Got caught by surprise when I showed up in Surprise, Ariz., Tuesday morning. Was looking to get together with North Kitsap grad Jared Prince and South Kitsap grad Aaron Cunningham, a couple of outfielders in camp with the Texas Rangers.
Talked to Prince Monday night and he sounded upbeat. Said he thought he’d be with the Rangers’ Double-A squad at Camelback Ranch for a game against the White Sox.
As I waited for players to file into the bus for the ride to the game, Cunningham strolled by. We exchanged greetings, and when I told him I hoped to get together with him and Prince in the next day or two, he told me Prince had been let go in the morning.
Tough deal for the 26-year-old. The former NK and Washington State star is one of the good guys you like to pull for and he’ll bounce back. As his former manager Steve Buechele told me, “Whatever he ends up doing, he’s going to be successful at.”
Prince hit .234 with 12 homers at Double-A Frisco a year ago. The former Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and All-American from WSU was drafted in the 34th round by the Rangers in 2009 and had moved from rookie league to low high, high A and Double A. His numbers weren’t the greatest, but he impressed everybody with his demeanor and the way he played the game. If he’s a higher draft choice, the Rangers would have made room for him, but they didn’t have a lot of money invested in a guy who also had the talent, in my opinion, to be a starting quarterback in the Pac-12. Here’s his complete minor-league stats.
He got into three major league spring training games for Texas this year, going hitless in two at bats. He played against the Mariners in a game that was televised in the Northwest.
It was 73 degrees and overcast when we headed out of the place we’re renting down here around 8:45 a.m.. When we returned, after catching a few innings of the Rangers-White Sox Triple-A game, it was 87 and sweat was starting to trickle everywhere, if you know what I mean.
Cunningham, by the way, played left and batted No. 2 for the Rangers’ AAA club. He struck out and ground out in the two at-bats we saw.
It looks like Cunningham’s locked in to be a starter for Texas’ Triple-A club at Round Rock, Texas. But sometimes this game will throw some curve balls at you that you weren’t expecting. Like the one Prince got today.
I hope to talk to Prince before he gets out of town. He’ll likely be the subject of my regular Thursday column. I hope to write about Cunningham next week.
And if you missed the monthly Q&A I’m now doing (it runs the last Monday of each month), here’s the conversation I had with Mike Curto, broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers. He’s another one of the really nice guys in baseball.