ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' offseason has been focused strictly on pitching, from signing Doug Fister early in the process to adding Bartolo Colon on Sunday.And the club may not even be done adding arms before it's all over. With one week to go before pitchers and catchers report, it's time
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' offseason has been focused strictly on pitching, from signing Doug Fister early in the process to adding Bartolo Colon on Sunday.
And the club may not even be done adding arms before it's all over. With one week to go before pitchers and catchers report, it's time to highlight what is most exciting about the Rangers heading into Spring Training.
The Rangers have a young and talented group of hitters who could be on the verge of something special. They have gone through some tough times in the Majors while learning what it takes to be successful, and now is a good time to be rewarded for their hard work.
• Rangers Spring Training info
The philosophy this offseason was built upon the club's faith and confidence in its young offensive players, guys who have a chance to really light up the Statcast™ leaderboard.
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"One of our objectives this offseason for those who are working for it and deserving of it, is to give our young position player group an opportunity to go out and play," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Our mindset has been filling out our pitching staff. One, our guys are a talented group. Two, they are working hard and they believe in each other. They like the group together and came up together. Now is the time."
• Rangers embracing underdog role in AL West
When the Rangers go through their first full-squad workout on Feb. 20, they will have 11 players on the 40-man roster who are 25 years old or younger: Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, Delino DeShields, Willie Calhoun, Drew Robinson, Ronald Guzman, Jurickson Profar, Jose Trevino, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Carlos Tocci.
Not everybody will make the team and a couple of players have special circumstances. Tocci, an outfielder, is a Rule 5 Draft pick, and Profar is out of options. Both have to make the team out of Spring Training or the Rangers risk losing them. They both have a chance to make it as reserves.
Gallo and Mazara will make the club. Gallo finished strong last season to hit .209 with 41 home runs, 80 RBIs and a .537 slugging percentage, while Mazara hit .253 with 20 home runs, a club-leading 101 RBIs and a .422 slugging percentage. They are clearly the future of the Rangers.
DeShields goes into Spring Training as the center fielder after showing significant improvement offensively last season, and Odor is set at second base. He seemed to regress offensively last year with a .204 average and a .252 on-base percentage, but Odor still finished with 30 home runs and 75 RBIs. The Rangers are committed to him.
Calhoun and Robinson will compete for the left-field job, and Guzman could force his way onto the team with a big spring. Trevino and Kiner-Falefa are likely headed for Triple-A, but they are still highly regarded for the future.
In some ways, the Rangers could be similar to the 2004 club, which surpassed expectations with young offensive talent. They went 71-91 in 2003, traded Alex Rodriguez in the offseason and their pitching was highly suspect going into 2004.
But they surprised everybody by going 89-73 -- and the main reason was their young offensive talent, including Michael Young, Mark Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano, Hank Blalock, Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench and Gerald Laird.
The Rangers won't depend solely on youth in 2018, not with Adrian Beltre at third base, Elvis Andrus at shortstop, Shin-Soo Choo in the outfield and Robinson Chirinos behind the plate.
But it is the young offensive talent that has a chance to create the most excitement at Globe Life Park this season.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.