The future of the Texas Rangers has arrived to the big leagues however at a much earlier timeline than many would have predicted.
Imagine, if you will, that Doc Brown and Marty McFly had set the Delorean for the year 2020. Actually that’s a bad scenario considering the fact that one glimpse at this year and they would have immediately left. Imagine again, if you will, that the year is 2019 and you are a die hard Texas Rangers fan. You are likely disappointed in the fact that the team is in unofficial rebuild mode. However, you take a look at the farm system and you see hope arriving in a few years. Instead it only took less than a year.
With injuries piling up, veteran players struggling, and a trio of starters traded combined with an overall ho-hum season, manager Chris Woodward decided to get creative.
One of the numerous negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was the fact that the minor league schedule was cancelled. The only way to get some of the younger players any sort of playing time was to either assign them to the alternate training site or by promoting them to the Majors.
With all the contributing factors, the resulting outcome has fans excited as players who were up to two years away (as predicted) from making the show are now here and have injected some fun and energy into this team. Some players were already here while others have been called up at one point this season. What’s resulted is a core of young talented guys that have made the games worth watching again. Let’s go down the roster.
The “Condor” struggled earlier in the season after missing time due to being on the Covid restricted list. The team never officially said whether or not he was sick but something didn’t seem right. He was sent down early in the year and recalled after Todd Frazier was traded. He’s now looking like the real deal.
Tejeda had been rotating between second and short. But things have recently changed. Rougned Odor is hitting well again but if history has taught us anything it’s that it won’t last long. Elvis Andrus is out for the rest of the season with a lower back issue so expect Tejeda and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to split time at shortstop. After making the jump from High-A, Tejeda has an unprecedented chance to make a big league impact for the Texas Rangers and carve out a long-term role for himself.
Apostel was called up when Andrus was place on the IL. He looked a little nervous in his first game as he made an error on the very first ball hit his way. That was understandable though as Apostel reportedly got the call that he was promoted and playing about a half hour before the game started. He settled in though and picked up his first career hit in his big league debut. Expect him to see some limited time at third base over the next couple of weeks.
Not to sound like a broken record but look at the above two players and just read those again. Wash, rinse and repeat. Kiner-Falefa has become the starting third baseman for the Texas Rangers this season and been stellar with a batting average over .300 and defensive metrics among the best in the game. He’ll also work at shortstop some but IKF has emerged as a cornerstone piece of the franchise.
Nick has been here all season after having two good spring trainings. He’s earned an everyday spot both with his fielding and hitting where he currently has a slash line of .273/.366/.398. He’s been in a bit of a slump but the long-term outlook for Solak is at minimum, a building block player at the big league level.
He is one of the most exciting guys to watch, especially in center field. His speed and range reminds me a lot of watching Ken Griffey Jr. If he can emulate Junior at the plate as well then the league better watch out.
He has it all. Everybody already knows what he’s capable of. Runners have learned not to test his arm. Pitchers have to make sure that nothing crosses the center of the plate. He needs to work a little more on his plate discipline to get his average up but he is among the league leaders in walks which is refreshing.
What Chris Woodward has done is something that I am surprised other teams that are out of the pennant race haven’t copied. It’s an unusual year and it has called for unusual measures. I do believe this has been a record for me as far as witnessing players’ first hit and I’m not complaining at all. I think we should all sit back, relax and enjoy the youthful ride.