The sun is out, the full squad has reported, and live batting practice sessions are underway. Spring Training games get underway on Friday for the Texas Rangers. While veterans will gradually get ready with the hope of peaking at the end of camp, prospects are trying to make good first impressions on the new coaching staff and Chris Young. They are trying to have a moment or a game that the manager and front office remember later in the season when someone is injured.
During the first two weeks of Spring Training games, lineups and rosters are filled with these prospects on the 40-man roster as well as non-roster invitees such as Kumar Rocker and Evan Carter. There are three prospects that will make a firm impression on Bruce Bochy and Chris Young before they are sent down to the minor league camp later on in March. I believe Jack Leiter, Chase Lee, and Luisangel Acuna will impress the coaching staff and fans with how they play in these games.
3 Texas Rangers prospects who will impress: Jack Leiter
Jack Leiter will likely tell you that 2022 did not go as he anticipated. He has spent this past off-season working on shortening his stride to the plate. It is an adjustment Spencer Strider once made and Jack Leiter is now trying to make. He will get to test it out in Major League Spring Training games before being sent down. The Rangers will give him probably two to three A-games to pitch in, if not more. He made one appearance in the compressed Spring Training schedule that occurred after the owner's lockout in 2022.
He pitched 1-2/3 innings, he began by striking out the side in the first inning, then he got in trouble with two walks in the second inning and was removed before being able to finish that inning. The nervousness that came with that appearance is likely to not be there as he is now entering his second professional season. I expect he will show improvement with his fastball command as well as being able to throw his slider for strikes as well. Hopefully, he can pitch well and then carry that momentum over into the minor league regular season for Frisco or Round Rock.
3 Texas Rangers prospects who will impress: Chase Lee
Chase Lee has a chance to make the team out of camp. He has a chance with a good spring of leaving camp with the team for the two exhibitions in Arlington against the Kansas City Royals. Like Leiter this is the second spring training for Lee. He made 3 appearances last year and pitched 2-1/3 innings, striking out 3, and walking 1 batter. He is a future bullpen arm, that has a funky sidearm motion. His stuff isn't elite, but he gets guys out. The 2021 draft pick has had success at every level he has pitched at.
He finished last season at Triple-A Round Rock. He is expected to go back to Round Rock, but he is an injury or a dominant Spring Training away from making the team. If he doesn't make the team out of camp he will certainly be called upon at some point this season With Leclerc pitching in the WBC and Danny Duffy not being ready Lee will get opportunities to pitch in Spring Training games. I believe he will have success and will be given multiple one-inning appearances throughout camp to show he belongs
3 Texas Rangers prospects who will impress: Luisangel Acuna
Finally, Luisangel Acuna is going to be the prospect that generates the most buzz. He is the brother of Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna. Luisangel has really in the last 12 months really made a name for himself. He played very well for Hickory last year and earned a promotion to Double-A Frisco and is now on the 40-man roster. The Rangers are going to let him play multiple positions. He will come up with a late hit in a Spring Training game that wins a game for the Rangers. He will make a dynamic play at SS or 2b that will wow everyone.
He will steal a base and show off that speed. Last season Josh Smith and Zeke Duran used spring training to open up the eyes of the coaching staff. That led to early-season promotions for both players. This year that player will be Acuna. He will feast on pitchers that are not as familiar with him. He will take advantage of the lack of a scouting report and make plays both in the box and on the field.
The situation with the Rangers is certainly different this year than it was last year. I don't think a good performance leads to a callup in 2023 as it did for Smith and Duran last year. It will increase his trade value and make the case for a short stay at Double-A Frisco for Acuna and an early-season promotion to Round Rock.