Adam Choplick Embraces The Closer Role
Baseball players don't come much taller than 6-foot-9 lefthander Adam Choplick, who because of his height can be an imposing presence on the mound.
In 2017, he started to come into his own, unexpectedly perhaps, as a closer.
Choplick, a native Texan and 14th-round pick in 2015 out of Oklahoma, got a chance to close in the second half for high Class A Down East and then in the Arizona Fall League. Full of confidence, he is part of a Rangers system that has multiple candidates to factor in the late innings in future seasons.
"Closing a baseball game is an exhilarating rush," said Choplick, 24. "You go out there, and your job is to get three outs before they win the game. You have to do whatever it takes to make that happen. It's definitely something I feel like I could do at a higher level."
To his credit, Choplick recognizes that he's a newbie in the role. He converted nine of 11 save opportunities in 2017, when he held batters to a .173 average. He struck out 76 and walked 32 in 55.1 innings.
He has the size, the fastball velocity (92-96 mph) and the extension that gets his pitches on hitters sooner. He continues to work on repeating his delivery, which is no easy task for a pitcher his size.
The confidence is a big thing, too.
"He was the last guy who thought he was good," farm director Jayce Tingler said. "Other guys saw some potential in him. With that confidence, his success came and he got better. It was awesome to see."
Choplick is joined by righthanders Scott Williams and Sam Wolff as future late-innings relievers in the system, though Wolff will be out until next summer because of surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon.
• Righthander Connor Sadzeck comes armed with 100 mph velocity, but he struggled initially as a reliever at Double-A Frisco before holding hitters to a .167 average over his final 12 appearances.
2021 MLB Rookie Of The Year Watch Version 2.0
Ranking the top rookies in the American and National Leagues, plus rising names and sleepers to watch.
• The Rangers were considering naming Howard Johnson their hitting coach at Triple-A Round Rock after he spent two seasons as manager at the high Class A level. Johnson wants to return to working with hitters.