Three prep pitchers, three different journeys. A look at the top of Texas Rangers’ 2018 draft class
(Down East Wood Ducks/Matthew Edwards)
They called it the De-load Program, and its intentions were pure.
The Texas Rangers wanted to curtail the risk of serious elbow injuries for prep pitchers selected in the 2018 draft. The Rangers had experienced their share of Tommy John surgeries in an elbow epidemic that was sweeping professional baseball.
They sent the preps to Arizona, where they would have gone anyway. The difference this time is that they wouldn’t make their pro debuts or even throw a pitch while training to gain strength and learn the game between the ears.
Headlining the group were the first-, second- and fourth-round picks. They became friends, they plotted how long it would take to get to the Rangers’ roster, and the expectation was they would take the journey together.
But every player’s journey is different. Look no further than right-handers Cole Winn, Owen White and Mason Englert, still Rangers prospects but now 21 and in three different places.
“I feel like this is a marathon and not a sprint right now,” White said. “Just tread water and see the sunlight at some point. We’ve just got to keep grinding and keep doing our own things.”