Dell Diamond named Texas Rangers training ground
Round Rock will experience its first taste of 2021 pro baseball this weekend when practices begin at Dell Diamond for the Texas Rangers alternate training site.
The Rangers open the major league season Thursday afternoon in Kansas City. More than 30 players from their farm system will hone their skills, and even play exhibition games, at Round Rock in April.
“When we met Rangers and the training site appeared, I put my hand up and volunteered,” Express chairman Chris Almendarez said. “After being shut down for a year by the pandemic, I believe the Central Texas community is ready for the return of professional baseball. And after leaving our market for a few years, the Rangers are eager to start putting down roots again. here.”
The minor league season was postponed to May over health and safety protocol issues. The Express, back with the Rangers after a short stint with the Astros, will begin its Triple-A campaign on May 6.
Continued:Game over ! Round Rock Express opening on hold as Triple-A takes a break
With the miners closed for another month and more, each MLB team chose an alternate training site to keep players sharp, and the Rangers chose Round Rock above the Dallas suburb of Frisco, home of their Double-A team, and other possibilities.
“It’s a great way to start a 10-year partnership with Rangers, and eventually a lot of players in their system will reach Round Rock, so it made sense in a lot of ways,” Almendarez said.
Most players remain at the Arizona spring training facility. Those assigned to the Round Rock site include everything from Single-A players to guys who will be on the Triple-A roster, like third baseman Andy Ibanez, a former Express who was on the ’18 team. The full list of alternative sites will be released on Thursday.
Texas’ top two consensus prospects are injured and won’t be at Dell Diamond. Third baseman Josh Jung, the former Texas Tech star, is recovering from a broken left foot. Receiver Sam Huff has hamstring strain.
Continued:Round Rock Express will participate in the Triple-A West
Inside corner prospect Sherten Apostel and promising shortstop Anderson Tejeda are expected to be at Round Rock.
There will be minor league preseason games at the Dell Diamond in April at the firm hands of the Rangers, Astros and Royals.
“Hopefully we get to see Bobby Witt Jr.,” Almendarez said of the Royals’ shortstop wonderkid, who is the game’s seventh overall prospect, according to MLB.com.
Plans to allow fans to attend games are being worked on, although this may be limited to Express season ticket holders.
Almendarez said all systems are ready for the May 6 Express opener against the Oklahoma City Dodgers with an initial capacity of 25%, working up to higher percentages as more and more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and health and safety restrictions are eased.
Continued:Dell Diamond operates as COVID-19 vaccination site in Round Rock
Dell Diamond will continue to be the largest vaccination center in Williamson County, averaging 5,000 drive-through doses delivered per day in the parking lot.
“Look, we’ve done a bunch of social distancing concerts, college baseball tournaments, vaccinations and other events,” Almendarez said, “but our first business is professional baseball. Now we’re finally able to return with the Rangers Training Site, then the Triple-A season.
“Sport is what brings people together, gives them an outlet. It will do good.”