July 7, 2022

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Could Rangers have another star? Adolis looks the part

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ARLINGTON — A year and two days ago, Adolis García hit his first home run as a member of the Texas Rangers after he was called up from the alternate training site.  

In Sunday afternoon’s 8-3 loss to the Angels, García launched his second homer of the season, a 400-foot two-run shot over the left-field wall to put the Rangers within striking distance as they trailed in the third inning. 

The homer snapped an 0-for-12 skid for García. 

“It was a huge homer to get us kind of back into [the game],” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “Especially after they scored three [in the top of the third]. That was a moment where the game could have gone to us. We could have taken the momentum and kind of run with it and maybe climbed back into the game or taken the lead, but it didn’t amount to much after that. As far as Adolis goes, it was nice to see him hit a homer there.”

García set the Rangers’ rookie home run and RBIs records in 2021, and he is looking for a sophomore season that is just as impressive. But as much as García is just as good at hitting homers as he was last season, he’s gotten even better in other facets of his offensive game.

Working with new hitting coaches Donnie Ecker and Tim Hyers, García has become exponentially better at controlling the strike zone and waiting for his pitch to hit. It’s already shown in the amount of walks he’s taken this season. After just 32 in all of 2021, he has five through nine games this year.

It’s also shown in the advanced statistics. Per Statcast, García’s BB% is way up, moving from the 6th percentile to the 81st percentile. Both his K% (now 27th percentile, up from 5th) and chase rate (now 22nd percentile, up from 6th) are up incrementally, though there is still room for improvement.

It’s still a work in progress at the plate though, as García struck out in his final at-bat on a pitch low and outside the zone.

“The last at-bat was a little frustrating, because that’s a pitch he’s got to learn how to take, especially when we’re down,” Woodward said. “Regardless of whether we’re down though, I think that’s a situation where he has to be a little bit more disciplined in the 3-2 count.”

Woodward emphasized that it is tough to go from a free-swinging slugger to a more patient approach at the plate in just one shortened spring. It’s rare to see that from anybody in general.

“A lot of analysts will tell you that it can’t happen,” Woodward said. “Once a free swinger, usually always a free swinger. Once not-a-walker, typically never a walker. If they have that kind of résumé, it usually stays with them their whole career. I think that that just speaks volumes to the staff we have to have been able to get him to buy in.”

García also displayed his Gold Glove-caliber defense and cannon of an arm against the Angels. Starting in right field instead of center, García showed why Woodward believes he’s better on the corners.

His defense almost made an impact in the first inning, when Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani tagged up from first on a deep fly ball to García. He attempted to throw Ohtani out at second, and looked to succeed, before the ball bounced off the glove of shortstop Marcus Semien. Ohtani was safe and went on to score.

In the fifth inning, the García-Semien connection finally paid off. With runners on first and second, another deep fly ball was hit to García in right-center field. Brandon Marsh, the runner at second, immediately took off running without waiting to tag up on the catch and was rounding third when García quickly threw to Semien at second base to get the third out.

With García hopefully becoming a more all-around player both at the plate and in the field, Woodward believes the Rangers could have another superstar on their hands. 

“His buy-in has been off the charts,” Woodward said. “Especially everything we’ve been talking about as an offense, it’s exciting. Where he’s at right now, I couldn’t be happier to start the season.”

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