The Rangers have 8 outfielders in major league camp. I did an analysis of all them, gave their chances of making the team at the end of Spring Training, and predicted the outfield roster.
Engel is a very good prospect for the Rangers, but will probably not be big-league ready by the end of Spring Training. Last year, Beltre spent part of the season with High-A Bakersfield and part of the season with Double-A Frisco. With Bakersfield, he tore it up, hitting .331 in 263 at-bats, but then Engel struggled after making the move to Frisco, with only a .254 average in is 181 Double-A at-bats. He has not shown much power throughout his minor league career, with just 6 home runs last year, and 26 homers in his four years in the minor leagues. I don’t think Engel has much of a chance to make the team coming out of Spring Training, as even if he was ready to play in the majors, there is not enough playing time available in the Rangers outfield for the Rangers to have him on the team. They would most likely send him to Round Rock or Frisco so that he could get some playing time.
Percentage of Making the Opening Day Roster: 3.4%
Julio comes into Spring Training as the starting center fielder. Even if he does not start the season as a starter, he will be the 4th outfielder. Borbon started last season off terribly, hitting .191 in March and April, mostly hitting from the leadoff spot, but then Julio got moved to the number nine spot and hit much better, as he raised his batting average for the year to .276, with June being his best month, with a .356 average. Despite his speed, Julio stole only 15 bases in 2010. I don’t see any way that Julio does not make the Opening Day roster, barring an injury. He will be on the team.
Endy comes into Spring Training with the Rangers as a non-roster invitee on a one-year deal for the second straight season. He did not make the team last spring, and did not play in the majors at all in 2010. In 2009, however, Chavez hit .273 in 161 at-bats for the Mariners before getting injured and ending his season. Endy went 12-for-31 in the minor leagues in 2010. I don’t think that Endy has much of a chance at making the team, as right now, I don’t think that the Rangers plan to carry five outfielders to start off the season, which means that there is no roster spot available for Endy to fill. The first four spots are already taken by Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Julio Borbon, and David Murphy, and then on top of that, Mitch Moreland can also play some outfield. If Endy is on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster, I will be very surprised.
There is no way that Nellie will not be the Rangers’ starting right fielder to start off 2011. Last year, he hit .318 with 22 home runs and 78 RBIs in only 399 at-bats. Had he been healthy the whole year and gotten 600 at-bats like most starters do, his numbers would have been roughly 33 HRs and 117 RBIs to go along with his .318 average. Those numbers are MVP-type numbers, and if he can stay healthy this year, I think that he could compete for the American League MVP award. Nellie tore it up during the playoffs, too, hitting .317 with 6 home runs and 11 RBIs in his 60 postseason at-bats. Once again, barring an injury (which would most likely involve a hamstring) Cruz will be the starting right fielder.
While Doug has never played in the major leagues before, he has had success throughout his minor league career. In nine seasons in professional baseball, Doug has a .296 batting average, along with 85 home runs and 417 RBIs. Last year, with Triple-A Reno, in the Diamondbacks organization, Deeds hit .302, and totaled 39 doubles, the third most in the Pacific Coast League, behind Dodgers prospects Trent Oeltjen and John Lindsey. Throughout his career, Doug has hit lots of doubles and triples, and not many home runs. He is also a solid fielder, with a .988 fielding percentage over his career. While he does not have much of a chance to make the team out of Spring Training, it would not at all surprise me if he was called up at some point during the season.
Craig has had short stints in the big leagues in each of the past two seasons. While he hasn’t hit well with the Rangers (.118 in 17 ABs in 2009, and .212 in 33 ABs in 2010), he has still contributed with very good defense and speed. His defense is good enough that in 2009 he was named the Rangers Minor League Defensive Player of the Year. The past two years in the minor leagues, Craig has hit the ball very well. In 2009, he was a Texas League All-Star, and deservedly so, as he hit .303 and ended the season with 49 stolen bases with Double-A Frisco. With Oklahoma City last year, Craig hit .309 before ending his season with a wrist injury, which is still affecting him a little bit now. But, I still think that his chance of making the team is very small, as Craig will not only have to be the fifth best outfielder, he would have to play well enough to create a fifth outfield spot at the major league level, as the Rangers are going into camp planning on having four outfielders on their Opening Day roster.
Last year Josh won MVP. There is zero chance that he is not on this team, as long as he does not get injured. Last year, Josh had a .359 batting average (best in baseball), 32 home runs, and 100 RBIs, and he even missed a month. He should be the starting left fielder to start off the 2011 season. Josh is the definition of a five-tool player. He has the speed, he has the power (32 HRs, 100 RBIs), he hits for average (.359 AVG), he is an amazing fielder, and he has a great arm. When healthy, Josh is arguably the best player in all of baseball. This is a no-brainer.
Murphy goes into Spring Training penciled in as the #4 outfielder, but could play his way into the starting left field position, which would make Julio Borbon the #4 outfielder. Either way, Murphy will be on the team, as there is no doubt about that. David had the best year of his career last year, as he hit .291 with 12 home runs and 65 RBIs. He hit especially well when Josh Hamilton was out, hitting .355 in September and October (not including playoffs) while he was replacing Josh. David also had 14 stolen bases last year, which is not a bad number. I don’t see any scenario in which David is not on the Rangers Opening Day roster, and as long as David stays healthy, there is a 100% chance that he will be on the team coming out of Spring Training.
Predicted Outfield Roster:
Center Field: Julio Borbon
Right Field: Nelson Cruz
Left Field: Josh Hamilton
4th Outfielder: David Murphy
Next in Line:
Come back next week for an analysis of the Spring Training pitchers.