Winter Ball Could Open Opportunities For Young Rangers





ARLINGTONGeneral manager Jon Daniels has said that the Rangers won't be rebuilding this offseason after their 2012 campaign came to an unexpected end with a loss in the American League wild-card game.

Daniels, though, has a full understanding that the Rangers have seven free agents to replace, a group that grew by one after the expected buyout of Scott Feldman's option year.

While the Rangers have shown that they have deep pockets and are expected to be big spenders this winter, they also plan to give their top prospects a chance to make the 2013 roster.

To that end, three of those prospects will extend their seasons in the Dominican League, and the Rangers will be watching shortstop Jurickson Profar, third baseman Mike Olt and outfielder Leonys Martin closely.

"We like sending guys to winter ball for a few reasons," Daniels said. "It's more at-bats and innings to work on your craft, but it's also very competitive and a great atmosphere. It's a chance to compete against some pretty good talent."

Olt and Martin opened the season with Licey, and Profar was scheduled to join them after clearing a few previously scheduled offseason plans. Also on the roster were outfielder Engel Beltre and lefthander Chad Bell.

Profar, Olt and Martin finished the year in Arlington but played sparingly down the stretch as manager Ron Washington leaned on his veterans. They finished with a combined 96 at-bats.

They should easily eclipse that total in 2013. The Rangers want to find at least 120 games for Profar, their top prospect, and Martin could be in a platoon in center field if Josh Hamilton isn't re-signed.

Olt saw time at first base and right field, and needs to improve at those spots this winter to increase his roster chances. But getting better is the goal for each Rangers player on the Licey roster this winter.

"It says something about these guys when they're willing to go down there," Daniels said. "The guys that go down there, it makes a statement to the organization."

Ranger Roundup

• Lefty reliever Neal Cotts, who missed out on a big league roster spot in 2012 because of a lat injury late in spring training and later agreed to a minor league contract, re-signed on another minor league deal. He went 2-1, 4.55 over 32 innings with Triple-A Round Rock.

• Righthander Ben Rowen encountered early struggles in the Arizona Fall League after a breakthrough campaign with high Class A Myrtle Beach. The closer, whose submarine style produced a 1.57 ERA and 19 saves in 2012, had a 7.94 ERA after his first seven games for the Surprise Saguaros.