- MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets that Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre could head to extended Spring Training this weekend to begin taking some at-bats in games. If that goes well, Beltre will still need a minor league rehab stint to ramp up after missing the entire season to date, though it’s a positive sign that he’s progressed to the point of getting in some extended spring work. It would seem that an early June return for Beltre is possible, barring any further setbacks in his recovery from a calf injury.
- Rangers infielder Joey Gallo’s wild season thus far is testing the limits of three-true-outcomes baseball, writes ESPN’s David Schoenfield. The “three true outcomes,” of course, are home runs, walks and strikeouts, and Gallo has piled up big numbers in all three categories, particularly the first and last. In 165 plate appearances this year, he has 13 homers, 21 walks and a ridiculous 65 strikeouts. He’s currently on pace to break Mark Reynolds’ record for whiffs in a season (223), and he could also top Reynolds’ record for most homers in a season with a sub-.200 average (32). Of course, Gallo’s immediate future is up in the air, since Adrian Beltre could soon return from a calf injury. (There’s hope Beltre can begin a rehab assignment next weekend, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently tweeted.) And as Schoenfield notes, Gallo has faded in recent weeks, with a May batting line of just .148/.268/.443.
May 16: The Rangers have now formally announced that Gomez is on the 10-day disabled list. They’ve selected Hoying’s contract from Triple-A Round Rock and transferred infielder Hanser Alberto from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL in a pair of corresponding moves.
The 27-year-old Hoying appeared in 39 games with the Rangers last year but saw just 49 plate appearances and batted .217/.265/.261. Hoying has a respectable, if unspectacular minor league track record, though, and had logged a .242/.336/.477 batting line in Triple-A to open the year. That .812 OPS is a near-mirror image of the .810 mark he logged in 100 Triple-A contests last season.
Alberto has been on the disabled list since Opening Day due to tightness in his right shoulder and is now ineligible to return until at least June 1.
[Related: Updated Texas Rangers Depth Chart]
May 15: The Rangers have placed center fielder Carlos Gomez on the 10-day disabled list due to a right hamstring strain that will sideline him for the next four to six weeks, the team announced on Monday. A corresponding roster move will be announced tomorrow.
Signed to a one-year, $11.5MM contract this offseason after a stellar September run with the Rangers last year, Gomez got off to a slow start to his 2017 season. However, the 31-year-old had come to life at the plate in recent weeks, slashing an outstanding .315/.397/.519 with six doubles, a triple, a home run and three stolen bases over the life of his past 15 games.
With Gomez on the shelf the Rangers can shift Delino DeShields Jr. to center field and once again try out a platoon of Ryan Rua and Jurickson Profar in left field, though that’s merely one of several options they’re likely considering. Texas is thin on upper-level outfield depth on the 40-man roster, though Travis Snider and Jared Hoying represent non-40-man outfielders that are on the Triple-A roster and come with big league experience.
An absence of four to six weeks is a blow to the earning power of Gomez, who had hoped to rebound from a down year in 2016 and re-enter the open market this coming offseason in search of a multi-year deal. However, if he’s able to maintain the majority of the production he was beginning to show prior to his injury upon returning, he’s still young enough and talented enough that a sizable multi-year offer could await him in his next foray into free agency.
The Rangers have reached a minor-league deal with outfielder Drew Stubbs, per a club announcement. The 32-year-old will report to Triple-A Round Rock.
Stubbs was recently cut loose by the Giants after a 10-game run. He has seen a variety of similarly short stints over the past two seasons — including a pair with the Texas organization. Clearly, the sides are familiar with one another at this point.
[Related: Updated Texas Rangers depth chart]
All told, Stubbs owns a .242/.313/.391 batting line over his nine season of major league action. He was a regular contributor from 2010 through 2014, but has functioned more as a depth piece ever since he was cut loose by the Rockies early in 2015. He’s capable of playing center field and has handled lefties at a respectable clip throughout his career, so he could eventually resurface with the Rangers in a reserve capacity. Texas is without Carlos Gomez for the next four to six weeks due to a hamstring injury, so bringing Stubbs into the fold at Round Rock helps to cover that absence.
