Langford, No. 6 overall prospect, makes Rangers' Opening Day roster

March 23rd, 2024

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- “How comfortable would you be with the idea of Mania?” the Rangers’ No. 2 prospect was asked on his first day of Spring Training back in February.

Langford chuckled.

“I don't even know what that is,” he said. “Fine, I guess. … I mean, I don't think I really have a choice.”

Whatever Langford Mania is, it has definitely begun in Texas. Langford, the fourth overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, will be on the Opening Day roster, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy announced on Friday. His expected role is to be the primary designated hitter, but general manager Chris Young has said he will also rotate in the outfield.

“I feel like anytime you get that kind of news you're going to be super excited and a little bit taken aback,” Langford said. “I was expecting it, kind of, but I mean at the same time, there was definitely some uncertainty going in. Getting to hear it definitely took a weight off my shoulders.”

After going 1-for-4 with an RBI single in Texas' 3-2 split-squad loss against Colorado, MLB Pipeline's No. 6 overall prospect has hit .377 with six homers and 20 RBIs in 18 spring games. His 1.188 OPS is the best mark in the Cactus League. But it’s been far more his performance off the field and within the Rangers clubhouse that he impressed Bochy and the coaching staff.

“I wouldn't even talk about the performance as much as just the way the man has carried himself,” Bochy said. “There's a lot of attention on him, a lot of pressure, I'm sure. Because I know coming in he wanted to be with our club, so the way he just handled everything, he's really carried himself like a Major Leaguer from day one.”

Last season across four levels, the 22-year-old batted .360/.480/.677 with 29 extra-base hits and 30 RBIs soon after being drafted, finishing the year with Triple-A Round Rock for five games.

Now, less than a year after playing for the Florida Gators in the College World Series, Langford joins the lineup of the reigning World Series champion Texas Rangers.

“It's awesome,” Langford said. “It's really cool to see and to be a part of an organization that was willing to do that, willing to take that chance on me and allow me to be able to jump those levels so fast.”

This appeared to be the organization’s desired outcome all offseason long as 2023 designated hitter Mitch Garver departed to Seattle in free agency. The only position player the Rangers added this offseason was backup catcher Andrew Knizner, in addition to re-signing outfielder Travis Jankowski as a fourth outfielder/pinch-runner.

So entering camp, it was clear the Rangers needed a designated hitter. They were banking on that being Langford.

“I don’t think we were hoping, I think we knew,” Bochy said.

That being said, Bochy spent all spring fielding questions from reporters about the possibility that Langford would make the Opening Day roster. All the while, he felt like this would be the ultimate outcome.

“I was laughing inside,” Bochy said. “As we got into it, like I said, I think we all thought this would happen.

“I don't know if there was any doubt in his mind -- I'm sure there was -- but he's with us. He's earned it. It’s well deserved when you look at the spring he’s had. I know we've talked about and we kind of joked about him not being here at times, but [he] definitely deserves to be here.”