The Texas Rangers have announced that pitchers Ariel Jurado, R.J. Alvarez and Jose Valdespina, as well as catchers Jose Trevino and Patrick Cantwell, have been invited to major league camp for spring training this year.
This is in addition to Dillon Gee, Allen Webster, Steven Lerud, Doug Bernier, Will Middlebrooks, Josh Hamilton, James Loney, Jared Hoying, Cesar Puello, and Travis Snider, who were free agents this offseason who were signed to minor league deals with invitations to the major league camp.
Jurado was mentioned in a post earlier today, after landing in Keith Law’s top 100 prospect list. The righthander, who turns 21 next week, split the 2016 campaign between high-A High Desert and AA Frisco, putting up a 3.66 ERA in 123 IP, with 106 Ks and 34 walks. Jurado is likely not a serious candidate for a major league spot, but as a guy climbing up the prospect ranks and likely to see AAA this season, it is a chance to give him a taste of the big league camp while giving the major league staff a chance to check him out.
I’d forgotten who R.J. Alvarez even was before now. The Rangers claimed the 25 year old righty reliever off waivers in September, and then waived and outrighted him. The third round pick of the Angels in 2012 was sent to the Padres in the Huston Street trade, then sent to the A’s by the Padres in the Derek Norris trade, was claimed on waivers by the Cubs in June, 2016, then was claimed by the Rangers (and then outrighted). He’s a reclamation project who had a 7.00 ERA in 27 IP over three levels in 2016, and will presumably be viewed as bullpen depth.
Valdespina is a 24 year old righthanded reliever who split 2016 between Frisco and Round Rock. He’s been mentioned before as someone to keep an eye on, and apparently gets ground balls while not missing a ton of bats. Like Alvarez, he’s bullpen depth.
Cantwell is a well regarded defensive catcher who is an organizational depth guy, and is likely coming to camp just because you need lots of catchers in camp.
Trevino, on the other hand, has put himself on the prospect map, and while he is, like Cantwell, likely just in camp to provide an extra catcher for all the pitchers, he’s someone who I suspect the major league staff will be paying attention to. The 2014 6th rounder has gotten great reviews for his defense, gamecalling and leadership skills, and put up a respectable .303/.342/.434 slash line in high-A High Desert. He’s not a legitimate threat to break camp, but he will likely start the season in AA Frisco, and is someone to watch.