The Rangers have a top 10 farm system filled with players who have the potential to be all-stars.
Beneath the top layer of premium talent is a group of players who have the chance to be MLB contributors. One of those was emerging early this season at Triple-A Round Rock.
Lefthander Cody Bradford opened his season by winning his first five starts and doing so with a 0.64 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The strong start is a continuation of a solid finish to his 2022 campaign, spent entirely at Double-A Frisco.
Bradford, a 2019 sixth-round pick pout of Baylor, was riding that finish and his first appearance in big league spring training into this season. He’s also throwing a cutter, a pitch that he and other Rangers prospects have recently added to their repertoires.
“The Rangers’ pitching department helped me find the right characteristics this offseason,” Bradford said, “and narrowed down what they wanted out of it and how they thought it would play the best.”
The cutter gives hitters a different look, and the velocity is a good fit between his fastball and changeup. Bradford said that it’s now his third pitch in terms of usage, but it’s his first choice if he needs a ground ball.
The Rangers did not add Bradford to the 40-man roster last November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft and were fearful that he and righthander Mason Englert might be lost. Englert was selected by the Tigers.
The 25-year-old Bradford now finds himself among the group of starting pitchers are legitimate options if the Rangers needed an arm—even though he isn’t on the 40-man roster while others such as Cole Winn and Owen White are.
Bradford combines his stuff, deception in his delivery and an ability to keep his cool. Through six starts Bradford had logged a 1.07 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 12 walks in 33.2 innings.
“This guy is going to come up and he’s going to help us out,” Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said.
— Outfielder Aaron Zavala was expected to make his season debut in mid May after recovering from UCL band surgery on his elbow in November. The 2019 second-rounder out of Oregon started facing live pitching in mid April and was expected to be a DH during his initial time with an affiliate.
— Righthander Ricky Vanasco was on track for an early return from micorscopic surgery he had on his left knee in late March. Vanasco, a 15th–round pick in 2017 out of Williston (Fla.) High, finished last season at Double A Frisco.