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Heineman, Evans earn Rangers Minors Awards

Grouse, Fields also set to be honored at Winter Warmup event
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Scott Heineman has been selected as the 2018 Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year and right-hander Tyler Phillips has been named the Nolan Ryan Pitcher of the Year.

The Rangers also announced that right-hander DeMarcus Evans has been named the Reliever of the Year and shortstop Ryan Dorow is the Defender of the Year.

ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Scott Heineman has been selected as the 2018 Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year and right-hander Tyler Phillips has been named the Nolan Ryan Pitcher of the Year.

The Rangers also announced that right-hander DeMarcus Evans has been named the Reliever of the Year and shortstop Ryan Dorow is the Defender of the Year.

All of the award recipients will be honored at the Dr Pepper Texas Rangers Winter Warmup on Friday, Jan. 25 at Texas Live! in Arlington. The new format of the Winter Warmup will honor a number of baseball personalities and feature appearances by Rangers past and present. This year's event will also include country artist Sam Riggs performing in concert following the awards program on the Live! Arena stage.

Heineman, who spent almost all of last season at Triple-A Round Rock, hit .295 with 68 runs scored, 11 home runs and 57 RBIs in 107 games. He had a .355 on-base percentage and a .429 slugging percentage, and he was added to the 40-man roster in November.

Phillips made 23 starts for Class A Hickory and Down East this season, going 12-5 with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. He averaged 8.6 strikeouts and 1.1 walks per nine innings.

Evans made 35 relief appearances for Hickory, and he was 4-1 with a 1.77 ERA and a .98 WHIP. He struck out 103 batters in 56 innings.

Dorow was in his first full season after being a 30th-round pick in the MLB Draft out of Adrian (Mich.) College. He played in 122 games for Hickory while rotating between second, shortstop and third base. A former Division III All-American, he committed just nine errors through the three positions while also hitting .271 with 12 home runs and 61 RBIs.

The Dr Pepper Texas Rangers Winter Warmup will be held at Live! Arena on the first floor of Texas Live! and will take place from 6-9 p.m. Tickets are now on sale at texasrangers.com/winterwarmup with tables seating 8 or 10 as well as general admission tickets available for purchase. Net proceeds benefit the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.

Grouse, Fields to be honored
The Rangers are also honoring professional scout Mike Grouse and Minor League medical coordinator Sean Fields at the Winter Warmup.

Grouse has been in the Rangers' organization since 1988, first as an amateur scout, and he is now entering his 11th season at the professional level. He was responsible for the Rangers drafting Ian Kinsler and Travis Hafner as an amateur scout.

Fields is a native Texan from San Angelo with an undergraduate degree from Texas Tech and a Masters from Stephen F. Austin. He spent the past three seasons as the Rangers' medical rehab coordinator.

Start times announced
The Rangers' season opener against the Cubs will begin at 3:05 p.m. CT on March 28 at Globe Life Park, according to the game times released by the club on Wednesday.

Standard game times are the same in 2019 with night games at Globe Life Park beginning at 7:05 p.m., weekday day games at 1:05 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. There are confirmed exceptions for some games and others may be changed pending additions to the schedule of nationally televised games.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers

Rangers add Farrell, sign Montero, Sampson

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have claimed right-hander Luke Farrell off waivers from the Angels. Farrell, who has the ability to be a starter or reliever, is the son of former Blue Jays and Red Sox manager John Farrell.

The club on Friday also signed right-handers Adrian Sampson and Rafael Montero to Minor League contracts with an invitation to Spring Training.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have claimed right-hander Luke Farrell off waivers from the Angels. Farrell, who has the ability to be a starter or reliever, is the son of former Blue Jays and Red Sox manager John Farrell.

The club on Friday also signed right-handers Adrian Sampson and Rafael Montero to Minor League contracts with an invitation to Spring Training.

Farrell, 27, spent most of last season with the Cubs, and he was 3-4 with a 5.17 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in two starts and 18 relief appearances. He also made 12 starts at Triple-A Iowa, where he was 1-4 with a 3.64 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.

The Angels claimed Farrell off waivers on Sept. 3, but he did not pitch in a game for the club. He was then designated for assignment on Dec. 21.

Video: CHC@NYM: Farrell gets out of a big jam in the 13th

The Rangers are Farrell's sixth organization in the past two years. Farrell was selected by the Royals in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Northwestern, and he made his Major League debut with the club on July 1, allowing five runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Twins. He was sold to the Dodgers on July 28 before being claimed off waivers by the Reds on Aug. 9.

In his nine relief appearances for the Reds in 2017, Farrell had a 2.61 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. On Sept. 23, of that season, Farrell pitched a scoreless inning for the Reds against the Red Sox. It was the first time in Major League history that a son pitched in a game against a team managed by his father. The Cubs claimed him off waivers at the end of the season.

Video: BOS@CIN: Luke Farrell pitches vs. his father's team

Montero was a free agent after refusing an outright assignment from the Mets at the end of the 2018 season. He underwent Tommy John surgery on March 27 at the end of Spring Training and he missed the entire season. He is not expected to be ready until May or June in 2019.

Montero, 28, has spent all or part of four seasons with the Mets in 2014-17, with a career record of 6-16 with a 5.38 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP. He averages 8.8 strikeouts, 5.2 walks and 10.2 hits per nine innings.

Sampson made a nice recovery for the Rangers last season after being limited in 2016-17 while recovering from surgery to repair a torn right flexor tendon. He pitched in just eight Minor League games in 2017.

Sampson was at full strength in 2018, and he was 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP at Triple-A Round Rock. The Rangers brought him to the Major Leagues in September and he was 0-3 despite a 3.57 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in four starts.

The Rangers took Sampson off the 40-man roster by non-tendering him in November, but with the intention of re-signing him to a Minor League contract. Sampson is expected to come to camp and compete for a spot in the rotation.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Luke Farrell, Rafael Montero, Adrian Sampson

Where do Rangers pitching prospects stand?

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have been relentless in their pursuit of young starting pitching and may not be done if they get the right trade offer for starter Mike Minor, reliever Jose Leclerc or one of their extra offensive players. This has been the Rangers' No. 1 priority going back to last summer.

Here is a look at where the organization stands right now with some of its prized young starting pitchers. This is hardly an exhaustive list. The possibility always exists that somebody else could emerge from the pack in 2019. There is also another talented group being looked at as relievers. These are the most prominent of the starters.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have been relentless in their pursuit of young starting pitching and may not be done if they get the right trade offer for starter Mike Minor, reliever Jose Leclerc or one of their extra offensive players. This has been the Rangers' No. 1 priority going back to last summer.

Here is a look at where the organization stands right now with some of its prized young starting pitchers. This is hardly an exhaustive list. The possibility always exists that somebody else could emerge from the pack in 2019. There is also another talented group being looked at as relievers. These are the most prominent of the starters.

