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Friday newsletter time: Nathan Eovaldi keeps Rangers rotation on early roll

(Texas Rangers/Bailey Orr)



Nathan Eovaldi became the first Rangers pitchers to work three innings this spring Thursday, when he allowed one run and struck out five Brewers in a 7-5 victory.

Eovaldi, who is track toward the Opening Day start March 28 against the Cubs, didn’t walk any hitters, which is an early indication that the right-hander is dialed in with at least some of his pitches. Paul Molitor and Robin Yount weren’t in the Milwaukee lineup, but lots of quality strikes will get lots of outs.

He was throwing hard, too, with the Surprise Stadium gun registering 98 mph on one fastball.

The key, he said, was cleaning up his mechanics and not feeling rushed by the pitch clock as he was in his debut last weekend.

“The mechanics felt good, and I was just more happy with the location of my pitches,” said Eovaldi, who went 5-0 in the postseason. “We get that feeling back in spring training where we’re able to slow down the game.”

Three of the Rangers five projected starters have made two spring starts, with Andrew Heaney and Jon Gray to come. Gray made his spring debut Monday in a simulated game on the back fields.

Remember: Eovaldi, Heaney, Gray and Dane Dunning were in the rotation during the Rangers’ best stretch last season with Jacob deGrom on the injured list and Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery yet to be acquired.

In other words, don’t worry about the rotation so much.

In the ‘pen

Rangers Today fearlessly predicted earlier this week that left-hander Jake Latz would be in the bullpen to start the season, and we stand by that. We also said to not lose track of right-hander Marc Church, who could slide onto the Opening Day roster with his power fastball and wipeout slider.

Granted, he wasn’t facing Cecil Cooper and Gorman Thomas on Thursday as he nailed down the save in the ninth inning, but he could have given them fits with his stuff.

Church made a favorable impression last spring, learned more about how to pitch while at Triple A Round Rock and was placed on the 40-man roster in November. At minimum, he will make his MLB debut this season.

Emiiano Teodo also pitched well, but his MLB debut might be on hold until next season. While he throws 102 mph, he has to learn how to command all that velocity.

As the Rangers learned yet against last season with Alex Speas,100 mph doesn’t matter if hitters see out of a pitcher’s hand that the pitch is going to be a ball.



Round Rock promotions

The Rangers’ Triple A affiliate will give away replica hats and jerseys on opening weekend March 29-30 and a Nolan Ryan 25th anniversary replica Hall of Fame ring June 1 as part of a preliminary promotions schedule. A Nolan Ryan Hall of Fame bobblehead is on the schedule for June 29.

Round Rock is also planning a Corey Seager Rangers World Series ring replica giveaway June 15 and a replica World Series trophy giveaway July 20.

The club will host its annual FanFest on March 23. That’s the day the Rangers break camp, and they will take many of the players who will be on the Round Rock roster home for the March 25-26 games against the Red Sox as Globe Life Field.

Card of the Week

Perhaps the prospect who has had the least written about him this spring is first baseman Abi Ortiz, the reigning Rangers Minor League Player of the Year after a breakthrough season that saw him hit 33 homers with 101 RBIs and a .990 OPS last season across both Class A levels.

He is in big-league spring training for the first time while also jumping up the prospect rankings among first baseman. Baseball America has him as the No. 4 prospect at the position in the minors.

He’s on the to-interview list when Rangers Day returns to spring training next week. Until then, his 2023 Leaf Metal purple mojo prizm auto refractor numbers 4 of 5 is our card of the week.

Leaf cards don’t have much value, but someone somewhere will want a rare Ortiz autographed card if he becomes a superstar. He has a long way to go to get to that point, but he should open the season at Double A Frisco and have a lot of important eyeballs on him.

It’s been reported before, and Ross Fenstermaker mentioned it on his recent appearance on the Rangers Today Baseball Podcast, but it’s worth saying again: Part of the reason Ortiz improved last season was because he had his vision corrected.

The Rangers did that for J.P. Martinez before the 2022 season, and it paid dividends as well.

Martinez is with the Braves organization now, traded shortly after Fan Fest for minor-league pitcher Tyler Owens.

Doggy video!

A key cog in this operation is dealing with a scary (and expensive) situation with his dogger Pepper. If you have a moment, consider donating. If you do, I’ll refund up $15 from a new Rangers Today annual subscription. Thanks for your support.

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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1 Comment

  1. dacoffey41@aol.com March 1, 2024

    Loved the Gorman Thomas reference!


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