Drew Davison just tweeted this:
Robbie Ross has made the #Rangers team.— Drew Davison (@drewdavison) April 1, 2012
Congratulations to Robbie Ross, who overcame pretty substantial odds to end up winning a major league bullpen job. Ross has just a handful of innings above A ball, but he came in and had, by all accounts, an extremely impressive camp, turning heads with his performance, his work ethic, and his attitude.
I'm still not quite convinced that this is the best thing overall, mainly because I think Ross may have a future as a starter, and being put in the major league bullpen right now could short-circuit that, but then, you can point to C.J. Wilson and Neftali Feliz and tell me to shut up, and I wouldn't have much of a response.
Part of the reason Ross has been able to grab this job is because his competition faltered, but the reality is that, if Ross hadn't pitched well enough for the Rangers to think he can get major league batters out, he wouldn't be getting put in the major league bullpen. He's not someone who was going to end up falling into the job without earning it because everyone else failed.
Part of my concern about Ross being put on the Opening Day roster is that the Rangers have sometimes tended to get too excited over brief performances in spring training, but Jason Cole said in a tweet just a few days ago that Ross isn't doing anything he didn't do at the end of last year -- the stuff is the same. That makes me feel somewhat more confident that this is something other than a small sample size fluctuation, and that Ross will be able to have success in the majors immediately.
The Rangers are an unusual situation (relative to their history), in that they are in "win now" mode. A few years ago, Ross probably would have stayed in the minors for development purposes, to delay his free agency clock, and the various other reasons impressive minor leaguers don't make the team out of camp, and if he continued to do well in the minors, he'd probably get a look by June or July. The Rangers have decided they don't have the luxury of worrying so much about clocks and development and that sort of thing...Robbie Ross is one of their 12 best pitchers, and so he's going to be in the majors.
While there's been some labeling of this role as a "LOOGY" role, the Rangers, Ron Washington, and Mike Maddux have all emphasized that they aren't looking for a lefty specialist. Ross won't be a LOOGY...he'll be a middle reliever, probably used more often when lefties are due up, but expected to get both lefthanders and righthanders out.
Quite a success story for Ross, and here's hoping he makes the most of the opportunity.