Hole at 1B could help Foscue's Opening Day chances

March 10th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry's Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- When first played first base in a Cactus League game earlier this week, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy joked that he hoped the 25-year-old Foscue knew what position he was supposed to be playing, since he was so far off the bag.

“He's not shy about playing off the bag, I can tell you that,” Bochy said with a chuckle. “I looked out there and thought, ‘I hope he knows he’s playing first and can get to the bag.’ But yes, he looks comfortable.”

Foscue, the Rangers’ No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has the bat to make his case for the Opening Day roster, but not the open position to go with it.

His best chance at making it to Opening Day was at designated hitter -- until Friday, when it was announced that starting first baseman Nathaniel Lowe would be sidelined for about three to four weeks with a right oblique strain.

Now, the door is wide open for Foscue to take control at first base, even if for just a short period of time.

Foscue appeared at second base (70 games), third base (35 games), designated hitter (nine games) and first base (nine games) with Triple-A Round Rock in 2023. He played second and third in college at Mississippi State, but never first base until pro ball.

This spring, Foscue played six innings at first base in a 'B' game and another five in a Cactus League game.

“I'm starting to get more comfortable over there every day,” Foscue said. “I think I’m just learning all the new responsibilities that each position has to offer. Whether that be bunt plays, first-and-third plays, cuts and relays, whatever that might be. Turning double plays too. It’s just [about] continuing to get reps in.”

Rangers coaches Tony Beasley and Corey Ragsdale worked with Lowe on improving his defense at first base all spring and into the regular season last year. Lowe went from being one of the worst defensive first basemen in the American League to winning a Gold Glove Award at the position in 2023.

Beasley and Ragsdale are doing the same with Foscue, getting early work in camp as he continues to acclimate to the position at a high level.

“We just went through the basic fundamentals of how you address the bag, how you come off the bag to start double plays, and just the different angles that first base presents to you,” Beasley said. “The early work has been really good. It's good to see him actually play a game over there.

“I felt like so far he's held himself good over there. I feel good about the work, and we're gonna keep pounding it and just keep holding him accountable to doing everything fundamentally soundly, but so far it has been really good.”

The difference between improving Lowe's defense and Foscue's is that Lowe is a natural first baseman with the inherent knowledge of how to play the position. With Foscue, it’s almost like starting from scratch, even if he has made appearances at first before.

“It’s a little more detail-oriented as far as the fundamentals,” Beasley said about Foscue's work. “He’s gotta understand what it entails and just be more in-depth. He's taken the information, and it's always a two-way street in a scenario like this, because I need his feedback. He's been good with asking me questions and things like that, so he’s been coachable.”

Foscue isn’t the only option to fill in for Lowe while he’s injured. Veteran infielder Jared Walsh and prospect Blaine Crim are two other standouts from this spring.

But Foscue knows those specifics are out of his control.

“I like to say, 'Just control what I can control,'” Foscue said. “That's it. For me, it’s just about getting better every single day, working with the coaches, seeing what they have to say and just trying to figure out how to get better -- at first, second, third, whatever that might be. And then, offensively, just try to find my timing, try to put some good swings on the ball and see where it takes me.”