Rangers Top 30 prospects

Advanced Minor Leaguers
LHP Yohander Mendez
Minors last year: 2-10, 4.71 ERA over 23 starts at three levels; Majors: 2-2, 5.53 ERA, five starts, three relief appearances

RHP Ariel Jurado
Double-A Frisco: 5-3, 3.28 ERA, 16 starts; Majors: 5-5, 5.93 ERA, eight starts, four relief appearances

RHP Jonathan Hernandez
Class A Advanced Down East: 4-2, 2.20 ERA, 10 starts; Double-A: 4-4, 4.92 ERA, 12 starts

Outlook: Mendez and Jurado both pitched for the Rangers last season but weren't quite ready for the big leagues. Mendez has a terrific changeup but is still working on fastball command and the feel for his other pitches. Jurado has a terrific sinker, but his other pitches need work. Hernandez has the best three-pitch mix of the three, including a 94 mph fastball, but he still is trying to refine all three.

The Rangers' offseason goal should be to acquire enough pitching depth to allow these three to at least begin the season in the Minors and finish off their development properly.

Video: MIN@TEX: Mendez stymies Twins with 6 scoreless frames

2018 Trade acquisitions
LHP Taylor Hearn
Acquired from Pirates in Keone Kela trade on July 31, 2018
Double-A Altoona/Frisco: 4-8, 3.49 ERA, 24 starts

LHP Brock Burke
Acquired from Rays in Jurickson Profar trade on Dec. 21, 2018
Class A advanced Charlotte: 3-5, 3.84 ERA, 13 starts, three relief appearances. Double-A Montgomery: 6-1, 1.95 ERA, nine starts

RHP Jason Bahr
Acquired from Giants along with Austin Jackson/Cory Gearrin on July 8, 2018
Class A Augusta, Class A Advanced San Jose/Down East: 10-8, 3.52 ERA, 24 starts

LHP Tyler Thomas
Acquired from Cubs in Jesse Chavez trade on July 19, 2018
Class A South Bend/Hickory and Class A Advanced Down East: 3-9, 3.00 ERA, 20 starts, two relief appearances

Outlook: Minor League players may have tremendous talent but shouldn't be considered serious prospects until they have proven it at the Double-A level. Hearn and Burke have had success at that level, so the Rangers have a right to be excited. The organization needs to resist the temptation of rushing them too quickly to the big leagues. The next goal for Bahr and Thomas should be to prove themselves at Frisco.

Note: The Rangers acquired right-handers Abdiel Mendoza and Teodoro Ortega from the Athletics for Gearrin on Aug. 31. Both have been pitching at the lowest levels of the Minor Leagues at this point.

Video: Jon Daniels on trading Cory Gearrin to Athletics

Tommy John clinic
LHP Joe Palumbo
Date of surgery: April 26, 2017
Three levels: 2-4, 2.78 ERA, 11 starts

LHP Cole Ragans
Date of surgery: March 28, 2018
Did not pitch at all last season

RHP Kyle Cody
Date of surgery: July 18, 2018
Arizona Rookie League: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, two starts

Outlook: If these three had stayed healthy, the whole outlook for the Rangers' organization would be completely different right now. Palumbo had a 1.93 ERA in two starts at Frisco and could be ready to seriously make up for lost time. The 24-year-old southpaw is the No. 1 pitcher to watch in the Rangers' system this season. Ragans, a first-round pick in 2016, is on a throwing program with a best case of getting back to full strength by May/June. Cody, the Rangers' '17 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, will miss most if not all of '19.

Video: Cole Ragans discusses his rehab process, 2019 goals

Fallen prospects
RHP Ronald Herrera
Did not pitch in 2018 because of shoulder injury

LHP Brett Martin
Double-A: 2-10, 7.28 ERA, 15 starts, 14 relief appearances

LHP Wes Benjamin
Double-A: 5-6, 3.62 ERA, 15 starts

RHP Michael Matuella
Class A Advanced: 3-5, 8.24 ERA, eight starts, 12 relief appearances

All four have been highly regarded by the Rangers at some point, but their progress has been stunted by injuries or other issues and they have been passed up by others. Still, the Rangers have not forgotten about them, and Martin is still on the 40-man roster. Who knows? Two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber had a 5.56 ERA at Triple-A in his fifth year in the Minor Leagues.

Young arms
RHP Tyler Phillips
Hickory/Down East: 12-5, 2.64 ERA, 23 starts

RHP A.J. Alexy
Hickory: 6-8, 3.58 ERA, 20 starts, two relief appearances

RHP Hans Crouse
Class A Spokane/Hickory: 5-3, 2.47 ERA, 13 starts

Phillips came on strong en route to being named the Rangers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018, and Alexy was acquired from the Dodgers in theYu Darvish trade. But Crouse, a second-round pick in '17, is the one everybody is eager to see with the best talent/arm in the system. If he has a big year in Class A this season, it will set off a serious feeding frenzy from people eager to see a red carpet laid down to the front door of the new ballpark.

Video: Top Prospects: Hans Crouse, RHP, Rangers

2018 Top Draft picks
RHP Cole Winn
Drafted: First round, 15th overall, Orange Lutheran High School (Calif.)

RHP Owen White
Drafted: Second round, China Grove-Carson High School (N.C.)

RHP Mason Englert
Drafted: Fourth round, Forney High School (Texas)

Outlook: All three did not make their professional debuts this past season. Instead the Rangers kept them under wraps in Arizona, letting them work on strength, conditioning, mechanics, the mental aspects of the game and other critical areas. These guys and others are just getting started and have a long climb. The pitchers ahead of them are reminders of the potential pitfalls that always loom, but these three have the talent to be special with a little patience.

Video: Cole Winn on dealing with not pitching this season

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, A.J. Alexy, Jason Bahr, Wes Benjamin, Brock Burke, Kyle Cody, Hans Crouse, Mason Englert, Taylor Hearn, Jonathan Hernandez, Ronald Herrera, Ariel Jurado, Brett Martin, Michael Matuella, Yohander Mendez, Joe Palumbo, Tyler Phillips, Cole Ragans, Tyler Thomas, Owen White, Cole Winn

Rangers add Volquez, 3 others to 40-man roster

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Veteran pitcher Edinson Volquez, who signed a two-year Minor League contract with the Rangers last spring, has been added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

Volquez, a 13-year Major League veteran and former All-Star, missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery but is expected to be at full strength for Spring Training. The Rangers plan on him being able to compete for a spot in the starting rotation. Volquez last pitched for the Marlins in 2017, going 4-8 with a 4.19 ERA in 17 starts.

ARLINGTON -- Veteran pitcher Edinson Volquez, who signed a two-year Minor League contract with the Rangers last spring, has been added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

Volquez, a 13-year Major League veteran and former All-Star, missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery but is expected to be at full strength for Spring Training. The Rangers plan on him being able to compete for a spot in the starting rotation. Volquez last pitched for the Marlins in 2017, going 4-8 with a 4.19 ERA in 17 starts.

Also added to the roster were pitchers Taylor Hearn and Wei-Chieh Huang, and outfielder Scott Heineman.

