Wednesday newsletter time: Rangers showing power so far this spring
(Texas Rangers/Ben Ludeman)
Arizona can be a tricky place to judge just how well a home run was hit.
The air is thin. There is usually wind blowing. The ball travels.
But the home runs the Rangers have been swatting in Cactus League games this spring haven’t been cheap.
They hit three Tuesday, one apiece from Bubba Thompson, Josh Jung and Corey Seager. Jung’s was the most impressive, though Seager’s 453-footer Monday rates as the biggest circuit clout so far.
The Rangers have hit 18 homers, tied for second in the Cactus League, in 13 games. Their .473 slugging percentage ranks third. Seager leads the team with three, Justin Foscue has two, and 13 others have one each.
While the talk has been about how the starting pitching is going to lead the Rangers to the postseason, it’s not like the offense is only going to average two runs a game. The Rangers are going to score even though they didn’t make any significant upgrades to the lineup.
A full season of Jung is considered an upgrade, as is Mitch Garver returning to health.
“I finally squared one up. It was pretty nice,” Jung said. “I’ve been just missing, I feel like, on most of the stuff. To finally square one up felt pretty good.”
The important thing for Jung is that he’s healthy after two unhealthy springs. If he stays healthy, he will see more pitches and feel comfortable in the batter’s box instead of pressing as he admitted he did last season.
He might be right on track, as he hasn’t peaked yet this spring. And, remember, this is his first big-league spring training. It’s new, and he’s trying to figure it out while also figuring out his swing.
Winn gets a look
Right-hander Cole Winn still has stuff and is still regarded by the Rangers as one of their top pitching prospects even though he didn’t have a great 2022 season.
He’s on the 40-man roster and still in big-league camp, though with minor-league camp starting he might be on the way to the other side.
If he is moved out, he can leave feeling good about his Cactus League performances. He allowed two runs in two innings Tuesday after a scoreless appearance earlier in camp. The biggest stat on the day was that he didn’t walk anyone, an indication that his mechanical tweaks are working out and that he feels confident pitching in the strike zone after a walk-heavy season last year at Triple A Round Rock.
Left-hander Cole Ragans, who made his MLB last season, has been the most impressive pitcher so far in camp. With Jake Odorizzi (arm fatigue) potentially headed to the injured list to start the season, Ragans might make the first Opening Day roster of his career.
B game fever
The Rangers had a B game on Nolan Ryan Field, and there were some notable performances.
Let’s start on the mound, where right-hander Ricky Vanasco worked two scoreless innings on only 21 pitches. A member of the 40-man roster, Vanasco is in a similar boat as Winn and continues to impress. He’s likely headed to Double A Frisco to start the season.
Left-hander Cody Bradford also pitched two scoreless innings, on 26 pitches, and right-hander Kumar Rocker, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, allowed two runs in two innings. Bradford and Rocker were reassigned to minor-league camp over the weekend.
Outfielder Yoshi Tsutsugo has finally arrived at spring training, and he collected an infield single in five plate appearances. He scored a run on a two-run shot by Sam Huff, who is back in action after dealing with shoulder tightness. Huff struck out in his other four at-bats.
B games are a part of every spring. Teams run out of innings in Cactus League games and there are no minor-league games just yet, so two teams who need to get players work will get together. On Tuesday, it was the Diamondbacks who made the trip Surprise.
Players who are short on at-bats, like Huff and Tsutsugo, or innings can get work in a controlled environment.
T.R. Sullivan loved B games.
Well, this is just funny. A little mean, but funny, Enjoy.
What is this Sorcery pic.twitter.com/k2UnGD4k7N
— Madeyousmile (@Thund3rB0lt) March 5, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com