Texas Rangers Spring Training: Taylor Hearn Looking to Turn the Corner After Unlucky 2019

Chris Halicke

SURPRISE, Ariz. – The Rangers have a deep pitching staff. We've beaten that into the ground. Understandably, the excitement around the starting staff is warranted. The Rangers haven't had this deep of a rotation on paper in a long time. 

As we know, throughout the course of the baseball season, starters go down with injuries. It's inevitable. Whether these injuries are short- or long-term, more than just five starting pitchers are required for any team, especially one that is trying to contend for a spot in the postseason. 

One name that continually came up last year as a future option for the Rangers' rotation was prospect Taylor Hearn, who was acquired from the Pirates when the Rangers sent Keone Kela to Pittsburgh. 

Hearn had a chance to make his Major League debut last season, Unfortunately, it did not go as planned. Hearn only lasted 1/3 inning, giving up five runs (four earned), allowed three hits and walked four batters. 

The truth is, Hearn was not entirely healthy for that start. He injured his elbow in the start, which explained the decreased velocity. He was eventually shut down for the season. 

Now as the baseball calendar turns over to 2020, Hearn is healthy, on normal track, and getting started right away at spring training.

"Yeah, everything's been good," Taylor Hearn said. "I've got a live BP today. I'm supposed to be throwing one inning the first game against Kansas City. Everything's been good, though...I've been working on a bunch of stuff, so I'm excited to put it into play."

With the Ranger having such a deep pitching staff, both in the rotation and the bullpen, Hearn's trajectory toward the Major League level may have been slowed down. The hope for the Rangers and Hearn himself is to get back to Arlington sometime in 2020.

"Me and Julio [Rangel] had some brief conversations about it," Hearn said. "He did say he wants to try to get me up there, and I agree too. I'm just trying to take it day by day. I do want to get back up there though. That left a little sour taste in my mouth, but then again that was kind of out of my control. It was just bad luck. Everything's been good though. I've been doing a lot of treatment on it. That's the plan to try to get back up there as soon as I can."

With Hearn's stuff, the talk about him has been about whether he can sustain as a starter, or if he will be transitioned to the bullpen. 

"As of now, from what I've been told, I'm still starting," Hearn said. "I like it. I like starting, but whatever they need though. I love starting. I like to come out there and set the tone for the guys. I always liked it."

Rangers manager Chris Woodward helped give some insight on where they stand with Hearn's development toward to the big league level.

"Hearn is one we're toggling back and forth on. The injury history is concerning," Woodward said. "I want to see him pitch. I wanted to see him pitch last year and I was excited. Unfortunately, that start in Seattle, he wasn't healthy and never really got back after that. He's got elite stuff. He's got a power arm. I love the makeup of the kid. He's got a little edge to him. Health wise – can he start? Can he sustain? I don't know. That's the question we keep asking ourselves."

Woodward has a lot of options at his disposal, again both in the rotation and the bullpen. Hearn is a guy they're still a bit undecided on. 

"Maybe we present something to him where maybe it does make sense to pitch two or three innings out of the bullpen.," Woodward said of Hearn. "When you've got power stuff coming for two innings, it's probably going to be more effective. But, you don't ever want to lose a starter potentially, especially a young guy who has the ability to do that. There's not too many more options for him, so we want to see what we can get out of him in the short term, but also knowing there's a longer term to this. If he has starter stuff and he can sustain and be able to handle that role, I don't want to give up on it."

It's early in the spring, so the Rangers have time to make up their minds with a final decision of what they plan to do with Hearn in 2020.

"We'll have many talks with him as we go through spring training," Woodward said. "The good thing is he's not going to start throwing five innings right away. He's going to start off at one inning anyway just like every other starter, so as he progresses, we'll see."

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