Josh Jung may be the Texas Rangers‘ top prospect and the name you’d think of when determining which young talent the organization decides to call up in 2021.
However, he’s been plagued with a foot injury, and although making strides towards getting back on the field, will probably need the at-bats down in AAA before making his MLB debut.
Ditto for top catching prospect Sam Huff, who’s been dealing with a hamstring injury and has yet to play in the minors this season.
Infield prospects Davis Wendzel and Justin Foscue were also diagnosed with ailments that will keep them out for some time.
Selected with the 14th pick of the first round of the 2018 draft, Winn has been excellent with AA Frisco this season, pitching to a 2.08 ERA in four starts, to go along with 25 strikeouts in 21.2 innings.
His most recent start for the RoughRiders saw him toss six no-hit innings against AA competition and surrounding him with the most hype around a Rangers pitching prospect in recent memory.
Could 2021 be his time? Let’s evaluate.
The case FOR the Texas Rangers calling up Cole Winn
Plain and simply, the 21-year-old is running out of things to prove down in the minors.
His domination of AA competition should bode well for at least a promotion to AAA Round Rock, if not more.
More from Nolan Writin'
- Framework for a potential Max Fried trade to the Texas Rangers
- Early 2023 MLB mock draft has Texas Rangers selecting an Ohtani-lite
- 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?
The Texas Rangers have poor starter depth at the big league level, especially with ace Kyle Gibson out with a groin injury and Kohei Arihara likely done for the year with a shoulder issue, as well as inconsistency from their other starters. Winn could be the kind of energy boost to this rotation that is sorely needed.
It’s also well-established that this team isn’t looking to win in 2021 as the rebuild chugs along, so why not bring up Winn later this season and see what he’s made of? A few good starts and he’ll have momentum to break camp with the big league club in 2022. A few bad starts and he begins next season in the minors, barring a stellar spring training. No harm, no foul.
The earliest Texas would even ponder a big league debut for Winn would be September 2021. The way he’s going, that’s definitely a possibility.
If Winn wasn’t ready, we wouldn’t even suggest this idea. But the fact that he does makes this scenario that much more intriguing.
The case AGAINST the Texas Rangers calling up Cole Winn
It’s also perfectly logical to keep Winn in the minors through 2021 and give him a chance to make the team out of spring training in 2022.
Winn is still young at 21-years-old and his arm is still relatively fragile. He’ll need to keep building it up and at some point, he’ll likely need Tommy John surgery as many young hurlers do.
While he’s shown the Rangers organization plenty of his talent, he did have a 4.46 ERA at A Hickory in 2019 and didn’t pitch at all in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, one has to wonder if AA hitters will eventually figure out Winn’s stuff and thus lowering his dominant numbers in 2021.
It’s also possible the Rangers feel like calling Winn up in 2021 would be rushing his development when that isn’t necessary as the team doesn’t have winning aspirations right away. Letting the 2018 first rounder marinate and continue to find a pitching identity could do him wonders in 2022 when he should definitely get the chance to make his big league debut.
The organization is employing a cautious approach with Dane Dunning as a big leaguer this season, so they’d likely do the same with Winn as a homegrown talent.
Cole Winn presents a really interesting case as one of the few apparent homegrown pitching successes of this organization.
The talent is there for him, and so are the results in 2021.
One also has to wonder what will happen in the aftermath of the trade deadline this July. Some of the Rangers’ best assets on the big league roster are pitchers, and that will leave their depth depleted, as it is already.
If Winn keeps pitching at this high level for the RoughRiders into the summer, the Texas Rangers should consider calling him up in September to give him a taste of big league action heading into 2022.
If he falls off for any reason, retain him at AA and he’ll have a chance to win a rotation spot with the big league club out of spring training 2022.