'Wow': Cody whiffs 6, impresses skipper

March 25th, 2021

Rangers manager Chris Woodward said that Wednesday night’s game against the Reds wasn’t all or nothing for players trying to make the Opening Day roster, but if it was, Kyle Cody gave his all in that audition. 

Cody -- the Rangers' No. 22-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline -- pitched three innings without allowing any runs or hits, adding six strikeouts and a walk in the 6-5 win over the Reds. Woodward said that Cody has done well up to this point in the spring, but he was on a different level Wednesday with how he used his pitches, including the sharpness of his fastball. 

“The only thing I really wrote was, ‘Wow,’” Woodward said. “Not just to see him use all his pitches, but the way he could do that, you could tell there was something different out there. He threw all those pitches with a ton of conviction. The way he used the changeups, the way he manipulated counts. His stuff was sharper. He just absolutely dominated.”

Throughout camp, Cody has been part of a group of young pitchers competing for tandem starter spots. Veteran righty Jordan Lyles already secured one of those gigs, leaving three up for the taking. 

Woodward has emphasized not wanting to overwork the arms of the Rangers' young pitchers this season, though he sees guys like Cody as front-end starters in the future. Both Cody and fellow pitcher Dane Dunning missed all of the 2019 Minor League season due to Tommy John surgery before making their MLB debuts in the shortened '20 season. 

Cody only pitched 22 2/3 regular-season innings last year with a 1.59 ERA, while Dunning threw 34 with a 3.97 ERA for the White Sox. 

“You saw what Cody did with three innings today,” Woodward said. “I just think he could blow the doors off anybody with that kind of stuff. I think as of this year, as we work him into this season, we’ve got to be careful obviously with this guy.”

Roster moves
Woodward announced that he told multiple players Wednesday that they would make the team for Opening Day, including pitchers Dunning, John King, Wes Benjamin and Taylor Hearn, utility infielder Brock Holt and backup catcher Jonah Heim.

“I thought all four of those guys pitched really well and they’ve grown up a ton,” Woodward said. “It's exciting to have them on board and we’re really excited about those four guys.

“Jonah Heim is another guy we've committed to. We like what we got from Oakland. I know our front office has been talking highly of him for a few years now. To see the progress he's made in a short amount of time with the bat and some of the catching drills [is impressive]. The kid wants to be great.”

Woodward said Holt’s addition doesn’t technically disqualify Charlie Culberson from making the team, which is also the case for Dunning's addition in relation to Cody. Multiple factors go into those decisions, especially with non-roster invitees like Holt and Culberson, and the staff still has things to evaluate in the final days of camp.

Pitchers Kolby Allard and Joe Palumbo were both optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, while pitcher Spencer Patton and outfielder Jason Martin, both of whom were non-roster invitees, were assigned to Minor League camp. Infielders Jonathan Ornelas and Jayce Easley were added to the 75-man player pool.