Hearn was acquired from the Pirates in a July 31 trade for Keone Kela and is the Rangers' No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He made five starts at Double-A Frisco and went 1-2 with a 5.04 ERA. He went 3-6 with a 3.12 ERA in 19 starts at Double-A Altoona before the trade as a member of the Pirates' organization. During four Minor League seasons, he has averaged 7.5 hits, 3.5 walks and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He will be in Major League camp, but is not expected to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Heineman, who turns 26 in December, continues to make steady progress through the Minor League system and should compete for a spot as the fourth outfielder in Spring Training. He played in 107 games at Triple-A Round Rock last season and hit .295 with 68 runs scored, 11 home runs, 57 RBIs, a .355 on-base percentage and .429 slugging percentage. He also stole 16 bases and can play all three outfield positions.

The Rangers acquired Huang from the D-backs in exchange for Jake Diekman on July 31. He had a 2.59 ERA and 1.05 WHIP at Class A Advanced Visalia before the trade and a 6.30 ERA and 1.45 WHIP at Frisco once joining the Rangers' organization.

Rangers acquire Reinheimer

The Rangers have acquired infielder Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the Cubs. It is the third time this year that Reinheimer has been claimed off waivers.

He began the season playing in the D-backs organization and was claimed by the Mets on July 31. He played in 21 games for the Mets over the final two months and went 5-for-30 at the plate while playing shortstop, left field, and second and third base.

Video: NYM@BAL: Reinheimer rips a single for his 1st MLB hit

He also played four positions over six seasons in the Minor Leagues with a .275 batting average, .343 on-base percentage and .361 slugging percentage. He was originally drafted by the Mariners in the fifth round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of East Carolina University.

Butler, Herrera outrighted

Eddie Butler was one of three players acquired from the Cubs in the trade for Cole Hamels on July 27. He went 1-2 with a 6.47 ERA in 22 games for the Rangers and has a career record of 12-22 with a 5.80 ERA for the Rockies, Cubs and Rangers.

Ronald Herrera was acquired a year ago from the Yankees, but did not pitch all of last season. He underwent surgery on June 11 to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Edinson Volquez

Ragans among prospects making strides in Ariz.

Rangers lefty had TJ surgery in March, joins litany of Texas hurlers rehabbing at Spring Training facility
MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- While the Rangers are holding organizational meetings inside a conference room, left-handed pitcher Cole Ragans is getting ready for his wedding next month. Texas' No. 1 Draft pick from 2016 is also seven months removed from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and is throwing from 105 feet on the back fields of the Rangers' Spring Training facility.

"It's going well," said Ragans, the Rangers' 8th-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline. "Everything feels phenomenal. This is my first week at 105 feet. It feels like a long ways, but everything feels really good."

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- While the Rangers are holding organizational meetings inside a conference room, left-handed pitcher Cole Ragans is getting ready for his wedding next month. Texas' No. 1 Draft pick from 2016 is also seven months removed from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and is throwing from 105 feet on the back fields of the Rangers' Spring Training facility.

"It's going well," said Ragans, the Rangers' 8th-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline. "Everything feels phenomenal. This is my first week at 105 feet. It feels like a long ways, but everything feels really good."

Ragans is hardly alone. The Rangers' complex has been busy all year, given the number of injured pitchers who have spent long hours in rehabilitation. It is a problem that has vexed Texas for several years, and the revolving door continues.

"It is an industry-wide challenge," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We are a part of that. It's something we have spent quite a bit of time looking at and we'll continue to do that."

The Rangers are going to be busy this winter trying to find starting pitching. Right now, left-hander Mike Minor is the only pitcher guaranteed a spot in the rotation. But as much as the club needs starters right now, the bigger challenge is sorting through their top pitching prospects, getting them back to health and on track for Arlington again.

"It's tough," Rangers assistant farm director Paul Kruger said. "You never want to lose arms that you see in your future. But at the same time, the program we have down here -- [Minor League pitching instructor] Keith Comstock and our medical rehab coordinators -- they do such a good job of getting these guys back to playing and stronger than where they were previously. We are not too concerned about their futures. It's quite bright."

Ragans had his surgery in mid-March; before the season was over, right-handers Alex Speas, Collin Wiles, Clayton Blackburn and Kyle Cody followed him to the operating room. Wiles was a supplemental first-round Draft pick in 2012; Speas was taken in the second round in 2016 and Cody was the Rangers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2017. Blackburn, acquired from the Giants, was off to a strong start in Spring Training his elbow problems began.

Video: Top Prospects: Kyle Cody, RHP, Rangers

"When you first see them and they tell you they're having the surgery, you feel for them," Ragans said. "You've been there before. But once they get in here, it's more of you [joke] about it, because you are all here. There is no need to be down about it. You have fun hanging out, getting your work in, pushing everybody."

Tommy John is not the only plague on Texas pitching. Ronald Herrera, a highly regarded prospect acquired from the Yankees, missed the entire season with shoulder and elbow problems. Left-hander Brett Martin and right-hander Mike Matuella also had issues that affected them on the field. Martuella had an 8.24 ERA in 20 games at Class A Advanced Down East, and Martin had a 7.89 ERA in 29 games at Double-A Frisco. They are both former top prospects who are healthy again but must find a way to regain their former level of success.

There are bright spots. Left-hander Joe Palumbo underwent Tommy John surgery on April 26, 2017, and made it all the way back last season. He had a 2.78 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 11 starts at three levels, finishing up at Frisco.

Video: Top Prospects: Joe Palumbo, LHP, Rangers

Chi Chi Gonzalez, the Rangers' No. 1 Draft pick from 2013, also completed his recovery from Tommy John surgery and did not allow a run in three outings at the end of the season. He is expected to be at full strength in Spring Training, although he is a Minor League free agent.

Then there is Edinson Volquez, the elder statesman of the Rangers' pitching rehab program. Volquez has pitched 13 seasons in the Major Leagues and has twice undergone Tommy John surgery. The second time was Aug. 4, 2017, while with the Marlins.

The Rangers signed Volquez as a free agent in Spring Training, knowing he would not pitch in 2018. He spent the year rehabbing in Surprise with the others and is expected to be ready for next season as a possible candidate for the rotation. He has also provided some sage leadership for the younger pitchers going through the process.

"From the first day I started range-of-motion exercises, he said, 'Just give it a couple of weeks, you'll feel better than you do today,'" Ragans said. "You'll be surprised how quick it goes."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Joe Palumbo, Edinson Volquez

Cuban prospect Martinez adjusting to life in U.S.

Highly touted outfielder signed with Texas in April, making strides in Arizona Fall League
MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez's goal has not changed after one season of professional baseball in the United States.

Martinez, the Rangers' No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, said when he signed in April that he wanted to be in the Major Leagues in three years. The former star from the Cuban National Series is one year closer to fulfilling that dream.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez's goal has not changed after one season of professional baseball in the United States.

Martinez, the Rangers' No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, said when he signed in April that he wanted to be in the Major Leagues in three years. The former star from the Cuban National Series is one year closer to fulfilling that dream.

"The goal has not changed since my first year," Martinez said. "I'm not one to go back on my word. Two more years. Next year, I am going to come better prepared and ready to take the next step and the next challenge in my career."

Martinez spoke through a translator on Tuesday at the Rangers' Spring Training facility, one day after hitting for the cycle while playing for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. He is already 11-for-32 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and four stolen bases over eight games for the Saguaros.

