Rangers Summer Camp Takeaways: Minor and Kluber Pitch, Taveras Homers, Solak at First?
ARLINGTON, Texas — Day two of Texas Rangers Summer Camp is in the books. More players were accounted for in Saturday's workouts, but still had a few key absences. Most notably absent were Joey Gallo and Ronald Guzmán.
Intake testing is still not completed, so their absence does not automatically mean anything is wrong with them. Mike Minor was scheduled to pitch on Friday, but was held up due to a lack of clearance from intake testing. These first few days are going to be a little chaotic until a routine is established and intake testing is completed.
As for today's workouts, here are three takeaways from day two of Summer Camp:
Kluber Throws Five Innings, Minor Throws Four
Two of the Rangers' frontline starters got in their first official work of Summer Camp. As mentioned before, Minor's original outing was supposed to be Friday. After clearing intake testing, the Rangers decided to pair up Minor and Corey Kluber together on Saturday.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward and his staff are set up behind home plate to observe the workouts, which is giving the second-year skipper a new appreciation for how good this rotation just might be.
“I don’t normally get to stand that close. Now I get to stand really close to see what the action is on their pitches," Woodward said. "Obviously, I talked to our catchers and pitching coach just to see what kind of life they’ve got. ...These guys are ready to go."
Kluber threw 85 pitches (55 strikes) over five innings, allowed one walk, struck out seven batters, and allowed one home run. Minor threw 77 pitches (47 strikes) over four innings, walked one, and struck out ten.
"They’re commanding the baseball. I thought both guys did really well early on," Woodward said. "I think Corey said at the beginning he was struggling a little bit. Once he found his slot, his command got better. He started really executing his pitches like he normally does."
One thing Kluber added to his mix was throwing some up-and-in sinkers to righties, which he normally doesn’t do. As for Minor, it was a lot of the same that we've seen over the past couple of years.
"Minor is such a perfectionist. If you watch his mannerisms out there, you’d think he wasn’t doing well," Woodward said. "But he felt really good about it. He felt like he was in a good spot. He threw a couple of front-door changeups and punched out a bunch of guys. Just typical Mike Minor. To see the life on his ball from behind like that, up close, it just shows me that these guys are ready to roll.”
Leody Taveras Takes Kluber Deep
The one home run given up by Corey Kluber was to Leody Taveras, one of the top prospects in the organization.
“I thought he was Barry Bonds after his first at-bat," Woodward laughed. "To come in, his first at-bat against Corey Kluber, and take a cutter in off the plate and keep it fair, that was pretty impressive.”
Taveras is not likely to see any major league action this season. His place on the 60-man roster is more geared towards his development. However, circumstances may dictate his major league debut at some point in 2020. While that's not the Rangers' first priority, it's a great sign to kick off his work in camp on a positive note.
Chris Woodward has been impressed so far with the development Taveras has made even going back to Spring Training. One improvement that Woodward raves about is how Taveras is staying closed at the plate and not drifting, which gives him a better path to balls on the inside part of the plate. That was showcased in his home run today.
"I feel like this kid is really going to hit," Woodward said. "We all can’t wait to see that progression to happen and I think we’re seeing it as we speak. I’m really excited about it."
Solak on First?
Heading into Spring Training, Nick Solak's primary focus was in center field. Now, he may be serving more of a utility role. That also means getting more in the mix at first base.
"Over the last month, I've ramped it up more," Solak said. "I made sure that when I took ground balls at second and third went over there to get some work and understand moving around the bag."
Alex Burg and Don Wakamatsu have been working with Solak over at first base.
"I am not ruling any spot out as far as an everyday spot," Woodward said. "I think first base, there is an opening there. I can see him getting some time there. Obviously the center field too and the corners. There are certain things we can do to get him out there. First base is definitely a spot I am going to get him some action."
Solak's bat could prove to be very valuable in a season like this. His versatility in the field could allow him to play a similar role that Danny Santana played in 2019.