The Texas Rangers expect Leody Taveras to be their centerfielder of the future, but his early spring struggles are raising concerns.
About halfway through the season, the then 21-year old outfielder made his big league debut and solidified himself as the Rangers’ everyday center fielder.
Taveras made the best of his short time in the big leagues, hitting .227/.308/.395 with four homers and 14 walks on the season in 2020.
The Texas Rangers made it known that he was going to be their guy for a long time.
With lofty expectations heading into 2021, Leody Taveras has struggled early in spring training and raising questions throughout the organization.
Leody Taveras’ spring struggles have raised some concerns within the Texas Rangers’ organization.
Over four games this spring, Taveras has hit a middling .111/.200/.111 with one hit and one walk in nine at-bats, while striking out three times and getting caught stealing once.
Most notably for Taveras is the three strikeouts early this spring, and the bad swings that accompanied them.
On Saturday against the D-Backs, Taveras flailed on all three of his strikeouts, while only seeing a total of 10 pitches in his three at-bats.
Long term concerns? I don’t think so.
During his rookie campaign in 2020, Taveras struck out 43 times in 119 at-bats. That is over a third of his at-bats that ended in punch outs.
Again, this is a kid that made the jump from High-A to Double-A with limited appearances, then went from a small sample size at Frisco to the big leagues.
It’s important to put an emphasis on the “kid” part.
Taveras is still just 22 years old. He has a long future ahead of him and plenty of time to make adjustments and become a great, everyday big leaguer.
More from Nolan Writin'
- 3 Texas Rangers outfield trade targets not named Bryan Reynolds
- Did Jacob deGrom really mean what he said at his Texas Rangers press conference?
- Where do Texas Rangers prospects Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker stand after the DeGrom signing?
- Martin Perez accepting the qualifying offer looking like solid deal for the Rangers
- 4 outfielders the Texas Rangers can still pursue this winter
As of now, the strikeouts are concerning, but you have to remember that everyone in the organization believes he has an advanced approach at the plate and good vision and discipline.
We saw glimpses of it last season, and we’ll see glimpses of it in 2021.
As for myself and what I’ve seen, Leody Taveras is one of the most talented players I’ve seen step on the diamond.
I think he is capable of being an All-Star, but struggles are going to happen.
His youth and the lofty expectations are perhaps getting to him.
In the end, you can’t fault a 22-year old for struggling after his first season at the game’s highest level.
After all, it’s called the “sophomore slump” for a reason.
They are all professionals that have earned the right to be there, but have to learn to either get guys out or get hits at an increasingly fast rate, and that can be a lot for a young guy.
His struggles early on this spring will raise eyebrows because of how talented he is, but keep in mind his age, time of service and his willingness to learn and make adjustments.
He will more than likely witness a dropoff in 2021, because pitchers are learning how to get him out.
Now, it’s time for Leody to counter by figuring out his way through the big leagues. He can do it, and has proved he is capable of doing so, but it won’t happen overnight.
If his struggles are deemed too much for the Rangers, there are options behind him.
David Dahl can slide over from left, youngster Eli White is having a good spring and could force the Rangers’ hand, as well as old friend Delino DeShields who is ready to “run it back.”
I expect Taveras to be the everyday center fielder on Opening Day, but there are still three weeks left in spring training and anything can happen.