Playing in the Arizona Fall League should be a challenge for any young player whose first season was in Class A Short-Season Spokane in the Northwest League. But Martinez is not just another inexperienced prospect.

Before coming to the United States, Martinez played in the Cuban Serie Nacional -- the highest professional level in a country passionate about baseball -- and hit .333 with a .469 on-base percentage and a .498 slugging percentage over 61 games. He had six home runs and 24 stolen bases while playing center field.

The Rangers signed him last April for a $2.8 million signing bonus. That was money originally earmarked for Shohei Ohtani, who ended up signing with the Angels.

Video: Rangers sign international prospect Martinez

Martinez played in 60 games for Spokane and hit .252 with 49 runs, 10 doubles, six triples, eight home runs and 11 stolen bases over 234 at-bats. Rangers assistant farm director Paul Kruger said the most important accomplisment was to get Martinez comfortable living and working in the United States.

"You are moving cultures, going to a culture that is completely different than Cuba, completely different than the Dominican Republic," Kruger said. "Can he continue to be comfortable? The biggest thing we have learned is it's not what they do on the field, but what goes into becoming a part of this American culture."

There have been several prominent players who have made successful transitions from Cuba to the Major Leagues, including White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (who came up with the Red Sox) and Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Yasiel Puig had a rough road but is now playing in his second World Series with the Dodgers.

Others, like Royals outfielder Jorge Soler, Indians outfielder Leonys Martin and D-backs outfielder Yasmany Tomas, have had mixed success, while Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo received a $72.5 million contract in 2014 but has spent the past three seasons in Triple-A.

The toughest part may be just the decision to leave Cuba. Martinez left behind his mother, father and sister in his hometown of Guantanamo when he came to the United States a year ago.

"It was very tough having to leave my family, my friends, my culture, my comfort zone," Martinez said. "But I knew I had to do it, because the dream was to play baseball at the Major League level. I had to talk to my family and let them know that I was doing this for a reason, for me but also for them. I just took that first step and here I am."

Martinez said he knew it would not be an easy transition. Cuba has a long and successful amateur baseball history and the National Series is a highly competitive league. But it is different than playing even in Class A or the Arizona Fall League.

"They are very different leagues," Martinez said. "Over here you have a lot more younger players with more talent. Over there you have older crafty players and baseball is not the same. Over here is more structured; people know how to play the game and they just play the game. The speed of the game here is a lot quicker. The guys here have speed. They can fly."

Martinez has much to work on here in Arizona. A left-handed hitter, he batted just .207 against lefties this season and admitted they were much tougher than the ones he faced in Cuba. Defensively he needs to work on his jumps and routes in center. He faces tough competition for the title of future Rangers center fielder. Leody Taveras is the Rangers' No. 1 Minor League prospect and Bubba Thompson is No. 9 after being their top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.

Video: Top Prospects: Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, Rangers

"I always knew it was going to be hard and now I know first-hand," Martinez said. "It is just as hard as I thought it would be. A lot of things you have to work on, a lot of matchups you've got to see. Most important, you have to make adjustments. But I think I fit in well here."

The Rangers believe he has already made the biggest adjustment by just getting here.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers

Looking at the Texas prospects in winter ball

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- High draft picks and top prospects are among the 13 players from the Rangers' farm system currently signed up for winter ball over four different countries. Here is the list and where each player stands in the organization.

RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez, Licey (Dominican Republic) -- The Rangers' first-round Draft pick in 2013 missed almost two complete seasons while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. He had 10 scoreless innings over three outings at the end of the season in the lowest levels of the farm system. Gonzalez is a six-year Minor League free agent and Texas would like to re-sign him.

ARLINGTON -- High draft picks and top prospects are among the 13 players from the Rangers' farm system currently signed up for winter ball over four different countries. Here is the list and where each player stands in the organization.

RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez, Licey (Dominican Republic) -- The Rangers' first-round Draft pick in 2013 missed almost two complete seasons while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. He had 10 scoreless innings over three outings at the end of the season in the lowest levels of the farm system. Gonzalez is a six-year Minor League free agent and Texas would like to re-sign him.

LHP Yohander Mendez, Magallanes (Dominican Republic) -- Mendez starts with his Dominican club in November. The Rangers need all the information they can get on the talented lefty, because he will be out of options next spring. He is a candidate for the rotation, but still needs more experience and development. According to MLB Pipeline, Mendez is No. 16 among the Rangers' Top 30 prospects after being ranked sixth before the season.

Video: TEX@SD: Mendez K's 5 over 5 scoreless relief innings

RHP Connor Sadzeck, Licey (Dominican Republic) -- This should be a good experience for the hard-throwing reliever, who is hoping to crack the Texas bullpen next spring.

OF Scott Heineman, Escogido (Dominican Republic) -- Heineman was named the Rangers' Hitting Prospect of the Year by MLB Pipeline and has put himself in position to compete for a spot on the big league club next season.

OF Leody Taveras, Aguilas (Dominican Republic) -- Texas' top prospect just turned 20 in September. He hit .246 with a .332 slugging percentage this past season as one of the youngest players in the Class A Advanced Carolina League. The Dominican Winter League will be a good challenge for him.

INF Andy Ibanez, Aguilas (Dominican Republic) -- Signed as free agent after leaving Cuba, Ibanez had a solid season at Triple-A Round Rock, hitting .283 with 12 home runs, a .344 on-base percentage and a .410 slugging percentage in 125 games. After three years in the system, he has to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason or be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

RHP Reed Garrett, Hermosillo (Mexico) -- A power right-handed reliever, Garrett also has to be protected this winter. After a slow start at Round Rock, he had a 1.69 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 35 games at Double-A Frisco. He spent August back at Round Rock, allowing one run over 10 2/3 innings while striking out nine.

OF Jose Cardona Gonzalez, Hermosillo (Mexico) -- Gonzalez is a Minor League free agent for the second straight season. The Rangers re-signed him last offseason, but he has not taken off offensively and has fallen in the Minor League outfield depth chart behind Heineman and others.

OF Eric Jenkins, Auckland (Australia) -- Jenkins was a second-round Draft pick out of high school in 2015 who has yet to advance above Class A because the offense hasn't been there. Jenkins has elite speed, but a career .229 batting average and a .291 on-base percentage.

C/1B Carlos Garay, Aragua (Venezuela) -- Garay is another Minor League free agent who has hit for average but not much power in the farm system. The Rangers have other catchers ranked higher in the Minors.

RHP Deolis Guerra, Magallanes (Venezuela) -- Guerra has pitched in 73 big league games with the Pirates and Angels, but he spent all of last season at Round Rock, going 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA a 1.06 WHIP. He is another Minor League free agent.

RHP Emerson Martinez, Anzotaegui (Venezuela) -- Martinez was 5-11 with a 4.01 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in 24 starts at Class A Advanced Down East this past season. He is unlikely to be protected this winter. Martinez has a good feel for pitching but is not overpowering.

RHP Darel Torres, Los Mochis (Mexico) -- Torres is a 19-year-old from Mexico who has yet to pitch above the Dominican Summer League.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers

Pipeline names Rangers' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had a number of bright spots in their farm system this past season, but outfielder Scott Heineman and pitcher Tyler Phillips were at the top of the list.

