Texas Rangers: Youth movement leading the way at the plate

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 20: Nick Solak #15 of the Texas Rangers rounds the bases after a one-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the bottom of the fifth inning during game two of a doubleheader at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 20, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 20: Nick Solak #15 of the Texas Rangers rounds the bases after a one-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the bottom of the fifth inning during game two of a doubleheader at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 20, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images) /
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As the Texas Rangers season enters its final few weeks, a pair of young sluggers are setting the tone at the plate.

The Texas Rangers are coming to a bit of a disappointing end to the season that started surprisingly well. However, while the playoff hopes waned weeks ago, the hope of a successful youth movement is alive and well.

Willie Calhoun and Nick Solak continue to shine at the plate for the Rangers and really have been the catalysts for offensive production over the past couple of weeks. Both players are 24 years old and represent parts of a hopeful core for Texas moving forward.

Calhoun, who joined Texas back in 2017 as the headliner of the return that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Since he joined the organization its been a fairly constant saga of up and down for the left-handed slugger not just in performances but between the big leagues and the minors. After an offseason between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Calhoun looked to have reshaped his body and strengthened his game. Thoughts were that Willie would get an extended shot in the bigs but a crowded outfield forced him back and forth between Arlington and Nashville.

Despite the bouncing back and forth and some vocal frustration on behalf of Calhoun, Calhoun has shined since getting promoted in late July. He’s posted a .301 average in that time to go along with a stellar .975 OPS. He’s homered ten times in that stretch and is quickly cementing himself as a core piece for the Rangers as they plan ahead to next season.

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Along with Calhoun, another acquired slugger is making his name known in Arlington. The Rangers were able to get Nick Solak from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for young reliever Pete Fairbanks. Solak, who sits 13th in Texas’ prospect rankings according to MLB Prospect Watch, has quickly emerged as one of the better young hitters in the organization.

When Solak joined Triple-A Nashville after being acquired he hit .347 in 30 games and a stunning 1.038 OPS. That earned him a call-up to Arlington where he’s played nine games but impressed in that short time. He’s posted a .357 average and 1.021 OPS reaching base in his first nine games, a new franchise record.

While defensively there are still some questions about Solak, his bat looks ready for the big leagues and he’s already garnering calls to replace Rougned Odor as the everyday second baseman. We can expect Solak to get nearly everyday playing time at a few positions including at DH as Texas continues to evaluate as the season inches towards a close.

For the Rangers, having a pair of 24-year olds having this kind of success is a big boost for their future plans. With a lineup core that at this point is only guaranteed to include Joey Gallo, Texas no doubt hopes Calhoun and Solak can be answers in the middle of the order as they look to open up Globe Life Field next season.

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