4 Spring Training stats that matter for Texas

March 10th, 2024

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Only one Cactus League stadium -- Salt River Fields -- has Statcast technology, so it’s hard to tell exactly how well some guys are doing throughout Spring Training.

The Rangers have played two games at Salt River Fields this spring, a 6-6 tie against the Rockies and a 10-3 win over the D-backs, so I attempted to compile the most important advanced stats from those two games, as well as other important numbers from the spring.

velocity + whiffs
The Rangers have a number of bullpen spots up for grabs, and a handful of pitchers -- both veterans and prospects alike -- are batting for those open spots. Church, the Rangers’ No. 23 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has maybe impressed more than anybody and has a chance to break camp with the big league club.

In the Rangers’ matchup with the Rockies on March 6 at Salt River Fields, Church’s fastball sat between 92-96 mph, and he touched 96.8 mph, which was the fourth fastest pitch in the entire game.

The 22-year-old racked up a game-high six whiffs on 32 pitches. His velocity has increased year over year since turning pro, which should no doubt increase his chances of making the big league club if he can command it well.

“He's been locked in from day one,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s been cool to watch this guy progress fast with as long as he's been pitching, but he's got poise out there. He's got stuff to strike guys out.”

’s exit velocity
The Rangers have been playing it slow with García this spring as the star outfielder didn’t appear in any of the Rangers' first 12 Cactus League contests. While Bochy and the staff repeatedly emphasized that he wasn’t injured, it was clear that they wanted to make sure he was fully healthy before throwing him into game action.

García limped toward the finish line last season, missing 10 days in September with a right patellar tendon strain in his knee. He was also sidelined for Games 4 and 5 of the World Series with an oblique strain.

But since returning to the field, García has wasted no time showcasing his power.

In his Cactus League debut in the Rangers' 6-6 tie with the Rockies at Salt River Fields on March 6, García went 1-for-3 with a Statcast-projected 398-foot home run onto the berm behind left field. It left the bat at 101.4 mph.

He hit into a double play later in the game, but the ball had a 95.6 mph exit velocity and a .400 expected batting average, per Statcast.

"He's been swinging well … " said Bochy. "He had a good at-bat. Even the double-play ball, he smoked it.

vs lefties
The lone knock against the AL Rookie of the Year favorite is that Carter struggles against left-handed pitching. Since making his big league debut on Sept. 8, 2023, Carter has just one hit against left-handed pitchers, combining to go 1-for-18 with two walks between the regular season and postseason.

It’s clear that Carter -- MLB Pipeline’s No. 5 overall prospect -- isn’t going to platoon. And he’s confident in his own abilities to hit any type of pitching. In a small sample this spring, he’s gone 2-for-9 in Cactus League play, already doubling his total from the big leagues last season.

“He's getting more and more comfortable, and that comes with reps that we've said he’s going to get,” Bochy said. “Yeah, it's going well with him.”

’s walks -- or lack thereof
The Rangers’ No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft has struggled with command throughout his short professional career, dealing out 105 walks in 177 2/3 innings. Leiter appeared to rein it in over the last month of the ‘23 season, and he’s hoping to build off of that progress going into ‘24.

In a small sample, it appears to have worked. In three Cactus League appearances, Leiter has dealt just three walks in seven innings. His fastball still sits in the upper 90s, but he’s seemingly got better command of it after some offseason work.

“What we're looking to see from everybody is to throw strikes, quality strikes and we get all his pitches over the plate,” Bochy said. “That's never going to change. It’s a cliché, but it is what we look for. That's what we're looking for Jack to do.”