The Rangers have signed corner outfielder Joe McCarthy to a minor league contract, reports Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune (on Twitter). Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News adds that he’ll receive an invitation to big league Spring Training. As a minor league free agent, McCarthy was eligible to sign a non-roster pact during the ongoing lockout.
McCarthy, the older brother of D-Backs outfielder Jake McCarthy, has the briefest of MLB experience. He appeared in four big league games with the Giants during the shortened 2020 season, going hitless in ten at-bats. The left-handed hitter has otherwise spent the entirety of his seven-year professional career in the minors.
Originally selected by the Rays in the fifth round out of the University of Virginia in 2015, McCarthy was flipped to San Francisco as part of a rare prospect-for-prospect swap at the 2019 trade deadline. The Giants were no doubt intrigued by his huge minor league walk rates, including a massive 16.2% mark at Double-A in 2017 and a 15.9% figure during the first half of the 2019 season in Triple-A.
McCarthy struggled with the Giants’ top affiliate down the stretch in 2019, though. Due to the cancelation of the 2020 minor league season, he couldn’t log any action on the farm and wound up being outrighted off San Francisco’s 40-man roster following his big league cup of coffee. He rebounded to put up an impressive .305/.384/.542 line with 15 homers, a 10.2% walk percentage and a lower than average 19.4% strikeout rate in 315 plate appearances with Triple-A Sacramento last season. That still wasn’t enough to earn another big league call to a 107-win team, and the Pennsylvania native elected free agency at the end of the year.
While McCarthy has essentially no big league track record, there’s no harm for the Rangers in giving him a look in Spring Training. He’s a .255/.355/.464 hitter in parts of three Triple-A campaigns, and Baseball America slotted him among the top 30 prospects in a perennially strong Tampa Bay farm system every year between 2017 and 2019. With a solid showing in Spring Training, he might be able to work his way into a corner outfield mix that includes Kole Calhoun, Nick Solak, Zach Reks and Eli White.