Rangers call up No. 26 prospect Curtis Terry

July 24th, 2021

HOUSTON -- On Friday night in Reno, Nevada, Curtis Terry did exactly what he’s done all season with Triple-A Round Rock: hit the ball hard.

But then there was a shocking turn of events. Terry, after hitting a one-out double in the second inning, was removed from the game. The first baseman thought he was in trouble. At that moment, he thought Express manager Kenny Holmberg was removing him from the game because he was slow out of the box on the high-flying double.

Instead, Holmberg smiled and told Terry, the club’s No. 26 overall prospect, per MLB Pipeline, that he earned a callup to the Rangers' big league club and would be on a flight to Houston the next morning.

“First, I was freaking out,” Terry explained. “I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, I'm in trouble.’ Then he told me -- that was way better than me getting taken out. Obviously, but it was pretty crazy. Everybody's reaction in the dugout was really crazy. I was overwhelmed with excitement. I'm still kind of a little bit [overwhelmed] now, too. But it was just a crazy moment.”

What ensued was an excited reception from his teammates in the dugout and bullpen, which Terry said meant a lot to him after grinding with so many of the guys for so long.

Terry’s mom LaKetha said she found out Thursday night after receiving a call from an unknown number. When she called back, it was one of the Round Rock coaches, breaking the news to her. Neither she, nor Terry himself, were expecting a callup this early in the season, even though they were hopeful for one after the Trade Deadline.

Terry joined the Rangers at Minute Maid Park on Friday, where he made his MLB debut as the designated hitter in the opener of the three-game series. LaKetha said she wasn’t able to make Friday’s matchup, but she’s flying into Houston from Georgia on Saturday for the second game.

A 13th-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Terry has been one of Texas’ hottest Minor League prospects, slashing .294/.375/.583 with a .958 OPS at Round Rock this season.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward said it was a move they've been discussing internally for weeks and now, with the club riding a nine-game losing streak, felt like the perfect time for a switch-up.

“He deserves it,” Woodward said. “He's playing really well. I've seen him in Triple-A and all year. We’ve got to seal the gap. I think I'm excited to have him here, throw him in the lineup and play this kid and see what he can do.

“I think it's needed, just from a roster standpoint and from a culture standpoint. You know, bringing some new blood up here and some excitement, some energy and a live bat [is what] we kind of need right now, offensively.”

Though Terry has raked in Triple-A this season and did the same at High-A in 2019, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the Georgia native. Terry played in short-season ball for three straight seasons from 2016-18 and even considered quitting baseball altogether.

“He has worked extremely hard,” LaKetha said. “He's had his ups and downs. ... Coming through the system, and he's done really well, but there have still been times where he's still like, ‘I don't know if I'm gonna stay down here.’ He’s been through a lot, but he overcomes it. He does well, and just starts grinding again.”

Terry, 24, admitted that it was hard for him during those years, explaining that it wasn’t what he envisioned for his career.

He talked to multiple people, including his area scout and some of his coaches, about hanging it up in 2018 for good.

“I was thinking, ‘What type of player makes it to the big leagues after three extended? It’s got to be unheard of,’" he said. "They were like, ‘Hey, go out there and have fun. Just give it all you got one more time.’ That legit helped me have more fun with the game. I stopped putting so much stress and pressure myself. I went out there and had fun, and it translated into this.”

In 2019, after he decided to stick with baseball, Terry slashed .293/.362/.537 between High-A Hickory and Low-A Advanced Down East before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Minors in 2020.

When he wasn’t invited to the Rangers' alternate training site, he put in work back home in Georgia, setting his own schedule and doing what he needed to do heading into big league Spring Training before the return of the Minor League season.

Now that he’s made it, he’s overwhelmed and excited for the opportunity with the Rangers, craving his first big league at-bat. He figures he won’t be too nervous, having faced Astros starter Jake Odorizzi when he was on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sugar Land.

“When handling the big-pressure moments, I try not to think of it too big, really, because obviously, the worst that could happen is I wake up tomorrow, have a cup of coffee,” Terry said. “So I try to make it be like life or death. It sounds like it's a big moment, but it's not like the only moment you have in your life as a person.”