Early in the 2020 season we’ve seen the Texas Rangers debut a couple of top prospects. Which young talent will be next to debut in Arlington?
An oddly formatted 2020 season has meant the Texas Rangers have had the opportunity to debut a couple of their top prospects as extended roster flexibility makes their availability more feasible. Top outfielder Leody Taveras made his big league debut on Opening Day and shortstop Anderson Tejeda made a surprise appearance in the big leagues despite never featuring above the High-A level. Both players have returned to the club’s alternate training site but reliever Wes Benjamin, who just made his debut this week, still holds a role in the Rangers’ bullpen. Which top prospect is next to make their big league debut?
The most logical prospect and perhaps the most needed is hard-throwing reliever Demarcus Evans. The Petal, Mississippi native moved quickly through the Texas Rangers minor league system over the past two seasons thanks in large part to his elite fastball and ability to consistently miss bats. A 25th round pick for the Rangers in 2015, Evans has racked up the strikeouts at each of his stops along the minor league train but really jumped onto the scene in 2018 with a dominant season at Single-A Hickory. Posting a 1.77 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 56 innings, Evans emerged as one of the premier arms in the Rangers farm system.
He followed up his 2018 performance by making the jump to High-A Down East where he was stellar in 17 games. In 22.1 innings pitched Evans struck out 40 and held opponents to a .127 batting average while posting a 0.81 ERA. His dominance quickly earned him a promotion to Double-A Frisco where he continued to overpower hitters to the tune of 60 strikeouts in 37.2 innings posting yet another sub-1.00 ERA paired with a 0.96 WHIP.
The Texas Rangers bullpen to start the season has been shaky at best. Rangers’ relievers have thrown 83.2 innings so far in the 2020 season and has a combined ERA of 5.27 with a .271 BABIP. That ERA ranks ninth worst in the league and their combined 5.38 walks per nine innings only bests AL West foe, Seattle.
Texas’ bullpen is struggling with consistency more than anything with a handful of relievers putting together impressive campaigns and others struggling to survive the start of the season. Offseason signing Joely Rodriguez as well as top young reliever Jonathan Hernandez and closer Rafael Montero have all been impressive so far this season. Left-hander Brett Martin is also off to a strong start but was put on the 10-Day IL earlier this week with rotator cuff inflammation. Beyond that group though, Texas has struggled to find consistent performers which has at least opened the door in the mind of fans and media members to the addition of a pitcher like Evans.
There hasn’t been indication that a promotion for Evans is imminent although each time Texas is in a position to add a reliever to the active roster, his name inevitably is one of the first mentioned. However, just yesterday the Rangers activated Luis Garcia as a replacement for Juan Nicasio who was placed on the restricted list on Tuesday. It would seem that Evans should be nearing the top of the list for those next in line for a bullpen role but it remains to be seen when that chance will come.
If Evans is promoted, he could join Texas in a beneficial situation. Despite the bullpen struggles, the back end of the relief group has been nothing short of dominant. That means Texas won’t be forced to try and use Evans in high-leverage situations and can let the righty ease his way into big league work. Evans features an impressive two pitch combo with his high-90’s fastball and plus curve. His command is still a bit of a work in progress but that mix should do well in relief which has fans clamoring for his debut. Of all the prospects available to Texas though, Evans certainly seems the most likely to get the next call.
Updated: Jamey Newberg of The Athletic reported Wednesday afternoon that Demarcus Evans was a part of the taxi squad for the Rangers as they head out on a five game road trip. Others on the squad include RHP Kyle Cody as well as INF Yadiel Riveras and OF Adolis Garcia.