The cap fits -- Jayce Tingler is in the big leagues.

There were a couple places where I’ve seen Jeff Banister’s story compared to Guilder Rodriguez’s, based on the long and in some ways incredible journey each took as a player, against the odds, to get that one big league shot.

They’re probably the two people in the organization that Jayce Tingler has most in common with.  

When the Rangers acquired the 5’8”, 155-pound outfielder in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft in December 2005 — the same draft in which they took Oakland outfielder Alexi Ogando — they were picking up a 25-year-old who had never played above Class A and had a .263 batting average and .320 slug in three seasons on the Toronto farm.  It would stand to reason that Texas was adding Tingler to the organization with visions that went well beyond fortifying the Bakersfield Blaze outfield situation with a BB/K machine, even if it wasn’t evident then to us as fans.

Tingler fared well for the 2006 Blaze, hitting a career-high .330 (with exponentially more walks than strikeouts, as he’d done at every level) and earning both Cal League All-Star recognition and a mid-June promotion to Frisco.  

But a month later, after hitting .227/.306/.227 as a RoughRider and having a couple eye-opening conversations with Rangers director of player development Scott Servais and minor league field coordinator Mike Brumley, he was released, with a specific transition in mind.  

That fall the Rangers put Tingler work in the Dominican Republic — but not before he went home to Missouri in August to study up on his Spanish — and by time spring training rolled around, he was on the coaching staff of the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League team, which he would manage in 2008 and 2009, leading the club to first-place finishes each season, just as he did when he skippered the Rangers’ Arizona League club in 2010.

The Rangers probably had something bigger in mind than Tingler’s elite ability to draw walks when they acquired him from the Blue Jays (who had drafted him as a University of Missouri senior, seven rounds before the Rangers took his teammate Ian Kinsler) — or at least realized they had something special once he arrived.  

Just as Texas didn’t draft Rodriguez from Milwaukee in the minor league phase of 2008’s Rule 5 Draft because of his stalwart .254/.345/.273 slash line in eight seasons at Class AA or lower on the Brewers farm.  There could be bigger plans for him, too, and if so his six seasons in AA and AAA with the Rangers will have driven that home.

Tingler’s playing career didn’t last a third as long as Rodriguez’s, and he didn’t get that one big league at-bat like Banister, but he did coach on the farm like Banister (for one year), manage on the farm like Banister (three years), serve as minor league field coordinator like Banister (three years, not counting one as coordinator of Arizona and Dominican instruction), and, now, will take on the role of big league field coordinator like Banister did under Pirates managers Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon, in what will be a newly created position as far as the Rangers go.  It’s a role Banister brings with him from Pittsburgh, and he’s chosen Tingler, a baseball operations beast with a background and a mindset that resonated with him, to fill it.

Banister told local reporters yesterday, after it was announced that pitching coach Mike Maddux, hitting coach Dave Magadan, bullpen coach Andy Hawkins, and assistant hitting coach Bobby Jones would remain on the coaching staff, and that he was staying internal with three of the four remaining spots — promoting bench coach Steve Buechele, first base coach/catching instructor Hector Ortiz, and Tingler from positions on the Texas farm (Banister says he’d like for the open third base coach position to go to “someone he’s familiar with”) — that “it’s extremely important to me that these coaches have gained traction with the players in the organization.  They will aid me in getting up to speed with our guys.  I wanted guys who had that kind of knowledge and those kinds of relationships, and I wanted guys who would work together as a group.”   

Tingler, according to local reports defining the scope of his new position, will “organize spring training, organize workouts, and act almost as a secondary bench coach during games,” and will also be involved with big league baserunning and outfield instruction, two areas that Gary Pettis was responsible for before he left to take a job on Houston’s coaching staff.  

Banister talked about wanting his coaches bringing ideas to each other — “iron sharpens iron,” he said — and if you know Jayce Tingler at all, you know he’s going to bring plenty of vision and energy and feel to the table.  According to Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News), Jon Daniels wanted to promote Tingler to director of player development (from his Arizona/Dominican role) after the 2011 season (when Servais left to become the Angels’ Assistant GM), but Nolan Ryan instead brought former Astros GM Tim Purpura* in to fill that role — the same position that San Diego GM A.J. Preller, according to Dennis Lin (San Diego Union-Tribune), wanted to consider Tingler for in the last couple weeks in spite of his agreement with Texas not to hire Rangers personnel for a specified length of time.  

(* I’m not sure if Purpura remains with the organization, but he’s no longer listed on the Rangers’ front office webpage, and his LinkedIn page indicates that his 2014 position with Texas as special assistant in business operations ended in October.)

At least for the foreseeable future and hopefully for a very long time, this is going to be a franchise that develops players well and gives itself solid options from the farm system to impact the club in Arlington without severely impacting the payroll.  It’s going to be a very good thing to have a guy like Tingler here to help acclimate those young players when they arrive — as a guy who understands what makes every one of them tick without having to rely on filed reports — and to use some of that “gained traction” from nearly a decade with this franchise to help Banister recognize right away how they might be able to help this team win.

None of this is to diminish how cool it is that Buechele (who crossed paths in Pittsburgh with Banister in 1993, in the spring training following Banister’s one big league appearance) and Ortiz, who have paid 15 combined years of dues on the Rangers farm, are getting the opportunity to impact this franchise on the big league level again, 20 years (in Buechele’s case) and 13 years (in Ortiz’s case) since they made their final Major League appearances as players, both with Texas.  If I wasn’t slammed right now trying to finish this year’s book, I’d have spent a good amount of time on the meaning of the Buechele promotion, on several interesting levels — including that Banister has just done for Buechele what Clint Hurdle had done for Banister four years ago — and on all the different hats Ortiz has worn with the Rangers, and how this newest hat is not only such a huge thing for Ortiz himself but also could be for the young Rangers catchers who have already arrived . . . or could soon.

Instead, I gave myself the time to crank out a little bit about Jayce Tingler, who has filled so many roles for this franchise and has always been considered capable of more, and the very cool new hat Jeff Banister just put on his head.  


Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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