During the last three seasons, Texas Ranger players making their MLB debuts was a regular occurrence. They were actively looking throughout their organization to see which players could stick.
Some of those players include Josh Smith, Zeke Duran, Steele Walker, Sam Huff, Andy Ibanez, Bubba Thompson, Cole Ragans, Jake Latz, and AJ Alexy.
The Rangers are now entering into a new phase where, according to Chris Young, there is an expectation to make the playoffs (subscription required). Yet, there will still be players who will be brought up in 2023 and given the opportunity to make their MLB debuts.
3 pitchers who could make their Texas Rangers debut in 2023
The first group of players in the five are pitchers. Pitchers will have the easiest route to the roster. Bullpens are refreshed every couple of weeks with new arms, injuries are bound to happen to the starting staff, and doubleheaders will continue to allow the team to add a player, most likely a pitcher, to the roster for that day.
The pitchers I feel like could break through this season are Owen White, Cole Winn, and Chase Lee. White and Winn were added to the 40-man roster back in November. Lee still has not reached that point as he was a 2021 draft pick. He is a future bullpen guy who finished last season in Triple-A Round Rock and could be added to the 40 man as soon as the end of Spring Training.
Owen White and Cole Winn will be watched closely by the organization. They are the pitchers with the highest ceiling that will be on the farm and are on the 40-man roster. Winn is expected to be sent back to Round Rock after having a rough 2022 season, but was still a first round pick. Prior to the 2022 season he was still looked at as the Rangers 3rd best prospect.
Owen White finished strong at Frisco in 2022, striking out all 6 batters he faced in the AA championship series clinching game. White still will likely start at AA Frisco, but could also be advanced to AAA Round Rock at the start of the season. The pitchers at Round Rock will be getting frequent flyer miles to Arlington all season long. The rotation at Round Rock at some point in 2023 will likely be Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto, Cole Ragans, Cole Winn, Owen White, and Zak Kent. White and Winn will not be the first options, but if they are pitching well and the Rangers need someone on a day that they are fresh they absolutely could be called up for a spot start or to pitch out of the bullpen.
Chase Lee is likely to make his debut in the bullpen at some point in 2023. The 2021 sixth round pick from Alabama pitched last season mostly in Double-A and then was brought up to Round Rock. He pitched in 65 games between the 2 levels, and was 10-11 in save opportunities.
Lee struck out 101 and walked 22. He will be in camp next month and be competing for a bullpen spot on the Opening Day roster. If the team feels he isn't ready, they will send him down to Round Rock. It is likely a temporary assignment though. Lee may not start the season in Arlington, but if he remains healthy he will end the season in Arlington.
2 position players who could make their Texas Rangers debut in 2023
The next two players are both position players, Dustin Harris and Jonathan Ornelas. They were teammates last season on the AA Championship winning Frisco Roughriders. There is a good chance they will remain teammates this season as both are moved up to AAA Round Rock.
Ornelas won Texas Rangers minor league defender of the year last season. He is a super athlete that has played second and third bases, shortstop, center field, and left field. He hit .299 with a .360 OBP, with 14 home runs, and 157 hits. He is a good all-around player who could be called up if Corey Seager or Marcus Semien gets hurt and he could fill in for them for a brief period of time.
Dustin Harris is another player who will be aiming to make his debut this season. He played both first base and left field for Frisco in 2022. If Nate Lowe goes down Harris or Blaine Crim will be given consideration to replace him. Harris is the more athletic of the two, but Crim is probably a better hitter. If LF production is not as good as expected, Harris could be called up this summer and given a shot there. He was a productive hitter for Frisco in 2022. He hit .257, with 17 home runs, a .346 OBP, and had 85 hits in the 85 games that he played in 2022.
The Rangers are shifting to a win-now mode, but there will still be opportunities for players to come up in 2023 and make an impact. One of the exciting things about baseball is that it is unknown who is going to be that guy that has a great 2-3 weeks and helps the team win games and provides a spark. I think any of the players mentioned in this article could be that guy who comes up in June or in August and really helps provides the team energy. Be looking out for these guys, follow their performances at Round Rock, and to see which of them will be making their MLB debut in 2023.