Pair of promising pitchers among Rangers' Futures Game reps

July 10th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry’s Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

FRISCO, Texas -- Jon Goebel, the pitching coach of the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate, thinks back to his time coaching at Division II Parkland College in Champaign, Ill.

“You may give a guy a full scholarship and not get back any of the production you're looking for out of them,” he began explaining. “You’re always stressed out about that, and it always weighs on you as a coach. But for every one of those guys, you have a preferred walk-on that goes out and wins seven games or hits .360.

“It's inevitable that that happens. That’s just part of it. The game is really hard. It's hard to know who's going to click and who's not. Some guys take longer than others. … There are good players everywhere. You can't have them all.”

Case in point: right-handed pitchers and , the Rangers’ No. 14 and No. 15 prospects respectively, per MLB Pipeline.

They were signed for just $10,000 each in the Rangers’ 2019-20 international class. Now the two -- along with No. 1 prospect Sebastian Walcott (No. 72 overall) -- will represent the club at the 2024 All-Star Futures Game during MLB’s All-Star festivities at Globe Life Field.

Both Teodo and Santos, speaking through Double-A manager Carlos Cardoza as an interpreter, acknowledged what an honor it is to represent the Rangers, their families and their country at the event.

It’s been an improbable rise for both, who will almost certainly be ranked as the club’s two best pitching prospects when Pipeline updates its lists following the 2024 MLB Draft.

There were high expectations for Santos, both internally and externally, following his delayed professional debut due to the pandemic. He seemed to live up to them early on, posting a 3.49 ERA in 108 1/3 innings with Single-A Down East in '22.

But Santos struggled to a 6.29 ERA in 98 2/3 innings with High-A Hickory last year before finally showing his potential in 2024. He boasted a 2.33 ERA in 46 1/3 innings across his first nine starts as he repeated the level this year, and he was rewarded with a promotion to Frisco on June 25.

“I feel really good, and I thank God for that,” Santos said through Cardoza. “Right now I'm trying to have more fun and enjoy the game more. My mentality on the mound is to get up there and compete. I feel like I have a winning mentality now. I didn't enjoy [last year] as much as I should have because I was too focused on just my individual pitches.”

Goebel joked that Santos throws too many strikes, which led him to a rough outing in his Double-A debut on June 28, when he allowed five runs on seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings. He quickly righted the ship though, allowing just one unearned run in five innings with seven strikeouts in his next start.

“He’s a natural strike-thrower,” Goebel said. “I can think of a lot bigger problems for a pitcher to have and having the elite stuff and throwing too many strikes. We'll take that. It’s a great foundation to build off of.”

Teodo, whom MLB Pipeline listed as having the best fastball in the Futures Game, is even more surprising. He came into pitching late as an amateur -- around age 15, he recalls -- and has flashed electric stuff in his time as a professional.

A 23-year-old right-hander out of the Dominican Republic, Teodo has a two-seam fastball that consistently sits between 97-99 mph and often touches 100-plus mph. He’s flashed brilliance before, but never quite as electric as this current stretch with the RoughRiders, with whom he’s posted a 1.71 ERA through 14 starts (68 1/3 innings). Over that time, he’s struck out 89 while walking 34 batters.

There were questions for a while about if Teodo could remain as a starter long term, or if he would better serve both himself and the organization as a high-leverage reliever. There is hopefully a long big league career ahead of him, but he was adamant that he wants to start.

“I don't know if he's proven [that he can start long term], but he's definitely moved the needle on the spectrum much farther than probably where it was coming into the year,” Goebel said. “I had my -- I don’t know if you would call it doubts -- but my reservations.

“Like, what is this going to look like in a Double-A rotation? He’s made big waves, even with me, in terms of moving that needle more towards this guy having a chance to stick as a starter. He has three pitches that are above average and his strike percentage is increasing. He really wants to be challenged in terms of what he's capable of doing.”

What does Teodo think of that?

“I think it’s the best year of my career so far,” he said with a smile.