The Rangers' staff and front office have not been shy about the point of the 2021 season from an organizational standpoint. The year was supposed to be a jumping-off point for the development of young players across all levels.
And while that had notably been the main focus, not the win-loss record, it’s hard to ignore. What’s even harder to ignore is Toronto’s three-game sweep of Texas in Buffalo to kick off the second half of the season, with the Blue Jays outscoring the Rangers, 25-2.
The Rangers' pitching staff surrendered 10 home runs over the weekend, with starters Mike Foltynewicz and Jordan Lyles giving up four each. Foltynewicz went just 1 2/3 innings in Sunday’s loss, while Lyles made it through four full innings in Friday’s loss.
Texas came into the season expecting veterans like Foltynewicz and Lyles to eat innings until the club's top pitching prospects were ready to make the jump to the big leagues. While that strategy has succeeded at points throughout the season, Foltynewicz and Lyles own ERAs of 5.19 and 5.20, respectively, following their starts against Toronto.
With a rotation anchored by ace Kyle Gibson and the two veterans alongside Dane Dunning and Kolby Allard -- both of whom aren’t too far from graduating from prospect status -- Foltynewicz and Lyles are more important than it seems at first glance.
Manager Chris Woodward said he feels like there needs to be stability in the rotation, with respect to calling up guys from Triple-A. He doesn't want it to just be a revolving door during the second half of the season, despite what the performances have looked like out of the gate.
“There has to be a performance standard,” Woodward said. “Both Folty and Jordan have made some adjustments. I think early on, they both struggled. If it comes to the point where we feel like we have to make a move, we will. These guys have been around a long time, Folty and Jordan. They still give us a chance to win.
“To go down that road and just keep replacing guys, it's gonna be a perpetual who fills that spot. I think we need [stability] right now. And I think that's probably where we stand now. And I think philosophically speaking, I think that those guys are important to have and they show a lot to our younger guys.”
The Rangers signed their fifth- through seventh-round selections in the 2021 MLB Draft, the organization announced on Monday.
Signings included left-handers Mitch Bratt (fifth round) and CJ Widger (10th round), right-handers Chase Lee (sixth round) and Bradford Webb (seventh round) and catcher Liam Hicks (ninth round).
Bratt, a Georgia prep pitcher, reportedly signed over slot at $850,000, while the other four signed under slot. Notably, Lee’s slot value at 164th overall was valued at $312,400, but he agreed to sign for $75,000.
The remaining allocated signing bonus money is likely to go towards signing second-overall pick Jack Leiter out of Vanderbilt.
Texas also announced two undrafted free-agent signings: LHP Oscar Bonilla out of the International Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico and first baseman Abimelic Ortiz from the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in P.R. Both will be assigned to the Dominican Summer League program.