TEMPE, Ariz. -- Eli White is, at best, a long shot to start the season on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster, but the 24-year-old prospect, ranked No. 16 in the Texas organization by MLB Pipeline, has been a regular starter early in Spring Training as the Rangers see how he fares against Major League competition.
White, a right-handed hitter, came from the A’s in the Jurickson Profar trade in December. He led off against the Angels in Thursday's 10-6 win and got his first hit of the spring, a two-out RBI single in the second inning, before stealing second base and scoring on a double.
White has appeared in all six spring games for the Rangers, starting four, and has made two appearances in left field.
"He’s a special kid -- he’s super athletic, he’s one of our fastest guys," manager Chris Woodward said. "He’s been really, really impressive in who the kid is, his athleticism, and I want to see him as much as I can. Obviously, this guy’s a big part of our future."
White has at times been overmatched at the plate this spring, going 0-for-11 before finally breaking through with a ringing single to right-center on Thursday.
"I feel confident at the plate -- I’m seeing the ball well and putting the barrel on the ball, so that’s all you can really ask for right now," White said before Thursday’s game. "Something we’re working on is just getting in a consistent spot when I land, just getting to a consistent spot every time, and that allows me to have a clean launch to the ball and clean up some things. … It’s been great being out there and getting to play as much as I have."
White posted a slash line of .306/.388/.450 for Double-A Midland last season, showing decent power with nine homers in 504 at-bats, and he is a versatile defender capable of playing second and third as well as the outfield.
"Regardless of how well he does [this spring], I think he could help us this year at some point, if something happens," Woodward said.
'Condor' soars again
Rangers first baseman Ronald Guzmán recently made news for adopting a condor -- he’s nicknamed after the wide-winged raptor -- but lately his bat has been even more impressive than his bird. Guzman hit a pair of solo homers Thursday after hitting his first dinger of the spring Wednesday.
Woodward praised Guzman's discipline, noting both of his homers Thursday came on two-strike breaking balls.
“[It’s] the process working,” Woodward said. “There’s no panic in the at-bat -- 'I’ve got down two strikes on two ugly swings, so what? I’ve still got another pitch to work with and he might hang me one.'"
Woodward said before the game that Guzman had made noticeable improvements to his approach at the plate since last season.
"I think he’s really worked on his stability and his batting stance and his movements," Woodward said. "He looks so much more efficient in his swing. … I feel like last year, I only saw video of him, but he wasn’t as in sync, things were kind of a little out of whack at times last year, and this year it’s like, from Day 1, I watched him take BP, I was like, 'Wow.'"
Gallo gets first go in center
The Rangers don’t need Joey Gallo to be their everyday center fielder, but he made his first spring start there Thursday and he will likely see significant time at the position this season. Gallo, a converted third baseman, played 95 innings in center last year, but he spent most of his time in left.
While Delino DeShields is the presumptive starter in center, Woodward believes Gallo will not be a downgrade when he is used in that role.
"If I were to put him out there every single day, he would be a really good center fielder," Woodward said. "According to Delino’s standards, which are pretty high, maybe he’s a tick below, but at the same time he’s well above average in my opinion -- [or] he could be."
After appearing in their first games of the season Wednesday, the Rangers’ middle-infield duo of Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor had the day off Thursday.
Right-hander Shelby Miller, another Texas starter attempting to return from Tommy John surgery, will make his first spring appearance against White Sox righty Ivan Nova at Surprise Stadium on Friday at 2:05 p.m. CT. Miller made five appearances for the D-backs last season after returning from surgery, going 0-4 with a 10.69 ERA in 16 innings.