The Rangers protected six players on the 40-man roster, as I predicted, but not quite my six. Newcomers are infielders Sherten Apostel and Anderson Tejeda, outfielder Leody Taveras, and pitchers Demarcus Evans, Tyler Phillips, and... Kyle Cody. I thought Texas might dangle Cody and protect reliever Joe Barlow instead. Cody has barely pitched in real games the last two seasons but impressed in fall instructs. Depending on how Texas employs him, Cody could debut in 2020.
Barlow is definitely the most attractive candidate to the swiped in next month's Rule 5 draft. I believe his 2018 38.2% strikeout rate would have been the best in Texas farm history if not for the 47% rate of teammate Demarcus Evans. Barlow fanned an identical percentage in 2019, but in AAA Nashville his control collapsed and he was squared up hard for the first time in his professional life. Recapturing the barely passable control from earlier levels could land him on a Major League roster next March. Teams seeking a cheap utility player will also consider Eli White.
The Rangers had only four open spots. To clear room, they designated relievers Taylor Guerreri and CD Pelham for assignment.
Pelham is a tough but understandable choice. Not long ago, he led the pack of young, hard-throwing Texas hurlers. In 2017, Pelham made his high-A debut in a playoff game. A year later, he advanced from that level to the Majors. 2019 was another story. I was dumbfounded when he visited Round Rock in April; the velocity down to the lower 90s, the slider a mid-70s slurve, the control absent. Pelham was simply trying to get his pitches over. He regained some of the velocity and control later upon demotion to Frisco but never regained earlier form. Given his former stature, he might not pass through waivers, or at the least he's a candidate for a rival to claim and then attempt to run through waivers again. Pelham attended Lancaster (SC) High School, as did my father.
The 26-year-old Guerreri was a free agent signed to a minor league deal in January. He pitched well enough to reach the Majors (again). He had his moments but walked or hit one of every five batters. Nobody, not even the least hittable version of Joe Barlow, can swing that in the Majors.
Also, pitcher Adrian Sampson is going to pitch in Korea next year. The 40-man roster has 39 players, allowing the Rangers to participate in the Rule 5 draft.