The two-time defending American League Champions Texas Rangers continue to prove that they are a premier franchise. They hold the best record in this early baseball season and their farm system ranks amongst the top in the majors.
It’s no surprise that their AAA affiliate Round Rock Express features a roster with players that could probably suit up for numerous other Major League teams.
“It’s a good situation that the Rangers are in and I’m sure many organizations would like to be in it ... it says a lot about the job the scouting has done ... staying on top of talent here and overseas,” said Express outfielder Julio Borbon.
Express players like Borbon have had their time in the Majors before and are waiting on their next opportunity. “It’s something to look forward to ... but you come out here and play with a lot of major leaguers and its fun going out there knowing that you belong [in the Majors.] It’s just a matter of time,” Borbon said. He says he realizes how stacked the Rangers are at the outfield position, but will continue to play hard and work on his swing until his next call-up comes.
Having made his Major League debut last September for the Rangers, Mark Hamburger is also waiting on his next chance in the Majors.
“The fact that the Rangers are so stacked in the Majors and in the minor leagues makes the competition harder but also makes it fun to be around,” Hamburger said. “It’s great playing with guys who make you push yourself even harder.”
In any given night the Express could send out a pitching rotation filled with arms with prior Major League experience. That was the case on Tuesday when Michael Kirkman, Mark Hamburger and Yoshinori Tateyama combined for a 6-3 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs.
“It’s incredible to be around guys who’ve been playing for a while. By playing alongside Tateyama and Kirkman, we can bounce ideas off of each other and learn a lot,” Hamburger said.
“There are a lot of guys here that know what they’re doing when they take that mound and we take pride in that,” said Tuesday’s starter Michael Kirkman. He’s had stints with the Rangers for the past few seasons but has learned to embrace suiting up for the Express. “Anytime you get sent down its tough, but if you go out there and work hard it gives you something to build off, and it’s a step in the right direction,” Kirkman.
Kirkman received the ultimate call from the bullpen during the 2010 World Series, as he was given the opportunity to pitch in one of the games in San Francisco.
“I was beside myself. It was almost like I didn’t even know where I was, but I had to get on that mound and pitch against those quality hitters ... it was unbelievable,” Kirkman said.
With the way the Rangers are playing and roster space expanding in the playoffs, a few Express players may be able to live a Kirkman-type experience this fall.