You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Rangers looking for right choice out of several left-field options


Left field is a spot where a lot of big-league ballclubs plop down one of their top sluggers.

Ryan Braun and Justin Upton are left fielders. Khris Davis smacked 42 home runs while playing that corner outfield slot for the Athletics last year. The emerging Adam Duvall drove in 103 runs for the Reds. Young Marlins star Christian Yelich hit .298 and knocked in 98. Cubs phenom Kris Bryant plays a lot of left field along with third base.

The Texas Rangers have four guys wrangling for the job who, all told, produced 18 homers, 56 RBIs and a .230 batting average last year.

Batter up, Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo, Ryan Rua and Delino DeShields Jr.

“You’ve hit on the most competitive spot we have in camp,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister told the American-Statesman at spring training. “Is it one single player? Is it a platoon? We’re searching. It’s too early to say.”

While largely unproven, the four players represent an interesting mix. Profar and DeShields offer speed. Gallo brings pure power. Rua is a gap-to-gap hitter who’s added strength over the past two years. Round Rock Express fans are familar with each of them.

“They bring something different to the table, depending on what the lineup needs,” said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. “They also have position versatility, which we really value.

“It’s not like I feel bad about this group. These were some high-profile names coming up, and they might just need a full chance to shine.”

Profar, 24, who’s competing for Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, was baseball’s consensus No. 1 prospect in 2013 before injuries sideswiped his career.

Gallo, 23, was named the Rangers’ top prospect in 2015 and ‘16 by Baseball America. In 2014, his 42 homers were second to the Cubs’ Bryant in all of the minor leagues.

DeShields, 24, was the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft, taken by the Astros.

Rua, 26, is the only sleeper in the bunch, a 17th-round pick out of tiny Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio.

“You hope you’re the guy who steps forward because there is opportunity,” said Gallo, who’s been dogged by strikeouts. “I’m trying to concentrate on what I can control and stick to that. You don’t want to start comparing stats.

“I think I had a productive offseason. How that translates, we’ll see. If the team has an All-Star lineup, they’re not just going to throw me out there.”

It’s not like other American League West contenders have a proven star in left field. The rival Astros plan to start slap-hitting Nori Aoki. Ditto for the Mariners with Jarrod Dyson. The Angels have Cameron Maybin, whose career year was 10 homers and 59 RBIs.

“We don’t have the proven numbers there, but we have young guys who might be about to hit their stride,” said Mike Daly, the Rangers’ assistant GM.

There is uncertainty all across this Rangers outfield. Center fielder Carlos Gomez was released by the Astros last summer before catching on with the Rangers and altering his swing to produce a .284 average and eight homers in 33 games. Management loves right fielder Nomar Mazara, who hit 20 homers in his 2016 rookie campaign, but both Mazara and Profar saw significant dips in the second half.

“I could see why some people would have questions, but I think the outfield could turn into a strength,” said Mazara, another Express alum. “We’re young players on the way up. I have confidence this group will hit, and the Rangers will score runs.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

A&M’s Myles Garrett taken No. 1 overall by Browns
A&M’s Myles Garrett taken No. 1 overall by Browns

Former Texas A&M standout Myles Garrett was the top player selected in Thursday’s NFL draft. And he immediately promised the Cleveland Browns, his newest team, that big things are coming. The Browns, after entertaining the idea of selecting North Carolina quarterback Mitch Tribusky, a hometown kid, opted for Garrett, viewed as a can’t-miss...
After agonizing injuries, Stony Point sprinter chases berth at state
After agonizing injuries, Stony Point sprinter chases berth at state

Sydney Washington will graduate from Stony Point with a diploma and three school records in track and field in hand. By any standard, Washington, a senior, has had a stellar high school career. Yet she has “unfinished business” to complete before she receives that diploma on June 2. During high school, Washington has been robbed of opportunities...
High school baseball: Fab Five polls and notes
High school baseball: Fab Five polls and notes

BASEBALL FAB FIVES • Class 6A 1. Lake Travis (22-3-1) 2. Hendrickson (20-5) 3. Round Rock (19-5) 4. Vista Ridge (18-7) 5. Hays (18-7) • Class 5A 1. Rouse (19-6-1) 2. Georgetown (21-7) 3. McCallum (17-4-1) 4. Cedar Park (20-5) 5. Dripping Springs (20-9-1) • Class 4A and below 1. Liberty Hill (22-2) 2. Lago Vista (22-3) 3. Thorndale (16-4)...
Faces Off the Field: Lindsay Koppel, senior, Dripping Springs golf
Faces Off the Field: Lindsay Koppel, senior, Dripping Springs golf

How did you get involved with golf? I used to be a highly competitive gymnast for about 10 years, but I started getting injuries and just lost my overall passion for the sport. After I quit, I had a lot more free time and nothing to really focus my mind on. My dad introduced me to golf at the local driving range when I was 13. Swinging the club felt...
Earnhardt Jr.'s retirement is right for him, not for NASCAR
Earnhardt Jr.'s retirement is right for him, not for NASCAR

Regardless of the playing field, regardless of the stature of the champion, it is the last act of a career in professional sports that is most difficult to master. How does an athlete know when to quit? How does he recognize that dreaded sweet spot, just before the joy is lost and before time and age, in their inexorable way, start chipping away at...
More Stories