Both have had to overcome their share of adversity in their young professional careers, but in 2018 they showed they have bright futures in the Rangers' organization. Heineman and Phillips were the Rangers' Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had a number of bright spots in their farm system this past season, but outfielder Scott Heineman and pitcher Tyler Phillips were at the top of the list.

Both have had to overcome their share of adversity in their young professional careers, but in 2018 they showed they have bright futures in the Rangers' organization. Heineman and Phillips were the Rangers' Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Heineman was not a surprise. He was an 11th-round pick out of the University of Oregon in 2015 and did not play that season while recovering from foot surgery. From that slow start, though, he has moved quickly through the system and, after two strong years at Class A Advanced High Desert and Double-A Frisco, was invited to big league camp last spring.

He wasn't a candidate for the big league roster, but is definitely on the radar. He was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock after just seven games at Frisco and hit .295/.355/.429 with 20 doubles, 11 home runs, 57 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

"I saw a guy who had a really good year offensively and matured a lot at the Triple-A level," Triple-A manager Jason Wood said. "When he came to us two weeks into the season, he brought a lot of energy when we needed it, and continued that all season. He stayed in the middle of the lineup all season and did a good job scoring runs, stealing bases, hitting for average."

Video: CLE@TEX: Heineman's solo homer gives Rangers the lead

The Rangers put a premium on versatility and Heineman showed that by playing all three outfield positions for Round Rock. He had 48 starts in right, 43 in center and 13 in left. That versatility could be appealing when the Rangers put together an outfield next spring.

"Defensively he's got a few things to work on, but this is a guy who can play all three positions," Wood said. "Right field is his best, but I have no problem putting him in center. He can cover ground and has a good arm. I wouldn't be surprised if he comes into camp next year with a chance to make the team."

Phillips was a 16th-round pick out of high school in 2015. He was just 17 when drafted and his first few years were rough. He was 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA in seven games for Class A Hickory in 2017 and ended up getting demoted to Class A Short-Season Spokane. It was there that he started blossoming, going 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA in his last eight starts.

He carried that over to Class A Hickory this season, going 11-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 22 starts. He averaged 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings with a 1.02 WHIP.

"I think it is what got into Tyler Phillips at the end of last year," Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler said. "Three swing-and-miss pitches. He has always had good fastball command and a good changeup. The evolution of his curveball was a big pitch for him. And just maturing. He was one of the youngest guys out of the Draft a few years ago, as a 17-year-old."

Phillips made one start at Class A Down East and that could be where he begins next season. His ability to eventually make the crucial jump to Double-A Frisco will be most telling, but the Rangers believe a strong pitching prospect has emerged in their system.

"We see him as a Major League starter and continue on that route," Tingler said. "I don't know his ceiling, is he a No. 2 or a No. 3? I don't think we know yet at his age and development. I just know we believe he has a chance to log innings as a starter and be a successful Major League pitcher."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers

Calhoun works on honing all parts of his game

Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Just because the plate appearances are not coming with any consistency does not mean Willie Calhoun is content to wait for a chance to be a difference maker.

The Rangers' No. 2 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was working on his outfield play with interim manager Don Wakamatsu on Monday afternoon, well aware that his all-hit, hot-prospect status is not enough to be an everyday player in the Major Leagues.

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ANAHEIM -- Just because the plate appearances are not coming with any consistency does not mean Willie Calhoun is content to wait for a chance to be a difference maker.

The Rangers' No. 2 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was working on his outfield play with interim manager Don Wakamatsu on Monday afternoon, well aware that his all-hit, hot-prospect status is not enough to be an everyday player in the Major Leagues.

View Full Game Coverage

"We were out here doing early work today," Wakamatsu said. "I think young players sometimes if they hit 30 home runs they think the rest is history. And to play at this level, you have to be good at everything. He's fully aware and he's really committed to doing a lot of work this winter and improve on that."

Calhoun hit 31 home runs at the Triple-A level last season in the Dodgers and Rangers organizations, and one more homer as a late-season call-up for the Rangers. In 2016, he hit a combined 28 home runs at Double-A and the Arizona Fall League.

But his move to the outfield this year also coincided with a drop in power. He hit just nine home runs in 108 games at Triple-A, but did hit 32 doubles, while his 47 strikeouts were far below his 2016 total of 65.

A left fielder with 30 home runs plays much better than one with nine, and Calhoun is still working on improving his defense, but he makes no apologies for how he approached his season.

"It's more on me trying to get better as a defender and be more of a complete baseball player as opposed to being a one-sided hitter," the 23-year old said. "The bat will always be there and I'm very confident. That is something I will always have."

Calhoun said he isn't too concerned whether the departure of former Rangers manager Jeff Banister will offer him a clean slate with the club. He knows that part is not under his control. Wakamatsu said the concept of a clean slate can be a real thing, but mostly it's about the player hitting the reset button on their own and taking their game to the next level.

"Our job as coaches and managers is to have an open mind and think, 'OK, what can we do to make this player [better],'" Wakamatsu said. "Sometimes it's just emotion. It's getting comfortable at the big leagues."

Wakamatsu goes back to Nelson Cruz's early days with the Rangers. It was not always pretty.

"We brought him up a couple of times and didn't know if he would ever be that guy," Wakamatsu said. "All of a sudden he gained that confidence and has been one of the more prolific power hitters in the game since."

Calhoun will gladly take his at-bats where he can get them over the final week. And he looks forward to proving himself at Spring Training. But just like his early work Monday, he won't just be sitting around waiting for his next opportunity.

"Going into the offseason I have some goals I want to accomplish so I can go into Spring Training with the same confidence I have every year," Calhoun said. "Always being an uber prospect has its perks, its pros and cons, but for me, I don't look into it much. I just play the game and try to go out there with the same attitude."

Choo and the kids
The 36-year-old Shin-Soo Choo was the Rangers' designated hitter batting leadoff on Monday against the Angels. Everybody else in the starting lineup was 25 or under. Four players were 23.

"I think most people know we have more at-bats for people 25 and under on our roster than [anybody] in a long time," Wakamatsu said. "The biggest thing for us right now is to continue to evaluate these guys and make adjustments. We talked about how we're really good early in the count and not so good with two strikes. Some of these younger guys have made good adjustments and some have to continue to do it."

Rangers beat
• The Rangers' first- and second-round draft picks this year made their professional debuts in an instructional league game Monday in Arizona. First-rounder Cole Winn gave up two runs in one inning while throwing 25 pitches, and second-rounder Owen White struck out two in a scoreless inning, making 11 pitches.

• When Adrian Beltre plays in this series it will be his 260th career game against the Angels, his most against any opponent. He also has 1,003 at-bats against the Angels with 132 runs, 275 hits, 52 doubles, 47 home runs and 167 RBIs, all his most against a single team.

• The Rangers have won just three of their last 10 series, but can make it three of their last four with a pair of victories in Anaheim this week.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Texas Rangers, Willie Calhoun

Rangers' talented Draft picks on display at instructs

MLB.com

The Rangers were excited to nab three high-ceiling high school right-handers in the first four rounds of the 2018 Draft. They've handled Cole Winn, Owen White and Mason Englert with care, having them focus on conditioning and learning during the summer.

