It is finally here. Spring Training is in full swing and with the first of many Spring Training games only a few days away, here is a quick look at the Texas Rangers 40-man roster and non-roster invitees looking to make the Major League squad.
No. 52 John Bannister (R, age 25): looks to convert a solid 2008 in the Minors into a 2009 in the Majors.
No. 53 Joaquin Benoit (R, age 31): earliest return from injury will be after the All-Star Game.
No. 48 Thomas Diamond (R, age 25): only remaining member from the DVD, looks to finally breakthrough to the Majors this season.
No. 55 Willie Eyre (R, age 30): looking to come back strong from rotator-cuff surgery last year.
No. 39 Scott Feldman (R, age 26): one of the most reliable starters last season with 25 starts, looks to improve upon that and the number of quality starts.
No. 50 Frank Francisco (R, age 29): currently penciled in as the closer, but still needs to prove he deserves the role.
No. 30 Kason Gabbard (L, age 26): after injury-filled 2008, looks to make the Major League roster as a reliever.
No. 54 Matt Harrison (L, age 23): came up in July and recorded nine wins, very inconsistent from start-to-start last season, but still bright future ahead.
No. 35 Tommy Hunter (R, age 22): got a quick look at the Bigs last year, looks to improve upon those starts and be back soon.
No. 37 Eric Hurley (R, age 23): already lost for 2009, begins recovery and road back for 2010 season.
No. 60 Warner Madrigal (R, age 24): transition from outfielder to pitcher seems almost complete, should be a big part of bullpen this season.
No. 20 Brandon McCarthy (R, age 25): injury problems ever since acquisition for Danks two years ago, this might be his last chance to turn some heads.
No. 46 Luis Mendoza (R, age 25): struggled as an Opening Day starter last year, might return to Majors as a reliever this season.
No. 33 Kevin Millwood (R, age 34): Probable Opening Day starter again, needs to be a workhorse and mentor to the young arms.
No. 62 Guillermo Moscoso (R, age 25): acquired in the trade for Gerald Laird, dark-horse to make Major League roster, but future looks promising.
No. 57 Dustin Nippert (R, age 27): candidate for starting rotation depending on Spring Training, could be odd man out for Opening Day.
No. 44 Vicente Padilla (R, age 31): looking for another good year like 2008, not the 2007 disaster.
No. 68 Omar Poveda (R, age 21): put on the 40-man roster for protection from Rule 5 draft last December, still might be a year or two from Major League ready.
No. 59 Josh Rupe (R, age 26): one of the most used relievers last season and looks to have another similar season this year.
No. 36 C.J. Wilson (L, age 28): questions about arm injuries and inconsistencies, future with team is very uncertain.
No. 51 Max Ramirez (R/R, age 24): showed amazing power and bat control last season, but defense has some doubts that need work.
No. 21 Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S/R, age 23): has had a solid offseason in the Dominican Republic, enters camp again trying to win starting job.
No. 2 Taylor Teagarden (R/R, age 25): a lot rides on his Spring Training, possesses the offensive and defensive skills to win starting job for Opening Day.
No. 3 Joaquin Arias (R/R, age 24): continued problems with right shoulder has limited his ascent to the Majors.
No. 9 Hank Blalock(pictured above; L/R, age 28): 3B, 1B, DH. Looks like the Wheel of Blalock will land him at DH, hopefully for his sake he can stay healthy and be productive in a contract year.
No. 19 Chris Davis (L/R, age 22): Crush, not Crash Davis, will move back to first base and will continue to build off the solid second half of 2008. If he can, could be the power-hitter of the future.
No. 6 German Duran (R/R, age 24): with have to compete with Vizquel for the utility role that was left vacant with the departure of Ramon Vazquez.
No. 5 Ian Kinsler (R/R, age 26): MVP-type numbers in 2008 until injury (sports hernia). Looks to continue improvements of defensive tools and as a lead-off hitter.
No. 15 Travis Metcalf (R/R, age 26): shuffled up and down between Majors and Minors last two seasons, aside from starters injuries could have the same role again.
No. 65 Jose Vallejo (S/R, age 22): young, solid prospect with exceptional defensive skills and amazing speed.
