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Peters, Barlow Exemplify Rangers' 'Land Of Opportunity'

The Texas Rangers have turned the corner since the trade deadline, making the final two months crucial in preaching culture and seizing opportunity.

ARLINGTON, Texas — After losing the first game since Friday's trade deadline, the Texas Rangers have won three straight games. They've looked like a more much confident group, and they'll head into Tuesday night coming off one of the best all-around performances all season.

Four games is an incredibly small sample size, so it's still way too early to think this might be the new normal for the final two months of the season. Even so, Rangers management and coaching staff are challenging their big league group one final time to earn consideration for the future as the club continues to rebuild.

"It's the land of opportunity, so to speak," said Rangers general manager Chris Young. "I think it's a great thing for these young guys to try to maximize that opportunity and establish themselves."

The Rangers are also making moves that signify an eye towards the future. The decision to designate David Dahl for assignment — with two years of club control remaining after this season — epitomizes that. Getting a chance in his place is DJ Peters, who was claimed off waivers after the Los Angeles Dodgers designated him for assignment last week. 

"I'm excited for the opportunity," Peters said. "I want to win. I want to help these guys get better any way that I can. Come out, play my game and be me. I'm excited."

Peters said the path to the Rangers has come "full circle" since the organization drafted him in the 36th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. In addition, Peters has a familiarity with manager Chris Woodward and hitting coach Luis Ortiz from their time with the Dodgers.

With the Dodgers, Peters was buried behind a very deep and talented Dodgers team, playing in just 18 games this season over three separate stints with the big league team. With the Rangers, he'll get an opportunity to earn a regular spot this season and potentially in the years to come.

"He's excited about the opportunity. I want to see him play," Woodward added. "He's a very cerebral guy that plays really hard. I just look forward to see him going out and compete. I'm excited for him."

For Rangers already trying to make an impression, Joe Barlow has really taken the bull by the horns. The right-hander has dominated out of the bullpen since being called up in June, posting a 0.93 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 13.0 strikeouts-per-nine (K/9) in 11 appearances. In addition, Barlow set a franchise record on Monday with eight consecutive strikeouts.

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As performance continues to dictate playing time, Chris Woodward might have his hand forced if Barlow continues to mow down the opposition. 

"Every outing since he's gotten called up, he just continues to impress," Woodward said. "His ability to execute [pitches] has been remarkable — with plus stuff. ... I don't want to rush it, but if he continues to throw like this, I'd hate to use the word 'closer', but it's closer stuff, the way he's wiping guys out."

Both Peters and Barlow are just two examples of the efforts the Rangers are making to turn the corner in their rebuild. The front office has deepened the farm system and improved the financial flexibility of the club (only $6 million committed beyond 2022) with the moves made prior to the trade deadline.

At the big league level, the mission to establish a winning culture remains paramount. Bottom line, the Rangers want to have that expectation to win already in place — even with a wildly inexperienced group — by the time the club is ready to supplement externally with trades and free agency.

"It's gonna take a little bit for some of these guys to impact here," Woodward said. "Throughout the organization, you hear our staff talk about the Double-A team and how together they are, how much they care about one another and how much they love competing with one another. That's gonna carry forward. Eventually, those guys are going to impact our team here, and we have great make-up here. 

"I know we're inexperienced and maybe not performing at a level that we would like as far as wins and some of the statistics. But these guys haven't quit. That's going to be a huge step forward for us as we move forward and get more talent and a more competitive team on the field. If you have that culture, that's an advantage every time you step on the field." 

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