Though none of them will officially make their pro debut until next summer, they will take the mound and face hitters from other organizations for the first time next week as part of Texas' instructional league program in Surprise, Ariz.

The Rangers were excited to nab three high-ceiling high school right-handers in the first four rounds of the 2018 Draft. They've handled Cole Winn, Owen White and Mason Englert with care, having them focus on conditioning and learning during the summer.

Though none of them will officially make their pro debut until next summer, they will take the mound and face hitters from other organizations for the first time next week as part of Texas' instructional league program in Surprise, Ariz.

Instructional league rosters

"As soon as we drafted them, we went over their specific plan," Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler said. "We got them into the weight room, had them learn our throwing program, had them learn our shoulder program. We left them 8-10 innings to play with in instructs, having them throw heavier bullpens toward the end of the season with the idea of getting them into games down here.

"We're all excited to see them, but no one is more excited than those pitchers. They are champing at the bit."

One of the most consistent and polished pitchers in the 2018 prep class, Winn, ranked No. 4 on the Rangers' Top 30 Prospects list, lasted longer than expected, signing for $3.15 million after falling to the 15th overall pick. He has front-line starter potential with a 92-97 mph fastball with armside run, a 12-to-6 curveball, a tantalizing slider and a fading changeup.

Extremely athletic and projectable, White, the Rangers' No. 13 prospect, signed for an over-slot $1.5 million in the second round. A 6-foot-2, 172-pound former quarterback, he can touch 95 mph with his fastball, flash a plus slider, generate a high-spin curveball and show aptitude for a fading changeup.

Englert, No. 21 on the Rangers' Top 30, also landed an above-slot bonus, signing for $1.1 million in the fourth round after breaking a Texas high school record held by the legendary David Clyde with 55 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings during the spring. His best offering is a low-90s sinker, followed by a late-breaking slider and a developing curveball and changeup.

• Rangers instructional league roster and schedule

The pitcher with the best pure stuff in camp is right-hander Hans Crouse, a 2017 second-rounder and the Rangers' No. 5 prospect who posted a 2.47 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings between Class A Short-Season Spokane and low Class A Hickory. There's effort and a lot going on in his delivery, but he makes it work and regularly delivers mid-90s fastballs and wipeout sliders. He's focusing on improving his changeup while in Surprise.

"When the season started, he got a blister, and then he had rain shorten some of his starts at Hickory, so we wanted to get him more innings," Tingler said. "It took a while to get him to start throwing his changeup because he was getting guys out with two pitches. His changeup is about 8 mph slower than his fastball and plays extremely well.

"Our guys have done a good job not messing with his delivery. There's a uniqueness to it, but Hans has the ability to sync his hand with his delivery and throw quality strikes. He has impressed us from day one."

Video: Top Prospects: Hans Crouse, RHP, Rangers

Developing pitching will be crucial for the Rangers as they try to rebuild from a last-place finish in the American League West. They rank 29th among the 30 teams in starter ERA (5.45) and 28th in overall ERA (4.97).

The Rangers will bring 94 players to their training base in Surprise for instructional league, dividing them into two groups. The first group reported Sept. 12 and will play games through Oct. 1 before departing on Oct. 3. The second group arrived Wednesday and will participate in games from Oct. 3 through Oct. 11 before leaving the next day.

Besides the young pitchers, the first contingent also includes an outfield group that features the organization's top three position prospects in the Minor Leagues in Leody Taveras, Julio Pablo Martinez and Bubba Thompson as well as toolsy Pedro Gonzalez and instinctive contact hitter Miguel Aparicio.

"They're working on things individually and collectively," Tingler said. "For instance, Leody's bat-to-ball skills are very good, but he needs to tighten his swing up and drive the ball more, while Pedro struggles with making contact at times right on right. We're also challenging all of them to learn the strike zone and develop barrel accuracy."

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Texas Rangers

Rangers, Triple-A Nashville reach 4-year pact

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have entered into a four-year working agreement with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, the two clubs announced on Tuesday. A formal press conference is planned on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.

The arrangement runs through 2022. The Sounds replace the Round Rock Express, the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate for the past eight years.

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ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have entered into a four-year working agreement with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, the two clubs announced on Tuesday. A formal press conference is planned on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.

The arrangement runs through 2022. The Sounds replace the Round Rock Express, the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate for the past eight years.

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"The Texas Rangers are very pleased to enter into this four-year player development contract with the Nashville Sounds," said Texas Rangers co-chairman and managing partner Ray Davis. "Led by Frank Ward and Adam Nuse, the Sounds are one of Minor League Baseball's top organizations.

"The Sounds have received incredible fan support as the franchise finished fourth in Minor League Baseball in overall attendance with over 600,000 fans attending games at beautiful First Tennessee Park in downtown Nashville in 2018. For a number of reasons, this became a very attractive location for our Triple-A club and we look forward to a productive relationship with the Sounds."

The Rangers worked hard to get an agreement with Nashville after it became obvious that Round Rock would sever its relationship and go with the Astros. The Rangers were attracted by Nashville's relatively close proximity to Texas and the outstanding ballpark. First Tennessee Park was opened in 2015 and is considered a state-of-the-art facility.

"I love it," Rangers pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx said. "It's a pretty good pitcher's park and an awesome city. Nashville is one of my favorite cities. To have a team in Nashville affiliated with the Rangers is a good thing. I haven't seen the home side, but what I have seen on the visitors' side, everything there is pretty darn good."

There were five Triple-A cities whose Major League working agreement expired this year. Nashville had been affiliated with Oakland, but the Athletics are moving to Las Vegas. The Astros were a natural for Round Rock Express because of the close link with owner Nolan Ryan and his family.

That left San Antonio, Fresno and Nashville. San Antonio was desirable because of location, but that stadium was opened in 1994 and is far behind First Tennessee Park as far as amenities. The Rangers weren't keen on Fresno because of the distance.

"The Nashville Sounds front office has a great reputation of taking care of its players, and we believe this is a tremendous opportunity," said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. "I think our players and development staff will enjoy playing and working in an environment with first-class facilities and an exciting game atmosphere."

Nashville is just the Rangers' third affiliate in the past 37 years. The Rangers were in Oklahoma City from 1983-2010. Prior to that, the Rangers had six different Triple-A affiliates in 11 years: Denver, Spokane, Sacramento, Tucson, Charleston and Wichita.

Sampson to keep pitching
Manager Jeff Banister confirmed that right-hander Adrian Sampson will make two more starts before the end of the season. Sampson, who has allowed three runs in 10 2/3 innings over his first two starts, is scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Mariners.

Video: TB@TEX: Sampson K's Bauers swinging in the 2nd inning

"He is showing the ability to pitch," Banister said. "His stuff plays up when he is able to locate and execute. As the game progresses, the stuff gets better. The mix is what he has success with. It's an intriguing look."

Rangers beat
Joey Gallo remains day-to-day with a bruised toe on his right foot. The Rangers expect him to play before the end of the current homestand.