No. 10 Michael Young (R/R, age 32): face of the franchise moves again, this time from SS to 3B. His adaption to the new position will weight a ton on the success of the season.
No. 41 Brandon Boggs (S/R, age 26): spent most of 2008 in the Majors, but with recent acquisitions might be in the Minors for most of 2009.
No. 29 Julio Borbon (L/L, age 22): has the speed and defensive tools to be the center fielder of the future, but still needs more time in the Minors to work on hitting abilities.
No. 22 Marlon Byrd (R/R, age 31): looks to be the fourth outfielder again this season, great veteran player in the clubhouse for younger players to learn from.
No. 27 Frank Catalanotto (L/R, age 34): with the depth of the Rangers outfield, Cat might be the odd man out of the outfield. Skills at first base might help him see some at-bats in 2009.
No. 17 Nelson Cruz (R/R, age 28): team will need him to show similar production and improvement from 2008, to help batting lineup as a right-handed power hitter in a lineup full of lefty swingers.
No. 43 Greg Golson (R/R, age 23): young, solid player who could become a superstar in the future, but needs more time in the Minors. Acquired by trade from Philadelphia this offseason.
No. 32 Josh Hamilton (L/L, age 27): stated himself that he can see room for improvement in his hitting discipline, base running, fielding, throwing, and overall attitude at the plate. If he does improve, WATCH OUT!
No. 7 David Murphy (L/L, age 27): if he can stay healthy this season and improve his skills again, could be a solid, All-Star caliber player in left field.
No. 45 Casey Daigle (R, age 27): former first round draft pick, looking to break through to the Majors. Best known for his wife, Jennie Finch.
No. 66 Neftali Feliz (R, age 20): No. 4 prospect in all of baseball, will spend most of season refining skills, but will likely make Major League debut in September.
No. 56 Brian Gordon (L, age 30): traveler for many years, finally made Majors last season, looks to be back this season in the bullpen.
No. 18 Eddie Guardado (L, age 38): "Every Day" Eddie is back! Another veteran arm to record outs late in games and mentor young arms returns after being traded away last season.
No. 67 Derek Holland (L, age 22): similar to Feliz, needs another year working on his skills, but could be a dominate lefty for the Rangers in the future.
No. 49 Doug Mathis (R, age 25): Spring Training will determine if he is a long-reliever or rotation in either Arlington or Oklahoma City.
No. 47 Elizardo Ramirez (R, age 26): solid numbers in Triple-A the last couple of seasons, needs a big Spring to make the Major League roster.
No. 63 Joe Torres (L, age 26): another lefty looking to make the Major League roster in the bullpen, but will need a solid Spring to do so.
No. 58 Derrick Turnbow (R, age 31): ex-closer for the Brewers looks to revitalize his career with former pitching coach Mike Maddux, could make a push for the closer role if Francisco struggles.
Brendan Donnelly (R, age 37): looks to continue his career, could be a right-handed version of "Every Day" Eddie.
No. 14 Adam Melhuse (S/R, age 36): likely a Triple-A catcher that could be brought up if either Teagarden and/or Salty struggle early in the season.
No. 64 Manny Pina (R/R, age 21): in Camp to service as a bullpen catcher, but could be a factor in years to come.
No. 61 Kevin Richardson (R/R, age 28): likely to be in Triple-A again, but with a good Spring, could be promoted again if Teagarden and/or Salty struggle.
No. 1 Elvis Andrus (R/R, age 20): the Rangers SS of the future, but is this season too soon for this young phenom? This Spring Training will go a long way to tell us what kind of season Andrus is likely to have.
No. 12 Justin Smoak (S/L, age 22): last season's first round draft pick, has shown a HUGE upside and with another good season could be promoted as early as this season.
No. 13 Omar Vizquel (S/R, age 41): long-time veteran SS will compete with Duran for the utility role this season, could serve as a good mentor for Andrus' progress.
No. 25 Andruw Jones (R/R, age 31): former 10-time Gold Glove center fielder looks to return to his days as a Brave, not as a Dodger. High reward/Low risk acquisition by the Rangers, still Spring Training will tell the tale of his return.