The Rangers are going to be starting left-hander Cole Ragans on Thursday, reports Jeff Wilson of rangerstoday.com. The southpaw will be making his major league debut. He is not currently on the club’s 40-man roster, meaning a corresponding move will be required.
It’s been quite the journey for Ragans, who was selected by the Rangers with the 30th overall pick in the 2016 draft. He had a nice season in the minors in 2017 but then required Tommy John surgery in March of 2018, wiping out that entire campaign. After rehabbing for over a year, he received the terrible news that he would require a second Tommy John surgery in May of 2019. Though he might have been theoretically able to return to a mound in late 2020, the pandemic wiped out the minor leagues that year, meaning the former first-rounder didn’t throw a pitch in an affiliated game for three whole seasons.
Finally able to return to action in 2021, he split his time between High-A and Double-A, putting up a 4.35 ERA in 80 2/3 innings. This year, he’s made ten Double-A starts and eight in Triple-A, with a combined 3.04 ERA, 29.3% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate.
Baseball America considered him one of the top Ranger farmhands in the earlier parts of his minor league career, though he slipped off the list during his extended absence. He return at the start of this year at #24 and jumped up to #11 at the midseason update.
If he’s able to find success at the major league level, there should be an opportunity for him to stay. While the Rangers have gotten strong results from Jon Gray and Martin Perez this year, the rest of the rotation has been flimsy. The other pitchers to make seven or more starts this year are Dane Dunning (4.30 ERA), Glenn Otto (5.50), Taylor Hearn (5.35) and Spencer Howard (6.82). Though there has apparently been some talk of a Perez extension, he’s currently slated to reach free agency at the end of the year. Furthermore, Gray is on the injured list and won’t return for about 4-6 weeks.