Fewest walks in league,
Best batting clip in AZ
Who cares about wins?
About time for me to get myself out to Surprise, but before that to share with you this year's version of the annual "32 things I'm looking forward to seeing":
1. Tanner Scheppers. Huge. Quickly.
2. Alexi Ogando. Omar Beltre, too. But Ogando has a better chance to make me come away from Surprise with the same feeling I got after seeing Ian Kinsler, Derek Holland, and Scheppers for the first time in camp.
3. Outfielder Miguel Velazquez, who was limited physically when I saw him at Fall Instructs. I'll squint a little to see if he's a young Nelson Cruz for me, as he is for many others.
4. In 2007, I was eager to see the trio of Summer 2006 Latin American bonus babies (Wilmer Font, Carlos Pimentel, and Geuris Grullon) so I could begin to differentiate them. This year's group: Chad Bell, Paul Strong, Shawn Blackwell, Nick McBride, and Andrew Doyle. (Robbie Erlin has already separated himself for me - can he do in his first full season what Robbie Ross did in his?)
5. Sixteen-year-old catcher Jorge Alfaro. Macumba, too, primarily to see where the bat is.
6. For some pitching phenom to get absolutely spanked - then to see how he responds in the following inning.
7. Vladimir Guerrero and Chris Davis batting practice sessions.
8. When I saw 16-year-old Jurickson Profar at Fall Instructs, he was a man among boys playing with and against kids a couple years older. Will he stand out in camp, too? Bet on it.
9. If I make it to any big league games, Mitch Moreland against someone with a vested pension. Justin Smoak, too, but Moreland is the gotta-see-this guy right now.
10. That 0 percent chance of rain that weather.com is promising.
11. The new Matt Harrison.
12. The new Wilfredo Boscan and the new Johnny Whittleman and the new Neil Ramirez.
13. Elvis, of course. Hopefully not a new one.
14. Is there a newness that Blake Beavan's ready to unleash? If so, that could be big.
15. Ron Washington's interaction with Joaquin Arias. Clint Hurdle's interaction with everyone.
16. Nolan Ryan's watchful back-fields gaze: Where is it trained?
17. Lefthander Miguel De Los Santos, assuming he's in camp. Is it real?
18. I want to see how Danny Gutierrez is handling his challenge.
19. Matt Brown taking infield.
20. Colby Lewis, v.2.
21. Matt Thompson, a serious breakout candidate.
22. Take a look at the service time of the Rangers' various late-inning relief options. Chris Ray could be an important piece of the bigger puzzle. (Aside: Kevin Millwood pitched for the second time last night, and got drilled again: five earned runs on nine hits and a walk over 2.2 innings.)
23. Tommy Mendonca, in drills and in games. Engel Beltre, in games. At the plate. Julio Borbon, on defense.
24. Michael Main. It's time.
25. The very different comic stylings of Wayne Kirby and Don Welke.
26. Max Ramirez. It's obviously a massively huge time for him.
27. I still have a little interest in seeing if Cristian Santana can take the next step. A little.
28. Whatever it is that holds Max's attention this year. And some cool memory with the kids that comes anywhere close to Erica's interview of Josh Hamilton last year or Ron Washington's fungo to 3-year-old Max two years ago.
29. How C.J. Wilson and Neftali Feliz respond if and when their rotation auditions end.
30. How Derek Holland responds if he's reassigned to minor league camp while I'm there, not as a punishment but in an effort to get him stretched out as a starter while the remaining rotation candidates begin to fall into their usage routines.
31. Writing. Lots and lots of writing. (Now's a good time to tell your pals who make you forward reports to them from time to time to go ahead and sign up themselves. Free, and easy, like Feliz cheese: Just go to the website and click "Mailing List.")
32. Martin Perez. There are a handful of young blue-chip arms in this organization, some with big league experience and some without it, who are locks to figure in over the next few years while the core of the Rangers lineup is still intact. None, however, has as clearly visualized a role as Perez.
See you from sunny Surprise.
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(c) Jamey Newberg