With the 2019 Texas Rangers season now over, I’m going to do a series of posts handing out grades to every player who appeared for the Rangers this year. I’m starting with pitchers, will go in alphabetical order, and then will do position players in alphabetical order.
Grades will be based on a combination of performance, expectations, and my own whims at the moment I happen to be typing this up. They aren’t to be taken too seriously.
And today, Part XI...
JEFFREY SPRINGS — D
Jeffrey Springs entered spring training having performed respectably at the end of the 2018 season, when he was brought up to the major leagues, and with an inside track on a job as one of the lefties in the Rangers’ pen.
Springs battled injuries and ineffectiveness in 2019, however, getting sent down after three straight outings where he allowed a run in late April, coming back up in mid-May, and then landing on the injured list in late June with an elbow injury that saw him on the shelf, and then on a rehab assignment, until September.
The knock on Springs in the minors was that he had legitimate major league stuff, but when he got into trouble things tended to snowball on him — he was particularly vulnerable to blowup outings. And he had three such disaster outings in the majors for Texas in 2019, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits while retiring no one against the Angels in May, allowing 3 runs on 3 walks and 2 hits while retiring no one in his final outing in June before going on the injured list, and allowing 4 runs on 4 hits, including a homer, in an inning of work in a mid-September outing against the A’s.
Springs has options remaining and is a lefty, so while the 6.40 ERA and 4.98 FIP in 32.1 IP is disappointing, he would seem likely to stick on the 40 man roster during the offseason. That said, with the Rangers needing to add a number of Rule 5 eligible players, he could end up as a roster casualty.
LOCKE ST. JOHN — C
A minor league Rule 5 pick by the Rangers from the Detroit Tigers in December, 2017, St. John spent 2018 splitting time between Down East and Frisco, and then pitched for Frisco and Nashville in 2019 before getting the call to the majors and making his major league debut in late June. St. John was sent back in early July, and then made two more brief appearances in the majors where he was called up and pitched once before being sent back down.
St. John ended up being removed from the 40 man roster, but does not have enough service time to become a minor league free agent, so he should be back in Nashville in 2019. He wasn’t great in either AAA last year (8.69 ERA in 19.2 IP) or the majors (5.40 ERA in 6.2 IP), but hey, he’s a minor league Rule 5 pick, and those guys almost never make the majors.
PHILLIPS VALDEZ — B
Signed to a minor league deal this past offseason, Valdez handled a swingman role for Nashville, pitching in the rotation or the bullpen as needed, and was an up-and-down guy for the Rangers’ major league squad, getting pulled up when the Rangers needed someone in the bullpen who could give them innings, and then sent back down as necessary.
Valdez, who turns 28, had never pitched in the majors before this year, having spent a couple of years in the Cleveland Indians’ system, a few months with the Tampa Bay Rays (without ever appearing in a game in the Rays’ system), and then six years with the Washington Nationals. He was an (expected) 40 man roster casualty at the end of October, getting claimed on waivers by the Seattle Mariners.
He’s one of those guys we will probably have a hard time remembering when doing the 2019 Rangers Sporcle Quiz, but with a 3.94 ERA and a 5.46 FIP in 16 major league innings, as well as soaking up innings for Nashville, he was a nice, unheralded contributor in 2019.
EDINSON VOLQUEZ — Pass
It seems churlish to give Volquez, who rehabbed in 2018 from Tommy John surgery, started the 2019 season in the Rangers’ rotation, and then promptly injured his UCL in his first outing, spending most of the year on the injured list before returning to the majors late in the year to pitch a handful of innings, a bad grade.
Yes, on the field, he had a 6.75 ERA and a 6.65 FIP in 16 IP over 11 games. He was supposed to be part of the Rangers’ starting rotation, and wasn’t able to do that.
But he also was praised for his leadership and his mentoring of the younger pitchers, he battled his way back to get back on a major league mound in 2019 when he could have just hung it up, and he got to finish his career on a major league mound, rather than on the shelf.
Volquez has said he is retiring, and there’s talk he could be a pitching coach. Assuming he does hang them up, he’s had a nice career.