With the 2021 season having come to a close, we are looking back at the year that was for members of the Texas Rangers.
Today we are looking at pitcher Kyle Cody.
Injuries are, of course, part of the game. They happen. We know they are going to happen.
But they suck all the same. And they especially suck when they end up defining a player’s career.
And that is the case, at least up to this point, with Kyle Cody, a pitcher of tremendous promise whose entire career has been a roller coaster ride, and who is slated to miss the first half of the season, at least, due to shoulder surgery.
Cody is the rare modern player to have been drafted three different times. He was a 33rd round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012, when he was on the BA top 500 draft board as a high school senior out of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, dropping due to signability concerns.
Cody’s college career got off to a rough start, as he put up an ERA near 5 as a freshman, then was limited to 38 innings (where he struck out just 20 batters) in a sophomore season that saw him limited due to forearm soreness. A terrific summer in the Cape Cod League, however, had him being talked about as a potential first round pick in 2015.
Cody had a disappointing junior campaign, and while he was a second round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2015 (73rd overall), he ended up not signing, instead returning to Kentucky for his senior season. While he hoped to improve his draft stock, his senior season wasn’t much better than his junior year, and he ended up being selected in the sixth round in the 2016 draft by the Rangers, signing for just $150,000.
In 2017, it looked like the Rangers had gotten a steal, as Cody put up a 2.64 ERA between five low-A outings and 18 high-A outings, striking out 136 in 126 innings while walking just 43 and allowing only 4 home runs. He was the team’s minor league pitcher of the year, and looked like someone who could fast-track to the majors.
Cody’s elbow acted up in the spring of 2018, however, and it was determined he had ligament damage. He tried the rest and rehab route, and got back on the mound in the complex league that summer, but after just two rehab outings with the AZL Rangers he ended up undergoing Tommy John surgery, costing him the rest of 2018 and all of 2019.
Cody was back and healthy for 2020, though with no minor league season and a delayed major league season, there wasn’t much of an opportunity to get innings. He was at the Alternate Training Site, however, and ended up making eight appearances in the majors in the COVID year, showing enough to have the Rangers encouraged about his prospects going forward. 2021 looked like it could be a breakout year for Kyle Cody.
Alas, it was not to be. Cody opened the season in the major league bullpen, struggled, and then landed on the injured list before the end of April with shoulder issues. In September, Cody had something called “labral debridement surgery” to remove damaged cartilage, which was prevented his torn labrum from healing. The prognosis was that he would be out until at least the second half of September.
Cody cleared waivers in November, 2021, and was outrighted, which means he is not occupying a 40 man roster spot. The hope at this point appears to be that he can get some innings in the minor leagues at some point this season, and see where his arm is now.
The frustrating thing for both Cody and the team is that he is someone who, if healthy, should be a major league pitcher. He’s big (6’7”), throws hard, and while the hope has been that he could be a starter, his stuff would play out of the bullpen if he needs to go that route. The problem is that he is 27, has thrown 39 innings in the last four seasons, and has undergone two major arm surgeries.
Here’s hoping Cody gets back on the mound this year and has success. At one point, he was arguably the Rangers’ best pitching prospect. If he can somehow get back to where he was pre-TJS, it would be a great story, and the Rangers would have a great arm back.