Rookies on the 2011 Playoff Teams: Texas Rangers
Although young or inexperienced players like Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Alexi Ogando were key components to Texas' success this year, there were few technical rookies on the Rangers roster.
Cody Eppley, RHP: A 43rd-round pick in 2008 from Virginia Commonwealth, Eppley is a 25-year-old ground ball specialist who posted a 3.90 ERA with a 55/34 K/BB and a 2.52 GO/AO in 55 innings for Triple-A Round Rock, collecting 10 saves. He gave up 11 hits and eight runs in nine major league innings. His sinker can be tough on right-handers and he could be useful as a back-end reliever.
Craig Gentry, OF: A 27-year-old drafted from the University of Arkansas in the 10th round in 2006, Gentry hit .271/.347/.346 with 18 steals in 18 attempts in 133 at-bats for the Rangers. He lacks power, but his speed, aggressive baserunning, and defensive ability should give him a long career as a reserve.
Mark Hamburger, RHP: A 24-year-old originally signed by the Minnesota Twins as an undrafted free agent, Hamburger posted a 3.39 ERA with a 70/25 K/BB in 82 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. He gave up four runs in eight major league innings, with six strikeouts. His low-90s fastball, slider, and changeup could make him an effective middle man, and you have to root for a guy named "Hamburger."
Michael Kirkman, LHP: Drafted in the fifth round in 2005 from high school in Lake City, Florida, Kirkman had a rough year, with a 5.05 ERA and an 84/37 K/BB in 73 innings in Triple-A, and a 6.59 ERA with a 21/12 K/BB in 27 innings in the majors. His low-90s fastball and slider will get him more chances, and at age 25 it is too soon to give up on a quality arm.
Leonys Martin, OF: A high-profile Cuban defector, the 23-year-old Martin hit .295/.362/.421 with 19 steals in 302 at-bats in his pro debut split between Double-A and Triple-A, then went 3-for-8 in the majors. His speed and excellent outfield range stand out, but it is unclear how much power he'll develop. The Rangers consider him the center fielder of the near future.
Yoshinori Tateyama, RHP: 35-year-old rookie from Japan, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 43/11 K/BB in 44 innings for the Rangers. Mediocre velocity but he knows how to pitch, has very effective breaking stuff, and throws strikes. He could hang around for awhile as a useful short and middle relief option.