a 2009 Texas Rangers: A look at Michael Young and the Texas Rangers
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The reason for the Rangers’ move of Michael Young to third base was Elvis Andrus, the athletic Venezuelan shortstop prospect acquired in 2007 when Mark Teixeira was traded to Atlanta. The Rangers’ decision to ask, indeed demand, that a player with the stature of Young move to another position could not have been taken lightly, but Andrus has so much potential that he ultimately forced their hand.

He played at high A league Bakersfield for the balance of 2007 after the trade, and then was assigned to AA Frisco in the Texas League in 2008. His performance statistically was not stellar in AA, as he hit .295 with four home runs and committed 32 errors. Those are not numbers that prompt teams to rush a player to the Major Leagues.

Looking past the stats though, he passed the “eyeball test”. He’s a marvelous athlete with plus speed. (He stole 54 bases last year.) He has tremendous arm strength and range. He makes plays on balls that Michael Young could only hope to reach and knock down. It was obvious in 2008 that Andrus was the Rangers’ shortstop of the future. The question was only “when” his tenure with the Rangers would begin.

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The decision to make the move then was not an easy one for the Rangers. Clearly, the safest rout for Andrus’s development would be to move him up to AAA to start 2009. Defensively, he could use more minor league seasoning to develop consistency, and offensively, he most surely was better off facing AAA pitching. Moving him all the way to the Major Leagues bore the risk of overwhelming his psyche if he ended up not handling the transition. He is still just 20 years old. On the Rangers’ side of the equation, their chances of competing in 2009 were probably better served with more experienced infielders at the big league level.

In the end though, Texas decided to go ahead and promote Andrus to the big league club this year, precipitating the move of Young to third. 28 games into the season are not enough to make any firm pronouncements, but so far Andrus is holding up his end of the move in fine style. He’s batting .273 with two home runs and just six RBIs. He also has three stolen bases in as many attempts. He’s batted ninth in most of his starts, but when Josh Hamilton went on the disabled list, manager Ron Washington moved Young into Hamilton’s number three slot and Andrus into Young’s number two spot in the batting order. Quite frankly though, anything Texas gets offensively out of Andrus is a bonus. The team’s prolific offense leads the Major Leagues in home runs and is on pace to rack up more than 900 runs this season; so there’s no offensive pressure on Andrus.



Defensively, he’s committed seven errors. That’s not a good number by any means, but it’s not unexpected either. With his great range and arm, he makes fantastic plays, while the errors usually occur on throws for routine plays. This is not unusual for young players. Texas expects consistency to come with experience. Interestingly though, the overall Texas defense is much improved, even with an increased number of errors at the shortstop position. (Young made just 11 errors in 151 2008 games).

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Andrus already is an exciting player. There’s a grace and fluidity about his movements that oozes excitement. Ranger fans are looking at a super star blossoming before their eyes.

By: Richard W. Humphrey
MLBcenter.com Texas Rangers Correspondent

> View all of the 2009 MLB team previews from Pro Baseball Fans