Texas Rangers: All aboard the Emmanuel Clase hype train
By Kenneth Nash
The Texas Rangers saw an impressive MLB debut from Emmanuel Clase on Sunday that has fans’ imaginations and expectations running wild.
The Texas Rangers have seen a number of players, particularly pitchers, make their big league debut in 2019, the most recent of which, was Emmanuel Clase. Clase, who threw 1.2 innings on Sunday in a 9-4 over the Detroit Tigers, is one of the most exciting relief prospects in the organization. The 21-year old right-hander allowed 1 walk while striking out 1 on his way to a scoreless debut. Featuring a lively fastball, Clase lit up the radar gun in stadium touching 101 MPH, the fastest pitch thrown by a Rangers’ pitcher this season.
Clase joined the organization as a Player To Be Named Later in the trade that sent catcher, Brett Nicholas, to the San Diego Padres back in May of last year. The Dominican-born pitcher signed with the Padres as an international free agent in 2015 for $125,000. His beginning stateside was rocky posting a 5.23 ERA in his first couple of seasons. However, after joining the Rangers organization, he had a fantastic year for Short-Season Spokane in 2018 making 22 appearances and posting a 0.64 ERA to go along with a 0.776 WHIP.
This season has been a breakout one for the young reliever where he’s emerged as one of the most promising arms in the system. Starting the year with High-A Down East, Clase made 6 scoreless appearances, throwing 7 total innings and racking up an impressive 11 strikeouts. That earned him a quick promotion to Double-A Frisco where he’s continuing to impress. In 33 games, Clase posted a 3.35 ERA and 1.12 WHIP while holding opponents to just a .236 batting average.
Coinciding with his breakout season, Clase has also climbed up numerous prospect rankings as he’s continued to develop. Starting the season unranked in MLB Pipeline’s organizational rankings, Clase slotted in at #28 in the Rangers’ system following the midseason update. Featuring an 80-grade fastball, Clase features a solid two-pitch combo that could project him into a future closer. Fangraphs also seems impressed with Clase slotting him at #20 in the Rangers prospect rankings.
With the spot Texas is in as they enter the later part of the season, they no doubt will be giving a few guys from their minor league system some big league opportunities with likely Demarcus Evans and Joe Barlow next to get a promotion among relievers. However, with how Clase looked Sunday afternoon, he no doubt just got the wheels turning in the heads of fans of what could be. At just 21, he didn’t look overmatched in his admittedly small sample size and features elite relief stuff. We’ll seem how he continues to look but make no mistake, the Emmanuel Clase hype train is ready to leave the station.