Rangers' Eppley finds success from lower arm slot
ARLINGTON — The writing was on the wall two years ago: Cody Eppley was a candidate to be released by the Rangers.
The righthander wasn't performing with a traditional throwing motion anyway, so minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark suggested that Eppley give a sidearm delivery a try. The result is one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the system.
Eppley, 25, jumped from high Class A to Triple-A last season in becoming the Rangers' minor league reliever of the year. He earned a non-roster invitation to big league camp this year and expects to open 2011 at Triple-A Round Rock.
That's a remarkable jump for a player who was almost out of a job in 2009 and who is still learning the nuances of pitching from the side.
Things started clicking for Eppley with the help of Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and submarining righthander Darren O'Day.
"Just being able to talk to them and get more input was huge," Eppley said. "I'm in between a sidearm pitcher and submarine. It's taken off and clicked really quick, and the rest is history."
The throwing motion and Eppley's height—6-foot-5—give opposing hitters a different look out of the bullpen. Over the three levels last year, Eppley went 5-2, 2.08 with 82 strikeouts and 23 walks over 69 innings. Not bad for a 43rd-round pick in 2008.
His goal now is to be more effective against lefthanded hitters, with a better changeup and a four-seam fastball that bores in on them.
His sidearm look fits in with how general manager Jon Daniels is trying to build the Rangers' stable of relievers.
"My preference would be power arms, but you don't want too many of the same guys," Daniels said. "You look at what O'Day's done. Forget what arm angle he throws from, he's been one of the more effective middle relievers in the game. To Cody's credit, he bought in and took off."
• Righthander Tanner Scheppers, catcher Jose Felix and first baseman Chad Tracy have also received non-roster invitations to big league spring training. Scheppers, one of the Rangers' top prospects, and Tracy were in camp last year.
• The Rangers signed catcher Robinzon Diaz to a minor league deal. Diaz, 27, hit .255/.269/.351 for Triple-A Toledo (Tigers) last year and has big league time.