Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 2/19/12
We know who the locks are for the Opening Day roster for the Texas Rangers. We also know the players who need to have big springs to solidify their spots on the roster. There are also several players who can further their cause this spring even if it doesn't net them a spot with the Rangers when they open the season April 6 against the Chicago White Sox. Here's a look at five intriguing players who will be in camp with Texas. C Tommy Mendonca No one is expecting Mendonca to be the next Johnny Bench or Pudge Rodriguez. All Mendonca has to do is show he's serviceable behind the plate and the rest will take care of itself. Mendonca has never caught a professional game and didn't even begin the transition to catcher until two months ago. But the converted third baseman has a clear path ahead of him. While Texas has Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba, the next line of catching is headed by journeymen Dusty Brown and Chris Robinson. Neither has the kind of offensive ability (25 homers at Frisco) Mendonca has. RHP Neil Ramirez Betting against Ramirez to isn't wise. He showed that last year as he moved all the way from Class A ball to Triple A Round Rock. The 2007 first-round pick is in big-league camp for the first time and is coming off a breakthrough season in which he pitched well at three levels. He was almost unhittable at two levels and then made 18 starts at Round Rock, going 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA. Another season at Round Rock seems likely, but with Ramirez you never know. 1B3B Mike Olt Like Mendonca, Olt will be trying something new in Surprise. A third baseman by trade, Olt knows his path to Arlington is blocked by Adrian Beltre. Olt will get some work at first base this spring. Defense may be the only questions surrounding Olt, who will likely play at Frisco this season. Olt was on his way to a big season last year but was sidelined by a broken collarbone. The collarbone didn't slow him in the Arizona Fall League, as Olt had 43 RBIs in 106 at-bats. LHP Joe Beimel If the club is looking for a lefty who can fill the shoes of Darren Oliver by piling up appearances, Beimel could be the guy. The non-roster invitee was a workhorse from 2006 through 2010 as he totaled 358 appearances in those five years and had an ERA under 4.00 every year. He only threw 25 13 innings last year for Pittsburgh because of elbow inflammation. If he's healthy, he could be the situational lefty the club needs. RHP Matt West West's strange career in the Texas organization adds a new chapter this week as he's in big-league camp. He's the same player who was suspended for 50 games in 2008 for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was an infielder back then. Now West is coming off a dominant year pitching albeit in Class A. West struck out 35 in 27 innings and walked just one batter. After five seasons in the system, this is a make-or-break year for the former second-round pick.
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