The first full week of Spring Training is underway, and the Texas Rangers held their first full-squad workout Tuesday. As the wheels begin to turn out in Surprise, here are five RoughRiders-themed storylines we'll be keeping an eye on over the next few weeks:
TREVINO'S BID FOR THE BACKUP SPOT
Fresh off a second consecutive Gold Glove season, 2017 Riders catcher Jose Trevino earned a spot on the Rangers 40-man roster. Now, he's aiming for a place on Texas' 25-man roster for Opening Day. Robinson Chirinos likely has the starting role secured and the Rangers have a handful of other good options in camp (Brett Nicholas, Curt Casali, Juan Centeno and Mike Ohlman) but if Trevino can register a strong month both in the field and at the plate, he could have a shot to be in Arlington on Opening Day.
SADZECK'S CONTINUED EVOLUTION IN THE PEN
One of the intriguing storylines toward the end of last season was Connor Sadzeck's shift to the bullpen after working as a starter for the majority of his career. Though he had a shaky start to his time as a reliever (13.19 ERA in his first 13 appearances), he finished with scoreless showings in seven of his final 11 outings. If he can maintain the mojo from the end of last season, it seems likely that he'll finally make the jump to Triple-A Round Rock…if not higher.
GUZMAN GUNNING FOR SPOT ON OPENING DAY ROSTER
2016 Riders first baseman Ronald Guzman's stock is skyrocketing. After his solid campaign with the Riders, he only got better last season in Triple-A Round Rock, hitting .298 with 12 homers and 67 RBIs. The Rangers rewarded him with their Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year award and he should be riding high into his second stint on the Major League side of Spring Training. Though Joey Gallo would be a logical fit at first base, a strong spring from Guzman could force the Rangers to find a way to fit both young stars on the Opening Day roster.
FIRST TIMERS IN BIG LEAGUE CAMP
From a Minor League perspective, one of the exciting storylines at every Spring Training is the younger guys who are getting their first taste of Major League camp. This year, former Riders Scott Heineman, Andy Ibanez, Reed Garrett, Ariel Jurado and Isiah Kiner-Falefa all get that chance, either by getting added to the 40-man roster or earning non-roster invites this offseason. As the Riders Insider blog noted a few weeks ago, it's unlikely that any of these guys make the Rangers Opening Day roster, but their time in camp should offer both a good learning opportunity and a chance to make a strong impression on general manager Jon Daniels, manager Jeff Bannister and others at the big league level.
THE NEXT WAVE IS COMING
While Spring Training gives us a chance to follow former Riders on their way to bigger and better things, it's also a time to preview who's coming to Frisco next. Pitchers Jonathan Hernandez and Brett Martin - who both joined the 40-man roster this offseason - as well as utility man Josh Morgan and infielder Luis La O are all coming off impressive years at Advanced-A Down East, and could don a Riders uniform at some point during the 2018 season.
The RoughRiders begin the franchise's 15th Anniversary Season on Thursday, April 5 at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Season ticket, group and hospitality packages are now available by calling (972) 731-9200, emailing email@example.com or visiting RidersBaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.