Inside The Rangers Mailbag: Pre-Spring Training Edition

Chris Halicke

Baseball season is almost here. We've been saying that for a while, but now we've at least got official baseball activities starting this week in Surprise, Arizona. 

Thank you fans for sending in your question by social media and email. 

Leaving Surprise who do see our Rangers will have in the Bullpen at opening day? My Minor Leaguer that will surprise everyone is Ricky Vanasco! He will start in Hickory but will promote up in Frisco by the end of the year! Go Rangers!! 
-Jeff H., Spring, TX

I released my pre-spring training roster projection earlier this week. I projected these eight pitchers to make the bullpen: Jose Leclerc, Rafael Montero, Jesse Chavez, Joely Rodriguez, Brett Martin, Nick Goody, Edinson Volquez, Demarcus Evans. 

Obviously, there will be a lot of moving parts this spring with a vast number of arms competing for a spot out of camp, both on the 40-man roster and on Minor League contracts. Jonathan Hernandez also has a very good shot at making it as a long reliever. Pitcher and catcher workouts started today, so a lot will happen between now and when the team heads back to Arlington.

The inability to get that big RH bat could really haunt the Rangers this season. That being said, they absolutely have to upgrade CF because Santana will be fine there, but he needs to move to other positions as well. Who are they honestly going to get?
-Nate D., Tuscon, AZ

The Rangers are remaining active in the free agent and trade markets. If they do make a move, I'd expect it to be for depth. Free agent Kevin Pillar would make the most sense on that front. 

On the trade market, there are a number of names the Rangers could go after. Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier, Ender Inciarte, and A.J. Pollock are all names they could conceivably make a swap for. It's hard to tell at this point if the Rangers make this kind of deal because the asking price or availability is unknown. 

One thing for certain is Jon Daniels won't overpay for one of these players. They believe in Danny Santana. His defense in center field needs work and he needs to prove he can replicate what he did in 2019, but the Rangers are content if he's their center fielder on Opening Day. 

Do people honestly think Santana is going to be as good as he was last season? None of his peripherals point to that neither do any historical comps. Very scared they are relying on him as their CF.
-Michael Cave (@MichaelCave15 on Twitter)

Piggy-backing off of the last question, Santana has to prove that last season wasn't a fluke. The Rangers appeared to have unlocked his potential by helping his approach at the plate. They are expecting him to not just repeat last season, but to build off of it and they like his openness to their instruction.

Let's also not forget that Santana had a very good rookie season with the Twins. He slashed .319/.353/.472 in 101 games. He wasn't able to take that next step until 2019 with Texas. The potential has been there and the Rangers believe they've begun to tap into that potential. 

There is definitely risk involved, but wouldn't you rather them find out in a season where they are an outside chance for the playoffs instead of in a World Series-type of year?

Genuinely interested in Solak at 1B. We’ve talked about him at 3B, as a utility INF, and some fans want him to take over for Rougie.....but if that bat plays....why not let him try 1B? His stats last year project to at least 20 HR and he’s quick enough for defense over there.
-Winter Sod Poodle (@GTOphil on Twitter)

The Rangers are going to find ways to get Solak's bat in the lineup. If he builds off of his 2019 season, he could make a play to have the highest batting average on the team. He's a pure hitter with a classic, clean stroke. Old-school baseball guys like myself love guys like Solak. 

His defense is the elephant in the room. He will get work at first base this spring. He doesn't possess the hands nor the traditional size for the position, but if he can learn the footwork and grow into that, he could take some at-bats away from Ronald Guzman. 

Solak will get work at all of the infield spots except shortstop along with some work in center field as well. 

I am concerned about our lineup. Bleacher Report has us ranked 29th and MLB 28th. Do you think we will land a big bat before spring training? Our rotation has improved . Our lineup has not improved from last yr.
-Cindy Jacobs (@cindyj1123 on Twitter)

I would strongly argue the lineup is better. Is it where it needs to be to contend for a World Series? No, but it is definitely better than last season. 

They've upgraded offensively at catcher, third base, and two of the three spots in the outfield. The combination of Calhoun, Santana, and Gallo (as long as they're healthy) could be what carries the team offensively. 

To be fair, there are questions about all three of those players and that's probably why other publications are so low on the Rangers' lineup. They want something tangible – on paper – they can point to and say how and why they can or can't be good. 

First base and second base are areas of concern. Can Guzman take a step forward? Can Rougie adapt and grow as a hitter? There is also Nick Solak waiting to commandeer a position at a moment's notice. 

Of the top prospects in the Rangers farm system right now, whom do you predict to best flourish in the big leagues?
-Sean D., Maud, Texas

I really like Sam Huff. I got a chance to see him at mini camp and he's impressive. I can't wait to get out to spring training next week and see how he does with the big boys.

His two-way ability is rare. If he can find a way to hone in his approach a little bit and become a more complete hitter, he could be a superstar. He's got that kind of potential. 

Read our full scouting report on him.

Spring Training Outlooks

Recap on the deep dives we've done on some spring training storylines.

First Base
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