It had been hoped by many in the Ranger fandom that Engel Beltre and Michael Kirkman would play well enough to force their way onto the 25-man Major League roster.
Both are out of options, and should they not make the team when camp breaks, both would be exposed to waivers and eligible to be claimed by any other team. Because of their high ceiling and raw talent, the Rangers have been trying to avoid putting them through the process, but the time has come for a decision to be made.
Beltre and Kirkman had their best opportunities Tuesday to make good impressions, both on the Rangers and on other teams that would be interested in giving them a shot. In an afternoon split-squad game against the Milwaukee Brewers, both Beltre and Kirkman did nothing to help their cases.
Engel Beltre has at least been hitting the ball well enough this spring, hitting .318 in 11 games, but his defensive work has most certainly left something to be desired. In the bottom of the fifth inning with one out, Brewers third baseman Mark Reynolds skied a high pop up towards Beltre. The sun may have been a factor, but Beltre was nowhere’s close to the ball. As the Dallas Morning News’ Gerry Fraley notes, the ball landed fifty feet behind the right fielder. The result was a double for Reynolds, scoring Rickie Weeks. Two batters later, Carlos Gomez launched a three-run homer, making the flub look even worse.
Michael Kirkman had a much worse day. After an initially great debut in Spring Training, Kirkman’s performance has deteriorated to deplorable depths. With scouts from other teams in attendance to see if Kirkman was worth picking up, Kirkman walked three of the first four batters he faced and allowed a grand slam to Mark Reynolds. He walked the following batter as well. The 27-year old actually made the Rangers’ bullpen last season for the same reason: to avoid exposing him to waivers, but a recurrence of skin cancer forced him onto the restricted list for the rest of the season and Kirkman was able to try and pitch his way onto the roster again this Spring Training.
This year, though, there are other options that the Rangers have. Instead of Beltre, the Rangers have Michael Choice, Jim Adduci, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Robinson Chirinos, or multitudinous other options to bring off of the bench. Instead of Kirkman, Joe Saunders, Tommy Hanson, Colby Lewis, Shawn Tolleson, and others are making a much stronger case to be either in the rotation or the bullpen.
The one positive that could be taken from this is that if Beltre and Kirkman do end up being designated for assignment and exposed to waivers, they may have played themselves right back into the minor leagues.
Tags: Texas Rangers