The Texas Rangers are going into the 2014 season with a group of pitchers and position players that are young, and I believe that is a good thing. We have seen this work in the past with Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and others helping to carry the team to back to back World Series appearances. There were some veterans on the team as well, but the youngsters really made a huge difference in those seasons
The new crop of young players have a big responsibility in the upcoming season. Jurickson Profar is replacing a very popular second baseman in Ian Kinsler, and even though it happened last season, Leonys Martin is still replacing Josh Hamilton, and still young veteran Craig Gentry is gone and the fourth outfielder is now the young Michael Choice. Choice will make the club most likely if Nelson Cruz doesn’t somehow resign with the Rangers as the right handed DH and fourth outfielder. But I really don’t see that happening.
Jurickson Profar is now the Rangers everyday second baseman, and he will probably not be quite as good as Ian Kinsler right off the bat. Jurickson is a very young player (20, he will turn 21 on February 20) and second is not his original position, short stop was. I totally expect Jurickson to have a slower first half of the season offensively and a really good second half, and I expect him to make a few more great plays and miss a few more easy plays than Ian did. His last full season in the minors Jurickson had a line of .281/.368/.452/.820 with 14 home runs and 62 RBI in 126 games with Frisco. Will he do as good with the Rangers? Only time will tell.
Leonys Martin was with the big club all season in 2013 as the starting center-fielder, but I still consider him pretty young (25 years old). He did a great job in the outfield last season, but where he needs to improve is at the plate. Leonys had a line of .260/.313/.385/.698 with 8 home runs and 49 RBI. We were told that Martin had some power, and I hope that it shines through this season for the Rangers.
Michael Choice is replacing a guy who was very fast but had little to no power in Gentry, but fans really liked him. In 2013 in the minors Michael had a line of .302/.390/.445/.835 with 14 home runs and 89 RBI. He only stole one base and he struck out 115 times during that season. Michael is raw but the talent is there, and the upside is supposed to be very good. Only time will tell if he was worth giving up Craig for. JD seemed to think that he was, and he is right more than he is wrong.
Young players should start to shine during spring games. Be there by getting your Texas Rangers spring training tickets here.