Image credit: Aroldis Chapman by Sam Hodde/Getty Images
On July 1, the Rangers began the process of fortifying their club for the stretch run by acquiring veteran reliever Aroldis Chapman from the Royals for a big league-ready starting pitcher and a young outfielder with solid underlying numbers in the Dominican Summer League.
Chapman helps bolster one of the leakier bullpens in big leagues. Though he’s no longer the supremely dominant force he was in his prime, the 35-year-old Chapman still gets plenty of outs with a nasty fastball/splitter combination.
Aroldis Chapman, LHP
Even in his mid 30s, Chapman can still bring the heat. The lefty’s fastball averages 99 mph this season, and it still ranks as one of the better pitches of its kind in MLB. Chapman backs his fastball with a high-80s slider and a low-90s splitter. Both offspeed pitches are effective putaway offerings. He’s refined his mechanics this season and is doing a better job staying closed throughout his delivery and has seen a resultant bump in command. He saved two games for Kansas City and could pick up save chances for Texas as needed.
Cole Ragans, LHP
Ragans continues to be one of the best comeback stories in the game. The lefty was drafted by Texas in the first round in 2016 but had his career waylaid by injuries—including two Tommy John surgeries—and the pandemic. Ultimately, he did not pitch in an official game in 2018 or 2019, and then lost the 2020 season when it was canceled. Ragans made his big league debut on Aug.4, 2022. He works with a four-pitch mix fronted by a mid-90s fastball and buttressed primarily by his signature changeup, which comes in about 10 mph slower than his heater. Ragans also works with a cut fastball in the low 90s and a curveball in the low 80s. He looked good in spring training but fell into a bullpen role with the competitive Rangers. He should get plenty of opportunities to start in Kansas City.
Roni Cabrera, OF
Cabrera—one of the younger players the Rangers inked in their 2022 international class—has begun to show up-arrow traits this season in a second turn in the Dominican Summer League. Specifically, he was hitting the ball hard and showing less swing-and-miss both inside and outside the zone. Cabrera put in a lot of work during the offseason and is beginning to see its benefits this year. He was a low-dollar sign out of the Dominican Republic and has all the markings of a classic lottery-ticket prospect who will help add depth to Kansas City’s system.