ARLINGTON -- Adrian Beltre of the Rangers is one of three finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for fielding excellence among American League third basemen.
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ARLINGTON -- New Rangers manager Jeff Banister is in Surprise, Ariz., this week for organizational meetings and to continue the process of putting together his coaching staff.
Banister has already had two conversations with pitching coach Mike Maddux and is expected to meet with him again this week. Maddux's contract expires at the end of the month but he has expressed a desire to stay with Texas.
Perhaps more than any other farm system, the Rangers are teeming with toolsy, young position players. Outfielder Nick Williams is the most consistent hitter among them, but even he realizes he has more work to do before he's ready for the big leagues.
Promoted to Double-A in August, Williams scuffled for the first time in pro ball. After hitting a soft .226 in 15 games as one of the youngest players (age 20) in the Texas League, he understood that he'll have to adapt his approach against more advanced pitchers. To help him do that, Texas sent him to the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League.
ARLINGTON -- Tim Bogar, who served as interim manager for the final 22 games of the Rangers' season, will not be joining new manager Jeff Banister's coaching staff.
That was the conclusion reached after Bogar had discussions with Banister and general manager Jon Daniels. Bogar was passed over for the managerial post when the Rangers hired Banister last Thursday.
MESA, AZ. -- Nick Williams didn't expect to play Monday, but that didn't stop him from coming through with the game's big hit. Williams, the Rangers No. 4 prospect, made his entrance as an injury replacement in the third inning and later drilled a two-run home run to lead the Surprise Saguaros to a 6-5 win over the Mesa Solar Sox.
Williams, a former second-round draftee in the Texas Rangers' organization, progressed all the way to the Double-A Texas League this season before coming out to the Arizona Fall League for extra work. His homer was his first of the AFL campaign, and he's batting .300 through his first 10 games.
ARLINGTON -- Jeff Banister will be standing in the Rangers' dugout as their manager next season. He is lucky to be standing at all, much less on two good legs.
His extraordinary journey to become the new manager of the Rangers included dealing with bone cancer that threatened the loss of his left leg in high school and three crushed vertebrae in his neck that left him paralyzed in college. The two separate ordeals threatened to crush his hopes and dreams at an early age.
ARLINGTON -- Jeff Banister spent 29 years with the Pirates organization, the past four as bench coach, and now he is manager of the Rangers. He has a nice three-year contract plus an option for 2018 and far more responsibility than he had in Pittsburgh.
But at the core, Banister is still a baseball man, whether it is standing in the dugout at Pittsburgh's PNC Park or the back fields of Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. As Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said, Banister was not hired to "reinvent the wheel" but to get the Rangers to play winning baseball again the way they did under Ron Washington and other managers before him.
ARLINGTON -- On his first day on the job, Rangers manager Jeff Banister met with pitching coach Mike Maddux and spoke with hitting coach Dave Magadan and bench coach Tim Bogar.
It was the first step toward putting together his coaching staff.
ARLINGTON -- Jim Sundberg used to wear the World Series ring that he earned with the Kansas City Royals in 1985. Now he is not sure where it is.
"I hid it one day because I was going out of the house," Sundberg said. "I think I know where it is, but I never put it back on."
MESA, Ariz. -- It's not a typo, but it certainly seems like one at first glance. Michael De Leon isn't just the youngest player in history of the the Arizona Fall League, he's six years younger than his average teammate and a full decade younger than the oldest player on the team. De Leon, who won't turn 18 until January, isn't old enough to drive or vote in his native Dominican Republic, but he's finding sure footing among the best prospects in baseball.
De Leon, a smooth-fielding shortstop, doesn't really fit the pattern of the league. Most players in the Arizona Fall League are upper-level players who are looking to distinguish themselves against similar prospects, and many of them are on the verge of making a Major League roster for the first time.
ARLINGTON -- By overwhelming a dozen club officials through an extensive interview process, Jeff Banister has won the job as the next Rangers manager.
Banister, who was the Pirates bench coach for the past four years, replaces Tim Bogar, who served as interim manager for the final 22 games of the season. Bogar took over for Ron Washington, who resigned Sept. 5 after eight seasons on the job. The Rangers were 14-8 under Bogar.
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have informed outfielder Alex Rios that they will not pick up his $14 million option but will instead pay a $1 million buyout, according to a Major League source confirming a report by CBSSports.com. The club has not commented on Rios' status.
The Rangers are planning to move outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to right field. Their options for left field include Michael Choice, Ryan Rua, Jake Smolinski, Jim Adduci and Daniel Robertson. All had limited playing time for the Rangers this past season.
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have outrighted six players to Triple-A Round Rock and lost left-handed reliever Joseph Ortiz to the Cubs on a waivers claim.
Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and catcher J.P. Arencibia are expected to take their free agency. Kouzmanoff hit .362 in 13 games with the Rangers, but missed most of the season after undergoing two back operations.
Over its 23-year history, the Arizona Fall League has developed a reputation as a finishing school for baseball's top prospects. This year, once again, many of the game's best young players will gather in the desert, hoping to prove themselves in the same league that helped catapult Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Trout to stardom.
When the AFL opens play Tuesday, the concentration of talent will again be readily apparent. Two of the three Opening Day games feature premium pitching matchups, and the third game is highlighted by two of the best shortstops in the Minor Leagues.
