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Connor Sadzeck Learns To Escape Trouble

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Connor Sadzeck finally reached the major leagues on Aug. 31, when the rebuilding Rangers decided it was time to see if their hard-throwing righthander could be part of the future.

Sadzek will be 27 next spring, when he will also be out of minor league options. The Rangers have carried him on the 40-man roster for three seasons, afraid his 100 mph fastball would be too tempting in the Rule 5 draft.

A lot has changed in three years, including his role. Sadzeck moved to the bullpen in 2017—with mixed results.

His initial results in the big leagues hadn't been mixed at all.

Sadzeck, an 11th-round pick in 2011 out of Howard (Texas) JC, opened his career with 7.1 innings without an earned run, including two one-inning stints in which the Rangers flirted with the "opener" concept for next season.

The innings weren't always clean, but his ability to escape trouble has boosted his confidence, and the Rangers' confidence in him.

"When I come in in a situation, it's all about just getting to the next inning," Sadzeck said. "I've pretty much been a one-inning guy—or less—so that's really my focus. Inning to inning, out to out. That's something I've worked on lately and something I feel I've gotten a lot better at."

The best example of that, and perhaps his biggest moment in the majors, came Sept. 18 at home against the Rays. Sadzeck allowed a leadoff single and then hit Carlos Gomez in the head with a 99 mph fastball.

Rather than let things snowball, Sadzeck retired the next three hitters in a scoreless ninth inning. Manager Jeff Banister called it a maturing moment. Sadzeck agrees.

"Those are the moments I feel like in years past those situations unravel and get out of control and I end up not getting out of it," he said. "What I'm proud of is being in those spots three or four times this year and getting out of it. I think that's the biggest stepping stone for me."

The key is to avoid the jams, which Sadzeck can accomplish by limiting walks. He had more walks (seven) than strikeouts (five) through his first nine appearances but had surrendered just four hits and continued to keep the ball in the ballpark.

He allowed just two home runs this season in 42.1 innings at Triple-A Round Rock.

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RANGERS ROUNDUP

>> The Rangers found a new home for their Triple-A affiliate on Sept. 18 by reaching a four-year player development contact with the Nashville Sounds. The Rangers spent the past eight seasons at Round Rock, the Nolan Ryan-owned affiliate that latched on with the Astros.

>> Righthander Adrian Sampson made the most of his first two September starts, allowing three runs in 10.2 innings. Sampson, who tore his flexor tendon in 2016 while preparing for a start for the Mariners, completed his comeback with Round Rock, where he went 5-1, 2.34 in his final 14 starts.

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