Rangers' Tepesch Attempts To Follow Ross' Lead





SURPRISE, Ariz.—Lefthander Robbie Ross came to Rangers camp as the poster boy for the annual "anything can happen" spirit of spring.

Ross might have been the biggest longshot to make the Rangers' Opening Day roster in 2012. An invite who had spent just a half-season in Double-A, he kept getting outs last spring and made the club.

The Rangers have no shortage of bullpen openings this year, and no shortage of candidates vying for those spots. All are hopeful, including a righthander who followed Ross' 2011 minor league blueprint.

Nick Tepesch opened 2012 at high Class A Myrtle Beach and finished up at Double-A Frisco to earn an invitation to his first big league camp, just as Ross did a year earlier.

If lightning is going to strike twice in consecutive springs, the 2010 14th-rounder is hopeful that he gets hit.

"The goal is to make the team out of spring training," said Tepesch, 24. "But I don't really try to look at other guys to see what's going on with them. I just try to control what I can control."

The fifth spot in the Rangers rotation is also open, though prized lefthander Martin Perez is the frontrunner for the job. While Tepesch is a starter, he has some experience in the bullpen.

He was a late-inning reliever as a freshman at Missouri, and the 6-foot-4, 225-pound righty is a power pitcher. He tops out at 95 mph, and throws a hard cutter, a curveball and a changeup, going 11-6, 3.67 over 162 innings in 2012.

Included in his breakthrough season were the first 7 1⁄3 innings of the first nine-inning no-hitter in Myrtle Beach franchise history.

"That was pretty cool," Tepesch said. "A lot of credit needs to go to Jimmy Reyes. He pitched the last 12⁄3 innings. Those are the most nerve-racking."

Tepesch went 5-3, 2.89 in 12 starts for the Pelicans before jumping to the Texas League, a similar showing to when Ross went 9-4, 2.26 with the Pelicans in 2011. If Tepesch can copy Ross' 2012 spring, anything can happen.

"I'm at my best when I'm just attacking the zone and attacking down, and going right after hitters on my terms," Tepesch said.

Ranger Roundup

• The Rangers expected Jairo Beras, the Dominican outfielder who was suspended for a year for misrepresenting his age, to arrive for spring training in late February. The 18-year-old isn't eligible to join a Rangers affiliate until July 1.

• Outfielder Todd McDonald, the 17-year-old Australian who agreed to a $475,000 bonus in mid-February, planned to join the rest of the minor leaguers for spring camp March 4. "He's an interesting guy," general manager Jon Daniels said. "This is the highest-profile player we've signed out of there."