ANAHEIM -- Prior to Saturday’s matchup with the Angels, Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said he didn’t want much from rookie starter Cole Ragans. Just five good innings, hopefully with a lead, would suffice for Texas.
“I want him to just go out and attack the zone early and just have fun,” Beasley said pregame. “This is his last one this year and I want him to go out and just let it all hang out. This is it for him. He's got the whole offseason to rest and get strong and come back to Spring Training, but hopefully he can go out and have fun and just have the mindset of ‘I'm gonna win a game tonight. I'm gonna give my team a chance to win.’”
Ragans didn’t leave the game with the lead, but he did give the Rangers a chance to win. The lefty tossed five innings of one-run ball against the Angels, attempting to go toe to toe with opposing starter José Suarez.
Suarez opened the game with six perfect innings against the Rangers before surrendering two hits, one of which was a two-run homer from Nathaniel Lowe, in the seventh. Those would be the only two hits Texas recorded.
Ragans, on the other hand, did exactly what was asked of him, ending his rookie season with a solid outing and room for growth going into 2023, even as the Rangers fell, 3-2, at Angel Stadium. It was as good of an outing as Ragans has seen since his callup on Aug. 4, allowing just four hits and one run -- on a second-inning blooper from Kurt Suzuki in no-man’s land in shallow right-center field.
“I thought Ragans did a good job as well for us,” Beasley said. “He threw the ball over the plate and used his changeup well and the cutter into the lefties. He kept us right where we needed to be as well. He gave up the one run that we should have caught also. He gave us five solid innings of work and gave us a chance to win. I love how he threw the ball and competed.”
Ragans -- who was ranked as Texas’ No. 12 prospect by MLB Pipeline before graduating from prospect status on Friday -- finishes his season with a 4.95 ERA over nine starts (40 innings), notching 27 strikeouts to just 16 walks.
The lefty started his 2022 season with Double-A Frisco before swiftly getting a promotion to Triple-A Round Rock on June 14 and eventually earning his big league callup. When asked to evaluate his season as a whole, Ragans said he was “solid” but emphasized how much room there was for improvement.
“This was a good one [to end on],” Ragans said. “Obviously I want to finish the season strong going into next year, going into the offseason, so it was a good one to end on. … I just have to work on my command of everything. I can't leave stuff over the middle, just the execution of pitches, especially with two strikes. It's kind of hurt me a good bit up here. I’m just trying to execute it to the best I can.”
For Ragans, it’s just been the continuation of the long journey that started when the Rangers selected him in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
For somebody who once thought his baseball career was over after undergoing back-to-back Tommy John surgeries that caused him to miss the entire 2018, '19 and '20 seasons, he’s continuing to enjoy each minute of it.
“It's been awesome,” Ragans said. “I've enjoyed every second of it -- the ups, the downs, all of it. I guess you could say I've always believed in myself, I've always known that I can get here. Just to see it kind of unfold and how it unfolded, when I got drafted, I would never have guessed the journey that I've had would be the journey that would get me here. It’s just the beginning. So still a lot of work to do, a lot of things to work on to get better. Never stops.”