Pouring Over A 40
As we’ve come to expect from the Rangers, they took their time making the decision. News of their 40-man roster moves didn’t break until late in the day, after most teams had already announced the players that they would be protecting from the Rule 5 draft. When it did break, the Rangers had a 40-man roster full of 38 familiar faces, albeit one of them technically a new one.
As it turns out, Brigham made just two starts with the Cubs’ AA affiliate Tennessee Smokies in Nashville before he was shut down due to a right elbow strain. Texas and Chicago had previously agreed to revisit the deal at season’s end, and it appears this move is just that – Texas essentially “makes right” for sending Chicago an injured pitcher by replacing him with a comparable prospect (and a player to be named later).
Coming off of a year where he had boasted a record of 14-1 and an ERA at 3.27 in 25 starts in Frisco, where he was named the AA Texas League Pitcher of the Year, giving up Loux, on the surface, seems like a lot to give up. However, as most know, numbers accumulated in the minor leagues at any level do not always give a clear picture of the potential for any given player. Before the Soto deal, most scouts agreed that Brigham was the better prospect, the one with the better stuff, the one with the high strike-out rate, and the one who could be a difference-maker at the big league level if he reaches his potential.
To simplify: Loux has the higher floor. Brigham has the higher ceiling. The Rangers usually prefer the latter.
Having been previously placed on the Cub’s roster, Brigham returns to the organization as a member of the 40-man roster.
Side note: What an interesting career so far for the former Aggie. First, Loux battles arm injuries in high school while pitching for Stratford High School in Houston, and is selected in the 24th round by the Tigers. Instead, he puts together a masterful career at Texas A&M, earning multiple All-American honors before entering the draft in 2010. Projected as a late first rounder, Arizona surprises everybody by selecting Loux 6th overall and agreeing to a pre-draft deal with a signing bonus of $2 million. However, Arizona doctors discover that Loux cannot pass his physical, and they do not offer him a contract, and instead opt to receive the 7th overall pick in the 2011 draft (Arizona would go on to use that pick on Archie Bradley). While players who do not agree to terms with the teams who drafted them are usually required to wait until the following year to begin their professional careers, MLB treats Loux as a special circumstance and declared Loux a free agent (draftees are now required to pass physicals pre-draft). Loux signs with the Rangers for a signing bonus of $312,000, two years later is named AA Texas League Pitcher of the Year, and is then traded to Chicago in a sorry-about-that deal that brings back a player who Loux had just recently shared a spot in the rotation with. Not exactly the typical path to the bigs.
For those who follow the Rangers’ system, the name Leury Garcia is a familiar one. This being his 5th year with a Texas affiliate, it is the first year that Garcia is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. The middle-infielder/centerfielder-in-progress was viewed by almost everybody as a lock to make the 40-man roster. Garcia is a small-statured, defense-first switch-hitter whose bat has shown improvement each year since joining the Rangers system in 2008. The 21-year old would have almost certainly been claimed by another team had he not been placed on the roster. He’ll eventually either provide middle-infield bench depth for the Rangers, find a role in center field, or, possibly more likely, start for another club. Obviously, the Rangers would rather either keep him or receive compensation in return for him, making his placement on the roster a no-brainer.
Maybe slightly less familiar is the name of left-handed reliever Joe Ortiz. The 22-year old Ortiz is entering his third year of Rule 5 eligibility after accumulating 52 punch-outs in 62 2/23 innings of work (51 appearances) between Frisco and Round Rock last year. Scouts see Ortiz as a potential lefty specialist, and that’s enough for the Rangers to feel the need to protect him in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
As a reminder, a player is only eligible to be claimed by another team in the Rule 5 draft if he is not on his respective club’s 40-man roster and were either a) signed at age 19 or older and have been in the club’s organization for four years; or b) were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years. Also, a team that has a full 40-man roster cannot take part in the draft.
The Rangers will (barring a free agent signing) have 2 openings on their roster. It won’t stay that way for very long – the Rangers will almost certainly bring in more than 2 free agents, and because players that are selected in the Rule 5 are required to be placed on the roster, I wouldn’t expect them to be very aggressive on that front. But as always is the case with Jon Daniels and the rest of this front office, you never know. Only one thing is for sure – and that is that this 40-man roster will change drastically between now and Opening Day on April 2nd.
The 40-man Roster as of 11/23/2012: