Reliever Justin Miller earned a spot on the Texas Rangers' 40-man roster this offseason after a…
Texas Rangers Minor League Free Agents
Each year, more than 600 players in affiliated professional baseball hit free agency five days after the World Series concludes. The vast majority of these players come from the minor leagues (549 this year, per Baseball America) and are eligible for free agent status if they've been previously released by a club or have at least six full years of affiliated pro experience.
Almost all players who sign minor league contracts do so on one-year deals. In other words, if a player has been previously released or has accumulated at least six full seasons of pro service time, they'll typically be a free agent after each season if they aren't on a team's 40-man roster.
The Rangers have 17 minor league players entering free agency this offseason. While some of these players may re-sign, many will search for jobs with another organization. The club has already re-signed seven players who were free agents to-be.
Last offseason, the Rangers had 24 players enter minor league free agency. They re-upped with five of them and signed nine additional players prior to spring training. Because most minor league free agents have either major league or upper-level minors experience, a number of them will receive non-roster invitations to big league camp.
The following 2012 Rangers farmhands are set to become free agents this offseason:
Note: Thanks to Baseball America and the Newberg Report's Scott Lucas for their help. Make sure to check out Lucas' great Rule 5 Draft eligibility and free agent database.
Dusty Brown, C
Fabio Castillo, RHP
Robinzon Diaz, C
Willie Eyre, RHP
Alberto Gonzalez, INF
Derek Hankins, RHP
Aaron Heilman, RHP
Luis Hernandez, INF
Zach Jackson, LHP
Matt Kata, INF
Val Majewski, OF
Brad Nelson, 1B/OF
Greg Reynolds, RHP
Ben Snyder, LHP
Yangervis Solarte, INF/OF
Ryan Spilborghs, OF
Johan Yan, RHP
While many of these players may move on to other organizations next season (Hernandez has already signed a minor league deal with the Indians), Texas may still look to re-sign a few of them––particularly pitchers Castillo and Yan and utilityman Solarte. Diaz, Eyre, Hankins, Jackson, Kata, Majewski, and Nelson were all brought to the Rangers via minor league free agency and have played multiple seasons with the organization. But some of these players may not return, as the club could look to change its veteran presence on the Triple-A roster after a disappointing 69-75 campaign. Texas has already chosen not to renew the contracts of Triple-A Round Rock hitting coach Brant Brown and pitching coach Terry Clark.
The Rangers initially signed and developed both Castillo and Yan, a pair of Dominican Republic natives who made their Triple-A debuts as relievers in 2012. Solarte, signed last season as a minor league free agent from Minnesota, shows some promise with the bat and posted a .288/.340/.405 slash line in 130 Triple-A games this past regular season.
The club recently re-upped with Justin Miller and added him to their 40-man roster, protecting him from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. Both the Rangers and the 25-year-old Miller had an interesting decision on their hands. Initially added to the Rangers' 40-man roster last offseason, Miller injured his right elbow during spring training and missed the entire 2012 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April. He was released by Texas in late April, pulling him off the 40-man roster, and re-signed to a minor league deal a few days later.
Miller spent the season rehabbing his surgically repaired elbow at the Rangers' minor league complex in Surprise, Ariz. But because he was released, he was set to become a free agent once again. The right-hander is still an intriguing relief prospect if he makes a full recovery and returns to his 2011 form. That season, Miller posted a 1.81 ERA while yielding 46 hits (and striking out 77) in 69.2 innings at Double-A Frisco. He also flashed a 93-96 mph fastball––flirting with the upper 90s on occasion––to go along with an improved low-to-mid 80s slider.
The former 16th-round pick out of Fresno State hasn't suffered any setbacks in his Tommy John rehab thus far. He's currently targeting a mid-to-late April 2013 return to game action.
A full scouting report of Miller from last offseason, when he was Lone Star Dugout's number 30 prospect in the Rangers' system, can be seen at this link.
In addition to Miller, the Rangers have already re-signed the following players who were set to become minor league free agents this offseason:
Neal Cotts, LHP
Jon Edwards, RHP
Daniel Lopez, RHP
Guilder Rodriguez, INF
Alejandro Selen, INF/OF
Ross Wolf, RHP
Edwards, 24, was an outfielder with the Cardinals' organization for parts of five seasons before converting to the mound in independent ball late in 2011. The Rangers signed him as a pitcher last offseason and, after missing the 2012 campaign's first half due to an injury, he pitched between four levels and finished at Double-A Frisco. While raw, Edwards is a big 6-foot-5 righty who shows a mid-90s fastball in bursts. He was re-signed prior to attending the recent fall instructional league and will pitch in the Puerto Rican Winter League this offseason.
A writeup of the Cotts and Wolf re-signings can be seen at this link.
Cotts is expected to receive a non-roster invitation to the Rangers' 2013 major league spring training. Wolf, who has major league experience and pitched between Double- and Triple-A this past season, is also a candidate to get an invite.
Also, some more information on the Lopez, Rodriguez, and Selen re-signings can be found at this link.
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