Buena Vista, Fla. — The Texas Rangers this morning announced the signings of a pair of free agents to minor league contracts with invitations to major league spring training camp: infielder Hanser Alberto and right-handed pitcher Kevin Jepsen.
The Rangers acquired outfielder Carlos Tocci (pronounced TOKE-see) from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for cash considerations. Tocci was selected by the White Sox in the major league phase of this morning’s Rule 5 Draft, and would have to remain on the Rangers’ active roster for the entire 2018 season or be offered back to Philadelphia. Also in the Rule 5 Draft, Rangers outfielder Anthony Gose was selected by Houston from the Triple-A Round Rock roster.
Alberto, 25, was not tendered a major league contract offer by the Rangers prior to the deadline on December 1, making him a free agent. He spent the entire 2017 season on the disabled list with right shoulder problems and had surgery to repair right rotator cuff debridement on June 19. His only action was 5 games on injury rehabilitation assignment at Frisco (June 1-4) and Round Rock (June 5-6). Originally signed by Texas as a non-drafted free agent on November 23, 2009, Alberto has spent his entire career in the Rangers organization. He appeared in 76 major league games with the club in 2015-16.
Jepsen, 33, saw action at the major league level every season from 2008-16, compiling a 3.92 ERA (174 ER/400.0 IP) over 448 relief appearances with the Los Angeles Angels (2008-14), Tampa Bay (2015-16), and Minnesota (2015-16). He tied for the A.L. lead with 75 relief outings and posted a career-best 15 saves in 2015 with the Twins and Rays. In 2017, he signed with the Washington Nationals on June 26 and spent the balance of the season with Triple-A Syracuse, going 0-1 with a 5.32 ERA (14 ER/23.2 IP) and one save over 19 relief appearances. The right-hander recorded 29 strikeouts and held International League opponents to a .237 average (22-93). Jepsen was a non-roster invite with the Arizona Diamondbacks last spring and was released on March 25.
Club acquires OF Carlos Tocci in trade following this morning’s Rule 5 Draft at the Baseball Winter Meetings
Tocci, 22, combined to bat .294 (142-483) with 19 doubles, 7 triples, 3 home runs, and 52 RBI over 130 games with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Philadelphia organization last season. He spent the bulk of the campaign with Reading, earning mid-season All-Star honors in the Eastern League. The Venezuela native has spent the majority of his career as a centerfielder, but has also seen action at both corner outfield spots. The right-handed batter and thrower was rated by Baseball America as one of Philadelphia’s top ten prospects every season from 2012-15 and entered the 2017 campaign as the organization’s 29th-best prospect. He joined Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League on December 6 and has batted .308 (8-26) over his first seven games with the club. Last season, Tocci was named the Venezuelan Winter League Rookie of the Year after batting .323 (70-217) in 59 games with Aragua.
Gose, 27, signed a minor league contract with Texas on December 4, and he had been invited to the club’s major league spring training camp. He spent the last of three seasons in the Detroit organization in 2017, when he saw his first action as a pitcher, going 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA (9 ER/10.2 IP) over 11 relief appearances with High-A Lakeland.
With the addition of Tocci, the Rangers now have 38 players on the club’s major league roster.
RULE 5 DRAFT MINOR LEAGUE PHASE: In the minor league phase of this morning’s Rule 5 Draft, the Rangers drafted one player and had four of its players selected by other clubs.
Texas selected LHP Locke St. John from Detroit’s Double-A roster in the first round of the Triple-A phase of this morning’s draft. The 24-year-old St. John was 1-5 with a 2.94 ERA (21 ER/64.1 IP) and 2 saves over 27 games/one start with Low-A West Michigan in the Midwest League. The left-hander held opponents to a .224/.281/.336/.617 slash line in his first season working predominately as a reliever.
The Rangers saw four of its players selected by other clubs in the minor league phase: RHP Daniel Duarte (by KC, AAA phase 1st round), SS Tyler Smith (by ATL, AAA phase 2nd round), RHP Matt Ball (by LAA, AAA phase 2nd round), and OF Luke Tendler (AAA phase, 2nd round).
The 22-year-old Ball was 0-1 with a 5.67 ERA (21 ER/33.1 IP) over 11 games/5 starts with Low-A Hickory last season. Duarte, 21, last pitched in the Texas organization with the DSL Rangers1 in 2016 and was on loan to Quintana Roo in the Mexican League during the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old Smith split the 2017 campaign between the Seattle and Texas organizations. He was received on a waiver claim from the Mariners on July 30 and was with the Rangers from August 9-11, but did not appear in a game. He spent the balance of the season at Round Rock and batted .188 in 10 games. Tendler, 26, batted .245 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 113 games at Double-A Frisco last season.