New Rangers ace Jacob deGrom threw 35 pitches while facing several of his teammates in a simulated game setting yesterday, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The two-time Cy Young winner sat 98-99 mph with his heater and reached triple digits on his final pitch of the day. It’s possible that’ll be the only tune-up he needs before stepping into a Cactus League game sometime next week. Whether that’s the next step or whether deGrom needs to face live hitters once more, it’s good news that the righty came away from the session without incident. Rangers fans were holding their breath when deGrom had some tightness in his side and had his throwing program slowed early in camp, but it seems he’s now progressing without restrictions.
Signed to a five-year, $185MM contract over the winter, deGrom has pitched just 156 1/3 innings over the past two seasons due to a forearm injury and a stress reaction in his right shoulder blade.
A bit more on the Rangers…
- Texas still isn’t sure whether center fielder Leody Taveras will be ready to start the season, as he was been diagnosed with a low-grade oblique strain earlier in the week and won’t even attempt to resume baseball activities until next week, at the earliest. If Taveras is to open the season on the shelf, there are three fairly clear alternate plans in center field: give fleet-footed Bubba Thompson the bulk of the workload while Taveras mends, move Adolis Garcia over from right field, or select the contract of a non-roster player like Travis Jankowski to begin the season (which would require a corresponding 40-man move). Of the bunch, MLB.com’s Kennedi Landry writes that GM Chris Young implied Thompson is the likeliest short-term solution, noting that he’s “ready for the challenge” even if his offensive approach still needs further refinement. It’s a different tone than he struck with regard to the possibility of moving Garcia, on which he stated: “…we’ll have to work through how much it makes sense to move Adolis over at all.”
- One player who’s not under consideration for an Opening Day roster spot at this time, unsurprisingly, is 20-year-old top prospect Evan Carter, manager Bruce Bochy confirmed to Levi Weaver of The Athletic (Twitter link). The 2020 second-rounder erupted with a combined .295/.397/.489 batting line between High-A and six games at Double-A last year, vaulting himself onto to top prospect rankings at Baseball America (No. 25), MLB.com (No. 41) and Baseball Prospectus (No. 22). However, advanced as Carter’s approach at the plate is — he walked in 13.5% of his plate appearances last year despite facing far older and more experienced competition — Bochy indicated that a leap right to the Majors “would be pushing a kid too much.” Carter has all of 28 plate appearances above A-ball and isn’t on the 40-man roster, so he never seemed a particularly likely option, but it’s still of some note that Bochy confirmed as much. It still stands to reason that if Carter opens the year in Double-A, he could play his way into consideration for a call to the big leagues later in the 2023 campaign.