Texas Rangers: Nothing is more essential in 2019 than the performance of this trio
By Travis Koch
The upcoming Texas Rangers season is as much about the future as it is the present. That’s why these three players are most important to the campaign.
Here’s the situation: the Texas Rangers are long shots to make the playoffs this year. They put together a rotation to tread water during yet another year of prospect development. They’ll hope for a few bounce back seasons and an overall competitive bunch, but there are few guarantees. What matters more than anything is the progress of three individuals.
Rougned Odor is 25 years old and signed through 2023. Joey Gallo is 25 years old and under team control through 2022. Nomar Mazara is 23 and under team control through 2021. These three are the youngest, most established pillars of the Texas Rangers rebuild. As they go, so goes the future (at least that’s what we’re led to believe).
You’re probably thinking about how much better off the offense is compared to the pitching, and how pitching should be the main focus. You’re not wrong, but we have no clue as to how pitching will play out over the next five years.
Very few members of the current staff are expected to be part of the future. The Rangers have monetized their faith in closer Jose Leclerc, but it’s tough to get excited about the young arms of Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado.
We simply haven’t gotten a good enough look at the hurlers who got their feet wet in the bigs last year (C.D. Pelham, Jeffrey Springs, etc.). The rest are encouraging talents in the minor leagues, most of which will someday have to prove their handling of the jump from the minors to the majors.
Odor, Gallo, and Mazara have settled in. We’ve observed their talent, we’ve assessed their potential, and we’ve dreamed of what will happen if that potential is reached. They’ve thrived, they’ve been exposed, and they’ve adjusted. 2019 will be the most telling year for each.
Odor is entering his 6th major league season, Gallo his 3rd full season and Mazara his 4th. At some point these guys will reveal their true level of play. At some point the Rangers will need to determine whether each has peaked or if better versions are going to keep coming.
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The consensus is all three have higher heights to reach. Everyone believes Mazara can be a 30+ home run guy while hitting for a nice average. Most believe Gallo will find ways to become more well-rounded at the plate, and most believe Odor can become one of the top second baseman in the game.
It’s time for the trio to get on direction. Noticeable improvements this season will comfort the coaching staff, the front office, and the fan base. On the other hand, noticeable regressions will have everyone up in arms and confused.
The Texas Rangers need to know whether or not they can truly build around their titled “young core”. The performances of their second baseman and two outfielders will heavily influence the organization’s approach over the next couple of crucial years.
Much will be decided during this season and after this season. Best case scenario, the trio plays great and the Rangers’ focus will be to iron out a supporting cast moving forward. Average seasons from the trio may lead the Rangers to believe they need to find a star to build around. Poor seasons may prompt them to listen to trade offers.
If there’s one takeaway from all that I just mentioned, it’s the fact that improved years from Odor, Gallo, and Mazara are the best things that can happen in 2019. Why? Because those three are supposed to the building blocks to the hopeful 2020/2021 turnaround.