• The Rangers' 3-0 loss on Monday ended a streak of 106 home games without being shut out. The Rangers were the only Major League team that hadn't been shut out in their home park this season.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa has thrown out 32 percent (7-for-24) of attempted basestealers this season. That's the 11th best among American League catchers with at least 30 games played.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers

Calhoun looks to meet challenges in tough year

Top prospect has struggled for playing time in the Majors; Beltre looks to finish season strong
MLB.com

OAKLAND -- The transition from prospect to Major League player is not always smooth. It wasn't for Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Jurickson Profar and Delino DeShields, and it is not going to be that way for Willie Calhoun.

The Rangers' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, went into Spring Training as the obvious favorite to be the Texas left fielder, but instead spent most of the season at Triple-A Round Rock. He is a September callup and did start on Sunday, but his playing time is limited. There is no telling what moves the Rangers will make in the offseason, but right now Calhoun is behind Gallo, DeShields and Nomar Mazara on the Rangers' outfield depth chart.

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OAKLAND -- The transition from prospect to Major League player is not always smooth. It wasn't for Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Jurickson Profar and Delino DeShields, and it is not going to be that way for Willie Calhoun.

The Rangers' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, went into Spring Training as the obvious favorite to be the Texas left fielder, but instead spent most of the season at Triple-A Round Rock. He is a September callup and did start on Sunday, but his playing time is limited. There is no telling what moves the Rangers will make in the offseason, but right now Calhoun is behind Gallo, DeShields and Nomar Mazara on the Rangers' outfield depth chart.

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"I think it's pretty clear that the writing is on the wall," Calhoun said. "There are a lot of older players that play the same position I do. It's pretty much waiting your turn and going out there when [manager Jeff Banister] calls your name and being ready. I wouldn't say I'm discouraged, but I'm not used to being in a bench role. But it's something where I have to be ready when he calls me."

Calhoun's strength is his offense; he hit .294 with 32 doubles, nine home runs and 47 RBIs in 108 games at Round Rock. The home runs were down from the 31 he hit at Triple-A last year and the slugging percentage fell from .572 to .431.

"Honestly, I know I still have it," Calhoun said. "I have close to 40 doubles [including five with the Rangers], so I know my power is still there. ... Maybe a little better pitch selection."

The Rangers don't need to be concerned about finding Calhoun a spot in the lineup. Their focus is on his continued development, especially on defense and baserunning. They also want to see how he responds to the challenges he faced this season.

"I believe all players go through challenges," Banister said. "In the big picture, it's a good thing. This is not an easy game to play. This is a challenging game. It's how the player responds. The future will judge that."

The Rangers also want Calhoun to continue to dedicate himself to getting in top physical condition.

"You need to be in shape to play this game," Banister said. "I'm not saying Willie was not in shape. But you look across baseball, there are players who have had to make adjustments in their strength and their bodies. This is a grueling game. You need to make sure you take care of your bodies. All our players understand that."

Beltre to get chances
Adrian Beltre goes into just about every game with a chance to pass an all-time great in some category. He went into Sunday's game with 474 career home runs, one behind Willie Stargell and Stan Musial for 30th all-time. With 3,152 hits, he needed two more to match George Brett for 15th place all-time.

Video: TEX@OAK: Beltre swats 2 HRs, passes Delgado all-time

If Beltre retires at the end of the year, the final three weeks of the season will determine his final spot on the all-time lists. Banister acknowledged he has thought about that.

"We're going to give him as many opportunities as we can to play," Banister said. "I don't want to miss those moments and he doesn't either. He's got to feel good enough to play and right now he is in a pretty good spot."

Rangers beat
• DeShields was back in the leadoff spot on Sunday for the first time since July 11. That was his spot early in the season and the Rangers want to take another look at him up there in September.

"For him to be a dynamic player, that's a better spot for him," Banister said.

• The Class A Short Season Spokane Indians open their best-of-five Northwest League Championship Series against Eugene on Sunday night.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre, Willie Calhoun

Sampson completes long journey back to Majors

Pelham, Calhoun and Bibens-Dirkx recalled in Sept. moves
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Adrian Sampson is back in the Major Leagues. He could be a preview of coming attractions for Rangers pitching.

Sampson was one of the September callups for the Rangers, bringing him back to the Major Leagues for the first time in over two years. His only Major League appearance was on June 18, 2016, while with the Mariners, pitching 4 2/3 innings in a start against the Red Sox.

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ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Adrian Sampson is back in the Major Leagues. He could be a preview of coming attractions for Rangers pitching.

Sampson was one of the September callups for the Rangers, bringing him back to the Major Leagues for the first time in over two years. His only Major League appearance was on June 18, 2016, while with the Mariners, pitching 4 2/3 innings in a start against the Red Sox.

View Full Game Coverage

Less than two weeks later, he underwent major surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.

"It's over," Sampson said Tuesday. "Good to put it behind me. It was a long road back. But I feel I was mentally engaged in the rehab process, so it went by a little faster in my mind. It was tough, but it's nice to be back."

Sampson did most of his rehab work with the Rangers after they claimed him off waivers on Nov. 2, 2016. He spent most of 2017 working out at the Rangers Spring Training facility in Surprise, Ariz. The staff there helped put him back together and he was 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA in 19 starts and 14 relief appearances at Triple-A Round Rock this season. He was 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA in his last 14 starts.

"Missing a whole year of professional baseball, you forget how to plan to get guys out, scouting reports, reading guys swings, all the small details of watching a game every day," Sampson said. "Being away from that … the game hasn't changed but figuring out how to succeed is a little harder."

The Rangers rehab team in Surprise has been busy. Jason Roberts is the medical coordinator and the team also includes rehab coordinator Sean Fields, assistant Chris Olson, strength and conditioning coordinator Ric Mabie and pitching coordinator Keith Comstock.

The Rangers have seven prominent pitchers in various stages of rehabbing from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery: Joe Palumbo, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Edinson Volquez, Kyle Cody, Cole Ragans, Clayton Blackburn and Alex Speas. The Rangers are hoping they have a similar road back to success as Sampson.

"Once I was picked up by Texas in the offseason, rehabbing with those guys they make it a team," Sampson said. "It was great. They make it a team. Doesn't feel like you are doing it on your own. The way they run it is really awesome. Just being around those guys, they keep your spirits up. Mental game is remarkable."

The Rangers also made it official calling up pitchers C.D. Pelham and Austin Bibens-Dirkx, and outfielder Willie Calhoun on Tuesday. In addition, infielder Hanser Alberto was activated off the disabled list.

Rangers beat:
• The Rangers' team in the Dominican Summer League lost to the Rays, 8-1, in the final of the best-of-five DSL championship series.

Bartolo Colon is returning to the rotation and will start on Wednesday against the Angels.

• Manager Jeff Banister said Yovani Gallardo will start on Friday against the Athletics. Banister said Yohander Mendez will pitch on Saturday and Ariel Jurado will pitch on Sunday against the Athletics, but there is a possibility the Rangers could "open" the game with a reliever.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Hanser Alberto, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Willie Calhoun, Adrian Sampson

Pelham among prospects to be called up

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Left-handed reliever C.D. Pelham has completed a meteoric rise through the Rangers' farm system and will be among the September callups.

