Prospect Burke may join Rangers Tuesday

Lefty, acquired in Profar trade, would start one game of doubleheader

August 16th, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are considering bringing left-handed pitching prospect to the big leagues and have him start in Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Angels. Burke, who is currently at Triple-A Nashville, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 7 prospect in the organization.

“We are still kind of debating,” manager Chris Woodward said on Friday before the club's matchup against the Twins. “I would love to see Burke.”

Woodward was asked what stands between Burke and making his Major League debut against the Angels.

“Not much,” Woodward said.

Burke, 23, was acquired from the Rays on Dec. 21 in the three-team trade that sent infielder Jurickson Profar to the Athletics. He has missed time this season because of a blister issue, but he made nine starts at Double-A Frisco, going 3-5 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. In 45 1/3 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 49.

That earned him a promotion to Nashville, and he has made two starts for the Sounds. Over eight innings, he has allowed seven runs on 12 hits and six walks while striking out 11.

Burke would be paired with , who will be called up from Nashville on Tuesday. The Rangers had already decided that before Palumbo threw six no-hit innings in a 4-2 victory over Omaha on Thursday night. He allowed two walks and struck out seven before being pulled at 81 pitches. The Rangers decided that was enough.

“Three more innings, maybe 120 pitches … probably not a good idea,” Woodward said.

Palumbo, the Rangers' No. 6 prospect, is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his last five starts at Nashville. In 22 2/3 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and nine walks while striking out 35. This will be his fourth outing for the Rangers.

Burke would replace Pedro Payano, who was optioned to Nashville after allowing eight runs, five earned, over 3 1/3 innings in a 13-6 loss to the Twins on Thursday. Payano is 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP in four starts and two relief appearances with the Rangers.

To replace Payano on the roster for Friday’s game, the Rangers called up right-hander Ian Gibaut from Nashville. He was acquired from the Rays on July 28 for a player to be named and has yet to appear for the Rangers.

Gibaut is the latest hard thrower for the Rangers bullpen, with a fastball clocked at 95 mph in his only outing for the Rays. The problem is his control. In 17 Minor League games this season, he has averaged 11.8 strikeouts and 8.4 walks per nine innings.

“Good arm … just getting him on the plate is the biggest thing,” Woodward said. “There is some delivery stuff our guys feel they can help him with to get him more in the zone. When it’s in the zone, it plays really good.”

Revolving door in bullpen

Gibaut is in line to be the 25th reliever to be used by the Rangers this season, not counting the emergency work done by catchers Jeff Mathis and Tim Federowicz. The Rangers used 24 relievers last season.

Of the 24 used this year, 13 of them have made 10 appearances or fewer. Kyle Bird has been sent to the Minor Leagues five times. Wei-Chieh Huang has spent sent down three times and has pitched in just four games for the Rangers. His last outing in the big leagues was May 14.

“They are getting an evaluation,” Woodward said. “If you ask them, they would rather pitch in the big leagues than pitch in Triple-A all year. It is what it is. I don’t think anybody ever gets exactly the evaluation they want. I think in the case of some guys, probably not. They’ve only had limited chances. It’s part of the game. It’s the way it goes. You have to do the best you can.”

“We do have a lot of questions for next year as to who is going to be in our bullpen. It’s good for them to come up and see what they’ve got.”

Rangers beat

• Chad Comer, who was a hitting instructor for the Rangers at the Rookie League level, has left the organization to be hitting coach at UT-Arlington. He was a three-time All-Southland Conference catcher at UTA during a four-year career from 2008-11.

• Outfielder Delino DeShields and assistant clubhouse manager David Bales celebrated birthdays on Friday. DeShields is 27.

• Hunter Pence, with his home run on Thursday, is averaging an RBI every 4.75 at-bats. That’s the 21st-best rate in Rangers history for a player with at least 250 at-bats.