Intriguing prospect Cody dazzles in debut

August 22nd, 2020

Rangers right-hander was dazzling on Friday while making his Major League debut and pitching in a competitive game for the first time in over two years.

Cody, who was called up from alternate camp on Thursday, entered the game in the eighth inning and struck out the side in the Rangers 7-4 loss to the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

“I was just looking to go in there and just try and hold the emotions down and throw the ball over the plate,” Cody said. “Kind of just see what happens, and it ended up going really well and I was really happy with it.”

With a sinking fastball coming in at 95-96 mph and a slider that was getting swings-and-misses, Cody struck out Braden Bishop, Joseph Odom and J.P. Crawford on just 13 pitches.

“For him to come in and [in his] first big league outing, he looked pretty darn good there,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Everything led us to believe he's going to throw the ball over the plate. He's got a slow heartbeat, as you can see. He goes out there and competes, and he's got elite stuff. You saw that tonight.”

The last time Cody was on a mound in a real game was July 10, 2018. He was pitching for the Arizona Rookie League Rangers against the Padres while futilely trying to come back from a sore elbow.

“Going in, my heart was beating pretty fast,” Cody said. “All different thoughts going through my head. I tried to simplify it and keep it down to one or two thoughts. But out there, when it is your first time, you are facing the Seattle Mariners, I’ve got to be ready to go. I felt I did a good job of keeping my emotions down and staying in the moment and not letting it get away from me.”

And after?

“After the inning, it was just a feeling of excitement and teammates coming up to me and saying, 'Great job,'” Cody said. “It’s just an awesome experience for my first time being out here.”

This was also Cody’s first relief appearance since 2016 with Class A Spokane after being drafted in the fourth round that year out of the University of Kentucky. The Rangers see him as a starting pitcher, and he was their Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2017 when he went a combined 9-6 with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP at Class A Hickory and Class A Advanced Down East.

The following spring, Cody came down with the elbow problems that eventually required Tommy John surgery on July 18, 2018. It has been a long recovery process, but he started impressing the Rangers during Instructional League play last September. That’s why he was added to the 40-man roster last winter.

The Rangers brought him along slowly in Spring Training and didn’t use him in a Cactus League game. But he was impressive in his live batting practice sessions,and the Rangers added him to the 60-man roster this summer.

"Yeah, so he's been a topic of conversation,” Woodward said. “He hadn't really pitched above [Class A] ball, but a lot of his makeup qualities came out. We felt with his stuff, physical ability, 96-97 [mph fastball], power sink, really good command, strike thrower with elite spin on his breaking balls -- all the things were there.”

Cody admitted he did not expect this to be the way he would make his Major League debut.

“To be honest with you, probably not just because in the regular season, I was planning on going to [Double-A] Frisco and being a starter there and getting into a routine,” Cody said. “The bullpen roll just kind of came on to me all of the sudden. I was like, 'I'll take any opportunity that's given to me.' I wanted to get up to the big leagues. I'm very grateful for the opportunity and to be here.”

The only disappointment was making his Major League debut in front of an empty ballpark. Cody is from Chippewa Falls, Wis., and because of Major League restrictions, his family was not allowed to be at T-Mobile Park to see his debut.

“It's definitely a little disappointing I'd say, just because my family's been by my side, and my girlfriend's been by my side through this whole thing," Cody said. "And you want to celebrate with them. But in the time that we're in right now, it's just something that physically can't be done.

“So we're going to save that time for whenever it is in the future. If it's this offseason, we can get together and celebrate and celebrate the journey that I've been on and where I've come from to be here. So it's something that definitely is a little disheartening, but also it's something that we can definitely celebrate in the future.”

Choo resting calf ailment
Outfielder is the latest Rangers player on the mend. Choo is not going on the injured list, but Woodward said Choo is getting needed rest and wasn't in Friday's starting lineup in Seattle.

“Mainly a calf issue,” Woodward said. “He's got some other issues he'd been playing through. We both feel it's best for him to heal up because if he keeps playing through it, something is going to give, and then we're going to lose him for the rest of the year. If we can get him healthy in a few days ... he can have a clean run at the last 30-something games.”

With Choo down and Calhoun on the IL with a strained left hamstring, Woodward said he wants to take a look at Scott Heineman in center field. Nick Solak had been playing there, but he'll shift to left because Heineman is the more experienced defensive player.

Heineman was the Rangers' best hitter in intrasquad games, batting .487/.556/.897, but he was 5-for-31 in the regular season entering Friday.

“He's been unlucky this year, to be honest,” Woodward said. “I've looked at a lot of deeper numbers. He's been swinging the bat pretty good. You know, he's given us really quality at-bats. Obviously, we know he plays good defense. ... He's been playing pretty well."

Rangers beat
• Veteran reliever turned 37 years old on Friday. On Wednesday, pitcher Lance Lynn led a toast in the club, when Chavez achieved 10 full seasons of service time in the big leagues.

• Woodward spoke of getting past a four-game sweep to the Padres: “I’m ready move on. The last couple of games were gut-wretching for our ballclub, but we have to move on, keep our head high and keep competing. We obviously have a lot of tough series coming up, but we have to take it head on.”

• Derek Dietrich is right up there with Choo in his ability to get hit by a pitch. Choo and the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo have been hit 151 times in their careers, tied for the most among active players. But since 2013, Dietrich has been hit 122 times, second most behind Rizzo's 144. Choo, who has been in the big leagues since '05, is fourth, at 96.