The Texas Rangers season is quickly losing steam and as postseason hopes fade, the club is gearing up for a youth movement as they prepare for the future.
What was once a bright start the the season has quickly taken a frustrating turn and the Texas Rangers are rapidly approaching a decisive point in the season where they’ll decide whether to continue chase a postseason spot or to start planning for the future. It seems the club has more or less made their decision and with eyes turned to improving for 2021, Texas is gearing up for a youth movement with a focus on evaluation and development at the big league level.
So far in 2020 we’ve already seen a few of the Texas Rangers’ top young players take on everyday roles as the club transitions into a new era accompanied by a new ballpark in Globe Life Field. The most prominent of that group is certainly Nick Solak and Isiah Kiner-Falefa who both entered the season with starting roles on their minds and have since cemented their spot in the everyday lineup.
However Texas has also had to turn to others to fill out their roster, some through planned decisions and others through circumstance created by injuries. Jonathan Hernandez has arguably been the top player to jump into an important role with the Rangers emerging as one of the best young relievers across the league. The 24-year old has been largely unhittable in 12 appearances this season and has racked up 18 strikeouts in 14.2 innings of work.
Hernandez falls into the planned category of young players to feature this season but Jose Trevino has emerged as a budding cornerstone piece for the franchise after his call-up tied to Robinson Chirinos’ trip to the IL. Trevino has arguably been the best hitter in the lineup since his call-up and through nine games is hitting .346 with a .947 OPS. Those numbers are highly unlikely to be sustained but it’s become clear that he’s the best catcher the Rangers have and his starting spot should be fairly assured for the duration of the year.
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Kolby Allard has jumped into the rotation since the injury to Corey Kluber, suffered in his Rangers’ debut. Allard has had some ups and downs this year including a tough outing against the Mariners on Friday that saw him fail to escape the first inning. Still, he’s only 23-years old and his future as a part of the Rangers rotation looks bright.
Now though, Texas is starting to look at other young options that could take on growing roles at the big league level moving forward. Outfielder Scott Heineman has been in the big leagues all season but operated mostly as a depth option and defensive substitution late in games. Now though, he’s taken over a starting spot in center field, partially through injury, but also as a chance for Texas to evaluate his long-term role with the club.
Reliever Kyle Cody made his big league debut on Friday in relief during a 7-4 loss to Seattle and shined in his one-inning of work. Cody struck out the side, including two strikeouts looking, and featured an ability to locate his fastball that has fans’ salivating. Recent comments by Chris Woodward, reported by TR Sullivan of MLB.com, noted that the club could look at Cody in a rotation spot as the season rolls on.
In Sullivan’s tweet regarding Cody, Woodward also mentioned Leody Taveras by name as a player that’ll likely get a look over the next few weeks. One of the club’s top prospects, Taveras made his big league debut on Opening Day but was quickly optioned back to the Alternate Training Site and has not returned since. Taveras is one of the prospects that fans will be most excited to see as the 21-year old has been one of the most highly touted players in the organization for years now.
This youth movement is a needed one for the Texas Rangers in the remainder of the season. While the postseason isn’t completely out of the question, the chance that the club could clinch a playoff berth, much less make a legitimate run seems unlikely at best. Texas’ contention window has not yet arrived but some of the young players at the top of their organization are likely to play some sort of role in that time. With the season’s results less important, now is the time for Texas to get some of these young players not just big league experience but chances to play on a regular basis.