The Rangers are selecting outfielder Bubba Thompson onto the big league roster before tonight’s contest against the White Sox, reports Jeff Wilson (Twitter link). Texas will need to create a pair of 40-man roster spots this evening, with Thompson joining the previously-reported Cole Ragans in reporting to the team for his big league debut.
It’s the long-awaited MLB arrival for Thompson, whom the Rangers drafted in the first round five years ago. A toolsy center fielder with an enviable power-speed combination, the Alabama native was regarded as one of the better prospects in the Texas system for a few seasons. Thompson struggled significantly with strikeouts, though, and his progression up the minor league ladder has been relatively slow. He didn’t advance past High-A in his first two-plus seasons as a professional, and the canceled minor league season in 2020 kept him from reaching the upper minors until last year.
To Thompson’s credit, his two years against upper level pitching have arguably been the best of his career. He hit .275/.325/.483 with 16 homers and 25 steals at Double-A Frisco last year. Texas nevertheless left him off the 40-man roster and would’ve exposed him to the Rule 5 draft, but that never transpired as a result of the lockout. Thompson remained in the system and has spent the season at Triple-A Round Rock, where he’s posted strong numbers.
Through 372 plate appearances, the 24-year-old is hitting .303/.355/.474 with 13 homers. That’s only a bit above league average in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but Thompson’s also incredibly stolen 49 bases in 52 attempts (a 94% success rate) and spent the bulk of his defensive innings in center field. Given his baserunning and defensive profile, Thompson has a good shot at carving out at least a fourth outfield role if he makes contact at a reasonable rate.
Over the past couple seasons, he’s struck out in around a quarter of his plate appearances. That’s above the MLB average but markedly better than the strikeout tallies he racked up in A-ball. He’d have again been Rule 5 eligible this winter if not added to the 40-man, but the Rangers will give him a look after a second straight solid season. Leody Taveras and Adolis García will continue getting everyday outfield reps, but Thompson’s arrival could cut into the playing time of veteran Kole Calhoun — who owns just a .211/.269/.363 line on the year.