Funny thing about prospects. They are prospects seemingly so long that when they finally come up, you’d think they were in their 30s.
Bubba Thompson, however, is only 23. So is Leodys Taveras. Cole Winn is 22, same age as Jack Leiter.
Sam Huff is another guy that has been on the minor league radar for seemingly years. He got his first shot in the major leagues in 2020, was injured and missed 2021, and is getting his second shot in 2022.
But he is only 24.
This time, Huff might be up for good. He doesn’t seem to be intimidated by major league pitching. His reputation in the minor leagues was a guy who hit monster home runs but struck out a ton. Which, immediately takes one’s mind to Joey Gallo. The last thing the Rangers needed was another Joey Gallo. A team can sustain only one of those.
In Huff’s first taste of major league ball, he got 33 plate appearances, striking out 11 times. But he also got 11 hits, three of them home runs. Sort of under the radar in that lost 2020 season was the fact the Phoenix, Arizona native batted .355 with an on-base percentage of .394. His OPS was an elite 1.136. Of course, it was a small sample size so not a lot was made of it. When he went down last year with injury, not a lot was made of that either. He had knee surgery, then came back and DHed for the year. He did blast 16 home runs, many of them monster shots that got a lot of video love. Again, it seemed he was just all home run or nothing.
But since Huff has been back up, the guy has shown a real knack for hitting. Going the other way. Being a patient hitter. His plate discipline has been impressive. His K rate has dropped from 33 percent in 2020 to 26 percent this year. He went 2-for-3 with two walks last night, his first two of the season. He has been more selective and seemingly more willing to go for the hit rather than swing for the fences.
So far, he’s hitting .386, with an OBP of .413 and an OPS of .913. These are all elite major league numbers.
Oh, and he got his first home run of the year last night. Those will come in bunches if he continues showing the plate discipline.
The challenge is, right now, getting him in the lineup every day. The Rangers traded for Mitch Garver to be the everyday catcher, with Jonah Heim as the backup.
But baseball has a funny way of changing plans. Garver is injury prone, missed some time on the I.L., and is now the full-time DH, seemingly for the rest of the season. And Heim is playing too well right now to take the starting catcher job away from him.
So, Huff has to play the waiting game. Catch when Heim needs a break. Play first occasionally because Nathanial Lowe hasn’t quite won that position despite having it handed to him. DH when Garver needs a break. But when does anyone need a break from DHing? “Wow, you look exhausted from all that sitting. How about sitting out today from sitting?”
All Huff can do is bide his time, force his way into the lineup, and continue producing when he gets the chance.
First base might be his eventual position when Garver is ready to catch full time.
Or, maybe he becomes the team’s full time DH.
Huff is only 24. Here’s hoping he has a long, productive future with the Rangers. Wherever he plays.