Alberto quietly impresses at plate and on D

Infielder working hard, though he's currently blocked by Rangers' starters

Alberto quietly impresses at plate and on D

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Utility infielder Hanser Alberto may be the best player in camp that nobody is talking about right now.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Rougned Odor are the starters, and everybody is giddy about the progress Jurickson Profar has made in recovering from his shoulder surgery. But Alberto is quietly off to a nice start this spring as well, building off his outstanding work in the Dominican Winter League.

Alberto, starting at second base, was 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI on Wednesday in the Rangers' 11-5 victory over the Reds. He is now 4-for-12 in six games while playing excellent defense.

Rangers Spring Training information

"First of all, he is a great kid," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "He pays attention and works hard. You don't have to say much to him; he is always doing the right thing. He is a great defender and over the past few years, his offense has been incredibly transformed. He has shown in Spring Training that he has a great approach and his swing is fluid."

Alberto also teamed up with Profar to turn two double plays behind starter Chi Chi Gonzalez. He started one by going to his left and snagging a tricky hop off a hard grounder hit by Tucker Barnhart in the second.

"He's tremendous, man. His glove is like no other," Gonzalez said.

Alberto may be the second-best defensive infielder in camp behind Beltre, but he also hit .310 at Triple-A Round Rock last year. He hit .222 with a .238 on-base percentage in 41 games as the Rangers' utility infielder in 2015, but he led the Dominican Winter League with a .364 average. Alberto also handled himself well for three games at third base for Beltre in the American League Division Series against the Blue Jays. He had the game-winning hit in Game 2.

"You can see the maturity in Alberto," Banister said. "Last year, the playoff situation helped his confidence -- a big hit and also the defensive play. We have known about the defensive prowess, but you see him in the batter's box confident. The things he has been able to do over the winter have really helped.

"He's a shortstop. You see what he can do at shortstop. He could play all four infield positions, but he's a pretty dynamic shortstop."

The Rangers have had a number of teams inquire about Alberto over the offseason, and there are scouts in Arizona tracking his progress. Right now, his path is blocked by Andrus and Odor, so the best he might be able to hope for is the utility role again.

"I don't worry about it," Alberto said. "I'm trying to do the best I can every day, do my job and see what happens."

Beltre has the best advice.

Alberto on Beltre's advice

"If you play defense like him and can hit, they'll find a place for you," Beltre said.

Worth noting

Yu Darvish, almost a year removed from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, threw 20 pitches in the bullpen on Wednesday without any problems.

Ian Desmond made his fourth start in left field on Wednesday and still hasn't had a fielding chance. Desmond played four innings and said afterward, "It comes with the territory. I knew what I was signing up for. I have to stay focused and stay ready. That's what I am working on."

Drew Stubbs hit a home run against his former team. The Rangers have three former Reds center fielders in camp: Stubbs, Shin-Soo Choo (2013) and Josh Hamilton ('07).

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.