His Rule 5 status helped outfielder Carlos Tocci make the Rangers’ Opening Day roster, and he acknowledged as much after the club informed him that he would make the team on March 23.
Without the Rangers purchasing his rights from the White Sox shortly after the Rule 5 draft, the 22-year-old Tocci probably would be assigned to Triple A in the Phillies’ system.
“It’s a dream come true,” Tocci said. “It means a lot that the Rangers . . . gave me this opportunity.”
Now comes an even bigger trick for the Rangers—finding a way to keep Tocci on the active roster all season to satisfy Rule 5 restriction rules. That responsibility also falls on the young Venezuelan, who originally signed in 2011.
Tocci must find away to be serviceable with a bat that has barely played above Double-A while also continuing to add muscle to his wiry frame. The Rangers listed his weight at 160 pounds in their media guide, and that might be generous.
General manager Jon Daniels said that the club will do all it can to ensure that Tocci continues to see live pitching, including bringing pitchers from nearby Double-A Frisco to Globe Life Park to throw live batting practice. Tocci will be put on a more rigorous weight-lifting program.
The Rangers are willing to try all they can to keep a player they believe is elite defensively, especially in center field, and can be useful as a pinch-runner. Tocci could be used as a late-game defensive upgrade at all three outfield spots.
“When you have a Rule 5 player, there are a couple elements to it,” Daniels said. “One is the immediate role on the team, and two is, from a development standpoint, the plan we will put in place to help him continue to grow.”
>> Lefthander Cole Ragans, the 2016 first-round pick out of high school, had Tommy John surgery in late March and won’t be game ready for at least 14 months. Assistant GM Jayce Tingler called the injury a “big blow” to the organization.
>> Daniels said that 24-year-old righthander Richelson Pena was held three weeks behind schedule during spring training after he logged 176 innings in 2017 between the minors and winter ball in the Dominican Republic. The Rangers wanted to give him extra rest before a possible assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.