In the many things 2020 has brought us and continues to deliver, the fact that the Rangers have a bulk of youth making their debut this season adds another to the rarity list. On the current roster for Texas, ten players made their major league debut in 2020 with a few who never stepped foot in AAA or even AA. Sure the circumstances are undesired considering the Rangers enter Saturday with the second-worst win percentage in baseball. However, it feels like the club turning a sour situation positive, and the Rangers are getting a look at their future much quicker than anticipated.
It’s a strange feeling. I recall back in early March, thinking about who may get a chance to step foot in the majors. The likelihood of a player like Leody Taveras getting that shot was not high, and Leody was one of the youth group’s first to enter the world of the majors. Now the question is, “who’s next?” Well, with Josh Jung taking about ten days off until the Fall Instructional League (September 28), it’s a safe assumption that Demarcus Evans is the last to make his debut in 2020.
— Texas Rangers Player Development (@TEXPlayerDev) September 4, 2020
These players making their debuts in 2020 have made it interesting. Manager Chris Woodward told me that he feels, “this year is the easiest” when it comes to making a debut for a young player. Typically when a player makes their MLB debut, they have to deal with the combination of ballpark atmosphere and the jitters of facing MLB pitching or MLB hitters. In 2020, half of those circumstances are non-existent because of the empty stadiums. “A lot of these guys have told me personally that they would rather have fans, and they would rather have the experience and feed off of that. They haven’t had to play in front of fifty-thousand people yelling at them in the sixth inning of a one-run game,” Woodward told me.
Woodward did mention that it could wind up a negative in the future because the atmosphere portion is a monster in itself, especially where these young players will make their debut. In the grand scheme, getting your feet wet in the majors without fans could be the best way to ease a player’s development to the big league level. “I think this year helps to give some of these guys, especially those who haven’t played above A ball, it’s got to help them to just kind of relax out there and not have to deal with the rowdiness of the crowd,” Woody added. Jared Sandler and myself also go into further detail about the future of the club.
The next two years are critical for the Rangers development. Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, and Joey Gallo are all possible free agents after the 2022 season. The club needs to decide rapidly how they want to proceed; there’s no excuse now for a hole anywhere on the diamond with guys like Taveras, Eli White, Anderson Tejeda, and Sherten Apostel getting early looks at the majors on the offensive side. Meanwhile, Kyle Cody, Wes Benjamin, John King, Jimmy Herget, and Demarcus Evans get their looks on the mound. There are talks about Elvis changing positions and possibly Odor playing elsewhere on the diamond to give the younger guys a shot.
Since the youth movement began (I’d say around August 24 when Leody got his first MLB at-bat), the Rangers are 8-17 entering Sunday. Sure, the standings say that’s bad, but the club plays much better defense with more energy than the first twenty-seven games. Keep in mind, the competition in that twenty-four game stretch is a whole lot better. The organization is high on the youth and ready to start revamping the Texas Rangers. “Listen, these guys are young, they’re talented, they’re learning they want to grow,” Manager Chris Woodward said. “They’re hungry. I don’t care if they’re 25 years old. I look at it as an opportunity to help guide these guys to becoming consistent major league performers.” The next step is consistency.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) September 20, 2020
Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. My baseball memory bank is dominated by the Texas Rangers with the other 29 franchises sprinkled in. In addition, I enjoy NFL Sunday afternoons and only the first NCAA tournament weekend.