The vast majority of recent Round Rock players will begin spring training in Surprise, Arizona at the Rangers camp. Express alumni will also be spread far and wide across the spring training landscape.
There will be all manner of changes in affiliations and assignments in the days ahead but here's a partial overview of where Express exes are scheduled to start spring training workouts.
The franchise's first home run hero, Jason Lane, who smashed 36 home runs and amassed 124 RBI in 2001 as Texas League Player of the Year, will be in camp with the Twins. He'll be on the pitcher's mound instead of the outfield after turning in an impressive season with the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters as a pitcher. Lane, who went 2-0 with Reno last year before being released by the pitching prospect-heavy Diamondbacks, compiled a 9-5 record in Sugar Land, adding nine homers at the plate, to become the team's MVP despite not joining it until June.
Early Express icon Morgan Ensberg, who was promoted directly from Round Rock to the big leagues in the franchise's debut season in 2000 as a Double-A affiliate, is back in uniform after retiring as a player. He'll serve as an instructor in the Astros system in California.
An alumnus whose local career goes back even before the Express, Brian Gordon, who led the Round Rock High Dragons to the state title in 1997, will be in camp with the Oakland A's after two seasons overseas in Korea. Second baseman Brooks Conrad, who established multiple team records during his Express days in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and seven-year big league veteran Ryan Spilborghs, who spent much of last season in the Express outfield, are reversing Gordon's homeward route as both have signed with teams in Japan.
Catcher J.R. Towles, whose meteoric rise to the big leagues passed through Round Rock in 2007, will be in camp with the Cardinals while Humberto Quintero, chosen as the catcher on the Express First Decade All-Star team, will be in Clearwater, Florida with the Phillies. Quintero, arguably the best defensive catcher to ever pass through the Astros organization, has an excellent chance of being Philadelphia's Opening Day starter since Carlos Ruiz will be serving a suspension.
Super-utility man Cody Ransom, the MVP of the 2007 Express team, will be in the Padres camp while speedster Jason Bourgeois, who flashed through the 2010 Round Rock outfield, is now with the Rays.
Middle infielder Luis Hernandez, who played 129 games last year for the Express before getting a brief audition in Arlington, is now with the Indians, the same franchise pitcher Fernando Nieve, who had three stints in Round Rock, including one in 2008 when he appeared in 36 games. Pitcher Chad Reinke, a mainstay of the 2007 and 2008 teams is with the Reds while 2012 catcher Luis Martinez has signed with the Orioles. Shortstop Tommy Manzella, of the 2008 and 2009 teams, is now the property of the Rockies.
Manzella's former Tulane teammate, as well as his Express and Astros teammate, outfielder Brian Bogusevic, signed with the Cubs, a very popular destination for Round Rock alumni. Slugger Brad Nelson, who hit 48 home runs for the Express in the past two seasons also joined the Cubs organization, where former Round Rock infielders Edwin Maysonet and Alberto Gonzalez are also employed.
If all the Express exes stick with the Cubs organization the first homestand at Dell Diamond this season may turn into a homecoming of significant proportions as the Iowa Cubs are scheduled for April 8-11.