Even after an extravagant offseason that revitalized their lineup and added some back end depth to their rotation and bullpen, the Texas Rangers still have many questions to answer this spring training.
Will Neftali Feliz be ready to take over the closer role once again? Who can adequately spell Alexi Ogando in the bullpen if he starts the year in the rotation? Will the newest Ranger Tommy Hanson return to anything close to his 2009-10 form? Those are just a few of many.
Make no mistake, this team might be among the five or six best in baseball right now—even without clear answers to some of these questions.
But if Texas can fill in some of these blanks, it could find itself truly competing for a World Series title this season.
The additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo by themselves are not enough. The Rangers will need need to lean on their strong minor league system and rely on at least a few guys to impress in spring training.
With that said, here are some of the Rangers' potential breakout candidates to keep an eye on over the next few weeks. In this context, my definition of "breakout" isn't limited to just the organization's premier talent down in A and AA. This list includes both young stars and some journeymen.
I selected them based off of their potential ability, combined with the possibility of them actually filling a need on the Rangers' Opening Day roster.
By that definition, guys like Jorge Alfaro, Luke Jackson, Rougned Odor and some others of the Rangers' most talented youngsters, are not included on this list. It's very difficult to see any of those players on the Rangers' 25-man roster to start the year. Maybe we'll see them in September when rosters expand.
These players are arranged in order of likelihood that I think they'll make the 25-man roster to start the season. No. 5 is the least likely, while No. 1 is the most likely.
All stats courtesy of texas.rangers.mlb.com.