Inbox: What's the early buzz on Heim?

Rangers beat reporter Kennedi Landry answers questions from fans

March 15th, 2021
Jonah Heim behind the plate for the Rangers this spring.Kelly Gavin, Texas Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Monday is the Rangers’ second off-day of Spring Training and a benchmark for where they hope to be by Opening Day. Manager Chris Woodward said the club is right where it needs to be and should be at this point in the spring.

So it’s a great time for me to answer some questions about the club up to this point.

What are the pitchers saying so far about our new catcher, Heim? He came with a good defensive reputation. Have any of them talked about how it has been working with him so far?
-- Michael H.

The thing we’ve repeatedly heard from pitchers about is that he’s a nice, large target behind the plate. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he’s much larger than both and , target wise. and have specifically emphasized his defensive abilities as well. Foltynewicz pointed out that Heim called both games really well when they were matched up together. Hearn said that Heim, much like Trevino, makes it easier for the pitchers by doing his job so well.

“Working with him, it's been amazing,” Hearn said. “He’s very receptive and he lets you know how good you're doing or what he's seeing and everything. So like, I fully 100% respect him for that.”

Woodward praised Heim's work so far this spring, saying he’s worked a lot on his receiving and has been receptive to criticism as he adjusts to a new style of catching. He has a great arm and quick release on throw downs as well.

“He's actually caught really well,” Woodward said. “But I think the information with the pitchers and building their trust, he’s done a really good job. He's got a pretty easygoing way about him. I think pitchers like him, they just trust him.”

Most importantly, Foltynewicz also said they have great matching flows, hair-wise.

What's the meaning of life? Also, who's on third for the season?
-- Rob Z.

I wish I had the meaning of life, but the third base question is only a slightly easier answer. I said in last week’s Opening Day roster projection that whoever starts at third base will likely just be a placeholder for No. 1 prospect , as he gets a bit more time in the Minors before his official callup.

At this point in the spring, it’s really trending toward , which I know is not what Rangers fans are really hoping for. But Odor definitely has the skills to be defensively serviceable in the short-term. The Rangers and Woodward are cautiously optimistic about his performance at the plate so far. Odor has put together really good springs before that haven’t translated to the regular season. As recently as 2019, he hit .318 in the Cactus League and then proceeded to hit .205 with 178 strikeouts in the regular season.

“We want to make sure that what we're saying and what he's doing is real,” Woodward said earlier this week. "And that it's going to carry over to their regular season. I think we look at different metrics internally when it comes to swing decisions and stuff of that nature."

“I don't expect everybody to be at the elite level, but there has to be a level of consistency to that. That's my challenge with him every day.”

Other options include Charlie Culberson and Brock Holt, but I think Odor is more likely at this point in the spring. But we’ll all be patiently waiting for a Jung debut, especially with the delay of the Minor League season.

Assuming they're all available next offseason, which of the four big shortstops do you think the Rangers will try to sign?
-- @lorechata, via Twitter

I want to preface this by saying I have no insider information or off-the-record talks, but I think the obvious answer here is . The Rangers are obviously very happy with at the position, so much so that they let an organizational staple like go, but Story is a talent you can’t pass up. He’s a career .277 hitter and one of the best defensive shortstops in the league.

Story literally grew up in the Rangers’ backyard out in Irving, Texas, and he grew up a Rangers fan. You couldn’t write a better story. If the Rangers don’t at least make a push for an elite talent of that nature with local ties -- the domino effect it would cause with the infield position aside -- it’d be considered a disappointment.

Who are the surprise players so far?
-- Kenny M.

has really surprised me (no pun intended) this spring. He’s a guy who is possibly on his last chance with the Rangers with no Minor League options left, and he’s making a point to keep himself in the conversation at first base.

I think myself and a lot of other media members expected to swoop in for the starting job at first base, but we’re halfway through the spring and that’s clearly not the case. Both are elite defensive first basemen, but Guzmán is slashing .353/.450/.824 going into Sunday’s matchup with the Rockies.

He won the Dominican Winter League MVP, but nobody could have predicted he would come out firing on all cylinders like this. And unlike Odor, he’s not really a traditional Spring Training performer, so we can’t chalk this one up to an "every year" type of thing. In my opinion, he’s clearly the front-runner for the first base job.