Rangers' Buckel Hones His Craft At Baseball Ranch
ARLINGTON—The Texas Baseball Ranch in Houston doesn't sound like a place
where a kid from Southern California would spend his offseason, but
it's a perfect fit for Cody Buckel
"There's a lot of crazy stuff that you would not consider usual," said
Buckel, who has been going to Ron Wolforth's ranch since he was 15.
"It's very unusual. It's very uncommon. It's a lot of weird and wacky
drills. You'll see me out on the field and say, 'What is he doing?' "
Those who have gotten to know Buckel in the Rangers organization
wouldn't say that about the free-spirited 20-year-old, who once starred
in a play at Simi Valley (Calif.) High while also pitching well enough
to become a second-round pick in the 2010 draft.
But the benefits of his time at the Baseball Ranch, said Buckel, helped
him blossom into the Rangers' minor league pitcher of the year for 2012,
when he went a combined 10-8, 2.49 between high Class A and Double-A,
and helped him nab an invitation to big league spring training for the
He's looking for any edge to get better and to overcome a slight stature
(6-foot-1, 170 pounds) that some believe could keep him from being an
elite pitcher at baseball's top level.
"I'm not a very big guy, so I've got to do everything I can," Buckel
said. "What they do there (at the Baseball Ranch) is help utilize
everything in your body as far as storing energy and releasing energy
and being connected with your mechanics."
Buckel tinkered with his mechanics over the winter, trying to find a way
to add velocity to a fastball that sits in the low 90s. His offspeed
pitches, though, are what have carried him so far.
That, and some help from the Baseball Ranch.
"It's very interesting, very scientific and very beneficial to me," Buckel said.
• Also headed to big league camp on invitations are outfielder Joey
Butler, righthander Nick Tepesch
and catcher Jose Felix
invitation was based on his strong 2012 season at Triple-A Round Rock,
and was not related to a possible 50-game suspension for Nelson Cruz
it's proven he used or possessed performance-enhancing drugs.
• Righthander Neil Ramirez
is hoping to use a second straight year at
major league camp to begin his rebound from a down 2012 season, when he
was demoted from Triple-A to Double-A. "In terms of numbers, I
definitely took a step back," he said. "But you've got to look at it as a
growing opportunity, and I think it's going to help me in the long