"There's A Lot of Maturity There" Anderson Tejeda is Showing Substantial Growth in Unique Season
Over the last half of the regular season, much of the focus has been on the youth of the Texas Rangers. As the club ventures toward a younger approach, prospects like Leody Taveras have established themselves as a strong candidate to earn an everyday from the outset of the 2021 season.
There is a lot of intrigue around infield prospect Anderson Tejeda—and for a good reason. He's shown very well in 15 games this season, slashing .271/.286/.500 with two home runs, five RBI, and three stolen bases. The 22-year-old had never played above High A prior to 2020. The natural left-handed hitter is also still learning how to hit from the right side after he became a switch-hitter in 2019.
“(He's grown) a lot," Woodward said. "That's the thing. We still gotta guide him through a lot of these things. Guys don't come up to the big leagues—especially for him (since) he’s really only played A-ball. It's tough to push a championship caliber approach and understanding of the game, but he's willing to do things."
In management's eyes, Tejeda isn't as polished as Taveras. Tejeda is very aggressive at the plate, which can be dangerous if it is not properly harnessed. Major League pitching will quickly learn they don't have to throw Tejeda strikes if he's swinging at the first pitch every time.
While Tejeda's uber-aggressive approach seemed like a daunting task for the coaching staff early on, Woodward has been impressed with his willingness to change and adapt as the season progresses. A recent example is Thursday's loss in Houston, where Woodward said Tejeda refused to swing at any breaking ball from Framber Valdez. It resulted in a single the first time he faced him and a called third strike the second time around.
"He doesn't get caught up in like, ‘I got to get a hit right here,’" Woodward explained. "He's like, ‘You know what, this is what the game is calling for.’ And he's actually coming up with some of the stuff on his own without somebody telling him, ‘Hey, I think we should do this.’ He's just coming up and said, ‘Hey, you know what, he doesn't throw the breaking ball very much for a strike. I'm not going to swing at it.’"
It still remains to be seen if Tejeda can do enough down the stretch, over the offseason, and in spring training to convince Rangers' management that he's ready for an everyday role. There's definitely room to grow, but Tejeda has left an impression on his manager with his willingness to learn and adapt.
"There's a lot of maturity there," Woodward said. "He's willing to go out there and do some things that are non-traditional. Which I think a lot of younger guys can see they want to have success. They want to prove that they belong. They want to hit ... He wants to swing the bat. There's no question about that. But he's he is willing to go up with an approach and stick to it."
Major League pitching will adapt to Anderson Tejeda as it has with all young prospects who have ever had their first taste of big league action. The question for him is the same for all young players before him: How can he adapt and adjust? Fortunately for both him and the Rangers, he's showing enough signs that he has the makeup for continued growth at the big league level; enough to make the Rangers think twice about Tejeda's short-term future.
"It’s pretty amazing to see from a from a young kid," Woodward said. "There's a lot going on in his brain. He's thinking about a lot of things, which is very encouraging, honestly, for the age he is.”