'Hometown kid' Hearn honored to start home opener

April 4th, 2022

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Taylor Hearn grew up going to Rangers games, having been raised in Royse City, Texas, just about 50 miles northeast of Globe Life Field. He was a fan of Chris Davis and Josh Hamilton and all the great Texas players of the 2000s and '10s.

Now, the hometown kid, having solidified his place in the Rangers' rotation to start the 2022 season, will get the chance to pitch the home opener against the Rockies on April 11.

Selected in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Nationals, Hearn was traded to the Pirates in 2016 and then to the Rangers at the 2018 Trade Deadline.

“I've always pictured and wondered what it would be like to play for my hometown team,” Hearn said. “But ... there was always a slim chance of it with so many Major League teams to get drafted by. Now, it's been great, it's been surreal. I'm happy because I really, really want kids that are from Dallas to use me [as an example] and to see that a kid from their area can do it as well.”

Hearn said he didn’t want to get too emotional when manager Chris Woodward and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels told him he would be pitching the home opener, but it was good to hear and he’s thankful for the opportunity.

“With him being a hometown kid, it's a cool story,” Woodward said. “And I feel like he's earned it with the way he's carried himself and the things he’s done in the community. It's one of the coolest stories I've been around since I've been here. So I was honored to tell him he gets to start in the home opener. It was pretty exciting because he was like, ‘My mom's gonna cry,’ and I said she should. It's a cool moment for a second local kid.”

Both Hearn and his sister, Robyn, confirmed tears were flowing in their household.

Hearn came up through the Minors as a starter, but has primarily been a reliever since making his debut in 2019. That year, he recorded just one out and allowed four earned runs, finishing with a 108.00 ERA. In 2021, his first full taste of big league action, he matured significantly both on and off the field.

During the latter half of the 2021 season, the Rangers began transitioning Hearn back into the rotation. He posted a 5.82 ERA over 11 starts, but Woodward believes Hearn has taken the next step to be a quality big league starter.

“It hasn't been easy,” Hearn said. “If you had told me in the year 2019 that I was going to be the home opener [starter], I wouldn't have believed you. I’d be like, ‘No, I’ve got a long way to go.’ So I'm very thankful.”

Bullpen taking shape
Woodward also informed pitchers Brock Burke, Spencer Howard, Kolby Allard and Matt Bush that they would break camp with the big league club. Burke, Allard and Bush are expected to be in the bullpen, while Howard has won the competition for the fifth starter spot. That is in addition to a group of relievers expected to include Joe Barlow, John King, Josh Sborz, Dennis Santana and Albert Abreu. Garrett Richards is expected to also pitch in a multi-inning role out of the bullpen.

With the expectation that the Rangers will carry 15 total pitchers to start the season, that leaves at least one spot, which Spencer Patton, Brett Martin, Greg Holland and Nick Snyder are competing for. Holland would require a 40-man roster spot, but the other three would not. Woodward did allude to the possibility of another spot opening up due to an injured list stint, but did not specify beyond that.