The backbone of the team offensively and defensively, the Texas Rangers outfield also boasts some of the team’s best young talent. Moving forward, questions remain as to whom will fill out the positions in Jeff Banister’s lineup card moving forward.
Change is inevitable in baseball, even on a year-to-year basis. Here are some predictions as to how the organization could organize its 2019 outfielders: (note- Shin-Soo Choo qualifies as a designated hitter for this article’s purpose).
MAJOR-LEAGUE OUTFIELDERS: 4
Left Field: Joey Gallo
Gallo hasn’t shown an ability to hit for average, but the power is certainly there, and he’s been driving in runs at an extremely efficient rate this season. One major question mark early on in his career was- Where do you play him, and where can he play? Gallo has settled in nicely as a solid defensive left fielder, and under team control, figures to be there moving forward.
Center Field: Rajai Davis
It’s hard to predict outside acquisitions, but Davis, currently with Cleveland, seems like a great fit for a rebuilding team. A 2018 free agent, he’s only making $1,750,000, and for that inexpensive price, his veteran bat and mentorship would be valuable to the Rangers young core of batters. With that contract, he’d be a prime candidate to move as a rental to a contender at the trade deadline if he performs well.
Right Field: Nomar Mazara
Though injured at times this season, Mazara has put together a strong offensive season at the plate, and has been known to flash his leather defensively since his call-up in 2016. His ceiling is sky-high, and like Gallo, he’s under team control. If the Rangers have one area locked down moving forward, it’s the corner outfield spots.
Utility-Fourth Outfielder: Willie Calhoun
Calhoun has had a fantastic season offensively at Triple-A Round Rock and showed flashes of potential filling in for an injured Nomar Mazara over the past month. The question has always been- can he handle the defensive responsibilities of a major league outfielder? More MLB experience in September, another offseason of training, and Spring Training should be enough to ready him for more innings in the field.
ON THE CUSP: 3
Triple-A Round Rock: Scott Heineman, Drew Robinson
Heineman has had an incredible season offensively at AAA- batting .290 with 9 home runs and 51 RBI- and figures to make his team debut this September for Texas. With a strong spring training, he could definitely find himself in the mix to make the major-league roster. Robinson will continue to fight for at-bats to prove himself worth of a roster spot down the stretch.
Double-A Frisco: Leody Taveras, Carlos Tocci
Leody Taveras is perhaps the most talked-about Rangers prospect, and has flown through the Rangers system with flying colors. He’s stolen 16 bases at High-A Down East, and has all the makings of a MLB top-of the order hitter. He’ll be invited to Spring Training next season and have a chance to make the roster.
Carlos Tocci is a strange situation given his Rule-5 Draft status, because he likely won’t be on the roster next year after spending the entirety of the season in the MLB. But he’s shown flashes of potential, and will have time to work on batting in the minors.
TIME TO MOVE ON: 2
Ryan Rua, Delino Deshields
Rua has been given many chances to stick with the team at the MLB level, but has never quite been able to put together the offensive production necessary. Delino Deshields has been an offensive liability for most of the season despite 18 stolen bases, and after locker room tension following his assignment to AAA in July, a change of scenery might be best for both sides. Declining to offer arbitration this offseason would be a clean way to move on.
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