Texas prospects Huff, Cody collect big firsts

September 21st, 2020

This might be one that's remembered for a long time. The Rangers certainly hope right-hander and catcher have the kind of careers that will make their 7-2 victory over the Angels on Sunday especially memorable rather than just a footnote to history.

Huff, in his fifth start since being called up from the alternate training site, hit his first Major League home run, and it helped make Cody a winner in his fourth big league start. Cody is 1-1 with a 1.53 ERA in seven outings overall, after holding the Angels to one run in five innings at Angel Stadium.

This also marked the first time the Rangers won in Huff's five starts behind the plate.

“It was pretty special for both of us,” Cody said. “We did it in the same game, and I know he's pretty pumped up too. He did a great job behind the plate. It was a lot smoother.”

The day belonged to Rangers rookies. In addition to Huff, rookie shortstop hit one of the Rangers' five home runs, along with Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor and Derek Dietrich. After Cody left with a 5-1 lead, rookie left-handers John King and Taylor Hearn combined to hold the Angels to one run over three innings before Kolby Allard worked the ninth to close out a special win for the Rangers.

“It means a lot,” manager Chris Woodward said. “We want to do it a few more times and not just today. I don't care how good your team is or how bad your team is, you celebrate wins. It's hard to win a game in the big leagues. We have to do it tomorrow, but we are going to enjoy it today.”

Huff -- the Rangers' No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- entered the day 2-for-12 since being called up from the alternate site. He struck out in his first at-bat before coming up again with two out in the fourth against left-hander Patrick Sandoval.

Huff was up in the count, 3-1, when he hit a 92 mph fastball over the wall in left-center. The shot had a 101.7 mph exit velocity, went a projected distance of 410 feet.

“It was a little quick,” Huff said. “I looked up and recognized I did it. I was rounding second base and it didn't hit me until [then].”

Woodward said Huff predicted he would hit a home run that at-bat. Huff just needed to lay off Sandoval's changeup and make him get the fastball up in the zone.

“I just wanted to see him, get him up a little bit,” Huff said. “I felt like he was living down outside of the zone and actually set my sights more center up and getting the situation where I could take a good swing in a hitter's count.”

That's what happened.

“He told me he was going to hit a fastball out to center,” Woodward said. “I told him to look a little more to right-center in case he throws you a changeup. Really cool moment for him.”

Cody was able to go five innings and qualify for the win by being more efficient with his pitches. He threw just 61 over five innings after throwing 74 over three in his last outing against the Astros. He also did not walk a batter after issuing 10 in his first 12 1/3 innings.

Cody -- Texas' No. 25 prospect -- struck out five, including Andrelton Simmons to end the fifth. That was his last batter, and Cody punctuated the day by pumping his fist as he walked off the mound. The last time he went five innings was in 2017, before missing two years because of Tommy John surgery.

“I'm not huge on showing emotion, you know, all the antics,” Cody said. “But it's been a long time since I've gone five innings. To be able to go and just continue to execute pitches and to give my team a chance to win like that felt really good in that moment.”

Cody is known for being a hard thrower with a fastball that averages 94.6 mph. But his slider was excellent on Sunday. He threw 24 of them, getting six swing-and-misses, seven called strikes and four foul balls without allowing a hit.

“Cody was lights-out,” Woodward said. “I could have kept him out there for another couple of innings. We just didn't want to risk it. So we were going to cap it at five. Great outing by him. Complete control. Used his breaking ball in the strike zone. Command of his fastball was fantastic.”