With Opening Day 2009 less than 18 days away, the Texas Rangers front office sent seven more players down to the Minors, in order for the starters to continue to get more at-bats and innings pitched.
Among the cuts that make sense and players who knew they were going were first base prospect Justin Smoak, (pictured above) relief pitcher Joe Torres, and Elizardo Ramirez.
Justin Smoak, the Rangers first round draft pick in the 2008 first year players draft, has quickly risen up the ranks of the Ranger's minor league system.
Smoak is projected to make a push for the starting role at first at the beginning of the 2010 season. Smoak knew this was coming, but look for him to likely make his Major League debut late this season, when the rosters are expanded.
Other players that have outside chances of making the Opening Day roster, that were sent down to the Minors included, relief pitcher John Bannister and outfielder Julio Borbon.
Bannister had a good end of the 2008 season and will likely start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. As for Borbon, he is still being viewed as the centerfield replacement for Josh Hamilton in the near future.
Having Borbon in the Minors for 2009 will give him the opportunity to play everyday and continue to work on his hitting skills. He is the prototype centerfielder, something that the Ranger's organization has been without since players like Tom Goodwin and Cecil Espy.
The final two players cut from the Major League roster was outfielder Greg Golson and utility infielder German Duran.
Golson was acquired via trade from the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason and was attempting to make the roster as the fifth outfielder. However, he will be a starting outfielder in Oklahoma City and could be the first outfielder promoted to the Majors, if the Rangers experience an injury in the outfield.
With the organization making the decision to send Duran down to the Minors, it is now more likely that Omar Vizquel will make the Major League roster as the back up for the middle infield positions.
Even though they were cut and sent down to the Minors, the Texas Rangers organization was impressed with the production that they got out of players like Smoak, Golson, and Borbon. Look for them to be big pieces of the Rangers future plans.