Wells, Grimm will open season at Triple-A

Wells, Grimm will open season at Triple-A

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have knocked out two more candidates for their rotation, leaving Nick Tepesch all but certain to be the fifth starter.

The Rangers told veteran Randy Wells and rookie Justin Grimm, who is the club's No. 10 prospect according to MLB.com, on Thursday they are being sent to Triple-A Round Rock. That leaves Derek Lowe, who signed with the Rangers two weeks ago, as the only other possible candidate for the rotation, and he is being viewed more as a middle reliever.

Tepesch, who is ranked the organization's No. 18 prospect by MLB.com, still has two more starts in camp, and the Rangers haven't made a formal announcement on his status, but Robbie Ross has been told he is going to the bullpen and Martin Perez is still sidelined with a broken arm. Kyle McClellan is also sidelined with a strained ribcage muscle.

That leaves Tepesch, who was a 14th-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Missouri. The 24-year-old split last season between Class A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco, and he was a combined 11-6 with a 3.67 ERA. The right-hander averaged giving up 9.2 hits and 2.4 walks per nine innings along with 7.1 strikeouts.

"He's still here," manager Ron Washington said.

Wells made it competitive, going 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA in four starts. He has also made 86 career starts and 11 relief appearances with the Cubs from 2008-12. The Rangers also considered him for a role as a long man in the bullpen but prefer him starting at Triple-A to give them some rotation depth.

"It is what it is," Wells said. "The guy pitched well. I made it competitive, but I just came up short."

Wells signed a Minor League contract with the Rangers in the offseason. Unlike others who signed similar deals, Wells does not have an out clause that will allow him to take his free agency if not added to the Opening Day roster.

"This is where I wanted to play," Wells said. "I wasn't in a position to go anywhere, but this was No. 1 on my list. I got the opportunity. ... I'm very grateful. The guy just stepped up and I came up short. There's no real mystery. It's never what you want to hear, but I have been around enough to know how the game works."

Grimm, who made two starts and three relief appearances for the Rangers last season, got off to a slow start this spring and never could catch up to Tepesch. Grimm was 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in four outings this spring. Like Wells, Grimm will be in the Triple-A Round Rock rotation.

"He needs continued growth," Washington said. "As a young pitcher, he needs to pitch regularly and harness what he has."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.