This week’s installation of “Knocking Down The Door” includes two of the best middle infield prospects in baseball, a 22-year-old first baseman with a .404 OBP in Triple-A, and a pair of starting pitchers who combined for 23 strikeouts in their last start.
Jacob Faria, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A Durham)
Despite not making it through the fifth inning in his latest start, the 23-year-old Faria has likely propelled himself to the top of the Rays’ “next in line” spot in the starting rotation. Striking out 13 hitters while recording 14 outs does tend to get a pitcher noticed, as will his overall numbers on the season (3.47 ERA, 3.7 BB/9, 14.4 K/9).
Coincidentally, there is a spot open after Blake Snell was optioned to Triple-A over the weekend. The Rays will certainly discuss whether Faria can have more success than the inconsistent and inefficient Snell, who has completed six innings only six times in 27 MLB starts. Prior to his 108-pitch, 4 2/3-inning outing on May 10th, Faria had back-to-back six-inning starts in which he threw 89 and 91 pitches, respectively, while allowing only two runs with one walk and 17 strikeouts. That should help his cause.
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Texas Rangers (Triple-A Round Rock)
Mike Napoli’s four homers and two doubles over a 10-game span to start the month, as well as the team’s recent six-game win streak, should at least temporarily halt any talk of a lineup shakeup. However, Triple-A first baseman Ronald Guzman hasn’t slowed down one bit, and Napoli is still just 6 for his last 34 with with an overall season slash line of .165/225/.353. Even for a well-respected veteran with a strong track record, that’s not going to cut it for much longer.
The left-handed hitting Guzman struggled after a late-season promotion to Triple-A in 2016, but he’s having no such trouble this time around. After a multi-homer game on Sunday, the 22-year-old is slashing .343/.404/.518 with five homers, five doubles and two triples in 36 games with Triple-A Round Rock.
Yoan Moncada, 2B, Chicago White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte)
The White Sox could have a lineup spot available after optioning designated hitter Cody Asche to the minors today. The corresponding move is a reliever, but that could be temporary with the team possibly calling up another position player in the near future. A pair of candidates, Nick Delmonico, a Knocking Down The Door pick from three weeks ago, and Danny Hayes, haven’t hit much this month and Triple-A Charlotte’s two most productive hitters, Kevan Smith and Willy Garcia, are already in the Majors. Would they promote top prospect Moncada just days after general manager Rich Hahn shot down the idea? It wouldn’t be the first time a team has misled the media on a player move or simply just changed their mind.
The 21-year-old Moncada is still striking out at an alarming rate (42 K in 153 PAs) and was overwhelmed in a late-season stint with the Red Sox in 2016. But he’s also putting up huge numbers in Triple-A (.333/.405/.511 with six homers, four doubles and 10 stolen bases) and his plate discipline has improved drastically this month. He had 10 walks and 30 strikeouts in April; he has seven walks and 12 strikeouts in May.
At this point, Moncada’s free agency has already been pushed back another season—he won’t be eligible until after the 2023 campaign, at the earliest. Calling him up now, or in the near future, would allow him to gain some valuable experience while possibly providing an offensive spark for a team that has probably been more competitive than many expected.
Amed Rosario, SS, New York Mets (Triple-A Las Vegas)
Asdrubal Cabrera’s torn thumb ligament could send him to the disabled list at some point, maybe even today, which could prompt Rosario’s immediate call-up. Let’s be clear, though. The 21-year-old shortstop has done everything in his power to warrant the promotion and a good argument could be made even if Cabrera was healthy.
After all, the defensive-savvy Rosario is knocking the cover off of the ball in his first Triple-A stint—.359/.401/.493 with two homers and 11 doubles—and this struggling Mets team could use all the help it can get.
