We reached the near half-way point of Summer Camp. The Rangers have a few storylines to look at. For example, Joey Gallo hasn’t taken an at-bat, and a few Rangers’ hitters are struggling. However, a few players have stood out in the first week of camp.
1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa
When spring training started in March, Kiner-Falefa was in an interesting situation. Unless several guys broke out, Isiah was making the club. However, the Rangers shifted Isiah out of the catcher’s role to a utility infielder. Kiner-Falefa raked during Spring Training in March, hitting .378 with an OPS of 1.167 and led the team with hits, homers, and RBIs.
Isiah worked out in his hometown in Honolulu and immediately came back where he left off. Isiah had a little fear that the production wouldn’t be there but credits the beach for keeping him in top shape. “I was on edge in the beginning because my spring was going well. Just being able to go to the beach and wind down helped me stay ready. I would have been pounding my head to the wall if the beach wasn’t there.” Kiner-Falefa looks like a dangerous force off the bench for the Rangers in 2020.
With the way Izzy is rolling this past spring and summer, I can see most of his teammates take an offseason trip to Hawaii next winter #Rangers
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) July 9, 2020
2. Lance Lynn
The Rangers could argue that they have three potential aces on their roster: Corey Kluber, Mike Minor, and Lynn. Manager Chris Woodward named Lynn the opening day starter on the 24th against the Rockies. Lance’s velocity during Summer Camp is on point, and the competitiveness he’s shown is noticed by his teammates (in a positive way). In his last outing, he went six-plus innings on eighty-three pitches much to his and the club’s delight. Lance talked on Wednesday about where he is at for Opening Day, “I’m right where I want to be, be ready for opening day and be full-go with no restrictions.”
Dont tell Lance Lynn that simulated games don't matter pic.twitter.com/cA7i2enS3k
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) July 7, 2020
3. Danny Santana
If Danny’s evaluation came three days ago, I would sing a different tune. However, in the past two days, Santana looks like a different monster at the plate. On Friday, Danny homered off Kyle Gibson and followed suit Saturday with a three-run double to left-center field and an opposite-field home run. Santana also made two fantastic sliding catches on Saturday, and an outfield assist early in Summer Camp. According to Santana, center field is the position he wants to play and can solely focus on center field in 2020. Rangers skipper Chris Woodward talked on Saturday about Santana’s recent hot stretch, “He can get emotional at times, and we are trying to get him to understand [to] just focus on what you can control up there.”
#Rangers Danny Santana on the desire to stay in Center Field,
"I am willing to do what the team wanted me to do, but now that I know I wanted to play center field and focus on center field I am happy about where I am at right now."
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) July 11, 2020
4. Ian Gibaut
It’s normal for pitchers to be ahead of hitters in Summer Camp, but Ian Gibaut has blown his teammates away. In ten hitters faced, Gibaut struck out seven of them with no hits or walks allowed. On Saturday, Woody wanted Gibaut to work with runners on base (it was his third appearance during Summer Camp). “We asked him to put runners on base; we want to make sure he’s quicker to the plate. [Gibaut] has a tendency to go high leg every time and give the opposing player an easy chance to steal a base. He did that today, and his times were really good,” Chris Woodward told me after Saturday’s intrasquad game.
Finish on Ian Gibaut, Chris Woodward told me today, “the quality of his pitches look much better right now. Some of our hitters who have been hiring pretty well at this point can’t touch him.” #Rangers
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) July 11, 2020
5. Scott Heineman
Scott came into Spring Training in March as a bubble watch player to make the Opening Day roster. With rosters expanding to thirty to start the season, there’s a high chance he plays his first career MLB Opening Day. Heineman’s spring looked like a vast improvement after an offensive scuffle his first two months in the majors. Scott also made an offseason adjustment and changed his mentality to round himself out as a baseball player. “This offseason was more predicated on trying to be the best baseball player I can be rather than fully invest in getting as strong as I can be,” Scott told me an interview back in May.
In the first week of Summer Camp, the results show Scott’s power shows on display, and his defense picked up where it left off last season. Heineman adds to a well-rounded Rangers’ outfield core (being a right-handed hitter), and his speed balances the lineup.
The Rangers are off on Sunday, and assuming there aren’t any more off days for camp, the club has eight more intrasquad camp days left. Plus, the team has two exhibition games against the Rockies before their first regular-season game on Friday, July 24th. The team feels confident at where they are at right now, but anything can happen again in this environment.
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