Pelham, a 33rd-round pick in 2015 out of Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College, will join the Rangers on Tuesday along with outfielder Willie Calhoun, and pitchers Adrian Sampson and Austin Bibens-Dirkx. Infielder Hanser Alberto will be activated off the disabled list.

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ARLINGTON -- Left-handed reliever C.D. Pelham has completed a meteoric rise through the Rangers' farm system and will be among the September callups.

Pelham, a 33rd-round pick in 2015 out of Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College, will join the Rangers on Tuesday along with outfielder Willie Calhoun, and pitchers Adrian Sampson and Austin Bibens-Dirkx. Infielder Hanser Alberto will be activated off the disabled list.

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Pelman, the Rangers' No. 16 ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, began the year at Class A Down East and pitched in 23 games with a 1.95 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 27 innings. He was promoted to Double-A Frisco midway through June, and had a 6.16 ERA with a 1.74 WHIP in 24 games.

"He's always been extremely athletic and had a big arm," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Got some confidence and pounded the strike zone. Pitched in the upper 90s; slider really effective, like the way it plays off the fastball. This last month in Frisco, he had a little bit of a transition period.

"We'll expect he'll have it here as well. I think most likely he'll be in camp next year, and we'll see where we are. He'll get more seasoning next year, but good opportunity to come up here and see the speed of the game and the environment. He's a guy that we see factoring in for us in a significant way down the road."

Sampson joined the Rangers on Nov. 2, 2016, when he was claimed off waivers from the Mariners. At the time he was coming off Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and the Rangers knew it would be a two-year process. He earned September consideration by going 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 19 starts and 14 relief appearances at Round Rock. 

"We'll take a look at him," Daniels said. "It's been a long road back. I think he could make a start here at some point. He may come out of the bullpen. Long road back from surgery. We'll have him here as a starter option -- our initial thought."

Calhoun, the second-ranked prospect in the organization, was expected to be a callup, but his playing time will be limited because of the Rangers' crowded outfield. He is a left fielder and the Rangers have both Joey Gallo and Shin-Soo Choo in front of him.

"Come up here and continue the work that Willie's been doing," Daniels said. "There may be some at-bats, but it won't be regular at-bats for him, as we're constructed right now. Right now, we've got somebody that sits on a regular basis. It won't be regular at-bats for him as of today. An injury could change that."

Daniels said there were others who received consideration. Among those passed over were pitchers Jonathan Hernandez, Chris Rowley and Ricardo Rodriguez. All three are on the 40-man roster.

"We talked about a number of guys," Daniels said. "We don't have spots for all of them."

Sampson and Pelham had to be added to the 40-man roster. The Rangers had only one spot open so right-hander Drew Hutchison was taken off and outrighted to Round Rock. That effectively ended his audition for a spot in the Rangers' 2019 rotation.

Rangers beat

• Class A Spokane in the short-season Northwest League was the only Rangers' Minor League team to reach postseason. The Indians won the second half of the North Division to advance to the Northwest League playoffs.

• The Rangers team in the Dominican Summer League is in the finals against the Rays. That best-of-five series is tied 2-2 with the championship game scheduled for Tuesday.

• Left-handed pitcher Joe Palumbo was scratched from Monday's start for Double A Frisco because of fatigue. He will continue his recovery from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in the Instructional League.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Hanser Alberto, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Willie Calhoun, Adrian Sampson

Texas trade makes room for flamethrower Sadzeck

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Connor Sadzeck, one of the hardest-throwing pitchers ever produced by the Rangers farm system, is finally coming to the big leagues.

Sadzeck, who stands 6-feet-7 and can hit 100-plus mph with his fastball, was called up to the big leagues on Friday when Cory Gearrin was traded to the Athletics.

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ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Connor Sadzeck, one of the hardest-throwing pitchers ever produced by the Rangers farm system, is finally coming to the big leagues.

Sadzeck, who stands 6-feet-7 and can hit 100-plus mph with his fastball, was called up to the big leagues on Friday when Cory Gearrin was traded to the Athletics.

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"I'm excited for it, for sure," Sadzeck said. "I'm just looking forward to getting out there and getting the opportunity. I mean, it happens when it's meant to happen, right? Now's my time, and I have to take advantage of the opportunity."

Sadzeck was 5-3 with a 5.21 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 32 games at Triple-A Round Rock. Over 38 innings, he has allowed 36 hits, walked 16 and struck out 43.

"Similar to what we have seen in the past with the big fastball, breaking ball combo, swing and miss is there," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Look forward to getting him out on the field and seeing how the stuff plays out against big league hitters."

What the Rangers have seen in the past has always intrigued them. Sadzeck was an 11th-round pick in 2011 out of Howard (Tex.) College who missed all of 2014 because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.

The velocity has always been there, but injuries and erratic command have kept him from advancing as quick as the Rangers had hoped. He was once used as a starter, before being switched to the bullpen last summer. He was on the disabled list from June 22 to Aug. 8 with a strained left oblique muscle and that kept him from being called up earlier this season.

"There has been some intrigue on my part since I saw him for the first time in the (2015) Arizona Fall League," Banister said. "Wiped out three hitters and every pitch was 98 or above with angle. So, I know in the past whether it has been some injuries or the walks -- I know this year in Spring Training didn't go as well as he'd like -- but it's still a big arm. Power plays at this level and he's big and creates angles. Guys like that come in and throw strikes, they can be challenging for hitters."

Colon, DeShields ready to come off disabled list
The Rangers are expected to activate pitcher Bartolo Colon off the disabled list on Saturday. He is scheduled to pitch on Sunday against the Twins after being sidelined since Aug. 20 with stiffness in his back.

The Rangers are also expected to activate outfielder Delino DeShields off the disabled list on Saturday. He has been out since Aug. 17 with a fractured tip of his right middle finger.

The Rangers will likely wait until the Minor League season is over before making any more September callups. Triple-A Round Rock pitchers Chris Rowley, Yohander Mendez, Adrian Sampson and Austin Bibens-Dirkx and are all candidates to be called up, but they have one more start each. Double-A Frisco right-hander Jonathan Hernandez is another possibility.

Infielder Hanser Alberto could be added on Tuesday when he is eligible to come off the disabled list. Outfielder Ryan Rua's return is uncertain as he remains on the disabled list with muscle spasms in his back. Outfielder Willie Calhoun will also be called up when Round Rock's season is over.

Rangers beat
• Class A Spokane first baseman Curtis Terry has been selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Northwest League and Double-A Frisco right-handed pitcher Reed Garrett has been selected to the Texas League All-Star team.

Joey Gallo started at first base for the 30th time this season on Friday night to go with his 84 starts in the outfield. It is the fourth time in club history that a player has made at least 30 starts each at first base and the outfield. The others were Larry Bittner (1972), Mike Hargrove (1975) and Brad Wilkerson (2007).

• Gearrin only pitched in 21 games for the Rangers. But his 0.89 WHIP is the eighth lowest ever in one season by a Rangers reliever with at least 20 innings pitched.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Connor Sadzeck