with Milwaukee and Washington, batting a combined .211 over 36 games. The Stephenville, Texas native and Rice University product has spent the bulk of his career with Boston, where he was a 2015 American League All-Star before posting a career-high .774 OPS figure in 2018 as a key contributor to the Red Sox’ World Series championship that year. Holt hit for the cycle in 2018 ALDS Game 3 at New York-AL, which remains the lone cycle in postseason history. He has started at every position except pitcher and catcher in his Major League career spanning 9 seasons with Pittsburgh (2012), Boston (2013-19), Milwaukee (2020), and Washington (2020), appearing primarily at second base and third base.
Yang, who will turn 33 on March 1, has spent his entire 14-year career with the Kia Tigers in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), and this will be his first action in the United States. He went 11-10 with a 4.70 ERA (90 ER/172.1 IP) over 31 games/starts with the Tigers in 2020, ranking among KBO leaders in starts (T2nd), strikeouts (5th, 149), innings (7th), and wins (T10th). Yang is just one year removed from one of his most productive seasons, as he posted 16 wins along with career bests in ERA (2.29) and WHIP (1.072) for the Tigers in 2019. In 2017, he was voted the KBO regular season MVP after going 20-6 with a 3.44 ERA, and also earned MVP honors that postseason after leading the Tigers to the Korean Series championship. For his career in the KBO, Yang has compiled a 3.83 ERA, 1.377 WHIP, and 7.6 strikeouts per 9 innings over 425 games/324 starts.
The 22-year-old Crouse did not pitch in 2020 due to the cancellation of the minor league season. He was originally selected by Texas in the second round of the 2017 June draft and has gone 11-4 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.115 WHIP figure, and 9.3 strikeouts per 9 innings over his three professional seasons from 2017-19. Crouse enters 2021 rated as the ninth-best prospect in the Texas farm system by Baseball America.
Ortiz, 25, was signed to a minor league contract on December 16. He was originally selected by Texas in the first round (30th overall) of the 2014 June draft, advancing to Double-A Frisco before he was traded to Milwaukee on August 1, 2016. Ortiz’s only MLB action to date came in 2018-19 with the Orioles, as he went 0-2 with 10 runs/8 earned runs allowed in 5.2 innings over 3 games/2 starts. Over six minor league campaigns, the Sanger, Calif., native has a 23-29 record and 3.73 ERA in 103 games/90 starts.
García was designated for assignment on February 10 when the club formally signed right-handed pitcher Mike Foltynewicz. García appeared in 3 games with 2 starts for Texas during his lone stint with the club last season from July 28-August 9. He was originally acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals on December 21, 2019.
Following today’s transactions, the Rangers now have 71 players on the club’s Spring Training roster: a full 40-man roster along with 31 non-roster invitees.