Lucas Sims, SP, Atlanta Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett)
The Braves’ successful finish to the 2016 season—they won 35 of their last 62 games—had some fans thinking playoffs in 2017. Instead of taking a chance on their unproven young pitching prospects to fill out the MLB rotation, the Braves added three veteran starters over the offseason: Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Jaime Garcia. This was not a bad decision, as they didn’t break the bank for free agents Colon or Dickey and they give up elite prospects to acquire Garcia. However, things are going poorly. The Braves are 13-21 and 9.5 games behind the 1st place Nationals — and we could still see a youth movement in Atlanta before long.
Sims, the 21st overall pick in the 2012 draft, is leading the charge. The 23-year-old lowered his ERA to 2.16 after tossing two-hit ball over 6 2/3 scoreless innings with a walk and 10 strikeouts in his last start. In 50 Triple-A innings last season, he had a 7.56 ERA with 10.1 H/9, 6.7 BB/9 and 10.4 K/9. In 41 2/3 innings in 2017, the right-hander has a 5.4 H/9, 1.9 BB/9 and 9.1 K/9. That’s what’s called “making the proper adjustments”.
“Knocking Down the Door” is a weekly feature that identifies minor leaguers who are making a case for a big league promotion.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Carlos Gomez suffered a right hamstring strain while scoring a run (and awkwardly trying to avoid a bat while doing so) during today’s Rangers victory, and had to be removed from the game. The center fielder will undergo an MRI tomorrow, and he feels the injury is “not something I think is too serious,” comparing it to other hamstring problems he’s had in the past. (Hat tip to Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.) Gomez enjoyed a three-hit day before leaving the game, bumping his slash line up to .246/.331/.423 over 164 plate appearances.
- The Rangers had another regular out of action when Shin-Soo Choo was scratched from the lineup due to back spasms. Choo told Stevenson and other reporters that he wasn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Texas’ next game on Tuesday, though his back was feeling better later in the day than it did early Sunday. Lower back inflammation was the cause of one of Choo’s four separate trips to the DL in 2016, which limited him to just 48 games last season.
- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre continues progressing toward a May return, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Beltre, who hasn’t played this year because of a strained right calf, took batting practice and fielded ground balls on Saturday. Manager Jeff Banister called the workout “very positive” and added, “It was as good as he has felt through this entire process.” Upon his return, Beltre will take over for Joey Gallo at third base, though the power-hitting 24-year-old should still rack up plenty of at-bats at other positions, including the corner outfield and/or first base.
- Rangers third baseman Will Middlebrooks hopes to return in mid- to late June after breaking his hand in April. It’s been awhile since the 28-year-old Middlebrooks made much of an impact in the Majors, but after signing a minor-league deal with the Rangers last winter, he was off to a hot start at Triple-A Round Rock, batting .313/.377/.625 in his first 53 plate appearances there.
The pursuit of Shohei Otani could be unlike anything we’ve ever seen, but it won’t begin in earnest for some time. Given the stakes, though, teams have already begun jockeying. The Rangers, in particular, sent a contingent led by GM Jon Daniels to watch Otani work out, as Even Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Though the 22-year-old phenom isn’t even able to pitch right now, sending over the top baseball ops brass was presumably conceived of as a means of laying some groundwork and working to get on Ohtani’s radar. Texas is a particularly interesting potential suitor, given that the team has employed star Japanese hurler Yu Darvish — and that he’ll be a free agent at season’s end.
- Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc is heading to the 10-day DL with a bruised index finger, per a club announcement. He’ll be replaced by southpaw Dario Alvarez. Leclerc, 23, has been a bright spot for the struggling organization. Over 11 2/3 innings, he has allowed just three earned runs on six hits while racking up 18 strikeouts against five walks. Hopefully, he’ll return to health and have a chance to get back to continuing that strong start in short order.