It's about 9 days until the Rangers open the season against Oakland. With that in mind, here are some things I think as of right now:
- As I mentioned in a post late last night, I think Nick Martinez has all but wrapped up the 5th starter slot. He's simply been too impressive compared to the other options, and while Spring Training stats don't translate to regular season success, it's the best we have to go off of right now.
- Ryan Rua and Jake Smolinski very well may both make the club out of Spring Training. After a slow start, Rua has picked things up of late, and Smolinski has been solid for most of camp. As I've said before, I think Rua will be given every opportunity to take hold of the job, as he's had the minor league track record of hitting at every level, while Smolinski doesn't have that to back him up.
- Knowing that, it's a bit more difficult to get a read on where things stand with Carlos Peguero. He's been one of the more impressive players of Spring Training, but it's very likely that it will either be him or Delino DeShields that gets axed. From a business standpoint, DeShields makes the most sense given that he's a Rule 5 pick. It's further complicated by the fact that the team's projected primary DH and backup 1B, Mitch Moreland, is also a left-handed hitter like Peguero. We're once again hearing things like, "Mitch is hitting lefties now". In the past, that's been fool's gold once the season has rolled around. I don't have a good feeling that we're looking at anything different this season, but I'd be thrilled to be wrong.
- Prince Fielder has started to show flashes of his old self, looking more comfortable than he did at any point in 2014. For now, the numbers don't really matter. What's important is that he can drive the ball again, get on base again, and be a middle-of-the-order force again. He looks closer to that now than a did a season ago, and that makes me feel a bit better.
- It's a little harder to get a grasp on Shin-Soo Choo, however. He's dealt with triceps fatigue, and because of it has only logged 27 plate appearances. He drove a ball to the opposite-field warning track in Thursday night's game that was encouraging, but other than that, has been hard to get a read on.
- Perhaps the most encouraging sign of camp has been the way Elvis Andrus has looked. He's looked more confident at the plate, in better shape, and overall in a better place than he was a year ago when he wasn't prepared for baseball activities. I've been saying for months that I think Elvis is primed for a huge bounce-back season, and I feel better today sticking with that than even a month ago.
- The comments section is open. What thoughts do you have on where the Rangers stand right now?