No one doubts Joey Gallo's power. He set a Rookie-level Arizona League record with 18 homers (in just 43 games) in his 2012 pro debut and led the Minor Leagues with 40 blasts in his first full season in '13. This year, he put on an unforgettable show at the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game and finished second in the Minors with 42 homers while reaching Double-A at age 20.
Gallo's defensive skills, however, are more in question. He has a well above-average arm that delivered upper-90s fastballs in high school, but he's also 6-foot-5 with below-average speed who may not be ideally suited for his present position of third base. So the Rangers exposed him to other positions during his three weeks in instructional league.
The Rangers set Major League records by using 64 players in 2014, including 40 pitchers. There were 23 rookies among those 64 players, as the Rangers used the disabled list a Major League-high 26 times.
By the end of the season, the Rangers had 12 players on the 60-day disabled list, a compendium of Who's Who that included outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, infielders Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland and Jurickson Profar, and pitchers Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Tanner Scheppers. The gruesome numbers sum up what might have been the single most disappointing season in Rangers history.
Figaro, 30, has pitched in 52 games at the Major League level with the Tigers in 2009-10 and the Brewers in 2013-14. He has a career record of 5-8 with a 5.04 ERA while averaging 10.2 hits, 2.7 walks and 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Rangers never have a dull offseason, and this winter should be far from the exception. Start with the anticipated managerial search that may or may not result in interim manager Tim Bogar getting the job, and the offseason will only get more interesting from there.
"We have a number of questions first and foremost with some of our injured players and what we can expect from them," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We expect most of them to be at full strength, but not all. Then there are decisions internally and externally about how we can add to our nucleus."
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have reached a two-year working agreement with the Class A Advanced High Desert Mavericks of the California League.
The team is located in the town of Adelanto, which is in San Bernandino County and the Mojave Desert, east of Los Angeles. The Mavericks play at Heritage Field at Stater Brothers Stadium, which holds 3,800 fans and is considered extremely hitter-friendly. In 2014, High Desert was affiliated with the Mariners, and the Mavericks' pitching staff had a 6.21 ERA, the highest in the California League.
One day after the regular season ended, the first managerial moves were made on Monday as the Twins dismissed Ron Gardenhire after 13 seasons on the job and the Astros named A.J. Hinch their next manager.
And there figures to be more changes in the upcoming days and weeks. After all, coaches are usually the first casualties following disappointing seasons.
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers did everything they could to make life miserable for an Athletics club trying to reach the postseason. They just couldn't finish the job on the final day of possibly the most turbulent season in Rangers history.
Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray shut out the Rangers for the second time this season and put the A's into the American League Wild Card Game with a 4-0 victory on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park. Oakland's victory eliminated Seattle from the postseason picture, one that hasn't included Texas for at least a month.
Last week, MLBPipeline.com handed out year-end awards for top hitting and pitching prospects. As much as Kris Bryant and Tyler Glasnow were deserving recipients, it was clear there were many other fantastic performances in 2014 that deserved some attention.
With that in mind, MLBPipeline.com announced its 2014 All-Prospect Team on Friday. There's a prospect for each position, including three outfielders, a DH, a right-handed and left-handed starting pitcher and one reliever. The only requirements were that a player appeared at some point on a team's Top 20 list on Prospect Watch and spent the majority of the year in the Minor Leagues.
ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Jake Smolinski will get about a one-week break when the season ends. Then he will head to winter ball, playing for Obregon in the Mexican League.
Smolinski missed almost two months of this season because of a fractured bone in his left foot, and he was activated only for the final two weeks of the season. Playing winter ball will help make up for lost time and at-bats. He chose Mexico for a reason.
ARLINGTON -- Michael Kirkman is alive and well in the Rangers' bullpen. His re-emergence is the latest bit of evidence that those who throw left-handed may never run out of chances.
Kirkman holds the distinction of having been in the organization longer than any other player. It has been quite a tenure with a promising career at least temporarily derailed by two outbreaks of skin cancer and recurring control troubles on the mound. Eight walks in 12 innings in Spring Training were a big reason why he started the season at Triple-A Round Rock.
ARLINGTON -- Scott Baker did another terrific job after being a last-minute replacement for Derek Holland. Reliever Spencer Patton earned his first Major League win, Neftali Feliz earned his 13th save of the season and Roman Mendez probably got the biggest outs of the night in the eighth.
The Rangers used eight pitchers on Saturday night, and needed all of them to forestall the Athletics postseason-spot-clinching celebration with a 5-4 victory. Catcher Robinson Chirinos also played a big part by hitting a two-run home run in the seventh and throwing out pinch-runner Billy Burns trying to steal second as the tying run in the ninth.
ARLINGTON -- Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch, after pitching well for two months, could not close out his season with a win.
Tepesch allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings and the Rangers' five-game winning streak came to an end with a 6-2 loss to the Athletics on Friday night at Globe Life Park. Tepesch entered the game having gone 2-3 but with a 3.29 ERA in his last nine starts.
Lewis was terrific for seven innings in his final start of the season and Beltre made it a winning night with a walk-off home run in the ninth that gave the Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Athletics.
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had a message for Leonys Martin in his season-ending exit interview on Thursday: Be ready in 2015 to be the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.
If Tim Bogar is back as manager, that's the role he envisions for Martin. The center-field job is hardly a surprise. The leadoff role is more significant.