Jon Daniels and the Rangers will have to keep an eye on some of their top prospects in spring training.
Heading into spring training, most teams are more concerned about evaluating the talent they have in the minors in order to see who might be a nice addition to the major league clubs.
Teams will invite dozens of prospects to spring training to begin evaluating them and figuring out who is ready to play at the major league level. Here are three Texas Rangers prospects who could impress in this year's spring training.
First Baseman, Brett Nicholas
Brett Nicholas could have a real shot at contending for a bench spot on the Rangers in 2014. Last season with Double-A Frisco, Nicholas hit .289 with 25 doubles, 21 homers and 91 RBI. His average, homers and RBI total were good for the most of any player on the team while his doubles were the second-most last season.
Nicholas should be considered to have a good shot at making the team if he performs well in spring training, especially after the poor second half Mitch Moreland had last season. Following the All-Star break, Moreland hit .183 with 10 homers and 20 RBI, finishing the season with a .232 batting average. Nicholas may not be contending for just first base, however, as he is expected to see time competing as a catcher as well.
A strong spring training for Nicholas could make him a legitimate contender for a backup role on the team in 2014.
Relief Pitcher, Wilmer Font
Wilmer Font has been a relief pitcher in the Rangers organization since 2007. He has seen some time in the majors over the last two seasons but has yet to solidify himself as an everyday pitcher out of the bullpen.
Font dominated out of the bullpen last year in the minors, splitting time between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. In 42 games last season, Font posted a 1.04 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 34 walks to go along with 14 saves.
A strong spring training may even be enough to win Font the role as the team's closer. While the position will likely go to a player with more experience, there's no guarantee that anything is locked up until spring training gets underway.
Catcher, Jorge Alfaro
Jorge Alfaro is probably the least likely to make the major league roster this spring training, but given the fact that he is the top prospect in Texas' system right now, he deserves to draw some attention.
Alfaro spent most of his 2013 season with the Single-A Hickory Crawdads where he hit .258 with 16 homers and 53 RBI. Alfaro also stole an impressive 16 bases last year, getting caught only three times.
The Rangers might believe that Alfaro could be ready for the majors in another season. They re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year deal this offseason and didn't sign free agent catcher Brian McCann, who figured to be a big target for Texas.
Alfaro's performance in spring training will give Texas a chance to further evaluate him and to see whether or not he will be ready to reach the majors in a year or so.
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