Demarcus Evans has finally made his big league debut for the Texas Rangers and despite a rough outing, he carries plenty of excitement for the future.
Demarcus Evans has been one of the Texas Rangers’ best bullpen arms in their farm system since 2018 when he had his breakout season with the Hickory Crawdads in Low-A by finishing with a 1.77 ERA in 56 innings and striking out an eye popping 103 batters. His breakout season combined with impressive numbers since have fans excited about his potential as a premiere reliever.
Evans moved onto High-A in 2019 and was even more impressive, finishing with a 0.81 ERA in 22.1 innings before moving up another level after just 17 appearances in Down East. At the Double-A level in Frisco, Evans pitched 37.2 innings that resulted in an 0.96 ERA and 60 strikeouts.
Evans put up big strikeout numbers and rarely gave up homers, giving up just seven in 242.1 minor league innings. His stuff consists of a fastball that sits in the mid 90s and a respectable slider in the 80s. A good two pitch combination for a relief pitcher. But Evans does seem to have a bit of a control issue as he walked 5.53 batters per nine innings in his 125 Minor League games.
Evans showed in the last couple of years that he can be an elite relief arm. But Evans’ chances of being designated a full time closer are yet to be determined as he racked up just 21 total saves in five years in the Rangers’ farm system.
The Rangers called up the 23 year old Tuesday afternoon in a corresponding move that saw the team DFA Luis Garcia, who struggled this season as he gave up seven runs and walked nine in just 8.1 innings.
The 25th round draft pick made his Rangers debut in the bottom of the seventh inning, facing Albert Pujols, Justin Upton and Max Stassi at the minimum.
So how did the big league debut of Evans go? Well it went as about as well as one could have expected. There were definitely some jitters and facing one of the greatest hitters in baseball history as your first ever Major League batter certainly didn’t help.
It took all but two pitches for Evans to uncharacteristically give up a home run to Pujols. Then it took just three more pitches to hit Justin Upton near the head. Five pitches into his big league career and Evans had delivered a home run and a hit by pitch.
The time in between his fifth and sixth pitch saw the Angels take a look at Upton and make sure he was alright, which was a golden opportunity for the rookie to breathe in and relax. Thankfully, Upton was able to get up and walk off on his own power.
It took Evans just six pitches to get three outs after those first two disastrous plate appearances. Stassi lined out on a slider and Taylor Ward hit into a double play after falling behind an 0-2 looking. And just like that, Evans’ big league debut came and went.
The Texas Rangers have shifted into a development over results approach for the rest of this season and Evans could be one of the beneficiaries as he pitches big league innings. While the Rangers have deservingly gotten their fair share of criticism for lack of homegrown starting pitching, they should also be praised for their impressive ability of finding and developing bullpen arms. E
Evans could soon be added onto that long list of good Major League relief pitchers that got their start in Arlington. He has a devastating two pitch combo that profiles as potential closer one day. Let’s just hope that any nerves that Evans had about making The Show left with the ball that Pujols hit 412 feet.